Saturday, January 30, 2010

Irish Rovers

Heading out to a party with friends... not much time for reminiscing on this one. You'll either know it, or you won't.

It is Saturday night and I'm thinking of the Irish Rovers. Here is the opening to their TV show:

The full song can be heard here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pedaling PEI and farm equipment

The blog Pedaling PEI has quite a number of fans for its photos. Often, it is the beauty of PEI.

However, I just realized that a major theme is old farm equipment. In some ways, the fields of PEI are a museum, containing forgotten artifacts from a bygone era. Times have changed in many ways: not the least of which is that farming is big business now, done by machines that are giant appliances. Most non-farmers can name the machines (e.g. a combine, or potato harvester), but today we are hard pressed to describe their function.

Decades ago, the equipment were tools, not appliances. They had a very specific function and were used in a day and age when people understood, at an intimate level, what they were dealing with.

I just thought of this tonight but I strongly encourage Pedaling PEI to pursue this tangent and possibly build an archive of sorts.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fake Headline

Just prior to the big Apple announcement, I tweeted this fake headline. Click through the link; I'm pleased with it. (It wasn't good enough for my official fake news feed).


ps. In a previous post, I was wrong on a few fronts. The new iPad isn't solely aimed at the Kindle. It is trying to carve out a whole new market between phones and laptops. It is certainly competition for the Kindle, and for netbooks, but in a way that is different than I predicted.

pps. I was also wrong about a major content announcement. Again, there is some surprising news (e.g. working together with Amazon?!) but not as I anticipated.

ppps. One note that you may not hear much about: the iPad runs on Apple's own chip. Interesting. Long ago, Apple shocked the industry by pairing with Intel (and ultimately allowing Windows to run on Mac hardware). They probably went with their own design (no doubt through an acquisition) because they wanted better performance in terms of size and battery life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Congrats to Mom and Dad, who celebrate their 47th anniversary today! That is quite a run.

On behalf of the readers of CC, have a terrific day and here's wishing many more years of happiness...


Monday, January 25, 2010

Genius of Steve Jobs

This week, Apple is expected to announce a new device, the iTablet.

My predictions aren't original, but my guess is:
  • the device won't just be a bigger iPod or iPhone. It will target a new segment, probably the Kindle (ebook reader)
  • the device will offer some new content package. e.g. Maybe the NY Times will be free
This last point is crucial. Steve Jobs has long been respected as a genius, the quieter nemesis of Bill Gates. Lately, he has gained complete rock-star status not only among the Apple faithful but also in the mainstream.

However, beyond technical savvy, he is a shrewd businessman. He was the one that took online music out of the courts (hello Napster) and into a bona fide business model. This was huge! Also, he wrangled AT&T into a deal to support the iPhone (though certainly AT&T has profited tremendously from that). Gates is a titan as well, but Jobs is the King of combining polished devices and outstanding content into a package that creates a rabid cult following.

With the tablet on the way, call him Moses of The Deal.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Night Redux

No Saturday night introspection tonight.

Simply a fascinating photo of Calgary in 1885. Can you imagine? The living was tough and the winter was harsh. Many residents were probably from eastern Europe: there was a massive immigration push from 1885 - 1910.

Here is a current photo.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Firefox and PEI

(Ed's note: The links in this post may be time sensitive. It has also been corrected thanks to the comment by Stephen.)

Check out the sample web page featured on this Firefox site!

On Twitter, Stephen DesRoches stated that they gave PEI some props because Mozilla (the organization behind Firefox) is a client of this site. I've discovered that his personal site has some fantastic photography.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lost in Translation

I work on a device that evaluates "cards" (credit-card shaped containers) which contain blood samples from patients.

We recently sent out a bunch of files with strings to be translated. The translation company is a giant shop where the workers have no real sense of context. When this kind of enterprise collides with science, hilarity ensues.

In one language (spoken in the Middle East), the phrase "card identification" (i.e. to which patient does this card belong) was translated into the equivalent of "driver's license".

In another (spoken in Asia), the term "well" (i.e. a small cell to store fluid) was translated as "feeling good".



Monday, January 18, 2010


I found this article on epigenetics to be very interesting... The epigenome forms a set of control switches for the expressions of genes in DNA. If DNA is the computer, the epigenome is the software.

Quoteth (on a study of men and the Y-chromosome):

In other words, you can change your epigenetics even when you make a dumb decision at 10 years old. If you start smoking then, you may have made not only a medical mistake but a catastrophic genetic mistake.

The gist of the story is that they are studying groups of people to determine if their diet/habits/etc can impact their offspring. Up until the 1990s, the dominant thinking was that children are impacted by genetics and their environment. Not so: though Darwinian theory reigns supreme for DNA, the epigenome may prove to be sensitive to Lamarckian-like changes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Parsec on the TI 99/4a

Q: What runs at 3 MHz with 256 bytes and 16 KB video RAM?

A: One pimp machine!

A recent game on Twitter is to describe one's original programming environment.

It brought back memories of the mighty Texas Instruments 99/4a (see it here): our family's first computer.

To be honest, I don't remember if I hammered in any programs into it. I know I did on the Commodore 64 (a screaming beast in its own right).

We did play games though. A favourite was Parsec, and sure enough, YouTube comes to the rescue here. Below is a video of gameplay!

(Note that the video features the voice synthesizer, which we didn't have. I bet the beeping sounds, though, are all too familiar to my parents.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Technology at Queen and Kent

I follow this guy on Twitter. He lives on PEI.

He posted the video below as a protest of a streetlight configuration in Charlottetown. He took the video with his phone, and posted it to YouTube.

And I'm watching it in St Louis. These are the times in which we live.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Some gifts are used. Some are not. And some become part of you.

This green suitcase was part of a gift set from my parents for my undergrad degree, in 1991. It has been almost everywhere I have been, and has brought home Christmas treasures for many years. It has been lost several times, probably most in Montreal.

It is in rough shape. It is dirty, dented, dinged, and requires a nylon-tie to be threaded through the zipper plug, as the actual zipper was sheared off years ago.

6 weeks ago, it was replaced. There is no sentiment for the artifact, but gratitude for its service and warm thoughts at the memories.

This bland gym-bag was given to me by my Aunt Joyce (and family) sometime in the early 1990s. For many years, it was barely used, and stored a large number of mixed cassettes.

In 2001, when I joined the YMCA in St Louis, it was pressed into service. It has been to that gym countless times. It has been to 20+ triathlons. It watched me save myself from the dangers of a sedentary career to being quite fit, and, to be honest, it probably has Staph Aureus all over it.

It has been replaced as well. I don't mourn, but I remember. Those gifts served me beyond belief.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


I miss Aislin. I don't know much about of the Canadian political cartoonist (Terry Mosher), but I just researched a cartoon (on a whim) and it made me laugh out loud, all over again.

In 1994, Jacques Parizeau led a new wave of Quebec separatism, as premier of Quebec. He courted business with the USA and fancied that an independent Quebec could stand with the US as an equal on the international stage.

This (click) is Aislin's jab. I loved it 1994 and I love it now, on Saturday night, where I am re-discovering the joy of the internet.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Natural Disaster Lite: Winter

Winter has arrived in St Louis. 4 inches of snow last night, which really isn't a big deal (despite the crazed media hype on the local news).

Of greater concern is the windchill: -25 C right now. That's serious. About 5 minute in it tonight has me re-evaluating any life plans towards a warmer climate.

Almost without exception, seniors in the Maritimes hate winter with a passion. You could be sitting on a patio in July, sipping lemonade, and just mention winter in passing: most seniors will bundle up reflexively, shiver, and state how much they hate winter.

I wouldn't go that far, but it can be a hardship. Interestingly, I think it actually magnifies humanity: winter brings people together, be it shovelling, pushing (cars), or even just griping. It's like Natural Disaster Lite: all the adversity (which rallies the human spirit), yet without that tragic aftertaste.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Congrats, Americans

Last night, the USA beat Canada for the gold medal in the World Junior Hockey Championships. It has been a rite of passage for the New Year for me to trumpet the Canadian victories (5 straight gold medals), and so now, I heartily congratulate the Americans on winning a 6-5 OT thriller.

The defeat is painful for me but so too is the lack of coverage in the States. This is a big deal. There should be a parade. There should be coverage on par with the silly college football Bowl games. And yet nothing but passing references in the media down here. You guys won! It kills me, my friends, but you won!


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Cheese Lady

Every year, my sister and I receive a big cheese ball in our Christmas stockings. This is fancy cheese: Gouda, made on PEI, by The Cheese Lady (click here).

It is outstanding stuff. I usually share it with people at work, and this week, they have been raving about it! Island cheese with some crackers is the fuel of our team these days.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Black Stealth

This is the helicopter I've been talking about. I gave one to Dad and one to Binky. They are really neat.... I don't know a lot about RC choppers but this one seems amazingly stable (once the pilot gets the knack for it).

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! As usual, this site will have new look for the new year (working on that next).

It was a long week (pinkeye, fatigue, work) but I'm feeling better now and sanguine about 2010.

No list of resolutions this year... at least now. Perhaps later. I missed my fitness goals last year (run 10 mi / swim 1 mi per week). Considering the move and various ailments, I did 'ok' but definitely not as fit as years past, as the doc's office scale recently showed.

How about you? Any resolutions?


ps. Update: I ran 211 miles in 2009. I swam 10. I think the low swim distance is seriously due to my hair, which is a problem in the pool.