happy hallowe'en

October 31, 2006 under hallowe'en

Happy Hallowee’en!

Speaking of pop culture and Hallowe’en, retroCRUSH has a list of the 100 scariest movie scenes. One that I particularily like, number 75 from the recent remake of House On Haunted Hill, is the “twitchy” effect of the ghosts as they move; I don’t think it’s scary…maybe a bit freaky and definitely cool at the time. It’s quite common now, though (see The Ring, The Grudge). And I know that number 45 from Poltergeist (the scene where the guy washes his face off in the sink) is the sole reason why Dena will not watch horror movies with me. Did retroCRUSH omit any terrifying movie scenes that should’ve made the list?

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guess who's the big three-oh today

October 29, 2006 under Birthday, Dena

It’s this chick ๐Ÿ™‚

Dena at HSBC Arena

Yes, I’m married to an older woman. She’s in her thirties and I’m still in my twenties ๐Ÿ˜›

Happy 30th Birthday to my wifey, Dena!

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'nother noteworthy nas news nugget

October 25, 2006 under NAS

A couple of months ago, I mentioned my interest in NAS devices aimed at consumers; specifically offerings from Infrant and Buffalo. It now appears that Thermaltake, makers of many fine PC cases, power supplies and cooling fans, are offering a NAS device. I’m trying to round up as many reviews and comparisons as possible and now I have Thermaltake’s to add to the mix.

Pondering things like paint colours and furniture placement are probably common to anyone preparing to move into a new home, and Dena and I are no exception. Yet I’m also constantly thinking about where I am going to put my stuff. “Stuff”, in this context, refers to digital possessions such as music, data files and such. Up until a few years ago, most people didn’t need to concern themselves with places to store data in their house, but I think it makes sense to do so now. I have a lot of data and I constantly create/accumulate more everyday, and a house is (usually) bigger than an apartment. It would be nice to have access to that data in as many rooms as possible.

Some may think this whole NAS kick I’ve been on recently is overkill or is a for-geeks-only type of project, but I beg to differ. A NAS device now makes about as much sense as a washing machine and refrigerator, since I’m sure nobody would want to do laundry by hand and store their food in an ice chest anymore. If you have a digital camera, I bet you have pictures and videos stored on a desktop computer. Come everyone, gather around the computer in the office-cum-spare bedroom and watch the videos from lil’ Johnny’s first birthday party? Or if you have a laptop, you can huddle around that or click-click pass it around. And what happens if the hard drive in said desktop or laptop computer dies and all of your digital memories are lost? Did you back it up? Did you back it up to a recordable CD or DVD or perhaps an external hard drive? Did you back it up since you copied those latest pictures and videos over? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to keep your important data somewhere that’s accessible on your home network and has the failsafe benefits of a RAID configuration? That’s the beauty of a NAS device. Sure, I could build a “server” to do the same thing, but a NAS device would accomplish the task more efficiently from a power consumption point-of-view. I’d love to keep my data files, music and movies on a NAS device so that it’s all accessible from any computer in the house, be it a desktop computer, a laptop computer or a media center PC. Gathering in the living room around a TV connected to a media center PC to watch home videos would be much nice than in the office-cum-spare bedroom. Thanks to Thermaltake, my decision on a NAS device would suit us just got more complicated, but in a good way ๐Ÿ™‚

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let the bears pay the bear tax. i pay the Homer tax.

October 20, 2006 under Kitchener, Life

Dena and I are now home owners ๐Ÿ™‚

ReMax Sold Sign
After a couple months of MLS searches, walk-throughs, meetings and general running around, we’ve finally found a new place to hang our hats. We checked out places in other areas of Kitchener and didn’t find anything that suited us, even though we liked the area that we’re currently renting in. Out of desperation resulting from fruitless searches, we even considered looking in Waterloo and Cambridge. So it came as a surprise to us when we finally found a house that we liked and it’s barely 2 kilometres away from where we are now. It’s a happy conclusion and one we’re pleased with. I’m sure our real estate agent, who was great to work with and taught us a great deal about real estate and house construction, is pleased too since we undoubtedly drove him nuts, what with driving all over the Technology Triangle to view houses and all.

There’ll be some work to do such as painting and finishing some work around the fireplace in the rec room, but I’m starting to get excited about home automation X10 or INSTEON. Writing software for a house can’t be all that different than developing computer software, can it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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show g4 the door

October 17, 2006 under G4, TechTV, UndoTV

Is G4 headed for that big Recycle Bin in the sky? When news of the shakeup over at Comcast broke, the Web lit up with speculation that G4 was on its last legs. G4 refuted the claims that it’s going the way of the dodo, but they don’t sound all that confident:

In short: Your G4TV experience will remain the sameรขโ‚ฌยฆ actually, we think it will only get better because of thisรขโ‚ฌยฆIn short: Your G4TV experience will remain the sameรขโ‚ฌยฆ actually, we think it will only get better because of thisรขโ‚ฌยฆ

They think it will only get better? Those are some mighty high hopes that they have there.

shot tv
It was a sad day when TechTV was swallowed up by G4. The Screensavers degenerated into a wank fest for 16 year-old guys when it morphed into Attack of the Show. Other great shows on TechTV disappeared, too. Comcast, in their misguided wisdom likely derived from weak focus groups and (probably) based on the suggestion of one of the exec’s teen-aged sons, pulled all the wonderful tech content and replaced it with shows aimed at geeky young men who’s bedrooms are adorned with Evanescence posters, Star Wars figurines and have probably never kissed a girl. G4TechTV Canada was mildly better, since we had Call For Help and weren’t subjected to Star Trek and Man Show reruns, but it was still a shadow of its former self. I remember when TechTV Canada aired MSDN webcasts not too long ago! Those days are gone [sigh]…

Then TWiT and DL.tv appeared, and a slew of great content on the iTunes Podcast Directory began to show up. Hell, even tech media stalwart CNet has launched a few IPTV shows. This was welcome, since traditional TV (and movies) has become really boring and repetitive to me. So it’s nice to see that Chris Pirillo and Leo Laporte have rounded up the ol’ TechTV troops and will be launching UndoTV soon. It looks like it will bring back some of the TechTV personalities as well as some new ones. It also appears that there’ll be some Digg-meets-Flickr-meets-YouTube functionality as well. I’ll definitely stay tuned.

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dr. death

October 13, 2006 under Life, numbers

Jason VoorheesAnother Friday the 13th is upon us. Be affraid. Stay at home. Wear bubble wrap.

Bah, it’s just a day, and I hope I didn’t offend anyone afflicted with paraskavedekatriaphobia or even plain ol’ triskaidekaphobia. One thing special about this Friday the 13th is that if you sum the digits that compose today’s date, the result is 13. So 10/13/2006 becomes 1 + 0 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 0 + 0 + 6 = 13.

In a barely related yet ain’t it freaky sort of way, I’ve discovered that there’s a doctor down the 401 in London known as Doctor Death. His name is not an epithet derived from murdering his patients. This is his actual given name; Dr. Barry Death. He specializes in physical medicine and rehab, so perhaps I’ll be referred to him should I hurt something golfing or playing hockey, or even RSI from pounding out code on a keyboard. Carpal tunnel syndrome and sports injuries can be scary…muwahaha! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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what it takes to be number one

October 12, 2006 under Politics

A couple of weekends ago, Dena and I were watching Thank You For Smoking (good movie, BTW) and in one scene, Aaron Eckert’s character is helping his son write an essay on the topic of “why is the US government the greatest government in the world?”. Of course, Dena (Team USA) and myself (Team Canada) both turned to each other with a WTF look on our faces. It got me thinking, what does it take for a country to call itself the best at any given thing? Sure, the US media and education system preaches about how it’s the “world’s superpower” and that the “US president is the leader of the free world”. Japan is the most technologically advanced nation. Canada is the most tolerant country. And so on. I thought it was interesting to see which countries are actually number one at…

Literacy (source)
Citizens’ ability to read and comprehend the written word might be a good indicator of the quality of a country’s education system. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK are all tied for the top spot with literacy rates of 99.9%.

Human Development Index (source)
The UN publishes this annual list that attempts to quantify the quality of life as per the countries of the world. Life expectancy, education, purchasing power and standard of living are a few facets that are taken into account. Norway is currently number one. I’m proud to note that Canada has been number one for many years during the late 1990’s and this decade; we currently sit at the fifth position.

Wired-ness (source)
The geek in me likes this list ๐Ÿ™‚ IBM published this list in 2005 of countries that are the most prepared and capable of offering Internet connectivity as well as the having a modern nation-wide network infrastructure. I’m not sure if there’s a particular ranking order. The top five countries are Singapore, Denmark, Canada, Sweden and the US.

Internet Usage (source)
There are more Internet users per capita in Iceland than anywhere else in the world. I wonder if they’ve discovered a geothermic method for transferring TCP/IP packets yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gross Domestic Product Per Capita (source)
GDP is a measure of the value of all goods and services produced within a country divided by the average population. Luxembourg currently has the most purchasing power.

Surplus/Deficit Account Balance (source)
Does your country sell more goods and services than it buys? I hope so, since a surplus is a nice thing ๐Ÿ™‚ Japan currently has the largest surplus and the US is saddled with a massive deficit.

Military Spending (source)
Who spends the most money on their military? The US does by a crazy-big margin.

Active Military Troops (source)
The PRC has more people serving in the military than any other country.

Beer Consumption (source)
Here’s a tasty one ๐Ÿ™‚ It turns out that the Czech Republic really loves their beer.

Murder Rate (source)
I’m sure it’s a beautiful country, but I don’t think I’ll be visiting Columbia any time soon.

Obesity (source)
The US is the heftiest country.

Population (source)
There are over a billion people living in the PRC and India is not too far behind.

Population Density (source)
You’ll constantly bump into people in Monaco. On the other hand, you can really stretch out in Greenland.

Keep reaching for the stars ๐Ÿ™‚

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blahg, blahg, blahg

October 10, 2006 under Blogging, RSS

There’s some RSS bashing going on over at 37 Signals. Greg Story mentions that RSS is sucking the fun and sense of discovery out of the Internet. He pines for the days when we’d surf aimlessly amidst plenty of horrendous “Geocities” web sites (hey, I had one of those with Chico) and uncover a few gems. Random surfing can be fun, but…

The web continues to amass content, and I usually don’t have time to randomly surf the web. There are sites that I would visit on a daily basis, and as such I subscribe to those sites’ RSS feeds instead. Everything I want to read is retrieved and sorted for me by my feed aggregator of choice, Google Reader. As new items are posted on those sites, Google Reader gets them for me. I could be in front of any computer in the world with an Internet connection, and all of my feeds are there waiting for me. Sure, I may not see the sites’ colour schemes, layout, sexy new rounded corners on their nav bar, etc. That doesn’t bother me; it’s the content that I’m after in most cases. If I want to see the design, I can easily get to the original site from Google Reader. And it doesn’t stop with text. I subscribe to audio and video podcasts (should I say “netcasts” instead?) via iTunes, which is again, driven by RSS.

RSS = convenience. It enables the content I’m interested in to be delivered to me, and eliminates the manual task of going out and getting it myself. Back in the good ol’ days, it was a fun game to guess who could be calling everytime the phone rang. Now, thanks to caller ID, we can see who’s calling us and refuse to answer if it’s a telemarketer, prank call or just somebody we don’t feel like talking to at that moment. There came a point where the telephone transitioned from novelty to commodity to neccessity. Our lives become more complicated as time marches on, and anything thing that can save time and weed out the distractions and dead-ends is welcome, IMO. RSS saves time for me on the web- pure and simple.

On an nostalgic aside, I remember having the Pointcast and BackWeb clients installed on my computer when I was in university. It was 1998 and “push technology” was all the rage. While they were pretty big clients and the data often took a while to download on a 28.8Kbps dorm room dial-up connection, the idea worked reasonably well. Thanks to lightweight XML, RSS is welcome improvment to “push”.

PS: Subscribe to my feed ๐Ÿ™‚

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happy thanksgiving!

October 9, 2006 under Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

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need das bier? nein. das glen abbey!

October 7, 2006 under Glen Abbey, Golf, Kitchener, Oktoberfest, Waterloo

Today, the bunghole will be tapped. It’s not as dirty as it sounds ๐Ÿ™‚

Today is the beginning of that time of year again when Kitchener-Waterloo hosts the largest Bavarian festival outside of Germany – it’s K/W Oktoberfest time! Looking out my office window at 2:30PM on Friday, I could already see people wearing lederhosen, and the festivities hadn’t even officially begun at that point. People are hardcore when it comes to beer, schnitzel and traditional German garb. Maybe it’s the beer and schnitzel that results in the wearing of lederhosen? I’m not exactly sure.

Dena and I celebrated the fall harvest by heading up to Oakville to hack up one of the nicest golf courses in the country and home to numerous Canadian Opens; Glen Abbey. We went with her boss and Pat. Dena won four free passes at a tournament back in the summer, so the round cost us nothing. Normally, a round at Glen Abbey will set you back over $200. The course is quite posh, but I’m not sure that I’d pay $200 to play it. It’s easy on the eyes, and you could sleep on the fairways. The greens weren’t much better than the ones on the courses that we’re accustomed to playing, but that might be due to the fact that it’s late in the season. Considering that Dena and I golfed a lot this summer, we had a tough round. It wasn’t pretty – I managed to par only one hole. Pat, on the other hand, hadn’t played all summer and shot a great round. Glen Abbey isn’t super difficult but many holes can be unforgiving, depending on your shot placement.

All in all, it was a good time. When we arrived back in Kitchener later this evening, the scent of grilled meat in the air was powerfuly noticable. Willkommen!

Dena at Glen Abbey's 11th Hole 

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