Random observations, teachings and musings of a well trained cubicle superhero.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Kid Koala & Fase tonight @ Mod

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June 29, 2007

Clean up to speed up!

Tech Mate
Hi, I'm your Tech Mate!Jay, a.k.a. “The Cubicle Superhero”, is a self-professed tech junkie with a passion for music and culture Email Jay

As the Tech Mates Summer Tune-Up 2007 series continues to heat up, we'll be highlighting key techniques to improve your Rogers Yahoo! Internet experience. Today's lesson may save you cost of a new computer, if not your sanity. We're talking, of course, about computer cleanup.

Beyond wiping off the keyboard every now and then, dusting off the screen or vacuuming out the dust bunnies from the fan, your PC's digital parts need attention too.

Prevention is the best medicine
Without a healthy operating system, well-organized hard drive and up-to-date security, you're at a huge and dangerous disadvantage. It's akin to walking into a football game without a helmet, and later wondering why your head hurts. A computer "tune-up" through LiveCoach or local computer shop might be a good idea to deal with a critical virus infection or system problem (the headache), but with a little self-maintenance, and care, most infections can be handled at home (the helmet).

Know thy enemy
Let's get your computer running in tip top condition. We'll start with the serious stuff: infections. Spyware causes issues like strange browser toolbars, pop-ups, or problems loading web pages. Beyond these minor annoyances, spyware creates performance issues and privacy risks. In serious cases spyware payload can even harvest user information and track your activity on the web. Nasty stuff.

Malware and Viruses are malicious programs designed to enter and infect your computer in thousands of different ways. Despite their ingenuity, the two most overwhelming sources of infection continue to be Email and Peer-to-Peer applications.

Stranger danger
Clicking on images, links or attachments within messages from senders you don't know is never a good idea. You computer-based email users (Thunderbird, Outlook, Outlook Express, Incredimail) might consider moving to the Rogers Yahoo! Beta online email system. Every attachment is scanned by the Rogers email servers using reliable Symantec anti-virus filters. Also, storage limits have just been removed, meaning you can leave all your mail online, just as you do with the email client on your computer. Using the web-based email system also makes your secure address book and login available wherever you log on.

June 08, 2007 :
  • Tips to optimize your Internet speed (part 1 of 2)

    June 12, 2007 :
  • Tips to optimize your Internet speed (part 2 of 2)

    June 22, 2007 :
  • Organizing your email inbox

  • Grey areas cost you green
    Avoiding P2P programs like Gnutella, LimeWire, Kazaa, Shareaza, BearShare and Bittorrent apps will make you far less susceptible to infection. Many of the programs themselves contain Spyware, and adware that chokes your Internet connection, and bogs down your processor. And once you get these running, the files they pull down are often laced with viruses planted by hackers and artists themselves. Get them off your system; they are bad news all around. For movies, check out the ubiquitous Zip.ca and for music consider an all-you-can-eat subscription to the Rogers Yahoo! Music Unlimited. You'll fall in love with it...I did.

    Free healthcare

    All of this is fantastic, unless you feel you may have already been infected. We have tested many programs in the LiveCoach centre and by far our favorite for dealing with spyware is Spybot Search and Destroy. Spybot's "immunize" feature intercepts requests to known-bad web pages before they load on your machine. This link from the University of Washington will walk you through the installation and setup. A good online scanner, although slower, will also help to clear out issues. Check out the extensive Microsoft Live scanner or the tried and true Housecall scanner.

    Slim down your Start Up
    OK let's assume any Spyware on the machine has been cleaned out. From the Control Panel, click on Add or Remove Programs and glance through the list. Are there any programs you no longer use? When in doubt it's best to leave the program installed.

    Other serious resource hogs are programs set to start when Windows launches. Take a look to the bottom right, by the clock. See those little icons? They represent programs that are running right now. Right click on any one of them and see if the program allows you to deselect the option to "Launch when Windows starts." Also check under Start-> All Programs -> Startup. If you're certain they're not needed, items can be removed from this directory too.

    Double-click MyComputer and say "ahh"
    Okay, let's take a look at the actual hard drive itself. Before we really dig in, this step will correct any errors found on the surface of the disk, or in the file structure. It could take a few hours for larger drives, but can run pretty much unattended:

    • Open My Computer
    • Right click on the icon for your C: drive and click Properties
    • Click the Tools tab, and click Check Now
    • Tick both options and sit back as your drive is repaired
    Take out the trash
    In the next two steps we're going to get rid of all those little useless files that windows piles up during operation. You'll be amazed how these things pile up. For example, I regularly see customers with enough data to fill a DVD clogging up their computer:

    • First open up Internet Explorer and click Tools from the Menu bar
    • Click the General Tab (you should be there by default)
    • Click the Delete Files button and wait for the hourglass icon to disappear
    • Click OK to close the menu
    Now we'll use the Windows Disk Cleanup utility to remove temporary files from the rest of the computer:

    • Click Start -> hover over All Programs
    • Hover over Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk cleanup
    • Place a tick in each box for the items you would like to remove
    Get it together
    Next we'll defragment the drive. This process groups programs into the same physical area on the drive. Like a record, data is organized in this way, the hard drive's read head doesn't have to work quite as hard and speeds up access.

    Various add-on software packages will do this for you, but Windows XP's Disk Defragmenter will quite capably handle the job. First you'll need to ensure you're logged in with an Administrator username. Again this one may take over an hour.
    • Click Start -> hover over All Programs
    • Hover over Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter
    • Click the drive to check, click Analyze and if recommended, Defragment
    Secure your investment
    At this point, you should see a performance improvement, especially once you restart your machine. You'll want to protect your hard work in the future, and for this, Rogers Yahoo! Online Protection is an excellent choice. Tech Mates has covered this in previous pieces, so you might want to read over the instructions before you wade into it.

    If you don't meet the minimum system requirements, it may be time to consider a memory upgrade. A small investment of less than $100 for RAM memory will noticeably improve your machines ability to handle today's intensive, sophisticated programs. AVG is a good free alternative if you fall below the minimum system requirements.

    Phew, with all that hard work out of the way, it's time to sit back and enjoy what your fresh, clean computer can do now. Grab a cool beverage and head on over to the exclusive Rogers Yahoo! Movies site. You've earned it.

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    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    I tend to work out late in the evening, due to a mixture of poor planning and scheduling issues. Many times a week my lunch may consist of any mixture of coffee, beer, V8, powerbars and dust. Because of the two above issues, about 45 minutes into any given workout, I begin speaking in tongues and enjoy a lovely sea of visual hallucinations. It's pretty awesome.
    My trainer has me on gatorade, which has me feeling peachy, but im thinking the stuff in the video below might be better. Anyone tried it?

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Daft Punks "Electroma" film tonight at Xpace

    Electroma at Xpace June 14
    Doors at 10:30pm
    Screening @ midnight
    FREE!! (first come first serve)

    Daft Punk Movie to Screen in the US
    Guys in robot masks and silver pants
    everywhere can start computing their travel plans now: NME is reporting Daft
    Punk’s highly anticipated new feature length film, Electroma, will screen at
    various locations in the US and Canada this summer. The film premiered at Cannes
    last year, and apparently involves a couple robots who travel around America in
    a quest to become human. Why do robots always want to be human? Don’t they know
    about, like, acne?

    Electroma will screen in LA on June 29th and Miami on
    July 29th, as well as in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.

    A couple previews have made it onto YouTube. First, the official trailer, which is pretty
    great, and gives you a sense of the film's pace:

    Then there’s this,

    which is apparently an actual excerpt. NME is reporting the film is “silent,”
    but I think they mean it’s not accompanied by dialog or any Daft Punk music, and
    indeed, this segment features Todd Rundgren, to spectacular effect.

    While this is the first directorial effort by the French duo, Daft
    Punk have been involved in some superb visual product in the past, including
    great videos for “Around the World” and “Revolution 909”, and the
    underappreciated Interstella 5555, which brilliantly merges an animated tale
    about a rock band from space with the unaltered entirety of Daft Punk’s
    Discovery album, also without any dialog. Most of the movie appears to be on
    YouTube, so go crazy.
    above post stolen from "the riff"

    Electroma screenings:
    June 14 – ON Xpace, Toronto
    58 Ossington Ave

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Handsome Furs TueJuly 31@Lees

    That it will be at least three years between Wolf Parade albums
    is enough to
    make anyone cry. But by now, co-frontmen Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner have had
    enough side projects -- Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown, Frog Eyes -- to craft a
    Frankenstein-style WP album. Or have they?Boeckner said of his solo side
    project, Handsome Furs, that it's "basically Wolf Parade without the guy that
    everybody likes and no real instruments." But Handsome Furs' debut, Plague Park,
    takes the man who's been called the Springsteen/Beck-sounding one of the group
    and pairs him with drum-machine pyrotechnics courtesy of his fiancée, Alexei
    Perry. Emotions are mixed, tempos largely steady; the two of them trudge along,
    crafting some sheepishly sad, mixed-tempo electronica.

    The opening
    track, "What We Had," is an anthem to every relationship gone awry, with
    hypnotic beat that almost manages to distract you from the fundamentally
    depressing lyrics. On the plodding-through-the-wilderness/synth-glitch number
    "Handsome Furs Hate This City," Boeckner sings of urban disaffection and
    isolation, and the musical drive evident in the beginning of songs like "Cannot
    Get, Started" and "Sing! Captain!" doesn't always hold through to the songs'
    end; they start brightly but end slowly, like a road trip ending in a nap,
    shades drawn.

    Handsome Furs will no doubt be compared to the Postal
    Service -- a side project given a drum machine that (surprise!) isn't quite like
    the original. They're not here to comfort or rock, and dances will end
    midflight, but Plague Park's blissfully crackling compositions will find fans in
    anyone looking for a different brand of IDM: intelligent daydream music.

    Karla Starr, Seattle Weekly

    Handsome Furs: What We Had - (mp3)

    HypeMachine Links: http://hypem.com/search/handsome%20furs/1/

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Scratch with T.R.A.C.K.S. (worth $375?)

    Course: Scratch from Scratch: DJ Fundamentals
    Location: RCM Main Location (90 Croatia Street, Toronto)

    Who: Adults and teens

    Start Date: July 16 - 20

    Duration: 5 three-hour classes

    Tuition: one payment of $375 (+ student services fee)

    Material Fees: Students should bring their own headphones

    Description: Learn the fundamental mix and scratch arts used by producers, performers, and competitors world-wide! Created by the highly acclaimed turntablist DJ lil Jaz (KOS, Turnstylez Crew), this course teaches all the essentials, from from basic music theory and music dissection, to mix basics, scratch basics, and beat juggling. Students will hone their new skills on equipment provided by The RCM.

    Scratch from Scratch will change the way you hear music. Note: DJ lil Jaz is currently on tour. T.R.A.C.K.S. will teach the course in his absence.

    About T.R.A.C.K.S.
    A founding member of Trilogy Sound Crew, member of Irs,T.R.A.C.K.S. has collaborated with Kardinal Offishall, Choclair, Jully Black, Glen Lewis, Ray Robinson, Rascalz, and many others. His numerous accolabes include JUNO nominations and nominations for Urban Music Awards of Canada.

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    Direct file access without any logins
    -clean interface without ad images or multiple steps
    No registration is necessary.
    There is a file limit size of 50MB.
    Only press the upload button once!
    Upload speeds depend on the size of the file and your connection.
    Certain file types are forbidden, including HTML files and others for security measures.

    Just saw http://www.sharebig.com/
    350 MB Limit and option to password protect.
    -Ad supported though

    Thursday, June 07, 2007

    Coldcut - This Island Earth

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    June 1, 2007

    New Music in New Ways

    Tech Mate
    techyJay, a.k.a. “The Cubicle Superhero”, is a self-professed tech junkie with a passion for music and culture Email Jay

    The sun is shining; weather is sweet, yeah. The season of parks, picnics and outdoor parties is upon us. I couldn't be happier. My WiFi reaches my BBQ, and a set of outdoor speakers connected to my laptop are gleefully blaring my Rogers Yahoo! LaunchCast radio stream to my crazy patio guests.

    On Saturday July 29 it's Rogers that will be playing host to me and my friends during the Rogers Picnic at Historic Fort York. It's an outdoor music festival with some amazing bands like The Roots and Bedouin Soundclash. As I started digging into the research on some of the artists performing this year, I was amazed by the innovative ways music labels, artists and fans were using technology. Although I've done some work in radio over the years, the Cubicle Superhero is primarily a technology fiend, not a music journalist, so bear with me.

    We'll Make You Famous
    Take Bedouin Soundclash for example. Their success has been aided in many ways by their Internet presence. The band's song "When the night feels my Song" contains one of the most infectious hooks ever recorded. So when I first heard the track on the Rogers Yahoo! LauchCast service, I hit the net to find out who the band was, and where I could find the song. I found not only the band's webpage, but a Wikipedia listing, a MySpace feed, a Facebook group, a video on YouTube, and several song listings on the Rogers Yahoo! Music service. This is the kind of attention that led Bedouin to their 2006 Juno award win for Best New Group. There are other examples as well, like England's Arctic Monkeys. Their live bootleg made it across the pond, resulting in unprecedented first day record sales fueled by blog-propagated hype.

    The MP3 Blog
    In some senses, music on the web is close to coming full circle. Before the crazy days of Napster, illicit sites would post reviews and audio files for free download. Broadband has opened the doors to both a higher quality of audio encoding, and commentary itself. Sites like Fluxblog and Music-for-Robots legitimized the genre, and brought integrity to the space. The labels took notice and supported what they considered a new marketing channel, with varying degrees of success.

    PodCast Groovin'
    In past articles, our ex-Tech Mate Neera introduced us to blogs and PodCasting.

    Like shortwave pirate radio, anyone can record a PodCast radio show on any topic and send it out into the ether. Producers weave recordings while discussing their eclectic musical niche and post "feeds" for download. These links work much like those you can add to your Rogers Homepage and MyWeb, but instead of adding headlines from other sites, "podcatching" software like Juice downloads the show's file.

    Beyond the Airwaves
    Traditional radio is also turning to the web to expand its audience, advertisements and all. Sophisticated streaming radio players embedded into the station's webpage broadcast much further than any antenna mast could. Radio plays a big role in introducing users to new music, and stations like the UK's BBC 6Music and Minnesota's awesome MPR give us a faraway glimpse into their music scene.

    Tech Mash-ups
    All these individual and separate channels are also being forced together using emerging web technologies. Upstart service The Hype Machine indexes these various blogs and makes the music posts searchable by song or artist. Results are playable with the click of a button. Of course, posting these songs without paying royalty fees is definitely a legal grey area, so links tend to have a short life span. If the file or website has been removed since the link was found, the song will not play.

    On the up and up
    Record labels are getting into the act as well, in a concession to fans. Many labels are themselves providing free legal copies of songs on their own sites, or as press kits for magazines. CMJ and Fader magazine's blogs are two excellent examples of this Artist-Label-Magazine collaboration. MP3 blogs are also tending to point their articles to a copy of a song posted to YouTube. This saves users the cost of allowing thousands of people to pull the file off their web server and the liability of hosting the file.

    For the most part, the recording industry is happy to accept the free publicity for their new and emerging artists. Let's face it; these are generally artists that couldn't afford to tour across the country and the Internet is the perfect forum to get their music out. It's also great opportunity for music fans to expand their scope beyond commercial radio and introduce themselves to new artists.

    Are you interested in using your computer for more than just email? TechMate Jay wants your questions for an upcoming Q&A article!

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