Sunday, December 28, 2008

A company in Germany is offering this fantastic getaway for men. Here is the perfect description:

Think of it as a testosterone-soaked sandbox: a German amusement park where, instead of standing in line to ride on roller coasters, you get to play with big, loud machines. For 219 euros (about $280), patrons can spend the day operating 29-ton Liebherr backhoes and 32-ton Komatsu front-end loaders, off-roading through the woods in a Mercedes-built Unimog, peeling out in a Suzuki SUV, and slinging some mud on quad bikes.

Does that not sound completely amazing? Driving huge tractors, off roading and any other amazing thing you can think of. I am so getting on a plane to Germany right now.
Check out the article from Wired here with pictures.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas (its a conspiracy)

Now that Christmas is over I would like to wish my blog readers a Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone!
I would also like to point out that Christmas has been hijacked by commercialism and post a video put together by a group called Advent Conspiracy.

As you can see by the video they are advocating more worship, spending less while giving more and loving everyone. One of the best points they make is the fact that Americans spend 450 billion at Christmas time and at the same time it would only take 10 billion to solve the world water crisis.
It is a powerful video so give it some thought. I know our church is certainly thinking about what we could do next year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Are You Ashamed Yet?

I saw this article about a small-time software developer trying to guilt software pirates into paying for the program. When you enter a hacked registration code you get this message.
The 'Shame on Me' button is priceless.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

World Air Travel

I stumbled across this clip months ago but forgot to blog about it. It demonstrates the typical air travel all over the world during 24 hours in a quick 72 second video.

Fascinating stuff. I can feel myself getting drawn along with those yellow dots doing the large arc across the Atlantic to Europe.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's Christmas Card Time!

In keeping with the season, Irene and I sent out Christmas cards to many of our friends and family. You should be getting yours soon. If you don't get one than we don't have your address. I am not going to post the actual one we sent out because I don't want to ruin the surprise.

But I will post some of the runners-up.All we need is some hot cocoa and fake reindeer antlers.

We did a lot of work on the house this year.

Anybody who knows about Irene's chainsaw wielding past will understand why she is the one doing the cutting.

We like Christmas lights.

I don't know why I am skiing, snowboarding is where it's at.

And sledding, sledding is also where it's at. Sorry gingerbread men but those tobaggans are hard to control.

I hope you enjoyed that and maybe in the new year I will post our actual Christmas card.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Attention all Drones

If anybody is still actually using Internet Explorer these days (I know you exist) they should stop right about now.
Since Tuesday Microsoft has been admitting that IE is vulnerable to some pretty serious security leaks which allow hackers to steal passwords and other personal information. The internet has been abuzz with stories like this and news clips like this. Basically you should be using anything (Firefox, Chrome or Safari) but IE.
I personally just installed the update along with the Microsoft anti-virus software on my computer at home but who is going to trust it when it was made by the same guys who brought us Vista.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Living in Ottawa

So Ottawa has been a happening place lately. We have had all the government shenanigans and parliament being paroqued. This has led to endless debates among normally non-political people. Even people who don't live in Ottawa seem to know what is going on. However on the downside, it has led to many in the media mispronouncing paroqued as pierogies. This has, in turn led to some confusion when reporting on the latest in the economic crisis. There has been no word on how the pierogies feel about the latest reports. The media really has to tap that angle for better ratings.

At the same time the city is in turmoil because everyone's best friends, the good bus drivers of this city, have decided to strike. These idiots are striking despite being offered a 7% raise and better benefits etc. Apparently the main point of contention is the scheduling. The bus drivers want to be able to pick their own schedules based on seniority. The city has countered by saying that they could save millions by hiring less drivers and buying less buses if they could be in charge of scheduling. Of course, the stupid unions are going to ignore this and go for the jugular by bleeding the taxpayers even more. I mean, in these economic times can't you be satisfied that you even have a job let alone a 7% raise. Sheesh, get back to work already! Traffic is brutal, parking is impossible and everybody hates OC Transpo right now. Personally I have come out of this relatively unscathed since I don't work downtown anymore and nobody in Kanata takes the bus so driving isn't even that bad. Shocking, I know, I have resorted to driving. But don't worry, it makes me sick too.

The transit strike seems to be timed perfectly with some horrible weather (for driving or walking). They are currently predicting some sort of snomageddon this weekend. I have my doubts because the media really just seems to be pumping up the weather story for the ratings boost after missing out on the pierogies angle.

But either way, it seems like the perfect time to leave our wonderful city and seek out the nearest beacon of civilization, Montreal. We are heading out to see some family downtown and maybe do some Christmas shopping on Catherine Street. We are staying in a sweet hotel for really cheap and it is quite close to an Apple Store. Should be fun if we can get there.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

(I'm not) Scared at Night

Before we left for Spain I picked up the latest Kathleen Edwards album 'Asking for Flowers'. Now, after several listens while driving through snowstorms in the winter darkness to and from work, I have really got into it. The song, 'Scared at Night' is one I find quite poignant and touching.

Here are the lyrics:

As a child I would wake at night.
I was scared but I kept real quiet.
Shadows on the walls moving in on me...
And underneath my sheets I could barely breathe.
And your room was only just across the hall.
All it would have taken was a single call.
But maybe sometimes we've got to trust ourselves not to scream out loud, and run like hell...

Believe me, all our days here are unsure.
Believe in me, I don't want to anymore.
And in the dark, picture me in your mind.
And I'll lay with you.
You don't have to be scared at night.

As a young man you were shooting rats.
By accident you hit the farmyard cat.
He ran for the fields and came back the next day.
You'd blown out his eye and you could see his brain.
That's it boy, there is some things in life, you don't want to do, but you know is right.
So take him out back and finish him off. Got your gun off the shelf, it only took one shot.

Believe me, all our days here are unsure.
Believe in me, I don't want to anymore.
And in the dark, picture me in your mind.
And I'll lay with you, so you don't have to be scared at night.

And I flew away and I paid on your final day.
They said that you waited 'til I came.
We sang your favorite hymns and we held your hand.
You took your final breath and that was that.
But I'd never seen a person die before.
I tried so hard not to cry and all...
'Cause maybe sometimes we've got to trust ourselves, that when you die you go some place else.

Believe me, all our days here are unsure.
Believe in me, I don't want to anymore.
And in the dark, picture me in your mind.
And I'll lay with you.
You don't have to be scared at night.
You don't have to be scared at night.
You don't have to be scared at night

-Kathleen Edwards (Scared at Night)

It has the right amount of sadness and questioning in the lyrics to make you feel and wonder. From a Christian perspective it makes you feel good and reassured about the hope that you have. Maybe that is why I enjoy sad/melancholy music so much more than silly/joyful music. It is more raw and real and I, for one, can relate very easily. The music is also fantastic. It is real Canadian Indie-Folk-Rock at it's best. She is coming to Ottawa in February so if anyone wants to see her at the Bronson Centre, I will go with you.
Today, however, Irene and I plan to head up to the Black Sheep Inn to catch Toronto pianist Royal Wood. I believe I posted a romantic music video for his song 'Juliet' in the past.

Friday, December 12, 2008


An Update to my previous blog:

Ken Starks has updated his blog with an apology to the Teacher. He apparently did not realize the extent to which this would spread. Apparently it even made the front page of Slashdot.
The teacher, who he refuses to identify to the media, has even talked to him and they seem to have made nice. Either way, it may have been some good press for the open source community.

What!?! Software is free!?!

Yes it's true. I didn't know it was so unbelievable but apparently a lot of people don't know about it. I stumbled across this article about a teacher in the States threatening a student for giving out Linux cds and other open source software for free while introducing some fellow students to it.
She sent a letter to a blogger named Ken Starks who is involved in introducing cheap computers to disadvantaged children. She says:
"...observed one of my students with a group of other children gathered around his laptop. Upon looking at his computer, I saw he was giving a demonstration of some sort. The student was showing the ability of the laptop and handing out Linux disks. After confiscating the disks I called a confrence with the student and that is how I came to discover you and your organization."
Why would you do that? What the kid is doing is impressive, schools should be encouraging that type of thing. If schools went completely open source they could save so much money. She then goes on to show her ignorance by saying:
"I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful."
What!?! There is TONS of free software! Everybody uses open source stuff now even if they don't realize it. You really don't need to pay anything to use your computer anymore.
Then after talking of pursuing legal action and how Linux is holding kids back she starts going all 'Pro-Microsoft':
"This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all."
No, this is a world where more and more people are turning away from Microsoft. The only reason it is so prevalent is because they have created these situations where it is hard to switch operating systems. But instead of developing a good one they constantly churn out relatively archaic junk. They know that many will purchase it because they don't know any better or they just buy the pre-built system in Future Shop. And many more businesses will purchase it because they have to. Why bother spending resources creating a better product if you know you will be selling millions anyway. It sounds suspiciously like another failing business model which I blogged about earlier. There is a shift that already began with Apple reinventing itself and Firefox becoming the browser of choice. Even Dell is offering computers preloaded with Linux Ubuntu! Dell! Seriously! Regular people are ready for change.
Now if you read the comments below the article it starts to get a little sketchy fast. People commenting on links between the teacher's union and Microsoft, the teaching quality today and the usual Microsoft hate speak. But some of it is valid. I have recently reformatted my computer and am now dual booting with Windows XP and Linux Ubuntu 7.1. My computer is 5 years old and only has 512 RAM with a small 2.2GHz processor. I have been really careful to keep it clean and quick but there is only so much you can do when XP uses such a sizeable chunk of your computer just to run. With Ubuntu I have all the awesome open source software I need and it runs so smoothly, flawlessly and effortlessly. The graphic effects in Ubuntu rivals Vista but Vista would never run on my computer. I truly am a satisfied 'customer'. I was always a little scared of it since I know almost nothing about programming etc. but this is almost the most user friendly experience ever.
Now the only reason I have Windows is for AutoCAD and I almost wish I hadn't bothered. AutoCAD and Windows are the only things I am 'paying' for. Everything else is free. I use GIMP or Paint.NET instead of Photoshop, Firefox instead of IE, OpenOffice instead of MS Office, Gmail instead of Outlook, AVG instead of Norton.
And by the way, all those open source products work on Windows too because they are, well, open-source. Do some research and you will find many good reviews of all these products. Once again, there is no reason you should be paying for software these days.
Seriously, if you have an older computer kicking around that you think is garbage, stick Ubuntu on it and you will have a perfectly good usable computer. If you want an install disc you can order the latest one here for free (I know, its crazy). Or you can have mine. If you are having trouble with your computer now, consider switching. And if you have kids, I think it is really important to expose them to things other than Microsoft if you want them to have the computer skills of the future.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tis the Season for Concerts

We sure have seen our share of classical/seasonal music in the past month. We went to see a candle lit performance of the Messiah. I think this may become a tradition for us.Irene performed with her choir at a church designed by my firm. They also sang parts of the Messiah along with some seasonal tunes.Our church had the annual children's choir performance. It was as cute as ever despite missing several kids who were on vacation.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Good ol Hockey Game

In the last couple weeks we ended up scoring tickets to see both of Ottawas major hockey teams. A co-worker got me 4 free tickets to an Ottawa 67s game and the following week I ended up with a ticket to the Senators/Thrashers game. Someone ended up backing out of that at the last minute so Irene got to go.
The 67s are a pretty decent team with one of the best (and longest running) coaches in the OHL. They started off pretty badly but near the end were starting a good comeback. The final score was 5-4 for the Oshawa Generals. The game also included the funniest half-time show I have ever seen. It was a bunch of mascots running around the ice, dancing and attacking each other. And since we came late our seats were near the top of the stands. Also, because we had four tickets, we invited some church friends along with us. The Senators game was quite thrilling because we had some of the best seats in the building. We were 8 rows up from behind the opponents bench. High enough to see over the boards but low enough to really feel the action. Also, they serve you beer/food in these lower levels.
The game was really thrilling and was a big win for the struggling Ottawa team. I caught all the goals and most were really good. The scoring started off early and so did the fighting.
The final score was 5-1 for Ottawa. It was a once in lifetime opportunity.In somewhat sad news, a fan from Vermont in the stands across from us fell from the top (third) level to the second level when he tripped on a womans purse. He was apparently carrying two drinks. Both the man who fell and the woman he landed on are surprisingly fine. No word on what happened to the drinks.
We missed the whole thing because we were too busy getting served in our luxury seats. Apparently, what happens on the top levels, stays in the top levels.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New By-line

In case you haven't noticed (which you probably haven't if you use RSS feeds) I have changed my blog byline. It has been the somewhat appropriate "If you tolerate this, your children will be next" from the Manic Street Preachers song of the same name for a couple years at least.
My new byline is "They want me raw and smooth like glass, They want it fast but they don't want flaws" which is a line from the Islands song Rough Gem from their album Return to the Sea.
The reason I like this line is because it says a lot about life and specifically my life/work. I can relate very easily to it. The demands put on you can be almost impossible and are usually conflicting.
What do you think of it? I just love a good byline.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Crazy Sports

I came across this video the other day.

If you don't want to watch it, it shows a guy using a roller suit (yes, a suit with wheels) going down some crazy hills in the Swiss Alps. He is going insanely fast. My favorite part is where he passes the motorbike. I just don't understand how he steers. One wrong move and he will smoke a barrier.
This video reminded me of another other crazy sport (which I may have blogged about earlier)