I Feel Pretty. Oh. So. Pretty.

Photo credit: Mike Parker, 2015

Photo credit: Mike Parker, 2015

Where to start?

My friend Laurie lives in an artist’s co-op, and every once in a while she puts together these shows in their gallery space. It was at one of these I met Mike Parker, who went to the same high school as Laurie and I.

OK, got all that?

So I reach out to Mike on Facebook, and every now and again he puts something up, and I put something up. It seems we have similar political views.

Years go by.

Then, in August, he puts up this pretty cool pic, of a girl, nude, in a cardboard box.

She had braided hair, and you could see a couple of tattoos on her forearms. (I only mention the braids for layout purposes. 🙂 )

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What’s Been Happening – Feb 2015 Edition

TorStarSendOff-1024For the past 15 months I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of working at an institution I respect enormously: The Toronto Star. My job was to support the toronto.com property, where hard working editors constantly maintain an up to date list of things to do, attractions, restaurants and events such as concerts and plays, in our wonderful city.

And along the way, I got to work with an awesome team of software professionals, tasked with supporting, maintaining and enhancing the digital version of Canada’s largest newspaper.

But, sadly, all things come to an end. The powers that be decided to move the Toronto.com site off the WordPress platform, and onto Adobe’s CQ5 content management system. So my job was disappearing. I was advised of this decision well in advance, so I started my job search early. But truth be told, I was kind of hoping something would materialize at TorStar.

It didn’t.
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Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema: You Should Go!

I’m playing hooky today to attend the 12th edition of the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. I’d come across this festival years ago through an acquaintance’s Facebook posting, and I promised myself that I’d attend the following year. That didn’t happen. In fact, it took another couple of years before I finally got off my duff and trekked out to K-W.

When Joseph Chen, the festival’s organizer and curator, saw me with my camera, he pressed me into service, asking me to shoot everything and everyone. So I became one of the volunteers supporting the event, and I’ve been back every year since. Continue reading

Essential Movies

It’s happened a couple of times: while chatting with colleagues I reference a seminal movie, and I get a blank look, or “I’ve never seen that.” My jaw drops. “You’re kidding!”

We’re talking about such mammoths of cinematic history as Apocalypse Now, or The Ten Commandments.

So I started putting together a list of essential movies. And here’s what I’ve found: there are essential movies, and there are really, really good movies. And sometimes, the difference between the two depends on your own introduction to the movie. So, yeah: this is my own opinion of what constitutes an essential movie. And the line is blurry; and it may move. But this is it for now. Continue reading

Third Time’s a Charm

It’s been a dreadful few days.  So I thought I’d share.

Saturday night I was on my way to a party at Centro, to celebrate my friend Brian’s 50th birthday.  The radio station was cutting out.  I thought some poor bastard was probably scrambling in a control room somewhere; so I’ll give him a few minutes to get his act together.  When I got tired of the continuous cutting out, I decided it was time to change the station.  I looked at the radio and realized it wasn’t the station: it was the radio.

That’s when I noticed all the coloured lights on the dash were on.  And the dash itself was growing dim.  And the acceleration was sluggish.

Best turn around and go home, I thought.  On the way, even though I was moving at a reasonable clip, the speedometer was often at 0km/h.

I got the car into the driveway, turned off the ignition and drew a sigh of relief.  I tried starting it up again, but no go.  I called Mario, our mechanic, and described the symptoms.  It was the alternator.  Towing, parts and labour: $400.

Sunday night, while I was laughing my ass off at the Winter Garden Theater, watching Lewis Black’s Dual Citizenship Tour, a tree from my backyard fell into a neighbour’s yard.  Thankfully, it didn’t damage the house.  In fact, my neighbour, who seems to be quite ill, poor woman, hadn’t even noticed it.

Still and all, cleaning that up: $300.

But wait: I’ve saved the best for last.

This afternoon, while Yvonne and I were at work, earning our daily bread for an honest day’s work, some lowlife scum broke into the house and stole my MacBook Pro.

The car, the tree, I can take that.  But my computer?  Breaking into the house?  That’s nasty.  So in addition to the $2200 replacement cost (we’ve yet to see if the insurance will cover this), we’re going to have to install a monitoring system.  And you never stop paying for that.

My friend Morty observed that the real tragedy was that the kid who stole my machine was probably only going to get fifty bucks or so for it.  I could have bought a replacement MBP for about $100; so long as I didn’t mind buying a stolen machine.

FYI, the insurance company said there’d been a rash of break-in’s, all targetting notebooks.  They figure it’s kids going in and out within five minutes, grabbing the first thing they can easily carry.

Silver lining?  I had turned on Time Machine, the OS X backup system, so everything was backed up on a separate hard drive.  Of course, the backup was about two months old, but I hadn’t really done much other than surf and download videos in the past little while.  So when I turned on my new MacBook Pro it asked me if I wanted to initialize from another Mac or Time Machine, and it took care of everything.  It took about an hour and a half.  (And, oh yeah, it now has to go through USB, because Bender2 doesn’t have FireWire anymore.)  So, my users are now in place, my screen saver, my pictures, my iTunes, my VMWare with WinXP, the hookup to my desktop at work, the wireless connection to my router.  All done.

Backups are a miracle.  I’ve seen the light and been saved.  Hallelujah!

Now I need to go through all my websites and change passwords.  Blech.

Correction: The new MacBook Pro’s now have FireWire 800, while the old ones had FireWire 400.  Different connectors (though you can get an adapter).  So I’m still stuck with USB.  (Thanks to Michael Goldberg our intern here at butterscotch.)

And while we’re at it, I should mention how grateful I am that no one got hurt, and that Mr. Lowlife-Scum didn’t trash the place.

But I’m really disappointed in the cats.  All those barking lessons were for naught.

Remembering Lupe

lupe_rodriguezLast night my friends Kali and David invited me to a memorial for Lupe Rodrigues, the CBC’s artist-at-large.  I’d heard Lupe reviewing art exhibits on CBC radio’s Here and Now program, hosted by Matt Galloway.

As it turned out, I had intersected with her a couple of other times, but hadn’t connected.  A few years ago, on my way to a play at the Canadian Stage, I had dinner at Hernando’s, and had admired the colourful paintings.  It turned out they were all by Lupe Rodrigues.

lupe2_05

Lupe, it turns out, was a regular at Kali’s very crowded parties. Not a surprise I hadn’t met her there: I’m usually happy to have met and chatted with 3 to 5 people in an evening. Kali’s friends are too interesting not to spend time with.

But Lupe was actually from David’s crowd. They’d both gone to Jarvis Collegiate; as had many of the musicians and artists who helped us celebrate her life and work.  Among them Victor Bateman, Jaron Freeman-Fox, Fergus Hambleton, Cindy Jones, Joanna Kidd, Kevin Laliberte, Amanda Martinez, Kathleen McDonnell, Don Rooke, Anjellica Scannura, Roger Scannura, Valeria Scannura, and John Sheard, the Music Director for the evening.

Our host was Matt Galloway, and speakers included Linda Rosendbaum, David Liss, Bianca Roberts, Lupe’s sons, Sebastian and Liam Cushing, and her husband, Danny Cushing.

Many of the people there had met in high school at Jarvis Collegiate, so it was a bit of a reunion for them.  I know that’s a powerful thing.  It both, reminds you of your youth, and the long road you’ve travelled.  There’s great joy in the thought that at least part of that road was travelled together.

butterscotch.com: My New Favourite Flavour

butterscotch.comI’ve been kept very busy over the past couple of months setting up butterscotch.com: Tucows’ new video network, brimming with terrific videos, short and long, providing tips, tricks and insights into technology for pros and tyros.  Our new team includes tech media veterans Andy Walker, as General Manager and Executive Producer; Amber MacArthur, Director of Content; Sean Carruthers and Matt Harris, Senior Producers; and Andrew Moore-Crispin, Web Editor.  In addition to our existing Tucows team, that’s a lot of talent coming together.

Our current line-up consists of regular shows, such as Andy and Sean’s Lab Rats, and Cheryl Poirier’s spin-off, Miss Download; as well as standard and special tutorials.  Tutorials are screen captured how-to’s with a voice over.  Special tutorials are a series of ten or so episodes on a particular topic.  For example, the two special tutes we have on offer right now are Facebook for Grownups and Gmail for Beginners.

We do have other shows already on the site, and many more are coming, so check back often at butterscotch.com, or better yet, subscribe to the RSS feed.

The challenges, for me, in putting the site together, were:

  • slicing up the composite and creating the base page (HTML and CSS) (got a lot of Photoshop help from Joan, our graphic artist at Tucows)
  • establishing single signon between butterscotch and Tucows.com
  • creating the backend CMS (content management system), where Andrew maintains the content which appears on the site

Of course, we’re not done yet.  We’re still developing new and terrific functionality, and figuring ways to integrate the butterscotch and Tucows content.  It’s all about bringing more value to our visitors and authors.

Sure developing the site was a marathon of long days and late nights, and it kept me from family and blogging, but this is the sort of challenge which stretches your abilities and forces you to find new insights into your work.  I loved it.  I wouldn’t want to do it again real soon; but I loved it.

Look Up. Look Way Up.

Another couple of tweaks to the blog.  The first one is transparent to users: I’ve added Google Analytics to the code, so I can tell how many people haven’t visited my pages.

The second is near and dear to my heart: I’ve added a favicon.  These appear on the address bar and tab of your browser, and allow you to easily find the page amongst all the other tabs.  (This is assuming, of course, that you’re not a drooling idiot, and are, in fact, using a browser with tabs.  If you’re using IE 6, wipe your chin.)