Monthly Archives: April 2007

Original uses of Skype / MSN / GoogleTalk, etc

Picture 21-1

Geneva-based tech writer Bruno Giussani is looking for original uses of the new telephony/video services (stuff more creative than businessmen phoning home).

One of my favorites is the human beatbox Kid Lucky in New York who uses Skype to jam with Zede in Switzerland, among others.

The video is worth watching for the music!

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Steve Jobs’ Moleskine


Would Picasso, Matisse and Hemingway have liked the Moleskine-hard drive?

Make your own!

(Via Jeremy Wagstaff)

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Hacking Champagne (with a blog)


Last weekend we decided to drive out to Champagne to buy some of the local drink. It is known as “Champagne”.

Before heading out, I wrote a post on my friend Loic’s blog asking which was the best Champagne. Responses – some highly detailed – poured in, including 34 replies to the post here and 19 here.

Among those responding was Jean-Emmanuel Simond, who is a reputed connoisseur of wines with an office near our home. Jean-Emmanuel kindly offered to meet for a coffee and we discussed the Champagnes recommended by the blog, those with the best ratings in the excellent book we have used by the Revue du Vin de France and those he himself recommends.

Triangulating between the book’s highest rated champagnes (which I mapped below, with full interactive version here), Jean-Emmanuel narrowed it down to three Champagnes of great interest: Anselme Salosse, Egly-Ouriet and Janisson-Baradon.

Champagne Book

We finally chose Janisson-Baradon as best fitting our criteria of a small producer with history (5th generation), a great Champagne (16.5/20 in our book) and as a bonus, his son, Cyril Janisson, is even a blogger. I posted a call on the blog for people to help track him down and heard back from Cyril on Friday that he would meet us the next day.

Like most Champagne houses, Janisson-Baradon is normally closed over the weekend, but Cyril was so amused by the way I found him that he agreed to open specially for us.

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Cut Ties: Join The Mandarin Collar Society

At last, a cause I can fully believe in!

The CEO of Hong Kong clothing retailer Shanghai Tang, Raphael le Masne de Chermont, is launching the Mandarin Collar Society.

In addition to the Society’s presumed dedication to selling Shanghai Tang clothes, they also advocate a fight against wearing ties.

As a longtime mandarin collar wearer (not Shanghai Tang), this is something I fully agree with.

I have worn a mandarin collar in many situations where a normal tie (or even black tie) is required. The best: Walking up the red carpet at the Cannes film festival where angry bouncers normally stop any man wearing less than a dinner jacket or any woman in more than decollete dress.

Membership to the club opened in London, New York and soon Hong Kong, it remains to be seen if they will have a branch here in Paris.

The London Times already reports a backlash against the movement in Britain.

The Mandarin Collar Society credo:

  • Neckties are often discarded when men reach a certain level of success and achievement.
  • Neckties are the bearers of bad news: They show and tell the wearer when he has gained weight.
  • Neckties have no obvious function other than as soup bibs, and something for adversaries to grab in a fight.
  • Neckties waste time, encourage tardiness, and contribute to trillions of lost work hours.
  • Neckties are increasingly uncomfortable as the Earth’s temperature rises because of global warming.
  • Neckties are just fancy choke collars to impose conformity, invite enslavement, and remind the wearer that his superiors have him by the neck.
  • Neckties present health risks, choke off the oxygen supply, contribute to glaucoma, and are immediately removed in medical emergencies.
  • Neckties require expensive dry cleaning and waste money that could be spent on necessities, such as golf clubs.
  • Neckties cannot be worn with today’s ultimate style statement, the mandarin collar.

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Meeting Steve Jobs and Freedom vs Simplicity

Steve Jobs turned up in London last week for EMI’s announcement that they were breaking ranks with the other record labels to drop DRM copy protections on music.

The press conference and informal chat afterwards was my first encounter with Jobs, who turned out to be less Californian than I imagined: More active and sharper tongued than expected.

By far the most memorable thing he described was Apple’s balancing of products between simplicity and freedom.

If you give the consumers too much freedom, they are overwhelmed by choice and confusion. If you limit their freedom by too much simplicity, they feel constricted, Jobs said.

You can see the use of design to bring simplicity in so many of their products. The trick is selecting the right places to restrict consumer options.

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Samuel Morse + Carl Jung = Twittervision

I don’t understand the desire to microblog daily activities through Twitter, but I do love watching Twittervision, a mashup of a Google map and the latest comments off Twitter from around the world.

You can easily imagine a system that allows narrowing down to interest groups (neighbors or fellow players of an online game), but the concept is sort of like People magazine (for the unfamous) meets Web 2.0.

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The Moving Circus

A video podcast with Loic in which we try to define a new generation who lives without the same connections and links of the previous generation.

Loic summarized:

We feel there is a new generation all around the World, a generation of people who feel more as citizens of the World than their own Country. We felt like trying to describe this generation’s values and called it “the moving circus”, a name Yossi Vardi originally used while we were talking about the fact that we keep seeing each other in all kinds of different events around the World, same cool people, same values, different places.

We tried to define the values of that “moving circus” culture:
-no office
-no boss (self employed)
-no Country (world citizen)
-no race (does not matter)
-no diploma (who cares)
-no smoking (has been)
-no hierarchy (OK, not much hierarchy)
-no political party (!!!, we care more about people than parties)
-no tie, no suit: casual all the time
-no monopoly, no center, everything decentralized
-no religion (not has important as it was before)
-no mariage (not needed to live together)
-in sync: no email, no phone, just IM, twitter, social software…
-no off-line: everything online, Gmail Google apps rather than MS Office
-no distance: it does not matter where you are
-no mass media: they are here but do not matter as much as before
-no fear of embarrassment or of failure: the “always beta” culture
-icons: Hans Rosling, Sergey Brin, Lary Page
-book: The World if Flat from Thomas Friedman
-entrepreneurial or self employed
-ideas over systems
-sharing ideas instead of keeping them secret (authority and power change from people protecting information to people sharing it)
-ethics: environment, …
-global citizen

There’s some reaction on Loic’s blog.

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