Monthly Archives: September 2009

a nice reminder to backup your files

My computer is toast. Specifically there appears to be a problem with either Windows XP or the file system where Windows resides. Regardless, it is likely going to mean a lot of restoring of files or at least moving them.

Ask yourself; if my computer stopped working right now, do you have a copy of the most important files on my computer? Do I even know which files are important? Have you tested restoring those files and did it work?

If you don’t have a good answer to these questions, look for ways to determine how to answer them today. In the worst case, take your most crucial files and email them to someone or use a service like as a temporary place to put them while you find a longer term solution.

You don’t need a complex solution. In fact backing up your files should be as easy as brushing your teeth! And just as important.


BlackBerry Tour trackball woes

If you are going to buy a BlackBerry, consider this: BlackBerry Tour trackball woes cause rampant returns, analyst says.

I love my BlackBerry for alot of reasons, but I am not a fan of their trackball. I already had to take mine — a Curve — in for repairs in the first year. In talking to a Bell Canada service employee, he said they were going to be able to repair them in the future for $10. (When I took mine in they replaced the whole BlackBerry, not just the trackball). Why is this? Apparently the trackball is suseptible to dirt and dust getting in it and gumming it up.

I wish the BlackBerries still had the scroll wheel as well as the trackball. I would use the wheel for 90% of my work I am sure. The buttons they have there now I never use.

Mail-E? A paper robot that tells you that you have e-mail

If you love WALL-E and you have an ability to build robotic devices, this might be the project for you: Mail-E, a mail-checker robot from Let’s Make Robots!

If you don’t want to make it, it is still interesting to see how it’s done. And if you love the idea of making robots, then you have to check out  Let’s Make Robots!

Why not buy flowers…

On the weekend I was in Dufflet on Yonge in Toronto having a delicious brownie. This particular Dufflet also has a flower shop in it with gorgeous flowers for sale. While I was enjoying my brownie, a woman walked by with a gorgeous bouquet. As she exited, she exclaimed “I am buying them to cheer me up”.

It may seem extravagant to some to buy flowers. You can’t do much with them. But we pay for movies and attend musicals and watch TV shows on cable TV. If anything, flowers last longer and cost less than these diversions. Even my brownie is not something I have to eat. I enjoy it for much more than the calories it provides (and it does provide alot of those!) It’s a small extravagance.

No, flowers are no more extravagant than any of those. If you want to make yourself better, you could do worse than buy flowers. Even one small one, in a tiny vase. Go ahead!

The 50 best foods in the world and where to eat them

It’s a bit of a fool’s game to proclaim the 50 best foods in the world and where to eat them. But I think The Observer makes a good case. For one thing, they say the best places to get certain food like vegetarian curry or sushi are located in their countries of origin and in big cities. That’s not surprising to me. Also, the reviewers are people like Raymond Blanc and Michel Roux: they know their food. If Even if these are not the 50 best foods in the world and where to eat them, you could do alot worse than eat these foods in these places.

I was surprised that the best place for steak was El Carpicho, in Jimenez de Jamuz, Spain. But as they say:

Time magazine called it “the perfect steak”. American Vogue’s exacting food writer Jeffrey Steingarten said it was “probably the greatest steak I’ve ever eaten”. They were referring to an enormous chuletón taken from the central rib section of a 16-year-old Rubia Gallega ox, dry-aged for 90 days, and served in the cellar dining room of a rural bodega named El Capricho, near León in north-west Spain.

Certainly with all of that, it had better be fantastic!

I was not surprised but pleased to see that the best place to eat roast chicken is still L’Ami Louis in Paris.

This Paris fixture, open since 1924, is the ultimate French bistro. Heads of state (Clinton, Gorbachev) and cultural giants (Welles, Hemingway) have come here to feast on sumptuous roast chicken, served whole with matchstick pommes frites and a simple green salad. It’s touristy and expensive and the decor is a bit clichéd, but such details become trivial once the chicken (which inspired Simon Hopkinson to write his much-loved Roast Chicken and Other Stories) turns up at the table.

Sure it’s touristy, but I still aim to get there one day and after a day of fasting, do my utmost to devour one of those delicious chickens with lots of frites and mayo and a bottle of cold, crisp white wine.

(Found on Kottke).

A simple to follow flow chart on how to be happy

Found here.

A great blog: Lens Blog at

Lens blog not only has superb Photojournalism but it also has excellent commentary to go with it. Go see.

Unhappy workers

As companies struggle with the existing economy still in the early stages of growth, job morale and employee productivity may not be foremost on their mind. But as this article from CNNMoney shows, there is a problem with job satisfaction due to recession that will adversely affect the organization as well. The article is worthwhile reading. Smart companies will try and nip this in the bud and come out stronger as the economy grows.

(Small) good news: the US S.E.C. Seeks to Ban Computerized ‘Flash Trading’

There’s been complaints that the Obama administration has not done enough to reel in the finance industry in the U.S. after last year’s debacle. The implication is that nothing has been done and therefore nothing will be done. While this is a small thing, the fact that the S.E.C. Seeks to Ban Computerized ‘Flash Trading’ ( is at least baby steps in the right direction of smartening up the financial industry for their (and our) own good. I hope we see more regulation and governance soon.

On Afghanistan

Anyone wondering what to do about the situation in Afghanistan should consider what Sen. John Kerry, (D-Mass.) said at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan today. Specifically,

“First it will be the Afghans that will ultimately win or lose the struggle against the Taliban.” The United States is in a “race against time” in a region “suspicious of foreign troops.” Recognize “the decentralized nature” of Afghan politics and society. Be flexible. “What works in Mazar-e-Sharif … is very different from what works in Kandahar.” Be “humble about our ability to bring large-scale change.” Put Afghanistan in a regional context. “Permeable borders are straddled by clans, ethnic groups and militants and what happens in one country can have profound implications for what happens in others.”

People may not like ot disagree with Kerry, but I think what he states is accurate. for more on this, see The Washington Independent » Kerry: ‘Set Realistic Goals’ in Afghanistan


Yup. Not just for cats anymore. All you smart people could use some silliness and a laugh as much as anyone…

Anyone who has owned a dog knows this face. 🙂 For more goofiness, see Loldogs, Dogs ‘n’ Puppy Dog Pictures – I Has A Hotdog!

Dramatic evidence of what 50 years of auto safety improvements has brought us…

…can be see in this head on collision between the 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air Vs. 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.

I love the look of the ’59 Malibu, but after this I wouldn’t be caught dead driving one. Actually, if I was driving one, I could be caught dead in it. For this test, it was estimated that the driver of the Bel Air would suffer some injuries, while the driver of the Bel Air in this crash would die right away.

Thanks to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the video.

The fall of Lehman Brothers and the role of financial regulation

Reading this article, Tales From Lehman’s Crypt –, I was really impressed by how the employees interviewed took little or no responsibility for what happened at Lehman Brothers. Indeed, some of them insisted that it was the regulators job to stop them from doing the damage they did.

In the near term, after the political battle over health care has settled done, there will be a battle over regulation of the financial industry in the U.S. During that battle, there will be people who will say that strict regulation isn’t necessary, while others will insist it is essential. Having this article in mind will be useful while you listen to that debate.

(Image from

The Goodbyn™ lunchbox: bento for kids

Bento lunches for kids are hot now. If you think your kids would like this:

Then head on over to The Goodbyn™ lunchbox site and you can buy one.

On deleting tweets on twitter

I don’t have anything to add on the whole Kanye West story. I do want to comment on this, though: ABC’s Moran removes tweet with Obama swipe at Kanye – Michael Calderone –

Even though the tweets were removed, they were still available as of last night via Google’s caching. (And to be fair to Michael Calderone, he does acknowledge that.) Anyone who thinks they can post things on the Internet and then by deleting them not have anyone see them is in for a surprise. Ask Terry Moran.

On planned obselescence and being green

Dealing with all the disposable waste that we produce is an important way of being green.  Any way you can eliminate purchasing something you immediately have to toss is a good thing.

I think what we need to tackle as well is things manufactured to be obsolete. One of these things is lightbulbs. Fortunately, there is good news on that front, according to the blog, Inhabitat. According to this post, Panasonic’s New LED Bulbs Shine for 19 Years:

Despite lasting longer and being more efficient than both incandescent and CFL bulbs, LEDs haven’t caught on because of their sky-high prices. But now Panasonic wants to bring LEDs to the mainstream — at least in Japan — with a 60-watt household bulb that the company claims can last up to 19 years, or 40 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Not only are they long lasting, but they are LED. This is a good thing.

If you like my blog….

…then I highly suggest you visit Sunshine+Design. You’ll be glad you did.

On how the rich disappoint

Apparently Bernie Madoff’s NYC Penthouse apartment is up for sale. This is one of the rooms:

To which I say: is that it?! Disappointing. I would have thought that if you are going to plunder people of as much as he did, he would have much nicer digs. But apparently not. It’s not terrible, mind you, but it is lacking in the opulence of Louis XIV or even Donald Trump. 😉

If you are so inclined, you can see more here

Personal Technology to Help You Get Fit

The has a good rundown on Smartphone Training Apps and other personal technology that can help you get fit. One of my favourite is this:

The Nike + iPod Sport Kit is made especially for runners (it can be used in a gym for cardio workouts as well); it tracks time, distance, pace and estimates calories burned. It uses a $29 sensor compatible with a Nike+ shoe and beams information to an iPod or iPhone. It does take some effort to calibrate. You will need to run a known course to set it up for highest accuracy.

I take issue with the part I underlined. It’s pretty easy to calibrate. I took mine to a track once that I knew was a quarter mile and calibrated it easily. As it was, it was pretty accurate to begin with.

If you can’t find a track, consider using to map out a quarter, half or full mile (or kilometer) and then calibrate it there. (try to find a flat stretch).

Another tool I use is my Polar heart monitor. Polar makes many different kinds: I use a basic one to allow me to train at a rate that’s not too easy, not too hard.

Finally, a good ol’ running watch / stopwatch is always handy, even if it isn’t digital.

On dealing with cancer

I don’t think anyone is unaware of what cancer is and how serious it is. Awareness is one thing: how one deals with it is different matter. As this video from the Lance Armstrong Foundation shows, sometimes the way one deals with it, unfortunately, is with silence, or by stigmatizing those affected by the disease:

One way to combat this is to know more about cancer. There are lots of ways to do this. One way that I do this is by following people who are dealing with the disease and blogging about it. One such person is a fabulous actor, Lisa Ray, who has starred in one of my favourite films, “Water”. Her blog is here. Another person is a lovely woman from the U.K. named Tracey who is dealing with two cancers.

I am sure there are many others writing about their experiences with cancer (Tracey has links to a number of people on her blog). I encourage you, if you want to know more about the disease and how people are dealing with it, to read their blogs.

Thank you.

Where to find fashion bargains in New York City

It’s fashion week in NYC this week. But really, New York is 52 weeks of fashion every year. If you are heading there, there are (seemingly) endless places to go. However, if you are smart/frugal, consider the places mentioned in this blog post from the Frugal Traveler Blog – Bargains Abound for the Frugal Fashionista. You can find yourself some great clothes at a great price.

Be smart. Look smart.

Spring 2010 Rag and Bone collection at

Great collection: fits somewhere in between casual and dressy, at least on the men’s wear side of it. I especially like this. See the slide show here.

P.S. You can see all of their collections here. The image on the left is from the Fall-Winter 2009 set.

Good news on global child mortality

According to this UNICEF Press centre, global child mortality continues to drop:

UNICEF today released new figures that show the rate of deaths of children under five years of age continued to decline in 2008.

The data shows a 28 per cent decline in the under-five mortality rate, from 90 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990, to 65 deaths per 1000 live births in 2008. According to these estimates, the absolute number of child deaths in 2008 declined to an estimated 8.8 million from 12.5 million in 1990, the base line year for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Lots of good progress. It goes without saying that there is still much more to be done. Still, good news should never be sniffed at.

The whole press release is worth reading.

Late Night / Early Morning Music: Björk – Big Time Sensuality

Equally good as the last music of the night or the first music of the day….

YouTube – Björk – Big Time Sensuality

The Best Cafes (for Free WiFi) in Toronto

If you are like me, you like a cafe that allows you to hookup to the Internet while you have a nice cup of joe. BlogTO let’s you know the best places to go in the city with this great article featuring The Best Cafes for Free WiFi in Toronto. And even if you feel like leaving your laptop at home and taking a book or a newspaper with you instead, you would do well to check out some of these fine cafes.

Want to live / stay in Paris?

Consider checking out the site: Haven in Paris. I can’t promise you they will be cheap, but they do have a range of sizes and locations, and even if you don’t do much more than window shop, it can be fun to do. I mean, you could do alot worse than have an apartment at Place des Vosges to hang out. Some rentals can be as short as a week. Go see. (Oh, there’s also places in Provence and Tuscany too.)

(Found via the blog Cup of Jo).

The impact of 9-11 on flight traffic

According to FlowingData:

“…a comprehensive view of flight delays, but here’s the part I found most interesting. This is a view of flight cancellations. The more red a rectangle is, the higher the percentage of cancellations

So following 9/11 there were actually fewer cancellations (and delays). My best bet is that this was because there were so few people flying after that event.”

Thanks to the contrarian blog for this.

Something that might make you feel better if you’ve had a bad week…

…is this video of How Not to Demolish a Building from Gizmodo:

Whatever screw ups and mishaps you may be responsible for this week, at least you can say: I didn’t do anything THIS bad.

James Fallows on Wolfowitz, McNamara, and the ghosts that haunt you

James Fallows picks apart a recent interview with Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz was never formally prosecuted for his role in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but like Robert McNamara, he will  not be able to escape it. It will haunt him, just like McNamara’s role in Vietnam haunted him. This is as it should be. As consequences go, it is actually minor, though the actors in both cases many not see it that way.

Fallows is always good. See Festival of updates #5: Wolfowitz and Iraq – James Fallows for more on this story.

Who has the most power in the U.S. Congress right now?

It is a woman, but it’s not Nancy Pelosi. Instead, it’s likely this person:

Olympia Jean Snowe, Representative from Maine.

George Lucas presents the Golden Lion to Disney•Pixar at the Venice Film Festival

Kudos to the Venice Film Festival (La Biennale di Venezia) for recognizing John Lasseter and the directors of Disney•Pixar –Brad Bird, Peter Docter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich– with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 66th Venice International Film Festival. Better still, they had George Lucas present the award. It’s a lifetime achievement award, and given the great work consistently produced by Disney•Pixar over the year’s, it is well deserved.

I also like because it supports in some part what I wrote about Brad Bird being an auteur.


In reviewing the new ‘Melrose Place’, Gina Bellafante writes:

“Much of the acting is marginally improved since the days when Andrew Shue, playing the doltish writer Billy Campbell, approached each scene as if the script demanded that he look like a 6-year-old told that he wasn’t getting a puppy for his birthday.”

The todo list: how to keep it simple

One way to do it would be to keep a simple board like this!

There’s alot to be said for having a short todo list and getting two things done well. (Ok, I might aim for three, but still…:))

I have a small blackboard like this (from IKEA, I think). I might have to paint it up like this. (Cheapo white boards from dollar stores like Dollarama would also work).

There’s alot of great stuff over at decor addict. Check it out.

Friday Night Music: New York, by Paloma Faith

Great song, great video.

From the most excellent blog, oliveloaf design.

Dinner at the Best Restaurant in the World: El Bulli

Would you like to eat at the best restaurant in the world? Good luck! The author of this, Dinner at El Bulli: The Greatest Restaurant in the World – The Amateur Gourmet, spent 5 years trying to get a reservation. According to this, 2 million people each year try to get one of the few thousand openings. Your chances are “slim” and “none”.

Before you give up on wondering what a 30 course meal is like at El Bulli, click on the link above. It is chock full of video, photos and other details on the meal savoured there. Even if you aren’t a gourmet or a gourmand, you’ll enjoy it.

Here’s one of the many videos of the experience. Bon appetit!

Great new music on BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge

If you like great new music, go to YouTube and search for “BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge” and you will get everything from the Arctic Monkeys to the Jonas Brothers and everything in between. It’s rough, it’s eclectic, and it’s great. There’s too much to cover in one blog post, but here’s a sample: the superb Noisettes covering The Killers “When We Were Young”.

YouTube – bbc radio 1 live lounge

Three great things

Nat “King” Cole
Hoagy Carmichael

Fahrenheit 451

In a time of e-books and other digital technology, it’s important not to lose sight of the greatness of books themselves. I came across this article by Alice Hoffman (here at that reminded me of that greatness, and the greatness of this book in particular. I read it ages ago, but the story and the language and imagery stuck with me and likely you too, if you have read it. If you haven’t, I recommend you add it to your short list.

See Alice Hoffman’s article for her story and an exerpt from it.

A must read for Polaroid Photography Fans

If you crave Polaroid film stock, but thought it was impossible to get it anymore, than Urban Outfitters is the site you want to check out. Specifically, this section of their site: > Apartment  What’s New > Impossible Project. If you want some, I can’t promise you it will be cheap and plentiful and easy, but it will be possible. But, as they used to say: supplies are limited so act now.

Organizing Your Recipes: 8 Foolproof Methods from Real Simple

For anyone like myself who has lots of recipes and struggles to deal with them, consider this: Organizing Your Recipes: 8 Foolproof Methods. As for me, I am going towards getting rid of all but my favourite cookbooks. All the magazines and ho-hum cookbooks have been ripped up and the good recipes extracted. The remaining cookbooks are those that inspire me in one way or another.

P.S. Consider getting your recipes directly from sites like Real Simple or or Chatelaine or Canadian Living.