Archive for July, 2006
Our kitty occasionally scratches at our apartment door. I can totally empathize: she’s an indoor cat, she’s already seen the couch a million times, and all the interesting smells and tasty foods come through that door. I mean, I would want to check it out if I was her.
So the other day I just went and opened the door. She sort of jumped back a bit, and stared at me with this “WHOA! I was just bluffin” look on her face. But then she turned back to look at the untamed wilderness before her, and she seized the day.
Our apartment door opens on a long, carpeted hallway. Think the Keymaker’s corridor in The Matrix Reloaded but with cheap art on the wall. But for an indoor cat, it’s like landing on the moon. She didn’t bolt. She quietly padded out, her belly wiggling a little as she surveyed this alien vista she had landed on. She thoroughly sniffed and looked up at the first row of doors towering above her. Her mind seems to click; these square portals are also “doors” and they may also contain fun and interesting things behind them.
She returned by her own accord, her face set in quiet contemplation. I think she had a religious experience.
The next day she cried and scratched at the door again.
I just figured out the one thing that is harder to construct than a virtual reality environment that can completely submerge a person – a virtual reality environment that can entertain a cat.
A co-worker graciously brought to the office some home-made samosas – and they were awesome, as samosas tend to be. It made me wonder though – why hasn’t the samosa caught on like the pizza or the taco?
My marketing idea – rename it the “curry popper”.
Just polished off a three day shopping vacation in the US of A, or Port Huron, Michigan to be precise. I’ve been to the States several times, but never to the Midwest and never really stopped to see what it was like to simply live there.
What sort of differences I see from Ontario? Well, Port Huronians sure like their big box outlet stores. Sidewalks are optional (I don’t think I saw more than a dozen people walking outside the downtown core). They also like their Big Boys and White Castles. Lots and lots of flags, everywhere. Really, really low sales tax (6%). Oh, and milk in plastic jugs! I know milk in clear plastic bags is a uniquely Canadian thing but milk in jugs still throws me.
No streetlights on the interstate. No daytime running lights on cars. Speaking of driving, did they use a chain gang to build the I-94? The highway was riddled with potholes that striped the asphalt. I envision each convict being assigned to maintaining each of these “stripes”, and it just so happens that Chuckles did a worse job than Jimmy the Knife next to him or something.
Random musing: Do TGIF and Ruby Tuesdays experience better business on Fridays and Tuesdays, respectively, due to psychological word association?
Would you pay US $10,000 for software to teach math to your kid? A Kentucky schoolboard is mulling I CAN Learn, a multimedia K-12 algebra program that is so deliciously proprietary it needs special computer hardware and even special furniture to operate. The total price is a mighty $300,000 for a single class of 30 students for two years. The program must also be run on its own custom computer because apparently it “interferes with other programs”. But does it work? Results seem divided:
According to an investigation by the Fort Worth Star Telegram in Texas last year, the Fort Worth school district spent $15 million to install the program with widely varying results. In 2004, ninth-graders using I Can Learn had slightly higher test scores than those using traditional methods, but seventh-graders using the program had lower scores than other students. One of the researchers who praised the program was also found to be on the company’s payroll. That study, by researcher Peggy Kirby, is still listed on the I Can Learn Web site.
I have a saying: the quality of software is inversely proportional to its pricetag. I can’t positively say this program follows the trend, but it doesn’t seem to add up.
Reuters gets snippy and gloats about the inaccuracies in Wikipedia regarding ex-Enron CEO Ken Lay’s death. (Why that angle, of all things? Well, it’s not like they are going to sell more papers running their standard glowing obituary this time).
In any case, they specifically take Wikipedia to task over its rapid article changes regarding Lay’s cause of death – it fluctuated over a several possibilities, some written for obvious comedic purposes. That’s the wacky Wikipedia for you. Not like Reuters, the pinnacle of responsible news dissemination. Surely Reuters have never had to retract a story, or sent off an inaccurate report because they were more interested in speed than precision! After all, they got the number and type of missiles North Korea sent off yesterday exactly on the first try, didn’t they? (It was two! No, three! Actually, five. Uh, definitely four. Maybe three. Hold on, six.)
Of course not, but Reuters doesn’t keep a history of changes – they just quietly correct their stories and hope no one notices. What Reuters also doesn’t mention is that in three hours, the Wikipedia article was made accurate.
UPDATE July 18th: Cory Doctorow sums it up better than I did with this CBC article:
Blogs, Wikipedia, and other online media fail gracefully indeed. When a newspaper gets a story wrong, it can take 24 hours to get a correction out â€“ if it corrects it at all.
Just came back from The Devil Wears Prada. The plot is fairly transparent, but there’s enough of witticisms and clever dialogue to keep me entranced. That and the incredible product placements. Oh, I’m not talking about Ms. Chanel and Mr. Lagerfield – I’m talking about Bang & Olufsen, Apple, Motorola, Maybach, and Mercedes. And yes, that’s a T-Mobile Sidekick 3 Anne Hathaway carries that is her yoke that ties her to that insufferable workplace.
Some parts of the movie reminded me of crazy events at work, although I can’t say any of my bosses have ever been that demanding – although none of them have equipped me with an Apple 30″ Cinema Display, either.
Why do I hate the Sheraton Toronto? Let’s count the ways, as witnessed last night:
- human waste in the toilet of our room
- plugged bathtub that was slowly running
- waiter at Bistro on Two took 15 minutes to fix a credit card overcharge
- pool changerooms have no towels
- At 9:30pm, the hotel’s entire security system crashed, and we were all locked out of our rooms. We were wet, tired, sans keys and money and holding swimming suits. Despite many broken promises by staff, confusion reigned in the lobby until a security guard let us into our room almost two hours later. While sitting in the hall we did meet some nice people from Brisbane, Chicago, Israel, Seoul, Boston, and New Jersey (although they initially claimed they were from New York).
- broken hotel room deadbolt
Total compensation for this crap (both figuratively and literally): two Cineplex Odeon movie passes and 1000 Starwood Points (value: $50). The front desk and the hotel manager were friendly and apologetic, but felt this was adequate compensation. The reason was I used a gift certificate good for free accomodation from last year for, ironically, terrible service.
Little does the hotel manager know, Starwood Points are of no use to me. I’m never going to stay in the Sheraton Toronto ever again.