Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Long-Form Census

If you look at the photograph at the top of this blog you will recognize it of the classic chain-gang. This is where a group of prisoners are chained together to perform work outside of Prison. It ensures none of them escapes. Now when think of a chain-gang, you would probably suspect it would be composed of, murderers, rapists, and bank robbers. Well, if this was a photograph of a Canadian chain-gang you would have to include, people who did not fill out their long-form census. Yes its true, that failure to fill out said form may lead to arrest and imprisonment.

I got to admit for most of the summer I couldn't care less about the arguments of long form census, it was one of those bureaucratic arguments that tend to cause the eyes to glaze over, plus I did have my garden to work on, so my time was fully occupied.

All this changed with a few tweets. I saw this tweet:
RT @Carolyn_Bennett: Honoured to submit the Private Members Bill to enshrine the Long Form Census in law

I immediately responded with the following:
so you want to enshrine threats to Canadians who don't fill the long form out?

Then came this response:
Read the article -- it would enshrine the long census but without threat of prison.

If you read the article, you will discover the threat of imprisonment is removed, however, you can still be fined. The maximum fine is $500.00
I then retweeted:
but the threat of a fine still exists.

The final tweet was:
I think we disagree about how bad a thing that threat is.

That's the one that got me going. We have people who support the idea that the only way you can get Canadians to do anything is through threats of punishment. It was bad enough there was the potential for jail time, now its a fine. To say, that the fine is not that bad is ridiculous. Why do we need threats?

Then again, we know why; consider the parties supporting the private members bill.

The Liberals: they have as their core set of beliefs that the average Canadian is a dolt. If you remember during one election, they opposed the Conservatives plan to give money to Canadians to help with day care. The reason they opposed it was the view that give Canadians that extra bit of money, they would spend it on beer and pizza. I even blogged about it. Yeah, that's what the Liberals think of you. They believe you can't be trusted to do the right thing. You will notice that person did not say Canadians would use the money to buy diapers, clothes or food for their children.

The NDP: the party of social workers and social activists. Their core belief includes the idea that you are totally incapable of doing anything for yourself. That's why government has to do it all. We've been through the long gun registry, if these clowns formed a government, you'd have to register your staplers.

I can hear someone complain, "you're just an anarchist, you oppose all those sorts of things. I imagine you oppose speeding tickets and such things." No, I do not oppose speeding tickets and fines for txting while driving. You see, those are attempts to make you understand the gravity of speeding and texting. You are fined because you are involved in behaviour that could lead to injury and possibly death, to yourself or others. Speeding kills, you could lose control of your automobile. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever been killed by a long form census not being filled out. There is no listing of fatalities during census weekend.

In Canada, the right to privacy is enshrined by law. The Privacy Commission has been reviewing Facebook to ensure they are not violating Canadians right to privacy. Yet the government will demand more information from you then Facebook asks you to give, and Facebook is in trouble. Perhaps this should be the government's strategy come Census Time, make a facebook page. Canadians love Facebook, we post everything about ourselves, to the smallest detail.

Normally I think Ezra Levant is a bit of a crack. However his recent reprint of a column he did about the long form census is worth reading.

One more piece to consider, at the last census, 21,000 people who filled out the long form put "Jedi Knight" down as their religion. This is not to disparage true followers of the Force, but I don't think the Old Republic had 21,000 Jedis, so I think that's rather suspect. By the way, the Jedi Church of Canada supports retaining the long form census.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Edict from the Glorious Leader

Today the Beloved Leader of the People announced Saturday shall now be the day in which Ontarians shall do their Laundry. It was also declared that those who wish to demonstrate the proper Revolutionary Fervour will also join Laundry Collectives, which will gather the Citizens together for Laundry Classes. In these classes, citizens will not only do their laundry, but study the collective wisdom and teaches of the Dear Leader.

As well, there will be opportunity to denounce to Party Officials all those who are not demonstrating the proper Revolutionary Zeal and are still attempting to do their laundry during the week. The Officials, members of the newly renamed "Ontario People's Police", will bring these decadent holdovers of previous regimes to Educational Camps, where they will learn the proper thoughts of citizens of the Glorious Province, and do duty for the Citizens, such as gathering litter and taming the wilderness for the Future of the Ontario Revolution.

The Official Organ of the People's Liberal Party of Ontario, (aka The Toronto Star), also announced to great news the curiculum of the new all day Kindergarten. The students, now called the Vanguards for a Glorious Ontario, will learn to Oppose the Imperialist Decadent Regime of the United States of America, the thoughts and saying of the Beloved Leader, who shall be referred in these classes as the True Parent, and to gather information on all those who demonstrate decadent thought, actions and behaviour. They shall learn that all who exhibit decadents characteristics, no matter who they are, must be denounced to their teachers, who are instructed to inform both Party Officials and the OPP.

The Announcements were greeted with a standing ovation and hymns of Praise to the Wisdom of the True Leader of the People.

Okay, serious time. It seems our beloved Premier is slowly losing touch with reality. Not only is he telling Ontrarians when they should do household work, such as laundry. Of course the explanation is to take advantage of cheaper energy rates, because if you turn on a lightbulb before 9:00PM, Monday to Friday, you may end up needing to declare Bankruptcy. Then we can read that a Commission has agreed to allow Ontario Hydro to rake in a profit of nearly 10%. Think about this, when you pay your hydro bill, one dollar of every ten is profit. Profit that we are told will be used to modernize equipment, but as we know from history, will be used on executive perks.

But never underestimate this government's ability to feel our pain, the Premier said at the announcement:
He acknowledged that scheduling domestic duties to take advantage of “smart meters” and time-of-use rates that discount power on Saturdays and Sundays might not be an option for busy families.

“Terry and I had four kids in five years. We know that sometimes you have to put on the laundry right now. I understand that,” he said.

“But there are other opportunities for some folks, some times, to shift their patterns to later at night and on weekends so that they can have lower electricity bills.”

Reading his words almost brings a tear to my eye. Notice I said 'almost'. I have to wonder if the Premier truly believes the people of this province are nothing more then dolts, dorks and masochists. He can say what he wants and do what he wants and keep going. He gives us the HST, the eco fees, the disaster that was and is telehealth and yet it doesn't faze him in the least.

When the election?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Parking in Downtown Brantford, views from the North Side and other facts

Over the last week, the local press has pointed out the news regarding parking in downtown Brantford. A little over a week ago, a consultant's reported came out informing the city that the time of free parking needs to come to an end.

The reason for this is due to the fact that parking spaces are needed in the future and so pay and park method would generate the income to develop the new spaces. There was parking metres at one time, but it was decided about ten years ago, as I read the article, things were so bad it was agreed to bring in free parking to bring people back to the downtown. Everything was going wrong, I suppose and the hope was that by offering free parking, people would consider coming downtown, rather then going to the Mall or to Wal-Mart where free parking is the name of the game.

Why the change? Read this:
Mayor Mike Hancock recalled that the meters were pulled from use in a time when the economy was suffering and the downtown was desperate to attract business.
In the heyday of the city's downtown, Hancock said, "You wanted to make sure nobody stayed too long."
That changed with the downturn, only to rebound when Laurier Brantford and new business began to revitalize the core.
"Things have changed again with the advent of the university," the mayor said. "Once again, it's important to control people not staying too long on the streets."

I can imagine some people reading that statement are probably doubling over in laughter, revitalized business? Over the last year business has pulled out even more, and with the demolition of the South Side, what business that was there has moved out of the Downtown. I could say some things about the University and what it is doing to the downtown, but I will stay my words.

I find it interesting that a consultant was needed to bring this to the attention of the City. I say this, since it was mentioned in the Transportation Parking Study of April 2008. To quote:
• On-street parking should be managed as a public resource with pricing and supply
management attempting to balance equity and ensure full-cost pricing.
• No employee (i.e. commuter) should receive free daily on-street parking where parking is in high demand.
• On-street parking regulations should be strictly and consistently enforced to prevent abuse and to reduce the number of tickets issued over the longer term.
At the present, none of these principles are being met in Downtown Brantford. In particular, the fact that on-street parking is free in the Downtown is a major limitation to the achievement of the first two principles. The fact that on-street parking spaces are full by 9:00 AM is a sign that these spaces are being sought by downtown employees wanting to avoid paying for parking. Although the 2 hour time restrictions are in place to help prevent longer term parking, the City does not presently have the tools to efficiently enforce these restrictions. For example, the City currently uses a tire chalking approach to enforce time restrictions, which is quite labour intensive and difficult to enforce. While hand-held computers can aid in the enforcement of time limits, with free parking people will continue to abuse on-street parking.
Implementation of on-street parking pricing, through meters or pay-and display technologies, is essential for ensuring the efficient use of on-street parking as the Downtown develops. It is to be expected that some Downtown businesses will not be in favour of paid parking, due to the fact that most of the shopping options in the rest of Brantford offer free parking. However, most downtowns have realized that the benefits of charging for parking in terms of increased turnover greatly outweighs the potential for lost customers. An added benefit is that revenues from on-street parking can be used to support other downtown initiatives such as improved signage and streetscaping.

I do wonder if the Consultant firm used the Master Plan as part of their research. Sure would have saved money. It's no wonder Scott Adams pokes so much fun at consultants in Dilbert:

I know: "that's not fair".

Fortunately, the City Fathers decided to reject the report. The status quo will remain, at least until the next council takes office. I can understand the present body not wanting to deal with it, what with the possible turn-over of people that may take place.

I think its safe to assume that the Downtown is still has a way to go before it can be considered healthy. I know there is much said with the growth of the University and the fact that people are coming and living in the core. The problem with this point is, the University population is by its nature transient. Students are only here for 8 months, if that long. The University has brought a number of positive changes to the core, but there is a need for diversity- things such as good and reasonably priced housing, more retail and a pedestrian friendly area.

I've already wrote about this, and I will in the future.

In other thoughts. I was walking along the north side of Colborne Street and noticed I had a view of the Casino and Civic Centre:

I thought how wonderful it was and then I read the paper:
Residents finally can enjoy an "exciting" vista on the lower part of the city with the demolition of the remaining three buildings on the south side of downtown Colborne Street.

Okay. We can see the vista, plus the rubble of the buildings and that is a good thing? I would say something sarcastic, but I can't. I recall getting a letter asking me to explain what the purpose of buying 'book rack holders' for? I tried to saying something, but everything I could think of came out sarcastic.

Other news and this is good. The Murdoch Mysteries came back to Brantford. It's a good series. They seem to like Brantford. It seems they like the heritage buildings that have been preserved. You can make money from heritage buildings.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Three Time's a Charm

This is my third time attending the Brantford International Jazz Festival. It's quite something to say; "I've attended every one of the Festivals". Well I have, and probably a lot of people can say the same thing. This year, I was only able to attend the Sunday afternoon performances, due to a commitment Saturday Morning, and Applefest in St. George, Saturday afternoon. Which was equally fun. Plus I got to purchase some apple cider, got to enjoy the local apple cider, delicious.

What can I say, from my vantage point, I thought the crowd was larger than last year. I think part of it can be attributed to the line-up and the fact it was a great last weekend of summer, weekend. You can't go wrong when it's a sunny day, although there was a bit of clouding over later in the afternoon.

It seems that the Festival is getting itself on the jazz maps; it might not be the largest but its becoming one of the best. I say that, not just because the crowds are growing, but also the fact its getting noticed outside of Brantford. One person told me that the venue for the Brantford is right, it's cozy, all within one area and there is very much a sense of intimacy between the performers and the crowd. You can tell this due to a number of factors; one the fact the place is crawling with photographers, and not just professionals or media only, but I'm seeing the same people each year coming to take photographs.

The acts I was able to listen to on the Main Stage were:

Michael Kaeshammer

and Tony Monaco

There were two other stages, one for local talent and the other for Youth. I spent most of my time at the youth stage. It was well worth the time spent. Two different groups performed and they did themselves proud. Again, it was an appreciative audience that showed the young people a lot of support:

It's growing with its success, both Jazz.FM91 and Wave FM, two regional Jazz Radio stations were around. In fact Jazz FM had a write up about the festival:
"One of the best jazz festivals in Southern Ontario!" So shout the organizers of The 3nd Annual Brantford International Jazz Festival - a two-day open air celebration of music and culture on September 18 & 19, 2010. However, there is no doubting that for sheer quality of musicians and artists, The Brantford International Jazz Festival is definitely in the 1st class division. Just take a look at a few of the artists that are lined up for the 2010 festival and you get the picture. Spitfire Band, Tony Monaco, Juno Awared Winner Ranee Lee, The Roberto Linares Brown Orchestra, Amanda Martinez, Hot Club of Detroit and others. The festival will again feature three stages – Main Artists, Local Artists and Next Generation Youth Stage…and the best part is that all the afternoon performances are free!

The latter station is becoming one of the sponsors.

From what I heard, Saturday was equally as great.

So now all there is to do is wait until next year's Festival, which according to one newspaper, promises to be even bigger and better then this year.

Which reminds me, the Brantford Film Festival is coming up, October 15th and 16th. It looks good too. I'm thinking of going, plus I've already bought a t-shirt.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Say it ain't so, John C

One of the shows I've faithful watched on the Internet, over the years is Cranky Geeks. I enjoy the insight and also crankiness of John C Dvorak and the panel as they discuss or lampoon some of the tech news for that week. I'm not sure when I started watching but I'm quite sure it was early on. I was at the homepage, looking over the archive page and going through the topics and guests. Honestly, what would the middle of my week be without John, Sebastian Rupley and the others who made up the panel opining on the various topics of the day. Where else could I hear: "", except on Cranky Geeks.

I also made a small video and had it played on the show, you can look it up, its episode 79. It had to do with a small contest they had on the topic "What makes you cranky". It's not much of a claim to fame, but I'll take it.

Besides a long desire to have Danica Patrick on the program, which looks like will never happen, John and company give a spirited appraisal of all things tech. More often then not, John would declare something bogus, or crap, depending upon how he felt about the topic.

We also learned that he never got invited to many parties at Google or Apple. Seems he's never on the guest list, even though he had a number of guests from Google. For some reason he never had anybody from Apple, although he did have a few Apple evangelists.

John was always ready with a list of stories, some of which were not discussed, even though they might be mentioned on the website. He had them and the guests were prepped to be their crankiness.

There were always three panelists beside John. Of course for most of the episodes, Sebastian was the Co-Crank:

It appears part of his function was to go through and prepare a list of the stories to be discussed. After his departure, it was left to the individual guests to have stories ready, and they would lead the discussion as to why they thought they were good stories. Many times episodes would seem to revolve around one theme, such as Apple, or Google or apps. During big tech events, they would all offer their opinion. there was no sacred cow as far as the panelists were concerned. And truly on some topics they could become very cranky. As witness by this recent episode with Dan Goodin of the Register:

It seems over the last year or so, problems were cropping up, usually technical problems, bad sound, no sound, addition sounds, all were commented on. Of course a lot blamed Mevio and Adam Curry for that one. Hard to say, but often I would either change headphones or take to listening over the laptop speakers, to determine if the sound problems were mine or the show's.

One commentator in the comment section suggested that Ziff-Davis was bought by a group who has decided to get rid of all the money losing property and Cranky Geeks is one of it.

So what next, negotiations John mentioned at the end, just a statement or is there something else going on. Will the show or something similar or perhaps a John C. Dvorak only program appear on Revision3 or the TWIT network? For the latter, John often appears on This Week in Tech and has worked with Leo in the past. For the former, David Prager was a guest on the last few episodes, perhaps discussing concepts and ideas?

We will have to wait until next week's show.

The final verdict will be next week. To be sure I will be watching.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Heinbuck's est pessum ire

I was thinking of using the famous saying by Cato the Elder: "Carthago delenda est", but use the word Heinbuck's instead of Carthago, but that would be translated Heinbuck's must be destroyed. Apparently, Cato had some issues with Carthage and wanted it removed. This did happen during the Third Punic War. This is today's Roman History Lesson. There will be a test, nor will you have to write a paper.

Heinbuck's was, I can assume, a store on Wharf Street, at the bottom of the hill from South Side Colborne Street. It was a plucky little store and it had been standing in defiance of the bulldozers and cranes.

Yet it too got behind the blue fence of death, so it was only a matter of time.

Today, when walking up Wharf Street, I noticed the work and found out that Heinbuck's is, indeed, no more.

The demolition continues. In some ways, it is impressive, but it still means the loss of a lot of building and if it is true the material is not be recycled and a lot of potential building material.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I have seen the future, and its Art Deco

Going through a few boxes in the crawl space, I came across my copy of the movie "Things to Come". I must confess, the copy I have came from the Dollar Store, so we're not talking pristine cut. In fact, a better version of the movie can be watched on YouTube. A big thank you to the person who posted this amazing movie.

There's a lot to impress while watching. First of all, as you know, the screenplay was written by the author, H.G. Wells, so obviously it's going to be very true to the book, if not a literal rendition, then certainly the spirit of the book. It's impressive because, even though it was written and premiered three years before WW2, gives us a pretty good interpretation of the blitzkrieg and the concept of Total War. What is important, besides the armies, is the air force. You might remember my blog article about total war and what was vital to the planning and theorizing of the military was air control. In fact the concept of total war cannot happen unless there is air power. The main city, Everytown, is attacked from the air and besides bombardment of bombs, there is gas. While this did not happen during the London Blitz, that is the gas, there was constant bombardment. The city does not do well, as was the case of almost every major city in UK, Germany, Japan and the rest of the world where the war was fought.

I was reading some of the comments about the movie and one person said that the scene of the attack on Everytown was greeted with laughter, none of the audience could believe such a thing was possible. I wonder if any of them remembered that scene as they ran to the bomb shelters.

Then there is the art deco tanks:

and the cool planes, plus uniforms:

What is interesting is as the war continues, civilization and technology breaks down. From art deco tanks to horses and simple guns. It's amazing what Wells' saw, a war, or a continual state of war for over three decades does mean the collapse of modern society. You probably don't need that long, but it seems if all society is engaged in war, it will collapse. I was reminded of the quote by Albert Einstein:
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

That's about it. Of course, after the constant war and then plague, society and civilization begins to return. Of course this leads to some problems of philosophy. It seems Wells pushes for a fascist style of government. There seems to be no mention of democracy with Wings over the World. They are a military organization that has decided to unite the world under one government, itself, and so it seeks to bring all small nations under its control.

After the war, the group unites the world and ends war. The purpose is to bring about all the resources that have been squandered on the military is now being used for the good of civilization. This is something we all want, we all ask ourselves the question, what would happen if we stopped the Military Industrial Complex and put all that energy to civilization. The end result is a utopia. It's progress unto progress. The future holds Art Deco and it looks wonderful. One hundred years since the start of the war, things are great. Cities are huge and underground. There is computers, instant communication, we all will have watches that are also our cellphones. If there is one problem its we will dress like dorks.

I wonder if that's the real reason for the rebellion, not for the end of constant progress to give humanity a rest, but rather, a desire to get rid of the huge shoulder pads and those horrid shorts. What you don't see, but it better be in the future if we dress like that, is a lot of leg exercising machines. You had better have great calves otherwise, the future will be ugly.

Another problem with the movie is the Space Gun. With progress comes the desire to go beyond our planet, to take, not to the skies but to space. This is also a cause of concern for those oppose to, or rather, wanting to take a break from progress. The powers have built a space gun to shoot people to the moon and then, beyond. Obviously rockets were not in Wells' thinking.

At the end, it launches and humanity seeks the stars. Okay, it gets a little preachy at the end, but I suppose this can be forgiven.

I'm hard press to describe this a great movie, but what it does possess is something interesting foresight and hope. Wells' sees a world without war, although every so often human nature comes along and tries to trip things up. Yet Wells does see progress. He understands the way to it is by ending war and allowing humanity to put its energy in creating a better civilization and society. Even if it does mean wearing dorky togas and shoulder pads.

In the end, I'm glad I watched it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Pet Ownership vs Pet Guardianship

I came across this campaign through an email I get from a site called It keeps me informed about what is happening in the world and about issues that are to be on the front burner and not back burner. The most recent newsletter featured an article about something called
"Pet Guardianship".

The purpose of this campaign is to change the language as well as the relationship between people and animals, especially pets. At present the language for us who have pets is ownership. I own my pet. Well, I have cats so that's debatable. However the idea is that if we understand that the language is causing the problem of animal abuse, since if I own something I can dispose of it, or treat it in the manner I deem fit. This is the problem, to the people behind the campaign. It does make sense in a way, if I am the owner of something, then that I own is an object and should I decide to great rid of it, or treat it badly then so much for it. It's my thing and I will treat it as I should and can.

To that end, the group behind the campaign, and the lead group is In Defense of Animals. They want all people who love their pets to sign a petition and get involved with having the name adopted. They are pressing for municipalities and states to get with it and call the pet owners of their communities, pet guardians.

The pledge is as follows:
I pledge to:

• Call myself and others "guardian" rather than “owner”
• Make a lifetime commitment to my animal companions
• Adopt animals only – never buy or sell
• Spay or neuter my animal companions for their health and to prevent overpopulation
• Provide nutritious food, fresh water and daily exercise for my animal companions
• Care for the emotional needs of my animal companions
• Refer to my animal companions as “he” or “she,” not “it”

If you go to the homepage, there is even a video explaining the philosophy of the name change and the hope of the group:

The idea as well, that the word 'owner' is outdated, while 'guardian' denotes, in their words an higher level of relationship and care for those that our responsibility. It is supposed that if the language is changed, then people will see their role as different. The opening paragraph of the campaign states this:
IDA’s Guardian Campaign promotes the use of “guardian” instead of “owner” when referring to our animal companions. This shift promotes a more compassionate relationship between people and other species. The term “guardian” does not change legal standing, but it does more accurately describe the responsibility we have for the wellbeing, treatment, care, and quality of life of our animal friends.

They say the change in terminology does not change any legal status. I hope this is true because as much as I do enjoy my pets, they are still animals. They do not have the same legal rights as I do. I do believe we as a society should care for the animals in our possession, and that all acts of animal cruelty needs to be condemn and those responsible need to be brought to justice.

This movement has a lot of supporters as well. They have a page listing all the groups that agree with them and it is extensive. As for cities that support, even the town of my birth, Windsor Ontario is on the list.

Before I go on about the groups, especially one in particular, I came across an equally interesting article. It's from the American Veterinary Medical Association, it seems they oppose the change of terminology. You may think; what? What's the problem? Now that is the problem. Here is what they say:
Ownership vs. Guardianship
The American Veterinary Medical Association promotes the optimal health and well-being of animals. Further, the AVMA recognizes the role of responsible owners in providing for their animals' care. Any change in terminology describing the relationship between animals and owners does not strengthen this relationship and may, in fact, diminish it. Such changes in terminology may decrease the ability of veterinarians to provide services and, ultimately, result in animal suffering.

Now this is interesting, is there a danger that changing terminology may lead to a change of legal status. Right now, my cats have no legal rights. Of course, as cats they would think 'human rights' is a step down for them. If there is a change in legal status then there could be problems. Let me give a scenario: we as a family have been known to leave our cats for a night or two. I always make sure there is extra dishes of food and water and the litter box is nice and clean with extra litter. I leave lights on for them. However, I still leave them, might I be charged with abandonment?

Let me go back to the groups, one caught my eye, PETA. This is interesting because PETA hates the idea of pet ownership. If you go to their information page, they discuss it. If you read carefully, there's not a lot positive about pet ownership. They discuss the 'best' homes and make it sound terrible, forcing the dogs to hurry, or stale water. Read it. They say:
Contrary to myth, PETA does not want to confiscate animals who are well cared for and "set them free."
But as you read you have to wonder. Remember this is the same group that wanted to change the name of fishes to "Sea Kittens".

Also, PETA has a great track record for animals in its care. Their one shelter in Virginia has an euthanasia record of 84%, with 97% of all animals in their care, in 2009 ending up, dead. That's quite impressive. How does that compare with Humane Society and SPCA? Those places regularly adopt most of their animals out to people.

Yes it's a great idea, but anything that is supported by PETA makes it immediately suspect. What are they really hoping to accomplish is my question.

You really want to support pets, support groups such as the Humane Society,SPCA, or Jazzpurr.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The New iPod Touch

As you know, I am an owner of an iPod Touch. I believe it is 2nd generation and it accompanies me practically everywhere. I bring it to work and to the gym. When I go out for a walk, I've got it and I'm listening to an audiobook, which are great things, by the way. The only place I don't use it is when I ride my bike. I do see people plugged in when they ride, but I would rather keep my ears free to listen to the honking of horns and the swearing of drivers, rather then some nice music. It's a personal preference.

When Steve Jobs announced the next generation of iPods, I was interested. I've been looking over the specs and to the various opinions of others, as well as the actually video announcement. In fact I've included it in this blog:

It does have a lot going for it; the better display, the two camera, including a front facing one, the fact you can shoot video in HD. That is a lot. I've also noted that Steve Jobs is calling it the "iPhone without the phone". It's because it has everything the iPhone has, without the ability to call, or at least you have to have a contract to use it.

The last bit isn't really of much interest to me, I like my cellphone. I wouldn't really consider my Touch as being a replacement phone at all.

To continue about the new Touch, it has a better processor, which makes it a better games platform. It is also slated to run on iOS 4.1, which is the newest OS for the iPhone/Touch platform. Again, this sounds real good.

Now what it comes down to is this; am I interested in buying it? For a while, before the announcement, I had always thought if the next Touch had a camera, I would buy it and buy it quickly. I do like the model I have, but wow, a camera, that's something fantastic.

You would think I'm totally into this now, but I have to admit, as I've done some reading and research I've discovered the cameras aren't really that great. When it comes to the camera, it's actually not even a 1megapixel camera. It actually works out to 0.7MP. An article by Kevin C. Tofel at GigaOm mentions this:
2003 called and wants its camera back. Yes, the new touch has a front-facing VGA camera and a sensor on the back too. That rear camera even shoots high-definition, 720p video, just like the iPhone, but don’t even think to compare the rear shooter to that of the 5 megapixel camera on the iPhone 4. Stills from the iPod touch are a lowly 960 x 720, which works out to just under 0.7 megapixels. A solid shot like the one to the right taken by my son with his iPhone 4 isn’t happening on the new touch. Pics will look fine from the touch for posting on social networking sites and such, but blowing them up is going to be a painful experience, as details will lose definition faster than you can say “one more thing.”

I should also point out, it's a pedometre and can be useful if you have the Nike+ program when you exercise.

Then there is the apps. I think this is still where Apple excels. The apps are fun to play with and can be very useful. Where would I be without Tweetdeck for the iPhone, especially come the CFL?

I should point out the camera situation may be more due to form factor then anything else, an article in Wired points this out:
Then again, the iPod Touch is about one millimeter thinner than the iPhone 4 (which is significant when it comes to pocketability). Anything bigger than a one-megapixel sensor probably would have been a squeeze, especially when you consider that the Touch includes a front-facing camera, too.

There's another interesting article at Wired that comments on the popularity of the Touch, it seems that it makes up 38% of all sales of iOS products, which says a lot about the popularity of the devise. It is everyone's second devise and is a very good alternative to the iPhone, should you not be able to afford the data plan you got to have with the Phone.

I have to admit, what I've seen of the Touch makes it interesting. The display does look amazing, from what I've seen:

I have to admit, as great as it sounds, I think I might stay with what I've got. It comes down to thinking, do I have any real need to upgrade at this time? For what I use the Touch right now, surfing the net, reading email, tweeting, using facebook, plus music and video, I'm happy and content. Perhaps I will simply wait for a little while longer.

Then again, I saw this:

The Samsung Galaxy Player 50 has been announced at the IFA exposition. I have to admit, this sounds very interesting. I like the fact it's Android based, which is something I'm enjoying with my Android tablet. I think I may just keep my eyes and ears open to learn about availability and price here in Canada. Hopefully they do sell it in Canada.

I'll keep you posted

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Comparing a Couple of Sites: Exercising

A number of years ago, I signed on to a site called Asimba. It was a site that allowed me to keep track of the various exercise programs I was doing. At that time it was running and biking. It was a very useful site, easy to use and easy to follow the progress. I even bought a hat and tee shirt. I still own both and wear both, the hat is what I still wear when I do go running. Shortly after purchasing the wear, the company was bought by another company and they screwed it up royally. What was easy became difficult. It became more of an advertisement. Since then, nothing was out there, at least nothing that was as simple and straightforward as I thought Asimba was to me. By the way, the motto of the site was: "Because Endorphins Feel Good". That's very true, by the way, nothing like exercise to enhance the daily mood. Nothing like the release of Endorphins to improve one's outlook as well.

What have I been using? Nothing. That is until recently.

It was about March I discovered the site Skimble. This is a very nice site. To sum up what it's all about, let me quote from the About Page:
Skimble is the ultimate companion for your active life. With the mission to inspire active lifestyles, Skimble provides a location-based, social iPhone and web application to help you plan, track and discover activities nearby and far. Use Skimble to connect with other active people and share your achievements with friends. Track all your sports activities, compete on the leaderboards and win prizes just for being active. Skimble will automatically remember your Personal Bests and help you monitor your progress over time. Whether you run, hike, bike, rock climb, ski, snowboard, kayak, canoe, do cardio, lift weights, or practice yoga and pilates, join the fun and skimble it!

You sign up, go through the list of exercises, and it's quite extensive, and begin to start keeping records. If it is an exercise, you can find it listed and you can start keeping your statistics on what you're doing. As this is the age of social networking, you can make friends and followers. This is important since you can compare yourself to those you follow. You can see what they are doing and you can also send notes to one another. On your main page, there is a leaderboard, so you can compare what you've done to others.

If you do a personal best on any of the exercise, you will get a notice, which will make you feel pretty good. As well, you can look back and discern whether or not you've approved since the last time. If you put in your Twitter and Facebook information, you can post to those sites at the same time. This is good if you've done a personal best. Just be aware, this will make you open to funny comments from the less, shall we save, active of your friends. At the same time it will garner comments of encouragement. You take the good with the bad.

It also keeps record of how you've done since joining the site. I think this is a good feature, if anything, you may be impressed with the numbers. I know I was impressed when I checked my own statistics.

There is also an app which can be installed on the iPhone and iPod Touch as well as Android devises. So you can keep track wherever you are as you exercise. The app also has GPS ability, which is good for the iPhone. Since I don't I don't use.

As a means of investing, you can Go Pro. For $24.95 a year, there is enhancements to assist with your workout. I haven't joined yet, I'm thinking about it.

There is also a Store, so you can buy your t shirt.

Also, there is a monthly contest and draw, the more you do, the more active you are, the getter your chance of winning that month's prize. I have yet to win.

They are a friendly bunch as well. One of the co-founders Maria Ly, will answer your emails and encourage you.

I have made this site known to a chair of a wellness committee. If exercise is a part of your lifestyle. This site is worth looking into and getting involved.

Another site worth looking into is DailyMile. The emphasis on this site is to be a social network of those who train. It's been referred to as the Twitter for Runners. I've just started using this site, so my thought are not as extensive. It is a pleasant site. Very neat and does the job well. You can map your route, it will calculate the miles, or kilometres ran, or biked or whatever method you use. There is also a Store, for the tee shirt.

As it is a social network as well, you can follow and be followed. From the following, you can get words of encouragement from other runners. You can set your goals, be it a race you're training for, or just the fact you want to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Some of the nice things, you can send motivators and receive the same. As with both sites, you can add photographs, probably a good thing if you've got someone taking pictures as you finish a race. It's also a good site. What it has going for it that Skimble doesn't, is that it tracks in Kilometres. If there is one issue I have with Skimble is that everything has to be either entered as miles, which is true with the iPod Touch app or it will be translated into miles, if you add in kilometres, such as at the website. It's a minor quibble, but since I live in Canada, it's important. On the other hand, DailyMile has no app for iPhone or Touch.

Both sites are good. I would say Skimble is more extensive if you are active in a number of different activities, while DailyMile tends to concentrate on running. It mentions other activities, but I believe most people using will do so with running.

It comes down to personal preference. I can see myself using both, because it's good to keep a record. Now with the Fall Season coming, the temperatures will begin to fall, as well as the humidity, so you can still get out there and start exercising.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Is the Web Dead?

Much is being made of the recent article, in fact the lead article in the September issue of Wired Magazine. The front cover screams the news "The Web is Dead". The concept and major point of the article is that the Internet of the web browser is reaching its last legs. For the first few decades, at least since the invention of HTML, the Internet has been defined by the Web. We browsed it, which is why the way we see it is through browsers. I know there will be those who will roll their eyes at that statement.

It could be said that the criticism is unfair, that neither author, Chris Anderson or Michael Wolffe see the demise of the web as we know it. They don't. They do foresee a future when most of us will be going to an Internet of apps and the API.

An important piece of the explanation is the graph:

The graph demonstrates how things have changed, FTP is a thing of the past as is newsgroups. Email is on the way out, probably due to the overwhelming amount of spam that clogs all our mail folders. What we have is video, peer to peer and, what's this still the web. They almost defeat their own purpose.

What is driving this, to continue the article is things such as Facebook, which has become the destination all the time for all sorts of people. It almost seems that Facebook wants you to log on and stay, almost as AOL did back in the day.

One of the paragraphs state:
But the Web is a different matter. The marketplace has spoken: When it comes to the applications that run on top of the Net, people are starting to choose quality of service. We want TweetDeck to organize our Twitter feeds because it’s more convenient than the Twitter Web page. The Google Maps mobile app on our phone works better in the car than the Google Maps Web site on our laptop. And we’d rather lean back to read books with our Kindle or iPad app than lean forward to peer at our desktop browser.

I suppose this is the truth. The apps on the mobile devises or tablet PC's, of which the iPad is only the first, seem to want to make life very easy and very controlled. Also there's the whole matter of monetization. The Promised Land has always been that you can get rich on the web. History has proven you actually can't, well unless you're Google, or have such a great site and product that you're bought up by Google.

It is the apps that make the money, apparently. This is true if you get past the gatekeepers at Apple. If they believe in your app and it is placed in the iTune Store, there is a way to make a few dollars. I suppose a lot of media groups are taking advantage of this fact and making apps to sell that present their content to people who just want to read the news, or their email, or watch a few videos, or comment on Twitter.

It is convenience. We don't have the time, plus on mobile devises, the web is a bit difficult. When you're used to something like a 1920x 1440 and then try to view the same thing on a screen that could be a couple of inches in diagonal, it's easy to see why that would not be a nice experience.

There are those who question the ideas, in fact one of the most directed criticism has to do with the graph. The most excellent site Boing Boing suggests this should be the graph:

So instead of web using declining, it too is increasing. They ask the question in the article, "Is the Web really dead?". Part of their premise has to do with amounts, they ask:
It's also worth adding that bandwidth, though an interesting measure of the internet's growth, isn't so good for measuring consumption. It doesn't map to time spent, work done, money invested, wealth yielded... Does 50MB of YouTube kitteh represent more meaningful growth than a 5MB Wired feature? And, as others point out in the comments, many of the new trends are still reliant on the web to work, especially social networking.

Which has the most digits? Of course the video. An article, like a document is very sparse in using bits so in one way its unfair.

If it was just making money, then the premise would be correct, but if anything the Internet has proven to be a hard place to make money. Everyone tries to invent the Internet to suit their idea and image. There is a place for apps, it is growing and probably is thriving. Although I have heard that google apps is not the place to be if you want to make some money. Also, it can be said we want easy, simple and straightforward. Wny fire up the desktop or laptop, when the information we need is available on our phone or tablet- and it will take a lot less time.

The problem is that people have never done very well behind the garden walls; AOL did try to keep everybody in their place, but they lost out to the web. Even when they offered to give a limited access, people left in droves. There is nothing to say the walled garden will succeed this time. I think people like Facebook as a way to connect, but I don't think they see it as the be all and end all of the Internet. It is a good place to keep in touch with people, and it should be seen as that and perhaps nothing more. It's also a place to play games and can I be honest, I don't care about your farm. There I said it.

Another problem is that so many of our mobile devises are for consumption, not creation. If the web and Internet has demonstrated anything, we are a creative bunch and when given the tools we like to take a lot of photographs and videos and all sorts of thing. I realize most of it is probably not that good, but the sheer volume says a lot of it will be good as well. By the way, you can't use those devises to upload video to YouTube, for instance. You got to use the Web. Funny.

Again, we like convenience. But we are content providers not just consumers. To state we can re-enter that phase of life again is silly. We were consumers for almost all of the 20th century, but when the tools became available, we all became content providers. Anyone who ignores this fact is foolish. Apple risks a great deal by not putting either a USB or card reader into the iPad. It could be a great photo editing devise, but it won't unless there is a way to add photographs.

I heard this description of the difference between the two, the web and apps. The Apps is like the suburbs or at least like a gated community. You know what you are getting, it is neat, it is safe. You have this sense of protection. The web is like the inner city, or downtown core, yeah you have to be careful but there's some really interesting things going on and very interesting things to see.

Is the Web dead? No. Is the Internet changing, of course it is. Apps are part of the natural evolution. People will make money through apps, until the system kind of collapses under the weight of too many flashlight and farting apps.

There should be something else about gated communities. The guy at the gate is named Wally and he's just making a few cents above minimum wage. When he sees the angry mob with torches and pitchforks coming; he's opening the gates.