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    Using Windows 3.1 Still

    I did a check this morning of what folks are using to visit, and was quite taken aback at the results....
    I was surprised that more people are using Vista than MacOSX, but I was even more surprised that folks are still using Windows 3.1...

    How is it possible, in 2009, that folks are still using Windows 3.1?
    Windows 3.1 came out in 1992.
    Using a 17 year old operating system is a bit odd... That means you are also using one of the first editions of Internet Explorer.
    Talk about a very limited scope of visibility.
    If you are one of the regular visitors to - and you use Windows 3.1 - I'd love you to leave a comment on what the defining reason is to stick with such an old technology. Is it hardware limitations? Budget? A love for the original windows file manager?


    WinXP1,676 / 61.12%
    WinVista392 / 14.3%
    MacOSX272 / 9.92%
    Win2000114 / 4.16%
    Linux53 / 1.93%
    Unknown47 / 1.71%
    Win9x39 / 1.42%
    Win200333 / 1.2%
    Win27 / 0.98%
    WinNT23 / 0.84%
    SunOS22 / 0.8%
    WinNT417 / 0.62%
    iPhone14 / 0.51%
    Win315 / 0.18%
    WinME5 / 0.18%
    WinMobile2 / 0.07%
    MacOS1 / 0.04%

    HRD Sample 1 - Winter Trees


    Finding the Bugs in Google Latitude

    It seemed like such a neat app, Google Latitude. Of course, I had to try it out.
    Jumped through more than a few hoops to get Google Maps updated on my BB Pearl, invited my peeps who were like minded, and I was off to the races.
    Latitude works nifty on the Pearl, but the *console* version on my laptop is buggy.
    I've added it to my iGoogle, yet every time I open iGoogle, Latitude tells me that it's not available for my location.
    At first, I thought it was a Canada - USA problem. And then I reloaded and re-set up Latitude on iGoogle, and all was well again.

    I think it's just wonky. That being said, it's not wonky enough for me to stop using it.... Now I just need my Latitude buddies to travel around so I can see where they are!!! :-)

    I set up the Wiz last night, considering his new Storm needed all the bells and whistles, and funnily enough, despite the fact that we were both sitting on the same couch, Latitude indicated he was about 1.5 km south of me :-) How's that for a geeky Saturday night? This morning, it now looks like I am the one sitting in the woods behind our house ;-)

    Any yes, the Wiz bears a striking resemblance to Paul Newman. Considering his aversion to sharing anything with the internets, this was his one concession for me.... ;-)

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    Curious Facebook Stats - Canada

    1. I was thinking this morning that at any given time, there is only between 3% and 5% of my Facebook friends on-line.
    2. In Canada,  there are more female facebook (871,369) users in my demographic (35 - 44) than males (611,253).
    3. In Canada, in all age groups, there are 6,005,178 females.
    4. In Canada, in all age groups, there are 4,551,025 males. That's 25% more girls than boys. That's sort of curious. Te: hat precentage holds weight across all demographics.... always more girls than boys. I asked the Wiz about that rend this morning. His response: well of course. Girls share. Boys don't.
    The stats get a little gray when you try to dig deeper, since most folks have some sort of application privacy enabled.... but of the friends in my list who share a bit of personal details:
    • 121 of them are female
    • 165 of them are male
    • 179 are married
    • 79 are aged 36 to 49
    • 239 are from Canada
    • 226 have no geographic info listed
    I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Happy Friday!!

    Facebook stats tools:
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    Innovation in a time of Crisis

    Creativity - it's all around you.
    You don't even have to scour the news in detail to see examples of innovation percolating through the community.
    Brian Gilham turned a good idea into front page news when he cobbled up a new application that used TTC reports and Twitter to keep Torontonians up-to-date on  commuter news. His good idea became a great one when a power crisis impacted TTC services a few weeks ago.
    Go ahead, subscribe to TTCupdates on Twitter. Get connected. Now, if only we could get twitter messages again via SMS on cellphones.... - Toronto's News: From Blackouts To Flying Bullets, TTCupdates Creator Keeps Community Connected
    What's even greater is watching the internet being utilized to its full potential, shedding its outdated image as little more than a lawless porn portal, and instead being illuminated as a valuable community tool where communication and cooperation combine to help shape a brighter future.
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    Making the Most of a Crisis Situation

    Last week I was off learning and thinking and listening. And then thinking some more. Yes, there's something wild going on with the economy.  Yes, folks of all nations are doing a bit of a freak out dance. No, it's not the end of the world as we know it. It's a wake up call that we can't just keep on merrily gallivanting along, ignoring the byproducts of our lifestyles. It's also an opportunity to clean up our collective act and be *better*. Better than we have been for the past 30 years. Better for the future.

    Every crisis is an opportunity for change. For improvement. For rejuvenation. One of the strongest messages from last week was to take a look at the crisis, and take advantage of the changes that virtually all folks are contemplating. Invest internally, come out of the recession even stronger. Invest in people to be prepared when the crisis is over.

    A very, very smart woman mentioned that those companies and organizations who invested capital in times of economic downturn ended up in the top 20% of their industry when the economy recovers. Those who don't invest, drop to the bottom 20%. That's a VERY compelling reason to not freeze up.  

    So - what are YOU going to do to invest and develop during these times of change?

    Experimenting with HDR Imaging

    I’ve been toying with the idea of learning HDR for a while now. HDR is high dynamic range imaging. It’s (mostly) a post production process that turns photos into something more than just photos, while (mostly) retaining the integrity of the image.
    It wasn’t until I fell in love with this photograper, Trey Ratcliff, that I really pulled up my socks and dove in head first. And when you see this photo of Trey’s you too will want to discover how to do HDR… it’s just… heartstoppingly beautiful.
    Photo by Trey RatcliffHDR production requires that you take photographs in Raw format. In fact, you have to take 3 photos of the same scene in varying degrees of exposure. Next is to use some snappy HDR software that merges all the photos together, blending the best exposure components together to result in one stunning image.

    The first HDR image was created in the 1930’s by a photographer, Charles Wyckoff who used it when taking pictures of nuclear explosions.

    It’s been miserable weather since i fell in love with HDR, so I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot in raw outside, so I’ve been working on fudging HDR. ;-)

    There is a nifty Photoshop Plugin from Topaz that creates a “poor man’s HDR” result. The upside is that it does interesting things. The downside is that it relies on a lot of noise addition to the photos. I’m still working on it, and have had interesting results, but Trey has nothing to worry about from me ;-)

    You want to lose yourself in some eyecandy - check out the HDR Flickr Group.


    The Ongoing Silliness of the York Strike

    Wow - day 79 of the strike. That's a record. I'm not even making that up.
    I've managed to garner quite a traffic bump in writing about the mis-adventures of the York U teachers union and the strike that is leaving up to 50,000 students shut in the cold - literally.

    If I was the president of some other local university, I'd be pulling together a VERY neat program to entice the York students to dump their waiting pose and move on over. I'd accept the York credits at face value, let them continue their degrees and heck, even cut them a deal on tuition if they sign up for the remainder of their post-secondary education.


    Education is big business.

    My Addiction to AudioBooks

    I shunned them for years.
    Even with the myriad of portable audio devices at my disposal, it wasn't until this past August, and I was driving back and forth to Our Nation's Capital (Ottawa, for my gentle readers outside of Canada), that I fully understood the value of having options in audible entertainment that didn't include 17 static-y radio stations.

    It started innocently enough with an iTunes purchase of My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.  And then I accidentally downloaded Snuff by Chuck Palahnuik. And then I was hooked. I couldn't wait to hear what was going to happen next. The narrators were incredible, it felt like the book had been MADE to be read aloud.

    When I finished Snuff, I was at a loss. What next? What would be good? I settled on something ambitious.... a Sookie Stackhouse boxed set. In audiobook format. About 300 hours worth. How's that for big ears?

    And now I'm in trouble. There's not enough opportunity to *listen* any more. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to analog books. I can curl up and read in my "library", I can read before bed. I can read while someone else is driving. What I can't do is curl up with my iPod and listen, unless I'm on an airplane. Even then, I'm easily distracted. My sole refuge is in the car. Which is ok, unless you are primarily a tele-worker, and don't get out much for long-ish drives.

    Lame confession: I'm driving to work more, if only to have a few more hours to listen to what Sookie is going to do next with those wacky vampires. I drive slow, I'm patient. Don't need to rush, Sookie is with me.

    Next week I fly to Calgary, and all I can think of is having 4 hours to listen. My iPod battery will expire before my interest does. I'm a full blown audiobook freak. I now just wish I drove a transport for a living. :-)

    The Crass Content of Comments

    One of my morning rituals is to grab a coffee and scroll through the local news in my Google reader. Online newspapers have embraced the commenting and rating options as a popular upgrade to web 2.0 enablement. The downside of comments is that people comment. Dumb people. People who's main goal is one of simple irritation and aggravation. People who, when it comes right down to it, likely shouldn't even own a computer. :-\

    The fights and flamewars and name calling suggest that when push comes to shove, Canadians aren't any better behaved than the rest of the world. West against east. West and east against Toronto... there's no end to the silly things that online viewers can bicker about in news story comments.

    I know - everyone's entitled to their opinion, and to defend it, but wow, the lengths that people go to, the tactics, the fact that they can just be a nameless, faceless person on the internet will always give them licence to  behave badly.

    The solution: It's coming, identities on the internet. Reputation rating, authentication. If you want to be involved in something, you've got to have your identity authenticated. No more hiding in anonymity. Some sites have already implemented these initiatives, linking your personal to OpenID, or your Google account. But newspapers seem to be loathe to institute these options, likely for fear that people will stop commenting. (No one wants to get caught behaving badly, if they can't hide behind a pseudonym). Their feeling is likely one of "even bad comments are good comments"....


    It would be nice to have a little helping of accountability along with comments. If only to act as a lunch monitor in a cafeteria full of 12 year olds.

    Middlesex County Takes over Driving the Internet Bus

    I like to keep up with what's going on in Middlesex County, since it's my *home turf*, and it warms the cockles of my heart to see the county submit an RFP (request for proposals) to interested parties for providing high speed broadband to the area's residents.

    The county has issued a request for proposals to provide high-speedaccess that would be available to all households and businesses by2010.

    Right now, broadband service is limited ornon-existent outside of towns or villages in the county, said SouthwestMiddlesex Mayor Doug Reycraft.

    It's been hit and miss for the past few years in Appin for high speed. You are luck if you are in eyesight of the local silo that's got a wireless antenna. The downside is that of the 100 odd houses, lots of folks are in eyeshot, so the silo has become over subscribed. Now, that's not something you'd hear every day... "the silo is oversubscribed".


    Strike Fever: The Math Doesn't Work Ontario elementary teachers set date for strike vote
    Parents of elementary students in Ontario's public education system could face a disrupted academic year after a Feb. 13 strike vote was set yesterday for 73,000 teachers.

    Holy cats.
    First it was university teachers wanting a 9% salary increase over 3 years.
    Now it's the elementary teachers wanting a 12% over 3 years (the 4th year they will forgo an increase in lieu of hiring 1500 new teachers).

    This is a really, really dumb year to try and strike or negotiate pay increases and increased benefits. Folks with jobs outside of unions are hunkering down, corporations are freezing any pay increases for 2009 and capping bonuses. But unionized, government education workers are  pulling out all the stops.

    Man, no support for strikes this year.

    I'm not quite sure how the elementary school teachers could demand 12% over 4 years. In theory, they are an operational expense for the Ontario taxpayers. In theory, I pay a percentage of property taxes to pay for education. Since it's primarily a closed operating system, in order to increase their salary 12%, there would have to be an equal increase on my education taxes of 12%.

    If you have an average teacher's salary of $70,000, a 12% raise (sure, spread over 4 years) is an $8,4000 bump. What if there's no merit to that raise? You'd get $8,400 for the minimum requirement of breathing?Holy cow I'd love a guaranteed $8,400 raise. Would I!!

    If you extend this raise across all the 73,000 teachers - you end up with an incremental $613,000,000 that needs to be funded by the Ontario taxpayer. Cripes. That's over half a billion dollars in net new taxes.

    Perhaps the Ontario Teachers should be looking to cost saving options, leveraging technology and reducing expenses as opposed to throwing a hefty tax bill at the Ontario taxpayers in this climate. They just might see more support.


    York University Strike Insanity: Gong Show - Toronto’s News: Latest York Offer Criticized By Union

    The three-year offer, made public Wednesday, outlines 0.7 per cent more in benefits such as child care and professional development and offers more job security than earlier deals. But the wage hike remains the same at 9.25 per cent.

    (Jules pulls up soapbox)
    I’m curious to know what world the York university teachers are living in. And that union… wow. Perhaps they want to take a page from the CAW history.
    God given Guarantees on wages?
    Job Security as if it was a First Amendment right?
    I beg your pardon?

    Raises should, for argument’s sake, be merit based, not a *given*.
    Job security - same thing.
    Do a good job, keep your job, get a raise.
    When unions begin mandating these components, merit and performance goes out the window. So goes quality education with it.

    Silly nutters.

    If I was a York student, I’d be taking my tuition money and walking it over to a different university right about now. It’s January. It’s not too late to cancel out of this semester’s courses and get atleast some of your money back.
    With 55,000 students, and an average semester costing $8K - that’s $440,000,000 that should just walk away. *That* would effectively end the strike.


    The Second Wave of LinkedIn

    I’ve noticed in the past month that there’s been some considerable pickup to LinkedIn requests. More and more of my peers seem to be (finally) jumping into the LinkedIn pool. It’s a good sign.

    Another good sign are the fantastic new features and applications that LinkedIn has instituted. The groups are great for connecting with people (when they aren’t full of odd spammy bits)… and I’m appreciating some of the blogging tools and RSS feeds as well….

    It’s neat that they’ve incorporated some *facebooky* things as well, like status mesages. Still, it’s got a good grownup look and feel.

    There’s a time and a place or Facebook, but LinkedIn is the grownup alternative ;-)

    Anyone else seeing an influx of LinkedIn activity?



    Do We Need to Believe?

    There’s a curious marketing campaign being launched now, encouraging Canadians to *BELIEVE* in 2010 Canadian Olympic Athletes.

    Hmmm….You know what I’d rather believe in?

    All the countries of the world dumping the ridiculous idea of the Olympics and investing their residents’ tax dollars into infrastructures that could be taken advantage of by all their inhabitants. How about reducing carbon dioxide emissions , improving social services and enabling  small businesses? Heck - and this is a crazy idea, how about tax credits, or rebates or even giving that money to their population?

    The value of the Olympics is negligible. The costs of the Olympics are extraordinary. Until such a time as a country’s population is safe, stable and secure, the idea of the Olympics should be shelved.

    The 2004 Olympics cost an estimated $14 Billion

    The 2008 Beijing Olympics may well have cost over $44 Billion.

    The 2010 Vancouver Olympics is rife with controversy right now, as the BC government is being less than transparent with the true costs, citing only a revised budget of $2.5 billion. What’s not considered are all the costs to local and regional businesses and service providers who are expected to pony up services and materials “in the spirit of the Olympics. Considering the excessive budget over-runs that previous host countries experienced, it’s not unreasonable to expect the final price tag for the 2010 Olympics to exceed $10B.

    The 2012 Olympics in London is expected to end up close to $22B US.

    Now, consider all the additional costs; the infrastructure, the support services, the corporate pricetags involved in advertising, media, broadcast. Whew.


    I believe it’s a load of hooey. ;-) Alas, I will not be watching the Olympics. I can’t afford to any more. | New ads to make Canadians ‘believe’ in 2010 athletes

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    What's Wrong with the North?

    If I lived in Pickering, Ajax or even Streetsville to the west, I’d have easy access to Go service to downtown Toronto. Not a 2 hour commute, or Draconian bus/train schedules that would rule my life.

    For some reason, folks in charge of such things think there wouldn’t be enough riders to support enhanced public transit from north of Steeles to the downtown core. Pardon? Has no one looked at the DVP or the 404 during rush hour in the past 5 years? Hasn’t anyone noticed the quadrupling of traffic?  In 2002, at 7:30 am it took 60 minutes to get from Aurora to downtown Toronto. Today, it takes 2 hours if there’s no accidents.

    At the time, city and TTC officials were also reluctant to extend this line north of the Steeles Avenue boundary between Toronto and York Region, concerned that ridership estimates in the sprawling suburbs did not justify the cost of a subway.

    The intense housing developments along Yonge Street, in the northern Richmond Hill area are an easy indicator as to the potential population base that would easily take advantage of improved public transit. I live within earshot of the traintracks, within 5 km of a station, but I’d rather walk downtown in stiletto heels than try and contort my schedule into the ridiculousness that passes for a train schedule to get up north. The guillotine drops at 5pm, and if you miss the last train, you are stuck on a bus. In rush hour. Up the 404. No thanks. I’d rather be tied to the tracks.


    Happy Birthday Hamster

    Happy birthday mimsie, aimster, hamster, mimi-melnek, hamish.



    King Corn: Badness in America's Hearland

    The Wiz and I sat down again last night to another eye-popper documentary. King Corn covered the evils of Corn in America (but it also mirrors what's going on in Canada to a certain extent).

    It all starts when 2 guys have a geneticist test the composition of their hair. Turns out, their hair follicles are 56%  corn. They decide to  move to Iowa for a  year, grow an acre of corn and see where their corn really goes. 

    King Corn exposes the ridiculous government subsidies involved in the farming of corn (approx $28 per acre in general corn subsidy and an additional $14/acre in "special" subsidies.) Without subsidies, these two fellows lost $19/acre for their 180 bushel corn yield. Subsidies have lead to an over production of corn, so much so that it now sits in expansive yellow mountains next to grain elevators already at capacity. High fructose corn syrup is one of the new uses for this excessive corn over-production - along with corn starch, and is one of the cheapest ingredients in our food chain. It's added as a filler and sweetener to almost everything we consume, with the highest concentration used as sweetener in the soft drink industry.

    “If you’re standing in a field in Iowa, there’s an immense amount offood being grown, none of it edible. The commodity corn, nobody caneat. It must be processed before we can eat it. It’s a rawmaterial—it’s a feedstock for all these other processes. And the ironyis that an Iowa farmer can no longer feed himself.”
    —Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

    The Wiz and I realized that there isn't hardly any food product that isn't touched by the corn industry. Everything from milk, eggs, all meats and just about anything that's processed. You have to look long and hard to find beef that's not grain fed. Texas Longhorns aren't grain fed - but that's likely due to the fact that you can't jam them safely into a feedlot - not with those horns ;-)

    (BTW, grain fed beef is pretty bad. Cattle don't naturally eat corn, but farmers have figured out that if you feed cattle corn for the last 5-6 months of their life, they put on weight really fast for market. Unfortunately it's not *good* weight, but mostly fat. That fat ends up on our tables, and in our tummies. The bad side is that eating corn for that long damages the cow's stomach. ) :-(

    Of course, movies like this invariably lead you to think about food choices, and food alternatives. My biggest question though is what would happen if something terrible happened to the corn industry, since alol the corn produced now is so terribly genetically modified, one new disease or pest could completely wipe out the corn production. With our reliance on corn as a main ingredient in almost everything we use and eat, where does that leave the rest of our food chain?

    Up next: The World According to Monsanto


    Skating into the New Year


    Bigger, Stronger, Faster: Exporation on the Side Effects of Being American

    In America, we define ourselves in the superlative: we are the biggest, strongest, fastest country in the world. Is it any wonder that so many of our heroes are on performance enhancing drugs? Director Christopher Bell explores America's win-at-all-cost culture by examining how his two brothers became members of the steroid-subculture in an effort to realize their American dream."

    Last night the Wiz and I sat down to enrich our knowledge (after the previous night's debacle over The Day The World Stood Still) Bigger, Stronger, Faster did not disappoint. Filmed in a style similar to Morgan Spurlock (of SuperSize me fame), Chris Bell exposes some of the inconsistencies in steroid use, and the reasons behind some of the use. He also sheds some doubt on the lethal effects of steroids, but manages to pose the questions, and build ideas in a way that doesn't necessarily endorse steroid use... it's a slippery slope.

    It's a particularly ironic production, in that Chris' older brother, Mike "Mad Dog" Bell recently passed away this month (December 2008). Both of Chris' brothers provided significant candid commentary and personal experiences with steroids for this film. The underlying message of the film centres around the American ideology of winning at any cost. Chris manages to weave the competitiveness of the American spirit into the hypocrisy of major American spokespeople's messages of playing fair and good sportsmanship a la Arnold Schwarzenegger's stance on anti-steroid use, Major League Baseball's scandals and pro wrestling.

    Neither the Wiz nor I have had much exposure to this irony, and this documentary was an excellent thought provoker. A+
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