Category Archives: McQ


So here I am, sitting at the Starbucks, having just ridden my bike over.


First bike ride of the season! Ya, ok, I know I’m slow. Given the weather over the last few days it feels like everyone has been out biking already, but at least I made it. Now when it gets cold again, you’ll know who to blame. ๐Ÿ˜›

In any case, even I couldn’t pass up a day this nice. It’s 25 celsius out there and it’s coming up on 19h00. Wow!

Now let’s just all hope that we aren’t seeing 20 degrees above normal temps in July and August too.

Maker wannabee

I did do a couple of actual, for reals, hardware things while I was on vacation, which for anyone who knows me has got to be pretty surprising :-). The first was to put together a little Arduino (actually Freeduino) board:

I have vague plans to take this plus a DAC and produce a midi to CV converter, something like this.

The other project was more prosaic, but probably more useful: I replaced the lawn light outside GCW. Really, this was just removing the old bits, repainting the post, then putting in a new light sensor and headpiece. The result actually looks pretty good:

(click the link to see a closeup)

Anyway, nothing earthshaking there, but there’s nothing like a couple of successes to refuel your interest in making things again. Anybody want to help build an analog synthesizer?

A week into my vacation and I’m still not relaxed.

If anyone has been watching this site for updates, I have to apologize. It’s been (even more) hectic at work lately and by the time I get home, I haven’t had the energy to blog. In fact, the list of things I’ve been avoiding is much longer than just blogging:

  • getting exercise / biking — nope.
  • spending time with Deb — not enough, except for when we go out for dinner (but that’s mostly to avoid cooking).
  • electronic music — not even a new synth was enough to make that happen.
  • cello practice — holy mackerel the music for the fall is hard; an hour a day wouldn’t be enough to play it properly and I’m doing less than half that.
  • helping Dennis learn controllerism — bought him the hardware and a copy of Ableton; nothing since then.
  • web skills development — Deb deserves more than what I built her at Sheeps Ahoy, but it would take months of learning to get there.
  • walking the dogs — a total of twice this summer. ugh!
  • work around the house — well, I’ve done some of that this week, at least.
  • cooking — only when Deb makes me BBQ.

Whew! Even if I had the time to do all these things (i.e. I was retired) I still wouldn’t have the energy for all of them.

Anyway, I’m a week into my vacation, and I’m still not relaxed. However, I am starting to surface (as witnessed by the soul searching above). Hopefully, that’s a good sign. Last week the list looked like:

  • re-arranged the bedroom
  • got in a car accident — no one hurt; not my fault
  • started cleaning out the garage, but there’s more to do this week
  • helped Deb through a bad bout of stomach “flu”
  • spent a really fun day with her on our anniversary, including seeing the Caravaggio exhibit at the gallery
  • put her on a plane for California
  • played *way* too much of the new Deus Ex game [note: Yesterday they rolled out a patch to fix the long load times: down to 10 seconds from almost a minute before]

We’ll see how it goes this week. I’ll post if I get some new music made. Otherwise (for those I work with), see you next week.

What Canadian politics looks like to me

Canadians are going to the polls, again, on May 2nd. There is almost nothing to distinguish this time from any of the previous five, but there is one significant difference: This time my son is old enough to vote (and he intends to do so). I’ve told him that he should find out what party offers the best value to him, from his point of view. If I had to guess what that would be, I’d say tax breaks for low income earners and education assistance first, then environment and health care. Luckily, I know he doesn’t read my blog, so I’m not worried about colouring his viewpoint. ๐Ÿ™‚

In any case, I find myself once again trying to figure out how to vote. When I look at the various political parties I see effectively zero difference from where they were a couple of years ago, so I expect the same outcome as last time: a Conservative minority. After all, expecting anything else would be crazy.

Here’s what I see (and I completely respect that these views are not shared by everyone):

  • Conservatives — boorish, obnoxious, bullies who favor short term economic benefits
  • Liberals — party policy could be defined as “don’t piss anyone off”; unable to find a compelling leader
  • NDP — want to change things; have no idea how to do that without tanking the country
  • Greens — heart in the right place; would need a majority to be interesting, which won’t happen until after the environment becomes unfixable
  • … and the fringe parties that simply don’t matter.

As most of you know, I usually vote Green, but I have discovered something in their current, stated platform that I cannot abide [emphasis mine]:

We will promote complimentary health care – through support of chiropractic, naturopathic, homeopathic, and other non-western practices.

Everyone is free to make up there own minds about complimentary health care issues, but I will not vote for a party that promotes homeopathic medicine. Seldom am I given such a clear means to reduce the complexity of a decision space.

So, in the absence of that, I guess I’m leaning towards the NDP this year. Jack seems to have carried himself well in the debates. There is some alignment with my philosophical views. As I said last election:

The NDP are also close, if they could just figure out that sometimes “Environment first” is going to have to trump “People first”, so that our kids get to have a world worth living in too.

I guess we’ll see. I am very interested in your thoughts about the election. Feel free to comment.

Good Service Alert

When Deb and I were in Halifax last Summer, I purchased a Kodak Playsport Zx3 video camera. It proved to be a perfectly capable little outdoor camera, with 1080p recording capability, image stabilization and a waterproof shell, all for $130. Not bad. Since then, I have also pressed it into service to record numerous family events, and except for a bit too much color noise in low light situations, it has worked well.

Unfortunately, about a week ago, it developed a dark spot in the image sensor as you can see from this still frame from a test movie I shot:

A spot on the frame

The weird thing about this is, if I pointed the camera at a bright light source and then back where it was originally, the spot would disappear and would stay gone even if I waited until the light level stabilized again. However, a minute or so after that point, the dark area would reappear.

Given that I only paid $130 for the camera, I figured it probably wouldn’t make sense to try to get it repaired — most camera places won’t even assess a camera repair for less than $75, let alone do the work — but just as I was about to toss it on my “junk tech toy” pile I remembered that I had actually spent the extra $20 for an extended warrantee for it. So, instead of junking it, I hunted around for the original receipt and then headed off to the local Staples.

Now, remember the Staples where I originally bought the camera was in Halifax, so I wasn’t confident that they were going to be able to do anything for me in any case, but as soon as I walked into the one in Barrhaven I was met by someone who listened to my explanation of the problem, took a quick look at my bill, and then simply handed me a new camera. They didn’t even make me hang around while they did the associated paperwork, but simply initialed my bill to indicate that an exchange had been made and then sent me on my way.

I must say first that the $20 was apparently money well spent, but more than that, I can honestly say that I have never had a better customer service experience. If only all stores dealt with customers this well! GJ, Staples. Thanks.

New digs

As a result of some new hiring we’re doing, we’ve finally gotten around to re-organizing our office layouts. I ended up in a nice office, with an interesting shape, that used to be the one Nick was in. Unfortunately, Nick ended up on the “puny” end of the office lottery as a result. ๐Ÿ™ Sorry, Nick.

Here’s a pic of my new space…

My new office.

And I even have enough room for my couch (just off camera to the right).

If my mind was this cluttered… Oh, wait.

I’ve been busy on many fronts lately, and haven’t had time to blog. In lieu of real content, here’s a picture of my office…

my work desktop
(Click on it to get a bigger view.)

Some things to note:

  • You can see by the height of the chair that I have put my desk back in “stand up” mode. I’ve only been at it for a couple of days, and so my back (and feet) are still pretty sore, but I must say it’s a great way to remind myself that I need to lose weight. It usually takes about 3 weeks to get used to it again.
  • I do still juggle, especially on conference calls [pssst… don’t tell anyone. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ]. The balls on the desk are actually made of wood; they’re great for training you to catch properly since they hurt if you do it wrong (but you don’t lose fingers like you do with knives). The pins (stuck in the back of the desk under the Escher print) are just for show, I haven’t used them in years. Oh, and there’s a unicycle just out of frame behind the cello case on the left. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • The silent cello is still at work. I try to get 10 or 15 minutes to play it at lunch, but that’s about the best I’ve done.
  • Yes, my main development machine is a MacBook Pro.

Anyway, stay tuned hopefully after EclipseCon is over, next week, we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming updates.

New Years, Resolutions, and Weighing In

I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. But more than that, I’d like to remind us all that, for that wish to be fulfilled, we need to support and care for our friends and family; we are living in interesting times, and our love for each other is our best defense.

Those of you who see me regularly know that I have been putting on weight lately. I’m currently over 250 pounds and, even for me, that much weight is a problem — the obvious indicator being that it is now difficult for me to get “crunched” enough to put on my snowboard boots. Ugh!

As such, I’ve decided to join the ranks of the New Year’s resolution makers:

I will lose 50 pounds this year.

Now, in general, I’m pretty good at sticking to a resolution (particularly, one that I’ve told the world about ๐Ÿ™‚ ), but losing that much weight will be a challenge, so I am asking for your support. Please feel free to remind me if you see me acting in a way that would run counter to the goal. I won’t let it happen deliberately, but it’s certainly possible that I just might not notice.

Wish me luck.


My vote (in Canada) and a U.S. political note

I hate the idea of strategic voting. I’ve always been a strong believer in voting for the party/candidate that most strongly reflects your world view. This year, however, I’m strongly tempted to vote Liberal (even though I think they’re idiots), simply because I believe the prospect of having a Conservative majority in government *now*, at the point when the world is about to go through a significant upheaval would be tragic.

The thing is, when I look at the state of the world — ecologically, socially, and economically — and how I feel that we will have to respond to it, it’s clear that the party that best reflects my views is the Greens. I also believe that many, many others in Canada feel the same way.

The NDP are also close, if they could just figure out that sometimes “Environment first” is going to have to trump “People first”, so that our kids get to have a world worth living in too.

So what to do… hm…

Btw, do you realize that if the Americans aren’t careful, they may end up with a vice-president who believes that Christ will return during her lifetime (or at least believed this at one point during her life).

Random, unrelated question: Is insanity grounds for disqualification for leadership in the U.S.?