Sunday, October 31, 2010

Best Hallowe'en light show............ evar

I howled.

With laughter.

Nice light show.

Very appropriate for the day, no?

The animated gifs on this site are freaky.

Make sure you check out every page and give each gif time to load its animation-ness.

Spending. We do it war.... I mean well......

Apparently $3 billion is spent weekly on war at the moment by the US. That's incredible.

For that money, we could send a manned mission to Mars every month and have money left over.

I wrote this just in case anyone started to argue that we could never afford to explore the cosmos.

Texting phenoms

Here's a stat: the average female teenager sends about 4,050 texts per month. That's more than 8 texts per waking hour - every waking hour of every day. Teen males send an average of 2,539 texts.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bra a a i i n z z!

I got zombie-fied in time for Hallowe'en.

You like?

"Once upon a midnight dreary"

For all of my sci-fi geek loving friends, I present to you - Poe's 'The Raven' as read by none other than John De Lancie.

If you don't know who that is, you dare to call yourself a geek.........

My advice to the entertainment industry

I'm just a lowly consumer. But there's one thing I seem to understand that the entertainment industry does not. And that is that technology is no longer a rule changer - it's a game changer. And it's changing the game faster than big Entertainment and the government can handle.

There are whole industries that exist today that did were not even thought of 10 years ago thanks to technology like Bluetooth, the smart phone, VoIP, GPS and portable data storage. That is by no means a complete list, it's just scratching the surface. The entertainment industry is playing a snail's paced game of catch-up with technology, even going so far as to try to control, legislate and lock these technologies. They think they're leading the game too. The problem is this - they're only now dealing with technology that has been around for at least a decade in each case. Their reaction time is painfully slow and the reality is that new technological innovations are not going to come at a slower pace, but at a faster one.

It is very possible that within 5-10 years, mesh network technologies will make it possible to create ad hoc internets of varying sizes that spring into existence for hours or days before vanishing without a trace. Storage technologies will make it possible to store thousands of movies and millions of songs on a device no bigger than a pack of cigarettes. When that day comes, sharing whole collections will be as easy as lending your device to your friend for a few hours, if you even have to go to that much trouble. The devices themselves may just form their own ad hoc wireless networks.

It is not only possible, but inevitable, that while the entertainment industry is busy trying to control, legislate and lock each current technology, something even more enabling to the consumer will appear on the market to render their efforts completely and totally redundant. So the question is, if trying to control how consumers use technology is a losing battle, what should the industry be doing instead? That is the real question. Should big E focus on production of content and leave the distribution part to the consumer, who seem to have figured out how to do it better, cheaper, and faster? Perhaps the whole business model needs a complete overhaul.

The point is this - even if restrictive laws are passed, even if giant firewalls are built around countries, even if locks are placed on content and the devices that play it, it just won't matter. Technology will appear almost overnight to render most, if not all of these measures obsolete. It would be like watching an elephant fight a ninja. There's just no point in trying. What both big E and governments need to do is stop reacting to perceived threats to an antiquated business model based on 1940s culture and technology and start developing a new business model.

Embrace the technology - don't fight it. Resistance is futile.

Friday, October 29, 2010

You can go any time you like....... but you can never leave

In an effort to reduce the cost of a future mission to Mars, NASA now believes the way to accomplish this is by making the trip one way. In other words, you'll leave for Mars, settle there and never come back.

Bernie: Sound familiar?

[He's reading the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson]

Nobody does bad better

My great friend Bernie (and hoser in crime) posted a great article about his experience with one of Canada's hated cell phone providers. I would have said 'most' hated, but I'd say the big 3 are essentially in a 3-way tie for contempt.

Anyway, on to his article on his blog.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The endless email signature block

This is one of the funniest info-graphic-cartoons I've seen in a while. It's called "If you do this in an email, I hate you."

My absolute favourite is the email signature one.

Some offers are too good to be true

When your cell phone provider web site offers you to plug in your phone number to see if you qualify for an upgrade to the new iPhone 4, and it says you do qualify, you might hear a nagging little voice inside your head that says "There must be a catch!"

Listen to that voice, because it's a very intuitive little yapper, as it turns out. When I called my provider, giddy with the promised opportunity to upgrade my older iPhone 3G to the new iPhone 4, I was informed that although I did in fact 'qualify', since I was not far enough along in my contract, I would have to pay full price for the phone. In the case of the model I want, that's $779. Of course - I am free to use my [insert customer retention value dollar name here] dollars towards the price.

I asked the next obvious question, "If I pay full price for the handset, is it locked to you guys?"

"Yes it is."

So I'm thinking, why would I pay full price for a locked handset when I can walk into any Apple store and get an unlocked phone for the same price?

"OK, thanks. We're done here." [click]

Needless to say, I'll be waiting until I'm close enough to contract renewal time to upgrade the phone. For a lot less money. But be forewarned. Just because the web site says you qualify for an upgrade doesn't necessarily mean squat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Ford is a lemon

Toronto elected a new mayor, Rob Ford. A friend of mine from those parts asked on his Facebook page yesterday, "Have you driven a Ford lately?"

The real question is, what kind of Ford is he? A Ford Marauder? A Pinto? A Zephyr?

Ford models listed here.

BMW Mini electric scooter

I like it. A lot. You can even snap your iPhone onto the scooter as a personal key and controller. Unfortunately, this is just a concept and there are no specifics at this time. But I like it.

A lot.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The new Zeitgeist

Heres an interesting set of facts about the new American zeitgeist. These are just observations, not judgments.

Let's first start with some global benchmarks. Science Magazine conducted a poll and found that a large majority of the population in developed countries accept Darwinian evolution. 78% of Japanese believe that we evolved, 70% of Europeans and 69% of Chinese agree. In the United States the figure is 45%. In Texas, 60% of the population deny evolution. 47% of US Republicans believe that we have always existed in our present human form - God made us who we are today. "Regarding evolution - the jury is still out" ~George W. Bush

There is a growing segment of America that are convinced dinosaurs and children played together and the reason the dinosaurs didn't eat the children is because they were herbivores - at first. Traditional science with its evidence that some dinosaurs were definitely carnivorous? Conflicts with the bible, therefore not true. What about carbon dating? Cannot be trusted due to Noah's flood. The pressure of the water in the flood skewed any chance of dating anything accurately. As Lewis Black once joked - "These people are watching the Flintstones as if it were a documentary".

Tea activists claim that Obama is Muslim and that he was not born in America. Obama attends a Christian church, his children were baptized there, and his official birth certificate from Hawaii is free to see on the internet. He eats pork too. But hard evidence means nothing to some people if they instinctively feel that something is wrong. According to one poll, 47% of all the Republicans believe that Obama is a Muslim and 27% of them do not believe that he was born in the US.

Climatologists point out that the climate is undergoing global warming, and that it is man made, but - why should we trust the scientific consensus? What do statistics, evidence and Greenland ice cores matter if it was a cold winter in Oklahoma? The New York Times indicates that all Republican Senate candidates in this election deny that global warming is man-made.

By golly, I think he's on to something

Rob Dickens, a former executive at Warner Music, told BCC News that he thinks if albums were marked down to $1, sales would explode. Fans would be more inclined to buy music. He thinks that major albums would sell 200 million copies. He also feels that this would also solve the piracy problem.

To my readers: Would you buy more music if a CD (or in particular, a quality digital copy for download) cost $1 each? Follow up question: Would you cease pirating music (assuming you do the dastardly deed)?

I know I would certainly be inclined to buy more music at $1 per album. Caveat: In uncompressed format - no mp3s. Buying mp3s of music is like buying thumbnails of a stock photograph. They're a meagre sampling of the genuine article.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Afterlife. Well spent.

Sears actually did something cool on their (American) website.

It's been zombie-fied, just in time for Hallowe'en.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Give it away

I have always believed that the one single thing we could do as a society to promote transit (and solve a myriad of problems in one fell swoop) is to make it free to use. I finally have come across people that share the same view.

I pose this question to my readers - would you be inclined to take transit more if it was free?

He felt a strange sensation in his pants

The Raytheon engineer then found that a chocolate bar in his pocket had started to melt. Thus the idea for the microwave oven was born in 1945. By accident.

Here is a collection of inventions that were sheer accidents.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

If I was in charge (education expenses)

If your employer tells you that a paid course is mandatory as part of your career training, Revenue Canada should not be allowed to say you can't claim such a course on your income taxes.

That is all.

The bottle

A love story.

A tragedy.

A stop motion animation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I could buy a Sonos controller for my wireless multi-room Sonos music system for $400.

Or - I could buy an iPad with wi-fi and get the free Sonos controller app for $550 and have a portable wi-fi internet device to take on trips and such and feed the Apple machine.

Hmmmm. Decisions.... decisions.

Could we handle a gas shortage?

The strike in France that has led to 8 of 12 refineries in France closing. This has created a shortage of fuel which is crippling the country.

This makes me wonder how such a shortage would affect us here in Canada, especially out here in wide open, spread out, truck crazy western Canada.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Shweeb

Bicycles are so passé. Shweebs are where it's at now, man.

I like it. Here be video.

Fill 'er up!

This mug has heat sensitive ink on the outside that turns red when you fill it with a hot beverage.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The October 17 playlist

Check that playlist over there on the right. It's got 10 new songs for the week. It starts out a little brash, but then it settles in nicely with a great autumn groove.

I hope you enjoy it.


Regis Philbin and Pee Wee Herman rob the M&M store in New York.

I'd have paid good money to hear Regis make that "Aaaaaah!" yell that Pee Wee does (at the same time as Pee Wee of course).

Pictures worth celebrating

The 2010 edition of the National Geographic's International Photo contest is in full swing and the photos are as spectacular as ever.

Go here and just browse the photos of the day for some awe-inspiring imagery.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Now back to me..."

Lovable Grover pays homage to the Old Spice guy from the TV ads.

Jiffy crew

Canadian troops from the Army base in Gagetown, New Brunswick disassemble and reassemble a Willy's jeep in about 3 minutes during a parade.

So far.....

Let's sum up how our glorious minority Conservative gub'mint is doing in Canada.

We went from $50B surplus to $50B deficit. We scrapped the world-renowned, accurate, mandatory long form census in favour of a voluntary watered down version. We introduced copyright legislation that would make criminals out of ordinary Canadians. We lost a seat on the UN security council. Oh - sorry, that was the Liberal leader's fault [snort]. It had nothing at all to do with our foreign policy. Or that we pissed off the UAE. We don't support Kyoto anymore. We don't support net neutrality. We couldn't care less about our veterans. The Health Care system is in freefall. The government is floating the idea of abandoning transfer payments to have-not provinces (screw them if they can't make it on their own) because that 'interferes' with their 'jurisdiction'. They wasted $1.2-billion on the G8-G20 summit. Our image is tarnished around the world.

[Karl makes the thumbs up sign]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Throwing off the car shackles

An ever growing number of commuters are trying to find alternatives to owning their own vehicle. As a result, car sharing is being explored more and more as an option. Car sharing consists of borrowing vehicles only as needed. Users pick up and drop off any one of a fleet of vehicles at selected locations within a certain area. One pays typically by the hour, which covers all costs including gasoline, insurance, maintenance and parking.

The for-profit ZipCar option is already fairly well known. There's plenty of stuff on it online at their site, a Wikipedia article, but there are Co-op car sharing setups as well. They're similar, but usually charge an annual fee + hourly/daily rates in combination with rates per kilometre. A Coop in Vancouver charges a one-time membership fee of $500, plus some additional nominal fees, then $3 an hour or $36 a day, plus 40 cents per km for the first 35 km, 25 cents per km up to 150 km, and 15 cents per km thereafter. Here's a site where a Toronto Coop is compared against ZipCars.

How does the cost of car sharing compare to the cost of owning your own car? In one example I came across, it's about $500 per month – $200 to finance / purchase, $100 for insurance, $100 for fuel and about $100 for maintenance. That doesn't include vehicle depreciation and parking fees. The monthly cost for members of the Cooperative Auto Network works out to an average of $117. Research shows that an average car owner who drives 20,000kms per year can save about $2000 by using car-sharing instead of owning. More if they drive less than 20,000kms.

Now the downside. Cars have to be picked up and dropped off at a pre-agreed time at locations that may not be close by. Worse, the cars sit idle while the user is doing their thing, maybe for hours at a time - while you still pay. You typically pay for a full hour even if you use a car for only 15 minutes. The biggest efficiency flaw of all - the cars are not usually shared by multiple members travelling the same route.

Enter Daimler’s recent program called Car2Go and Car2gether. Car2Go began in Ulm, Germany in 2008 and in Austin, Texas in 2009. The first Car2Go vehicles are Smart cars (owned by Daimler). Car2Go members pay by the minute. In the US, it’s 35 cents a minute (plus tax) and a maximum of $12.99 per hour (plus tax) and no more than $65.99 per day (plus tax). (Mileage above 150 miles is charged 45 cents per mile).

One big advantage of Car2Go is that you don't have to return the vehicle to the starting point. You can leave the vehicle in any valid street parking space in Austin (for free). This means one-way trips to a destination, without having to pay for the car while idle, then pick up another vehicle to finish the journey. GPS locators built into every car enable Car2Go to locate and publish each car’s location on the web.

Daimler will also provide 3,000 electric Smart cars as part of the largest car-sharing project in the world, in Paris. AutoLib will involve 1,000 charging stations around the city and is scheduled to begin in 2011.

The Car2Go program in Ulm, Germany has the 200 Smarts in the city rented up to 1,000 times per day by 15,000 customers. Ulm has a population of 120,000. 90 per cent of the participants take advantage of the ability to book the car spontaneously and for one-way trips.

Even better, a new feature of Car2Go is the ability for passengers to seek drivers, and drivers to seek passengers who are travelling to the same area. Drivers and passengers register on the web to create a profile with their photo, cell number etc. It's free, and registrants can even use an app for their smart phone. Drivers or passengers enter their desired time and destination and Car2gether coordinates rides offered and wanted and sends details of suitable drivers and passengers to the user.

Les betteraves

Onion. Garlic. Potato (all kinds). Turnip. Carrot. Beet. They all have one thing in common. OK, two things. They be yummy. And they grow underground. What is it about me and root vegetables? I don't know, but I loves them.

Put a plate in front of me with beets on them and I will actually cheer. Out loud. B-E-E-T-S. Yay beets!

The French word for beets looks like 'better 'aves'. As in: "They better haves beets on my plate...."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's the dad life

Very nicely done.

"I'm rockin' my dockers with a cuff and a crease...."


Thick as a brick

The first cell phone was the Motorola Dynatac 8000X, also known as 'the brick'. It weighed 2 pounds and cost $4000.

That's it on the left. For comparison, that's the iPhone on the right.

Is that pronounced 'Snoopy'?

My next-door neighbour sent me a link to this article and I think it's pretty amazing. Rather than try to explain, I'll let the article do the talking. Safe to say that some smart people have found a way to use existing home technology to make new technology much more efficient.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Medi-Centre Roulette

Medi-Centre Roulette -noun /(mĕdˈē-sĕnˈtər-ro͞o-lĕtˈ)/

1. A gambling game in which the player bets on when is the best time to go to a Medi-Centre that will not involve a 2 to 4 hour wait, just to see a doctor for 10 minutes. (Assuming the facility hasn't already closed early)

2. The game of chance wherein while seeking medical aid from a doctor, one has to wait an indeterminate amount of time among other sick patients and hope one does not become infected with their illness as well.


My endorsement of this ad's content (thanks Gord) is not an endorsement of the product it's selling.

But come on - it has some of 'the funny', no?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Solo to musical in no time flat

I love this video. It just gets awesomer as it plays.

That's right...... awesomer. As in mucho awesomez.

New [Gasp] I mean [Gack] I meant to say 'Gap'

On the left is the old Gap logo. On the right is the new one.

I hope they didn't pay a lot of money...........

[Update] They changed their minds. Really?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving everyone

Holiday greetings from the 'sick house'. Darlene and I are nursing varying stages of something or another. But we have each other. And a fireplace. And movies. And blankies.

Enjoy your turkey, enjoy your families and friends and enjoy what's left of Augustober (as my friend Mark so aptly is calling it). I think this might be the warmest Thanksgiving in Calgary that I can remember. We had a Chinook arch and everything.

His identity erased

His past stolen. His whereabouts unknown.

In the funniest tribute to The Bourne Ultimatum yet, Jason Bourne is substituted with THE 'hard to find' character in this hilarious trailer spoof.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Time is broken

This is the quirkiest, neatest clock I've seen yet. The Shattered Clock arranges the numbers on the face in a manner that the numbers are only pieced together when that number is the closest hour to the current time. There is no hour hand. The minute hand simply points to the regular spot on the face to indicate the rest of the time.

So in this example, because the 4 is the only number closest to being whole and the minute hand is pointing to where the 11 should be, it's 3:55 (or 5 minutes to 4).

Morpheus meets The Dude

"Ever wonder what it would be like to explain The Matrix to The Dude? Morpheus gives it his best."

Best video mash-up I've seen this year. OK, it's the only video mash-up I've seen this year..... but still.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Best soda / pop commercial..... ever

Finally, truth in advertising.

Too bad it's just a PSA.

The more public your internet profile is, the easier you are to find

Here's a fascinating story about a woman whose car got broken into and personal effects stolen, who then used a combination of craigslist, MySpace, a dating site, McDonald's and the help of some good Samaritans to track the thief down and help put him behind bars.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Be sure to tip your server...... and try the veal

I am a firm believer in tipping your server at a restaurant. There seems to be some misunderstanding though among the eating-out community that I'd like to address.

The standard tip is 15% of the bill, before or after tax is up to you. I typically include the tax in the calculation. Since our federal GST amount is 5%, calculating the tip is as easy (in Alberta) as tripling the GST tax. So when does the standard tip apply and when does something else apply?

If the service was adequate, the standard 15% applies. One of the reasons I make sure to tip appropriately is that servers are often forced to share their tips with the rest of the staff as restaurant policy. It may be unfair, but it's the truth in many cases. I have heard people say that they often won't tip the standard amount if they're...... how shall I say......... eating beyond their means. Sorry - if you can afford to eat a meal out, you can afford to tip. The other excuse I love is "The food is too expensive, so I'm taking it out on the tip." Patently ridiculous.

I will tip more than the standard 15% if the service was better than expected, or if the server went above the call of duty. On the other extreme, I will reduce the tip when the server's performance warrants. Let me be clear, when there's something wrong with the food that is the responsibility of the food preparation staff, I do NOT take it out on the server. It's not their fault, so there's no point making them suffer. If there's an issue with the food, that's when you mention it to the server and perhaps the manager. The tip should only be reduced when the service is sub-standard.

So, what qualifies for a reduced tip? Slower than reasonable service. I still take into account if the server is busy or over-worked. It's usually obvious. If the server is standing around yacking with staff, that's grounds for a reduction, especially if I asked for something and am still waiting. Other grounds for reduced tip include the 'dump-and-run' manoeuvre, where someone drops off your food and never bothers to check up on you until you're done. Getting the order wrong is a big no-no as well.