Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Mystery of Michael Hlinka

Dear CBC,

I'd like you to clear something up for me. Is Michael Hlinka a brilliant Swiftian satire of self-righteous college Republican idiocy, or is he actually as stupid as his radio column would suggest?

The net result of his diatribe this morning attacking the NDP's proposal to curtail exhorbidant ATM fees charged by banks as being "against freedom" is this:

1) I hadn't heard of this idea, now I have, and

2) I think it's fantastic. Go NDP.

The language he used was notably dimwitted. His 'gotcha' moment was when he said that you wouldn't pass a law preventing pizza places from charging a delivery fee because there'd be no more pizza places. There are two notable problems with this:

1) If ATMs didn't charge fees for withdrawals over $20 like pizza places offer free delivery for orders over $20 he might have a better analogy, and

2) If I could call up the Royal Bank and say "hey, send a guy over with $200 in cash, k'thanks" I would absolutely pay a delivery fee for this service. Banks don't do this. Michael Hlinkka is an idiot.

My other real problem with this radio column was that it was written specifically to attack, in blatant terms, a proposal by one political party. One line, and I'm quoting, is "and speaking of losers, that's a nice segue back to Jack Layton, Judy Wasylycia-Leis and the Canadian people". Hurling insults at a political party on free air time provided by Canada's public broadcaster is grounds for a CRTC complaint.

Which CBC VP felt that our morning show needed this childish form of balance, anyway? Who exactly was it that thought that the road to success in broadcasting in canada was to emulate John Stossel and his crusade to protect entrenched corporate power?

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By al - 8:43 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 29, 2007

Upgraded to the New Blogger

This is mostly a message for the other posters to this blog. You will be asked to sign in with your Google / Gmail IDs the next time you go to blogger.com to make a post. If you don't have a Gmail account yet just let me know and I'll send you an invite.

The biggest difference seems to be the addition of labels, which are what all the Web 2.0 weiners call 'tags' but since every single person I know who can say 'web 2.0' with a straight face are also deserve a good, hard cock punch, I'm fine with calling them labels.

Also, just because I found it again finally on a godawful local messageboard, here's my favourite emoticon ever, nicely magnified:

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By al - 9:44 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Scavengering

So this was the product of one of those message board threads where someone casually mentions that scavenger hunts are neat and before you know it there's a list of items and 3 teams ready to go.

Here's the list, we got most of these but one team got every single one which was very impressive.

  • One living flower.
  • A quarter bearing the year corresponding to the birth year of each team member. (My sacks of quarters collected while hosting trivia helped here.)
  • Pictures of 3 closed bars in town. (We used JR's, Myron's and Melon's, since they're all so close together)
  • A picture of a team member behind the counter of a fast food restaurant wearing an employee's nametag. We went to Robin's Donuts downtown figuring it would be empty.
  • Pictures of a team member with 3 peilocals members. (One of ours was naked.)
  • Picture of a team member with an RCMP officer, bonus point if you give him bunny ears in the photo. (We didn't get this, we stopped at the RCMP station but it was closed. There was a cabbie outside waiting for someone inside but apparently he was bringing out a prisoner so it seemed like a bad time.)
  • Go up to a stranger and tell them you are going to audition for "Canadian Idol" and then sing them a Journey or some other 80's hair metal band song. 2 of our members sang "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to previously mentioned cabbie. Youtube link.
  • Photos of team members members with all of the members of a local band and their autographs. We drove clear across town to get photos with the two members of Hacksaw Jim Thuggin.
  • Picture of a team member with crazy Darlene. Bonus points if you buy a coat hanger from her. (We drove past Capt. Sub looking for her but she was apparently there later.)
  • Pick up a stranger and bring them the rest of the way on your hunt.
  • Go to That's Entertainment and go into the porn section. Ask someone in there for a porn recommendation. Rent said porn. The winning team rented Jerk Off Jocks. We were recommended the one that was a spoof of Pirates of the Caribbean. Youtube holla.
I think that's everything. There was no prize. Just internet fame.

Update: Moe posted her team's results as well. Link.

Update 2: And a video of the winning team's singing is here: Link.

By al - 5:02 PM | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Year of the Hippo

I went and bought a PS3 after selling off the PS2. 2 big holes in the entertainment cabinet was 2 too much. There were 8 unsold units at Walmart. Yeah I know, that's a bad sign :). So here I am, one week into early adopterhood. My first 1st run hardware. Hopefully I won't ever need to use the factory warranty. *smiles nervously*

Playing through Resistance: Fall of Man. I didn't know it's from the same guys that did Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank. Solid game. Doesn't feel like a launch title at all. I've yet to buy Gundam Crossfire sure it's a crummy cash-in. But it's Gundam!! And that's why it was the #1 seller in Japan. Because people like me don't know any better than to stop buying crappy Gundam games. All in the hopes that someday we'll get a quality title. I think I know how the Star Wars people feel. Oh well, the Gran Turismo HD demo makes up for it. Purdy.

The PS Network and Store are nowhere near the Xbox Live user experience. Nothing about it spells seamless. So much for that corporate boasting. And I miss rumble in my uber lightweight controller. :(

I'm sort of on the hunt for a Wii. Meaning as soon as I see one at retail during regular shopping - it's mine. That won't be til the Summer, I've heard. 2nd run Wii for me. I was going to wait until they both had solid libraries, but ah screw it. I'm anxious to get back to the console status quo.

I forgot to mention Sony Canada quietly dropped the 20 gig model and is selling the 60 gig premium for $699.99 (40 bucks more). Yay, umm, I saved 40 and tax after spending, let's not talk about it...

They had 125 of these on Friday at Futureshop.ca but now I see they're all gone. Never in all my years have I seen the MSRP go up. I don't care if your company's goin under. I want my subsidy. :)

By TVT - 9:34 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tidbits

Laptop is back up. Just a bit of cleaning up work left like devising a backup plan, installing a few odd utilities, and so on. The laptop work a lot better now, DMA on the optical drive works again, the Wireless card works better too. My gaming PC is still in pretty good shape, so I think I'll wait a while before I rebuild that one. I think I'll work on the Celery in the meantime.

With not too much on TV these days, I've been watching G4/Tech TV again. They're showing some anime which is nice; Tenjho Tenge isn't too bad dubbed. Why it's on a gaming/tech channel. . . *shrug* Discovered True Crypt from an episode of Call For Help and tried it out. It's pretty cool. I like the hidden volumes and better encryption. I've been a bit turned off on how the U3 flash drive does encryption and True Crypt works so much better. Oh, Attack of the Show is crap. Before it was called that, it was basically a rehash of the latest news from Slashdot. Now they have guests like the guy from the Jackass movies.

Spike TV has a show called "Afro Samurai" starring Samuel L. Jackson... caught the first episode. Didn't really care enough to watch the second. The art is very anime-ish, but that's about as far as it goes. I guess that might work for Spike's demographic. I guess I'll stick with fansubs.

I got pretty excited when I saw an article posted on Slashdot on how to fool iTunes so you can download tracks for iTunes Japan. Then I read it. Would have been nice, but that's probably not going to work out for me. I guess it's back to importing CDs. Hopefully I can scrape up enough money for another order soon. . . I really want some of Amano Tsukiko's CDs and one from Kamiki Aya.

There's a gaming and anime convention in Moncton in February. It's called Animartitimes or something like that. I haven't been to a convention before and I've been slowing warming up to attending one eventually, but I don't think this is the one. I checked out the guests and when you can't identify any of them that's not a good sign.

By Ming - 5:28 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Remembering

Because of the worm that decided to have my computer for breakfast, I have had to go through my picture files and see what ones I want to keep and what ones are just disasters I forgot to delete.
well it turns out to be a great way to go through the details of ones life...At least the fun parts. Just reminding me that there has been lots of good times.

By Sabrina - 3:50 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Yum

The turkey in Subway's sandwiches reminds me of penis meat.

By al - 12:58 PM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 22, 2007

Clerks 2

You know, I was all set and ready to hate the shit out of Clerks 2. Lord knows precedent would have allowed me to write three quarters of a biting, negative review without even watching it. And all the pieces were there: predictable love story, dialogue that is both uncinematic and unrealistic, bolted-on pop culture geek references -- but you know, Smith took all of those things, all fundamental problems with a lot of his movies, and made probably what could have been the best movie he could have made out of the style that is, for everything that is flawed about it, his.

I think this is now my favourite movie that he's made, at least tied with Dogma but that had more heresy in it so it's sort of an unfair playing field.

Letting his first two characters grow up and be as unremarkable and insecure as would be expected of a pair of everyday dudes who don't even have particularly insightful things to say about Star Wars gives the film the kind of ernestness that Smith probably had to fight hard to save from the temptation to insert too many clever one liners or extended rants by characters who really wouldn't have very many of them in their actual lives.

It's more than a worthy sequel to Clerks, but at the same time I'm glad there's absolutely nowhere he can go with that setting and those characters after this.

By al - 9:49 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Computer Maintenance Resumes

The laptop finally pissed me off enough to rebuild it. I spent most of last week backing up the hard drive and documenting what I needed to reinstall and what I could junk. Last night I wiped the drive and started the reinstall process. Windows is a F@#$ING PAIN IN THE ASS!!!!! It took me over six hours to get Windows XP Pro SP2 installed and updated. It was a pretty painful six hours too, USB stopped working, strange stuff happening to the touchpad, prompts and more prompts, reboot after reboot. . . . the only software I've installed so far is a third party firewall package and anti-virus software. The server was so much easier to rebuild. After 6 hours, I pretty much had the entire server rebuilt.

All this touble, just to get DMA re-enabled on my optical drive. . . . I hate Windows.

In other news, I inherited another computer. A Intel Celery 1.8GHz, 256MB RAM, 30GB hard drive. It a real beast. . . not. Just another pet computer. I was thinking of using it in my room if I couldn't get the laptop working the way I wanted to, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. It's not really worth investing money in, so I might just use it as a dedicated Linux box of some sort.

By Ming - 5:10 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shopping Day

So now that I work out in the middle of Suburban Hell itself (Stratford), I can't just pop out and go get a haircut or buy a magazine on my lunch break. This means I have to squeeze all my shopping for the week into Saturday like every other working shmuck.

It did make for a nice little afternoon of walking around downtown, though. After getting a week's worth of food at the lovely little Clover Farm store downtown I threw in another load of laundry (effeciency award here I come) and went back out again. Got some bus tickets at Shoppers Drug Mart, saving myself a whole $6 which I promptly spent at Timothy's, where I was harassed by the buskers since they knew me from the internets. This made for an awkward pause in the music and me deciding to take my coffee and go, there wasn't any free tables anyway. The band playing was Nudie and the Turks, though, and they're one of the better local acts, and definitely the best straight country-celtic type music around town.

I also popped into the re-opened Back Alley Music to grab a random CD that catches my attention as I used to do so often when I worked for the devil's retarded cousin back in 2005 when only having new music in my headphones could keep me in the office for the rest of the day. It was cool to see the new operation, things feel more alive, less dusty, and the people behind the counter less jaded. I hope they do well. This time I picked up Neil Young's Harvest album, since I surprisingly don't own it already.

Then I toddled over to the Book Mark and did my usual trawl through the history section. Today I came away with a book called The Changing Face of China by John Gittings. Don't know a lot about it, offline book shopping is now a little distressing for me since the only information about a book that I have access to while standing in the aisle is what's written on the back. No objective reviews or links to similar material. But on the other hand there's a lot more access to random items you might not find looking online where you really only see what you were searching for.

Anyway, I'm glad I live downtown so I can just walk out the door without a thought and go shopping, still sucks not working downtown anymore, though. Anyone with a car who wants to rescue me some noon hour and wants to do lunch is more than encouraged to send me a note any time.

By al - 4:19 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dewey vs. Religion

By al - 3:44 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Halfway Through JPod

Basically Douglas Coupland knows what we want and is giving it to us. Cultural references placed in the narrative designed to elicit a positive reaction through association, the literary equivalent of "Family Guy"'s manatee gags.

What is his fascination with making motherly characters dangerous? I thought it was bad in Hey, Nostradamus but now it's getting cliché.

He knows all of this, too, and is sort of making fun of the reader's own frustration by satirizing himself sporadically throughout the book.

Coupland is intentionally jumping the shark and is rubbing his reader's face in it's glory. Fuck. He's too self-aware of the entire process that I can't even hate him for it because we both know I'm going to finish the damn book anyway.

By al - 11:04 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, January 12, 2007

One day early but once I leave work I have no internet

Happy Birthday MING for tomorrow...

Any big plans?

By Sabrina - 4:38 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Important Questions

Would the Sun Maid raisins lady make a good wife?

What kind of personality does she have? Is she motherly and nurturing? Or just a bit saucy?

Would working hard in the field give her a nice strong body, maybe make her a little more physically demanding in the lovemaking department?

Would she feed you grapes?

They need to print a biography in tiny letters on each box, maybe one little story at a time.

By al - 11:17 AM | (7) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 08, 2007

Dehydration

Fact 1: The water cooler in the office is not working.

Fact 2: I've been abusing the shit out of the free coffee machine, terrible as it is.

Result: My eyeballs have dried up completely, and I'm feeling dizzy.

By al - 6:02 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Weather

Wow did we ever luck out yesterday, perfect moving weather right in the middle of January, and now it looks like a blizzard yet again. I nearly wore my shoes to work instead of my boots having not read the weather today. Yikes.

Mostly moved into the new place now. Big monster cabinet TV is even moved, miraculously enough, though I still haven't plugged it in and tried to turn it on yet. *fingers crossed*

Without cable TV the house is eerily quiet without a ubiquitous sound of some random TV show on in the background all day and all night. It's nice, very peaceful.

Now just waiting for stupid Eastlink to call. Until then I'm trying to get my good red jammies-wearing neighbour to cough up her Airport password, but that won't help poor 20th century Sabrina and her non-wireless desktop.

Sabrina's desk is huge.

We have a deck and some really gross lawn furniture that's now covered in snow and gross rainwater.

I should have moved the last of my stuff yesterday, stupid weather. I still have to move my speakers and my little TV for my room and my other computer. Also we both just realized that we don't own office chairs. I'm half tempted to trawl Ebay for an Aeron chair and splurge a bit, but not too much. I need two though so a cheapy one is also in the cards.

By al - 1:48 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Shopping for House Stuff

Wal-Mart apparently only has those shower scrubber things with little animals on them, like dolphins and ducks and frogs. So when trying to decide what to dget one, you have to use logic. Frogs are slimy. Therefore one gets the duck.

The person I was shopping with bought $200 worth of batteries. It would probably have been cheaper to get in th car, drive across the bridge to Moncton, go to CostCo, buy batteries there and come back.

All of the food in my house right now consists of a box of cereal (Oatmeal Crisp!) and some pringles.

I kick ass at life.

Come eat cereal with me.

Bring milk.

By al - 10:25 AM | (9) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Moving is hard

I'll do it tomorrow.

By al - 3:32 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Make your own PS3

(stolen off Locals)

By al - 4:37 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Blink

Just finished reading Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. Yeah I'm always a few years behind the latest books and TV shows and whatnot, but I eventually get around to them. The thesis of this book is that real, genuine experts on any complex subject often don't know what factors exactly that they use when evaluating something they are looking at or listening to, and that the attempt to systematize this knowledge can lead to disaster, often thanks to too much information.

This is another typical pop non-fiction book that uses a lot of anecdotes, clearly one written by taking several medium-length pieces Gladwell may have written for The New Yorker, but the various clouds of stories are tied together a little better than a lot of other books by newspaper columnists that I've read. Cautionary lessons from one chapter, where one learns about inate biases, as in Chapter 3: The Warren Harding Error: Why We Fall for Tall, Dark, and Handsome Men, and we carry these warnings about unconscious bias in our minds as Gladwell describes more subtle subjects like the Amadou Diallo shooting and why the police made a series of deadly mistakes.

An interesting thing I've found looking up reviews of the book is that a lot of people criticizing him seem to be completely hung up on the chapters dealing with race, with a lot of words wasted on a chapter describing a study that showeed that all things being equal, car dealers would offer a better price to a white male than to a white female, a black male or a black female. Something new, though is that Gladwell has a well-maintained blog in which he refutes a lot of such nonsense, and thoroughly so, as in this post: Bad Stereotyping.

It's neat that the author is able and willing to continue to think about and defend the material in his book , I always found that as weoon as I finished the hard work involved in writing a longer piece I would not want to have anything to do with it after that. Perhaps I should just practise more and actually set out to write a longer work and really flesh out some idea.

A common misconception about the theme behind Blink is that people believe that Gladwell is arguing that gut feelings are more reliable than careful judgment. This isn't at all what he's saying, though. Every story he brings up is about someone who had some amount of natural ability to detect whe nsomeone is lying by looking at his or her face, or some talent for selling cars, but who then spend an enormous time and effort recording their successes and failures, and eventually isolating the important factors and being able to ignore spurious information. However, the subconcious brain is always a few steps ahead of the conscious realization of these important factors, but one needs to put the work in inorder to properly develop this so-called intuition.

There is an alalogue to the technical world here, in which management always wants to believe that they can get an expert on some system to be able to write down all of his knowledge and transfer it effeciently teach it to some bright young new hire. But what is not factored in is the ability to know a system well enough to be able to guess what part of some software system a bug originates in by knowing teh connections and dependencies.

Intuition in the software world is not valued because it's not measurable. When you try and force the art of computer programminginto a cut and dried process of engineering you'll cut off the most valuable asset that the true experts bring to the table.

By al - 6:43 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resolutions

These two are copied from this PEILocals thread:
  • Get back to doing a lot more cooking.

  • Contribute meaningfully to an open source software project.
Tempted to write more to fill out the post a bit, but let's not kid ourselves.

Put your own resolutions in the comments.

By al - 7:03 AM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, January 01, 2007

Chinese Zodiac Humour

Fire + Pig = Bacon!!!

Man, this is going to be an awesome year!

By al - 7:54 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

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