Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just Like a Vacation - Blue Rodeo

Blue Rodeo (who apparently are in town tonight at the "Place des Arts" venue) are a long lived, well seasoned, country - rock group from Ontario.  They headlined at an outdoor concert I went to when I had just graduated university.  Before then I had heard their 1 or 2 contributions to radio Canadian-a and I had really went to the concert to watch Sarah McLachlan.  And even though most of their pop-rock was not memorable in the freezing mountain cold of the Laurentian summer their ballads of impossible love, broken hearts, and just being plain blue left a mark on me to this day.  So last year I had finally decided (17 years after) to buy an album of theirs on I-Tunes and this seemed like the best way to get a good selection of their flavors and to also experience Blue Rodeo at their best - live.  The album is a history of all their best works from the country-twanged non-sense lyrics of "Cynthia", to the haunting rendition of "Dark Angel", and finishing with "Florida" which bears the album's name sake line.  If you ever want to know what Blue Rodeo is about this is definitely worth a listen.

My Dog Ate It - Xtra Large Wubba, Tire Biter

I adopted a pit bull terrier mix last July and she is a lot of work.  She is a high energy dog who has my girlfriend and I constantly looking for the "one" toy that she can happily work at (gnaw) for hours with out falling apart or be just plain devoured by my dog's notoriously powerful jaws.  Here's a couple of her newest toys and how they did.

Kong's Mega (Xtra-Large) Wubba
 So this toy is shaped much like its hard rubber hand-sized version but covered in heavy canvas with 4 long tassels.  She loved the toy probably because it's the size of a small dog and for the first few days she was running her self tired.  She ran up and down our long hall way with Wubba in mouth occasionally giving it the throttle.  But then she'd get bored and start gnawing at its heavy canvas lining and eventually working an opening.  This picture was taken not even a day after we purchased it for 30$ CAN and it already had a nice worn tear.  Defintiely not a toy you can leave lying around, my girlfriend often removes it from her when she's done throttling back and forth.

Paw Track's Tire Biter
We bought this one for her last fall but despite a lot of coaxing and filling it full of food she only recently discovered she can tear this heavy red rubber to shreds.  Once she got into tearing pieces off of the toy it still probably took her a week or so to get a third of a side face off.  Fortunately for us she didn't take to digesting rubber and spat out the red chunks of tire.  Even more fortunate for my girlfriend and I is its 9$ CAN price tag.

Yum Yum Dim Sum - Cheap Ethnic Eatz Meet-Up

My girlfriend and I went to a Dim Sum event hosted by friends in the CheapEthnicEatz Meet-Up.  The event was held at Ruby Rouge on Clark, near Viger in Montreal's Chinatown.  For those who have never experience Dim Sum it's basically a Chinese style brunch best shared with a large group who can decide which of the authentic Chinese comfort food plates to take as they come quickly by on serviced push carts or adventurous groups who are willing to put their culinary experience at the hands of a trusty (hopefully Chinese) aficionado of the cuisine.  The cuisine is usually about comfort food despite the exoticness of the ingredients or preparation and can actually go along way at curing the hangover from a night of drink and merriment.

While doing a pit stop at the nearby Chinese bakeries I hit up a Chinese trinket store and scored me a small porcelain figure of the "good luck" cat that I often refer to as the "pwn-kitty".  I am not totally sure what they symbolize but I see them in a lot of Asian run establishments so I assume it's some luck or fortune mythological figure.  A lot of the times they often have a motorized right arm that's constantly patting up and down much like the way a cat pats its felled prey - thus the term "pwn-kitty".  Anyhow I thought it would be an appropriate desk ornament for work colleague who is pretty adept at pwning noobs like me in Counter Strike.  This one's yours, Dave, Monday...

Pub Meet-Up at the Benelux

After Google failed me on the location of 245 Sherbrooke West and led me to the Metro at "0" Sherbrooke, I walked 10 minutes to the Benelux.  Essentially a university hang-out-bar-and-cafe, I only had to sample their house brew to know this was definitely worth many more visits.  The Friday night crowd was a little on the noisy side but was just okay for the 20 or so Pub-Club turn out to sit, drink their house brew, have their "euro-dog" and enjoy some conversation.

Friday, March 26, 2010

OMG Photoshop - Content Aware Filter

Content aware demo from Adobe Labs

Suna, my huntard friend, had just Facebook'd me on this.  I am blogging about it because I have spent many hours sometimes successfully doing what this new feature on an upcoming version of Photoshop can do in a minute or so.  Just watch the demo and keep yourself from jaw drop drooling on the keyboard.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Zenphoto Theme Project

I have been working on a side project to customize a zenphoto theme for a friend's client.  Her client had recently wanted to be able to upload their own content to the site with out constantly having to rely on a web person to code the new content. She had somehow come across Zenphoto Gallery open source CMS and upon a rather quick install and an hour or so of tinkering with the back end controls I realize the pretty darn nice back end API Zenphoto had working and well documented. Her client, however, wanted a customization of the site to somehow generate thumbnails each representing a whole "sub-album" of images rather than the default set up in which the thumbnails were representing a selection of an individual image.  The whole idea was that he had categories of photos and in each categories the photos were organized into photo-shoots of the same theme.  We found a theme that was not part of the base install of Zenphoto which incorporated a J-Query gallery and looked a lot like his current site but still did not have the functionality the client required.

Well, it's been a couple of weeks and with little reading and and hour or so every evening the customizations are nearly done.  The actual work was very easy since the frame work had a method for every stored element of the gallery.  For once I didn't have to write my own DB pulls and I am pretty confident that any change in content will not have me pulling my hair out at an unexpected theme fail.  Zenphoto gallery comes with a robust but no BS backend that anyone can learn to use in a couple of hours and the most minimal server side setup I have seen.  I literally copied the package to the web server and navigated to the URL.  It auto detects a first time navigation and pops up a form to fill out some DB info.  For any one interested in installing a photo gallery on their own web space check them out at:

Zenphoto info site --->

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Guild comic series released today

Gratz to Felicia Day for releasing The Guild comic series.  From the pages I've seen so far it appears to be a more in depth look at the in game and out of game life of Syd Sherman/Codex, her Guild alter ego.  Felicia has written both the the webisodic series and this comic book series out her real life experience as a World of Warcraft addict. I perhaps will have to pick myself a copy of this one on top of the Kick-Ass comic books.

I watched "The Watchmen"

The world will look up and shout, "Save us.", and I'll whisper, "No."

I watched this movie on DVD a few months ago.  I wasn't really expecting much but was surprised that they did a fair job capturing the essence of the late eighties graphic novel.  The movie like the graphic novel explores the dark side of the comic book hero mythology in the back drop of an alternate reality 1985. Nickson is president for a fourth term and someone has just killed the hero, the Comedian.  He had worked for the government but his more famous associations were the Watchmen, a now a defunct group of vigilantes who have moved on since "masked" heroes have been declared criminal.  Four other members of the Watchmen remain but of them only one is obsessively on the case to find out who has launched this conspiracy against the Watchmen and perhaps the world on the brink of a nuclear holocaust.

I liked how the story breaths depth into the heroes and make them believable and that essentially under the costume there's a living breathing person with the potential everyone carries to walk the line of good and evil.  Definitely a good watch for the more intellectual comic book aficionado and definitely not for the faint of heart.  The director did not pull any punches and the chick in the leather suit is pretty agile. Hallelujah.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Doctor Who Series 5 Trailer

A much better trailer than the previous and as "tease" as the first. The Matt Smith Doctor is looking as menacing as the Colin Baker Doctor and yet displaying the boyish charm of the Peter Davidson Doctor.  But that's just me.  Over all though I'll definitely be trolling YouTube on Easter for some torrent love from the UK.

Kick-Ass, The Movie

I watch the trailer on the suggestion of friend on Facebook. Never heard of this movie before, but I guess since I haven't watch a movie in the theater since the new Star Trek it's not surprising.  I was, however, surprised by the trailer since the premise at first to me after playing City of Heroes/Villains, watching all the Marvel and DC installments to motion pictures, and the British E4 show, The Misfits, I thought the heroes genre was pretty over done. I am hoping to be wrong on this one.

And from this and the many other trailers I'm hoping this addition to the hero mythology isn't just all just trailer.  Kick-Ass is based on a comic book which is still being written though I am not sure if the movie follows the story from it's inked namesake.  Apparently it's a really violent comic book that I'll have to add to my reading list. Opening mid-April I have an outing with friends planned on this one.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Round Up.

Steam on Mac
So Steam will in a couple of weeks be available for the Mac/OSX.  On top of offering on-line access to Mac compatible games, all valve games will be released with native builds of their games, and (to sweeten the pot) all valve games already purchased on PC will also transfer (in ownership) over to the Mac builds of the same games.  I'm pretty excited to be able to play Team Fortress 2 natively on my Macbook.  Though I have successfully ran TF2 on Steam in the Crossover windows app wrapper somewhat satisfactorily one can't refuse a few more nano-seconds off their ping.  I am also hoping alot of the non-Valve games I have on Steam follow suite.

Pure Pwnage on Showcase
So I got to watch the first TV episode of Pure Pwnage last night on YouTube.  Despite the nice shiny look Showcase has given the show they somewhat got me laughing at gamer specific humor I have come to love about the web show.  Thankfully, Jarrett Cale, Joel Gardiner and Geoff Lapaire reprise their roles as Jeremy "Teh Pwnerer", FPS Doug (Jeremy's best friend and FPS expert), and Kyle (Jeremy's brother and the man behind the camera of Pure Pwnage) because frankly I don't think anyone else would make a show about a man wasting his life away playing video games this entertaining.

Zen Photo CMS Gallery Package Theme Creation
I have been working on customizing a theme of Zen Photo CMS for some side work by using the well written and well documented templating framework under the hood of this easy to use install-your-self gallery.  For an intermediately skilled web developer (such as myself) creating this custom theme has be somewhat rewarding and yet easy. Not once did I have to hack the base frame work or fuss with server files permissions.  I literally tossed it on my test server in under 5 minutes, read the documentation over 2 nights and was half way done my custom theme as of yesterday. Definitely worth a review for a possible CMS upgrade of a gallery/portfolio site.

Pub Club Meet-Up at the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill (Montreal)
Went to show my support at one of my assistant organizer's Meet-Up as a recent entry of Montreal's growing list of Irish Pubs.  Had many a Guinness while my girlfriend enjoyed her evening over some aged Bushmills.  Food was classy with some modern twists.  Most of the meet-up-ers present enjoyed the fois-gras burger special that evening.  Although enjoyable I was wondering at the end where the fois-gras was (well, at least till my third Guinness).

Flash Game - Submachine 5
I got into playing a flash game on-line called "Submachine 5".  It's free and there are 6 games in all under the same title.  5 so far (not sure why I started with 5) was enjoyable despite the minimalist look and feel of the game.  A good though uncomplicated back story you play some anonymous intrepid explorer of an abandoned house who stumbles upon a deserted lab with trans-dimensional doorways to some pretty weird places.  Your mission is simple: make your way through all the areas and piece together what happened to its previous occupants.

Flex and the Rich Text Editor
Been tinkering all week with a problem at work to get around the Flex container's inability to render HTML table tags.  At the moment I'm thinking building on the existing Rich Text Editor would be a lost cause and instead made some notes and research on a possible solution that would allow users to create and store a document with an collection of text areas and datagrids.  A crazy idea at first but I guess the only way to convince the boss of the plan is to come up with a simple demo of the solution.  More work to come this week on that note.

Prologue - My life as a cow

It has been 2 years since I have seriously played World of Warcraft.  I (before then) had been playing obsessively for 2 years as a diversion to my falling interest in my work and a failing relationship.  I, as of late, have been thinking of my time "in game" and what to finally make and write of it.  I don't regret any of my time spent.  Surprisingly, a good part of the person I have become and come to like has come from my experience "in game".

There are definitely people I do have to thank who have made my journey in this virtual life interesting and memorable and so to begin this blog I am going to honor them in no particular order:

Freyrr: Some guy who is in real life an IT somewhere warm. I remember him for his meticulousness in game mechanics, his Spock-like delivery of his doubts of any crazy idea we had, and his love for the paladin class, playing female characters, and Blood Elves.

Vevis: My virtual best-buddy. We constantly hung out odd hours of the night exploring the strangest corners of Azeroth, dancing in major cities, and how paper bags made random women look better.  Maybe some day I'll come to Aruba and and have a beer with my right hand priest.  I'll remember him for our common appreciation for dark humor, for being a priest of many colors, for his love of PVP, and how he always made me smile in the darkest of times.

Suna: The richest huntard I know and you don't get more (pardon the expression) "Chinese" than this hunter.  Suna was always playing the auction house for raw gems and cut gem sales, constantly leveling his trade skills, and farming with the tenacity of an 11 year old Korean in a gold sweat shop. Opinionated, weary of women though still a victim to their charms (especially if they were from Eastern Europe) we still keep in touch over MSN since we both work in the IT field. If anything he constantly demonstrates to me the virtue of being industrious and tenacious for the things you want. I also note him for his high sense of loyalty to the guilds he's joined and leaders he follows.

Mysa: The quintessential "mother" and healer, I pity those who have seen her darker shade of white as I have. As dual as her passion is to her compassion she leads and supports her comrades and leaders with air of wisdom and a dedication to common goals. She made healing look magical on execution but technically achievable when she ran through the stats after a raid. We shared a common background in engineering. I have had the honor to called her as leader, comrade, confidant, and foe during my time in Azeroth.

Scrios: As common to all the successful leaderships I have followed, Scrios shared with all these people his passion to progress above all else. That alone for me justified the hard terrible decisions I have seen him make and orders I have had to follow.  Scrios was fierce in all aspects we define our leaders.  His almost "Wayne Rogers"-like deliver of his iron fist made my compliance entertaining.  Probably the only person I'll ever call "Chief" to this day.

Sebanu: My first ever World of Warcraft friend and padawan to life.  Been my honor to have seen you grow up a little in a couple of years.

Mysticow: Goofy but the most earnest guy I have ever met - his charm somewhat grew on me. Our common choice of character class allowed me some insight to the fun side of being a Tauren druid.

Kajira: To paraphrase something I heard that sums her up: "She's like fire, and ice, and rage.  She's like the night, and a storm in the heart of the sun...  And she's wonderful."

Ex (and Family): The military man and patriarch of a whole family of World of War craft players.  I think we shared our finest of moments in game when our tandem dance of healer and tank paid off on our first "server first" kill of a raid boss called "Vashj".

Naevus: He reminded me of my ex-roommate, Doug, which I suppose is no reference to most of my readers.  He delivered his seemingly convincing "know-it-all" demeanor non-nonchalantly in the cartoon voice of Garfield (or Bill Murray apparently).  His love of the Rogue class is well noted as well as his "Cliff Claven"-like break down of why he got "pwned" by "some noob".

Optical: When I think "warlock" I think of "Optical".  He was constantly getting chewed out for DPSing his "aggro" to the top of the raid list and then dying not too long after that.  We met as guildmates and got a chance to co-lead the remnants of a failed "pre-roled" guild and parted ways when we closed our guild down.  To "Joshua" my "emo" but always professional comrade, my respect.

Gzakhull: Responsible for getting me into "massive, multi-player, on-line games", my ex-roommate whose passion for defeating his opponents was as intense as finding an equivalent adversary to beat made his love for PVP entertaining.  I can watch him do battle grounds for hours.  His giggles of glee when he gave his prey the "once over" were contagious.  Thank you for starting me on my journey.

Unmage: When I started I had no guild.  I had "me boyz" - Gzakhull, Naevus, and Unmage.  Always one short a full party we spent a good part of our "growing up" in Azeroth together and eventually getting in on our first raiding guild together.  Unmage was the fiery upstart of the gang but somehow any collaboration with him was either a good time or a profitable venture.  I miss hearing Unmage and Naevus arguing PVP strategies over "Ventrilo".

Nathanos: A physicist and grad student who got me interested in fish tacos. I have yet to try them.

Evilwolf: What Optical (see above) was to warlocks, Evilwolf was to Tauren Shamans.  He lives to DPS and dies alot because of it.  I was often assigned to keeping him alive especially since he would always pulled aggro from our tanks.  One of the gang of crazy Arubians that have made me smile "in game".

Lubu: Lubu was from Quebec somewhere between my home town of Montreal and Quebec City.  Lubu played an Orc warlock when I first met him but excelled at every aspect of DPS in any class he played.  His deadpan demeanor was deceiving of his deadly skills "in game" and there was always an entertaining "evil" streak about him when it came to executing anyone he found picking on him or any of his guildmates he would come and help out.

There are other crazy wonderful people I probably should mention and very sorry if I haven't.  Maybe one day I'll have to blog about them. To them and the other I have mentioned my thanks again, respect, and love.