I'm sick, and I'm tired, and I'm trying to pay attention during a course.
Being sick—and tired—makes that very difficult.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I'm sick, and I'm tired, and I'm trying to pay attention during a course.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I had once posted about a bathroom I was in that had touchless soap dispensers—you just hold your hands under it, and the dispenser automatically pours some soap into them.
At the building where I work, they have gone a step further: touchless paper towel dispensers. (Unlike the bathroom in the previous post, the sinks here are touchless, too. Although the soap dispensers aren’t…)
Unfortunately, as the images below show, there are still some bugs with the system.
This always annoys me. People feel that simply by putting a computer into a device that used to be mechanical, it will somehow be better. Usually, you end up with a very marginal improvement in functionality—was it really so hard to use a paper towel dispenser, before they automated it?!?—and you always end up with reliability problems. The computers start having problems, and there’s nothing you can do about it, other than buying a new computer/chip for it. Or replacing the whole thing outright.
Want another example? Raise your hand if your car has ever had a problem, where it was reporting that things weren’t working, and it turned out it was the sensors that weren’t working. Or if your gas gauge stopped working, because it’s now computer-controlled, instead of being a mechanical device. (Before gas gauges were computerized, did you ever hear of someone’s gas gauge having problems?)
posted at 2:23 AM
Warning: There will be some spoilers in this post, but they’ll be minor. I’ll put anything that’s a spoiler into a pop-up, so if you don’t want to ruin anything, don’t click the pop-ups.
As most—if not all—of my readers know, I’m a big James Bond fan. So I was really looking forward to the release of Casino Royale, and hoping to see it in the theatre. (There have been a number of movies that I’d hoped to see in the theatre, lately, but I don’t usually get to.)
But tonight, Andrea had plans that didn’t include me, and since I was going to be eating alone, I was trying to think of something to have for supper, that she wouldn’t like. It suddenly occurred to me: Forget about supper, go see a movie that she wouldn’t like! So I got my chance.
Enough preamble. I loved this movie. I think it might have been one of the best Bond movies, although, of course, I expect a million 007 fans out there would disagree with me, and I really don’t care to argue the point. It seemed like a more “grown up” Bond movie; it still had all of the elements that make a 007 movie a 007 movie, but it also felt more… mature, I guess. I think the first thing that hinted to me that this would be a slightly different Bond was the opening credits; there weren’t silhouettes of naked women! I was quite pleasantly surprised.
As you probably already know, if you care about such things, this movie is a “James Bond prequel”. It takes place at the beginning of his career, right after he’s obtained “double-oh” status. (i.e., his license to kill.) I thought that was a great idea; the movie is based on Ian Fleming’s first book, so why not make it Bond’s first adventure? I also thought this was a good way to introduce a new actor, to play Bond. And I think Daniel Craig did a very good job, as Bond. (Most of the people I talked to, who saw the movie, agreed with me, except that numerous people thought it was odd to see a blonde James Bond. Personally, it wasn’t much of a problem, for me.)
Unfortunately, they created some minor inconsistencies for themselves, by doing this. First of all, they have Judi Dench playing M again—except that Judi Dench wasn’t supposed to have been Bond’s superior since the beginning. Remember the scene in GoldenEye, when she has that little talk with Bond, about whether he’s comfortable working for a woman? No? Okay, neither do I, then.
The other thing, which I think is very minor, is that Casino Royale seems to be taking place now, not 20 or 30 or whatever years ago. But since they’re doing their best not to have Bond ever age, I guess that’s not an issue, is it? So back to the review…
Overall, I think this was a good spy movie. Even people who don’t watch the Bond movies might enjoy this one; it’s more realistic, and slightly less sexist than usual. (Not much, but a little.) For example, there are some love interests for him in this one—you know it’s a Bond film because there isn’t “a” love interest, there are multiple love interests—but only two, and he only actually ends up sleeping with one of them.
On the minus side, when it comes to sexism, the scenes with Caterina Murino are about as sexist as you can get. Scenes of her riding horse back, in a bikini, for no apparent reason except that… well… they wanted to have scenes of a beautiful woman riding horseback in a bikini. And then they’ve got Ivana Milicevic as one of the villains, and she has no purpose in the movie except to wear an outfit that was mostly missing. (I think they actually forgot to dress her, and somebody just throw a belt over her chest, to cover her up.) She really doesn’t have a role in this movie; she’s only in a few scenes, and even in some of those scenes, she’s not actually part of it; she’s just in the background, with the extras.
Another thing I found very interesting about this movie was the music. It wasn’t your typical Bond-esque music. When he would do something very Bond-like, I’d always be expecting the James Bond guitar riff to play, but it didn’t happen. I realized, at the end of the movie, why this was, and I actually agree with their decision, but it was still odd, on first viewing.
There’s probably other things I’d like to say, but suffice it to say that the Bond series is growing up, and I think they did it well. It took some guts to do some of the things they did—making a prequel, holding back on the Bond music, having less sex—and personally, I think it paid off.
posted at 1:40 AM
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I’d really like to take a nap. Or maybe just have some coffee. Or, perhaps, do some reading; I have a couple of books on the go right now, that I’d like to finish.
Basically, I’m not overly interested in working, at the present moment. I do have a headache, but I assume that it’s just because I’m bored—not for any physical reason.
posted at 2:09 PM
The other day I had the best conversation with a telemarketer that you could have. I mean, nobody enjoys talking to telemarketers, but if you have to, you hope that it goes like this:
- The Telemarketer
- By David Hunter
- INT: serna’s house
- Phone rings
- Hi! This is [name of real estate agency]! Are you planning to sell your home any time soon?
- How about in 2007?
- Okay, thanks for your time!
posted at 1:29 PM
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
By now it’s become a tradition. When I work from home, I throw a movie on the TV—either one that I’ve recorded, or one from Rogers On Demand. (Actually, I usually get movies from TMN On Demand, which is free, rather than Rogers On Demand, which is just more friendly Pay-Per-View.) Since we got the PVR, it’s become very easy to set movies to record, so there is usually something for me to watch. Many days, before I leave for work, I scan a day or two ahead in TMN, to see if there is anything I’m interested in, and, if so, click the record button.
The catch, of course, is that I’m by myself, so I only watch movies that Andrea wouldn’t want to see; and, since Andrea has better taste in movies than I do, it means that I end up watching crappy movies. (If it wasn’t crappy, she’d want to see it too, and I wouldn’t be able to watch it, because I’d want to wait until she was with me. Follow the logic?)
Today it was Æon Flux. If you haven’t seen it, take my word: it’s not a good movie. It’s pretty typical for the genre: mostly wooden acting; a plot that doesn’t hold any real surprises; gratuitous nudity. (Actually, no real nudity in this one, but numerous unnecessary scenes of Charlize Theron wearing outfits that were way skimpier than they needed to be.)
And it was only noon, when I wrote this. Who knows what other crappy movies I might have watched, by the time you read this?
posted at 12:29 PM
Monday, November 20, 2006
Blogger’s been telling me lately that there is a new version of the service that I can upgrade to. They claim that it has some new features—none of which I need, from what I can tell—and that it’s more reliable.
I’m not ready to switch, yet, but I’m sure I will at some point. If so, maybe we’ll all get lucky, and it really will be more reliable. And then I won’t ever again have to put up a post saying how much the Blogger service sucks, and apologize for my blog having been down.
posted at 1:09 PM
I’m back from vacation, which means that I’ll probably start posting a bit more regularly. (For a bit—I think I have another training course scheduled for next week, which means I’ll probably stop posting for a while, again.)
I didn’t do much of significance on my vacation. I went home to visit the folks for a few days, mostly to say goodbye to my mom before she leaves for India, for 15 days. (Did I mention that Mom was going to India? Probably not. It’s a Rotary thing.)
I also started work on running the cables through the attic, as I had previously discussed, but never got around to doing. Unfortunately, I got interrupted, so I’ll have to try again soon. (I did get as far as drilling one of the holes needed, and punching a hole through a wall, but that’s just the source; I need to do the same at the destination, and then actually run the wires.)
posted at 1:06 PM
Friday, November 10, 2006
Sorry, everyone, I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been busy. And will probably continue to be busy. Also, I’ll be on vacation next week, so I doubt I’ll be posting then, either.
So… enjoy your time away from the serna Blog. Maybe when I get back I’ll be well-rested, and posting up a storm. Or maybe not.
posted at 9:26 AM
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I wouldn’t normally post a link to a site called “Cute Overload”:
But… what the heck, I found this funny.
At Cute Overload™, we scour the Web for only the finest in Cute Imagery. Imagery that is Worth Your Internet Browsing Time. We offer an overwhelming amount of cuteness to fill your daily visual allowance. Drink it in!
posted at 10:53 AM
In the interest of killing some time before my 10:30 meeting, I present a conversation I had in MSN, that will have no relevance to anyone but me. And… possibly the person with which I was talking.
I asked the person if s/he wanted his/her name changed, and s/he chose the name Annabelle.
(I know you're away, but oh well.)
No luck with the Linux NetMeeting replacement. It doesn't do app sharing.
In fact, as far as I can tell, there are *no* apps for Linux that do app sharing...
i'm not away
i forgot to reset
Oh. Just keeping the crazies away?
had to go get a snack
[THIS MESSAGE ELIDED]
The GnomeMEeting thing does the videoconferencing stuff (H323 protocol), but doesn't do app sharing (T.120).
So I'm logged into for this meeting.
maybe there's an opportunity for you here
I'm not that kind of hard-core programmer.
write your own app-sharing program
And, if nobody ELSE has done it by this point, it must be REALLY difficult. Something within Linux's architecture that makes it prohibitive...
i have a friend who works at google
maybe i'll suggest it to her
app sharing over google?
Let me know when they get something up and running.
They should have it by the time I get back from lunch, right?
Excellent. I'll hold you--and your friend--to that.
she lives in california!
shes not even awake yet!
Please. She works for Google. Those guys never leave the office!
actually they are frequently sent on offsites
She's probably hooked up to a caffeine IV right now, creating software that lets you search your sock drawer, from Google, to see if there are any loose ones...
where they get to sit around in a parl eating strawberries
strawberries in the park
that was her second day
they have a pretty sweet deal there i have to say
Wow. I've never been sent to a strawberry-eating offsite for [COMPANY NAME ELIDED].
see what i'm saying?
I told you, I always believe what you say.
Sometimes the magnitude just takes a while to sink in...
Do you mind if i post this conversation to my blog?
so long as you leave out the part where i say [ELIDED]
posted at 10:16 AM
Monday, November 06, 2006
While on course last week, there were a couple of evenings when I finished before Andrea did, and I had some time to kill before we car-pooled back home. So I took the opportunity on Wednesday to stop at a music store, and pick up some CDs I’d been wanting to get.
Weird Al: Straight Outta LynwoodI’ve mentioned Weird Al before. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, and I have all of his albums. (Aside from any various singles he might have put out.) That being said, I always get mixed feelings, when I get a new album he’s put out; I obviously like his sense of humour, but at the same time, a lot of the humour is variations on themes he’s already done. So… the album was pretty par for the course. (A colleague of mine mentioned that it was his best album yet; I don’t know if I’d go along with that.) As is so often the case, the best songs on the album are the ones that would be on the radio right now; “White & Nerdy”, and “Don’t Download This Song” are my favourites, and “Canadian Idiot” is okay too.
As an aside, it was a bit disappointing that two of the songs that he parodied on this album—“Ridin’ Dirty” and “American Idiot”—were socially conscious songs. There is such a dearth of socially conscious songs in North American radio; when we get a couple of songs that become popular, they then get parodied? Oh well.
The CD also came with a bonus DVD, which contains some videos, for some of the songs, and a behind-the-scenes featurette, which showed some of the making of the album, in the studio. I loved the “making of” video; there’s something about a recording studio that I just love, so any time I get a peak into someone recording in a studio, I love it. I also love the video for “Don’t Download This Song”—which you can view online—so that was nice. But the rest of the videos were either mediocre, bizarre, or just bad. (The video for “Close But No Cigar” was bad, where I’m using “bad” in a moral sense. I don’t recommend anyone view this video.)
Christina Aguilera: Back to BasicsThis is one I’d been thinking about picking up for a while. Regardless of people’s opinions of Christina, they all seem to agree that she has talent—they may not like her songs, or some of the choices her producers make, or enjoy hearing her music on the radio, but as for raw talent, they agree that she has it. So when I heard that her new album was going to be called “Back to Basics”, and that she was going old school, I had high hopes. Also, I’d already heard “Ain’t No Other Man”, which I love, so I knew there’d be at least one song on the album that I liked.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album was pretty disappointing. As Andrea pointed out to me, Christina—and her producers, whom I blame more than Christina herself—just don’t “get it”, sometimes. She’s got some songs on here which are supposed to sound old school, but just don’t ring true. The most obvious examples are the ones that are supposed to be burlesque-style. The whole point of burlesque is that it’s supposed to be all about the innuendo, whereas Christina’s songs don’t have any innuendo at all; she just flat out says it. (Not that I’m a huge fan of burlesque, mind you; it’s just an example. But a lot of other songs on the album don’t ring true either.)
In any event, though, the album includes “Ain’t No Other Man”, which almost makes it worth it. (In retrospect, it would have been better to get the single, instead, since that’s the only song that I unreservedly love.) Every time I hear this song, it stays in my head for hours, and it’s one of those rare cases where I don’t mind.
Gnarls Barkley: St. ElsewhereThis was the CD that I wasn’t taking any chances on. During the birthday party we hosted a couple of weeks ago, they brought this CD, and I loved it, so I felt more than happy picking it up for myself.
Of course, even then, there was a bit of a problem: Andrea’s sister already had it, or something. (I’m not really clear if she has it, or borrowed it from the library, or what.) But I’m not too worried; it’s a great album, so I don’t mind supporting the artist. (I do mind supporting the record company, but what are you going to do, right?)
posted at 3:41 PM
It’s warm out today, so when I went out to lunch, I was able to keep my windows open. That wasn’t my original plan; I’d just opened the window to use my passcard, to get out of the parking lot. But when I started driving, I realized how comfortable the temperature was, and never bothered to put the window back up.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do that; soon the cold winds of winter will start to blow, and the windows will stay up until the warmer months come again. Needless to say, I enjoyed it while I could.
posted at 2:33 PM
Sure, so I didn’t post for the last half of last week, but it was worth it. The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) training was great, and well worth the money. (Said the man who didn’t have to pay for it.) The woman giving the training really knew what she was talking about, and they did a good job of putting it together.
I don’t normally like training, to be honest. I much prefer to learn on my own; if you learn by doing, you “get it” much better than when you learn from training. But that’s not always possible, and SOA is—realistically—too new to learn by doing, so I decided to make this course a rare exception. Also, it was downtown, which allowed me to indulge my love for bubble tea. There’s a place in the Eaton Centre called Bubble Tease that I went to every day, at lunch, for a taro “milky bubble”, with tapioca. Aside from the creepy, slightly pedophile-looking anime/manga pictures of scantily-clad Japanese girls on some of their signs, I recommend them. (Just stay by the cash register, and you won’t even have to see the pictures I’m referring to.)
And that’s about it. I don’t have much to say about the training itself; if you want to learn about SOA, take the training yourself, you cheap bas— I mean… there’s plenty of information online.
posted at 10:21 AM