Sunday, January 30, 2005

Snowshoeing Around the Yard

I finally was able to use my snow shoes today. I had used them once before, but never in Wolfville. So today it was a nice day and I strapped them on and walked around, took pictures and filled the bird feeder in the backyard. There is lots of snow and the snow shoes worked well. Now I have to go out again for a longer walk and to go somewhere else aside from the backyard.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Amazing Adventures of Joy B

Sometimes by chance you meet people. A few years ago I was invited to a conference in Moncton and travelled up in a van with some other artists including Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who lives in Reykjavik, Iceland and has the site, Womb of Creation and blogs about The Amazing Adventures of Joy B, which is a collaboration between Birgitta and theHand. Sometimes you spend a very small amount of time with people and it reminds you of how tenuous connections can be and how there are wonderful and amazing people all over the world. I want to get out a bit more soon...
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Google Video Search

Now in beta, the Google Video Search looks very promising. It searches through the closed captioning text of programs from a limited subset of channels (during the beta) to find matches. The results are returned with screenshots. The neat thing is that it also lets you know when the show is on next. The weak link, of course, is that you can't really view the content online. Now that would be very cool, but in the current DRM environment it's probably not going to happen unless things change dramatically.
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Monday, January 24, 2005

driveway is clear!

Well, it took just over 4 hours in total, but the driveway is finally clear. I'm sore, but probably less sore since I used my new scoop. Luckily the snow drifted around the house and beside the garage I could see grass sticking up under the snow, so I was able to push the snow up beside the house and made a large snowbank which was able to get the snow out of the driveway. If I had to throw the snow over the snowbanks beside the driveway, I don't think that I would have been able to do it. It was getting dark by the time I finished and I didn't feel like taking a picture. It's definitely easier using a scoop, but the key is having somewhere to dump the snow.

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Cleaning out the driveway

I love Winter, but it can be a bit of a pain having to deal with snow all of the time. Here in Nova Scotia we've just experience our third blizzard in a week (the last one is the same one that hammered New England) which means that it's becoming difficult to find a place to put all of the snow. The day before the blizzard I bought a scoop to make things easier (I hope). I'm halfway through the driveway and it seems to be working better.

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Digging Out

The storm has ended. It's still windy and snow is blowing around, but now the shovelling begins. I bought a scoop to help with the cleanup. It's easier on the back than using a shovel and throwing the snow over snowbanks that are taller than your head. The plow cleared out the street a while ago and the driver had to make several passes to clear the massive amounts of snow. If we recieved the amounts forecast something between 40 and 60 cm of snow has fallen and with winds gusting around 80 km/h there has been a lot of drifting. I think that it will take a while to clear out the driveway. I don't want to go out, even though the sun is shining - with the wind chill it is -23 degrees Celsius. Brrr.
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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Goodnight, Johnny

Johnny Carson has passed away. He set the standard for late night television with his monologues that captured the zeitgeist of the time. The show was reassuring and funny and corny. But Johnny was the person who held it together. He was a private man who seemed to put all of his energy publicly into the show. He didn't do lots of interviews or appearances, but retired and preserved his legend. The consumate performer, he apparently was still writing jokes that David Letterman would use in his monologues. I'll never forget the final broadcast that Carson did of The Tonight Show. The format was so familiar that a change to it was shocking. Johnny walked out and sat on a stool and talked. It was amazing, moving, personal and real. I don't think that it was until that moment that I realized that there was a difference between the public and private Johnny Carson. He shared a bit more then and I'll never forget it. I missed Johnny from late night tv since he left and now I miss him a bit more.
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Still Snowing

We're in the middle of a blizzard here in Nova Scotia along with much of the North East part of North America. I'm about to go outside to shovel a bit so things don't drift in too much. This is the third major storm that we've had in the past week, so I'm getting tired of shovelling.
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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Tagging and Blogging

It's quite easy to blog now. There are lots of tools to use and most work together quite well. With the rise of the tag (in the past few months and in blogs in the last few weeks) the tools are catching up. Right now I'm using the Technorati Bookmarklet from Oddiophile to tag blog entries. But this entry is being written as an entry in my list of 43 Things, which has tags which don't move over with the blog entry (hmmm... maybe that should be an option when posting). I'd use all of the same tags, but I'd add 43things as another one. It would be good if there was a tag line along with a title line in blogging tools. But the context matters and I'm thinking that there may also be a need for implicit or contextual tags. So all of the entries that I post from 43 Things would have a 43things tag that would show up on the blog, but not on 43 Things. It makes sense to me. Now I'll post this via 43 Things, but open it up, generate tag code from the bookmarklet and then paste that in so it just shows up on the blog (because the tags are there for 43 Things already).

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Google Blog: Preventing Comment Spam

The Google Blog annouces an initiative that will help everyone in Preventing Comment Spam. Comment spam is a major problem with spammers inserting links in comments to boost results in search engines. It was so bad on the old Screen Arts blog that some days I would spend an hour or so deleting them and closing comments. That's one of the reasons that I switched to Blogger (along with the switches at Movable Type to need to pay) as it allowed me to restrict comments a bit. Now with broad support, hopefully things will get a bit better with comment spam disappearing. It's a neat solution with just adding an attribute (rel="nofollow") for hyperlinks. It's encouraging to see cooperation to solve problems quickly.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I'm becoming more and more centered on the web in terms of applications that I'm using and organization. With things like 43 Things and Flickr and and Blogger and Gmail and Technorati all being linking together it means that there is more of me spread over the web and less of me within applications based on my own hard drive. There is a neat shift where more and more stuff isn't intimately linked with the computer I'm using. But I still love my PowerBook, but now I'm realizing that I'm needing my own hard drive a bit less for a lot of things. At the other end are the more specific applications like Final Cut Pro, which I love and isn't built around the web at all. But then I think about the file format which uses XML and I wonder if integrating a database and using the data from Final Cut with other people could work well. Openness is the way to go as it allows creativity and exploration and the use of things in unintended ways.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2005


I thought that I was going to get the "Seinfeld" box set for Christmas, but I didn't, so I'll have to buy it myself. I'm amazed that I still enjoy watching the show and I still watch episodes almost every day. One of the things that I love about the show is how beautifully constructed and balanced they are. The elements are set up at the beginning and then you watch as it plays out. One of the best creative balances between the writing, the characters and the situations in the history of television. It's gold, Jerry, gold!

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Cold and Snowy Day

Last night the driveway was finally clear and I went in to work today. A bit slow going in because of some drifting snow and heavier traffic, but the sun was out and it was cold. I went for my usual walk around Citadel Hill today, camera in hand and looked at the snow and brilliant sky. Cold, but beautiful. There is something about sub-zero temperatures and snow that make things look wonderful. Maybe it's all of the bounced light.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Dave Sifry on Technorati Tags

Dave Sifry of Technorati blogs about Technorati Tags and points at some great uses of tags and Technorati. In the searches that I've done with tags I'm finding it quite useful. As more people tag things it will become very important. I hope that Blogger builds some tagging support in.
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It's a storm day here in Wolfville. School is cancelled, there is a blizzard warning and our street hasn't been plowed yet. Lots of shoveling to do when it stops snowing. I've created a Blizzard of January 2005 set on Flickr where I'll be putting photos of what's happening. I think that I may be able to use my snow shoes today.
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Sunday, January 16, 2005


Aside from the obvious benefits of teaching amazing and talented people, one of the great things about working at the Nova Scotia Community College is Portfolio Learning. I've completed my portfolio for work, but Portfolio is a process and not a destination and I've got to make a more interactive version and collect more of my work together. I've been collecting stuff for years (yes, that's the reason why I don't throw anything out) and scanning much of it, so now I need to organize it and add interactivity. In many ways, a portfolio is a documentary about yourself and where you are going. Now I have to make the newest version.

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Saturday, January 15, 2005


I have a lot of videotapes. While I don't have a PVR, I'm not taping as much as I did. A few years ago I taped a lot of tv and I have many tapes without labels. I think that I have about 2 boxes filled with unlabeled tapes. So out of probably around 300 tapes (maybe more), about a quarter of them don't have labels. They are mostly in boxes, but I should get them organized and catalogued on shelves.
Many of the tv shows that I taped (such as Mr. Show) are out on DVD now and I own them, so they can be recycled. I haven't transferred anything over to a digital format yet, but I may some day. What is fascinating about looking at older videotapes are the ads that give you a bit of a sense of the zeitgeist of the time. Sometimes I look at tapes and think, "Why did I tape that?"

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Last.FM is a personalised streaming radio station that figures out what you'll like to listen to by using an iTunes (or other players) plugin that sends the names of the songs and artists you've been listening to off to Audioscrobbler where a profile is built which is used to suggest music. I listen to the stream and love it.
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Friday, January 14, 2005


Wow! Technorati now has tags. Things are developing very quickly out on the world live web. It's great when things work together and now Technorati is doing some great things with tags. I think that I will use this a lot and at first glance it appears to be one of those things that is so obvious and simple and clear. I was just wishing that I could tag my blog entries, and now I can. Now people have to start tagging everything. I know I have.
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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite

Over at bitdepth I write about the quirky and fun Napoleon Dynamite which I saw a few days ago.


I've been using Keynote for a year now and I really like it. I still haven't made my own theme (but that's another thing to do), but now that Keynote 2 is out along with the amazing looking Pages, I think that I will get iWork to have both. Now I actually use TextEdit to create handouts as it lets me save styles. I do miss having more control over things and every time I use Word it is frustrating. With Pages designed by the Keynote team, I think that I will use it a lot.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Morning Light

It was such a beautiful (but cold) morning and the light was gorgeous. I took a picture of the trees beside the school when I got out of the car. There is something that I like about the almost painterly degradation of the image that the cameraphone causes. That being said, I didn't did the other camera out, but I think that you can get a good idea of the beautiful morning that it was.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

24 Season 4

I've watched the first 4 hours in the new season of 24 and it was fun in a guilty-pleasure way. I started watching the previous season, but I lost interest part way through. Having a larger chunk at the beginning may help draw me in more, but we'll see if I stick with it. One of the fascinating things about the show is the premise that everything happens in real time and that combined with an ongoing cliffhanger structure can make for interesting television. The fast pacing makes you forget about some of the more implausable elements as you're watching for the next surprise and trying to figure out what twists lay ahead.
Stylistically I like the way it's shot, just enough shaky hand-held and split-screen to keep it interesting and not nauseating. The cross-cutting, running, car chases, and parallel stories don't allow a lot of depth or character development, but it keeps you guessing and has kept me watching. Sometimes you watch things to become emotionally involved and learn more about the human condition such as Six Feet Under, other times you want to be entertained and it's been a while since I've watched more than one episode of a network drama.
The interesting question about 24 is how many more times can they do it? Will it move to policy issues? "We can't get this budget balanced!" "Wait, the formula in that cell is wrong, Excel won't add it up correctly! Don't hit enter! Noooo!"
Another part of the enjoyment is seeing how the writers paint themselves into corners and get out, maybe it can go on for a bit longer. The world is a scary place and action shows that pull in some frightening current events and images with a hero trying to save the day may use the momentum of the news to provide a bit of a diversion.

Flickr Pro

I bought a pro account for Flickr and I didn't even have to think about it a lot. I uploaded lots of pictures and created lots of sets and I don't think that I would want to go back. I think that I'm only operating now at a lower capacity than a GB a month in uploads, but when I have more time I take a lot of photos with my largest month of close to 800 photos. Even though I probably won't use the full capacity very often, if at all, it's nice to know that it is there. Kind of like a big stack of blank pages that need to be filled. links

I wasn't sure what it was when I first saw it or even if I would use it much. But after I used tags with Flickr it clicked and I went back to and started bookmarking things there and it's helped me to find stuff later. The neat thing is to go through the tags and to see how many other people have bookmarked what you have. But even if I just use it to keep track of interesting things for myself, it's still great. I add to my bookmarks almost every day now. I think of it as microblogging - blogging with minimal writing with the focus on categorization.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Hop on The Hughtrain

The market for something to believe in is infinite.
The Hughtrain is the latest and greatest Change This manifesto. The first manifesto that pointed me at Change This was Hugh MacLeod's How to Be Creative and now the Hughtrain is up in gorgeously formatted PDF form. Download it, read it, check out Hugh's site and go and speak passionately about what you believe in.

Creating Passionate Users: Learning doesn't happen in the middle!

Creating Passionate Users: Learning doesn't happen in the middle! is another great post about learning and how to structure learning so people retain more. Who would have thought that having more breaks, varying things and also having a strong ending could make things better... hey, wait, that's what makes a good film too...

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Notes from ITP: Flickr-as-web-services edition

Clay Shirky writes in Many-to-Many: Notes from ITP: Flickr-as-web-services edition about my current obsession, Flickr, and has some neat stories about how he's seeing people use it. There is a great story he tells of a group of people sending a goodnight message to someone via a photo of a whiteboard that was sent from the time the person left to when they arrived at home and checked their Flickr account.
I'm almost embarassed to admit that I've been using Flickr on my new phone to check for new comments and images. It's tiny and hard to make out detail, but I still occasionally will do it.
Unfortunately my cell phone provider, Aliant, boxes in photos that I take in HTML and don't actually let you attach images to email, which means that I can't moblog to Flickr with my cameraphone, which is a pain.

The True Story of Audion

Cabel Sasser tells The True Story of Audion, which was the application from Panic that brought the world of MP3 audio to me. Those were the days when people like me would put a CD in and then carefully name each of the tracks. Playing MP3 files was cool in Audion, but the faces were amazing. But with the introduction of iTunes, the audio playback arms race was coming to an end and Audion has been retired, but you can still get it and use it for free. I feel guilty that I didn't register version 3 and I have the free version now and I wish that I had registered. I have registered other Panic software such as Transmit though.
Reading the story reminded me that there are always people behind the applications that I use every day. Even though ftp is a simple thing and there are many options for uploading files, I actually enjoy using Transmit to update stuff.
Panic was founded by Cabel Sasser and Steven Frank and they make software that I love and I look forward to the new stuff that Panic will continue to make.


Staccato: A Creative Commons music show is a great podcast by Matt May that features nothing by Creative Commons licensed music. Great music with just enough information around it. I've listened to all five shows so far and I'm looking forward to more. It's a bit of a solution to the problem now of so much being out there without a lot of ways to find interesting material.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Kevan Davis took a diagram from Matt Jones and made a neat thing called that takes your tags and creates a map to visualize them. It will be neat to see how it changes as I build and fill in my own folksonomy. The image shows what my map of my tags looks like.

Walking in Winter

I'm trying to walk every day, but I still can't seem to get outside enough. I really like walking as it gives me a chance to exercise and relax a bit. Even though it is usually cold in the Winter, I think that Winter is one of my favourite times to walk as the air is crisp and clear and you don't spend as much time outside or in the sun in the Winter as other times of the year. That being said, some times in winter when there is freezing rain or ice pellets that sting your face, it isn't as much fun.
One that I don't do while walking is listen to any audio device. I don't have an iPod yet, so I don't know if that will change, but I like walking and listening and watching and thinking. Would I take the same sort of pictures if I'm listening to music or podcasts?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Creating Passionate Users: Your user's brain wants a conversation!

Your user's brain wants a conversation! is a great bit by Kathy Sierra about the way that people pay more attention to and are more engaged by a conversational style than a lecture style. That's probably why blogs will suck me in and formal sites don't work as well.
It also explains why my preferred teaching and learning style is more informal. I think that it's a lot more fun to know what needs to be covered and learned and let it come out as you interact and share...I don't want to do things the same way every time.
It's all about conversations... that's probably why Hugh Macleod pointed it out.


BlogAid is a project that I'm participating in to help with the tsunami earthquake emergency in South East Asia. It's a project where bloggers pledge earnings from ads during January towards the relief effort.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tagging in 43 Things

The challenge with 43 Things for me right now is to tag my entries. One of the things that I love about 43 Things is that everything is quite understated, so you have to look around to figure things out. So the tagging will evolve with people, but I want to make sure that I set a good example and it will also make it easier to find things as my list grows. What is a bit fascinating is that I always tag photos that I upload to Flickr. What is it about how I work in Flickr that encourages me to tag more? Is it the increased quantity of uploading, more experience or just the difference between a visual tool and a textual tool?

Done Trying

I think that I can cross "Try out 43 Things" off my list of (not quite) 43 things now. I've used it a bunch as right now I'm up to 15 things so I think that I'm going to use it for a while. Now I have to use 43 things more to meet my goals (but that's an implicit goal of the whole thing, isn't it?).

Flickr Changed my (Photographic) Life

When I first looked at Flickr I thought it was interesting, but it wasn't until I joined up and became part of the community that I really enjoyed it. Then it changed how I looked at the images created by others and it sparked my creativity so I wanted to take more photos. So I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to create images and to share and be part of a community. They even make it easy to licence your images with Creative Commons licenses!

adaptive path » metadata for the masses

metadata for the masses is an essay by Peter Merholz about classifying information using tags. I'm a fan of metadata (it's a bit odd to write that...), but the challenge with metadata is to remember to put it in the head of your Web pages. I'm careful about doing it when I set up a site, but then I kind of forget about it. I love how Merholz makes the connection with the way that paths wear and how classification systems emerge. The more tags I see, the more I refine and change my own.
Tagging is something that I fell in love with as it makes a lot more sense to me and it seems to work. I first started using it on Flickr and then I understood how it worked and went back to the source at (which is really microblogging) and started using it there as well. My latest tag happy experience is with 43things (which maybe is macroblogging) where tags help to classify your goals. The next thing for me to do is to try and use the labels in Gmail to tag my mail.

Monday, January 03, 2005

How To Help

The flags on all federal buildings in Canada are flying at half mast until a memorial service that is happening on January 8 in Ottawa.
The terrible events in South East Asia are almost unimaginable and I think that many people have a feeling of helplessness and a strong desire to help. I'm trying to figure out ways to help and maybe I can point to some places where you can help from a Canadian perspective as up to January 11th, the Government of Canada will match contributions, which doubles what you give.
I found out that I could contribute the points that I amassed from my Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum card to the Canadian Red Cross. Other charities with Canadian offices are Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, and Unicef.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


I went walking today and it was cold and I looked down a lot and took some pictures.

43 Things

I'm trying out 43 Things and it's very addictive. It's a great way to keep track of and share things that you want to do. What adds to the stickiness of the whole thing is that you're sharing your list. Making a goal public is a way to increase the pressure (and support) to get things done. It's helped me already as I'm starting to blog more. One thing that will be interesting to see is how much I continue to use it and if I spend more time looking at other people's goals which can take away from completing my goals. But if spending time on 43 Things helps other people meet their goals, then it's time that I've spent very well.
I think that I may use MarsEdit to manage more of the posts here. It may be a better and more powerful way to post and also will allow me to try and keep track of what I'm doing on various blogs.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A Lighter Bitdepth

This is a space to let me post more frequently, personally and briefly. To be a bit different from the longer, more thoughtful posts at bitdepth proper.