Friday, February 28, 2014

Things I learned lately - 28 February

  • Apparently Hollywood needs subsidies from the State of California to survive. I thought they were doing OK. Maybe they could just make better product.
  • Elon Musk of Tesla Motors is creating a buzz after admitting to having met with Apple. He won't say what it was about.
  • Tesla will soon produce the Model X, an all-electric SUV. 8,000 orders have already been placed.
  • The governor of Colorado has indicated that tax revenue from legal marijuana sales are much higher than first predicted.
  • Subway users in Queens will soon have cellphone service and Wi-Fi at all of the borough's 29 underground subway stations. Manhattan's 36 stations already have it.
  • Google fibre may soon be offered in Portland OR; San Jose CA; Phoenix AZ; Salt Lake City UT; San Antonio TX; Atlanta GA; Nashville TN and Charlotte & Raleigh-Durham NC.
  • Being pregnant 100 years ago was almost as dangerous as having breast cancer is today.
  • The new International Concourse at the Calgary International Airport will include 588 geothermal wells to help heat and cool the terminal.
  • Sao Paulo, dubbed the city with the world's worst traffic jams, recorded its longest traffic jam ever November 2013, stretching over 192 miles (309 km). The city regularly gets 100 mile-plus traffic jams on Friday evenings.
  • On 20 Jan 2014 the observatory at Crown Point near Corbett Oregon recorded wind gusts over 160 km/h (100 mph). This place is known for extremely high winds and people come to film the power of the wind. A meteorologist recorded a gust of 185 km/h.
  • Goodbye 'Got milk?', hello 'Milk life'.
  • 500 billion. That's how many Microsoft Office documents were created last year. According to Microsoft.
  • Office is supposedly coming to the iPad later in 2014. This will eliminate much of the argument that the iPad can't be used for anything productive.
  • This year's Oscar gift basket contains more than 50 gifts worth a total of more than $85,000. All nominees get one.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

You may already have Office and space 'in-the-cloud' for free

I'm not kidding.

If you have an Xbox, or a Windows 8 computer, or a Windows phone, you have something (now) called OneDrive (formerly called SkyDrive). Just by signing up, you get 7GB right off the bat. If you bought Office 365, you get 100GB for free.

OneDrive also lets you upload photos from any type of phone. (including iPhone - I just backed up my entire camera roll)

If you have OneDrive or have a Microsoft account such as, you also have access to something (now) called Office Online (formerly called Office Web Apps). This is a free, scaled down version of Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint.

All free. All you need is an internet connection.

Blast from the past - 1967

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Remove these from your resume

Things to remove from your resume right now

High School Information
If you've gone through college or university, you don't need to mention high school, particularly if you're years past graduation.

Passive Language
Use action verbs, not weak references to your achievements. Saying things like "familiar with [insert skill]" or "learned how to [insert skill]" is unnecessary. Immediately address the skill so you seem to have experience, instead of looking like a trainee.

Unless requested or depending on the industry, leave your photo out. You are not being judged on how you look.

A Series of Short-Lived Jobs
Any series of jobs that you've held for short periods of time should be left out. Otherwise the resume looks disjointed. You may appear to not have focus. Exception: You worked somewhere prestigious that makes you look better or to fill a long period of unemployment - but be cautious.

Objective Statement
It's rare that an objective statement will help you, and it can hurt you.

Really Obvious Skills
Proficiency in Microsoft Office is common. Take those out and substitute with less common skills.

Any Information That Can Cause Discrimination
Don't be too free with your personal information. No mention of religion, social issues, or politics unless it's relevant to the job. Keep it neutral.

More Pages
The current rule of thumb is to keep it to a page. Two pages maximum. Keeping it short will help you pull out the most impressive achievements and leave the irrelevant ones out.

Sounds awesome!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Building relationships

Crash course in building a relationship with someone, top 5 things people need to do:

1) Learn about their priorities, goals and objectives.
2) Place theirs ahead of yours.
3) Allow them to talk. Suspend your own need to talk.
4) Seek their thoughts and opinions.
5) Ego suspension. Validate them unconditionally and non-judgmentally for who they are as a human being.

That's Stan Lee!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Things I learned lately - 22 February

  • The single most useful piece of software ever invented is free for anyone to use. Google Maps.
  • The average American house or apartment is twice as large as the average house or apartment in Japan, and three times larger than the average home or apartment in Russia.
  • The average new home now has more bathrooms than occupants.
  • Even in 1950, close to 30% of American homes didn't have electricity.
  • Unemployment in Japan hasn't been above 5.6% in the past 25 years.
  • No one has died from a new nuclear weapon attack since 1945. In 1950 the world's smartest political scientists would have given that situation 0% odds. The most important news story of the past 70 years is what didn't happen.
  • In 1949, Popular Mechanics magazine made the bold prediction that someday a computer could weigh less than 1 ton. I wrote this sentence on an iPad that weighs 0.73 pounds.
  • Life expectancy at birth was 39 years in 1800, 49 years in 1900, 68 years in 1950, and 79 years today.
  • Of the top 10 air routes in the world, 4 of them involve Tokyo, for a combined total of 26 million passengers per year.
  • China is projected to install 12,000 megawatts of solar power in 2014. That's greater than what the US has installed in all of its solar history.
  • The top US administration officials working on the TPP came from investment banks who will benefit immensely from its provisions, which severely curtail countries' ability to pass laws regulating banks and other corporations. These advisers were given multimillion-dollar exit bonuses when they left their banks for government.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Your phone as an extension of your failing memory

As artificial intelligence systems evolve, more and more people are going to have access to them using their phones and their tablets.

This is going to benefit everyone, but especially those who are suffering a medical condition that contributes to memory loss, like Alzheimer's and dementia.

I foresee a time in the not distant future when the phone will have a personal butler / assistant app that is not only aware of your surroundings, interactions and schedule, but will be able to guide you through your day with automatic reminders of things needing to be done in the context of where you are and what you're doing.

There could be a setting that adjusts for people with very poor memory to help them out that much more, perhaps even with a focus on certain aspects of their life depending on what they struggle with the most.

Papers on a train

I remember riding the train to work in the morning and seeing this a lot.

Also, the train interiors looked like this.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How convenient

Isn't it interesting that Lieutenant-General (retired) Andrew Leslie retired in September 2011, but only now that he's become a member of the Liberal party of Canada does the governing Conservatives mention the retirement move claim he filed and collected?


This clip is apt commentary on current consumer society.

Oops... I made a scarf

Monday, February 17, 2014

Can we make an invisible bike helmet?

The invisible bike helmet. I know, right? Not possible.

Just watch.

Nerd fight starter

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Things I learned lately - 16 February

  • Santa Fe Springs California has the highest concentration of Starbucks stores in the US with 560 stores in a 25 mile radius.
  • A Dutch court has lifted a ban on The Pirate Bay, allowing ISPs to permit access to the torrent site. The Dutch Court of Appeals determined that the ban was ineffective at stopping piracy. The block order reduced traffic to The Pirate Bay, but torrent levels did not decline. The anti-piracy group that brought the original case must now pay ISPs 400,000 euros in legal costs.
  • While learning how to use the full-body scanners at airport security, TSA members asked the vendor what they really thought of the machine (off the record). "They’re sh-t. You won’t be able to distinguish plastic explosives from body fat and guns are practically invisible if they were turned sideways in a pocket."
  • At least 15% of malls in the US will fail or be converted into non-retail space in the next 10 years, 50% in the next 15-20 years.
  • Sears has closed about 300 stores since 2010.
  • The overall effect of the 3-strikes HADOPI law in France on illegal music downloads is....... negligible.
  • "That truth is that traditional brick and mortar retailing is at an inflection (turning) point. No longer are many retailers only required to compete with stores on the other side of the street. They are now required to compete with stores on the other side of the country." ~Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
  • In 2013 alone, the US spent $80 billion just getting the Navy to patrol oil shipping lanes in the Arabian Gulf.
  • New York City wants 1/3 of its taxis to be electric by 2020.
  • Christine McVie has rejoined Fleetwood Mac!
  • Target's massive data breach started with a single phishing email. Just in case you thought phishing is no big deal.
  • There is a new set of sophisticated malware tool called Careto that gets in via a phishing email and can collect network traffic, keystrokes, Skype conversations, analyze Wi-Fi traffic, PGP keys, fetch all information from Nokia devices, screen captures and monitor all file operations. It works on Windows, OSX and Linux and possibly all phones too.
  • Just because OpenTable says a restaurant is booked doesn't mean it is. The restaurant can rig the schedule to force online clients to book at less than prime-time slots.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Buying pot in Colorado

There are a few rules to purchasing recreational pot in Colorado: You have to be 21 years or older to buy it and you can't smoke it in public. No buying more than an ounce at a time, either.

Your purchase comes in a brown paper bag. You can buy already made joints (sealed in foil) or a container with an ounce of weed.

The notice you see here comes with each purchase. There are as many elderly people lined up to buy the product as young people. Weed may be legal in Colorado, but there is still a bad vibe about it in the traditional sense, as many banks want nothing to do with the new shops that sell it. As a result, you have to pay cash.

We almost decriminalized pot under Pierre Trudeau

This informative article shows why Canada criminalized pot. It had nothing to do with science.

In fact, under Pierre, it almost became decriminalized. Almost.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"DRM isn't the right to prevent piracy"

There's a very well written and insightful look at the risk of DRM and government efforts to protect it from circumvention.

Here's an excerpt of the article, but you should do yourself a favour and read it all.

DRM isn't the right to prevent piracy: it's the right to make up your own copyright laws. The right to invent things that people aren't allowed to do – even though the law permits it -- and to embed these prohibitions in code that is illegal to violate. Reimerdes also showed us that DRM is the right to suppress speech: the right to stop people from uttering code or keys or other expressions if there is some chance that these utterances will interfere with your made-up copyright laws.

The entertainment industry calls DRM "security" software, because it makes them secure from their customers. Security is not a matter of abstract absolutes, it requires a context. You can't be "secure," generally -- you can only be secure from some risk. For example, having food makes you secure from hunger, but puts you at risk from obesity-related illness.

DRM is designed on the presumption that users don't want it, and if they could turn it off, they would. You only need DRM to stop users from doing things they're trying to do and want to do. If the thing the DRM restricts is something no one wants to do anyway, you don't need the DRM. You don't need a lock on a door that no one ever wants to open.

DRM assumes that the computer's owner is its adversary. For DRM to work, there has to be no obvious way to remove, interrupt or fool it. For DRM to work, it has to reside in a computer whose operating system is designed to obfuscate some of its files and processes: to deliberately hoodwink the computer's owner about what the computer is doing. If you ask your computer to list all the running programs, it has to hide the DRM program from you. If you ask it to show you the files, it has to hide the DRM files from you. Anything less and you, as the computer's owner, would kill the program and delete its associated files at the first sign of trouble.

An increase in the security of the companies you buy your media from means a decrease in your own security. When your computer is designed to treat you as an untrusted party, you are at serious risk: anyone who can put malicious software on your computer has only to take advantage of your computer's intentional capacity to disguise its operation from you in order to make it much harder for you to know when and how you've been compromised.

Parents versus kids

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Thank you for your service"

Mark Towhey wrote a scathing article criticizing Minister Julian Fantino's treatment of veterans who came to meet with him. What follow is my edited-for-a-blog version, full version here.

When you're an hour late for a meeting with a group of Canada's veterans, stop for a moment before you walk through that door. Remember that you're about to meet with some of our nation's most cherished citizens.

Veterans are unique among all Canadians. They alone, have volunteered to waive their Charter-protected right to security of the person.

Only members of our military can be ordered into danger and can be tried, convicted and jailed for life for refusing an order that will get them killed.

Our police and firefighters are very brave men and women but they have the right to say "no" when the situation is just too dangerous.

Soldiers call this the "unlimited liability" clause in their terms of service. They know about it when they volunteer and they do it anyway. That takes guts. And, we owe them something for it.

The group of veterans that waited to meet with the minister last week served at our pleasure. They went where we sent them. They fought who we told them to fight. Our veterans walked willingly into danger when we asked them to because they trusted us to care for them if they survived, wounded, maimed. If they were psychologically scarred.

So, Mr. Minister, before you open that door next time and meet with those veterans, remember this: they have done what you have not. They deserve your respect.

When a veteran is angry with you for being late, you say, "I'm sorry. Thank you for your service to our country. Please come in and sit with me. I'm here to listen."

Then you sit with them and listen. You promise to do whatever you can to make the situation right. And then you do it.

And, in case you think this is me blaming the poor treatment of Veterans on the Conservatives - think again. I am a Conservative. This is not a partisan issue. Canadian soldiers and Canadian veterans are not being mistreated by the Conservative Party. They are being mistreated by the Government of Canada. This government happens to be Conservative, but the plight of our veterans is not a new thing.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Things I learned lately - 9 February

  • UK PM David Cameron says that ISPs and phone companies should be required to store records of every click you make, every conversation you have, and every place you physically move through. Communications companies should have mandatory back-doors. He says we need this because "TV crime dramas illustrated the value of monitoring mobile data."
  • The 3-strikes law in France doesn't seem to be affecting piracy at all.
  • By the end of 2014, all the coal-powered power plants in Ontario will be gone. It took 10 years to achieve this goal.
  • Denmark wants to have 50% of its electricity coming from wind by 2020 and is well on its way to achieving that.
  • New studies suggest that Vitamin D supplements (except in northern locales in winter), Zinc and other cold treatments and multivitamins in general offer negligible benefits and are a waste of money.
  • Apple has filed 8 solar patents in recent history and also hired a thin films engineer with experience in the solar industry. This has led to the rumour that the iPhone 6 will have a sapphire glass solar-charging screen.
  • A Virginia Tech research team has created a sugar-powered battery. It has 10 times the energy of the lithium-ion batteries found in cell phones. It should be made commercially in 3 years.
  • The average price of a solar panel has declined 60% since 2011.
  • Ford has developed the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept that runs primarily on solar power from panels on the roof. A concentrator on the roof acts like a magnifying glass to produce energy. It's marketed for those living off-the-grid who want an electric vehicle but can't get to an electric charging station.
  • Katy Perry became the first person to reach 50 million Twitter followers.
  • In 2000, Netflix tried to get Blockbuster to buy a 49% stake in the company and Netflix would become the streaming arm of Blockbuster, but they weren't interested. Blockbuster finally tried to launch their own streaming service in 2004, but it was too late.
  • Having stopped smoking in 1999, I had no idea how expensive cigarettes have become. $12.50 for a pack of 25. Gee, didn't cartons cost that much back in the 1980s?
  • Russia's Olympian deputy prime minister warned a WSJ reporter that he would release hidden-camera footage of journalists in their hotel bathrooms if they continued to complain about the substandard hotels in Sochi. So.... there's cameras in the hotel bathrooms.....

Saturday, February 08, 2014

I'm running away! Hello? Pay attention!

One time, my mother grounded me for being bad, which happened a lot. Being grounded in this case meant having to stay in the yard. I couldn't go to visit and play with friends.

Anyway, this one time that I was grounded, I got so mad, that I decided to take off anyway and go play with a friend a block away. I didn't care what the consequences were at this point.

I came home a few hours later, just before my dad would get home from work. I expected my mom to find me and freak out. But nothing happened. I don't think she even noticed that I had left.

It's been my secret to this day.

Army lunch

I saw this while shopping at Crate and Barrel. It reminds me so much of the Army kit I used to wear attached to my webbing. But instead it's a large, insulated lunch bag.

I know a few military buddies who would love this.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Some examples of the power of adding Social Networking to the Enterprise

Some folks wonder why anyone would want to add social networking to the enterprise. Let me offer some examples.

  • People get to say what they're working on. This not only improves awareness of what people do, but also allows others to offer their help or ask to shadow.
  • The content of chatter on the social network creates a searchable knowledge base that everyone in the organization can benefit from even if they weren’t directly involved in the original conversations.
  • It allows companies to connect with their employees much like public social media allows individuals to do on a personal level.
  • It offers a more modern document management system, or at least document management process awareness. You'll know when a new version of something is available or a new document exists.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Things I don't miss about the world of old technology

  • Having to wait for a dial-up connection signal negotiation to complete before I could use my 14.4kb/s internet connection.
  • Monitors that weighed a ton.
  • Never knowing what the weather should be like for tomorrow until 6pm (nightly news).
  • Needing $2000 to buy a decent computer.
  • Long distance charges.
  • Only being able to store 1.44MB of files on a floppy disk. Or if we go back farther, 360kB of files.
  • Having to rewind the VCR tape.
  • Driving around aimlessly trying to find the nearest bank machine, or specific brand of gas station.
  • Configuring autoexec.bat and config.sys to tweak the memory and device drivers on a computer.
  • The only way to watch a movie was in a theatre. Fully dressed.
  • Having to keep a disc in the computer to play a game or run a program.
  • Always wondering what the name of that song was.
  • Needing a real camera to take a picture of anything.
  • Yellow pages searches.
  • Having to wait hours, maybe days to find out where someone was, if they weren't home.
  • Not knowing how the picture turned out until you got your prints back.
  • Needing to remember math.
  • Having to constantly wind a watch. Yeah, I know - "What's a watch?"
  • Trying to race home to catch a TV show. Or if we go back farther, a radio show.
  • Having to scrub the oven.
  • Being forced to sell stuff in the classifieds. For a fee!
  • Needing to go to a store to buy something.
  • Hoping your telephone handset cord was long enough to reach the next room so you could talk in private.
  • Faxes. Oh wait, they're still around. But why?

Driving across America by Myself

This is a little short film by Ari Fararooy about a 3 week road trip from Boston to LA.

The characters he encounters are interesting and the effects he uses post-production are fun.

Pizza chef

Olivia got to help the chef make her pizza at one of our last outings. How many 5 year old girls can say that?

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Things I learned lately - 2 February

  • Mercedes Benz and Nissan have both promised to bring computer-controlled cars to market before 2020.
  • Mars rover Opportunity - designed to work for 90 days. As of 24 Jan 2014, it has lasted 3563 days (10 years) and counting.
  • You can sum up what Microsoft was trying to accomplish with Windows 8 this way: They bet that the future of all computing was touch. Not just tablets, but PCs too. That may still come to pass eventually, but I think they placed their bets too soon. Apple on the other hand, thinks the computing experience (no touch) and the tablet experience (touch) will stay as separate activities. The world won't divide us into tablet or computer people. Many will be both. In fact, the phone, tablet, and computer (even laptop) will remain distinct tools. I agree with Apple on this one.
  • Bold & Naked Yoga studio in New York is now offering co-ed naked yoga classes. This could only happen in NYC....
  • It is predicted that a lot of retail store locations will close in the next year and retail floor spaces will begin to shrink.
  • A survey by Nielsen found that 17% of US Internet connected TV users plan to decrease or cancel their cable subscription in the coming year.
  • According to the IMF, global fossil fuel subsidies (oil, gas and coal) combined with electricity subsidies total $1.9 trillion a year. Why are governments worldwide subsidizing the most profitable industry in the world?
  • According to UNICEF, the world could meet basic human needs for everyone on earth with just $80 billion. This is equal to stopping military spending and fossil fuel subsidies for just 8 days. If you added schooling for every child, reproductive health care, safe drinking water and sanitation and basic health needs you only add $42 billion to that amount. So 12 days of no subsidies to energy and no military funding, and the world's needs are met.
  • The Department of Homeland Security oversees movie theft in the US. That's right. Can you say 'overkill'?
  • Target is going to try different sized stores in the US. CityTarget will be designed for urban sites and be about 2/3 the size of a regular store. TargetExpress will be even smaller, more like a Walgreen's. The first TargetExpress will be in Minneapolis.
  • Amazon has patented a system that will predict what you're going to order and have it packed and ready at a nearby distribution hub before you even log in and click 'order'.
  • The US spent $502 billion subsidizing fossil fuels in 2011 alone.
  • SodaStream's Super Bowl ad is banned because it mentions Coke and Pepsi by name. An ad that mentions its competitors? The nerve.....

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Google Chrome browser microphone flaw

One thing a web site can do is ask you (through Google Chrome) to access your microphone so you can interact with speech.

The problem is that when you leave the site, you may not get control of your microphone back. Yeah, this is a thing.

If you've been enabling your microphone for any web sites and want to disable it from here on in, visit this page and follow their instructions.

The water cycle ultra-simplified