Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sharing is just a symptom of a bigger issue

One of the most amazingly accurate articles about what's wrong with the entertainment industry and why their war on piracy is not only useless, but completely missing the point. Excerpt:

"The seven step, ten minute download process (which will be about ten seconds when US internet speeds catch up with the rest of the world) is the real enemy the studios should be trying to tackle. Right now, the industry is still stuck in the past, and is crawling oh-so-slowly into the future. They still believe people are going to want to buy DVDs or Blu-rays in five years, and that a movie ticket is well worth $15. Netflix is the closest thing they have to an advocate, but the studios are trying to drive them out of business as they see them as a threat, not a solution. It’s mind boggling.

The primary problem movie studios have to realize is that everything they charge for is massively overpriced. The fact that movie ticket prices keep going up is astonishing. How can they possibly think charging $10-15 per ticket for a new feature is going to increase the amount of people coming to theatres rather than renting the movie later or downloading it online for free? Rather than lower prices, they double down, saying that gimmicks like 3D and IMAX are worth adding another $5 to your ticket."


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hard to take us seriously now.....

"We're gonna be in the Hudson"

Remember flight 1549? The one that ditched into the Hudson River in New York after a bird strike? Now there's a real time 3D re-enactment video of how that whole thing went down. All I can say is that pilot has some skills.

He was very much into a stall situation when he hit that water. What I didn't realize was that it seems they may have gotten one of the engines re-started just before they ditched, but it was too badly damaged to give them any power. One can only imagine how things would have been different if there was no river.


Monday, February 27, 2012

T-Rex trying....

I got a good chuckle over this site, hosting illustrations of T-Rex trying (but failing) to do everyday things with its short little arms.

So funny.

Best tribute to Oscar yet

OK, it's an indirect tribute, but what the heck.

As per usual with Jimmy Kimmel schtick, Matt Damon gets no respect.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Things I learned this week 26 Feb 2012

  • Obama can sing.
  • Federal scientists in Canada are not allowed to speak to reporters without the 'consent' of media relations officers in the Conservative government.
  • Bridesmaids is a funny movie.
  • Vic Toews doesn't even understand what's in his own bill (C-30).
  • We can now watch replays of supernovas that happened centuries ago via their reflections in interstellar dust clouds.
  • Freddie Mercury rushed to record the vocals to new songs right up until the day he died.
  • If you format a couple dozen complete rows in Excel with fill colour (all the way to the right-most column), Excel will be so bogged down, it will refuse to do a lot of things - insert new rows among them.
  • Diane Finley in conversation with the press admitted that while Canada could likely afford to sustain Old Age Security, said.... "there are other things we would like to spend our money on". (I think she meant 'our' money)
  • The Tragically Hip got a street named after them in Kingston Ontario (where they're from).
  • According to the Conservatives, when you release facts about a person from public documents, it's sleazy politics. But when you give false information to citizens so that they miss their chance to vote, that's just campaigning.
  • Historically (500 years ago), people used to sleep, not 8 hours in a row, but in two 4 hour chunks, separated by a couple of hours of being awake.
  • France has abolished the term Mademoiselle from all official documents because it suggests a woman is 'available'.

Suite deal

The City of Calgary is offering a Secondary Suite Grant Program.  It offers a grant of up to $25,000 to cover 70% of the costs of developing or upgrading a legal secondary suite. Participants must commit to having the suite available to rent for at least 5 years at no more than average market rent for secondary suites.

Even some new homes are being marketed in Calgary with pre-built, legal secondary suites. Two show homes in the community of Walden feature secondary suites, which add $50,000 to the cost of a typical new home. The new suites have separate entrances, individual furnaces and hot water heaters and laundry facilities, with dedicated parking for tenants.

The program started in 2009 and ends May 2012. Unfortunately, I don't think they did a very good job advertising it as I'm only hearing about it now, 3 months before it ends.

Before and after iPhone

On the left - before the iPhone. On the right - after the iPhone.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ACTA redux

What is ACTA, you ask? Read on - the White Noise redux:

Basically, the US entertainment industry convinced the US government that not only did America need tough copyright laws to save the industry, but the US needed to convince the rest of the world to adopt similar strict copyright laws. America knew that would be difficult, so they visited countries, held secret meetings and threatened trade sanctions if they didn't comply. These countries signed under duress. Except Canada. We signed willingly.

Then the leaders of many of those countries slowly started to realize that if they were seen by their citizens as supporting ACTA, they would be thrown out of office. So one by one, countries have been reconsidering and indicating that they will not agree to ACTA. To date: Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia, Cyprus, and Estonia. But not Canada.

Watch this space.....

[read the wikipedia article for detailed information here]

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hinterland who's who

Where we learn about the habitat of the Albertan silver-haired hose-head. A loving parody of both Bob & Doug and the ancient CBC vignette.

This is still one of my favourites of the Great White North II series that Bernie and I did 5 years ago.

My goodness. 5 years! It doesn't seem that long ago.

AA meeting....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

God Bless America

This is a new film by Bobcat Goldthwait.

I may have some difficulty explaining why I am so looking forward to this movie.

Do you go right or left?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Turns out, the tie is his body

Espen Fadnes - human aircraft

I thought the jet sound was fake, but apparently, the sound you hear in this video from the camera on the ground is real. A guy flying by in a flying wing suit doing 250km/h (155mph) does in fact sound like a jet.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First (and last) take your cat to work day

Thanks to Carla for the tip.

My first Edward Gordon!

I have been wanting to own an Edward Gordon print for a long time. I have my eye on a glicée that I'd like to get someday, but much of his work is great.

I came home to an Edward Gordon today. Darlene found it on kijiji in Halifax and they shipped it here.


Apologies for the reflection artifacts and linear distortion, but that's what happens when you're in a hurry and use a phone camera......

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sassy Siri

This is what the fearful society does

According to an FBI article, coffee shop owners, baristas and other customer service folks to be on the lookout for anyone using cash to pay for coffee and other small ticket items. This because people paying cash are typically trying to prevent a paper trail and might be terrorists.

I hope CSIS doesn't have the same philosophy, otherwise, I could be on a watch list. I use cash almost all the time.

I'll call it "The Cuppa - your single serve beverage dispensary"

As you probably know, I own a Keurig coffee maker. I have discovered what is the most annoying part of being a Keurig (and I'm guessing Tassimo too) owner. The buying of the cups (or in the case of the Tassimo - the discs).

What I mean is that you can buy boxes of the same flavour (12, 18, 24, 40 per box), but with the exception of a few lame combo-boxes, you can't buy a box of 12, 18, 24 or 40 of any combination of flavours you want. The Timothy's kiosk almost has it going on at Crossiron Mills mall, where they let you mix and match, but they only have Timothy's flavours, maybe a dozen varieties if you're lucky. Do you know how many varieties of coffee, tea and other hot beverages are made for the Keurig? Like freaking over 200! Check 'em out.

Well, I have a business idea. I'd like to operate a Keurig / Tassimo shop that not only sells the machines at decent prices, but I would have in stock every flavour that is made and offer to sell them in any mix and match combination you want. Of course, getting to choose your own flavours outright would cost a little more, but I think it's worth it.

As an added bonus, we would have samples for tasting. You want to see if that Cafe Escapes Chai Latte is any good? Let us make one for you - on the house. Buy one of our machines and we'll throw in 2 boxes of product for free. Buy 2 single flavour boxes, we'll give you a mix and match box for the same price.

But that's not all. I'm thinking that all of Darlene's amazing baking recipes would sell like hotcakes at this store. Pies, mini pies, cupcakes, muffins, cakes, cookies - all made from scratch and no preservatives. When you come into our store, all you'll smell is great hot beverages and the best baked goods you've ever tasted in your life.

Who's in?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Things I learned this week 19 Feb 2012

  • The Ontario Catholic Teachers union thinks wi-fi in schools is unhealthy.
  • According to Canada's public safety minister, if you're not in favour of internet service providers to give subscriber data to police and national security agencies without a warrant, you're "with the child pornographers".
  • We seem to have passed the point where it is permissible to laugh at Olivia's cuteness. "Why are you laughing?"
  • Four former B.C. attorneys general are calling for the legalization of marijuana.
  • Holding a flag clenched between your bare buttocks and running as the Queen's motorcade drives past will cost you about $800.
  • Apparently, we don't quite have enough Starbucks in Canada (referring to Target partnership with Starbucks in new store openings)
  • An electric powered Smart car is coming to Canada later this year.
  • Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong.
  • Why raccoon and panda bears have black eyes (thanks Ricky Gervais).

People watching

I love people watching. I love it for every reason anyone would like to watch other people. I like to watch their presence, their poise, their style, the way they interact with their surroundings - including other people.

This morning, I'm in line at a Tim's to get a quick caffeine / sugar fix, and I'm watching the people in line in front of me. The store is filled with young people, obviously on their way to the slopes based on the their outfits. I'm watching a woman, who is behind a girl not only sporting what some men would refer to as a body built for performance (take that as you will), but she has donned ski attire that leaves little to the imagination. It shows off every element of her physique. The woman behind cannot stop measuring this girl up and down with her eyes, not with appreciation, but with utter disdain and contempt. The look on her face and the rolling of the eyes say it all.

It was very entertaining.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Canadian government MPs don't like looking bad on TV

A Canadian Conservative MP doesn't want medium-wide camera shots in the broadcasts of Parliament on Friday afternoons. Fridays are when many MPs travel to their home ridings the camera angles used show a largely empty House of Commons. An MP chaired a committee to revise the rules and asked the CIO to change the camera shots, because it reflects badly on Parliament. The CIO said no.

Here's an idea - using the miracle of modern technology, they could put text overlays across the empty seats to explain where the MP is. Text overlays could read "On their way back to their riding", or "Having a late lunch with the entertainment industry", or "Tweeting funny posts to #TellVicEverything from the back of the limo".

Mini me's

That's just scary.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The sky is not falling at all

Much of what government sponsored entertainment industry subsidization, such as SOPA, PIPA, Bill C-11 and ACTA is based on, is the premise that the content creation industry is in dire straits thanks to things like the internet. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All of the following are trending up over the last few years:
  • Worldwide box office
  • Global TV & Film spending
  • Feature films produced worldwide
  • Book publishing revenues
  • Book titles produced
  • eBook revenues
  • Global music industry value
  • Music transactions
  • Artists' share of US music revenue
  • US Video game related companies
  • Worldwide video game industry
Not just 'up'. 'Up with a bullet'. Check out the info-graphic here. Check out the full report here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cat breading

If you can think it - it is on the internet.

For example, cat breading.

No, it's not about preparing a cat to be consumed. Yeah, I knew you were thinkin' it......

Ooo Noo!

An oversimplified, but cute video about moving to cleaner energy.

What they think I do

In the spirit of the numerous "This is what society / my mom / my boss / my friends think I do versus what I really do" posters, I made this about my job.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who moved my cheese?

There was a time when I was young that I didn't care about organizing my stuff at home. You might even say I was a bit of a slob. Just a bit though, I knew people who were a lot worse than I.

When I was 26, I met Darlene. I moved in a year later and she was tidy. Not a neat freak - just tidy. I started getting organized. It was a gradual process to be sure, but slowly I was getting particular about how my things should be arranged / stored. Now it's bordering on OCD. Not about everything, but certain belongings in certain locations have a very strict arrangement about them.

Darlene thinks it's an age thing. She thinks that our loss of memory as we get older creates a need to get strict about how we organize our stuff so that we can find it again.

She may be on to something. Or is it possible to develop OCD later in life? Maybe it's a manifestation of ego? So many thoughts from such a little brain...

Any thoughts from readers?

How it should have ended

Hilarious site with animated videos suggesting alternate endings to movies. Star Wars; X-Men: First Class; Tron; Aliens; Inception.....

Nice celebrity pose

Photographer: George, can you make like you're going to whack Brad in the groin?
George: You mean I can't follow through?
Brad: Hey!!
George: You better run after that shutter clicks, boy......

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bohemian solo

I've lost count of the tribute videos by unknown artists doing Bohemian Rhapsody.

This one might be the best one to date. Very nicely done.

Ruined poker face

There's a good reason why chameleons don't like playing poker.

Word Art news commentary

Too soon?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weather is complicated y'all

Just when you think you've got the idea of anthropogenic climate change all figured out, now we have to contend with the Arctic Oscillation.

Oh yeah. Just go read the BoingBoing article already before the next Snowpocalypse. In a related story, I think they just ran out of shovels in Eastern Europe.

Siri has some attitude

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Things I learned this week 12 Feb 2012

  • We have no problem making fortunes with oil and gas, but balk at the idea of a well 500m from our home.
  • Canaries were named after the Canary Islands, where they were found, which were named after the dog (canis).
  • The ruling Conservatives in Canada truly understand irony, denying the Green party leader a chance to pay tribute to Vaclav Havel, a champion of free speech.
  • There's a trio of hotel / casinos on the Nevada side of the Utah/Nevada border west of Salt Lake and they'll fly you there direct from Calgary.
  • China has 64 million, new, unused homes. They are waiting for new residents.
  • You can get free long distance in Canada from a free phone app even when your cell providers are bastards.
  • During my lifetime, I will make approximately 10,000 gallons of urine.
  • In Quebec, the stop signs say 'Arrêt'. In France, they say 'Stop'.

Dear Yellow Pages

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dutch innovation

The little side saddle hop part of this video was enjoyable enough. But what I also liked about this video was they glimpse at Amsterdam's bike paths. Anyway, back to the story. I guess it's hard to get a (single speed) bike going with two people on it, so this little manoeuvre is the solution.

I'll give you an F for effort

Seen on kijiji, this patio furniture for sale. According to the seller, it's in excellent condition, which is hard to tell due to all of the snow on it and the... how shall I put it.... upended chairs. The umbrella's on the ground, UNDER the table! How the heck am I supposed to check it out if it's hiding under the table? Is the table white or is it made of snow? One minute of effort could have turned this ad from a 'pass' into a 'Oh! I'd buy that.'

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The strong, silent types

You've probably seen some of the "Shit xxxxxxxxx say" videos. Here comes Shit programmers say.

It's not what I expected, until the last few seconds.

Wrong! I mean that in a good way...

Oh my goodness, when my friend Gord posted a link to this TED video on Facebook and I watched it, I grew a big, knowing smile across my face.

In the spirit of the good side of failure, Kathryn Schulz pokes at the concept of our human nature shielding us from the necessary state of being wrong by pretending we are perpetually right. It's a fascinating look at the nature of or reality in a way that takes courage and honesty.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


This isn't the first time-lapse video I've posted of Dubai, but it may be the best so far.

I always have been attracted to big cities and especially beautiful big city skylines. Dubai is now building cities within the city as you can see here at the 'Downtown Dubai' area which includes the record-breaking Burj Khalifa. It looks spectacular and the adjacent Dubai Fountain is gorgeous.

A picture I could never have taken

I almost get the willies just looking at this.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Pining for more Trek

Fun celebrity photo featuring Chris Pine, the actor who portrayed James Kirk in the latest reboot of the Star Trek franchise.

My latest rant - Shame. It's the only cure I think....

Take it for what it's worth.

I have witnessed and heard first-hand accounts of countless situations where women are taken advantage of by men in a business transaction. I won't bore you with too many details, but these incidents included insurance companies unnecessarily writing off a woman's vehicle to avoid paying a repair claim; car dealerships not offering the advertised interest rate, sale price or free options to a women that were offered to a man; various types of maintenance service fraud; etc.

There are cultural biases that account for much of the unfairness that exists even today between men and women, but that doesn't let people off the hook. I often wonder if the only way to fight against people who blatantly abuse their position, especially against women, is to shame the offenders. Maybe the victims should publicize their stories - with details. Women need to rise up against men who take advantage of the situation by telling their stories to people who have the means to publicize the incident. That could mean calling the consumer rights journalist at the local TV or radio station, blogging the story or passing the story to a prominent blogger, and so forth.

Who knows, maybe this will get some men to think twice. Maybe it won't. But at least when you do a web search on these types of situations, the incidents will identify the major transgressors and hopefully steer potential business elsewhere.

End rant.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Maybe if I veer around to the left....

It's not the best placement of an AT-AT in another photo, but I like the vibe.

"So I was heading out Simons Valley Road, and I'm all like 'Aww crap! Not these guys again....'"

Embracing failure - a neo-liberal concept?

A school in the UK is teaching their students the concept of not fearing failure, a concept well-known to improvisors.

Some folks commented on the story, labelling the embracing of failure as a neo-liberal concept, responsible for much of what's wrong with Canadian society. I felt it necessary to set them straight.

"I believe that you are missing the point.

Embracing failure is not about accepting mediocrity. It's about removing the fear of failure. The fear of failure acts as a deterrent to try more than one way to accomplish something. People in our society do not achieve mediocrity because they embrace failure. It happens because they give up trying, or don't care anymore.

Embracing failure, or learning not to fear failure, enables people to keep striving for a better way. A culture with this approach cultivates more successes because people won't be hesitant to offer suggestions and try new ways of accomplishing things. If this concept were embraced in school and at work, we would see an improvement. But it still would not stop people from being lazy, or settling for the status quo.

And anyone who labels this concept as liberal or left-wing doesn't know their history. Canada exists because Sir John A. Macdonald did not fear that forming the Dominion of Canada might fail. Don't take my word for it. Read the 3rd paragraph on the wikipedia article about him."

I'm going for the big one!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Practical Lexicon - Episode 5 - Networking

I dug something out of the vaults. The Practical Lexicon podcast, episode 5.... finally. This episode is a lost episode in the job search series, where we begin the discussion on networking. I had kept it around because there was originally to be additional material, but that plan fell through. Bernie and I may get back to this topic again in the future.

MPs in Canada weighing in publicly on C-11

On Reddit, some people shared thew responses they got from their MPs when they raised concerns regarding Bill C-11, the impending new Copyright law for Canada.

Here's an example of an MP who gets the picture:

Thank you for your email regarding C-11, the Conservative government’s new copyright bill. Since 2004, New Democrats have pushed to have Canada’s copyright legislation brought into the digital age.

We believe that copyright in a digital environment must be based on two fundamental principles – access for consumers and remuneration for artists. Unfortunately, the Conservative government has failed to meet these two fundamental principles. On one hand, the government directly attacks millions of dollars in existing copyright royalty to artists all the while undermining rights of consumers through their digital lock provisions.

Given the above, we will not be supporting Bill C-11 unless the government is willing to amend the digital lock provisions and restore royalty provisions for artists. 

New Democrats are concerned about a number of measures in this legislation. First, we oppose the digital lock provisions in Bill C-11 as they go well beyond our obligations under the WIPO treaty. Legal protection for TPMs (Technological Protection Measures) should not override rights that are guaranteed to citizens under existing copyright legislation. Another concern is that this bill offers consumers rights they will not be able to exercise. The blanket provisions for digital locks will allow corporate interests to decide what legal rights you may or may not exercise. This unbalanced approach will ultimately hurt artists, educators and consumers. There are also serious concerns over the impact this bill would have on long-distance education. In particular, we are totally opposed to provisions that would require students and educators to destroy their class notes after 30 days. While we support the right of consumers to time shift and back up legal works, we oppose the government’s
attempt to erase the right of artists to receive compensation for private copying of works. Further, the refusal of the government to update the private copying levy into the digital realm will cost artists millions of dollars a year in lost royalties. Finally, we oppose plans to remove mechanical royalties for radio as well as attempts to erase collective licensing rights in schools. While there is much we dislike in this bill, there are measures that we can support — for example, provisions that would bring Canada into compliance with the WIPO copyright treaties including the “making available” right of artists. We also support the move to ensure photographers are given copyright over works their works. We support efforts to extend fair dealing rights for satire and parody.

For our part, we will try to improve this deeply flawed piece of legislation. First, we will look to amend the digital lock provisions to ensure there is a balance between the right of a creator to protect their work and the right of the consumer to access content for which they are legally entitled. In addition, we are committed to clarifying the fair dealing rights in terms of education so that students and educators are able to access works in the classroom while, at the same time, ensuring collective licensing regimes for the fair remuneration of creators are not undermined. Again, I appreciate knowing of your interest to have Canada adopt improved copyright legislation for the 21st century.

And now for the governing party's response, rife with talking points and my arguments (in bold) against each erroneous or misleading statement:

Thank you for your letter regarding Bill C-11.

This bill will provide legal protection for businesses that choose to use technological protection measures (TPMs) or “digital locks”, to protect their intellectual property as part of their business models. Even if those protection measures restrict consumer rights, trump fair use provisions and even if the owners of the locks or content creators who chose them go out of business or stop supporting them.

This legislation will bring Canada in line with international standards and promote homegrown innovation and creativity. By standards, we mean WIPO, which we haven't ratified for decades, and SOPA/PIPA, which died as soon as non-government, non-entertainment industry people got invloved. It is a fair, balanced, and common-sense approach, respecting the rights of creators. Of course, the only people who truly believe that are the cartel of entertainment industry corporations. The federal government is working to secure Canada's place in the American digital economy and to promote a more prosperous and competitive country (the US).

This bill gives creators and copyright owners the tools they need to protect their work in a manner never before seen in the history of creativity and to grow their business models, and by 'grow', we mean monopolize the market and stifle creativity born of remixing and inspiration of previous works. It provides clearer rules that will enable all Canadians to fully participate in the digital economy, now and in the future. What's not very clear is why the government is trying to make criminals out of ordinary consumers by making actions considered reasonable by most users of content into illegal acts.

Digital locks are an important tool for creators and copyright owners to protect their work except that they prevent purchasers of content from using that content in a variety of legal and appropriate ways. Software producers, video game and movie distributors, for example, continue to use digital locks as part of their business model because they wish to protect the significant investment each makes in developing the products. Instead, they could be adapting their business model to the 21st century and earning even more than the billions of dollars they earn in profits now. Canadian jobs depend on their ability to make a return on this investment.  Actually, jobs in the distribution network for content have been lost because the industry still relies on an outdated business model. But they don't want to talk about that.

In other markets, however, in light of consumer demands, some businesses have chosen not to use digital locks because they actually respect and value their customers. Copyright owners may decide whether to use a digital lock, and consumers can then decide whether to buy the product. Unless you own DVDs, which all have digital locks - no choice there. Or, unless you own locked music CDs, because if an artist you like sells their CDs through a company that uses locks, it's not like you can buy one of their CDs from another source.

The bill also provides a regulation-making power to allow the circumvention of digital locks in certain cases, for example, where the presence of a digital lock unduly restricts competition in an after-market sector. In other words, here's some legalese that sounds terrific, but only means that we're allowing for the unlocking of cell phones when you switch service providers. There's no other examples of where this provision is helpful. If a digital lock creator goes out of business or stops supporting a type of lock, owners of content with that type of lock are on their own and the breaking of the lock is still illegal.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

What passes for winter now

It's February 4th, 2012.

It's 13C outside (55F). This is Calgary. Canada.

As you can see, there's not much snow left.