Saturday, December 31, 2011

Candied bacon fudge

I know!!


Video on how to make!


Chuck sat here

Friday, December 30, 2011

Olivia presents.... Pirate Pete!

I am so glad that I bothered to get some puppets for Olivia. She loves it when I work them for her and now she likes to perform with them herself. As you can see in this video.......

Siri sure is helpful...

Holiday specials modified for 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Santa? For reals?

If your kids are getting to the age where they are asking the kinds of questions that indicates they might be starting to doubt the veracity of the existence of ol' Saint Nick, this wonderful article might be useful. In it, they offer scientific explanations for how Santa gets it done.

To do list

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A proud cat lady

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No operational PRTs eh?

The anti-PRT movement keep going on about "If PRT is such a good idea, why aren't there any?". To which those of us in the know respond, "Oh - but there are." There are 3 (WVU; Heathrow; Masdar City). And soon there will be 4. India is buying a PRT network from UltraPRT to be installed in Amritsar by 2014. Oh yeah, plus another in Suncheon (Korea), which will be ready in 2013.

Hidden password

People can be so mean.

Other people can be so gullible.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Google Streetview makes a toy's dream come true

"A lonely desk toy longs for escape from the dark confines of the office, so he takes a cross country road trip to the Pacific Coast in the only way he can – using a toy car and Google Maps Street View."

What a touching, brilliant little film.

"Just a second"

This is one of the funniest home-made Christmas cards I've seen so far.

We made one once upon a time too, based on this picture.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

All she wants for Christmas

That Siri......

She cracks me up.

Happy Holidays everyone

Have a safe, joyous holiday with friends and family.

P.S.: Yes, that's me..... Darlene had a bit of fun with my picture.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Terbesh bride

The Terbesh people of Kosovo that live in Lubinje, a village at the foot of the Sharri mountains, have a unique tradition of dressing and making up a bride very elaborately for her wedding day. I'm told that it's done this way to ward off the evil eye and to discourage gossip and speculation. Nusja Jone - Our Bride is the name of the song that accompanies the video documentary.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Where is it - episode 70

Time to put on your geo-thinking caps geo-hunters.

Name this city.

Miniature wonder

If you're into anything in miniature, like dioramas and model railroads, then you'll be in your glory if you went to Miniatur Wunderland, the largest model railway model in the world. Hamburg, in case you were wondering.

Check out the official video.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Keurig

That's what I'm talking about....

Tetes a Claques - The Pilot

TĂȘtes a Claques is a hilarious French Quebec staple, some of which has been translated for your enjoyment. Like this one.

"Hey tower-boy!"

(part two is here)

Power venn

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Das ist lustig

Bill Bailey does a tribute to one of his (and mine) favourite bands - Kraftwerk.

Bloody hilarious.

Dance like nobody's watching - the laundromat episode

This video really put a smile on my face.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

May your bumper stay firm

This driver does an amazing job of parallel parking on a busy street in New York. He lightly bumps the car in the rear many times (and the front one too as he's leaving), but it's my understanding that in some cities the love tap is not considered a bad thing.

Meanwhile, on a Russian highway

Thank goodness for snow tires, good brakes, a calm demeanour, blind luck and a skillful truck driver.

My heart stopped for a few seconds there while watching this....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Even houses in very poor condition command a hefty price

If you have ever wondered how crazy the real estate market is in Calgary, I have an example for you. Not a block away from our home, there is an older (1950) house for sale. The agent describes it (verbatim) as follows:

"This house is in very poor condition. If someone wants a fixer upper, this it."

The house is a single floor bungalow with less than 1300 square feet of living space. It's a triangular lot. They want $258,000 for it.

Netflix meh

I finally got Netflix. Yeah - I know - I'm such an early adopter. My excuse is that until this past week, I didn't have a consumer device that was Netflix-capable. Now I do.

The content available on this service is definitely not what I would refer to as top-notch, but there are some movies and TV shows that I never got to see for one reason or another and now I have instant access to them to watch at my leisure. That's really the point isn't it? Watch what you want when you want to.

There is one little caveat. Something Netflix should have told me when I signed up instead of making me investigate it for myself. By default, due to the ridiculous bandwidth-per-month caps that Canadian internet providers put on their customers, Netflix streams their programming in the lowest quality possible. They do this to save you on your bandwidth. As a result, it looks like crap. To a service provider who probably wants to attract new customers and maybe even keep them beyond the one month free trial, I have a suggestion. Let your new customers know about the quality selection options in their account settings. I had to go searching for a reason why my video quality was so shitty. A regular consumer wouldn't know this might be a thing to investigate.

If you're losing customers and are wondering why, this might be a reason.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sugar Plum Fairy played on a glass harp

This sounds so amazing. It sounds great on YouTube, I can only imagine what this would sound like up close and in person.

Singing hedgehogs

It's totally interactive too!

This was very nicely done.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thorium FTW

You may recall that a while back I mentioned an article about Thorium.

Well, now there's a nice video on the subject. What's the big deal? Imagine if the power plants we were using prevented the 3 Mile Island and Fukushima disasters from happening.

Watch the video and see.

Woolly mammoth making a comeback?

Scientists may be able to successfully clone an extinct woolly mammoth from a thigh bone they unearthed in Siberia.

It sounds like they actually plan to do this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Smart and honest enough to know how it works

Elvis Costello opines on his site that "the absurdity of the price set by his label on "The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook," a live CD and DVD combination priced at $262.46 ("either a misprint or a satire")" is reason enough not to buy it. He notes that his music label refused to budge on the price, and recommends that his fans instead get a Louis Armstrong set called Ambassador of Jazz. He adds, "If on the other hand you should still want to hear and view the component parts of the above mentioned elaborate hoax, then those items will be available separately at a more affordable price in the New Year, assuming that you have not already obtained them by more unconventional means.

In other words, he is acknowledging that the ridiculous price will likely motivate people to download the music for free.

Smart man, that Elvis Costello.

Meanwhile, in Japan.....

This is what Japanese girls do when they're bored.

Many thanks to my friend Adam for sharing this with me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The truck that follows

Volkswagen is developing a postal truck for the German Mail Service that is not only electric, but will follow the carrier as they walk down the street - driver-less.

Dynamo hum

Here's a bike that uses the dynamo in the front wheel hub to not only power the light, but also provide power to recharge a USB device, like your phone.

Now, that's smart.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where is it (edition 69)

Where is this?

Name the city, put your answers in the comments.

A 24 hour time lapse of Dubai

The title pretty much says it all.

Very beautiful.

Friday, December 09, 2011

This is playing a guitar

If I was going to show someone, let's say, my grand-daughter for example, what's possible with an instrument like a guitar - I think I would show her this video.

Jon Gomm has got some mad skills y'all.

Queen Extravaganza contestant

Have you heard about the Queen tribute band being put together by Roger Taylor and Brian May? They asked for video auditions from across North America and 3 Canadians won the contest to be part of the 6 person line-up.

One of whom is Montreal-born vocalist Marc Martel. Check out his video audition. You will be blown away.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Our changing relationship with music

I am forever in awe of the ways technology has changed the way we relate to and experience music. I've already alluded to the history of music formats, at least from my perspective, but in this case I'd like to talk more about the relationship we have with our music.

The innovation of digitized music has led to the new reality that our music now truly is the soundtrack of our lives, every waking hour of the day, 7 days a week. Now our entire personal music collection is available to be brought with us everywhere we go. Stop and think about that paradigm shift for a moment. There was a time when nobody was able to listen to music at work (depending on where you work), at least not likely just your own music. Now you can listen to anything you want and best of all, nobody else has to endure your taste (or subjective lack thereof). The same is true while riding public transit. The first time people tried to bring their music with them onto the bus, it was courtesy the ghetto blaster or boom box. The idea of sharing your music so publicly and so loudly was a big turn off to certain people (especially the older generation) and let's face it, carrying a 20 pound music box around all day wasn't exactly ergonomic. Plus it went through a boat-load of batteries. On the plus side, the boom box helped to revolutionize music and urban dance in big city neighbourhoods and opened up whole new audiences to the latest groundbreaking artists. I don't think rap would have evolved the same way had it not been for the boom box. On a personal note, I used to own one of these boom boxes and did once get a ticket from a cop for 'disturbing the peace' in a public space. Yeah, it's true.

There was a time when public spaces used music broadcast over the PA system to change or manage our behaviour. Stores and malls use music to influence our mood which in turn influences our buying habits. Some malls even use music as a deterrent against loitering. The problem is that now that people can bring their own music anywhere they go and use headphones to listen privately (while blocking out the rest of the audible world), the publicly broadcasted music no longer matters. For all we know, the music we are listening to on our mp3 players while shopping may be influencing how we shop and at the moment, there's nothing the retailers can do about it. One drawback to all of this private music enjoyment is that since nobody can hear what you're listening to, there are potentially countless music lovers who may never be able to share in the artists you like.

Music has become a soundtrack never before possible while we drive. Yeah, sure, we used to have portable music formats in the past allowing us to listen in our vehicles, but never as efficiently as today. Back in the day, your tape collection could only store a few hours of music and it was always presented in a linear format, you couldn't selectively pick out songs instantly like we do with music in digital form. So what used to be your carefully selected driving music has been replaced with your entire collection. This may be having unintended effects too, such as listening not only to 'driving music', but also to music perhaps ill suited for maintaining care and attention of a vehicle and maybe even music capable of changing you from a mild-mannered driver to a road-raging lunatic.

One of the things I'm looking forward to some day is instant access to the entire catalogue of recorded music via the internet. And I'm not just talking about access to the music, but also the background information and context that goes with it. Some day, we should be able to command our net-connected music device to "play every number one single from 1981, in the order they became number one hits". I'd like to be able to ask my device to "play music to help me calm down" or "introduce me to the most critically acclaimed new artists from the past 3 months" or "play the top 10 songs currently charting in Berlin, Germany right now".

Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Siri, the holiday shopping critic

My second favourite iPhone 4S app

I certainly looked forward to the new, higher quality camera built into the iPhone 4S, but the built-in camera software features leave me somewhat wanting. Being able to use the iPhone as my go-to day-to-day camera is something I've looked forward to for a while, but Apple could have done a better job with the software to make the camera more functional and especially to add some standard editing and effects. Well, I have 4 words for you - Camera+ to the rescue!

Camera+ was pulled from the App Store over its VolumeSnap feature in 2010. This allowed you to use the volume up button to take photos instead of the shutter button. Luckily, Apple saw the wisdom in that feature and incorporated it into their camera in iOS 5. Camera+ was allowed back on the market too. So what's the big deal?

For starters, Camera+ has a more responsive shutter than the camera's built-in controls. Probably Camera+'s biggest advantage is the separate focus and exposure (lighting) settings. You tap to choose the subject to focus on as per normal, but then you can tap the plus sign in the upper right hand corner of the focus box and a circle appears that you can move to a separate spot in the frame to manually set the exposure. This is very useful in certain situations. It definitely adds a level of sophistication to the phone's camera. Even my point-and-shoot doesn't do this as easily.

But there's so much more to this app. There's a Stabilizer mode that won't take the picture until the camera is still, a Timer mode and a Burst mode. After you're done taking pictures, Camera+ is also a great post-processing editor and a decent set of effects for adding a little pizzazz to your pics.

There are some minor issues, but nothing that's a show stopper. For one, Camera+ does not record video, so you'll need use the default iPhone camera for that. The new camera button on the iPhone lock screen that allows you to quickly take a picture without unlocking your phone will only use Apple's built-in camera software and there's no way to change that. Also Camera+ by default saves all of the photos that you take into its editor rather than directly to the Camera Roll. The app creators anticipated that you would take some photos, go into the editor, select the best ones, edit them, dump the rest and then save what's left to the Camera Roll. But if you prefer your pics to go directly to the Camera Roll, this is easily changed in the settings. Just tap Menu, go to AutoSave and change from Lightbox (Camera+'s editor) to Camera Roll.

If you haven't yet bought any photo apps and you're looking for a simple, all-around utility to take your iPhone photography to the next level, this is the one I recommend. Right now, the app is on sale for $0.99 in the App Store.

I'm confused

Conservative government of Canada: Sobriety tests are against our civil liberties. So is the long gun registry. So is a mandatory long form census. But sharing border crossing information with the US is perfectly fine. 

Who knew?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Marvin orders a new rover

Marvin: Hello NASA?
NASA: Yes, hi?
Marvin: I would like to order a new rover.
NASA: The new 2012 model is out now.
Marvin: Oh goodie! I'd like one.
NASA: The new Curiosity, right?
Marvin: Affirmative.
NASA: Any particular colour?
Marvin: Just your basic white will be good enough. I'd like the 6 wheel drive model.... with the Illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator.
NASA: No problem.
Marvin: Just so we're clear, I'm not paying more than 2.5 billion for this.
NASA: You're the boss.
Marvin: When can I have it?
NASA: It should be delivered in just under 9 months.
Marvin: [sigh] That makes me very angry. Very angry indeed.....

Siri, the comedian

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Where is it? (edition 68)

Have at it geo-hounds. Name the city. Bonus points if you can name the specific area of the city.

Place your answer in the comments. Good luck.

Sharing joy

Not all talks given at TED are about science or solving the world's technical problems. Sometimes the presentation is about fun, about joy. Improv Everywhere's Charlie Todd explains how he creates fun moments in public spaces. It's all about play - for no reason. Something every child knows, but we seem to have forgotten as adults.

This guy is my idol.

Who stole my cheese?

The most stolen food in the world: Cheese.


Saturday, December 03, 2011

This would change everything

"What if the answer to some of our biggest problems could be found in the smallest of places, where the difference between what is valuable and what is worthless is merely the addition or subtraction of a few atoms. And what if we could get exquisite control of the essence of energy - the electron."

There are people working right now on the pie-in-the-sky concept of no grid and free energy from the sun that can be beamed around as light. How do they do it? Nano materials.

If Dr Seuss made Ghostbusters

Found here.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Taking some sick time off

I'll be back soon.