Sunday, January 21, 2007

While we're cuddled up in a corner of a local brew pub, reading books, exchanging neck kisses:

Christy: Do you think people sometimes think I'm your retarded sister ?
Dav: Of course not, sweetie.
Christy: Really ?
Dav: Yeah I'm sure they can tell you're my girlfriend.

Earlier this week Christy sent me a link to, and I have to admit it's pretty hilarious. And apparently more so because the boy in question is French Canadian.

Funny was important this week since work was kind of a bummer; I learned that my boss André, who I really enjoy working with, is going to work for our newly formed buy out and major investments group, and I also had to pull the plug on a 2 M $ investment in an early-stage company I had been working on for months, after weeks of due diligence and a lot of efforts on both sides. Never a fun phone call to make.

Oh, and my dad called with the news that Lulu had left us for a better world, a world full of juicy doggy treats and unlimited petting behind the ears.

At least I won both my soccer games with the Celtic and FC Fabrose, and got to play my first games of shinny of the year at Parc Lafontaine.

But, more funny stuff:
We watched both seasons of the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" sitcom over the last 2 or 3 weeks and it's the best TV comedy I've seen since Arrested Development. It's been described as "Seinfeld on crack" and it's sortof accurate. It's a very lo-budget, politically incorrect production about 3 guys and a girl who own a bar. Danny DeVito also has a role in the second season. Downloadable here, but only for U.S. customers, so I had to find it somewhere else...

MP3 for your Sunday evening: Radio Dept. - Worst Taste in Music

Thursday, January 18, 2007

How many consoles is this going to sell ?

Seen on Engadget...

A 25 yr. old from Philadelphia shed 9 lbs over 6 weeks by playing 30 min. of Nintendo Wii sports video games daily. Perfect example of how user-generated content can become a promotion/advertising tool. Deliberately or not.

Our CFO at A2M suggests that Desjardins Insurance reimburse or give discounts to their customers who buy a Wii (or A2M games !). Well, maybe.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The electricity in your house wants to sing

Fortune editor David Kirkpatrick believes that subscription services, like Rhapsody, rather than iTunes-type online stores, are the way of tomorrow, fueled by ubiquitous broadband and the proliferation of mobile devices. That made me pause and look at my own music set-up.


I have, on my PC, close to 200 GB of high bitrate mp3s. Most of them I encoded myself from my collection of CDs, some I've acquired through iTunes-type online stores (and un-DRM'ed) and, yes, there's a bunch I acquired by encoding some of my friends' CDs and sometimes filesharing with them.

That PC is in the small office I have in our apartment. My modified XBox, running the awesome open-source software XBMC, is in the living room, connected to my HDTV screen, to my sound system, and to my home wi-fi network... this makes my set-up the Poor Man's Sonos (also mentioned by Kirkpatrick).

With XBMC I can stream all my mp3s, build playlists and use visualizers on my TV screen. I can also stream Shoutcast stations (including my own server, which resides on an antique laptop). I can also watch my digital pics, DIVX movies, youtube clips and do many, many more things, (including playing XBox games...). Setting up and customizing XBMC takes a bit of skill, or, in my case, trial, error and a lot of tutorials, but the possibilities are plentiful.

We have a similar set-up in the bedroom, where I use another old work laptop, connected to the wi-fi network and to a set of speakers, and running VLC.


I've never owned an iPod (but Christy has one). I have a pre-iPod, old and bulky RCA Lyra Jukebox residing in the car and a trustworthy Archos Gmini400 for running, working out, or just walking around (I usually walk to work).

But, the new exciting addition to the family (merci papa !) is the Archos 604wifi. The thing has a full color 4.3" touchscreen, plays mp3s and other audio formats, videos and pictures. It has a wi-fi card which allows me to connect to a hotspot or to my home network, browse the web with its Opera browser, but also stream all the tunes and flicks I have on my network, whether I'm in bed, in the bathroom or on the balcony. Current firmware doesn't allow it but I can easily see the day where a device like this one would allow me to connect to any hotspot and stream music from my home server, or from a subscription service. Maybe I'll write a more detailed review of the 604wifi soon.


I have transferred a few GBs of music to my work laptop, but recently started using Vibe Streamer, which allows me to stream all the music I have on my PC at home, from work. I also used Vibe Streamer to DJ at the New Year's Eve party we held at my friend Cyril's loft. Really cool, although not everyone was pleased by my disdain for 80's hits. Streampad has a similar feature, but I couldn't get it to work on my system. I also tune in to my Shoutcast station (and others) from work.

So basically with Vibe Streamer I can now access my own music collection anywhere there's broadband internet. In theory, I could also give that access to anyone I want, giving them a free subscription to my music collection. And they could do the same, creating our own private Rhapsody...

I also finally started spying on myself and installed last week, on my computers and enabled it on XBMC. I need to spend more time with it but it seems very exciting. Pandora, the Hype Machine and the various music blogs are other music sources I've enjoyed in the past months.

So, I haven't really used CDs (and their evil jewel cases) in the last 2 years, except to encode, right after I buy them. I realise that, for digital music, I'm very much the early adopter and that today's tools and products aren't for the average consumer. But these tools are getting more and more user-friendly and affordable. And the average consumer is getting more and more tech savvy.

I think Kirkpatrick is probably right and that subscription services are the future. I don't need to carry around CDs and even today I don't always need to have the actual mp3 files with me. But I definitely believe that a lot of those subscription services will be open and user/community generated and will, once again, evade being controlled by the music industry. I can easily see a future where I will stream all the music I need from my own server or from my friends/neighbours' radios, not necessarily Rhapsody... It'll also be interesting to see what kind of free subscription access the piracy groups, darknets and other filesharing communities will make available...

In the meantime, according to I Am Robot And Pround - The Electricity in your House Want to Sing. If you ask me, that's damn good news.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

101 Blog Tips

Chrystian Guy, a very-early-adopter of all things Web and a Québécois web start-up pioneer (and ex-entrepreneur from our portfolio) has a nice francophone tech-science-fun blog, where I found a link to this handy list of Blog Tips. Very useful for a newbie like me.

#18 is definitely my biggest blog-related issue right now...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What the Internet really is for...

Cute animals.
Last night I got sent off from my soccer game (i'm sparing you the details), so I got back home in a deservedly shitty mood. Seconds after coming back to our place I sat down with my girlfriend and watched this video 5 or 6 times straight.

And then I had a cookie.

Forget Web 2.0, new business models, social networking, web services... Cute animals will save the world. Especially if they sneeze on camera.

Cute Overload; one of the most popular blogs around. I do wonder if they have a business model.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Firefox-Mozilla made 52.9 M $ revenue in 2005

Chairman Mitchell Baker recently disclosed that number on his blog. It's more than I personally was expecting and now I'm really curious about the 2006 number. Apparently, most of the revenues come from the top right Google search box (and, I assume, the other drop-down options; Amazon, eBay, etc.).

It's always good to see open-source business models that actually work, although, once again, it all comes back to Google.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

2006 quickie music retrospective- Part 2

OK, I know everyone is sick of these by now. But, it's Sunday night, tomorrow is back-to-work and seriousness for Dav, I want that streampad widget you see on the right side-bar to be well populated and it's my blog so I do whatever I want.

Barzin - Let's Go Driving the opening track from My Life in Rooms
A great album of slow-paced, dreamy songs from this Toronto artist.

Kimya Dawson - Underground from Remember That I Love You
Kimya came back this year with another nice collection of lo-fi melodies and witty lyrics. Pretty good.

Beirut - Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) from Gulag Okestar
Probably my favorite album this year. Deservedly the darlings of the indie blogosphere. Check out the review of their Pop Montreal concert, written by my sweetie.

Calexico - All Systems Red from Garden Ruin

I miss their usually more mariachi infused sound, but this a very solid rock album.

EPO-555 - Maid in China from Mafia
Let me win back some of my indie cred by pimping this (more obscure) band from Denmark. Flaming Lips fans should like this.

The Appleseed Cast - Mountain Halo from Peregrine
More great inventive shoegazey indie rock from these ex-emoers.

Tokyo Police Club - Nature of the Experiment from their debut EP A Lesson in Crime
Very promising debut by these Toronto kids. If you like the Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, etc.

The Hot Springs - The Fog and The Horn from the Québec Émergent comp
I don't think The Hot Springs have an album out yet, but they're hyped as the next big thing out of Montreal. This girl here might be the next indie rock superstar.

Ratatat - Wildcat from Classics
This duo fuses synthetic beats with guitar riffs (and panther roars) for a very unique sound.

Booka Shade - Darko from Movements
One of the few electro albums i truly enjoyed in 2006.

Ellen Allien & Apparat - Do Not Break from Orchestra of Bubbles
More German electro-goodness resulting from this collaboration. They held a contest to pick the video for one of their songs. Beautiful results.

Mouse on Mars - Chartnok from Varcharz
Warning - this one isn't for everyone... a delicious brainf*ck. MoM are the grandaddies of German IDM. Their recent set at Salla Rossa are the 2nd time I actually busted a move in 2006. 1st time was the Sharon Jones' 50th Birthday Part in NYC.

Alias & Tarsier - Dr. C from their coast-to-coast collaborative effort BrooklandOaklyn
Reminds me of the good days of trip-hop.

Zuchini Drive - Sombre City from Being Kurtwood
Electro-hip-hop by a Belgian and a Sweden. Markus Acher (of the fantastic German band The Notwist) appears on this track, perhaps the most European one ever recorded.

Fat Jon & Styrofoam - Runnin' Circle from The Same Channel
Again, a great electro-hip-hop collaboration. US-Belgium. Go globalization.

Keny Arkana - Mère des enfants perdus from Entre ciment et belle étoile
Alright, I don't know much about hip-hop. Clipse, The Game, Nas, all great albums, but the one hip-hop record that really kicked my ass this year is the debut by a young, angry, immigrée Marseillaise. Very angry.

Asobi Seksu - New Years from Citrus
Let's end with a few louder picks. Asobi Seksu in a NYC shoegaze band fronted by a tiny Japanese girl. Great live show.

The Thermals - A Pillar of Salt from The Body, The Blood, The Machine
Very dynamic and gritty post-punk from Portland, OR.

Priestess - Talk to Her from Hello Master
Heavy arena rock band from Montreal. Long hair, old-fashioned riffs. I wish I could play in a garage band.

Mogwai - Travel Is Dangerous from Mr. Beast
These Glasgow post-rockers are long-time favorites of mine and this album didn't disappoint. Loud but melodic.

Triple Burner - Bride of Bad Attitude from their self-titled debut
Allow me to finish with this local act that I've particularly enjoyed seeing live a few times in the last 2 or 3 years. Triple Burner are Harris Newman (wonderful guitarist) and Bruce Cawdron (percussions). Hypnotic.

Alright, that's enough.
I'm going to bed. Happy New Music Year everyone !

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Once in a Lifetime

Christy and I took a few extra days off after New Year's and spent the week in Mont-Sainte-Anne and Québec City. Sadly, the weather and the snow were too wet for any serious snowshoeing or other outdoor sports. I'm also slowly recuperating from a calf injury that seems more serious than I originally thought. The good side to this crappy weather is that it forced us to take it easy, sleep a lot, listen to music, read books by the fire, watch a few movies, Heroes episodes...

One of the movies we watched is a documentary called Once in a Lifetime. It's about 2 of the subjects I am most passionate about; soccer, and business/entrepreneurship. The film tells the story of the New York Cosmos, a soccer team from the late 70s - early 80s and of the rise and fall of the North American Soccer League. I was way too young then to have witnessed the glory days of the NASL (I vaguely remember my grandpa giving me a Montreal Manic poster when I started playing), but that whole period is fascinating.

While watching I kept drawing parallels with the recent tech bubble and a few of the main characters reminded me of entrepreneurs and employees of early-sage companies that I've met.
The movie is also super stylish (70s hairdoes !), the editing is very dynamic and they did a great job of rounding up and interviewing the main individuals that were involved back then (except Pelé, apparently too pricey...). Well recommended, smart entertainment, even if you're not a soccer fan.

Reviews at Rotten Tomatoes