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Preview: Acts of Volition

Acts of Volition

Last Build Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:56:34 +0000


Free Video Game Ideas

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:56:34 +0000

The ideas are free, not the games. How about a sports (football, hockey, basketball, etc.) simulator that simulates what it’s like to play a game rather than simulating what it’s like to watch one on TV. Or, if we’re going to simulate what feels like to watch sports on TV, let’s get hyper-real. Greasy potato-chip … 

Go Halifax Explosion!

Sat, 25 Nov 2017 17:48:22 +0000

Heard on CBC this morning that one of many names floated for a possible Halifax CFL expansion team is the Halifax Explosion. Brilliant? Inappropriate? I think both?

The Hard Truths of Canada’s History

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 18:13:10 +0000

Speaking of the victims of residential schools in Newfoundland & Labrador, The Prime Minister of Canada said: “Many were sorely neglected and not properly fed, clothed, or housed. Others suffered physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. All were deprived of the love and care of their families, of their parents, and of their communities. These are … 

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 01:39:18 +0000

The greatest feature of the Web may be that it ignores double spaces after a period.

What’s important counts

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 01:46:29 +0000

In the extraordinary documentary, The Vietnam War by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, an ‘Army Advisor’ named James Willbanks says: “If you can’t count what’s important, you make what you can count important.” This is true in more than war.

Talking picture in picture

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:47:40 +0000

Tech Youtube-guy extraordinaire, MKBDH, pulls off a subtle but clever way to show how video playback works on the new iPhone X screen (relevant portion is around 5:50).

They don’t make ’em like they used to (two years ago)

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 01:43:49 +0000

I know I may be suffering from Early Onset Grumpiness, because I agree with this rant about how laptops aren’t as good as they were in the good old days (two years ago).

Firefox is (still) great

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:32:21 +0000

Perhaps due to my history with Mozilla and Firefox, I’ve been a happy Firefox user since version 0.6 (14 years ago!?). In recent years, the Chrome browser from Google has become the most commonly used browser, especially among web developers. I’m delighted to see that Mozilla has made great strides in improving Firefox and is … 

Selling the Flu Shot

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 02:10:07 +0000

Every time I see a news story about the flu shot (which is available for free on Prince Edward Island this year), there’s always a stock photo close-up of a needle jabbing into an arm. If you want to encourage people to get the flu shot, don’t use a photo of the one thing people … 

The Zen Microwave

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 14:01:22 +0000

Here’s a free invention idea for you (in that I have a stupid idea and will not do anything with it): The Zen Microwave. The Zen Microwave only has one control: an on/off switch. Once you’ve started it, you have to remember to turn it off or your left-overs will turn into exploding spaghetti-charcoal. If … 

Things to Consume Your Time & Attention

Sat, 04 Nov 2017 17:37:54 +0000

A few things I’ve been enjoying recently: The Vietnam War by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick The Vietnam War is a ten-part, 18-hour documentary from PBS. It’s available to stream for free on the PBS website/app, but only if you live in the US. For those of us fortunate enough not to live in the … 

Meet is Murder

Sat, 04 Nov 2017 17:05:17 +0000

I’d like to write a business-oriented self-help book, just so I could have a chapter titled “Meet is Murder.” Now all I need is the contents for that chapter, and all of the other chapters. Keep an eye out for it on the best-seller lists in 8 to 10 years.

Recommended podcast: Stay Tuned with Preet

Tue, 31 Oct 2017 17:48:45 +0000

Recommended podcast: Stay Tuned with Preet. The podcast is hosted by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. I’d start with episode 1: That Time President Trump Fired Me.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Ezra Klein Show

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 00:35:22 +0000

This interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Ezra Klein Show actually made me stop washing the dishes and just stand there in the kitchen.

My Life (So Far) in Numbers

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 16:51:01 +0000

As of 2017: I have been at the company I helped to start for 18 years I have been married for 12 years I have a 9-year-old child (and 6, and 1) I’m going for a personal high-score.

Free Airport Shoe Shine Tip

Sat, 06 May 2017 16:03:08 +0000

Don’t have time or money for an airport shoe shine? Use my hot tip to polish up those clogs while you’re on the move:

Remembrance Day 2015

Wed, 11 Nov 2015 02:19:54 +0000

I’m definitely emotionally vulnerable due to newborn-induced sleep deprivation, but this drawing that my five-year-old daughter brought home from school today actually made me cry:

My calendar for the next week

Thu, 15 Oct 2015 14:48:58 +0000

These are all actual items on my calendar for the next week (mostly for my kids, as you’ll gather): Teddy bear clinic School pictures Swimming lessons Piano lessons Step dancing lessons School “Spookcatular” Have a baby I am truly living the dream.

The End is Nigh

Wed, 04 Feb 2015 17:25:52 +0000

“If @sgarrity doesn’t write a blog post in the next month he won’t have written for a year, and blogging will be over.” — Peter Rukavina, via twitter

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:58:48 +0000

Are you awesome? Would you like to work with me? Every day? Silverorange, the web development company at which I enjoy spending most of my days, is considering hiring a designer / front-end developer.

Unfurl the Cusp for Victory!

Fri, 07 Mar 2014 13:50:18 +0000

Swimming Desk

Wed, 25 Sep 2013 19:19:03 +0000

The standing desk craze has begun to spread through my workplace. There are even rumblings of treadmill desks (a step too far for me, thanks). This gave me an idea – I give you, the swimming desk:

Wed, 22 May 2013 12:17:54 +0000

From the creator of the GIF: “it’s pronounced JIF, not GIF.” Of course, I’ve known this all along. As with all debates, the important thing is that someone is wrong.

Local man previews Firefox OS

Sun, 12 May 2013 23:20:44 +0000

My friend and occasionally-quadrennial conference co-organizer, Peter Rukavia, is writing about his experience with a developer-preview Firefox OS phone. His perspective is particularly interesting as it doesn’t come from inside the Firefox/Mozilla world. He’s just your average run-of-the-mill kind of alpha-geek that would pre-order a semi-functional developer preview device from Spain to try out an … 


Fri, 01 Mar 2013 15:01:34 +0000

How many footsteps does it take to get our lovely 4-year-old and 2-year-old into the car in the morning?

Stock Music Video

Thu, 21 Feb 2013 11:51:23 +0000

Great stock-footage inspired music video:

Beautiful Songs

Wed, 16 Jan 2013 01:09:01 +0000

A recent instance of the recurring Reddit thread, “What is the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard?” is full of so many beautiful songs, you could get lost in it for hours. When you hear something special in a piece of music, you want to others to hear it and to know that you shared … 

Fri, 07 Dec 2012 13:41:35 +0000

This map of bomb drops on London during The Blitz in 1940/1941 is worth seeing. I’m still amazed that St. Paul’s Cathedral survived.

David Bazan on his music

Sat, 10 Nov 2012 18:15:55 +0000

David Bazan, (songwriter/musician of Pedro the Lion, Headphones, etc.) speaking on the podcast Conversations with Matt Dwyer: “The vast majority of anybody who’s ever heard my music doesn’t want to hear it again.” The entire interview is worth hearing. Come for the earnest discussion of music and spiritual crisis, stay for the humiliating pants-pooping-on-a-date story … 

My Father and My Laptop, in Kenya

Tue, 06 Nov 2012 14:08:57 +0000

My father is good at many things, but sitting still is not one of them. His current adventure has him helping out at a school/orphanage in Meru, Kenya. He has been posting updates from Kenya on his eponymous blog. It has been fascinating to read his updates, despite the lack of a working Z key … 

The Throes of Existential Angst

Mon, 05 Nov 2012 00:20:35 +0000

There’s an episode of the classic television series Northern Exposure (bear with me) where Dr. Joel Fleishman is anxiously trying to fill up his empty Alaskan summer days. A friend tells him that he’s in “the throes of existential angst”. This observation has stuck with me. I’ve come to believe that I occasionally suffer from … 

Halloween by the numbers

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 23:40:19 +0000

Total trick-or-treaters: About 75 Costumes that might have been “prostitute”: 2 or 3 Dads dressed as Hank Scorpio: 1 Dogs that terrified my kids: 2 Dogs that delighted my kids: 2 Dogs dressed as hot-dogs: 1 Chihuahuas wearing sombreros: 1 Ninjas that needed to use our bathroom: 1

Regional Lament

Mon, 08 Oct 2012 00:07:48 +0000

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The Mars Trailer

Fri, 22 Jun 2012 18:46:00 +0000

NASA is promoting the upcoming landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars like a trailer for a Transformers movie. I might be the exact target market for this. Can’t wait for the landing.

Paul Leaves the Internet

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 17:34:09 +0000

Paul Miller, a tech journalist for The Verge, is leaving the Internet for a year. He’s an avid StarCraft II player, and writes about (and on) the web for a living. He’s going to continue to use a computer (offline) and continue to write for The Verge. Miller is a great writer and I get … 

5-Year Old Focus Group

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 13:31:38 +0000

A designer asked his five-year-old daughter to comment on a series of corporate logos. The results are adorable and fascinating. It’s a powerful machine that can make a child look at a bright sunflower and say “Gas.”

The Best Game Of Tennis Ever?

Sat, 28 Jan 2012 17:15:07 +0000

I don’t know much about tennis, but this match (tennis-word!) between Andy Murray and Michael Llodrais at the Australian Open is amazing:

Sun, 08 Jan 2012 01:44:40 +0000

Update: Still bummed about the 11-million-year commute to the planet Kepler B we discussed last month? Be sure to read BoingBoing’s article on the (im)practicality and cost of interstellar travel. While Kepler 22b might be a boring 11-million-year flight away, the nearest star, Alpha Centauri would only be a brisk 70,000 years or so.

The Swoosh is a Lie

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 01:41:13 +0000

From the delightful 99% Invisible podcast, I learned today that many televised sporting events use pre-recorded audio samples to fake a sense of realism. When you watch at least some sports on television, particularly those that cover large areas, the swoosh of a cross-country skier, the splash of a rower’s paddle, or the thundering stampede … 

How long would it take to get to Kepler 22b?

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 15:33:37 +0000

Kepler 22b, the extrasolar planet discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope is apparently around 600 light years away. I wondered how long it would actually take for us to get something there. Maybe if we start today, we could surprise our descendants with a signal from a probe in a 10,000 years or so. Apparently … 

Google Music from the rest of the world

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 12:59:46 +0000

Google’s new Music service is so simple, it doesn’t have any links or buttons. They didn’t even need a period at the end of the second sentence:

The Live Music Video

Wed, 05 Oct 2011 13:27:06 +0000

I’ve always liked the idea of using a live performance for a music video. Not necessarily concert footage – it could be live to camera just for the video. The band Hey Rosetta! (the exclamation mark is theirs) have done just this in their beautiful and affecting video for the song Bandages. It was filmed … 

Baby Rock

Fri, 09 Sep 2011 12:00:28 +0000

In this interview with Chris Murphy from Sloan, he was asked about song-writing themes as the band gets older. Chris says: “I’m trying not to write songs about how much I hate getting up at 5:30 am with the baby. It’s so boring but that’s all I know these days.” Chris, I would love to … 

New York Times Interactive Audio Presentation of 9/11 Tapes

Thu, 08 Sep 2011 14:04:31 +0000

The New York Times has a well-executed presentation of various audio recordings from the FAA, NORAD, and American Airlines from September 11, 2001. The clips are presented in chronological order with both audio and text. The effect is chilling.

Radiohead YouTube Remix

Wed, 22 Jun 2011 17:46:50 +0000

This mix of dozens of YouTube clips of musicians covering Radiohead’s Paranoid Android is a remarkable editing job: Thanks to Paul Kim for sharing.

New Album from Sloan: The Double Cross

Sat, 21 May 2011 13:20:52 +0000

On their 20th anniversary as a band, Sloan has release their best album in a while. The Double Cross arranges song order, bleeds one song into another, and calls back to hooks from other songs in the way that made their 1998 album, Navy Blues, so amazing. Like all of their albums, The Double Cross … 

Luis von Ahn on reCAPTCHA and his next project

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 13:30:33 +0000

A friend and client, Luis von Ahn, gave a great TEDx Talk at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Luis runs through the creation of the captcha, his project reCAPTCHA, and his new language learning project, Duolingo. One of my favourite things about working with Luis, is that one of his lead developers and co-founder of … 

Sun, 17 Apr 2011 16:40:35 +0000

Interesting chart mapping the life, death, and popularity of web browsers over time. I haven’t seen this type of presentation before.

Sat, 16 Apr 2011 16:39:34 +0000

Updated the previous post with a link to the presentation video: A Brief History of (and .org)

Live from Mozilla: A Brief History of (and .org)

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 18:21:22 +0000

Reporting today on location in sunny Mountain View, California and the lovely Mozilla headquarters. I’m doing a talk in the Mozilla lounge about the history of the mozilla websites called A Brief History (and .org) today (April 12, 2011) at 12:30PM Pacific time (4:30pm Atlantic time for those back home on Prince Edward Island). … 

Music for Your Winter

Wed, 15 Dec 2010 02:17:39 +0000

I’ve a few musical recommendations for your December – though not Christmas music. After hearing the single, “Be A Man” on CBC Radio2, I’ve been enjoying Justin Rutledge’s album, “The Early Widows” (available DRM-free from Zunior). Turns out it was also produced by Hawksley Workman. More recently, I discovered that some of the remnants of … 

Space Pop

Tue, 07 Sep 2010 16:39:10 +0000

Fact: there is a Canadian-made Larrivee guitar on the International Space Station.

How the Venue Shapes Music

Sat, 14 Aug 2010 00:09:26 +0000

In David Byrne’s talk at the TED Conference, “How architecture helped music evolve”, he takes a walk though the history of venues and their accompanying influence on musical styles. Apparently birds adapt their music to the venue too.

Mozilla Summit 2010 Group Photo

Mon, 26 Jul 2010 01:03:29 +0000

I am proud, grateful, and generally delighted to be one of the many smiling faces in this photo: Photo by Gen Kanai.

Map of Nuclear Explosions

Mon, 05 Jul 2010 12:20:49 +0000

This animated map of nuclear explosions from 1945 to 1998 is remarkable to watch. Note how France and England both have extensive tests, but none on their own mainland. Watch through to the end to see an overlay of all explosions. Since this animation was compiled, North Korea has conducted two nuclear explosions. According to … 

That Oil Was For Us

Mon, 31 May 2010 16:35:07 +0000

While lamenting the state of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, my wife pointed out that, as consumers of oil, we’re all a party to it. I seemed so obvious that I was embarrassed that it hadn’t occurred to me earlier. Most things in my life – the heat in my home … 

You Don’t Explode in Space

Fri, 21 May 2010 12:17:07 +0000

According to NASA, a human (or animal) exposed to the vacuum of space without any protection would not explode, or implode, or boil, or turn into a super-hero. Rather, you’d eventually die from the lack of oxygen. If you get back inside quick enough, you could survive unharmed. Good to know.

The Debaters

Sat, 08 May 2010 22:50:53 +0000

Fellow Zap Your PRAM’er, Patrick Ledwell, was featured on the May 8th episode of The Debaters on CBC Radio One. When someone you know is on national radio with the intent of being funny, you can’t help but be a bit nervous for them. As my office mates can attest, being funny is hard. After … 

GM’s $1,600/car Health Tax

Thu, 01 Apr 2010 00:37:50 +0000

A recent episode of This American Life uses the story of NUMMI, a joint-venture auto plant between GM and Toyota in 1984, to help tell the larger story of why the American auto industry produced such poor quality cars for so many years. Though it was peripheral to the main point of the story (how … 

Things I Didn’t Know: Liberal Arts

Mon, 29 Mar 2010 00:31:28 +0000

Why is a “Liberal Arts degree” is called “Liberal”. I had wondered if and how it might be related to political liberalism. It turns out, it’s not. According to the Wikipedia, the Liberal Arts are so called because: In classical antiquity, the liberal arts denoted the education proper to a free man (Latin: liberus, “free”), … 

Have You Heard?

Wed, 24 Mar 2010 19:23:03 +0000

In order to hear a phone message, I get the following four prompts; Every time. You have one unheard message. Check unheard messages, press 1-1. The following message has not been heard. First unheard message.

Save the Day on This American Life

Thu, 18 Mar 2010 00:25:48 +0000

In addition to enjoying a new album each month (March has been Postdata), I’ve also been listening to This American Life. The first act of the most recent episode, entitled Save the Day, is a remarkable story, well told: James Spring had hit his late 30s, and found his life utterly unremarkable. He needed to … 

Chile quake measured in Virginia well

Thu, 04 Mar 2010 19:07:11 +0000

A well in Virginia (yeah, the one in the United States) measured a 2-foot drop during the Chilean earthquake in February. Apparently, the “regular sine-wave variations are due to the effect of lunar tides on the Earth’s crust”. I find that almost as intriguing as the quake effect. See other peculiar side-effects of the massive … 

Musical Updates

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 19:49:25 +0000

A few music updates: Following up on my plan to enjoy one album a month: After enjoying Dan Mangan’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice during January, I’ve selected The Avett Brothers I and Love and You for February. I loved their album The Gleam II and I’m already loving this one. According to their website, Wintersleep … 

iPad Reactions

Fri, 29 Jan 2010 00:24:28 +0000

Peter Rukavina on the iPad : The power of the net for me has always rested in its utility as a vehicle for freely producing, sharing, mashing-up and distributing stuff, not in its utility for allowing me to watch re-runs of LOST more easily. I agree completely. Also, see Andrew Leonard on the iPad for … 

12 Albums

Thu, 28 Jan 2010 00:44:47 +0000

It’s easy to romanticize the medium of our youth. I’m too young to miss vinyl; for me vinyl means Nana Mouskouri’s Christmas album. No one really misses cassettes; except maybe for mix tapes, which we mostly loved because of how much work we put into them. CDs are also hard to lament. They were never … 

The Pretty Future (of Firefox)

Tue, 22 Dec 2009 15:11:13 +0000

Stephen Horlander over at Mozilla is doing great work on the visual appearance and functionality of future versions of Firefox. See his latest Windows Theme/UI Update. Pixel nerds may remember Stephen from his significant contributions to Firefox 1.0 with the Winstripe and Pinstripe themes.

“Ska music is like a romantic comedy…”

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 15:04:32 +0000

Quoth George Stroumboulopoulos on The Strombo Show: “Ska music is like a romantic comedy, unless it’s genius, it’s terrible.” He goes on to say that “[a]verage, middle-of-the-road Ska is some of the worst music you’re ever going to hear in your life.” The Strombo Show is George Snuffalupagus’ new 4-hour radio show on CBC Radio … 

Search Stories

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 01:39:48 +0000

I’m just linking to an ad campaign (and I’m not sure why Google even has to advertise), but Google’s Search Stories ads are nicely done.

Naming Names

Sun, 22 Nov 2009 15:46:52 +0000

This 1999 article on corporate naming practices is a great read, even ten years later (thanks to Isaac for the link). Disclosure: I preferred the name Cardinal over Firefox and I work for a company called silverorange.

Viewing PDF Files without Adobe Reader

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 00:56:23 +0000

I noticed an interesting feature at the end of the Google Chrome OS Demo video today. Apparently, you can pass the URL of any publicly available PDF file to Google Docs and it will act as a plugin-free PDF viewer right in the browser. To view a PDF file without any plugins, append the URL … 

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 16:06:01 +0000

15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee

A Brief Guide to American Highway Fast Food

Tue, 10 Nov 2009 12:43:30 +0000

My friend and scotch-enthusiast, Ian Wiliams, has written a brief guide to American road-side fast-food for his fancy wife. Here are some highlights: On Taco Bell: “With a enough Medium™ sauce, pretty much everything remains vaguely interesting, even if the aftermath – especially in a closed car – can be somewhat Vesuvial.” On Wendy’s (read … 

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 13:27:24 +0000

If you’re a web developer, take a few minutes to complete the Mozilla Developer Network survey.

Font Beauty in Firefox

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 20:15:54 +0000

An exciting (to me) video walkthrough of the font control options coming Firefox 3.6 and/or 3.7:

Glaciers in Motion – the Extreme Ice Survey

Mon, 19 Oct 2009 00:50:35 +0000

The Extreme Ice Survey has been capturing time-lapse photos of the flow and retreat of glaciers over weeks, months, and years. I recommend taking fifteen minutes to watch the survey lead, James Balog present some of the remarkable image sequences at the TED conference. If you only have two minutes to spare, skip into the … 

Eastlink Injects Itself into the Internet Experience of its Customers

Sun, 18 Oct 2009 15:07:25 +0000

After having used Aliant (now Bell Aliant) as my Internet service provider (the term high-speed is useless in its relativity) for several years, I switched to Eastlink – the only alternative. My service with Aliant had been fine, but due to some bizarre Internet-topography, to get from my house (on Aliant’s network) to my office … 


Wed, 14 Oct 2009 18:47:22 +0000

There’s this guy, at this office, and he says the most unbelievable stuff. Then, his co-workers post what he says on Twitter. It’s often not the kind of thing you’d want to read with your mother looking over your shoulder. She’s not married and she makes penis cakes? What’s her number? I wish my skin … 

Virtual Hearts & Virtual Minds

Thu, 08 Oct 2009 22:08:31 +0000

Want to build a social network for the Middle East or North Africa? The US State Department may have $500,000 to $2,500,000 for you.