Monday, May 10, 2010

A New Father's Mother's day Poem

Watching my wife with our first son start from zero,

I'm starting to understand, every mom is a hero


Babies show up with a bang and a boom and some groans,

yet mother's embrace birth with grace … and weird hormones


Once a baby shows up, it needs constant attention,

which Mothers take on with a little apprehension


They're scared that they won't get it all right,

but push on anyways, usually late into the night.


They lose the ability to think about anything other than breastfeeding,

forget about TV, baking, exercise or garden weeding.


And then there's those crazy baby bodily functions.

I watch on and think "Is there a malfunction"?


Pee and poop and puke and drool,

all over those *little* clothes that are so cute and so cool


I stop to think, "was I ever this way?

Helpless and crying and in need of a toupee?"


But Mothers see so much more than the trouble!

They see love, giggles, toys and soap bubbles!


Moms' love comes from some crazy endless love pit

So thank you, I love you! (oops, let's clean up some spit)


One thing I almost missed, my Mom's a Mom too,

that's two Moms to deal with, oh no, what to do!


So I wrote this poem, 'twas late by one day,

My solution: TWO mothers days, they deserve 182.5 times that anyway!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Will the iPad sell more Blackberries?


If you get an iPad, then the iPhone isn't the right phone for you.

The reason is, the iPhone is great at what it does, but it is crippled in a lot of ways (compared to a Blackberry). Which phone you choose is basically about which priorities are more important. Many reviewers when comparing the two say the solution is simple: Get both (Boy Genius, Crackberry).

Of course that's not a good solution for the rest of us, so that's where the iPad comes in. Allow me to explain.

I own a Macbook and a Blackberry. I use both for work extensively. Having a Mac as my computer, I've been thinking... "maybe I should trade in for an iPhone". Why would I want to do this? Two main reasons: 1) Seamless Integration with my Mac for iTunes and iMovie and 2) the App store.

Reason 1 is more of a convenience issue that I can work around. For example, my Blackbery records video in 3GP which isn't compatible with iMovie, so I have to convert it first. Also, I have to sync my music through the Mac Blackberry desktop instead of iTunes, which is just another step in the process. Not problems I can't work around, so not a reason alone to switch to the iPhone.

The App store on the other hand, may be worth the price of admission. Now, all of the biggie apps you can find on both the Blackberry and the iPhone (Google Maps, Yellow pages, audio streaming apps, Twitter Apps, Shazam, Weather, etc...). Blackberry even has a few biggies that iPhone doesn't have, like a dedicated gMail app, Latitude, and Google voice (for Americans, not available in Canada yet).

But where the iPhone really shines is in the "App for everything" category, and the fact that any software I have for my Mac seems to have a corresponding app for the iPhone. Fox example, I use the todo manager "Things" all the time - which only has an iPhone app. Also, the apps are way slicker on the iPhone in general (There are about a half dozen GPS running programs for BB, but they all look like MS DOS programs). I would hardly define Blackberry apps as graceful or fun to use. Also, forget about finding any games that are actually fun to play on the Blackberry. Oh, and the browser is lame.

But what holds me back from an iPhone is two issues: 1) It's slow at the core smartphone tasks and 2) Apple seems to intentionally cripple it. Let's dive in.

I'm a bit of a blackberry ninja and can whip through a pile of messages in no time, one handed, and can use the keyboard without looking at the keys. If you know your shortcut keys on the BB it is a really efficient machine. I played around with an iPhone for a bit and ran into the following issues:
  • Why does it beep in my ear all the time when on a call? What do you mean I can't customize that setting?
  • What do you mean I can't run Google latitude while I type an email, what's the point then?
  • What do you mean I have to open every email account, SMS account, phone log, instant messaging app separately to get my messages?
  • Why does it take me 10 seconds just to open the first email message?
  • Why can't I take a picture from the camera app, and send it to Facebook in one click?
  • When I pick up the iPhone, why does it only show me the last message that was received?
  • How can I tell that there is a message if it's sitting across the desk (i.e. where's the blinky light)
  • Where is the flash on the camera?
  • Why do I have to stop what I'm doing and pay so much attention to this thing just to make sure I hit the right keys?!
These are all basic smartphone features that the blackberry has had (And does well) for years. It seems sometimes like many iPhone users put up with it because they just don't know any better. When Apple does eventually release these features, every iPhone user will jump and shout for joy that their advanced phone gets the basic features that they should have had from day one. Last year's big features were (drum roll please) copy and paste, video recording, search and sort-of-push technology. Well, kill the fattened calf please, what a miracle. Colour me underwhelmed. Oh, and for Americans, you're stuck with crummy AT&T (In Canada you get the the iPhone on like 6 carriers now, so no issues here).

In comes the iPad, essentially a big iPhone. Why get one if you have an iPhone? Well... it's bigger. It's fun to surf the web on. OK reasons, but I don't think iPhone users are going to rush out to buy an iPad when their iPhone can do most of what an iPad does.

However, for the Blackberry user, the iPad offers the opportunity to have the best of BOTH worlds. You can use all of the cool apps available in the App store (and now the iBookstore as well) AND have the efficiency of a Blackberry.

Without the iPad, choosing between the iPhone and Blackberry is a toss-up depending on your priorities. If you had an iPad and had to choose one phone, I think that the choice between Blackberry and iPhone is easier ... choose the Blackberry.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Apple Magic Mouse Review



When Apple announced it's new "Magic Mouse" this week, a new mouse with a trackpad on the surface of it, I was quick to order one. It arrived this evening and I've had about half an hour to play around with it.

First impressions are, "cool looking mouse". It's very slick indeed, aerodynamic even (as if that were relevant for a mouse). It is a bluetooth device, and synced up easily with my Mac, although I had to download a driver and restart before I could use the advanced features.

Two major negatives on the "second impression":
  1. Even at the fasted speed setting, this mouse is sloooow. I couldn't make it from one end of my screen to the other without lifting it up. If you are going to buy this, installing this mouse speed increaser is a must.
  2. Despite it's aesthetic appeal, it's definitely form before function. It's really small, made for a small girly hand. There is no way you can rest your hand on this like you would with a regular mouse.
Problem number 2 is fairly typical with Mac hardware, so I'll let that slide. But issue 1 has a huge impact on usability, and I don't understand why Apple would let that issue make it out the gate.

The surface of the mouse is touch sensitive, kind of like a track pad. You can swipe up and down, left or right, like you would on an iPhone to scroll on a webpage. This is definitely it's coolest feature, as it even includes momentum in the scrolling (again, like the iphone).

Also, you can move forward or back in a browser or in iPhoto with a two-finger swipe, which is also handy.

One problem with this though is that if your fingers are at all sticky, the swipe motion is very unnatural and doesn't work very well. I found a few times where my fingers gut stuck while trying to swipe, then I accidentally clicked the mouse and opened something I didn't want to open.

I couldn't help but feel like Apple didn't make the most of the touchpad though. It would be nice if there was a multitouch method to activate expose, spaces or the dashboard. Also, I would like to see a way to zoom into a picture or rotate it built into the mouse.

This mouse had the opportunity to be a revolutionary input device, but I think in it's current form it falls far short. I would recommend this mouse as a "laptop bag" mouse for it's slim wireless form factor rather than an everyday mouse (although I am going to try and give it every day use and see if I can get used to it.)

It is worth saying that this mouse is far and away better than the old "Mighty Mouse", which had trackball problems, travelled too slow and has useless squeeze buttons that made it impossible to pick the mouse of the table while dragging something (a problem amplified by the slow travel speed).

For the next iteration of the magic mouse, what I'm hoping for is a mouse that is ergonomically shaped (i.e. about 3 times the size), a slipperier track pad surface, a few more gestures, and a method to activate expose from the mouse. Hopefully Apple will do this eventually, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Picketpockets take a flying elbow to the ribcage!

I am in Togo West Africa for the second time, (last time was for about 6 months in 2004), and I had never encountered anybody with intentions of stealing from me or hurting me. All that changed today as we were walking through the Grande Marche in the capital city of Lome.

My wife was following behind me as we walked peacefully. I jostled through a slighly busier section when suddenly BAM, my wife throws her elbow into this guy's chest and starts yelling at him. She saw him reach into my pocket and before he could pull anything out she intercepted him.

My wife the superhero. Since the name "Wonder-Woman" is already taken, I'm now going to refer to her as "Great-Girl".

Apparently what happens in the market is a group of guys will swarm you so that you are crowded on all sides, and while you are distracted one of them will pick your pocket. (but not with Great-Girl on the lookout .... KA-POW)

Monday, March 16, 2009

When slow is better than fast

We just came off a whirlwind tour of Ghana. We visited Accra, Cape Coast, Elmina, and Kumasi. We did all of that in just under a week, covering probably 1000 to 1500 km of ground. Now, that might not be too much in Canada, but in Ghana many of the roads are soooo bad that you are only moving about 20 km per hour.

I don't think I would recommend that, as the appeal of Africa is less about it's sights, and more about it's culture.

Since we arrived in Togo a few days ago, we have been taking it very slow and soaking it all in, which is a much better way to go. It takes time to get to know the people. So, that is when slow is better than fast.

On the other hand, internet connections are painfully slow. Add that to the fact the keyboards here in Togo use a different layout (AZERTY vs QWERTY), and typing out a simple blog post becomes quite a painfull affair. This itty bitty post you are reading just took me 30 minutes to write... meanwhile I think my lunch isn't agreeing with me so I gotta jet!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Africa: Things I remembered, things I forgot

A few years ago I spent 6 months volunteering in Togo. I had a girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife. I've made her suffer through hearing many of my stories many times, so now I've brought her back to experience it all with me!

As soon as we arrived, it all seemed eerily familiar, the sights, the sounds, the places and the people. I've fallen quickly back into negotiating for price, finding my way around what is truly a massive maze of a transit network with taxis and Tro-Tros, eating foufou & and reducing my sense of self-preservation while adapting to the bonkers driving techniques of taxi drivers.

One thing that I had forgotten that quickly came back was the smells. Things generally smell quite different here, not bad (usually), just different. The dirt and trees and water and buildings all just have a bit of a distinct scent that I had completely forgotten.

We picked up a cell phone for roughly $40, and then put on $8 is phone credit to use for texting, which should do fine for us for must of the trip. (BTW: Feel free to text us at 233-2400-46347). What a great deal... and this is in Africa of all places. And all I have to do to check my unused credit is text *241# and it immediately tells me my remaining balance! Rogers... you've got some learning to do.

PS: One of our relatives that will remain unnamed sent us the following txt: "Love you too smo glad you are vddejl wel5 6 ok igive vp". Glad to see somebody try to break away from their comfort zone just to get a hold of us, that's true love :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Don't clean your lint tray

I used to be an apartment dweller, and there was a sign at the dryers in the basement that said
"Empty the lint tray when load is done!!!"
Seems like the courteous and fair thing to do, empty out the lint you made. (The triple exclamation marks emphasized just how important an issue this was ... made me feel like there was a cop watching me when I did the laundry)

The problem is, not everybody does it. When a courteous person arrives at a dryer where the lint HASN'T been emptied, then they have to empty it twice, once for the guy before them, and once for themselves.

The only people this system words for is the guys who don't empty their own lint tray. That doesn't seem very fair to me.

We should all come together and agree that NOBODY empties their own lint tray, just empty it when you arrive. That way, everybody only has to empty the lint tray once.

The guys who don't empty the lint tray only have themselves to blame when they get lint-filled laundry.

Who's with me?


Also applies to:
  • Milk bags
  • Toilet seats in a men only environment, such as a dorm.
Definitely does NOT apply to:
  • Dishes
  • Golf turf divets
  • Garbage on tables in fast food restaurants

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Al Gore's desk is messier (more messy?) than mine

I stumbled across this photo of Al Gore on his blog.


And here i thought my desk was a mess ... I've got nothing on Al Gore. A lot of trees have been killed in those reports on his desk ... all for the greater good I'm sure.

At least he looks like he's working hard to save the plantet...

New Mac User - Day 398 - The "dock" just isn't doing it for me

Last year I posted a "new Mac User - Day 1" entry on my blog with my first impressions. Well, it's been 398 days since then, and I know a bit more about the mac now and figured it was time for a follow up.

I suppose it's more like, one year later now...

Topic: The Mac "Dock"
It's the one thing that right away, when windows users look at, they say "what the heck is that?".

It's Mac's equivalent to Windows taskbar, and it works a bit differently. The Mac universe seems to love this thing ... I don't really understand why.

First, the good:
  • I really like that when I want to open up a certain app (say, firefox or iphoto), the button that opens it, whether it's open or not, is always in the same spot. Very handy (whereas in windows, apps resort themselves on the taskbar whenever they get opened.)
Now, the bad:
  • The doc takes up way to much screen real estate, especially on modern widescreens. It may have made sense with the traditional screen aspect ratio, but it doesn't on my little macbook pro screen (even worse on a macbook). GAH.
  • Windows can only be resized by clicking the bottom right hand corner of them... but sometimes large windows get stuck BEHIND the dock and I cant get at the re-size button without accidentally opening another application. ARGH.
  • Minimizing windows to the doc is pointless because unlike the windows taskbar, you can't clearly see what the minimized application is, it's too small. BLECK
    As a result, I don't ever minimize these days, I just let my desktop get all cluttered up and find my apps with expose (which, is super handy BTW)
  • The dock get's really confused when the same app has multiple windows associated with it. My biggest pet peeve is with firefox. Lets say you downloaded something at somepoint in the day, and you have minimized your firefox window. Later on in the day, click on firefox on the dock and it opens up your list of downloaded files, with firefox itself nowhere to be found. I click like mad on the firefox button, and nothing pops up but this silly download list (until I close the download list). YAR.
I get the feeling that the "dock" is there on the Mac simply because it is "different", not because it's particularly functional. I have moved my dock to the right side of my screen instead of the bottom to get it out of the way, which makes it a bit less obtrusive (but makes minimized windows even more impossible to figure out).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Paris Hilton ruined my planet

Imagine how hard it would be to stick to a budget in a store with no prices. Well, that's pretty much how we buy electricity today.
from the Official Google Blog: Power to the people

Apparently Google is going to work towards making the information from power "Smart Meters" (Not installed in MY home yet) easily available. So you waste less money. So you pollute less. So you save the planet!

For example, lets say somehow I get sucked into watching "Paris Hilton's Best Friend Forever" reality TV show. Google could help me understand that not only did I completely botch 1/2 an hour of my precious life, but I spent $32.6 cents in energy that I could have used to buy organic carrots instead of plunging our planet further into a carbon death spiral.


Groovy. Now if only Google could tell me how much I'm spending on my cell phone bill before it shows up on my doorstep...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Free cable TV legally

I have only had cable periodically since I started university. Two degrees and two jobs later, I still don't have cable. I don't really miss it as most of what's on TV is complete trash, but there are a few shows that I really enjoy and like to keep up on, usually of the drama/sci-fi type.:
  1. Battlestar Galactica (dumb name, great show)
  2. Lost (Has a great "mythology" and some of the best fiction writing ever)
  3. Heroes (about to fall off my list... it was pretty bad last season)
I was hooked on 24 for a bit after getting the DVD box set in my hand, but it turned into the same horrible plot-find terrorist-accuse-the-wrong-person-get-tortured-torture-somebody else-save-the-day lather rinse repeat cycle a few time each season, so that show fell off my radar.

The thing I like the least about cable is having to schedule your life around it, or sitting down and watching something totally dumb that you never meant to watch and losing your whole evening.

... and... after spending a lot of time watching seasons of shows on DVD, it's REALLY hard to go back to getting interrupted with commercials.

PVRs help with that, but the thing I don't like about those is... paying for them.

Fortunately the internet is here to help out. Get yourself a good super-high speed internet connection and you can actually get some really good FREE TV these days. (The Americans have got it better than us Canucks, but we can still usually find the shows we want).

All the shows I like are available online, and in pretty good quality too. They can be found here:
It's completely free, legal, and no hassle. The only downside is that you have to watch a few commercials, but the commercials breaks are only 30 seconds long instead of 2 minutes.

I hook my computer up to my TV and sound system so I can watch it from my couch instead of crouched around my computer.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Zero gravity would make me happy

Remember when you were a child, and all you wanted to be was an astronaut so you could go into space and flow?

Well, Rick Mercer reminds us exactly why we had that childhood fantasy. Rick does a zero gravity flight, and by the look on his face it looks like the most fun thing ever.

Seriously, have you ever seen ANY grown man look like he is having as much fun as this guy?



I'm so jealous.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welcome to Winter

I've got some winter pictures here that I took not last year, but about 10 minutes ago.

It's October 21st for Pete's sake, not even Halloween yet! It's been years since I've seen snow stick before Christmas.

I guess that's what I get for moving to Barrie :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

iPhone-ish Blackberry revealed prematuraly ... in a bad way

Arguably the most anticipated phone after the iPhone is the Blackberry version of a full screen phone. Do a Google search on "Blackberry Thunder" and you'll see rumours back to April or so.

Today the first ever Blackberry Thunder video was leaked on youtube, showing how it works. It is indeed very "iPhone-ish". Some guy with a really annoying voice has a turtle neck pulled up around his face to conceal his identity (poorly). Skip directly to minute 2:55 to see the Blackberry Thunder portion of the video.



Normally, this kind of pre-exposure can actually fuel the hunger for this type of device as it circulates wildly around the internet.

However, this problem is, the introducation of this phone comes not with excitement and praise, but with the words: "I don't like it".

Ouch, RIM has to find some way to counter this bad PR and fast. The intro to the iPhone was like a shock and awe campaign, while RIM gets "I don't like it".

Listen up RIM, your phone may not be ready yet, but you've got to hold a press conference on this thing pronto with a bit of fanfare before the words "I don't like it" become the primary marketing slogan for your phone!

Monday, September 08, 2008

I found a Facebook security hole... sort of

I think I just stumbled upon a fairly big security hole in Facebook.

The other day I mysteriously started receiving these really bizarre text messages on my phone along the lines of the following:

Facebook msg from Jimmy-Joe Bobkins
(Espanola High School)
Subj: hey

"yo homeslice
tried calling you
maybe your out with the boy :D
haha"


"Wierd" I thought. I chalked it up to some dude in Mexico trying to send out mass txt messages to see who would reply so he could scam them. I ignored it.

The next day the messages continued with content like:
"sooo anyways preetty bored , wondering what you were up to, anywayss call
me, lover"
"Umm not that i no of"
"Umm perhaps"
"Lmao"
"sorry"
"Haha no"

Clearly there was some sort of conversation going on there that I was not a part of... but somehow was landing on my phone. What the heck was going on?

I looked up Espanola high school and lo and behold, it wasn't in Mexico at all but rather in a nearby little town. Why would a mass txt message spammer/phisher be based out of Espanola?

Then it hit me, I moved recently and had signed up for a new phone number. I must be getting these facebook messages from whomever had this phone number before me!

Then I realized that if somebody got MY old cell phone number, they would be receiving MY facebook messages!

I quickly logged onto facebook, and changed my profile to update my cell phone number for forwarding txt messages. That should stop somebody else from getting my txt messages. I think it will also stop me from getting these mystery text messages, because I could no longer get the second half of messages when I replied with 'n' to get the remainder of truncated messages.

So, if you use facebook and you change cell numbers, lookout, somebody might be reading your mail!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cool "who won the olympics" widget

Thanks to "morejamesmore" who pointed out this medal counter after reading my last post. It will calculate medals won per million people, and medals won per trillion GDP.

The results seem to come up a bit different than mine, so I don't know what's up with that, but it's pretty cool.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic medals per capita

We've all seen the Summer Olympic 2008 medal count, with China and the United states and Russia dominating the top spots, and everybody else way behind.

Canada sits at either 19th or 14th place, depending on if you think the rank is by the number of medals, or the number of gold medals.

Well, this doesn't seem exactly fair to me, as the US has 10x the population of Canada, and China has nearly 20% of the world's population!

So, I decided to waste a significant portion of my afternoon to determine who won when we consider the population of the country. So, I looked up all the medal rankings and the population of all the countries, and used "medals per 100M people" as my metric.

If you're a sucker for detail, the full results can be found here, but I will try to summarize them.

The results are as follows (Out of 87 Countries that won at least 1 medal):

1. Bahamas - 604 medals per 100M people
2. Iceland - 331
3. Slovenia - 248
4. New Zealand - 218
5 Norway - 216
6. Australia - 215
7. Cuba - 210
8. Armenia - 199
9. Belarus - 195
10. Estonia - 151

35. Canada - 54
36. Russia - 50
45. USA - 45
68. China - 7.5
87. India - 0.3 (Out of 87 countries that won a medal)

So, for Canada there is some good news/bad news here. Overall, we actually rank WORSE on a per capita basis, but we did beat the top three countries of USA, China and Russia, so that's kind of nice.

But wait a minute here, the Bahamas, Iceland and Slovenia won the olympics?! Bahamas and Iceland have populations of just over 300,000, but won 2 and 1 medals respectively. These small populations kind of throw the statistics off a bit.

So, lets say to "qualify" to be in the top ranking group, you have to win at least 5 medals.

The ranking then change slightly (Out of 41 countries that won at least 5 medals):
1. Slovenia - 248
2. New Zealand - 218
3 Norway - 216
4. Australia - 215
5. Cuba - 210
6. Armenia - 199
7. Belarus - 195
8. Georgia - 129
9. Denmark - 128
10. Croatia - 111

25. Canada - 54
26. Russia - 50
31. USA - 45
39. China - 7.5

A few interesting things to note:
  • I thought Canada might do better on a per-capita basis, we actually do worse. In the end we are somewhere in the top third.
  • China is almost dead last on a per capita basis.
  • Georgia, which is currently in a state of quasi-war, managed to still be one of the best performing countries.
  • Slovenia is a tiny country of just over 2M people that managed to pull off 5 medals. Kudos.
  • Of the top 20 countires, all but Australia (21M), Cuba (11M) and Belarus (9M) have a population under 5.5M.
  • Cuba beat the USA. That's funny to me.

After going through this, it got me thinking, what other insteresting ways might there be to determine who "won" the olympics?

  • Break the countries into divisions based on population. (I.e. "heavyweight" division would include China, India, USA, Russia, etc..., "Middle weight" would include Canada, Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, etc... "Lightweight" would include Iceland, Slovenia, Bahamas, etc...)
  • Who won on a medal-per-GDP basis?
  • What's the per capita ranking of the G8
  • To account for the amount of "summerness" that each country has , what is the per capita ranking when grouped by distance from the equator?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mac + Vista + Parallels + Bootcamp + Virtual Machine ... Just don't do it

I'm in week 2 or 3 of my new "Mac" life now, and definitely appreciating some of the finer points of owning a Mac.

However, I do need some windows apps on a fairly regular basis, so I decided to load Windows on as well. There are a few options available to those who want to run windows on a Mac:
  1. Use Max "Leopard's" built in "Boot-camp" feature that lets you boot into Windows. This feature is fairly solid, as it gives you a reliable version of windows that uses the full power of your Mac's hardware. The obvious downfall is that you don't have access to your Mac applications unless you reboot into the Mac OS. ALSO, you can't install Windows XP if it's only service pack 1. Bummer, because that's what I had a disk for.
  2. Use a program like parallels or fusion to create a "virtual PC" and run windows. While running your Mac. This is great because you can run everything at once. The downside is that your computer takes a bit of a performance hit, particularly since you have to "allocate" a certain portion of your RAM and video ram to the windows partition. So if you're running Vista, unless you have at least 2 GB of RAM, you're going to feel the pain. You can also run ANY version of windows, even windows 95 or DOS if you feel particularly nostalgic. Also, unlike boot-camp, you don't have to repartition a portion of your hard drive and allocate it to windows.
  3. Parallels has a feature where you can use Boot-camp AND a virtual machine, so that you can run a version of windows while running your mac, OR if you want to go full speed, then you can ALSO run the same image of windows in Boot-camp. Presumably, this would give you the best of both worlds.
I was ambitious and opted for running boot-camp & a virtual machine, with Vista. I thought it would be great.

I was wrong.

The reality is, you lose a lot of the benefits of a virtual machine when you do it off of a boot-camp image, such as being able to "pause" the VM, take "snapshots" of the VM (easy backup), being able to "hard reboot" windows and sharing the same files on the desktop and "My documents folders".

So, when Vista would crash or freeze or slow down or run out of video memory (which would be fairly frequently), it would bring the Mac down with it, and I could reboot my mac. ARG! All the benefits of windows, but all it's problems too! This is accentuated by the fact that VISTA is a memory hog, so to try and get it to run better, you have to give it more RAM, which in turn makes your Mac run slower.

Another problem is that if Windows crashes in VM mode, then you can't reboot it in boot-camp mode, and vice versa. You have to reboot it in the mode that it crashed, then turn it off again and reboot to go into the mode you wanted.

My final solution: I'm going to keep running vista, because it's kind of nifty and apparently it's the "future", but only in boot camp mode. If I come across any processor hungry apps (games maybe?) that require windows, then I'll boot into Boot-camp Vista.

I will run my copy of windows XP in VM mode only. It's less of a memory hog so I shouldn't see too much of a hit on my system performance, and I'll be able to run all of my windows apps while in my Mac.

My biggest problem with this solution is that I'm going to have to install all my applications twice. This will be a problem for any apps that have single computer validated license keys (such as business versions of MS Office).

I'll let you know how it goes.

An interesting note: I started installing XP when I started writing this article, and it just finished now. That took about a quarter of the time it normally takes to install XP on a PC!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Mac User: Day 1

After a year of internal debate, I finally jumped ship to a Mac yesterday. I ended up with a Macbook. After my first day, here are a former PC-er's first impressions:

The Good
  • An amoeba could set up a wireless network connection
  • It's shiny
  • Mac's way of selecting from all your open windows (expose) is WAY better than Vista's fancy but useless cascading windows feature
  • Really easy to set up my bluetooth devices
  • Configuring the system is fun and straightforward (there's no "Apply" button)
  • Built in apps are much much much better than their built in windows equivalents (mail vs. outlook express, itunes vs. media player, imovie vs. movie maker, iphoto vs. windows file system, dashboard vs. MS widgits, spotight vs. buried search)
  • Macs extra apps are nifty (garageband & photobooth are fun, calendar can import web calendars, time machine is much more than a "backup" program)
  • Surprise surprise, MS Messenger IS available on the Mac
The Bad
  • The keyboard isn't quite responsive enough
  • Macbook pro get's REALLY hot
  • Right clicking doesn't work until you change your system preferences
  • You can only resize your windows with the bottom right-hand corner of the window
  • Safari browser... Why bother when there's Firefox?
The Confusing
  • File menus show up at the top of the screen, not the app. I couldn't figure out how to find the settings on any of my apps for the first two hours of ownership.
  • What's with the "squiggly key"?
  • File system looks like my iPod... weird.
  • .dmg files vs. .exe files and "Mounting" programs as devices instead of installing them
  • My regularly used shortcut and navigation keys are all different
As "easy" as the mac is purported to be... it definitely takes some getting used to for someone born and bred with a PC, but it is fun. It's kind of like learning to ride a bike again. I'm sure I'll have it figured out soon.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Is New York the natural "disaster-movie" site?

I just finished watching "I am Legend", a movie which features the total destruction of New York (and borrows heavily from 28 days later, castaway & Signs) and realized that I've seen a lot of "destroy New York" scenes in the movies and TV.

You might think that in a post-911 world, the annihilation of New York would be off-limits, but not so. The practice of destroying New York was fairly fashionable pre-911 and today it seems even more popular.

I believe that there are a few reasons for this:
  1. Landmarks include times square, the empire state building and the statue of liberty, what other city can match that? (Maybe London and Paris...)
  2. The city is really a symbol of man's power in the world, thus it's destruction represents man's weakness
  3. Emotional resonance: you either live there, or have at least one relative/friend who does
  4. The arch-rival of Los Angeles (i.e. Hollywood)... is New York.
Here's a list of "New York Destruction" flicks I could come up with, am I missing any?

Pre 911

  • Deep Impact [Asteroid]
  • The Siege [Terrorism]
  • Independence Day [Alien Invasion]
  • AI - Artificial Intelligence [Global Warming]
  • Planet of the Apes [Smart Apes]
Post 911
  • The day after tomorrow [Global Warming]
  • An inconvenient Truth [Global Warming]
  • Heroes, Season 1 [Nuclear Explosion]
  • Heroes, Season 2 [Deadly Virus]
  • I am Legend [Deadly Virus]
  • Cloverfield [destruction method unknown] (not yet released)
  • United 93 & World Trade Center [Terrorism]
  • War of the Worlds [Alien Invasion] (Well... it's in New Jersey, but that's just across the river)

Honorable mentions for partial destruction:
  • Godzilla, King Kong, Gangs of New York, Armageddon, Ghostbusters I & II

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Forbes.com completely misses the point about what killed the "CD Market"

I stumbled upon a completely nonsensical article in Forbes.com, a supposedly reputable business analysis site/magazine that shows just how ignorant business-people can be sometimes:

The iPod [ has ...] a proven record of disruption, with customers bypassing record stores to tap into illegal distribution networks, along with Apple's iTunes music store, to fill the up their devices.

The result: Sales of CDs fell more than 30% to 614.9 million units last year from a peak of 881.9 million in 2000, according to the Recording Industry Association.

It should be obvious to anybody that there are many root causes to the demise of the CD industry, but the iPod is not one of them, it simply did the best job of capitalizing on the opportunity. The real causes are:

  • The ability to store music in MP3's, a small (reasonably) high fidelity format that could be downloaded in a few minutes over the internet.
  • Napster, the first truly successful peer-to-peer music sharing network
  • The fact that the studios would release CD after CD with one good song, and 12 fillers, and charge $18 for the privilege
With these root causes, even without the iPod, CD sales would have fallen dramatically. Forbes is blind not to see this.

To place the demise in the hands of the iPod gives Apple far too much credit.

Forbes goes on to say that shortly Apple will do the same thing to movie rentals that they did to CD sales, and kill blockbuster. However, there are a few key differences:
  • Unlike music, movies take a long time to download, and take up a lot of hard drive space
  • Watching movies at home is moving towards High definition, and even when compressed, the files are huge. Lower video quality movies (the kind that look fine on an iPod) will be of less appeal to many consumers who own an HDTV
  • "Bandwith caps" on internet connections though the major internet providers are becoming pervasive, which may actually make it more expensive to download than to rent if you go over your cap.

Forbes goes on to claim that:
[The rental stores'] days might be numbered: The iPod has killed before. It will kill again.

I just have a hard time believing that this will be the case.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Is the paragraph dead?

This morning I was doing my regular online news circuit, and reading a printed magazine copy of "Canadian Business", when I noticed an interesting difference for the first time: Online news & blogs don't use periods to end sentences any more, they use paragraph breaks.

I opened up an article about the Bhutto assassination, and found that 24 out of 34 paragraphs had only once sentence, the remaining paragraphs had two.

Meanwhile, my Canadian Business magazine had 3 - 5 sentences per paragraph, with no spacing between them.

3 - 5 would be in line with what I was taught in grade school about writing, however that was pre-internet.

I suspect that the reasoning for doing one sentence per paragraph is that it makes it easer to read in narrow 600 pixel columns, and you don't have to worry about extra paper costs like you would in print.

There are a number of other ways that writing style "rules" have been changed by the internet since I was in grade school:
  • Referencing authors is no longer required, simply provide a hyperlink
  • There's no such thing as a word count, use as many or as few words as it takes to get an idea across. When I started reading blogs, my mind had to get around the idea a 100 word blurb might be just as valuable as the 600 word one-pager in a typical magazine article.
  • Feel free to completely omit any background details on the topic you are discussing, even if it is very recent news. If your reader wants to know more, the answers are just a Google search away.

I find it interesting that by modifying the media (from print to screen), that the rules of grammar and writing style get modified as well.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

$85,000 phone bill? Shame on you Bell...

Sometimes the cell phone industry is just too easy to slam, as is the case with Bell recently charging a customer $85,000 for their cell bill. As reported in the Globe & Mail:

When their son called Bell Mobility, however, he received more bad news. The bill had since climbed to $85,000 because the company was charging him on a per-kilobyte basis.

In what Bell Mobility calls a “goodwill” gesture, it offered to reduce the charges to match the best data plan available for using cellphones as a modem, according to Bell spokesman Mark Langton. He said the outstanding bill now totals $3,243.

This is of course, absurd. What makes it extra-odd is that these types of stories about cell companies seem to come out with a certain amount of regularity, and makes the telecoms like Bell look very very bad.

All it would take to prevent a PR nightmare like this would be to send a daily text message to customers giving minutes used, data used, and current running total for the month.

But of course, they won't do this, because they love making as much $$$ as they can by tricking their customers into spending more than they know they are spending.

UPDATE: Even the American news over at news.com is picking up on this story. Global humiliation for Bell, they did it to themselves.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Competition for the Canadian Cell phone... finally

Next year Canada will hold an auction for 105 MHz of the wireless spectrum, and 40 MHz of it will be reserved for "new entrants", opening the floodgates of competition.

All I can say is... it's about time.

In addition to this, regulators will force existing networks to share their towers, allow roaming at commercial rates, and other consumer-friendly bonuses.

This blogger has ranted against the Canadian cell-phone establishment on a few occasions. What is interesting to see, is how this auction compares to the upcoming US spectrum bid.

In the US auction, Google is offering to bid on the spectrum simply because they want to open it up to competition (because the more people that use data on cell phones, the more mobile search services it can offer). As a condition to bid, Google tried to push the US government to adopt a number of consumer-friendly regulations for the auction.

The government decided to adopt... "a few" of the measures.

Meanwhile in Canada, the regulators a diving in head first, pushing rules that are way beyond even what Google was trying to push the US to do.

Of course, the environment in Canada is different in the US. While competition in the US among Telecoms is scarce, competition in Canada is non-existent.

With only 3 oligopolistic bedfellows (Rogers, Bell, Telus), consumers are paying the price. The regulators had to do something.

And indeed they have done something. Let the war for consumer loyalty based on service value instead of penalties begin!

Friday, November 09, 2007

St├ęphane Dion slashes children... according to the Globe & Mail

I fell off my chair laughing when I saw a headline in the Globe and Mail today:

Liberal Leader says his government would slash the number of children living below the poverty line over five years.

Read it the wrong way and it sounds REALLY messed up.

Why is Stephene Dion slashing children? Why pick on just the poor ones? And why is he going to do it for 5 years!?

What a big mean-ee.