Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fun with magnets

The NeoCube is composed of 216 individual high-energy rare-earth magnets in the shape of small pellets. This allows the creation of a large variety of shapes and patterns.

Wouldn't this be fun to play with?

Video demo here.
Web site here.

Your turn

I ramble on and on about stuff on my blog.

But I like to hear from my readers too. So here's my challenge: use the comments to share with us your best piece of advice you could pass on to others.

Seen written on a cubicle white board

"The best hand-over is a take-over"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kiss $100 million worth of new cars goodbye

On the way to North America, 4703 Mazda 3s had a little mishap. Well, not the cars themselves, but the ship they rode on. With no way of knowing what effect being trapped on a ship that's listing 60 degrees has on a new car, Mazda took no chances and completely destroyed the cars.

Read the full article here.

Something different (for me)

So I'm driving home and stuck in traffic when I hear the familiar whoomp whoomp whoomp of a tricked out car stereo, but as I get closer to the source of the unceasing beat and the higher frequencies are becoming clear, I hear something not normally emanating from your typical vehicle. The music isn't rap or techno or house or hip-hop. It's tribal. But I'm talking tribal in the truest sense of the word - North American indigenous (sorry I can't get more specific) tribal music - you know, with the ceremonial drums and the chanting. And it's cranked.

It's just not something I'm used to hearing wafting out of a vehicle. But it's pretty cool.

Snort-inducingly funny

Cheap GPS.


Come on! That's funny......

Monday, April 28, 2008

RPM 15

What singer wrote Suzanne and later married a woman by that name?

One fave gone... another takes up the slack

After running some errands, Darlene professed a craving for a nice Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich at the best place to get such fare - Cafe Metro. Imagine our utter shock and dismay when we arrived to find it..... CLOSED! [hands flailing in the air] Like.... WTF! Where the heck are we supposed to go now for a good Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich? More to follow on that I guess.

Meanwhile, since we were kind of in the neighbourhood, I convinced Darlene we needed to go pay a visit to a restaurant on our list that we had heretofore been neglecting - Cravings Market Restaurant. I never lobbied to try this place quite simply because of its address. It's smack in the midst of an industrial area, ergo I didn't think it was open beyond normal business hours. Wrong!

Cravings Market Restaurant is a little different than a traditional eatery because you don't order from a menu. You're given a card (one per diner) and you make your rounds through the various food stations, ordering food as you go. Your card is swiped after each item is ordered, you return to your table and the food is brought to you when it's ready. At the end of the meal, you just go to the cashier and they tally your bill from what's on your card.

The stations include soups, salads, paninis, sandwiches, appetizers, rotisserie and grill items, a bar (alcohol), pizza and pasta, and a dessert and Starbucks cafe station. It's like having a bunch of mini-cafes in one place. Very cute. There were much better items on the menu, but I decided to try the vegetable spring rolls and honey garlic ribs while Darlene tried to finish the humongous chicken club. The next time, I want to try the bison stew. Or the pizza. Or the rotisserie roasted chicken. Or...... drool.

If you've heard of this new eating style called Churrascaria Brazilian BBQ, you might be pleased to know they have this on Friday nights.

Cravings is located at 7207 Fairmount Drive SE, not far from Chinook Mall.

The hosers are coming! The hosers are coming!

My good friend Rob has alerted me to an upcoming TV show, scheduled for release in Canada in January 2009 (on Global) and maybe the US too (network TBD). Those glorious hosers are reuniting for an animated series, because as Dave Thomas so frankly puts it - they'd look awful in HD. A teaser clip can be found here. Looks like it might have some promise.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The other red meat

Add this to the list of things I cannot find in my local grocery store.

I love the name.

In-flight TV makes the flight better

As you know, I just got back from a business trip to Ottawa. On almost every aircraft in the Canadian skies now are TV screens on the back of the seat in front of you so you can entertain yourself with your own choice of programming.

You can choose XM music channels (not many, but it's a start); assorted TV channels with a sampling of their programming; some movies and a few other things. I listened to a few songs, then switched to TV, where I watched an episode of Family Guy, Big Bang Theory and a good portion of an Ellen Degeneres HBO special. That made the time go by nicely.

Now if they could just get the 'map' thingy working so you can see where you are in the world, that would be nice.

Big league transformation

Remember Improv Everywhere - the people who did the freeze in the train station and the Home Depot in New York and the musical in the food court?

This video shows them hijacking a kids' baseball game (in a good way) and turning it into a big league spectacular. Way awesome.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


After being away from my computer for a week, I got back to my desktop to discover that YouTube videos wouldn't play anymore (in Firefox). The videos would load, but quit playing after 2 seconds. Trying to coax them along would only result in another 2 seconds of play then it stops. No audio either.

A little Googling produced suggestions of un-installing and re-installing Flash plugin for the browser, but that didn't work. What finally did work is this: In Windows \ System32 \ Macromed \ Flash is a file called Flashutil9f.exe, which when run fixed my situation (after a reboot). So if you get the same symptoms as I did and re-installing doesn't work, give that a try.

Photos from Ottawa

I put a photo album on Facebook from my trip to Ottawa

"If you keep making that face, it will stay that way forever!"

Not everything your mother told you is true. But you already knew that, right?

Here's an article that lists 16 things you should stop believing right now.

Very Web 3.0ish

I recently read about a new search page called Searchme Visual Search that puts your search results in the form of flip-able web page snapshots. This shot is the result of a search on 'Calgary' using the restaurant category. A little rough around the edges results-wise, but has some potential.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Very cute cat animations by Simon Tofield can be found here. I like how each one ends, with the cat pointing to its mouth (as in "feed me").

I hope he makes more than the 2 I see so far....

Gourmet dining in Ottawa

Tonight is my last night in Ottawa and a one of our corporate hosts recommended a restaurant downtown called Elgin St. Freehouse. It's about 10 blocks south of Sparks St. (at Gilmour), but it's a pleasant walk. The restaurant is small and the menu is fairly sparse. The selections look decent - I had the maple glazed salmon which was 'melt-in-your-mouth' good. It came with a dark wild rice that was cooked with some secret ingredient that had me raving. My colleague had the steak pasta. I don't know which looked better - he loved it. He also liked that it served micro-brewery beer.

It is not a frugal place to eat, but I've never shied away from expense when it delivers quality.

Best email username seen this year (so far)


I'm not kidding. I loves it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How do I hate thee DRM? Let me count the ways...

Here is yet another example of what is bad about DRM.

If you've ever bought music from the MSN Music store, you'll soon be in for a surprise. Those music tracks will continue to play on licensed machines, but if you upgrade your OS (to Vista for example), buy a new computer, or make certain hardware changes to your existing PC, your MSN music collection is gonzo'ed in September 2008.

Welcome to the world of music the RIAA way.

I love advertising

Cute ad on the back of a bus in The Netherlands.

Olympics should be politics-free

I have to say that I am not too thrilled with what's been happening during the Olympic torch relay around the world. The Olympics are in real jeopardy of being hijacked by the Free Tibet movement and I don't think it's appropriate. I prefer that the Olympics are kept unpolitical. Everyone can demonstrate (in a free country) on behalf of their political, religious, social or ideological beliefs in any manner they choose, but please leave the Olympics out of it. It's not what the Olympics are about. Athletes should focus on the spirit of the event and feel free to demonstrate their causes after the Games are over. If political leaders feel that boycotting the ceremonies is a worthy action, so be it - we are not tuning in to see them, we want to see the athletes, their mood a reflection of the competitions they are about to face. I don't like the commercialization of the Games either.

One thing I am looking forward to is the spotlight on China the Olympic venue will provide and I will relish getting a glimpse of this enigmatic superpower that has become the new 'pusher' to our insatiable appetite for consumer goods.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Old friends

Facebook brought me back in touch with a friend from my military days that I hadn't seen in 23 years. I met him today in Ottawa for a nice chat and some people watching.

As you can see, there were a lot of people to watch. This is a shot I took today. I'll post some others on Facebook when I get home.

[update] Just wanted to add.... unlike some other 'free' countries, I was not assaulted for taking photographs - in the nation's capitol beside the Parliament buildings even! I was in plain sight of nearby Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who didn't even flinch.


The thing about truly creative people (I've noticed) is that they often don't limit themselves to just one creative outlet. Take Dave Ware for example - improvisor with Loose Moose and also Lego artist. He makes murals with Lego bricks.

How cool is that?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Price is a rock

Au revoir Boston. You gave us a little fright there, but now it's done.

Bring on the Rangers.


Calgary -8C Ottawa +25C

Greetings from summer. I have transported myself ahead in time and am enjoying plus 25 degree weather. OK..... not really, I'm just in Ontario on business. Holy crap is it ever warm and humid here!

I'm just sayin'........

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Taxi enigma

Time to hit the road ummm... air on a business trip. Knowing I needed a taxi to the airport Sunday morning, I called to book a taxi in advance. I started calling cab companies as early as Saturday morning, but every number for every company was busy. Constantly. I tried every 30 minutes. Busy. It's as if they had taken their phones off the hook. I kept trying. All day Saturday. All night. Busy. Sunday morning. Busy. I did finally get through to one company and they told me they could not guarantee timely pickup. "What does that mean", I asked. We are very backed up because of the weather. "No - I mean, how late could a taxi be?" They couldn't answer that question.

So I drove and parked at the Sheik al Calgary airport parking garage. I call it that because you need a Sheik's fortune to pay for their rates ($120/week). The odd thing is - at the airport, there were lines of cabs waiting for business. So methinks I knows why you can't get a cab in Calgary right now. They're all at the airport.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The cast of Pirates of the Courtroom

As promised.....

That's me on your far left. Two over from me is Kirk Heuser from CFCN-TV (he played the judge).

When car advertising gets personal

Check out this war of words between BMW, Audi, Subaru and Bentley.

If Shakespeare did Pulp Fiction......

ACT I SCENE 2. A road, morning. Enter a carriage, with JULES and VINCENT, murderers.

J: And know'st thou what the French name cottage pie?
V: Say they not cottage pie, in their own tongue?
J: But nay, their tongues, for speech and taste alike
Are strange to ours, with their own history:
Gaul knoweth not a cottage from a house.
V: What say they then, pray?
J: Hachis Parmentier.
V: Hachis Parmentier! What name they cream?
J: Cream is but cream, only they say le crème.
V: What do they name black pudding?
J: I know not;
I visited no inn it could be bought.

This one and another..... here.

Ontario? Quebec? You can make fun of us now...

In a bizarre example of karma, while Eastern Canada are basking in the sun and mid 20's (Celcius) temperatures, us Calgarians just got a late visit from old man winter, who will be dumping various amounts of snow on our asses over the next 3 days or so. Luckily, I will be joining the baskers for the week on business and so get to escape the spring chill.

Yes, it was my fault, but not for the reason you might think - the shovels were still out. I just finished putting my new patio set together last week...........

Internet catching on

If you were on the internet back in the mid 90's, you still have nightmares recollections of the rigmarole you had to go through to get online via dial-up. Remember how sometimes you tried to connect, but couldn't? You're about to find out why.......

Friday, April 18, 2008

When you're good...... they ask you to come back

Remember my first public performance last year at Law Day? Tomorrow (April 19th) is Law Day again in Calgary, where the justice system puts on a day of educational presentations at the Court of Queen's Bench downtown - this time, the new location at 601 - 5 Street SW. Last year, the kids loved the mock trial presentation, 'Pirates of the Courtroom – The Case of the Pirate Princess' so much, we were asked to put it on again.

I reprise my role as the Pirate Princess's mother - Lady Swann. If you're downtown at 1pm, I'll be at the courthouse. Bring the kids. And a camera.

If I manage to get any decent photos of the event, I'll post them on this blog as soon as I can. A shot from last year's show is here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Web series may be getting better

I haven't come across many great web-based programs, but that may be about to change.

Take Me Back has promise.

Oh! And it's Canadian....

It's very cheesy

Who likes grilled cheese sandwiches? How would you feel about a competition?

I know several people who would drool over an event like this.

You need a camera license in the UK....

The insanity that has gripped the law enforcement folks in the UK regarding regular folks taking innocent pictures hasn't ceased. Things are getting out of control.

At least the terrorists haven't won....... oh... wait a minute....

A whole new meaning to 'fast' food

The Germans, who supposedly are not known for the greatest 'service' from their servers seem to have partly solved the problem in one restaurant - they did away with the servers altogether! Introducing the automated restaurant where you place your order on a computer screen, check your email on the same screen, while cooks fix your meal up above. At 's Baggers, when the meal is ready, it coasts down a set of roller coaster-like rails to your seat.

A video of the concept can be found here. A customer video here.

Thanks to Ernest for the lead.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Digital beauty

If you're looking for images suitable for your computer desktop wallpaper, give this site a try.

The one seen here I spotted on a colleague's desktop lately.

Look ma....... no wires (part two)

Back in October, I hinted about a new means of connecting to the internet called WiMax. The service is here, offered by most of the internet carriers like Bell and Rogers. Notice anything unusual about that list? That's right - it's all cell phone carriers (except Telus - what's up with that?), with no mention of a cable company anywhere. But the fact is, the only actual provider is Rogers (at the moment) as witnessed by the signal strength when near Rogers cell towers. The other providers lease their service from Rogers. A friend of mine from Ottawa gets WiMax for $45/month for a 512kb/s connection. You get a modem which only needs AC power and connects to your computer / laptop via a regular network cable. As long as you're somewhere in a major city served by Rogers 3G data towers (124 of them and counting), you'll have internet access. The map pictured here shows coverage for Calgary. This is a roaming service suitable for those who travel a lot and want / need decent internet access wherever they go. The roaming is supposed to be seamless, but at the moment, there are some issues when you need to switch from one tower to another. I'm guessing this will be fixed at some point.

A word of warning to anyone considering getting this service but opting for the more expensive (and supposedly faster) plans of WiMax, they seem to be throttling their speeds, maxing out somewhere around 800-900kb/s, so paying for anything above the 512kb/s plan currently seems to be a waste of money.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

RPM 14

What song features Ringo Starr banging on an anvil?

Calendar oddity

In any particular year, the dates 4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10, and 12/12 (in that year) fall on the same day of the week.

Great comedy

I stumbled across a site that tried to list the top 50 sketch comedy scenes on from TV. These include programs that don't necessarily air in North America, which is a nice touch, because it allows for some potentially new material.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Red light camera scam

I must have an issue with red light cameras - I wrote two (almost identical) posts about them here and here.

News story - some cities in the US have been caught reducing the length of the yellow light cycle of traffic lights in an effort to nab more people.... you know... for the extra cash.

i can has artz and kraftz?

If you're familiar with LOLcats, you may have heard of 'ceiling cat'. Now you can build your own ceiling cat out of a paper cut 'n fold model you can print right off the internets.

Now 'ceiling cat' can sees what you did there........

Thanks to my friend Bernie for the find.

I expect better

Colour me picky, but I'm finding the selection in today's chain greeting card stores leaving me feeling a bit underwhelmed.

Darlene and I searched for anything funny, witty, unusual and found that the standard fare just didn't cut it.

We abandoned the big holiday card chains and gave Paper Root Studios a try. Much better. They have some clever gifts too.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Robot test

Name That Robot
Created by OnePlusYou

The site is a little flaky (at least it was for me). You may have to refresh for stuff to appear sometimes.

Cities from space

This is a shot of Montreal at night taken by astronauts orbiting the earth. The red dot represents where I grew up and where my mom and brother still live. Downtown Montreal is that bright white area just below the centre of the picture.

A video showing more cities at night is here. Prepare for the unusual voice of the narrator. It's a little bizarre.

Spelling Public Service Announcement

I created this spelling PSA myself. You can make one for your blog too.

Big baby shower

I wasn't able to say anything about this until the event had passed, because... well, you'll see. My step daughter Lee-Anne came to Calgary for a visit - she had to burn off some vacation time before her maternity leave starts in 7 or so weeks. She thought she was just coming for a visit, but little did she know, Darlene was planning a surprise baby shower for her.

What is logistically difficult about this type of plan is that Lee-Anne doesn't live here, which means that she doesn't know anyone here. But Darlene's co-workers came through like troopers and showered the young lady with baby gifts nonetheless (no pun intended). Along with gifts that came from other relatives (thank you all), there was so much booty that it took Lee-Anne 2.5 hours to open everything. Now comes the task of trying to get everything to BC, where Lee-Anne lives. She took about 25% of it in the extra 2 suitcases we lent her. Some more is going with a relative who is flying there on Sunday. We may have to make a trip in May to deliver the rest.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Because they've run out of ideas

38 planned movie remakes you may not know about.

28 sequels you may not know about.

No..... the pictured movie is not actually being made.... sorry.

There ya go....... pundits

The Montreal Canadiens have a proud, long, storied history in the NHL. They'll be celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2009. They're my home team (where I was raised) and even though I haven't lived in Montreal since 1979, they're still my favourite team and hockey is the only sport I watch. In fact, my allegiance during playoff time is Montreal, then if they're out - then any Canadian team..... except Toronto [chuckle].

I still remember the sports pundits at the beginning of this season predicting that Montreal would be lucky to get into the playoffs (note the lack of Montreal appearing in their lists).

Behold... the final standings for the East in 2008.....
(trimmed to only show those that made the playoffs)

Yes.... you can consider this an official 'pppthhbbbbt' in your general direction.

Hey Americans! Look where your tax dollar goes!

I found this site that shows how the federal taxes are spent. Pick your locale and see how your tax dollar is divvied up.

This graph represents Portland OR (I just picked a city). See that bar on the far left? Guess what that's for? Military spending (including interest on debt). See the 5th bar from the left? That's Education, Training and Social Services.

Which is closer?

Which is closer to Africa.... the US or Canada?

I have placed the answer in the comments.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

RPM 13

This artist was an extraordinary beauty who had a long-running romance with M.J. She sang songs that were then covered later by M.J.'s band. She put out 6 albums before a 10 year hiatus, when she made a return to the scene with a string of albums, the most famous and critically acclaimed album showcased a new, lower, croaking, voice that had lowered a good octave since her early career. One of the better songs on this album offered this in the chorus:

At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never
Ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair...

Name the artist.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Is he 'avin' a laugh?"

For anyone that is a fan of the original (British) version of The Office, made by and starring Ricky Gervais, I highly recommend that you check out his latest series - Extras. This series is now complete and available as 3 seperate bits (the 2 seasons and the series finale) or as one package of DVDs.

In this series, Ricky plays a similar character to the manager in the Office, but this time he is an aspiring actor (Andy Millman) who only manages to get non-speaking extra parts in movies. Stephen Merchant comes out from behind the camera and plays a role as well, as Andy Millman's useless agent Darren. Each episode features at least one 'star' playing themselves, but often a very exaggerated version of themselves, making it even more hilarious. Ben Stiller and Orlando Bloom are ego-maniacs extraordinaire, Kate Winslet gives tips on how to talk dirty during phone sex. Patrick Stewart is a pervert. David Bowie is a great sport making fun of the Andy Millman character in song. There are a few cameos by stars only those familiar with the UK scene may recognize, but it's all good. Andy finally does get a taste of the spotlight when someone is interested in his sit-com script, but it only serves to humiliate him more when they warp his idea into complete trash. Ashley Jensen steals the series as Andy's dim-witted friend and fellow extra Maggie.