Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Here is your soup sir...

Have you ever met someone for the first time and immediately disliked them? It happened to me just recently. Normally I try to avoid jumping to conclusions about people, but after spending only half an hour in a meeting with this person I not only figured out that I didn't like the person, but also *why* I didn't like them.

It all boiled down to one key thing: this person didn't ask people to complete certain tasks or reach certain milestones, he told them what they were going to achieve. Putting it that way it almost sounds prolific. It's not. Consider the following statement:

Mr. Hotshot- "Bill, I'd like you to complete that report by next Friday."

Sounds pretty normal huh? But consider what I heard at a recent meeting:

Mr. Hotshot - "Bill, you're going to have that report in my hands by next Friday."

And it didn't end with a single statement. You might think that Bill is a know-nothing slacker and might be deserving of this 'special' treatment, but I soon realized that was the way this person dealt with everybody in the room:

"Lucy, you're going to call the supplier and make arrangements to get a quote for next Wednesday."

"Jordan, you're going to run the numbers and call me tomorrow with the result."

Now all this would be fine if you were reading a summary of meeting minutes, but this was the actual dialog during the course of the meeting. Is there are a term for these people? And don't tell me 'Results Oriented', I was thinking more like 'Type A Prick'.

I've always scratched my head after dealing with characters like this. Do they honestly think that somehow people will work harder or better when they're treated like this?

I wonder how many times waiters have spit in his soup? ;)

Monday, October 30, 2006

HOWTO: Lose Friends and Alienate People

Reg Adkins writes about 10 Ways to Lose Friends and Alienate People. It's an accurate list and I'm proud to say I pretty much avoid all 10 in my daily life - some more subconsciously than others.

One interesting thing I found while reviewing his list is that I think it's as apropos to raising kids as it is to keeping friends. I made a pledge with myself a long time ago (long before I was a father) that I would treat my child with respect and appreciation - just as I had been treated. After almost 5 years (I know I know - just wait).. I think it has built a great bond between my daughter and myself. The two biggies for me have been admitting my errors and being sincere.

For sure I don't mince words when patience has left me (who's exit by the way, is substantially quickened by whining). And my daughter has no doubt about who sets the rules, but we have very clear lines of communication about how we are feeling. It is not unheard of for Daddy to apologize after being grumpy or saying something unfair (we're *all* human after all). I only expect the same from her.

One thing she never gets from me is the dismissive 'yes yes that's wonderful dear' line. I can't stand it when I see and hear parents do this to their children. If I am in the middle of something else (like a conversation with someone else) I take the time to make it clear to her that she will have my honest attention when I'm finished what I'm doing. She's not even 5 but she sure seems to understand that quite well.

While all this reads like a self-congratulatory post from a doting father - hey I could be accused of worse things - I think Reg's post is an important one. I know plenty of people (many of whom are parents) who would do themselves good to read it.

DIY Surgery...

One evening each year I get to pretend I'm a brain surgeon and cosmetic surgeon rolled into one. Three pumpkins went under the knife (and spoon) on the kitchen floor tonight to my daughter's absolute delight. Although she seemed gung-ho to help me "scoop out the guts" tonight, one feel of the cool gooey innards turned her into an instant spectator... Here's hoping you all have a happy and safe Halloween tomorrow night. ;)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ignorance and the Shortchanging of Joe Public

I read a post today by Penguin Pete asking whether or not there are any passionate Windows users. In terms of absolute numbers, I think there are a huge amount of them. But in terms of OS demographics I'm sure Mac and Linux have a much larger proportion of passionate users in their camps. In fact, I'd bet that Linux has the highest percentage of passionate users - likely by a wide margin. (And of course along with that chest thumping comes the smallest absolute number of users.)

Perhaps even more interesting is how Pete then goes on to discuss the relative ignorance of the typical computer user. He poses the idea that for a great many users it is not a case of wanting to use Windows, it is a case of people thinking they have to. Does the typical user even know there are completely valid alternatives? He cites a few silly sounding examples: "Some Windows users even think their operating system is AOL or Explorer", which, while slightly insulting are likely accurate in more cases than you'd think. (Don't forget, the most powerful leader in the world sometimes uses "The Google".)

It's easy to chalk up that whole discussion to Linux snobbery, but that doesn't mean it's not true. I think we sometimes forget that there are an absolutely huge number of computer users out there that have little clue about the Internet nevermind operating systems. We are huddled in our igloo made of websites, newsgroups, and blogs, (nevermind podcasts and videoblogs) and we sometimes severely overestimate the computer-saavyness of the general population. Pete also proposes a wonderful meme idea at the end of his post where you would post results from a survey questionnaire given to Joe Public. The compiled results would indeed be quite interesting.

Now just in case I haven't insulted quite enough people, I'd like to steer this ship slightly off-course to a topic that usually makes the rounds at my place of work every year or two. It involves the relative ignorance of the general public when it comes to my line of work (something that usually get's barely a mention on this weblog). You see, I design buildings - multistorey offices, commercial and industrial buildings, the odd condo or two, that sort of thing. I also teach some basic courses on residential structural design and construction methods to architectural technology students at a local college part time.

A few things that never cease to amaze me about the 'average person':

- If I walk into any office building at all and ask the person sitting there "what do you think is above those ceiling tiles and lights?", 9 times out of 10 the person won't have a clue.

- Even more troublesome to me is the realization that they DON'T WANT to know. They don't care. They are spending half their lives sitting under what might be millions of pounds of concrete and steel, and yet there is not even a inkling of a desire to find out, ask the question or look it up in a book.

- There are a huge number of people who are perfectly happy going through life learning nothing new. And when I say perfectly happy, I don't mean it sarcastically. They would be satisfied reaching the age of 90 knowing nothing more than they do now. I'm not sure what percentage of the population holds this view but I think it's higher than you or I would likely estimate. I would think these are generally not the people flying about on the Net - not for the most part, you and I.

A side effect of this ignorance is something that has bothered me to no end since entering the profession of structural engineering: Why is it that your average realtor can lay claim to a 5% commission on a home sale, while an structural engineer attempting to charge a fee based on 2% of the construction costs of a building is laughed out of the room? I've done a few residential side-jobs during the past 10 years and it's rare that I've ever been able to charge anything close to 2% of construction costs, never mind 5%!

I will never forget one of my first days in this profession (all wide-eyed and bushytailed) and walking to lunch with a former colleague. He told me that after 10 years he was getting out of the profession and explained why (see the previous paragraph). He said that "people will pay exhorbitant fees when it involves their money or their health". So if you're a doctor, accountant, or even better a lawyer, you're likely all set.

Even if I am held personally responsible for the design of that million odd pounds of steel hanging 30 ft. over your head every day (which I am), the ignorance of the general public to that fact changes the whole profession.

My apologies on the rollercoaster ride of a post - many thanks if you hung on all this way. But there you have it. I think that on the whole, the general public is ignorant about a lot of things. Be it computer operating systems, professional engineering or politics among other things. Is that insulting? Maybe to some. I wish it (the general public) would prove me wrong in this regard, but it hasn't.

What do you think? Am I severely shortchanging Joe Public?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Take Back Your Time

Did you realize that today is "Take Back Your Time" Day?

The aim is to fight the "epidemic of overwork, overscheduling and time famine". You do this by cutting one thing out of your schedule, or maybe cutting one activity from your child's schedule today, and spending that time going for a walk, spending family time together, planting a tree etc..

I feel as overworked (and overwhelmed) as the next person. Maybe I'll cut out a little early today and make an extra hour of time for my family tonight.

Take back some of your time.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Misinformation will hurt Linux more than Stallman ever could

Undoubtedly, Richard Stallman will be pissed when he reads this article. And it won't be because he's accused of killing the Linux revolution (in terms of Linux proper, he doesn't much care about that either way I think). No, I think he'll be pissed because the article suggests that he thinks all software should be free of charge. I've read and listened to Stallman several times and he's clearly stated that he's not against charging money for software. He's against proprietary code. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. How can a large publication like Forbes do an article on Stallman and miss the whole 'Free as in speech, not as in beer' concept?

Ignorance and misunderstanding will damage Linux and open-source much more than Richard Stallman ever could.

Update: Here's the author's blog post remarking about the influx of hate mail he's getting. Care to leave a reasoned comment for him? Fight FUD with facts and not zealotry. It works better.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

And now for something completely different...

1. It's good that Felipe Massa won the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix today. He's the first Brazilian to win his home grand prix since Ayrton Senna did it some 13 years ago.

2. It's even better that Spaniard Fernando Alonso won the F1 drivers championship for a second year running. Now that Fernando-Renault cap perched in the back window of my car does not look so out of place. ;)

3. It's absolutely great that Michael Schumacher has now officially retired. Now I am free to cheer for Ferrari once again (I have personally forbidden myself to do anything but jeer the Scuderia -and more importantly Michael- since Jerez in 1997). I am not sure if I will cheer for them or not, but at least now I can allow myself to do so.

How's that for an off-topic post ;)

Friday, October 20, 2006

My Travel Gadget List

Brad Kellett asks "what gadgets do you take with you when you go on a trip?". I think he'll be disappointed with my response.

Brad, I am a simple man. I don't do a heck of a lot of work related travel. I actually do a fair amount of travel for work, but almost all of it is local - sigh- :( So my list of 'gadgets' is based on a typical pleasure trip and likely not what you were looking for. But you asked for it.. ;)

-Cell Phone (A 3 year old Audiovox CDM8300)
-Palm Zire72 PDA (now rarely used-see next item)
-Blueline NotePro (9.5"x7.5") Hardcover Notebook
-Various Pens (Assorted Pilot G-2 Mini's being my current favourites)
-Insignia Portable DVD Player (7.5" LCD) - you can never get enough Fairytopia
-Swiss Army Knife (a mini one)
-PNY 1GB USB key (you never know!)
-My Daughter's Tablet PC - actually it's a Magnadoodle (the handwriting recognition is absolutely killer)
-Braun-Oral B rechargeable toothbrush
-Various sundries to keep me smellin' nice for the ladies... ;)

There you have it. An atypical gadget list (atypical for the blogosphere anyway).

From humble beginnings

One of the neat things about Linux is the fact that it has been developed in the open. Even if you're not a Linux user, isn't it neat to read this usenet posting where Linus Torvalds announces his project? Even better is one of the reply posts by James da Silva the very next day which ends with: "Good luck on your OS project, it sounds like a lot of fun." .

Who knew?  ;)

A user base willing to learn and try.. is this not a good thing?

Earl Moore is trying out Ubuntu. And while it wasn't all happy happy joy joy, he stuck it out and conquered his installation problems. Kudos Earl for stickin' to it.

I had my fair share of issues when I first tried Ubuntu Breezy. So much so that I created a working dual boot system but gave up after I couldn't get sound working correctly. Months later, I came back to it when Dapper came out and have since made the leap. While I still run a dual boot setup, XP hasn't been booted on it in probably 3 months.

While I don't think Earl is anywhere near making the leap (he's quite a happy Mac camper I think), he's at least testing the waters to see what else is going on out there. This is good.
While installing Linux can be a challenge on some systems, and despite the fact that it can throw up a few (different) hurdles that pre-installed Windows and Mac machines don't have, I still think it's a wonderful system. An amazing accomplishment.

Now there is always going to be the camp out there that thinks everything should 'just work'. And if it doesn't, then it's not a real solution. Bah I say. If Linux remains the domain of people who want a cutting edge, stable, secure and truly open operating system and are willing to learn a little bit to get it, then so be it.

Best case scenario, it starts to truly compete (market-wise) with Windows and OS-X. Worst case scenario, you have a smaller market OS with a user base full of smart people willing to learn and try new things. A win-win from my standpoint.

The Merits of Blogging

Jonathon Wellons writes that 'If you're not blogging, you're wasting your life'. While I think the title of the post is a little extreme, I completely agree with the points he makes in his brief but nonetheless inspiring post, a snippet of which is:

"...You should be sharing the things you learned so other people will learn from it and maybe teach you something new. You should be entertaining the rest of us; and we will return the favor..."

He's preaching to the choir. :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shock to the system...

Yearning for a change in my desktop theme on my work machine (an XP Pro box), I did a quick search for XP theming sites. I haven't changed the look of my XP box in quite some time and after having been Linuxified (tm) at home for several months now, it was a real eye opener. Two things became immediately apparent: there are a helluva lot of ugly XP themes out there and the theming sites that are out there (at least the ones I tried) are extremely annoying and gawdy.

Now, Linux is no stranger to ugly desktop themes. It has its own fair share. But when you're used to browsing open-source and free software sites for so long, going back to windows targeted sites is a bit of a shocker. Compare the two screenshots below to see what I mean. Lots of open-source project sites might be unpolished and plain, but I'll take that over flashing banner ads and blinking lights every time. And one other thing. That frickin' smiley faced thumbnail at the top left of the windows one, is in the top left on every single page of thumbnail results you page through. They must have paid more for that privilege. If you'd even call it a privilege.

Incidentally, I ended up sticking with my Clearlooks - Gnome-based theme for my workstation. Surprise surprise.

Doing Five Silly Things on Digg.com

Five silly things I like doing on Digg.com:

1. Reading the poor speling in the coments.

2. Reading comments that are at -25 diggs or worse.. just to see what can get you hated at any given time.

3. Reading a poorly spelled comment chastising someone about their atrocious spelling - and the ensuing pile-on.

4. Digging up someone who obviously should be Dugg down. Just to "fight for the underdog"... and play with the system.

5. Oh yeah, almost forgot - reading the actual stories.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A couple of GVim tips

Two quick GVim text editor tips:

To save your font settings between sessions:

1. Start GVim.
2. Set your font using (Edit->Select font...) from the menu.
3. Then type: ":mkvimrc!" from command mode. This saves your font settings.

To configure GVim to launch with your favourite colour scheme:

1. Start GVim.
2. Then type: ":e .gvimrc" to open your configuration file.
3. Add the line "color blue" to the bottom of the file. (note: replace 'blue' with the theme name you'd like to set as default)
4. Close and restart GVim to bask in your success. ;)

Great TV... except for...

I'm not much of a TV watcher, probably 4 hours a week (mostly comedic stuff). But Jericho has me hooked at the moment. It's a nice blend of post-apocalyptic suspense and drama. It's a thriller with top-notch writing, acting and production. I just finished watching episode 5 and I have to say I love all the storylines save one. If it were up to me, I would have sent the IRS agent (Mimi Clark played by Alicia Coppola) back to DC and off the show forever. That storyline is like a cheeseburger amidst a sea of filet mignon. No wait... I love cheeseburgers. ;)

[Update: And by the way, where did Bonnie Richmond (the deaf sister, played by Shoshannah Stern) go this week? If they're not averse to dropping characters at this stage, then by all means let the IRS agent disappear! ]

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Real Wisdom of Crowds

Here's a good news story about teamwork.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cheap Colour

Having a four and a half year old running around means that there is no shortage of colourful things lying around. I dug out the el-cheapo closeup filter set I bought several months ago and took a few shots to capture a small portion of it. Check 'em out if you like. I don't do a lot of macro stuff, so while closeup filters are the poor man's answer to a macro lens, they still do a decent job for me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Google Reader's Share Page - Opinions?

I've been playing around with Google Reader a bit more. One thing that is pseudo-neat is the sharing feature. If you read a post you'd like to share, you click the 'share' button below the post (surprise surprise). All posts that are marked to be shared are posted on a publicly viewable web page. Currently you have no way of customizing the resulting page. I think people can also subscribe to the feed from this page.

Two discussion points for me I guess:

1. The complete post is readable right on that page (provided the original source feed provided a complete version). The post name and site name are linked right there. But why not provide the original feed address or an RSS chicklet to allow readers to subscribe to that blog feed in their own aggregator if they find they like what they see? This would provide a much expanded means of new sparsely-read bloggers to be discovered based on the merits of their post.

2. Does this subvert posts like Kent Newsome's "Morning Reading" posts (which I quite like) ? He could more easily provide the posts of note, (heck I wouldn't even have to go to their blogs to read them), but without the much needed context. I like Kent's posts because he is filtering things for me and provides some narration. He doesn't just list a series of links. He's adding value to my blog reading. I choose to go or not go to the posts based on how he describes them. This is worthwhile to me.

So I'm unsure whether the Google Reader Share page feature is a useful or useless thing. Whether it could easily be made useful if it's not already. And whether or not something like this is really a good thing for fostering growth in the blogosphere. Any opinions?

Here's a link to my Google Reader share page. I've just thrown up a few  posts as an example. Take a look and give your opinions.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Google Reader... they're chipping away at me again...

Back in December of last year I was trying out NewsGator online as an alternative to Bloglines. It never quite worked out for me. I didn't like the interface all that much (much prettier, but seemed significantly slower). Now I've given the latest Google Reader a try for a couple of days and I have to say I like it!

I do all my personal email stuff via my Gmail account and have for quite some time now. Google Reader has a lot of that same feel. I find it every bit as useful as Bloglines and then some. While I haven't evaluated every feature against Bloglines - I'm no Bloglines poweruser that's for sure - , I can say that it has made reading my feeds significantly easier and more enjoyable. Heck, it's not even "ugly" like Gmail ;)

I see today that they've combined Writely and Google spreadsheet into the beginning of an office app. I haven't moved wholesale to Google apps quite yet. I use GMail quite heavily (I'm writing this post with it right now) and of course their blogsearch and websearch, but at work I still can't break my Excel habit (part of being an engineer I guess) and Picasa is just not up my alley for image-related stuff. Still, they're chipping away at me and Google Reader is one more thing they've got me using.

Now if they would only do a free AutoCAD clone that runs on Linux. Har Har..


Pardon my french, but this shit is just scary.

Call me a sicko but...

I'm either enjoying Linux way too much or I'm a masochist. In any case, for no good reason I've undertaken the task of learning vi.

Scary thing is, I'm liking it. ;)

Engaging once again

For those who might have quit listening to the Gillmor Gang, two things about the one just released:

1. Again it was split into 5 parts, and just to be more aggravating the parts were numbered in reverse... part 5 is the first segment, part 1 is the last.

2. The last segment (released as part 1 of 5 grrr) is, without a doubt the most engaging podcast I've heard in quite a while.

As an aside, Doc was actually wrong about something ;) But of course he beats everyone to the punch and takes the blame head on.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Simplifying Maximum Print Size

One thing that almost always earns respect from me is when a seemingly complex concept is simplified or clarified in a way that gives normal laypeople like me the 'a-ha!' moment. The converse of course, is taking a relatively simple concept and overcomplicating it. I came across one such concept in my feed aggregator today - it involved printing.

The core concept of the article was about figuring out the maximum print size that can be made given a digital camera's megapixel rating. There's a bit of a meaty write-up accompanied by a colourful chart correlating print size to megapixel rating for a given print resolution. There is a significant amount of supporting information provided (none of which is wrong).

But does it all have to be so complicated? There are only 3 simple steps between you and the answer:

1. Find out the camera's maximum image size (in pixels). This is infinitely more useful than the camera's megapixel rating.

2. Pick a print resolution between 300 and 200 ppi (pixels-per-inch). 300 is generally accepted as 'true' photographic quality. Going higher than 300 gains you nothing except increased filesize. You can go below 300 but the lower you go, the greater the chances that you will see the pixels of your image on the final print. I've printed with perfectly satisfactory results down at 200 ppi, but 240ppi is my normal bottom limit.

3. Divide your maximum image size dimensions by your chosen print resolution to get the maximum print size.


Step 1. My Canon Rebel XT has a maximum image size of 3456x2304 pixels.

Step 2. I'm going to take 300 ppi as my desired print resolution.

Step 3.
            3456/300 = 11.52in
            2304/300 =  7.68in

So my maximum print size for 300ppi is 11.52in x 7.68in. If I want a bigger image, I've got to use a lower print resolution (like 240ppi).

Further notes:

While the above steps are useful if you are searching for the maximum print size a given camera can make, it becomes much more practical when you want to crop one of your original photos and still need to assure yourself that you'll be able to make a serviceable print out of it. This is how I approach it:

- I'd have an idea of how I want to crop the photo. Maybe it's to remove some telephone poles, or remove some litter in the foreground, or maybe even to improve the composition of the photograph in some way.

- I'd decide on what maximum final print size I'd like to make of the shot. Let's say it's 5x7 inches.

- I'd pick a print resolution and do the math. Let's say I'm perfectly happy with 240 ppi. So 5x240 = 1200, and 7x240 = 1680. So I know that the final size of the cropped image better be at least 1200pixels x 1680pixels.

Also, don't be fooled by printer specs like 5680x2880 resolution. This is the resolution of the nozzle dots, many of which overlap to form colours on your print. What you care about is the pixel size of the image you're printing. This is what determines the maximum print size you can make with it and still maintain photo quality.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Misty Pond - Morning Sun

There are a couple of benefits to having an early morning commute into the city for a Saturday teaching gig. One is the great scenery on a cold, misty fall morning. The other is a lack of traffic. ;)

Click here for this image on Flickr.

Friday, October 06, 2006

An entire load of just pinks...

I finally got a chance to check out the latest project from Dan Klass: a video version of The Bitterest Pill. The Pill (in audio format) has always been one of my favourite podcasts. I just love his semi-pathetic attitude, his honest opinions and his heavily understated but perfectly tuned sense of humour. To be honest, when he mentioned working on a video project, I really thought he'd likely lose the feel of his podcast that I love so much. But I just watched his pilot episode (that was screened at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo last weekend) and I have to say it was friggin' perfect.

Dan claims that the video project is something he's likely even more passionate about than the audio podcast. That can only be a good thing. I'm not a video podcast kinda guy really (don't own a video iPod, and don't really have the time to watch it anywhere anyway), but this is something I'd definitely make time to watch.

I think there is still a huge underestimation of the talent that lies within a LOT of people out there. Do the big media guys really think they have a lock on creativity? Fat chance.

Mr. Klass sir, you rock.

Animated Physics Sketching.. very cool

Ron Jeffries posted a link to a drawing program that is so very very cool. I wish we had things like this to play with back when I was studying engineering and physics.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Talk about viral marketing....

I've recently self installed a biomedical aggregator so sophisticated that Dr. Rudy Wells would be impressed. Here is it's current feed list (sorry, it doesn't do OPML yet, maybe in the next version):


ughh. Good night.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sounding Like a Gillmor Fanboy...oh gawd..

Reading Todd Cochrane's post earlier today about how he 'used to listen to the Gillmor Gang', got me to pondering why I'm still listening to it - and perhaps with more earnest than ever.

I won't pretend to defend Steve's decision to chop it into bite-sized portions. But, he seems to have met me halfway by doing two things: skillfully ending the ad block at 4 minutes on the dot - rather consistently over the last few series of shows, and releasing all the pieces at one time (or at least nearly that way). Is it exactly the format I want? No. Should it be? No. It's his show.

I'm sure Steve would be the first to say 'if you don't like it, then don't subscribe to it' although I'm sure he'd do it with more colour and fewer words. The blogosphere makes it so easy to demand exactly what we want from absolutely everybody. But is that really the way you expect everything to work?

He can slice and dice it six ways from Sunday if he wants. If he loses listeners (and we make the rather large assumption that he really cares about that) then it's his loss. I'm not paying for the show. He's *giving* it to me.

So why then am I still listening - even split across 5 files? There are a few key reasons, none of which are tremendously clever:

1. He has smart people on the show who (at least lately) are willing to really speak their minds. It's often served dripping with sarcasm, or as an off-handed remark, but that makes it even more honest. If I preferred stodgy industry analysis I'd have tuned out long ago, or shot myself. You hear honest opinions rarely heard anywhere else.

2. The group dynamic he has going there sometimes generates a serious chuckle from me. And that ain't as easy as you'd think. Lately it's Calacanis that got me spitting coffee on my steering wheel. More specifically, it was a tremendously bad, but tremendously funny imitation of Adam Curry. And Jason's imitation of Steve: "Ok..we've been on the call for 37 seconds...let's rate the show" was absolutely priceless and shows you what I mean by point 1. No one...especially Steve, is safe. While I think they all respect each other, he's giving them pretty much free reign. That takes a substantial set of cojones.

3. By letting his own gang members disparage his editing choices (and not editing it out), you have no doubt he's heard every possible complaint about the show. And yet he continues on undaunted. I'll almost be disappointed if he does stop chopping it up... almost. ;)

4. I don't know what the hell he's going to do next. I don't even know if there will be another show - after all, every show's the 'last show'. How's that for suspense?

5. I've come to the realization that while many of Steve's views are contrary to mine, they're also contrary to that of many of his gang members. His willingness to consistently invite and argue these contrary opinions makes the pill substantially less bitter. It doesn't hurt to have 3 of 5 smart guys agreeing with you. ;)

6. Doc's still hangin' in there. So there must be something good going on. ;)

[Note: While Steve's shout-out to me a few shows back was much appreciated (Thanks Steve), I won't hesitate to unsubscribe if the show becomes uninteresting to me. But of course he knows that. Whether he cares is another matter entirely! ;) ]

Pruning the dread from my feed reader...

When I bring up Bloglines I find myself dreading the boldfaced numbers that await me on the left hand pane. There's so much there, so much I don't have time to read.

It's pruning time on my subscription list:My chopping list for today:

BoingBoing - A constantly updating feed of silly items I never read. This went down the same path Engadget did for me a few months ago. Too much information , not enough time to read.

TechCrunch - I finally realize that I'm almost 100% not interested in Web 2.0 startups. It seems like a steady stream of pretty logo's, missing vowels and well written text that just bores me.

Crash.net F1 News - I barely get the chance to catch any races on TV nevermind read 200 items about it. It's also got RSS ads for online gambling up the Wazoo on every post. It's like spam that I've invited in myself.

52Projects - I'm scanning the last 50 posts trying to figure out if I've ever read a single one of them. I appreciate the site, but there just hasn't been anything that's grabbed my interest.

These are of course the relatively high-volume sites that are just taking up space on my list. There are also several nearly-dead feeds that may get cut shortly, but calling those out wouldn't be very fun. ;)While I'm still at something like 136 feeds, most of them are now relatively low volume. Besides CBC and Digg.com, most of them only post up a few a day or less. Much more manageable and much less daunting.

Mr. Gates... are you sure this is a wise move?

So Microsoft plans to cripple ..er.. sorry, offer reduced functionality to non-genuine Vista users in the near future. They had better hope their WGA detection systems work with 100% accuracy. I've read many stories (and I'm assuming at least a few of them are true) about how Microsoft did not detect Genuine windows when the proper licences were in fact in place. Can you imagine what will happen if business (or home) users find themselves with crippled systems after purchasing legitimately licensed systems?

If anybody needs help setting up their Linux systems in the next little while, I can point you toward some good resources.. ;)

Photo giggles...

Photojojo is a blog/newsletter I suscribe to. It's photography related (of course) with an emphasis on fun. There's an article on there about a site called Zingfu where you can get all kinds of campy templates to create your own funny photocompositions.

This kind of stuff has always been near and dear to my heart. There's something about cutting and pasting your co-worker's face on some embarrassing photo that just makes me giggle. While I probably would never use a template like the ones on the Zingfu site (I'm far too DIY for that), I did do a set of Christmas photos to include in the family's cards a couple of years ago. There were two that stood out, the one of my mother and father in law, and one for my wife's grandmother (who by the way is currently 99 with a superb Welsh sense of humour to boot). Now don't write in telling me that they look 'photoshopped'. That's not the intent. The intent was to make them laugh - and it worked marvelously. :)

From the 'Gotta Have It' file...

Personally, I hate standing around waiting for my DVD's to rewind. Thanks to the DVD Rewinder I don't have to! (via digg.com)

See Kent, Digg is useful. ;)

Monday, October 02, 2006

A quiet (but expensive) weekend...

Earl Moore's recent post about "A Quiet Weekend" begins it's second paragraph with:

"Yesterday, while doing normal Saturday errands, my wife and I ended up buying a car."

It reminds me of the time I went out to buy a DVD movie and ended up getting a new 72" plasma TV (Har Har)

It appears there is no shortage of disposable income in the blogosphere. Except here in this corner of it. ;)

Congrats on the new ride Earl.

Sensible (middle of the road) American opinions wanted...

Now I realize that the political left can spin things just like the political right. But would someone (preferably a sensible, sober middle of the road American citizen) please enlighten me as to why I shouldn't be worried and shaking my head after reading this ?

Is the Bush government really taking the US down this road with no significant opposition? As a Canadian, you might dismiss me as a socialist neophyte, but I can't help but think that there should be a little more vocal consternation about the things going on in your country's governance.

Can someone point me to a right leaning spin on this bill? I have tried for the life of me to put myself in a Bush supporter's shoes when reading about this legislation but I just can't make it sound palatable in any light. Am I missing something?

Two things I'm Liking...

Our four and a half year old daughter has been at school almost a month now. She's loving it. There are two things I'm liking about it at the moment:

1. Amongst the math, reading and French lessons, she also gets 'practical life' lessons - things like cleaning up messes, food prep, threading nuts and bolts, using screwdrivers. It may sound dumb, but those things are important. Of course this is coming from someone who was taught how to work the washer and dryer at about age 7. Self-sufficiency is a good thing.

2. One of the side benefits is that she comes home humming or singing a new song every couple of days. One of the first, and my favourite so far has been "I can see clearly now, the rain has gone....I can see all obstacles in my way..." the 1972 Johnny Nash hit. As any good annoying parent worth his salt would do, I've made her sing it for me ad nauseum and after each rendition, rained down smooches upon her! (Turns out her music teacher plays clarinet and sax with Jeff Healey's Jazz Band... nice.)