Archive for April, 2010

Watch flight traffic online

Posted in Finds, Random with tags , , , on April 15, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I just came across  Basically, it shows live aircraft traffic in the airspace above Europe on a Google Map – in real time.

It’s pretty much useless, but somehow still quite intriguing.

Flights over Europe


Library of Congress to archive tweets, librarians around the world die just a little

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

CBC is reporting that Twitter has “donated” access to its entire archive – going back to March 2006 – to the Library of Congress so that it can be used for research.


That tweet you made at 3am, drunk, alerting all your followers of your late-night Taco Bell run… that will be there.  Forever.

The library’s Director of Communications Matt Raymond is quoted as saying:

…it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data.

It certainly does boggle the mind.  In fact, it’s frightening.  I was a late adopter of Twitter, mostly because of the sheer volume of useless tweets that my friends were constantly receiving. In truth, I only really use my Twitter account as a way to promote this blog. Had I realized ahead of time that every worthless 140 character message I sent would be recorded in a national library, I probably would have thought twice about joining.

Too late now.

Ottawa “only” the second worst city for arts funding, Calgary hits new low

Posted in Aggravations, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

An Ottawa City Council committee is reportedly going to hear on Thursday about how the city spent $6.08 per person on arts and festivals in 2008. This is supposedly an improvement over the $3.64 per person that was reported for 2005, and brings Ottawa ahead of Calgary’s $5.45 per person. Of course Ottawa is still behind Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.

Great. So the nation’s capital, the city that should be setting the bar for everyone else, is one step from the bottom? And we should celebrate because, incredibly, that is an improvement!?

Before you get too excited, this ‘improvement’ is apparently the product of a 2007 arts investment strategy that city council adopted – a strategy that runs out this year. So council gets to decide if it wants to renew the program.

According to CBC, Councillor Diane Deans is in favour of the program… but what about the rest of council?

Ontario does NOT need more politicians!

Posted in Aggravations, Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , on April 13, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I am not a Conservative – not even a Progressive one.  But today, I have found myself in complete agreement with Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak who actually said:

“I don’t think many Ontario families see adding more politicians as the right thing to do under these fiscal circumstances.  Surely to goodness we don’t need more politicians at this point in time.”

This was in response to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s suggestion that Ontario could increase the number of seats in the legislature to maintain the same riding boundaries as the House of Commons.

I’m all for making life simpler for voters. And having the same boundaries for both provincial and federal ridings certainly helps make things easier.  But it’s not worth it if it means adding politicians.  Our system of government is based on the idea that my representative gives my concerns a voice.  He is able to do so because his voice is one in a few hundred, rather than one in 30 million.

But for every new seat we add in the legislator, we diminish the voice that each individual representative has. Not to mention the immediate salary cost of the new positions, as well as the long term pension and benefits costs as well.

No, if anything Ontario needs fewer politicians – less money, more effectiveness.

iPhone gets multitasking (sort of), also starts wearing Hammer pants

Posted in Aggravations with tags , , , , on April 10, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

iPhone in HammerPantsIs anyone else tired of Steve Jobs announcing “new” features for the iPhone that really are not new at all?  The big deal for iPhone OS 3 was the ability to copy/paste – a “feature” that even my grandmother could see was missing.  The latest wonder is multitasking, which is supposed to allow users to run more than one app at a time.  But there are two problems here:

  1. iPhone OS 4 does not allow users to multitask – it allows developers to access 7 services that can run in the background. For many, this may seem like a fine distinction since the available services (Background Audio, Voice Over IP, Location Services, Push Notifications, Local Notifications, Task Completion, and Fast Apps Switching) will probably accommodate the majority of the sheep people who purchase an iPhone.  But that is beside the point – users cannot multitask unless the developer specifically created the app to do so, and even then it will only work in very specific ways.
  2. Multitasking has been around forever!  There are actually people out there right now, who are perfectly capable of using an iPhone, but are too young to remember life before Windows 3.0. So young in fact, they probably don’t know what Hammer pants are! These people have grown up in a universe that has always had multitasking computers, and now their phone is just catching up? The iPhone was developed as a music playing / internet browsing / phone calling machine.  By definition it should have had multitasking from version 1.

But that is the snag isn’t it?  If Jobs gave people what they wanted up front, he couldn’t sell them a new one each year.

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A truly ‘Generic Love Poem’

Posted in Finds, Words with tags , , , , on April 7, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I found this poem earlier tonight on Hello Poetry:

Generic Love Poem

by Kirsty MacDonald

Call a                          doctor/ plumber/ priest*
My heart is               broken/ leaking/ deceased*
My life is                   worthless/ so much better/ over*
I’m going to              kill myself/ tell your wife/ Dover*
How could you         leave me/ not know/ lie?*
I hope you                return my stuff/ come back/ die*
I’ll never                   forget you/ forgive you/ go away*
I need                        closure/ a DNA test/ to tell you I’m gay*
Your                           face/ crotch/ top of your back*
Is                                so beautiful/ lumpy/ unusually slack*
Your                           ex/ mother/ best friend from school*
Always made me      great coffee/ feel inadequate/ drool*
I will                           miss you/ kill you/ stalk you forever*
That way we can      be friends/ get away with it/ be together*
I’m sorry                   you did this/ I did this /we failed*
I promise to               pay you/ dye it back/ get you bailed
Please don’t               leave me/ show the Polaroids/ write or call*

(*delete as appropriate, just delete it all…..)

Very clever!

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Google Streets View in 3D!

Posted in Finds, Random with tags , , , , on April 7, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I don’t know how long it’s been there, but I just noticed a new icon on the Google Streets View map – and it changes the view into an old school Complementary color anaglyph 3D image!!  Granted, this new feature isn’t terribly useful, but it is pretty cool.  Especially since I happen to have the right kind of glasses to make use of it. Click the image below to see one of Ottawa’s grubbier streets in all it’s 3D glory!

Google Streets View with a new icon

Google Streets View with the new icon

Google Streets View 3D

Google Streets View in 3D

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Wind Mobile has a technical problem porting numbers in Ottawa

Posted in Aggravations, Thoughts with tags , , , , on April 5, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Wind Mobile logo

According to the Wind Mobile customer representative that I spoke with yesterday, Wind has a technical problem that is hindering the transfer of certain blocks of telephone numbers from carriers in the Ottawa area.  This problem was apparently identified some time ago, and it was believed to have been resolved – that is, until yesterday when it was discovered that the issue was affecting my account.

I signed up for Wind service last week, with the promise that the phone number I have been using with Bell Mobility for the past five years would be easily ported to Wind within a few hours.  It wasn’t. After many calls to customer service, and repeated verification of the details of my Bell account, I was finally told yesterday that a manual process had to be used to transfer my number because the automated system was malfunctioning.

The customer representative that I spoke with didn’t provide much in the way of details, but he did say that the problem was entirely the fault of Wind Mobile, and had nothing to do with Bell or the information that I had provided.  I have to admit, as aggravating as this has been, it was nice to have them at least take responsibility for the delay in service.

I was also told that my service would be up by Tuesday. We’ll see.  Having been told four times in the last week that a Wind representative would call me back (one actually claiming that he personally would call back), and never actually receiving any of the promised calls, I’m not holding my breath that the promise of service on Tuesday will be kept.

Like I said, we’ll see.

Update: My phone works! Woot!

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Could aliens be just like humans?

Posted in Finds, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , on April 5, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

At least one scientist, Simon Conway Morris, has warned that we should all be wary of the potential threat that extra-terrestrials could pose if some should ever visit our planet.  But he’s not concerned that they might have vastly superior (and deadly) technology, or that they could have threatening powers of the mind.  No, he’s warning that if aliens come calling, they may be just like us – violent, greedy and exploitative.

According to the The Guardian, this was the basis of a lecture that Morris gave at a conference of the Royal Society in London back in January.

Morris’ theory is pretty simple.  He suggests that since scientists agree that life in the rest of the universe would be most likely to occur on planets similar to Earth, it is reasonable to expect that this life would develop in much the same way that it has on Earth. He explains,

“My view is that Darwinian evolution is really quite predictable, and when you have a biosphere and evolution takes over, then common themes emerge and the same is true for intelligence.”

And if this is the case, it is quite likely that aliens could show up looking for water, fuel, or simply a place to live – presumably because they had already screwed up their own planet.

There is certainly some logic to this theory. If life developed on a planet similar to Earth, and was subject to the same kind of Darwinian evolution, one would expect extra-terrestrials to have all sorts of commonalities with humans.

But wouldn’t those commonalities include our limitations?  We can’t travel to the next closest planet in our own galaxy – never mind planets beyond it! If an extra-terrestrial society were to have emerged in a such manner as would produce beings similar to us, how would they manage to get here?

Maybe it is wishful thinking, but I would like to believe that an alien civilization that is capable of overcoming the speed of light problem, will also have overcome greed and intolerance.

As far as I am concerned, if aliens visit, humanity will pose a greater threat to itself than the visitors will. And lets face it, any truly intelligent beings with malice intent would recognize that taking over Earth would only require a minimum of influence from themselves.  They would need only to make their presence known – and basic human insecurity would drive us to kill each other.

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Happy Easter!

Posted in Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

May the Easter Bunny treat you well.

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