The Doodle Pad

Vote for my Podcast!

Those of you who visit the site in-person may have noticed a side-bar block listing episodes from After the Credits, a podcast I do with my movie buddies Marina (Confessions / Row 3) and Colleen (353 Review / Weird BC).

Best of 604After the Credits made it to the final round of the Best of 604!

So if you like the podcast, please head over to the Best of 604 voting page and vote!. Colleen's 353 Review site is also nominated (How can you not like movie reviews in Haiku!). I hang out with some very talented people.

The Best of 604 is the brainchild of Vancouver metro blogger Miss 604 (aka Rebecca Bollwitt). She's arguably Vancouver's best known metro blogger, if not period, then certainly in the Vancouver social media community. The contest is an outgrowth of her promotion of things local:

As often as I can, I try to highlight and promote local business, organizations, bloggers, and online triumphs. In 2007 I started the Best of 604 wherein I listed some of my favourite sites, parks, and places for family fun around the region.

This year, I wanted to leave the nomination and voting to the public (that way no one can wonder what my mystery formula was for calculating winners).

A big thank you to everyone who voted us into the final round and a thanks-in-advance to everyone who just clicked the link and voted.

Free Photo Effects with Dumpr

Looking to jazz up a picture without a photo editing package? Check out Dumpr (Bad name, fun website).

It has a bunch of effects, free and account-holder only, you can use via your web browser. Here's a family picture I ran through their "Photo to sketch" effect. And there's a "Christmas Ornament" effect just in time for Christmas.

Family Sketch

I can't recall for sure, but I think I originally saw this on Lifehacker.

CFC Best Shorts of 2008

CFC Best Shorts of 2008 tourJust got back from watching the Canadian Film Center (CFC) World Wide Short Film Festival Best Shorts of 2008 tour with Marina (Confessions/Row 3) and Colleen (353 Review). These were notable short films, typically award winners, from the CFC Short Film Festival in Toronto this summer.

Tonight I was in the mood for entertainment. Unfortunately, some of the winners on technical merits weren't especially entertaining. Fortunately, this was made up by the winners that were entertaining or otherwise a good watch.

Highlights:

  • Manon On the Asphalt (Manon sur le bitume):
    A light touch on a serious topic: Never take life for granted.
  • I Love Sarah Jane:
    Boyhood crush in the midst of zombie outbreak. It went in a direction I didn't expect and was great fun to watch.
  • A Dose of the Guilts:
    A naughty adulteress playing with her hard of hearing, and somewhat duped lover. Although the story was contrived it was a lot of laughs.
  • Le Grand Content
    A graphic animation that free associated with a veneer of technical accuracy. Kind of a geek beer gab set to fancy business presentation graphics. Also great fun.
  • New Boy:
    Based on the short story by Roddy Doyle involving a new boy in class this was the most complete dramatic story of the evening and very well done. The characters were great and I loved listening to the Irish accents.

I also have to mention The Funeral. A young woman plans her funeral as if it's her wedding. It has some fun moments but still left me saying "WTF?" at the end.

Farewell Digital Doodles - Mark 2

Old Site GraphicFor a very long time a portion of this site's content still existed on Digital Doodles - Mark 2.

Mark 2?

Digital Doodles - Mark 1 was a static website started sometime before May 2001. I maintained it by hand and later with Dreamweaver.

The Digital Doodles - Mark 2 era began in July 2004 when the site graduated to scripted goodness in July 2004: Farewell Tedious Toil, Hello Automation!. Mark 2 lasted two years.

In July 2006 I started using Drupal and Digital Doodles - Mark 3 was born: 2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back. Sadly, some content remained behind in the old site until today. It's only been 2 1/2 years!

It's been quite nostalgic reviewing the old content. Although I'd been playing with the site before 2001, my first blog post was May 2001. It took a while for me to warm up to this "web log" thing. And my posting inconsistency goes back to the beginning, too. Which is a kind of consistency. Thankfully there's RSS to bring some relief to my poor followers.

Digital Doodles has been a valuable learning tool but I've been lack luster at content. This is, in large part, because my vision of what Digital Doodles should be has changed over time. Lately my vision of what Digital Doodles should be has come into focus. Not sure why now, and it doesn't really matter. The integration of all the old "Mark 2" content and retiring of the "Old Site" graphic signals the start of implementing this new vision. Just hope I don't run out of steam before I'm done!

Wireless Internet Access Available Here

It's quite common to see a sign stating "Wireless Internet Access Available Here" at a coffee shop. Common enough that I'll look for a cafe when I need to kill time while "out and about", like when my car is being serviced. Sure, loaners are usually available if I book far enough ahead, but they don't like doing it for small services and these days I'm thinking about carbon footprint. So it was, laptop in hand and grimacing at the rain, I was about to head out in search of wireless and coffee when I saw my car repair shop had joined the wireless club! And they even have a cubicle desk to work at and complementary coffee that isn't crap.

So here I am sipping a coffee and making my first October blog post instead of wasting time in a loaner car driving home and back or wandering aimlessly down Hastings Street in the rain. I like it!

Summer Evening in Victoria

Last weekend I spent a couple of days in Victoria for a business related mini-conference called Drupal Camp Victoria. As with most conferences, a great part of the value is the networking you with the conference goers. This was no exception. If you're interested, check out my conference thoughts at Group 42: Drupal Camp Victoria 2008.

One of the conference social events was the Great Canadian Beer Fest. The weather was perfect and the company great.

Sunset at Beer Fest
Sunset at the Beer Fest

The Beer Fest wrapped up at 8, so afterwards a bunch of us walked around downtown Victoria. Unlike Vancouver where there's a number of interesting streets located apart from each other, everything in Victoria is compacted into a core area.

BC Legislature at Night
BC Legislature at Night

Downtown Victoria definitely has the tourist vibe happening but wandering around exploring was a nice way to spend a summer evening.

"Interesting" Ad Next to Athletics Store

Sometimes on my walks I'm very inward focused, other times I'm taking in what's around me. It was on one of these latter style walks I noticed the advertisement next to this athletics store:

Interesting ad next to athletics store

Is it just me, or does a sports medicine advertisement for knees and feet next to a store selling running shoes and holding running clinics seem on par with stomach pump ads at a restaurant? Inquiring minds wonder how much new business this brings in!

Farewell Inn Cogneato

It's the end of an era in North Vancouver's Upper Lonsdale area, and a very sad day for me personally. Inn Cogneato, one of my all-time favourite restaurants on the North Shore, has closed.

Inn Cogneato

Inn Cogneato Goodbye NoteI was a customer from the time it first opened and spent many a lazy Saturday or Sunday brunch enjoying good food and reading the current Wired Magazine. The menu was a kind of Iranian/North American fusion. Standard North American stuff with slight ingredient changes. They had the best bread! I think it was an Iranian flat bread (I've always called it "skate board" bread, if you've ever seen it you'll know why) made to rise.

As time went on the restaurant expanded, taking over the space next door. Wired Magazine was bought by Conde Nast and lost its soul so I moved on to other reading. I'm not sure if David was married before he opened Inn Cogneato but he certainly started his family while running it. When his son and daughter were born a prouder father you haven't seen. And along the way his wife, Salima, became involved with the "front of the house". You'd often see the kids playing in the back. In other words, it was a true neighbourhood restaurant where the owners and customers knew each other.

If Inn Cogneato had a problem, it was the portion sizes were large! Although I loved the place, I simply couldn't eat there as often as I liked if I wanted to fit into my pants! As it happened, I didn't make it in during their last few weeks and was caught completely by surprise that first week in August when I did head over for a BLT and discovered the note on the door saying farewell.

Best wishes David and Salima on your life post-Inn Cogneato. And thank you for all the wonderful food you served. You'll be missed.

Project Zune - The Unwrapping

Zune in the boxBack in July a bunch of Vancouver bloggers were approached to test drive a Zune. No, I wasn't one of them, but I have a friend who is one of them: A Zune for Me, and they could pick a friend to come along for the ride (Witness the ChatThreads logo at the bottom). Last week I received mine.

It's one of the fancier boxes I've received a product in, reminding me more of a medal case than electronic device packaging. I didn't get the fancy headphones or AC adaptor that Marina did, just the Zune, headphones, USB cable, and some manuals.

Thank god I'd been following some of the other Zune blog entries. The Zune doesn't come charged and there is no obvious indication that you need to charge it before use. I stumbled around for a bit until that little factoid bubbled to the surface.

Getting started with the Zune was one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had with an electronics device. There's no software included, you to download it from a website. Before you can download the Zune software, you have to sign up for their social website. This has nothing what-so-ever to do with getting started, it's completely irrelevant to getting started and a waste of time (I've actually forgotten the account and password already). When you finally get the software installed, and your Zune is charged, it wants you to update the firmware. More waiting. And when all that is done, the real frustration happens ….

My biggest mp3 player usage is podcasting, so that was the first thing I tried configuring. I now know where the Sony programmers - my vote for worst designers of all time - went after Sony discontinued their mini-disc players. The Zune software is obtuse. I suspect it's probably easier if you're starting from scratch, but I have an existing set of files/directories set up with Juice. It appears Zune follows in the Microsoft tradition of not playing well with others, it sure sucks at importing files. The Zune software does understands how to download podcasts and life became simpler using it as my podcast downloader. God help me when I try to import my music, I certainly don't want to re-rip everything.

More to come.

Zune Box contents

Future Shop's New Future

Future Shop has a reputation among my circle of friends as an indifferent big box retailer with sometimes poor after sales support. When I heard about a new "concept" store attempting to be customer centric my curiosity was piqued. Hoping that old proverb about curiosity and dead cats was on summer vacation I accepted an invitation to last night's unveiling party of the newly redesigned Future Shop at Park Royal.

The new store concept is a "Hub" where customers can see products in a bit of context and talk to product experts who aren't on commission. The hub, appropriately located in the center of the store, has four sections corresponding to different facets of lifestyle: Living, Playing, Working, and "On the Go". Each section has product displayed "Ikea" style (i.e., setup the way you might find in a home much tidier than mine). The store also contains an Apple store, staffed by Apple staff.

The Hub
The new Future Shop "Hub" concept at Park Royal
Photo by penmachine

This was the first opening of any type I got to attend as "media", and I got the full attention of one of the Future Shop employees who'll be staffing the hub.

Continue reading Future Shop's New Future

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