Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire

December 7th, 2010 at 11:01 pm

The Girl Who Played with FireThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Girl Who Played with Fire gets off to a much quicker start than the previous book in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The mystery drives the story along quickly and I didn’t even notice that this book was actually longer than the previous (at least narration-wise). However, like the previous book, I found it to have an overwhelming cast of characters to track, which was perhaps exacerbated by listening to the audible version. Additionally, the dark subject matter once again makes me cautious as to who I would recommend it (keep in mind that the first books directly translated title is "Men Who Hate Women"). Lastly, in complete contrast to what felt like several endings in the first book, this one ends so abruptly, it felt like there was perhaps a chapter or prologue omitted. I have heard that the third novel picks up very close to the end of this one.

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Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

November 23rd, 2010 at 11:45 pm

The Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listened to the Audible version.

Very slow to start, with an overwhelming amount of details, but then picks up. The end dragged on a bit, but overall very compelling.

However, there is definitely some very dark subject matter here, and I would be very careful to whom I recommended it.

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Ottawa 2010 Election: Improved Mayoral Candidate List

September 19th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

The City of Ottawa recently announced their candidate information page for the upcoming 2010 Municipal Elections, and, as I mentioned on twitter, the information provided is a little lacking,

It’s 2010 & the Ottawa election candidates page lists their phone, fax, & email but not website. Yeesh.

For those of us comfortable with the internet, I’ve compiled an improved list of the Mayoral Candidates to add a website, Twitter, and Facebook Pages links wherever I could find them.  I’ve also omitted the Fax number from the original City of Ottawa page.

Nominated Candidates for the 2010 Elections


Name Website Twitter1 Facebook Page1 Email Phone
Cesar Belo None None 613-601-8882
Idris Ben-Tahir None None None None 613-234-0707
Clive Doucet @CliveDoucet

Followers: 355
Following: 26
Tweets: 261

Clive Doucet

Likes: 211 613-798-1010
Joseph Furtenbacher None None 613-237-6446
Robert G. Gauthier None None 613-276-8788
Andrew Haydon @VoteHaydon

Followers: 7
Following: 4
Tweets: 17

Andy Haydon2 None
Robert Larter None None None None 613-617-4477
Robin Lawrance None None None 613-680-3178
Vincent Libweshya www.wix.…102010 @freshhjones

Followers: 57
Following: 193
Tweets: 177

Vincent M. Libweshya2 613-614-7815
Fraser Liscumb None None None None
Daniel Joseph Lyrette None None None None 613-262-9969
Mike Maguire None Mike For Mayor (Group)

Members: 79 / 613-277-4829
Larry O’Brien @larryobrien2010

Followers: 269
Following: 208
Tweets: 56

Larry O’Brien

Likes: 190 None
Julio Pita None None None None Fax Only: 613-748-7322
Sean Ryan None Sean Ryan For Mayor Of Ottawa (Group)

Members: 78 613-220-2968
Michael St. Arnaud None None None 613-276-4212
Jane Scharf @janescharf

Followers: 21
Following: 24
Tweets: 35

None 613-884-9065
Charlie Taylor @mayorcharlie

Followers: 123
Following: 192
Tweets: 128

Charlie Taylor for Mayor (Group)

Members: 236 613-521-8213
Jim Watson @jimwatsonottawa

Followers: 1,592
Following: 982
Tweets: 1,314

Jim Watson

Likes: 1,248 613-835-2400
Samuel Wright @sam4mayor

Followers: 19
Following: 39
Tweets: 6

Sam Wright

Likes: 252 None
  1. Values as of Sept. 19, 2010
  2. This is actually a link to a Facebook profile, but since it’s linked from the candidate’s website I’ve included it.

Have a correction to the above information? Let me know in the comments below.

You should follow me on twitter here.

Break Me

August 7th, 2010 at 10:03 am

LockInfo and the Lock Weather Plugin running on my jailbroken iPod Touch 2G

The simplicity of was just too enticing to pass up. My aging 2G iPod Touch is now “jailbroken,” for the second time this year.

The first time was a few months ago. It took several hours, exhausted my fingers by requiring vulcan-nerve-pinch button presses, and ultimately left me with a device which needed to be factory reset again a day later. One can only wait through so many 3 hour device restores before giving up and moving on.

This time, however, it was simply a matter of browsing to, and “sliding to jailbreak”. Genius. Of course, it uses a PDF/Safari exploit which won’t last beyond the next update (and which, ironically, can currently only be blocked by jailbreaking your device and installing an unauthorized package), so get it while you can.

Just Slide to Jailbreak


  • LockInfo + Lock Weather Plugin: See the screenshot up and to the right. Important info, at a glance, without having to unlock the device. This should be built into iOS. Currently running in trial mode, but it’s pretty great, I might have to buy it.
  • Features 2G: Enables multitasking & home screen wallpaper support. Why the latter isn’t allowed on Touch 2Gs is beyond me.


  • Battery life: Of course, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem if I didn’t turn on multitasking using Features 2G.
  • Cydia: My god this app is painful to use. Does it really need to reload packages on every open? And the downloading of package information from repositories (I’m looking at you is just… so… slow… And you still need to wait for another page to load to see any screenshots! Have you guys seen the AppStore? It is the standard you’re being measured against. Step up.
  • More to do: This may be related to the pain of use and lack of curation in Cydia, but I aside from the two tweaks above, I can’t find much else I would want to install.

Anyone else have a jailbroken iDevice? Let me know what other packages I should look into in the comments.

5 Podcasts Worth Listening To

December 15th, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Podcasts!I wrote up this list for a friend yesterday and I figured maybe it was worth sharing with the world at large. While a number of these are video podcasts, I usually listen to these while riding a crowded bus into and home from work each day, so even the video ones often get consumed in audio-only mode from my pocket.

  • Buzz Out Loud – A daily tech discussion show. A great way to stay up to date with current topics in tech. Usually pretty easily digestible at around 45 minutes. WebsiteiTunes direct-link
  • Co-op – A weekly gaming review video podcast. Really good, but not very audio-only friendly (lots of video clips from the games they’re reviewing), so skip this one if you’re looking for something to listen to while driving. WebsiteiTunes direct-link
  • The Totally Rad Show – A weekly video podcast. Three dudes talk about movies, video games, tv shows, comics, pop-culture, etc. The kind of show I wish I was hosting. Works pretty well in audio-only format as well. WebsiteiTunes direct-link
  • Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show – A weekly video podcast.  Kevin Pollak interviewing people in entertainment. Each episode runs pretty long (1.5-2hrs) but they’re almost always interesting and often really funny. Also works great in audio-only format. Website (don’t bother with the website though, it’s terrible) & iTunes direct-link
  • ROFL – A weekly video podcast. Standup comedy cut down to one joke (presumably the best of the set?) from comedians all over the US. Also works great in audio-only mode. Website & iTunes direct-link

I’ve got more… but these will do for now. Do you subscribe to any podcasts? If so, which ones? And if not, why not?

Social-Networks Activate! Help Me Find A Good Book to Read

March 16th, 2009 at 12:03 am
Bookstore by ImaginaryGirl on Flickr

"Bookstore" by ImaginaryGirl on Flickr

When I was young I read a lot. Then I went to University. Some of you may be familiar with my 9 year dance with post-secondary studies. The details of which being longer than I ever care to write about, the take-away point is that during this period, I pretty much stopped reading anything I wasn’t required to read (two exceptions being The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings books, and the Harry Potter series, the inner-nerd in me types gleefully).

Over those 9 years, I kept telling myself it was ok because I was just tired from all the required readings from school. Then, once school was finished, my tune smoothly transitioned to the I’m-so-busy-at-work and recently the oh-my-god-being-a-new-parent-is-so-exhausting excuses. But I’ve grown tired of these excuses and want to find something to read… damnit!

"Hardy Boys Collection" by hyperboreal on Flickr

"Hardy Boys Collection" by hyperboreal on Flickr

One problem: decisions. Some of you may be familiar with my 30 year dance with decision making. When I was 10 and there were still a couple thousand Hardy Boys books left to read the decision of what to read was really easy, just read whichever book was next in numerical order. Later, I had endless time to wander the aisles of the Lindsay Public Library and found some authors I enjoyed. As an adult, though, how does one choose what they want to read? While Harry potter was fabulously fun to read, I did of feel somewhat like a twelve year old when deciding I was going to read it: Magic?! Awesome!

GoodreadsSo I turned to the interwebs for advice and signed up at Goodreads.

Goodreads is the largest social network for readers in the world. We have over 1,900,000 members who have added over 44,000,000 books to their shelves. A place for casual readers and bona-fide bookworms alike, Goodreads members recommend books, compare what they are reading, keep track of what they’ve read and would like to read, form book clubs and much more. [“about goodreads”]

Unfortunately, Goodread’s “find friends” service (really awesomely providing Google Friend Connect and Facebook App as options) was merely an quick and easy way to discover I don’t know a single one of those 1,900,000 members. The site seems to be reasonably well designed though and I think it would be a lot of fun if I knew some people on the service.  One feature I liked in particular was the ability to customize the “book links” that appear below each book.  In addition to standard Amazon, and, I saw you could add links for the Toronto Public Library search, and added my own for the Ottawa Public Library.

So, take 2. I’m casting out this post into the murky social-netwaters to find out who of you are avid readers, how you find and share good books online, and what the hell you think I should read.  Add comments below, email me, or if you don’t already have an online service to manage your virtual book shelves give Goodreads a try and add me as a friend so I can list something more than the Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings books on my profile.

NFB Archive Pick #2

March 15th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

The Canadian National Film Board recently made over 700 films available for streaming over the Internet. Not only are they available online, but they’re also available for sharing on various social networking sites as well as for embedding wherever you want. So I present to you my second NFB pick:

A little known fact: This film made up approximately 90% of the french immersion curriculum when I was growing up.

NFB Archive Pick #1

January 26th, 2009 at 2:30 pm

The Canadian National Film Board recently made over 700 films available for streaming over the Internet.

Classics such as Mon Oncle Antoine and Nobody Waved Goodbye are free for online screening, along with pioneering animation by Norman McLaren and animated films such as The Big Snit and The Cat Came Back.

A group of filmmakers and curators chose the first films to be made available from among the 15,000 productions made by the NFB, said Deborah Drisdell, director of strategic planning. []

Not only are they available online, but they’re also available for sharing on various social networking sites as well as for embedding wherever you want.  So I present to you, probably my most favourite NFB film of all time, The Log Driver’s Waltz:

You can read more the whole process, and whats been added each week, over at the NFB Blog.

The Twitter Divide

January 18th, 2009 at 11:17 am

Twitter LogoI use Twitter. I enjoy using Twitter.  I created a Twitter account because it was constantly being discussed and dissected on several podcasts to which I am subscribed (I’m looking at you This Week In Tech).  I’ve noticed, though, that my Twitter experience differs from both the experiences discussed on these shows, and what I can observe following various people.

The differentiating factor appears to be notoriety.  Twitterers who have some level of notoriety, often due to some level of fame (even in a niche community like some podcasts) have a much easier time gaining followers on the service.  The more followers you obtain the more the service changes from a micro-blog to a social experience.

The stories that intrigued me the most about Twitter were about instant-gatherings (where one Twitterer might post “I’m going to such-and-such a place, anyone else want to go?”), or the ability to get responses to questions almost instantaneously (John Hodgman, @hodgman, often throws questions out to what he has come to refer as the “Hive Mind“). These experiences simply aren’t possible without a high number of followers, and often even more than that, a high number of followers within geographic proximity (for questions like “Where’s the best X in Y“).

My approach to following people on Twitter is to be selective rather than promiscuous. I don’t want to just blindly follow every user I find in the hopes of getting a follow-back from the user and increasing the number of followers I have. I only want to follow the tweets of people of which I have some common interest. Furthermore, very very few people I know in person or at work use the service (less than 5 people so far). So for me, of little notoriety, my rate of follower count increase will be quite low.

All this being said, I return to my second statement: I enjoy using Twitter. Its just that what I’m getting out of Twitter doesn’t match what some of it’s biggest proponents describe.


Blogpod Touch

January 18th, 2009 at 1:08 am

Wordpress for iPhoneJust got the WordPress app installed and configured on my iPod Touch.

Does this mean I will write more? Unlikely. While I’ve gotten quite good at typing on the touch, this hardly feels like the right interface for long-form posting.

FYI – getting good typing on the touch basically means relying on Apple’s auto-correction system, ignoring the urge to make sure you’ve types each character properly, and just plowing through.