Sarah at work

According to my Myers Briggs personality test, “Likes perks in the workplace like being able to bring your dog in”.
sarah-at-work

She looks like she should be wearing a FedEx uniform.  Actually, already close with the black and tan.

Gay animals in the news

Perhaps it’s old news now since I was reading this in a month old copy of Maclean’s magazine, but apparently Poznan, Poland, have recently acquired a gay elephant.  The controversy appears to be over the fact that after building an expensive enclosure and acquiring this elephant, their hopes of increasing their herd size are rather dashed.  That, and the fact that the elephant’s predilections “devaluates the institution of marriage and is an affront to the almighty”.  I say, live and let live. You can read it all at Elephant News (for elephants, about elephants, by elephants).

But that’s not all.  Those liberal minded European’s also proudly provide home to a pair of gay penguins (I mean though, who can tell them apart?  … “Bob?”  “No, I’m Ethel”).  What’s particularly cool is that they’re successfully raising an adopted chick together.  Which just goes to show that caring is more important than anything else in raising a child.

Addendum:
I figure we have gay rights, and animal rights, I’m waiting for the highly specialized “gay animal rights” group to form. I just checked, and “gayanimalrights.org” is open!

ReDo List for the iPhone

Well I’m just tickled that I know someone who has published an iPhone app!  Tim Mackinnon, my good friend who I used to work with at OTI Ottawa and OTI London, has published an app called ReDo List.  If I had an iPhone, I’d buy this app, it looks really useful. The blurb says:

ReDo is an iPhone application that allows you to create checklists of items that you can keep and reuse over again.

  • Have you ever gone on holiday and found that you forgot to pack your sunglasses?
  • Have you started a presentation and discovered that you left your laser pointer at home?

ReDo is perfect for maintaining useful lists of actions so you don’t forget to complete them. Simply select an existing list or create a new list, and then tick off items as your prepare for your event. You can use ReDo as a normal to do list, but unlike todo applications, when you have completed your list you don’t throw it away, you keep it to use again the next time.

And, although he’s only released it May 1, he’s actually making a few pounds off it (well, enough for a few pints down at the pub, and really, isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?).

Will the iPhone re-invigorate the independent software author? Check out Tim’s app and help this cottage industry!

Mini song: “What Lies Beneath”

Mike (McQ) reminded me of a song we worked on some time ago “What Lies Beneath“.  As he says,

The song is on a 7 bar loop, but it’s so dance oriented that you’re sure it’s going to be 8 bars. I really like the resulting mental confusion this causes, even though it’s still completely danceable.

It was a really fun song to work on. As usual it was me doing percussion and Mike doing the synth lines and chords. I can’t remember how we ended up with 7 bars, it was probably his idea.

One pooped doggie

Two days in a row at Bruce Pit is just too much fun for a doggie!

pooped

Pooped Sarah!

She sure is one happy doggie though!

Introducing, Sarah!

I’m not sure why Patti kept checking the B.A.R.K website, I knew it could only lead to one thing… a dog.  We’re both suckers for sad dog stories and it was hard not to adopt each and every one of them.  But the plan was to get a Bernese Mountain dog pup in the spring. Patti had even researched a breeder who we had gone out to meet, and Deb and Mike actually ended up getting one (Rosco!) from that breeder last summer.

But over the holidays Patti saw a notice on the site saying that they were looking for a foster for two Rottweiler females rescued from a puppy mill outside of Montreal.  If they didn’t find a foster by Jan 3 then they’d have to put one or both in a kennel. Well I mean the poor things just made it out of jail, we couldn’t have them sent back!

So on Jan 1 we went to see the two dogs with the plan of “just fostering” one. There was a smaller and younger one named Molly Maguire (“Destiny?”, we thought?) and a larger two year old named Sarah. They were both lovely dogs and in the end we came home with Sarah.

Sarah

Sarah

It only took four days for us decide that we wanted to keep her. She has such a sweet disposition, no sign of aggression at all, and a willingness to please quite rare in a Rottweiler. When we announced to all that we decided to keep her, well let’s just say it seemed we were the last to know.

She’s very affectionate, and very smart.  The site described her as a “gentle giant” and that she is.  OK sometimes she thinks she’s a lapdog… ooph! She’s settled down nicely and you can tell she knows that this is now her home.  We’ve been doing lots of training and she just looks so proud when you praise her for being a good girl.  That, and morning snuggles … this is the life she was supposed to have!

Product Review: Samsung SyncMaster T240 LCD

The Samsung SyncMaster T240 is a 24″ 1080p LCD. I just picked one up at my local computer dealer PCCyber for a pretty decent price of $300 CA, lower than I’ve seen at the big box stores and a pretty amazing price for a 24″ 1080p LCD (for comparison, shopbot.ca is showing prices ranging from $299 TO $462).

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Good color fidelity
  • OK text sharpness
  • No noticeable motion blur in games or movies
  • As bright as you could want
  • Monitor frame is pretty sexy

Cons

  • Poor off-axis viewing especially text
  • Slight loss of definition in the blacks
  • No adjustability to the base

Discussion

For about two years I’ve been using the Samsung SyncMaster 225BW. At 1680×1050 and 5ms response, I bought it primarily as a gaming monitor. For this it was fine, although in truth I was never happy with the color fidelity and text was ok but not fantastic. By contrast, my previous monitor, a ViewSonic VP201s had great color and text, but being an earlier panel technology, showed motion blur in gaming. Perhaps that’s an unfair comparison since that Samsung was a consumer level monitor while the ViewSonic was a professional level one. Since I don’t just use my computer for gaming, I’ve never been happy with this trade off.

The T240 provides better color fidelity and text than my previous Samsung, is fast enough for gaming, and at 1920×1200, has tons of real estate. Just tonight I was watching an episode of 24 while reading an investment outlook report (ugh, but that’s a different discussion). And I must say that playing Company of Heroes at 1920×1200 on a 24″ monitor is spectacular.

To try to compare apples and apples, I will contrast it with the Lenovo L220X I use at work. The Lenovo is 2″ smaller, but more importantly, I’ve not been impressed with it’s color fidelity or text rendition. Albeit I’m comparing with two different graphic cards too, but what I noticed with the Lenovo is that, being a high gamut panel, it seemed to miss the mark in color balance. Even if you’re not doing color sensitive graphics work, color balance is still important for text readability if you use TrueType text on WindowsXP or Vista (which you likely do since it’s on by default) because TrueType dithers the text with antialiased pixels of blended color. If those colors aren’t right, the text can look blurred or odd, reducing readability. It took a lot of research and several rounds of adjustments to get the color settings to a point on the Lenovo where text was acceptable for day to day work. The Samsung on the other hand had immediately readable text. And at a suggested retail of $499 CA for the Lenovo, the Samsung is a great deal giving you better text, better color, a larger screen, for less. The Samsung T240 isn’t the clearest text I’ve seen (my old ViewSonic still wins for this), but is the clearest I’ve seen so far in a monitor of this size and resolution.

One fault I’ve noticed with the text is that you get some artifacting if you look at the text off-axis. This isn’t just about being at an odd angle to the monitor, but occurs during normal usage because at 24″ you’re going to be off-axis to the edges. Specifically, I’ve noticed that text at the top of the screen appears slightly bolded, and text at the bottom slightly thin.

The T240 is a nice looking monitor. Traditionally, desktop monitors have been nothing more than a panel with some black or gray injection molded framing and a few controls. The Samsung is a more sophisticated looking piece of consumer electronics, likely taking some design influence from trends in large format living room LCDs and Plasmas. You could thus consider it’s use in places other than the desktop, such as in a living room or bedroom. Although it has a nice looking base that complements the overall styling, you cannot raise or lower the panel. Also, I’ve not been able to tilt it, although the specs claim you can. This lack of adjustability was disappointing to the point where I considered returning it. The base does swivel, although I’ve always found this to be the least useful adjustment.

In conclusion, I’m happy with the T240. Not ecstatic, but happy. Great as a gaming monitor, good as a work monitor. For $300 I have better color, text, resolution, and size than I had before, and I don’t see anything in that price range that can compete. My impression is that Samsung gives you good value for money in a 24″ 1080p monitor.

Kids know: recumbents are cool!

Often when I ride my recumbent kids will light up and say things like, “wow, cool bike mister”.  Parents will tell their children, “look at the neat bike”.  This evening, one kid about maybe 10 said, “That looks like its really relaxing”.  I told him he was very smart.  I always say a kind “thank you”.

I will admit that when I first got years ago I wondered the kinds of reactions I’d get.  Almost 100% its positive.  Even the teens, who try to be oh so reserved, will often chirp up, “Nice bike man”.

And what a wonderful way to ride along the Ottawa river, surrounded by the beauty of the river, trees and parks, and the excited kids greeting me. I often come back with a kind of happy glow about me.

Positive press

I’m just tickled that I’ve now been referenced from two news links:

  1. An infoworld article on the talk I did at EclipseCon with Tim Wagner
  2. An infoq article with a quote from my eclipse blog on the Eclipse e4 work

Not that I go searching for such things (both I was informed of by others).  What I find interesting is that I always have this model in my mind that I’m just doing these little things and am surprised when others notice them!  Both are nice positive articles, which is a relief compared to being completely misrepresented in The Register in 2006 (which I won’t even link to).

An Interview with Blue Iris, Pantone’s Color of the Year

Every now and then I read the Colour Lovers blog.  It reminds me that artists and designers think about colour in a very different way than the average Joe (and me included).

This post on An Interview with Blue Iris, Pantone’s Color of the Year made me laugh out loud though.  Who knew colour could be so funny?!



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