Saturday, May 31, 2008


I've observed and joked about the endless power Google has (and will have more of), but this little parody of a web page on Google Robots is quite funny.

I have a feeling of being watched by a Google Robot. What about my privacy? Again, we take great measures to ensure no privacy is ever invaded. Even if there is a Google Robot next to you, it doesn't mean he records everything you say. You can think of him as a quiet neighbour doing gardening work. Do you suspect your neighbour to spy on your life... just because he's within a short distance of you?

Is this entertainment?

Darlene and I have visited many restaurants where they have numerous televisions scattered around with (naturally) various sports channels selected. Inevitably, one of those televisions will be showing a poker game.

Seriously..... who watches poker on TV? Is it really that exciting? I don't see what the draw is. Is it the players trying to dress as super-cool as they can muster? Are you watching to learn how to play? Is it that hard? Is it the thrill of watching people lose their shirts? Could someone please explain it to me?

Comparing laptop brands

Someone once wrote me and asked, "What is the best laptop brand?" I was reading over my answer to them and decided to share it with y'all.

"This is like asking "what is the best car manufacturer?" It really depends on your personal preferences. Ask 100 different people and you'll get 25 different answers. But since you're asking....... If I were buying a laptop, here are brands I would consider (not necessarily in this order): Toshiba; HP; Dell; Apple. The ones that I list here have been good to me in various capacities. The ones I have not listed either have their flaws (in my eyes) or I have no experience with them.

How helpful was that though - really? Buying a laptop is as much about whether you like the features it comes with; whether the price is right; whether it's comfortable to use (for you); whether you can find after sales accessories for it; how long the battery lasts; whether it has enough USB ports; whether it's pretty (yes - that's important to some people).... the list goes on. Find one you like, then look for online reviews on that model. If you can't find anything blatantly wrong with it - buy it.

I usually tell my clients something they hate me for when I say it but acknowledge me after they live it - you'll never know what you like or don't like about something until you buy it. If you're lucky, you'll discover the things you don't like right away and return the item for a better one. If you're less lucky, you'll discover the bad things later and vow never to suffer that bad thing again. Believe it or not - this happens even to those of us who know our stuff."

What if my hands are lethal weapons?

Oh man. The longer airport security continues with their crazy tactics with impunity, the dumber they look and the more I shake my head. This post from BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow links to the tale of airport security geniuses in Kelowna BC (a city in the interior vacation belt of that province) insisted on confiscating a 1.7" long charm necklace in the shape of a pistol - with no moving parts.

The best part is his close-out:

"Hey, Guy? If I could make a miniature gun that was 1.7" long and contained no moving parts and could still fire bullets, I could also make it in shapes other than gun. If your security seriously contemplates defending against that level of technology (firing bullets out of a solid object less than 2" long), then you'd better confiscate all metal objects, period. Also, what are you doing about other conceivable -- but technically impossible -- threats, like telekinesis, voodoo, and directed sunspot radiation?"

I'm guessing the people who make the charms I pictured are going out of business......

Friday, May 30, 2008

Take this.....

It's a known fact that a placebo often has as powerful an effect on various forms of malaise as a real drug.

Now you can take advantage of this power with pharmaceutical grade natural cherry chewable Obecalp (get it?) tablets. No artificial colours or flavours. Contains pharmaceutical grade dextrose and natural cherry flavour.

This is who the government wants to protect.....

If you think the entertainment industry is just playing dirty pool with consumers with lawsuits and by lining the pockets of key politicians, guess again. Here's a story about how innocent content distributors are being attacked by the paid online henchmen of the entertainment industry.

I love the closing of the article:

If it can happen to Revision3, it could happen to your business too. We’re simply in the business of delivering entertainment and information – that’s not life or death stuff. But what if MediaDefender discovers a tracker inside a hospital, fire department or 911 center? If it happened to us, it could happen to them too. In my opinion, Media Defender practices risky business, and needs to overhaul how it operates. Because in this country, as far as I know, we’re still innocent until proven guilty – not drawn, quartered and executed simply because someone thinks you’re an outlaw.

Thanks to BoingBoing for the lead.

eBay makes a big mistake in my opinion

Unless you're a regular eBayer, you may not have heard a recent change in eBay policy that has the potential to seriously bias the online auction site against the seller. You can no longer leave negative feedback against a buyer. That's right - positive and neutral is good, but negative is no longer an option. I see this as a problem. Let my email trail with eBay be witness as to why:

My original enquiry to eBay:
I've noticed that you have removed the option to leave negative feedback to buyers. This is the single most ridiculous move eBay has made since its creation. This essentially gives carte blanche to buyers to abuse the system with very few repercussions. I am fully aware of the process involved in dealing with buyers who don't pay, or abuse the relationship with the seller in other ways. Most of these processes are ineffectual from the perspective of the seller, as they do nothing to prevent the buyer from repeating their behaviour, either as themselves or as a new user. But negative feedback serves as a sign post to other sellers to be cautious with particular problem buyers. In a truly fair system, sellers should be able to rate buyers in the same manner as they are themselves rated. Many eBay sellers I know are shocked regarding this change.

Please reconsider this move to eliminate negative feedback for buyers. It is a huge mistake. I foresee this move alone could motivate many eBay sellers to move on to other online sales venues.

Their response:
My name is Julia (name changed to protect the innocent) and I understand from your email that you would like to voice your concerns regarding the new changes that have been made to the site. I can certainly see your point, though please allow me to explain further regarding this topic.

We want the Feedback system to accurately assess seller performance. We don't want buyers not to leave feedback because of their fear of seller retaliation. We know that Sellers have the same concern as you've mentioned this abuse within your email.

Please know that if a buyer uses the threat of negative Feedback to demand more than what was promised in the item description (e.g., wants overnight delivery but only paid for standard delivery), the seller should immediately report the buyer to eBay. If there is clear evidence of extortion, eBay will take action typically on a first offence. If a buyer shows a pattern of malicious behaviour, eBay will most likely suspend the buyer. If we suspend the buyer, any negative or neutral Feedback the buyer has left for sellers will be removed.

Sellers should only file these complaints when the buyer asks for more than what is promised in the listing. Filing a false claim may result in seller suspension.

Buyers will be held more accountable when sellers report an unpaid item or commit other policy violations. eBay investigates all reports that we receive, and manipulation of our new Feedback policies will not be tolerated. Additionally, we will not allow any violation of our policies (such as Unpaid Item, Transaction Interference, Feedback Abuse, or Feedback Extortion). Please continue to report any violations of policy to us so that we can fully investigate on your behalf.

Thank you for taking the time to let us know of your concerns regarding the recent feedback changes on eBay. Your input and suggestions are greatly appreciated, and be rest assured that I've forwarded this information on your behalf so it can be reviewed. As these changes are implemented globally, we will be monitoring them closely to ensure they have a positive effect on the health of the eBay marketplace.

Thank you for taking the time to contact eBay. I hope you have a great day!

Warm Regards,
eBay Customer Support.

My retort:
Thank you for your quick response. I see your points, but it seems there is still an opportunity for sellers to be stuck dealing with problem buyers with no means of warning from other bad transactions.

Here's an example. My wife, who does much more business on eBay than I do (equally as a buyer and seller), recently got burned by a buyer who did not pay for an item they won in an auction. They never communicated nor did they respond to the dispute mechanism that my wife followed to the letter. That buyer eventually had 3 negative feedbacks appear on their profile from other sellers indicating that they did not pay on 3 other transactions, which didn't help my wife in this case due to timing. But these feedback entries are now part of the public record, serving as a warning to other sellers. This is important because sellers have the right to cancel bids, but what's the point if there's no way of knowing the buyer has had problems with other sellers. Even though these 3 people (as indicated in their feedback) did not file a unpaid dispute, at least the eBay community got to see the issue with this buyer. Although eBay would argue that failing to file a dispute is the seller's own choice (and problem), sellers often wait as much as 14 days to get ruled in their favour and cannot relist their item during this time. So many sellers do find the process not to be worth the effort in many cases as the disputes seem biased toward the buyer - a buyer can respond with many excuses that the seller has to live with.

It gets worse. If a seller sees a bidding war begin on their item and the buyer cops out by not paying after winning the auction, the seller has literally lost a great potential earning on that item, in that even if the item is immediately re-listed it may not earn the same amount as before due to a drop off in interest. eBay sales are often about timing and this situation ruins it for the seller, no matter what the compensation from eBay.

We don't buy the negative feedback threat argument simply because even if a buyer threatens the seller with negative feedback if they don't do something extra, the seller has the opportunity to retort.

In summary, this new policy biases in favour of the buyer even more than ever before. Problem buyers are nothing but an administrative nightmare to sellers and lack of public profile evidence of past problems is going to lead to increased abuse in my (and my wife's) opinion.

A constructive suggestion - if disputes (and their outcomes) with buyers became visible on their profile, that would be a step in the right direction, and force the hand of sellers to file disputes whenever there's a problem, instead of wringing their hands because of a perceived lack of consequence to the buyer.


Their response to my retort:
Thank you for writing to us. My name is Gary (name changed yadda yadda) and it would be my pleasure to help you out today.

Thank you for taking the time to let us know of your concerns regarding the recent feedback changes on eBay. You do bring up some very interesting points as well. Your input and suggestions are greatly appreciated, and be rest assured that I've forwarded this information on your behalf so it can be reviewed. As these changes are implemented globally, we will be monitoring them closely to ensure they have a positive effect on the health of the eBay marketplace.

Again, thank you for your email Karl and please don't hesitate to let us know if you have any further questions or concerns.

eBay Customer Support

A friend of mine put it best when he said to me today, "eBay are in the business of selling trust and this change removes that trust." I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

RPM 18

This group made their second public appearance ever.......... at Woodstock.

Name the group.

I'm as giddy as a school girl

I've mentioned before how watches are like candy to me. I'm drawn to them.... I don't know why. If I had a lot of money, I'd probably own a dozen of them, maybe more. Currently, I own 2 Fossil 'Philippe Starck' designer models. One is a dress watch, the other is my every day one.

I found my next watch. It's a Rosendahl II, designed by Flemming Bo Hansen. Isn't it gorgeous? Simple. Classy. Geeky. Easy to read.



When I saw this shirt at ThinkGeek, I did a double-take. It's a wi-fi detector...... On a shirt....... For real. It lights up based on how strong the signal is. Runs on 3 AAA batteries and is removable from the shirt for washing.

How geeky!

This would be perfect for those people who claim to be allergic to wi-fi signals!

Mom, you were right... the Communists ARE controlling the weather

Contributed by my friend Ernest (with minor edits from me):

China launched a weather satellite on Tuesday that according to their scientists, will give them data accurate enough to make 15-day forecasts possible. This avid watcher is intrigued and skeptical at the same time. When was the last time you trusted a forecast more than 3 days out? But China has made this 'a national priority'. The country will launch 22 additional meteorological satellites by 2020.

But wait, it gets better. The country wants to control the weather they forecast. China is working on rain-making schemes to wash the pollutants out of the air in time for the start of the Olympics. And because the chance of precipitation in the summer is always about 50% and you don't want the opening ceremonies to be deluged by rain, the Chinese will also use 'action units' to 'stand alert' upwind from Beijing ready to wring the clouds dry before they make it near the stadium.

Thanks Ernest, for lightening my blogging workload today.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The perfect commuter

In yet another in the 'OK.... Yes.... Sold..... Gimme' file, this Vectrix electric scooter goes 62mph (100km/h), can go 60 miles on a charge, can recharge in 2 (80%) to 4 hours, and when you twist the throttle forward, you use the motor to perform regenerative braking (recharging the batteries). $12,000 in the US apparently.

Creates shade too

Here's an idea for parking lots. Build a roof over them and outfit the roof with solar panels. The panels store energy which are used to light up the lot at night.

Build this into a multi-story garage and you're really on to something, I think.

Looks like fun

A motorcycle you wear that can go 0-60 in 3 seconds.

OK.... Yes.... Sold.... Gimme.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Great idea but I've got a better one

They make a fake TV you set up in your home to create the illusion that there's someone home watching TV (to make burglars think twice about breaking in). I know what you're thinking. Bear with me.

This fake TV uses very little electricity because it employs LEDs, but by using multi-colour LEDs and flickering the light in a pattern similar to that of real TV, it looks realistic. Plus it has light sensors that allow it to turn itself on at night and off in the morning.

I'll tell you what. Don't settle for a fake TV. If you have an HDTV subscription to a lot of channels and a decent sized HDTV, I'll watch your TV for you while you're away. I might use more energy than the fake TV, but I know how to dial 9-1-1. I might even play with the cats.

I like it.....

I know folks have been stuffing USB memory into the most ridiculous things in the name of art / convenience / etc.

But this is freaking cool, eh?

It took decades to dig

What I find rather interesting about this new art piece installed between New York and London called the Telectroscope is not that you can look through it and see people at the other 'end' of the secret tunnel through the earth. It's that countless people will actually believe that it's really a tunnel connecting the two ends, as opposed to the fibre optic cable that........

Oh darn, I ruined the illusion, didn't I? I'm such a bad monkey.

I've become that Mac fanatic you love to hate

This is a shrunk-down version of a wallpaper I've been torturing my colleagues with at work.


I got it here if you must know.

Welcome my son.... welcome to the machine

Have you seen all the stuff Google has in its arsenal lately? I found a site (in French, but it's easy to navigate) that lists 136 Google tools, applications and subsidiary projects or sites owned by Google.

They're like this unstoppable machine. No wonder Microsoft wanted to buy Yahoo.

If Google ever merges with Amazon, look out. GoogleZon!

I still love technology

First, watch this cool video ad.

Then go see the product that allows you to do the same thing with other videos.

It's called DimP.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I love a good sight gag

Yes, I watched American Idol this season. Yes, I thought this season's performers were a grade below par. No, I didn't really care who won in the end. The best part of the finale - the cute little video of Gladys Knight supposedly 'auditioning' the Pips back in the day - the Pips played by Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.

If you didn't watch Idol, hurry and catch the clip while you can, before the TV nazis send take down notices to YouTube for copyright infringement.

I feel like ranting.... don't worry - it's part of a healthy lifestyle

I'm all for self-improvement. There is always something we could be doing better. Quitting bad habits, improving our lifestyle, adopting new habits that potentially lead to states of increasing well being, opening our minds to new ideas. I am certainly not pushing the envelope in any respect with my own life changes, but........ you know............. baby steps.

I've been smoke-free for what will be 9 years (in 2 weeks). Hard to believe it's been that long. I ought to reward myself on the 10th anniversary of this feat. I've not lost any weight in the last few years, but I have learned to stop trying to stuff my face as much and I most certainly eat 'better' than I used to. My exercise routine could be better, but my knees can only handle so much. So I've made it my mission to walk much more than ever and that's a positive change. I don't swear as much as I used to - I've tried to tone that down especially in light of the work culture I find myself in and my public face on the intertubes (like this blog). Regardless of the changes I've managed to make in my own life, I try never to impose my beliefs, values or lifestyle on other people and I'm open to discussing anything.

A personality trait becoming more annoying to me with each passing week is when folks try to force their beliefs, values or lifestyle on other people. And by force, I also include those subtle gestures where people poo-poo your beliefs, values or lifestyle as if they are somehow of lesser value than theirs, but you're probably are too dumb to know better.

It's one thing to occasionally offer insight into foods that are better for you to eat. It's another to be someone else's walking diet nazi - counting calories, fat grams, cholesterol and fibre intake to the extreme. Just because you feel it necessary to eat rice cakes and vegetable sweat for lunch because you think your under-nourished body is slightly swollen in places doesn't give you the right to critique other people's food with the disdain normally reserved for crack addicts.

Just because you had success quitting smoking doesn't mean every smoker you know is anxiously awaiting your amazing insight on why they should seriously consider quitting now - even if they're not ready to. Because they're just as aware of the risks associated with smoking, even if they don't act like they are. Maybe smoking is making it easier for them to get through this stage of life and maybe you should just quiet the fuck up. Oops. I just had a little relapse there......

Just because you're a paid, devoted member of whatever faith, association, club, political leaning or whatever, doesn't mean you're perfect, or the example others should live by, or immune from colloquium. Ooooo! I like that word. The best you can hope for is that you live your life by your own rules and allow others to do the same. If your way is so great, others will eventually see that and choose to follow your example - or not.

If there's one thing I've learned (or at least tried to) in my short 47 years in this physical reality we call life - it's that all opinions, lifestyles, belief systems, and values are valid for each person. I am perfectly willing to discuss these opinions, lifestyles, belief systems, and values for what they are - yours........ not mine.

Thank you and have a fabulous day.

Block your ears

They should just call it 'the freak-out show', or 'how to lose 10 pounds in one hour'. Have you seen the way the audience reacts when they find out they're part of one of those Oprah 'My Favourite Things' episodes? You can't really blame them too much, can you? If Oprah loves it - it's got to be good.

Sheer psychotic, ear-splitting, bedlam.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I hope it's as good as the original

Remember the movie The Andromeda Strain? It's one of my favourite movies.

The A&E channel is broadcasting a new version of the story in the form of a two-part mini-series totalling 4 hours this coming week. Check local listings for times near you.

I would have posted a teaser photo, but I prefer not to tempt the wrath of the TV copyright gods.

I don't get art sometimes

When I saw this, I thought it was a joke. The photo 'retouches' are.......... well I don't know if I can find a word that would do them justice. Peculiar comes to mind. As does eerie.

But who am I to judge art? Just go here and mouse over the originals to see some amazing examples.

Mentos, drama, light sabers and Ms South Carolina

Weezer isn't necessarily my favourite band, but they make some kick-ass videos.

Like this one for Pork & Beans, starring some of your favourite internet icons.

RPM 17

These 2 artist gave each other nicknames. One named the other Sharon, the other named the first Phyllis.

Who are the 2 artists?

[hand up in the air]

Potential places where you could be harassed for having assorted gadgets in your possession, with the risk of the gadget being confiscated:
  • Airport security
  • Movie theatre
  • High security workplace
Yep, that just about covers it. WRONG! Add to that list Alton Towers theme park in the UK, where 'special wardens' will be watching to see if you are using a Palm, iPaq or other PDA or smart-phone while on their premises. If caught, these special wardens confiscate your device.

If you're getting tired of this nonsense, raise your hand.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where is it - Edition 45

Been a while huh?

Name the landmark. Not the city. Click the image for a bigger view.

If you're lucky, you'll catch team Ecland napping.

Nah. You won't.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sometimes lowest cost isn't the best idea

Here is a cake that was ordered from WalMart. The decorative writing that appears on the cake isn't exactly what the person wanted.

Can you guess how the phone conversation went when the customer placed the order? Yeah...... you can, can't you?

Courtesy of J-Walk blog.

Search more than one place at a time

I think if you counted the people who (by default) use Google or Yahoo search, you'd probably account for 85% of internet users - maybe more. But is limiting yourself to only one search the best technique for finding stuff? A while back I blogged about a search that uses 36 of the most popular search resources on one page, but you can only use one at a time.

Addictomatic lets you search and displays the results in little sections including various news sites, YouTube, Digg, Google blog search, Wordpress blogs and technorati - all customizable to your tastes. The pic to the right doesn't even represent half of the page of search results you'll get.

I'm lazy sometimes... I meant to post this a week ago...

Sometimes I find a web site that just has me in stitches. One such site is, where their tag line is 'when you care enough to hit send'.

Their cards are not exactly what you'd call.... Hallmark standard.

Polly want a lawyer

Parrot escapes home, gets lost.

Police find parrot but parrot's not talking.

Once at vet's, parrot sings (literally) and tells where it lives.

Gee, police even make parrots nervous.......

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Go Oscar!

This is a story I've been watching with interest just because of its uniqueness, human enhancement factor and the precedent it is setting for the future.

Oscar Pistorius is an athlete in South Africa who is a double amputee. He's a runner. That's right. He runs fast - he is the disabled world record holder in the 100, 200 and 400 metres events. He runs with the help of special carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs. But he's not satisfied with records in the realm of handicapped sports, he wants to compete with regular Olympians. At first, he was banned from competing because he supposedly had an unfair advantage over athletes with flesh and bone limbs. But that ban was overturned and now he is eligible to compete in the Olympics.

I'm still on the fence as to whether this is the right decision, but I will say that at least his advantage is on the table for everyone to see, as opposed to hidden advantages like pharmaceutical enhancements. One thing is for sure - this opens the door for other handicapped athletes to enter the world of mainstream sport.

It's anima-tastic!

Here's a video of an animated optical illusion.

Here we go again.....

No need for me to ramble. If you're Canadian and care about your rights as a consumer with regard to your electronic devices and your entertainment content, it's time to lobby your government again. Word on the street is that they are very close to introducing a Copyright Bill that will be a close cousin to the American DMCA.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's official.... I'm a grand-dad!

At 5:10am PST today - 20 May 2008, baby Olivia was born in Mission BC to Lee-Anne Taylor and Colin Conklin. The baby girl is a Taurus. So is her mom. Can you say karma? I knew that you could. Olivia weighed 5lbs 13oz. She has long, curly black hair with red eyebrows and is one of the cutest babies I've ever seen. Both baby Olivia and mother Lee-Anne are doing fantastic.

And yours truly is a grandfather. I have yet to decide what I'd like her to call me. Grand-dad; pops; grand-pop; grandpa; grampy........

I'm too riled up to think of a title right now....

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled that border security can search your laptop without cause in the name of national security. The pundits are saying this will more than likely extend to cellphones and PDAs soon enough.

So basically, you now have to consider the ramifications of getting your laptop's contents searched and/or completely confiscated. Do you have anything incriminating on the hard drive? Anything personal? What if you have information, pictures, driving directions to a potential terrorist target? Corporate data that you aren't supposed to let fall into the wrong hands? Believe me, border services are the wrong hands, because you have no idea what they're going to do with that data once they copy / seize it. Maybe there is some software on your PC that is, how shall we say, on 'extended evaluation'?

They don't have to prove anything, and they certainly don't need for you to provide an explanation. OK, so you decide to encrypt or password protect your system. Doesn't matter. They'll ask you to unlock the machine. Refusal is just the perfect excuse to confiscate the laptop.

Yep, this is going to make a few select people very happy on their way into the USA, isn't it?

Thanks to Ernest for riling me up the tip.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What's worse?

Anti-bacterial soaps. I've never felt they were necessary, only because I think our bodies need to learn to adapt to the microscopic world that surrounds us, not be insulated from it. So it didn't really surprise me when I read this article on antibacterial soaps. Is the protection more deadly over the long term than the thing it's trying to protect us from? Will we suffer from the fact that the good bacteria are being killed too? Time will tell. Here's a CBC Marketplace article on triclosan.

An album ruined by its producers

I am a big Scarlett Johansson fan. OK, fine - I admit it - it has less to do with her acting cred. BUSTED! But now that we've crossed that bridge, when I found out she was going to be putting out her own album, I thought, "Cool. Let's see if the girl can sing."

The album is named Anywhere I Lay My Head and if it sounds familiar, it's because it's also a Tom Waits album. Yup, she covers Tom Waits. So now I'm thinking, "Way cool. Eclectic (after my own heart) too." And then I listened to the album.

OK, Scarlett - you're not going to make Beyonce nervous any time soon, but you do have a voice.... somewhere! The problem with this album is not the singing, or even the choice of the covered material - it's the production. It's way too over-produced, to the point where the music completely over-powers the singer. The whole recording sounded to me like she was miked to sound distant and it is my opinion that it ruins the product. Compounding the problem is that the music and environmental sound effects are too loud, brash, hissy and compressed. Message to music producers: We want to hear the voice! Even a song like I Wish I Was in New Orleans, which is only accompanied by a music box sounding instrument, the effect is overdone with massive distortion and noise - which by itself is a neat effect. But because it's so loud, it totally washes Scarlett's voice out. If it wasn't for the over-production, I think I might even like this album.

Somebody please, please remix this album to tame the music and effects and bring this girl's voice to the foreground where it needs to be heard. Then I'll attempt to critique Scarlett's vocal prowess. Because as it stands, I can't hear a freaking thing.

What is the oldest thing we own?

I saw what amounts to a good meme on another blog (see post title). So we thought about it for a while and found this wooden inlay picture hanging on our wall. The story goes that it belonged to Darlene's parents, who bought it from an artisan in Italy around 1970. So that makes it 38(ish). Each colour is a different type of wood. I likes it a lot.

It's about perception and focus

When I watched this ad about bicycle safety, I had to watch it again, because I thought they were pulling a fast one on me. Nope - they weren't.

Very well done.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kid stuff

Darlene and I have been out and about looking at baby stuff...... you know... for our grand-daughter Olivia, who is expected to make her debut in the world any day now. Needless to say, we haven't really been 'up' on what's new in baby style or technology. Geez, there's some seriously sweet baby bling out there YO! Designer diaper bags (like Diaper Dude); baby travel tent-beds like the Kidco Peapod; the Bumbo; collapsible play yard / bassinets that fit into a bag......

But I also noticed the influence of the coffee generation on baby paraphernalia. I saw the most elite strollers with their own coffee cup holders built right onto the chassis. I'm guessing we wouldn't have seen that 10 years ago.

I believe dammit!

Am I the only person who didn't know there's a new X-Files movie out this July?

Am I the only person who's excited?

I am such a sheep......

Aliens are God's creatures too.....

The Vatican says it's OK to believe in aliens. I kid you not!

The Vatican are getting quite tolerant of late. The next thing you know, they're going to say it's OK to believe in evolution..........


Something to think about

I was just getting ready to compose a blog piece on how wasteful we are of food. I don't think our household is as bad as the average, but I am cognisant of the food we throw away. Part of the problem is that packaging and portions are suited mostly to families of 4. So families of 2 (like us) can't typically find a lot of packaged food in smaller portions. I've blogged about this before.

Then I saw a link to this New York Times article about how much food gets wasted (in the US) every year. I wish I knew the solution. I've even said to Darlene on occasion, "Wouldn't it be neat if when we had some good food we didn't need, we could call someone or bring it somewhere to be put to good use - regardless of the quantity or time of day or night?"

The perfect birthday present - KITH

Wow. Last night I spent the night with 5 funny guys, Dave, Kevin, Bruce, Mark and Scott. You might know them as the Kids in the Hall. YEAH! I am such huge fans of the Kids - I can still remember the day we stumbled across them on the CBC TV network back in the day. Sketch comedy at its weirdest and most outrageous. So when I found out I was going to see them live on my birthday......... I damned near wet my freaking pants.

The show was supposed to start at 7pm, but their tour bus got caught up in the mountain passes on the way from Vancouver, so it was delayed 2 and a half hours. No matter. When the lights went down and the familiar theme song, "Having an Average Weekend" by Canadian band Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet came up - I had an out of body experience. Then we settled in for almost 2 hours of envelope pushing fun. Many recurring characters appeared on that stage, with some familiar material, some new stuff. Buddy Cole (played by Scott) explained his theory on why Jesus was gay. Bruce and Mark pranced around the stage as goofy showroom salesmen selling a spigot you attach to your fat American gut and drain said fat to power your SUV. Gavin (played by Bruce) greets the Jehovah's witnesses at his door and lets them in only to bore them with the endless list of weird or useless facts rattling around in his little boy-head. Gavin was always one of my favourite characters. Kathy (Bruce) and Cathy (Scott) the secretaries from AT&Love meet for lunch, where Kathy explains the secret to her fabulous figure is none other than "tweeking" with crystal meth. Dave and Kevin fight over Dave's imaginary girlfriend - this had some seriously clever twists. A classic sketch, where Bauer [correction] one of Scott's characters calls for phone sex and gets hooked up with the Chicken Lady (Mark). There was also a funny sketch involving a time machine belonging to Dave, which (as many clever comedies do) made its re-appearance in other sketches that Dave was cast in. Including the BJ for your B-Day sketch, where Dave's 'wife' asked why it was alright that he only got a BJ once a year on his birthday. Dave then gets out of bed and uses the time machine to...... yep, you guessed it - 'celebrate' his birthday again.

The show closed out with Mr. Tyzik (Mark), the Head Crusher, crushing various audience member's heads (using a video camera so you could see the crushing on the screen behind him), then turning to the other members of the troupe, mocking the recent careers of each member, after which he promptly crushed their heads before turning the crushing fingers onto himself.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Geo-head scratcher

(Now that it's solved I put a pic) If you're in this state, it is possible to travel southward (while still in it) and go through all 6 states that border it. Name the state.

More technobabble

There has been a lot of discussion in the online community about traffic shaping. The idea is that the companies (mostly the telecommunications giants) who provide the backbone of the internet (the big pipes if you will) in North America and elsewhere are or have plans to filter how long it takes internet traffic to get to its destination based on what kind of traffic it is. This would help guarantee quality of delivery for... you know... big media/industry content, while throttling undesirable yet wasteful traffic like peer-to-peer and non big media/industry content. This is basically a car-pool lane for select content providers and it is being fought by the net neutrality camp. I am very much aligned with the net neutrality position. The internet may have morphed from an institutionalized research network to a commercial network, but I don't believe its users would condone trends like traffic shaping if they knew what its ramifications were. It's the Cable TV-izing of the internet and it sets a precedent of restricting access to those with more money (both provider and user).

Another trend that has begun is the practise of inspecting your browsing habits courtesy of your internet service provider (ISP), where they or an agent they've made agreements with (such as Phorm) perform what's called deep packet inspection to see exactly what you're surfing (anonymously of course) so that advertisers may deliver custom tailored ads to your browser. This is really not much different than what spyware does, except that spyware does the inspecting right on your PC and reports to the mother ship, while this new trend watches your surfing further down the pipe, where you can't interfere. Another approach that has been around for a while uses cookies to track your surfing - there's a decent article about the whole business here. While I personally don't have an issue with this new approach - content has to be funded somehow and advertising is (so far) the most palatable way to do it, lots of folks do have a problem with it from a privacy point of view. Don't even get me started on that topic.

So I find it a little bit funny that we already have a new tool designed to defy the Phorms of the world by generating fake web traffic from your computer. This would supposedly confound the analysis by tainting your web traffic with random web surfing that would be indistinguishable from your own mouse clicks.

My point? Every technology measure can be defeated by another technology.

It's about what's on the outside that matters...

I haven't seen much of this even though I know it's available, so I'm going to predict that the next hot new trend in laptops will be custom paint jobs for the lid.

I've read that you can send your laptop out and and outfit will do the custom paint job for around $200.

Or you could go the budget route with stick on skins for $20-40.

Scary thoughts

What if gasoline cost $3.00 per litre ($8.00 per gallon)? That may be a scary question, but considering that some energy sector pundits put the cost of fuel at $2.50 per litre by 2025, it's something that one might have to consider. Oil supplies aren't replenishing themselves (although some geologists have theorized that they might), so once oil becomes a scarce commodity, this will put pressure on gasoline prices. But demand is increasing at a rate never seen before as the populous countries of China and India start buying cars in massive quantities.

Read the article postulating what a $3.00 per litre world would look like here.