Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Unqualified Life Adviser

The other day I got on a crowded bus in Gatineau heading for Ottawa. I was standing behind this couple, and this single man reading a magazine. The single man started talking to the couple. He started giving them life advice. "You should do this with your life. You should do that with your life."

I resisted the urge to join in.

After a few stops the young lady got off the bus, leaving the boyfriend to receive more life and relationship advice from the single man.

Just about the time we were getting to Ottawa the single man revealed that he preferred living around here more than Toronto. I thought "Who wouldn't?" His reasons were different than mine. He went on to explain.

"I get bail here. I never got bail in Toronto. Give me the option of staying a cage, or letting me go with the promise that all I have to do is show up when they ask me to? I'll take that option."

It gets better.

"You know, I have 57 criminal convictions on my record."

He talked about that for a few more minutes, and continued with dispensing life advice. Then I got off the bus.

It's a good thing I did resist the urge to join in. At that point I don't think I could have resisted the urge to say to him "And what makes you think you can give life advice when you have 57 criminal convictions?"

After you've had, ohhhh, about 35 criminal convictions, I think you lose the right to give life advice. In fact, I think you lose the right to give advice of just about any kind. You shouldn't even be giving advice on that which you do a lot: crime. After 35 convictions you should have figured out 1) how not to get caught, and 2) how to get off if you did get caught.

If I did say that, I may have given him cause for criminal conviction #58.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bitter Sweet

Today is the new Ontario holiday, Family Day. It is a provincial statutory holiday. What am I doing on this government regulated day off?

I am at work. Presumably. I'm actually writing this two days ago. As of this writing there's supposed to be a major weather system heading through Ottawa causing a mixture of snow, rain, freezing rain, ice pellets, hail, fire, and brimstone - just like I predicted. I might not have made the trek in. For the purposes of this post, assume I'm at work.

For, you see, Family Day is an Ontario holiday. I work in Quebec. Furthermore, I work for the Federal government. Our statutory holidays are outlined in our collective agreement. It is possible that one day we may get another holiday. But today isn't that day.

There's something different about my work as of Wednesday, February 13, 2008. On Friday I signed my permanence contract with the government (effective the Wednesday before). All this really means is that there's no determined end date to my contract. It's as permanent as it gets with the feds.

As for today's title, the bitter part is that I have to go to work, when everyone around me (at home) gets the day off. The sweet part is that my work is now, for all intents and purposes, permanent.

Well, if you'll excuse me, it's time for another coffee break. And this sudoku puzzle isn't going to solve itself.

UPDATE: I droveslid out to the Park'n'Ride. After waiting for a while, the bus finally arrived. It turned in to the Park'n'Ride and instead of completing the turn to come and pick up us would-be riders, it slid into the snowbank. It spent the next few minutes trying, unsuccessfully to back out. It managed to rotate it's back end. At that point I decided I would take a Family Day too. If the weather is too bad for the buses, it's too bad for me.

Then I get home and read an article about a plane sliding off the runway at Ottawa's airport, and how part of the 417 was closed near where I live yesterday due to bad driving conditions due to the weather. And the radio said that school buses in Western Quebec (where I work) weren't running. I figure I'm in good company.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (55)

This is an environmentally friendly car with a built-in carbon offsetting device.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Computer Network, No Strings Attached (Part 1)

Last week I arrived home to find out the McQueens were thinking of switching internet service providers. Before they did, they wanted to check with me for technical consultation.

Right now, we're renting a wireless router from our current ISP. In order to save $5/month with the new ISP we're not getting a wireless router from them. Instead we'll get their basic modem, and we'll buy our own wireless router. After about a year, the wireless router will have paid for itself.

I have never bought a wireless router before. I know the one the McKays have at home stinks. It crashes whenever you try to watch a YouTube video. I emailed my friends who might have recommendations.

This is a summary of what I was told:
  1. Don't get the Apple Airport Extreme.
  2. Get the Apple Airport Extreme.
  3. The Linksys WRTG45 (what Criag and I had in the Sault) is good. I liked this one. It did everything I wanted it to without a fuss. I find it hard to find right now.
  4. The Linksys WRTG54 sucks.
  5. The Linksys WRTG54 is good.
  6. The Linksys WRTG54 is a "bug" in it that won't work with Macs.
  7. The hardware in the Linksys WRTG54 has been changed so much that the model name doesn't tell you anything.
  8. D-Link sucks.
  9. D-Link sucks.
  10. Stay away from D-Link.
  11. The D-Link DIR-625 works fine.
  12. No matter what kind you look at you will see positive and negative reviews.
  13. Oh, they're all good.
  14. Netgear is the only good kind.
  15. Netgear is good, but hard to find in stores.

I also ended up at Staples, Business Depot, and the computer guy there told me these falsehoods:
  • "802.11n routers will only work with 802.11n network cards, so if you have 802.11g network cards, they won't work." - Everything I've seen suggests the 802.11n is backwards compatible meaning 802.11g wifi cards will still work.
  • "If you get the Airport Extreme, it will only work with Macs." - It says right on the box of the Airport Extreme "Mac + PC."
  • "Any external hard drive will do," when asked if he had any routers with USB ports for sharing hard drives as well as printers. - The only one I've seen that can actually do this is the Airport Extreme.

So, I won't be buying from Staples.

If you have any recommendations, please, leave a comment, or email me.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Electronic Drums Suck!

When I was nine years old I learned to play the drums. I played drums until I graduated from high school and moved away. After that, I didn't play much. I did learn to play the guitar since then.

In my final year in the Sault something was awoken in me. I wanted to play drums again. My church in Ottawa had drums. Soon I would be there, hopefully playing them.

When I got to Ottawa I noticed the nice set of drums was replaced by a set of electronic drums. I played them a few times and decided I would stick to the guitar. That which had awoken in me, the deep desire to drum, had to be put on hold. Electronic drums didn't help fill the desire. It made the desire stronger. Now when I hear acoustic drums, they sound so much better than they did before. I appreciate them more now than I have before. And it makes me wish even more that we had them at our church.

This year our youth pastor has decided to have a youth-oriented service called "1Worship" at our church. I was asked to play the drums. I readily accepted on the condition they provide me with a set of drums.

"We have drums."

"No you don't. You have a drum machine that's too stupid to be able to play a beat on it's own. It needs to be told every time it's supposed to make a sound. Get me real drums and just try and keep me off of them."

Eventually I went to a 1Worship service. It actually hurt more to hear the band without a drummer than it hurt to play the "drums." So I temporarily volunteered.

Every time I hit the "drums" my hatred of them grows stronger. The sound guy loves them because he can turn down the volume.

Here are some pros and cons of having electric drums instead of acoustics.

Reasons why acoustics are better:
  • Deeper, richer sounds. Especially in the toms.
  • Different sticks sound different. Brushes, hot-rods, thin sticks, thick sticks, mallets, etc. all have a different sound on acoustics. To electrics, a stick is a stick is a stick. Brushes are useless.
  • Easier to set up - no electronic gadgets to set up.
  • Better feel when playing.
  • You can create more sounds much more easily.
  • You can actually do cymbal rolls.
  • You can do actual drum rolls.
  • You don't actually need to have the sound guy there for a practice.
  • Little technical expertise is needed to set them up or play them.
  • Much much cheaper. A bottom-of-the-line electronic kit is priced about the same as a mid-level to top-level acoustic kit.
  • If a wire is damaged on a set of electronic drums, you loose the whole drum or cymbal. This is not an issue with acoustic drums.
  • How you play acoustic drums is how you sound. On our electric "drums" when you hit a crash cymbal for a loud crash-cymbal sound, the sound is there for about a 10th of a second, then it cuts out. How lame is that? It ruins the whole feel of the song. Mind you, that may just be a flaw of our particular set.

Advantages of electronic "drums":
  • The sound guy can turn down the volume on the drums without having to tell you to play quieter.

Yes, I admit it. Those lists may be a bit biased.