November 18, 2010

Movember Update

Movember is the new November. Started in 2003 in Australia, Movember asks men to lose their dignity for the month of November by growing a moustache and in doing so, raise both awareness of prostate cancer and money for prostate cancer research. This is my second time taking part.

Moustache Update
My moustache is coming along nicely. I noticed earlier in the month that nobody wanted to sit next to me on the bus, women and children would cross the street before reaching me and I was getting some seriously dirty looks. I've now deciphered that this was probably because the dirty teenage trash 'stache that is the beginning of any good mustache was a little too much for the general public.
It seems to have subsided now that my lip has a thick sampling of hair. That, or I've gotten used to the disgusted looks. Either way, here's what I look like now. And it can only get better. Right?

Don't Stop at the 'stache!
Men have historically found it difficult to talk about prostate cancer and conversation about this issue has always been hard to start up. Movember has afforded men everywhere the chance to nonchalantly bring it up.
"Hey! Nice 'stache!"
"ya, it's for movember..."
"Oh...what's movember?..."
And just like that, you're in. This may seem like a small step, but it's really quite important. In fact, it's the most important step to reducing the rates of prostate cancer!

Prostate cancer is curable if found and treated in its earliest stages. The problem is that there are no symptoms during those early stages. It's for that reason that doctors now recommend that men over the age of 40 go for annual prostate examinations, including a DRE (digital rectal exam) and a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test.

Many people are surprised to know that rates of prostate cancer are as high in men as breast cancer is in women. 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and over 4300 men will die of the disease this year.

I consider raising money for prostate cancer research a secondary goal of Movember. The most important thing is to raise awareness. Simple dietary practices and regular medical examinations will be enough to seriously reduce the rate of prostate cancer. It's that simple. Many men are uncomfortable talking about it, and that's somewhat understandable given our society. But you don't have to tell everyone you know that you're going for a check-up. Just do it! Use the internet to do your research and commit to a healthy lifestyle for yourself!

So while Movember does bring out some hilarious and disgusting moustaches and as such is a fantastic month to people watch, it's also a great time to talk to the people you love about getting a medical examination. So far this Movember my moustache has given me lots of opportunities to inform those around me of the facts about prostate cancer. Hopefully it's also made it easier for all of you to discuss it.

There are tons and tons of resources out there with all the information you need. I've posted some below.

So keep up the good work Mo bros! The 'staches are looking great (in a disturbing sort of way)! Don't forget to take it beyond the 'stache and make it easier for men everywhere to talk about their prostates (in a less lewd manner!).



To donate to my Movember team:

Movember's main page:

Prostate Cancer Canada: (tons of info here. And it's easy to navigate around!)

National Cancer Institute (US):


Canadian Cancer Society:

November 12, 2010

"The New Technology"

I was quite surprised at finding an article in The Library Journal about the introduction of video games to the public library in Piqua, Ohio . . . dated April 15, 1981. Their goal: to introduce the 25,000 residents of their rural community to "the new technology". As part of their electronic learning center, the library bought a Radio Shack TRS-80 Level I microcomputer, a Sony Betamax with a Hitachi colour camera, and an Atari with 17 game cartridges.
"The potential problems of supervision were overcome by placing the games in a stack area beneath a stairway— an area just large enough for two players and the equipment. The location, secured by a decorative iron gate, is in clear view of the main circulation desk, and a 'No Spectators Permitted' rule is strictly enforced."
Oh, you want to play video games? Right over there under the stairs and behind the iron gate. Move along, nothing to see here.
"We did attempt to conceal the purely recreational nature of the videogames at first by purchasing a few learning games cartridges (spelling, math, etc.). Our cover was quickly blown, however, because these cartridges have been easily ignored by the players."

"The heaviest use (about 85 percent) is in the age range from ten to 15 years. An occasional parent-child team enjoys an hour together, encouraging us to believe that this is not an activity just for children."

"We have come to believe that videogames may have as acceptable a place among our electronic library services as light fiction, popular magazines, and comedy record albums have had among our more traditional offerings."
I found this article all sorts of amazing since I've been reading all about the same arguments and studies of video game collections being implemented in public (and academic) libraries, except this trend has pretty much just been over the past 10 years. Considering they were almost 30 years ahead of mainstream acceptance of video games in libraries, I say the Piqua Public Library deserves the slow clap. Bravo.

November 8, 2010

Maria enjoys hanging from her mother's thumbs

My co-worker and I had a stunned laugh over these absurd photos from the book How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb-- available from your local public library!

Reminds me of these images from David & Kelly Sopp's wonderful Safe Baby Handling Tips:

October 18, 2010

Pub Quiz, Round 2

3/4ths of The 654 crew returned to Cascade Room for our first official participation in their Monday quiz nights. You may remember last time, we showed up on Championship Night and only got to play along out of competition. Unfortunately, we did not bring our 'A' game and finished with a disappointing 47 out of 68. For some perspective, first place scored 58 and third place scored 53. We were done in by some second-guessing on our part and just plain ignorance in other areas. We were short one player, but I'm not sure that affected our score too much.

If you knew anything regarding:
A) taphephobia
B) ratites
C) chinche, redcoat, mahogany flat, and the crimson rambler
D) former BC premiers
E) 70s SNL could've helped us out! We've got geography, music, and movies down pretty well, but are lacking in the history department. We'll be back in a couple weeks for their special 100th quiz.

October 7, 2010

Game On: Oilers season starts today!!

Tonight the Oilers Era of Hope begins. Probably the most exciting time in Oil Country since the 2006 Cup run (which, being in Europe, I missed most of) :( and apart from that it's really the most excitement since 1990. In all my years of real fandom I have never been so stoked! And it's not even about wins or even a chance to make the playoffs let alone win the Cup. This season is just going to be sheer shock and awe. Shock followed by awe followed by more awe. Can't wait to see these kids play!

But, seeing as the Oilogosphere is overwhelmed by super-keen, stats-loving, hockey gurus I will not get into any predictions here. Instead I will keep it short and simple. I offer only one tip to help you throughout this season:

Magnus Pääjärvi is a name that will come up often this season (seeing as he's totally on the verge of winning the Calder trophy for rookie of the year). So this season, whenever you really want to show that you're in the loop and be the most accurate tweeter/facebooker/blogger you gotta get those umlauts on there!

Here's how you do it:
Windows --> hold down 'alt' and type in '0228'
Mac --> hold down 'option+u' then let go and type the letter 'a' to make 'ä'
Linux --> ???!!?!?

GO OILERS!!!!!!!

September 23, 2010

Pub Quiz, Hotshot!

A friend of a friend suggested we try Monday Quiz Nights at The Cascade Room on Main Street. For perhaps only the second or third time ever, the entire 654 crew went on a field trip. As luck would have it, the night we chose was Quiz of Champions night for all the previous winners, so we were out of competition but we still got to play along (for the most part). Perhaps this worked out for the best since we got to get a taste of the trivia format and gauge ourselves against future competition. Typically, you'd pay $2 per member for a team of four. If you have more than that, you get points deducted. There are three rounds of 10 questions each in a variety of formats and for this championship game there was an extra round. Normally there's a prize for the winning team (a gift certificate I think) and all the money raised gets donated to charity. This being the Quiz of Champions, there were prizes for the top 3 and one for the worst.

Ponytails hates it when I do post-game analysis, but I'm going to go over the questions we got because I'm obsessed with things like this. I realize most of you will also find this utterly boring, so feel free to skip!

Round 1
1. First question was to arrange from North to South: Bahrain, Bhutan, and Qatar. We half-guessed our way to 1 out of 3, except now that I can actually look at a map it appears we may have actually got 3 out of 3 . . . Alas, it's actually stated in the rules "Even when I'm wrong, I'm still right".

2. The question was about Sir Francis Walsingham and under what English monarch he serve as spymaster. Ponytails and the Loner 654 member (henceforth to be referred to as Sideburns) both knew this. Ponytails remembers it specifically from Neil Gaiman's Marvel 1602.

3. Other than 0 and 1, what is the lowest number that is both a perfect square and a perfect cube? The engineers figured this one out while I felt stupid because I couldn't remember exactly what these definitions meant. What's an imperfect square or cube? Clearly my minor in Mathematics failed me.

4. This question was about a ranking of world's top universities and which country came in 18th, the first entry outside of the UK or US. We were given the options of Switzerland, Canada, or Australia. We got this, but it was a guess.

5. At this point, all the official teams were handed a cocktail and asked to identify the four ingredients. Based on long distance visual analysis, we got 1 out of 4. Half of The 654 crew are non-drinkers so actually having the drink may have had little effect on the result.

6. Can't remember the question, but the answer was pulmonary artery and we got it wrong.

7. What is the original meaning of "pontiff"? Given three choices, we were wavering between "bridge-builder" (the correct answer) and "deep thinker". Ultimately, I got argued into the latter as our final answer.

8. Who has the distinction of breaking up with both the 2001 and 2007 Oscar hosts? I realized immediately that the hosts were Steve Martin and Ellen Degeneres, except my mind jumped to Portia de Rossi instead of the correct answer Anne Heche. That was one of those shouldahaddit questions.

9. Something about the most googled 4-letter word in 2004. We guessed "wiki", but it was "blog".

10. We were given a sheet with 6 trios of athletes and we had to match them to what they had in common. The common bonds were "Most games played in their respective sports", "Jewish-American athletes", "all died in plane crashes", "all wore number 42", "openly gay major league athletes", and "all nicknamed Moose". We managed 6 for 6.

Our round score: 11/20

Round 2
We were given a sheet with ten photos from comedy films, which we had to match to a list of quotations while also identifying the movie.

Our round score: 20/20

Round 3
1. Who did Billie Jean King defeat in the "Battle of the Sexes" match sometime in the 70s? We turned to our resident tennis expert Baleener. He let us down.

2. We had to identify the actresses who were Oscar-nominated for their first screen roles in Mary Poppins, Children of a Lesser God, The Piano, and Funny Girl. We got 3 out of 4.

3. We needed the French term for "know-how" that is commonly used in English. Got it.

4. We needed the first rap song to hit #1 on the Billboard Top 100 given the choices of Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby), Run DMC (Walk This Way), and something else I can't remember. I actually thought the answer was Rapper's Delight, but that was simply the first to crack the pop charts in 1979. We went Walk This Way, which seemed pretty obvious but the answer was actually Ice Ice Baby! Turns out Walk This Way was the first rap song to hit the top 5 (at #4), but Vanilla Ice has the distinction of being the first rap song to hit #1. Yikes!

5. Here we had to identify six provincial/territorial flags. We went 5 for 6.

6. This was a number sequence that we had to figure out what came next, which we did (multiply by 3 and add 1).

7. This pasta is Italian for "little worms". We guessed macaroni and smacked our collective foreheads when we found out the answer.

8. We had to determine that "gerrymandering" was a political term. I can't remember the other two options, but we got this right.

9. From a list of six films, we had to pick the two that were on the 1996 Vatican list of all-time best films. We got both right (Ben-Hur and A Man for All Seasons) but they were pretty lucky guesses since the other four choices were more or less plausible.

10. What was George Michael under the influence of when he crashed his car and was recently sentenced to 8 weeks in jail? None of us had paid any attention to this story so we guessed wrong here.

Our round score: 13/19

Round 4
1. The Majestic 12 committee of scientists, the military, and government officials was supposedly created by Harry Truman in 1947 to investigate what? We guessed extra-terrestrialism, but the exact answer they were looking for was UFO activity.

2. We were given eight celebrity quotes and we had to fill in the missing word from a provided list (there were more words than blanks). We got 5 of 8.

3. How old was Lolita in the Nabokov novel? We were too conservative with our guess of 13 years old. I actually read it in a Russian film class, but I forgot she was actually TWELVE. Egads.

4. This was a question about whale hunting, so we turned to our resident whale expert Baleener. Answer: Faroe Islands, no hesitation.

5. This was a sneaky one. What do the following have in common: Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Straw Dogs, and beef short ribs. You can ponder that and leave a guess in the comments (no googling!). We were close to getting it right, but were not specific enough...

6. They played a mini mix of ten Beatles songs that we had to identify. Right up my alley, 10 for 10.

7. Which original M&M colour was replaced by blue in 1995? I actually knew it was tan from a recent Sporcle quiz. Thanks Sporcle!

8. What's the only anagram of the word English? I'll let you figure that one out.

9. What old master signed his works with his full Cretan name Doménikos Theotokópoulos? Go ahead and google it. We did not know this.

10. Finally, an NHL question! We turned to our resident NHL expert Baleener. Except this was a real toughie.
a) What Bay area team joined the NHL in the 1967 league expansion?
b) What city did they move to in 1976?
I had never heard of the original team and did not know the city they moved to ever had an NHL team.

Our round score: 18/27

Grand total: 62/86

The tie-breaker question: How many times was the word f*ck used in Goodfellas?
It was the team who guessed closest, but one team got it exactly right with 246. Except when we looked it up later, we found varying counts of 300 and 296. In the quizmaster's defense, someone out there is propagating the count of 246.

We stuck around for the final tallies. Third place got 65 right, second had 67, and there was a tie for first with 69. There was even a prize for the last-place team. Said the Quizmaster, "I won't embarrass them by telling you their score (cough) fifty-two (cough) . . ."

All in all, I had a great time. Ponytails was fading by the end, but she was battling bronchitis. Sideburns left halfway-- he always has laundry to do when he's had enough of us! Baleener and I figure our team could challenge for a winning night. The only issue is that The Cascade was quite pricy for food. It was tasty, but not cheap at all. I opted for bison flank ($18) while the other three all got a burger & fries ($15 +$2 if you upgraded to polenta fries). Maybe next time we'll try to pre-eat and then nurse a couple plates of polenta fries.

Quiz night is on hold for several weeks, but mark your calendars it returns October 18th. Now accepting applicants to replace Sideburns. Join our team!

September 5, 2010

Death to the Fruitfly Invasion!

For the past few weeks, loner 654er and I have been waging war against an invasion of fruitflies. At first we thought the fruitflies were coming from our garbage nook, the corner cupboard under the kitchen counter where we keep the trash. We disinfected the plastic bin and left it to dry outside while we also scrubbed the inside of the cupboard. This was a couple weeks ago and the decline in the fruitfly sightings had us feeling good about finding the source... but of course, we had not found the source at all.

We noticed the fruitflies were still hanging around, but could not figure out where they were coming from. Honestly, we were not particularly proactive since we'd only see one fruitfly at a time and were unaware there was larger population brewing in the shadows. Then last weekend, while putting away groceries I opened the corner cupboard opposite the garbage nook and one fruitfly casually flew up into my face. I called to Mr. Loner who was sitting with his girlfriend on the couch, "Hey, do you think they're coming from in here?" "Where?" he said as he got up from the couch. "Maybe these potatoes?" Famous last words.

I gripped the bag and lifted it up out of the cupboard, letting out a girlish scream of horror as my brain processed the terrifying sight my eyes were taking in. A colony of fruitflies had taken over the potatoes, flitting about the air pocket of the bag, hovering around my petrified hand, and crawling all over the rotting spuds. I immediately leapt back, "IT'S DRIPPING, IT'S DRIPPING!" and Mr. Loner (also shouting in horror) swung open the front door as I gingerly ran out to the outside garbage bin, leaving a dripping trail of liquid potatoes. Though grossed out ("OH GOD, THE SMELL!"), I was quite impressed by our speedy action response time from the time of discovery through cleaning and disinfecting phase. Girlfriend on couch was less impressed. We even discovered two other bags of unfinished potatoes and thus, two obvious yet now official policies were firmly established on the spot:
i) No Storage of Potatoes in that Cupboard
ii) No New Potatoes until Old Potatoes are Gone
For the past week, we've been hunting down and murdering the lingering survivors. I read about a simple yet surprisingly effective fruitfly trap that involved an empty bottle (a just finished bottle of BBQ sauce in our case), some balsamic vinegar in the base, and a paper funnel stuffed in the top and taped. See, once the flies go in, they're too stupid to find the exit or they may even drown in the vinegar. I'd occasionally empty the bottle and reset the trap, eventually catching fewer and fewer flies until I triumphantly dismantled the trap today, which has remained empty for at least the past 24 hours. I personally had the satisfaction of manually dispatching the final fruitfly with a well-placed judo chop yesterday afternoon. VICTORY!

August 24, 2010

Embarrassing moments with Shaw Cable

Below is a log of the technical support chat conversation I had with Shaw regarding a cable problem:

Your representative has arrived.

Shaw Agent (21:30:30):

Hi. Thank you for choosing Shaw Technical Support Chat Service for Cable, Internet, and Digital Phone;Could we get your last name and address please?

Ponytails (21:30:41):

XXX Avenue YYY city

Shaw Agent (21:30:58):

Thank you! One moment please!

Shaw Agent (21:35:09):

Do you have just the one TV there?

Ponytails (21:35:17):


Shaw Agent (21:35:36):

And it is connected to a HD Digital box?

Ponytails (21:35:40):


Shaw Agent (21:36:19):

You should not be getting a snowy picture from the box... can you check to make sure the TV is set to the correct input?

Ponytails (21:36:56):

I think it is. I can get volume from the different shows and channels but the picture is very blurry and balck and white.

Ponytails (21:37:22):

I have tried changing the tv input from the dvd source back to tv but there is no change

Shaw Agent (21:38:12):

Can you check what kind of cable goes from the digital box to the TV?

Ponytails (21:38:43):

the typical white cable

Shaw Agent (21:39:25):

Is that an HD TV?

Ponytails (21:39:34):


Shaw Agent (21:39:56):

Ok. Well, if the picture is snowy, there is something not right with that cable... can you replace it?

Ponytails (21:40:17):

i will see if we have an extra cable to switch it

Shaw Agent (21:40:26):


Ponytails (21:42:16):

I switched the cable with a new one and the problem remains

Shaw Agent (21:42:41):

Can you make sure the TV is on channel 3?

Ponytails (21:43:50):

well...that's embarrassing

Shaw Agent (21:44:19):

Heh, same here. Should have been the first thing we checked, but because it is an HD DCT, we skipped that step.

Ponytails (21:44:38):

thanks so much. cheers

Shaw Agent (21:44:55):

You're welcome! Please take a moment to fill out the following online survey and contact us again if we can be of further assistance. Thank you for choosing Shaw and have a great day!

August 21, 2010

Subconscious Music

Do you ever get a song in your head and wonder why it's there? This happens to me all the time. I'll be randomly humming a song and then realise afterwards that somebody else nearby is also singing it, but neither of us knows who started it and why. They're just catchy tunes I suppose.

The other day @ponytails and I were in Toronto and I kept getting the Sesame Street theme song in my head. I could not figure out why this kept happening. The first time I realised I was whistling the tune we were on the subway and I saw a guy with a Sesame St. vinyl record and thought "really? Is that where I got the tune? No! Can't be! That's too far fetched."
I then started to realise that everytime we were taking the subway I would start whistling Sesame St.! "Why is this happening!? Why can't I get another song in my head!? Big Bird, why won't you leave me in peace!?!?!?"
And then my moment of clarity! Every time the subway doors are about to close they make a little tune consisting of just three successive notes... they just so happened to be the first three notes from the sesame street theme song!

I love subconscious music.
Everything we do has a rhythm.
Every move we make has a beat.
And I'm just groovin', man.
Wherever I go, I gots music in my soul.

July 18, 2010

Embracing your nerdiness t-shirts

OK, I get it. Being a nerd is now cool. But why did it have to go so far?

Going back and forth from UBC on the bus these days and even just walking around Vancouver I can't help but notice all the t-shirts that have something to do with being a "nerd". There are so many different ways of showing your nerdiness. Whether it is through math equations, chemistry symbols or physics diagrams. But why oh why did it have to be cool?

Making nerdiness the new "cool" has totally detracted from it's uniqueness. I used to be proud to be a nerd. And, although I think I was one of many geeks, people were still surprised when I would straight up admit to playing board games. Or liking math. Or not drinking alcohol. At the time, most people preferred to be geeks on the inside, but fit in with the masses on the outside. Those who admitted to being geeks normally didn't have many friends who didn't also admit to being geeks. Those kinds of geek spent most of their time playing dungeons and dragons. I was one of a handful of math/physics lovers who also played sports, went on ski trips and went to parties and the like. We were a rare breed. And that was nice. One had some honour and distinction (and probably used to get "honours with distinction" in high school!).

OK, I'll admit that this new fashion of embracing your nerdiness isn't all that bad. I had once thought of starting my own line of t-shirts revolving around the number pi. In fact, I'm pretty sure I made a "pi" t-shirt before anybody else (with friends) had socially announced that they even liked math. So maybe that's it, maybe I'm just jealous. Damn you people for stealing my ideas!

With all this said I would hereby like to renounce my acceptance of being a nerd. I am no longer a nerd. I am now too cool to be a geek. I can't just be another guy with a "nerds 2² ever" shirt. I normally don't fight too hard to be unique. I really don't have much to prove, but this may just be an exception. I can't just fit in with everyone as they submit to their inner nerd. It makes me feel so plain.

Bah! Who am I kidding? I can't renounce being a nerd!! When I wrote the word "exception" just now I couldn't help but think of mathematical formulae that are "exceptions to the rule"! It's ingrained in me. My geekiness surrounds me!

Math calculates the tips.
Physics gets me around the pool table.
Biology helps me understand bowel movements (and how whales eat).
Chemistry... well chemistry still sucks.
I wear glasses.
I like the movie "The Matrix" for more than its crazy story.
I've played Agricola more times Einstein has been quoted.
I write blog posts about Google and Apple.
Heck, I write blog posts with the word "heck" in them!

The nerd in me cannot die...
But please, pretty please, stop making those dang nerd-lovin' t-shirts!

July 10, 2010

The Number 654

Having fun with the number 654. Can you add anything to the list?

  • 654A.D. - Arab invaders plunder Rhodes and seize Cos
  • 654A.D. - Japanese emperor Kotoku dies and empress Kogyoku is restored under the name Saimei
  • The first time that the sequence of digits "654" occurs in the number pi is at the 672nd position after the decimal.
  • The number 654 is not mentioned in the Bible
  • John 6:54 states "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
  • There is no 654 area code. Anywhere. In the world.
  • The prime factors of 654 are 2x3x109
  • 654A.D. - Pope Martin I is publicly humiliated in Constantinople after condemning emperor Constans II Pognatus. Eugenius I takes over the Papacy
  • The Black Crowes have a song called "Thunderstorm 6:54". It has confusing lyrics.
  • Air Canada flight AC 654 goes between Halifax and St. John's
  • Delta Airlines flight DL 654 goes from Aruba through Atlanta to Minneapolis
  • American Airlines flight AA 654 goes between Dallas and Boston
  • By 6:54pm all those flights will have departed. You're late.
  • On 06/05/04 (June 5, 2004) Ronald Reagan died
  • Roger Federer recorded his 654th career victory against Robin Soderling in the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2009 (that took me forever to find! Like 654 seconds!)
  • 654A.D. - Battle of Bulcamp between Penda of Mercia and Anna, Christian king of the Angles, is fought at Bulcamp in Henham Park killing Anna and his son, Jurmin
  • This post was posted at 6:54am

July 3, 2010

Belugas, seals and sea lions OH MY

Baleener's school mate and loner resident of 654 has gone on vacation. Just in time for Baleener to need some help running some tests for his Masters project down at Vancouver's Aquarium. So I offered to help. My ulterior motive was that I knew this would grant me a behind the scenes look at the aquarium. If any of you know me well or read the camping blog post, you would know I love animals. I love watching them, I love petting them, I really love feeding them, and I LOVE LOVE to kiss them!!! Which is kinda a problem with cats because I will kiss a cat (there are three living within the 654 alone) and then forget and kiss Baleener shortly after...causing an immediate allergic reaction for him...and a mild fight for us.

So today I traded 4 hours of work (holding a flow probe in a flow
tank) for about 30-40 minutes of AMAZING ANIMAL EXPERIENCE! I got to feed and pet the Beluga whales, a Stellar Sea lion, and Alaskan fur seals. The Stellar Sea lion's name was "Izzy" and she was so wonderful! She was very gentle and performed great tricks! My favorite trick was: You hold up your hands like guns and go "bang" and then she falls dramatically on her back like you shot her.

Best part though, of course, was getting the opportunity to kiss a fur seal named "Tafika". It was our first kiss though so she kissed me on the nose.
Very modest of her I think. The whole experience made me very jealous of the trainer's job, but then I remembered that I like making money and not living with my parents. So I guess I will just be a visitor.

June 29, 2010

Google vs. Apple strategies

DISCLAIMER: Forgive my ignorance. I realised when I thought of this post's topic that I often write about things that other internet bloggers know so much more about. Others write much more eloquently than me and have far more insight. As such, all I can do for you here is tell you my opinion on subjects that catch my fancy. Hopefully it gets you to read up more on the subject and develop an opinion on the subject yourself. With that, here's what I have to say about Apple vs. Google's strategies:

I get most of my gadget news from Engadget through my RSS feed. Most of their information revolves around cell phones and every rumor of every new piece of hardware or software released is analysed up the wazoo. But they also touch on bigger topics that affect the gadgeting world. One that has greatly intrigued me is product development strategies from an industry perspective. When the major players in the tech world make product decisions it not only affects their company's direction, but also the direction of the industry as a whole. Like I've said before, the tech world is a rapidly morphing industry and an innovative vision is crucial to keeping your company alive in the long term.

By far and away the two most innovative, visionary and influential companies right now are Google and Apple. Both these organisations have a real knack for determining what consumers do want and what they will want. In some ways their approaches are very similar. They both create slick, easy to use products. Their focus is not only on image, but also on functionality and both have excelled in this department. But recently it's the substantial differences between the two CEOs' visions that has the tech world buzzing. While Google promotes open platform systems and encourages independent developers to create an identity for their product, Apple operates a very tightly controlled, ultra-restrictive atmosphere. So which one is better in the long run?

Once again, I'm going to have to side with Google. Not that I have anything against Apple's products. I own several Mac products and love them all! But in my opinion their law suit loving, Adobe Flash hating ways aren't helping the industry evolve naturally and fully. There are a few examples of Apple's excessive restrictions that I'd like to point out here.

1. Adobe Flash
Everything on the internet seems to use Flash. It has become a staple for applications and videos on every site you visit because it is the bet product on the market. However, Apple comes along and says they will not have any Flash compatibility on the iPad and now expects everybody to follow their lead and adopt HTML5 instead. Thankfully, not everyone's towing the line and instead just going with the best product available. In contrast to Apple's hard line, most Google products are compatible with both HTML5 and Flash and the developer/end user gets to choose which one suits their needs. Apple has the whole internet at their beck and call. Is that OK? Are they pretty much running a monopoly of the tech world?

2. iAd
There has been much debate recently about Apple's decision to restrict advertising abilities on the new iPhone 4. The restrictions essentially eliminate any advertising capabilities from the competition (Google, Microsoft and others) and limits the abilities of the independent developers to generate revenue as well. Of course, the iPhone is so awesome and superior to any other phone that developers will jump through whatever hoops Apple presents just to get in on the action. But is this best for the tech industry? Should Steve Jobs alone be controlling and directing the industry?

3. Law suits
It seems like a week can't go by without Apple suing some company or another for infringing on their patents or for thinking about something that might be similar to one of their patents. The worst law suit that I can think of (of the top of my head) was when Jobs and co. sued The Beatles' Apple Records because of their use of an apple as a logo. Steve Jobs presumed that since he was now in the music business (with the iTunes Store) that anybody else in the music industry with an apple logo had to give it up. Even if they were there first. Lame. This is definitely an overuse of power and shows how far Apple will go to monopolize every industry they touch.

All these points combined lead to one main issue: competition. We've seen problems with limited competition in the computer world before. Microsoft pretty much had a monopoly of the personal computer sector since its creation. Their tactics were to buy out smaller competitors and sue the little guys that they couldn't buy out. Granted, that was a very different situation but how did that all work out?

Creating open platforms essentially gives these companies a lot of employees that will work for free. Not being a developer myself, it's hard to comment confidently, but are independent developers essentially that? The developer ends up making money for both the client and themselves, but they're not earning a salary from the client. In other words, Apple or Google doesn't pay someone to create an app for them, it's done pro bono. Apple, of course, is all about developers creating apps, but only on their conditions. Their very strict conditions. And don't make a misstep cause they'll probably sue you!

Anyways, I'm in way over my head here. This stuff is all very complicated and I only learn about it form blogs and other biased sources. As the disclaimer said, I just write about things that interest me even though I probably have no right to comment on them. If you've read this far through my ramblings and not gotten bored, confused or fallen asleep then I'm impressed. Hopefully this blog-writing learning curve is rather steep and I will learn to be more coherent and cohesive for you all in the very near future! ;)

BOTTOM LINE: Apple should stop being jerks and let the tech/gadget/computer world accelerate at its own pace and on its own terms. You're not the boss of me, Steve!

June 27, 2010

Saturday June 26, 9:00 to 23:30

It's a been awhile since my last contribution to The 654 blog... My sister and her boyfriend were visiting this weekend from Edmonton and just headed for the airport not long ago. Yesterday we had as busy a single day as I can remember.

9:00am: We caught the bus (three actually) to Deep Cove to meet their friend who is currently living in North Van while he takes English classes (he's from Switzerland like my sister's boyfriend).

10:20am It was kinda funny, we didn't really have anything planned for once we actually got to Deep Cove. I have been there a couple times previously, most recently last year with my parents and we went hiking. But my sister's nursing a bum knee at the moment, so we ended up renting double kayaks for a couple hours and cruising around the cove. It was actually my first time ever kayaking. Fun and relaxing.

12:45pm Caught bus back to Vancouver. Technically Deep Cove is part of North Van, though it really does seem to be a quaint fishing/resort village nestled in the mountains.

~2:00pm We went for a sushi feast at Sushiyama, my favourite sushi place in Vancouver. Nothing beats fresh, cheap West Coast sushi, so my guests needed to get their fill before heading back to the prairies. I always get the dragon roll (salmon, avocado, cream cheese, topped with unagi) and I also chose a Salifornia roll (a California roll wrapped in deep-fried salmon). I had a nasty encounter with a Salifornia roll last year when scalded the roof of my mouth with a piece immediately after it came out of the kitchen and I was too stupid to spit out the piping hot piece. I've avoided it ever since, but I figured it was time to try it again with a little more caution.

~3pm Someone had an ice cream craving, so we walked down to Mario's Gelati near the Olympic Village, then walked around the seawall towards Granville Island. By this point, we were all dead exhausted from all the kayaking, walking, and sushi face-stuffing, so we barely made it to Charleson Park before collapsing on the grass for a late afternoon nap.

6:45pm We made a pitstop at Granville Island before heading to Chinatown for their night market, so it was nowhere near dark out. They had the usual street market fare: tacky souvenirs, questionably cheap clothing, and skewered meats. We hung around and watched part of a showcase of martial arts students, though it was kinda embarrassing to watch. Only the nunchuk guy had some eyebrow-raising talent.

~9:00pm Finally we walked over to the Burrard Red Robin's for a late dinner. I quite like the atmosphere of this particular Red Robin's and I'm also a sucker for their bottomless Freckled Lemonade. Last time, I found out their baked potato soup is surprisingly good, so I had to get it again this time around.

11:30pm ZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Today we took it a bit easier and spent a few hours at the Vancouver Aquarium then a late lunch at Tokyo John, a close-to-home sushi standby.

June 21, 2010

654 top suite goes kayaking

Since we have almost completed our third year of living in Vancouver we are coming to terms on how little we have utilized the beautiful surroundings in easy reach. This also includes the "island" (Vancouver Island that is). My parents have retired out there and they tell us frequently to come use them as a free place to stay and even offer free pick up in Nanimo so we can come across as foot passengers (= much cheaper). Well this weekend I thought we would kill two birds with one stone. 1, visit dad for fathers day. 2, try some kayaking in Ucluelet.

Now Baleener and I have not been Kayaking since high school. Not totally sure if that really counts either since our school was in the middle of the Canadian prairies so it really came down t0 10-15 of us in kayaks paddling in our high school swimming pool. They did teach us to flip over and come out though ( but that is a whole other traumatizing blog post).

So Baleener and I signed up for a 3 hour day tour kayaking around the Harbour. The tour was made up of us, two other Canadians, and a English couple who foolishly decided to go in a double kayak plus our tour guides who were Chileans. Altogether it was pretty awesome, turns out I am a natural Kayaker. Plus I am a big fan of anything that gets me up close to wild life. We got to see a few sea lions! The out fit for kayaking....well you can look at the picture and make your own call. Baleener said I looked cute. We are now super pumped for more kayaking. Next stop is Deep Cove.

June 17, 2010

654 (minus the loner member) go camping

The members of 654 have been talking for the last few months about going camping and inviting our two friends from not to far away to join us. A couple weeks ago this well talked of event was finally accomplished. Planning to make this a reality included convenient giving Fongo a tent and camp chair for his birthday, and a group planning meeting which mainly focused on
what amazing food we would all eat and who would prepare what.

Some of the highlights included getting yelled at by the German forest ranger (turns out you can't go through the brush looking for dead wood for your camp fire in B.C parks). Food. Friend from not to far away ingulfing lamp in flames every time he turned it on. No rain! Hiking Joffre Lakes out of season = falling through melting snow up to our hips a minimum of 5 times to a max of 20 depending who it was (soon we stopped looking back when someone screamed). And of course hand feeding grey jays and chipmunks (also against park rules).

Biggest humiliation was realizing we had camped a five minute drive out of Pemberton....we could have easily gone to Mcdonalds for dinner.

And of course there is always the things you forget, which for our group included: Two camp chairs, hand soap, pillows, and a rinsing bucket for dishes.

Thanks to Baleener for taking these lovely pictures.

May 29, 2010

Potato chops and Chicken Boona Currey...Delicious!

So recently there are some new recipes being made at the 654. This is courtesy of a new cook book gifted from my father in law. The cook book was created 20+ years ago as a fundraiser by a group of women from the Goan community. Though being a little hard to follow and having several mystery ingredients, (ex, "add spice" WHAT???, which spice???). We are getting some awesome turnouts!! Oh yes, also love the pictures in this book!

Potato Chops
After multiple steps of cooking and much time the result are essentially small Indian spiced shepherd's pies that have been coated in bread crumbs and then fried in butter.
Not so healthy but awesome! It's like taking your favorite comfort food and turning up the volume to a new state of delicious!

Chicken Boona Curry
After several disappointing Curry recipes I have finally found one that tastes like a white person didn't make it! It is so flavorful and so good. I did omit one personally hated ingredient and added a small amount of another.

Anyway now I know good Indian recipes are not found on the internet. They are found in obscure Indian cook books kept secret for several years by family members obtained by marriage.

May 28, 2010

Prince of Persia shoes and T-shirt vests????

So my mother-in-law is often going to England to visit family and she always comes back with "just a small gift". This usually translates as shirts and some socks for me and some socks, shirts, hula hoops and chocolate fingers for my husband. The shirt for me is purchased by my mother-in-law in consultation with her stylish niece. For the record I really like this last shirt, but it is not something I have seen in Vancouver yet. It is avest with buttons, cut with tails in the front and made out of T-shirt material. When I showed my husband my outfit with vest and asked his opinion he replied, " it's a little 80s" with more grilling questions he also admitted he liked it (he's a smart one). Although I think the vest style with tails in the front is a little more early 90s.

If you are wondering whether those are black leggings in the picture, NO they are not. They are grey leggings. *Sigh* unfortunately the shirts available for sale are ideally made to go with skinny pants or leggings. So I can't give up all leggings, but I am giving up black for sure!

Prince of Persia sandals...or Greek maybe? Well one thing for sure I do like these shoes BUT they are a little weird. I mean the closest thing to them I have ever owned are some neoprene ankle supports.
I am not alone in my like for these, I wore them to work one day and got a lot of compliments. Looks like people think the ankle support look is in. Guess I'll wear them with my 80s leggings and 90s vest.

May 25, 2010

Songwriters' Block

Paul Simon - Song about the Moon

If you want to write a song about the moon
Walk along the craters of the afternoon
When the shadows are deep and the light is alien
And gravity leaps like a knife off the pavement
And you want to write a song about the moon
You want to write a spiritual tune
Then nah nah nah nah nah nah yeah
a song about about the moon

If you want to write a song about the heart
Think about the moon before you start
Because the heart will howl like a dog in the moonlight
And the heart can explode like a pistol on a June night
So if you want to write a song about the heart
And it's ever-longing for a counterpart
Then nah nah nah nah nah nah yeah
Write a song about the moon

The laughing boy he laughed so hard
He fell down from his place
The laughing girl she laughed so hard
The tears rolled down her face

Hey songwriter
If you want to write a song about a face
Think about a photograph
That you really can't remember but you can't erase
Wash your hands in dreams and lightning
Cut off your hair and whatever is frightening
If you want to write a song about a face
If you want to write a song about the human race
Then nah nah nah nah nah nah yeah
Write a song about the moon

If you want to write a song about the moon
You want to write a spiritual tune
Then do it
Write a song about the moon

May 21, 2010

I Heart Google

I don't really like relying on products from one company. Throwing your eggs in one basket is a pretty big risk and often comes back to bite you in the ass. The other day I realised that I've started to do exactly this with Google products. My first introduction to Google was obviously through their search engine, but I'm now almost completely reliant on Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Google Documents, YouTube, Google Maps and so on and so forth. Is there anything left that Google can't do?

Despite my resistance to allowing one company to monopolize my life, I'm actually OK with this one. Google just makes better products than everyone else. It's a fact. Gmail revolutionized email, Google search engine completely changed how everyone uses the internet and now they're in the process of revolutionizing how you use the internet (with Google Chrome), mobile devices (with Android) and TV (with Google TV).

This week Google's Developers Conference, Google I/O, was held in San Fransisco where they introduced some new products and some upgrades to established products. I won't speak at any length about the upgrades to Android because that's one area where Google has yet to reel me in, although I suspect I will give in at some point, but instead I will talk briefly about Google TV.

Not too long ago I talked about how much 3D sucks and how companies jump on stupid fads without any thought as to what consumers really want and are asking for. Thankfully there are companies like Google out there that make an active and aggressive attempt at listening to users and (most importantly) implementing the suggested changes. Google TV as you would expect, combines TV and the internet. This isn't the first time it's been done, but my guess is that we're about to witness the first time that it's been done right. From the brief glimpses that I've had of Google TV it will integrate your TV's program guide with the internet. You'll be able to do things like continue watching your TV show while using Google search to quickly find your favourite TV shows, search the internet or search your TV. You can those use the Home screen to store links to your favourite shows, channels as well as YouTube, Gmail or any other sites that you would normally bookmark on your computer.

See? What did I say? Finally someone is integrating the internet and TV into something useful. Leave it to Google to go things right! Man, I love Google.

May 16, 2010

A Walking Tour

I Love to do walking tours in cities I visit, but I realized today that I have lived in Vancouver for almost three years but not really explored it via walking tour. WELL all that changed today. As Fongo explores Chicago, Baleener and I are going to discover Vancouver. Equipped with our cameras, water bottles, and a free walking tour courtesy of Frommer's Vancouver we set out to find out more about Gas Town, and China town. What followed...a lot more free fun then we had anticipated.

There is just something amazing at seeing something you see frequently and learning the story behind it (like why Gas town is called Gas town). Something even more amazing is seeing something there that wasn't there before. Some examples include; the world's thinnest office building, and a building made to be Victorian style on one side of the street and Chinese style on the other.
And after awhile you just start to notice things because you are for once mindful of what you are looking at.

For me this was seeing a Gorgon head above the entrance to a building in Gas town.
In short I think if anyone is bored and has time to kill look up a walking tour in the place that you live and start to learn a little more.

P.S. While loading the pictures to write this blog a little bird flew into my apartment to say hi. Here she is.

May 9, 2010

3D how I hate thee

How quickly entertainment technology does change. In just a couple of decades we've gone from watching our 13" CRT TVs (without even a remote control) to this. This overwhelming, ever-changing, mess of a techno-heavy industry. It's gotten to the point now that manufacturers just seem to be gambling on every new fad that pops up and then trying to force it to stick. The latest of these, and definitely my most hated one, is the surge of 3D. It has invaded the big screens and is now threatening to take over the small screens (television) and the even smaller screens (portable gaming and cell phones).

Why? Why, why why!?!?! Who is asking for this? How many people actually want 3D? How many people think 3D enhances their experience at the movies? Who wants to have to wear glasses to watch TV at home? Am I going insane here or is the industry trying to shove this in our face and tell us that this is the future of entertainment?

May 8, 2010

THE AMAZING....hunt???

This Saturday morning 3 members of the 654 and a friend from not too far away decided to take part in some free fun. Earlier in the week after watching an inspiring episode of the "Amazing Race" Fongo decided to do some research if there were similar events here in Vancouver. What he found was that there is a city wide "Amazing Race" inspired event called "The Amazing Hunt". The point was, he found out they were doing a trial run this morning and needed some volunteers. And so the only volunteers who showed up were the three of us plus our friend from not too far away". This was Fongo's "worst fear realized", which he repeated several times before we met the organizer.

(On a side note, another worst fear realized by Fongo was the time he accidentally grated his hand on the cheese grater)

Although it was only the four of us which made up two teams to complete the trial run it was still TOTALLY AWESOME. It was like having our own private fun organizer making activities for us. We got to run around Stanley Park on a beautiful sunny morning solving trivia questions and engaging in competition. I won't go into details about what the questions were since this was a trial for a later "Amazing Hunt", but I will let you know that there is way more stuff to explore in Stanley Park then I thought. Yay for free fun!

May 5, 2010

Flicks: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Welcome to our very first movie review! Since I'm sure there are many many movie reviews out there by people who really know what they're talking about, I will just keep these reviews short and sweet. Point form styles.

The review is broken down into 3 categories:
The Good
The Bad and
The Ugly... Truth.

Check it:

**** SPOILERS BELOW**** (i.e. read no further if you haven't seen the movie!)

THE GOOD (what I liked)
  • Really good story.
  • Movie flowed well. Must be a good director.
  • As this is a murder mystery movie it's always important that the movie tells you lots of information, but doesn't make it overly confusing or seem like it is trying too hard to lead you to suspect the wrong people. This movie did a great job of introducing characters without giving away the ending.
  • Speaking of the ending, it wasn't cheezy. There was no obvious excuse like the old "mental illness" or straight neo-Nazi-ism that seems to be Hollywood's answer in a lot of movies.
  • Really good acting. Being in Swedish it becomes hard to judge acting, but everyone seemed to play their part believably.
  • Good length!! I love it when movies don't try to push my attention span, but still tell a good full story. It wasn't a quick-paced movie, but still kept my attention, which is more than I can say for most movies these days.
THE BAD (what I didn't like)
  • Parts of it were a little too real. Too graphic. I'm sure the book was quite explicit too and I suppose it's always expected out of any European movie, but some scenes were hard to watch.
  • I hate it when subtitles blend in with the background. How hard can it be to make some of the subtitles black if they're on top of snow? Or white if they're in the dark?
  • When Ponytails and I were discussing the movie afterwards we noticed some flaws in explanations. Why was Frode watching Blomqvist? Why did Martin follow Blomqvist into Harald's house that night? These are probably properly explained in the book, but could have been better on screen.
THE UGLY.... TRUTH (my overall opinon)

See it!
First of all, for full disclosure, I have not read the book. Nor any from the trilogy. So you may consider my opinion a little less valid. Nonetheless I think it was a really good movie and I would recommend seeing it. It's not a movie to brighten your day, but it is fun to try to solve the murder case and interesting to see how things are done in Sweden!

May 3, 2010

The Return of Grey Ninja

There's a cat in our neighbourhood that I call Grey Ninja because he's grey (surprise!) and all stealthy like. My first encounter with Grey Ninja was last month when I was sitting at my computer in my bedroom and in my peripheral vision I saw a black shadow slink out of the bathroom. Instinctively, I knew it was not my Jaboo and I got up in time to see Grey Ninja jump out the window. It was obviously not Jaboo, I later realized, because I can unmistakably hear Jaboo coming a mile away. He jingles when he walks, a happy accident with the collar I got him. Plus he's a meowy whiner, unlike Grey Ninja who's practically mute. I like to think Jaboo and Grey Ninja are pals, even if Grey Ninja won't really let me pet him. There are a lot of cats in our neighbourhood including three in The 654 alone, Jaboo and the middle tenants' cats Leo (a newly acquired Garfield-sized behemoth) and Moses.

---Hold up, Grey Ninja just snuck in while I was writing this post!!!---

May 1, 2010

Black Leggings

It seems like I can't go anywhere anymore without seeing some chick sporting a pair of black leggings with cute black flats! It kinda sucks because I actually really like to do this style myself, but I hate looking just like a cookie cutter version of every other girl 15-29. It's sad really, because black leggings are so comfortable. They are warm, but not too warm, they go with everything and if someone was going to try to mug or fight you, your clothing would not hinder your ability to fight back or escape (unlike high heel shoes and short, tight skirts).

On Thursday I was walking around Robson street Downtown Vancouver and I saw at least 10 girls wearing black leggings with some sort of cute shoes. The strangest thing was when I saw girls walking in twos or threes and they were all wearing black leggings! I can't understand this! How do you visually set yourself apart? Well I am going to have to retire my leggings! Thanks a lot "girls of the world" for killing this style in a similar way to the overplaying of K-naan's "Wavin' Flag".

April 25, 2010

Recent @Iamknaan tweets got me thinkin'...

On twitter I am following @Iamknaan. This, of course, is the spectacular K'naan (Fongolia over on Fong Songs recently wrote a post about his awesome performance during the Olympics), currently mostly known for his song Wavin' Flag, but I'm sure he is soon to be known for his incredible musical gift and honest, soul-touching, though-provoking lyrics. Recently K'naan retweeted a comment by a fan that got me thinking. The comment read: " Africans in the media: stop being "conveniently African" to further your career in the western world. Quit fronting for your nation. " K'naan retorted by saying that these people are the worst kind of racists and was quite offended by the fan's comments.

April 23, 2010

A list of things I've won in contests

  • 4G 20GB iPod
    From a ridiculous and addictive Pepsi/Apple promo in 2004 where they gave away an iPod every hour for two months. Basically your chances hinged on how many people entered in any given hour so in theory your probabilities increased during the midnight hours, though I think I ultimately won in the 6-7pm slot. You were supposed to collect entry pins from Pepsi products, but there was a no purchase necessary survey you could fill out to get free pins. As Pepsi realized how easily people could collect free pins, the survey got longer and more convoluted as the contest went on (also to prevent robot entries). In the really early goings of the contest before the general public was aware, resourceful RFDers (members of the Red Flag Deals community) were winning multiple iPods since there was no limit on prizes to individuals.
  • April 22, 2010

    Oilers' Problems: Scouting or player development?

    I'm sure this has been talked about elsewhere, but I'd like to put it in a nice succinct form for all to gawk at in wonder. I've been thinking lately about the patheticness of the Oilers and why through so many years of failure the Oilers have still not managed to put together a good team through the draft. At first I thought it was just poor drafting. Looking at the Oilers drafting history leaves a lot to be desired. I've listed below the Oilers first draft pick of every season since 1993 and one other player who was available at the time.

    April 21, 2010


    Earlier tonight, The 654 went out to DQ for some cheap blizzards (second blizzard for 25 cents!). Well, at least three-fourths of The 654. Once again, loner roomie declined to partake in group bonding field trips. He has also not accepted our warm invitation to blog on The 654, so we will continue to speak of him disparagingly until further notice.

    To take maximum advantage of the Blizzard deal, we were forced to split two blizzards between three of us.

    April 20, 2010

    Vancouver Taxis... ARGH!

    Sorry, but here is a little rant! Vancouverites in general are terrible, terrible drivers!! But the worst are taxi drivers! Traffic laws don't even seem like guidelines to them. It is a total disregard for human safety. Examples from the last 48 hours alone:

    1. Taxi stops short on one of the busiest streets, at the busiest times of day in downtown Vancouver causing all cars behind him/her to stop short and almost rear end each let it's passenger out and work out payment.

    2. Taxi cuts off other driver, then drives below speed limit in front of him towards the green traffic light and after the light turns yellow slams on the accelerator and goes through a stale yellow light leaving the car he/she cut off behind.

    3. Taxi drives without slowing down to a red light then quickly turns right with out stopping or signaling and cuts of pedestrians in cross walk and oncoming cars.


    April 15, 2010

    Edmonton Oilers: The new Mickey Mouse Organisation

    Wayne Gretzky's second most famous quote from his days on the ice was when he referred to the New Jersey Devils as a "Mickey Mouse Organization" after the Oilers pummelled the Devils 13-4 in a game during the 1983-84 season. (Note: I consider his best quote to be "I told Mess I wouldn't do this." while crying during the press conference after being sold out of Edmonton) Oh, how the times have changed. Fear not New Jersey Devils, nobody can say that you are a Mickey Mouse organization any longer. The Devils have built up a strong franchise in New Jersey, taking home the Stanley Cup 3 times since 1995 (1995, 2000, 2003) and continuing to put together strong teams in front of future Hall of Famer Marty Brodeur.