Thursday, March 30, 2006

Memo to IE Users

Get with the times! So I just loaded up IE today for the first time in weeks and only noticed that a long line of text was mangling the sidebar layout. I fixed the problem and then noticed that blogger's little top-bar thing is messing up the way the background black colour lines up with my masthead graphic.

I have no idea how to fix this, I learned precisely enough CSS to do this layout way back when and and danged if I'm going to figure out what blogger is doing to try and get around it right now. So just upgrade to Opera and join the rest of the world.

And you may want to reformat your computer as well, if you've been using IE for any length of time chances are it's infected beyond repair with g-d knows how much spyware and junk.

By al - 8:53 PM | (7) comments | Post a Comment

BBS Days

So does anyone still admit to ever having used BBSs way back when before the days of public internets?

I had nearly forgotten about the days of dialling in to 3 or 5 different boards and downloading the message boards to read offline, then quickly jumping over to play 3 or 4 instances of Legend of the Red Dragon.

The best part was the people who ran the things would toil away on fancy ANSI art menu layouts which we would inevitably curse for being too slow to load on a 2400 baud modem. My first taste of text-based arguments about spurious topics like Telix vs. Terminate, DOS vs. Windows 3.1 or Colonel Gray vs. Charlottetown Rural / Skater kids vs. preppies (one which I of course had no interest in and mostly hoped the two groups would wipe each other out.)

bbsmates.com is a pretty cool site to keep track of people you may have met back in those pre-internet days of 2400 baud message board wars and LoRD / TradeWars addiction.

The boards I remember that are listed on there are Glastonbury Tor, Infinity BBS and The Cracked Link BBS. You can also search by area code or city or search for people by their old handles.

I still think the sound of a 2400 baud modem handshaking was way more aesthetically pleasing than the subsequent "high-speed" modems.

By al - 11:26 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Nypmh? Really?





What type of Fae are you?

By chantal - 11:25 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Horrifying Food

Here are a couple of the best comments from a MonkeyFilter thread about truly offal food from around the world. Link.

My ex was an attorney for Kraft and swore me to certain corporate secrets she found too interesting not to share. However, she turned into a bitch so all pinky swears are off.

Velveeta actually has four different recipes. Why? Well because it's a made of waste products and the formula will vary based on what they need to find means to dispose of. It's not just bad food, it's scarcely food. In industrial quantities like Kraft is dealing with, disposing of huge quantities of certain substances is quite problematic. It's expensive as the waste needs to either be processed into something safe for disposal or... made into food so that you all are buying their waste product and loading up nacho chips with it.

and

I can't speak as to its universality, but in Korea they have a dish which essentially is a tofu brick stuffed with an eel. Now, you may wonder, how does one get an eel into a sem-soft brick of tofu without crumbling the soft curd?

Simple!

Into one (not quite) boiling large pot of water, drop one large brick of tofu, one live eel, and spices... You see, the eel, sensing that it is being roasted alive, will burrow into the cooler tofu block, before dying in the center. Voila! Self-stuffing food! *shudders*

(My vote my USsian foods would have to be Spam, Corndogs, and Hormel vienna sausage)

My personal opinions about Canadian food is taht Kraft Dinner is child abuse, though I'm sure most will disagree. Going international, I think kimchi is probably the best example of a truly desperate people having to make whatever garbagey vegetables they had remotely edible, and then becoming proud of the squalor they once lived in that necessitated it. I've heard people say that kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage) cures / prevents SARS.

By al - 3:36 AM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, March 27, 2006





What type of Fae are you?

By Sabrina - 8:08 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Baby Shower Secrets

Sabrina mentioned that her sister was having a baby shower today, which, since she has mostly male friends, I was invited to. Apparently there are a few common games that seem to be played at every baby shower. The most entertaining one involved examining the contents of "dirty" diapers that have had some food item smeared in them, usually chocolate bars, and guessing what it was. We sucked at this, despite my biting the bullet and sticking a finger in the brown gooey diaper contents and tasting it.

Other observations:
  • Women talk about sex. A lot. The men pretty much only talked about computer games.
  • When you have a pot-luck, everyone will bring enough food for about 5 people. This will lead to there being five times too much food.
  • One gift was this big, complicated music player / projection thing that was supposed to be a replacement for a mobile. I didn't ask "what's wrong with actual mobiles?" but I suspect it has to do with the fact that we're raising generations of TV zombies, and getting them an early start probably has some wisdom in it.
  • Sour cream is the miracle ingredient.
  • Another game involved drawing cards, where if your number is drawn you get to 'steal' a present from someone else. There are some interesting group psychology rules that come out very rapidly in this game, like an initial reluctance to steal from either the pregnant lady or her mom, which quickly subsides, to the increase in perceived desireability of a random item based on it changing hands more often and thus looking more valuable.
Also I just want to say that Sabrina did a heroic job of organizing everything and putting the games and presents together and of course preparing all the fantastic food. I had a fun time, thanks for inviting me, Kim, and I hope you have the best of fortunes with your little spawn. :)

By al - 2:56 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, March 26, 2006

This stress thing sucks

Okay so I have been on vacation for 9 days now and I go back to work tomorrow. At work I was so stressed I actually got sick. No, not vomiting ill, but other things that tend to pop up when you have over worked. The first three days off I slept 12 hours each day, and then dropped back to a much more normal 8 hours. But for the time I have had off, I've been haunted by an upset stomach. I had managed to convince my self that my illness was something worse, even thought I have been to the doctor and he confirmed my suspicions and the antibiotics where started. So that is actually pretty much over.
But still the uneasy upset stomach haunted me and every night, I went for gravel to calm it and tried various tricks during the day to ease the pain. Today I know exactly what is wrong with me. STESS.
How, I have been planning my sisters baby shower. She made it more difficult than it needs to be by inviting men. I spent three days preparing games and stuff only to find out 4 more people where invited. AH HELL. So now the day of the shower I am driven crazy trying to get this house in order to let people in. I will say the roommates have been helpful by sleeping all day ( I know steve needs to work) and pretty much not doing anything around the house at all.
I've been busy wrapping and baking for days now and I wish 4 pm would come so this would be all over. The next time my sister has a baby shower, I would like her to through it herself. I am currently so stressed that people won't like the food, won't like the prizes, will think Me and my roommates are slobs ( which maybe true...But no one needs to know that).
AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH

By Sabrina - 11:16 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Looks Like Ignatieff Is Going For It

Michael Ignatieff will give a 'vision speech' on Thursday in Ottawa.

The former Harvard professor and rookie Liberal MP is expected to outline his views on national unity, the economy and his controversial support of the war in Iraq in his speech on Canada and its role in the world to University of Ottawa political-science students.

The speech will be followed, either Friday or early the next week, by a formal announcement in his Toronto riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore that he wants to succeed Paul Martin as leader of the Liberal Party.

I know a lot of people don't like him for initially supporting the invasion of Iraq, but despite that position I still think he would make a very good prime minister. I would much rather have an intellectual as prime minister than a politician, if someone whom I respect has a diffreent position from me I can expect him or her to look at changing circumstances and take some reasonable action in response, this is better than having a less capable person who might happen to have the same opinions as I do.

I've always complained that politics seems to attract the worst kinds of people, businessmen wanting to dismantle regulations, busybodies looking to impose their morals on the rest of society, slimy weasels who are good at networking andcampaigning and not much else. Frankly someone who hasn't spent the last 20 years mired in the political world, but instead studying history, would be a Godsend.

There are certainly other intellectuals I would much rather see in political leadership positions, but we're not actually in a position to be choosy here.

All that said, I still think David Suzuki should giver politics a go, and not some Green Party protest gesture, either, but actually going into the heart of government and making real change. What Canadian outside of Alberta wouldn't vote for him?

By al - 1:49 PM | (6) comments | Post a Comment

it's been about a year now

The prologue
part 1
part 2
part 3


“It will be harvest time soon, but first we have to get the leave and other scrapes ready to put on the soil.”
Verra had absolutely no idea what he meant by that, but she followed the old priest as he walked around the garden to a large hole in the ground at the back. He put the leave in the hole and Verra copied. “These will breakdown into new soil they just need a little help first,” Ranmaral tossed several worms and several handfuls of dirt on top of the leaves. They repeated this several times before the large pile of leaves they first jumped in was gone and into the hole.
The pair then wondered back into the home and cleaned with some hot water Ravelt provided them. “Come now you two breakfast will be served in a moment.” The pair wondered over to the table where Verra noticed four places set at the table. She wondered for a moment whom would be joining them. She sat down at the table and waited for further instructions. She was not sure of the meal rituals her new found friends followed.
It seemed like time passed very slowly at that point. She waited quietly next to Ranmaral, nothing was said during that time and finally Ravelt walked over to the table with a large hot pot. The pot was placed at the center of the table and all four bowls were filled with porridge like substance. Verra waited to see what was going on. For a moment nothing happened, then the front door opened and the forth member to the dinner party entered the room.
“Morning!” The young man said sitting across from Verra. Verra nodded to acknowledge is greeting.
“Verra this is Tandrel, he is my pupil. Tandrel this is Verra, she might be my new pupil.” Ranmaral introduced them. Verra looked at the young man, he was older than Verra but not by much. He was tall and lean, his face had not seen a razor in several days and his hair was brown and wavy. It lay on his shoulders comfortably.
“Come to join us have you?” Tandrel looked at Verra. “You will enjoy it here. I do.” Tandrel picked up a spoon. “Has he made you jump into the leaves yet?”
Verra nodded.
“Don’t worry too much; nothing they will have you do is more difficult than that.”
“For you perhaps,” Ravelt interjected. “I seem to remember it taking you three days before you jumped into the leaves.”
“Didn’t know if anything was in the leaves,” Tandrel looked suspiciously at Ranmaral.
“I never played any tricks on you. Not one worth that look.” Ranmaral retreated.
“No, you didn’t. But some of those missions….” Tandrel trailed off
“I told you exactly what you were facing, every time.”
“Yes you did…”
Verra felt here heart sink, what had she gotten herself into? She watched more than listen to the rest of the conversation. It seemed to be a sarcastic game of insults and jokes she did not yet understand. After a moment she contented herself with eating her porridge, which was not really porridge as much as sogged grains with fruit mixed in. When her food was gone she looked up, she wanted to know about the leaves. Was she suppose to learn from that. She new after listening to Ranmaral lengthy explanation that the leaves break down and turn into soil, and this new soil helped the garden grow. She wonder who figured that out and how. She put that into her mind as the second question she would as.
“Can I ask a question?” Verra looked at the people she was sitting with.
“You want to know about the leaves.” Tandrel was reading her mind, instead of Ranmaral.
Verra nodded cautiously.
“I wanted to see a few things,” Ranmaral said.
Verra squinted her eyes inquisitively. Tandrel smirked, “He never reveals his secrets, he teaches them.”
This, of course, left Verra more confused than she started. She shrugged and wondered onto her next question. “Where did you learn about the leave going turning to soil?” She looked at Ranmaral.
“From my mentor,” Ranmaral was blunt with the answer.
“How did he figure out that it happened?”
“When his mentor taught him? I think you are looking for a more in-depth question Verra.”
“I am sorry I am just trying to figure out how someone would come up with digging a hole and putting leaves in to see them converted to soil by worms it just seems like an odd thing to do, if you don’t know what happens. And I am curious how one would figure out that the new soil was good for the new plants in the spring.” Verra caught her self rambling and looked down at her bowl.
“It is okay to ask questions, we learn more stuff that way.” Tandrel smiled at the old priest. “I spent month thinking about that before I asked. I was a little shyer than your are. I wanted to figure it out for myself.”
Verra looked up and saw that everyone else was content and not offended by her onslaught of questions. She waited for someone to answer her questions.
“To be honest I don’t know exactly who it was that first developed this practice. I just know that it was discovered by watching nature. You see every fall the leaves fall to the ground and in the spring they are gone. Where did they go? Would be the first question. The answer would have come from experiments of one kind or another. I am sure it took several people to put the practice in to work.” Ranmaral finished his porridge and then started to clean up.
Tandrel took Verra to her new room. Like the one she spent the first night in, it was a simple decorated room with a small window and a bed. Except that the walls were a slight green in color one would probably mistake it as the same room.
“My room is across the hall, and Ranmaral and Ravelt are just beyond the guest room you stayed in last night.” Tandrel disappeared into his room a few short minutes later.
Verra had no idea what she as suppose to do in the room. She had nothing to put away and nothing to put on the walls. She wandered in and rested on the bed a moment. Near her pillow she found her old clothes, cleaned and stitched and grey robes. She took them and placed them in the dresser and wondered back to the kitchen. In the few short minutes she spent in her room the kitchen was cleaned and the dishes from breakfast had been cleaned.
“Did Tandrel follow you down?” Ravelt asked.
Verra shook her head. “He went to his room.”
A moment later Tandrel descended the stairs. Ranmaral smiled. “Tandrel, why don’t you take Verra to the river? We need water.”

By Sabrina - 1:26 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Message from a traveler

Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while may remember this post. Where I rambled on about how a kid who grew up in the military or whose parents were on the move all the time, never really felt like they were from anywhere particular.
The thing I have heard the most lately is how people hate PEI. Well okay people you are adults now, and it is no longer really necessary for anyone to sugar coated for you anymore. It doesn't matter where you go, you will find things to hate. No city is perfect, no place is exactly what you are looking for. And if by some rare chance you find that place that you like so much, I am sure you will grow out of it. If you are young and still looking for that place where you can party all the time, you can go look at the big cities if you want. But you will need to realize with big cities come big prices. It is expensive to live there. You have crappy little apartments, for hefty rent. And then you have 1 or 2 hours commute to work, leaving the fun part of the day down to one or 2 hours, if you have a 8 or 9 our work day. To me this does not seem worth it. So you find a smaller place, where rent is cheaper, and you still get a decent wage, but there is nothing to do.
How about noise, small places are too quiet, large places too loud. What about convenience. Large places have all the shopping you want, but none of the enjoyable reconised faces. Small place lack things. Like the island lacks a proper camera shop. But when you do find the place you like you are likely to reconzine the clerks.
I've live in a few places and the best anyone can really hope for is a place they will like more than others and truly you have to expect that the place that is the best for you at 20 is not the same one you will want at 25 or at 30 and very likely not the same you will want at 50. Go with the flow people find what you like about the place you are in right now. Stop complaining and embraces where you are. When you do move on, make sure you consider more than a 2 week vacation in a city to make up your mind.

By Sabrina - 10:38 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

good morning

frosty hook

By Sabrina - 7:49 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, March 24, 2006

Random thought in my head

Does anyone remember as children how horrible it was to be a geek.
Does anyone remember in university discovering a whole building filled with geeks, who were not quite ready to admit to the fact they were geeks.
Does anyone now realize they are a geek and are much more willing to admit to being a geek than they are willing to admit to being normal.

By Sabrina - 9:38 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Tucked away in the corners of town.

Most of us here in Charlottetown are well aware of all the neat little bit of beauty tucked away in Victoria park, but my roommate and I went for a walk in the back field behind my place. I've posted lots of pictures of the field wonders on previous post.

in the medow

in the grass

Just for a bit of a reminder.

But today Steve took me back past the field to a path which lead into the woods. I had a field day back there. I brought my film camera instead of my digital, and polished off a film in minutes.


Hopefully they will all turn out. The scene was great, with little crisscrossing streams and wood land, fallen trees and the likes.
It was great.

By Sabrina - 12:09 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

A Definitive Change in Perspective

So as most people know I have slowly but surely been trudging my way through my first romance novel.

For anyone that has been keeping tabs I first started this mad endeavour back in July 2003. It has been nearly 3 years- with only 11,000 words to show for it.

I have had many reasons (excuses) why the progress has been so slow, ranging from stress to a cluttered living room.

Then I stumbled across a writing course offered by the AWAI (American Writers and Artist Institute). The course moderators are all writers and best-sellers as well as people who have been freelance copy-readers for the industry hotshots or have mad connections.

At first I was elated at the idea of having so many influential people reading my stuff.

Elaborate dreams (of getting that call from one of the moderators who gushes about the undiscovered, untapped talent she perceives in my books and how she absolutely MUST-ohmigodhowcanshenot?-tell all her industry friends about me) occupied much of my class time (after all, listening to 8 year olds whine for 85 minutes at a time is a slow death).

But did the writing follow the excitement? *sigh* Indeed not.

Then last week something happened. I was visiting the discussion forum for the romance writing course and one of the other students had shared a tip.

Aim to write 100 words a day. However meaningless and trite it may seem, it is 3000 words at the end of the month more than the person who doesn't.

Reading that I snorted out loud. To an empty apartment I scoffed, "What kind of lazy-ass writer can't write 100 words a day?!"

Umm.....and then I realized to my great mortification that I could count at least one.

So I decided to give it a try. I sat and wrote 100 words. It took 10 minutes. And I realized how pathetic it was that I wasn't already in the habit of doing so.

Then I decided to see how much I could write in 30 minutes. (500words approx.)
So then I moved it up to half an hour twice a day.

And then the competitive side of me took over, formed an alliance with my creative side and made a pact with that part of my soul that is sick to death of being in this country and a plan was born.

The plan? Write for 30 minutes before work and at least an hour but for as long as I can at night.

Now I am always writing. Always.

It was a definitive change in how I approach my writing. By thinking of it in chunks- as a simple word count- I have found the magic key necessary to release the flood gates of my creativity and productivity.

And you know what else? Now not only am I writing for longer periods of time but I am getting more efficient at writing within the time frame. The same 30 minutes writing period that resulted in roughly 500 words last week has me up to 900 now (as of 11 am this morning)

In the last week I have managed to write a little over 10,000 words.

That means that in the past 7 days I have written almost as much as I had written to date since starting the book 3 years ago.

I am 20,000 words (rounded down) into it. The total word count expected by the industry is 100,000. I am 1/5 finished my book. 20% closer to realizing my dream.

And it all started with 100 of the most important words I have ever written. *^_^*

By chantal - 10:17 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Some Notes About Hosting Trivia

(Cross-posted to the Trivia blog.)

Janelle emailed me today and part of it was asking for some advice about setting up a trivia night at a pub in Calgary. Apparently pub quizzes are mostly big in Charlottetown, Boston and Britain but are pretty rare in other places. The part of her email about trivia is quoted and my reply is blow that.
and third, is regarding trivia.

there is a bar only a block/two away from my place. it's a rather nice bar, and have most delicious wings on wednesday nights. something they don't have any night is Trivia. i would like to approach them with an offer to do trivia, to see how it goes over, see if it brings in more business during the week, and also as a place to do trivia! i havne't been to trivia since i was on the island during christmas at churchills. the reason i'm asking you is cuz you've done trivia, and i kinda would like to know some of your sources for finding ideal trivia questions. i'd like it to be challenging, but have the typical fun questions in there too, like the simpsons token question, and a music montage maybe. are you able to give a gal some tips? muchly appreciated!
As for Trivia I can tell you it's fun as hell doing the hosting. I enjoy it just for being able to walk around the room and interact with everyone there and feel freer than when you're just there stuck with the people at your own table. It feels like you have this special power where you're the one who gets to break the normal social rules and just talk to whomever you like. Also the getting to tell people that they're wrong is a fun little power trip. :)

For getting a bar to agree to do it, you could mention a few of these points that you've probably already thought of:
  • It isn't as disruptive an activity as a live band or DJ or other special event that might drive away regulars.
  • It ensures a lot of repeat business.
  • It can attract a lot of people who might not normally go out during the week or at all.
  • The crowd it would attract would be infinitely more well-behaved than a typical bar crowd.
  • When you keep people for the extra hour or two to complete a trivia round it would more than make up for any prizes you give away, even if it's just one or two teams
Also if you say that you would take the initiative to do some postering or other simple word-of-mouth publicity to attract an initial crowd that would re-assure them that it would be worth trying.

For the questions my advice would be to ask the kinds of questions that you find you obsess over yourself. So if you're into a lot of movie and TV trivia than do that as the main focus. People will enjoy it more if it feels like you are having an enjoyable time, and if you can throw in other little tidbits about a question or topic as you do the trivia.

There are some pretty interesting links to trivia resource sites here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pub_quiz#External_links .

And also there's the trivia blog that I should be updating more regularly with the questions and answers from the Tuesday trivia here that might be of some inspiration ;) http://weknowstuff.blogspot.com/

Good luck with that, I hope it turns into something interesting for you. And hell, when I mentioned being scared of feeling isloated in some new city if I do move, you just gave me an idea of one way to get out of the house and meeting people ;) so that's very much for that.

By al - 9:10 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

last.fm Journals are Hilarious

I signed up for a last.fm account last week, my profile is here: last.fm/user/Alejandro_79/ if you want to add me to your friends list or somesuch. Mostly this should serve to burst the bubble of reputation I have for good taste in music when you see the number of times I listen to Weezer's blue album.

They give you a couple of neat little blog toys, like this one:



Anyway, oneof the features it has is an internal blogging system that lets you see what other people have written about songs that are in your 'recently played' list. Which is how I found this bit of weirdness:

Was Mozart a joke band?

Tuesday, 21 March at 15:27

I grew up on joke music. Spike Jones, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Dr. Demento are literally in my blood. However, my father strictly prohibited me from listening to anyone outside of these three. So I've had to find out about the other worlds of music myself. Lately I've been delving into the classical genre. The works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart remind me much of the music I listened to as a child.

Compared to all the other classical music out there, his music is a lot more fun and playful. Also, it seems like most of the songs never really go anywhere. They're very awkward sounding. Not quirky awkward like Frank Zappa or somethen', it's just awkward. I first considered, maybe he was on crack or E or somethen'. Then I realized that this was a completely different time period and different things were considered 'acceptable' back then. Like I'm sure people from the future will think John Mayer is terrible, despite that today we are convinced that he is our generation's James Taylor. But his music hasn't dated, according to critics. Apparently, it's timeless. Yeah, it's timeless, it's timeless BAD MUSIC.

I'm starting to come to light, that maybe this Mozart thing, is a joke the classical snobs are playing on us lesser music fans. You know how nobody actually likes Radiohead and people just say they're this amazing brilliant experimental act to be ironic? I think it might be the same thing with Mozart. Because, really, think about it logically. His music is so boring. You can get the same effect from Mozart's music that you get from a 10 year old jumping on a trampoline. Yes, it's playful, what's your point?

I think Mozart was sincere in his attempts to make music. So he's probably not a joke band like Anal Cunt or somethen'. Since Mozart was probably a retard, what he was trying to convey in his music was received on a completely different, ironic, level that he didn't know about. So I don't think he was actually a comedian, but it's sort of a Wesley Willis thing. People who say he 'sucks' will be called off as unsavvy. Most savvy people use extreme words to use towards Wesley like 'genius' and 'brilliant.' I constantly hear the same words applied to Mozart.

Again, sorry if this is obvious to you. But I'm new to this music thing, as I explained earlier. I don't know who's ironically liked and who's not.

I'm as confused as you are, frankly.
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By al - 2:25 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, March 20, 2006

Some Notes on the Opera 9.0 Technology Preview

I've been using the Opera 9.0 Technology Preview (code named Merlin) for a few weeks now. I installed it when I read that it fixed a bug with Bloglines' site that prevented you from using some of the drop-down lists on the 'add a feed' page.

Something most people won't care about but is probably important in the grand scheme of things is that it almost passes the Acid2 web standards test. (apparently it passes completely in internal builds.) This does a couple of things: it serves as a rebuke ot the gargantuan Gecko engine development model, showing that a small team can get results faster than a large, spread-out development effort, and it shows that at least someone is paying attention to web standards. (Though without Microsoft this will continue to be irrelevant.)

On practical matters, it's still much faster than Firefox, both at loading pages and especially in the user interface, which is much snappier and doesn't have the cumbersome feeling that Firefox has (and didn't escape from when the project split from the main Mozilla Seamonkey browser suite.) This snappier feel is what caused me to start using Opera more and more often over Firefox in the first place, so I'm glad it's still here.

Opera still isn't up to snuff when it comes to advvanced Javascript stuff. I'm writing this post in Opera and see a grand total of two blogger UI buttons, to spell-check and insert an image (neither of which work properly.) The practically WYSISYG nature of the post editor in Firefox and IE puts this experience to shame. The MySpace blog post maker also doesn't work properly, but it still looks likei t should, it just doesn't let you actually make a post using the fancy-looking interface. This is why I still keep a copy of FireFox around.

I haven't used most of the non-browser features of opera, like the RSS reader, the e-mail client or the address book, and I'm wishing there was an easy way to disable the internal handling of bittorrent downloads, which is probably nice for Joe user who doesn't know what Azureus is but could still greatly benefit from the functionality, but which doesn't seem to work at full-speed for me the few times I've tried a download. I've been stuck at 5k/s or so with no way of telling how many seeds there were in a swarm. WhenI stopped this and resumed the same torrent in Azureus I suddenly started getting 40k/s. So something is definitely not working there.

I am, however, very much enjoying the IRC client that comes with it. I just had to fill in my nickname and other basic info once after clicking on an irc:// url and subsequently this information is stored and I can go from surfing to chatting in under 3 seconds, and the chat window is just another tab in your browser.

Speaking of tabs, Opera now lets you open separate windows by hitting Ctrl-N, and new tabs within one window with Ctrl-T, just like FireFox, instead of forcing you into one or the other. Opening a new window or tab is much faster than with Firefox, and you don't get the impression that your CPU is suddenly jumping up to 100% usage when you do it.

Another neat thing I just discovered about the tabs is that if you hover your mouse over a tab a little tooltip will show up with a tiny preview thumbnail of the page. Not terrribly useful since you have to wait half a second to see it, which would have let you click on it, see the page, and click back, but it's a cool little bit of eye-candy.

I never got used to mouse gestures, but I love the fact that the z and x keys work as back and forward buttons. Little touches like that are probably things that get halted in committee when someone on the Firefox development juggernaut suggests them, being told to make it a plug-in, but as little touches in a program really make a difference to user experience. Also it's widely reported by others that Opera's mouse gestures work better anyway.

So in conclusion, I'm more or less happy with the direction Opera seems to be moving in. I would still welcome a few improvements in Javascript which probably aren't forthcoming, but it's not enough to make me go back to FireFox. If you're using Opera 8.x now moving up to the Beta is certianly doable, I haven't noticed any stability problems at all.

Oh, one last bug that I just ran into, when you edit a post in Blogger, for some reason it sets the post time back to 1990, making it look like your post has disappeared. THIS IS BAD. I should actually go file a bug report about this one.
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By al - 11:57 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

My Two Cents on Those Whiney Conservatives

This has been all over the political blogs today: How to spot a baby conservative (TorStar)

The gist of it is that kids who were insecure, whiney tattlers tended to grow up to be conservatives while independent-minded free-thinking type kids tended t ogrow up to be liberal in their thinking. Of course the triumphalism with which such news is greeted sort of nulls any substantive impact it might have had, though the revellers would certainly be relieved as it comes on the heels of hearing that Republicans are happier than Democrats.

I would wonder if it isn't so much conservatism as it is an attraction to the solid base of structural authority. I.e., in Canada I can think of plenty of the same types who were attracted to the Liberal party, not so much for its ideals (it doesn't have any that aren't apt to change with the winds) but for the institutional nature of its position.

Maybe these types of people are attracted to institutionalized religious organizatons for the same reason, which could be another channel for their becoming 'conservative'.

All I can really take from these is that it doesn't take very much to get a study published these days other than headline potential.

By al - 9:38 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, March 19, 2006

F1 Malaysian GP

So I can't seem to think of anything to write about so I'll just liveblog what I'm watching on TV again. Race is just starting, Giancarlo Fisichella on the pole and he's still got the lead, with Alonso jumping right from 8th to 3rd place. They've finally banned launch control in F1 but the Renaults are still lightning fast on the starts, which just doesn't make sense.

Hah, Raikonnen just spun out into the sand, his luck is as it's always been, it seems.

I love this Malaysia track, it seems to be the only track that's designed to host the modern F1 cars, the other new tracks are just generic and boring collections of twists and chicanes. Sepang's track has wonderfully wide corners which gives the cars lots of room to approach corners at different angles and attempt interesting passes.

Nico Rosberg's nationality is lited as German, I wonder what Finnish racing fans think of that.

Fisichella is setting the fastest sector times, so he might be safe at the front for a while. If he wins today his team might decide to treat him as their #1 driver since Alonso is leaving for McLaren next year.

Nico Rosberg's Cosworth engine just blew up, that's disappointing since he had started 3rd in just his 2nd F1 race. Looks like it had an oil fire and as soon as all the oil burned off the right engine bank sized up and let go.

The Ferrari cars are looking like they have a front air foil that bends away from the nose of the car when under a lot of air current. To my mind this should count as a moveable aerodynamic device, which is a nono in F1. Last year the big battle was with the tires, a few years ago it was purely engine power, I think this year the big gap will be between teams that can find little aerodynamic advantages and the ones who don't push every little angle of the chassis into shape.

Both of the Red Bull cars are out of the race, it looks like the Ferrari engines they're eing given aren't the most reliable ones in the world. I wonder what the difference between them and Ferrari's own engines is, since this is the first year they're making the V8s they wouldn't just be the previous year's model like was the usual custom for Ferrari's customer deal with Sauber.

OK, I'm in bed now (TMI, sorry) so I might end up nodding off before the end of this race.

There goes Mark Webber, also looks like enginetrouble. That's both Cosworth engines gone this week. They switched his off before it failed spectacularly so they can examine what's wrong with it. This is things they should have worked out in the pre-season.

And Fisichella wins, with Alonso in 2nd and Button in 3rd, so Alonso is still on top of the championship. He was faster through almost all of the race. This could be his year. This is the first time in a while that I've heard the Italian national anthem played for the driver and not the team.
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By al - 3:03 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Curious what people think?

This is not a new idea. But I am curious to know what people think.
In my little head, after watching two shows on TV that talked about real life violence, I stared to wonder where all the violence was coming from.
There are a lot of people who just can't believe the injustice of the world today, how much more violence there is today, then when they were kids.

Okay history....For stealing a loaf of bread you could get your hand shop off, hung, put in jail for long periods of time or even drawn and quartered. Humans have been violent since we came about. Killing each other with great vigor in wars and domestic disputes.

I want to know where the idea of humans being more violent actually comes from. I see little evidence to say that we have become more violent, more simply that we have tools now that shows are violence to be more destructive. In ancient wars. Swords only killed what was within arms length, or at least within throwing distance, today Guns allow us to kill things in a much further distance, and more rapidly. But the now there is a separation, between pulling the trigger and actually feeling the flesh being cut by the weapon you have in your hand.

I wonder too, if the violence that is currently in the news helps reinforce our own natural instinct toward violence. Don't take that statement wrong. Humans have the ability to think, and slow ourselves from hitting someone every time we get irritated. But as part of our instinct, we kill flies that bite our arms, and often without thought. Some more than others, can hunt and kill and animal, or pull a fish out of the water and kill it on spot. Children will fight, among each other, even if they have never seen their parents do that. But Children our another good example of when they see something they repeat it.

And one last idea that is wondering in my head. Humans as in most animals have a certain ability to be violent, and with our adventure into the world of society, and being social and even trying to be civil. But with thousands of years of invading someone's land and attempting to concur them, and trying to defend what is yours, using what ever you could and on top of all that, the ingenuity to create more destructive weponds, how are we to expect the human population to suddenly be non violent. Individuals, sure but I believe the trek toward being civil will take several generations and a lot of work, from everyone to break instinct and natural reaction and develop new habits of walking away or non violent confrontations. It is progress, but a long trip always feels the longest when your not quite half way there.

By Sabrina - 11:02 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Snapped back to Reality

(Note from Al: Chantal's posts were being saved as drafts for some reason, here's the last biggish one she made from last October.)

So while living here in the "Land of the Morning Calm" it can be pretty easy to get settled into your daily routine and forget the fact that you are indeed living in a foreign country.

You adapt to the smells, get used to the sounds and long for the foods.

You forget on most days that less than 20 years ago this was not a democratic country. You forget that you are living just South of the most heavily militarized border in the world. you forget (or choose to ignore) that technically there is the constant threat of attack from the North.

You forget on most days...except today.

There was a city-wide drill today of what to do in case of an attack from the North. That may not sound like much... but keep in mind that none of us foreigners had been forewarned.

So I am walking to work when the air raid siren goes off. All traffic was stopped. Military trucks with speakers attached are weaving in and out of the temporarily halted traffic blaring orders. Men in uniforms are in the streets yelling orders for us pedestrians to get into shelter (the woman in the Dunkin Donuts I walked into wasn't about to let me leave...)

NOW keep in mind I still don't know that this is only a drill....my mind is working a mile a minute...I know it's nothing big...there's no panic and the average civilian around me looks irritated. The army guy on the bench is having a smoke and I think an old man who was told to get inside told the street cop where to go...

It wasn't until I asked inside my "shelter" of the Dunkins what was happening that it was explained to me. Good thing they take the time to explain these things to us...I guess in the case of a nuclear fallout with the North Koreans that saving as many foreigners as possible is not on their list of priorities.

Well, I guess I should look on the bright side...had it been for real, I would have been inside the Dunkins at the time...going down with a coffee in my hand- there are worse things.

By chantal - 10:20 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, March 13, 2006

my attempts at still lifes.

Praktica


treasure

By Sabrina - 10:58 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

F1 Bahrain GP

I missed the race this past weekend but managed to find a copy of it online, so I'm watching it now. The biggest difference this year is the new V8 engines. I can't say I'm thrilled with the reduced power. At least they're revving as high as the old engines so they don't sound any different.

Neat factlet of the race: 13 years ago Gilles Villeneuve and Keke Rossberg started a race on the same row as each other, and in this race their sons, Jacques and Niko did the same thing.

Filipe Massa pretty much fell on his face starting for Ferrari, failing to stay ahead of Alonso at the start which would have messed up Michael Schumacher's 3 stop strategy, and then losing it going around a turn and nearly smacking Alonso.I've always said he was a bit too unpredictable a driver to be in a top team. He'll have to prove me wrong through the year.

Toyota are spending the most money and getting worse and worse each year, it's pretty astounding, but nice to know money isn't everything.

The new engines have knocked a couple of hundred horsepower off of the cars, but the aerodynamic regulations are basically the same. I'm going to guess taht this will make it harder to pass among the front-runners, because more turns will be at full-speed, taking away the variable of who brakes last and who does a better job of taking the corner. If they just have to sit on the throttle to go through more turns it will make for a more predictable race.

There's a new racer for the Honda junior team who is a 31 year old rookie who got penalized at the start, ignored the penalty until almost getting disqualified and then topping it off by running into his mechanics when going in for his pit stop. I wonder which Honda executive's kid he is.

Ironically Cosworth's V8 engine that the Williams team turned to as a last resort when they were dropped by BMW, is actually a really good engine. I guess their decades of making V8 engines for CART actually paid off. The engine revs at over 20,000 RPMs, which is ridiculous.

It's not even halfway through the race now and Raikonnen went up from dead last to 3rd without making a pit stop. It looked like he was light on fuel at the beginning because he was going so quickly.

jacques_on_fireJacques Villeneuve's BMW just blew up really nicely.Reminds me of the days of his wuper high-revving Honda couldn't go a full race. Nice.

I sort of hate Speed TV's commentary. It's just 3 guys in a TV studio watching the same video feed that we're watching, instead of the ITV feed TSN uses where they're actually at the race. The timing and scoring has been down for most of the race so they have no more information than the person watching does.

OK, 19 laps to go and Alonso just got by Schumacher coming out of his last pit stop. Michael is going to have to fight Alonso all the way to the end of the race, and already he's run wide on a couple of turns. This goes to my assertion that he is by far the best driver in the series but if he has to actually race someone head-to-head he becomes human mighty quickly. Of course the race isn't over yet, but at least it's got my attention.

Well, that's the race, Alonso won, Schumacher 2nd and Raikonnen amazingly makes it up to 3rd place. Another guy to watch for this season is going to be Nico Rossberg, he made some very fluid passes and the Cosworth engine is scary fast in a straight line.

I think it's going to be a great season this year, I can't wait for the next race in Malaysia this weekend.

By al - 7:28 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Substitute Couch Critter

Taking care of this little feller for a few weeks. He bears a bit too close a resemblance to my old cat that to walk by the couch and glance over is a little bit eerie, except that he's been shrunk to kitten size.

By al - 6:21 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Note to Wendy's

You suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wondered over to a near by branch, cause I got called into work for the day and I was not prepare. I thought for a quick bite I would get the spring mix salad. You took it off the menu.

I can't believe it. The only vegetarian friendly salad you had and you took it off the menu.
The replace a little dinky salad, with maybe 3/4 cup of veggies is the replacement.
You foolish people. Fast food restaurants are notorious for excluding vegetarians, however I have always been able to get a salad. Now you bring the issue to full scale war.

maybe I should start my own fast food restaurant, for vegetarians.

Chains suck.

By Sabrina - 2:07 PM | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Teletoon Friday Night Appreciation Post

I had a very nice evening last night. Sabrina and Will and I went to see Jussy who's still in the hospital :(. But things are slowly but noticeably getting better with him, so that's good. After that we had a little adventure. Sabrina and I decided we had a craving for some nachos, and the only place I knew had good ones (Town and Country) seems to be closed, at 9:00 on a Friday, which worries me. Did the place close for good and I didn't hear about it?

Anyway, we decide instead to just go to the grocery store and pick up the few ingredients we'd need to make our own. Sadly for me the Bulk Barn was closed so I didn't get a chance to get my sack full o' smarties.

Sabrina had to check in at work to make sure some beaker didn't explode or something, and there was of course a mix-up to do with scheduling and who was expected to be there, etc. She was on the way to driving us back home when, not a minute out of the parking lot, the car ran out of gas. Will tried some of his old knowledge from driving 20 year old trucks to try and get it going enough to get to the hill and coast into the service station, but no go. I blame fuel-injection.

So we had to push it to the side of the road and figure out what to do fro there. Fortunately Sabrina was close enough to her work that she was able to go back and get the help of her roommate, and they came back with a gas can and we were soon on our way again, after a small stop so that Will could wash the gas off himself with that scary pink soap, anyway.

But since Sabrina was free for the rest of the evening after that we ended up enjoying some really good nachos (feta cheese is surprisingly good when it's melted.) and M&Ms and watching cartoons on Teletoon. This is funny because there was a thread on a message board I read that day about what great shows Teletoon has on late at night. I definitely call an evening of nachos, South Park, Futurama and The Boondocks a good night. (Boondocks is a bizarre but compellingly hilarious new show, not a lot like the comic strip but good.) I also got to sneak in a few moments of Puerto handing Cuba their asses at the WBC, I think Fidel must be ready to let his players play in the majors now to avoid future such embarrassments.

Speaking of baseball, earlier that day there was the most improbable no-hitter I'd ever seen. A conflation of two rules that MLB brought in to appease the major league teams and let them use their players before Spring Training. Each pitcher is allowed to throw a maximum of 65 pitches in a first round game. Also , if a team is ahead by 15 runs after 5 innings or 10 runs after 7 innings, the 'mercy rule' is invoked and the game is over. So this young pitcher, Shairon Martis, is taking the Panama players to school for a few innings, and suddenly the announcers clue in to the fact that he's got a no-hitter going on. (after the manager goes out to talk to him, a baseball faux-pas during a possible no-hitter.) Unfortunately if he reaches his pitch limit and has to be subbed out then the no-hitter doesn't count. However, the Netherlands had such a commanding lead that it looked like the game might be over by the 7th inning anyway. Still, 65 pitches is not a lot, and he'd have to avoid getting deep into the count to be able to last the game.

In the last inning he had just 7 pitches left to dispatch 2 batters. Unfortunately Ivanon Coffi, the 3rd baseman, fumbled a bounce and let a guy get on base. Now, I think there was a little bit of prerogative taken on the part of the official there, but that was ruled as an error, so even though there was a base runner, the no-hitter was still alive. Unfortunately the extra batter to come up meant that Martis wouldn't have enough pitches left to finish the game.

Unless.

Yep.

Double play.

God Damn I love baseball.
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By al - 9:47 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, March 10, 2006

Oh my god I am tired

My eyes are so dry.
My head is crazy heavy.
wow... and I am playing with chemicals...this is crazy.

By Sabrina - 2:31 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, March 09, 2006

next day

Okay so I managed to stay awake until about 5 am this morning, at which point I collasped into a state of uncontiousness, which was only disturbed by the coffee's revenge.

I think my body is so confused, I kept having to wake up to go to the washroom, then I would collasp back to sleep. This lasted for about 5 hours. At which point the people down stairs started playing music. I found so far the greatest difficulty I have had has been staying asleep long enough to get enough rest. I had to get up for things like food and water, cause by this point I would normally be consumming those things.
So it is now 3:45 and I am not sure I have enough sleep to deal the next 14 hours.

this will be fun

By Sabrina - 3:43 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Origami Sucks and Microsoft is Doomed

So Microsoft finally unveiled their Origami project today.

Basically it's a big fat heavy PDA, and they seem to think that the fact that it runs a slightly different version of Windows is somehow noteworthy. The 7 ich screen is too big to make it a worthwhile PDA or portable gaming platform (which it most definitely isn't) and too small for people to want to use it to watch movies with. The touch screen interface basically assumes that all people do is poke around the web and click 'next' on their mp3 player program all day. In reality most people spend their time emailing or chattting or blogging or actually working, and using one of those stupid pens or other non-keyboard input devices will cause frustration for anyone wanting to actually do anything useful

Microsoft have once again shown that their only niche is to copy other people's innovations, poorly. In this case they stupidly tried to occupy 3 or 4 different markets with one device, producing something that is mediocre-to-awful for any one of those tasks.

The other problem is that you can't actually go out and buy one of these things now. There isn't even a real "thing" yet, this is just a spec that hardware manufacturers are now expected to implement, just like the 'media centre' idea which has taken off so well. (*cough*). YOu think Microsoft would understand that had they just produced an OS platform and reference spec for a game system, rather than build the X-Box, that it would be a long-dead memory in the minds of the gaming press rather than a major force in the games market.

When apple unveils a product you can go right to the Apple store and order it, even if it isn't shipping yet, there's still an 'it' that people see and can buy. This Origami thing is just too much confusino for most people. The fact that there isn't a manufacturer for the North American market yet doesn't help matters.

What I wanted this thing to be was a 12-14 inch flat screen with a little either fold out or detachable keyboard and a little stand that would let you prop it up and use it like a laptop. With a flash drive or other silent, low-power storage and wireless networking of course. That would be the perfect device for a student to use to take notes in a full day's worth of courses without having to find an electrical outlet after the first two classes drained a typical laptop's batteries, and it would take up less space in a backpack as well.

This thing isn't a threat to either the PSP, the iPod, the Mac Mini or the iBook, and will probably fade away within a couple of months when no hardware maker announces any real products.
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By al - 11:40 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

11:52

Okay coffee did help the staying awake a bit. I feel a bit tired but my brain is still functioning. At this point I am still into the belief I will make it, I might be some comidic version of my self. Possibly I may resembe someone whose got the giggles.

I can think of the last time I tried to stay up for a long time. It was when I was living in Auburn NS. There was like 6 or 7 of us, the original goal was to stay awake 24 hours, which progressed to trying to be awake for 48 hours. I lost the battle at 44 hours.

By the time we hit the 2 hour mark we were all a bunch of giggling girls, by 30 hours I am sure my mother was ready to kill us. As the evening of the second day progressed we where out right foolish. There is even an incident of my sister flashing a ghost car.

The time progressed to the wee hours of the second morning and people I am sure where illusanating. Kim mentioned something about hair spray. As the story goes, Jessica and I where sound asleep face to face and each of us where talking in our sleep. Our subject where different, but the time of our conversation was interesting. I would stop talking for her, she stop talking in time for my next babling session.

Just past midnight now not feeling to bad.

By Sabrina - 11:51 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Experiment...binnie goes night owl

Okay it is like 9:45 and my body is already saying it is time for bed...I am so into a schedule. Wow this is going to be fun. Tomorrow night I have to work from 6 pm and 6 am. Tonight I am trying to stay up so that I can sleep in the day.
We will see how this goes.

strategy at this point. Coffee...Tea...And lots of little tasks.

maybe even work on the photography assignment.

By Sabrina - 9:47 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

World Baseball Classic: Canada Beats the U.S.!

I'm watching the World Baseball Classic on Rogers Sportsnet right now. They just cut from an extra innings Cuba victory over Panama, and now they're showing Canada vs. the U.S. with Canada winning 8-0 in the 5th. This is a tournament that includes many many major league players, so this is as good a U.S. team as you can ask for. And the Canadian pitcher who started the game had never worked above Single-A according to Peter, they started him because they figured they had no chance so they would save their better pitchers for other games.

And now Canada just scored an inside-the-park home run to make it 8-0. The U.S. crowd has turned on the American team and is booing them now, and gave the Canadian pitcher a big round of applause as he exited the game on the way to a shutout.

Peter's saying that they're talking about invoking the "marcy rule" . It's one thing for Canada to just beat the U.S. at baseball but beating them by the mercy rule would be absolutely unbelievable.

Update: Ken Griffey Jr. just came in to score, I've never seen him run so desperately to beat a throw. Now it's 8-2..

... and Jason Veritek just hit a grand slam. Well, that was fun while it lasted.

And now the Rogers Sportsnet announcer just called it the "miracle on dirt" after the US scored 6 runs in one inning. This will jinkx it for sure.

... OK, there's been a couple of scoreless innings now. The US's lineup is intimidating as hell, A-Rod didn't even start for cryin' out loud.

.. Ninth inning, Canada still up 8-6. If only Canada had Eric Gagne as a closer, but he's not in the tournament, sadly. Canada is making some great catches and plays.

I'm really enjoying the faster pace and fewer inturruptions / pauses of these games compared with major leage games.

... bottom of the 9th, Canada still up 8-6.

Peter says:
hopefuly a-rod thinks this a big time game so he'll choke

... 1 STRIKE AWAY! CHOKE A-ROD YOU FUCKER CHOKE

... Damnit, Adam Stern , Canada's amazing outfielder, just made an amazing diving catch but the ball popped out of his glove when he landed, now A-Rod is on 2nd base. One out left.

... WHOOOOO!!!!! GO CANADA!!

"Miracle on dirt"? Oh yes.
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By al - 8:55 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Neo-Waterfallism

Found this on MetaFilter today:

waterfall2006.com/ - Attention all project managers!

(hilarious site)

I had the pleasure of working for a startup company last year that was run by one of those guys who thinks he's an expert because he had a nameplate that said manager for a while at an already very well-functioning company. Of course he didn't realize that having all the pieces in place for a successful process is very different from building them up from the ground yourself, and still insisting on having a hand in everything rather than pass off the duty to someone with such experience.

This led to a development chart that looked _exactly_ like a waterfall chart. Part of me died when I didn't quit that very day.

By al - 5:41 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

If you're reading this you aren't on Eastlink

... or you have a close enough neighbour who isn't a jerk about his wireless.

Seriously, people, open up your wireless access points, as long as your next door neighbour isn't using it download massive amounts of movies and music every day then you'll hardly notice, and on occasions when your ISP goes down you'll be happy for the reciprocal generousity.

I put my email address in my SSID so hopefully if someone does use it they'll send a little thank you note.

And when a friend comes over with a laptop you won't have to explain that you don't want him or her using your radio spectrum, nor would you have to spend five minutes getting their MAC address or setting them up with your encrypted network.

That said, you should of course make sure your router's admin username / password isn't set to the factory default and that your own computer is reasonably set-up security-wise. But there's no reason to not be neighbourly until someone actualy does take too much advantage of it. And when that happens you can usually just tell them to get off your lawn. :)

By al - 9:00 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Long Lost Star Wars Holiday Special

I'd only vaguely heard of this before, and apparently George Lucas has tried to have every known copy of it destroyed, but someone posted the link to it on YouTube. (via MetaFilter)

Here's the full video.

There's also a 5 minute quicktime highlight reel here.

"No one who saw this has any business pretending to be surprised at how the first trilogy turned out. Not with this GIANT RED FLAG staring them in the face from the beginning."

By al - 5:26 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Memos: Where's Jesus?

  • I may have unleashed a new force in the blogging world, after showing lil'k of The Fem Tube how to use BlogThis I expect a new wave of funny commentary on bizarre news stories and celebrity sillines. This is the sound of StereoGum hiding under their desks from the competition.

  • So did you watch the ECMAs? Do you remember the adorable little kid from that rap group Sko-Shun Tiez? Apparently he's starting a beef with Taylor and is kind of a racist. Link. But at least was telegenic, so maybe CBC won't be too embarrassed.

  • I've discovered that YouTube has a decent selection of full episodes of TV shows. I've been on a sweet little nostalgia trip watching Fraggle Rock episodes. I don't feel guilty about linking to them, either, since they're totally dropping the ball about releasing the series on DVD.

  • Next time someone sends you an email with a link to "14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism", which originated from Jeff Rense's website, point them to rensewatch.blogspot.com/. In other articles he states support for Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel and refers to Monica Lewinsky as an Israeli Agent. Then, if you want to give them a better source for outlining the very real and very scary tendencies of the current U.S. administration and media, send them to Dave Neiwert's excellent essay "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis".

  • There's a news story going around about Jesus appearing in a cloth in a church in Tignish. I'm having a hard time finding him in this picture, though.

    Where's Jesus?

By al - 1:02 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

R.I.P. Delphi / Borland

Well, they're not completely dead yet but just as I re-familiarized myself to the most recent incarnation of Delphi (Now SLOW and MUDDLED, w00t!) I read that Borland is ditching it, and can't even find an interested suitor. Apparently they want to identify themselves with the bloated, useless corporate / enterprise tools that IT execs think they need to pay for and developers never even bother including in their tools installations.

The Reg has a suitably sardonic poem onthe subject (Which is why I love that website). Link.
And the users of Delphi sang a song as they marched:
Oh they didn't write Skype in Javascript
Or Scheme or other Lisp.
And they didn't use Java or that C sharp
'Cos it had to be fast and crisp.
And they didn't write Skype in C++
Though they wanted it tough and tight.
And they didn't write Skype in Vis Bas
Cos Vis Bas is just shi ain't quite right.
Chorus: Thou sayest 'Delfee', I sayeth 'Delfye', let us calleth off the whole thing.
And the Sons of Kahn muttered one unto another saying: Cripes, here cometh the fruit loops.
And they went out to parley with the users of Delphi.
And the users of Delphi spake unto the Sons of Kahn saying: Wotcher guys. Delphi 2006 was heaps better, even if it do crawleth somewhat. But where hath all the examples in the help gone? You should make it like PHP, which hath the best help of all the languages, because there is a place for punters' comments. But the new editor is neat...
Then the Sons of Kahn interrupted, saying: Hold up one moment. We have something of import to tell you.
And the users of Delphi replied unto the Sons of Kahn saying: What.
Then the Sons of Kahn spake, saying: What would you say is the most important development in cooperative programming technology these last ten years?
And the users of Delphi replied: Easy-peasy. The mobile phone camera. So you can take a picture of the whiteboard after the meeting. Next question please Jeremy.
And the Sons of Kahn spake, saying: Let us put this another way. You know that we have been getting into high end development tools recently?
And the users of Delphi replied: Your sideline selling expensive corporate gizmos to amuse bored and gullible IT project managers? The packages that let one annotate one's code with a popup note of what the user supposed he required and compile it all into a two-way convertible, config-controlled, colour UML diagram in 3D? The stuff that has done almost as much for Computer Science as colonic irrigation has for dentistry?
Then the Sons of Kahn spake, saying: We wouldn't have phrased it quite that way, but something like that. We have decided to split this off from Delphi and our remaining languages, such as they are.
And the users of Delphi replied, saying: Excellent thinking. We've long been worried that the corporate tool business would damage the reputation of your compilers.
And the Sons of Kahn spake, saying: You don't understand. We're ditching the compilers. And you. Bye.
And the users of Delphi were flabbergasted, saying: Uh?
Considering my first testing / coding job was in Modula-2 and OS/2 I should probably put 'obsolete development environments' onto my resume. This might mean I'll finally have to suck it up and learn C#.

If Borland were smart they'd just open-source the thing. A typesafe .net language that doesn't treat its users like children is definitely a potential money-maker, if it was shaped by the developers who wanted to use it rather than as a platform to tack costly add-ons to.

Once a real developer community got hold of it I would imagine a similar scenario to waht happened to Netscape and StarOffice: The bloated suites get torn apart and the individual programs are made into sleeker, much more focused applications.

Delphi 5 used to load in about 10 seconds on a P2 450, now delphi 2005 on my 2.0GHz lappy takes a good two minutes before I can actually edit my first line of code.

I'm sure Borland aren't interested in overseeing another OSS project, they didn't seem to get the firestorm of free labour they were probably expecting when they opened up Interbase (Firebird), so they might just rather pawn off a 'failed' project onto the most convenient bidder.

How much would a consortium of interested developers be able to pony up for such a bid? Lots of development houses regularly pony up thousands of dollars to stay current with the latest version. Perhaps enough Delphi licencees would be able to tie up their accountants, and set aside the next 3 or 5 years of would-be licence payments and put it into a pool with other developers to perhaps out-bid somescavenger tech firm that wouldn't know what to do with what they're acquiring.

And maybe someone wil knock on my front door and give me a lolipop this morning, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
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By al - 9:13 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Home Movies is a Great Show

I would be disappointed that Teletoon is showing Home Movies opposite The Colbert Report, but honestly I have such a low ability to remember what time it is and to go and watch a show I like that it's probably better to switch between the two instead.

What makes the show worth watching is pretty obvious when you first see it. The dialog is largely improved and the characters are able to do their own back-and-forth dialog in a much more naturla way than if they had to squeeze their lines between storyboarded timings. Also the show is done in Macromedia Flash which lets them stick in detailed objects and keep them there without crippling some poor korean animator's wrist.

But if you watch for a few episodes you can pick up on what makes the show stand out. The premise, that a kid and his friends like to make movies together as a hobby, could have been something a committee at the Family Channel would have cooked up as a way to show kids being positive and productive and good role models. But Home Movies twists this around entiresly and shows this hobby as a reflection of some of the problems the main character, who's parents just went through a divorce and who really isn't especially talented or well-liked at school, attaches himself to.

What goes unsaid to the audience is that the movies they make are really really bad. Well, not 'bad' but just what kids given a video camera and no real guidance would end up making, imitations of movies they have seen in the past with no hidden brilliance or secret brilliance. We aren't expected to believe that Brendon has any real intuitive talent whatsoever. He even gets sent to art camp where his efforts are continually shot down by the counsellors.

But what he gets from them is the ability to control something in his life which he probably feels powerless to do in any other aspect of his environment. He couldn't stop his family from splitting up, he isn't good with people at school, he doesn't play sports (except as a plot device to interact with the soccer coach character, easily my favourite.) So he sets up a video camera and suddenly he's the boss and can control every aspect of what his other two friends do for a little while. Some of the best humour comes from the nitpicking and tension between Brendon and the other two as they are acting out some part.

The way this is presented, unvarnished child-like coping activity but told through adult wit and dialog probably conforms to our own memories of being a kid. We accept that we did dumb things and we had our reasons to do it, but we probably imagine ourselves to have the same inner voice and speaking style as we do now, because our way of putting thoughts into words really defines who we are, and it's a hard thing to imagine that changing.

The creator of the show admits to it being somewhat autobiographical, which is natural and didn't surprise me in the least. But it's done in this way where he's lending his adult reflections on the naive actions of childhood, without embellishing the physical action. Sort of like if the characters in The Wonder Years all spoke with their adult voices while acting out the actions of each show's plot.
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By al - 7:13 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, March 06, 2006

Not taking care of me.

We all do things that are not good for us. We all get lazy, and I get the feeling that most of have a picture in our heads of what we should be doing to look after ourselves properly. Lets see if I can paint the picture in my head for you.

In my ideal me world, I get up early every morning for 1/2 hour of yoga and a great breakfast, including things like fruit and toast, maybe some egg whites. I take the time to clean and do my hair make up and nails. I have time to do a couple of the morning chores, including walking the most marvelous dog ever. Then hop off to work.

what my morning is usually like. I get up about 15 minutes after my alarm has gone off, simply cause I have slept until it went off and it scares me so bad I need my heart to calm down. This is new, for the longest time I would wake up 10 -15 minutes before it would go off and get up and deal with my day. Once I do get up, I turn on this computer and go make break fast, which is pretty close to what I have described about, this morning was a half bagel with strawberry cream cheese and some blue berries and strawberries on it. No yoga only me rushing around to get things done, lunch made, and I do try and get my hair brushed and make up on (not always, some times the hair gets pulled back into something resembling a lazy pony tale.) Then I speed off to work. Chores not done and definitely no nails done, not that it would mater work would destroy them. And there is no dog to walk :(

Now back to fantasy.

I picture my days at work, being fast pace, but cause I am so organize and can easily change pace and maintain such a superb healthy active life style there is no Chalenge. My lunches are made up veggies with some protein and my snacks are largely made up of fruit and whole grain stuff. ( I actually went through a phase of like 6 or 7 months of this and felt super awesome) In this fantasy I always finish work at 4 pm on the dot, so I can either got to the gym for 1.5 hours or go to swim practice where I couch 14 darling children.

reality sticks again.
My days are fast pace and often overwhelming. I maybe able to change my pace and direction at moments notice, but it definitely ruffles a few of my tail feathers, so to speak. Lunch, again normally not to far off, some times it doesn't work out that way but yeah. Snacks is a big failure, thought sometimes made of fruit often chocolate covered granola, or treats someone has brought in. Actually finishing at four instead of 4.15 would be so sweet, instead I finish anywhere from 4.15 to 5 pm, and this usually sets the pace for a crazy evening of rushing to where ever I got to get. And not all of my 14 kids are darlings, some are just devils in disguise.

Evenings
In the dream world, most of my friends don't work nights, so I can kick off the shoes when I get back from the pool or the gym and enjoy a chat with them online or maybe visit for tea, or walks in the park. I have great supper ( imagine the best veggie dishes you can)and time to do everything I want to get done, the rest of the chores, some writing, some photographs, maybe even time to socialize and meet new people. All this puts together has me enjoying some great version of my life that I can't seem to find. Then I go to bed by like 9:30 so I can get up early and start the next great day of my life

in reality, when I get back from the pool or gym, it's dark, thought that is getting better, I am usually so hungry I eat the first thing I come across. To nights meal was particularly horrible, 3 cheese pasta, by no name...It was awful and I didn't get it down. No one is answering phones or MSN, so no walks in the park. Tonight I found little Erin, which was nice. I found myself channel surfing a bit. I understand really that TV is not my thing. I left it behind somewhere long ago. And meeting new people is a slow and not really enjoyable process, mostly cause people don't like it.
I get to bed around 11 and hence the reason I sleep until my alarm goes off.


Concluding my life, I need to get more joy out of it and get off my arse and start fixing the things I can. I should start with food and exercise, put my yoga back into my morning. Possibly drink more water and flush the horrible icks out of me. Leaving me wishing I could just cast a spell and fix it all. Maybe I'll go get some water when I am finished spell checking this thing.

By Sabrina - 7:43 PM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

A Set-Up In Search of a Punchline

So I was looking over the google search referrals to this site today and among the usual searches for lactating titties and bands searching for their own names was this one:

how many indie rock snobs does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Sadly, this phrase wasn't in quotes so it didn't lead to an actual joke, nor did the actual search find any jokes like it. So now I feel compelled to come up with a punchline for it.

A. There's hardly a point, the new lightbulb is going to be just like the last one.

A2. Get that fucking tamborine playter to do it. You can give them 'lightbulb' as another instrument credit.

A3. One, but he'll use the light to write an essay about the DIY spirit of changing your own lightbulbs.

By al - 7:17 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Dream Diary: Hole-y House

dream
leaving the driveway of my grandmother's house, I believe that I need to run home. There's a long dirt road that is a shortcut to get to another town instead of the hiway. I start to head for it, turn up the road and realize I'm heading up the wrong road, so I turn back around, wait to cross the road and then go up this new road, which has large puddles and a few trucks driving up it which I have to stop by the side of the road and wait to pass. I'm worried about being too tired to keep on running so I consciously regulate my pace and my breathing like I do when I'm running for exercise.

As I'm waiting for a particularly large drunk to pass me by the scene switches to inside an old house that presumably lay along the middle of this obscure dirt road. I am going up a flight of darkly-lit stairs, thinking 'ok, I'll be finished soon' but eventually run into a dead-end at the top of the stairs.

I slowly tiptoe back down the stairs and notice that there are large holes in the floor that go clear through two floors and down into a basecement. I am extra cautious not to fall into these, going right to the edge and curling the toes of one foot over the edge before stepping over them.

At this point I'm trying to get to another passage way in this house that I believe leads back outside and will let me continue in the direction that I was running before.

The holes in the floor are perfectly square and were put there on purpose. The whole house is somehow supposed to be meaningful. There are other people milling around the ground floor of the house talking about it. I ask someone who seems to be my father what the purpose of this thing is, and he says to go explore the second floor some more and it will come to you. But I go up, check each room, gingerly step over the gaping holes in the floor, but don't find anything other than small, empty rooms in this large but past its prime old country house.

I get to one point where there's a half-height door that I have to crawl through, and then into some crawl space that has white walls, a carpet and is more brightly lit than the rest of the house, and there's loud music playing. I crawl a little way ahead and there's someone ripping it up on a white electric guitar, lying on the floor in this small space but putting all his energy into what he's playing. This feels like a secret, comforting place that only I am aware exists inside this creeky old house. I crawl out another end in this little hallway and end up in what looks like a kitchen. There are lively-looking young people there and I try and ask one of them what this strange house is all about. One says that there's one meaning that was intended but that most people just think they're trying to pass this house they're squatting in together off as a museum so they can get some tax breaks.

I muse that that sounded like a good plan, but had a strong feeling that I knew I wouldn't be able to live there with them. That I didn't fit somehow. I just want to go back out onto my own old dirt road and keep on running.
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By al - 4:25 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Neuropolitics.org Spring Survey - Surprising Results

Wow, this was very unexpected. From the TalkLeft link in the previous post. You can take the test here: Link. This is much better than most Internet quizzes and you can't predict what the questions are getting at very easily most of the time.
Personal Evaluation

Your responses are consistent with the following attributes: You have a lower propensity for large-group social bonding than most people. Possible reduction in serotonergic activity and a corresponding reduction in dominance-seeking behaviors. Your right prefrontal cortex is more involved in your political decision making than your left. Indicators of enhanced right prefrontal and bilateral temporal activity in humor detection. Prefrontal cortical regions are facilitating greater than average behavioral inhibition. Color preferences may indicate an enhanced dopamine level in your visual cortex. Responses point to a probable increase in activity in the right anterior cingulate and amygdala. You have a higher tolerance for ambiguity in your thinking styles, and a greater inhibition of your left inferior parietal cortex. You exhibit an elevation in visuospatial task performance. This seems to be primarily facilitated by your prefrontal cortex. Your responses indicated a tendency to classify facial expressions as more threatening, and an elevation in activity in your right amygdala. Overall, your cognitive style is shifted more towards your right hemisphere.
I don't know if I've always been right-brain-driven or not, or if it's a trait that's come out in the last couple of years. I'd be curious to see what others' results are and what variables the test is actualyl good at picking up on.
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By al - 4:02 PM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Reinforcing My Stereotypes

If the Internet is good for nothing else, and it isn't, it's providing ample evidence to assure us that our worldview is the only sensible one. In that spirit there's this: Link.

THE LIBERAL TEMPERAMENT....Before I even get started here, let me say up front that I have no idea if Neuropolitics.org is even a remotely credible organization. And since it's a weekend, I don't care. However, I applaud them for taking on one of today's weightiest political questions: Is it really true that liberals like cats and conservatives like dogs?

As you can see from the chart on the right, the answer is a resounding yes. Among women, about 60% of the very liberal prefer cats, plummeting to 40% among the very conservative. Among men, it goes from 45% to 30%.

The inverse is true for dogs, with preference for canines going up with conservatism except for one odd blip among very conservative women, who have equal preferences. For those of you who demand an explanation for this, here it is (sort of):

So what is driving the Conservative preference for dogs over cats? Is it the dog's pack-oriented nature and prominent submissive behaviors?....Does the Liberal have a stronger aversion to pack-like hierarchical organizations and an attraction to feline-like territorial-based social organization?

Whatever. Personally, I think cats are just more likely to take ruthless advantage of liberals' good nature. Who else would put up with them?

Thirsting for more? Here's what else the Neuropolitics folks claim to have discovered:

  • Liberals are more inclined to believe that the rich and powerful have a negative social value. No surprise there.

  • Among men, conservatives are more active in high school sports. Texas probably skews the results here.

  • Extroverts have a better sense of smell than introverts. This is actually sort of interesting. Also: extroverts tend to be more conservative and more religious.

  • Conservatives like the colors red and dark blue. Liberal men like dark green; liberal women like light blue.

  • Conservatives tend to be morning people. I hate morning people.

  • Among women, conservatives are more likely to be sex-obsessed than liberals. Phyllis Schlafly, come on down!

  • Liberals curse more than conservatives. Of course, we have reason to.

  • Conservatives like beef more than liberals. ("If you eat a lot of beef, do you become more conservative? If you are conservative, do you eat more beef? More to come on this surprising and significant dietary preference.")

  • Liberals are more depressed than conservatives. Gee, I wonder why?

All of this is accompanied by loads and loads of entertaining ev psych explanations. Have fun!

Via TalkLeft.

Kevin Drum 2:01 PM Permalink
3D US Electoral MapI wonder what a similar study of Canadians would show. My intuition is that it might have more to do with the utterly stark urban / suburban & rural - liberal / conservative nature of U.S. political preferences. If you look at a 3D electoral map, with population of counties taken into account, the US starts to look like a collection of city-states with a deathly red wasteland in between.

This whole affair could just be labelled as a great chicken and egg problem, too. Does the influence of one's neighbours have an effect on a new suburbanite's views? Does having to live in close proximity to many other human beings a natural home for the liberal mind? Does this same setting drive out the more conservative in search of shelter and order and control? Why are dogs dumb and smelly?

And as for the beef thing, perhaps conservatism is some thus-far undiagnosed prion disease.

By al - 3:30 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Salon.com's Redesign Sucks

I've noticed I've been reading salon.com less and less frequently over the past few months. I trace the change to their much-vaunted (and expensive) re-design, one that looks oddly similar to The Onion's new look, with a big image at the top and as many little squares containing story links and blurbs crammed around it as they can fit.

In Salon's case, however, it's not so much the design (though the small-as-hell print is very irritating, there's no space constraint on the web, people.) but rather the shrinking amount of real content being stretched more thinly across the various headline sections. Each of the regular segments, like the music section and the women's-focused clippings section appear at least twice in the main area of the page, with the headline and / or section name and blurb worded differently enough that you have to read halfway through to see that it's a double sometimes.

Also I'm noticing far less original reporting and more glorified second-hand blogging. The regular columnists are taking a more prominent positions writing the equivalent of a page a day answering reader e-mails and just writing in spiels.

It's becoming more and more rare for a reporter to write an account of even leaving the building or making a phone call to check something out, let alone a piece of real honest-to-God reporting.

They've also had this rather tasteless tendency to sound like PBS in their begging you to buy a paid subscription, sounding like a non-profit when they are in reality no such thing.

Even a couple of years back when they inexplicably hired a couple of right-wing nutbags like David Horowitz to write columns, at least it was a misstep that gave me something to read. Now it's just a slick-looking load of recycled content and five cent opinion pieces that the ghost of netscape.com probably beats in terms of original writing.

That said, Slate still hasn't come to be any better, even by default, and has no coherent voice to speak of. And even though it's no longer a part of Microsoft, it still bears the stink of being headed by a company that had no instincts in the publishing business. Tom Tomorrow wrote about his experience being treated like just another prospective external vendor in this post from 2004, and I haven't read about any substantive shift in their corporate culture since.

The problem, as I see it, with both of those sites is their attempts to produce a new 'edition' every day with the budget of a weekly news magazine. It's just not going to produce good results when all of your writers are on the hook for a column every day, which saps their effort and ambition away from pursuing other stories.

They are also at the disadvantage of not getting the easy content that the print publications have access to from a presumably already-working business model that they can just copy to the web. A site like The Nation can chug along happily as a companion to a magazine that has been doing its thing for 150 years, and doesn't have to bow to the pressure to make the advertising more and more gaudy and intrusive.

Salon is run by people who wanted to be running a media company from the get-go, which means they bought office space in New York City and furnished and staffed it to match the publications they had come from, because that was their natural environment. The founders of Daily Kos and Eschaton, by contrast, started out writing because they had something to say, and their success was purely driven by the worthiness of the content, rather than being first-to-market with online news and political opinion content, no matter what it was.

I'm starting to sound a note of blogger triumphalism, forgive me while I go shower. There. OK, so basically salon makes me angry because they cover their lack of real content with slick (and IMO less-usable) web design, and don't have the generosity to clearly indicate to their readers that a given link isn't as important as a feature story.

If the writers at Daily Kos started to annoy their readers with such a practice of disguising lackluster content to get clicks the readers would let them know in the comments, and it wouldn't last very long, but at a site like Salon where feedback can be tightly controlled on their own site the marketing people will prevail. And that's what is making me not read them.
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By al - 11:59 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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