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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
It's my father's voice dreaming of / Sailors sailing off in the morning
— Wilco, Poor Places
May 28, 2009

Neko Case on the Late Show with David Letterman

Posted by skooter at 1:50 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: AltCountry, Neko Case

May 26, 2009

Wilco with Jay Bennett: Poor Places

His jaw’s been broken
His bandage is wrapped too tight
His fangs have been pulled
And I really want to see you tonight

Posted by skooter at 3:21 AM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Music, Wilco

May 25, 2009

Jay Bennett: 1963 - 2009

Jay Bennett was famously ejected from Wilco shortly after the completion of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The events of that recording were filmed in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which remains one of the finest musical documentaries ever filmed.

Jay was also an immensely talented musician. His last solo album was called whatever happened i apologize was released on Rock Proper as a free download. It was deeply personal, and quite wonderful to listen too. I was hoping for a solo tour.

It seems that won’t happen. Jay passed away in his sleep on the weekend. Aquarium Drunkard a post on the subject, and has offered up the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot demos again.

Posted by skooter at 4:11 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Obituaries, Wilco

May 24, 2009

UBC Museum of Anthropology at Sunset

Totem Pole, UBC Museum of Anthropology, May 23, 2009 Totem Pole, UBC Museum of Anthropology, May 23, 2009 Totem Pole, UBC Museum of Anthropology, May 23, 2009

Posted by skooter at 3:38 PM This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: Museums, Totem Poles

May 20, 2009

Why I Miss My One Button Mouse

Apple shipped a single button mouse for years. I loved that mouse, and it’s replacement with the so called Mighty Mouse has been hard for me.

There’s a simple reason one button mice are nice: they force interaction designers to truly think about menu structures. Microsoft’s original two button mouse has blossomed into a mouse of many buttons, but a minimum of three. The right mouse button is, in the world of Windows, is responsible for contextual menus. The idea is sound: right click on an item and get a list of options specific to that item. The reality is different. Not only do a surprising number of people not understand the difference between Click and Right Click, contextual menus have also made interface designers lazy, with functionality being shoved into invisble menus.

I thought Microsoft’s own Office Suite was amongst the worst offenders…until I had to use a Blackberry Enterprise Server.

The Blackberry server administers all of your Blackberry users. The screen shot below shows the list of users, and in it I’ve right clicked on a user, and was presented with the, frankly, shocking list of options seen below that.

User Administration on the Blackberry Enterprise Server Contextual Menu for User Administration By my count there are 35 different options on that menu, not all of which are even clearly linked to a single user. With no hierarchy (aside from the occasional line break) and nothing to guide the eye, the menu is virtually useless. The use of technical terms in the menu (good examples include Peer-to-Peer Key and Configuration Check Status) makes it hoplessly confusing if you’re not intimately familiar with the functions. Items aren’t seemingly grouped by function, with Statistics Exporting sharing space with Purge Pending Data Packets.

As an example of how not to design a menu, you couldn’t dream of a better one. As an example of why hiding things behind a Right Click is a bad idea, I’ve never seen better either.

I hate my right mouse button, but I seem to be stuck with it…for now.

Posted by skooter at 1:59 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Blackberry, Interaction Design, RIM, Usability

Firefly: Oh, How You’re Missed

Dollhouse has been renewed, which is good news but it doesn’t make up for the cancellation of Firefly..

According to the Guardian, Serenity, Firefly’s theatrical offspring, might even be better than Star Wars.

bq, Firefly won almost as many awards as it had episodes aired, sold DVDs by the shipload and ended up on the big screen in the form of 2005’s possibly-better-than-Star-Wars Serenity.

I’m not going to disagree with that statement…with the possible exception of Boba Fett.

Posted by skooter at 1:32 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: Firefly, Serenity, Star Wars

LIke Father, Like Son

Quite at random, both Brian and Ben Mulroney made the front page of the Globe and Mail. It’s not often that the worlds of politics and entertainment clash with such vigor.

Brian must be so proud of his son (though I always thought Brian was Canada’s Ryan Seacrest…though I have very little idea of who Ryan Seacrest is.)

Posted by skooter at 3:43 AM This entry is filed under Canada, Entertainment, Politics.
Tags: Ben Mulroney, Brian Mulroney, Politics

Tweet (#1854224274) watching 30 Rock on Boxee. check it out at http://bit.ly/WKT6Y

Continue reading "Tweet (#1854224274)"

Posted by skooter at 2:30 AM This entry is filed under Tweets.

London’s Cyclist Test


London does these great cycling tests. This is just part of a series.

Posted by skooter at 2:05 AM This entry is filed under Cycling.
Tags: Cars, Cycling, London

May 19, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Wilco

Posted by skooter at 2:03 AM This entry is filed under America, Music, Sports.
Tags: Baseball, Wilco

May 18, 2009

An Inconvenient Talk

Everybody needs to read this article in the most recent issue of The Walrus. Whether the numbers are perfectly accurate or not isn’t relevant: the reality is that the end of the hydrocarbon is coming, and probably within my lifetime.

Critical points:

[Dave Hughes’] Talk is all kinds of policy-wonky. Your eyes could glaze over. You could even miss the two slides Dave always says are the only ones you must remember. The first is a single-line graph depicting “World Per Capita Annual Primary Energy Consumption by Fuel 1850-2007,” which climbs by 761 percent over its 157-year timeline and flips from 82 percent renewable biomass (mostly wood) at the 1850 end to 89 percent non-renewables (almost entirely fossil fuels) at the 2007 end. The second critical slide has three line graphs in horizontal sequence, all tracking curves that begin in 1850, around the time humanity started drilling for oil in a serious way, and then spiking impossibly high at the right-hand, 2007 termini of their X axes. Global population today: 5.3 times global population in 1850. Per capita energy consumption today: 8.6 times that of 1850. Total energy consumption today: 45 times 1850’s.

I personally think this makes the point rather well:

Even if you’re convinced climate change is UN-sponsored hysteria or every last puff of greenhouse gas will soon be buried forever a mile underground or ducks look their best choking on tar sands tailings, Dave Hughes is saying your way of life is over. Not because of the clouds of smoke, you understand, but because we’re running out of what makes them.

Emissions are the back end of the problem. They won’t matter when there’s suddenly nothing to emit. Of course our economy will collapse since the entire thing is based on hydrocarbon inputs.

Posted by skooter at 11:26 PM This entry is filed under Canada.
Tags: Cars, Environmentalism

May 16, 2009

“Listen…when someone starts talking in the middle of a song, you know it’s serious.”

30 Rock’s third season has ended. Alan Alda guest starred as Jack’s long lost father Milton Green. When it turns out Milton needs a kidney transplant, Jack solves the problem in his own special way: by marshaling all the power of the liberal media, calling in personal favours (he apparently saved Mary J. Blige from a “…20 year contract with Sea World.”) and throwing a musical fund raiser benefit.

Some of the musician guests were great, and some of my favourites. Moments below.

Sheryl Crow snubbing Liz Lemon despite the fact that they were best friends in the fifth grade and co-kidneys in a play about the bodily organs.

Continue reading "“Listen…when someone starts talking in the middle of a song, you know it’s serious.”"

Posted by skooter at 5:15 PM This entry is filed under Entertainment.
Tags: 30 Rock, Music, Television

May 15, 2009

Montreal’s Bixi Bike Sharing in the New York Times

The New York Times gives Montreal’s new Bixi program glowing coverage while Vancouver’s drivers continue to whine about the loss of a lane on the Burrard Bridge in favour of bikes.

Bike sharing programs are great, and it’s nice to see them being put in place in a hilly city like Montreal. From the article:

On a test ride, I found the bike to be stable and comfortable. The three gears, while widely spaced, included one low enough for climbing roads running up the extinct volcano which forms the island of Montreal.

Hills in Vancouver are the continuing red herring against a bike sharing program, along with the fiction that cycling is only good for people who are already fit. Hopefully we can get over this and get a program in place.

Posted by skooter at 6:18 PM This entry is filed under Cycling, Quebec.
Tags: Bike Sharing, Montreal

May 13, 2009

Bike to Work Week: Share the Road Challenge

Share the Road Challenge from Diana Wilson on Vimeo.

It’s Bike to Work Week in Vancouver. My commute is actually about 10 minutes shorter when I drive, but it’s quite a bit less enjoyable.

Posted by skooter at 1:47 PM This entry is filed under Cycling.
Tags: Commuting, Cycling

Vancouver’s Olympic Loan Problem

When information about Vancouver’s Olympic village loan leaked, there was quite a bit of debate over how it happened. The documents were apparently identified by a unique number and rumour at the time said that it was Peter Ladner’s copy that had been leaked.

Then mayor Sam Sullivan called for an investigation. The results are in and the crack investigators at the Vancouver Police Department have come up…empty. It just makes me laugh.

Vancouver police quit probe into leaked Olympic documents
BY JEFF LEE, VANCOUVER SUN, MAY 12, 2009
 
Vancouver police have halted an investigation into who leaked confidential information from city hall regarding a $100-million Olympic village financing deal.

Saying they were unable to convince everyone who had access to a confidential document to take polygraph tests, police said they have no choice but to recommend not proceeding with charges.

“After a thorough and detailed investigation involving interviews with numerous city councillors and staff, and a review of any existing evidence, we have decided there is insufficient evidence to recommend charges in this incident,” said Insp. Les Yeo.

Posted by skooter at 1:32 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: City Council, City Hall, Peter Ladner, Politics, Sam Sullivan, Vancouver Olympics

May 8, 2009

Reducing Competition in Canada’s Wireless Industry

Bell is buying Virgin Mobile.

BCE moved to further drive wireless-customer growth by fully acquiring discount carrier Virgin Mobile Canada on Thursday.
Virgin was launched in 2004 by its showy owner Richard Branson and with it came with flashy stunts, sexy nurse uniforms, an major indie music festival and a surprisingly strong beachhead in the youth prepaid market thanks to promotions that painted the company as everything the incumbent telcos weren’t.

Why the CRTC allows this to happen always shocks me. Cell phone costs in Canada are high and going up. There’s not enough competition in the market, and the big three lock their customers into extended contracts.

The National Post doesn’t seem to get it either, positioning Koodo and Fido as competitors to the big three although those companies are both owned by Telus and Rogers respectively.

Sigh. It’s back to a landline for me in the fall, I think.

Posted by skooter at 1:37 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Bell, Cellular Phones, Rogers, Telus

Pushing the Envelope in Bike Design

The New York Times has an excellent article on the evolution of bike design and the impact of the UCI’s traditional view of bikes.

Professional cycling is in a heated struggle among its governing body, its teams and the companies that manufacture expensive equipment over what is a legal racing bike.

The International Cycling Union abruptly alerted teams at the start of this season that it intends to clarify and reinterpret its often oblique rules governing bicycle design through increased equipment inspections.

The announcement was an unwelcome surprise. Bicycles and accessories may be banned within weeks. That could leave teams scrambling to find new bikes for top riders, and the manufacturers could find it harder to sell their merchandise.

Posted by skooter at 5:02 AM This entry is filed under Cycling.
Tags: Cycling, Design

Making Cars a Lower Priority

The city of Vancouver today voted in favour of a trial to improve cycling on the Burrard Bridge. The bridge currently requires cyclists and pedestrians to share a narrow sidewalk, with only a curb to separate fast moving traffic. The speed limit is 50km/h, but traffic is moving much faster than that.

This is is a good move, and a forward thinking move. It’s a recognition that bicycles play a vital role in transportation strategy, especially in the densely populated downtown areas.

I still want a pedestrian and bicycle only crossing of False Creek. This is a baby step in that direction.

Meanwhile the now Seattle Post Intelligencer, now an online only publication, highlights a study that should be so obvious as to be unnecessary, although the quantification of the amounts involved is welcome. For what it’s worth, I spent CDN$18,035.98 on my car for the three calendar years 2006, 2007 and 2008, an average of $6012 a year That doesn’t include a monthly payment, and I don’t drive that much.

Ditching the car saves thousands, study says
SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

A typical Seattle resident could save more than $10,000 a year by cutting out a car, according to a new study.

The American Public Transportation Association’s Transit Savings Report looked at the savings on gas, parking, maintenance, tires, insurance, registration, depreciation and finance charges if a household gave up a car and used transit.

Posted by skooter at 4:40 AM This entry is filed under Cycling, Vancouver.
Tags: Cars, Cycling, Economics, Politics, Seattle

May 4, 2009

The Mayor of Sudbury…

Makes some very good points, and takes Heritage Minister James Moore to task.

Sudbury shows anger at CBC over nickel-and-diming in regions

An already cut-to-the-bone regional CBC outlet - so poor it has already lost most of its ability to travel in the north - is scheduled to lose eight of a very small staff in the cuts being ordered up to meet the broadcaster’s financial shortfall.

Toronto’s regional outlet, says the mayor, loses nothing by comparison.

“There’s no sharing of the pain,” Rodriquez says, “if that’s what they have to do.

“Toronto is well served by radio stations, but up here it’s what connects people from Timmins to Espanola. If there’s any place in Canada that CBC is getting value for its money, it’s Northern Ontario.

“But here they are, chipping away, chipping away…”

The irony has not been lost in this regional CBC operation, nor in others across the country, that the CBC is being forced to cut back services at precisely the same time that the private sector is bailing out of smaller commitments.

“And that,” says Rodriguez, “is the whole point. You can’t rely on the private sector. You have to have the government involved. Top management of the CBC is taking the first steps toward destroying all that the Broadcast Act stands for.”

Posted by skooter at 1:29 PM This entry is filed under Canada, Politics.
Tags: CBC, Conservative Party of Canada, Ontario, Stephen Harper

I wonder why we listen to poets / When nobody gives a fuck

Ashes of American Flags: Wilco Live I finally managed to get a copy of Ashes of American Flags. The only store in Bellingham to have copies had sold out before I got down there, and for some strange reason Zulu Records didn’t get any in on the April 28, 2009 release date. Red Cat Records came to my rescue, though I paid a pretty penny for it.

It was, of course, worth every penny, and I prefer to shop at those two stores whenever I can.

The film is excellent, documenting three separate concerts and the journey through an America that, at the time, struck the band as disappearing. Filmed two summers ago, it’s not hard to imagine how the same America would look today.

Wilco released a free song on May 1st on their web site. It’s a cover of Woody Guthrie’s The Jolly Banker. May 1st is May Day, a day associated with protest, with working people around the world, with the common person. Ashes of American Flags shows a band that hasn’t lost touch with itself yet, and one that believes that music is still a force for change in sugar coated pop flavoured world. Watch it.

I’m down on my hands and knees
Every time the doorbell rings
I shake like a toothache
When I hear myself sing

All my lies are only wishes
I know I would die if I could come back new

Posted by skooter at 4:47 AM This entry is filed under America, Music.
Tags: Politics, Wilco

May 1, 2009

I Was Always a Leafs Fan

This comes about 30 years too late to help the cause.

Guy Lafleur found guilty
INGRID PERITZ, Globe and Mail Update, May 1, 2009 at 10:04 AM EDT

MONTREAL — Hockey legend Guy Lafleur was found guilty this morning of giving contradictory evidence to the court, a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Quebec Court Judge Claude Parent said Mr. Lafleur had lied when he testified during his son’s bail hearing in 2007 that he was unaware his son had slept in a hotel in breach of a court-ordered curfew.

The Vancouver Sun covers it here.

Posted by skooter at 3:14 PM This entry is filed under Sports.
Tags: Hockey, Maple Leafs, Montreal

Regulating the Cable Companies

Canada’s national networks, the ones that broadcast over the air on public airwaves, has been lobbying the CRTC to, in essence, be treated as specialty channels. They want to collect a direct fee from cable subscribers, just as TSN and other cable only channels do.

The difference is that TSN doesn’t use the airwaves: they haven’t been given any spectrum. TSN and the other specialty channels aren’t available though an antenna. Traditional networks are.

That argument has been falling on largely deaf ears until now, and this seems to mark a shift in strategy, though it’s a bit unclear to me how regulating the amount that Shaw Cable charges customers is going to help the networks.

Television is dead. The revolution is over, and the proceedings can be found on this very internet. The networks haven’t figured out how to make money on it yet, and regulating your cable bill isn’t going to help.

CTVglobemedia wants CRTC to look at cable rates
Paul Vieira, Financial Post, Published: Thursday, April 30, 2009

Broadcasters need more funds to keep ‘status quo,’ CRTC told
Local programming has to be subsidized: Canwest’s CEO
Local-based TV at ‘tipping point’: CTV
Carriage fees called ‘a matter of survival’

GATINEAU, QUE. CTVglobemedia Inc.’s chief executive, Ivan Fecan, said Thursday it might be time for the CRTC to step in and start regulating cable rates again because cable and satellite operators are holding households “hostage” and threaten the livelihood of local TV programming.

Mr. Fecan’s comments were before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, as the Toronto broadcaster seeks the renewal of its TV licence on a special one-year basis, as opposed to the usual seven-year term, due to the financial crisis.

Posted by skooter at 1:28 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Telecommunications, Television