Putting the rant back into intolerant

What’s with Canada’s eminently sensible newspaper The Globe and Mail carrying ads for far-right Colorado-based Focus on the Family? Are we getting so tolerant that we tolerate intolerance?

The words far-right Colorado-based, aren’t mine, by the way. They’re from an article by the Globe‘s Leah McLaren where Focus on the Family … claim homosexuality is both preventable and treatable.

Some of my best friends are from Colorado, and in a perfect world I’d hope that FOTF would take massive umbrage at Leah‘s article, and withdraw their ads from my paper. As is, I wish I had a subscription to the Globe, so I could cancel it in disgust.

too many cables

The iRiver remote unit decided to self destruct last night, so it was a rather hurried trip off to G-WIZ to get it replaced. I’m also having a bit of a problem with cable management — my Sennheiser headphones have a 3.5m cable, and there’s probably another good metre or so of cable on the iRiver remote. So I’m wandering around looking as if I’m lugging a protable recording studio, even though the player itself is quite svelte.

raw, raw!

I’ve just ‘hacked’ my Nikon Coolpix 2500 to run in raw mode, using cpixraw (on a Windows machine, alas). I can read the files with Dave Coffin’s dcraw. So far, it seems I’m getting a bit more extra detail than from the original JPEG files.

The only real disadvantage I can see is that for every picture I take, a regular JPEG and a raw file is created. The raw file is confusingly called *.jpg. I think I can live with this.

okay, so maybe it wasn’t so bad

So ufile.ca did actually work for us, but only under Mozilla on Catherine’s eMac. The process was actually quite painless, and their user interface is nice — if if works with your browser.

It’s strange that they claim that their system works with Linux, yet got into such a terrible mess with me.

Anyway, that’s our taxes filed. I’ll try not to spend all of my refund in the one shop.

them vertical-axis thingies

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Windside: http://www.windside.com (Finland) and Windaus Energy: http://windausenergy.com (Canada; site doesn’t render properly in Mozilla): both with near-identical twisted-savonius designs. Oh yeah, and a nice line in carping at the rest of the wind energy industry: There are no flying ice blocks, leaking oil or cutting blades. (Windaus); Most turbines don`t simply work. There is one turbine, which works. (Windside).

It should be pointed out that Savonius designs, being drag devices, are much less efficient than standard three-bladed horizontal-axis machines, which use lift. If you need a design without guywires, take a look at the Proven Energy machine. It’s very solid, and Scottish, too.

One has to wonder about lone voices in the wilderness. Once they start to drown each other out, it gets hard to tell which are the real deal, and which are not.

Slower, and of Montreal

Bit of a compendium today:

Chris Coole, while trying to teach me to play “Shady Grove” on the banjo, told me about The Amazing Slow Downer. This allows you to slow down CDs or music files without changing pitch, so you can work out how it’s played.

This is Windows and Mac only, but I found SndStretch for XMMS. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t sound as good (sounds slightly like it’s played through a hoover hose) as TASD, but it’s free.

While I was at Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (I contract for them), I found a Montreal-style bagel bakery. It’s on Bayview a couple of blocks south of Eglinton. They are great bagels; wood-fired, with a sweet crust. Maybe not quite as good as the tiny, rock-hard Polish bagels I got in Glasgow, but miles ahead of anything else in Toronto.

Speaking of Montreal, of Montreal‘s new album Satanic Panic in the Attic is great. Think “Wilson & Barrett make psych-disco”, and you’re about there.

Oh, and I start a new job tomorrow. Wish me luck …

Cathkin gets a wind farm

A Glasgow housing scheme could become the site of the UK’s first community-owned urban wind farm, reports the BBC.

This is rather cool. Cathkin Braes is a windy place. Castlemilk needs money. Everyone’s happy.

Except, of course, for the dismal anti-windfarm people, Views of Scotland, who the BBC have to quote in order to appear fair and balanced. How can people who claim to be so concerned be so uninformed? F’rinstance, this from SWiM’s Bob Graham, in an anti-wind petition to the Scottish Parliament: Turbines from the current generation have a mean output of 2MW. However, because of their inefficiency and the random nature of the wind, no turbine has produced more than 27 per cent of its production capacity. That equates to just 0.25MW.

Notwithstanding that 27% of 2MW is 560kW, we can manage better capacity factors than that here in Toronto. Maybe I’ll phone Bob Graham every time we’re over his so-called production limit …


I took 3.6kg of small change (quarters and smaller) to the CoinStar machine, and it netted approximately $107. I actually got back about $96, as the machine keeps about 10% as a sorting fee.

So, weight for weight, Canadian small change is equivalent in value to prime steak.