Where to get your Mac fixed in Toronto

Long story short: my macbook’s keyboard died inexplicably two nights ago. No spillage, no droppage, just no response whatsoever from the keyboard or mouse touchpad.

Luckily, we’re not that far away from iRepair, a College Street shop that repairs a bevy of Apple products. They replaced the keyboard for $180 plux tax ($20 off because they offered me a slightly dented keyboard after I explained how cheap I am), and were speedy and friendly.

ThoughtWorks in Toronto: Forging a new alliance between business and IT

I attended this morning’s Toronto edition of ThoughtWorks‘ new Quarterly Technology Briefing, on the subject of Forging a New Alliance: Cutting-edge software to power the Business/IT relationship. I was a bit turned off by the title, which sounds kind of “marketing speak”ish, but was convinced by the fact that Martin Fowler, ThoughtWorks’ Chief Scientist, would be presenting — not that I know much about Fowler, but I’m familiar with some of his ideas, and am always eager for free opportunities to be intellectually stimulated (and to enjoy some good continental breakfast).

What presenters Fowler and Scott Shaw, Director of Services for ThoughtWorks Australia, were talking about was essentially the inefficiencies and poor communication fostered by traditional IT-business relationships, and how we should, in the words of Fowler, “get rid of IT” — a trend he says is already underway. The way to thrive in such an atmosphere, says Fowler, is to move IT closer to the business people.

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Amazon Web Services start-up tour coming to Toronto

The Amazon Web Services start-up tour is hitting the road from September to November, and stopping in Toronto on September 16.

Amazon Web Services invites you (founders and leaders of start-up/early-stage companies and VCs) to join us on the upcoming AWS Start-Up Tour. Learn how to cut fixed infrastructure costs while increasing reliability and scalability by using the AWS cloud and hear from other successful start-ups about their use of AWS. The half-day event lasts from 2-5pm ending with a cocktail/networking reception from 5-7pm.

I was at the last official AWS presentation in Toronto (last fall, maybe?) and it was decent, though I didn’t stick around for the thing as it was mostly typical “this is why you need to worry about scaling” big picture stuff without a lot of the technical details, but I’m betting that this session will go deeper into solutions and architecture, so I’m looking forward to it.

It’s especially good timing as I’m justing starting to dig into EC2, though I’ve been working with S3 for more than a year.

The world’s dirtiest cities

There’s an interesting photo gallery at Popsci.com giving a brief overview of the 10 dirtiest cities on earth. While there are some no-brainers like Mexico City and Linfen, China, there are some surprise candidates too, like Milan and Pittsburgh, PA too.

I wonder if Peterborough, ON would make the top 10 list for Canada. Apparently our the air quality in my hometown is regularly worse than in Toronto, and I know for a fact that Little Lake, which sits in the heart of Peterborough, is at least one if not two orders of magnitude more PCB-contaminated than Lake Ontario.

Delicious brunch on Bloor

Went to the newly opened (1month.5 ago according to our server) Disgraceland, located at 965 Bloor W for some delicious brunch. I had their presumably-Elvis-inspired french toast that was stuffed with peanut butter and banana ($12), while my accomplice had the veggie eggs bennie ($10). Both were effing fantastic. The pancakes didn’t even need syrup and the the eggs bennie, which came on fried tomato, was also one of the best I’ve ever had. Service was great and, perhaps most importantly, the coffee didn’t suck. I so rarely have a coffee with breakfast that doesn’t suck and this was damn good coffee.

I thoroughly recommend the place, and disagree in the strongest terms possible with this NOW review.

Facebook Camp

Having just returned from FacebookCampToronto4, I have to say that the more I learn about Facebook, the more concerned I become.

First it was the Youtube video about how Facebook owns everything you put on it, and is (somewhat loosely) connected to all sort of people/agencies involved in various intelligence gathering initiatives and operations.

That aside, what was somewhat disturbing during the event today was the way no one seemed to have any qualms about Facebook’s gleeful blurring of the “advertisement / editorial” distinction that is sacred to reputable journalism (not to claim that Facebook is engaged in journalism, per se, but the analogy holds).

Facebook proudly promotes as a “best practice” that people using their ad system link up their ads to users’ social actions, so that when I see a news feed item that, for instance, shows my buddy has gone to some event, the event organizers who may have posted an ad for that same event can have their advertising content automatically incorporated into the news feed item, piggybacking their paid advertising onto legitimate news about what my friends are up to.

The other thing that bugged me…

was how the redesigned facebook profile page (due to come out next week, and currently viewable at http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php, though it’s pretty buggy) was being touted as a way to enable more/better “self-expression.”

I think we need to wonder about the degree to which trivial and largely superficial changes to our Facebook profile constitute an enhanced venue for self-expression. It’s a form of 21st century dandyism; I’m sorry, but if the way you express your “self” is by resizing certain boxes on your Facebook profile, your self is in dire straits.

The last thing that bugged me…

was the way we talk about addiction today, and how the goal of a Facebook developer (or of the creator of a new cookie, a new song, whatever) is to create something addictive. And, in the case of Facebook, not just addictive, but simple and pared down enough that it doesn’t actually involve any serious engagement. The goal of the creator is to create something that people will feel uncontrollably pulled to use, but only for short, intermittent periods of time with no purpose other than continued, addictive use. Consciously setting out to create things that are addictive is fairly ethically questionable.

I will take off my curmudgeon hat now.