107 – Vanquished Malware at N45.113 W75.347

201010_05_02 - Mushrooms in the Field

201010_05_04 - Photo Op

201010_05_21 - Jason Mraz XIII

201010_12_04 - Glancing Upwards

201010_17_01 - Gum Post

201010_17_04 - New Trick

Much has happened in the past month. I’ve been to two concerts, tried Geocaching, got an iPhone, cleaned my website, and got into following the municipal election.

Concerts:
Jason Mraz and Stars. Both were fantastic in their own way. I met Mr. A-Z (do people call him that? Shoulda asked), and fell in love with a few of his new songs, most notable What Mama Say. First concert at Scotiabank Place, to! Stars had fantastic lighting and a great crowd, and are really good live. Very impressed.

iPhone:
iPhone4. Is there more to say? It’s perhaps the best device I’ve ever owned.

Website:
It was attacked somehow recently, and unwanted script ended up on every page. So I cleaned it out old school, and now there shouldn’t be any malware warnings when people visit. Check it out: BenjaminWood.Net! My blog, as part of the site, had also been flagged, so I hadn’t updated it just because of that headache. Maybe I’ll write more often now.

Geocaching:
One of the results of having an iPhone. Now I can know exactly where I am (within 5 metres, or sometimes 10)… which means I can find caches! I’ve found 17 so far, with Jen, Susma, Grace, Jon, and Leo. Leo is so awesome by the way! I’ve never seen a dog do a handstand before. Just knowing that peole have hidden things all over really renews my sense of the world around me. the Geocaching App is the best app investment I’ve made so far (Cut the Rope being a close second).

Election:
Mayor, councillor… the bus strike really showed me how important this municipal thing is! I’ve been following websites, news, blogs, etc, trying to figure out who will hold my interests in transit and transit and, well, that’s mainly what I’m concerned about. I’ll write more tomorrow probably.

106 – Mosaika

201009_11_03 - Mosaika III

201009_11_05 - Mosaika V

201009_11_07 - Mosaika VII

I finally got a chance to see Mosaika! After a pretty rainy week, Prashanta, Susma, and I went on a clear, almost cold night…. and the hill was packed! That probably had to do with the night being so nice and it being the final weekend for the light and sound show projected onto the Parliament building.

The show was good! I remember going down when I was younger and being bored by the imagery. I had seen the show a few years back and thought it was ok. This year’s show was really something! While I didn’t cry at any point like the producer had promised during various interviews, I thought the colours and imagery were crisp and beautiful, and some of the effects (ie bricks towards the end) were extremely clever. I also loved how the story was told, through various stories and thoughts of regular Canadians. It wasn’t a narration, I wasn’t being lectured to.

The only thing that would have made the show better was if we had a full-on view of the canvas! We were kinda stuck behind the bleachers… but still managed to enjoy the show. Here’s hoping they keep doing new shows every so often (every year would be nice…) with this new tech, because I’d definitely keep going back!

We capped the evening off, filled with a sense of patriotism but not without the observation that Parliament is really a funny place to have such a show given how much fighting goes on in there, with another big Canadian thing: Tim Horton’s. Now that they have Apple Cider again, I really must visit as much as I can!

201009_11_10 - Staying Warm

201009_11_12 - The More Things Change...

I repeat: Tim Horton’s has apple cider. Go now!

Still here? Ok. On other news, I bought a tablet over the weekend. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use it to learn how to draw in Photoshop, and use it for a few other things. My first attempt was really born out of not really knowing what I wanted to draw.

Jimmy 2010

105 – New Glasses Ordered Online

Last weekend, the Ottawa edition Metro had a cover wrap ad that said, “get your free glasses!” at ClearlyContacts.ca. My initial reaction to shopping for glasses online was wondering how it would even work. Glasses, I would expect, are something that you really need to try before buying. They’re like jeans, strawberries, and puppies – something that requires some form of interaction before making a purchase.

But free?

How can you argue with free? I went to the site and chose one of the first frames I saw, not because they were amazing, but because I wasn’t too keen on scrolling through pages upon pages of glasses. The ones I chose seemed to be for average male heads, though I could have checked the dimensions against mine. Again, too much work at that particular moment.

I put in the prescription that I got back on January, but hadn’t yet filled (my optometrist did give me the option of getting it filled), and clicked “next.”

201009_06_01 - Measuring Pupil Distance

Pupil distance required. Pupil distance? This little number, which wasn’t on my prescription, is required to make the lenses. The site has a printable ruler that’s supposed to help you measure it. It’s not an easy thing to do yourself.

Two days later, A little box arrived at home. That was fast!

201009_06_02 - Clearly Contacts

I quickly opened the box, where I found a sparkling, new pair of glasses in a hard case, a soft case, and sunglasses that can fit over the glasses (helpful whenever I get to driving). It was a much more robust package than I was expecting!

Importantly, the glasses work! I remember the last pair I got a few years back felt too strong. It took well over a year before I got used to them. These feel almost the same (the prescription wasn’t all that different). These glasses fit well and feel great.

201009_05_11 - Me Again

The only thing is that when I move my head and look to the very edge of the lens, there’s this weird effect that reminds me of moving a camera in a videogame. It’s subtle, and only really happens sometimes. I think maybe the pupil distance was a bit off when I measured.

This experience has opened the option of getting glasses online. I might have spend more time looking at frames, but the ones I chose are pretty good! I’m pretty sure I won’t have to worry about it for another 2 to 3 years, unless I just want a new pair.

201009_05_03 - New Glasses

(Thanks to Susma Dhakal for taking my outdoor pictures above!)
(I got the glasses for free by taking advantage of a promotion, though I did pay for shipping. Clearly Contacts did not solicit my opinion)

Here’s a few other pictures from Sunday:

201009_05_04 - Brother and Sister

201009_05_06 - Lawn Mowering

201009_05_07 - Bittermelon

201009_05_12 - Weed Whacking

103 – Mac and Hack

Cooking. Cooking is so much fun! But what happens when you have 5 cooks?

Hilarity.

I’m sure it would be much more hilarity if it involved more than just pasta. We really have yet to move beyond pasta. Or stir frys. Fries?

Movie night featured a very young Angelina Jolie in Hackers. I can see why so many people enjoy it – the costumes, people, funky cgi, floppy disks, and pay phones everywhere! It’s very much a pre-Matrix cyberpunk flick. Unfortunately I’ve seen The Matrix. But I did love that whole pool bit. And the hackers uniting. In fact, don’t kill me, but I would love to see a remake of this. Technology has changed so much in the last 15ish years… it could be pretty awesome! Or it might just give me a reason to enjoy the “original”.

Pictures: Making Macaroni and cheese (not Kraft Dinner-style, but I’m sure that would have been much more inexpensive).

201007_29_03 - Red Pepper

201007_29_05 - Pestle

201007_29_06 - Stirring with Gusto

201007_29_07 - Meal

102 – The Quarterlife Crisis of a Gamer

I used to be a decent-sized gamer. Just searching my Flickr for game or Nintendo shows collection images, photos from gaming events, the President of Nintendo of America playing Wii, and a number of hardware-related pron shots from my Canon A70 days. There wasn’t a week that went by when I would scribble some notes for an article or editorial for N-Philes (or should I say Nerd Mentality? I’m still iffy on that name change). Lately, however, I’ve written more business plans than I have theories on the casual/core gamer war. I’ve read more book chapters (if not books) than bosses I’ve waggled my Wii Remote at. One day my mom (the avid reader in the family) and I were on a bus, me book in hand, and she proudly engaged with her Nintendo DSi XL. All I could think was, “when did this happen?”

While my bank account has enjoyed my recent and supposed natural avoidance of EB (or are they all Gamestops yet? I don’t even know…) and Best Buy, I miss that feeling of opening a new game and proceeding through the first few levels. My poor Xbox probably needs to be properly de-dusted for fear turning it on will result in a red ring of death, quickly followed by a plume of smoke and flames that will set my television desk on fire. My Wii hasn’t even been plugged in since it’s last outing wherever it went. I can’t even tell you where my DS is (though I need to find it before the next Professor Layton game comes out. September I think), and my PSP, or browser-when-my-netbook-is-too-far-away has been replaced by the iPod, which is a far better browser anyway.

Is it gaming itself that has changed? I have no real interest in internet gaming, which is pretty much all you can get from those fancy hi-def systems. Nintendo’s innovation pretty much ended with the development of the Wii Remote (Mario Galaxy is the exception, but even there I have yet to collect all 120 stars, something I raced through in the much more lacklustre yet somehow much more addictive Super Mario Sunshine. I digress). Is it school that ate all my time, or work that ate all my other time? Was it the recent discovery that I enjoy non-fiction books that replaced the little moments where I’d otherwise be solving Scribblenauts puzzles?

Maybe all I need to do is finish the Metroid Prime Trilogy, or A Boy and his Blob, or Rhythm Heaven or RedSteel 2 or DeadRising (yes, the first one). Or maybe I need to start De Blob and MadWOrld and No More Heroes 2. Or play more Dr. Mario with my friends who recently discovered how awesome a game it is.

Photos: Cousin before playing Baseball, Lotso as Buzz Lightyear (yay Toy Story 3), Graffiti in Barrhaven (right near that Winners that had a carbon monoxide problem, and a couple of images from my recent visit to the Nepean Sportsplex.

201006_14_02 - Pose

201006_14_05 - Lots o'Huggin' Lightyear

201007_21_01 - Barrhaven Graffiti

201007_24_01 - Art-Canteen-Arenas-Pools

201007_24_04 - Climber

101 – Is there an iPhone in my future? Plus Movie Reviews!

I really like the iPod Touch. I’ve wanted one since the first hit the market, but held off up until a couple of weeks ago, when I thought I had lost my friend’s sister’s Nano that I’ve been using this year (which I later found in my pants pocket in the laundry). I bought it with the idea that, if I really did like the device, I would return it and get an iPhone 4 once my cell contract expires this September.

Supposedly, it has a really nice screen, though my left-handedness might interfere with you know, calls.

Interestingly, I find the iPod (or smart devices in general) much better e-social devices than the computer. Where have I been all this time? I’m on MSN, Facebook, Twitter, and all these social tools much more, and reading what other people update. But I really do need a camera and internet connectivity – hence iPhone upgrading… They better be readily available in 2 months.

Or maybe I’ll find some other smart phone between now and then.

Movie Nights, Zip.Ca, and wonderful Pixar releases have allowed me to see a whole whack of movies lately. Here are a bunch of one-line reviews:

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: The ghosts weren’t even girlfriends, and the end was perhaps the biggest disappointment since the third Matrix Movie.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: An intriguing hook, surrounded by wonderful makeup, effects, storytelling, and art direction, that just didn’t resonate with me like it probably wanted to.

The Tale of Despereaux: A brilliant trailer for a terribly thought out movie that could have been sooo much better.

Watchmen: I couldn’t even sit through the first hour.

First Daughter: You shouldn’t have a romantic comedy with two characters that have zero chemistry.

Casablanca: I’m sure it was worth all the praise 65 years ago, but for a movie with great one-liners still used today, I had a hard time following the characters and what was really going on.

Hannah Montana Movie: While surprisingly better than I expected, it was wholeheartedly unrealistic.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: An enjoyable movie that I probably should have seen in 3D (but the monkey voice translator pales compared to Dug’s collar).

Yes Man: A fair rental that made me want to say “yes” to the next 20 things that came my way, but otherwise a forgettable Jim Carrey Movie.

Zack and Miri: So many plot holes in a movie that falls in the middle of my ranked Kevin Smith movies! Kevin Smith does this on purpose and it kinda annoys me.

Toy Story 3: Pixar impressively integrates tons of new characters into a 15-year old franchise and caps what will no doubt top (or at least rank high) in best trilogies lists to come. SO AMAZING.

Now, here’s an assortment of photos I’ve taken with my ageing cell phone over the last year (haha, yes. year. I hardly ever download pics from it… even more reason for an iPhone?):

200907_06_01k - Postman

200910_29_01k - Old Baseline

200911_08_01k - Serene

200912_29_01k - Push Lever "Slowly"

201002_12_02k - Wonder Woman

201006_09_01k - Droplets at Night

201006_19_02k - Dressed Up

201006_26_01k - Cities and Settlements

201007_22_01k - Freeze

201007_23_02k - Rubik's Cube

097 – Free Time and Frog Princesses

201003_19_01 - State Quarters

201003_24_01 - Tiana and Nevin

201004_03_02 - Perogies

201004_04_01 - In the Dark

201004_16_02 - Nap Time

For the first time in what feels like ever, I haven’t anything to do. Well, I have an interview to edit, a case study to complete, exam material to study, an article to write, presentations to prepare, a website to populate… but nothing that is absolutely required for today!

Friday was the final school-related presentation. It went well! Above, Sarak is ready to sleep not too long after.

Despite the slow start, it’s going to be a huge week. But for some reason, all I want to do is buy books! I’m not sure what Malcolm Gladwell did to me, but I have a number of books in my Amazon checkout (where you can get Airmiles, so I discovered) and I do want to read them. But I have to finish Blink first.

There are a few pictures I’ve rustled up from various memory cards. My American quarter set, which is nearing completion, some Disney frogs, perogies, a parking lot, and nap time.

096 – Day at the Beach and Migrating Blogs

201004_02_19 - Falling

201004_02_12 - Rocky Terrain

201004_02_11 - Against the Water

201004_02_10 - Father and Daughter

201004_02_05 - Glide

My blog has moved! There were lots of fancy terms involved, including migration, canonical, cname, and propagated, but it was all very simple to do (thanks largely to Google’s Blogger team). now instead of being at benjaminwood.net/blog, they will be at blog.benjaminwod.net. HUGE difference, am I right?

School is beginning to wind down, after some huge, but successfully completed assignments. Only one presentation to go, plus exams. Speaking of presentations, I gave one about product placement yesterday, and have made it available at on my site (www.benjaminwood.net/presentation) because it’s so cool. I basically took an iPad picture and made it interactive, included video, and made little apps to go from one slide to the next.

iPad

And I guess while I’m gushing about site-related business, I made a few minor updates, including a new picture that I use for my site’s main navigation. I can’t wait to have more time to add more content to my site. And play videogames.

Photos: I spent part of Good Friday on the beach. It was warmer then than it is now…

095 – A Tale of Two Buses

There’s this one space near my house where I can hear if a bus is coming, but I can’t see it. And when I hear a bus, I better be running, because to make it to the bus stop, I need to cross a fairly busy road.

Yesterday, I was in just that predicament. And I ran. World record running. I could have bested a Jamaican sprinter. Granted, that sprinter is probably 73, had one too many rum and cokes, and is missing a toe due to an unfortunate fishing incident… but still, pretty fast. And the bus stopped! Good thing there is someone getting on at that stop, embarking on an adventure that very well might have changed his life.

I zip across one side of the northbound lanes, which thanks to a light that just changed a couple hundred metres away, has zero traffic. As I reach the island, the southbound traffic in both lanes actually stop for me just so that I can make it to the bus. If Ottawa drivers get a bad rap, certainly the rap-givers never saw that sight!

Just as I run right behind the bus and start to head for the door, I hear that all familiar engine churn. “he can’t be serious!” Slowly, but just fast enough, he takes off. Those cars that stopped for me star honking to no avail. Seconds later, the bus, now in the far turning lane, stops at the red light – the one that allowed me to cross the street in the first place, where he waits over a minute before he can turn.

Waiting 4 seconds for me to board would have made no difference. Especially when he was already three minutes early.

If that wasn’t enough, the bus I used to get home from work was eight minutes late arriving at the stop, the one just after the start of a route. Usually at night, the driver will leave a few minutes late just because there are few stops made, but not eight minutes.

OC Transpo claims that their “on time” percentage, the number of buses that are not early, but no more than five minutes late, is a whopping 58%. Their goal is to have 90% on time service. I’m not sure about the frequent buses I used to get between school and work, but certainly I would consider today to be a poor day for bus service. They really need to start using time points use synchronized onbaord clocks, set up more time points, and watch mirrors for people who are running! Especially if that same mysterious “they” want to justify the second (and a whopping one at that) fare increase in a year, both off the heels of the cold, cold winter ’09 bus strike. Yep, I’m still displeased about that one.

Of course, I’ve had wonderful experiences. There are some remarkable drivers out there that go out of their way to just be nice to us poor public traniters… some even on those routes that I use all the time. I just didn’t get them yesterday. Those are the drivers that should be coaching everyone else.

And on a completely unrelated note, here’s why you don’t give kids markers when they ask for them in your store (that doesn’t sell markers). Especially not permanent ones:

201003_08_01 - Why not to give markers to kids

No, I didn’t give the marker.

092 – OC Transpo Strike Started a Year Ago

200912_09_02 - Mailman

200912_09_03 - Blizzard

200912_09_04 - Crow

200911_22_01 - Wall-E CakeAlign Center

So the OC Transpo strike started a year ago. And looking back at it all, I still have these annoyed feelings about the fact that it happened, and they didn’t really get anywhere, since the reason for it ending was originally on the table as a way to prevent it. And lately, I’ve been getting more and more annoyed with the service. I actually called and made a complaint about an issue, but that doesn’t go far enough. Maybe I’ll write them a letter old-person-style, stamps and all.

That first day of the strike wasn’t unlike today – blizzardy. It felt like the first true day of winter – just in time for the Christmas season too! And only 9 more days until I’m done school for the year. Then a bit longer.

Then what? I do have some ideas, some of which (unfortunately) involve even more school. We’ll see what grows to fruition.

Speaking of school, here’s a sequence I worked on with my teammates for one of our final projects:

200911_26_01 - Gilette Man

200911_26_02 - Gillette Man Hand

200911_26_03 - Gillette Man Photoshop

Dave, our model, is part of an ad campaign for Gillette’s line of hair care products. We got a picture of him holding the bottle. While this was a start, it lacked what experts call “oomph”. To fix this, I took a close-up picture of his hand holding the bottle, and with some Photoshop magic, made his picture come to life. Maybe I’ll showcase all the ads next time.

And yes, I had a Wall-E cake for my birthday.