Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Torontoist Article Update: Delta-Spirit-Salvation Edition

The Salvation Army Jeffrey CameronJeffrey Cameron, Community and Family Services Worker st The Salvation Army York Community Church.

Here's a few Torontoist articles I've put together over the last few weeks.

The Delta Chelsea, Miles From Accurate!
I went down to Yonge-Dundas Square to see if an image of the Delta Chelsea, which appeared in an ad, could actually be reproduced. At the southeast side of the square you can sorta see the Delta Chelsea's logo, but it's hardly the towering monolith that's depicted in the ad.

The Leafs Trade Your Spirit For Cash
All the spirit in the world can't make up for the Leafs suckage.

A Morning with the Salvation Army's Foot Soldiers
I stick by what I said earlier; Torontoist articles are a lot more fun to go out and do if you have someone with you.

Photo by Nick Kozak.

> Continue Reading: Torontoist Article Update: Delta-Spirit-Salvation Edition

Thursday, December 24, 2009

China's Population is Aging


Just like the West, China's is population is rapidly aging. Since China instituted its one child only policy in 1979, its dependency ratio—the proportion of people in the labour force versus their dependents—has been on the rise. To keep its high economic growth rate, which has been partially fueled by its youthful labour force, the Chinese government may have to repeal, or at least loosen, its one child only policy.

From The Economist.

> Continue Reading: China's Population is Aging

Adsense Experiment Update

Canadian Money
Since I activated Adsense on November 16, 2009 I have earned a whopping $26.74 (approximately $0.69 a day—about $0.68 higher from my average earnings in mid-November). So if things stay the way they are, I should earn my first hundred dollars by mid-April. Sweetness! And I'll I've had to do is plaster my site with ugly-ass ads.

Here are the articles that have earned me the most money so far:
  1. How Much Does it Cost To Operate Air Force One: $2.45
  2. New Super Mario Bros. Wii Super Skills: $1.79
  3. La Veranda Osteria Wants Its Patio License: $1.04
  4. How Much Does it Cost To Operate the White House: $0.61
  5. Sarah Palin's Lies: $0.56
For my next experiment perhaps I'll try Amazon’s affiliate program, as Andrew Louis at hyfen.net seems to be raking in the bling with it.

Photo by coaxeus.

> Continue Reading: Adsense Experiment Update

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hewlett Packard's Webcams Are Racist



Here's what HP had to say:
Some of you may have seen or heard of a YouTube video in which the facial-tracking software didn’t work for a customer. We thank Desi, and the people who have seen and commented on his video, for bringing this subject to our attention.

We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting.
Via MightyGodking.

> Continue Reading: Hewlett Packard's Webcams Are Racist

Friday, December 18, 2009

Torontoist's Villains of 2009 is Up!

Bell Rogers and Telus are a fucking evil cloudBell, Rogers, and Telus are a cloud of pure fucking evil!

Yesterday, Torontoist published it's villains list as part of its annual roundup of Toronto's heroes and villains (here are the heroes).

I wanted my hero and villain to compliment each other, so I chose Jesse Brown, the host of TVO's Search Engine and an outspoken critic of the telecoms excesses, as my hero, and Bell, Rogers, and Telus as my villain, because, well, they just suck.

Illustration by Roxanne Ignatius.

> Continue Reading: Torontoist's Villains of 2009 is Up!

The Netherlands and Canada Host the Most BitTorent Sites, But What Does it Mean?

The Internet is a series of pipes
According to Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor and outspoken net neutrality advocate, it doesn't mean a thing.

This week, Barry Sookman, a CRIA lobbyist, examined TorrentFreak's list of the top ten most popular English-language torrent sites, and found that Canada hosts the most "unauthorized" BitTorrent sites, with 25% of the sites hosted or registered in Canada.

But as Geist points out, Sookman's analysis is faulty, as he's only looking at English-language sites while cherry picking both hosting and registration data to make Canada look like the leading den of copyright infringement, when the Netherlands is actually home to the most BitTorrent sites.

Here's Geist's list of the countries with the most BitTorrent sites.
  1. Netherlands (Mininova, Torrent Reactor, SumoTorrent, TorrentPump, Zoozle, SandPeer, Search-Torrent)
  2. Canada (Torrentz, isoHunt, Monova, BTMon, Fenopy, TorrentZap)
  3. Sweden (Pirate Bay, BTJunkie, EZTV.It, Torrent Hound)
  4. United States (Vertor, TorrentPortal, YourBittorent)
  5. Czech Republic (TorrentDownloads.net, AliveTorrents)
  6. Ukraine (ExtraTorrent, Demonoid)
  7. France (KickAssTorrents)
Sookman concludes that Canada's high ranking is due to its lax copyright laws. But ultimately, this list doesn't prove a thing. The United States has strong copyright laws, but that hasn't prevented the three sites there from setting up shop. Even if Canada does adopt stronger copyright laws a la Bill C-61, BitTorrent sites will continue to thrive and multiply.

Photo by eirikso.

> Continue Reading: The Netherlands and Canada Host the Most BitTorent Sites, But What Does it Mean?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The New New Gen Sushi

New Generation Sushi Renovations
Wow, it looks almost exactly like the old New Gen. I guess they didn't really alter the sushi bar after all.

Photo by Stephen. M.

> Continue Reading: The New New Gen Sushi

Torontoist's Heroes of 2009 is Up!

Jesse Brown Search Engine TVOAn illustration of Jesse Brown.

Torontoist just published it's heroes list as part of its annual roundup of Toronto's heroes and villains. There are twenty-four entries in total, including my article on Jesse Brown (the host of TVO's Search Engine).

Next week, readers will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite heroes and villains in a round-robin, royal-rumble-extraordinaire.

Tomorrow: the villains!

Illustration by Sasha Plotnikova.

> Continue Reading: Torontoist's Heroes of 2009 is Up!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2010 Olympic Torch Relay Route

2010 Olympic Torch Relay Map Canada
It looks like a three-year-old planned the Olympic Torch's trek across Canada. Or maybe the organizers took a few too many hits of the spliff shaped torch.

From the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay map.

> Continue Reading: 2010 Olympic Torch Relay Route

The Olympic Torch Relay's Route Around Toronto

Map Olympic Torch Relay Toronto
What a strange and illogical route. And how come Montreal gets so many more stops than we do?

The Olympic Torch will enter Toronto on December 17, 2009.

Here's the schedule from the City of Toronto's website.

December 17, 2009: Torch enters Toronto at Yonge Street and Steeles Avenue at 1:52 p.m. and arrives at City Hall at 7:00 p.m.

December 18, 2009: The relay starts at Queen's Park at 6:00 a.m. and snakes its way through downtown Toronto until it reaches the DVP at 8:48 a.m.

December 19, 2009: The torch starts at the Etobicoke Olympium at 10:19 a.m. and continues into Mississauga at 10:37 a.m.

Here are two maps from the City of Toronto's website outlining the torch's route.

2010 Toronto Olympic Torch Relay Route MapClick to enlarge.

2010 Toronto Olympic Torch Relay Route Map
From 2010 Olympic Torch interactive relay map and the City of Toronto.

> Continue Reading: The Olympic Torch Relay's Route Around Toronto

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fuck You Joe Lieberman

Fuck You Joe Lieberman
Although they can't say it in public, I'm sure that's what most of the Democratic Party is whispering tonight.

This was the man they chose as their Vice Presidential candidate in 2000. Who then turned on them to support George W. Bush's reelection in 2004 and McCain's Presidential candidacy in 2008.

For most of his legislative career, Lieberman has supported health care reform and expanding Medicare. But there are bigger things at stake here than the well-being of an entire nation. Lieberman was slighted by the liberal side of Democratic Party in 2006, when he lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut to Ned Lamont, and now they have to pay.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Lieberman's change of heart has something to do with that sweet sweet Connecticut health insurance lobby money he's grown accustomed to. Or maybe he's planning to run as Republican in 2012.

Frankly, I'm surprised that Wikipedia hasn't had to lock Lieberman's profile to keep out angry democratic vandals.

Photo by Daniella Zalcman.

> Continue Reading: Fuck You Joe Lieberman

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How We Consume Information

Hourly Information Consumption

The Evolution of Reading
HMI has an interesting report [PDF] out this week on how we consume information and how our sources of information have changed. Clearly, the big losers here are print and radio, and the big winners are computers and phones. Though I'm surprised that television and radio are still such dominate sources of information.

Image by HMI. Via Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish and Reuters.

> Continue Reading: How We Consume Information

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama's Unemployment Problem

The animation above was created by labour writer LaToya Egwuekwe, using the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau's statistics. As of October 2009 (the most up-to-date statistics) more than thirty-one million Americans are unemployed.

Although health care and Afghanistan are vexing issues, Obama's biggest problem—at least for the upcoming mid-term elections—is unemployment.

Obama knows this, which is why on Tuesday, in a speech at the Brookings Institution, he proposed a series of job growth initiatives aimed at encouraging hiring, including tax cuts for small businesses, opening up new lines of credit, using some of the leftover TARP to help small businesses, and infrastructure and clean energy projects.

"Small business, infrastructure, clean energy: these are areas in which we can put Americans to work while putting our nation on a sturdier economic footing," Obama explained. "These have been a tough two years, and there will no doubt be difficult months ahead. But the storms of the past are receding. The skies are brightening."

Obama has a tough road ahead. Although the economy is showing signs of improvement (last month companies only shed 11,000 payroll jobs), a full recovery is still a long way off.

Most official reports peg unemployment in the U.S. somewhere at 10%, but the real figure—when you take into account the people who have stopped searching for work and the underemployed—is probably around 18%.

Now there's just one question: with America's manufacturing sector practically annihilated and middle-class white collar jobs almost extinct, where are these new jobs going to come from?

Video by LaToya Egwuekwe (via Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish).

> Continue Reading: Obama's Unemployment Problem

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New Generation Sushi's Renovations

New Generation Sushi RenovationsNew Gen's under renovation.

New Gen (New Generation Sushi), a popular (and cheap) sushi eatery on Bloor Street West, has been closed since November 8, 2009, after one of the restaurant's chefs stabbed another in a minor dispute.

I peeked into the restaurant today, and it looks like New Gen is undergoing a complete makeover. The sushi bar at the front of the restaurant also looks like it's being altered. (If that is the bar. It might be a workbench.)

In the meantime, if you're looking for a New Gen fix, New Generations Grill Fusion is across the street, and it has the same menu and prices.

Photo by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: New Generation Sushi's Renovations

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Stop Motion Video of Yonge Street



This week for Torontoist, I interviewed Ismail Atiev about his amazing stop motion video of Yonge Street.

It took fourteen hours to capture the photos necessary for this video. Atiev and his friend, D.J. Tataev, stayed ten metres apart for the duration of the trip, and turned to take each others' photos every thirty steps or so.

The two walked forty-two kilometres from Yonge and Wellington Streets in Aurora to the beginning of Yonge Street at Queens Quay in Toronto.

Video by Ismail Atiev.

> Continue Reading: Stop Motion Video of Yonge Street

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Probability of a White Christmas in Toronto (and Across Canada)

TTC Streetcar Snow Toronto
According to the table below, which was put together by Environment Canada, Toronto has a 57% of having a white Christmas, and only a 13% of having a perfect Christmas (snow on the ground and in the air).

In comparison, Ottawa has an 83% chance, Calgary has a 59% chance, and Vancouver only has a 11% chance.

Locations

Probability of A White Christmas

(At least two centimetres of snow on the ground)

Greatest Snowfall on Christmas Day

(centimetres)

Probability of a Perfect Christmas

(Snow in the air and at least two centimetres of snow on the ground)

St. John's

65%

20.3 cm in 1955

24%

Goose Bay

100%

27.6 cm in 1984

30%

Charlottetown

87%

19.3 cm in 1970

48%

Halifax

59%

17.7 cm in 2000

24%

Fredericton

85%

23.0 cm in 1997

30%

Moncton

74%

21.8 cm in 1970

39%

Saint John

65%

27.9 cm in 1961

33%

Quebec City

100%

20.4 cm in 1978

50%

Montreal

80%

32.8 cm in 1966

25%

Val d'Or

100%

14.2 cm in 1989

48%

Toronto

57%

10.4 cm in 1951

13%

Ottawa

83%

20.2 cm in 1978

35%

Sudbury

96%

17.8 cm in 1992

46%

Timmins

100%

17.0 cm in 1973

52%

London

74%

14.2 cm in 1951

33%

Kitchener

74%

8.6 cm in 1978

35%

Hamilton

68%

7.6 cm in 1965 & 1978

26%

Windsor

41%

9.9 cm in 1944

4%

Sault Ste. Marie

93%

24.6 cm in 1992

70%

Thunder Bay

100%

12.4 cm in 1969

34%

Winnipeg

98%

9.4 cm in 1938

11%

Brandon

93%

18.0 cm in 1942

15%

Regina

91%

8.1 cm in 1975

24%

Saskatoon

98%

7.6 cm in 1922

22%

Calgary

59%

10.2 cm in 1923

4%

Edmonton

88%

4.1 cm in 1961

20%

Kelowna

69%

12.2 cm in 1976

22%

Vancouver

11%

17.5 cm in 1971

4%

Victoria

11%

9.1 cm in 1971

7%

Prince Rupert

13%

4.6 cm in 1974

5%

Whitehorse

100%

27.0 cm in 1980

27%

Yellowknife

100%

4.3 cm in 1956 & 1970

27%

Iqaluit

100%

10.4 cm in 1964

21%

Alert

100%

3.6 cm in 1984

9%


Photo by Tom Purves. The weather prediction table comes from Environment Canada.

> Continue Reading: The Probability of a White Christmas in Toronto (and Across Canada)

Tusker Beer, Kenya's Finest

Tusker Kenya BeerA souvenir from my sister's trip to Kenya.

Tusker, which is brewed by East African Breweries, is the most popular beer in Kenya. It was first marketed in 1923, and named after the elephant that killed Kenya Breweries Ltd's founder, George Hurst, while on safari.

That has to be the best origin story I've ever heard for a beer.

Tusker Kenya BeerThe back of the can.

The text on the back of the can even celebrates the story of its founder's demise.

Now, there's something else that's a little odd here. Why is Tusker, Kenya's most popular beer, brewed in Ireland under the supervision of Kenyans?

Outsourcing production to a country with lower wages is a typical practice in every industry, including beer. Carlsberg, for instance, is now brewed in Turkey under the supervision of Danes. But this one seems a little backwards. Wouldn't it be cheaper to produce Tusker in Kenya?

Then again, perhaps Kenya just doesn't have the infrastructure or the expertise to operate a large scale brewery.

Photos by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: Tusker Beer, Kenya's Finest

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Dubailand

DubailandDubailand is an entertainment and commercial real estate complex currently under construction in Dubai. It's slated for completion in 2020, but who knows if it'll be finished now.

A fantastic photo essay on Dubai's unbridled materialism by the New York Times's Lauren Greenfield.

"I call the story an improbable fairy tale," Greenfield said. "Anything that could be fantasized could be built. It really was the land of opportunity. It’s more Las Vegas than Las Vegas."

Photo by Lauren Greenfield. See the entire photo essay here.

> Continue Reading: Dubailand

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Pixelator



This is a pretty sweet art hack. Photos of the Pixelator in action are available here.

Video by Jason Eppink.

> Continue Reading: The Pixelator

The 2010 Olympic Torch Relay is on it's Way to Vancouver

Olympics 2010 Torch RelayThe Olympic Torch is lit inside a bus outside of Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

Boston.com's The Big Picture has an excellent photo essay up this week about about the Olympic Torch's journey across Canada. At the moment, the flame is about a third of the way through its a hundred-and-six day, 26,000 km relay. On its journey, the torch will pass through twelve thousand hands and more than a thousand communities before it reaches its final destination in Vancouver.

Although the photos in this essay are fantastic, in many ways, I feel like I've seen this all before. The Olympic Flame has already been carried through almost every environment in every gimmicky way imaginable, which unfortunately dulls each progressive journey.

From Boston.com

> Continue Reading: The 2010 Olympic Torch Relay is on it's Way to Vancouver

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Christmas Card From SaveOurNet.ca For Tony Clement

Tony Clement SaveOurNet
From SaveOurNet.ca:
Sign the card through Twitter.
Sign the card through Facebook.
Sign it on our site: http://saveournet.ca/card

AND, thousands of people have already told Tony Clement to stop Big Telecom companies from taking control of our Internet use. Considering we've successfully pushed the CRTC to develop open Internet guidelines and convinced the two major political parties to support Net Neutrality, we can win this if we send Clement enough letters. If you haven't already done so, please take a few seconds to send Clement a letter.
Image from SaveOurNet.ca

> Continue Reading: A Christmas Card From SaveOurNet.ca For Tony Clement

Canada Post's Letters to Santa Program

Creepy Toronto Star Reporter Talks With KidsA Toronto Star reporter interrogates several kids over the content of their letters to Santa.

My article about Canada Post's Toronto launch of its letters to Santa program is now up on Torontoist.

Although I had a good time at the event, which was held at the Learning Enrichment Foundation in Weston, at times I felt like I was exploiting the kids for their journalistic value; especially after half of Toronto's media establishment showed up.

Whenever I cover a story, I try to let things flow naturally, especially if I'm taking photos. However, most of my colleagues had absolutely no qualms about staging shots, or having kids rewrite their letters so they could get some good photos. While I don't usually mind when this kind of thing is done with adults, it was gross to see the kids shuffled around, and I felt bad that I was a part of it.

Photo by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: Canada Post's Letters to Santa Program

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Do Construction Workers Have The Right To Stop Traffic?

Construction Worker Stop Sign
Yes.

This week for Torontoist, I answered this question for Ask Torontoist, a column where site staff answer readers' questions.

In Ontario, construction workers can direct one lane of traffic in the same direction if they have the required training; are competent; have the proper safety equipment; and are not preforming another task while directing vehicular traffic. Police officers are only required when traffic signals are disrupted; when pedestrians and vehicles cross the same space; or when someone has to direct multiple lanes of traffic, or traffic in different directions.

Photo by Dom Cruz.

> Continue Reading: Do Construction Workers Have The Right To Stop Traffic?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Progress Bar Traffic Light

Progress Bar Traffic Light
The Ecological and Economical Traffic Light Concept is one of the winners of this year's Red Dot Design 2009 Award.

"There might already be quite some traffic light time counters around today, but few focus on informing the car drivers in a physically integrative and visually glanceable way like this proposed design concept."

Very cool. Now I won't have to crane my neck to see the pedestrian signal's countdown. You can read more about it here.

From Information Aesthetics.

> Continue Reading: The Progress Bar Traffic Light