Wednesday, June 30, 2010

“At least with liquor, I don’t lose motivation.”

If a president and a talk show host said these things today, a lot of crap would fly. But it got said in the 70s and nobody flinched.

Put any drinks aside, you might suffer some uncontrollable spit-takes.

Did you know? Ver 4.0

More video has been uploaded to YouTube in the last 2 months, than if CBS, ABC and NBC had been airing new content, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, since 1948.

By the way, the answer to the question in the picture is 2272. Per month.

It gets better......

Life, liberty and the pusuit of LOLcats

Human rights:
  • Adequate housing
  • Protection for children
  • Political choice
  • Protection against discrimination
With me so far? Well, in Finland you can now add high speed access to the internet as a basic human right.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The internet is forever

Have you ever actually tried to delete your Facebook account? It's not easy.

This article shows how difficult it can be (if you can even do it) to delete various online accounts.

The blurb about Facebook doesn't mention that if any 3rd party applications interact with your 'deleted' account in the 14 day waiting period - all bets are off - the account resumes itself.

PRT idea percolating for Calgary

I've spoken about PRT before. The concept is that 'last mile' public transit makes rapid transit even more effective and it's not very expensive to implement.

Just recently, someone gave a presentation showcasing 3 areas where PRT could benefit Calgary. I particularly like the idea of tying 2 C Train stations, Foothills Medical Centre, the motel village, the U of C and the sports facilities. If that included the area where the Children's Hospital is, it would be perfect.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm ready now

Tee design of the month.

Collective nouns

You know..... a flock of birds, a bouquet of flowers?

Ready for some fun ones? Then start here. Fave: a deutschbag of nazis.

Many, many more here.


Cory Doctorow, well known Canadian contributor to boingboing blog went toe to toe with the Minister who introduced Bill C-32.

It all happened on Twitter. It's a good read.

I don't want it anymore

In an effort to save paper and considering how few people use them anymore, the residential phone book will now only be delivered upon request from you if you live in Quebec City, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, or Ottawa-Gatineau. Did you know that you could opt out of getting the yellow pages now?

It's true.

The only time I have ever touched a phone book in the last 5 years was to bring it in the house and bring it to the recycle bin.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Five points

In one of the coolest musical sound boards ever created, you move five white circles around a map of the lower east side in New York City to create an ambient folk palette of sounds and music.

It's quite cool.

Wiring my house for sound (so to speak)

I made the decision a month ago to take advantage of the over 400 audio CDs I have collected over the years and digitize them. But not into MP3 files. No. I decided to go high quality lossless FLAC format, because they're practically indistinguishable from the original CD audio and can be the basis for creating high quality mp3 files at any time. The plan? I want to be able to listen to my entire collection at the click of a mouse button..... on my home theatre system (for now - more later). The problem - my home theatre components are far away from my computer, so I needed a way to share out my collection in a way that I can listen to them on the professional audio system.

My first trial - the Squeezebox by Logitech. You connect the Squeezebox to your wireless network and use the touch screen remote to play your collection from your computer.... through to your big stereo system. Sounds great on paper. Didn't work in reality. I tried for hours to get the thing to connect and maintain a connection to my wireless network, to no avail. I even tried a direct wired network connection. No dice there either. I don't know if Windows 7's firewall was the issue, but the product looked like it was connected while the software running on the computer said there was nothing out there. The support for this product doesn't make it easy to fix whatever might be wrong - and I'm a technologist! So..... in a word - FAIL.

The store I bought it from suggested I try the Sonos product instead. What makes their system different is that they sell their own network access point (which they call a bridge) that hooks to the home network via regular ethernet cable and creates its own proprietary wireless mesh network that any of their products can instantly connect to. This includes the player box I connect to my stereo receiver. Now, the Sonos doesn't come with a controller (you have to buy that separately), but they offer a free controller app for the iPhone. Score!

It didn't work on first try. I was frustrated, but through an accidental discovery I realized that my home router was the culprit. It limits the number of IP addresses that can exist on the home network to 10 (I have a lot of network devices in the home). I upped that to 20 and everything went smoothly. Through the PC software, I added my drive full of FLAC files to the library and downloaded the iPhone app. Instant digital music jukebox.

What's nice about this setup is that I can use a phone to control the music (or my PC) and I can add more Sonos devices, including more player boxes for other rooms, even boom boxes (with their own speaker and amp) to have instant music anywhere within range of the wi-fi mesh network.

[Update] More good news. The (wireless) player that feeds music to my home theatre receiver also has Ethernet ports on it. I discovered that they are simply extended network ports for nearby devices to access the internet through the Sonos (wireless) mesh network. This means I can now hook my Blu-Ray disc player to the internet. Yay!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Trip photos online

All pics except for the museum ones are now online.


Safeway: It's safe to come into the 21st century....

I just found out that you cannot order a replacement Safeway Club card online. You have to go to the store.

You can update your account information, but you cannot order a replacement card. Remind me again what year this is?

Weeding out the excuses

I find it interesting that the City of Calgary is complaining about how tough it is to control the dandelion outbreak this spring, yet they insist that residents must control weeds on their own property with no room for excuses.

Don't they realize that in many cases, the reason residential lawns even have weeds is because the city hasn't done anything to control weed growth on their own properties? I feel that if they can come up with excuses (valid ones at that) on why their property can have weeds, then there should be no bylaw regarding weed control on residential property either - especially considering the existing ban on certain chemicals.

Alternate movie reality

What movie posters would have possibly looked like had the original casting ideas gelled.

Really? Damon and Affleck in Brokeback Mountain? Something tells me that would have made a completely different movie. And consequences.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Word getting around about consumers against Bill C-32

My Facebook group may only have 23 members as of this writing, but happily the group now consists of members who have heard of it through the grapevine, not just people I have invited.

Spread the word my dear extremists (not my words, read the articles linked to in the group). Lets get the word out.

The bleeding McRib

You either love the McRib or you hate it.

It's the only fast food item that always looks like it's been mortally wounded.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How technology helped us on our vacation

I know this may be preaching to the choir, but I've been thinking about how technology has helped us enjoy or enhance our current vacation more.

Wanting to leave Calgary a day earlier than planned, Darlene Googled 'Cranbrook hotels' and the first result was a Trip Advisor article stating the top rated hotel. Darlene booked it even though we have driven past its unassuming frontage before and it ended up being a very pleasant surprise. Darlene says "The to-die-for beds are luxurious and are also owned by David and Victoria Beckham."

Our next stop, Spokane, yielded a super package via the Davenport Hotel's web site. We stayed in the new wing for a price lower than any other room and while there, noticed that their restaurant food is on for half price after 6pm.

The Heathman, where we are staying in Kirkland, only came onto our radar thanks to a Google search for 'Tempurpedic bed hotel Seattle' on our last trip here. Good thing we found this place, as the Heathman is a very well kept secret on the east side of Lake Washington. It's a great base to visit all parts of Seattle. Our stay came with a free boat cruise of Lake Washington, free bike rentals and a $40 daily credit in the hotel restaurant (breakfast was amazing).

While planning for this trip, we searched online for transit options and discovered that for $2.00 we could ride a 30 minute bus from a block from our hotel in Kirkland to downtown Seattle. That was pretty awesome considering what parking is like in Seattle.

Our Garmin GPS made it so easy to get around. I can't imagine what it would have been like to try to navigate to the malls, stores, restaurants and sights we visited had it not been for that little genius. Make a mistake - the GPS plots a new route for you. Need a Shell gas station nearby? A 7-11? Drug store? Easy as pie. And I stored all of the addresses of all the places we wanted to visit on my iPhone.

All in all, technology has definitely enhanced how we experienced our trip. I am grateful.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Speak of the devil....


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It produces a giant fizz-ure

Ever wonder how a fire extinguisher works?

Mentos and Diet Coke.......

Consumers against Bill C-32

I have stepped up and used social networking to form a grass roots movement on a topic I am very passionate about. It's a Facebook group called Consumers Against Bill C-32.

The reason? Our government is suggesting that support for Bill C-32 is 'broad and deep', as they put it to the press. I challenge that notion and counter-suggest that Canadian consumers who have informed themselves regarding the effects of Bill C-32 know that the digital lock provision alone is a disaster because it trumps any and all consumer rights that may have been put in the Bill in favour of the entertainment industry. I am not against Copyright reform. I am against reform that trounces the rights of consumers, rights that we have enjoyed for decades.

I will be posting helpful online resources for visitors and members to get informed.

I invite you to show that you are against this by joining the group. Thank you and use your voice to speak up.

That is all.

P.S.: Tell your friends......

Monday, June 14, 2010

LittleDog robot learns well

DARPA is working on a quadruped robot that has learned remarkably well how to walk over very rough terrain.

This is the future of robot capabilities.

Birthday treat

Sunday we celebrated Darlene's birthday and as is customary in our house, we get to pick the restaurant where we want to have our birthday dinner. Luckily for me, she picked a place that we both love, the Bavarian Inn in Bragg Creek.

We love this restaurant for its authentic, prepared on the spot European food. The chef also specializes in game meat dishes in season. We usually go for a particular dish that isn't always on the menu, but since we are regulars, we often ask for it special and this time was no exception. The chef was happy to make us our favourite dish - I'd tell you what it is, but I'd rather you just sampled the selections for yourself. Our meal is pictured.

The trouble with telly

They were discussing the topic of the future of TV on the online news today, as the Banff World TV Festival is going to discuss the future of television. I weighed in:

"On the topic of advertising, the problem is quite straight forward. There are more choices for the advertising dollar now than ever before. So where a goods or services provider only had radio, print and TV advertising space to buy before, enter the web and mobile phone into the fray.

As more people flock online for their entertainment, advertisers find it harder to justify spending their dollars on the old, traditional mediums. This is why Canadian networks find themselves in the situation they are in, where they want the signal distributor (cable) to pony up their profits to make up for the disappearing dollars from advertising revenue. It's only going to get worse. The only demographic truly keeping TV afloat is the 50 year old plus crowd. The younger generation is quickly moving to whatever medium offers them more choices, more flexibility and more relevant content. Consider this: YouTube has seen more content added in two months than if the 3 major TV networks had released new content every day of every week, non-stop since 1948. Think about that for a moment.

TV's only hope for survival in the next decade is to offer their audience something the online and mobile services cannot. That's getting harder to do with each passing year."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The highest highs, the lowest lows

This nice infographic shows the extremes of heights and depths of our planet. I had actually forgotten that we went down to 35,000 feet back in the day. The infographic also illustrates just how deep not only the Deepwater Horizon wellhead is, but how deep the drill went to get to the oil.


Have you ever seen the gig 'Autotune the news'?

You should start with this one.

Chocolate price fixing?

A class action lawsuit brought against the big chocolate manufacturers in North America alleges that they artificially inflated their prices.

Mr. Big could not be reached for comment. Snickers could be heard from all of the chocolate lovers at the thought of a settlement. 'Wunderbar!', they thought.

But seriously, I wonder what the settlement will be. I hope it's not Big Turks for everyone. I hate those ones.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"With the good ones on my shoulder....."

This week I posted songs in the playlist from one of the most over-played bands of the decade. But damn - they are good. Coldplay may not be the most inventive artists out there, but they craft a lovely pop tune. I find that since I rarely listen to radio, I'm not as saturated with their material as some might be.

Apologies in advance to anyone who is sick of them.

Short hair really defines the hairline....

I think the haircut I got today is the shortest one I've ever had. Darlene says I look like I just got out of prison. I guess that explains the smile on my face.

Boy, nothing like a short haircut to show just how much your hairline is receding, huh?

The BP coffee spill

Is it too soon?

No freakin' way, man!

Check out the BP coffee spill sketch.

Paths crossing....... again...

Assuming that you and your significant other did not live in the same locale as each other all of your life, did you ever cross paths before meeting the last time? Even unknowingly?

Here's the story of a couple, one from Canada, the other from Florida, who were at Disney World (at the same time - not knowing each other) while they were kids. Later in life they went on to meet and marry. The couple were going through some old family pictures, when he sees his dad pushing him in a stroller in the background of her family picture taken at Disney World. Fate or destiny drew them together.

I discovered a while after I met Darlene in Kingston Ontario in 1987 that she had also been in Kingston in the early 1980s when I first arrived there for my military trades training. It is very likely that we went to the same bars and danced along to the same music but never met (she was separated from her husband at the time). She left Kingston with her then husband to go to Nova Scotia, back to Kingston, then to Germany, only to arrive back in Kingston in 1986. We met 6 months later at a party neither of us were going to attend until the last minute.

Friday, June 11, 2010

iPad + Velcro = awesomeness multiplier

I'll let the video do the talking on this one.

Too bad this trick would cost thousands to replicate

I knew it was just a matter of time before someone did some tricks to show off the advantage of having a bladeless fan (the Dyson Air Multiplier). Leave it to Dyson themselves to pull it off.

P.S.: The fan costs about $300.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

20 awesome things about bacon

The infographic!

Fantasy CPR

Do you think people ( would remember their CPR training if this was part of it?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Mob proposal

I love flash mobs. Just the idea, the pure spontaneity of it. Imagine a flash mob that appears and becomes part of a proposal from one soul to another....

That would be awesome.

The periodic table of superpowers

How many periodic tables can Karl find and post on his blog?

The world may never know........

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

An ode to Voyager II

The whole story is a fascinating history lesson.

"There will not be another planet, not even a single additional source of heat nor velocity from here on out. Your energy budgets are recalculated, your mission extended. By now, the thousands of people who were once committed to getting you off the ground have largely moved on; some have died, some have found new careers... and a select few still listen. You faithfully make your way towards the outer edges of the system, growing colder, losing even the power necessary to keep yourself warm."

Phoenix Coyotes Redux

In which the voice of reason interviews Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner, about the troubled Phoenix Coyotes.

Reason: Yet another NHL-approved potential owner for this troubled franchise has either bailed out or not qualified to buy the team. What now?
Gary: The Coyotes are staying in Phoenix.
Reason: How long will this go on?
Gary: As long as it takes.
Reason: Even while other investors have the money to move the team to Canada?
Gary: The Coyotes are staying in Phoenix. We owe it to their fans.
Reason: You mean like you owed it to the fans of Quebec and Winnipeg?
Gary: Look, I made it my mission to provide every opportunity possible to salvage this franchise and I believe we have a viable franchise in Phoenix. We just need time.
Reason: If Phoenix is such a sure thing, why doesn't the league just permanently invest in the team itself?
Gary: I think we're done here....

Monday, June 07, 2010

Explosive news

According to NASA, the Cassini Saturn orbiter has made an interesting observation. Well, interesting to scientists. It turns out that Saturn's moon Titan is exhibiting signs that there may be life on its surface. There are signs that any life that might be present on Titan breathes hydrogen, exhales methane and eats acetylene.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say whatever they are..... they don't smoke. Or sit around campfires.

Or play with matches.

"You are responsible for spills..."

Perhaps the most ironic sign at a BP gas station..... ever.

They should bronze that puppy.

Flying high gives new perspective

One of the things that struck me as I flew over our country on the way to Quebec (last week) is that from 37500 feet, it's not hard to imagine that the prairies of Canada were once an inland sea. There are just so many lakes that it's hard to count them all. From the air it looks like somebody pulled the drain plug on that sea and all that's left is a lot of puddles.

You know you and your spouse are telepathic when...

The first day back from Montreal (a little over a week ago), Darlene asked what I wanted for supper. I thought about it for a few seconds and answered "Swiss Chalet". She asked what I would probably get to eat and I said 'ribs'. She said she planted that whole thing in my mind by silently screaming "Swiss Chalet ribs!".

The next day, while we were out shopping, I mentioned that maybe we should get an early supper at White Spot. She said she had just been thinking the same thing only a minute before I said it.

Oh yeah............ This is all very cool and stuff but I have come to the realization that my thoughts are no longer my own and my free will is mostly an illusion.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Canada - fruit juice drinkers

Every country is number one at something and this image shows them all.

Canada is #1 at fruit juice drinkers. For the USA it's serial killers. Amazing stuff.


Candidate for the best (non-animated) short film I've seen in a while.

I knew how it would end by the 3:00 mark.

2 girls, 2 cups

Great tune, simple instruments.

(It's not the other thing with girls and a cup)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Another example of why a law that legitimizes DRM is stupid

I grabbed this comment on the newly introduced Canadian Copyright Bill. Yet another example of the flawed strategy of embracing DRM:

"I'm a software developer. I have a huge stake in this. If my business model depends on distributing my projects for free – a very successful model for many many people: start with every website that you didn't pay or register to use – then I need protection from people who force me to add DRM to my product if I use their distribution services. This bill doesn't even acknowledge this. What it does do is privilege one business model over another.

There's nothing illegal, wrong or bad about giving software away. The software that every developer uses to write every application ever written for OSX, the iPod and the iPad is free. There were people who sold software to do this: they stopped, and Apple is now the most valuable tech company. You have to leave room for people to distribute things as they want to do. The reason the App Store is a success is because of this free system, so its not as if free and paid software don't interact.

But this bill privileges one business model over another. If DRM-equipped players become the only thing you can get, requiring DRM-equipped media, then when I want to use that medium to distribute my free software, I have no choice but to equip it with a lock. The problem with this bill is that it says that if the creator - who obviously can't control what the player industry does - doesn't want DRM, he still has to provide it. And if I distributed a solution to allow users who don't have DRM-decoding players to do what I want them to do – use my free software – to get past the DRM, even though it's only my product affected, then I can become a criminal, along with my users.

All this to protect a dysfunctional group stuck in the 80's."

Apologies in advance for not seeking permission, but no such mechanism exists on the site I took this from. I'll chalk this up to my fair dealing rights as a blogger reporting the news.

Inspired by Iceland

It looks like Icelanders are pretty happy people.

I would actually like to visit this place. I am told their residents are very down to earth.

The Swinger

The Swinger is a piece of software that turns any song into a 'swing' styled tune by performing a neat beat altering function that leaves the songs parts intact.

The effect is hilarious, if not spooky. Turns musical numbers into a whole new swingin' kinda thing.

Take it................ slow

When I first saw a commercial for Cracked Canoe beer, I thought it was a joke or a parody. Just because of the name.

Well, it's not a joke. It's real. Check out their web site - nicely done. Click on stuff once you plug in your'

Friday, June 04, 2010

iPad encounter

So I had a chance to see my first iPad up close today, as a good friend has purchased one and brought it along for a lunch meeting.

The first thing that struck me about it is the price. Although there are cheaper models out there, the one my friend has (with the most memory and 3G capability) was over $800. We'll get back to that in a moment. By the way, that wouldn't include a case or blue tooth keyboard.

What I like about the iPad:
  • It's small. It's a nice balance between iPhone size and Macbook size.
  • The touch screen is very addictive.
  • The screen is big enough to make web surfing practical.
  • The screen is big enough to make remote access and control of computers practical (yes, it can use VNC)
  • iPhone apps will work on it.
  • It's gorgeous. I know..... I'm just sayin'.
  • Using Google maps on it as a navigating device (with 3G) is awesome.
  • The GUI is simple enough that even a toddler could use it.
  • It partners well with a blue tooth keyboard for those who do a lot of typing.
  • Battery life of 6 hours + is decent.
  • The LED-IT app turns it into a cool desk scrolling sign (although I'd not be likely to leave it unattended on my desk).
What I don't like about the iPad:
  • I have this nagging feeling of dread that I might drop it when I hold it.
  • It cannot store any application, video or music without using iTunes on a host computer.
  • It does not recharge via the interface cable (iPad to USB).
  • Applications that are not specifically ported to the iPad resolution display at iPhone screen size. The image can be enlarged to fill the screen, but at a reduced resolution.
  • Rogers wants $15 per month just for 250MB of data use (for existing customers).
  • Interoperability with Microsoft documents is not perfect (as indicated by my friend).
  • For $800, I could buy a very well appointed laptop with much more functionality.
My friend also bought an Apple brand case for the iPad (seen here). Although the case doesn't stay closed on its own, I like that it folds back on itself to transform into a stand.

I do think this device is going to revolutionize portable computing.

"Think about it...."

I think this video would make people want to work at this company. The world needs more companies like this.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Karl's Pizza joint review

If grease-laden pizza a-la the chain stores like Pizza Hut et al have turned you off of the ubiquitous tomato pie, rest assured that there are still ma and pa outlets that still know how to make pizza that tastes like it has tomato sauce on it.

If you live in NW Calgary, one place Darlene and I like to go is Bona Roma, (or Boner-rama, as we loving refer to it). Located just the other side of the Trans Canada Highway from Canada Olympic Park, this intimate 15 seat joint offers great tasting pizza made with fresh ingredients.

Somebody gonna get a spankin'....

Or a pay cut.

Or a pink slip.

Note to self

When in Barrie Ontario, when needing ride home, get naked.

Police will oblige.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Never mind reduce, let's eliminate

Our provincial government made a (non-binding) deal with the major grocery and drug stores to reduce the use of plastic bags. They will voluntarily plan to reduce the use of these bags by 50% by 2013.

What I want to know is why don't we just phase these bags out completely by 2013? Would that be so hard to do?

Exclusive cab access for one company

Imagine if you were a cab driver and you were told by the airport that as of now, only one cab company can wait in line at the airport to pick up passengers and your company isn't it.

That's what has just happened here in Calgary. Other cabs can drop passengers off and pick up passengers that have called ahead for a specific company, but they cannot wait there.

That would suck.

Why dontcha just eat 6 Krispy Kremes?

Absolutely scary how many calories these 'worst drinks in America' have.

The Rockstar energy drink isn't even the worst offender!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Rush hour in Utrecht (Netherlands)

Where 33% of all trips are made by bicycle.

Be sure to read the description at the YouTube page this clip is hosted on.

Interesting stats.