Full Grown - Trees patiently grown into art and furniture.


Ceci n’est pas un visage.

Title: Time
Artist: Kim Laughton

This is a CG rendered face, not a photograph. It was modelled using ZBrush and rendered with Arnold. It took 32 hours to render. I wonder how long it took Kim Laughton to model/sculpt it?

More Hyper-realistic CG on the HyperRealCG Tumblr.


Reading and Listening in 2014

I read twenty-five books this past year. Six more than 2013, seven more than in 2012, and nine more than in 2011. Only one of the books was read on my Kobo, the rest were deadtree. Nine of them were non-fiction and sixteen of them were fiction.

Fiction Read in 2014

Read in that order. No duds this year, although I’ve got two incompletes:

I can normally savour a slow journey but Sterling & Gibson’s creation story for the Steampunk genre lost my interest. The stories in Friend, Follow, Text were harshing my mellow, so I’ve taken a break.

Top Three Fiction Reads

The Remains of the Day

We are a story we tell ourselves, parts of which we try to forget. A gentleman butler of World Ward Two-era Britain remembers so much but admits so little.

This book was full of comments penciled in by a previous reader that shaped the way I interpreted the story.

Ishiguro wrote the first draft of this novel in four weeks.

An Instance of the Fingerpost

A murder at Oxford in the 1660s told four times by four unreliable narrators. Each telling reveals more details and yet introduces more bias.

Shares many historical characters with Stephenson’s The System of the World (up next). It also shares this theme:

Early science is messy and pious. Early medical science more so.

System of the World

I feel like I know Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, Caroline of Ansbach and the rest of them. I feel like I’ve witnessed the Great Plague, London’s Great Fire, the end of Britain’s Stuart Dynasty, and the birth of modern thinking in science, religion, politics, and business.

I know I shouldn’t trust these feeling but I do.

Some 300 years ago Newton discovered a new System of the World. The predictive power of his three laws of motion made credible the scientific method. The twin calculus methods of Newton and Leibniz gave the scientific revolution it’s analytic strength.

This book is the third and final tome in Neal Stephenson's historical sci-fi trilogy the Baroque Cycle. It is also a tale about swashbuckling pirates, currency, coinage, courage and computation.

Non-Fiction Read in 2014

I fulfilled my goal of reading more non-fiction books. Many of these were inspired by a series of audio lectures on the Eastern intellectual tradition, others were inspired by parenthood as well as our work at Open Democracy Manitoba. They were read in this order:

Audio Lectures in 2014

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition - TGC - Grant Hardy - 17hrs - The best series of lectures I’ve listened to, ever. The content was mind expanding. The lecturing was enthralling.

Consciousness and It’s implications - TGC - Daniel N. Robinson - 6hrs - Difficult and at times even disturbing.

Headspace - Take 5 - A Guided Introduction to Meditation - I’ve been meditating on and off since 2000 (when I took a meditation course in the rain forest near Cape Tribulation, Australia). I’m 25 days into the program and I cannot recommend it enough. Try Take 10 on the Headspace app for free. It’s 10 days of 10 minute meditation sessions. You’ll thank me.

Currently Reading and Listening

2015-01-22 14:11:00


Simon SwainEmergence as a game mechanic.

Simon demos a game programmed to play itself. The game involves flocking, resource management, colonization, economics, war and the exploration of deep space. Really.

Explore Simon Swain’s Deep Space.


Uninstalling social media apps for a short break. xoxo


Internet Bots for Fun & No Profit

My talk from last November’s BSides Winnipeg 2013 Security Conference.

I spoke about @abotlafia, my Twitter bot inspired by the “bot” in Umberto Eco’s 1988 novel Foucault’s Pendulum.

To show how little code is required to create automated accounts on Twitter I demo’d a few other bots that I’ve written. Here’s one that Tweets out a random number every five minutes. A modern day Numbers Station.

require 'chatterbot/dsl'

loop do
  tweet rand(1000000..99000000).to_s
  sleep 300

I closed with my motivations, the security/ethical implications of algorithmic social media accounts, and the possibility of a future where we are unable to determine who is real and who is a bot on the Internet.

The slides are online, as is the Ruby source code for the bots I wrote for the talk.

BSides Winnipeg 2013 was a two day B-Sides security conference held at the King’s Head in November 2013. All the talks are available online.

UPDATE - Abotlafia’s response to my talk:


The Four Stages of Learning.

Don’t know; Don’t care.
Don’t know; Do care.
Do Know; Do care.
Do Know; Don’t Care.

via: Trivium


An Optical Poem is a visualization of Franz Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody made in 1938 by abstract film-maker Oskar Fischinger.

Filmed in stop-motion, all visual elements are hand-placed pieces of paper on wires.

Related: Music for the Eyes - Three takes on computer generated music visualization.


A conversation between two pixel mangling Twitter bots led to some beautiful images.

The bots took turns distorting the data from this source image.

The above image was but one in the series of degraded iterations.

The Bots:

And now I want to start a noise band called Degraded Iterations.


Lift off with battery packs in series. Our new electronics activity kit!


Sweat Lodge Ceremony

On Monday I participated in a sweat lodge ceremony organized by Red River College Aboriginal Student Support & Community Relations. This took place near Libau Manitoba at the site of a yearly Sun Dance. The ceremony was a teaching lodge led by Bundle carrier, Sun dancer, and Spiritual Advisor for Corrections Services Canada, Brian McLeod.

A sweat lodge is an Aboriginal ceremony of purification, thankfulness, healing, and discovery. The lodge itself is built of saplings lashed together and hung with heavy cloth tarp. A dome maybe 10 feet (3 metres) in diameter, the shape of a great turtle shell.

We offered tobacco to the fire blazing outside the entrance of the lodge. The offering made in the name of all our relations. We knelt and entered the lodge sitting side by side on a circle of blankets. Brian spoke to us of vulnerability, of strength, and of living in a good way.

The tarp is pulled shut from outside. It is dark inside but for the red light of the Grandmothers and Grandfathers, the granite rocks pulled from the fire outside and placed into the earthen pit in the centre of the lodge.

The smell of cedar. The sound of rain. Drumming and rattles and voice. Water on stone; the hot breath of life. Hottest right before the flaps open, only to be closed again. Four cycles of heat. Four doorways. Giving thanks to all our relations. Awash in the fervour of sensation and gratitude.

2014-06-04 13:16:00


Pecha Kucha Winnipeg Vol. 18

PechaKucha 20x20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.

Last night I participated in volume 18 of the Winnipeg Pecha Kucha night at the Park Theatre.

My talk went well, or at least I assume it did. It was a blur once I got on stage. The talk was delivered by auto-pilot Kyle. I found the 20x20 format challenging. With twenty 20 second slides you talk for 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I’m use to lecturing for an hour or more, so this was an interesting exercise in constraint. Producing the slides a week in advanced, and building the talk around them, had me initially trying to cram in too much. Even after a few rewrites for brevity I felt at times like a nervous robot dictating my talking points for each image. :D

The crowd was great. Very welcoming and clappy. The other speakers were engaging and passionate. I was told ahead of time that at past events an ad hoc theme for the night tended to emerge. The theme for last night’s event seemed to be social justice.

I was the first to speak. I talked about the experience of building and I also argued that a well functioning democracy requires engaged and accountable citizens.

Here’s Karenia Niedzwiecki mash-up of the evening:

Government accountability requires citizen accountability. Democracy gives us the chance to say “I’m worth more than you think”. You can think of me as the travel santa… but apparently we’ve all been bad. The most successful matches are made when organizations identify the need. I’d been running for a 1000 days in a row, so I thought, let’s run a 50k for fun. I hope your next vehicle will plug in. We work hard to make this happen—grandmothers and grandchildren, happy and healthy. I know you’ve had a couple of DJs present before, but I have one thing that they don’t, and that’s offspring. Citizen journalism requires a disconnect from self-focus. That’s what I want to avoid… rejection (as a graphic designer or as a comedian).” — source

The sentence Democracy gives us the chance to say “I’m worth more than you think” was from the talk after mine by Dougald Lamont. Mr. Lamont spoke about his research into economic inequality and what we can do about it. I think our talks went well together.

Synergy High-Five!

2014-05-23 14:15:00


The Shape of Sound - Nik Nowak designs mobile sound sculptures giving sound an extreme shape.


Choices are IMPORTANT. (at Agricola)