Sunday, September 30, 2007

Big things in Canada

You thought things were big in Texas. You were so wrong. Things are big in Canada, dude. We gots lots of big things. Why? I guess we have nothing better to do...... you know..... what with the lack of TV up 'ere in Canada and all......

But seriously, check out this collection of big things in Canada. The nearest thing to me is Oggie (aka Spike), the mechanical man at the Canadian Pacific Rail's Ogden Yards in Calgary.

ASCII bunny

(= ' . ' =)

That's an ASCII bunny. Yes......... I'm bored. You want a real groaner?

You ASCII (pronounced askee) somebunny a question, they gives you an ANSI (pronounced ansee). That's true geek humour.

I didn't say it was very funny..........

I didn't know much about nothing

20 things you didn't know about nothing, a fascinating read at

Nothing, seen here on the left........

I'm not being facetious

Faces in places.

The idea is to showcase photographs where the shape of facial features appears in inanimate objects.

I like it......

By the way, did you notice the face in my title? Aren't I clever?

You know you're getting old when.......

This is a message to all restaurants.

You have to consider your older customers when you do stuff. Like what? Like choosing the font and colour schemes in your menus. I'm serious! We've been to several restaurants lately where their menus are very difficult to read even with our glasses ON! When you choose a medium brown background and dark brown writing - there's not a lot of contrast there...... The menus wouldn't be half bad if the lighting was suited to reading either, but it's not. With Darlene and I, it's almost a regular private joke that as soon as we get seated, some staff member is going to decide that this is a good time to adjust the lights for romantic mood, which means turning them down to the point where spelunkers would feel at home. Making it impossible to read anything written using low contrast stylish colours and fonts.

Darlene joked last night that we need to invent a pair of reading glasses that have LEDs embedded in the frames so that you can press a button to illuminate what you're reading.

[running to patent office]

Houston, the ego has landed.....

Yesterday I attended the Loose Moose company class for the first time. I had attended other Moose classes before, but they were pre-show - and those are specifically meant to help warm up and select the participants of the show to follow, which I certainly did not strive to do - not yet.

The class was an eye opener. I clambered to get on stage to try out a few scenes and was torn to shreds by the instructor. The good news is if the rest of the class needs an example of what not to do, I'm it for now. It was frustrating, but I tried not to let it deter me. The fact is - I'm totally green and the learning curve is going to be quite steep for a while. It was comforting to hear that other classmates had issues they needed to work out too, so I'm not alone.

Things learned? It's vital to realize that you can't analyze your way into, through or out of a scene - you have to just do it. It helps the scene a lot if someone gets at least somewhat specific as to where you are and why or what you're doing, especially in short scenes. I have a lot to learn when it comes to offers and blocking. There seems to be this balance of play versus reality in the sense that, although your fellow actors may know that anything you say or do is not for real, there's an element of it that is based on your own thoughts, so you still kinda have to be aware of what you're saying and doing so as not to offend. This shit is hard!

I'm looking forward to next class.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

[chanting] Ca-na-da! Ca-na-da! [chanting stops]

There is finally serious competition in the online music market. iTunes no longer has a monopoly, as Amazon has gotten in on the act. Best part - all their mp3 files are DRM-free!

Now for the bad news - doesn't sell to anyone outside the US and is not selling mp3s............. yet. Let's hope that changes. Soon. I've already wrote them to complain.

[Update] I got an answer from my complaint. basically has no immediate plans to offer mp3s for sale in Canada. Can someone from Canada please offer up a good selection of cheap online music that is DRM-free whose name is not Apple? Anyone?

What you missed...

If you're just a casual internet user, you may have missed out on the dozens of fun things that have been making the rounds on blogs, in folks' inboxes, etc. This animated video - Internet People should clue you in on what you've missed. If any of the mentions are lost on you, the list of sources of everyone mentioned in the video is here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Burning Man 2007 panoramas

I have some friends who actually went to Burning Man this year. I cannot wait to see them and ask them to recount their experiences.

Of course, pictures don't do the event justice (so I'm told), but I found some awesome panorama shots of the event. I have no words.

Miniaturization never stops

I love comparison pictures showing how far technology has come along.

Like this one, the size of 1GB of data storage 20 years ago....... and now.

The 'now' is being held in those fingers on the right.......

Friday, September 28, 2007

We'll pay the rent with our rock....

Jack Black is my hero.

I just wanted to say that.

Yes.............. I'm watching Tenacious D / Pick of Destiny....

My everything

Here's a cute animation of a character called Grumf doing Barry White.

Marble maze

Here's a clever ad for the Nissan Rogue.

My 9th MacBook Report - On the road with the Mac

I don't recall if I mentioned this before, but I decided to take the Macbook on my recent business trip to the UK.

The Macbook came through in spades on this trip. I was glad to discover that it fit in my old laptop carrying case with plenty of room to spare. My old HP laptop's battery performance is brutal (always has been), but the Macbook's battery was poised to last 4-5 hours. This really changed my attitude about using the laptop as I no longer felt like I needed to be near AC power like I had in the past. I didn't encounter any problems at all. I downloaded all my pictures from my camera for safekeeping. I kept my Palm backed up on the Macbook. I continued blogging as per usual. I was able to make last minute changes to my Microsoft presentations and other documents without issue. I used iTunes to listen to my music collection.

I realize that all of this is possible in Windows on my old laptop and that is precisely the point. My experiment was a success. All the things I needed to use a computer for on a daily basis were able to be replicated on the Mac without spending any money on software. I can't say that for my Windows laptop.

So now that I've had some time on the Mac, what did I conclude? That the Mac is just as good as a PC with Windows. In some ways it's better - the hardware and software just seem to work better as a team. The computer has features that are clever. The OS X interface seems more intuitive - but that is often a matter of personal choice. To be fair, using the Mac didn't make me think any less of Windows per se, I just see now why Mac users love their computers so much. I would have no trouble recommending a Mac to anyone. About the only thing I can think of in a bad way is the Mac's limited hardware choices and price (surely related to each other).

What I am quite curious to see is how long the thing will last...........

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's hand soap

This could be fun to have around at your next Halloween party - hand soap....... that looks like little hands.

Yeah..... it's perfect.

Gimme cable network shows any day.....

I have concluded that pretty much all the new TV programming worth watching is NOT to be found on traditional network TV channels. 6 Feet Under, Weeds, Sopranos, Big Love..... cable network shows from the likes of HBO and Showtime.

I just discovered a great new show - Dexter. It stars Michael C. Hall. If you recognize that name, it's because he played the gay brother David Fisher in Six Feet Under. This time, he plays Dexter Morgan a member of the Miami Police's crime lab, but in reality he's a disciplined and murderous psychopath and he kills other serial killers he feels have escaped justice.

Convert this.....

I don't know how secure such a service would be, but if you're in a fix to get a certain type of file converted to a different format, You Convert It might be what you're looking for. You upload the file to them via the web site and they email a link to download the converted file.

What can they convert? Documents such as pdf, doc, xls, ppt, xhtml; images such as bmp, ico, gif, jpg, tif, png; audio such as aac, mp3, wav and wma; video such as wmv, mpg, mov, avi, flv, mp4.

It will also convert copious units of measure right on the page.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Learn about phishing from the fish

Speaking of internet security, one of the most recent dangers facing users is 'phishing'. This refers basically to the act of tricking folks into providing personal information to a malicious third party posing as a legitimate online service provider - such as a bank, credit card company, online business etc.

One of the new necessary skills people should master is how to spot phishing attempts in order to better protect themselves. Anti-phishing Phil (the fish) can help people learn about phishing in a rather fun way - at least more fun than hearing someone drone on about it.

Do you know anyone whose computer security skills need improving?

I teach a seminar for Chinook Learning Services on (among other things) Internet Security tailored to the home user. The next course, scheduled in 2 parts for Wednesdays October 3rd and 10th, currently only have 1 person signed up. The course won't run with numbers that low, so if you know anyone who needs a good introduction to internet and computer security, get them to give Chinook Learning Services a call at 777-7224 and sign up before it gets cancelled.

We're so silly

Darlene and I were being totally silly last night and started asking each other some ridiculous questions. Feel free to jump in at any time....

Why don't they sell turkey eggs? Wouldn't they be huge? Isn't that a plus? We have eggs from other types of fowl - why not turkeys? Are turkeys too valuable as roasts to be used as a source of eggs? Do their eggs taste bad?

We get milk from cows, goats, sheep, yaks, horses, donkeys, reindeer and camels. Why not bison? I have yet to come across bison milk, yet we readily agree to kill them for their meat. Are they too rambunctious to affix a milking machine to?

Speaking of milk, I've always wondered - how do baby elephants nurse? Do they use their mouths or their trunks? Maybe a combination of both? I dare you to visualize that and keep a straight face. Darlene seemed to think the trunk would get in the way.

Enquiring minds want to know.............

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Is that stubble on my keyboard?

I'm surprised that I have never seen such a product like this until now - a shaver that recharges off of a USB port.

Available at x-tremegeek.

Self torture machines

I got really excited when stores like Superstore, WalMart and Zeller's put self serve checkouts in. Colour me strange, but I like self serve and was looking forward to using these checkouts whenever the opportunity presented itself. What a freaking disappointment! They rarely work properly! A partial list of what can go wrong:
  • Item can't / doesn't scan - you're totally screwed in this case until a helper comes along and even then you might still be screwed if they don't know what to do.
  • Price is not what you saw marked on the shelf - ditto.......... screwed.... or eat the cost difference.
  • Item doesn't weigh what it should - if the computer's idea of what the item should weigh differs from its actual weight - you're going to get a hard time when you put it in the bag on the weigh scale.
  • Item doesn't fit in the bag - if the system doesn't allow for 'skipping bagging' for large items, you're not going to get past that item until you cram that mother into the bag - totally useless.
  • When you get to paying for the order, the money input and output slots don't seem organized in a way that makes finding them intuitive - the coins, bills and receipts often don't come out anywhere near each other.
  • Machine is stuck in mid-transaction from the last customer who gave up and walked away.
  • Machine is just out of order, period.
  • God help you if each self checkout is being used by any one of the following: technically illiterate person who can't even operate a bank machine or cell phone; technophobic who acts like the checkout machine is possessed or trying to cheat them; a lone parent accompanied by 3 or more children; anyone who should know in advance that they have too many items.
If it ends up taking 4 times as long to process a 6 item order through a self checkout than using a human operated till, that says ineffective use of technology to me...........

Monday, September 24, 2007

Companies cooperating for the common good.....

The biggest cell phone manufacturers (Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, LG, and Nokia) have agreed to adopt a standard charging connector for their next generation of cell phones - micro USB. This means you'll be able to stop buying a new charger cable every time you get a new phone and also means you'll be able to charge your phone using power from your computer (or laptop).

It's about bloody time!

Thanks to OhGizmo! for the news flash.

I think you're crazy......

Crazy, the single by Gnarls Barkley - performed by 2 robots, LEV the thereminbot and his newly-built pal thumpbot. Funky.

I get it now. In the future, robots won't necessarily 'oppress' us, they're just going to torture us with really bad cover songs - a kind of robot karaoke..........

Some more pictures.....

Slightly jet lagged but none the worse for wear, I uploaded a few pictures from my day in London Saturday. They're on Facebook - this link might work, otherwise, look for the album called London Part 2.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gutter art

Check out this amazing gutter art - artists decorate the storm drain in gutters in Sao Paolo, Brazil.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Can you see London in 9 hours? Yep.... but you'll be dizzy...

Today was my planned full day in London and I was on route by 8am full of piss and vinegar. Well - piss anyway - staying hydrated means you can never stray too far from a toilet.

First stop, the Big Bus stop at Green Park. I rode the bus the whole red route, stopping only to get off at the London Eye (which I skipped going on - too long of a lineup), St. James Cathedral (no photos allowed) and Buckingham Palace (again with the skipping due to lineups). Although I passed on the Eye, I did get into the Star Wars Exhibit (pictures posted on Facebook). That was pretty cool, if you're into that sort of thing.

It's very easy to eat up 9 hours of touristy activity in London. I most certainly have to get back there and take my time next time - with Darlene of course - who has been there numerous times in an earlier life and said she would love to go back.

I will post more London pics after I get home and get my act together.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I made it!

London - Karl is in da house! I have waited so long to pull this off and I finally made it.

We got to Heathrow earlier than expected today, so I dumped luggage in my room and made for the Tube to conquer London. What a place. Talk about cultural melting pot. It's awesome! Every brand has a store here. The biggest eye opener for me was Selfridge's. It's kinda like Harrod's. They have a food hall..... basically a deli / grocery store surrounded by mini restaurants and food kiosks. It's like shopping the world for food. I've never seen half the stuff they were selling there before. I had to try something, so I bought a piece of coconut burfi. It was delicious. This store had more kinds of tea than you could count. I stuck to the shopping district along Oxford and Regent, between Piccadilly Circus and the Marble Arch (pictures on Facebook). Tomorrow, I'm going back into town to ride the Big Bus and see the sights.

So far, I love the place.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fly hitchhiking to Poopville

The adventures of Mr. Fly as a photo set.

When I saw this one, I near collapsed laughing.

Gifts made with molecular chains (symbols)

Perfect gifts for the nerd in your life - gifts made with molecules. Seen here - earrings representing the neurotransmitter molecular chains of acetylcholene, serotonin, dopamine, GABA and glutamate.

Other gifts include t-shirts, necklaces and wine glasses.

It's a sign........

Something happened today that hasn't happened in 31 years. The Canadian dollar was at par with the American dollar, rising as high as US$1.0004 before backing off to US$0.9984 - up 1.34 cents US from yesterday.The question on everyone's mind is how long will it take before we're not paying 25% more than the US for the same products - the most obvious things being books, magazines and cars.

In other news, the Northwest passage is open again, allowing for the possibility that ships may once again ply the arctic waters connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Does this mean hell has frozen over?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Uh... just a second ago... wasn't there just a...

Here's a video that you really ought to let someone play to about the 30 second mark for you so you can watch the last 10 seconds, then rewind to the beginning to watch what came before. It would have more impact that way - I think....

Either way, it's quite mind boggling.

I don't think, therefore I am.......... not

I'm still shaking my head at the revelation (no pun intended) that many Christians don't believe in 'the theory' of evolution - like the last time I checked, it wasn't classified as a 'theory' anymore, insomuch as we have supposedly accumulated a vast collection of physical evidence to support it. But what I read today is bordering on the bizarre. The View co-host Sherri Shephard told her colleagues that she doesn't know whether the world is flat or not and hasn't put much thought into it.

Which just goes to show that if you don't give any thought to things that conflict with your belief system, there's no danger that they'll contradict it. If I ignore stuff then it doesn't exist. Or, if I ignore stuff then it cannot be true!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Smart TV

On Sky TV, it appears that they have incorporated a cool feature - while you watch an ad on TV for an upcoming TV show on a Sky channel, if you press the green button on your Sky remote before the ad ends, the cable box automagically sets itself up to remind you when the show is about to air.

More British terminology

Other British terms I've encountered that are different from North America:
  • central reservation - the grassy median that separates opposing lanes of traffic
  • bap - a bread roll used to make sandwiches (supposedly originated in Poole, mere miles from where I'm staying)
  • egg mayo, tuna mayo - same as egg salad, tuna salad (filling for sandwiches)
  • sewage farm - same as sewage treatment plant
  • rubbish tip - in other words garbage dump
  • wobbly pop - an alcoholic beverage
  • knackered - tired

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I took this picture to demonstrate a few things. First, that Europe has many models of cars that North Americans do not - even from familiar brands. Here we have a Volkswagen Lupo.

Second that people will buy cars in a colour to match their toys. In his case, the owner chose a Lupo the colour of their Kermits and other assorted plush toys.


Playing tourist in Portsmouth

Today I visited Portsmouth. It's a well known Navy port and I took lovely pictures and put them on Facebook in an album called a day in Portsmouth. How fitting eh?

So how was it? Pretty awesome. I was particularly impressed by all the folks in period garb at the historic dockyards. As luck would have it, there was a special display going on today, so there were lots of displays to see that wouldn't normally be there.

After the dockyards, I wandered down to Gunwharf Quays, a huge dockside shopping and entertainment complex and the site of Spinnaker Tower.

While there I got a chance to finally check out something I've been hearing so much about - a carvery. Carveries are all about meat. Roast beef, pork or turkey are the centerpiece of every meal you can get. Gunwharf Quays have a mini carvery kiosk. So I enjoyed a scrumptious roast turkey baguette. We need to get us some carveries in Canada........

Blast from last year

Every once in a while I'll plug older posts from this humble blog to revisit topics that are near and dear to my heart, or just plain great stories.

This time 'round, I'd like to refocus your gaze on a trio of posts about the music in my life. I only discovered today that one of the links tying the 3 posts together was broken, so I fixed it and now it is ready for a good read.

Part one begins here - the rest - just follow the links at the end of the post.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Surf blogs by their pics

The people at Google just never stop creating stuff. One of their latest toys (pun intended) is Blogger Play. The concept is simple - watch a stream of pictures that are in the posts of public Blogger blogs. Click the picture to go to the blog post it belongs to, or click show info to see an overlay with the post title, a glimpse of the text, and access to the blogger's profile.

Hint: soldiers in WWII made them

What could you make from a razor blade, a pencil, some thumbtacks, wire and a toilet paper tube?

A working radio. I kid you not. It doesn't even need batteries!

Funniest Facebook group name I've seen this week

"When I was your age, Pluto was a planet"

This place is just weird

I'm sure there's a logical reason for this (like price or something task-difficulty related) but I noticed that at my delightful old hotel in Bournemouth, the waste (drain) pipes for the suites' bathroom sinks and tubs are on the outside of the exterior walls. They're not sealed either. I only noticed this because as I was exiting the hotel to the car park (parking lot), I passed a foaming pile of soap suds (I dare you to find that phrase anywhere on another blog - huh?) on the path leading out the back door of the hotel. Puzzled, I looked around for the source of the suds and traced it to a waste pipe coming down the outside wall from one of the bathrooms in an upper floor suite. From the sound of the rushing water flowing through the pipes, I presumed that someone was emptying their tub, which had likely been filled with very soapy water and it was foaming out an air vent for the pipe.

Looked funny as hell, but it took me a bit by surprise.

Car boot!

These Brits are a clever bunch. They don't have many garage or yard sales - they go one better. They hold car boot sales. The idea is you pack the stuff you want to sell into your vehicle and drive to the car boot sale venue and wallah - it's the best large scale sale of junk I mean ..... second hand items you could dream of (the wikipedia article explains the protocol). No more driving around whole neighbourhoods looking for sales, just go to the one place in your area. And a seller need only put their unsold items back in the trunk until next time.

S'bleedin' brilliant it is!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Up up and away in my beautiful balloon

If you're on Facebook, I've added a few more pictures to my English Riviera album, including views from the Bournemouth Eye (a tethered helium balloon that rises 500 feet up to give you a spectacular view) and the Bournemouth Pier.

The speed of light is fast.... as long as you're local

Allow me to waste your time with some facts and figures.

Time it takes light to reach Earth from the sun: 8.333 minutes

Time it takes light to reach Pluto from the sun: 5.54 hours

Time it takes light to reach NASA's Voyager spacecraft from Earth: 14 hours

Time it takes light to reach Earth from the nearest star: 4 years

Time it takes light to reach Earth from the centre of the Milky Way: 30,000 years

Time it takes light to reach Earth from the nearest galaxy: 2,000,000 years

Going round and round the roundabout

Now that I've been in the UK for over a week, I can honestly say I am totally impressed with the phenomenon that is common in Europe but pretty rare in North America. I'm talking of course about the roundabout (traffic circle). They're a little daunting at first, but once you get the hang of them, you come to realize that they're a much more efficient method of processing traffic through an intersection. The beauty of the roundabout is that if you miss your exit, you just go around again. Unlike a normal intersection, roundabouts allow for more than 4 roads to intersect. Roundabouts also make it easy to go back the way you came if you find the need to make a u-turn.

Makes me wish we had more of them in Canada.

More differences from the UK

More things that are different in England:
  • Petrol is expensive. 97 pence per litre. Equals $2.04CAD per litre. Equals $7.47USD per gallon (for my US friends)
  • It cost $120CAD to fill the tank on our hire car (rental car)
  • My colleague said it would take $250 to fill his truck here
  • Not surprisingly, mopeds are everywhere, as are motorcycles
  • Good luck finding a convenience store open past 11pm
  • If somebody offers you a 'cuppa', they mean a cup of tea or coffee
  • It is illegal to speak on the cell phone while driving - and they don't do it - they pull over
  • The variety of accents here is amazing - even if you discount the foreigners

Well, posts may get sparse for the next few days as we're getting into the crux of our work here now.

Don't be frightened by DMCA abuses

Some folks had warned that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was bad news. You may have heard stories about DMCA abuses since its passage into law. Here's another example of a software company trying to abuse it to coerce an ebay seller. The seller is fighting back and suing the company.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

UK radio leaves me wanting

You know how I go on about how sucky radio is in Calgary? Perspective is everything. Yu should see what it's like in England. I would have thought radio would be utterly fantastic, with the airwaves bursting with stations blaring music we've never heard before.

Nope. You might get a dozen stations if you're lucky and 4 of them are BBC variants. They mostly suck and there is 50% inane chatter, 25% advertising and 25% music - most of which can be classified as 70's disco, modern dance club music or Travis.

I expected much more from you mate.

Because I can

I'm growing a soul patch.

I just thought I'd throw that out there.......

I know........ I'm such a rebel. Yes I am.

Karl's latest prediction

The movie Superbad is the next Napoleon Dynamite. Mark my words.

I mean come on - McLovin? That is going to be one of the most copied words this year.

The pub burger a-la Anglaise

Yesterday was a long day. I tend to avoid discussion about work on my blog, but suffice to say we drove 4 hours (at 6am) to attend to some work, put in a day and drove 4 hours back to our hotel (arriving at 10pm). On our way back to Bournemouth, my colleague insisted we go to a little town called Heytesbury (just east of Warminster) to enjoy a nice pub supper. The place we stopped at was the Angel Coaching Inn. If you've never been to a small town British pub, they're charming little joints that instantly make you feel at home. And just like 'at home', there's nobody there to cater to your needs - if you want something, you have to ask. That goes for menus, placing your order, getting a drink, paying your bill, everything. But you still feel like you own shares in the place and everyone flashes a smile, even if they don't know you. We made 3 new friends (one of them a cute puppy) without even trying.

So, I said to myself, "self" I said, let's try their beef burger. Oh.... my....... God! This thing was massive. I tok one look at it and decided this thing needed to be eaten like a meatloaf - off came the top bun layer and I attacked that beast with a knife and fork. It was a real, homemade patty - thick and filled with tiny bits of fried onion and herbs. I could barely finish the thing, it was that big. All I can say is..... Bravo! That was a beauty, eh?

P.S.: Driving along the narrow twisty English back country roads at night is an adventure. Can you say blind spots?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Live from the B-M

Facebook pictures of Bournemouth (the B-M) are now online. Yeah, I'm totally up with the lingo now. Or maybe I just made that shit up.

Bah Ha!