June 30, 2001

Busy Long Weekend

Lots of stuff to do this Canada Day long weekend.

My good friend Derek has made it through another year - Help wish Derek a Happy Birthday!

Presently I'll be departing for Whistler for some hiking, enjoying the outdoors and hanging out in an expensive chalet high amongst the mountains.

Somehow, I'll have to find time to finish a site for a client, which is supposed to launch early next week.

Oh, and raise a toast to the motherland.

June 28, 2001

Third Man Out

Allura just let me know that Jack Lemmon took the final spot in the Celebrity Death troika I mentioned last week. He was an incredible actor, one which my words will never be good enough to describe.

Do yourself a favor: go to your local video store and get three movies: Mister Roberts, The Apartment and Glengarry Glen Ross. Watch them all.

June 27, 2001

Early Colour

You simply must see this collection of photographs taken in Russia at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The images are so beautiful in colour and composition, they look much more contemporary than their 90-plus years.

Some of them [ 1 2 3 ] are so amazing as to be nearly unbelievable.

Warming Up

I joined my co-workers in a friendly game of floor hockey yesterday. It was the first time I had played in a couple of years.

I sucked.

Okay, that's not entirely out of the ordinary, but it wasn't a good first impression to make. Now my stiff, rarely used muscles are approaching rigor and movement is severely limited.

Maybe next week I'll stretch beforehand.

June 24, 2001

Not So Silent

Last night, the Blinding Light Cinema was showing Fritz Lang's superb Metropolis with live accompaniment by the Eye of Newt Collective.

Quite a few versions of the movie have been released since its original screening in 1927. We saw Georgio Moroder's 87 minute colour-tinted cut (Lang's own ran 3.5 hours), which was pretty great.

Having heard some Eye of Newt stuff earlier, I thought it would go well a 1920's perspective on a future dystopia.

It didn't.

I doubt if the Eye had seen the film more than twice. The Collective clearly had a hard time deciphering things like plot and climax, or even scene change.

The music got more and more masturbatory as the evening went on. At some point, they abandoned the film altogether and wanked freely without shame.

Perhaps they should rent the film again and spend a little more time figuring out what the film is about rather than what it looks like.

June 23, 2001

Small Victories

I've been playing the Invisibles game at FilmWise.com for a few months now. Here's how it works: a still from a movie has had all of the humans removed (but not their clothing) and you have to guess what movie it is.

Each week they have 8 movies for you to guess at. This week, I got 7 of them correct!

I feel better about myself now.

June 22, 2001

Crank Call

Derek's oldest daughter Marina left a message for me today. At 3 1/2, she doesn't need a reason to call, she just picks up the phone and calls. She's very cute and I can understand most of what she says, which was essentially an extended "Hello".

Stuff like that makes me want to have kids.

Sort of.

Two Down...Who's Next?

Just checked the news and found that two legends died today:

John Lee Hooker was one of the most influential blues artists of all time. Though I am not a dedicated blues listener (My good friend Derek knows a lot more about him than I do and has many of his recordings), I enjoyed listening to that growly, gravelly voice.

Carroll O'Connor also passed away. He played the cranky blowhard Archie Bunker to such perfection, many people believed him to be like that in real life. His was the first show I remember my mother telling me I couldn't watch. So I watched it every chance I could get.

Celebrity deaths usually come in threes...so who's next? You can always keep track of who shuffled off this mortal coil at ObituariesToday.com. Sort of creepy, but cool at the same time.

June 20, 2001


My boots squeak. Loudly.

I have a been trying to ignore the sound, thinking it would diminish over time. But, a year and a half later, my boots still sound like the mating call of a strange bird.

If they were an average pair of boots, it would be easy to toss them and get another pair. But these are no average boots. They're Blundstones.

My first pair were given to me as a gift when I was visiting Australia with the band I used to play in. We had met some very friendly people while in Melbourne and had gone to their house for a barbeque.

During the course of the evening, there was some laughter regarding the sad state of the shoes I was wearing (they were held together with tape). After discussing the virtues of Australia's contribution to superior footwear, I was given a pair that had already been worn a few years, still in great condition.

I was converted instantly. They were so comfortable and no laces! Since then, I have preferred Blundstones to anything else, including my once untouchable Doc Martens.

That first pair lasted about 2 years (they already had about 5 or 6 years on them) before the sides finally wore out. When I looked around for a replacement pair, I was shocked to find that a pair that retails for about $60 in Australia goes for more than $200 in Canada. A year later, a good friend picked up the pair I currently wear while visiting family and friends Down Under. Unfortunately, they have a bit of the squeak disease.

I hope I can get another pair someday...without the squeak option installed.

June 19, 2001


When I created this running biography of my life and all who intersect it, I simply created the HTML shell and dropped in an include statement that would bring the words you are now reading into the page automatically.

Recently, I added a search engine from Atomz.com to slog through my growing corpus of ramblings. Unfortunately, it wasn't working all that well. Or, at all.

Apparently, the Atomz engine will only search through HTML that contains HEAD and BODY tags, which my Blogger files do not.

Now I'm going to have to go back and re-engineer the way the site works, so that I can use the search engine.

Aw, crap.


After running my own show for a while, I've decided to jump onto someone else's gig.

I'm low creature on the totem pole and the hours are a lot more regular than I am used to (read: early), but I think that'll be good for me.

There are certainly pros and cons, as there are with any change in life, but this one feels pretty good so far.

June 15, 2001

What the Fructis?

Stupidest name for a product in recent memory: Fructis.

June 14, 2001

Young Stars and the VSO

Each year, a large number of young pianists take part in the Music Man Festival through a series of competitions held over a three week period. Last night, I went to see the winners of that Festival play with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Centennial Theatre in North Van.

The oldest of the pianists was 22 and the youngest only 8 years old! I was amazed how well that kid could play. It wasn't like some piano recital, where the poor little brat is plunking away at The Entertainer. No way, this little kid was banging out a Bach Concerto like he was born on the piano...truly gifted.

The other players were as brilliant, one with an International Baccalaureate, another going to Julliard in the fall, another just recently graduated with a degree in music, and the young kid, who won't be getting his driver's licence for another 8 years!

I can't even remember what I was doing when I was 8.

June 10, 2001

Every Journey

For a long time now, I have wanted to climb one of the following peaks: Kilimanjaro, Elbrus or Aconcagua, three of the Seven Summits. None of these peaks require a high degree of climbing skill, just a lot of determination and, hopefully, a resistance to high altitude sickness.

Now, in my current state of physical fitness, I'd have a hard time looking at Kilimanjaro without feeling weak, but that doesn't deter me from trying to get into mountain-conquering shape. This past weekend, I started my journey to the top of the world by climbing Lynn Peak, just north of Vancouver.

The map at the base of the trail made it look pretty easy, but it was a tough, steep climb at times. The view at the top was absolutely incredible and worth the agony I put my jello-legs through.

On the way down, though, I pulled my right calf muscle. I'm fine when walking on level terrain, but as soon as I try to go up or down any slope or stairs....well, hand over the Bufferin.

Kilimanjaro might have to wait a while.

June 7, 2001

The Road to Hell

A few years ago, when Internet users were looking search and navigate through the growing collection of data, an application that displayed marked up images and data emerged. The first incantation was called NCSA Mosaic. Shortly thereafter, on October 13, 1994, Marc Andreessen sent out a message that read:
Mosaic Communications Corporation is making a public version of Mosaic Netscape 0.9 Beta available for anonymous FTP.

Mosaic Netscape is a built-from-scratch Internet navigator featuring performance optimized for 14.4 modems, native JPEG support, and more.
That simple application was the spark that ignited more than just a browser war.

Netscape's debut marked the beginning of a whirlwind that continues today. From Amazon.com to VCs on Sand Hill Road giving millions to anyone with a business plan, shopping in your underwear, the rise of the "new economy", massive IPOs, Day Trading, and 24/7 information access, the browser is ultimately responsible for the shrinking of our world.

Sadly, Netscape, the once undisputed king of the browser wars, has seen a remarkable fall from grace. Inconsistent standards, too many features bloating the application, poor support and a mass exodus of developers has doomed the browser to a sad fate.

Find out more: Origins of a Browser | History of the World Wide Web.

June 6, 2001

XML and Browsing

Tim Bray is a long-time evangelist for XML who happens to live in Vancouver and his office right across the street from mine.

Recently, he was a keynote speaker at XML Europe 2001 in Berlin. Although he addressed various topics including the future potential of SOAP and the developing XML Protocol, his primary subject was the future of browsing the Web.

From the keynote:
"The Web is Boring! It's full of portals that all look the same and are all boring."
As an example of positive change, he showcased map.net, yet another "new way" to browse the web, developed, not suprisingly, by his own company Antarcti.ca.

Map.net has arranged all of the topics and websites indexed at the Open Directory Project and superimposed them on a map of Antarctica. The site looks like farmland when viewed from an airplane, with different topics having different sized and coloured swaths of real estate. Each topic is designated by the amount of information available for it on the web.

For instance, when you select the Arts area, you zoom in to find large areas for topics like Literature and Movies, along with smaller areas for Classical Studies and Online Writing. However, among the different topics are the occasional (and seemingly random) targets for sites like Garfield's Official Site and Playbill Online Chats.

Another option on the site is to navigate the world in a 3D atmosphere that is even less intuative. Placed in a city scape, you can navigate around to the different houses and buildings that represent different sites.

After playing around with it for a while, I was much more frustrated than anything. Both interfaces were so different than the ways we are all taught to look for information, I never felt like I was getting anywhere.

Navigation structures like the examples at Map.net may one day be the future of Web Browsing, but it will take a long time for those of us that use language as our method of browsing and searching.

June 5, 2001

Barber of Evil

Okay, I hate getting my hair cut. Hate.

No matter how much I try to explain, demonstrate, prototype or gesticulate, I never get the cut that I want. Never.

I pointed at no less than 4 examples of what I wanted, culled from the assortment of "Stylist Today!" magazines (none dated later than 1983) laying around the lobby. Yet I still got a miserable do.

Evil. They're all evil.

June 2, 2001

Being Single Sucks: Reason #87

A report by Health Canada says single men are 2.3 times more likely to suffer from dementia than married men.


On the back of my Purdy's Peanut Butter chocolate bar:
This MAY contain traces of peanuts.
What inane legal precedent led to this statement being required on a peanut butter chocolate bar?

June 1, 2001

Or Not

After spending last evening working with BeOS, I have more details to share. The OS is incredibly stable and fast, even when running a whack o' applications, much faster than the install of Windows 98 on the same machine.

The problem, I discovered, was the amount and quality of applications available for Windows totally dwarfs that of BeOS. This wouldn't be much of a factor if the applications offered a level of sophistication above their Win32 cousins, but that is just not the case. There are no real equivalents to Photoshop or Illustrator, which I spend a great deal of time working in.

Curiously, the GUI is essentially fixed, allowing very little customization of your environment. During my quest for an acceptable look, I noticed another little annoyance: every folder you examine opens a new instance, resulting in a heap of windows on the desktop. Clutter City.

Worst of all, the browsers for BeOS simply suck. As BeOS development has slowed to a collection of enthusiasts contributing what they can, browser technology is pretty far behind. Flash can be installed, but only version 4. JavaScript is not supported in NetPositive (BeOS' built in browser) and Style sheets are essentially ignored. Both NetPositive and Opera suffer from slow and buggy performance, the latter especially so.

Having said all of that, the environment is certainly attractive and easy to work in. I'm still impressed with the speed of the system and the relatively small file sizes of even the largest applications (Blender, a powerful 3D creation and editing program is only 1.3MB!). Another great program is Pe, fast becoming the standard for HTML development. It contains some impressive features, but at US$50, I'm too cheap to shell out for something I might not use next week.

Overall, I am impressed by the operation of the system, but dismayed at the lack of customization and browser development. I will likely continue to hack at it for a week or so, but Windows won this round.