happy holidays

December 23, 2004 under Life

Dena and I are supposed to be in Crystal Falls right now, but we’re not thanks to the snow storm that has hit southern Ontario (and many other places). Last night, NWA left an automated message on our voice mail, explaining that our 6:45AM flight to Detroit this morning was cancelled and rescheduled to 3:50PM today. A little after noon today, that flight was cancelled to and we’re supposed to leave tomorrow morning at 6:45AM. I wonder what’s going on at the Region of Waterloo International Airport.

Since I was under the assumption that we were leaving this afternoon, I decided to get some erands done before leaving. I went to the Royal Bank on Fairway Road and got stuck as I was leaving their entrance along with another person on the way in. I borrowed two shovels from the Royal and after an hour of shoveling (the plows went by twice) I mananged to help push those people out and get myself un-stuck as well. Today has been fun. Something happens every year around this time.

If we end up going to Crystal Falls, I probably won’t have a lot of time to update my blog. We’ll be back in Kitchener on January 1st. So everybody have a happy holiday; Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or whatever you choose to celebrate!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

my fave albums of 2004

December 21, 2004 under Annual Fave Albums

Here’s the moment that you’ve all been waiting for. Like I do every December, here’s the annual list of my favourite albums from the year that was. It was an excellent year for good music. I mean c’mon, I never thought I’d be able to have Nirvana and Pavement on the same list ever again. I’m in highschool! Anyway, here they are in alphabetical order:

CanadianAlexisonfireWatch Out
To some, Alexisonfire are known as “that screaming band from St. Catharines“. If you tune out the screaming for a moment, you’ll hear some excellent melodic rock music. But at the same time, if you tune out the screaming, you miss out on one of the band’s key instruments. To me, Alexisonfire are a way more agressive version of Sigur Ros, and I like Sigur Ros. Like many Mogwai albums, crank Watch Out realy loud (and thier self-titled one too) when you have some chores around the house to do.

Album Of The YearCanadianThe Arcade FireFuneral
If Broken Social Scene were from Montreal instead of Toronto, they might be The Arcade Fire. It should be noted that this album is completely different from any BSS album, so I hope you enjoyed that comparisson πŸ™‚ Funeral is an emotional album with a unique sound, especially given the lyrical content.

The CureThe Cure
It’s always good to see a new Cure album released. This time Robert Smith is filled with plenty of energy and anger, but not in the manner of any of the Dark Trilogy albums (that includes Pornography, Disintegration and Bloodflowers in case you’re not aware). “Us Or Them” and “Alt.End” are good examples of agitated rock ‘n’ roll ventine against the current goings-on in the world, without the whine of bands like sucky Linkin Park, Papa Roach or Nickelback.

FantΓ΄masDelirium Cordia
Mike Patton. You can’t really say much more. The album is one 74-minute track of, what I believe, to be a surgical procedure gone horribly wrong. Mike never sings a single note. Instead, he’s twiddling knobs and using his magical voice to scream, gasp and spit over sparse guitar chords, bells, the wind and any sound that you can imagine hearing on a demented surgeon’s operating table. Like Doom3, play this album loudly when you’re alone in the dark. Stare at the gorey surgery pictures in the album art, too. I’ll come to bail you out of the psych ward afterwards.

Frank BlackFrank Black Francis
On the first disc, to hear the original demos recorded prior to the recording of the PixiesCome On Pilgrim is a real treat. Listening as Black Francis is pointing out how these songs will take shape and be played in the studio is phenominal. The second disc is Frank Black re-working his masterpieces, or as the liner notes say, “messing with the gospel”. While the original songs are works of art that most contemporary rock music is based off of, it’s neat to hear them reworked with horns and strings. Sometimes, the lyrics are clearer than the originals and you can hear things you might have missed.

Franz FerdinandFranz Ferdinand
This is one of those albums that sounds great in the car. I don’t think it would be possible to fall asleep while listening to Franz Ferdinand. The reworked version of “This Fire”, retitled “This Fffire”, makes the re-release of the album worth it.

InterpolAntics
Turn on the Bright Lights was amazing. Many critics think that Antics is much weaker by comparisson but I disagree, and not just because music critics suck. The heavy Joy Division influence has been shed a little and we’re left with ten excellent songs that work well together as a whole, as well as capable of standing on their own. I can’t wait to hear what’s next from Interpol.

Jimmy Eat WorldFutures
Folks expecting Bleed American Part 2 will be disappointed. Futures reminds me of Clarity and that was a great album. There’s some excellent rockers on this album but if I could’ve written a song like “Night Drive” in highschool, I would’ve had all of the chicks πŸ˜‰

Local HWhat Ever Happened To PJ Soles?
This is the best pure kick-arse rock album of the year, IMO. Period. “California Songs” should’ve existed a long time ago so we wouldn’t have to hear all of those songs about California and New York. “Buffalo Trace” is a wild retro ride. Aw hell, it’s all just so rawk-tacular.

Modest MouseGood News For People That Love Bad News
This year Modest Mouse made me feel like a fan of a hockey player who finally made the “big team” after paying his dues in the minor leagues. I never would’ve expected to hear Modest Mouse played on commercial rock radio like the Edge or see them on Saturday Night Live. But it all happened this year. This wasn’t their strongest album but it’s still excellent. Please release “The View” as a single. <TEARING UP>Our lil’ Modest Mouse is moving on to bigger things. I’m so proud of ’em.<SNIFF>

NirvanaWith The Lights Out
It’s called a box set but it would be more appropriate to call it a rarities box set for the fans. I love hearing songs as they take shape, as well as the songs that we weren’t meant to hear. Even the most obscure tracks are better than anything on the radio or music video channels that passes for modern rock these days. And the DVD is a nice surprise. Hearing Kurt announce “a new song…this is called Smells Like Teen Spirit” at a gig in early 1991, prior to Nevermind‘s release will send chills up your spine since you know that music as we know it is about to change forever.

PavementCrooked Rain Crooked Rain: L.A.’s Desert Origins
If Matador keeps releasing these Pavement collection albums, I’ll keep buying them. There are plenty of unplucked gems to be found that never made it onto Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain like “Haunt You Down”, “All My Friends” and “Soiled Little Filly”. Bring on the Wowee Zowee collection!

Preston School Of IndustryMonsoon
More Pavement? Not really. There’s a definite Wilco influence at work here and it’s a good thing. Spiral Stairs has put out an album comprised entirely of actual songs. In the past, some were songs and some were fragments. I still would rather see a worthy Pavement reunion, though πŸ˜‰

Snow PatrolFinal Straw
Final Straw is an excellent and varied album. Everbody loves “Run” but take a listen to “Wow”, “Spitting Games”, “Chocolate” and “Half The Fun”. Hopefully Snow Patrol will be around for many years to come to release albums during the years when Idlewild doesn’t release an album.

Sonic YouthSonic Nurse
I loved Murray Street, after they kinda got off-track a little, but Sonic Nurse one-ups it. Kim hasn’t had any memorable songs from the last couple of albums but “Pattern Recognition” and the very-rollicking “Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream” totally redeem her. The album as a whole, though, is wonderful and sometimes harks back to the days of Evol and Sister. Brilliant stuff from a veteran band that hasn’t lost their touch.

Ulrich SchnaussA Strangley Isolated Place
Ulrich Schnauss is an electronic DJ/composer from Germany. But does he really make electronic music? Sort of. He’s heavily influenced by the shoegazing guitar bands of the late 80’s/early 90’s like My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Swervedriver. Coincidentally, I’m a huge fan of My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Swervedriver πŸ˜‰ If "A Clear Day" wasn’t inspired by a combination of "When You Sleep", "I Only Said" and "Come In Alone" from MBV’s Loveless, then I’m a poor excuse for a music geek. Ulrich somehow recreates the wall of guitar noise with electronic sounds and the results are amazing. Play A Strangley Isolated Place when you need some soothing.

Worthy Mentions…I’ve a heard a little of but would love to hear more of Singapore Sling’s Life Is Killing My Rock ‘N’ Roll, TV On The Radio’s New Health Rock, Death From Above 1979’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, The Polyphonic Spree’s Together We’re Heavy, The StreetsA Grand Don’t Come for Free and The Tragically Hip’s In Between Evolution. I’d even like to take the Deluxe Edition reissue of Nine Inch Nail’s The Downward Spiral into one of those rooms at Future Shop with the surround sound setups. I haven’t listened to U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb enough yet to formulate an opinion but I’ll probably love it and I think “City of Blinding Lights” is a wicked song. The same goes for the Blues Explosion’s Damage; I bought it a couple months ago and like it thus far, but it needs further spins. We even got a new Pixies song this year with the iTunes-exlusive “Bam Thwok”. Could more new material be far behind?

And now for the disappointments. Guided by VoicesHalf Smiles of the Decomposed contains two amazing soon-to-be classics in “Everybody Thinks I’m a Raincloud” and “Huffman Prairie Flying Field” that bookend an entire album of wishy-washy filler crap. I think it’s a good thing that Bob decided to end GbV right now before any more disgrace comes to the GbV name. R.E.M.’s Around the Sun put me to sleep…literally.

Well that’s the way I heard the music in 2004. It’s pretty varied, don’t you think? Hey, I’m no black rim-glasses-and-thrift-store-clothes wearin’ indie rock snob dork :) Do you want to be? Either way, I have a feeling that 2005 will be just as good or perhaps even better.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

christmas trees and earworms

December 20, 2004 under Computers, Life, Software

The holidays are in full swing and it’s very obvious. During the weekend while I was playing some UT2K4 Onslaught, I noticed that many servers had a mutator installed that changed the familiar power cores and nodes to Christmas trees and wreaths πŸ™‚ It was also a bit chilly today, as it should be during this season. The car didn’t want start, scraping the ice off the windshield and windows took longer than it needed to since it was -25 degrees Celsius. I guess I can’t complain because it was -44 degrees Celsius in Timmins this morning, so says the grapevine. Southern Ontario is so balmy compared to northern Ontario πŸ˜‰

I had an earworm today. It was Billy Bragg‘s “A New England”. We woke up to it this morning on the Edge and it was the last thing I heard on KEXP before leaving work this evening. The earworm is a funny phenomenon.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

nobody ever gets drunk and has sex in the copy room

December 17, 2004 under Life

Today will be one of those tiring gluttonous days. My office Christmas party is today and Dena’s office Christmas party is this evening. Peppermint tea will be required tonight.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

waiting on the long piece

December 16, 2004 under Computers, Programming, Software

I’ve joined a new open-source project over at SourceForge. We’re called Tetris# (pronounced ‘Tetris Sharp’) and we’re a varied group of developers indeed. I represent Canada and there’s people from the US, Turkey, China and Uzbekistan on our team. The project will be a Tetris clone that features network play and enhanced graphics. We’ll be developing it with C# and Managed DirectX. I have a feeling that this project will move at a much brisker pace than the other project that I’m part of, JustCheckers.

BTW, will anyone have an extra copy of the New York Times today? I’d love to have a copy of this. You can read about the ad’s genesis here.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

2004's best software, imho

December 13, 2004 under Computers, Software

We’re near the end of 2004 and I usually list my favourite albums from the year, at this time. I’ll still be doing that, but perhaps later on this week or next week. Being a software guy, I thought I should list my favourite software released in 2004. So here they are in no particular order:

1. Mozilla Firefox
Bar none, this is my favourite web browser…ever. It’s fast, safe and extremely customizable. Firefox is mint!

2. Mozilla Thunderbird
Another entry from the Mozilla Organization, this is a wicked mail client. Like Firefox 1.0, it’s fast, safe, extremely customizable and the included spam filter is a nice touch.

3. Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003
You won’t see me touting Microsoft too often. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when it comes to development tools, MSVS is a rawking development IDE.

4. Python
I haven’t been using it long, but I love this scripting language. It’s a nice change of pace from all of the similar languages out there that resemble C.

5. OpenOffice
An open-source office suite that’s compatible with the file formats of the market leader, Microsoft Office. It’s never let me down.

6. Gaim
An open-source multi-protocol instant messenging client that’s under very active development. Negates the need to install ICQ, Windows Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM and whatever other IM client people decide to use (and expect you to do the same).

7. FileZilla
An open-source FTP client that just works. What else needs to be said?

8. Unreal Tournament 2004
My favourite online multiplayer first-person shooter series made a huge improvement leap this year. New game types like Onslaught and vehicles always keep me coming back when I’ve lost interest in other games.

9. Doom 3
John Carmack must have a brain that’s thinking in matrices, vectors and polygon meshes all of the time. The 3D engine that he whipped up scared the hell out of me. I wish I had a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound setup because of this game.

10. Half-Life 2
Superb story and wicked graphics are what this game is all about. Less a game, more like a wild playable cinematic experience.

Those are my picks for 2004. Of course I’m not including any software developed by yours truly since most of it is customized for clients πŸ˜‰ Ah, maybe just one; it’s small and can appeal to a somewhat broad audience…

11. eMastercam Forum Search Plug-in for Firefox/Mozilla/Netscape
I created this plug-in to make it easy for the world-wide members of our eMastercam forum at work to search the forum. Consider this less of a promotion of my plug-in, and more of a endorsement of the extensibility of the software from the Mozilla Organization πŸ˜‰

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

barry the rock star

December 11, 2004 under Life

Happy 27th birthday to Barry! Esther got him a guitar. Check out his rendition of Nirvana’s “Lounge Act” and something else (a Barry original).

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

glass ceiling? no, glass floor

December 10, 2004 under Life

Ugh, going to work on 3.5 hours sleep πŸ™

Dena’s office was invited to the annual Christmas party put on by Stewart Title Insurance. I didn’t go to the party last year but I was invited to it this year, since I act as the office “comptuer guy” from time to time. The party was held in Toronto at the CN Tower. It was a crowded affair of people in suits and evening gowns, sipping on wine and talking business. The food and booze was free, but due to being so crowded we barely ate. And since I was the designated driver, I limited myself to a single bottle of Upper Canada Lager. The party really wasn’t my cup of tea, but the Glass Floor was kewl and it’s a freaky feeling walking amongst the clouds. Believe it or not, I’ve never been in the CN Tower until now; definitely an architectural triumph.

Following that party, Dena, Natalie and her boss wanted to go a jazz bar downtown called The Reservoir Lounge. It’s a bar where you’ll find older more-affluent patrons. Again, more suits and such with live jazz music. Either way, it was a definite change of pace for this ass-backwards boy from Northern Ontario. Dena’s boss and Natalie proceeded to get shit-faced and danced up a storm. Dena moderately sampled freaky martinis. Myself, being the driver, soaked up only the ambience. Maybe I’m trash and nobdoy’s had the heart to tell me, but I like the dives I’m used to. So now our car mildy smells like puke and I’m a little tired, but the rest of the gang had fun and that’s what counts. This weekend=relaxation….and maybe a little bit of HL2 πŸ˜‰

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

if you can't be cool, then be cool

December 8, 2004 under Politics

When travelling overseas, Americans should Go Canadian πŸ˜‰

Actually, this isn’t a new idea. I remember being taught in grade six that if we’re traveling overseas, we should do our best to not allow ourselves to be mistaken for Americans for our personal safety. We were told to put Canadian flags on our luggage and wear “Canadian” clothing. And this was in 1987!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »

i got tb and don't know what ado

December 7, 2004 under Computers, Programming, Software

Thunderbird 1.0 was officially released yesterday. If you’re like me and prefer a mail client over web-based email, then get it!

Microsoft has come a long way since ODBC. I used ADO from VBS at work yesterday and it’s very abstract. I don’t praise Microsoft all that often so you know it has to be good πŸ˜‰

Is the NHL coming back? Cross your fingers.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
comments: 0 »