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senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

mixing and matching online

permalink Sunday, 30APR2006:

it was a beautiful sunny day and so i was not surprised that no one showed up at the lake beside the road to nowhere to play broomball outside. with a foot of snow on the playing ice and the sounds of snowmobiles reigning supreme over the tundra, i took the opportunity to chill out under the sun for a bit.

photo of skidoo highway
however, the fact that i had had no food since yesterday's teriyaki wrap meant that i needed to get some sustenance pronto. after mark gave me a lift back downtown, i rustled up something on the stove and sat down to play a bit of online poker while i ate. i played table after table and just lost and lost until i finished my meal.

  • link of the day: thanks to amy, i followed a link to a couple of articles by vin crosbie about the bleak future of the newspaper industry. in the first one, vin predicts that unless the industry changes course, it will cease to be an economical industry within our lifetimes.

    Unless ways can be found to increase 
    the per user revenues generated from 
    newspaper websites, newspapers need to 
    gain fantastic numbers of Web site 
    users just to replace the declines in 
    print edition revenues.  A 50,000 
    circulation daily would need to gain a 
    million to 50 million Web site users 
    to postpone the time when it's no 
    longer economically feasible to produce 
    its printed edition!
    
    Even if newspaper Web sites' advertising 
    revenues were to continue their current 
    rates of growth (double in three years), 
    which could be possible in the short-term 
    but is very unlikely over the medium-term 
    and highly unlikely over the long-term, 
    new revenues still probably wouldn't 
    compensate enough for the declines in 
    print operating revenues.  The revenues 
    per user would still be too far apart.
    
    how to change course ? vin explains that the biggest problem is a misconception of the meaning of new media. he draws an analogy with transportation media (land, sea and air) and explains how the new media is not the technologies being used, but the fact that those technologies enable a many to many conversation between information producers and information consumers.

    The hallmark characteristics of the 
    New Medium are:
    
    * Uniquely individualized information 
    can simultaneously be delivered or 
    displayed to a potentially infinite 
    number of people.
    
    * Each of the people involved  whether 
    publisher, broadcasters, or consumer 
     shares equal and reciprocal control 
    over that content.
    
    In other words, the New Medium has the 
    advantages of both the Interpersonal 
    and the Mass media, but without their 
    complementary disadvantages.
    
    * No longer must anyone who wants to 
    individually communicate a unique 
    message to each recipient be restricted 
    to communicating with only one person 
    at a time.
    
    * No longer must anyone who wants to 
    communicate simultaneous messages to 
    a mass of recipients be unable to 
    individualize the content of the 
    message for each recipient.
    
    ...
    
    because each recipient in the New 
    Medium shares with all publishers and 
    broadcasters equal and reciprocal 
    control over what that recipient gets 
     either by each recipient's choices 
    of which publishers' or broadcasters' 
    websites to visit or else increasingly 
    by mechanisms that allow the recipient 
    to aggregate that content without 
    visiting each of those publishers' or 
    broadcasters' sites  these New Medium 
    consumers are leaving behind the 
    traditional Mass Medium's packaging of 
    information.
    
    Each is migrating towards whatever mix 
    of content most precisely matches her 
    own uniquely individual needs and 
    interests.  This is why more than one 
    billion consumers have migrated into 
    the New Medium; it allows them more 
    precise satisfaction of their needs and 
    interests.  They didn't migrate into 
    the New Medium to read, see, or hear a 
    Mass Medium package of information 
    online  information they were receiving 
    from traditional Mass Medium vehicles 
    in more readily usable forms.
    


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relying on technology to a fault

permalink Monday, 01MAY2006:

tonight's show ended up being a gonzo one as halfway thru the set, i found out that i had not saved my 'final' playlist before exiting musicmatch last night. when i re-burned the play cd after re-setting some sound levels, the cd no longer matched my setlist and matching script. good thing i have gotten proficient at my digital audio editing tools :)

anyway, the edited glitch-free digital version is now available online. for the curious, i've also uploaded the raw and un-cut version which is the same as the edited version until 37 minutes in, when all hell breaks loose. enjoy !

Aur.Oral Exposures setlist for 01may2006:

  1. Works to Do - Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers
  2. There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis - Kirsty MacColl
  3. The Man in the Moon - Chuna McIntyre & Marie Meade


  4. Washington, D.C. - The Magnetic Fields
  5. That's America - Bruce McCulloch
  6. San Andreas Fault - Natalie Merchant
  7. There's No Such Thing as a Non-Violent Revolution - Malcolm X


  8. voices - Holly McNarland
  9. Answering Machine - Bruce McCulloch
  10. Vox - Sarah McLachlan


  11. Sleepy Maggie - Ashley MacIsaac
  12. Show Me Heaven (demo) - Maria McKee
  13. Church of Logic, Sin & Love - The Men


  14. Two Out of Three Ain't Bad - Meatloaf
  15. I Should've Known - Aimee Mann
  16. Meaningless - The Magnetic Fields


  17. Spin and Spin - Marta
  18. Ready for Drowning - Manic Street Preachers
  19. Sonnet No. 3 (Like a Duck) - MC Honky


  20. Edmonton - Carolyn Mark




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open source tax software ?

permalink Tuesday, 02MAY2006:

as noted in my very first blog posting last year, i finished my 2004 tax return in late february. my 2005 return got mailed off this morning, a good 2 months later thna last year, and that was after staying up into the wee hours finishing it up last night. i did manage to catch a little error in my rough draft, tho, as only 50% of capital gains (not 100%) has to be included as income ... which boosted my refund by a few hundred bux! my original spreadsheet did note this properly, but in my haste (and sadly infrequent use of the provision), i manually over-wrote the formula for the cell. now i get to wonder, will i repeat the same mistake next year ??

this evening i showed up at the public library for my first CVITP shift of the season. i guess that since most of the clients we deal with are lower-income to start with, they would be just as likely to file after the deadline as before, in order to claim the nunavut tax credit (works out to $60) that they get even without any income. however, no clients showed up, so to learn the software, i did a test drive with my own info. the result ? an *exact* match with what i got via my spreadsheet and manual calculations.

i did make a rant last year about how i don't think that people should have to pay for tax software:
i'm still piqued that people are 
forced to dole out money every year 
for tax software, when revenue 
canada could easily just send out 
spreadsheets with pre-filled info 
based on data that employers have 
already sent in. over the years, i 
have developed my own spreadsheet 
setup with all of the forms and 
schedules that i use regularly and 
this works well enough for me.
i can understand if your tax situation is complicated, that software might come in handy, but so would a professional accountant. the basic return shouldn't be that difficult and seems to be crying out for an open source solution. i'm not the one to do it, tho, but i'm making my 2005 tax demo spreadsheet available to anyone who does want to pursue this. if a master canadian tax spreadsheet can be developed with separate tabs for each province, who would need to fork money (and private info) over to 3d party electronic services ?

  • link of the day: the full stephen colbert video from last weekend's white house correspondents' association dinner. now that guy deserves a medal!


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mother corp groks podcasts

permalink Wednesday, 03MAY2006:

thanks to todd for letting us know that cbc is now distributing podcasts of some of its shows with a new podcast every day of the week. yay for cbc !

i downloaded a couple for starters - DNTO (podcast link on the left sidebar) and the north this week (podcast link on the right sidebar). the nunavut portion of the northern podcast features part1 of stef's sani doc, so if you missed it on 'the current' a few weeks back, you can download the podcasts for this week and the next and listen to it at your convenience ! brilliant !



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you *can't* tell me what's on my mind !

permalink Thursday, 04MAY2006:

went for lunch at le snack with johnt and the prodigal brent, who is in town for a month. in the evening, i didn't feel like cooking, so i swung over to the nav to pick up some curried chicken and broccoli. mmmmm.

off to the city of champs (yeah, right) tomorrow for a conference. i won't be staying at the conference hotel, so i'll be hoofing 8 blocks to get there from where i'm staying. but hey, i'm saving my employer $60 a night ! not that i'm cheap, mind you, it's just that this way i get fewer questions asked about my other expenditures (like scrumptious meals !) :)

  • link of the day: why popular stocks are sucker bets:
    As the authors put it: "We conjecture
    ... that experts fail to predict 
    success not because they are 
    incompetent judges or misinformed 
    about the preferences of others, but 
    because when individual decisions 
    are subject to social influence, 
    markets do not simply aggregate 
    pre-existing individual preferences. 
    In such a world, there are inherent 
    limits on the predictability of 
    outcomes, irrespective of how much 
    skill or information one has."
    
    ...
    
    In any given year, it's impossible 
    to predict which stocks (or bonds, 
    or mutual funds, etc.) will be 
    popular or unpopular, but the great 
    thing about investing for the long 
    term is that it doesn't matter.  We 
    don't have to predict what will be 
    popular next year.  We just have to 
    wait for great companies to become 
    unpopular.  In fact, the more 
    bipolar the market is, the more 
    profitable a disciplined long-term 
    investment strategy will be. 
    Ultimately, stock prices depend on 
    the cash a company generates.  And 
    if you keep your eyes focused on 
    that, and not the best-performers' 
    list, you'll do just fine.
    


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flying towards warmth

permalink Friday, 05MAY2006:

went into the office for 'an hour' this morning, but ended up being there until after lunch in order to get everything wrapped up before my trip. this left me only a short window to finish packing and get to the airport in time for my flight. lucky for me, there were plenty of people checking in late for the cdn north flight, so i had time to grab a bowl of chili at the airport canteen.

i also got roped into chaperoning a co-worker's kid on his way to stay with his grandma in rankin. this entailed a bit of seat switching on the plane, to the dismay of the flight attendants. It was a bit of a challenge to keep him amused since i was already so tired, but once the lad got off the plane safely in rankin, i was able to get back into my own zone for the rest of the flight.

we touched down at the edmonton airport on time, but had to hang around the carousel for a good half hour before our baggage appeared. i pressed the button to hail the next yellow cab and salaam from somalia picked me up. we didn't say much for the first few minutes, but the conversation warmed up when i mentioned how glad i was to be in the balmy +20 degree weather. he was also impressed that my father had been a driver for yellow cab at the time of my birth in edmonton.

once i got settled in at the hotel downtown, i did a bit of reconaissance to make sure i knew where the conference hotel was and where the exhibitor room would be set up. it was a beautiful evening for a walk, with clear sunny skies - quite a swap from waking up in iqaluit in the morning to a light snowfall and -2 degrees !



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strategy without execution means no progress

permalink Saturday, 06MAY2006:

managed to successfully make it to my 8:30 meeting at the conference hotel, even tho the room wasn't the same one as i had been advised last night by the desk clerk. we discussed what should go into our strategic plan and a few hours later, we had a working consensus to move forward.

with the afternoon free and the skies threatening to sprinkle, i sidled into the baccarat casino downtown and signed up for an afternoon tourney. the buyin was $40 with 88 players, so the kitty was pretty sweet. however, i busted out after around 90 minutes around 68-70th. i only won 1 hand the whole time, but it didn't help that i'm sure i got bluffed off a pot earlier by someone who really didn't know what he was doing. i had a K for top pair, but with two J's also on the board, i couldn't match the other fellow's all-in bet to follow it thru to the river. however, in hindsight, i would have been better off to take his money then, than to bleed it all away playing worse hands.

i did somewhat redeem myself at the cash tables afterwards by playing solidly most of the time, but chasing a single bad hand meant that i had to be happy with breaking even after another 90 minutes. after 3.5 hours, the main game was just settling down to a final table of 10, but with only the top 8 getting paid, those busting out on the bubble couldn't bare to stick around to continue at the cash game and walked dejectedly down the steps away from the poker room. with a supper engagement in mind, i dragged myself away from the tables to catch a bit of shuteye before the big meal at the hardware bar and grill. the smoked salmon appetizer was awesome, and the hammer handlebars on the restroom doors were a very neat touch.




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