Thursday, October 06, 2011


The Web has been abuzz since yesterday evening with news about the death of Steve Jobs on October 5th, 2011. I didn't even know the guy personally, yet I am sad. You have to admire a guy who helped start a company out of a garage, put the "personal" into personal computers, made the mouse an integral part of our computing lives with the introduction of the Macintosh, and, most importantly, when everyone thought that Apple was done for, turned it into a super-awesomely sexy brand with slick-looking, coveted products. That has got to be talent and vision.

When I was younger, I always rolled my eyes at Apple products. Having grown up an a DOS/Windows-based household, the Apple computers seemed weird and annoying. What was up with those menus that disappeared if you let go of the mouse button? And for the love of FSM, what was up with the one-button mouse? Fast-forward a few years, before PDAs became popular, I remember when Apple launched its ill-fated Newton. It was totally ahead of its time, but fell flat on its face. Still, it was a trailblazer of sorts. We looked at the Newton with much awe, confusion, and perhaps some laughter back then, but nobody was laughing when the Palm devices became popular, and we were most certainly more than happy to wait in line for iPhones and iPads.

Apple didn't invent the mouse, but it popularized the mouse with the Mac. (And then even moreso with Windows.) Apple didn't invent the MP3 player, but it pretty much "iPod" synonymous with "MP3 player". (I dare you to think of another MP3 player brand/model that does that.) And most importantly, it did what I seriously thought was impossible - got people to PAY for music, even when it was readily (and easily) available for free from P2P sites. And in my opinion, spawned a whole online content industry. I wonder if the likes of Netflix would be around had it not been for Apple.

Apple products are annoyingly proprietary. That was a huge turn-off, and certainly a big reason why the IBM computers and IBM clones made Windows, not the Apple OS the go-to operating system of the past few decades. And then Apple did it again with the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. Android phones have a larger market share than iPhones because Google licenses its OS to a bunch of cell phone makers. Still, iPad and iPhone owners like me keep flocking back to Apple. I forgive you (*grumble grumble*) not incorporating Flash into iOS. I forgive you for your annoying touch keyboard (I seriously much preferred the BlackBerry keyboard for thumb-typing). I forgive you because of your integration with content. Apps, phone, and media all in one devices seriously kicks ass. Sorry, Android. You're not there yet.

In the interest of this sounding too much like an ad for Apple, I think I'll stop here. The point I was trying to make in this post is that Apple puts out some very cool products, makes them look awesome, and integrates them very well. All this thanks to the genius of Steve Jobs. My generation has practically grown up alongside Apple, and it's sad to see such an important and influential figure go. I hope to see many other figures who are as visionary and influential as Steve Jobs.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Douchery 101

Take a good look at this photo below.

Looks like a war zone, doesn't it? Except that it isn't. It's the aftermath of the riots that took place in Vancouver after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins. So let me get this straight. A hockey team loses a big game and there are RIOTS? You have got to be kidding me. I think these guys need a dose of reality, because they are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.

I would've expected this type of scene from a country where people are fighting for a true cause. Like, oh, I don't know...the people in Libya and Syria, perhaps? People who are putting their lives on the line, fighting for freedom from their oppressive regimes. Regimes that have no issues gunning down their fellow countrymen to silence dissent. Just to hold on to power. So they can live in their fancy palaces and spend money on fancy cars, planes, vacations, clothes and whatever other wonders they can afford with state funds while the general population lives in oppressed misery.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, where we have healthcare, welfare, jobs, a fairly stable banking system, and most importantly, a democracy (kind of - let's ignore the big white elephant called Harper for now) people are taking to the streets in protest over a godforsaken hockey game. Classy guys. Really classy. Glad to see that our country is full of people who obviously have their priorities straight.

Maybe we should fly those rioters down to Libya or Syria so they get a real taste of what mayhem and loss are all about.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I have had some very frustrating dealings with server infrastructure people, and I'm pretty sure that my blood pressure has skyrocketed lately. Today was no exception. Today, I sent an e-mail to our dev DBA to find out the size of our DB log files to figure out how much space to allocate for production. Here's more or less how it went:

Attempt #1
Me: What's the size of the log files for DB instance ABC?
Reply: The log files are fine.

Attempt #2
Me: Yes, but how big are they?
Reply: Unlimited, as long as you have enough disk space

Attempt #3
Me: Yes, but I need to know their current size.
Reply: What database?


PS: I did finally find out the size, but not before I nearly pulled out my hair over this. These things shouldn't be so hard...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Where Were You When?

Today was one of those "Where were you when?" moments. In case you live in a cave and were unaware, today is the day that Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egyptian president. So where was I? I was sitting at my desk at work, writing an e-mail (I seem to spend half my day doing that these days), on a typical Toronto Friday morning in February, when I got a text from my husband telling me the news (he working from home with the TV on while we had workers at our house replacing the hot water heater - that's a whole other story).

I'm not Egyptian. I'm not Arab. I'm not Middle-Eastern. But I'm giddy with excitement. I'm giddy because the people have spoken. They have protested for a good couple of weeks, fed up with his policies and his regime. Sure, the guy has tried to hang onto power until the bitter end, but the people have prevailed. That is friggin' awesome. This will send ripples through the world, but especially through the Middle East, and the West. Oh, the West. The self-righteous West with their talk of democracy and free speech. The same West who was responsible for installing dictators after being responsible for ousting democratically-elected leaders who were actually doing good for their respective countries. Argentina, Chile, and Iran come to mind. But that's another story. If you want to know more, I encourage you to read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. I finished that book fuming at my seeming ignorance.

Now I know that this is not a total win. After all, according to the article, "Vice President Omar Suleiman said a military council would run the affairs of the Arab world’s most populous nation. A free and fair presidential election has been promised for September." Okay, so the military will take charge until September. But do we have any guarantees that they will relinquish power when the time comes? We know the old saying, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." I hope that this isn't the case and that those elections happen in September and that the country enters a new era of prosperity and freedom.

I don't know what the future will bring, but today makes me hopeful. Very hopeful. That people do have a voice and they CAN make themselves heard and make their country's politicians hear them. We in Canada should take a lesson from the brave people of Egypt. They weren't happy and they complained. Peacefully. And they got their point across. They were tired of letting their "leaders" push them around. We should do the same. Our politicians don't seem to work for us anymore, and hey, last time I checked, they are employed by us. Why aren't they more accountable.

So thank you, people of Egypt. But an even bigger thank you to the people of Tunisia, who set the example and inspiration to the people of Egypt. You are all brave and bold, and you have shown us that people CAN have a united voice that can do some good in this world.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

I cringed when I heard that the Republicans (namely Tea Party nutbags) took control of the House in the US Mid-Term elections this part Tuesday. Mind you, it wasn't terribly surprising. Most Americans are dissatisfied with the job that Obama was doing to remedy the US' economic woes. Many Americans are against government intervention on things like healthcare and bailouts. Many Americans back the Tea Party because the Tea Party promises a return to the US' constitutional roots. You know, the whole "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" bit. That's all well and good, but let's consider a few points here.

Socialism is Not a Four-Letter Word
Americans are scared to death of Socialism. I'm pretty sure that they're more scared of Socialism than they are of Satan. Seriously. Must be some sort of Cold War PTSD or something. And the fact that they think that Communism = Socialism. News flash: they are not the same.

So, armed with the fact that Americans believe that Socialism is bad, they view stuff like healthcare reform to be a bad thing. Of course. That mean 'ole government meddling in your affairs telling you how to go about your healthcare. Shame on them. Newsflash: the government is actually trying to help you by improving your quality of life so that those douchebag health insurance companies don't try to screw you in every way imaginable. Oh, view that as a bad thing? Well, excuse me. I thought that was a good thing.

The Economy
Back in the '90s, Bill Clinton famously said, "It's the economy, stupid", during this 1992 presidential election campaign. Well, it's still the economy, isn't it? Now, more than ever, especially with this recession that's been hanging around like a stubborn wart. And why not? I saw a segment on Sixty Minutes a couple of weeks ago that talked about university-educated people in Silicon Valley who had been laid off from their jobs for 2 or more years, and were having a hell of a time finding a job in their field. Wasn't the whole point of going to university being that it guarantee that we got and kept good jobs? It's pretty scary, when you think about it.

It occurred to me yesterday that the Tea Party supporters who are so desperately want to return to their country's roots are missing something. The problem is not with the government actually caring enough to reform healthcare, or for bailing out banks and the auto sector (not that I agree with the latter, but for other reasons), or for trying to stimulate the economy. The real problem is with the free-market capitalists. And guess what? Republicans loooooooooove free-market capitalism.

(Aside: I highly recommend that you read Naomi Klein's book, Shock Doctrine. It details how this whole "laissez-faire" approach to economics - i.e. free-market economics - has done nothing but hurt the common person (i.e. the vast majority), and fill the pockets of the rich with more money (a teeny minority). It's very insightful and while I read it, it made me downright angry. I wanted to hurl the book at a few politicians.)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. As far as I'm concerned, free-market capitalism is to blame for all this crap that we're experiencing around outsourcing/exporting jobs to countries with lower rates. Readers of this blog know that it is no secret that I despise outsourcing and that I don't believe that it works (quality being the #1 issue). Not to mention the fact that it a) turns IT jobs into a commodity (which they aren't) and b) takes jobs away from people. Tell me: if most IT jobs are being outsourced to the likes of India, and most manufacturing are being exported to Mexico, China, India, and its cheap labor cousin countries around the world, how does one expect the jobless rate to actually go down? It's not like there will be any jobs left for the middle-class folks. IT. MAKES. NO. SENSE.

So, my dear neighbors from the south, to think that your president can turn a crappy economic situation (which is being manipulated by Big Business and their buddies the Lobbyists) around in 18 months, you have got to be joking. Really? Poor guy! He inherited a sh!t pile. Quit blaming him for wanting to improve your quality of life with healthcare reform and quit blaming him for not being able to wave a magic wand to make things better. And most importantly, read the goddamned news for a change an inform yourselves. By ignorantly listening to the nonsensical crap of the Tea Party morons/psychos, you are flushing your country down the toilet. I hope you don't mind the smell of sewage.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Democracy Prevails, I Guess

I'm all for democracy and all, but I really have to question the mental sanity of the voting public sometimes. Last night, Toronto elected Rob Ford, who as far as I can tell is a right-wing nut job hell bent on destroying the city. His election message was clear: stop unnecessary spending. So to do that he talked about doing things like cutting the number of city councilors in half and eliminating certain city taxes.

Before I delve a bit further, let's get some things straight. I'm not a fan of paying taxes any more than the next guy is. And I am certainly not a fan of paying taxes when I don't know where my tax money is being applied. The latter is obviously a big issue in politics, and the public is certainly tired of misspent tax dollars on useless state trips (hello, Governor General...what exactly do you do?). At the same time, people have to realize that in order to have certain social services, like say, healthcare, public schools, community centers, libraries, garbage pickup, police, and fire fighters, we need to pay taxes. That's just the harsh reality of it. These services don't come free. The people working in these areas don't work for free. These are their jobs. They make actual money for a living to be able to do things like eat and live in some type of housing.

So back to Rob Ford. First of all, people voted for him because they wanted change - the "anything but what we've got right now" mentality. That's all well and good if he happens to be better than what we had with David Miller. Sure, people were pissed over the garbage strike. I was too. But my dear voting public, please, for the love of god, why don't you seek to better understand a candidate's platform rather than just voting for the exact opposite of what you have in office now? That type of move is impulsive and uninformed, and will ultimately screw you over in the end.

Take the Harper government, for example. His government was voted in because people were pissed at the Liberals for the sponsorship scandal. Hey, don't get me wrong - I wasn't too pleased about the sponsorship scandal either. But folks, look who you voted in? A tar-sands-loving, UN-hating, environment-hating, controlling, big-business-loving nutjob. You didn't punish the Liberals. You punished the country! And twice, for that matter, because you seem to think that the Harper government was doing an okay enough job to elect them to a second minority government. Honestly people. Honestly...

And while we're on that topic, let's take a look at our neighbors down south. This Tea Party movement is just baffling me. I mean, basically all of the hillbillies in the US (which apparently is most of the population) have rallied together around these guys, because they're not happy with what Obama has been doing on the economy. (The funny part is that they're pissed at the traditional Republicans too, but that's actually kind of scary because these guys make the Republicans look normal.) Newsflash here: it took the Bush White House 8 years to destroy the American Economy. Do you honestly think that Obama and his cronies are going to be able to fix it in 2 years? Seriously? Where did you learn math, anyway? Unfortunately, people are unemployed, some homeless, and barely able to get by. When that happens, they'll grab onto the first thing that gives them hope, even if it's the wrong thing.

My point is, people these days seem to be voting on anger, hatred, desperation, and plain impulse. They are not stopping to think about what the candidates are really about. They hear a few key words that are music to their ears and they're hooked, without actually being properly informed. And then they vote for people hell bent on screwing over the general public. And the people who didn't vote are just as bad too. You had a chance to voice your opinion, but you chose not to, and therefore you put the fate of your city in a small percentage of the population. Shame on you.

But alas, democracy has prevailed in the end, hasn't it? After all, people did vote for Ford out of their own free will. I am worried about the next four years. I am worried for our public transit. I am worried for our city services. I don't trust this guy at all. At the same time, what can I do when the people have spoken?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Best Facebook Status

Best Facebook status of the day posted by a university classmate of mine: