Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Shaav's journal:

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Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
04:08 pm
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'Nother Little Rant
Let's keep it brief. Angry angry:

1. Because there are really basic things that I would like to do with software that COULD very easily be there but nobody bothered to include because you're not *supposed* to want to do that with the software. iTunes. Really? You can't just show me a list of dead links? Really? You can't add "file location" to the list of available columns? Really? You can't detect file changes and update automatically? No. Not because it's not trivial to do, but because that's not how you're SUPPOSED to use iTunes.

2. Because people like to answer rational, well founded questions on support forums with: "why would you ever want to do that? I can't imagine ever wanting to do that? If you really want to do that, you're a luddite moron and you don't understand what you're doing."

Arrogant bastards. Yeah, I get that iTunes is a LIBRARY application and not a FILE SYSTEM application. You know what? They aren't mutually exclusive concepts.

Current Mood: aggravated

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Thursday, January 31st, 2013
10:21 pm
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A Rant about GNOME

Yeah, I get there are tablets and touch screens that you're trying to adapt to but GUESS WHAT!! MY DESKTOP DOESN'T HAVE A TOUCH SCREEN.

It is hard to restrain the profanity that just wants to flow from me upon finding the features I use CONSTANTLY just irretrievably GONE.



Clue-in to the fact that the simplest interface is the one I know.


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Monday, April 2nd, 2012
04:43 pm
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Motion 312
In case you haven't heard, there is a Conservative MP, Stephen Woodward, who is trying to reopen the abortion debate in Canada by going after, not abortion itself, but the legal definition of when a fetus becomes human.  It is known as Motion 312 and will be debated in parliament on April 26th.  Details can be found on his website here:

The following is a letter that I sent to my MP Lee Richardson; I'd encourage everyone who believe strongly in this issue to similarly contact their own MPs. You can find out who your MP is and what their contact information is here:

This is a good set of M-312 counter arguments that may be informative and/or useful to include:

Dear Mr. Richardson

I am disturbed by Stephen Woodworth's motion M-312 scheduled for debate on April 26th.  Although not explicitly so, it is a thinly-veiled attempt to reopen the abortion debate and frankly, in Canada, in 2012, we should not be having this argument anymore. Most Canadians believe that reproductive rights are a fundamental human right and M-312 is a waste of time and tax-payers dollars and a distraction from the other issues that Parliament has to deal with.

The Supreme Court of Canada has already decisively answered these questions (Tremblay v. Daigle, Dobson v. Dobson, Winnipeg Child & Family Services v. Ms.G.D.F., Borowski v. Attorney General of Canada, and R. v. Morgentaler) and the law has always treated a pregnant woman and her fetus as one person.  The courts have stated that the intimate connection between a woman and her fetus cannot be considered in isolation, and that giving rights to fetuses would impose a duty of care on a pregnant woman that would result in extensive and unacceptable intrusions into her bodily integrity, privacy, and autonomy.  To do anything else would invite prosecution of pregnant women for any perceived harm to fetuses and cause confusion around how child welfare laws and policies apply to fetuses as legal persons.

The abortion debate, at it's heart, is a religious one. Religious beliefs have no place in dictating Canadian law since Canada is not religiously homogeneous. In a society as diverse as ours, laws must derive from objective philosophy and/or science and the biggest irony is that the latter clearly shows that there are fewer abortions and fewer deaths in places where safe, legal abortions are accessible. This is usually because good education and birth-control go hand in hand with women's reproductive rights. Anyone who rationally believes in the value of human life and wants to reduce the overall risk to human life and the related social costs would support the accessibility of safe, legal abortion even if they were principally opposed to abortion itself (as many Pro-Choice individuals are).

Even the Prime Minister himself is unequivocal in his position that this issue has been settled. Please do not support this ridiculous attempt to respark a debate that we have put to bed. Please vote against M-312 when it comes to a vote.

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Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
11:42 am
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Recent Fiction and Reflections on Immersive Publications

The Fiction

I now read all of my new fiction on my phone. I won't ever go back! For a whole host of reasons that are all beside the point. Suffice it to say that the change in media has allowed me to just tear through my reading list far more efficiently than ever before. The last two months has included some really excellent and thoughtful/entertaining books (in no particular order):

Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
Children of the 80's, especial computer geeks, this one's for you! In a near-future world where the internet has pretty much gone immersive 3D, the entire virtual world is up for grabs in an high-stakes scavenger hunt, but to get through the trials requires an intimate familiarity with 80's pop-culture and geekdom.

The Water Rat of Wanchai
The Disciple of Las Vegas
Ian Hamilton
A Chinese-Canadian lesbian forensic accountant globe-trotting retrieving millions in stolen cash and generally kicking ass. 'Nuff said.

The Waterman's Daughter
Emma Ruby-Sachs
A novel about water rights in South Africa. Politically fascinating, and also a really good murder mystery.

Both Emma Ruby-Sachs and Ian Hamilton were doing readings at a Word Fest panel that I attended this year which is how I came to know these books, which, ordinarily I probably wouldn't have encountered. I'm really glad I did; however, the instant-gratification-fuelled delight I felt by buying their books during the panel was tempered by the fact that afterwards, I couldn't get them signed... Why hasn't Kindle provided that functionality yet?

Resenting the Hero
The Hero Strikes Back
Heroes Adrift
Heroes Return
Heroes At Risk
Heroes At Odds

Moira Moore
A quite compelling fantasy series about a world in which certain individuals are born with the capability to diffuse the natural disasters that plague their planet. They're an interesting balance that's hard to describe. It's fantasy that doesn't take itself too seriously (we're not talking Tolkien here), but... it could? They're part romance novel and fairly light-hearted in language and tone, but definitely not bubblegum. There's an intriguing series arc, thoughtful and unique fantasy themes, and suspenseful action.

I also have bit of a personal connection: Moira was a friend of mine and another teacher in the school that I taught at in Japan. I got back in touch with her recently and found out that she had become an author! And a lawyer.

As I'm writing this, it occurs to me that all of the above, except for Ernest Cline are Canadian authors. Which may be neither here nor there, but I throw it out nonetheless.

Currently, I'm onto:
Neal Stephenson
which will take me a while to get through compared to the others because, true to form, it's a behemoth that's five times longer than any of the others. So far, also an excellent read and strangely apropos to my current professional pursuits.

The Reflections

The other day on Spark, there was a interview with a guy that wrote a hypertext novel which on the one hand was good in that they were talking about how 'literature' has not changed much to take advantage of changes in media (which I find frustrating) but was bad in that all they really speculated about was kind of a 'choose-your-own-adventure' style of non-linear writing where you can meander through links and explore off-shoots of the primary story. Sad!

I want to see something more truly immersive! Something that better exploits the multimedia potential. The first area that I really saw the potential for this was once academic publications started going almost exclusively to PDF. If you're doing an experiment that uses sound stimuli, why the heck don't you imbed sound samples in your document? How about video? How about interactive graphs that allow you to sort and filter data results. How about just friggin' colour graphs?

There's so much potential for blending together media into a very rich experience given the platforms that we have to choose from these days. Really, to give credit where credit is due, I'm talking about A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. How about children's books with animated illustrations? How about a soundtrack that plays along with the book? How about a novel in which you can choose to watch certain scenes done out in video? How about a novel in which you have to solve puzzles or mini-games before you can continue, OR that your performance on determines the course of the story (a little more interactive form of 'choose-your-own-adventure'). How about embedding a VR model of a crime scene that you can inspect for yourself before reading about what clues were found there. How about a text book that takes a student through, tests, reteaches and reinforces the material dynamically? Imagine if they tied in eye-tracking capabilities so that sounds, animations, etc, could be triggered when appropriate to the text?

I find myself craving this kind of experience already and constructing it in ways that I can. I definitely already do the hypertext thing; I google stuff referenced in my novels all the time just to learn more about the historical context or scientific background of this or that, not to mention I love having the dictionary built into the Kindle app. But also, I was google-mapping specific streets and buildings that were mentioned in Ian Hamilton and Emma Ruby-Sachs books. I get a real thrill when books/movies reference places that I have been or that I visit later; with google earth/maps and streetview, I get a bit of that thrill as well as having a clear image of the real places these stories take place in.

I find it really disappointing that often the Kindle versions don't even include the cover images, I assume for some sort of legal reasons. Sigh. The manufacturers seem so concerned about replicating the book reading experience on a digital device, no one seems interested in creating a new experience. Story-telling is story-telling; we can divide that into "books" and "movies" and "games" if we want to, but really, we don't need to anymore and I'm sure it will come. I'm just surprised that idea hasn't gotten more traction yet.

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Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
11:09 pm
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Secret Languages

Yay! My mad linguistic skills are still intact despite falling into disuse. I learned Amy Farah Fowler's secret language on the second watching of The Pulled Groin Extrapolation. Wasn't even trying to; almost passively understood it.

Mopehdop sopkehaielelsop aiop topeeelop yopohyuop!

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Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
12:27 am
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All last week I was house-sitting for my parents which meant I spent a lot of time watching their new fancy, HD TV -- one of the ones that has the higher frame rate? I don't actually like it myself. I think it makes things a little TOO real. In the sense that, to me, everything thing suddenly looks fake. That sounds contradictory, I know, but when it looks REAL, you can really tell that what you're seeing has been staged. You can tell it's a set; you can tell that the lighting isn't real; you catch more camera jitters. In a way that's different than the extra detail you pick up with HD.

Weirdest thing: I tend not to remember dreams often, but have extremely vivid hypnogogic hallucinations. These are the visions that come to you when you're not quite asleep but almost there. The other night my hallucinations came at the higher frame-rate. I'm not sure when I got the upgrade... Didn't know my hallucinations *had* a frame-rate. Didn't know they were behind the times.

Kind of makes me think of how film-makers use black and white as a device to indicate "the past" as though colour didn't exist back then. But in this case, it's kinda true... Will we all start to dream at higher frame-rate one day? Will the film-makers use a lower one as a device?

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12:15 am
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Caught my eye...
When I was a child, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to see my eyes move in the mirror. I would stare at them and the look to the side and try to see the movement in my peripheral vision -- totally impossible. Somehow, I was fascinated by that fact.

Imagine how elated I felt when the few milliseconds of computational delay in "Face Time" meant I caught my eye moving. Finally, after all these years.

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Monday, September 12th, 2011
09:37 pm
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AIDS Walk For Life
My friend Nina is doing this year's AIDS Walk For Life; an event I whole-heartedly support!

If anyone's moved to, please sponsor her for a few bucks!

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Sunday, September 11th, 2011
12:11 am
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Stan Lee Cameo

How does Stan Lee end up with a 10 sec bit part in the Princess Diaries 2?

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Monday, April 11th, 2011
04:13 pm
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I made a funny
whaddaya mean i gots no taste?!  Iz rite der on ma taster!!

Current Mood: amused

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Monday, January 24th, 2011
10:47 am
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Thoughts On Trust
This recent "This American Life" episode, "The Invention of Money":

includes a fascinating account of how Brazil turned around its economy by introducing a virtual currency that gradually replaced its existing currency—it's well worth listening to. They make much of the 'novel' idea that money is a social fiction that has become more and more abstract overtime; I'm not sure when that point was first impressed upon me, but certainly sometime in childhood so I've always taken it for granted that money didn't represent anything fundamentally real (at least not now). The entire concept of currency is predicated on the trust that you can exchange the symbol for something tangible; that the symbol has meaning within the rest of society. If that trust is violated, the symbol becomes meaningless and the currency implodes upon itself.

I had, not so much an epiphany, but one of those moments when something bubbles up from your subconscious and your conscious mind acknowledges it as a new, but obvious, reframing of something you already knew. Trust is the fundamental building-block of belief; our socio-political stances are only secondarily about education, doctrine, and experience. These latter factors contribute to who and what we trust, but it's the trust informs belief.

If someone you trust calls into question, say, climate change, and your own education and experience doesn't allow you to understand the scientific method, no rational argument about climate change will convince you that climate change exists (or that it's caused by humans or that it's a problem—how ever it happens to be framed). Only a shift in trust is going to allow a shift in belief, you must prove that science is more trust-worthy than the other source.

For a long time, I've been fascinated by the idea of exploiting trust-networks as a form of government. Imagine if we could take a poll of everyone in society and ask them not "Do you believe in climate change?" but "If you didn't know whether to believe in climate change, whose (someone you know personally) opinion would you seek out?" I.e. who would you trust to tell you whether to believe in climate change? If we were able to perfectly track those trust associations, undoubtedly certain individuals would emerge as the most trusted (not necessarily the most informed) on that issue. Those individuals become the access points to the trust-network: if we could target education at those individuals or get them in the same room together for consensus building, or use them to propagate good information... we might have a chance of bridging ideology and making social progress.

Current Mood: thoughtful

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Thursday, July 1st, 2010
11:42 am
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My first sweater

I completed my most ambitious knitting project to date; my first sweater. I'm pretty thrilled! Especially because it fits.

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Friday, September 11th, 2009
09:23 pm
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Give me a break
I am so sick of the storyline that asserts that AI is evil because it isn't imbued with a human soul. When is it that the human soul became incorruptable again?

I'm also sick of mysticism being passed off as science.

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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
12:16 am
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An mah numbr tuw!
funny pictures
moar funny pictures

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12:05 am
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I maekz mah furst Lolcat
funny pictures
moar funny pictures

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Saturday, June 13th, 2009
03:38 pm
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New Treasure
I found a treasure at the annual Crossroads Market book sale today:

It's the limited edition, leather-bound 22k gold gilt Sorcerer's Stone that came out in 2000. I tried to not buy it, but my husband (ghods bless him!) is an enabler.

It's a beautiful, beautiful book!

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Wednesday, June 10th, 2009
10:40 am
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Tim Burton Post-Apocalyptic Neo-Matrix Steampunkiness

Mighty exciting....

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Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
12:48 am
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Quiz after my own heart!

Your result for The Writing Systems Test...

Ventris & Chadwick

96% Knowledge of writing systems!

If knowledge of writing systems were a pyramid, you would be the eye that sits at the top and is, let's assume, all-knowing. (And rather creepy, but that's neither here nor there.) Some day you'll figure out that Voynich thing, I'm sure.

Take The Writing Systems Test
at HelloQuizzy

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Friday, April 17th, 2009
10:39 am
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Dalai Lama in Calgary
Directed at Calgarians...o

FYI, the Dalai Lama is coming to Calgary in the fall (end of September).

He's giving a public address at the Saddledome for which tickets gone on sale through Ticket Master tomorrow morning at 10am.

I've seen him speak before, and it was really great. He's a powerful, but very ... ingenuous is the best word I can come up with. In the sense that he's so open and laid back -- you feel like you could easily sit down and talk with him one on one. So, I highly recommend attending if you can.

There's more info at:

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Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
12:12 am
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Drake Equation
Yet again proving myself bigbangtheory'lete I so new that the Drake equation for calculating availability of women was going to turn up in the show ever since I listened to this TAL!

I love that the writers of the show run in my media circles! :)

Current Mood: geeky

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