Archive for January, 2010

Aside from all the other stuff I have to do today, I need to get an oil change and new wiper blades for our car since I’ll be driving all the way up to the Ottawa Valley in subzero temperatures.  I really like going up there in the winter, but driving those desolate back highways late at night when it’s so cold does give me some pause, so I like to make sure the car is in the best shape I can ensure.

Lately, our wiper blades have been sucking it big time. They only clear the windshield on the two points at either end where they touch the glass, so their time has come.  I’m thinking about trying some of the fancy wiper blades, but even the standard cheap-o ones only need to be replaced every once in a blue moon, so is it worth it?  Has anyone out there had a good or bad experience?  It likely won’t matter as I’m heading out at 9am for the oil change, so I won’t know your opinion anyway, but someone else might care.

On that note, have a great weekened everyone, and wish me luck on my cold, dark drive into the foreboding northlands.

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In case you haven’t been reading this stuff in a while, my two latest rants have been against the proroguation of parliament and Rogers putting a useless “Quick Start Menu” between me and my program guide.  Since I don’t see a quick end to either of these, I’ve decided to take a break from ranting about them, mostly to keep you guys from starting your own blogs ranting against my rants.  If you hate these things too, there are Facebook groups out there you can join, and letter-writing campaigns you can take part in.  Feel free to rant about them in your comments on this post and any future posts.  😉

I’m also going to keep from ranting about Apple’s new iPad, which is all over the everything.  Internet, TV, radio, newspapers and blimps.  I’m sick of the overload for something that actually has very few practical uses, but it takes us one step closer to my dream of a chip in my brain that connects my thoughts to Wikipedia so all my questions are answered the moment I think them.  I’d pay $499 for that.

On a more positive topic, Sunday night curling is awesome.  Our team is actually quite good and we had our first win last weekend.  Given our abilities, I figure it’s just a matter of time until we’re on top of the standings.  I mean, even when we tried to lose, we couldn’t do it.  THAT, my friends, is innate ability.

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So you checked out SilentTalkie a few times and thought “Yeah, this isn’t bad, but there has to be more to music than indie whiny rock and weirdo Canadiana emo…” etc.  Well, your time has come.

SilentTalkie is proud to introduce a new DJ spinning beats once a month (with treats in-between).  His name is David Akermanis, and his shows will be included in the regular feeds on SilentTalkie, or through the site itself.

We’re really happy to have some choice in genre, and hope to vary things a bit more.  If you’re interested in hosting a show, let us know and be sure to subscribe to the feed to check out everything that’s on there.

Alas, I’ve said too much.  Go, check out the latest show and crank it up.  Life’s too short for bad music.

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We had some serious excitement last week in head office at SilentTalkie after a comment showed up on one of our podcasts from a music rights holder policing group, which was quickly followed by a VERY scary and legal sounding DMCA cease and desist letter from our webhost.

It seems that the Brown Couch of Leisure included a song that hasn’t been formally released yet, but was leaked to the intarwebs early.  I can understand an artist or label getting upset about that, so we complied (we also feared being sued stupid) and now everything is hunky dory.

We really appreciate everyone being cool with what went down, and that what might have appeared to be a heavyhanded approach by our web provider was just them protecting their own butts.  Once we apologized and removed the content, everyone was happy with the outcome.

If you want to see the public side of the drama, check out the post with the podcast (the podcast itself has been removed, but the post is still there). It’s entitled “The Brown Couch of Leisure – January 17, 2010 – A year. Oh, a year.” Ironically, the show was a celebration of BCOL’s one year anniversary of ‘broadcasting’ on SilentTalkie.  Good times.

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What a weekend!  Saturday started off with me joining at least 10,000 strangers (the reports of numbers are pretty varied) on a loud march through downtown Toronto protesting the prorogation of parliament.  There were people of all political stripes present, including communists, socialists, Liberals, Conservatives, NDPers and more than a few people with no political affiliations, but don’t appreciate Stephen Harper telling them that average Canadians don’t care about parliament being arbitrarily shut down and legislation in the works being cancelled.

It was really inspiring being part of such a spontaneous and grassroots call to action on behalf of the people.  I thought that proudly casting my vote in a general election was what civic, democratic pride was all about, but being part of an en masse protest of government action felt even better.  I made my voice heard, which means I also lost it after two hours of chanting.

Afterwards, we headed to the Toronto Marlies game where they were playing the Hamilton Bulldogs.  We were attending a friend’s birthday party in a private box (a pretty sweet and remarkably affordable experience), and when Toronto scored the first goal, I realized the allegiances in our box were heavy on the other side.  Apparently Hamilton is an AHL farm team for the Montreal Canadiens, and I was surrounded by Quebecois.  I tried my best to be a good Torontonian (rubbing each Toronto goal in their faces, talking loudly and brashly about how great Toronto is), but I have to admit, I thought we were going to lose.  Alas, we held out in the end.

On the way into Ricoh Coliseum, we saw Bob Gainey being escorted in by some security guards, so I guess some changes are in line for the Habs soon.

It was a pretty hectic weekend, so I can’t say I’m not glad to be settling into the work week, but it’s starting to look like this week will be just as hectic, only without the protest.

Actually, now that I say that, who’s up for a protest in front of the Rogers building at Bloor and Jarvis?  Having to hit the ‘Guide’ button twice on my remote each time I want to see what’s on TV is moving from annoying to infuriating.  No more Rogers Quick Menu!  I’ll even come up with some pithy chants.  On second thought, let’s wait until winter comes back.  It’s more fun in the snow than in the rain.

Also, to anyone else from Scottish heritage out there, Happy Robbie Burns Day.  May all your Scotch be neat and your haggis well-cooked.

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For those of us blessed to have Rogers Digital Cable (either in HD or not), we’ve spent many years getting used to clicking the ‘Guide’ button on our remotes only to see an ugly (and non-widescreen) TV guide that is anything but easy to navigate.  Did we complain?  Not much.  We got used to it.

Well, leave it to Rogers to take something perfectly mediocre and screw it up royally.  My ‘Guide’ button now activates the ‘Quick Start Menu’ which gives me access to my TV Guide (or I can hit ‘Guide’ again), Rogers OnDemand (which already has its own button on my remote) or, and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, games that I can play with my TV showing my program in the top right box. The games are of early Gameboy/cellphone quality (balloon buster, Arakanoid, etc), so don’t get too excited.

A quick search of the internet leads me to believe it’s not a feature I can turn off, so now everytime I want to see what’s on, I have to hit ‘Guide’ twice.  Awesome.

On the plus side, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one upset about this. [Check out that link for screenshots of the terribleness]  Seriously, cellphone-quality games?!?  Couldn’t they have just made a way for me to only be able to browse the channels I’m actually paying for?  I don’t think something like that would be too tough, would it?

UPDATE (10:07 am): So I just called Rogers to find out how I can disable this feature. I was told that mine wasn’t the first call about it, but that it can’t be removed.  I was told to try out the games, check the weather and play with the features and I would soon enjoy using it.  Tried ’em all.  Useless. Fail.

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Since I hit the ground running with big time design, I’ve spent a lot of time describing how Radar works and what it does, but we finally built a demo site that I can take to people to let them see for themselves.  That means that I’m now the Demo Man, and I’ll be lugging my laptop around and churning out Twitter DMs, Facebook notifications, emails, SMS texts and MSN Live Alerts like they’re going out of style.

I’ve always liked standing up in front of people and talking, so this is going to be fun.  It’d be even more fun if I could somehow work songs into my demo so I could play guitar at the same time, but this is business, not show business.

I guess since you guys have been hearing about this for a while now, you might be a little curious about it and how it really works, so let me know if you’d like to see our demo.  A little practice wouldn’t hurt, and you might decide that you want your favourite stores, organizations or companies to communicate with you using it.

Hopefully tomorrow I won’t have a salespitch for you, but I might be able to go into the saga of my recent brush with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  Keep your fingers crossed.

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During an unexpected drive into the downtown core this morning, I caught a piece on CBC Radio’s “The Current” about other nations (most notably the US) getting into an uproar about Canada not letting foreign athletes train in the Olympic venues.  It sounded like something pretty unsportsmanlike on our part until the CBC looked a little deeper and discovered it was just gamesmanship.

Apparently, it’s not often that Olympic venues are completed in enough time for athletes to either train or compete, and while our venues are open, not many foreign athletes have the means to travel that far especially given that many winter sports are in the midst of national and international competitions in the lead-up to the Olympics.  Our Olympians simply have easier access due to schedules and geographic location.

They also talked a bit about Canada’s “Own the Podium” program, which has been throwing money at athletes and training not only in a bid to get us our first gold medal in home soil ever, but to win the most medals in the entire games for Canada.  Will it work?  Only time will tell, but it won’t be for a lack of funding.

As taxpayers, we’d better hope the investment pays off.  I’m sure it will, what with all our MPs in the stands cheering our athletes on instead of sitting in parliament.

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