Saturday, June 23, 2018

Small things 23 Jun

  • There really is no such thing as a 'quick trip to the mall'.
  • Apocalypse down (pillow fight movie)
  • Where exactly did the phrase 'the cat's ass' come from? On a scale, is 'the cat's ass' better than 'the dog's bollocks'?
  • Imagine a world where grenades and mines are filled with hot fudge sauce....
  • Giving birth takes a lot out of you.
  • 'Down with' and 'Get down with'. Two entirely different things
  • 30 Helens agree: It's hard to get 30 people to agree on anything.
  • Glitter comes from clowns shaving
  • Only people who do nothing never make mistakes

Guess how I know it's not plugged in?

Phone spring cleanup

At some point, most phone users arrive at a very annoying, yet important milestone. Running out of storage space. Just as people often underestimate how much memory (RAM) their computers should have to keep them happy and productive, they often buy a phone with less storage capacity than they’ll realize they need after many months of use.

Part of the reason we tend to fill up our phones quickly is because of how easy it is to accumulate data. Apps are easy to get and in many cases, are free or very inexpensive. Having a camera in your phone means being able to take pictures of anything, at any time. As phone cameras get better, the pictures they create get bigger (in file size). But then videos take this storage requirement to a whole new level. So, at some point, if you’re a vigorous user, you’re going to run out of space and your phone is going to complain. What to do…….

You could back up your phone, but then you’ll need equivalent storage capacity in the cloud (if that’s the option you choose). Storage in the cloud isn’t always abundant, nor is it typically free beyond a certain base amount. There are exceptions to this of course – Google Photos lets you store pretty much unlimited photos in the cloud as long as you let them get a bit compressed. But that doesn’t let you back up apps, etc. I still am aware of many people who still don’t trust the cloud to store their stuff. You could back up to your computer, which programs like iTunes lets you do, but then you need to have your computer if you want to access anything that’s backed up and also deleted from your phone. So, is there another approach? I dare say yes. It’s called spring cleaning. It’s just a carryover from what I recommend to my clients who own computers.

Start with apps. Be stingy and ask the following about every app on your phone. "Have I used this in the last 6 months?" If the answer is ‘no’, and you know you probably won’t use it in the next 6 months either, delete it. You can always get it back later if you change your mind. But don’t stop with just the apps themselves. Some apps, especially those used to communicate, tend to keep a growing pile of past texts, messages, calls, etc. Find out where the apps store their stuff and delete it. Don’t assume that a deleted app will also delete its saved files. Sometimes an app will leave your past history intact, in case you change your mind about deleting it and reinstall in the future.

Next, move on to videos and photos. Look at every video you’ve stored with the eye of a ruthless movie critic. Will you really care about that clip next year? Yes? Then upload it to YouTube or Facebook and delete it from your phone. If your kids roll their eyes every time you show the clip, you may be fooling yourself about just how amazing it is. Delete. Moving on to photos. That picture of those amazing desserts you had at Cheesecake Factory might have looked good when you took them, but seriously. Do you think you’re the only person who has ever had the Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake? Nope. And I’m willing to bet there are pics on Google of that dessert that are much more professional. Even if you insist on keeping the dessert photos, you don’t need 10 different angles of cheesecake. Delete nine, keep the best one. Memories are great keepsakes, just don’t act like the Smithsonian Institute about it. One final note about pictures. Did sister really, really love that one pic of the two of you at Disneyland? Great. Send it to her and let her keep it. I know, I can be ruthless.

Music is another thing that can gobble up storage fast on a phone. It's nice to be able to store every song you own, but I know people with music collections topping 100GB and more. If you want to avoid using up a lot of space on your phone, consider paying for a music service like Spotify and let them store all your favourite songs for you. Yes, that means streaming data, but sometimes you have to choose what’s more important – a phone with a lot of storage (expensive), that may still not be enough, or a better data plan (or more use of wi-fi). I let my Spotify songs store on my phone so I can save data costs, but thanks to compression, my measly 1800 songs on Spotify use up 10GB of phone capacity.

If you drill into your phone’s settings, you can find out what’s using up all that space and start to weeding. I’m pretty good about spring cleaning and I’m using about 40GB in total. Half of that is apps and photos. Needless to say, I’d need to be even more ruthless to be able to use a phone with only 32GB of storage.

So if you’re getting low on phone storage, or even if you’re not, consider doing some spring cleaning. But maybe do it every season. Be ruthless. And leverage the cloud as much as you dare.

Band: Draculaz Album: Vampire Days

Totally fake of course.

Canadian pot names?

I decided to have some fun and try and come up with some new Canadian names for marijuana strains.

  • Calgary Stampweed
  • Rocky Mountain High
  • Great Lakes Bakes (edibles)
  • Laurentien Paper Co (papers)
  • Yonge Buds
  • Trans Canada High Way
  • Beaver Buds
  • Maple Buds
  • Pottawa
  • Canusa Clippings
  • Banff Blunt
  • Prairie Indica
  • Dartmouth Dank
  • 420 Train to Toronto
  • Hamilton Hookah
  • Kelowna Kush
  • Regina Roach
  • Yellowknife Yerba
  • Canadian Bogart Agency
  • Bongwater Springs
  • Shawinigan Shotgun
  • Royal Canadian Fade
  • Mooseweed

Things I learned lately 23 Jun

  • There are no bridges spanning the Amazon River.
  • The city of Brasilia was founded in 1960. It is now home to roughly 4.3 million people (metro area).
  • A service dog, while working, needs to be left alone. No barking or petting or talking to them. It distracts them and they just want to work and be left alone.
  • Although service dogs don't look like they're having a good time, they are working and get to be like normal dogs and play once work is over.
  • Had George Lucas kept the Star Wars franchise, the last 3 movies (episodes 7-9) would have been about the microbiol creatures the Whills, who feed off the Force and use the midi-chlorians to control the people. In other words, people who are 'strong with the force' are just folks who are being controlled more by (and are vehicles for) the Whills.
  • Most stars like our sun are born as twin stars. Astronomers want to know what happened to our probable twin.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Small things 15 Jun

  • Is it me, or ever since we started carrying cell phones, it's bad form to push someone into a pool. Once cell phones become waterproof across the board, does that mean we can expect pool pushings again?
  • If time stopped for 5 seconds, how would the stoppage of time be timed (to 5 seconds) without time?
  • Conversation already happening: 20 something: what's the origin of that save icon? 50 something: that's what a floppy disk looked like. 20 something: what's a floppy disk? 
  • "If I could give you one last piece of advice, it would be this... Don't ever get off your parents' wireless plan. Ride that train as long as possible." ~Jimmy Fallon keynote at Stoneman Douglas graduation
  • I'd like to go work for Microsoft and be on the team that renames everything in new versions of Windows or Office. You know, the people who figured Windows Explorer should now be File Explorer, Control Panel should be Settings, Out of Office Assistant should be Automatic Replies......
  • Chat: Cnt   Email: I can't   Term paper: Lo, though I find that I am unable to can.

Am I still in the picture?

Pics of people trying to sell mirrors.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you - the internet.

A true doggy bag

What Facebook collects about us

A partial list:

  • Facebook records your mouse movements. This helps them recognize that you are not a robot.
  • Another way Facebook distinguishes that you're human is by monitoring whether your browser window is "foregrounded or backgrounded."
  • Facebook collects a lot of data about your devices, including your battery level, signal strength, and available storage space.
  • Your operating system, browser type, file names, and plugins are also fair game.
  • Facebook knows your mobile operator (if you're using it on your phone), internet service provider, and IP address, as well as your cookie data, time zone, and internet connection speed.
  • Facebook said "in some cases" it monitors devices around its users or on the same network, so it "can do things like help users stream a video from their phone to their TV."
  • The signals of your device are also monitored, including Bluetooth and information about nearby Wi-Fi access points. Nearby "cell towers" are also known to Facebook (if you're using it on your phone).
  • Facebook hoovers up your GPS location, camera information, and photos if you don't lock down your settings (on your phone or tablet). Call logs and SMS log history are also recorded if users choose to sync their Android devices or upload data.
  • Data about your "online and offline actions" and purchases from third-party providers is collected, in addition to information about the "games, apps, or accounts" people use.

Things I learned lately 15 Jun

  • In 15 years in Afghanistan, no counter-narcotics effort undertaken by the US, it partners, or the Afghan government has led to sustained reductions in poppy cultivation or opium production.
  • Minimum wage would have to be over $20 an hour in many states to be able to afford renting a one bedroom apartment.
  • "We have given all of our employees, 100%, standing desks. If you can stand for a while, then sit, and so on and so forth, it's much better for your lifestyle."  ~Tim Cook, Apple CEO
  • Cats are being trained to smuggle cell phones into Costa Rica prisons.
  • A cure to the common cold may be coming in the future that makes the human body inhospitable to the many cold viruses themselves.
  • Chromebooks (laptops running the Google Chrome OS versus Windows, etc) now outsell Macbooks and Windows laptops, especially to schools.
  • There are 12 planetariums in Canada (according to wikipedia). The Montreal Planetarium is shown.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Video games at work

Clay, seal and wax

So after punishing my car's paint for 5 years, I wanted to give it a spa day by getting a proper detailing done.

Normally, I get the car detailed every spring, but I only get the insides cleaned up, to remove the build up of dust, dirt, coffee spills, window film and winter salt etc. on the carpet.

This time I decided to add a proper exterior detailing as well to get the paint back to like-new condition. After 5 years, it was starting to look (and feel) a bit nasty and there were chips exposing metal now. For the record - I never wax my car and routinely wash in a self serve car wash with high pressure, but no brush.

I chose the option of clay bar, then sealer, then wax. I have never done this before - on any car. The price is the reason. For the uninitiated, the clay bar is used to strip off all the contaminants from the paint surface. Off comes the pollution, tar, overspray, brake dust, everything. Then they seal it for a layer of protection. I opted to add a good coat of wax for extra protection and to make it smooth and shiny.

Before I dropped the car off, they had me run my finger along the paint to feel how rough it was. It doesn't feel like that anymore. It is smooth as butter. And shiny. It looks very much like it just came off the showroom floor. They had to work a bit harder on my car, because there was a lot of paint over-spray on my windows and any black trim on my doors, etc. from body work that had been done post-hail damage back in 2014. That's mostly gone now. My windows have not been cleaner or more transparent and streak-free than now.

I have to hand it to the crew at OCDetailing in Airdrie, they did a bang up job. It was expensive, but it was worth it.

[disclaimer: not my car in pic]

SSsshhhh!! I clean...

Human: Why are you licking me?

Cat: SSsshhhh!! I clean...

No to regulating streaming in Canada

Whenever I write about the arts now, I think I'm writing with a lot more awareness of what it's like to work in the arts in Canada. My altered perception is in part thanks to my limited involvement with Loose Moose. I got to know real artists, living artists, starving artists, upcoming artists, some of whom would go on to become involved in television, global theatre and other Canadian projects. So I try to be sensitive to the reality that it's not easy to be an artist, nor is it easy to achieve success in the arts in this country. I'm also aware that artists generally agree with the CanCon (Canadian content) protectionism that the Canadian government provides to help artists and their projects thrive. I kind of understood when CanCon was introduced for television and radio, but at the same time I didn't quite get it, because I have always felt that good Canadian content is good enough to stand on its own. So I was never sure beyond a doubt that it needed protection through legislation. But then, I'm not an artist, so my thoughts on the matter may be misinformed. I write this preamble because I'd like my artist friends to forgive my possible ignorance or naivety.

After reading an article a few days ago that the CRTC is recommending to the government of Canada to regulate all streaming services, and perhaps force them to financially or otherwise support Canadian content, I've finally had enough. I've been on a rant to anyone who will listen, exclaiming that the CRTC, in my humble opinion, has gone too far. Whether or not Canadian radio or television requires legislation to ensure its survival, is a debate we'll possibly continue to have for many years. But to suggest that streaming services, which are not the same as public over-the-air broadcasting services, and that we pay to enjoy, shouldn't be subject to the same rigorous regulatory oversight and assistance. Let's face it, part of the appeal of subscribing to Netflix and other streaming services, is that you get a mix of content in parallel. Unlike broadcast television in this country, where we have a tsunami of channels offering a lot of content that probably couldn't sustain itself without help, and is subjectively of mediocre quality, with a few gems. Streaming is the equivalent of one big channel with stuff for everyone, buffet style. The appealing content survives and the weak content dies, as it should. Lo and behold, there is even Canadian content on Netflix! Why? Because there is some stuff made in Canada that is good enough to be bought by a streaming service.

If we allow this regulation of video streaming to happen, they'll be coming for Spotify next. No thank you. I like my streaming just the way it is. It's the buffet where I can eat what I like and ignore the rest. I don't want my consumption of burgers (which I love) to subsidize the funding of liver (not loving so much). There's a reason you don't see liver in a typical buffet people.

I'm actively looking for a petition to tell the CRTC to keep its hands off streaming media and if I find one, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, I called them and lodged a complaint. If you agree with me, you should too.

Things I learned lately 9 Jun

  • The states that will be hardest hit by Canada's response to US steel and aluminum tariffs are Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
  • After deploying the National Guard at the US-Mexico border, the number of illegal border crossings and arrests continues to rise, with no end in sight.
  • As coffee made its way out of Ethiopia to the rest of the world, it was an insanely controversial drink. The fact that people loved and enjoyed it was enough to brand it as sinful. Ottoman Sultan Murad IV took note of coffee's popularity and set out to destroy the coffeehouses of Istanbul in 1633. Being caught drinking coffee in public would get you beaten on the first offence, a second offence meant death.
  • Banza pasta noodles, made from chickpeas, have protein, fibre and 40% fewer carbs than traditional pasta.
  • Supposedly, Hotwire offers steep car rental discounts by offering opaque booking (no clue what agency until you arrive).
  • West Wing staff intentionally insert grammatical errors into Twitter messages they draft for Donald Trump, seeking to mimic his unconventional style.
  • If you visit Google Maps (satellite view) and zoom out far enough, you'll have the option to explore several planets and moons in our own solar system.

Results of the 2018 Ontario provincial election

41% of the vote got 61% of the seats (PC).
34% of the vote got 32% of the seats (NDP).
19% of the vote got 6% of the seats (Lib).
5% of the vote got 1% of the seats (Grn).

Friday, June 01, 2018

Small things 1 Jun

  • Apparently, you can be a champion for green technology and green culture, but you're not allowed to make money doing it.
  • Apparently, you can't be a champion for green technology and culture if you fly, drive, heat a house with oil or gas, own more than one house, etc.
  • Apparently, you can justify giving up trying to wean yourself off of oil because 'some' countries aren't doing it. Looking for proof these 'some' countries exist. For the record, China is definitely greening.
  • Apparently, you can refuse to allow more oil to go through your territory, and then complain when one threatens to allow less oil to go through your territory.
  • Apparently, $1.35 per litre of gasoline is outrageous. ~Said nobody who lives in Europe......
  • Apparently, it's not logical, practical, or possible to go greener if your economy depends on fossil fuels. ~Said nobody who lives in Norway......
  • Apparently, fossil fuel is the only way to create revenue. Unless you live in Iceland, where they are 100% on renewable energy.
  • Apparently, it's not logical, practical, or possible to guarantee equal wages for men and women. ~Said nobody who lives in Iceland, where it's the law.

It was fun while it lasted No Man's Sky

Well, I uninstalled No Man's Sky from my computer. I played it off and on for a few months and finally had enough.

I wasn't interested in the missions. I wasn't interested in finding the centre of the galaxy, which is the ultimate goal of the game. I just wanted to explore. And I did. A lot. I'd zoom into a planetary system, swoop down onto a planet or moon, mine some minerals, etc., discover some plants and wildlife. I'd pillage old settlements and investigate any artifact I found. Then I'd take the stuff I'd mined and sell it at the nearest space station. If I saw a better spaceship, I'd buy it. If I found a better weapon / mining tool, I'd get it. I killed any animals that attacked me. I talked to anyone I ran into at the space station. Of course, they all want the same things, but I won't spoil it for you. Then I moved on to another system, having no idea where I was going. Repeat. Repeat. Again and again.

So, as you can see, the main issue I have with this ground-breaking, gorgeous, self-generating virtual universe is that I got bored. Every system had pretty much the same things to mine. They all had identical space stations with virtually identical characters. The worlds all had animals that were weird and either looked harmless or like they could eat you. You could blast off and explore a different planet, or leave the system and move on to the next one, but you'd find that after a while, they all start to look the same.

I even tried to fight the boredom by building a home base and having a place to come home to. But when you don't have any unexpected guests coming over, it becomes a lonely place. If all you're doing in this game is roaming without purpose, it's going to get tedious sooner or later.

So as good as this game is, as amazing as it is to explore a virtual, contextually generated universe, unless the creators throw in some unexpected curve balls, there's only so much you can do. Which I think is hilarious. Because you'd think that having the ability to explore space, even if it's not real, would be the most exciting thing ever. It is. But only for a while. What would make the experience more complete is risk and unexpected variation. Your ship needs to malfunction. The animals need to kill you. Maybe if you mine the wrong thing, it should pollute the planet and kill all the wildlife. Then the wildlife police arrest you and you die in space prison. Maybe the planet needs to swallow you up in a tsunami or space-quake. You need to run into aliens everywhere, in space, planet-side, not just in a space station. And they need to present you with risk. Aliens need to either want to be buddies, or mortal enemies, or something in between. When you try to sell your stuff, there needs to be times when they're not interested. And the totally unexpected needs to happen. Maybe you get kidnapped and have to find your way out. Maybe an alien military shows up in your current system and starts blasting everything in sight, you caught in the cross-hairs of a galactic war. Maybe that fleet of ships docked just beside the space station is a luxury resort fleet and you can go inside and eat uncooked space oysters and die.

So thanks No Man's Sky, for giving me a glimpse of what's possible in a virtual universe where I get free access to anything that exists. But I've seen enough for now and I'm too bored to stick around. I'm going back to real life, where we haven't really been to space and the world presents me with a new adventure every day.

I vote for this as dumbest thing said all year (so far)

She can dance, he can run!

If you want to see how far we've come in the world of bionic limbs, you need to see this TED talk.

Things I learned lately 1 Jun

  • China is now producing more steel than the rest of the world combined.
  • The Volkswagen ID Buzz, the next version of the VW microbus, is due in 2022 and will be fully electric.
  • The first known instance of the word "toast" being used to mean dead, finished, or doomed was when Bill Murray said "This chick is toast!" in Ghostbusters. The line was ad-libbed to boot.
  • The word 'derp' first appeared in the movie BASEketball in 1998, starring Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
  • 4 in 10 Americans can't fund a $400 emergency expense without borrowing.
  • There are 7 countries already at, or near 100% renewable power: Iceland (100%), Paraguay (100%), Costa Rica (99%), Norway (98.5%), Austria (80%), Brazil (75%), and Denmark (69.4%). The main renewables in these countries are hydro power, wind, geothermal, and solar.
  • How much a one bedroom apartment costs to rent in various New York Neighbourhoods: East Harlem - $3258; Theatre District - $3634; Hell's Kitchen - $3648; East Village - $4055; Flatiron District - $4122; Greenwich Village - $4137; Battery Park - $4305; Little Italy - $4389.
  • Roughly half of Americans expect self-driving cars to become the norm within 10 years.