Expelled in Calgary

06/21/08 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A], Politics, Religion

I thought we might escape the Canadian premiere of this poor documentary, having seen nothing of the sort in upcoming movie listings, but I am informed on the theatre locator page of the Expelled! movie site that there are two locations where it will be playing here: Eau Claire and Country Hills. Sad.

The synopsis on the Tribute web site is bang on and somewhat amusing:

This movie follows Ben Stein as he seeks to determine whether religious based Intelligent Design / Creationism is a pseudo-science trying to undermine evolutionary biology or whether it is legitimate science being suppressed by a scientific establishment that is hostile to any deviation from the status quo. Along the way, Stein is told that evolutionary biology is responsible for the Holocaust, Stalinism, and the Second World War, and that only religion based alternatives such as Intelligent Design / Creationism and the intervention of a god can adequately explain the existence of life.

That's about as "in a nutshell" as you can make it. Thanks, anonymous Tribute writer :)


Top 10 home cooking mistakes

06/20/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri

Link: http://www.meadowparty.com/blog/?p=254

The list won't make you an uber-chef but it's a pretty good list of things to avoid.

(Via Kottke)


Bad Google

06/19/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/06/google-browser-sync-to-be-discontinued.html

One of my favourite parts of Firefox is the Google Bookmark Sync which allows cookies and bookmarks to be synced across multiple computers. With multiple operating systems (and thus browsers) on my MacBook plus computers at work and home, it made life much easier.

Emphasis on the past tense.

As of Firefox 3, the plug-in no longer works and Google has no intention of updating it. Their comment:

It was a tough call, but we decided to phase out support for Bookmark Sync. Since the team has moved on to other projects that are keeping them busy, we don't have time to update the extension to work with Firefox 3 or to continue to maintain it.

There are other plug-ins that basically do the same thing so I suspect I'll migrate to one of them, but it is a pain. However, what really irritated me was that Google did not announce the discontinuation on the page where one downloads the tool; it's just been left to wither away.



06/18/08 | by Adam | Categories: American

Link: http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/al_gore_endorses_obama/

When I first read the linked-to post via RSS, it didn't make a whole lot of sense. This is how it read in NewsFire:

Via the AP:

Al Gore made his

What’s most interesting, though:

second time Obama has

I think its a good strategy, myself.

Needless to say, my reaction was "Uh, what?"

It's actually a subtle bit of snark about the Associated Press' quoting rules.


Irregular Webcomic on Scotland's Great Glen

06/17/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri

Link: http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/comic.php?current=1946

Another fascinating annotation from the most erudite webcomic this side of Xkcd. Today's focus: planetary geology and the shared physical heritage of Scotland, Newfoundland and the Appalachians.


Interesting tourist places you can't go if you're an American

06/16/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri

Link: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4328

I have to say Iran does sound like an interesting destination. The Leptis Magna ruins in Libya (not listed) also strike my fancy. The old Silk Road route would be great too but that's just a little too dangerous these days for my liking.



06/15/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://www.wired.com/cars/energy/news/2008/06/hypermilers09

"Hypermilling", or the process or trying to optimize fuel efficiency via driving techniques, is on the rise in the public consciousness. This Wired article is about the fifth I've seen in the last month.

However, for all its positive aspects, getting stuck behind someone trying to do hypermilling would be profoundly irritating. One of the commenters puts it pretty bluntly:

Ask yourself this: is saving a few bucks in gas worth the fact that people are going to get out of their cars and punch you in the face for "drafting" them (ie, tailgating, and of course you're going to rear end them when they do stop anyway since your engine is shut off and you have no braking power - thanks for your lack of concern for other's safety asshole), or put the PIT maneuver on your ass because you're taking 5 minutes to get your car up to speed at every stoplight and holding up 100 cars behind you?

To be fair, the how-to Wiki on Wired's site is a bit more general and does include some sensible suggestions that don't involve being a menace on the road.


World Of World Of Warcraft

06/14/08 | by Adam | Categories: YouTube

Link: http://www.theonion.com/content/video/warcraft_sequel_lets_gamers_play

To use an equally geeky analogy, the Onion hit this one out of the ballpark.

(Via Ricardo)


Some bad ideas never die

06/13/08 | by Adam | Categories: Canadian, Copyright

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/06/12/tech-copyright.html

Yup. Jim Prentice's Canadian uber-DMCA is rearing its ugly head again. Do I hold out hope that the opposition parties will kill it? I guess it depends on how much the studios have been forking over to the various "interested" MPs again...

Anyway, here's Michael Geist's take on it. A few quotes from his article:

the effect of these provisions will be to make Canadians infringers for a host of activities that are common today including watching out-of-region-coded DVDs, copying and pasting materials from a DRM'd book, or even unlocking a cellphone.
Under the proposal, there are exceptions for uploading or posting music online (ie. making available) and even the suggestion that posting a copyright-protected work to YouTube could result in the larger $20,000 per infringement damage award.
The education community received several provisions that are largely gutted by the fine print. For example, library materials can be distributed in electronic form, but must not extend beyond five days. In other words, it turns librarians into locksmiths.

Summary: assuming this beastie passes as is, and that there are no further changes and that the copyright industry doesn't have a change of heart, you'd better stock up on current media as those usage rights will never be as anywhere good as they are now.

(Update: Geist posted a further set of thoughts about the bill and what can be done about it.)


La Paz's (literal) Zebra Crossings

06/12/08 | by Adam | Categories: YouTube

Link: http://www.lonelyplanet.tv/Clip.aspx?key=F6C841FC760DECE9

For some reason, La Paz's decision to use crossing guards dressed as zebras for their zebra crossings (aka pedestrian crossings) really appeals to whimsical side of me.

(Via Kottke)


On search engines

06/11/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

For the last article, I'd remembered reading a Wired review of GTA 4. I'd not bookmarked it so when I wanted to reference it, I went back to Wired and tried to use their search engine to locate it. None of the standard searches like "Grand Theft Auto", "GTA", "molotov cocktail" and so forth returned the article. In the end I gave up and went Googling; that returned the correct article as the first hit.

It's a bit sad when a the search engine used by a prominent IT-focused publication on its own site is less effective than a third party one.


The best racing game that's not on a PC

06/10/08 | by Adam | Categories: Games

Link: http://www.wired.com/gaming/gamingreviews/commentary/games/2008/05/gamesfrontiers_0506

A couple of weeks ago I found a review of a new game that sounded like a sure thing for our periodic weekend PC gaming sessions:

"There are 15 different modes of online play, most of which are pretty good. One clear winner is [...] Race, which blends car racing with combat: You can assault one another's vehicles, and even carjack one another. The result is exquisite madness, with drivers jumping out of wrecked compact cars and in 18-wheel trucks, then tearing off down crowded sidewalks while followed by lowriders hurling Molotov cocktails. If, like me, you're a subpar driver, you can simply abandon the goal and become a machine of revenge -- setting up a roadblock, waiting for other drivers to approach, then blasting them to pieces. This is food for the soul.

In previous years, we'd been addicted to racing games like "Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed" and Microsoft's unparalleled "Midtown Madness". Both are unfortunately rather long in the tooth but we've never found anything to replace them for sheer multiplayer fun.

When I saw the review, I figured we had a winner. The game described above is of course Grand Theft Auto IV, and I went out the following day to pick up a copy. What I hadn't thought of -- given the game's heritage -- was that it was yet another console-only release.

Oh well. Guess I'll still have to keeping looking for that next one game, although maybe the parameters of the search may well be changing...


Hm, shipping's a little high

06/08/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

I'm not sure that a $55 shipping cost on a single CD from the US to Canada is really warranted. Bad Blizzard!


Hit By Zoo Data Migration Errors

06/07/08 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Programming

I took a half-day holiday to go to the Calgary Zoo with my wife, my baby and some friends.

At the gate, when I presented our three membership cards, I and I alone was hit with my card 'coming up with an error'. Apparently, when the zoo switched its systems, some of the data "didn't make it" (this was the explanation at both the booth and Membership Services).

Now data migrations can, indeed, be a nightmare, but you test, and you hedge your bets by keeping the old data around somewhere, just in case. It was a little aggravating that it was a "known problem" and they had not gone the extra mile and tried pulling in the data that they missed, but so be it.

What was more unforgivable was that, though it was not my fault, the gal working the ticket booth, despite the membership card trouble not being my fault, despite my other family members' cards working, despite us being in a group, and despite busloads of children arriving in droves, she did not apologetically let me through, but rather, despite explaining the circumstances (and having the other members of our group already in the Zoo), sent me back to the membership services to wait for the better part of half an hour to sort out my card.

People, if you are going to screw up a data migration and decide to just handle the "oops" cases manually, tell your staff not to inconvenience the hell out of the people that you let fall through your data cracks for your own convenience. It's rude.


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