January 18, 2011

Back On The BlackBerry Bandwagon!

So it's official -- after a short relationship with an iPhone 4, it's now going to be hitting the used market in favour of a new BlackBerry Torch.

Enough people have asked why I'm getting rid of the iPhone and going back to a BlackBerry. It's a long story, though I should preface it with the fact that I'm probably not the average smartphone user, and not the average iPhone user either.

There's a lot to love about the iPhone 4, it looks great, the hardware is pretty good, screen is amazing. And the apps, oh the apps. But for me, the battery sucks, and that's without flash. Flash, which from the looks of it will never be supported by Steve Jobs.

Originally, I said I'd never buy an iPhone or anything other than a smartphone with a physical keyboard. I do a lot of text-based input on my phone including email, instant messaging, texting and of course facebook and twitter. I said I'd never buy an iPhone until I convinced Kelly she wanted one and we found ourselves standing in a lineup for the Apple store on intro day. After standing there for hours, I figured I owed it to myself to buy one.

At first, things were great. Coming from a BlackBerry Bold 9000 and OS 4.6, where the browser was almost completely unusable, mobile Safari is a treat. Combined with the screen resolution and speed of the phone I could actually go to websites, read pages, get things done. I've actually shopped online. Until I hit something with flash.

Then came the apps. So many apps, an app for everything. Apple isn't joking. Apps to fetch guitar tabs and auto scroll while you play. A flashlight, photography stuff, Shazam. Task management and productivity tools that sync with the cloud and my laptop. The list goes on and on and on. And the games! Oh the games. Beautiful. I've spent days playing Angry Birds. Slingshotting coloured birds with special talents at green pigs. Top grossing game in the App Store. How about flight control? Landing planes and helicopters and bringing order to chaos. Or level 45 in Infinity Blade, owning every item for sale in the store and having mastered them all -- killing the same bosses and enemies hundreds of times over, all the while holding a sleeping infant in reality. Does it get any better than that?

And that's not all. Remote control of the computers in the house with screens, 1Password for seamless password synchronization between all of my computers and iPhone, and of course OmniFocus for keeping track of all of the things I need to remember to do.

But then the honeymoon ended.

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October 1, 2009

This One's For The Girls.


This One's For The Girls
Originally uploaded by adr!@n
This is for all you girls about thirteen
High school can be so rough, can be so mean
Hold on to, on to your innocence
Stand your ground when everybody's giving in

This one's for the girls

This is for all you girls about twenty five
In little apartments, just trying to get by
Living on, on dreams and spaghettio's
Wondering where your life is gonna go

This one's for the girls
Who've ever had a broken heart
Who've wished upon a shooting star
You're beautiful the way you are
This one's for the girls
Who love without holding back
Who dream with everything they have
All around the world
This one's for the girls

This is for all you girls about forty two
Tossing pennies into the Fountain of Youth
Every laugh, laugh line on your face
Made you who you are today

This one's for the girls
Who've ever had a broken heart
Who've wished upon a shooting star
You're beautiful the way you are
This one's for the girls
Who love without holding back
Who dream with everything they have
All around the world
This one's for the girls

Yeah, we're all the same inside (same inside)
From one to ninety nine

This one's for the girls
Who've ever had a broken heart
Who've wished upon a shooting star
You're beautiful the way you are
This one's for the girls
Who love without holding back
Who dream with everything they have
All around the world
This one's for the girls
Yeah, this one's for the girls

September 5, 2009

A Life Less Ordinary: Pierce Anthony - August 14th, 2009.

At 11:45PM on August 14th, 2009 at Credit Valley Hospital a little boy entered this world after a long labour, born sleeping. Though Pierce Anthony Chung will never wake up, we take solace in being fortunate enough to have met him, spent time with him and peace in knowing that he is in a place where the sadness, grief and sorrow of this world will only touch his spirit and soul as happiness, joy and love.

Although we left the hospital after delivering a baby without a baby, we instead brought home memories that will last a lifetime, things that now belong to him, and the confidence that we made the best choices for him we possibly could.

That's all we have.

We miss him; we never even got the chance to know him.

(If you're reading this via RSS, or facebook, be sure to click "View Original Post" to see the slideshow above, or click here.)

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August 7, 2009

Little Miracles.

A few months back, I put together a hard copy photo book which contained my favourite photos of both Kelly and Ella. Entitled "Ella Jade: Her First Two Years", it has the following on the inside cover:

Dedicated to the ladies in my life who always have a camera in their faces capturing the moments that pass.

This book is a compilation of my favourite pictures of Ella since she was born, and a tribute to my wife, the best mommy in the world.

Photos are great captures that tend to be biased towards the good moments people encounter in their lives. Though we've had our share of unfortunate circumstances and bad luck, we're grateful for having been blessed with such a wonderful daughter.

      Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand
      What you've been out there searching for forever is in your hands
      When you figure out love is all that matters after all
      It sure makes everything else seem so small.

It is often stated that experiencing unfortunate events in life forces you to appreciate the little things that surround you and be thankful for everything you have.

While we've always appreciated and considered ourselves lucky to have Ella, more recently we've been reminded of how precious life is and just how essential it is to seize the day.

Though this isn't the book, it's most of my favourite shots in one place. (fullscreen is possible by clicking the icon in the bottom right hand corner).

If you're reading this via RSS, or facebook, be sure to click "View Original Post" to see the slideshow, or go directly to http://media.enfoto.ca/EllasFirstTwoYears

June 4, 2009

The Dawn Of A New Day.

Tomorrow marks the end of a 19-month contract term.

19 months is a long time. It's long enough to get to learn about things, learn about people, learn about process, and learn about politics.

It's been an interesting opportunity, and while every place has memorable moments, there's one I'll never forget. While it may or may not be unique to this field, similar situations have come up frequently enough in my career that I shouldn't be surprised -- though I still very much was.

It started early one morning, about 7:30AM. I was just barely up and about, Ella was waking up, and we were sitting down to have breakfast before getting ready to head off to daycare and work.

Then it happened. My blackberry lit up, and started ringing. It was my manager, who was anxious to have me join a bridge to discuss an ongoing critical issue at work. I was on call at the time, but had left the pager upstairs in the bed.

Pagers are interesting devices. They are loud and obnoxious. They wake people up; they're designed to. Not so good when you have a toddler and wife sleeping within ear shot. So I've gotten into the habit of putting it on vibrate, and shoving it in my pajama pants at night. That way, if it goes off, I don't miss it.

Unfortunately, this morning, I'd left it in the bed because it had fallen out of my pocket. So it had been going off for about half an hour.

After I realized that I'd missed the page, I continued to get Ella's breakfast while I grabbed my laptop to login to work and start investigating what the root cause of the issue was. In the meantime, Ella finished eating, and wanted to play.

Kelly had already left for work and so I had to find something for Ella to do while I worked and joined a conference call.

Of course, everyone knows that the only thing that works in terms of keeping a toddler entertained for any length of time is a television. For this toddler, Dora the Explorer to be exact.

Three episodes later, I was still on the conference call, and the issue was still ongoing. At this point, I let my manager know that I needed to drop my daughter off to daycare. There was no one else to cover.

So, I rejoined the call on my cell phone, stuck my cellular wireless card into my laptop, and hit the road with Ella to go to daycare.

When we got to daycare, still on the phone, I had to quickly hand Ella to one of the teachers, and then run back to the car to continue working via VPN on my laptop, in the parking lot.

By noon, almost 5 hours later, the issue was finally resolved. I was still pretty much wearing pajamas, but I'd at least made it home, taken Lucy for a walk and finally gotten off the phone.

March 17, 2009

The Magic of Photoshop.

It's a Gimme! [as shot]At the beginning of December, I bought a new digital SLR. I've been waiting to buy something for a while, but knew that buying a new dSLR body would ultimately mean buying a whole bunch of expensive gadgets and lenses to go along with it. Almost everyone I know owns Nikon, and having done a bit of research, would have probably bought a Nikon myself, however, my brother-in-law, who's a professional photographer, and my brother both landed up in the Canon camp. I've always owned Canon point-and-shoots, so decided to stay with the Canon brand, and bought a 50D. I was originally looking at the 5D Mark II, but there was no availability in December, and it was priced at almost double what the 50D retailed for, just body alone.

In the end, it doesn't really matter whether it's Nikon, Canon, Olympus, or Pentax, though Nikon and Canon are the biggest brands by far. As most things go, it's what you do with the tool that matters, more so than what it can do.

So in all my spare time, away from work I've been quietly studying and reading about lighting, composition, gadgetry and actually making an effort to get out and take some photos. To that end, I started posting and sharing photos on flickr and at Anthony's suggestion, joined a group called 52 Weeks of Pix. It's a group based around the idea of taking a themed picture every week and submitting it to the group for sharing.
It's a Gimme!
This week's theme was green. In these parts, unfortunately, there isn't much green around. The idea of a golf green with plush green grass came to mind, until I realized that there was no green grass, only a washed out shade of brown. That's where Photoshop comes in. A few digital brush strokes, and the grass looks greener than the middle of summer. The two pictures show the as shot original unaltered image, and the modified version with much purdier grass.

December 3, 2008

"How to survive the civil service"

After a couple of years with the province, as any long time government employee will attest, there is a culture that cannot be understood by those who have not been a part of it.

I haven't seen an article so accurately depicting government life until David Martin's article appeared in the Star. The original link is here.

Because it's so good, I've copied the text below:


How to survive the civil service
TheStar.com - Opinion - How to survive the civil service

July 16, 2007
As a 57-year-old public servant, I feel that I owe it to the next generation to educate them in the ways of the federal government. In order to make the transition as painless as possible, I want to pass on my accumulated wisdom in the hope that new public servants can avoid many of the bureaucratic pitfalls.

First, don't drink the Kool-Aid. Remember that everyone from the deputy minister on down has to preach the gospel of "client service," "world-class organization" and "employer of choice." You can sing from the same hymn book, but don't make the mistake of actually believing what is preached.

Second, always say "yes." The key to success in the government is to be a team player. Those who turn down an assignment or refuse a request, even for a good reason, are viewed as negative malcontents.

The trick is to defer any and all tasks until they are absolutely unavoidable. In the meantime, most will simply fall away due to a change in plans, senior management or the government of the day.

Third, wait for the inevitable. The current government may be committed to changing the bureaucratic "culture," the deputy minister may be looking to shake up your organization or your supervisor may be a wild-eyed refugee from the private sector looking to make his mark at your expense.

But if there's one constant in the public service, it's that the bureaucracy doesn't change; only the faces do. Much as you hate the current situation, before you know it the government has been voted out, the deputy minister has been transferred to another department or your supervisor has been promoted beyond his level of incompetence.

Fourth, don't forget the five-year rule. For those new to government, it's tempting to believe senior management when they announce a new, dynamic employment initiative that will revolutionize the workplace. For the uninitiated, much effort can be wasted buying into and contributing to such programs. But any public servant who has been in government for 10 years or more knows such grand schemes appear in five-year cycles and disappear a year or two later.

The way to survive such quinquennial exercises is, as always, to say "yes." But don't spend any time on these bureaucratic white elephants. Just smile and wait for their inevitable demise.

Fifth, do not exercise any of your rights. The bureaucracy is replete with employee "rights," everything from upward feedback to reclassification to a formal grievance. But those measures are not designed to be used; they're just progressive window dressing for the employer.

Those naive enough to exercise their "rights" will soon regret it as they are isolated and labelled troublemakers. So if you ask management or human resources about pursuing a particular remedy and someone replies, "It's your right," that's the time to back off and reaffirm your commitment to the team.

And finally, the most important lesson you can learn is that the best way to work in the government is not to work for the government at all; be a consultant. As a consultant, you'll get twice the pay, half the headaches and, by the time anyone realizes your work is useless, you've moved on to the next project and an even higher "per diem" rate.

Remember, whatever career you choose in government, there's no life like it. After all, where else can you drink coffee all day long and pretend that "policy analyst" or "associate program assistant" is a real job? Welcome aboard and enjoy the ride.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
David Martin lives in Ottawa and is the author of My Friend W (Arriviste Press).

December 17, 2007

gears.google.com

For a while, before I was in-the-know, I tried different RSS aggregators under Windows and OSX, including Outlook 2007, Vienna and netNewsWire. They're pretty nice, but then I found Google Reader. Like everything else Google these days, it's a Web 2.0 application and since most of the time you're online when you're wanting to look through your plethora of RSS feeds, it's very convenient. No more worrying about synchronization and cross-platform feed settings. You can even import and export OPML files to and from Google Reader in case you still want to synchronize your Reader and non-reader feeds.

So, as per typical google style, you can easily search through all of your feeds, it supports keyboard shortcuts for quick and dirty navigation, and even trends what you read.

It constantly recommends other feeds that you might find interesting too, and my feed list has been growing because of it.

One of the really cool features is integration with Google Gears, which allows you to even use reader in "offline" mode. You can click the "offline" mode button in reader, and it will download the most recent 2000 feed items for your viewing pleasure in a disconnected state.

September 4, 2007

You Know Those Technical Support Stories?

We bought a new ceiling fan from HomeDepot the other day. The remote only allows you to dim the light once it's on, but you can't start from light off and gradually increase light levels.

I sent the company an email because I saw that there was another remote that had seperate controls for both light level down, and up.

Here's what I sent (at the very bottom) and what I got back:


Dear Adrian,

Thank you for your email. The Stonebridge is a remote controlled fan. A receiver and hand-held transmitter were included in the box with the fan. You cannot add another type of remote or wall control to this fan. Model 27187 is not compatible to this fan. Model 27148 is for a fan that does not come with a remote control.

If a receiver and hand-held transmitter were not included in the box with the fan, please let us know.

When calling from Canada, please phone toll free 866-268-1936 for missing parts. Our hours are 7:00am -7:00pm (Central) on weekdays and 8:00am -5:00pm on Saturdays. Any representative can assist you.

Our non-peak hours are between 7am-9am CST.

Sincerely,

Tara W.
Technical Support Representative
Hunter Fan Company


-----Original Message-----
From: Adrian Chung [mailto:ad..com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 10:58 PM
To: Batts, Larry
Cc: Technical Support
Subject: Dimmer control question for Hunter Stonebridge Fan.

Hi there,

We recently bought a Hunter Stonebridge Fan from HomeDepot here in
Toronto, Canada.

One thing we're disappointed about is that the light dimming functionality
only allows for maximum brightness on, then dim-to-off, but there's no way
to go from off to increasing light levels -- at least not with the
packaged 27187 remote.

The wall switch where the fan is connected is a two-wire only control, so
that limits our options in terms of separating fan and light controls with
a wall switch.

I notice that for the Prestige line of fans, and specifically for remote
27148, there is an ability to control light levels in both directions,
both up and down.

Question is, can this remote be used with the Stonebridge 60" fan I bought
(model 27575A) to provide the functionality we're looking for?

Or does the 27148 remote need to be paired with a different type of
receiver that can't fit inside the Stonebridge canopy housing?

Reason I ask is that the manual for the 27148 remote says "not recommended
for use with Hunter Original Fans", but not that it won't work.

Thanks!

I later called the number and spoke to someone else who told me that it should work to increase light levels, and that if it doesn't likely the receiver unit in the fan is malfunctioning. Which is odd, because the manual clearly states that the remote only dims, and doesn't do the opposite.

The person on the phone however, does think that the 27148 remote with both up and down light-level controls will work just fine.

Now to find one.

July 10, 2007

The Legend of Trixie.

Our dog Lucy, who's now 6 and a half years old was rescued from the Ottawa Humane Society. When it comes to food, Lucy doesn't mess around -- she finishes everything, eats anything and is done before you can look twice. If ever food kernels end up missing the bowl on the delivery, she makes sure she finds them all and takes care of them.

We're spending a couple of days in Sarnia, with both Lucy and Ella. At the dinner table tonight, Kelly and her folks were talking about their late dog Trixie, who Lucy apparently bears quite a resemblance to. Specifically, when it came to food, Trixie would always eat when the rest of the family ate, and she'd always leave two or three kernels of food in her bowl for a rainy day. Kelly and I were mentioning how funny it was that Trixie would do that, since Lucy would never leave a fallen kernel behind.

So we watched Lucy eat, with her water and food bowls situated in the same place Trixie's used to be -- and lo and behold, Lucy left two kernels of food behind in her bowl, then went and lay down.

Go figure.