Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Fournier Brothers Get Choked Up!

This was a joint birthday gift for our older brother Eric for his 40th birthday.

Had a great time at H2O gym with Justin as our trainer.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Anarchy Evolution - Skepticality Podcast

Just finished listening to this awesome episode of the Skepticality podcast which featured an interview with Dr. Greg Graffin who happens to be the lead signer for Bad Religion. Dr. Graffin recently released a new book called "Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God" and is also on tour promoting Bad religion's latest album The Dissent of Man.

Listen to the episode here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Controversy at the CFI

Some of you may remember my post back in May regarding the announcement of Paul Kurtz's resignation from the Centre for Inquiry.  I had my suspicions then about the true motives at play and thanks to a friend (Jason) they have now been confirmed by way of  an article in the New York times published yesterday.

There certainly seems to be a lot more controversy at the CFI than was originally let on.  I'm personally glad that we are getting Mr. Kurtz's side of the story.  I'll be watching closely to see any official responses from the CFI.

I know that some people will start pleading that this sort of public disagreement will ultimately harm the secular movement. And while I don't disagree that some harm will come of it I wouldn't want to endorse any sort of organization that doesn't at least attempt to address open dissent within its ranks in an free and public forum.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tune in to the 2010 Ig® Nobel Prize

I just finished listening to episode 78 of Skeptically Speaking in which Desiree Schell interviewed the creator of the Ig® Nobel Prize Marc Abrahams. For those who aren't familiar with the event here is a short description from the website:
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.
The event will be live streamed from youtube tomorrow.  Be sure to catch it if you can.  If anything little Miss Sweety Poo is sure to be an entertaining time keeper for the event.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NIN - five track album sampler for The Social Network

Mr. Reznor has done it again.  A nice 5 track sampler of the soundtrack to The Social Network movie for immediate download.  I'm listening to the tracks now and really enjoying them.  Three out of the five are instrumental only so far but that sits well with me.  I actually really enjoy listening to the instrumental tracks from NIN and Godspeed you! black emperor when I'm working on tedious stuff at the computer.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Khan Academy

Just read this Slashdot article about how Bill Gates has been signing the praises of the Khan Academy free learning website to the point of enrolling his own kids. Here is the description from the website itself:
The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Despite being the work of one man, Salman Khan, this 1600+ video library is the most-used educational video resource as measured by YouTube video views per day and unique users per month. We are complementing this ever-growing library with user-paced exercises--developed as an open source project--allowing the Khan Academy to become the free classroom for the World.
The overview of the library in the video below is really impressive. You can even sign in with your google account to participate.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's grippin' time

I just received a confirmation of shipment from MEC that my Delire Red Point Hang Station is on its way.  I can't wait to mount this thing in the basement and start working up my grip strength.  I found this cool video of the workout you can do with the board.  These guys aren't amateurs and it killed them.  I'll be lucky if I can get through the first set...



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gone & Forgotten

As I walked in to work this morning, as per my usual route along the Lachine canal, I was listening to the latest This American Life podcast which was centered around the theme of super powers.  Act three of the show featured this great blog called Gone & Forgotten that focuses on failed comic book characters. I cruised the site for a few minutes this morning and it seems like there is some potential for some entertaining posts.  Wonder if anyone like Morrison would be inspired to try to revive any of these characters like he did with Animal Man?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

2010 Toronto Parkour Summer Jam

Awesome footage of the 2010 Toronto Parkour summer jam.  Ahh to be young again.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Yes Men Fix the World

I just watched this documentary film a few days ago and decided to digest it a bit before writing something up.  The reason why?  I'm a little ambiguous about the effectiveness of the yes men's method of using identity correction as a means of shaming government and corporations into action.  On the other hand, most of the issues brought to light through these stunts are issues I would know very little about if it wasn't for this film. Additionally the final stunt in the movie featuring a special edition of the New York Times is truly inspiring.


from their website:
THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD is a screwball true story about two gonzo political activists who, posing as top executives of giant corporations, lie their way into big business conferences and pull off the world's most outrageous pranks. This peer-to-peer special edition of the film is unique: it is preceded by an EXCLUSIVE VIDEO of the Yes Men impersonating the United States Chamber of Commerce. Because the Yes Men are being sued for this stunt, p2p is the only way that this film will get seen. Please spread the word!
The movie is legally available for free via torrent

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Neuroheadset is a reality and it costs 299$

I've got a serious case of the new gadget "gottahaveits" butterflies thanks to this TED talk I watched this morning.


I'm seriously considering laying down the cash and purchasing one of these babies. Anyone else interested?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Best Show in the Universe


Just got wind of the news that Maddox will be premiering his new show on his youtube channel. I can't wait to see what awesomely offensive content he'll be delivering.  The event is just a little over 16 hours away as of this writing.

For this of you who aren't familiar with Maddox I might suggest you pop over to his website and read up on some previous posts.  This guy have made being a dick an art form.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kitty cat looking for a good home...

We're looking for a home for a stray kitty, temporarily christened Blacque Jacque Shellacque, Nancie rescued yesterday. Poor little guy looks like he's had some hard times. Nancie is nursing a couple of bad paw injuries and he's resting comfortably in a crate in our basement. Unfortunately we can't keep him as our two dogs just won't stand for it.

The cat is amazingly friendly and affectionate. He'd make a great pet from what we can tell. If anyone is interested please let me know.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Doubt: A History

Just listened to episode 71 of Radio Freethinker with a segment featuring an interview at TAM with Jennifer Michael Hecht who wrote Doubt: A History

Aside from the interesting notion that cosmopolitanism is a cataclysm for skepticism I also found the following reply from Hechlt when asked if she thinks religion will ever become obsolete (30:37) really insightful:
I don't think religion is going to become obsolete but I think theism might. So I think that religion came up with a couple of things which are profoundly important. Religion is the repository of human thinking about how to get into a certain kinda mood through physical behaviors: the praying, the ritual, the meetings, the community, the meditations.  And that mood is still very precious to human beings and it is a very real part of being human. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A funny critter on my way to work...

Just uploaded this video to my youtube account.  Caught sight of this critter out of the corner of my eye walking in to work this morning.  I'd never seen anything like it so I shot a little clip off my iPhone.  The video doesn't do it justice but it is without doubt the largest caterpillar I've ever seen.




I did a little preliminary research and I think it is a Convolvulus Hawk-moth (Agrius convolvuli Linnaeus) but I can't be sure.  The markings were a bit off and I'm not knowledgeable enough to know if this could be attributed to normal variation within the species or not. Funny thing is that from everything I've read so far these seem to be native to Europe and not America...



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Podiobooks

 I first heard of the author Scott Sigler when I listened to an interview with him on Skepticality about a month ago and was intrigued.  I just finished listening to my first podiobook from him, named Earthcore, yesterday and was very impressed by the amount of enjoyment I got from it.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect since I don't usually like sci-fi/thriller/horror literature but I found the story engrossing enough to look forward to each episode and to binge on the last four in quick succession.

Another benefit of listening to the podiobook is that I was introduced to the podiobooks.com website which features a plethora of free podiobooks to choose from.  I've decided to try some non-fiction next.

Friday, July 9, 2010

One day you'll be mine...

Some of you may remember an old post from 2007 where I revealed my preference for shaving with a straight razor.  Well I've always had a hard time finding a nice blade online, that is, until now.  I just came across the Thiers Issard Historic 6/8"-7/8" Le Canadien razor with a Snakewood handle and I am positively drooling.  Sure the price tag of $315 is a little staggering but this is a once in a life-time investment.

The Thiers Issard series of straight razors is available from http://www.rasagepoulin.com which is entirely family owned and operated and also sports a decent environmental policy. Kudos!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Problem with Network Marketing

Here is a great little three minute presentation about the impossibility of making money with network marketing schemes. I'm particularly bothered by these scams as some of my extended family is heavily invested in the Usana marketing scheme.




inFact with Brian Dunning is the web video series that gives you the real facts behind popular myths, promoting high-quality information that helps people live better lives.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Seas of Rubber: The Truth About Tire Recycling

Just stumbled on this article this morning during my morning feed read.  I have some experience with tires as my brother Luc and I spent a couple of summers burning them at Lafarge.  (Actually Lafarge is where I had the pleasure of spraining my spine, something that still affects me from time to time and prevents me from getting disability insurance for my mortgage, but that's another story entirely.)

From the article:
One way in which tires are used is as a fuel source for generating power, but this is very inefficient, not to say questionable in terms of emissions. Incineration occurs at higher temperatures than coal and produces 25% more energy, but since burning a ton of tires produces almost the same amount of carbon, it is hardly eco-friendly.
Image via Tyremil

Monday, June 21, 2010

Up 7.8 lbs

Almost there.  Started at about 148 lbs back in mid April.  Just a bit over 4 lbs to go to hit the 160 mark. Using Loseit.com to help track the progress.  One of the most useful iPhone apps I've ever come across

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Party of Gno | Linux Magazine

Great article pointing out some of the issues with the FSF's negative add campaigns that try to convince users to no use proprietary software. I think Joe Brockmeier has nailed it.

If something doesn’t work, try something else. That’s a lesson that the FSF needs to embrace, if it wants to succeed with a mainstream audience. Being the Party of Gno, and trying to tell users to just avoid Windows, Cloud Computing, iPads, and proprietary software isn’t cutting it. It’s time to come up with credible alternatives or be satisfied with remaining irrelevant to the majority of users.

The Party of Gno | Linux Magazine:

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Cog is Dead

Just discovered these guys through the Uvumi music site.  How perfect!

Have a listen to the song "The Death of The Cog".

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Interactive Fiction

I'm sure a few people in my age group will remember the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books from when we were kids with some measure of fondness.  There was something engrossing about participating in the outcome of a printed story and the ability to go back and try different combinations of choices to come to an entertaining outcome. For myself, this eventually lead to a fascination, almost obsession, with turn style text based adventure games.  Of course with the eventual advent of the Nintendo game console I quickly abandoned the text based world for the one of intense 8bit video game graphics. Still, there was something unique about those text adventures.

So imagine my surprise today when I came across a piece of software called Inform which is an IDE for designing Interactive Fiction (that is the proper name for it). Apparently, following the collapse of the commercial market for the game format around the 1990s a group of enthusiasts have been hard at work generating content and improving authoring software to keep it going.  Inform is really impressive and its worth watching the introductory screencast below to get a sense of how easy it could be to create new content.  

Inform 7 Introductory Screencast from Aaron Reed on Vimeo.

If you're interested in taking a trip down memory lane you should also have a look at the interactive fiction database online to search for some title you can either play online or download an interpreter to play on your desktop.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Merchants of Doubt

Just listened to this great Point of Inquiry podcast on this new book "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming" by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway. If you're frustrated and confused at the seemingly contradictory scientific reports behind such an important issue as climate change then you should listen to this podcast. I will simply say it is an eye opener...



Saturday, June 5, 2010

Desktop clutter hell

I'm usually pretty meticulous about having a clean desktop on all my computers but lately I've been too busy to keep up the good habits.  This means that I now have a huge pile of unrelated files on my desktop that will take me anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour to clean up.  Not the end of the world but it got me thinking that there has to be a better way of managing my files.  As always, to the internet for a software solution.  Here are a few of my finds:

Fences uses a very clever way of organizing your desktop by creating shaded areas which become movable and sizable containers for your icons. Double click blank spaces on your desktop and all your fences will fade out, and back. While this is certainly a potentially helpful way of keeping a cluttered desktop organized it doesn't actually deal with the clutter itself.  My experience with it has been that I simply ended with a bunch more fences on my desktop hidden an ever growing collection of files.  Not really the all encompassing solution I was looking for.

DropIt is a simple drop target (a floating image on your desktop) that you can drop files onto to quickly position them in folders of your choice. It allows to set a destination folder for each pattern rule defined and group patterns as different profiles.  While this is certainly a good idea there are severe limits to how useful this can be.  Because DropIt relies so heavily on the file name and extension pattern matching for organizing your files you are limited by the naming conventions you want to manage.  Taking the extra step of renaming a file before dropping it on the target is equivalent to the effort needed to filing it in the folder myself.

Tabbles is similar to DropIt in regards to the drag and drop approach to sorting your files.  However, Tabbles steps it up a notch by tagging and tracking your files with specific tags depending on the icon (or tabble) you drop it on instead of moving to a specific folder based solely on a filename pattern. Think of it as a way of associating multiple keywords to a file and then being able to search and navigate your file system through these keywords (which show up as virtual folders in the Tabbles navigation window).  The net advantage here is that you can associate a single file with multiple tabbles.  This means that you can dump all you files into one giant folder and use Tabbles to make sense of everything.  The program will also monitor your file system and will automatically apply certain default tags to new files, such a file type, to streamline the process.

While this software is  potentially the most useful solution I found I'm sad to say that the free version limits you to only 1000 files.  As such it's not really a practical solution for my work environment as I have well over this amount. Still, I'm tempted to try this at home for a while to see how useful it ends up being over the long term.

BumpTop is a 3D desktop environment that aims to make sense of your desktop by turning your clutter into simulated physical objects that you can throw around, stack, scale, flip through, and even pin to the wall.  While this is more eye candy that anything else the concept is very intriguing.  Unfortunately the software is no longer available since it was acquire by Google in April of 2010.  The company has not issued an official statement of what they intend to do with the software but it seems likely that they will use it in conjunction with their Android OS for a tablet to rival the iPad.  If you are curious you can have a look Anand Agarawala's, the creator of BumpTop (yes a Canadian), talk at TED.  Alternatively you can also play around with a very pale imitation of the software ShockDesktop3D that only has a fraction of the features.





Thursday, June 3, 2010

alternativeto.net

The site alternativeto.net just came up on my radar through some of the regular feeds.  It is very reminiscent of osalt.com (Open Source as Alternative) which basically takes care of documenting lesser known software alternatives to their more popular counterparts.  You just type in the name of the software you want an alternate to and it will list you some suggestions.    It is also great when you are looking for replacing a piece of software that is no longer available or outdated.

While alternativeto.net doesn't only focus on open source it does offer more regular updates and a wider variety of options.

From the website:

We have one mission: helping you find the right software for your computer or mobile phone. To do this we wanted to rethink the whole process of searching for apps. No more browsing through categories with long lists of crappy software.
Based on our users recommendations we list great alternatives to the applications you want to replace. By joining the site you can participate in the process of making these recommendations better, so please join in!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Banksy Hitting San Francisco

Just caught this on the digg.com feed. Some really nice work from Banksy travelling the US.  Some ABC news coverage of the controversy around the work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How To Destroy Angels

Just finally clued in that How To Destroy Angels is Trent Reznor's new project.  If you pre-order the album now you can download a copy of the track "The Believers"  immediately.  The rest of the album is scheduled to be released on June 1st.


For those who are interested you can follow the band on Twitter.

Trent Reznor is also still on Twitter from time to time (though not as often as he used to).


Spoiler - LOST Spin Off

Is it just me or did anyone else catch a hint of a possible spin off of the show with Hurley and Ben?

Let's see what we have to play with here...

  1. Magic Island
  2. Guy in charge who likes to help people: Hurley
  3. Seconded by a helpful, smaller, sidekick: Ben

I got it! A remake of Fantasy Island!!!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer?

I am constantly amazed at how much diet plays an important part of your overall health. This talk explores the benefits of anti-angiogenesis on a number of diseases including Cancer and Obesity.



William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer? | Video on TED.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Identify a "Good" Scientific Journal


Much as the listener who sent in the email prompting this episode of Skeptoid I am concerned with finding good sound sources to verify suspicious claims. The following podcast answers the question:

"I would love to look a lot of this up on my own, but am unsure about what sources can be trusted. I know you talked about how scientists are not created equal, but as an average person without the background to fully understand the primary sources or the ability to synthesize a consensus without reading meta-analyses, where can I go for reliable information?"

How to Identify a "Good" Scientific Journal

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Podcast Subscriptions

I was hanging with John (a.k.a. Potsie) in Toronto a few weeks ago and I was telling him about some of my favorite podcasts. I decided to publish my subscription list for anyone who might be interested. Asterisk (*) mark my favorites.

I'd love to hear what other people are listening to. Feel free to drop mentions in the comments.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

WireTap Episode - Never Say I Love You

A Particularly good episode of wiretap this week. I especially enjoyed the opening story and the selection of short notes...

This week on WireTap, tune in for advice from Starlee Kine on how toget over a bad break up. Plus, Howard confesses his true feelings for Jonathan, and a selection of short notes to people we have loved from Dear Old Love. And Jonathan reads his story "You Call That Love", with musical accompaniment by John K Samson, Christine Fellows and Leanne Zacharias.

Right click to Download WireTap Episode - Never Say I Love You

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paul Kurtz resigns from the Center For Inquiry

Just received this news item in my inbox. While I'm relatively new to the world of skepticism I'm a little taken aback by this announcement. From everything I've heard Paul Kurtz has been one of the fixtures in the landscape of contemporary skepticism. While it is true that the man is now 84 years old what worries more is the following loaded statement in the article:

Moreover, in recent years the board had concerns about Dr. Kurtz’s day-to-day management of the organization.

I'd love to see a statement from Paul Kurtz himself explaining why he decided to resign.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Outlook 2007 Color Categorize Autohotkey

I use Outlook 2007 at work and was annoyed by the fact that assigning categories to items involved so many steps depending on the window you are in. I decided to write a simple Autohotkey script to solve my problem. The download below includes the script but I've also compiled it as an executable so people won't need to install Autohotkey to run it. Simply double-click the OutlookCategorize.exe file to run the script in the background.

To activiate the hotkey shortcut simply hit [winkey + s].

Depending on the window that currently has focus in outlook 2007 the script will send a series of keystrokes to open the Color Categories window. Allowing you to quickly assign multiple categories or create a new one for the item.

Works with Mail, Calendar, Contact, and Task items (Single edit mode and multiple selections)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Moving over to blogger

Tired of fussing around with a CMS so I decided to port the site over to blogger. Should have the domain name redirect up and running shortly.

You can find an archive of the old site at http://archive.kog.ca