Categories
o canada

bandits in the backyard

momma raccoon climbed up the tree and walked along the back wall — followed by her three little ones. They were very sweet.

Categories
computers suck goatee-stroking musing, or something

best beat neat nest

Beware, nerdiness follows: I generally like my BlackBerry 7130e, but its multiple letters per key can sometimes give the wrong result. Using word frequency lists from the British National Corpus, sqlite, and way too much programming time, I determined that the key sequence with the most possible word results (81?2) produces best, beat, neat or nest. The device itself suggests also brat and bray, so I should try a longer word list — in my copious free time, of course.
The longest (common words in the corpus) that have the same key sequence are employers and employees, which might briefly cause hilarity in an HR or legal context.

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something Wind Things

Ontario Government Giving Every Household a Say in Province’s Electricity Future

The Energy Minister wants your thoughts on the Supply Mix. Quick, do you know what the supply mix is? Do you care?

I’m guessing that, as long as the lights are still on, that you can read my blog, the fuel bills aren’t too high, and acide rain hasn’t caused the cat to rust, you don’t really care about the Supply Mix.

But Donna Cansfield wants you to care. She’s sending everyone a brochure Our Energy, Our Future (online here) to make you think that they’d give a one before they go build nukes anyway. And since you were consulted, it’s your fault when the cost overruns roll in.

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something

send not for whom the (division) bell tolls

It may sound like the first line of a particularly contrived blues song, but I woke up this morning and realised I’ve completely forgotten how to do long division. Guess I’ve used calculators for far too long.

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something

The week of shaving carefully

So how did my first week of shaving with a plain safety razor go? Pretty well, I think.

I’ve discovered that Weleda shaving cream and after-shave balm work well for me. They have a muted, natural scent, and are very soothing.

What didn’t work for me was Lush Prince shaving cream. This heavy, waxy preparation clogs up the blade, it smells too strongly of neroli, and is a horror to rinse off. I also cut myself the only time I used it. Styptic pencil owies resulted.

Catherine has remarked on the closer shave (I suspect ‘cos I’m spending more time on it). It’s strange, but the stubble seems sharper. I wonder if multiple blades smoothed the razor-cut ends of the hairs, and thus gave an impression of a smoother, longer-lasting shave?

I like my Merkur. Using it for a year will end up cheaper than any cartridge razor, and result in far less trash.

Categories
choons o canada

my letter to etymotic

To: Etymotic Research Inc. Customer Support

I recently placed an order with you for accessories for my Isolator ER-6i headphones. I was very disappointed when UPS added an additional brokerage charge of approximately US$27 (plus taxes and duties) to the order. Since the value of the the order was only $43, your courier’s brokerage charge was almost two-thirds the value of the goods ordered.

Please consider using another courier for Canadian orders. USPS/Canada Post’s brokerage charges are much smaller, of the order of $5.

I would also like to note that none of your agents in Toronto seems able to stock these spares. I visited all three of the dealers mentioned on your website:

  • Long & McQuade had no stock, and didn’t seem particularly keen on ordering any for me.
  • Carbon Computers, though very helpful, only had eartips for the ER-6, and didn’t know that they wouldn’t work with the ER-6i.
  • CPUsed sold me an incomplete bag of ER6-14 eartips; only 6 tips for the full price of 10. When they weren’t assuring me that they’d work with the ER-6i, they were trying to sell me a set of Shure E2C headphones, which they said were better.

Up until now, I have been widely recommending your products. Until I know that you’re serious about supporting your Canadian customers, however, I cannot recommend your products to anyone in this country.

Categories
cars suck o canada WAGDAIYF

“The clean air choice of Earth Day Canada.”

So, what would you think would be “The clean air choice of Earth Day Canada“? A bicycle, perhaps? Some kind of renewable energy? Some really brilliant Canadian enviro-social development, like a biodegradeable donut?

Nope, a car; the Toyota Prius. Last time I checked, it still used petroleum (with its high environmental and geopolitical toxicity). It still causes gridlock; I see Priuses (Prii? Your moon-pie eye!) inching along the Gardiner from the GO train with all the other wretched junkers. The way I see it, it’s not looking like part of the solution. It’s a bit like having an official assault rifle for the the International Day of Peace.

Toyota also give out $5000 Toyota Earth Day Scholarships. I mean, that’s nice and all, but it’s hardly giving back. If you look at all the scholarship materials, it’s carefully arranged so it looks like the event is called Toyota Earth Day, with the ‘scholarship’ on the next line. Nice cooption. Good greenwash.

Categories
cars suck Wind Things

How to stay warm, #1: The World’s Longest Serial Cable

the world\
Had to do some field work near Zurich yesterday, and it was way snowy. Only by having the world’s longest serial cable could I stay warm inside the truck while I did diagnostics.

Categories
o canada

Toronto Subway Station GPS Locations

After seeing the various nifty web-enabled transit maps, I realised I had the data handy to get things started. A while back, I georeferenced the TTC Ride Guide, and digitized all the station locations. I cleaned them up today, and in the hope of being useful, here are the files:

These are simple three-column CSV files, stating latitude, longitude, and station name. They should be in order of stations. Locations are probably within about 50m of real life, but don’t bank on it.

I’ll get these into more useful formats soon, like GPX and KML. For now though, if you can use ’em, go ahead and do something.

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something

Stewart’s long walk

After picking up my UK passport form at Bay & College, I walked to Spadina Subway. Not far, you’d say. It is if you go via College all the way to Dufferin, and back. 7.3 km, I make it, from the amazing Gmaps Pedometer. I went via Canada Computers (where I got a fantastically quiet Vantec case fan) and Soundscapes (where, of course, I bought too many CDs).

And you know why it was such a long walk? I was looking for a Timmy’s. Sad, isn’t it? It would seem that Little Italy is almost totally free of Tim’s. Yes, I know I could have had fantastic espresso and some kind of pastry there, but I wanted Tim’s, and I was prepared to walk for over an hour in sub-zero temperatures to get it, dammit.

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something

the monopoly on free money

from a familiar note
It’s a licence to print money! Well, Monopoly® money, that is. But you can’t have everything; it doesn’t stop people from trying, though.

The above image is copyrighted, trademarked, service-marked and intellectually-propertized 15-ways-to-Sunday by Hasbro. I hereby acknowledge that I’m a very naughty person to have nicked it for my website, and have felt good and contrite for at least the last 5 (five) seconds. But then, since Hasbro own the rights to my earliest published writings (long story: they bought Database Publications, for whom I used to write) and are sitting on the goldmine that is the film rights to Stardodger (my first, and only, game), I think they’ve done okay from me.

Categories
the old country

we’re shite and we … invented the modern world

(a rant for St Andrew’s Day)

It must have been great to be part of the Scottish Enlightenment. This wee country seemed to blossom, from a muddy backwater to a world leader in economics, philosophy, mathematics and engineering.

And yet, for the average Scot, all that was a long time ago. All it seems we can manage now is to churn out neds by the million. So how did we get from the place described (rather breathlessly) in Arthur Herman’s How The Scots Invented The Modern World to the place where the football fans chant “We’re Shite, And We Know We Are.“?

Urban disenfranchisement of the formerly agrarian workforce, perhaps? Who can say. We even chose the darkest, grimmest part of the year for our national day (hint: St Jean-Baptiste would make a smashing national day …). So, have a happy St Andy’s, get properly munted, and wha’s like us, eh?

Categories
computers suck

completely not feeling the love for the iPod Shuffle

Shuffle mode on the iPod Shuffle isn’t random. It seems to play the same tracks in the same random order every time you restart the device. It only seems to get a new randomization when you sync with iTunes.

Oh yeah, and it’s too wide to fit alongside a standard USB plug on an iBook. I’ll check the BestBuy returns policy, ‘cos this thing just ain’t doing it for me.

Categories
computers suck

best e-mail disclaimer ever

You’ve seen those page-long legal disclaimers that legal counsels require on outgoing e-mails? Well, I’ve been dealing with an Irish company that has the best one ever:

If this e-mail does not relate to Company‘s business then it is neither from nor authorised by Company

Short, to-the-point, and all you need.

Categories
choons goatee-stroking musing, or something

decemberists

The Decemberists were as great as ever last night. We snagged comfy sofas up on the balcony at The Phoenix, so it made up for the usually dire venue.

I’m definitely showing my age, though. When they played a demento-rock version of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky, I was about the only person who could sing along.

Hope that Derek got his laguiole back; it was confiscated at the door …

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something

Quigmans.com

Long ago, Quigmans.com used to be the web home for The Quigmans, a comic of slightly higher than usual amusement.

But now it’s not. It’s about The Quigmans, but not in a way you’d expect.

Categories
computers suck

Tiger’s Dictionary

OS X Tiger's Dictionary
I was pleased to see that Apple had included a comprehensive dictionary with OS X 10.4. The Oxford American is a decent enough reference tome, and the computer implementation isn’t bad at all.

The typography’s fairly clean, if rather heavy on the whitespace. Cross references are active; if one clicks on the small-caps word whitlow, you’ll go to its definition (if you have to; it’s kinda nasty). For some reason, the Dashboard version of the dictionary doesn’t have active xrefs.

Searching isn’t as good as it could be. As with most electronic products, it assumes you already know how to spell the word. The incremental search does allow that, as long as you have the first few letters right, the list of possible choices is quite small. Like all electronic dictionaries that I’ve seen, it’s not possible to browse the text in that spectacularly non-linear way that makes a real paper dictionary fun.

It does seem to have a good few Canadian terms, but a true Canadian dictionary should be shipped with Canadian Tiger. Correct spelling isn’t just optional. It also only labels British and Canadian spellings as ‘British’.

So, in summary, pretty good, but far from perfect.

Categories
goatee-stroking musing, or something

1/9/XX, and the smell of new pencils

Although school in late August for us I always derived the tiniest bit of pleasure from writing the date today, and seeing that it was the same as the year. This shows I was educated in the last century.

As it was the start of the schools year, I was writing with new pencils, and summer holidays were long enough for me to forget their wooden smell. So I remember writing the date, and simultaneously, the smell of new pencils.

Categories
computers suck

my lappy is not well

My ThinkPad T21 is dying. Well, its processor and interfaces are fine, but its backlight is erratic, the battery lasts about 20 minutes, and the case is badly cracked. Because it takes so long for the screen to come on, it’s almost no use as a portable computer.

It’s a shame; it has been a nice machine. I’d prefer not to have to buy a new machine — it’s a toss-up between another used ThinkPad, or a new iBook — but this gets me very frustrated. Catherine has been complaining about how tetchy I am about it.

I’ve probably been very bad at responding to e-mail over the last few weeks because of this. Apologies.