Friday, July 28, 2006

Watching Beirut die

I haven't written about what's happening in Lebanon because there is so much out there, I can't imagine I can add to it. It's a nightmare.

I know that what is happening is wrong on so many levels - but I can't say I know who to blame. One can rationalize anything, I suppose, whether it's the decision to kidnap the first soldier, or the one to target civilians, or the one that puts rocket launchers near hospitals and schools.

Common sense says those things should never happen. Reality proves they do. And always, the innocent pay the ultimate price.

So while I can't add a lot to the discussion of these sad events, I can point you to a story on today which you should read. It's called "Watching Beirut die." It's written by Anthony Bourdain, a celebrity chef and author, who arrived in Lebanon with a camera crew to document the rebirth of the city and instead ended up holed up in a hotel for days, watching the city die around him.

It's a riveting first-person account, admittedly from a position of relative safety and far from the chaos of the rest of the city. But it's well done and worth reading.

One further link. Christopher Allbritton, whose blog, Back To Iraq, I have written about before, is now in Lebanon, in Tyre. If you want a first-person account from a professional journalist with a keen eye for what's going on, read his latest postings. And consider donating something to his cause.

Allbritton is a remarkable journalist and what he has done in Iraq over the past two years is an amazing story in itself.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

How to do almost anything

I know this blog is called TheDailyUpload, which implies that I'm only supposed to put up one post a day. And I just stuck one up there a few minutes ago.

But since I haven't been as regular with posting as I would like, I thought I'd add another right now. And this is one that you can bookmark and play around with for awhile, while you're waiting for my next Upload.

So, if you use technology in your life (and who doesn't?) then this handy guide to useful hacks, which has been put together by Wired Magazine, might come in handy.

It's got great ideas for taking better photos, organizing your website, being more productive at work -- even how to save the world.

It's kind of a fun read, so take your time and explore. And I'll get busy on coming up with my next Upload -- maybe I'll even elaborate on that serendipity thing I mentioned about our house in Victoria!

I'm still an Apple fan

I'm still a huge Apple fan. I've just convinced my wife to buy Apple computers for her new business in Victoria -- and she's delighted with the outcome.

I own several Mac's myself, and at least one of my kids is using one. The others are still getting by with Windows, while they wait for me to offer to buy them a new one. Maybe I will...

Lately, a couple of people whose opinions I respect have switched back to Windows machines (which I still have several of, by the way.) They've done it for a variety of reasons, all of which may be valid - I'm not really sure.

But for me, I continue to delight in the hardware and the software, and the way it all seems to work just that much better than any Windows machine I've used.

Today, I came across an article in Wired News by Leander Kahney called Why I Love Apple. I couldn't agree more.

Kahney uses his discovery of a simple software feature in his Mail program to illustrate the attention to detail and user experience that makes Macs different from most other computers.

Of course, all computers do the stuff you need to get done. But there's a lot to be said for adding some "style" to things. And the Mac does it well. That's why I love Apple, too.

Update -- I just found a great post by Kathy Sierra on the Creating Passionate Users blog that talks about why great design makes things so much better -- she could be talking about Apple.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Proud Papa - Ontario champions edition - UPDATED

You can tell by the smile on Jaime's face that things went well today at the Ontario Championships as Jaime took the gold medal in the Under 23 Lightweight Women's Single! It was a great win for Jaime, especially since she had lost to the second-place boat last weekend at the St. Catherine's Invitational by a large margin.

But today, Jaime was strong the whole race and pulled away convincingly in the last 500 metres to win the gold. Now she's well-placed for the rubber match at the Henley regatta August 8-13. It's looking like it's going to be a great race.

Kelly wasn't as fortunate, as her Jr. Womens' 4 broke a rudder and ended up fourth in their heat so they didn't make the final.

But both Kelly and Jaime are in action again on Sunday, so we'll be back out at the course in Welland bright and early. I'll let you know if there is more gold shining through the rain.

SUNDAY UPDATE -- Jaime kept her string going today, by winning her second gold medal in the Sr. Women's Lightweight Doubles competition. Her partner, Lauren Chewter, struggled to make weight, but she did it, and the two of them had a great day, winning the final in convincing fashion.

Kelly, for the second day in a row had a less satisfying day. Her Under 19 Women's Eight had high hopes for a gold, but just as they were backing into the starter's blocks in the final, their race was cancelled. A severe thunderstorm was brewing and the course officials made the call to cancel the regatta with 6 races left. Darn!

So that wraps up the Ontario regatta season for this year. There's just the Henley regatta left for this summer. Jaime is entered in the Single, Double and Eight, while Kelly is hoping to row the Single, Four and Eight. We'll see. It runs from August 8-13. Then the movers show up on the 14th and we all leave Hamilton on the 15th. Quite a month...

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Friday, July 21, 2006

You Tube is not so friendly any more

Looks like we idealists are in for some major disappointments yet again. Our favourite start-up YouTube has gone and done in the small guy. Or have they?

According to a small change in their terms and conditions, if you upload a video to their site, you're giving them the right to re-use that content any way they please, and they won't owe you a thing. Here's the new text that's causing all the fuss:
"…by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successor's) business… in any media formats and through any media channels."
The story got major play in BoingBoing (including a response from YouTube's marketing people.) John Battelle has a story on it here. And Wired Music has something on it as well.

But while some are warning people not to post any of their content to YouTube, others say it's more a case of bad timing, rather than malicious intent.

One aspect to this debate is that there is a solution out there already, and it's the Creative Commons copyright license. So far, it's only been getting limited attention, but I think it's the perfect answer for how to deal with these copyright questions. And sooner or later, someone is going to take it more seriously. Open Source rules.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see whether the bloom fades from the YouTube rose, and whether another video hosting site becomes the "next big thing."

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Kevin Smith takes on Tim Burton

Since the weekend is coming up and Clerks II, Kevin Smith's new movie, is opening this weekend, I thought you might enjoy this little segment.

I've been a fan of Smith's for a long time and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with the old Clerk's franchise. The original was the classic tale of a low-budget, screwball movie that took on an amazing life of its own. It's hard to imagine how this sequel is going to top that, given that now money isn't an issue. For the original, Smith used his own credit cards to fund part of the shoot, which was done for less than $30,000.

I was referred over to The Movie Blog, an excellent resource for learning all kinds of things about current movies, when I came across a recent post by John Campea. He admits that Kevin Smith may not be his favourite filmmaker, but he things that Smith's regular guy schtick is wonderful, and this clip he found on YouTube proves just how funny he really is.

I couldn't agree more, and the video really is hilarious. You can go read the original post, but I also put up a copy of the video he's talking about below, just in case you don't want to go blog-hopping right now.

Enjoy. By the way, the clip is kind of long, but it's a great story.

And one more thing. If you like this clip, go on over to YouTube and check out all the other Kevin Smith clips. There are a lot of them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blogger's Block -- it's real

I've never had a huge problem with writer's block, but this blogger's block -- now that's something I can relate to.

Hello, and yes, I know I've been a little remiss lately in my blogging. Thanks to all of you that sent those well-worded little missives demanding to know what the heck I've been up to and why wasn't I keeping up-to-date.

The truth is -- I was pretty much unplugged for two weeks.

I wasn't off-line. I was still working and doing e-mail and keeping up with some things. But I wasn't reading my RSS feeds or checking the web for cool stuff or even listening to podcasts. I went pretty much cold turkey for awhile.

And you know something? It was OK. Sure, I suffered a bit. And I get a queasy feeling in my stomach when I look at how many articles are sitting in my feed reader in-basket just waiting for me to get to them. Same with my Ipod and all those podcasts.

But what the heck. I'll probably just skim through them and delete most without even reviewing. There's plenty more coming in every day.

What I've been busy with is getting ready for our big move from Hamilton, Ontario all the way across the country to Victoria, British Columbia!

Monday night, I bid adieu to my wife, Heather, who is now set up and working in Victoria. I'll be following along later in August, after I pack up the house, drive Kelly down to Louisville and then head out across country to Victoria, via Regina. What a trip!

Jaime, our other daughter, will be driving back with me, since she's living in Victoria. And our son, Cory, will be staying in Hamilton.

We're all pretty excited, although turning into empty-nesters in such a dramatic fashion is going to be a bit traumatic, I suspect. But I'll keep you informed about what's happening as we roll along.

For now, I'm finishing up a contract with a company in Toronto, where I'm working until the end of the month. So for the next few weeks, I'll be blogging fairly regularly. Once I hit the road, I'm not sure how often I'll be reporting in.

I've got a whole whack of topics that I've been hoping to cover but just haven't gotten around to, such as:

The Cuban musicians that are touring Saskatchewan, thanks to the hard work of my two best friends, Gary Robins and Carol Olson, of Blue Sky Cultural Connections. You'll love the part about the blocked faxes and other skulduggery.

Seeing the legendary Yardbirds in concert, at the equally legendary Corktown Tavern in Hamilton. Where else can you hear such kick-ass music in a sauna?

Our new house in Victoria (that's it on the right) and the amazing story of just how small a world we live in and how fate played such a big role in our getting it.

The lowdown on the upcoming Henley Regatta. It will be the last regatta I'll be getting to in Ontario for awhile. Talk about the end of an era, although there should still be plenty of Proud Papa Updates to come.

Tantalized yet? Well, stay tuned. I'll be back soon with details.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Chilling at the cottage in Saskatchewan

After awhile, even the most interesting video can get a little stale, I suppose. So my apologies to those of you who've been tuning in to get a new Daily Upload but keep seeing that guy sailing out over the mountain.

I've been taking a break from blogging while I'm out here in Regina for a few days. I had planned to write about the drive out here from Hamilton, but a lack of Internet access along the way scuttled that plan. And for the past few days, I've been enjoying life here at the cottage at Buena Vista so much I just didn't bother to Update the Upload.

But I'll be back in Hamilton in a few days and regular blogging will return next week. Until then, here's a brief update on the reason I'm out here now.

I drove to Saskatchewan with my brother and his son last week. We were on our way to the 50th anniversary celebrations for Sheldon Williams Collegiate, the high school that we both attended here in Regina. If you've ever gone to a high school reunion, you'll know how much fun they are. And if you haven't gone back to your's I recommend it.

Attending a reunion is getting together with hundreds of people you have little in common with except everything. After all, you haven't needed to keep up over the years and things have worked out fine. But there was something very special about those high school years and it's astounding how important they were in shaping the people we all became.

Of course, the best thing about the weekend is that all of the other 800 or so alumni that were there (spanning most of the entire 50 years of history) were there because they wanted to rekindle the old memories. None of us were dragged out against our will, so we were all motivated to chat, revisit old friendships and embrace everyone we met, even if we couldn't stand each other in high school. It's amazing how a few years will put to rest even the most bitterest memories.

The organizers of the event went all out to provide ideal conditions, especially the Saturday session at Sheldon, where we all toured our old haunts, visited the classrooms, played in the gym and admired how much more civilized the washrooms had become over the years. But most of all, we admired each other. It's amazing how the characters that developed during our high school years have shaped the rest of our lives. I recognized virtually everyone I met, despite the 31 years that have passed since I last saw them.

Now I'm left with a lot more good memories and a few new email addresses that I may or may not follow up on. But I know that I'm looking forward to the next big get together in 10 years. I'll be back.