Thanks to Mr. Italo for this find: A DIY bike kit by Dutch designer Jurgen Kuipers. Have a look at all the pictures, especially how it’s packaged.
I love discovering small bars, cafes, and restaurants that are out of the way, unadvertised, yet constantly busy by virtue of the quality of their food and ambience. Montreal has many of these, but they are difficult to discover as a result of their anonymity.
Yesterday, I did an interview with a participant in one of our research projects. He suggested the cafe Triangulo on Duluth Street, “Just above the bakery” as he described it. A long and steep flight of stairs led to a half-darkened room filled with large TV screens and packed with men (and a couple of women) watching soccer. It’s a Portuguese coffee bar, and on this particular day, Portugal was playing against Malta (I think).
We sat at a small table. My companion had risen late and ordered his “breakfast”, a cheese sandwich on one of those large, super-light, crusty Portuguese rolls, and a cafe au lait. The bar offers a daily lunch menu of two items only, varying with the day of the week. The choices were grilled liver or steamed cod. I went for the cod, served with boiled potatoes and chickpeas with raw onions. The ubiquitous miniature black olives were the accompaniment, along with a Portuguese beer. I would of course, never drink during an interview, but in this case it was de rigeuer.
The food was delicious in its simplicity and quality of ingredients. The beer went down beautifully, and I still managed to get the information I was looking for. A terrific find and one I’ll be sure to bring Messieurs Italo and Dario to on the latter’s next visit from the Big Apple.
It was my wife’s birthday last Saturday and my daughter had taken the reigns on arranging a marvellous surprise birthday party for her at our home. This was made easier by the fact that my wife had gone up to the yoga camp for a couple of days of yoga and food deprivation (as she said via text: “The food is so bad I can’t even bring myself to send you a photo”).
This gave me a couple of days to prepare my “present” to her: A video tribute consisting of a couple of dozen slides from our nearly 40 years together, stitched into a beautiful music-accompanied presentation. It’s quite a job sorting through 20 massive photo albums spanning such a time frame, selecting photos that would be au-point yet not too embarrassing, and finally scanning and photoshopping them into something workable. I used iPhoto to organize the images and then iTunes to assemble the album, music, pacing, etc.
The evening before people were due to show up, my daughter and I ran the presentation about a dozen times using Apple TV as the interface between the computer and the TV screen. It worked perfectly and seamlessly.
At 12:30 PM the next day, about a half hour before the guests were to arrive, we ran it again one more time to make sure everything was OK. Disaster! It refused to work, no-matter-what. I rebooted the computer, the WiFi and the Apple TV a half-dozen times. I reset the Apple TV completely, painstakingly re-entering the parameters using the Apple TV’s incredibly cumbersome letter-by-letter data entry system. Nada!
Now I was really sweating. People began to arrive and I couldn’t play host, my mind was in a tunnel: I spoke to them, but 90% of my mental energy was absorbed in trying to figure out why this thing wouldn’t work. After my wife had arrived to cheers of “Surprise!”, I managed to get it to work once, thank God! It was terrific and elicited many tears and some blubbering….precisely the effect one wants from such a presentation. But for the rest of the afternoon, I remained preoccupied with why I couldn’t get it to work again and would wander back to the computer at any lull in the conversation. Hell, I even missed the buffet, finally picking a few leftover scraps at the very end.
I went to bed that night, still irritated and flummoxed about why I couldn’t get it to work. Then in the middle of the night I had an epiphany. I heard the words of the Videotron (our ISP) technician from 6 months earlier when we had been having trouble with our cable TV. He had said, “If everything else fails to fix the problem, unplug ALL the wires, including power, HDMI, USB, etc., from both sides of all components”. He had gone on to explain that in modern “smart” devices, even if you turn them off and reboot them, any form of current or energy stored in cables, is enough to keep glitches “alive”.
Next morning, I unplugged everything, gave it 20 seconds, replugged all the wires and tried my presentation once again. Worked perfectly! I tried it a dozen times, some on the computer and some on the TV. Perfect and seamless performance.
Moral of the story? When in doubt….unplug everything.
One of my cousin’s favorite expressions when discussing stupidity is, “Let’s remember, by definition, half the world is of below average intelligence”. While it makes me laugh every time he says it, it actually isn’t true. Intelligence as a formalized measurement assumes that the vast majority of people are somewhere around the 100 mark, with rapid drop-offs on either side of the curve. Nevertheless, it’s a cute statement that from time to time appears quite believable, depending on how many stupid people you come into contact with.
When it comes to governments, however, one would like to assume that the individuals who guide our policies at the local, national, and world levels are at least of average intelligence and hopefully, well above average in most cases. In fact, when governments do things that appear counterintuitive or even downright insane, we may tend to think that “They must be privy to some fact that we are unaware of, perhaps for national security reasons”. This rationalization explains things like the tendency to forgive leaders for the grossest violations of truth, e.g. the invasion of Iraq on the basis of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the over-the-top airport security measures that have agents frisking two year-olds and their pacifiers, etc.
Then there are events like the Cypriot bailout condition that the government raid the savings accounts of all its citizens, prior to the disbursements of any rescue funds. Surely, in the annals of bureaucratic mismanagement and stupidity, this must set a new benchmark for failure of judgement and foresight. I live in Canada, the current poster child for excellence in banking systems…and it even gives ME pause to reflect on the long-term safety of my savings. ME!!!
The very broaching of such a possibility, the slightest hint that it is even in the faintest of unthinkable eventualities and under the most dire circumstances, is sufficient to shake the entire notion of banking to its very core. I would be very surprised if people around the globe aren’t today looking at banks with a slightly different eye. Will there be a run on banks in every country that is in financial trouble? Probably not. But I would predict that quietly, slowly, and methodically people will begin shifting money into less exposed financial vehicles, especially in troubled economies, but even in more stable ones like Canada’s.
One is stressed to find adjectives that can qualify the stupidity in this case. Even words like “Monumental” and “Insane” fail to capture it. It sets a new low standard for decisions that fail to understand how people think about and react to threats.
I thought the George Carlin skit was appropriate to the conversation.
Last year, I finally got “with it” and joined both LinkedIn and Facebook. Now it may be coincidence, but since that time, my ratio of spam to non-spam email has increased both gradually and exponentially. Today I took count: 80 business and personal emails (including legitimate ads), vs. 120 spam emails! Every time I look at my Inbox, for every 5 desired emails, if I look at my spam box, there are about 8 garbage emails. And the ratio is getting bigger by the day.
And of course, these follow me across platforms, so that I have to delete them on each device: My desktop, iPhone, and iPad. Adding insult to injury, I can’t just delete the whole batch, because the “filters” also capture legitimate emails.
I once read a tech guru writing on an IT site that spam threatens the very existence of email as a usable communication modality. Can you imagine when you get 1000 spam emails for every 10 legitimate ones? I can because I’m seeing it happen before my eyes.
Thanks to Leisureguy for this find. I’ve never had a cat, although my wife had a few before I met her. So I can only vouch for the dog part. Still, the cat part looks pretty credible from what I’ve observed at other people’s homes. You be the judge.
This video featuring Roseanne Cash as songperson for the Discover America tourism campaign may well be the best tourism video ever. This is the full version, in case you’ve already seen the much shorter ads:
And all the problems aside, I’m not sure it’s far off the truth. There Mr. Dario….I said it.
iPhone apps are big business. There are hundreds of thousands in the iTunes store and they rely on a fascinating model of low price and very high volume for their success. After all, what’s 99 cents for an app, even if it turns out to be not so good? Of course, when 10 million people spend 99 cents, that’s a lot of money.
About half the 50 or so apps I’ve bought are pretty useless and I have removed them from my phone. I call these “crapps”.
Interestingly, some of the native iPhone apps are also turning out to be crapps. The iPhone Maps app has pretty much turned into a boondoggle, and I can’t see who could still be using this since the Google map app once again became available. It is so much better in every way.
Google also released its email app for the iPhone, once again demonstrating that simple is better, a concept one would have thought Apple would have mastered given that it’s the foundation of their success on the equipment/user experience side. But the iPhone email app is slow, cumbersome, and very resistant to user configuration. The Gmail app is lightning fast and easy to do batch deletes; a critical factor in today’s world of 10:1 spam ratios. It can of course, seek out emails from any provider and isn’t restricted to gmail addresses ( I don’t even use one).
To use a food metaphor (of course), I think that in the end, hardware and software are like making bread vs. pastry. In France, there are boulangers (bakers) and pattisiers (pastry makers) and the two rarely cross paths, each making what they do best.