Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vini vidi van halen

Rockin tee.

de-motivated stormtrooper

Those were the droids you were looking for....


Here is a fun site where people share little anecdotes that made their day, ergo the site is called 'It made my day'.

Simply alarming

Darlene and I are shopping for new alarm clocks. We've had ours (matching his and hers) for countless years and the buttons used to set the time (actual and wake-up) have had it.

Do you think we could find just a simple, elegant alarm clock, with no radio, no iPod dock, no voice activated anything, no toaster, no stock ticker, no coffee maker?

If anyone knows of a great, use-to-use, large digit, elegant digital alarm clock with no bells and whistles, let me know in the comments.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Your daily dose of creativity

If you appreciate great photography like I do, this site, daily dose of imagery has some really nice compositions.

Spirit is dead. Long live the Spirit Mars rover

OK I'm exaggerating a bit. I don't know if you heard, but the Mars rover Spirit finally got itself into a bind (literally), getting stuck in a sand trap that it can't get out of. It's stuck there and time will tell if it will last past the Martian winter.

Meanwhile, this xkcd comic strip does a bang-up job of immortalizing the little guy. I laughed. I cried. It's funny and sad at the same time.

We need to send a manned mission to Mars so we can bring Spirit home guys!

He won't be there for long

Saw Conan in unemployment line.

This has been a 5 word blog post

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fun with Google autocomplete continued


Discovered by Andrew.

Dalai Lama’s 18 rules for living

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs:
Respect for self
Respect for others
Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

I certainly cannot argue against any one of these points.

News template?

Here is a parody news story about how to report the news.

I don't know if this is how news stories are structured where you live, but I laughed pretty hard, recognizing pretty much all of the techniques used in this clip.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"No, not the cats. Don't trust them. Their eyes. Their eyes. They know too much."

Have you heard yet about the wife who's been recording her sleep-talking husband's nocturnal ramblings?

They haz a blog. Some of what he says is pretty funny. (Rated NC-17)


It seems the Google camera vehicle went onto the Stonehenge heritage site to get a close-up look at the ancient monument.

Whoever's driving better watch out for that law enforcement dude over there on the left.....

Look what we have here, eh?

Canada's new border security guards.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pie strikes terror into politticians..... apparently

Activists from PETA protested the seal hunt by pushing a 'tofu cream pie' into the face of fisheries and oceans minister Gail Shea. The incident resulted in an assault charge against an American resident.

An MP from Newfoundland and Labrador is questioning whether the 'pie-ing' of the Minister should be considered a 'terrorist activity'. The MP is suggesting that PETA should be listed as a "terrorist organization" in Canada, as a result of the 'attack'.

Ruuuun! She's got a pie!

Nudes, superheros and Nazis

Some bizarre weddings. Nuff said.

Pictured is the painted body wedding.

The scoop to date

If you pay any attention to technology news at all, you know that the RIAA has been on a campaign for 6 or so years to find copyright infringers and sue them into oblivion to warn against other potential or actual infringers. Most of the lawsuits never make it to trial, because the accused (and you can't even call them accused really, because the lawsuits never get filed) are bullied into settling with the RIAA for a paltry few thousand dollars or so. What's really disturbing about this practise is that the so-called guilty party settles, perhaps not even realizing that there were no guarantees that the RIAA or the songs' rights holders wouldn't come after them in the future with a full-fledged lawsuit. Let's face it, in the eyes of a jury, paying the settlement looks like a guilty plea, even though you might have been motivated to settle because you have assumed that you couldn't win your case in a court of law against a behemoth like the recording industry. After all, we're all not made of money and we can't all afford the best intellectual property lawyers, right? I mean, how would you react if you were threatened?

But in the case of those who rise to the challenge issued by the RIAA and say "Screw you - see you in court", and because few people understand the technology, crafty RIAA lawyers are able to convince naive jurors that because they found some songs downloaded or shared by IP address such-and-such, it's a guarantee that it had to be Mrs. Jones that did it. There are two such cases that went to trial and in those cases, the jury awarded damages to the RIAA (which the defendants have to pay) in the amount of $675,000 for 30 songs; and $1,920,000 for 24 songs. Both of those cases are being appealed.

Let's take a moment to examine the reality of such an accusation however. Just because an RIAA flunky has determined that a certain IP address has participated in (alleged) illegal file sharing, and used a bullshit legal loophole to get the ISP who manages that IP to cough up the supposed account that this particular IP is tied to, does not actually prove that that account holder is guilty. Why? Because all it takes is for any of the following to happen for the proof to fall flat:
  • The account holder's child's friend comes over and uses their internet connection to download a song.
  • The account holder's wi-fi network is compromised and is used by a passer-by to download a song.
  • The account holder is a public internet reseller or public hot-spot.
  • The IP is a proxy being used for privacy protection to re-route packets from other computers at another location.
  • There are plenty more situations that would qualify.
So in essence, being able to determine that a certain IP (supposedly) downloaded a song doesn't prove squat.

Meanwhile, the RIAA have indicated that their campaign of lawsuits is winding down and that they will now switch to a campaign of forcing ISPs to disconnect internet access to (alleged, but unproven) online infringers. What exactly does this mean? It means that using the same 'proof' of infringement as before, the RIAA (or any entertainment industry organization, in any country, thanks to current secret trade negotiations taking place) can tell a judge that your ISP must disconnect the entire account from the internet because someone was (allegedly) a bad monkey. Did your kid supposedly download an infringing song under the watchful eye of the RIAA? Kiss your internet connection goodbye. Maybe permanently, depending on how weasel-ly your country's government is. Did a company employee supposedly do the same? Then that company's internet connection, perhaps the lifeblood of its business can be terminated.

No concrete evidence. No arrest. No trial. No jury.

Bend over.......

There is good news though. If you want to keep downloading stuff, just don't do it at your home or workplace. I'm joking.

In a few years it won't even matter. In just a short while, it will be possible to buy a hard drive big enough to store every song ever recorded. Then it's just a matter of getting together with your friends and cloning their drive onto your empty one. Then the entertainment industry will be helpless to stop it, let alone find it. Do you hear that - in the distance? It's the sound of a business model disintegrating. Cover your ears.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Imagine this for a moment......

Skeet shooting. With a tank. And giant clay discs.

Go watch the video.

I love the sound of the rain

Do you like the sound of thunder and rain to relax?

Then you'll love this site, which has a 15 minute high quality loop.

Model world

Isn't that a nice landscape photo? Too bad it's a fake. It's a real photo, not CG, but the picture elements, the grass, the mountains, the clouds..... all fake.

Lots more here.

File under: I couldn't make this shit up if I tried

Merriam Webster's dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for "oral sex" (it's tame - go read the whole article).

What a relief! Now kids are free to simply get generic definitions from playground banter. Quick! Ban the encyclopedias before kids see pictures of human anatomy!

The horror!

Monday, January 25, 2010

What happened with the Internet in 2009?


* 90 trillion – The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2009.
* 247 billion – Average number of email messages per day.
* 81% – The percentage of emails that were spam.

Internet users

* 1.73 billion – Internet users worldwide (September 2009).
* 18% – Increase in Internet users since the previous year.

Social media

* 126 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
* 27.3 million – Number of tweets on Twitter per day (November, 2009)
* 350 million – People on Facebook.


* 4 billion – Photos hosted by Flickr (October 2009).
* 2.5 billion – Photos uploaded each month to Facebook.
* 30 billion – At the current rate, the number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year.


* 1 billion – The total number of videos YouTube serves in one day.
* 12.2 billion – Videos viewed per month on YouTube in the US (November 2009).

For the rest of the figures, go here.

Natural humidifier needs no power

And it looks good.

The Mast Humidifier by Shin Okada is a stunning example of simple, functional design. The Mast is crafted out of Japanese cypress, known for its lemon-scented straight grain and resistance to rotting. Thin slices of cypress absorb water from the device’s base and diffuse moisture and a natural non-intrusive aroma into the air.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let's be picky

I discovered Loungeburger on one of my drives past Stampede Park months ago and made a note of it. After checking their menu out online, I knew I had to try this place. They look like a contender. Who knows, maybe they'll become my new favourite place to eat a burger indoors (because Rocky's Burger Bus has the outdoor venue sewn up). Today I had my chance to go.

They've got appetizers. They've got sliders (5 different kinds!). They've got 15 pre-assembled burgers on the menu. But the build-your-own part of the menu is the most impressive.

Pattie? How about 3 kinds of beef, bison, elk, sausage, lamb, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon and veggie? Buns? 6 kinds (although they only had kaisers when I was there (BOO! Not good). Add to that a wide variety of veggies, sauces, extra meats (like bacon) and cheeses and you've got yourself a potential recipe for the perfect burger.

I had the bison with cheddar and sautéed onions and sweet pickles on a kaiser (my only choice for bun - good thing that's what I wanted) and home style fries. Now when I saw that on the menu, all I could think was, "Yeah, right. By home style, they probably mean frozen." That's where I was pleasantly surprised. They're real, fresh, tender home-cut fries. I actually called the manager over and begged them not to change that. Ever. Oh yeah - the burger was decent too. I walked out with a big smile on my face and a very full belly.

Loungeburger..... you are now my new official favourite indoor place to eat a burger. Well done.

It's not just me, right?

Holiday Inn is offering a trial human bed-warming service at three hotels in the UK this month. If you request it, a willing staff-member will dress in an all-in-one fleece sleeper suit, then slip between the sheets. The bed-warmer uses a thermometer to measure the bed's required temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit).

Holiday Inn said the bed warmer would be fully dressed and leave the bed before the guest occupied it. They could not confirm if the warmer would shower first, but said hair would be covered.

A spokesperson for Holiday Inn admitted this was quirky. The idea is that there's scientific evidence to show that a warm bed is a good way to get to sleep faster.

I'm just trying to imagine this. I'm in my room and there's a strange person in my bed. Then they leave and I get in it while it's still warm? I'm a little weirded out.

"Say 'tweet' again..."

For a t-shirt - I likes it.

"Two for four Mama burgers... WOO!"

I love Canadian A&W burger ads.

Like this one where the new guy lets loose on the helium.

No more of what made you famous, sorry

An open letter to the world from the band OK Go (remember that viral music video with the treadmills?).

In it, they try to explain their dilemma with their music label, who don't want their music videos to be on anyone's blogs, which is basically how they got famous in the first place.

How much more evidence of music industry ineffectiveness do people need before we tell our governments to stop propping up their ridiculous regimes?

Check out OK Go's new video!

I'm just full of ideas lately

I was thinking about people who find themselves in a situation where they cannot replace an outdoor light fixture (for whatever reason) with one containing a motion sensor. I have just such a situation at my back door because the fixture is recessed into the ceiling.

I realize that they make sensor adaptors that screw into the socket, which you then insert the bulb into. But in some installations, even this solution doesn't work. It occurs to me that somebody needs to invent an outdoor flood light bulb with a built-in sensor. Wouldn't that be a great idea?

Oh look! Somebody does make one.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


She was looking for Mr. Right. Instead, she found Mr. Wong.


"The giraffe is you Conan..."

The stuff I'm finding online about the whole Conan versus Jay versus NBC saga just keeps getting better.

Like this scene where Conan enlists the help of Pee Wee Herman to explain the whole deal.

Here's an alternate link at NBC.

Redecorating the ummm...... home

Have you ever wondered what women with self-esteem issues and more money than they know what to do with spend their earnings on?

In the case of Jennifer Love-Hewitt, she ummmm...... well, I'll just let her explain.

(not suitable for little ears)

Misa like it

The purists may think it's a compromise, but I like what I see in this new digital guitar design.

Inside the milled plastic is an AMD Linux box, an 8.4" 800×600 LCD touch screen and MIDI output.

It's called Misa. [mee-zah] The screen control works in four directions, allowing control of two sound parameters simultaneously. These can really be anything you can program into a MIDI device, but in the video the y-axis is set to control note velocity and the x-axis controls distortion.

The Misa is not intended to replace the guitar. It is a new instrument entirely.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spam. Is there anything it can't do?

Look everybody..... it's a spampersand!

The perfect American Idol judges

The poster reads:

"American Idol would be worth watching if they were the judges."

Can you outwit a bot?

Try having a conversation with Cleverbot and see how long you last.

Cleverbot is an AI program that gets sarcastic in no time flat. It's not the sharpest pen on the desk, but it is a more capable conversationalist than other AIs I've come across in the last few years.


Far be it for me to propagate a stereotype, but this is how they water ski in South Carolina.

In a mud hole.

With a back hoe.

The phone for failing eyes and ears

One of the things I hear people complain most about their phones (cell, cordless or otherwise) is the small writing on the buttons and screen.

Enter the Motorola Big Button phone (model K301), with easy-to-see oversized keypad buttons, an enhanced visual ringer, and louder volume.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pillow optional

For serious non-lethal mouse catching, check out this inexpensive, easy to build mouse trap.

"I was in the middle of the best game of my life..."

Quite funny commercial for a law firm. All my geek friends will totally understand.

"We track everything. Every photo you view, every person you’re tagged with, every wall-post you make..."

If you are curious what Facebook does with all that data that they're accumulating on you..... read this article, an interview with a Facebook employee.

It's pretty fascinating. Some folks might find it downright scary.

How DRM creates 'pirates'

A friend of mine owns a particular, recent music CD. It has copy protection on it, so the software she normally uses to rip the disc and put the songs on her mp3 player... doesn't work.

So guess what she does? That's right, she goes online and downloads a copy-protection-broken copy of the album.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Everyone wants free phone

The company behind the magicJack, the cheap Internet phone gadget that's been heavily promoted on TV, has made a new version of the device that allows free calls from cellphones in the home, in a fashion that's sure to draw protest from cellular carriers.

The new magicJack uses, without permission, radio frequencies for which cellular carriers have paid billions of dollars for exclusive licenses. Apparently the device is legal because wireless spectrum licences don't extend into the home.

YMax Corp. will start selling the device in about four months for US$40, the same price as the original magicJack. As before, it will provide free calls to the U.S. and Canada for one year. The original magicJack is available in Canada.

The new device is, in essence, a very small cellular tower for the home, also known as a femtocell.

The size of a card deck, it plugs into a PC via USB, which needs a broadband Internet connection. The device then detects when a compatible cellphone comes within 2.4 metres and places a call to it. The user enters a short code on the phone. The phone is then linked to the magicJack and as long as it's within range (it is claimed to cover a 280m2 home) magicJack routes the call itself over the Internet, rather than going through the carrier's cell tower. No minutes are subtracted from the user's account with the carrier.

Any extra fees for international calls are subtracted from the user's account with magicJack instead.

According to YMax CEO Dan Borislow, the device will connect to any phone that uses the GSM standard, which in the U.S. includes phones from AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA and in Canada includes Fido / Rogers. At a demonstration at CES, a visitor's phone with a T-Mobile account successfully placed and received calls through the magicJack.

5 million magicJacks were sold for land line phones in the last two years, and roughly 3 million are in active use.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Boom goes the tiny hamster. Boomster?

Cute things exploding....

Open your mind and just let it happen.

Your grin doesn't suggest you're evil. But you are...

Printers... they excel at suckitude

Awesome cartoon poster about the many ways in which computer printers suck.

Goodbye XP.... it's been a good run

In an effort to bring myself back into the modern ages, I am now using Windows 7. So far, my experience has been pleasant, with a few annoyances, but ones that are tame-able.

My first pleasant surprise was its discovery and flawless installation of my peripheral devices. It found and installed my various gaming input devices (even the old school stuff), my monitor and my printer with no issues. I didn’t have to do a thing, it found and installed everything (except for the printer, which is attached to another computer in the house).

The new task bar threw me for a little loop. Unlike XP, the new task bar is like a combination of the old quick launch bar and task bar rolled into one. It kind of reminds me of the....... Mac Dock! [sarcasm filter on] What a surprise! [sarcasm filter off]. If a program (like IE) is installed on the task bar, opening the program doesn’t open a new task bar button, it just uses the original icon as the task switcher. So if you minimize IE, the window disappears and when you hover over the icon for IE, a little preview window appears to show you what’s running / open. Very Mac-like. That’s a compliment, by the way. So for example, even if you have multiple
windows explorer windows minimized, you’ll still only get one icon on the task bar, which once hovered over, will spawn preview windows of what you have open in that program. Click on any spawned preview and it restores the window to its original view.

Another really nice surprise was that the new, free Microsoft Security Essentials (anti-virus and security suite) was already installed, as it now comes with Windows 7. Nice touch. For those of you looking for a free security solution, this product is my new default recommendation, even over AVG. Sorry Grisoft.

One annoyance that I chalk up to Microsoft’s trend of increasing security posture regarding what the user (and a user application)is allowed to do to system configuration without getting permission is the installation of certain types of programs and program plug-ins. I had some issues with adding a couple of things to my computer, but luckily Windows 7 immediately prompted me to ask if it should try to install the item in an administrative role. Which begs the question – why doesn’t Windows just let installs run as administrator. Don’t worry, I already know the answer. It’s a security thing. Paranoid bastards!

More nice touches. The buttons on the task bar can be re-arranged. You can 'pin' any running program to the task bar (kind of like adding a program to the old quick launch - or like the Mac dock). Right click any running program button on the task bar and get a jump list of recent files used by that program.

One flaw that I think I managed to fix is that shortcut icons were deisappearing from my desktop between reboots. I followed an online hint to increase the icon cache and that seems to have fixed the issue... but that's a pretty big bug Microsoft.

Another nice added feature in Windows 7 is the built-in ability to burn a CD or DVD from an .iso file, something you used to need a 3rd party program to do before.

iPhone saves injured reporter's life in Haiti

iPhone to the rescue.

[play superhero music here]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lumberjack Commandos

I seriously love this site....

I hope we don't send these dudes to Haiti. The country-folk would be spooked out.

Bye Conan.... see you soon on Fox

So, it seems Conan’s last day as host of the Tonight Show on NBC will be this Friday. Leno will take over shortly thereafter. My two cents:

Carson essentially became irreplaceable. He intended Letterman to take over when he retired, but Dave really didn’t want to leave New York (I don’t blame him) and his style of hosting was still a bit edgy compared to what folks had gotten used to with Johnny. So Leno was in. I don’t have anything personal against Leno, but while he does a decent monologue, his desk-side demeanour with guests seems too smarmy. I don’t know... I just don’t identify with his style. But that’s OK. I can totally see why Conan would slump in the Tonight Show dynasty, it’s just not his kind of format. Truth be told, Leno is better suited to the show.

What I find interesting is that as Letterman has aged, his style has mellowed out to the point where I think he would actually do better than Leno, if one were to be choosing a new Tonight Show host from scratch today. But alas, that will probably never happen, as Dave has already been burned by NBC once already and would have no reason to quit his current show.

Back to my original statement – Carson became irreplaceable. I chalk this up to the fact that although he did appeal mostly to the older crowd, his appeal did bleed into the younger age groups and this gave him a huge audience. He was the only real choice to watch for the longest time, but even after he got some competition, he had a lot of class. You knew you wouldn’t end up embarrassed by anything he did.

Appeal by age group (Karl’s opinion – not derived from actual data):

Carson: 18-80
Leno: 35-80
Conan: 16-40
Letterman (while with NBC): 18-40
Letterman (now): 30-60
Fallon: 14-35

So as you can see, the Leno / Fallon line-up is perfect for capturing the whole spectrum. If the show’s ratings falter now that Leno’s coming back, it’ll be because Leno just doesn’t have staying power. But I seriously think that this whole incident can only help Letterman in the long run.

Technology changes another aspect of our lives

Having the internet available on your smart phone has changed the whole meaning of being connected and what impact that has on our lives while we’re away from home.

With my iPhone, I can use a special Google app to verbally search for a service in the area I’m in, then have it map the results so that I can see which services are close by. I can also use my location services to not only see where I am on a Google map, but let Google tell me how to get to my destination (soon with voice turn-by-turn instructions).

With my Facebook app, I can see what people are up to, check for messages, look at pictures and update my status.

Up until now, we’ve slowly gotten used to using our phone’s location services to see where other things are in relation to us. But what about other people seeing us in relation to where they are? Apps like Loopt make it possible to add friends (who must also use Loopt) and see where they are in real time (if they choose to announce to the world). You can not only let your friends see where you are on the map, but annotate what you’re up to with status updates – like “I’m in Starbucks enjoying a Chai Latte.” This makes it possible for your friends to stop in and join you if they’re in the neighbourhood. When you ‘check in’, the app figures out where you are and offers a list of points of interest where you’re located so you don’t even have to announce it manually. Loopt integrates with Twitter and Facebook as well.

This is yet another life / game changer thanks to the marvels of technology. Privacy issues aside for now, this opens up a world of possibilities that will take some getting used to. With your permission, gone are the days of finding out that you were a block away from a friend you would have liked to see while en route to a destination. Now when people you know gather for social interaction, you can know right away, offering the opportunity to join them while you’re still close by. If you need help, for whatever reason, you can scan to see who is close, that might be of assistance to your situation. Hungry, but don’t like eating alone? Loopt can show you who is near so that you can invite them to join you. Apps like this also offer ratings systems for points of interest.

I love this song, I love the lyrics even more

It's an old Floyd tune (for those of you so young that Pink Floyd only started with The Wall)


You say the hill's too steep to climb,
Climb it!

You say you'd like to see me try,
Climb it!

You pick the place and I'll choose the time

And I'll climb

The hill in my own way
Just wait a while, for the right day

And as I rise above the treeline and the clouds
I look down hear the sound of the things you said today
Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd, smiling
Merciless, the magistrate turns 'round, frowning

And who's the fool who wears the crown

Go down in your own way

And everyday is the right day
And as you rise above the fearlines in the frown
You look down
Hear the sound of the faces in the crowd