Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 4: Nostalgia

Just like the good old days (Source)
Just like the good old days (Source)

There’s nothing good about the old days. They are just the old days. They have long gone, yet we long for fleeing feelings that cannot be recreated. Time should not be wasted in such a way.

“Dear Phone, stop wasting my time. You are designed out of dumbness.” Sometimes it’s not the thing that is dumb; it’s the people who are using it or creating it. The thing, by association, therefore cannot be smart.

One design flaw is that people can be crippled by nostalgia. We enjoy reminiscing in the past, but this is misguided emotion. “The word nostalgia is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning ‘pain, ache'”1

Pain? Smart things avoid pain. Yet we chase these feelings like a drug. So, we should be careful about the way that we create things because they may be based on false familiarity, erroneous ease, or dumb design. Just because something works the way it always has, doesn’t mean that it is the best way. We should be pushing for innovation towards effectiveness and away from stagnant convention.

Now there may not be danger in vinyl record simulation, but there is a problem with the way that we currently use our phones. If phone design starts serving these addictions, then we are moving backwards. Let’s not create for the people we were. Let’s create for the people that we are meant to be.

“Technology is supposed to be complicated … 1337 phr34k5 0n1y … Nobody should know (or wants to know) how it works, so let’s hide that … ” These are things of the past. Move on.

Remove the pain from our phones.



Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 3: Unintelligiable


R2-D2 is not dumb. But my phone is. “[It] talks in maths. [It] buzzes like a fridge. [It’s] like a detuned radio.”1

My phone has a communication problem. It beeps and boops, and sometimes screams to let me know that something is going on, but something is missing there. It’s all a bunch of noise. What exactly are you telling me, phone? Yes, there are some custom notifications to a certain degree, but normally they under the rules of a 3rd party. How do I know the difference between an emergency, an update, or an unimportant piece of information without constantly having to look at my phone? The answer is NOT a watch. In that case, maybe my phone shouldn’t have notifications at all!

Is it possible to tell me who is contacting, by what means, the type of information, and deliver the message at an appropriate time and in an appropriate fashion?
Is it possible to communicate with my digital, social, and spacial environments and tell my when my ship’s hyperdrive has been deactivated BEFORE I attempt to make the jump to lightspeed?

A *smart* phone could do that.

Dumb phone, you can beep and boop all you want, but you’re not the phone I’m looking for. Into the garbage chute!


[1] Radio Head – Karma Police

Turning the Page with Cory Doctorow

I’m still buzzing from this morning. No, it’s not because of the amazing cold brew coffee1 that’s sitting in my fridge. I’m on a mental high from listening to a great mind. This morning I went to see Cory Doctorow at the Vancouver Writer’s Fest, and I’m a better person because of it.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t initially too keen on attending the Writer’s Fest, but I said to myself, “hey, this is Cory Doctorow.”
In fact, I’m not really that into books and reading much3… but this is Cory Doctorow.
And, I’m really not that entertained by copyright talk… but, hey, this is Cory Doctorow.

If it wasn’t obvious already, I’m a pretty big fan of Cory Doctorow. He’s kind of an Alchemist of the Internet Age, except that he’s not afraid to share his knowledge. I had followed him for a while on boingboing, and I was inspired enough to read Little Brother. (Before doing so, I thought I should read George Orwell’s 1984, and so I did … for the first time. Yes, I’m not very well-read… yet). Little Brother was so impressive that I continued to buy the audiobook of Homeland. I didn’t have to pay for it, but I chose to because I valued the author and his work, which completely supports Doctorow’s Laws for the Internet Age.

At the Vancouver Writer’s Fest, Cory Doctorow gave an overview of his new book, by eloquently summarizing three laws that he had come up with for the Internet Age. It was followed by a discussion on some of the values discussed in his writing. When asked about his views on “free and open source software,” Cory was quite excited to share Ubuntu with the crowd 🙂

The entire discussion was probably one of the best overviews of Internet freedom that I have ever heard, and having such a master-of-language deliver the message made it all the better. I was educated, entertained, and encouraged to read and write more freely. You might say that I have turned over a new page with regards to information.

I’m still buzzing.

If you get a chance to see Cory Doctorow during his current tour, then by all means do so, because, hey, it’s Cory Doctorow!



[1] I learned about this from Cory Doctorow via Little Brother.
[2] Irlen Syndrome

Thank You Ubuntu: 10 Years Towards Freedom

Outrageous Birthday Photo
Outrageous Birthday Photo (Source)

I have just upgraded to Ubuntu 14.10 and the first thing that I wanted to do was thank Mark Shuttleworth, the Canonical team, and the rest of the Ubuntu community. You have turned my world on its head (and that’s a good thing).

10 years of Ubuntu is worth mentioning and celebrating. I have known and supported Ubuntu for 8 of those years (so far). To put things in context, outside of liking Star Wars and following my personal beliefs, there have been nearly no other things that I have participated in consecutively for that long.

Ubuntu has changed the way that I think about technology, and the way that I interact with people in my community. That’s right; Ubuntu is not just software. I learned this from one of my good friends that I met through Ubuntu. In addition to the new friendships that Ubuntu has fostered, it has also strengthened some of my older friendships.

Ubuntu is about learning, sharing, and growing together. And that’s why I look forward to the many more years to come. Congratulations, Ubuntu!

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



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.

//// 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.