The Dundas Experiment

I don’t know why, but everytime I get on the subway these days I can’t seem to get the transfer machines to work. Especially at Dundas. I thought the buttons on those machines worked on the principle of electrical capacitance in your skin. Does this mean I just don’t exist? It’s a real bummer when machines ignore you…

Aside: Here’s a crazy transfer that a machine spit out at me one night.


I always get carded

I’m walking out of work late today, and as I wave my pass to exit the building, a lady behind me, also leaving work, asked me uncertainly, “Uh, do you work here?”

I’m wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans, since we had a team event at the Rogers Centre SkyDome* earlier today, so I paused my iPod and tersely said “Yep.”

“Are you a summer student?” she asked.
“No,” I gravely replied.
“What group do you work in?” she pressed.

So we chatted a bit. I told her my job involved intellectual property matters. She didn’t know what that was, so I explained further.

“Oh!” she said. “Your job must be fun!”

I looked her in the eye and said, “Yes, it is.” And I was telling the truth.

(*Blue Jays won, btw. After the game, I went back to the office.)

Birds, you don’t drink milk


Travelled to suburbia to meet Dezza and M (aka, New Hire Orientation Class of June 2001) at dim sum. Afterwards, we went over to M’s posh new North York house (52″ LCD HDTV? Check. Stainless steel convection stove? Check. Structube dining table? Check.). They have a robin’s nest in their planter in the backyard, which I snapped a pic of.

Here’s a funny conversation:
“Why do they just sit there with their mouths open?”
“Because they’re BABIES!”

Who put the bap in the bim-bim-bap?

It’s MSG, every psychosomatic foodie’s nightmare. But is “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” just a myth fueled by irrational public hysteria? The article, “If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?” seems to confirm this:

We now know that glutamate is present in almost every food stuff, and that the protein is so vital to our functioning that our own bodies produce 40 grams of it a day. Probably the most significant discovery in explaining human interest in umami is that human milk contains large amounts of glutamate (at about 10 times the levels present in cow’s milk).

(The article also triggered a huge discussion over at MetaFilter.)

What I find curious is the people claiming allergies to MSG aren’t even eating authentic Asian cuisine, but rather mushu pork and other anachronistic foodcourt flavours. Personally, if I got sick eating somewhere, I’d look at the usual suspects first: excessive grease, allergies, or maybe the cook didn’t wash his hands.

You know what else has glutamate in it? Tomatoes, parmesan cheese, walnuts, and peas. MSG makes things taste great, but as always, everything in moderation.

True cause of Jedi downfall: crappy IT

Shane Schick of ITBusiness believes that _Star Wars_ holds a hidden parable on the powerful role of an intelligent technology strategy in your organization. Schick muses that Jedi and Sith should have ganged up against their common foe, that crappy Holonet:

I like to imagine that a consortium of vendors in the Star Wars republic created a standard to make holographic conversations a reality. Maybe they called it Wow-Fi, or something like that. Then, even though it didn

Supply, meet demand

Several years ago, Gamespy’s Daily Victim column spun a colourful yarn about a company that did nothing but play online RPGs all day and then sold their loot on eBay. Apparently, a cottage industry has sprung up in Asia where peasants and university students are paid to do just that. And it’s a million dollar enterprise.

These “farmers” are paid peanuts, but they spend their days in chairs in air-conditioned comfort, so it’s not so bad. Macros control the actions of the ingame characters for the most part; the workers’ duties mostly consist of keeping an eye out for the fuzz, since bots are illegal.

For those of you who are scratching your heads and wondering who on earth would pay real money for a virtual sword or a digital suit of armour, consider this: _most of what you do in online RPGs is damn boring_. A casual gamer may spend days tromping around slewing rabbits or something before they can obtain that powerful new sword. So if you can buy that same sword for, say, $30, and go straight to the fun stuff, why not? Everything has its price, including time.

The existence of this industry does raise another issue – MMORPG economic systems may also be used to hide money in laundering schemes.

It’s a chinese situation

My good friend, Dezza, runs Mask of China site (which I am also the designer of) He recently left his teaching job in Dalian and before he heads off to Hong Kong, he came back to Canada. I had a chance to meet up with him this week at a Chinese greasy spoon near Toronto City Hall.

As any reader of his blog can probably tell, he was getting increasingly irritated by the politics in China in the past few months. Maybe it was their relentless persecution of the Falun Gong, an eccentric but mostly harmless cult. Or the fact the government kept blocking access to Blogger. Or the incessant anti-Japanese propaganda.

Oded Shenkar, author of “The Chinese Century”, is very bullish about the Chinese (Reason 1: They have a diaspora. Reason 2: They have a mind for business. Reason 3: They work pretty damn hard). But while we gobbled our $4.75 charsui rice, Dezza dismissed all of this.

He told me that the journalists fly to Shanghai, take taxis from their four-star hotels to the city, are suitable impressed with the massive amounts of construction they see, and write back that China will soon kick ass.

What they don’t see, Dezza claimed, was the fact that most of these buildings are empty. Planners get chummy with bankers, one hand washes the other, and they get risk-free loans to build useless buildings.

They also don’t see the rivers that are black with pollution, and the poverty that most Chinese live in. Socialism is conveniently forgotten when the peasantry need to pay to go to elementary school; people are left outside hospitals to die when they can’t pay their medical bills.

On the way back to my office, Dezza took a picture of some striking workers. He’s going to send it to his friends in Dalian. You can’t strike in China.