Archive for March, 2010

Still waiting…

Posted in Aggravations, Thoughts with tags , , , , on March 30, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

So last night, after waiting all day with the hope that my number port would finally go through, I sent Wind Mobile’s customer support people a message using the Contact Us form on the website.  I immediately received an automatic response indicating that they would endeavour to respond within 48 hours.

Well, technically that 48 hours isn’t up yet but since the initial estimate of 3 hours for my number port has inexplicably turned into 4 days and counting… I’ve stopped holding my breath.

I decided yesterday that I would at least give them an extra day, just in case the delay was due to my having chosen to sign up on a Saturday.  Well, two extra days is more than enough.

Tonight, Wind is getting a call.

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The big switch – Bell to Wind

Posted in Aggravations, Thoughts with tags , , , , on March 29, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Over the weekend I officially signed up to have my cellphone service switched from Bell to Wind – and have my number ported along with the new service.

I was told by the Wind representative that the switch generally takes about 3 hours, but could take as long as three days.  I had also talked with friends and colleagues who have ported numbers to and from other companies without incident.

But… as soon as I got home, excited to use my new phone, I was lurking around the Wind Mobile Community website – and discovered dozens of horror stories from people trying to port their number to Wind!

There are complaints of multiple errors with account numbers, multiple calls to customer service and hours waiting on hold. There was even one person who’s phone number was lost somewhere between the two companies – neither of which is apparently able to retrieve it.

Needless to say, I’m getting anxious.  I’ve been waiting for my new phone to work for three days – the max that I was told I should wait before getting in touch with customer service.  In the mean time, I’m technically paying for phone service with two different companies at the same time.

So, I wait.

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Really? 10 percent?

Posted in Finds, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , on March 27, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

The Wallstreet Journal has an article today called “Why Women Don’t Want Macho Men“.  It outlines a recently published study from Facesearch.org that asked 4800 women to rate the attractiveness of masculinized or feminized male faces, and compared these results to the national health index of each woman’s country of origin.  The basic finding was that in countries with decent health-care, women prefer prettier men, while in countries with poorer health-care, women prefer manlier men.

The study itself is interesting enough, even though the results are significantly restrained by the fact that it only considers women who identified their ethnicity as white and were in their early- to mid-twenties. But what really caused me to stop and think about the article, was the following two paragraphs:

Then again, women have always asked, why must we choose either/or in a mate, and not all-in-one? In a study of 107 American married couples, evolutionary psychologists David Buss and Todd Shackelford found that beautiful women (as determined by averaged ratings of eight teams of male and female interviewers) want it all in a partner: masculine, physically fit, loving, educated, desirous of home and children, a few years older than themselves and with a high income potential.

While exceptionally attractive (or wealthy) women may indeed capture this ideal male, most are forced by circumstance to settle for the best combination of traits. Some husband-seekers trade off masculinity for companionship and good parenting. Others forfeit compassion in exchange for wealth. (“I want a man who’s kind and understanding,” Zsa Zsa Gabor once griped. “Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?”) To secretly have it all, some women adopt a “dual mating” strategy—marrying a solid, faithful guy and enjoying trysts with hunks. As a result, up to 10% of babies born in some populations have fathers who are presumed to be their biological dads but aren’t.

I guess we can’t blame women for wanting it all – I myself am looking for the perfect woman. But something about that last sentence is really bothering me.  In fact, I think that it is the most disturbing thing I have read so far this year. Ten percent! That’s one out of every 10 kids.

So ladies, which of these two guys would you be more likely to cheat on?

Pretty vs. Manly

A pair of faces from the Face Research Laboratory study to evaluate women's preferences. The image on the left has more masculine features like thicker eyebrows and a wider jaw. (From The Royal Society via The Wallstreet Journal)

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If you can’t beat them…

Posted in Finds, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , on March 23, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I really like Stumbleupon. I try to be careful, but I have definitely been known to completely lose track of time and stay up way too late stumbling around the web.  But even with all my stumbling, for the most part, I tend to see new (to me) sites each time.  I’ve selected so many interests in my profile that I don’t really have to worry about repeats too much – except, apparently, for this picture:

Skeptical Hippo

For some reason I keep coming across this picture – and not just on the same site each time.  It’s everywhere!!  And it makes me laugh every single time I see it…

So there it is – just in case you don’t stumble.

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Sometimes less really is more!

Posted in Finds, Music, Random with tags , , , , on March 22, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I’ve spent the better part of tonight searching for 8-bit covers of my favourite music on 8bitcollective, and I’m totally addicted.  Listening to your favourite tunes redone to sound as if they were coming from a late-eighties video game probably won’t be immediately appealing to everyone – but I’d recommend giving it a try anyway.

So far I’ve found covers for: Elliott Smith, The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Eat World, Snow Patrol, The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, Owl City, The Killers, Oasis, Nirvana and even Rage Against the Machine!  There are so many more too but the snag is that you really have search because many are labeled by song title only, without reference to the original artist.

Granted, some of the covers are, well, not great – but enough of them are amazing.  And, there’s tons of original work too.

You can listen to the tracks, called Chiptunes, directly from the site, or you can download them for later – all totally free

Lost in space

Posted in Finds, Random with tags , , , on March 19, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I really like space pictures, and today there are two new good ones!  The first comes courtesy of the NASA’s Planck mission, which launched in May 2009.  It shows the Milky Way’s spiral disk and surrounding dusk clouds.

The Milky Way from NASA's Planck Mission

The Milky Way from NASA's Planck Mission

This second image was taken by the Cassini spacecraft. It shows Saturn’s rings from a view not normally visible from Earth.

The Far side of Saturn

The Far side of Saturn

Next Big Sound

Posted in Finds, Music with tags , , on March 18, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I came across Next Big Sound tonight and I’ve spend the last hour punching in band names.  I’ve never really been into statistics, but I have to admit that being able to see a line chart of my favourite bands’ web presence is pretty cool.  From the site itself:

Next Big Sound tracks the number of plays, fans, views, likes, downloads, & comments that happen when fans interact with artists on 16 different sites.

The sites that are currently included in the results are:

Facebook, Last.FM, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, iLike, Wikipedia, Soundcloud, ReverbNation, Pure Volume, OurStage, Vimeo, Bebo, Amie Street, Jam Legend, and Virb.

They call all this information “Actionable Intelligence for the Music Industry” and that is a pretty spot-on description.  While the average music fan can definitely have a good time checking out the stats for their favourite band, the real win here is for artists themselves. The site allows artists to see exactly what kind of web activity they are generating, and directly compare their own stats with those of other artist.

At the moment, not all artists are being followed, and those that are being followed don’t have links to all of the available sites.  But anyone can add an artist, and anyone can update an artist’s profile with the relevant links. So as NBS becomes more popular, we should see a pretty comprehensive list of artists to follow and compare.

Mix one part Something Corporate, two parts synth

Posted in Music, Thoughts with tags , , , , on March 17, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Over the last week or so I have been giving Owl City’s most recent record, Ocean Eyes,  a proper listen. Yes, I realize that I am far from being on the bleeding edge of new music – but I have a job and responsibilities so what do you want?

I know that everyone and his monkey has already gone on and on about how much Adam Young’s style is like a less developed Postal Service.  And I freely admit that the first time I heard Fireflies I thought for sure that The Postal Service had finally released a new album. I was in the mall at the time, so I immediately made my way to the nearest record store, only to be disappointed to discover that no one had heard anything of a new album.

But this afternoon, on my way home from work, I realized that I could hear another major influence – Something Corporate!  Now the more I listen, the less I hear Ben Gibbard and the more I hear Andrew McMahon.  Owl city is exactly what I would expect to hear if McMahon happened to be locked in a room with a synthesizer.

Need proof? Go listen the Something Corporate’s Songs for Silent Movies (any song will do), and then Owl City’s If My Heart was a House.

See what I mean?

“Be a force for good.”

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

So, Twitter wants to be a force for good?

How nice.

I’ll admit, it’s certainly more commendable than Google’s misleading “Don’t be evil” slogan, which I’ve talked about before.  But really, who believes that this is anything more than shameless self-aggrandizement?  Over at TechCrunch, Michael Arrington suggests:

What I’d like best is if Twitter just focuses on keeping the lights on, and adds competitive features that keep Google, Facebook and others on their toes. Let others use Twitter to do good things. Twitter should stay goodness-neutral and self righteous free.

I agree wholeheartedly. In my experience, companies that talk about being “good” are a lot like countries that put “democratic” in their official name – neither turn out to be what they claim.

What makes a blogger tick?

Posted in Finds, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , on March 16, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I just finished filling out a survey for a study that is investigating the motivations that drive people to maintain blogs. It is apparently being conducted by a doctoral candidate at the City University of New York. Here is the description from the survey’s own blog:

My name is Leora. During my training to become a clinical psychologist, I have become interested — both personally and professionally — in issues of identity and the role technology plays in the formation of identity. I have created this study in the hopes of adding a new dimension to our current understanding of the role that blogging plays in people’s interpersonal worlds. In this study I aim to better understand the inner lives of a variety of bloggers, each of whom will add a distinct and personal perspective. I hope you will join me!

The survey contained a very interesting set of questions. In fact, a lot of them were not ones that I would have linked with blogging at all. But having completed the survey, I can see where the researcher is hoping to go – especially considering that she is in the field of clinical psychology.

I won’t give away what was actually in the survey. (You’ll have to participate if you really want to know.) But I will say that it asks the kinds of questions that teach you certain things about yourself.  The basic format requires (for most questions) that you answer using the researcher’s words.  And that can be hard to do sometimes. It’s the kind of survey where, if you are not careful, you may find yourself inadvertently giving answers that you wish were true.

It’s funny how even in anonymous surveys we find it difficult to admit certain things about life – as if checking the True box make a problem more real.