Sunday, February 19, 2006

On Community Involvement

Guy Kawasaki writes about community building in The Art of Creating a Community. It's interesting because I've had a 'user group' experience with his old company, 4D.

Several years ago, in December 2000, my brother and I were in Cupertino taking a week-long class given by 4D, a pre-cursor to re-writing the application that his business runs on.

While we were there, we noticed that the 4D User Group meeting was being held that week at Apple's campus.

This gave us a chance to do two interesting things while out there — visit Apple and learn more about 4D. We went to the UG meeting and found that the president of 4D, Brendan Coveney was there to provide a briefing of future developments. It was a lot fun. As an added bonus, numerous people went out for dinner afterward at a nice mandarin restaurant and Brendan picked up the tab.

Everybody was very gracious and we had a good time.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Yahoo! as a Search Engine

I decided to try Yahoo! again today.

It has probably been most of a decade since I knowingly used Yahoo! to search for something.

There's something about a stupid name with an exclamation mark as part of it that grates on me. It's not even a fun, stupid name like Google. Of course, what is there to say about the other major search engine's name, MSN Search.

I'm looking at buying a Krups toaster oven. I saw one again yesterday and I've been contemplating returning to the store, Iq|Living on the Danforth. I may go look at the Bay to see if they have a sale on or something. This is a pricy unit.

Anyways, I thought I'd look around online to see if anybody had some useful information about the model. Using Yahoo's search engine, I searched for krups toaster oven. I visited the top three hits.

I'm appalled.

I cannot imagine such a useless service as what Yahoo provides. All three top hits were link redirectors. One of them was even a most-wretched page with a hundred links beneath a banner stating that the domain was available or something.

In years gone by, all of the search engine 'portals' followed each other into oblivion. The first time I heard about google, I tried it. The lean, spare page was just for me. I've been using it ever since and whenever I set up someone's computer, I always configure their web browser to easily get to google. Sometimes, it's even set as the home page.

The recent news about google empowering chinese autocrats and censors troubles me. From what news has come out to the western world, I do not believe that you can consider the chinese government decent or tolerant or anything good for that matter. The state pushes the envelope these days when it comes to grinding down dissent.

Google is getting up on stage to stand side-by-side with the nameless autocrats of this tyrant state. Why would they do this? I guess they figure that somebody is going to take the market that China possesses. It can be them or it can be someone else. This isn't a choice that many corporations can consider as actually being a choice.

Perhaps I'll try Yahoo again in 2010. That will give them time to try and improve. I've already deleted the link to their site.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Minister of Public Works

I just watched a short interview with Michael Fortier, the new Minister of Public Works and Don Newman of the CBC.

I think he'll do well if he can win a seat.

I've actually seen him speak before but I did not recognise the name.

Amongst his other qualities, he is gracious and has a sense of humour. Newman pushed him to consider a potential seat to run in, something Fortier did not want to be specific about.

“Which riding do you live in? Maybe that would be a good place to start.”

“Well, I'll let you, I'll seek advice from you right now. I live in Mount Royal.”

“Ah, that would not be the best riding… you know what, I'd phone a real-estate agent if I were you. I mean that has got to be the safest Liberal seat, probably, in the world.”

It isn't really. My old riding of York Centre, where Ken Dryen is M.P. is probably a safer seat. But… Irwin Cotler who currently represents the riding, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General prior to the election, well Mr. Corwin won his riding with 22,000 votes.

A New, Smaller Cabinet

"One of them wasn't elected, one of them switched sides."

Thus did Wendy Mesley describe the new cabinet of Stephen Harper.

Mesley asked the CBC's Chief Political Correspondent, Keith Boag, if he was surprised. He replied, "Yes, and shocked." Then he laughed. All of the punditry was pointless in the bright light of reality.

Harper pulled the rug out from under the nation and surprised everyone. At work, a colleague informed me that strange things were afoot. Little did I know.

On January 23rd, Canadians voted for change — and today, I am pleased to present the team that will lead that change.

David Emerson, spent little time out of cabinet. I don't know if cabinet ministers need to resign when the government leaves office. The Prime Minister does. Paul Martin dropped by Rideau Hall to drop off his letter to Michaelle Jean. Emerson was quickly swearing a new oath of office today.

Other notes:

Stockwell Day, one-time leader of the Canadian Alliance, is in the cabinet. He doesn't have his dream post, Foreign Affairs, but he is a cabinet minister. He's the Minister of Public Safety. Lefties are not fans of Stockwell.

Diane Ablonczy is not in the cabinet. Neither is Jason Kenney. This is interesting. Both of the M.P.s are intelligent, tough debaters who can toe-to-toe with the best. Incidentally, the best M.P. for verbal conflict is Stephane Dion, the former Minister of the Environment and before that, of Intergovernmental Affairs. He was a scourge of separatists, wherever he went. Anyways, Neither Ablonczy nor Kenney are in his league but they are good.

However, I wonder why they aren't in the cabinet. They are loyal, long-standing members. They are smart and capable. Perhaps the question is, what are they capable of? A cabinet minister needs to have management skills. I don't know if they do. I don't know what their practical skills are. If they are lacking in the skills to run a ministry, then kudos to Harper for not giving them one. I hope they don't disappear though.

Peter McKay is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This is a tough posting and I think that he's young for it. I am curious to see whether he's got the substance for it. If he does, I think it will stand him in good stead for the future.

The three Ontario M.P.P.s are in the cabinet. Jim Flaherty is the Finance Minister. He'll do well there. Tony Clement is the Minister of Health. This is interesting. Being the Ontario Minister of Health is probably bigger than being the federal equivalent. The federal position is more abstract. Clement is smart and energetic but I think he was over-matched by the provincial posting. He might have the potential for it but he had not mastered all of the requisite skills for the post. It's probably one of the most demanding positions in Canadian politics as unlike say the Finance Minister, the Ontario Minister of Health has to publicly confront the doctors, nurses and administrators of the health industry while also pleasing the citizenry. It's a big job. Finally, one of my least favourite Ontario ministers, John Baird is now a federal cabinet minister, the president of the Treasury Board. Mr. Baird is a master of petty rhetoric and very tiresome. You can't really trust what he says and you can't really learn anything from any discussion that he's participating in. He won't allow it. The Tories of Ontario were thick with that type with Janet Ecker probably being the least appealing government minister. She's all right now that she's out of politics. Flaherty and Clement are better in that respect.

I like Flaherty as he actually has ideas and is more than willing to discuss them publicly. I think that the hard-right reputation he has is probably inappropriate — he's not an idealogue.

Finally, the other bombshell posting, Michael Fortier, minister of public works and government services. Mr. Fortier flies straight out of left field and into a cabinet post. He's not an M.P. I don't remember this happening in my lifetime. Not to say it hasn't happened but I don't think it's happened.

Incidentally, the quote above is how Harper introduced the cabinet. It's typical for him. He was succinct, to the point and without rhetorical flourish. He let his choices, his actions, speak for himself.

Another incidental, Tony Clement felt obligated to use his own pen, or at least to try to. He pulled a pen from his pocket but was asked to use the standard pen, which in low resolution, looks quite nice.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Speaking of Graceless

The ABC staff felt that they needed to get Jerome Bettis to reveal his retirement while up on the float.

I don't know why.

Why try to take the attention off of the victory.

Leader on the Field

One thing that the Steelers appear to have is a surplus of leadership.

I think that Roethlisberger is a wonderful quarterback.

At the start of a Pittsburgh huddle, the microphones overheard Jerome Bettis bringing the players together and reminding them that all they had to do was run the plays, "Just like it's the first week of the season."

They were at that point where a lot of teams fail. They had the chance to put the game beyond the reach of the Seahawks but they needed to chew up some of the field and some of the clock. A lot of teams go three and out at this crunch time. The Steelers kept pushing and while they didn't score, they did what they needed to.

Serious Advertising

The new satellite radio company has put several ads on during the Superbowl today.

The ad I've liked the most was probably a beer commercial with a sheared and streaking sheep.

Number 51 of the Steelers is a cretin.

On the last play of the game, a dropped ball by Stevens, he felt it necessary to kick Stevens when he was down (figuratively).

Just to point out another botched play by Stevens, on the preceding play, he caught a ball near the sidelines but did not manage to get out of play. With no time outs, Seattle was forced to go for a touchdown rather than a field goal. Bizarrely, Hasselback went back to Stevens.

As with other plays on this drive, there appeared to be no Seahawk receivers open downfield.

It's over. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the Superbowl winners, Champions of the NFL.

Congratulations Steelers

Steeler Secondary Stifling

The camera work is of no help but on this, the last drive, there are no Seahawk receivers open. Hasselback has been given long periods to find someone open and he's thrown one out of play intentionally and then to his fullback behind the line of scrimmage.

I'd love to see what is actually going on back there.

There are 27 seconds left and it is 21-10 Pittsburgh.

Steelers have the Ball

Hasselback just gave someone an easy interception. Easy.

Not as easy as the one to Herndon but bloody easy.

I was just doing a search for a Pam Oliver bio page.

After making a mistake on the sideline reporter earlier, I wanted to put down the correct name. I found a bio page for Tafoya, for Bernstein, but not Oliver.

I did however, find a 'placement' page with her name on it. Evidently, there is a headhunter named Ken Lindner who places people in news media positions — including Pam Oliver with Turner Sports, where she is slotted to serve as a sideline reporter during the NBA playoffs.

While scrolling through the page …

Interruption: Jeremy Stevens just dropped another pass.

… looking for Oliver, I saw the name Tiffany Burns. She used to work for CityTV here in T.O. I met her once at Milestones, a nice bar on John Street just a few doors away from City's studios. She was quite friendly, down-to-earth and very stunning. She works in Cleveland or some such place now at WIOI-TV.


Pittsburgh makes its worst play of the game.

Roethslisberger threw a wobbly pass right into the hands of Herndon who ran it back to the Pittsburgh 20. This was such a bad pass. The Steeler receiver was probably four yards behind his coverage. That's normally a good thing but it also means that the receiver is not in any position to make a tackle.

Touchdown Seattle. Stevens, aka butterfingers, finally held on to one. It's a four point game again.

On the interception, there was some great blocking downfield. Perfect blocks struck down Steelers both behind and in front of the runner. Despite that, the Steelers effectively ground their way through all of the blockers to stop the play from being a touchdown. Impressive all around.

Pittsburgh Blocks

The Steelers are blocking beautifully and are now at the Seahawk ten.

Update: When the Seahawks want to, they can crack the Steeler blocking schemes. They just keep falling asleep at the wheel.

Dropped Ball

The Seahawk tight end just dropped a ball thrown right into his hands.

While Madden and Michaels are blaming him for it, and he does deserve blame, the Pittsburgh cover threw up a hand and waved it. This wasn't an attempt to catch it, it was just to hopefully be hit by it or at least obscure the receiver. It worked.

Well, That was Fast

It's 14-3 Pittsburgh.

On the first series, the Seahawks decided to not have anyone in the middle of the secondary. A couple of well-place blocks and Willie Parker had a 75 yard touchdown run. It's now the Superbowl record for a touchdown run from scrimmage, edging Marcus Allen by a yard.

How will the Seahawks respond?

Just saw the replay. Beautiful blocking and poor defending equals 75 yard touchdown.

Speaking of Irvin

Michael Irvin, a wonderful as he was on the field, does not belong in the booth.

He's overly loud and overly aggressive and out of synch with his peers. I don't think I've ever seen him speak — only yell. I wonder if the audio guys have his mike turned down relative to the other announcers.

Six Enter the Hall

Six footballers made it to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio this weekend.

Troy Aikman, Harry Carson, John Madden, Warren Moon and Reggie White, Rayfield Wright.

Not Michael Irvin. There seems to be a lot of energy about Irvin and his entry to the hall.

I'm not surprised. I wouldn't worry if I were Irvin either. Six guys is the most that can go in. There is already a Cowboy, Aikman, entering this year. Electors probably want to let him know that they think he's a jerk.


The game is half over. The score is only 7-3 Pittsburgh.

Steve Young made the only useful comment by a half-time show commentator. He stated that Seattle got the least from the most and Pittsburgh got the most from the least.

While Seattle may or may not be a better team than Pittsburgh, they aren't a lot better. They played well in the first half and are still losing. On top of that, the coach is stressing over the touchdown that Pittsburgh got.

Those are not good signs. How much better is Seattle going to play in the second half?

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, can adjust. They were not getting pressure on Hasselback. Their secondary was not adjusting well to the ball. A fractionally better quarterback would be killing them. Hasselback threw two balls that his receivers caught but were not able to keep in bounds on — on the last drive.

Of course, the officiating has been favouring the Steelers as well. The first touchdown called back was not a competent call. While the receivers arm made a motion to push the receiver away, there was no actual pushing. There was no interference. Both players were having problems adjusting to the ball's descent.

Seahawks Advancing

Hasselback is finding some open receivers. Several clean passes have gotten the Seahawks in good position on the field.

A receiver just missed, by a foot, a touchdown. One foot in, other foot kicks the goal line marker before coming down out of play.

Pittsburgh's backfield is confused and their line is not generating much pressure.

Another out-of bounds reception.

Well, it's a wide right, failed field goal attempt.

The Seahawks are confused now as they are running foolishly and unproductively. Combined with the out of play passes, it left them with seven seconds and they had to kick a 54 yarder to score.


Roethlisberger kneels to end the half.

Seahawks Penalized

On both of the last two returns, a punt and a kick return, the Seahawks have drawn a penalty. The punt return was a great one too. It could have been used to coach return blocking.

Oh well.

Steelers Score?

It's under review.

Touchdown Steelers.

That was probably the closest touchdown that I've ever seen.

It wasn't a timing issue of when did a foot or knee touch the ground. This was a straight-up determination of whether the ball crossed the line. If it did, and the officials are saying that it did, then it was by no more than an inch. Less than an inch.

It's 7-3 Pittsburgh.

Steelers Advancing

The Steelers are slithering through the cracks.

After forcing Seattle to punt after a juicy spot, Pittsburgh is finally moving the ball. They currently have had the ball for only about one-third of the game.

When the Seahawks started crushing the pocket from the sides, Roethslisberger slid straight up and in a weird, almost underhand way, pushed the ball to Hines Ward who then gained a first down. Next play a nice pass that just split a seam.

Shotgun — has all day — has a really long time. Ward just caught a weird pass at about the three yard line. I can't remember seeing such a long passing play that wasn't broken. The Pittsburgh QB scrambled left and stood behind the line of scrimmage with nobody within ten yards of him for an impossibly long time. He then lobbed a perfectly positioned throw that Ward caught.

Steelers on the three.

First down, the bus is delayed.

Injury Report

Pulled his pants down — Someone, I think Bonnie Bernstein, was just talking about an injured Seahawk having his pants pulled down and his groin taped up. Do they have to give us all the details.

Update: It was Michelle Tafoya, not Bonnie Bernstein. Ms. Bernstein is with CBS. Pam Oliver works for Fox.

Inching Forward

The Seahawks just got a poor ball placement. It's now 4th and inches — maybe four inches.

They're gonna punt.

Randle El just got murderlized! Dropped on his head and hit in the back before he fell to the ground.


Seattle just took the ball back on the first Pittsburgh play from scrimmage. Roethlisberger threw deep, well past his receiver, and Boulware went up high to snare it.

The Seahawks now have the ball at around their own 20.

Seahawks versus Steelers

The Seahawks just fumbled the ball but the refs ruled it an incompletion. The replays indicate clearly that both his feet were down. The Seahawks ended up punting on the next play. Now the ball bounced out of bounds after it was dropped so I don't know whose ball it would have become.

Still 3-0, early in the second.

Damn Sea Monkeys

I'm writing this post in v1.0 of the Mozilla package, Sea Monkey.

I really dislike the default chrome so I installed Toy Factory.

It looks nice and is pretty responsive. I haven't installed Mozilla as I have found it to be clunky. At my previous job, I used it to give me some simple HTML editing (but not too simple) capability. Since then, I haven't used it.

Sea Monkey was worth the download though.

Talk Now!

Back in December, I purchased a language learning CD at a local CompuSmart.

A company called Eurotalk produces the programme and in North America, a company called Topics Entertainment distributes it.

This makes for a funny situation and not a particularly appealing one.

The actual programme is titled, "Talk Now!"

What I purchased however is titled, "Instant Immersion v2.0".

When I attempted to install it, it didn't work. Something ran, some sort of shell, but the content is missing. Every screen is supposed to have Help support but these were all blank. Nothing worked in any useful way.

Looking at the packaging, I found a website link and went there. I found a website that was only a catalogue of products to purchase. I'd already purchased their product and now I wanted it to work.

After some research, I found out about this Eurotalk company and tried to track them down. Nothing is easy. Their website is not straightforward, not even the URL is… redirects to .com but not in my web browser.

Eventually, I find a support page which for the most part, is happy to tell me that the programme is actually designed on Macs and therefore is well supported. But it still didn't work.

I gave up.

Today, on a whim, I tried to make it work again. I'd already spent some time configuring my camera network again so I was in the mood for grief. I copied the app to the Applications folder again and then using IE, managed to work the site. As an added bonus, the product I bought isn't anywhere to be found because of course, it isn't sold by Eurotalk, it's sold by Topics.

Somewhere in the support text, it states that if certain things aren't showing up, then you need to trash the prefs and re-run the app.

I tried it but it didn't work. I read some more. It turns out that you can't install the app on your hard drive. You have to run it from the CD. Not only do you need to have the CD in the drive, but the app itself must be run from the CD. YUCK!

At least, now I understood the situation and could get the app to run with all of the intended features. A few minutes creating a disk image and now I can eject the CD.

I feel better now.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I'm watching an old, first-season, Law & Order episode.

Criminy, this is such intense TV. I am normally, not a fan of 'emotion' in television, but in this episode, I am overwhelmed. When the corrupt cop put his hand against Kragen's face, ... this is so intense.

Why did this show become such a monster? Television like this episode, that's why...

As TV goes, this is ferocious — ferocious.