Category Archives: awesomeness

Teksavvy cable is *faster* than advertised

You may remember my experiment a few weeks back with the worlds most desperate way to increase broadband speed while sticking with an indie ISP. (Previously: In Which Tom attempts to bond two DSL lines into single home internet pipe of great power like Voltron).

Well the folks fighting the good fight at Teksavvy (thanks Rocky) have finally been able to offer speeds faster than 5MBit in Ontario thanks to introducing a cable option. (Bell, fighting tooth and nail against regulations requiring them to share their network, has for years ghetoized Teksavvy and others to 5down 1up DSL service even while offering much faster speeds to their own retail customers).

For me the upside was to get 10Mb down, 1Mb up (with a healthy 200GB cap) service with ONE pipe, and ditch one extra dsm modem, one extra phone line, a whole mess of cabling and save about $30 a month.

So far I can say it’s a big success. In fact the connection is not even 10MBit, it’s faster!

Craziest thing I’ve ever heard of, an ISP that actually delivers faster than advertised speeds. We’ve come a long way.

Anyway, I thought you all should know this. And Teksavvy is cheap, $42/month for the 10/1/200GB plan. It’s also un-throttled or filtered.

Highly recommended. If you are currently on Teksavvy DSL, or any other basic broadband service, I’d recommend switching.

The only fatal flaw is the anemic 1MBit upload speed. I really wish more ISPs (looking at you Rogers) would get that shit sorted out so applications like cloud-based based storage, media sharing and computing would be vastly more practical. Right now your only decent option is Bells tempting but tightly capped and bracingly expensive fiber with the missing “r” service.

Addictive: Volvo Ocean Race Game

Puma Ocean Racing

Friends and I are having an inordinate amount of fun playing a virtual sailing race these last few days. Great little flash app lets armchair sailors race along through the same course and weather as the round the world Volvo Ocean Race. Leg one is from the Mediterranean to Cape Town. As a game it’s fun, it’s social and the sailing characteristics of the boats is even reasonably realistic. As a business model the game is pretty clever too, it greatly helps to promote the real race and it’s sponsors and keep fans engaged (engrossed really) for days/weeks on end as the game progresses. The developers also make money by selling small premium features like specialized sails and such.

The virtual race is just like as pictured above (current race leaders Puma Ocean Racing) but with fewer crashing waves of salt water down your pants. And you don’t have to eat freeze dried food for four months. Unless you really want to try and simulate these aspects at home.

So far there are about 20,000 other virtual sailors playing from around the world (a huge hit considering this is sailing we are talking about). New sailors can join in the race any time, you’ll be dropped in the middle of the pack. Recommended. =)

Flash applications have come a long way baby.

My boat is “Spork”, add me to your in-game buddy list.

link: volvo ocean race game

LearnHub Launches, looks great

LearnHub shot

Congrats to John, Malgosia and their highly tallented team at Savvica on the launch of their newest product LearnHub. This is the project that brought them back from the valley to build their startup in Toronto. What they’ve just launched is version 1.0. It already looks great. But know to expect even more polish and general awesomeness in iterations to come.

LearnHub is a social learning platform, where members can create lessons, guides and all sorts of learning tools around user-generated communities like photography, cooking, software development (some serious Ruby experts resident at Savvica) and other subjects. Check it out!

Last Call for Lift Early-Bird Pricing

LIFT08Reminder, Friday is the last day for early-bird pricing to Lift08. Laurent writes:

a quick email to remind you that the LIFT08 price will go up by 200CHF on Friday. If you want to participate in this year’s event for only 650CHF (390 EURO, 570$, 280£) and get your yearly dose of new trends,
innovative people and ideas, please register before midnight on Friday.

After that date attending LIFT08 will cost 850CHF (510 EURO, 750$, 365£). Register now and join the 215+ persons who already signed up.

Visit for more information. Best regards and see you at LIFT!

Oh, and Email me if you want to be on the Lift08 Team Canada email list.

see also the Lift Group on Facebook, and the Lift08 event page.

“…it’s critical to remember that these changes were happening for the first time ever, accelerating human life into the modern age at a pace that barely allowed time to gain vantage on the present before hurtling into the future, all the while changing the expectations of what that future might hold.”

In case you missed it, this is from a great post last week by Michele on the reaction of artists, crafts people and designers to the disoriented changes in, wait for it, Victorian england as spurred by the industrial revolution.

Textile factory

She is pointing out the strong parallels between historical change drivers like the industrial revolution, and our current digital age. In each case, major societal changes being driven by a sudden major change in an underlying enabling media.

server racks

“Arts & crafts was neither anti-industrial nor anti-modern, though it embodied a strong reaction against many industrial practices and encouraged individual handwork over mass production.” It’s a repeating theme, the idea of struggling to bring back some the human meaning and flavour lost from the shift from individual craftsmanship to the commoditization of the the industrial process – as well as to use these new tools in the best ways consistent with a designed idealism.

In the great post war expansion of the 1950s, the Americans invented spray-on cheese. Is this an innovation?

New media create whole new areas of possibility. But not all of these areas are awesome. As designers we feel the urge to try and “steer” these outcomes away from some perceived negative outcomes to other perceived “higher value” outcomes but is it like trying to steer a tidal wave?

Michele asks “i wonder though if our insights into the past can aid us in creating the future?”. I hope Michele will take a swing at that in her future posts, but for now, here’s my swing at it:

I have this “dead media” idea as a framework for understanding what happens next based on what is, has or will be about to obsolesced. You can understand some of what happens next by thinking about, if we adopt this new thing en mass, what will it displace? All new media displaces an old. (That is the definition of adoption.)

NYC streetsFrom a recent William Gibson interview:

…footage is of the last night that streets in New York were the way they were before everyone started staying home to watch television. All the footage that he’s been able to find afterward is dramatically different. It changed. It changed the night they turned it on. The night they started to broadcast television in New York, New York ceased to be what it had been before. Because everyone stayed home to watch television.

“It’s not that we prefer it, it’s not even that conscious. It becomes the nature of our experience. If it’s going to happen at all, it becomes the nature of our experience. If it doesn’t happen it just becomes one of those iconic retro-future images.

But if we do stop to conscious of it (this is roll of designers), we can foresee how new media will displace what we do now. Dead media is creative destruction. With every shift in media there is no perfect replacements for old archetypes, the new always has some new flavour (you may or may not like it), and some old flavours are always lost (the ritual of flipping the record, the character of cobblestones, front-porch social interactions before there was tv). Lost flavours are also an opportunity. According to McLuhan, every new media retrieves an older archetype or an older media, (just with a different flavour). To look to where new technology (or art or design) could be going (or to be at the forefront of creating it ourselves as designers), we just have to look at what has happened before. Lost flavours are the opportunity gaps of the status quo.

The new social platform of the internet is retrieving some of that experience of the streets of New York before everyone stayed home to watch television. Same archetypes just different mediums, different flavours. I feel like TV is almost a dead media now itself. What will bring it back?

But back to architecture and the design of things. The long trend of industrialization has been the increasing blandification of things. Ikea selling a billion of the exact same, minimalist kitchen widget. Spray-on cheese.

Just as the social internet has exploded the long tail of content like indie music and increasingly online video. I’d look forward to seeing how these models eventually spill over into the sacrosanct fields of architecture industrial design. Leading one might imagine to an A&C-like resurgence of individual craftsmanship, and a profound shift in flavour. Traditionally the constraints here have been around manufacturibality and economies of scale, resulting in : few designers, many copies made.

Sites like are a weak signal of this already, as is they enable peer-to-peer design production of physical goods. As manufacturing and distribution technologies change, I think we’ll more and more of this creep into other fields. Think how 3d printers could change the economics of distributing unique vs mass-produced goods. These days, you can 3d print a house you know.

What’s your take on Michele’s question?

I was joking that if Coehn Brothers took a swing at this question here is what they’d say. Forgive me if you haven’t yet seen the truly awesome (and surprisingly thoughtful) No Country for Old Men:

  1. In these late times we live in, it may feel that this is no country for old men or for their old ways.
  2. This impression is false, in fact the only constant is that it has always felt this way.
  3. You can’t stop what’s coming.


Link: arts & crafts revisited –

Previously on A Provocative List of Dead Media, Dead media workshop at Lift07, Deadmedia and the flavour of cities

photo credit: shorpy jamax

Brand Awesomeness

Chris Matthews of Specialized has a great idea brewing about why Brand Awesomeness is the new brand awareness.

I’m not a big fan of “branding” in it’s classic sense. It seems to be relied upon too often as a crutch to support marketing efforts that don’t have a clear message, strategy, and direction. “Oh, this is more of a branding ad/email/website/billboard”…I’ve heard and read that often. In a world of connected customers, cheaper ‘no-name’ brands of high quality, and a whole lot of other marketing noise out there, does this really make any sense anymore? Or has it become a way to justify a poor marketing execution that merely follows tradition?

And so Chris introduces this idea of brand awesomeness. I’m sure you could think of a few brands right off the top your head that have high brand awesomeness. Let’s call this “unaided brand awesomeness”.

How are you tracking the aided and unaided awesomeness of your brand?

As Chris points out, in a world increasingly dominated by (inter!)-connected and increasingly advertising-jaded consumers, what matters for Brands is being part of the stories that consumers tell each other while the old one-to-many broadcast paradigm of Brand and PR building fades inexorably into the sea of background noise and filtered-out information overload.

Link: Designing Brand Awesomeness

ps. there’s a rumour Chris may be back in town to speak at our venerable alma mater sometime in the new year. Keep a lookout.