Benjamin Samuel releases a new album on 11/11/11
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Benjamin Samuel releases a new album on 11/11/11

Entitled We Enter the Dark Room, Alone, this is Benjamin Samuel’s second release. According to Benjamin, it’s “a record about death; but not just in the literal sense. And not just in the morbid sense. Some deaths are wonderful.”

Check it out! At benjamin-samuel.com

A Song in Remembrance of 9/11
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A Song in Remembrance of 9/11

I’ve been working on this song for a long time. I started writing it soon after 9/11, and over the following years, poked and prodded at it. Then all of the sudden, it was 2011. I decided to finish it up for the 10 year anniversary, and release it in remembrance of all who lost their lives that day… and in the subsequent, ongoing conflicts.

Whatever your political beliefs, or whatever conspiracy theories you might hold to, there is no question that thousands of regular people, here and around the world, have been devastated because a few handfuls of maniacs think the world is their playground.

Check out the song, take a minute to reflect; if you’re feeling generous, make a donation to a worthy cause. Let’s all think about how we can be better citizens of the planet.

benjamin-samuel.com

Two awesome free iPhone apps for the blogophile!
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Two awesome free iPhone apps for the blogophile!

Information has become easy to consume; too easy in fact. As someone who tracks just a handful of blogs, even I can get overwhelmed. I can’t read every story, but I certainly don’t want to race through a feed and miss the stories that are of real interest to me. Google Reader is great when you’re at a computer, but of course, we are doing less and less of our computing at a desk. So, here are two free apps that, in my opinion, make following blogs (on your iPhone).

Mobile RSS Free

This is the best app I’ve found for bringing feeds I’ve subscribed to in Google Reader onto the iPhone. It’s slick, decently customizable, and a pleasure to read. I use the Stealth skin, and it makes reading as comfortable as it can be on a mobile device. Of course, if it floats your boat, for a few bucks you can jump to Pro, with a few more features, and of course no ads (though to be honest, I don’t even notice the ads in the free version).

Of course, you can Star, Like, Share and mark read items (all syncing with your Google Reader of course), but it also has a bunch of other great sharing options, which brings us to…

Read it Later

Sometimes when you’re skimming through a feed, you may not have time to read every story that piques your interest… so what do you do? Mark it as a favourite and hope to find it later? Open a tab that stays open in your browser for weeks? God forbid… bookmark it?

Enter Read it Later. Now, Instapaper has been the reigning champion in the “temporary bookmark” department, but Read it Later does it for me, in large part, because of the iPhone app!

As I said, Mobile RSS has a few sharing options, and Read it Later is one! See a story you want to dig into but don’t have time? In Mobile RSS, you can send it to your Read it Later account. Then, when you have time, jump into Read it Later, and go through your list. It can sync for offline reading, and can also “reflow” the text of a blog to be more screen friendly. When you’re satisfied, mark it as read, and it’s gone from the list (of course, if it was a story you knew you’d want to hang on to, you would have Starred it in Google Reader).

Both apps really making reading blogs on the iPhone a joy.

Great demo video: Tech 21 Boost D.L.A.
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Great demo video: Tech 21 Boost D.L.A.

Great demo by Bobby D of the new Tech 21 Boost D.L.A.

Sick company. Sick pedal. Can’t wait for mine!

Finally! A way to un-sync Gmail's "All Mail" folder from Mac's Mail.app
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Finally! A way to un-sync Gmail’s “All Mail” folder from Mac’s Mail.app

Haven’t posted in a while! Too busy working on other things; but I thought I would post this very useful tip.

If you use sync to your Gmail account using IMAP in Mac Mail, you’ve probably noticed the “All mail” folder. It’s basically Goggle’s catch-all archiving system. This folder contains a copy of every eMail you’ve sent or received through Gmail. It’s a great idea, but it can take a long time to sync with Mac Mail, and can eat up harddrive space: I was able to free up about a gigabyte but using Google Labs’ “Advanced Imap Controls.”

Just follow the instructions to activate the controls and un-sync your “All mail” folder. The whole thing takes about 20 seconds, and is well worth it!

making your gravatar work with pingbacks
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making your gravatar work with pingbacks

The following post is only relevant for people using WordPress.

Ok. So, let’s say you read a blog post, and you want to comment on that post on your own blog. So, you write your post and include a link back to the original post. When you publish the post, WordPress sends what’s called a pingback to the other blog, letting it know that you linked to it. This pingback shows up in the comments section so readers reading that article can click on to yours and read your response.

Enter Gravatars. These are avatars that follow you whereever you go online so if you comment on a blog and enter your information, it will automatically retrieve your Gravatar (if the blog has the feature enabled). Beside every comment you leave, your own custom icon is displayed.

Well, I discovered that when a blog sends a pingback to another blog that has Gravatars enabled, a generic placeholder shows up. No good! When my blog sends a pingback, I want my Gravatar to show up, just as if I had left a comment.

Well, if you own a WordPress blog, there’s a very simple way to make sure that your Gravatar appears when your blog sends a pingback. To make YOUR Gravatar appear on the blog you’re pinging, you need to do the following: (more…)

why i've switched to wordpress
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why i’ve switched to wordpress

I started this blog in November of 2007 and decided to use Movable Type as my engine. It appeared to the geeky web designer in me. Over the past few months I’ve become unsatisfied with Movable Type. Every time I set up a blog for a friend or a client, I use WordPress because it’s very fast for me to setup and skin, and is easy for the client to use. When I decided to setup my own blog, I mistook this intuitive quality to also mean a lack of robustness.

I was wrong.

My reasoning was that since Movable Type is so complicated with so many layers and so much back-end (the Movable Type installation package is four times the size of WordPress’) it must be better and more highly configurable. My experience has been that the opposite is actually true!

Here are several advantages I found in WordPress that eventually made me switch:

  • WordPress’s templates are based on an easily manageable system of PHP includes — Movable Type is unbelievably cumbersome to customize
  • the layout of the Dashboard is far superior both in design and organization — site administration in Movable Type is cumbersome and bloated
  • WordPress does not have to republish the entire site after making a template change — Movable type does

Of course one of the biggest advantages of WordPress is the speed and ease of installation. It’s a brilliant platform and I’m glad to be on the WordPress train!

P.S. I should add that migration was extremely simple. The only snag I hit was making sure that all my old Movable Type links would point to the new WordPress pages. You have to keep Google happy and since I only have 30 posts at the time of this article, I just opted to do a manual htaccess redirect for each link.

radiohead remix!
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radiohead remix!

I just submitted my remix of Nude. Vote for me here!

it's official
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it’s official

I have officially started a new album this weekend! I spent the past two days tracking drums at a great studio here in Toronto, and things are sounding absolutely killer. I’m really excited about the project, and think there will be songs that almost anyone can enjoy – from people who want something to bob their heads to, to all out “snobs.”

Stay tuned!

convince me
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convince me

plato_aristotle.jpgBlogging has introduced me in a new way to disagreement. You write something, you publish it, people argue, you fire back, ad infinitum (or so it seems, sometimes). It’s a great exercise. It’s refining. And, if conducted with some level of maturity, it is mutually beneficial.

But how often do people come to agree? How often is convincing someone even possible? It’s one thing if people share the same view beforehand, and need to iron out some semantical issues. But how often is person A able to convince person B, thus changing person B’s world view (I am of course talking about matters of philosophy, theology, ideology, etc)?

It seems that no matter how compelling an argument is or how salient the reasoning, there is seldom a winning over.

Consider the entire history of philosophy. Alfred North Whitehead said that philosophy is a “a series of footnotes to Plato” — I’d substitute Aristotle. It is between Plato and Aristotle that we see a symbol of the ongoing philosophical disagreement. Since then (and likely centuries prior) the dialectic has had full momentum, in some form or another. Between realism and idealism. Mysticism and naturalism. Republicans and democrats.

Think about it: every major work of philosophy has had an equally compelling counterpart claiming contrary points. In the 2000+ years of western philosophical tradition, we have not established a single solitary point that everyone can agree on. There is no commonly accepted epistemology. There is no real philosophy of mind or definition of human nature. There has never been more disagreement of the reality of God than in present day.

As other fields focus and approach some degree reliability and conclusion, it seems that in this one field, everything is spiraling outward in a tangle of threads that will never be woven together.

If convincing is so seldom possible, does that make the discussions ultimately moot?

sorry!
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sorry!

I think losing my moleskine set me back more than I had realized. It literally took the wind out of my sails; that and I’ve been really preoccupied with starting an upcoming album (more to follow!).

Anyway, I’m going to try and write everyday. So to my 3 readers, expect content!

Cheers.

a shaky point of view: the hand-cam
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a shaky point of view: the hand-cam

The past several years, there’s been an increasingly common trend in video and film — the hand-cam. You know what I’m talking about; the camera is hand-held, and so shakes ever so slightly and unpredictably, offering a raw, “documentary” feel to the piece. I think most people assume it’s simply an aesthetic choice, and a faddish one. I think there’s something much more existential going on.

For me, the hand-cam serves as an interesting example of how our species is responding to life with technology. There are two points I would like to explore.

(more…)

i lost my moleskine
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i lost my moleskine

A tragedy! I lost my notebook on the Go Train, so it’ll be a while until I can start my next series called “Ways of Knowing” as I have re-write everything.

Shouldn’t be long I hope.

Cheers.