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Apr 20 08

Awakenings

by Adam

I’ve been sorting through folders of old files lately and I came across this short story I wrote. It is dated July 29, 2001 so don’t judge it too harshly my writing has improved quite a bit since then.

I wrote this after being inspired by two different books: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov and Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot. Flatland is a quirky geometrical adventure set in various spacial dimensions. The primary character is a 2D shape living in a 2D world who is about to have his reality altered when he enters the third dimension. I, Robot is a fantastic collection of short stories about helper robots and Asimov’s three laws of robotics. The stories are full of thought provoking themes and immersive story telling. read more…

Apr 7 08

Adding some interest to the UW Logo

by Adam

I’ve worked at the University of Waterloo for over four years now. Finally, as of April 1st, 2008 I am a permanent staff employee with full benefits. My new title is Information Systems Developer and I am responsible for the design and development of web projects for the department of Housing and Residences. Essentially I’ve been doing this already for a couple years and have quite a few project credits to my name already; including some that have been sold to other departments on campus. I aim to continue designing web applications that challenge users perceptions of the web and that are fundamentally user friendly to work with. read more…

Feb 2 08

Plastic Bag Tax

by Adam

The following is a letter that I am sending out via email to the local, provincial and federal governments.

I was inspired by an article in the New York Times that discussed the success of Ireland taxing plastic bags. It is my belief that a future conscious city such as ours should consider championing this cause here in Canada.

While plastic bags don’t occupy that much space in landfills due to their compressibility the real cost is in their manufacturing. It amazes me that something like this can be free when they are certainly not free to produce. Stories I have read state that most bags come from China where manufacturing is so cheap that the cost to ship something half way around the world doesn’t make the price higher than we could make it domestically — this is the WalMart era. As a rough guesstimate it takes around 18 million litres of oil to make 1 billion shopping bags. Canada probably uses between 10 billion and 30 billion bags per year a majority of which end up discarded, poisoning our lakes and rivers. (http://reusablebags.com/facts.php)

Most grocery stores are now providing cheap alternative bags that are reusable and thus very environmentally friendly. Why not add a little pressure to this trend by taxing plastic bags? A 33 cent tax would make plastic bags as expensive by storage volume as the reusable bags and could be collected at the register automatically if no reusable bags are presented or purchased. The computer systems in place at area grocery stores are more than capable of carrying this out. My experience in local grocery stores has been that reusable bag are on the rise with more and more families using them. However, I think out of apathy, a lot of consumers just don’t bother to care or forget their bags. Adding a tax would certainly perk them up and make a far number more opt for the inexpensive reusable bags.

It is my hope that one day our world operates in such a way that life can be sustained on this planet for centuries to come. At this moment in time the future looks bleak but we can help. Taxing plastic bags is one step toward waking up the populace and making it easy for them to join the cause.

Jan 5 08

Yaaaa, Canada!

by Adam

Way to go boys!

Awsome first period, strong second period, awful third period, and beauty in OT.

Let’s hope our ladies have the same outcome next week.

Dec 8 07

Public transit soon to be made easy

by Adam

Google maps has recently added public transit routes for select cities. Instead of driving directions you can switch to directions including walking and public transit! This news is very exciting to me for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, Toronto is a nightmare to try and navigate if you need anything more than a simple subway trip or single bus route. Have you ever pulled up the PDF bus routes map from the TTC website? It is a rats nest. Additionally the TTC has one of the worst transit websites that I have ever seen and I wouldn’t trust them further than I could throw a trolley car to improve it. If Google is able to integrate TTC and GO Train data it would make navigation in Toronto as easy as breathing. Perhaps that is slightly exaggerated but you get the point.

Secondly, students who are looking for Off-Campus housing here in Kitchener/Waterloo would have a much easier time of learning the route they would need to take everyday instead of trusting landlords to tell them or having to figure it out from the GRT website. I would certainly be integrating walking directions into our Off-Campus housing and Sublet systems.

I wonder who I have to pester to get GRT, GO Transit and the TTC to open up their routes to Google.

Dec 1 07

F*ck you NBC!

by Adam

I want to watch episodes of My Name is Earl, clips from Saturday Night Live, and other programming. I’m even willing to watch the advertisements! Just because I live in Canada doesn’t mean your advertisers products aren’t available to me, we have most of the same stuff! Are you seriously forcing us to resort to other means? I guess I’ll have to torrent until you get your act together.

F*ck you NBC!

Dec 1 07

To Reddit: So long, and thanks for all the pics.

by Adam

Update: I’ve gone back to using Reddit a fair bit now. As a subscribed user you can filter out the political subreddit and add a bunch of other fun ones (like comics). So as a reader you must take this post with a grain of salt. In other words I would delete it but I don’t do that sort of thing.

In the last two months I have become increasingly unhappy about the hot page contents of Reddit. Since I discovered Reddit after coming over from Digg I have enjoyed the variety of stories in a host of different areas about a ton of different events all over the world. I felt like I was getting a good glimpse of relevant and interesting information. Now, however, things have changed. read more…

Nov 11 07

Lest we forget…

by Adam

A solitary trumpet rings out the first notes of the Last Post…

Involuntarily I rise to my feet, heart swelling with pride and thoughts quiet.

We are proud and free. O Canada we stand on guard for thee.

Lest we forget.

Sep 29 07

Avid readers beware

by Adam

Anybody who buys books from Chapters, Amazon, etc. knows that here in Canada the cost of a book is a fixed amount more than the US price. A quick check of the last paperback I purchased shows a disparity of 50%! That means an exchange rate of 50% from US to CDN where the actual rate is sitting around 0%. Talk about being ripped off!

All of those paperbacks were purchased from the US publishers before the US/CDN dollar parity and are currently sitting in huge warehouses or on store shelves collecting dust. I can certainly understand why book sellers are still charging the book price since their inventory lost around 30% of its market value in the last year. 30% of the billions of dollars worth of unsold books is an insane amount of money! A lot of smaller book stores would go out of business if they had to sell their books at the US listed price.

Most likely you recently bought Book 7 in the the Harry Potter series. I paid around $22 at Walmart where the actual price on the book jacket is $45. Wow, what a savings! How can they afford to give me 50% off? Oh wait. Between volume discount and the higher CDN dollar it makes perfect sense.

I really feel for the book selling industry but I am boycotting physical books until price comes back to reality. The book sellers are just going to have to take the hit. They should lower the price to sell off current inventory to provide capital to buy new books at the parity price. Of course that is assuming that the population of Canada has slowed their book buying and that US publishers have lowered their price to Canadian book sellers.

Bring on the e-books! Cory Doctorow offers all of his books as free e-book downloads.

Sep 28 07

The lighter side

by Adam

So my last few posts have been ultra serious and fairly long so I thought I would take this opportunity to go the other way.

The other day I caught myself frozen on the Google home page with my hands poised on the home row and a blank expression on my face. It certainly wasn’t the first time this has happened so now I am looking to find something to blame, after all it can’t be my fault. I certainly can’t have forgotten what I was going to search for that is just crazy talk.

Let’s see here… Hmm. Ok got one.

I blame the austere whiteness of the standard Google search page! I hit the page and get lost in its snowy emptiness. Why can’t they fill it up with lots of Ads, links, tools and other stuff. The distracting page would then make me focus on the search box and I would be more productive. Alright, I admit this is BS. Firstly, I use iGoogle which has lots of boxes with RSS feeds, dictionary words and famous sayings. Secondly, my iGoogle page is pimped out with the Tea House theme. Hmm. Something else must be at fault. Ah ha!

My focus is drawn in by the most beautiful small “g” in existence. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but flanking the “g” are the most boring “o”s and the ugliest “G” and “e” I’ve ever seen. The dichotomy is the distraction. Google, please get the artist who does the holiday logos to add an artists touch to the crappy normal logo. My productivity needs a boost! (Note, I don’t even consider switching search engines).