Monthly Archives: July 2010

Bill Murray — who very rarely does interviews — does one. And it’s great.

Everything that makes Bill Murray…well, Bill Murray!… comes out in this interview in GQ.  Read it now. Because he is very very unlikely to do another one for years.

The History of The Beatles as told by their hair

The History of The Beatles as told by their hair  can be found at the always inventive FlowingData web site.

Can you guess which head belongs to which Beatle?

It’s remarkable how much the Beatles changed their looks in such a short period of time.


From Inception back to Blade Runner: Final Cut (Trailer)

If you have seen and loved “Inception”, you might want to go back and see Blade Runner: Final Cut.

In many ways, there is not much difference between the “Director’s Cut” and the “Final Cut”. Ridley Scott lengths some scenes slightly, and there are some small additional scenes (like the strippers in the bar). As well, he cleaned up some things (e.g. visible wires). I recommend the Final Cut, especially if you have only seen the original version of the film with the voiceovers.

Here’s the trailer:

Janet Fitch’s 10 rules for writers (good advice)

Most guidance from writers for writers is worse than useless. I am not sure if they are trying to be clever, mystifying, or stupid with the guidance they provide, but the conclusion you are lead to is that it is impossible to give good advice to other writers. That’s simply not true, for if it were impossible to give guidance to writers, there would be no “Elements of Style”.

Fortunately there are writers who show it is possible to provide good advise. You can find it here in the LA Times: Janet Fitch’s 10 rules for writers.

Anyone who writes, be it for fiction or simply email, can benefit from reading this.


What computers are doing while you are sleeping

You may think that computers are doing little if anything while you are sleeping. While you are dreaming, you might think, if you think of it at all, computers are sitting mostly idle, running the odd screensaver program, waiting for you to return, your faithful servant.
Of course, some computers, like web servers, could be serving different people. Computers could be handling the requests from people around the world who are awake and working and reading and surfing the web. Some computers handle requests 24 hours a day, rarely having any time to themselves, to reboot, to load new software.They process requests until they are shutdown intentionally or fail dramatically.

But just like your body is resting and your brain is dreaming/sorting things out in the wee small hours of the morning, so too do some computers take the night time to get themselves together. While you are sleeping, they are running backups, processing files they don’t get to process in the daytime, defragmenting their disks, cleaning out their caches and buffers. Many computers have utility roles, doing a myriad of tasks you can only imagine. Plus for every set of computers handling your requests, there are entirely different sets of machines that check and make sure that the machines you use are working properly.
If the earth can be said to be automatic, so too can it be said of the many thousands of computers that are running while you are sleeping, running to keep the world running in the 21st century.

And I have thought of all this while I test run batch programs on a set of test computers during the graveyard shift, in order to insure that the real computers that we run can handle the volume of requests that the real (not test) computers will eventually have to handle. For in my case, what computers are doing while you are sleeping are helping me do my job successfully which will help you in ways you don’t even know (not only, but partially, because you are sleeping).

How to recognize if someone is drowning

As you can see from this article, Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning. As a parent, these things worry me. The person who wrote this closes with this:

And parents – children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

If you have the slightest doubt, save them first, and let them complain later that they weren’t drowning and you were overreacting.


The Hipster Fashion Cycle

This explains alot, actually. From Flavorwire » Awesome Infographic: Hipster Fashion Cycle, and found via SwissMiss.

BBC’s Radio 1 Live Lounge – the great music TV show of our time

What is the great music TV show of our time? I was asking myself this after considering older shows like The Midnight Special and Night Music. Certainly there are great shows, like PBS’s Austin City Limits. And of course, there is alot of music video shows (though I don’t consider them great).

What I do think is great and certainly something that captures our time and our popular music is BBC’s Radio 1 Live Lounge. (Strictly it’s a radio show, but YouTube/the Internet makes that distinction somewhat irrelevant.)  It has great performers doing something unique and worth watching / listening to. I blogged about it before, and I recommend you go to the BBC web site or YouTube and look them up. In the meantime, here Lady GaGa doing a great cover — mistakes and all — of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida.

YouTube – Radio 1 Live Lounge – Lady GaGa – Viva La Vida

Some thoughts on my new Kodak Zi6 camera

What I like about the Zi6 so far is the design of it. It’s a bit think, but it is around the size of an iPhone and fits in your hand nicely. The controls are easy to use and obvious.  I like the fact I can add my own SD cards to it. The screen is nice and big, and the USB interface is simple.

I also liked the videos it takes. It took some videos in HD60 mode and watched them using QT and they looked good. They also looked good on FB. I think it captures the video at 720p at 60 fps in HD 60 mode. Not quite as striking as 1080, but still pretty good and miles better than the videos I was taking with my Blackberry!

You can take stills with it too. So far the quality of those is only fair. I may need to experiment with that.

You need rechargable batteries, but Kodak provided some and a charger. Nice! And they are cheap these days: so much so, it doesn’t make sense to buy anything other than rechargeable.

You can mount it on a tripod, which is nice.

I picked up one of these today at a discount electronic store for a great price ($69) and so far I really like it. My first digital camera that I bought in 2003 was a Kodak, and even at 2 MP I used it for along time because it took great pictures and it was easy to use.

I have a JVC camcorder, but it still uses tape and it is clunky, and as a result I have not been using it at all. That’s a shame, because I felt lots of moments in life were not being recorded because my old cameras were not up to snuff. I hope to get alot more saved with the Zi6.

You can see more about it here at Kodak Online  or you can try Amazon too.

What do you get when you combine Gary Numan and Diehard Batteries?

One pretty cool commercial:

YouTube – DieHard Battery vs. Gary Numan via BoingBoing.

Amy Winehouse – He Can Only Hold Her – Doo Wop (That Thing)

I wrote about this before, but the quality of the video was poor. This version of on YouTube of Amy Winehouse performing He Can Only Hold Her – Doo Wop (That Thing) is Live HD and looks great. Sounds great too. A fantastic version of these two songs:

Sad to say it seems not long ago I was commenting on the new sound of people like Amy Winehouse, and now she already seems like so long ago.

Some thoughts on watching “Minority Report” again

In discussions of Science Fiction (SF) films, Blade Runner stands out. (As does Alien, another SF film by Ripley Scott.) I think Minority Report stands up well next to Blade Runner, and in some ways pays homage to it. Many aspects ofMinority Report reflect Blade Runner. First off, both are based on the work of Philip K Dick. Both have a police officer as the main protagonist, a police officer with alot of personal issues he is dealing with. Both protagonist also have an odd relationship with the main female protagonist. If the male protagonist is an outsider, the female protagonist is also an outsider, but more a freak than a loner. Both works feature what can mildly be described as a mad scientist who provides the police officer with insight into what is happening with the female protagonist. From a storyline, there are alot of similarities, and i haven’t read the story the film is based upon, but i am guessing that Spielberg and company emphasized that. Because visually the film echoes aspects of Blade Runner as well. The congested run down nature of the Sprawl in MR reminded me of Los Angeles in BR. The advanced transportation is similar. The run down buildings seem similar. Even the last scene in the first BR (with the voice over, not the Director’s’Cut) reminded me of the cottage scenes in MR. In BR, the Voight-Kampf machine highlights the eye and uses response time of the eye to separate humans from androids. In MR eyescanners are used to identify who you are. In BR there is an eyemaker and when the androids/replicants go to visit him, they play with the spare eyeballs. In MR spare eyeballs also play a signifigant roll. Lastly, both protagonists look like each other. Oh, and they spend alot of time looking at images for clues.

MR is a great film in it’s’own right, though, and it is visually stunning. In BR, Scott went back 40 years into the past to restore fashions and looks he wanted to project 40 years into the future. Spielberg/Kaminsky (cinematographer) resort to creating an almost black and white future with a washed out palatte that supports CGI better but also gives the film a retro look. The film is flooded with complex lighting. It is worthwhile watching it with the sound off just to see the interplay with light on the characters as they move through the film. The palate might be stark, but the tones and complexity of the lighting is tremendous, right down to the juxtaposition of rainy night, sunny day scenes at the end.

Submersion/drowning is a critical theme of the film. Major and minor characters are submerged or drowning, either literally or figuratively. Indeed the main character is drowning in grief. Even the wife of the protagonist is revealing images by dipping them in pools of liquid (not unlike the precogs and their visions themselves, who reveal images by floating in liquid).

Images are also a major element of the film, but really it comes down to vision: what you can see and what you can’t. The film is about images, sight, blindness, the eye. It is ostensibility a blend of film noir/SF genres, but if Blade Runner was a meditation of what the future of the city is, Minority Report is a meditation on what does it mean to see. The precog Agatha asks the protagonist this, but really, it is what the filmmakers are asking us.

Where to go this weekend

Any place that makes you “Le Happy”

From the always great Oliveloaf Design blog

Torrid awesomeness: Martha and the Vandellas doing “Heatwave”

This is from the 60s, but I saw them in the 80s and they were still great. And decades later, this song is still great. And the perfect summer song.

One way of dealing with subway delays in the summer time

There have been alot of delays on the TTC subways recently. Blame the G20 and the heat. It can be frustrating to deal with, not to mention unpleasant. What to do?

Well, if the subway is not going to be going your way for some time, and you have a laptop and a Metropass, consider hoping off, heading for your nearest Starbucks, and grabbing yourself a nice cold drink while you take advantage of their free WiFi. You can tell whomever you were supposed to meet that you were delayed, and that in the meantime you are catching up on your email, work, etc. You can also keep track of the subway — I follow @bradttc and @ttcupdates on twitter — so you will know that it is all clear and you can proceed to work (or wherever you are going).

Hey, when life gives you lemons, go to Starbucks and have a Tazo Black Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade! 🙂

A great source of information on energy rebates in Ontario and BC

Can be found here at They have a complete list of rebates, including advice on what information you need to gather in order to make sure you are eligible for your rebate.

Before you buy anything, make sure the person / company selling you a product or service conforms with the terms of the rebate. Don’t get caught buying an air conditioner, for example, that is not energy efficient enough. Not only will you not get your money, but you will end up with a less energy efficient product, which is doubly bad.  Cavaet emptor.

Are you looking to replace your air conditioner and you live in Ontario and you want to know about rebates?

Then visit this site: It shows you how you can get rebates towards any air conditioner you purchased. Apparently it is retroactive to 2009, which means if you didn’t know about this when you bought your A/C last year, there is a chance you can still apply.

You can use the money to help pay for the new unit. Or you can do some other things around the house to make it even more energy efficient (e.g. replace light bulbs, seal up doors and windows against draughts).

Stay cool.

Phishing/Spam of the Day

Is this. Besides the stilted language and the typographical errors, the reply-to email is an AOL site (highly/extremely unlikely to be the source of such a lucrative prize).

Anyway, here it is:

UK Games Commission
Victoria Square House,
Birmingham B2 4BP. London-UK.
Reference: BOGC/9887-44UK,
Batch: 44/0091-BO1/GC2

This Official Letter of Notification is displayed in the order of the 2012 Olympics Games that will next be held in London 2012. Your Email Address was gotten through United Kingdom Information Network Online and above is enclosed your Reference & Batch Number been for the International Promotions Program that was recently held.

Draws of Email Addresses was selected through a computer system from  Thirty Thousand email addresses across the world as part of the IPP and the winning sum for this draw is Five Million Pounds to be shared amound 5 eligible winners from this promotion and by receiving this notification, this makes you an eligible winner to lay claims.

Send your claimaint details to the below contact for payment processing and data programming and further steps of claim will be related with you.

Sex: | First Name: | Surname:| Occupation: |  Marital Status: |  Date of Birth: |  Residential |  Address: | Country of Origin: | Nationality/Citizenship: | Email: | Alternative Email: | Fax #:
Tel#: | Cell#:.

Fill in the details or write it out as it best suit you to send to the contatct below:

Mr. Perry Lyons
Tel: +44 702 402 7924

Quote your Reference and Batch numbers and avoid unnecessary delay/complications, all funds that are unclaimed within 2 weeks of notification will be revoke.

Euro Tele Raff
Copy Right 2010

Three ways (plus one) of dealing with procrastination that you might not have read before

Three ways of dealing with procrastination that you might not have read before — I haven’t — are:

  1. Acknowledge the difficulty of doing it (at first): one of the chief reasons I procrastinate is because I have something difficult to do, but I refuse to acknowledge it is difficult.That’s likely why I am not doing it!  Instead what I end up doing is subconsciously avoiding it by doing other important-but-not-as-important things. But if I acknowledge it is difficult, then I give myself some slack and I take other steps to ease the difficulty and get it done.
  2. Bribe yourself: if what you have to do is difficult, then find rewards for yourself to motivate you to get it done. It can be small things and it doesn’t have to be monetary, but associating the difficult with something rewarding takes the sting out of the task.
  3. Give yourself copious amounts of time to get it done: I find sometime that I have something difficult to do and little time to do it, the little time to do it in is my excuse for not doing it. One way to overcome that is to give yourself lots of time to do something. For example, if there is some unpleasant chore that I have to do that I can do in less than an hour, I will give myself three hours to do it. Even with procrastination, I will eventually get it done in the three hours.

And now a fourth step. After you complete the task, review the difficulty of it. Was it really that hard to do? If the answer is no, or not usually, then make an effort to acknowledge that it wasn’t that hard, then write that done or log it somewhere as a reminder to yourself for the next time you have to deal with a task that you are procrastinating about.

The Midnight Special

If you goto and search on “Midnight Special”, you will find a wealth of music from the late 1970s and you can see the progression of music from folk/disco to New Wave. You might think that the 1970s was only about disco, but there were lots of styles then, and the end of the decade was trending towards edgier music.

A great example of this is The Cars, who, like Cheap Trick, combined band members that embodied different styles of music yet came together to provide an integrated sound.

Here’s “Lets Go”

A great new design/decor blog by Laurie Grassi

Can be found here at Laurie has been working hard at it and the results are obvious. But don’t just listen to me: go see for yourself.