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.

Tom Waits - Bad As Me

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Tom Waits is back with a new bluesy clattering album! Titled "Bad As Me", it is the first album of new material since "Real Gone" seven years ago. The single is out now on iTunes , where you can also pre-order the album. This one is on my must-buy list :)

First Week With an Android Tablet

Technology
Dwayne Kristjanson
Dwayne Kristjanson Senior Programmer
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Dwayne Kristjanson Indifference Engine

On October 16th I finally caved and bought myself a tablet. At the time, I had no idea what I might use it for, so I opted for the Asus EeePad Transformer. I picked up the keyboard dock as well, figuring that worst-case scenario I'd have bought an Android netbook.

The last time I owned an actual netbook I didn't care for it. The keyboard was too cramped and the battery life was too low. Plus it had a full-sized power brick, which made it awkward to bring it along for short trips. This tablet doesn't have any of those problems (well, by default it uses a lot of power while sleeping ... but I found a simple solution). The overall battery life is about 8 hours for the tablet, and there's an equivalent battery in the keyboard dock, which should suffice for all-day use. Even if I do let it power down, the power adapter is small, so it's not a problem to take it with me. Charging is a bit slow, and the charging cable is both short and proprietary. Not ideal, but I can live with it.

I've found that I prefer using this device in tablet mode for reading and casual web browsing. It's like owning a book with the internet in it. Mostly I've been using it to read comics. I've read comics on my computer before, but it's hardly ideal. For daily webcomics, a browser is fine but longer stories are a nuisance. The tablet, however, is perfect for long-form reading. Ebooks are next on the list to try ... but I'll need to finish off some of the dead-tree novels on my coffee table first.

There are a few quirks I'm still getting used to. The first thing I noticed was that while in-use battery life was fine, the battery level dropped significantly when the device was left in sleep mode for an extended time. Looking at the battery use history it was apparent that the device was waking up and connecting to WiFi periodically. Most likely to check for email, application updates, and probably the time and weather. This was despite having set the device to disconnect from WiFi when the screen shut off. Installing Auto Airplane Mode helped a lot. Now when I wake up the battery is only 1% or 2% lower than when I went to bed. Much better than the 30% drop when the device is allowed to connect to the network from sleep. There are at least two applications named Auto Airplane Mode, so this is clearly an issue that other Android users are having. The one I installed triggers when the screen shuts off, the other one I saw worked by specifying times to turn off wireless access.

The second issue I ran into was when I bought a bag this weekend so I could carry the thing around here and there. Due to the enormous disparity in popularity between the iPad and Android tablets, most cases and accessories for tablet owners will be iPad-specific. And since my particular tablet is decidedly longer than an iPad, it turned out to be a tight fit. But it will keep my tablet out of harms way when I start shuffling it back and forth to coffee shops during NaNoWriMo. I'm sure I'll fail yet again, but I should at least figure out if I like the keyboard.

A Book Apart, 5 and 6

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

The brilliant folk at A Book Apart keeps rolling out the hits with a double release in October!

  

Designing For Emotion by MailChimp user experience design lead Aarron Walter will assist you to make a human connection through design. On the same day, Mobile First by former Yahoo! design architect and co-creator of Bagcheck Luke Wroblewski jams a lifetime worth of mobile experience in an easy-to-read experience.

Our iPads are already awaiting the digital downloads! :D

Batman: Arkham City

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

With the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, comic book lovers finally got a Batman game that was not only enjoyable, but absolutely amazing! Everything about the game really put the player into Batman's boots, bringing out a grim stealth gameplay that was reminisant of Christopher Nolan's movies. The only complaint was you were left wanting more... and developer Warner Home Video is here to deliver! :D

Launch Of The New ManitobaMusic.com Website

Functionality
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Originally launched way back in 2002, the www.ManitobaMusic.com website has been an invaluable resource for both the Manitoba Music organization and for musicians throughout the province. We were happy to help establish their site online way back when, we were overjoyed to work with them again in 2006, and now we are proud to revamp and relaunch the site for 2011!

ManitobaMusic.com Homepage

Working closely with Manitoba Music and Guppy Design, the new site takes many of the popular elements of the previous iteration and makes them easier to get at, easier to navigate, and easier to enjoy. A light-weight design and a robust-but-simple layout allows the site to not only look great in modern-day browsers, but on your mobile device as well. Go ahead, try it on your iPhone!

ManitobaMusic.com New Music Releases

With the rise of social media, it only made sense for ManitobaMusic.com to take advantage of many of the great tools and functionality being made available today. From updating Twitter feeds in their sidebar and Facebook-powered commenting, to freely available RSS and ICAL feeds, ManitobaMusic.com is a site that connects with you and helps you stay connected with all your favourite local talent!

ManitobaMusic.com Live Music Calendar

Manitoba Music site admins not only have access to a great deal of data, but thanks to a carefully constructed administrative system, they can access and share that data however and wherever they like all over the site. An audio track can appear on a band's profile, as a downloadable track, and on the streaming radio in a matter of moments!

ManitobaMusic.com Member Profile

The best part is how the site encourages both its visitors and its members to engage online. Many of the same tools available to site admins are now at the fingertips of the organization's members, allowing them to add images, audio tracks, online video, news stories, and social media to their profiles.

ManitobaMusic.com Join Form

Visual Lizard and Guppy Design continues to work closely with Manitoba Music, refining an already great site. Thanks to a responsive layout, a clean modern design, and a powerful admin system powered by our Catalyst CMS, both ManitobaMusic.com and her sister site AboriginalMusic.ca are on the road to another great couple of years on the web!

Steve Jobs Has Died

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

It has been announced today that Steve Jobs has died. We all knew he was ill. He had somehow managed to avoid death for 8 years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We all hoped he would last forever.

One of the bright lights in the world has gone out. Steve Jobs was someone to pattern yourself after. He took risks. He believed in what he was doing. He believed in making the world change, regardless of whether it was ready to or not. I can only hope that Apple can carry his vision forward for years to come.

Macrumors has a wonderful post up that you should all go read.

Wired.com has updated their site with a stunning tribute.

President Barack Obama's press release is also worth a read.

Ken Segal has remixed "The Crazy Ones" ad as a tribute to Steve Jobs. Watch below:

Thanks for making the tools we use on a daily basis. Thanks for being a champion of great design. Thanks for having a love for stories and being a great story teller. Thanks for making font a word normal people know. Thanks for being able to execute on your vision. You have inspired more than you will ever know.

Rest In Peace Steve. Until next time.

The Importance of Vacation Time

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

So I am back from my vacation. Believe it or not this is the first time I have ever gone away for a vacation. Until now I had always thought that time off was a vacation. I now know that this is not the case. Over the last decade and a bit my "vacation" has always been free time at home by myself, and while this can be relaxing, it is not really the refreshing time off that has been described to me by others.

This time however I went away! I visited my girlfriend in Toronto! I had not been to Toronto since I was 8 years old, so this was a new experience for me. And while I did the basic touristy things, I also figured out what a vacation is supposed to be. I didn't think about work. I didn't worry about phone calls and emails. I took the time to be myself and experience some of life that I don't often get to see.

Now that I am back at work, i do feel refreshed and refocused. I am not feeling the pressure that sometimes gets to the point where it makes you want to snap. If you are reaching a point where you feel in danger of saying something you will regret at work, it is best to ask to take a day off or use your vacation time. I now understand why vacation time is necessary and I am glad that my bosses insist that we take the time.

Mark Pilgrim Has Removed Himself From the Internet

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

Mark Pilgrim, a long time voice on the internet and author of many of the sites we have visited over the years, has pulled the switch and removed all his digitial works. Every last one of them has gone dark. 

Apprently this has kicked up a search, headed by Eric Meyer - see his post - that led to the police being called. Which, in reality, is a good thing. There is precedent that software developers / programmers can suffer burn out and then commit info-cide followed by suicide. Wikipedia page (considered for deletion) with a list.

Right now, this entire thing is a little bit of drama on WWW, but it sure feels alot like _why's disapparence in 2009. 

If you are a fan of Mark's work (and you should be), some of his stuff is now being mirrored on GitHub. Here are a handful of links:

 

To Mark, thanks for all the words. The internet is a better place for most people because of the work you helped us produce. Here is to finding what you are looking for. Cheers.