The Doodle Pad

Vernon Winter Pictures 2008

I'm back from the family Christmas in Vernon and yes Virginia, I've been a lazy blogger. While it's still 2008 and arguably still the holiday season I'm going to sneak some posts under the wire.

The weather was all over the place, from socked-in, overcast, snowy grey days, to the kind of brilliant sunny days that makes winter pretty (though still a pain in the butt):

Vista 1
Coldstream and North end of Kalamalka Lake 1

Vista 2
Coldstream and North end of Kalamalka Lake 2

Coldstream sunset
Sunset over Kalamalka Lake from the balcony

Going Greyhound at Christmas

Greyhound Bus
Photo by tyfn
In all this snow my car stubbed its toe, which is to say I slid into a curb going down a side street hill. Sometimes going slow with winter tires isn't enough. Though I wish it hadn't happened I'm never-the-less happy it wasn't worse. I could have slid into another car or, God forbid, a person (though the latter was unlikely on a back street during a snow storm at 11:30pm). Getting this aftermath cleared up turned into a minor saga and resulted in my "going Greyhound" for the annual Vernon Christmas trek.

The Good

  • Can sleep or doze
  • If bad road conditions, someone else is worrying about them
  • Can read, sort of (see The Bad)
  • Bathroom
  • Bigger vehicle, better traction, better accident survivability
  • Great view out of a window seat, nice and high

The Bad

  • Sardine seats, so squished you can't work on a laptop, or barely hold a book in front of you to read
  • Takes longer to get to destination
  • Sardine seats
  • On just the cost of gas, is not cheaper than driving, even with a single person
  • Sardine seats
  • Sometimes crying kids
  • Sardine seats
  • Asshats with loud personal audio gear
  • Sardine seats
  • Have added time, cost and hassle of getting to/from the bus terminal

Have you picked out my biggest complaint? I may not have a big readership, but you're a clever bunch!

Continue reading Going Greyhound at Christmas

Revenge of the Snow

Back on December 12th I posted: First Winter Snow 2008 - M'eh. It was looking like a standard Vancouver winter until a couple of days later. Thanks to the cold air flowing down from the artic it started snowing and hasn't melted away. Here's a picture I took a day or two after the second snowfall.

Second snow fall

And the snow has kept on coming. Sadly, I neglected to take a picture of the most recent accumulation. This picture by Roland Tanglao will give you some idea.

More Snow

I don't mind the snow after it's been cleared off the roads and sidewalks. I thoroughly hate it while it's coming down and waiting to be cleared. With more of the latter than the former, all I can say is: Go Pineapple Express!

Merry BIFFmas 2008

Last night was the Christmas gift exchange at BIFF. I don't go as often as I used to, so was happy I could make it yesterday. It's been a while seen I've seen many of the gang. We laughed a lot exchanging gifts with the "unwrap a new pressie or steal someone elses" method.

Here we are at the end of the evening when the smoke cleared and the last gift was stolen, er, unwrapped. And no, although there were plenty of offers of adoption, baby Inara wasn't one of the gifts exchanged. Her parents obtained her the usual way.

BIFF Christmas Gift Exchange 2008

I wound up with a new set of D&D dice. I originally went for (stole) the Serenity book, but it was stolen away (back) late in the exchange. My current D20 is quite fickle and has rolled low a few too many times, and there was Spacepug with a shiny new set of dice. After test rolling them a couple times - test driving gifts, what a concept - stealing them seemed like the right thing to do. They feel like winners!

Best of Miss 604: And the winner is ...

Rebecca Bollwitt presides over Best of 604
Rebecca Bollwitt MC's Best of 604 Awards
Photo by penmachine

The entire After the Credits crew (yes, all three of us!) were out in force at the Best of 604 awards last night.

Congratulations to all the winners! It's clear from the turnout Vancouver has a vibrant and engaged blogging community. The venue was totally jammed. The demographics were interesting, too. Unlike so many areas involving technology, women were well represented. The average age was probably mid to late 20's, but you could spot people higher up the age range. Regardless, if you're looking to add interesting blogs to you reading list, just browse the nominee list for candidates.

I took the opportunity to collect streeters for our upcoming Christmas podcast. People were really gracious allowing their party/social time to be interrupted by an idiot with a microphone asking what their favourite Christmas movie was. My thanks to all my victims, you know who you are (and after the Christmas podcast the world will, as well)!

Who won the podcasting category, you ask? [Insert drum roll] The winner was Lip Gloss and Laptops. After the Credits was a long shot, so no surprise is wasn't us. I don't know Kerry Ann but I've spoken with Airdrie a couple times. She's good people and the win is well deserved. And I can't not mention runner up, Choogle On With Uncle Weed. Dave, a.k.a. Uncle Weed, is a consummate story teller and he does it well.

And a shout-out to Rebecca (Miss 604) for all her hard work and a job well done. Thanks to her, $1800 was raised for the food bank and our little corner of the world had a top-up of cheer and goodwill.

For more on the night, check out:
Rebecca's wrap-up post: Best of 604: Winners and The Morning After
Flickr Photo Stream: Best Of 604 (including a picture of Marina)
Ianiv's Video: Best of 604
Marina's Post: Best of 604 - A Night of Nail Biting (not really) Fun
Raul's Post: Best of 604 - A Phenomenal Success
Lip Gloss and Laptops Post: Lip Gloss wins best podcast in Vancouver!
Derek's Post: Congratulations to Lip Gloss and Laptops!
Monica's Post: Bronze is my Color!
Colleen's Post: BuzzNetworker Wins People’s Choice Award!!
Tris' Post: Congrats to all of the winners of The Best of 604
The Well-Tempered Chocolatier's post: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you to everyone who voted for us. It was a blast being a contender!

First Winter Snow 2008 - M'eh

Yesterday there were snow warnings in the weather report. This was as bad it got in my neighbourhood. By noon it was just wet and it hasn't changed. Just as well in my books. Snow belongs on the mountains.

First snow winter 2008

Brett Gaylor Interview for After the Credits

Rip: A remix manifestoLast week I had the pleasure of interviewing Brett Gaylor, director of the documentary RiP: A remix manifesto, for After the Credits.

I got to see RiP in a press screening and was impressed. It uses a musician named Girl Talk to shine a light on the issues around Copyright and culture. It's one of the best discussions of the issues I've seen and quite entertaining. And I'm not the only one that thinks so. RiP has won audience choice awards at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam and Whistler Film Festival. It's also won honorable mention for Best Documentary at Whistler and a special jury prize at Montreal's Festival du Nouveau Cinema.

With the Federal Government committed to changing our Copyright laws, I think this is an important and timely documentary. Culture builds on the past. Copyright not only needs to protect the creators of today's culture, it also needs to protect the creators of tomorrow's culture. Not sure how that works? Take a listen to Brett explaining in After the Credits Episode 51 - Interview: RiP: A Remix Manifesto Director Brett Gaylor

Reading Office 2007 files with Older Versions of Office

File conversion dialogLately I've begun receiving MS Word and Excel files in the new Office 2007 XML format. My (legal) copy of MS Office 2000, which otherwise serves me perfectly well, can not read these files. Enter the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats. It converts the new file format into the older format so the document is readable by older versions of Office.

It was a pleasant surprise when I hit Google and found a solution from Microsoft that didn't require an upgrade!

BSG - The Board Game

BSG Game BoardLast Saturday's rainy weather provided the perfect backdrop for a group of Battlestar Galactica geeks, including yours truly, to try out the BSG board game. Spacepug played host, graciously volunteering her apartment. It goes without question the company was great, but how was the game?

BSG the board game was fun once we got past the learning curve; but that learning curve is a bitch! None of us had played before and it took about an hour to make it through the first round. Once we got rolling the game became quite engaging.

Players assume the persona of one of the Galactica crew. Six isn't a crew member, so no character in a red dress, but Boomer/Sharon/Eight is definitely up for grabs (so to speak). Each character has unique skills and abilities. In addition, one player becomes President and another Admiral, giving them some extra abilities (including a couple of nukes).

Each character is given "loyalty" cards, seen only by them, determining if they're a Cylon. Humans work towards getting the Galactica to Kobol before running out of resources or getting destroyed in combat. And Cylons don't.

The game board consists of a rendered Galactica surrounded by six regions of space, Colonial One, and locations in Cylon space. The internal locations facilitate actions, the external locations gets populated by Basestars, Raiders and Vipers for space combat.

BSG Game BoardA player's turn consists of drawing skill cards, taking a movement, taking an action, a "crisis", and the "jump" phase. Sounds easy, but there's a rich/complex set of actions available. The movement/action phase has a player working alone to do what they need to do. During each player's crisis all players participate to solve the crisis, or perhaps make it worse. Participation is designed so you can say one thing and do another; handy for fraking up the works if you're a Cylon and no one knows it yet!

About half way through the game, more loyalty cards are handed out in the "sleeper" phase. Are you really a Cylon but didn't know it? Welcome to the new reality, complete with distrust at no extra charge. Much like the four from the final five, one of our Saturday players had a hard time making the shift.

Once over the learning curve I started really enjoying the game. The little details that add to the complexity really helped immerse me in the game. As Starbuck, I was flying Vipers and killing Raiders, oh yah! And the game is relentless just like the show. There are no breathers. With each player getting a crisis every turn, you're in a race against time to jump before running out of resources or getting blown out of the galaxy. Even when it wasn't my turn I was actively involved in solving the crisis phases in everyone else's turn, and eventually cursing Spacepug who started on my side as President and later became a Cylon sympathizer. And there was palpable relief among us humans when we left those Basestars and Raiders behind after a jump. Well, except for the time a Toaster raiding party got aboard.

I don't think this game will appeal to someone who isn't a BSG fan, or at least a Science Fiction fan. If you like board games, BSG, and games that let you do evil to your friends, check this one out!

And Another Award Nomination

Canadian Blogger AwardsI was totally remise in yesterday's post: Vote for my Podcast!, completely missing another award After the Credits at Row Three is nominated for. On the nation stage, we've also up for "Best Podcaster/Vlogger" at the Canadian Blog Awards. You can vote for us here: Best Podcaster/Vlogger. We're under "Row Three".

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