Daily Archives: September 29, 2008

Which Linux Distro is for you?

If you are new to Linux and find yourself stuck between wanting to use it and not knowing which Linux (distro) to use, consider this article, Lifehacker Faceoff: Battle of the Linux Distros

It’s pretty highlevel, and it isn’t going to tell you to go with one over another, but if you want to get started and know at least a few things before talking to your local Linux guru, take a look.

I know, there are more distros than the ones here, but for new Linux users, these are good to know, even if they do go with something else.

What’s nature’s answer to Viagra? Would you believe: horny goat weed?

Really. See the globeandmail.com’s What’s in a name?

City, Rediscovering the Center by William H. Whyte

A great book on life in a modern city is this, CITY: REDISCOVERING THE CENTER by William H. Whyte.
It’s also one of my favourites. Whyte, famous for an earlier book, The Organizational Man, had been part of a group that:

‘… studied the use of urban spaces for 16 years. This follow-up to The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces is an engaging look at the variety of human interactions which make “downtown” vibrant. Whyte looks at such diverse topics as pedestrian movement, concourses and skyways, sunlight and its effects–all from the perspective of a confirmed city-lover. His observations and recommendations can be read with profit and pleasure by professional planners and readers interested in what makes a city tick.’

I actually saw this book in action in Toronto. On Bloor Street near St. George Street was a small park that was semi-secluded behind of a series of low walls. Even though it was in a vibrant part of the city, no one ventured in there, likely because of it’s closed nature and the down-and-out men who occupied it (and who seemed to be fighting more often than not). After reading this book, I thought, if they tore down those walls, the space would open up and you would get more people using the space. (No public space should be dominated or controlled by one group, rich or poor, I believe.) Eventually the walls were torn down and that is what happened: the space was used by a much more diverse group of people and it was more peaceful.

Since that time more and more people have been rediscovering the city centre, in part due to the work of people like Whyte and Jane Jacobs. Anyone who would love to live in a city or who already does would get a much greater appreciation of urban life if they read this book.

The importance of landscaping in the city

I pass this bench all the time. I have never seen anyone sitting there. Ever.

In some ways, it is a pleasant place to sit: lots of grass, good walkways, closeness to the nearby apartment building. It gets both shade and sunshine.

Yet, there is also the omnipresence of the garbage cans and large container nearby that signal it is not really a place for leisure. Nor are there any trees or or flowers or anything to make it more pleasant for someone to sit there.

Perhaps people don’t sit there because there is a park nearby that also has benches to sit. That’s the point: those park benches are under trees and there is a playground and other things that signal to those in the area that this is a place to relax.

Imagine this place with trees and flowers and perhaps a table or another bench. And some way of making the garbage cans not visible. People might actually enjoy it.

Venice on the cheap. Sort of..

While it seems impossible to enjoy a glorious day in Venice for just $40 CNN convincingly shows how it can done.

Of course you have to get there and stay somewhere, but if you are stretched financially, knowing you can enjoy the city cheaply brings it closer.

(Great photo of Venice from iessi’s photostream on flickr)

The amazing costumes worn by Renee Fleming at the Metropolitan Opera

I wrote about the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night gala recently. One thing to note about it is the costumes, specifically those worn by Renee Fleming. No ordinary frocks were these. For the event she had costumes designed by no less than Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld and John Galliano. They don’t do things small at the Met!

Check out the nytimes.com slide show to see some examples of the work:

Fashioned for Renée Fleming – The New York Times > Music > Slide Show