Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Also: Le blog du Petit Nicolas
Firefox 2.0 and add-ons
It's far superior to IE (don't even get me going on how...) but mostly you'll see prettier websites and better response times. The add-ons are just as fun and make life much easier. I also love the search bar/tool where you can customize where you search without having to go to those pages. It's all about doing things faster and more efficiently. Here's the extensions I've got on my firefox and recommend:
- del.icio.us bookmarks *** - syncs up your bookmarks on firefox with your del.icio.us bookmarks.
- Yahoo! Mail notifier ***.
- Map+Get a map of any address highlighted on a webpage. (unfortunately it's not the most comprehensive maps, since it uses yahoo maps as a base.
- Greasemonkey - User script manager
- Tails *** - Locate and work with objects embedded in webpages. I use it for microformats.
- Web Developer *** I'd be lost without it.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I love it when technology works with people to try to create and share the 'human experience'.
[via Fast Company issue 110 November 2006]
Bio Mapping is a research project which explores new ways that we as individuals can make use of the information we can gather about our own bodies. Instead of security technologies that are designed to control our behaviour, this project envisages new tools that allows people to selectively share and interpret their own biometric data.
The Greenich Emotion Map:
Artist Christian Nold has been invited to collaborate with local residents from the Greenwich Peninsula to explore the area afresh and build an emotion map of the area that explores people's relationship with their local environment.
The project is set up as a series of participatory workshops that invite people to borrow a Bio Mapping device and go for a walk. The device measures the wearer's Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is an indicator of emotional arousal in conjunction with their geographical location. The resulting maps encourage personal reflection on the complex relationship between us, our environment and our fellow citizens. By sharing this information we can construct maps that visualise where we as a community feel stressed and excited.
I find it inspiring that such a very geeky/techy project is created by an artist. Not that I don't appreciate that he is an artist, but that the medium is technology and that what can be called the traditional 'geek' work can be recognized as art. The passion, devotion and effort that often is attributed to and recognized to artists by "the people" exists in the scientist. A different medium but the results are often just as inspiring and rewarding to society. Of course, they all have their fans, I don't deny that there are technology groupies. But it makes me happy when the lines start to blur. After all, why is there such a divide between art and science? Is creativity not creativity no matters how it's applied and what ever the result?
Saturday, October 28, 2006
How many lightbulbs does it take....
We're a household that's is changing out most of our bulbs to CFLs. Please read this article and consider doing the same in your home.
Recently the city and hydro company put together a program to give one bulb to each household. It's a great idea for once you try out one of the newer bulbs you'll change your mind about using them. If you've tried them even just a couple of years ago, give them a try again. The technology has come a long way.
Of course, down the pipe is the LED... but hey, they might be what you'll get to replace the CFLs when you finally have to change them years down the road.
[Update:] You do have to change how you buy and compare lightbulbs. I used to compare how much light I can have from a bulb by wattage and then put a bulb in the socket that has a maximum wattage above or equal to what I've chosen. However, with CFLs you do have to compare on lumens instead of wattage to see if it's enough light for the area you want. I'm using some bulbs in the bathroom that used to be 40W regulars and I'm using 15W CFLs and it's actually brighter than what I had in there before. Go figure :) It is harder to compare on lumens though since most regular bulbs don't tell you how much they output. I don't have enough empirical experience to back it, and mostly have to guess. However, I've been moving the bulbs around the room. Since they are all mostly 15-20W, they will fit into all the sockets that will take anything higher and I move them around the apt until I have a bulb in the area that has the appropriate amount of light. Usually as older bulbs die out.
Friday, October 27, 2006
It's been very dark in the morning when I wake up since the sun usually has not yet risen. This is going to brighter when we change the Daylight Savings time this weekend.
But before this change, I did get a photo of the sunrise this morning:
If you live in an area that observe this DST change, what are you going to do with the extra hour?
I'll likely sleep if Flour will let us, but it's nice to think about what the extra hour means: more reading, sleep, stitching, knitting, tv watching, ... just more time for what ever you need more of. Enjoy!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Progress on John Clayton International: Paris
While I've no finishes to show off, I thought I'd show some work in progress. I've been working this piece on and off for quite a long time now. In fact, since I finished Savannah's Curtsy I have put off a new start for the sake of finishing this one. Here's where I am of the last few days:
Monday, October 23, 2006
CreativFestival Fall 2006 Report
As I've mentioned before, this was the first year in many that I found classes I wanted to take and some interest in going to the CreativFestival. Weekend of October 20-22 was the event at the Metro Toronto Convention Center South Building.
Reversible Cables with Lily Chin
Lily is a great teacher who has a lot of energy. She pepper the informative class with her great laugh and fun stories. The time just flies by and I was so inspired to learn new techniques. She strongly encourages us to think freely with what can be done with revisable cables. She also brought along a lot of her own designs and patterns to help inspire us and show us what more advanced techniques can be achieved. I particularly enjoyed seeing some of her sketches and swatches to the final products. It just reminds us that we need to put in the work, swatch and there was a lot of work behind the finished product.I found seeing that so inspirational.
Inspired Cable Knits with Fiona Ellis
I was speaking with another person in the Lily Chin class who was saying that she did not enjoy the class with Fiona. However, I could not compared them and found the two to be enjoyable. I have to say that the style of the class was much more workshop than instructional. You learned by trying things and learning and asking questions. From Beginner to more advanced students will get out of the class what they were willing to do and interact with Fiona. Fiona was super friendly and easy to speak with. I had a good opportunity to try some different cables and practice and try to figure out how to cable without the cable needle.
Fiona also mentioned that she's got a new book coming out, I'm looking forward to seeing that.
I would recommend both classes if they come your way. I got so much inspiration and information out of the classes that I'm going to keep my eyes open for more classes in the future. I've been very much looking to learning new skills and sometimes, it's really much easier to be taught than to figure it out yourself.
I headed into the market two days, Friday night with my sister (who does beading) and once again alone on Saturday. I ended up with two door prize ballots, which I put in the 'basket' on Saturday morning before heading off to do my shopping. I had spent Friday night looking at different parts of the show while my sister shopped the bead merchants. And would you know it I heard my name for the door prizes. I go and claim my prize (1 packet of red heart yarn) and the lady tells me that there's a "Mary Yan" who also won. I'm thinking that's really odd but didn't give it another thought. At the end of my time at the market, I had a few minutes and "Mary Yan" was bothering me. It's a common mistake made on my name. I thought I'd better to check the winners list and it turns out "Mary" also lived in the same town I did. I just had to ask the lady to check the other ticket for me to see if it was also me. IT WAS!!! So, I won two door prizes. She gave me more yarn and a great cross stitch book. I felt so lucky. What are the chances! It was so much fun!
That wasn't the only score of the weekend, In the Lily Chin class we got a ball Tribeca from her line of mohair and in the Fiona Ellis class we got this new yarn Perth. It was much raved in class by my class mates. I found it not to be as easy to use as they did since it did split on me, but it does a great job showing off cables.
I'm really looking forward to really exploring some cable work with all this new yarn!
On the shopping front, here's my additions to my stash.
I had a great chat with Judy from JBW Designs and got some of her new designs which I love. I also got to see some of Maureen Appleton's work in person. They were so beautiful. To be honest, I've never been interested in her work before. The photography really doesn't do it justice, I did fall in love with some of her designs. I had to come home with her "Be Mine" silk kit.
As I expected, most of the show was scrapbooking, quilting and beading. There was just a little bit of yarn. (Frolic was so much better.) And with Cedar Hill, Crossed Wing Collection, JBW Designs, Maureen Appleton, Britstitch showing, there was at least some Cross-stitch showing. It really helped make the show more interesting for me. There was NO needlework at all!
On the quilting side, while there were quit a few merchants, I found the styles of the quilts to be more folksy than my liking. So, in the end, I was really just looking at tools and not fabric or patterns or designs. I found out about a show that's going to be in November at the Japanese Cultural Center put on by the York Heritage Quild, so, I might go to that. I got such great deals on the tools that I've been looking for, it was still a great time!
With this experience I did not find that it changed my impressions of the show much at all, but the conference classes is something I'll keep my eyes on since that part was great. I think for yarn, I'm better off going to a show like frolic or other specialty shows and for cross-stitch... I'm just about out of luck outside my 'in' with my friends at the official retail trade shows. I've still not been to the shows like CATS in the US, but it's quite pricey. It's hardly surprising that there seems to be such a small network of cross-stitchers in Canada. There seems to be few sources for us here outside of our LNS.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
New York Weekend - The Long Version
This past Canadian Thanksgiving I packed my suitcase and took myself to NYC to visit all my friends. It was the first trip in over a year, (I'm shocked myself!) and it was well overdued.
I stayed with two friends, Cynthia in Brooklyn at her new apartment and Theresa in her apt in Manhattan. As I expect, I was treated very well and effort was made for home cooked meals! I felt so special!
It was really a whirlwind.
I had taken the GO bus and TTC to the airport on Friday. It was very doable and not too challenging. The suitcases were relatively light. I was really pleased with the new connecting train between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 at Pearson International Airport. It was relatively convenient and gave the airport a more 20th century feel to it. At least more on par with other airports I've been to with their inter-terminal trains.
The trip started off right since the customs person at the airport was so super nice. She smiled, repeated herself without attitude, was friendly, thanked me for information and even wished me a good trip. She was the best customers person ever! I was so pleased!
The plane was overbooked and delayed and the announcements went out for volunteers to give up their seats for $200 travel certificate and guarentee seat on the next flight. I half considered it, but it's a matter of poor information. I had no idea when the next flight is, and could not consider it with out the information.
An hour later and the offer became $250, but still no more information. I looked around, no takers either.
An hour later and it was nearly time to board and the offer became $500, dinner, hotel and the flight is first thing tomorrow. Ah.. now we have information. I knew for sure I cannot take up the offer, but people around were talking to see if they can do it. One couple bet that the offer becomes $700 in another 10 minutes if there are no takers. A couple more announcements and then came the threats that they will boot people off if they don't have volunteers. A poorly worded offer became in informative one for about 10 minutes before it became a threat. Nice.
It was a good thing that the customs lady was so nice that all this rolls off my back. Maybe it's also that I'm not as stressed as I used to be, so it's easier not to be annoyed.
I started off Saturday in the Flatiron district/Chelsea area. I got my haircut with my favorite hairdresser Vita at Artista Salon and she did a great job as always.
I shopped in the area and manage to hit the Union Square Market for a quick look and some photographs.
Afterwards, I headed into Hoboken by PATH to meet Jocelyn for lunch. Yes, Jocelyn and I had the same entree: lobster ravioli.
Then back to the SOHO area to check out the knitting stores. The Point was so crowded! It was a nice store with a good selection of yarns. I can see if I had that in my neighbourhood, I'd be in there often. But I don't think I would have travel for it.
My next stop was Purl and Purl Patchworks. Both spectacular eye candy and it was fun. The yarn shop was much too crowded, but the staff was pleasant and was happy to stash my huge shopping bag behind the counter while I shopped.
I walked away with a fabulous colourway of Manos and a black sheep tape measure of my very own. Oh yeah!
At the fabric store, it was quiet (relatively) but there was a steady traffic of people. The staff was once again super helpful and the prices were decent. I decided that I had to go home with some fabric and picked out three.
I managed to squeeze through the crowds in SOHO on a saturday, I'd forgotten how bad it was, to Balthazar's and picked up 2 bagettes for dinner. I took my huge bags of shopping and the bagettes and made my way back to Cynthia's listening to an animated conversation between some Mets and Yankee fans. It was a very New York moment for me.
Sunday was another fun day. It was my relaxed schedule day. I had a late start but managed to move into Manhattan. I wanted to go back to my old neighbourhood to check out what's changed and what hasn't and take some photos. I got to drop by at Candle 79 for lunch. It was super busy but I got in at my usual spot for lunch. The menu has not changed too much, so I had my order of my favorite plate there: BBQ seitan sandwich (sans onions) with polentta fries and a bit of salad. I have been craving seitan for a LONG time now. I'm happy to report that it was just as good as I remembered it. I definitely savored the experience since I don't know when I'll have good seitan again. However, I am tempted to try to make the pollenta fries at home.
I went to catch up with my favorite booksellers (Bonnie and Joe) and Mystery Bookstore: Black Orchid Bookstore. Yes, I got some books. It was great fun to sit and chat. I really miss the 'village' feeling and environment of New York. People are surprised when they hear it, but NY really operated like a collection of very small villages. You know your shops and neighbourhood haunts and it's so easy to always stay in your area for amenities and never make it cross the 'major' cross streets into another area.
A quick stop to Agata and Valentina to pick up some "Super Chocolate" coffee. It's the most chocolate flavored coffee I've ever had. I haven't found anything like it anywhere.
Then to Jenny's for the Metrostitchers event and a nice relaxing time catching up with friends and being surrounded by stitching.
Monday was an attempt to finish the rest of my tasks for the trip. I wanted to try to find some things I needed. I had a lunch date with my old friends from work, so I headed into Jersey City and had a birthday lunch with Dave (his birthday), Jocelyn, Marc and John at Markers. It was super nice to hang out with them. I really miss the people at work. No, I however, really don't miss work. No surprise there. And really, do not miss the trek into Jersey City.
One of my favorite items I came home with was this knitting book from Kinokuniya: ISBN4529041409.There are so many gems in it. You can see more images. Yes, it cost more than if I had purchased it in Japan, but it's cheaper than a trip to Japan. So, well worth it. I'm looking forward to tackling some of the projects from it. It's got some of the most informative illustrations even though I don't read Japanese.
Tuesday, I had to make for the airport at a very early hour for my flight back home. It wasn't delayed and I had a nice view of the sun rising on Manhattan as I took the taxi to the airport. Even the Taxi driver noticed and commented on my lingering look back at my former home.
I'm the honest kind so when it came time to declare at customs, I had to declare that I did do some shopping and put down a number that got me sent to the paying customs duty station. After walking the extra long path to there, I was surprised when the customs lady told me that, get this, I didn't have to pay taxes that day since it's their policy to forgive some of them for the sake of encouraging honesty. Who'd heard of such thing? I was so surprised, but really in a very happy way.
What a great way to end the weekend! I can't wait until the next trip!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
New York Weekend - Commercial Version
- The Commerical Version:
- 2 trips into New Jersey via PATH (Hoboken and Jersey City)
- 1 Metrostitcher Stitching Event.
- 1 haircut
- Checking out The Point, Purl, Purl Patchworks.
- 2 lbs of Super Chocolate Coffee from Agatha and Valentina.
- 1 Walk around the old neighbourhood (Upper East Side)
- 1 detour on the cross town M79 bus
- Catch up with my favorite booksellers (Bonnie and Joe) and Mystery Bookstore: Black Orchid Bookstore.
- 1 lunch with Dave on his birthday.
- 4 shirts and 3 sweaters for G.
- 1 meal at my favorite vegan place: Candle 79.
- 1 super super nice customs agent at Pearson International Airport.
- 1 leisurely lunch with Jocelyn.
- 2 baguettes from Balthazar
- 1 knitting book from Kinokuniya
- 1 exhausting and fun weekend for a really out of shape, New Yorker at heart... [yes, this is so cliché but wait for it]
Museums and Libraries
I've been on a personal mission of sorts to go to every major museum and now I might have to do libraries!
Just for fun, here are the ones I've made it to so far on the museum side:
- New York:
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- American Natural History Museum
- Frick Collection
- Brooklyn Museum
- Washington DC
- National Gallery of Art
- Royal Ontario Museum
- Art Gallery of Ontario
- Bata Shoe Museum
- Los Angeles:
- Huntington Library
- Museé national du Moyen Age(Cluny)
- Museé d'Orsay
- British Museum
- National Gallery
- Victoria and Albert Museum
- National Palace Museum
- Tokyo National Museum
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Class and Design
A recent issue of Fast Company and Part Six of this series also mentions Antenna Design. They are the ones who designed the MetroCard machines for the MTA (NYC). I was recently once again using the machines and looking at them with a lot more of a usability and user interaction design stand point, and I have to say, they really are a gem. Go to the Antenna site to take a look at their designs in more detail, and next time you use a MetroCard vending machine, take note at how fast it was to get your ticket/refill your pass.
Other interesting reads: New York Times: Class Matters - Social Class in the United States of AmericaUpdate
Even if you don't think the metroCard machin is all that fabulous compared to other machines, it will still kick the butt of this piece of crap design put out by the TTC:
Monday, October 16, 2006
Finished Halloween Stitching!
In time for Halloween, the Bent Creek Boo Z25 kit is done!
Again, a fun and fast stitch. Yes, I managed to mess up something on it, but it's about enjoying the process and not needing to make it perfect, so I left it 'wrong'. I still like it.
I had a nice meeting of the Metrostitchers when I was in New York, and it was fantastic to be able to hang out with my friends and be part of the group again. I've really missed the stitching events now that I've moved away. And as usual, the group stitching really got me moving on my own stitching which has really been slow ever since all the Xmas knitting has taken up most of my time.
[Update: Here is a couple of photos from the stitching event. What fun!]
Here's the finished product. I'm not going to frame it or might not even iron it, but it's already hanging so I can enjoy it on display until after Halloween.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Flour poses for G
I was away back in New York visiting my friends this past long weekend. While I was away, G took some photos of Flour. Here are the great photos:
Expect to see some NY photos in future blog entries.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I just went to walk Flour and hand to run back since it started to storm snow!
A lot of wind and snow blowing sideways like it was January instead of October. But it's so typical of Canada... there's always snow before Halloween. And if you're unlucky, you're in your costume and has to trick or treat in below zero weather and snow. Hopefully that won't be this year.
The weather website didn't quite know what to call this:
It lasted not even five minutes and it was gone. The sky is sunny again. I did get a couple of shots. Click on the photo to see a bigger view.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
One of the tagging trends that I enjoy right now is geotagging. The ideal way to do this is to have GPS devices that will record the precise locations for the application in question. But most of us don't have that, and it's perhaps something we'll see more of in the days to come. So, for now, most people and applications require that you manually geotag. But while the trend of it is new, the geotag is really much like any other tag, just some metadata. When one looks at a product which has had a lot of client interaction, it's really a nice sign of folksonomy at work (ex, del.icio.us). But we're perhaps not quite there yet on the geotag side. It's only a matter of time.
We've got geobloggers and geotagged photos. Flickr has recently announced their map product. It is my first indepth exposure to geotag. (Previous one is the Team Canada on Frapper!. Geotagging people.) While yahoo! maps is lacking compared to google maps, it is nicely integrated with the flickr application. I got started on it just about when it went online and I've seen the product improve in the short time it's live. My map. I do echo a lot of the other critism of the 'features' or 'bugs' about the map feature. One can hope flickr is listening and is working on fixing the issues. I'm pretty convinced that they will, given how they have quickly fixed some of the most annoying early problems.
Since privacy is of course of issue, considered bigger or smaller depending on who one speaks with... I actually prefer the ability to be able to control how specific to geotag a location. I do plan on going back and adding more photos to my flickr pages and being more specific about locations. I'd specially like to see how a location is photographed by different people, but how we can record the changes to a location over time. Of course, that's really the next dimension to something like a flickr map feature, to be able to then view and filter the pages by date and get a layered time progression. Note: The maps will allow you to filter a map by date. But we do not yet have enough photos over time to take full advantage of the filter. I'm really looking forward to seeing more photos being geotagged over time.
Some geotag talk:
- Making location simple by Jeffrey Veen
- The PlaceMap Project
- Geotagging on mezzoblue
- MAKE: How to GPS tag photos
- Flickr Geotag Group
- iPhoto hidden feature?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006