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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bob-omb Pumpkin

bob-omb pumpkin
A pumpkin designed to look like a bob-omb from Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. series. I think this beats my Flash pumpkin.

From Reddit.

> Continue Reading: Bob-omb Pumpkin

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keep The Internet Open



Here's a video from free-form.tv about the importance of keeping the internet open to everyone.

Ed Felton, Computer Scientist, Princeton University:
Companies like Google, eBay, and Yahoo, all started as just a few people with a great idea in an apartment, a garage, or a trailer, and grew up to what they are today from that start. What we risk losing is the next generation, because they'll need someone's permision.
Originally spotted at SaveOurNet.ca

> Continue Reading: Keep The Internet Open

University Avenue Armories Mashup

Armories University Avenue
This is probably the best historic image remix that I've seen to date on Toronto Before.

The castle-like building in this image is the Toronto Armories. The building was constructed in 1894 and was designed by architect Thomas Fuller. It served as a training centre for Canadian soldiers until the 1960s, when it was torn down to make room for the hideous Provincial Court House.

Image from Toronto Before.

> Continue Reading: University Avenue Armories Mashup

The Fall of the Newspaper Industry

Chart Newspaper Circulation

It's a bad time to be a journalist.

From Andrew Sullivan's blog.

> Continue Reading: The Fall of the Newspaper Industry

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Clockwords is Super-Duper Addictive

Clockwords

I never thought I'd write an article praising a game presented by Dictionary.com, but here it goes. Clockwords is a fantastic, if slightly bizarre game, that satisfyingly mixes addictive wordplay with a kick-ass steam punk-style atmosphere.

The game takes place in Victorian London, where you play as an inventor who has just built a strange contraption that runs on words (yes, words). As you start to test out your new invention, your lab is attacked by mechanical spiders that are out to steal the secret plans that are locked away in your vault. To defend against the spiders, you have to arm your invention's cannon with the power of language.

clockwords
Type in any word you can think of, and your cannon will fire its letters at the mechanical spiders. (Note: The game doesn't except swears like shit, bitch, etc...) At the bottom of the screen, you have several chambers that fill with letters. You can enter whatever words you want into the machine, but only the letters in the chamber actually deal any damage. As you progress to different levels, you can collect new, more powerful letters, and combine different letters in the transmutation chamber to form letters that do more damage.

clockwords
The name of the game is speed. Never hesitate. Just keep pumping out words as fast as you can think them up. A word can only be used once a level, so you'll have to keep thinking up new words. While this may not seem like much of a restriction, it makes the game more challenging, especially if you get hung up on using the same words over and over again.

Gabob has done a great job with Clockwords. The game play is simple, but fun, the artwork is stylish, and the music is downright awesome. According to Clockwork's website, the game's next act is just around the corner. Hopefully, it's just as riveting.

Screenshot from Clockwords.

> Continue Reading: Clockwords is Super-Duper Addictive

What The Internet Might Look Like If The Telecoms Manage to Kill Net Neutrality

If Neutrality Fails
As Gizmodo notes, this is "alarmist, over-the-top pro-net-neutrality propaganda." But it's not that unrealistic. This is how we pay for cable television right now—just substitute website packages for channel packages.

Spotted on Reddit.

> Continue Reading: What The Internet Might Look Like If The Telecoms Manage to Kill Net Neutrality

How to Watch The Daily Show and Other Comedy Central Programs in Canada

Comedy Network Video Player
Say goodbye forever to this awful site.

The Comedy Network's video player is quite possible the worst piece of online junk ever created. If you're Canadian and you're sick of using it to get your Daily Show fix, then I highly recommend the following solution. (For Firefox users only.)
For Canadian viewers, if you are using Firefox, install the following addon.

Then:
1) In Firefox, Go to tools->modify headers.
2) From the drop down box on the left select add.
3) Then enter: "X-Forwarded-For" in the first input box without the quotation marks
4) Enter: "12.13.14.15" in the second input box without the quotation marks.
5) Leave the last input box empty, and save the filter, and enable it. Example.
6) Click the 'Configuration' tab on the right then proceed to check the 'always on' button.

Close the Modify Headers box and it should work.
From Reddit.

> Continue Reading: How to Watch The Daily Show and Other Comedy Central Programs in Canada

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Carved in a Flash

Halloween Pumpkin Flash Logo Night
Night

Halloween Pumpkin Flash Logo
Day

This year, in continuation of my tradition of creating superhero themed pumpkins, I carved a pumpkin with Flash’s logo. I’m not really a fan of the Flash, but his logo seemed a lot easier than Superman’s. This was also the first time I've ever attempted to carve a layered design. I think it turned out okay.

Photo by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: Carved in a Flash

The Google Conspiracy

Google Street View Toronto Missing Areas

This week for Torontoist, I took a look at the Toronto neighbourhoods that Google Street View hasn't mapped yet. Google says it plans to fill in the omitted areas as soon as possible, but I think they're lying, and that this is all a giant government cover-up. With its programs in our computers, its satellites in the sky, and its cars and trikes on the ground, Google's constantly swerving eyes are always on top of us. I think it's time to invest in more tinfoil.

Lame aside: Google's eyes are constantly swerving, because it has googly eyes.

Image from Torontoist.com

> Continue Reading: The Google Conspiracy

Monday, October 26, 2009

World Map of Railways

World Map Railways
Click to enlarge.

The railway networks in India, Argentina, and parts of Africa betray their former relationships with the British Empire. In fact, you can tell which African countries were British colonies by the number of railways.

From New Scientist.

> Continue Reading: World Map of Railways

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mildly Creepy TTC Ad Wants You to Spy on Other Passengers

TTC spies

The message itself is fine; I just find the band of eyes a little creepy. It feels like I'm the criminal, and they're watching me.

Photo by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: Mildly Creepy TTC Ad Wants You to Spy on Other Passengers

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Cars Now Sold in China Than the US

Car Sales US China

In January 2009, China's monthly automobile sales figures surpassed US figures. According to CEIC, the data firm that released these figures, "the China auto market is enjoying the sort of golden age experienced by US automakers in the post-war period where millions of consumers are buying their first car as they aspire to a middle-class lifestyle. On the other hand, in the saturated US market, consumer attitudes towards cars have been shifting towards “frugalism” as recession and environment concerns hit across a wide range of consumers."

At this rate, it probably won't be long until China manufactures more cars too.

From The Economist.

> Continue Reading: More Cars Now Sold in China Than the US

Languages of Europe

Languages of Europe

This map is obviously grossly inaccurate, as it ignores bilingual regions and inflates the pervasiveness of certain regional dialects. For instance, although some people in Brittany speak Breton, French is the dominant language. But as a quick illustration of how languages in Europe rarely correspond with national borders, this map is still quite useful.

Originally spotted at neatorama.com

> Continue Reading: Languages of Europe

I Can Eat Planets





Which one is the fake?

> Continue Reading: I Can Eat Planets

Friday, October 23, 2009

Global Warming is Going to be Awesome for Canada



The fictional Canadian Tourism Federation takes on Canada's growing carbon emissions with a little sarcasm.

Spotted at Copyranter.

> Continue Reading: Global Warming is Going to be Awesome for Canada

Why Dinosaurs are Extinct



Cute.

Originally spotted at certified bullshit technician.

> Continue Reading: Why Dinosaurs are Extinct

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Strip Club Favours Diversity?

Haven on the Queensway

Since I can remember, 1533 The Queensway—that dark, windowless building west of Ikea—has been a strip club. Last year, when the building changed from the Casino Adult Lounge to Haven on the Queensway, I just assumed it was the same old place under new management. But apparently, it’s now a Christian outreach centre run by Queensway Cathedral (the church across the street).

What finally tipped me off today when I was riding the Queensway bus home was the building’s new diversity mural. "Why," I asked myself, "would a strip club have diversity mural?" Of course, my hopes that an adult establishment had embraced diversity were dashed by a Google search that indicated the building’s change in ownership.

But seriously Haven, put some more windows in and get rid of the black vinyl awning: the building still screams "adults only."

Image from Google Street View.

> Continue Reading: Strip Club Favours Diversity?

PBS Frontline: War by Remote


A short video from PBS Frontline about the Air Force personal in Nevada who fly unmanned predator drones in Afghanistan and Iraq and how they struggle with combat detachment.

From PBS Frontline.

> Continue Reading: PBS Frontline: War by Remote

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Hour Has 22 Minutes Parodies the Music Industry's Stance on Copyright Reform



This clip isn't hilarious, but it gets the message right. The Canadian music industry's arguments about file-sharing are the same as the ones that were made about tapes, VCRs, and photocopiers. File-sharing isn't going to destroy the music industry. It might change it by eliminating some of the more bloated players, but music will live on.

Spotted at Michael Geist's blog.

> Continue Reading: This Hour Has 22 Minutes Parodies the Music Industry's Stance on Copyright Reform

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jr. Jays Magazine

Jr Jays Magazine Cover
The cover of Jr. Jays Magazine, Fall 1997.

Thanks to Ed Conroy, the publisher of the The Magazine, a monthly magazine for kids, and former Jr. Jays writer, I was able take a look back at Jr. Jays Magazine this week for Torontoist.

CPG (Community Programs Group), The Magazine's parent company, published Jr. Jays from 1993 to 1998, and continued running the comic as a side feature in The Magazine until 2000. They also published the anti-drug themed Canadian Spider-Man comics that ran in the late-80s and early-90s.

You can check out my full article here. Or you can check out more images with snarky comments after the break.

Spider-Man in Winnipeg
Spider-Man in Winnipeg? It happened.

Spider-Man Expos
MLB contracts the Green Goblin to take out the Montreal Expos.

JR Jays Magazine BJ Birdie
JR Jays Magazine BJ Birdie
BJ Birdie gets kidnapped by Dr. Jay's evil doppelganger, the Green Nemesis.

Images courtesy of Ed Conroy.

> Continue Reading: Jr. Jays Magazine

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This American Life Takes on Health Care

Stethoscope

If you're looking for an entertaining way to learn more about the specifics of the ongoing health care debate in the US, then I highly recommend This American Life's two part series on what's wrong with the American health care system. The first episode, "More is Less," deals with why costs keeps rising, and the second episode, "Someone Else's Money," deals with the dark side of the health insurance industry.

Be warned, these episodes, though enjoyable, are a tad depressing. If you follow the programs' conclusions to their logical endpoint, then human nature is really at the core of the problem, and only a massive overhaul of the system and its incentives—something the US lacks the will to do—can ever hope to fix it.

Image by a.drian.

> Continue Reading: This American Life Takes on Health Care

The Money Spent and Lives Lost in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Graph Deaths Afghanistan and Iraq

Obama will soon have to make a decision on how the US should proceed in Afghanistan. On the one hand, he can pull out and concentrate on counter-terrorist measures, as Joe Biden is advocating, or on the other, commit more troops and prepare for the long-haul, as General Stanley McChrystal argues. (There are other options available, including dozens of middle of the road alternatives, but these two plans represent the most public strategies.)

Obama should follow Biden's advice. The US invaded Afghanistan eight years ago to close down an important terrorist haven, and now it's closed; according to US military officials, Al Qaeda doesn't operate out of Afghanistan anymore. Of course, if the Taliban is left unchecked, Al Qaeda could always come back. And there's also the threat that the Taliban could distablize a nuclear armed Pakistan.

The US needs to find a way to keep the Taliban in check by stripping away its least ideologically intransigent elements and by balancing what's left against the other regional powers and warlords.

Chart from The Economist.

> Continue Reading: The Money Spent and Lives Lost in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Best. Logo. Ever.

Norfolk Admirals Logo

On Saturday, I attended a Toronto Marlies game at Ricoh Coloseum. The game was a lot of fun, but in typical Toronto fashion the Marlies managed to blow a 3-0 lead against the Rochester Americans in the third period, and then lost in overtime during their own power play! Final score: 4-3 Rochester. Why do Toronto sports teams suck so much?

After the game, I was checking out some of the other teams in the AHL (American Hockey League), and I stumbled upon the Norfolk Admirals. Damn, that's a sweet logo: it's a fucking battleship firing hockey pucks!

Image from downtownnorfolk.org.

> Continue Reading: Best. Logo. Ever.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Auto Tune The News #9: Smell The Hope



Chavez's air guitar is pretty sweet, but it doesn't compare with John Boehner's lyrical noes from episode six.

> Continue Reading: Auto Tune The News #9: Smell The Hope

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stephen Harper is the World's 61st Hottest Head of State

Stephen Harper Hottest Heads of State

Okay, even if Stephen Harper isn't actually Canada's head of state, his profile at the Hottest Heads of State is still pretty funny. According to his profile, our Prime Minister is a virgin who's obsessed with his mom and his cat, Scratches. He also dislikes Quebecois separatists.

Not surprisingly, Yulia Tymoshenko is ranked first.

Image from the Hottest Heads of State.

> Continue Reading: Stephen Harper is the World's 61st Hottest Head of State

The Globe and Mail Gets Pwned by Contra haXX0rz

Globe and Mail Contra Hack

It looks like the Globe and Mail has fallen prey to the same internet prank that burned ESPN.com several months ago.

If you go to Globeandmail.com, wait for the site to finish loading, and then type in the famous Konami code from the Contra series, the background will be replaced with an animated image from Contra III.

Here's the code:

Konami Code

After you enter the code, you'll be prompted by a message that says, "w00t! Press Shift+Space for haXX0rz." Press enter to contiune, then shift-space, then type in "contra," and press enter again.

Although cool, this is hack isn't unique to the Globe. Here's a list of sites where the code also works.

Screenshot from the Globe and Mail. Spotted on Reddit.

> Continue Reading: The Globe and Mail Gets Pwned by Contra haXX0rz

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Liberals Sink in the Polls

Polls Liberals Sink 2009

Polls Liberals Sink 2009

Despite what the pundits say, these polls probably reflect Canadians' desire for a stable Federal Government more so than their feelings about the parties or their leaders.

Still, things aren't looking good for poor Iggy.

From the Globe and Mail.

> Continue Reading: Liberals Sink in the Polls

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Live From Downtown Toronto, It's Nuit Blanche

Torontoist Blanche Slate
Torontoist's Blanche Slate, on the south wall of the AGO. Damn OCAD fog machine, how dare you ruin my picture. Oh well, it wasn't my best update of the night anyway.

On Saturday night, I lost my live-blogging and Nuit Blanche virginities to Torontoist. As part of the site's coverage of the event, I went around to different art installations and emailed my thoughts (mostly jokes) via iPhone to David Topping, the site's editor, who then posted them online and projected them onto a wall on the south side of the AGO (see above).

Nuit Blanche Toronto Text City Hall
Oh snap! You just got pwned giant four letter text thing.

Even though it was a tad cold and some of the exhibits were a little too spread out, the event was a lot of fun. In the words of one random, possibly high spectator: "It's great to see Toronto experience a little anarchy. It's like we're Montreal or something." The only thing that really soured my experience was the TTC's dismal west-end service. (Ossington bus, you're on notice!)

Top photo by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: Live From Downtown Toronto, It's Nuit Blanche

Friday, October 02, 2009

Torontoist's Nuit Blanche Coverage (2009)

Nuit Blanche 2008 Toronto
A light installation at Nathan Philips Square during Nuit Blanche 2008.

Torontoist's Nuit Blanche 2009 Guide is up, with a few blurbs written by yours truly (note the excessive use of throwaway gags). The event, which is a giant, free city-wide art show, takes place from sunset on October 3 to sunrise the next morning. On the night of, I’ll be helping Torontoist live blog the event, which should be interesting, as a) I’ve never been to Nuit Blanche before, b) I’ve never live blogged anything before, and c) Torontoist will be projecting its updates onto one of the walls of the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).

Right now, The Weather Network is calling for showers all night long. Hopefully the forecast improves.

Photo by bensonkua.

> Continue Reading: Torontoist's Nuit Blanche Coverage (2009)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

China's Super Sweet 60

China's 60th Anniversary

Somebody's overcompensating for something...or not.

From Boston.com's Big Picture blog.

> Continue Reading: China's Super Sweet 60

Canada's Broadband Sucks

Chart Top 20 Countries Broadband

A new study released by research teams at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford indicates that Canada's broadband service is lagging behind. [PDF] Here's how we ranked:
  • 17th for broadband leadership (which combines speed and access)
  • 30th for broadband quality (down from 26th in 2008)
  • 30th for download speeds
  • 31st for upload speeds
  • 25th for broadband quality as measured by stage of economic development
The study also indicates that broadband services in Toronto are just barely meeting the needs of today's applications. In the study, Toronto ranked 82nd in terms of quality. In comparison, Vancouver ranked 46th.

Originally spotted on Michael Geist's blog.

> Continue Reading: Canada's Broadband Sucks