Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Radioactive pocky man

Went to the store and saw some pocky .. sadly did not buy any because I have no faith that food from japan won't give me cancer or weird superpowers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More than meets the eye

Remember those stickers on transformers toys that you rubbed and it was all cool? I miss those.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dear keyboard manufacturers

Why do you make laptop style Bluetooth keyboards and not include some sort of track pad (or in a perfect world, a trackpoint nub) ? Its incomprehensible to me. What's worse is when they throw in an optical mouse. If you could bother to throw that in why couldn't you bother to just include it in the keyboard design?

Dear Lenovo. Please make a full sized Thinkpad branded bluetooth keyboard with the same features as the thinkpad laptop keyboards. Include a trackpoint, and if you feel like it, a trackpad as well. I will buy it.

I'd pay big money for a mechanical keyboard with those features.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Opinions are like assholes

Why shouldn't we fire those police chiefs who are speaking out in favour of bill C-30? Why do we allow these public employees to push a law that infringes upon our right to privacy? Just because it makes their jobs easier? Will we allow bankers to pick our pockets because getting us to make an actual deposit is just too much work? Should we give animal services the ability to mount video cameras in your backyard to monitor your pets? I question the intelligence and sanity of any police officer who thinks a communist style spying regime is in the best interests of society.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lebowskimobile

The Stranger from the movie the Big Lebowski, aka Sam Elliott, wants me to buy a Dodge Ram.



The Dude, from the movie the Big Lebowski, aka Jeff Bridges, wants me to buy a Hyundai.



But what does Walter, aka John Goodman, want me to buy?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bugle Boy

I was thinking.. you know what I haven't seen or eaten in a while? Bugles. Whatever happened to them? Then the other day I saw them at dollarama of all places. Bugles!

I always get sick of them half way through eating them though.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: Blackberry Playbook


So I bought a blackberry playbook. It was cheap, and I had to send my Android tablet for warranty repair anyways, so what the hell, I thought I'd buy one and give it a try. Also I suppose it was a bit of pity for a Canadian company falling on hard times (though self inflicted, really. I'm not a fan of their phones) I'll give the point of view on the playbook from someone who is primarily an Android user, which I am.

PROS
  • Nicely designed and solid with a beautiful (if small at 7") 1024x768 display.
  • While small, it's very portable, fitting in pockets
  • Front facing and rear facing high quality cameras.
  • High Definition mini HDMI output
  • Speakers actually work and are front facing and discrete (in other words, your hands holding the tablet don't generally get in the way of them)
  • The front bezel of the tablet is part of the capacitive touch screen. It is part of the design philosophy of the tablet, and is incorporated into the touch gestures. It's incorporated into the design of the OS, and it's like if Androids pull down menu was pushed to the next level.
  • The 3 pin magnetic connector for charging your playbook (similar to the one on the Galaxy Nexus) eases wear and tear on USB connections.
  • QNX is an interesting OS. I'm a Linux user, but I'm not a zealot. I can appreciate what went into the creation of the software on this device. I wish I had the option of running Linux/Android on this little machine, as I'm sure many others do as well (would have possibly negated the necessity of the price drop in my consideration to purchase the device)
  • This thing actually detects 5GHZ wireless N networks.

CONS

  • Configuration - The default configuration method I found a bit tedious. While it's good to have a setup wizard, coming from Android this seemed overly laborious and I even encountered a hangup when it paused and wouldn't continue without an internet connection. Android by comparison asks for very little upfront, but allows more customization afterwards.
  • Lack of Customization - Want to lock the orientation to landscape or portrait mode? Well fuck you. Is it annoying that the screen arbitrarily changes orientation and doesn't change when you want it to ? Yes it is. Tough luck. Want the default browser NOT to force you to view the new tab you're loading immediately into the foreground? Good luck with that. Even in most Apps that the blackberry has, there is little to no customization allowed. It could be a case of the software just not being complete enough, but I suspect it's at least partly a conscious choice. Being an Android user, it angers me.
  • Lack of Apps - Seriously, theres no apps. And what apps there are, are painfully incomplete. Kobo book reader doesn't let you side load existing books. I don't even know where it keeps its downloaded books, seemingly in a locked down directory, so I can't simply use a file manager to copy PDF's or epubs and reload. Pretty lame. Not that I particularly care for that reader anyways.
  • While the speaker on the front looks good, I worry that it makes the device more susceptible to spill damage. If it's water resistant or waterproof, that'd be nice, but I doubt it.
  • I don't like the texture of the back of the device. That's just me. It's a little coarse.
  • Couldn't stream from video from my UPnP devices. That would have been nice. Tried downloading them and playing.. MPEG2 was also an unsupported format. I think MKV was as well. Kind of unfortunate. I'm not expecting Archos device levels of media playback, but it would be nice. God knows the device doesn't have any other features that stand out amongst its competitors.
  • Seems to randomly drop the internet connection and reconnect. Very odd behaviour.
  • Battery charges pretty quick, but maybe get around 6 hours with it. Which makes sense, it is a fairly small but it's not bad as far as battery life goes.
  • Keyboard is horrible compared to the Android keyboard. No predictive text is a noticeable loss, very frustrating to use in some scenarios.
  • While the touch screen interface is interesting and clever.. It takes some getting used to.
  • Did I mention lack of apps? Seriously, it's shitty. But what's worse is the App store interface on the paybook makes it very difficult to find apps. Especially free ones. Everything is kept in strange directories that make no sense to me. It's like the worst BBS SysOp was in charge of creating the files area. There is a strong focus on purchasing paid apps, which I understand, but if I'm not in the mood for a paid app, I'd like to be able to see a list of just free apps. Not just the top 25 either, I'd like to see and scroll though other ones.
  • I don't want to be overly negative about the playbook's web browser. While it does seem to crash and lose connection for no reason, it works more often than not, and the flash support is excellent. It also doesn't seem to pretend to be a mobile browser but instead shows up and renders web pages as you would expect to see on your desktop. Which is what I would expect for a tablet. It annoys me when I'm browsing at home and see a mobile web page. This device has everything it needs to render a desktop web page. So I'm glad it does. Still, the web browser needs work.
  • Would be nice to have a useful clock mode. There is a flip clock app to download that works great (and lets the screen stay on continuously) but doesn't offer alarm clock type features. Android has tons of them. Also if flip clock made the flip noise that a real flip clock makes would be nice too.. but that's for the app developer to decide.
  • This device would make a great internet radio. Of course, Tunein radio doesn't yet have an app for it, so too bad!
  • Lack of standard USB port. My Android tablet had a USB port. I used it primarily to keep my phone charged off of the tablet while tethered. If there is a micro-usb to regular USB adapter, or micro-usb to micro-usb that allows for an external device to charge off the playbook, it's a moot point, and I'll have to look into that, but it'd be nice.
  • Lack of expandable memory. I know you want people to pay extra for the 64gig version, RIM. I get it. But it's stupid. And stupid people already have a company they can go to for stupid quickly obsolete products. It's called Apple.
So, Blackberry QNX OS 2.0 is out in two days. Supposedly rumoured to be anyways. It brings native Android app support, so that should be interesting to me. If I can get fbreaderj working on this thing, at least my ebook reader desires will be met and that's the most important issue to me.

I just realized, it would be interesting if these tablets had a dummy mode where you could use it as a screen connected to an external device. Maybe watch OTA TV with an external adapter plugged in either via HDMI or composite video/audio in. But this goes for most Android devices too. It'd be useful to have a few extra tablets sitting around just as mini external displays, even when the device becomes obsolete a few years down the line. But this is just as an aside.

In any case, the Playbook has a lot of potential. It'd be perfect just as a Skype video terminal mounted on the wall. Too bad Skype doesn't run on it, or anything else really.

So, here's looking forward to OS 2.0. Warp edition. Coming out on Tuesday. Two days away. It's a good device, with average software trying to run in a pack amongst mostly bad devices running slightly better software.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vic Toews supposedly slept with his kids babysitter, but thinks you're a pedophile.

Are you against unreasonable intrusion into your private information by authorities? Of course you are. Unless you voted for the Conservative party of Canada, in which case, apparently you truly believe that the police should be able to do what they want whenever they want without any oversight or rules. Simply because it's JUST SO HARD to police the internet with all those megabytes and twitters and gigahertz out there. They want to be able to spy on citizens without the need for obtaining a warrant.. and if you're against it, it must be because YOU SUPPORT PEDOPHILES. That's what Vic Toews said yesterday, when the bill was introduced into parliament. That's one of the first things he said. You're either with them, or a pedophile supporter. That is the level of discourse the Conservative Party of Canada is at now that they have a majority. This is what you people voted for. Nice work, idiots.

So someone on twitter known as vikileaks30 decided that Vic Toews wants our private information so badly, maybe his private information should be released as well. And it's brilliant. A man who represents the Mennonite communities in Steinbach and such seems to have court documents that basically state he is an adulterer, and of course he paid a fine for election fraud... what does that make him? A fraudster? I don't know.

We have at least 3 more years of this nonsense. As regular readers note, I voted NDP. The NDP have many problems, but I somehow doubt they'd sell out our freedoms to the creation of a fascistic police state. The Conservatives are not a real party. They're a caricature of what Conservatism should be. That much is apparent to me. The Liberals were corrupt, but at least they were sensible and didn't waste our tax dollars and give tax breaks to the rich the way the Conservatives clearly are. I am simply disgusted in the Conservatives, and their naive supporters.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Iron Lady


Worse than Iron Man 2. Why do they always try to capitalize on the success of a male superhero by creating a knockoff female superhero? I mean, this woman was an even bigger asshole than Tony Stark. She even becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain or something? I'm surprised they didn't do a Spider-Girl movie or a Batgirl movie yet. Though they did do Catwoman and that was almost as bad as this. Though the 80's Supergirl movie wasn't so bad.

Anyways, she doesn't even wear her Iron Lady armour at any point in this movie. I don't get it. Were they saving money on special effects? Marvel, I am disappointed in you. Who the hell is this actress, Marryl Streap? Sounds like a fake name. Then again, I never even saw the Marvel logo, so maybe this is some weird Chinese knockoff movie. Marvel should sue.

I just shook my head and asked for my money back. They gave a gift certificate for another movie. I should have realized the movie would suck when they were only showing it in one theatre and it wasn't in 3D. This kind of bullshit is why people pirate movies.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

MILKING THIS TOPIC FOR ALL ITS WORTH


I saw a milk truck the other day, and I got to wondering if the concept of the milk man who delivers milk door to door still exists today. I remember being a kid and witnessing the phenomenon known as milk delivery to a house nearby. And glass bottles too. I love glass bottles. I still don't understand why plastic is used instead of glass. Glass is best.

I also remember when Manitoba had bag milk like Eastern Canada. I never cared for it, but we had to put up with it for a while until the milk jugs came out. I hated how if you didn't drink it quick, the milk would smell like something else in the fridge unless you folded it up or clipped it closed or something. And then there were the times you'd have a leak or a spill. Horrible. I wonder if it was mostly Superstore that had the bag milk.

I opened a 2 Litre milk carton the other day and it had one of those spouts that just would not open without extra effort. It was a bit of an annoyance.

On a visit to the USA once I worried about the effects of bovine growth hormone. I hope we never allow it in Canada.

The worst thing about the milk jugs is that plastic dust when you take off the cap. What is the deal with that crap? Honestly, just bring back classic glass bottles. It's better for the environment.

One of my first memories is of trying to pour myself a glass of milk. I failed, but that said, it was an impressive first attempt. I still fail occasionally.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Manitoba Hydro Power Outrage

What's with all the power outages this week, Manitoba Hydro? You guys had such a great track record and all of a sudden two huge outages in less than a week. Obviously I have 3 battery backups, and can post to my blog with my tethered MTS phone, but really, whats going on?

You'd think Manitoba Hydro could use their website front page to let people know about any issues currently happening. Do they think it looks bad if they advertise the fact that they have outages? Honestly now.

Shaw internet went down as well. Which I found surprising. I thought they had their network set up with a battery backup. Ah well, that's why having a backup is always a good thing. Good job MTS Wireless. Now I wonder how their DSL internet/TV solution handles power outages. Might perhaps be a reason to switch.

The worst thing about battery backups though is the beeping. I obviously know theres a power outage and I'm on battery backup. Shut the hell up. Why can't you turn that option off? You're wasting precious power on the beeping.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Journey Into Myth TV - Part 1

Part 1 - Acquisition and Server Setup

Something I had been meaning to do for years was finally doable after the digital conversion in Canada last September. That is, to set up Myth TV, an Open Source fully network capable PVR software.

I don't recall when I first heard about Myth TV, probably shortly after I first heard about Tivo, the first commercial PVR device (which never really made inroads into Canada.. their own fault really)

In any case, it was my eventual plan to set up a server just for MythTV to record programs. Over time, I had collected the relevant hardware. In October of 2011, I decided to finally jump right in and set it up. I had purchased a years subscription to Schedules Direct ($25 a year currently, which is about $2 a month, really) and went about piecing together the material that I had stored in my parents basement.

First of all, I had my old Desktop PC, which I hadn't used in years. Which had inside it an Asus M2A-VM HDMI motherboard with ATI graphics built in. As you can see, I had purchased this motherboard with MythTV in mind. It has Gigabit Ethernet, it has 4 sata 3GB ports, a couple PCI and PCIe slots, and for the time (2008) was probably one of the best options for a MythTV box. It took me a few years, but I finally used it for that purpose. And it works pretty good at that. It had 3 Gigs of Ram installed at 667mhz DDR2, which is more than sufficient.

Now, for MythTV, you need to have one or more TV cards to record programs. The more, the better. If you're using MythTV, you want to get the best supported cards you can find. In my case, I already had a USB2 Hauppauge WinTV HVR-850 which I originally obtained at a Boxing Day sale at Futureshop a couple years ago for a really good price (dual analog/digital ATSC stick). It was labeled an HVR-850, but in reality it was the 950Q, which is even better and still sells for more than $100 new. the main difference is the 950Q offers QAM support. That is to say, you can watch and record digital clear unencrypted TV if your cable company supports it. As we live in the communist country of Canada, none of our Cable Companies support QAM. Which is pathetic, but not something I'm going to delve into for this article. I also had an HDTV Dvico Fusion 5 Lite, which is also a dual analog/digital ATSC tuner. These are the tuners I started off with.

For the purposes of setting up my server, I used the Mythbuntu distribution of Linux, which pretty much has MythTV configured by default. I had a few issues with it originally not booting up into MythTV as it should have, but I figured it out somehow. I don't know what I did. It was a graphics driver problem of some sort... and also a problem with fsck doing annoying checks of the hard drives on startup. I started with 1.5TB of storage (One 500Gb and One 1TB drive). I eventually purchased a 3 TB drive on sale for $120 just before the floods happened in Thailand and hard drive prices went up. When you're planning to recordin High Def content, 1.5 TB is just barely enough. 4.5, that's more like it. In any case, you burn Mythbuntu to a disc or USB stick, install it to the hard drive, and you're ready to go.

I soon realized that most of the shows I like are on at the same time. I needed more TV Tuners. I decided to purchase the HD Homerun, which is a dual tuner external box that plugs into your home router. It is well supported by MythTV, and saves you from wasting a USB and PCI port. I purchased it from B&H Photo, who are an EXCELLENT store based in the USA that is very considerate of shipping options for Canadians.. even offering Purolator shipping as opposed to the evil that is UPS or the overkill that is FedEx. I plugged it in to my router, plugged it into the AC, hooked up the antenna, added it as an option to the mythtv server, and voila.

I'm not going to go too far into the technical aspects of setting up Myth TV and adding tuners and configuring options on the device. There are any number of wikis online that tell you how to do that. I'm just going to describe my thoughts on how the process went, and bring up any issues I may have had along the way.

So now I had 3 High Def OTA tuners, and I was using the Dvico Fusion 5 Lite for Analogue. The Dvico Fusion 5 Lite sucks for analogue, though. Most shows recorded with it were unwatchable on my networked boxes. I tried to see if I could find any ivtv based tuners off of ebay or kijiji for cheap.. I did, and now have 3 tuners connected to my analogue cable TV output. A caveat though, I got them cheap because Analogue is being shut down by most Cable Companies in the USA. I have other options down the road, however, and shaw cable still has basic cable in Analogue, but sooner or later that'll be gone. Still, for now, It's a nice supplement. I find myself watching more of what's on OTA anyways. Theres really very little value added with Cable TV that can't be switched for Netflix or other online streaming services for far better value.

Now, I mentioned adding a 3TB hard drive. Here I ran into my first problem. Adding the hard drive to MythTV was no problem. I ended up copying the data from one drive to the new drive, and here I ran into my first major issue. MythTV refused to delete anything I had copied over from the old drive to the new. It had nothing to do with permissions really, but the way MythTV handles it's database. This was doubly annoying as most of those programs were useless garbage to me that I only recorded for testing. If I was unable to remove them, I was going to have a ton of wasted space, and even worse, useless entries. Eventually I found out a cumbersome way of deleting them. The way mythTV stores files, it has the date recorded in the file name. I decided simply to delete anything recorded before November 2011. Now, this deletes the videos themselves, but doesn't remove them from the database. I had to go into MythTV Frontend and MANUALLY delete them. It was a bit of a pain, but I managed to do it. It really would have been nice to be able to do it from MythWeb.

What is MythWeb, you ask? MythTV comes with a web based frontend that even supports playing recordings from a Flash style youtube window. It lets you view TV Listings, lists backend information, shows recorded programs, it's pretty swanky. I quite like it.

So everything is recording fine now. Part 2 will discuss the various front end options available that I've tried and how well they worked. Hopefully I'll write that out by the end of the week.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Giants Win!

I never root for New York, but this year I did. For what I think is the fourth year in a row I've rooted for the winning team. Watch me actually place a bet next year and lose. That's how it always goes.

It was pretty good. It's odd to think Madonna had not done the Superbowl halftime show before. Still it was one of the more entertaining half time spectacles, if only for the interesting acrobatics. I'm not liking Madonnas new single, but then who is? She spelled Love wrong too. What is she, a Sweethearts candy heart?

Baby don't hurt me.

It was a pretty close game right down to the end. The last few years I watched the commercials from the US feed. This year I watched it in High Def on CTV using my PVR. I hate the Canadian commercials.. Though obviously some of the US commercials air in Canada like the Avengers movie promo.. which looks good. Also I can't put off reading the Hunger Games any longer I guess. I figured I'd put up with the horrible commercials for CTV shows and other nonsense for the high def. But it really dampens the Superbowl experience. It was kind of nice being able to watch the American feeds in high def in previous years. I wish we received the American channels in Winnipeg like some people in Southern Ontario, Quebec, and BC are able to.

Anyways, to all the smug New England Patriots fans and pundits who thought this year was a sure thing... NA NA NA NA NA NAAAA NA NA NA NA NA NAAA.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Sals downtown locations

It used to be the case that there were 3 Salisbury house restaurants in the immediate downtown vicinity. One at the bus depot, one by the mts centre, and one at the medical arts building. Now only the medical arts location remains and they close really early. Its kind of sad, but you have to go to the forks or down St Mary's Ave right across the bridge. I wonder what the impetus was. Is the bridge location more expensive to run? Possibly. Were the downtown locations attracting an undesirable clientele? Probably. Still, I find it interesting. I don't remember seeing any commentary at the time. I went to the one on goulet once... not appealing at the time. Never returned.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

That's right, woodchuck chuckers!

Its groundhog day. On that note, I hate Manitoba Merv.  Its a puppet.  Who cares what a puppet predicts for weather?  Nobody.   Thankfully, someone found a real groundhog named Winnipeg Willow.  Awww.  That's more like it.  I hope we never have to hear about Manitoba Merv again.   I like Kermit the frog, but I wouldn't listen to his astrological prognications.  I bet Manitoba Merv exists because of some animal rights purpose.  

Crappy google quote of the day