Collecting the Internet So You Don't Have To

We work on the Internet. As such, we are constantly consuming information. Believe me, there is a lot of it out there. Sometimes we even forget things unless we write them down. Our blog covers everything from web standards to the muppets, php to comic books, music and everything else that we find interesting. Leave us a note when you drop by.

Superman Returns

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Bryan Singer jumped ship on the third X-Men film to go to Warner Bros and direct their much beleaguered Superman movie. And if you've read my X-Men: The Last Stand review, you'll see I thought the Marvel franchise suffered for it. Well, their loss was DC Comic's gain.

DC's franchises seem to have a problem when it gets to the fourth flick. The Batman films of the nineties tanked with Batman and Robin, with it's neon colours and throwback to the sixties TV show. Superman suffered the same way, with the series bombing due to the fourth flick's preachy message and stupid, stupid supervillian. Until Marvel's success with it's properties, superhero based films looked dead in the water.

When Marvel was making money, it was by making quality movies that focused on the core of the characters. Then, it was DC that looked dead in the water. But they pulled themselves up with Batman Begins. They found a director/writer combo that got the character, that returned to the source material; Batman has been around for over sixty years, the source material must be doing something right!

When a character is already established, in comics or, in some cases, on the big screen, there's not need to completely recreate it. Or revamp it. Or recreate it. Or glitz it in neon.

People reading this will notice that, for a Superman Returns review, there seems to be little Superman Returns reviewing. I'm just giving you some backstory so you can see how I came about my opinion. And I think it's the same mindset that's forming the positive opinions of many a critic.

I remember watching Superman and Superman II. Not in theatres, I'm not even thirty, after all. I mean recently, on DVD. And those films, almost as old as I am, still hold up today. Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, and Terence Stamp all awed the comic book geek in me. It was Superman! And Lex Luthor! and how cool looking was the Fortress of Solitude?

When I heard Singer was not only going to not reinvent the series, picking up on the original movie series instead, I was happy. When I heard he was ignoring the embarrassing third and fourth, continuing off the first two, I was excited! And when I went to watch the film, I nearly had a nerd overload!

The film opens with Marlon Brando's voice as Superman's father. It has the John Williams score you remember. And, for the best part of fond memories, even uses the zoom in blue 3D text credits during the opening! Those elements will define the film... continuing a set tradition, a set way of thinking. We're not introducing gay robots, giant mechanical spiders, or making Lex Luthor a kryptonian (and yes, previous drafts before Singer had all those things, ugh), we're bringing a classic back to screen.

Even with it's massive budget and eye popping special effects (yay, Frantic Films!), this is not X-Men or Spiderman. This is not a modern day, summer extravaganza. This is a sequel to a classic Richard Donner series, done in the same style and mindset. I recommend you watch Superman and Superman II, if you have not already. You'll either magnify the buzz when you go see Singer's film, or save yourself the price of a movie ticket :)

Superman Returns

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Bryan Singer, director of the first two XMen movies, brings us Superman Returns. As I noted before, I m a comic book geek, and I m totally geeked out about this movie. It has Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor in it!

Spider-Man 3 Trailer

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Sony Pictures and Apple Quicktime have release the first trailer for the upcoming Spider-Man 3 movie, directed by Sam Raimi. Watch and you’ll see harry Osborn, Mary jane Watson, Peter Parker, Spider-Man, the Sandman, Gwen Stacey, possibly someone on a Goblin Glider... and 100% for sure, the Venom suit!

Watch it now!

Venom! Woo! Wooooo!

Chameleon Snake Discovered

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

A chameleon snake has been discovered in Borneo, around the Kapuas river. The snake can change colour much like chameleon lizards can. Nature is pretty cool to say the least.

Harry No More

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

In an interview with the Guardian, J.K.Rowling alludes to the ultimate price being paid in the battle against pure evil. Read the full article at the Guardian and cross your fingers that your favorite character makes it out of book seven and into the sunset.

I must admit, I'm more of a Harry Potter movie fan, but my wife is a huge fan of the books. Sorry honey, looks like book seven is it.

Dashboard Confessional - Dusk And Summer

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Dashboard Confessional just played Winnipeg and I had to miss their show. I m looking forward to this release and will hopefully get to catch them next time through.

Deadly Bacteria or Alternative Energy source

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Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

I remember high school chemistry experiments where we used charged cathodes and anodes to break down water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. We would then light the hydrogen and think how cool it was that in burning the hydrogen we ended up with water vapour as the by-product. I find it interesting that those experiments are now being re-thought and made more efficient in an attempt to, for all intents and purposes, save our planet.

Well I found this interesting little article about an experiment in England at the University of Birmingham which had found an alternative version of the electolosis experiment. Instead of applying a current to separate hydrogen and oxygen in water, scientists fed waste chocolate and nougat to E.coli bacteria. No you don’t have to clean your glasses you read correctly. E.coli, a deadly bacteria associated with severe abdominal distress which left untreated leads to death.

Apparently this deadly little bug produces hydrogen as a by-product of it’s digestive process. The experiment entailed feeding the highly sugared waste from a Cadbury Schweppes candy production plant to the E.coli bacteria, and harnessing the hydrogen produced by the E.coli into a hydrogen fuel cell which was then used to power a small electric fan. For those of you who remember some of their high school chemistry, the glucose (sugar) molecule has the following structure.

C6H12O6

Breaking down this molecule isn’t all that polluting now is it? And that’s 12 Hydrogen atoms per molecule. This could be a pretty efficient way of producing hydrogen for fuel cells. More technology ideas like this and we should be able to drop our oil dependence soon. Wouldn’t that be a relief?

Get The Net

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Whether you are personally for or against aquaculture, we should all be able to agree that the earth, with its booming population, will need to do something in a an effort to feed itself. Given that the earths population is already over 6.5 billion and climbing steadily, food, the environment we live in and energy are our number one problems. Aquaculture offers great hope in the solving the planets growing food demands, but is it viable?

Traditionally fish farming has meant penning fish in either a pond, cage system or something similar and raising them until ready for market. The drawbacks have always been that fish in captivity are subject to disease, pollute the water around them and consume bait fish that would normally go to wild fish. All of this leaves areas around fish farms scared, sometimes barren and polluted.

Over the years fish farmers have introduced various technologies, breeding processes and strategies to keep their fish crops healthy and viable. Recently such concepts as the robotic aquaculture, where fish are raised in giant floating computerized pens that actually travel around the ocean, are bringing new light to how we might actually farm the oceans in a healthy, environmentally responsible ways.

Since the Bush administration took office, they have been watching the fish farming industry closely and are in the process of working on a fish farming bill that would see aquaculture production in the coastal regions of the US ramp up significantly in the coming years.

Here are some articles on fish farming and aquaculture from both sides of the argument:

CSS Remix By Night

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Fred By Night, the live action Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle web site Reddz and I launched last week has been featured on CSS Remix. I only noticed by the sudden spike in traffic logs, as we receive a collection of click-overs.

According to thier about page, CSS Remix is...

CSS Remix celebrates the dynamic innovation and creativity of designers who are on the forefront of css-based design. We honor those designers who aren’t afraid to think outside the box and who are reinventing our ideas of what great web design can be.

I’ve submitted a couple sites to CSS Remix and Fred by Night is the first that has ever been accepted. It means I am improving, and am recognized by at few of my peers.

Thanks to those who rated the site, good or otherwise. :)

Update, June 22: Fred By Night is now also being featured on CSS Mania, another CSS gallery site.

Update, June 24: Fred By Night is now also being featured on Light On Dark, a gallery site that focuses on sites that use light text on dark backgrounds.

Opera 9 Released

Technology
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Opera has release the latest version of it's under-appreciated browser. Firefox is getting a pile of press and all the good praises in moving web browsing technology forward, and kickstarting Internet Explorer 7 development, but Opera has been doing the same and for longer.

I just installed it, and am trying it out. I liked the fact the Setup asked if I wanted to update my version of 8.5 or install 9 seperately. And jumping around the 'Net, I'm seeing pages load amazingly fast. Faster than I've ever seen them load! Woo!

I'll continue to play with the browser for a week. After that, I'll find out if I'll stick with it as my default, or switch back to Firefox. I do, however, encourage everyone to download it and give it a try. Since 8, the Opera browser is free (with no ads), so you don't have any excuse anymore :)

Night Watch

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

This movie just oozed style. Not the slick, pretty style of Hollywood, but the gritty, grimy style of the dregs of Moscow. Even the subtitles are cool, jazzed up with a life of their own, rather than a static text translation. Good guys versus bad guys... and the bad guys win in the end! I m looking forward to owning this DVD!

We Have Contact

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Ok. So it happens from time to time. We get annoying spam from thousands of sources. With proper email filtering on your inbox, you can trim out most of the viagra / ciallis emails (are there really that many people online with erectile disfunction?) along with the pornography and cheap software spam. However, from time to time, a new creative spammer comes up with a completely novel way to beat the filters and get through. This request to give me $800,000 was just such a clever email. 

Let's review it shall we:

From : Mr Patrick Mankou. 516 Main Bazaar, Shahdara, New Delhi, India. Due to my tight schedules I could not contact you earlier before now. The business later became successful with the cooperation of a new partner from India. Presently I'm in New Delhi with the partner for some projects. Meanwhile,I did not forget your past efforts and attempts to assist me in that process despite that it failed us at that time. Now, I want you to contact my secretary,his name is Mr Ruben Moussa and his email address is: rubenbeninbjbj@yahoo.fr ask him to send you the total sum of ( $800,000.00) which I kept for your compensation for all the past efforts and attempts to assist me in that matter. I appreciated your efforts at that time very much. So feel free and get in touch with my secretary Mr Ruben Moussa and instruct him where to send the Draft to you. Please do let me know immediately you contact him to receive it, so that we can share the joy after all the sufferness at that time. In the moment,I am very busy here because of the projects which I and the new partner are having at hand. Finally, remember that I had forwarded instruction to my secretary on your behalf to receive that Draft, so feel free to get in touch with Mr Ruben Moussa and he will send the Draft to you without any delay. NOTE THE EMAIL AGAIN, rubenbeninbjbj@yahoo.fr Finally, take note of this CODE, when you contact him do present this SECRET CODE FOR security reasons : 555 don't fail. Best regards, Mr Patrick Mankou

My favorite part of this email is the well structured grammar. If I wasn't so jaded, I would have thought for sure that this was the same Patrick Mankou that I performed some outrageously low priced service for about 3 years ago when I was abroad. However, THAT Patrick Mankou spoke the Queen's english and wrote with the eloquence of a poet, so it was the composition and structure of this email that gave me pause.

At first I thought perhaps my good friend Patrick Mankou (from New Delhi - where I have never been, but would love to visit some day) had suffered some form of crippling brain injury. Or perhaps was writing to me while under the influence of the $800,000 service I had provided him awhile back. (Law enforcement officers readings this - this is satire, please don't break down my door. Thank you.)

Now, I have to give everyone a little word of warning, this is criminal spam. They goal of this email is to get you to contact them. They will then ask for your bank number in order to deposit this money you earned (according to the email) into your bank account. Well, surprise, there is no money coming to you. In fact, the money only flows one way in this transaction and that is out. IF you are silly enough to think that this is a legitimate email, and you are desperate enough to follow up on it, then hats off to your and so long life savings.

Going Live - The Last Mile

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times
Over the years, we have built many projects. Some big and some small. The one common element between all of them is the end portion of each and every project. For years it has seemed like no matter the client, no matter the job, no matter the deadline, the last 20% of the project is the hardest part of the project to complete. This article is a look at our process for getting through that last 20% and moving the project into the end state, which results in a live project, a happy crew on both sides and the feeling of getting something done.

A little history

When we started, the web, as we know it, was a fledgling thought. People could put up information and other people could go read it.

New Fred By Night Web Site Launches

Design
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Fred By Night web site

This is not a work related project, just something I and a fellow site developer worked on during our spare time. But I liked how it all came together, so I decided to post it here as well. But first, a little blurb about Fred By Night, directly from their about page...

Fred by Night is a Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle using the third edition Laws of the Night live action roleplaying (LARP) rules published by White Wolf. The game has run continuously since 1999 as a Member Chronicle of One World by Night (OWbN), a world-wide shared universe games.

With an average of twenty players per session, we pride ourselves on bringing the World of Darkness to (un)life every second Saturday night.

Now, into the nitty! Into the gritty! :)

I joined the Fred By Night game in December 2005. I hadn’t been playing a live action roleplaying game in years, and I wanted to meet new people, so I chatted to a friend and dropped by one night. For a couple months, I just played non-players, to get a feel for the game and the setting. I finally "rolled up" my own character during Keycon.

I wasn’t the only one. Turns out a couple people dropped by during Keycon and were interested in the game. They tried it out, they learned about the setting and the chronicle, and they wanted to regularly attend. The problem they discovered, as I did when I was first attending, was finding out when and where the games were happening was troublesome.

First of all, most of the game player base communicates through a mailing list. Of course, unless you already know someone on that mailing list, how would you discover it’s existance, never mind becoming part of it.

Second of all, the chronicle’s web site had fallen victim to a common malady: apathy. See, the trouble with game related sites is not that it has to be administrated, but that it requires up to date content to remain useful.

That content can only be provided by the game’s storytellers and player base. If the storytellers and player base do not provide content, the site does not get updated. If the site is not updated, the storytellers and player base lose interest in the site, and are less likely to provide updated content. The site administrators fight a losing battle against this cycle, and eventually give up. If no one else wants to bother with the site, why should they?

Usually, when a site falters like that, a site has three possible fates:

1. The site remains online, but stagnant, never receiving new content. This is, in my opinion, the worst option. New site visitors will get the impression that the game is not running anymore, as abandoned as the site seems to be.

2. The site is taken offline. This removes a site’s online presence, making it harder for new players to find the game and current players to keep updated, but better that than turning potential players away. At least this way, new players will continue to look!

3. Relaunch the site, kick start interest again. Get interest going again, get momentum again, put a fresh face on the site and get relevant content up!

The site is currently hosted and administrated by a fellow roleplayer and site developer named Reddz. He’s a fun guy to chat with, a fun guy to roleplay with, and enjoys maintaining the site. But when he found himself asking for new content from people and getting nothing back, he decided to stop wasting his time. I can’t really blame him.

After Keycon, I volunteered to assist Reddz in trying to get the site updated. I’m a web nerd, and I like designing and making web sites as a "free time" hobby, so it was no skin off my neck. As soon as someone else was interested in the site again, Reddz was full bore at it, ready to get going!

So we took down the old site, talked about what worked and what didn’t, and came out with a new game plan. We collaborated in what pages would remain, which would be combined, and which would be removed entirely. We ended up separating it out into two main sections: information about the game (rules, resources, contact info, etc) and information about the setting (the theme, the characters, etc).

I designed the site and coded the initial HTML and CSS pages. Reddz took over, hosting the site and incorporating the dynamic elements. We launched the site in mid-June, shortly before an upcoming game, in hopes we could build up some interest.

So far, things seem to be working. Players are volunteering new and updated information. Players and storytellers are requesting log in information so them can update their characters’ profiles. People are commenting on the site and the look.

Reddz and I plan to try and sustain that by occasionally adding new sections ourselves. Stuff like bringing a laptop with the site on it to the game, showing people the site and it’s (possibly missing or out of date) content. Stuff like bring a digital camera to a game and getting character shots and/or putting a gallery page together.

The idea is to occasionally prod the storytellers and player base and keep them jazzed about the site by keeping ourselves jazzed about the site :)

Down the road, I’ll write up another article to update you on the success of our endeavours.

Plug it in!

General
Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:151
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

Apparently Toyota has been listening to some of the ideas being voiced about making their hybrid cars even better. Instead of using just the kinetic energy of the car and the charging ability of the gas engine, Toyota is considering adding the ability to plug in the car to recharge the battery that runs the electric motor. The only thing that is missing now is the high speed charging available in capacitors.

Looking at the technology coming out over the last couple of years, I find it astounding that all car manufacturers are not trying to clamber on to the hybrid (potentially fully electric) band wagon. Can you imagine not having to use fuel at all and the ability to almost instantly recharge your car’s capacitor by plugging into the power grid? One hopes that the oil industry will realize that they are not in the oil industry, but in the energy industry and will make the turn and try to lead the way in this potentially planet saving endeavour. Until then, cross your fingers and give your consumer dollars to companies that are working for the future.

Daredevil Vol. 5 hardcover

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

By Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. This is next next volume is an excellent series of hardcovers. Superheroes have never been this gritty. If you were turned off by the Ben Affleck movie, read any part of Bendis run and see why this character is cool.

COVER BY: ALEX MALEEV
WRITER: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
PENCILS: ALEX MALEEV

THE STORY:
This deluxe hardcover collects DAREDEVIL VOL. 11: GOLDEN AGE and DAREDEVIL VOL. 12: DECALOGUE, plus extras. IN GOLDEN AGE, follow Matt Murdock through a story that literally spans the entire history of the Marvel Universe! Who was the Kingpin before the Kingpin, and what was his relationship to Matt? Find out right here, courtesy of the multi-award-winning team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev! And in DECALOGUE, the wait is over! Exactly what happened during Daredevil’s year-long reign as the new Kingpin? His historic cleaning of Hell’s Kitchen will finally be revealed in bloody detail. Framed around the Ten Commandments, this epic story is like nothing you’ve seen before! Collects DAREDEVIL #66-75.

Socially Awkward Moment

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

The other day I needed to fill up my car. Not a big deal really, as it happens every week or two. Today, however, I had just been handed a gas coupon after doing my groceries and decide that $0.07 / litre off is well worth it. So I head over to the grocery store gas station — all of the grocery stores in Canada have gas stations now, it is part of their "We sell fuel for your body, so why not your car." marketing strategies — and pull into the full service island for the first time in about three years. For the life of me, I can't think of what compelled me to go for full serve this time. Maybe it was fate.

So without much thought, while waiting for the attendant to appear, I pull out my Blackberry and check my email. After a few minutes, the attendant arrives. By this time, I am in the middle of a reply to a client and only quickly glance up and say "hello, yes please" when the attendant asks if I would like it filled up.

After about 2 minutes, I completed my email reply and notice that the attendant is standing back by my fuel tank. He appears to be trying to get the lid off and has yet to start pumping my gas. I think to myself, "Odd, no one has ever had trouble with my gas cap before."

As I think this to myself, I notice in the side mirror, that the attendant appears to be trying to get the gas cap off with some type of vice-grip. Again, I think to myself, "Why is he using a vice? Is my gas cap stuck?" and then, as my magnificent brain slowly processes the pictures being displayed to me from my side mirror, it dawns on me that this intrepid gas station attendant is missing both his arms.

My first instinct is to jump out of the car and help him. It has been about 5 minutes now and he is obviously struggling with the vertical angle of the closed gas cap. I'm also thinking to myself, "Dude. What kind of person would you be if you let a no-armed man pump your gas? Get out there and do it yourself!" However, as I'm reaching for my seat-belt clip, a thought flickers through the normally quiet part of my mind, making me pause to think that by my jumping out of the car, I am acknowledging his disability and taking away his right to do his job. Which in effect would be a form of discrimination, albeit unintentional. So I freeze, glued in place, struggling with my internal battle.

Well, now I'm stuck. I feel compelled to help as he seems to be getting no where, but I do not want to offend him by doing his job for him. So I sit, frozen. Watching in the side mirror and silently cheering his every effort. Finally. The gas cap is off and he is going after the pump. Relief fills my body as we are getting this done and all is well now that he has the pump inserted and going.

During my period of elated relief, I failed to notice in the side mirror that the attendant has gone for the squeegee. Picture, if you can, a man with no arms holding a bright red squeegee. It seems unfathomable to me that he can or would — or should for that matter — try to wash the windows of the car. That just seems so far above and beyond what would be expected of a man in his circumstances. I'm having trouble believing what I am seeing. Again, I'm frozen and just watching everything unfold. Unable to help or call off the window washing for fear of offending.

So far so good. The squeegee is out and ready. He gets to the windshield and ... things go poorly. The squeegee heads south out of his grip, off the hood and onto the pavement on the first pass. Again, I'm gripped with an urge to leap from the car and take over, or at the very least tell him that "It's ok. The windows are clean. Thanks though", but I freeze with indescision and do nothing. Again rigid from some basic desire and moral code to let him succeed. I'm also now stuck in that limbo state that comes from being in an awkward moment too long. Once you hit that cloudy feeling that this moment has gone to far and now your stuck in it, there is nothing you can do but hope something, someone, anything, magically appears to distract all parties involved and end the moment.

Undaunted, he retrieves the squeegee and continues with some success. He gets half a window clear before the squeegee takes a bit of a dive and has to be reset. Several minutes later, he is done. The window has been cleaner, but never has it been as brilliantly streaky as this day. Each left over line on the window seems to gleam with accomplishment as if to say, "We belong here. This is all right."

He returns the squeegee to the water pail, gets the gas pump out of the tank and gets things closed up. It has been about 15 minutes now and I'm still stuck in that moment. To make matters worse, when the attendant asks for my payment, I hand him my credit card and he heads for the station to process this transaction.

After another 5 minutes or so, a different attendant returns with my credit card transaction slip. I sign it and thank him. In retrospect, I'm not sure what I was actually thanking him for. It came across as a thank-you for the credit card, but I think it was really a thank-you for ending the moment. Relieved, and also a little ashamed, I head for home. I still feel like a failed some social and moral experiment that day, but my hat goes off to the attendant, who persevered through his disability. He is the stronger of the two of us through and through.

Jump rope without the risk

General
Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:151
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

Two words Ropeless Jump-rope!

The Futureheads - News And Tributes

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Julian Moffatt
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

The Futureheads are one of those bands that you have to see live to truely enjoy, according to my brother. I ve yet to catch them live, but I love their sound. I m looking forward to the North American release coming up.

Katelin, Olivia and Jordyn

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Julian Moffatt
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Well it seems like just yesterday that Katelin joined us. While is was just over 3 weeks ago, it really does feel like yesterday. Then at the same time, it already feels like she has been with us forever.

To update how Katelin is doing, her jaundice went away fairly quickly once we got her home, and as you can see by the photo, propped her up in the sun. Her routine has been all over the place for the last few weeks. Some nights she is up 4-5x times to eat, others she sleeps for 4-5 hours — those 4-5 hour sleeps see both Teri and me checking on her a few times to make sure all is well — and during the day she is starting to spend much of her time watching and listening to her sister tear up the place.

We have discovered that Katelin has a very strong will and prefers to do things her way or no way at all. She has taken to literally freaking out whenever she gets into her car seat and when she is hungry, forget changing the diaper, or getting her snuggled up, just get her attached to mum ASAP. The best use of this strong will is going be in defending herself from her sister in the years to come.

Speaking of Kyleigh, she is adjusting as you might expect. She says she loves Katelin while at the same time trying to bonk her with her magic princess wand. Obviously there is a little jealously at play here and it is mostly over the attention Katelin is getting from mum by way of all the breast feeding. Despite the little jealous emotions — hell I'm jealous of Katelin — Kyleigh is proving to be a good big sister. She is always asking to help change diapers and runs the dirty ones to the garbage. She wants to take Katelin to the park and down the slide. We have explained that, while a nice offer, slides will have to wait. Soon she will have more than her share of people to play with.

Now, onto the new people, let me introduce Olivia and Jordyn, two brand new cousins for Kyleigh and Katelin in the last 3 months. Olivia is 3 months old. Jorydn is Carrie's new daughter and is just about 1 week old. Man, are summer holidays at the cottage going to be fun in a few years!
(Um ... on a side note to that, if any guys want to come fishing a few times during those summer holidays, please email me or leave a comment below and I will be sure to bring you out to keep help keep the manliness quotient up. I am so seriously out gunned.)

For the entire set of photos, you can see them over here at Flickr. More to come later on.

I'll post another update in a few weeks, and judging by the lack of decent photos I have taken of Katelin, I need to dig out my photography books again and put them into the summer reading pile.

Conserve? Why not.

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

In recent weeks I've seen some debates around the web on how effective hybrid cars are versus other forms of energy conservation. While this is all reasonable debate, what seems so obvious to me is that you should be doing ALL the methods you can to conserve energy. Not one or the other. It should never be a question of "Do I want to drive a hybrid car (insert other type of fuel efficient car here) or should I change my light-bulbs to low watt fluorescent ones?"

While I can see the debate over what form of conservation is actually conserving more energy, the fact that people are debating this is a good thing. The more awareness we bring to energy conservation the better off our natural environment will be for it. Frankly, it saves you money in the long run as well, so your wallet will be better for it too. Granted you can argue the initial switch costs money, but you need to think of it over time.

Look at it this way, if you drive a car that currently uses 1000 litres (10,000 kms of driving at 10 litres / 100 kms - I know, pretty low, but we will keep it this way for easy math) of a fuel in a year, your switch to a hybrid car could (should) cut that by 400 (40% - likely more) litres. So you only consume 600 litres of fuel in the following year. If gas costs $1.25 / litre, you have saved $500 in fuel costs. You have also prevented the expulsion of 2.36 kg of CO2 per litre of fuel burned, which totals a whopping 944 litres of CO2 that did not get released into the atmosphere. Even if a hybrid car costs on average $5K more than a regular car of the same make, if gas prices did not increase over the course of 10 years (which is not going to happen) you would realize the difference in purchase costs of the hybrid vehicle inside a decade of ownership. If you drive a car that uses 3000 litres a year, then you would realize the savings in 3.5 years!

Obviously not everyone can switch to a hybrid of some sort, but for those that can, you should be looking at hybrids first and then working downwards to a standard combustion engine. Anyhow, my math is rough, so you can do your own comparisons over at the hybridcenter.org (imperial units, but you get the point).

The bottom line is that energy conservation should be a tenant in your life style. It saves money. It saves emissions. It saves the planet. Call me a hippy or a neo-green or a sheep for falling in line, but if it means my kids get to enjoy the areas of the planet as we know them now, then I'm all for getting on this energy conservation / savings band-wagon. Hell, I'll even drive it for awhile if anyone wants me to!

Change batteries for the last time

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Ross McDowall
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

I am no technology genius by any stretch. I think tech advancements are very cool especially when they improve efficiency and are environmentally sound. Well here is another technology that will benefit anyone who has ever needed batteries for their gadgets.

A group at M.I.T. is rethinking a 300 year old technology and it seems that the revamped version of capacitors which they are developing could put an end to batteries as we know them. That’s right, no more chucking out your old batteries which will eventually leak harmful chemicals into the environment.

These new capacitors have the ability to recharge in seconds (unlike batteries that take hours and eventually will no longer hold a charge). According to the team working on this, it will most likely be a few years before we see these capacitor batteries on the market, but from the looks of it, it will be worth it in the end.

Sorry can\'t take your call

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Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

Ok folks there are some no brainers out there, like don’t stick your finger into a live light socket, don’t drink wood alcohol, don’t stand in the middle of a railway track with your eyes closed facing away from an oncoming train. Another no brainer should be that you should not talk on your cell phone while taking a nature call. If someone calls while you are "busy", let it ring. Most cell phones have call display now so you can call whoever it was when you are no longer occupied. Three very good reasons for this:

  1. You have other things to concentrate on and wouldn’t like it if someone actually barged in on you in person.
  2. The person on the other end doesn’t need to hear what you are doing.
  3. Courtesy to others who may be using the facility next door.

There are other places where you shouldn’t be using a cell phone of course. Driving, since having someone jabbering away in your ear can distract you from navigating a 1500kg+ vehicle through heavy traffic. Theatres and other entertainment venues where the audience should be sitting relatively quiet.

For those of you who talk in very public places, use some common sense, if you have something to say which you don’t want overheard, don’t say it in public on a cell phone.

This is about what is considered acceptable social etiquette. Just like you were taught some general table manners as a child, the very public activity of cell phone use has some very specific manners. I have seen some pretty rude behaviour by cell phone users in the past. We have manners for most social situations which for the most part people follow in a general sense. Why is it taking people so long to pull together their manners for this form of communication? Apparently a study has been done. Maybe they will be able to give us some answers and start us on the path to polite cell phone use.

Launch #7 in a month

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Doug Ross
Doug Ross CFO / Partner
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Doug Ross Master of Space and Time

The International Centre for Infectious Diseases held a conference in Winnipeg on June 7th and 8th. The conference is here to make business aware and help them prepare  for a pandemic inluenza outbreak.

The Pandemic Business Toolkit website is designed to provide practical, easy to use materials for businesses/employers to prepare themselves, their businesses, and their employees for pandemic influenza.

Cars

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Pixar hasn t failed me yet. Every one of their movies have been enjoyable. Every one. I have high hopes for this movie. It looks good, it s got some good talent behind it, the trailer looks interesting. *crosses fingers*

Net Neutrality

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Doug Ross
Doug Ross CFO / Partner
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Doug Ross Master of Space and Time

The US government is at it again trying to control the Internet and give sweeping powers to large corporations who will decede what you see on the Internet. It's all about big business instead of fair access and freedom for all. I don't know about you, but the Internet is one of the only places you can still get "the news" that large cable companies such as FOX NEWS fails to report. This is in the US but who knows the global consequences.

There is a colalition who has been fighting for the rights of the little guy , a grassroots organization called "Save the Internet"

Please read the Intro quote below and check out the whole story as this could change the Internet as we know it.

"Today, the House of Representatives will be debating and voting on proposed Net Neutrality amendments to the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006, a bill that will grant sweeping powers to telecommunications and cable companies to set up a tollbooth Internet."

Full story here."

Launch #6 in a month

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Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

PEVAC AMERICA builds security gates for companies, embassies and security sensitive facilities has relaunched their site after 3 years. The relaunch features a new design, features, and content. This version remains a static site, but has been enhanced with a photo gallery feature which uses javascript. In order to provide this site with a bit more functionality, a savings calculator was built by your’s truly using PHP.

The new design was provided by Spacecadet Design out of Winnipeg and was implemented by we Lizards. Suffice to say that we have heard very happy sounds coming from the people who make the gates.

iPod pocket recorder

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Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

The iPod started out as a basic mp3 player which has become the most popular music player ever. Then the gadgeteeers started making software and hardware apps like the new Nike+. There have been a number of recorders built already. This one looks pretty cool.

Paul Oakenfold - A Lively Mind

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Having been introduced to various types of house and electronic music over the years by this guy, I m actually interested in hearing this upcoming release from Paul Oakenfold. Music with great beats is awesome for groove time when working. Put it on, let and let it pound out a rhythm to work to.

Underworld Evolution DVD

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

The first movie was a guilty pleasure for me. I went to the cheap theatre to watch the second, Underworld Evolution, and enjoyed it as a movie and for it s silly over-the-top-ness. Literally, it was like the director was surprised they d let him make a second movie, and was going to make them rue it :) I probably won t pick it up new, I ll wait until the rental places sell their used copies cheap.

Global Warming Confusion

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Recently I was accused of not seeing the "other side" of global warming. While I agree that there are most definitely two (or more, many more) camps in the Global Warming debate, my belief is firm in that to do nothing is not an option.

Even if we grant that this current heating of the planet is the natural cycle, there are things you can do to make sure you are not as much of an impact on the natural environment. If you have never sat in the deep parts of any forest by yourself for at least an hour (as still as possible) so you can feel the rhythm of the earth and nature, then you are missing out on part of our human nature.

Anyhow, more fuel for your water cooler discussions can be found over here (link tip from kottke).

Not For You

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

I would have posted about this earlier, but needless to say I have been busy lately. Anyhow, Apple has teamed up with Nike. As you can tell, we like most of what Apple does. I am also a runner whenever I can make time for it. So when I read about their announcement, I was excited. Very excited.

When I run, I usually have my iPod Nano with me. Needless to say, having software that would record distance, time, pace and so on would be awesome. I popped over to the Nike+ web site and read through all of the information about their new products and how they work with your iPod. I was sold. I clicked the pre-order link thinking that peak running season is upon us, so this works out very nicely.

At the niketown.com site, where you are directed to pre-order, I added the Nike+ shoes and iPod kit to the cart. I then proceeded to add 2 new shirts and a pair of shorts, all of which I desperately need, and headed for the check out. I had read the availability advisement that Nike+ products would not begin shipping until early July, but I was fine with that. Getting the shoes, clothes and iPod kit all in one shipping box would be half the fun.

Lucky for me, as I was looking at my cart (see the graphic to the left), I noticed the very fine type in medium grey just in-between the remove from cart and subtotal lines that meekly states "U.S orders only". Hmmm... glad I saw that before trying to proceed with my purchase.

Granted there is nothing the developers can do to determine what country I actually live in, but they could test your IP address and warn you if you appear to be outside the US. Or the simple, less headache, low cost route would be to take the "U.S orders only" text and display it at the top and bottom of the screen. Perhaps in red and using some dom scripting, fade it from red out to grey over 20 seconds or so.

Needless to say, I am disappointed that I can not get Nike+ gear in my country before running season ends. However, as a web developer, what disappoints me more is the lack of world wide consideration for who is going to be interested in your product.

Nike, make it known that pre-order is for US customers only. Provide an alternative for visitors from outside the US. Give them a link directly to their country specific nike web site (that as of this writing is still trying to sell me hockey skates during running season and makes no mention of nike+ at all) that should have more details about getting the product into my hands as soon as possible.

I'm still stoked about being able to chart my runs while doing nothing other than wearing a new pair of shoes and plugging my iPod into my computer after every run. What I would like to see is a more conscious effort on the part of web developers and programmers from inside the US to give a little thought to the fact that people from around the world will be looking at your web site and trying to order your products. If they are US only, make sure it states so clearly BEFORE I get my cart full and am ready to check out. By the way, this sale would have been for $229.00 US and I had my credit card in hand.

X-Men: The Last Stand

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

So X-Men: The Last Stand was release last week. I went to go see it. Actually, I went to go see it twice. I really wanted to love this movie as much as I did the first two. Really, I did want to. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen.

The first two movies in the series were directed by Bryan Singer. Not only did the first one prove the X-Men could be as popular on the big screen as they have been in the funnybooks for thirty years, but the sequel was actually better. Singer, however, decided not to do a third movie, instead hopping over to Warner Bros to helm the soon to be released Superman Returns. So, Fox went looking for another director and settled on Brett Ratner.

Ratner has done some okay films. I liked Red Dragon. I was amused by the Rush Hour movies. After The Sunset was okay. But, no offense to Mr. Ratner, he may be a bigger X-Men geek, but he’s no Bryan Singer.

The first two movies seem reined in compared to this latest offering. Where X-Men and X2 could be called science fiction movies, The Last Stand is definitely an action movie. A summer, popcorn, McDonalds tie-in, action figure licensing action movie. It’s louder, it’s flashier, it has more of everything, and it has everything they couldn’t do before.

As far as I can see, someone decided to make a third X-Men movie, then they grabbed every cool idea that, because of budget or story or director decisions, were cut out, and crammed it into the script. Sentinels? Sure, put a cameo! Danger room? Been wanting to see that, yep, stick it in! Beast? Damn straight! Phoenix? Hell yeah! Juggernaut? Why not! Angel? Would look good on screen! Colossus? Wicked!

Course, you quickly realize the problem. With some many things going on and some many characters added, you don’t get to slow down and develop anything.

That’s not to say the movie sucks. It’s enjoyable for sure, as long as you know it’s action fluff you’re going to see. And there are a couple surprises within, story bits where you catch yourself thinking "I can’t believe they did that".

When Tim Burton left the Batman series and Joel Schumacher took over, Batman Forever went on to make the most money at the box office of that series. Yet, no one would ever claim it’s their favourite. Though it was flashy, had big names, and was eye popping action, most of it’s success came from the strength of the original two.

I expect X-Men: The Last Stand to end up exactly the same. Big piles of money, but with fans going back to watch Singer’s movies instead.

Wolverine: Enemy of the State Vol 2

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

COVER BY: GREG LAND
WRITER: MARK MILLAR
PENCILS: JOHN ROMITA JR.

THE STORY:
Wolverine may be back in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, but at what cost? As the X-Men mourn a fallen teammate in a funeral befitting a hero, Hydra celebrates the coronation of a new leader. And the reign of terror continues, as the Hand picks off meta-humans one by one. Will Wolverine be deprogrammed in time to stop the carnage? Plus: the secret origin of the Gorgon! Collects WOLVERINE #26-32.