Saturday, February 28, 2009

Make sure you look at the outfits too

Weddings can be awesome. But one person's idea of a great wedding may differ from another's. Which is how tacky weddings are born (tacky being in the eye of the beholder, of course). If you want to see some examples, this site does an excellent job of showcasing the variety and breadth of wedding..... ummm..... successes.

I especially like this wedding cake.

Wanna buy a car? There's plenty to go around...

The economic downturn.... damn I hate that term - time to switch to something else.

The financial ice age that is upon us means that fewer people are buying big ticket items, especially vehicles. The problem is that the cars you see in dealer showrooms are the product of a manufacturing and delivery process that lasts many months, since most cars are shipped by ocean freighter. So while the manufacturers adjust production rates at the factories, new cars keep piling up at ports of entry. In Sweden, they've had to rent an additional ship in port just to store the cars.

Some governments are trying to boost new car sales by offering money for your old car if you'll buy a new one. In Germany, any car more than 9 years old will earn you $4000 toward a new one.

This issue will see the reverse effect happen once the economy rebounds. People will be looking for new cars and have to wait while the industry ramps back up to full production again.

But did he die with a smile on his face... ?

A 28 year old mechanic from Moscow accepted a $4300 bet from two women friends. They bet him that he couldn't handle a 12-hour sex marathon with them.

He won the wager.... by downing a bottle of Viagra. But right after the 12-hour sex marathon, he died of a heart attack.

There are three lessons to be learned here:

1. Performance enhancing drugs are bad news.

2. Sometimes, getting what you want comes at a steep price.

3. Women are crafty.

"I'll see how you guys do a burger..."

On the first flight President Obama took on Air Force One, he ordered a burger. Yeah!

With cheddar cheese too. Watch the video.

Free supper, worth the 15 minute wait

I had quite the dinner out last night. Darlene and I went to one of our favourite joints (Joey Tomato's) where, because of the time we arrived I knew we were in for a wait to be seated. It turns out that we got seated fairly quickly all things considered. What we did end up waiting for - at least 10-15 minutes, was for a server to show up. A manager showed up first and knew we had been waiting a while before he even asked. He took our order, then a server came by and asked if we had been helped. When we said the manager already took our order, she went white, knowing she was probably in supreme trouble.

I wanted something different to eat and they were sampling out sweet chili chicken at the front waiting area. Now normally I don't go near spicy stuff because I have a very low tolerance to spice. I know a lot of people who love the sensation of their mouths being on fire - I'm not one of those people. But this sweet chili sauce was very tasty, a little kick, but not enough to ignite your taste buds. So I ordered it. In case any of my Canadian readers have the same spice issue I do, the sweet chili chicken is AOK.

Another manager came by (restaurants need more than one manager now?) and after apologizing way too much, said tonight's dinner would be on the house. I made sure to leave the server a grandiose tip.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What is it? Edition 2 - solution

Charles took very little time with his guess. It is Habitat '67, which was built as part of the Expo in Montreal in 1967.

Housing was one of the main themes of Expo 67. Habitat 67 was the temporary residence of the many dignitaries coming to Montreal, then became a thematic pavilion visited by thousands of visitors who came from around the world.

Habitat intended to integrate the diversity of scattered private homes with the economics and density of a modern apartment building. Modular, interlocking concrete forms define the space. The project was designed to create affordable housing built close together but still offering privacy, each equipped with a garden. Habitat predicted the lifestyle people would live in increasingly crowded cities around the world. Originally meant to be vastly larger, ironically the units are now quite expensive due to its architectural cachet.

Too much packaging

Humour in packaging. The writing on the package of 3 flash drives says "Now packaged with less plastic". Which begs the question - how much freaking plastic did they used to use?!

Sipper or guzzler?

Have you ever wondered which means of transportation was most efficient as a measure of how much fuel it uses per person?

Check it out. Graphs everything from cruise ships to motorcycles.

Social pie

Here is a collection of funny, probably very accurate, yet totally unscientifically obtained figures on various social networking web sites.

Presented as pie charts.

MMmmmmm........ pie.....

Slip sliding away

It is vital to keep an element of your inner child alive all through your life. Which is why I absolutely love this office slide in the UK. They're calling it a helter skelter and it's transparent. Get down 3 floors in 7 seconds on a run of 87 feet of slippery fun. Wouldn't it be awesome to see suits sliding down this thing and then trying to regain their composure?

Yeah. My kind of office building.....

What is it? Edition 2

Time for another 'what is it?'

Name this edifice.

If you can indicate its location that's even better.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Welcome to the 21st century... there is no privacy

The Co-operators Insurance Company will be checking the credit rating of its clients and will use the information to determine what rates they will charge for home insurance. Customers were informed of the change. If you refuse to let them have access to your credit rating, "we must assume the lowest possible score which may [LOL!] result in a higher premium." This is not considered a violation of privacy because customers are asked for permission to accesses the credit information. The insurance company sees a relation between bad credit habits and bad home upkeep - which supposedly makes you a higher risk for home insurance.

If GPS tracking becomes standard on all cars, you know insurance companies will be getting that information to see how often you speed or how far you drive every year as a basis for car insurance rates.......

Fun with magnets

Fun with the Neocube, composed of 216 individual sphere magnets, which can be arranged into many shapes and patterns.

Never been there, never done that

Some folks might find this bizarre, but it occurs to me that I have never eaten at a Taco Bell.

Ever. I don't feel like I've missed much either.

Talking about work online not typically a good idea

A 16 year old girl working for a marketing and logistics company in the UK posted that her job was boring on her Facebook page. Someone at her company saw the comment and she was fired.

As one person who weighed in said, "Most employers wouldn't dream of following their staff down the pub to see if they were sounding off about work to their friends." Once again, applications of the internet bring up a great debate topic. Do companies have a right to be snooping on personal web sites looking for dirt? Shouldn't people be treating online social networking as the equivalent of posting your personal information on a giant public bulletin board?

I guess it's no surprise that I do not post anything about my job on here, eh?

Another Ernest contribution.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

While Tiger was away, the rest did play....

What does it mean when Tiger Woods takes time off from his golf career to deal with knee surgery? Well, for the rest of the professional golfing community, it means PARTY TIME!!

Unfortunately, as of today..... the party's over. Here's a great advertisement on the topic.

I replaced the link, but you know how it is with YouTube videos... here today, taken down the next day....

Because they can....

You know TicketMaster - the folks who manage ticket sales for everything from concerts to sporting events? They also has an affiliated website called 'TicketsNow', who have come under fire for blatantly over-inflating ticket prices for the same events TicketMaster sells tickets for. In some cases, they're selling tickets even before TicketMaster is selling them. They've been described as 'legal scalpers'.

In the most recent episode, tickets to Leonard Cohen in concert with a face value of $99 to $250 were being sold on for anywhere from $568 to $856, plus a service of charge ranging from $85 to $128 per ticket.

This was a joint Ernest / Karl contribution.

If Google doesn't like it.... it must be evil

I have blogged about traffic shaping on the internet before, but now the topic is back in the forefront due to an upcoming probe into the issue of internet traffic management by the CRTC.

I'll try to build an analogy to represent the current situation regarding the desire of Canada's ISPs to traffic shape the data that passes through their portion of the internet.

Imagine if after building a highway system, the government was surprised to discover that more vehicles than expected are using the highway system and that upon further investigation, it was noticed that motor homes were the cause of most traffic jams. As a solution, the government forces all motor homes to always drive at 60km/h and only on the right shoulder of the highway - from now on.

This is essentially what is happening in the Canadian telecoms industry. Certain types of traffic are clogging (so they say) the highways of the internet and instead of doing the logical thing - making the highways capable of handling the increased demand, instead they're employing traffic shaping, which analyzes the traffic and decides which traffic gets priority, putting the brakes on the 'targeted data'.

There are many organizations and people opposed to this, and no wonder. If this kind of internet interference is allowed, what's to stop content providers from greasing the palms of the ISPs with a little extra cash to buy high priority traffic lanes on the internet?

Consumption told with pictures

I had seen this photo collection before and thought I had blogged about it, but cannot find any reference to it.

Chris Jordan made this photo essay, Running the Numbers, as a means of highlighting the reality of American consumption. The pictures do a splendid job of putting a face on a topic that has less impact using just numbers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More iPhone tips

  • Calculator turns to scientific mode when you turn your iPhone 90°.
  • You can double tap space to get period + space.
  • If you double click Home button while the screen is locked, you will get an option to [play / pause] the [last picked / playing] song (it’s very useful when iPod will timeout after stopping it through mic clicker).
  • Have you ever been using an app and it’s become very unresponsive or completely frozen? You can force quit it by pressing the Home button for at least six seconds.
  • To silence a phone call, press the volume button. You can still answer the call after silencing it, until it goes to voicemail.
  • To ensure that your phone is using as little battery as possible, you’re best off always pressing the Home button before locking so that no app remains running.

Best book cover ever

It's not a joke. This is the actual cover of Carrie Fisher's new book.

Tees here, book here.

What is it edition one - solution

Here's the item in its full sized picture.

It's a German enigma cypher machine.

Facebook as news?

Times are tough at CanWest Global, especially the local newspapers in the chain. But this was an article published in the Vancouver Province about a car accident that killed two girls.

Instead of going to interview friends or family of the deceased, the reporters based half their story on comments posted to a Facebook tribute page.

This brings about a good debate; is this an example of lazy reporting or is this the new style of reporting in the world of new technology?

This has been an Ernest contribution.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What is it? Edition one

I've begun to notice that I've slowly been incorporating more and more kinds of trivia on my blog. We've got 'Where is it?', the 'RPM' music trivia series and most recently I tried some logo trivia. Why stop there?

I've decided to totally rip off some other blogs and try a 'What is it?' game of my own.

This is the first instalment. What is this item in the picture? No bigger views, sorry. Once someone gets it, I'll post a bigger and more complete view.

Driving into a dust storm

I don't know about you, but if that had been me driving, I'm not sure I would have entered that cloud of dust.

I certainly wouldn't have been going that fast......

Solo outing

Every Monday I assist with the same acting class for beginners that I myself took 2 and a half years ago. I still pinch myself when I think about what I'm involved in after such a short time in the craft. Last Monday, the instructor let me have the class to myself - I got to go solo. I spent the session teaching the basics of improv.

What a thrill. It was utterly fantastic. I can't wait to do that again. To any of my students who eventually read this post - thank you for being willing and gentle.

By the way, the interviews are going well but I'm pacing them out to give me some breathing room regarding getting more. So, they're not over and done, but they'll be published at a slightly slower pace.

RPM 35

What was the first Rolling Stones song to make the disco charts?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Moss between your toes

It is said that walking on grass increases your blood circulation. It's a good reason to get to the nearest park, remove your shoes and be one with the foliage.

The Moss Carpet gets the foliage into your bathroom. Made from imputrescible foam called plastazote, the mat includes ball moss, island moss and forest moss. The humidity of the bathroom ensures that the mosses thrive.

via the Presurfer

YouTube is great

I have come to the conclusion that the best part of YouTube is not the videos that people send you links to. It's the 'related videos' you find on the right side of the page that are even more awesome.

So even though this cat licking a sour apple Jolly Rancher lollipop is fun, the corn-on-the-cob eating cat is pretty funny too, as is Mika Tries to Speak Cat.

Karma chameleon

The UK is quickly getting the reputation of turning into a hidden camera filled, don't take pictures of cops or public buildings, snitch on your neighbours, paranoid society thanks to their current government's deeds and declarations. Irony and karma are cruel jokesters though, hey?

Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary of the UK, was caught making dubious expense claims for a second residence in London. She was caught by her own decree: "Do you know someone who claims more from the state than they're entitled to? Who is "picking the pockets of law-abiding taxpayers"? If so, call 0800 854 440 now. "We're closing in with hidden cameras. We're closing in with every means at our disposal."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just use pictures to make it easier

Sometimes I still have a little trouble understanding the whole credit crisis thing.

A pair of videos does a very good job making it easier. Part one. Part two.

The best way to recharge batteries - for free

It's just a prototype right now, but this idea for solar batteries is long overdue. At the moment, they're not terribly efficient, but in time....

What an awesome idea.

Imagine if Google is responsible for finding Atlantis

Google Earth recently added Google Ocean as a feature. Someone has discovered this grid on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, 620 miles off the west coast of Africa near the Canary Islands.

Could this be the fabled Atlantis?

Technology puts art in the hands of the masses

This is what technology makes possible - the ability to produce works of art like this for a measly $500. The environment is just enhanced video game footage - a sort of machinima. So you see, now anyone can create magic on a budget.

Not bad for $500, eh?

Warning: The video clip contains scenes of extreme violence.

The problem with predictions

Here is an (edited) excerpt from a boingboing post on corporate futurism that I found interesting because it is so accurate:

"... the epitome of what's wrong with corporate futurism: it assumes that things will change in a way that enhances the corporation's ability to get the job done (which... it does), but without changing things in ways that enhance the world's ability to clobber the corporation's bottom line.

Other examples:

* The Internet will enable us to deliver pay-on-demand movies to our viewers' homes (but it won't let them get those movies without paying for them)

* The Internet will enable us to save money on our long-distance trunks (but it won't let callers bypass the tariff-based telephone system altogether)

* The Internet will enable the police to coordinate international investigations (but it won't let criminals coordinate their activities to evade the police)"

Friday, February 20, 2009

My rant for the week - about radio

I'm really disappointed with radio today. I grew up in an era where radio not only played mostly original, creative music, but the on-air personalities actually knew stuff about the artists they were spinning (spinning - a 20th century term referring to the spinning of the record on the turntable). They had news about the artists, their previous and upcoming concerts and albums, sound bites of interviews with members of the groups and lots of trivia to keep you interested and engaged. It was the next best thing to having a real relationship with your favourite artists. In the days before 'format radio', DJs played what they liked and what they thought you would like. There were no quotas. They played stuff that was relevant. Music that might be different, but still reverberated with the audience. Maybe I'm getting old, but if you were just getting introduced to popular music for the first time today, you might have difficulty telling one (commercial, signed) artist from another in many cases.

This assumes you got most of your music from radio, of course. There are actually many great, unique, talented artists out there. Most of them will never air on any traditional, commercial radio station. Many of them will never get signed to any record label and even if they do, the label will be happy to let them wallow in permanent obscurity. At one time, that was a real shame, was accepted and had no solution. Nowadays, I actually have hope for these new artists, thanks to 3 things. Publicly supported, independent radio (including college radio); MySpace (where artists can showcase their stuff); and online music sales sites that sell independent artists' music (including the artists' own web sites).

The music industry has for too long flooded the airwaves and the music stores with cookie cutter, copycat, formulaic music, like so much junk food, then gotten upset because the music buying public has begun to treat their product like what it has become - junk food. Something that is popular today, gone next week. No staying power. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon album lasted 14 years on the charts. That will never happen again. Today, commercial talent is created in the recording studio using electronic wizardry and duplicated on stage using recorded playback and lip-syncing. Even radio that claims to play the 'classics' rotate the exact same catalogue over and over again. Note to radio: Aerosmith made a lot more than Dream On and Pink Floyd has other great songs besides Money or Comfortably Numb. But what can I expect.

This music industry I have been describing is on its last legs and they know it, but they're trying to suck every last ounce of money out of your pockets until consumers have enough. Commercial radio will falter soon after. The new era will herald the proliferation of internet resources that discover what you like now, suggest new artists you have never heard of and offer to sell you the product much cheaper than the commercial stuff - and hopefully with no DRM. Smart artists will even give their songs away, knowing that there is money to be made not in the music, but in the concerts, t-shirts and the ongoing relationship they can build with you as an appreciative fan. This has already started.

If I owned my own radio station, there would be no contests. No request line. I would not be playing music you already know. I would (hopefully) be playing music you have yet to discover. Because that's where the true power of radio lies. If you want to hear the same crap over and over - buy the freaking CD or mp3. But if you want to hear what you've been missing..........

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wonder why you're late for work?

The real reason you're late for work.

What happens when the machine grinds to a halt

Empty shipping containers are piling up in Hong Kong due to the declining world economy, as expected orders of Chinese products never materialize.


via Kottke

Copyright in the headlines in New Zealand

The unbelievable 'guilty by accusation' copyright law in New Zealand is causing quite a stir down there. In essence, all it takes is 3 unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement for your ISP to shut down your internet...... for good.

Come for the friendly folks, stay for the food

POTUS visited Canada today. As some radio personalities put it - many people are Obasmic in this country as Obamania abounds.

After meeting with our Governor General and Prime Minister, Mr. President made a surprise visit to Byward market, where he bought some Canadian Maple Leaf cookies (they wouldn't take his money) from the Le Moulin de Provence and he was brought a famous beavertail pastry from a nearby kiosk.

Everyone likes strip poker

One of the funniest ads I've seen in a while.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

RPM 34

What group coined its name from the Greek term for rhythmic exercises?

Logo trivia

Alright trivia buffs.

What company does this logo belong to?

Better transit planning than on the source site

It may not be a secret that Google Maps had incorporated transit into itself, but it has just been announced that the system for Calgary Transit has been added too.

This is big news, because based on my first few searches, this even beats the transit web site. Just open Google Maps, click the 'get directions' link, plug in where you're starting from and going to into 'A' and 'B', then change the 'By car' to 'By public transit'. Then hit the Get Directions button.

First it shows the next departure time and suggests alternate departure times. Then lists all the walking, bus routes and c-train routes, the total time.... It's pretty awesome.

Thanks to Ernest for the tip....

Canada's telecoms are hilarious

In another awesome episode of CBC's Search Engine, Canada's ISPs are discussed as it is discovered that they have experienced dramatic reductions in traffic-growth. Canada's ISPs claim they have so much traffic-growth to manage, that they need to fiddle with everyone's data (filter it). But it doesn't add up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Renovations under way

Forgive the mess, but I'm finally converting this blog to the new 'Layout' format from the old 'Template' format. There's just so much more that can be done in the layout version. I held out this long because I couldn't (until tonight) figure out how to bring the playlist along for the ride. Now that this is done..... welcome to the new look.

Which may or may not change over the next few days.

I can't believe it's not Jesus

OMG, I can't stop laughing..... sorry. Just click this link. Unless you're a Christian with absolutely no sense of humour. You've been warned.

Don't unplug it...

Great ad featuring a tree.

What is that song?

You can buy applications for the iPhone that do some incredibly useful stuff.

One of the most popular (and free) applications available for the iPhone is Shazam. Open this app and let it listen in on whatever music you are hearing and it will sample enough of the music to analyze via the internet and then tell you the who and what about the music within a minute. It stumbles when ambient noise is too high, but I've had success while watching TV commercials and in a store.

I have lost count of the number of times I could have used a tool like this.

"Everybody's lookin' for more work..."

Nice parody of 'The Wrestler' ( a movie I definitely have to see) called The Uncler, where Uncle Sam is the central character, having to endure the current American situation with the economy etc.

Nicely done. And it stars Alyssa Milano.

This is tolerance

Muzzammil Hassan, the founder of Muslim TV channel Bridges TV, has been charged with second degree murder, after his estranged wife was found beheaded in the network's offices.

CNN reports that Hassan has confessed to the murder. Aasiya Z. Hassan had filed for divorce last month, citing multiple incidents of abuse which had escalated into death threats. The couple had been married 8 years and had two children, ages 4 and 6.

Hassan founded Bridges TV in 2004 to counter anti-Islam stereotypes. "Every day on television we are barraged by stories of a 'Muslim extremist, militant, terrorist, or insurgent,'" Hassan said in the 2004 release. "But the stories that are missing are the countless stories of Muslim tolerance, progress, diversity, service and excellence that Bridges TV hopes to tell."

The irony runs deep.

This has been an Ernest contribution.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Save battery power on the iPhone

Some of the more savvy iPhone users out there may have already figured this out, but in case you haven't, this tip is for you. One of the biggest complaints I hear about the iPhone is that its battery doesn't last quite long enough. I also discovered after a bit of research that the things that use the most battery power are the things that communicate with any network - cell phone network and wi-fi. So the key to saving battery life is to not use the phone or wi-fi or location services all the time. Considering that my cell phone reception at work is marginal at best, I hardly ever turned my old cell phone on at work anyway. But with the iPhone, I am using it for much more than its phone function.

Enter 'airplane mode'. The iPhone has a neat feature right at the top of its settings page that lets you disable all of the 'network' features of the phone by turning airplane mode on. You can still use other aspects of the phone, just nothing that requires internet / wi-fi / cell network access. Listening to music all day in airplane mode, my battery level indicator barely budged.

This might not be an option for folks who have to be in contact with the world every waking minute of the day, but for me, it works out just fine.