Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

A quick update

Two new courses this term which will feed content on my blog: HUCO 510: Theory of Humanities Computing and LIS 599: Social Media and Knowledge Management.
Other content that should appear soon or sometime over the course of the term:
last term’s Posthumanism term paper: “Humanity’s Box: Proto-SF and the Robot Other”


Blind Weighman

I’ve been reading the following article about 19-year-old Matthew Weighman, “one of the best phone-hackers alive”, recently sentenced to 11 years in prison for his crimes.  Weighman was born blind.  Fascinating stuff.

W I R E D Threat Level | Blind Hacker Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

Relying on an ironclad memory and detailed knowledge of the phone system, the teenager is known for using social engineering to manipulate phone company workers and others into divulging confidential information, and into entering commands into computers and telephone switching equipment on his behalf.

The FBI had been chasing Weigman since he was 15 years old, at times courting him as an informant. He was finally arrested in May of last year, less than two months after celebrating his 18th birthday.

Even more interesting is the “factual resume” (read: confession) written by Weighman and his lawyer describing in detail the various crimes he was charged with, and the part he played in them.

…If they haven’t already been sold, I’m betting Hollywood buys the movie rights before the end of the week.

Cable and Broadband v. Copper

Received this article in an email at work. 

Congress has asked the Federal Communications Commission to develop a national policy for broadband deployment. But it may be more important to think through how the country will handle the aging and increasingly less relevant copper phone network.

While I have to agree with most of what Saul Hansell (the reporter) writes, I’m glad that the US is at least developing an official policy for broadband.  Since there are no regulations in place to legislate broadband voice service, the cable and IP companies like Vonage and Cablevision don’t suffer under the same restrictions imposed on the telcos.  It gives them an unfair advantage in what’s already a cutthroat industry (and, as the article effectively portrays, one whose once-solid business is now on decidedly shaky ground).  Even if the official policy is designed to promote broadband to consumers, setting ground rules for the cablecos to follow certainly can’t hurt.

Telephone companies need to invest in new infrastructure if they want to be competitive with cable and IP, and that means replacing old copper lines with fiber optics.  The problem is finding money to invest in a diminishing business (inevitably, as wireless strengthens its hold on the north american market); for investors it seems counter-intuitive to pour millions of dollars into a new, more reliable landline network for a legacy service that doesn’t promise a return on investment.  Up here for instance, TELUS has no problem finding funds to develop its 3G mobile network, but when the notion of revamping its existing landline infrastructure is quietly brought up it always gets firmly quashed.   

If the telcos can’t find a way to compete, I’m afraid Hansell’s prediction may come true:

What good will it do for the F.C.C. to come up with a spiffy new plan to get faster, cheaper broadband to more people if the phone companies fail and millions of people won’t be able to dial 911 in an emergency?

The Cyberlit Blog…In Exile

(Let’s all thank Wil Wheaton for providing us a model to emulate when faced with the cruel shifting tides of Fortune’s intertubes.)

This blog used to be on my own domain at, but hey! we’re in a recession, and really the $12 a month I was paying Yahoo! for hosting and for the domain was frankly back-breaking.  These are lean times!  $12 in this economy could buy me 6 boxes of Kraft Dinner, or 3 Big Macs!  It’s really all about keeping a lid on that bigger picture.

Since WordPress offers free blogs and as I had a few entries from the old wordpress blog I wanted to keep, I felt this was the better alternative.  (The other alternative would have been tossing my PC off the balcony, tearing the ethernet cable out of the wall, and donning my tinfoil hat so that I’ll get the signal from the mothership when the invasion begins.)  Over the next few days you’ll notice back-dated entries appearing…  Don’t worry, these are just the exiles.

As you may recall (or not, if this is your first visit), This blog originated as a resource for my English Honours Tutorial in Fall 2006, when I was researching cyberliterature as a development in artistic forms of expression at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. It continues on as my personal blog, spanning the range of my interests. I enjoy the usual things– reading all kinds of books, writing bad science-fiction, fluffy kitties, samurai movies, walks on the beach (yes, I am a walking, talking, geeky cliché). I am, without reservation, a nerd, a fact probably best evidenced by this very blog as well as the misguided notion that maintaining a blog somehow makes me at least a little ‘hip’. I have active interests in internet culture and the evolving role of technology in daily practice, and generally speaking, the blog tends to be a catalogue of artifacts that represent both of these.

Newsbreak: Clones just as cute as real thing

((Been meaning to post this for a few days now. First saw it on last week: Florida couple clones beloved dog for $155,000.

Oh, if you don’t care for the Fox News broadcast below, the CNN article above also has video. I picked the Fox News one mainly for the reporting, i.e. comedic purposes. Also most of the report is a tight shot of the clone trying to gnaw off his owner’s hand.))

Have none of these people seen The 6th Day? …This can only end in disaster.

Continue reading

How much does it cost to reach the galactic center?

Milky Way Transit Authority


Urban transit maps are wonderful tools: they are guides to traveling, they serve as mechanisms for distilling and abstracting a city down to a set of linkages and interconnections, and they are beautiful. …

Ever wonder how one would manage to navigate the vastness of our galaxy (assuming one overcame such negligible hurdles as a practical means of deep space travel)? Wonder no more. Samuel Arbesman has created the first transit map for the Milky Way.



No more getting lost between constellations. Just make sure you’re carrying exact change for the fare.


Make it a Star Wars drinking game

Lockwasher’s photostream on Flickr: a reliable source of modern-day (modern art?) robots.

Lockwasher's BR2D2

I bet this guy could make a brisk business of selling BR2D2s to an entire generation of beer-loving nerds.