Monday, November 26, 2007

I just finished a quick game of Winning Eleven 8 on my PC. I'm not sure what level it was set at, but I've never seen the game blatantly cheat so much!

I was playing as England against France and I was 2-0 down at halftime. Every French player was faster and stronger than mine; if I sprinted down the field with the ball, I was either overtaken or knocked over. If a French player sprinted down the field, I couldn't catch him!

The most obvious cheat was a stunning long range shot I made that completely fooled the keeper and went over his head. I was just about to celebrate it crossing the line into the net when a French defender appeared from nowhere and headed it off the line. Huh?!??!

I'm not sure I can continue playing it after this. I know games cheat, but this is the worst I've noticed in this game. And it was the first time it ruined the game for me. Sulk. Pout.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I managed to watch some CFL this weekend. I'd post some thoughts on how Calgary almost won but blew it, awwww crap. There I broke the copyright agreement that was displayed on my TV during the game.

I don't remember the wording as I didn't have time to read it all. But one gist of it was that I couldn't provide comments or a description of the game. I think. Oh well, it doesn't matter as I'm probably going to get sued anyway for saying that Calgary blew it. There I did it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

This is why I love rugby:



Friday, October 12, 2007

So Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize? I haven't heard or read how it related to peace and I feel for those who have been involved in helping the environment for years with no recognition. I understand he's the PR man but does he really deserve it? I don't think so.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Why is it so hard to find GOOD, free online highlights of England's win over Australia in the Rugby World Cup?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

All being well, we bought a new car this weekend and should pick it up this weekend, except ours is a 2008:

2008 Nissan Sentra S

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Name that game!

I keep trying to think of a really old computer game I used to play in the early 80s. I posted on the Arstechnica forums to see if anyone could name it, but no replies yet.

Here's the description:

"This is a nasty one! I really only have vague memories of it, but it was a golf game I played prior to 1982, probably on some form of Tandy/Radio Shack computer. I believe it was top-down ASCII? It's the earliest memory I have of a computer game (as opposed to a console or arcade game), but I can't remember what it was!"

Any ideas what it was?
I added a new link on my blog to a site called Rock Paper Shotgun. It's an excellent site for all things computer games. I read through some older posts and came across some games I hadn't heard of. The writing may not be to everyone's taste, but they cover a lot of ground.

Rock Paper Shotgun

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Currently listening to....

"Aces High" by Iron Maiden. People may mock Maiden for all their problems through the years but when they rock, they rock hard. Aces High has a wonderful flow to it, so much so, you can almost feel yourself turning and twisting in the sky. Bruce Dickinson is just amazing - no wonder they called him Air Raid Siren! Aces High is a Maiden Masterpiece; wonderfully written, beautifully crafted and well produced.

Sure cover bands may sound good and their singers may hit the high notes, but they don't have the awesome power of Maiden or Bruce.

Cover Band (Sanctuary)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I just ordered one of these puppies:

Guitar Rig 2 @ Tom Lee Music, Vancouver

[homer]Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm[/homer]

Unfortunately it's on back order so it'll take a few weeks. Hopefully not too many!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Currently listening to....

"Crazy Nites" by Danger Danger. I think it's from their self titled album. Yes it's corny 80s "stodge" rock, but damn it kicks!

Rich, maybe you should check out their albums; they're pretty damn good. Catchy tunes for the most part, some excellent guitar work. Should be able to pick them up cheap.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

She takes my breath away.... Quietly of course...... :)

Currently listening to....

"Running Man" by Robert Hart from his self-titled album. Definitely worth a listen!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's unbelievable to think these kinds of figures occur in the world:

ZIMBABWE CRISIS
Inflation: approaching 5,000%
Unemployment: 80%
4m need food aid
Life expectancy: 37 (men), 34 (women)

If I were living in Zimbabwe, on average, I would expect to be dead in just under two years. Scary and sad.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hotels & Google Maps

We're trying to find a hotel for our next holiday. One problem with booking in a city we've never been to is not knowing what the area is like. We booked a hotel near Heathrow Airport earlier this year but it never occurred to us that we should pick one in a nice location where we could head out in the evening for a walk.

So this time round I'm consulting Google Maps and their satellite images to get a feel for the area around the hotel. Is the hotel by a highway, or is it by a park? Is it near the coast or in the middle of an industrial area.

The downside is that Google Maps doesn't always return the correct location, so I'll have to rely on good ole faith and luck.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I just finished reading This Thing of Darkness, by Harry Thompson and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was surprised to find that Robert Fitzroy was a real person!

I feel somewhat cheated because my main opinion on the book is that it is a wonderful story, full of adventure, beautifully painted vistas, humour, drama and tragedy. So to find the story is based on fact devalues my enjoyment somewhat. Still, it was definitely worth reading except if you followed the above links before reading the book, shame on you!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Currently listening to......

"Aces High" by Iron Maiden. It just doesn't get better than this! Someday I'll dig out their "Number of the Beast" album, which basically turned me onto heavy metal in the 80s. Metal!!!!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Samuel Armas

This is quite amazing:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Armas

During open-uterus, fetal surgery, the fetus' hand popped out of the womb and a picture was taken of the event. Urban legend says the fetus grabbed the surgeon's hand but this has been proven false.

Either way it's a moving photo and shows the advances in modern science and the fragility of life.

The photo is available on Michael Clancy's website (see bottom of the page). Be warned it is graphic.
I hate dealing with realtors. We visited an open house today near where we live. The realtor was like a leech - he was like a second skin until we left the main floor. I'm too polite and shy to tell him to give me room, but maybe that's what I should do.

The house itself was very disappointing. From the outside it looks bigger than ours, and that may well be true. But the interior didn't give that impression. The house had four bedrooms; ours has three, but they were all small. The master bedroom was significantly smaller than ours.

The house itself was badly in need of a complete redecoration. The info sheet said some windows were new but I didn't spot them. Apart from the carpets and the kitchen, everything else in the house was original; tired looking and badly in need of an update.

The basement was finished, with two fully carpeted playrooms, a separate storage room and the laundry room. The whole basement smelled like Tokyo in the middle of summer. I've not been to Tokyo, but that's how damp and smelly it was. The rest of the house smelled like pets, though there were no visible signs of them.

The house was priced at CAN$285,000, which considering the house needs about 30k in upgrades, is way overpriced.

The front garden had far too many plants and would be extremely high maintenance, despite the info sheet claiming low maintenance. The rear garden was tiny, overgrown with bushes and trees and extremely dark. Yeuch!

On our way out the realtor asked what we thought. I replied it was smaller than it looked from the outside. I really wanted to say all of the above but thought of better of it. He tried to engage us in conversation on our way out, and we struggled to leave. He gave me his business card, which I promptly threw away once we got home.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Currently listening to......

"Forever In Blue" by Journey, from "Trial By Fire".
I accidentally forced myself to move from Netbeans 5.5.1 to Netbeans 6 M10. I don't know if this is normal, but Netbeans has been running now for a few hours and the task manager is showing java.exe using almost 400Mb! My project isn't large by any stretch of the imagination; there might be about 30 classes, but they're mostly small with maybe 3 Swing derived classes. I can force the Java garbage collector to kick in, but that doesn't reduce the overall consumption. Scary!

If I sit and watch Netbean's memory meter, it slowly rises by 100k every few seconds.

Friday, July 06, 2007

"Live Earth"

A series of huge concerts to highlight climate change? Something doesn't quite seem right about that, but I can't put my finger on it. Hmmm.

From the article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6277116.stm

"Critics say that flying rock stars in on aeroplanes and using a great deal of electricity to power several concerts sends out mixed messages about energy conservation."

Aha! That's it!

Doh!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I've applied the updates for Safari over recent days/weeks and unfortunately they haven't fixed the bugs that annoy me the most:

- showing the desktop hides Safari, but it always reappears for no reason
- CTRL+BACKSPACE doesn't delete the previous word
- clicking the icon in the task bar for running Safari doesn't minimise it

Safari is a terrible attempt at being a Windows application. I stopped using it a while ago and I still see no reason to try again.

(Posted from Safari!)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Currently listening to....

"Last Frontier" by Jimmy Barnes.

What a voice!

"The Tank Guy"

This is news to everyone, but a long time (unknown) hero of mine is "the tank guy". The guts it took to stand up to several tanks in peaceful protest is beyond my comprehension.

The second picture (zoomed out) turns this particular event into a comedic tragedy. You have to ask yourself, how is it that the tanks didn't just drive around him?

Still, standing up for your beliefs is one thing; standing up for your beliefs while facing tanks and probable death is another. Especially considering hundreds or thousands of protestors were killed.

This picture overwhelms me - I find it very emotional. More so because it makes me feel irrelevant in comparison. It's a shame his identity isn't known - I'd love to know what became of him.

Friday, June 29, 2007

You know the world is screwed up when people are willing to pay $600 for a phone + MP3 player + web browser. You know the world is beyond help when someone is auctioning an 8Gb iPhone for $15k! I don't know whether to be embarassed, shocked, humoured or depressed that I didn't think of it! *shakes head in disbelief*

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today's weather is....

33°C - feels like 42°C

ugh!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm using Netbeans at home to refresh my Java programming skills. I took two courses in Calgary a few years ago, but I haven't really used it in anger since. So I installed Netbeans and starting working on a secret (aren't they all?) project. I'm enjoying Java quite a bit. It's a Swing application so I'm using and liking Matisse, which is the GUI RAD tool in Netbeans. I recently discovered that I can add getters and setter automatically using "Encapsulate Fields" in Netbeans. I also discovered that I could click on a variable or parameter in the source editor and use the rename refactoring tool to, you guessed, it rename all occurences of that variable or parameter. Quite amazing! In the past I'd spend ages renaming variables or classes. Now it's there at the click of a button! Amazing! That's what being a developer should be about. The tool should help me, not hinder me. I love it!
Referring back to an older post I made, the little one took quite the tumble last night. When she's tired she's very unstable on her feet, so running while tired is a recipe for disaster. She lost it on the hardwood and landed on her nose. Yes, her nose! It didn't look like anything was broken and she stopped screaming within a few minutes and was more like her normal self.

We took her to hospital out of precaution and they basically agreed that nothing looked broken. It was a really busy night at CHEO but luckily they fast-tracked us up the waiting list. I guess given she's 14 months with a possible broken noise they wanted to see her. The Doctor examined her and answered all our questions. She gave us some good information and was happy to briefly play with Emma for a minute or two while she talked to us. She examined Emma's skull, nose and face in general to make sure nothing was cracked or broken. Clean bill of health! Surprisingly, Emma didn't show any signs of apprehension after the fall while scooting round the living room. We'd learned our lesson and stuck closer to her when she got tired tonight. Especially when I caught her literally running across the room. "You're not meant to do that yet! You're only 14 months old!!" God I love my little angel!

For me, our time in the hospital was more traumatic than the accident. One poor 13 year old boy had hit his head while playing soccer and had no memory of it. Mrs S. said they asked him questions and after a short while he would forget they'd asked him.

Another little boy had broken a bone in his leg and they must have reset it while we waited in the corridor outside. Listening to his screams was somewhat disturbing. All things we'll have to expect and prepare for I guess.

I'm not sure my heart has recovered from the experience. Her fall was mostly my fault; Mrs. S. was on the phone and I had just turned round to get a clean diaper. It broke my heart to hear her scream so and to see the distress she was in. I gave her lots of hugs and kisses and walked around with her in my arms while I examined her nose and face. After a short while she calmed down and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Currently listening to....

"Seventh Star" by Black Sabbath, featuring Tony Iommi. Despite Glenn Hughes' awful beard! Great voice though.

Wonder what's next on my list?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I installed the beta of Safari for Windows out of pure curiousity. It's a weird feeling! I wish Apple would release OSX for Intel PCs; I'd blow XP away in an instant. Or at least relegate it to dual boot for games. So far Safari is decent - I'm not seeing the raw performance that some people claim. My main complaint is that CTRL+BACKSPACE doesn't delete the previous word when typing this post. So far all sites I've visited looked good, though very reminiscent of Konqueror, which uses the same KHTML rendering engine. It failed to import my Firefox bookmarks, but I'll try that again. Let's see how it goes!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yes Steve, Stodge Rock lives on. Rock On!

I listen to the radio every morning and afternoon, to and from work. I usually swap between the various rock radio stations here in Ottawa. I've long since grown tired of the same old songs they play. We have two cars; I drive the older one, which only has a radio/cassette player so no CD for me! I'm programming some Java right now, while performing a quick job search and I'm listening to some old CDs. I'm firmly stuck in realm of 80s rock/metal. I'm currently listening to John Norum's "Total Control". Awesome stuff! He was the original guitaris for Europe, during their "Final Countdown" period.

Yes Steve, Stodge Rock lives on. Rock On!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The hardest part of being a parent (in my opinion) is suffering through your little one being sick. I can't imagine how hard it must be to parent a child with say cancer, or any other life threatening illness.

The little one was sick for the past few days. She was teething - sprouting molars. Typically when she teethed she salivated a lot, was tired, cough and sneezed and that was mostly it. But the past few days were rough on her. She was obviously in pain as she was unconsolable at times; she had no appetite and refused everything we put in front of her bar three or four mouthfuls of watermelon. She was incredibly tired and upset and at times it was all she could do to lie there and watch her Einstein video. Oh and she also had a fever; nothing critical but enough that we were worried.

She three up Friday night - I think in our haste to make sure she was hydrated we probably gave her too much milk given her stomach was off. She threw up in her crib and then again as I was carrying her to the bathroom. I spent a wee while picking up curdled milk chunks (i.e. cottage cheese!) and undigested chunks of fruit out of the carpet!!

Extremely gross, but it'll make for a good story when she's old enough to understand! Anyway, she's much better today. She hardly slept last night but made up for it today and she's almost back to her usual self. We took her to the park this evening so she could enjoy the swing for a while. She was quite tired by 8pm despite her many hours of sleeping today, which means she's still catching up and will hopefully sleep through the night. We're all tired, especially Mrs Stodge, who kindly took the brunt of last night's troubles and woes. Tomorrow will be a brighter day!

To all those parents with sick kids; I have so many words I want to say to express my awe but none will come out.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It doesn't matter what music was released in recent years. No-one rocks like Ronnie James Dio. He might be only 5 feet tall but his voice is huuuuuuuuuuuge! Visit his website:

http://www.ronniejamesdio.com/

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I visit a small set of websites, typically the BBC, Slashdot and OSNews. I often follow links from these sites elsewhere but usually I just ignore sites that may offer interesting articles. Take this site for example:

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/06/01/ap3780203.html

There's approximately 6x3 inches of story plus pages and pages of adverts. I can't remember the last time I visited Forbes' website but I know I won't be going back in a hurry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reaper / FruityLoops and music. Metal!

I recently bought an M-Audio USB Fast Track device to connect my electric guitar to my computer. I also bought FruityLoops, or rather my brother bought it for me for Christmas and I upgraded it to the Producer edition.

Since then I discovered an amazing shareware product called Reaper, which is another Digital Audio Workstation, or so they call themselves. It's extremely cheap, developed by (I think) the guy who wrote or worked on WinAmp and it's feature list is incredible.

This is my first attempt at recording with Reaper:

First Guitar Attempt

Ignore my dreadful attempts at being a guitar virtuoso and forgive the fact I still live in the 80s!

Edit:

Here's some more:

http://www.mediamax.com/stodge/Hosted/gutiar2-2.mp3
http://www.mediamax.com/stodge/Hosted/guitar4.mp3

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Happy Birthday Emma!

Happy Birthday! It was the little one's first birthday on Friday. One - I can't believe it! I'm relieved that we've all survived the first year in one piece. It's been a truly rewarding year and my heart strings tug everytime I look at her. Happy Birthday Emma!

Friday, May 04, 2007

I'm sure this link is all over the web already, but boy it's worth checking out!

http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/pave.htm

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Alas Portugal, I knew him well!

Oho, the tables have turned! I had a quick game of Winning Eleven 8 last night and I was two goals up within two minutes. It seems my fancy footwork and accurate passing dazzled them enough that when I was in front of goal, their goalie forgot what he was doing! My tactics worked quite well; normally they would run rings around me with their accurate passing, but this time I held defenders back and let them come to me, rather than have my players chase them around the field.

By 40 minutes into the first half, I was 6-0 up with some beautiful goals scored by my forwards. In case you were wondering, I was playing England again. Rooney and Owen were simply outstanding, and Owen's little side-step to score in the box was so impressive, I wasn't sure it was my fingers on the keyboard!

I think it might be time to crank up the difficulty notch a level.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

6 Degrees of Separation?

With the incredible growth of blogging are there still six degrees of separation?

How do we know that there are six degrees? How can we prove otherwise?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Winning Eleven 8 (PC) - realism saves the day

I'm addicted to Winning Eleven 8 at the moment. I've lost count of the number of games I've played recently, but so far I've only lost a handful on one of the easier settings. Ok, I know I'm cheating by keeping it at a lower setting, but I'm using the keyboard, ok! My fingers get confused when I'm trying to perform some key or move combinations. I'm just too old for this fast reflex thing now!

What do I love most about this game? Apart from the fact I CAN win, I love the realism. Some of my moves and goals were realistic; I gave up an own goal when my defender and keeper got confused. My opponent gave up an own goal when his retreating defender accidentally headed the ball into his own net.

One powerful shot hit the post and travelled parallel to the goal line before spinning out for a corner. Now that was cool!

It's the main reason I keep playing the game. My only real stubborn opponent is Portugal. I wonder if the developers were Portugese or were fans of the country?

Check it out; I highly recommend it!

Friday, March 30, 2007

How can I trust a company whose products have exploitable security holes in their animated cursors?

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/advisory/935423.mspx

I find this so bizarre it's almost almost unbelievable.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

We went to three open houses today mostly for fun. I think we'd love to move into a slightly bigger house but we don't have the money. The first house we saw was wonderful; it's much bigger than ours (almost twice the size?) but still three bedrooms. It needed new windows and a new roof, but the floor plan was good. It was on a street we've always liked and was listed for about CAN$320,000. The second and third houses were disappointing; they looked decent online but they were both on high traffic streets and disappointing inside. I know our house needs a lot of work but the core layout and features are solid. We just need to win the lottery now!
We're thinking of picking up a cheap digital camera for around CAN$200. We've missed so many cute "pictures' when we're out and about with Emma that we could carry around a slim digital camera. It would need to have a fast startup time and be solidly built. I've found the following on Best Buy's website:

Photosmart R725 6.2MP Digital Camera - CAN$189.95
Canon PowerShot A460 Digital Camera - CAN$169.99
Kodak C653 6.1MP Digital Camera - CAN$143.99
Kodak EasyShare C743 7.1MP Digital Camera - CAN$169.99
Sony Cybershot DSCS650 7.2MP Digital Still Camera - CAN$179.99

Any recommendations?

Edit:

So far the candidates are Canon's A460 and Sony's W30. They're both around $190 and both get good reviews. The downside to the Sony is that it uses Sony's proprietary and probably more expensive memory stick. By the sounds of it the A460 is better than the DC10 DVD camcorder we bought last year.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I'm trying to diagnose a performance issue in Foresight Linux, so the output from "cat /proc/interrupts" is:

cat /proc/interrupts
CPU0
0: 351476 IO-APIC-edge timer
1: 4706 IO-APIC-edge i8042
8: 1 IO-APIC-edge rtc
9: 0 IO-APIC-fasteoi acpi
12: 63789 IO-APIC-edge i8042
15: 12192 IO-APIC-edge ide1
16: 16398 IO-APIC-fasteoi libata, NVidia CK8S
17: 21531 IO-APIC-fasteoi libata, ohci_hcd:usb2
18: 135002 IO-APIC-fasteoi ohci_hcd:usb3, eth0
19: 2 IO-APIC-fasteoi ehci_hcd:usb1
20: 0 IO-APIC-fasteoi snd_ca0106
21: 2 IO-APIC-fasteoi ohci1394
22: 124150 IO-APIC-fasteoi eth1, nvidia
NMI: 0
LOC: 351565
ERR: 1
MIS: 0

Friday, March 16, 2007

I installed Beryl onto Ubunto 2.10 tonight expecting something resembling OSX's fancy effects. I realise Beryl is in it's early stages but I thought my trusty PC could handle it. Wrong! The performance hit was immense - scrolling a web page felt like my CPU had suddenly been replaced with an 8086 with 512k of memory. The effects are over the top (understandably so until things settle into a usable state), but I think I lasted about 3 minutes before I disabled it and returned to Metacity. Shame. Maybe I'll check back in 2 years.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I started looking at the Django Project, which is a web framework written in Python. While I'm finding overwhelming I'm still impressed by what it offers; I presume it's similar to Ruby on Rails and automates a lot of the initial hard graft.

According to the Django tutorials, you can get a working administration front end for a basic poll application in minutes. You don't have to write the admin front end (code or layout) as it's already provided in generic form that you override. Damn impressive!

Just thinking of how I could extend my PHP framework to provide this functionality hurts my brain. It's a huge amount of work and I'm wondering why I would even consider continuing with my scripts. I love Python programming and Django (and other frameworks) would be ideal for prototyping some ideas I have. Sooooo.....

Monday, March 12, 2007

I'm a sucker for trying new Linux distributions, so I downloaded the DVD for (Foresight Linux and installed it. It looks like it's based on Fedora, at least it uses the same installation program. It looks good, and seems to be stable. However it also seems to suffer the same problem that Fedora does on my system; namely speed. For some reason it's slower than other distros, such as Ubuntu. As an example, and this may be down to my system, when there's any reasonable disk activity, or say I'm loading a new page in Firefox, the mouse stutters and the machine is non-responsive. I have a SATA 200Gb drive, so one would assume it's not a hardware issue. I'm starting to think I have something mis-configured inside the box somewhere.

The package manager, Conary, seems to have roots in RPM (written by an original developer of RPM) and while I find it faster than RPM and Yum, it definitely seems slower than Ubuntu's apt-get. The package repository is somewhat unreliable, one install was coming down the pipe at 500k/s while others timed out. I installed the NVIDIA drivers, which involved editing the xorg.conf to get the "fancy desktop stuff", but there's no graphical front end to Conary, so it involves pasting commands into the console. Overall it's a good distro, but I'm tempted to try Mint Linux, which is based on Ubuntu.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ah the good old days of English rugby:

Monday, February 19, 2007

I found out this morning why Ford is renaming the Five Hundred to be the "Tuarus". These were my exact thoughts as I drove to work in my Five Hundred this morning:

"Wow! A 2 year old Five Hundred that rides and sounds like my seven year old Taurus!"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I don't know if my network connection is playing up, but I'm unable to post topics and comments on numerous websites. The topics and comments usually don't get posted properly but further attempts produce errors indicating I'm attempting to make double posts. When I re-visit the site my posts/topics don't exist. It's all so strange!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"Blackberry Owners Chained to Work"?

The title is for an article on ArsTechnica:

Blackberry Owners Chained to Work

Well duh! Take my manager, for example. No, I mean, take him please! Just kidding. His blackberry is surgically attached to his hip. Either that or he has it set to buzz for kicks. This is one of the reasons I refuse to get one - I don't want to be available 24/7. I value my family life too much. My thinking is, if you get a blackberry for work and make yourself available 24/7 then you only have yourself to blame if your family life and health suffer.

Do you REALLY need to be available 24/7? And do you REALLY need to be reachable everywhere you go? I'm sure people take them on holiday. Me, I'd much rather be sitting reading a good book than sending work emails or reading how everyone's stressed and having a bad day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I've created a new blog for posting my thoughts on user interfaces, their design and their use. Check it out at:

http://mode-ui.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Seems there's a lot of resentment on the forums at http://www.myford500.com as Ford is renaming the Five Hundred the Taurus. In my uneducated English opinion, that's crazy for two reasons:

1) The Taurus was a bland fleet car that was not updated and left to die
2) Ford blames the Five Hundred name for low sales (it has nothing to do with zero advertising on Ford's part)

I'm not North American, I didn't grow up here, but this doesn't make sense to me. The Five Hundred has an identity as a large, roomy and safe vehicle. The earlier complaints of it being underpowered are no longer valid with the new 3.5L V6 engine. Ford has revamped the exterior style, and while I may not necessarily like it, I do think it brings more cohesion to the car.

Disclaimer: I drive a 2005 Five Hundred, though it will be my last Ford.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I often wonder what could be done to simplify applications and desktop environments, such as Windows, GNOME, KDE, OSX etc. What is it about applications and DEs that annoys me? What could be done to make using them more enjoyable? What will simplify my workflow?

When I write a new email in Outlook, the toolbar has 21 buttons available. Twenty one! I don't send HTML emails, only plain text, so at least twelve of those are unnecessary. I always use keyboard shortcuts for copying, cutting and pasting. That frees up another three buttons.

I use Outlook at work - I receive far too many emails each day and never organise them into folders. I can sort my inbox by date received or the name of the sender. Outlook kindly groups emails into dates: "Today", "Yesterday". "Last Week" and "Last Month". I find this extremely useful as it provides a visual distinction that reduces the time I spend looking for older emails. I sometimes organise folders - most of them are labelled "Archive 2006 Q2" and so forth. So I guess I am lazy, but am I lazy because I want to be or because Outlook isn't helping me make the most of my time? Am I disorganised because "I am" or because Outlook requires too much effort to stay organised? I'm guessing mostly the former though organising folders and dragging and dropping emails info folders is painful when my folder hierarchy is too long to fit onto the screen.

Applications and DEs try to be all things to all people. Is this is a good thing or can functionality and configurability be reduced to reduce complexity?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

We decided to take Emma out for a ride on her sled that her grandparents gave her for Christmas. We should probably have checked the temperature first as it was quite chilly with the wind. We took her out to the Quickie round the corner, to get some milk and a paper. She enjoyed herself, though her cheeks were very red from the wind and there wasn't quite enough snow on the roads for the sled. Still, it was good to get her out; she always enjoys fresh air and it made a nice change from sitting in the living room trying to convince her she has great toys!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We have numerous mini DVDs containing footage of our daughter. Each DVD is about 1.4Gb and stores 30 minutes of video. I'm considering creating a DVD for family members containing clips from different DVDs, but I'm having a hard time finding Windows software to easily manage this.

What I need is a program that can rip each video clip from a DVD into individual AVI or MPEG files. I've found some programs that either rip to VOB (three files in total) or one large AVI for the whole disc. Neither of which are useful to me.

I do have software that came with the Canon camera that looks like it will let me drag and drop different video clips into a project and then burn a new DVD. But I'm missing the step before this.

Any suggestions??