The Cave "Only what you take with you"

Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 2: Balderdash

Sometimes we need text so that we can document history, such as the death of our beloved smart phones. But, our phones are not smart; smart things do not fill themselves with nonsense. For some reason, the number of chatting, texting, mailing, talking channels is constantly increasing, which is also increasing the amount of “garbage information” that is entering our brains. Sometimes there is so much that I have to cut off myself off from the channels. Maybe my phone shouldn’t have a text function at all! It needs to be saved.

In a future post, I will discuss how we might mitigate this by adjusting our habits, but considering that all of these messages contain text, my smart phone should be able to consolidate, cross-reference, reply in-line, or find a way reduce the number of channels and the number of taps required to explain something.

A smart phone does not walk itself into traffic because it needs to reply to so many messages. Poor phones.


Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 1: Unnecessary

The gig is up: our telephones aren’t smart, and they can’t save themselves. But, maybe you can!

By far, the dumbest feature of today’s “smart” phones is the phone itself. There is a growing number of people who never use their mobile devices to make calls. This begs the question of whether or not the feature should exist at all (or why even call them phones?). “How silly,” you say; of course, there are justified applications for calling someone who is in the middle of dinner or on a crowded train. However, there is a lack of control over (loco) this function.  Your phone doesn’t know how to suitably deal with and classify a call event (i.e. call-typing beyond known and unknown numbers) and this makes it both not smart, and not safe (for itself).

How many phones have been physically harmed due to phone-call malpractice?
They fly out your car window. They drop from your ear. They get thrown across the room. All because of the wrong call at the wrong time.

You can prevent this, and you can save the phone feature of your mobile device. You can have a say in how your mobile device is programmed.

Opt in to the Ubuntu project today, and SAVE OUR PHONES



Utopic Unicron[sic]

I was playing around with possible designs for a Utopic Unicorn t-shirt when an inevitable (and awesome) typo lead me to…

SVG version here.




On The Eve of War: Avaneya

The Forgotten War

Fair Use - Lucasfilm Ltd.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

Star Wars fans have been intrigued by recently discovered EditDroid footage from Return of the Jedi. In the video you will see unreleased (alternate) takes of the scene between Luke and Yoda on Dagobah. Until now this lost footage was never seen by the public… in fact, we didn’t even know it was lost! (

This has been a major find for the Star Wars community. However, in our own galaxy, there has also been missing visual data that many of us didn’t even know existed.




The Read[sic] Planet



In 1975 NASA successfully photographed the surface of Mars *from the surface* for the first time. What we might not have known was that the high-resolution photographic data were released into the public domain in 1995. Unfortunately, the raw data remained unread due to a lack of resources to develop software that could extract the images…

…until now.

So, an indie software company, Cartesian Theatre, created the forensic recovery software to extract the Mars mission data because, well, it needed to. Enter the Avaneya: Viking Lander Remastered DVD(VLR).

Cartesian’s main project, Avaneya (pronounced ‘av-an-EH-uh’), is a cerebral science fiction game that takes place on Mars in a region called Arcadia Planitia. In order to represent the Martian surface accurately, the designers and artists needed to recovery the Viking mission data, which contains the high-resolution images of the neighbouring region, Utopia Planitia. The Viking lander was the only one to visit the area of interest pertaining to Avaneya. Thus, the creation of VLR.

The VLR software was also designed to work especially with Ubuntu and is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Moreover, the Avaneya game will also be software libre and developed for the Ubuntu gaming experience.

Fighting Back

"We cannot teach anyone anything. We can only make them think."

“We cannot teach anyone anything. We can only make them think.”

When asked about the reason for starting the Avaneya project, the creators said, “the game we wanted to play doesn’t exist and we knew there was no point on waiting for the industry do it for us, so we knew we’d have to build it ourselves.” This approach should be encouraging for the Ubuntu community. We need not complain if we aren’t going to take action ourselves. I have been personally involved with Avaneya, so I have started to understand a bit about the development process. This is also a good exercise for us to do. Get to know developers and founders before throwing stones.

Cartesian Theatre has taken huge risks to maintain ethical computing and be innovative. It is difficult to stand up against “the industry” standards, and if we aren’t going to conform to these standards, then we ought to create better ones. We need these types of developments if we are going to make it to Mars.


If you like the Avaneya project, then consider donating to the project and/or join the mailing list. You can also purchase the VLR software ($15), which will help fund the project.

Jedi Mind Tricks

"...without [imagination] we go nowhere." --Carl Sagan

“…without [imagination] we go nowhere.” –Carl Sagan

The whole story of Avaneya is about learning from Earth’s mistakes, and rebooting humanity. Much of our current society has turned into a “consumption only” culture. We can do better. That’s why the VLR software is of interest; instead of releasing a bunch of images for the public to consume, we can be involved in the recovery process and also look at the source code. We should be encouraged to understand (if not contribute) to the processes of the things that we consume. This goes for film, software, and society. So, instead of being told what we are looking for, we can create what we really want. This is Ubuntu.

My Secret Formula

ubuntu_mclarenMy last post was about the Ubuntu Edge. For some, the story came and went. For me, it was the beginning of something very curious.

The Ubuntu Edge was marketed as the Formula 1 of mobile devices. This actually got me interested in F1 racing. Until that time, I thought I knew what F1 was all about. I still don’t fully understand it, but I know that there is a heck-of-a-lot more to it than just driving cars really fast. (It’s kind of like how Ubuntu is not just software.)

Formula 1 is about teamwork, training, and the cutting edge of technology. I read somewhere that it’s like building a kit car, except the kit only comes with the instructions–the formula. From there your team creates the parts to match the formula. (It’s kind of like how you could choose a kernel or a user interface for your operating system in a way that you thought would be best. Interesting!)

I’m grateful for my new-found interest in racing. I even started learning about the different F1 team names and about some of the drivers. (I don’t see why I couldn’t learn more about some of the Ubuntu teams and the amazing people involved as well.) All hobbies (and parentheses) aside, it’s clear how we can take this formula and apply it to our lives. But, allow me take you one step further.

Since the Ubuntu Edge campaign, I have become much more interested in optimized performance, not just with technology, but with myself. I started looking into three specific parts of my life: my diet, my physical exercise, and my cognitive behaviours. I spent a good portion of the summer researching and testing various ideas to improve my overall state of wellness.  What I came up with was a new diet, new workout routine, and new perspective on life in general. Within the confines of *my* formula (me), I have selected and tweaked these three parts to what I believe to be *currently* optimal. But, therein lies the beauty of it all: this will never end. There will always be new information, and new things to test. What’s important is that I never give up working towards being the best me that I can be. That is what Formula One is about.

Being the best you, isn’t just for you, however; it’s for everyone around you. Nelson Mandela posed the question: “are you going to [enrich yourself] in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?” And, that my friends, is what Ubuntu is about. You are in the driver’s seat of your life, and it’s much more fun when the parts are all working together. So, I encourage us all to look deeper into ourselves. What are we consuming with our minds and bodies? (“Some of you may even want to consider eating a vegetable.”–Jono Bacon) How can we improve our health physically, mentally, spiritually, so that we can be our best selves? Let’s optimize our personal formulae. This, in turn, will help us to optimize our output and the projects that we are working on.

Finally, here’s a big shout out of gratitude to our Ubuntu “F1″ team (founders, engineers, pit crew, drivers, evangelists, fans, … everyone). Thank you for all of your hard work!


//// What’s Your Edge Factor?

I’m NOT buying an Ubuntu Edge device … I’m buying TWO!

That’s right; I finally came to my senses (and bank account). I was fortunate enough to find the money needed, and so stepped up my contribution (after a previously smaller contribution) to one of the most important campaigns in computing world.

If you missed out on early perk packages (SOLD OUT!), then you really missed out (as did I). But, it’s not too late to contribute! There are still tonnes of perks to be had, and dollars to be added to make history… and the future.

//// Up your pocket!

Still haven’t contributed? Do it NOW.

We all should check our pockets. Every dollar in our pockets, is a potential contribution. Every device that’s in our pockets is not worth comparing to the Ubuntu Edge. Let’s step upgrade our pockets, and find a way to contribute. Every dollar counts.


Want your company to get an edge on computing? CONTRIBUTE (suggested amount: $80,000)

Have a load of cash to spare? CONTRIBUTE

Have a friend? CONTRIBUTE

Wear T-shirts? CONTRIBUTE (See the very-biased comparison below)

Don’t have $50 for a t-shirt? Check your sofa for loose change, and then CONTRIBUTE (any dollar amount)

//// How the Edge [t-shirt] compares

Ubuntu Edge Affliction** True Religion**
Edge Factor “I like the cutting-edge of technology” “I think that I’m edgy” “I am an EDGE species”
Supports Innovation [Brand]wagon Dead End
Made for YOU Jersey Shore Hipsters
% Ubuntu 100% 0% 0%
Price $50 USD $50 USD (avg)* $50+ USD*

** These are t-shirt brands (with some decent designs and similar prices) in case it wasn’t clear.
* Based on initial research of manufacturer’s websites.

//// ET phone home

Calling home doesn't make it a phone

Calling home doesn’t make it a phone

I told myself that I didn’t have that kind of money to buy a phone. I was right. So, I bought The Edge.

The Ubuntu Edge is NOT a phone. What you are supporting/buying is device convergence. The Edge is a computer that fits in your pocket, contains a full desktop OS, and can make phone calls.

No matter how much we contribute to the campaign, we are supporting the future of computing. A successful compaign will not only put a bunch of new Edge devices out into the wild, but it will also encourage future production of such devices and raise the bar for software and hardware quality.

I bought a phone ($300+) and a laptop ($450) about a year ago. I dropped over $700 to get them. They do their job, and that’s about it. For the time being, the experience is pretty “GOOD,” but it’s not the “BEST.” Recent events would put another four-letter word in my mouth… and I don’t mean “EDGE.” (See below)

Galaxy Nexus

I wish devices had sapphire glass…

The Ubuntu Edge strives to provide the BEST mobile computing experience with the best hardware available upon delivery. Oh “YEAH!”

//// Contribute (did I say that yet?)

Let’s be honest. Money ain’t always easy to come by. And, things cost money. That’s just what it costs to build the thing. If you don’t have the funds (right now) to get a device out your contribution, then don’t let that stop you. To each according to his ability. This isn’t a size battle. We’re all working towards the same goal. A successful campaign means we all win. We can do our part now, and when the future is more financially friendly to us, we can find something then that will be awesome and available as a result of our actions.

We are Ubuntu. There’s no Ubuntu without you. RDRR. So let’s keep it going by contributing.

Oops! I almost forgot the link to the campaign: CONTRIBUTE

Hello, My Name is


The Phantom Menace

This project is awesome because we are all part of the same community and are all working on the same thing together. This project is important because it’s free and open, and it is reaching out to all kinds of people. This project is revolutionary because it is taking risks, redefining concepts, and developing more than just a product.

This project has a name: Ubuntu. And, therein lies the problem.

I’m by no means suggesting that this name changes; it’s the right name. However, I suggest that we make the effort to truly understand it properly, and at the very least, pronounce it properly.


Before you stop reading, please consider what your own explanation of the project name, and how you would present the project to someone new. How do you want that person to perceive the project, and how do you want that person to perceive you–the representative?

Think about the misinterpretation that already exists within daily conversation, so we need to make sure that we’re all on the same page.

I believe that one key to the success of Ubuntu is in its name. There is so much meaning loaded into that one word that it would be a shame to not present it properly.

So, I registered a blueprint:

That Which We Call A Cliché

roseWe speak different languages, so it would be ideal that we can have at least one word that is common across the board, especially when it is the matter at hand.

There are lots of words in various languages that are pronounced differently depending on accents or certain history. However, “Ubuntu” is not just a word; it’s a name.

I have a surname that is commonly mispronounced (even by people from the same origin), so I’m used to mispronunciations and shrug them off. Do I stop being who I am based on that? No. But, I’m not going to respond if I don’t recognize the sound of my name.

This discussion is getting kind of old, but it might be necessary. How do you start a war? You create fear of imminent war. How do you create that fear? You give someone a reason to be afraid. I’m terrified that this old issue is a non-issue.

Small Potatoes

louisWhen it comes to Ubuntu, we are talking about a name for something that is quite abstract. We can’t exactly pick up an “Ubuntu” and show it to someone. For those of us who don’t care about pronunciation, it is possible that we think Ubuntu is only a piece of software.

Allow me to shed some light on the 6Cs of Severity around inconsistent pronunciation:

  1. Confusion – If we are all saying “Ubuntu” differently, then how can we be sure we’re all working on the same thing? Aside from contributors, those who have yet to discover ubuntu will be confused out in the wild.
  2. Consensus – If we cannot agree on the name (a very basic element) of the project, then will we really agree on anything else?
  3. Constructs – Consciously or subconsciously division may occur.
  4. Claims/Control – Taking false ownership of a word/name and changing it for your benefit can be a form of racism. This may be unintentional. Nevertheless, if we force a name to be pronounced according to our own way instead of its origin, then we are putting ourselves higher on the imaginary (albeit evident) hierarchy of cultures.
  5. Convention – The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to change if necessary.
  6. Craziness – This is clearly making at least one person crazy.

Many of us (me…frequently) mispronounce things with no malicious intent. But, it is definitely and awkward situation to have to deal with so frequently.

Bad Breath 

mintSo, I was at one of our Ubuntu meetup events. I met someone new, and we started talking. By some coincidence we started talking about Ubuntu. However, as the word “Ubuntu” left my mouth, the other guy’s face went blank as if I had spoken some strange word from a strange language. My first thought was, why are you part of the Ubuntu meetup group if you don’t know what Ubuntu is? Then, I realized that he didn’t pronounce the word the same way that I did.

This put me in a very socially awkward situation (more than usual). From my point of view, it was as if the guy had really bad breath. I didn’t want *it* to come out of his mouth. Yet, I was too shy/embarrassed to mention to say anything. What’s the protocol? Do I say something? Do I casually offer him a Mint as a superficial fix? Do I just ignore it and hope that it will go away?

At this point I’m wasting time even thinking about this, and having to re-explain ourselves hindered any further conversation. Neither of us were willing to change our pronunciations, no matter how many repetitions occurred. Moreover, was the other guy thinking the same thing? The people at the table next to us probably thought we were two fools talking about two different things.

“Now I see, it is I that had been the biggest [fool] of all!” And, I pity the fool. I don’t want to be tormented by this, and yet I cannot let it slide. Perhaps it’s because it hits so close to home.

Grievous Goats

turtlesI introduced Ubuntu to my family. I made the mistake of not properly educating them on origins and pronunciation. Now every time that a computer question arises, my irritation is amplified by a pronunciation discrepancy. Ubuntu has become a household word, but not in the way that I had intended. It’s clear that those in my family who pronounce one way, and those another, also differ on the opinion of the source of computer problems.

I have noticed a very high correlation between certain pronunciations of “Ubuntu” and dissatisfaction with Ubuntu. Will saying “Ubuntu” a certain way improve your experience? Probably not. Then again, maybe it will. I also sense a high correlation between those who care to find out the “hows” and the “whys” and those who have positive experiences with Ubuntu.

Of Moles and Men 

fujiI understand that my discomfort comes from the possibility that I might believe that there is one right way to pronounce “Ubuntu.” But, I’m not even saying that I’m right. I’m pointing out the problematic pachyderm. There’s one in the chamber, and it’s growing extremely obvious that people are aware, but we need to pull the trigger on the decision before we start pointing things in the wrong direction.

I support a project, and I don’t even know how to say its name? Let’s minimize this distraction.

So, I move that we standardize the pronunciation of the name of our horse, so that when we cheer for it, we’re all cheering for the same winner. This will bring us together. This will make us sound professional. This, I believe, will be cornerstone that will launch Ubuntu success to Mars!

But Don’t Take My Word For It


I registered a blueprint:

Now what we know why…

Here are some ideas for pronunciation:

Here are some ideas for implementation:

  • Add pronunciation in the installation slide show
  • Add pronunciation on
  • Add pronunciation in a “getting started” document/application post-install
  • Add pronunciation in Ubuntu Advocacy Kit. DONE!

To be continued… on the blueprint.

Don’t You Know I’m LoCo?

Call me crazy, but I think we’re all part of the same race. We are all one. This is the essence of ubuntu. So, let’s follow it. I’m going to tell you one way how, so please stay tuned, but first let’s set the stage.

Humans have been programmed to categorize things. At the very low level, we divide our world into “safe” and “unsafe” (false binary?).  So, how do we determine how to label something… or someone? We look for differences and how familiar is the subject in relation to ourselves. Again, some of this is instinct and understandably automatic. This is important from a survival standpoint. One the other hand, is it possible that this reaction could poison our ability to progress and actually be detrimental to our survival?

Out of practicality, we have divided our planet into regions, continents, countries, etc. The problem with this is that we must now categorize into “safe” and “unsafe”. Every difference creates path dependency toward one of these categories. Maybe we should stop inventing differences. Could our “biological programming” be leaking into our socially constructed views of the world? Perhaps that’s where nationalism comes from.

So, what if we had the chance to redo the planet? Would we want to change anything? At this stage, it’s quite difficult to rethink borders since we have found good reasons to kill each other (if for nothing other than the fact that we belong to a different groups). However, maybe we can change the way that we deal with less concrete things or new things.


Guor Marial (Source)

“What if we just took the flags out of the Olympics?” — Chuck (Ubuntu Audiocast)

Well, Chuck, what if we took the flags out of Ubuntu? Crazy talk! We need to organize the community based on geographical location for practical reasons. Yes, but we also need to make sure that we are not creating division by doing so. We all are one. We are all part of Ubuntu. So, when the Local Community (LoCo) was conceived, I believe that it was to express this oneness wherever we happen to be at the time. In other words, when we are in Vancouver, then we are Ubuntu in Vancouver. This is not a different Ubuntu from the one in any other part of the world… or universe for that matter. Maybe the community thing has fallen and become denominational and overly political. With too much focus on the governing the community, it is easy to lose focus of the oneness of Ubuntu. And, the “unsafe” categorization might kick in and make things really annoying.

In order to follow the true essence of ubuntu, we need to step back out of our constructs for a moment and give ourselves some fresh air. If in the future we were to go to Mars, for example, would we go there as one human race, or as different “tribes”?

Well, the future is now! I present to you the Ubuntu Mars Team where we don’t have to be bound by the current institutions of Earth, and where we can all be one in Ubuntu.


It Just Works!

[EDIT] I wasn’t finished writing this, and pushed “Publish” by mistake, and then went to eat cake! Here’s the improved (but not perfect) story. Sorry.

1337 Would Be N337

I’ll always remember that what initially attracted me to Ubuntu is also what initially turned me away from it as well. Back in the good old days, I would spend my free time installing, what I then knew as, different “Linux distros”.  Yes, that’s what got me excited (don’t judge!). The reason why I kept trying new things was because I could never quite reach the functionality that I wanted… until I met Ubuntu. On first install (even back in 2005), it just worked. However, at the time, it was too easy. I was so used to the pain of getting my mouse to work that I actually missed it. I had come from a world where this thing that started with an L was supposed to be difficult to setup, and if I could do it, then I would be 1337!

After promptly formatting my hard drive, I went back to the usual masochistic distro hopping. A year or so went by, but I was continually drawn back to Ubuntu (obviously…here I am). It was different. There was something attractive about the community, the ethos, and the name (for which I researched the pronunciation), but that’s not what this story is about. As the year went by, I also realized that I clearly have issues about needing things to fix… but that’s not really the story either.

What the Heck is the Story?!

Here I am, eight years later in the good new days, and I’m happily doing my best to “fix” things in Ubuntu. And, it also kind of just works. This oxymoronical situation keeps me satisfied, but I’m also still concerned by the “it just works” idea.

Maybe it’s my condition that causes me make problems out of nothing, or maybe there is something to be considered, but we must be wary of becoming complacent. “It just works,” is a phrase commonly used by people who are patrons to over-priced devices that don’t allow you to do anything outside of what the producers what you do to with them. Understandably, the masses really don’t want to spend their free time trying to get things to work. So, in order to make Ubuntu attractive, it has to be approachable.

It Still Works!

The problem is that when there is so much focus on making things “just work,” sometimes we are afraid to change things once they do work. This often leads to stagnation. I believe that some projects have hindered innovation by not allowing the community to interact with the development process, and trying to promote the image of perfection. However, it’s important that we (everyone) be open to the idea that things are not perfect, which is, in fact, the reality regardless of how polished things are on the outside, and be willing to participate in making them better. “If it ain’t broke, then we’re not trying hard enough.” This doesn’t mean that we become lazy and unrefined with our creation, but rather, we develop a culture in which it is safe to make mistakes, explore our human side and learn something.

So, rather that just working, I like the idea that things can do more than work. They can still work and be solid at the core, but also be free-flowing, organic, and always new. This is what Ubuntu is to me.

True or False? It’s Us or Them

Program or Be Programmed*

A machine talks in binary–a system of 1s and 0s; on or off; true or false. This base-2 system has allowed us to program machines to do our bidding…sort of. However, in order to program a machine, one must often think like a machine.  Who (or what) is programming whom?

Binary is not only a machine language. It can be seen in the functions of the human race as well. Over time, society has adopted a bunch of “false” binaries that are still prevalent in the world. Regardless of what you or I believe, it is evident that these binaries do not define us accurately though they may control much of society.

Here are some examples:

  • With me or against me
  • White or non-white (people)
  • Male or female
  • Producers or consumers
  • Windows or Mac
  • “Linux” or proprietary
  • Software or not-software
  • Us or them

Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes!

*Well, in reality, there are true binaries, but the point is that we like to overuse the concept. There is a tendency to want/need to categorize, label, sort things according to the familiar. In all fairness, our brains automatically sort and label, but it is up to our higher thinking to decide what to do with that and determine the path to follow.

So, what does this have to do with Ubuntu?
(Hint: Ubuntu doesn’t fit into any of the lone categories listed above).

Preaching to the Choir

From a marketing standpoint it’s clear that we don’t need to convince anyone here that Ubuntu is unique and a choice beyond trends of the past. However, from a marketing perspective, it’s interesting to see how people might be thinking, and how it’s important to correctly present Ubuntu. It’s not just one thing, it’s not something that you can compare to other things, and it’s not an alternative. Ubuntu is Ubuntu. And, we are making it. Let us all make it together.

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