Random observations, teachings and musings of a well trained cubicle superhero.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Global News Free Ride Bus

Looking for an alternate route to beat the commute on Monday if there's a Toronto TTC transit strike?

The City of Toronto has outlined a transit contingency plan.

Read the media release here. There are also carpooling options in the city:

carpoolzone.ca, eRideShare.com, Smart Commute

You could always rent a car for the day: autoshare.ca, zipcar.com

If you'd rather bike into work, the city has a detailed Toronto Cycling Map.

Posted Toronto have compiled their own list of tips to brave the strike.

And Global News will have a Free-Ride bus helping stranded TTC Toronto commuters get to their destination.

Friday, April 18, 2008

April 18. 2008

There's something in the air

Tech Mate
techyJay, a.k.a. “The Cubicle Superhero”, is a self-professed tech junkie with a passion for music and culture Email Jay

I was hooked when I read the premise of Wednesday night's episode of South Park. In the episode, Overlogging, South Park loses access to the Internet causing total chaos, forcing families west...in search of Internet. The government sends its best men out to the Internet, which makes an appearance in the form of a giant wireless router.

No Net = No Fun
As someone who is totally dependent on access to the net for work and play, I totally sympathized with a panicked South Park as it slowly lost his mind without access. I recently relocated my Fortress of Crapitude, and before the sweet, sweet broadband was connected, I instinctively tried to Google about once an hour. We sat huddled in a dark room, leeching a terribly weak open access point to download copies of email and websites. A sadder state there could not be.

Vapid Rail
We've come a long way towards reaching the goal of ubiquitous access to news and information. On a recent trip back to suburbia, I was amazed to see video screens up and down the GO Train car I was in. On-Train TV service consists of 8 monitors, well out of head-bump territory, broadcasting a mix of entertainment fluff, news, sports and information. Audio is thankfully carried via FM transmitters as not to disturb the snoozers. I found the signal on 88.1; a fact I'm sure Ryerson's CKLN is super stoked about. This of course comes with a hefty helping of advertisement for our captive retinas. Although I wanted to love it, within 10 minutes I had switched off and joined the snoozers.

News in the Underground
Although the motivation is still the same, I much prefer what the TCC has elected to install with the One Stop Network. This information system divides the screen into areas displaying static, quick reference information along with a constant ticker of the latest headlines. Although advertising is still prominent, the boards provide current, relevant information while our personal data devices blink away, searching for signal.

Wi-Fi Fizzle
We can only hope that dependable in-train hotspots are around the corner. I've tried VIA Rail's pay-per-use system and was thoroughly unimpressed. In station speeds were nice and quick, but once moving the spotty service had me spending more time logging in and out for troubleshooting than I did working. And for the price I paid, I think I was better off with my saved copy of the Internet. I wish it came in book form.

Trans-Continental Conundrum
Planes have long since been the Internet-based road warrior's nemesis. Even those who have mastered the art of "tethering" to connect their phones and data devices to their laptops for data access are out of luck here. On longer flights, even with a topped-up battery, at some point you'll find yourself muttering angrily at your laptop's shut down screen. This is especially true if you're chewing up battery life with processor intensive entertainment like video and music.

This is precisely why I was so thrilled to have flown Air Canada on a recent trip to Montreal. Almost every seat in the plane had their own video screen, traditional 3.5mm headphone jack and -- get this -- a POWER OUTLET!!!

It seems AC has been equipping its new fleet of jets with the technology for some time, but only specific models. This was a huge improvement over seat-back televisions I've seen on other Canadian carriers. Typically you'll have access to a handful of live broadcast television channels, complete with commercials. From my experience, this quickly degrades into arm-straining channel surfing effort.

What good ole' AC has installed is your own, personal PVR style video player.

It honestly made me feel homesick for my Rogers PVR. I had full fast forward, rewind and pause capabilities, and a huge selection of content to play back. This included real-time XM radio, new release movies (I passed on There Will Be Blood) and TV favourites. The system has even drawn accolades from seasoned New York Times tech pundit David Pogue. I noodled through a solid lineup of Futurama episodes and settled in for the ride, laptop stowed. Bliss.

New Solutions
So what's the answer? Well there are a few ways to get your dotcom fix while you're on the move. On the ground, Rogers Portable Internet is always a good choice, but there's a new player coming soon.

I had the pleasure of spying an unboxing of the new Ovation USB Wireless Modem recently. The device is about the size of a traditional USB memory card, and requires no additional software. It uses HSPA so it should get you pretty close to the download speeds you'd see at home. The card has extremely low data consumption, and uses quad band technology and roaming agreements for worldwide use. Expect a full road review in the coming months.

So the next time you're away from the security of your cable modem, fret not my Tech Mate lovelies. News and information surrounds you, whether it's on a screen, or in the air.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A-Trak Fri April 11 @ State Theatre

Duck, duck....

July 25, 2008

Unlucky Ducks


What does a baby panda born in a Chinese zoo have to do with Torontonians? Absolutely nothing aside from a case of the awww's, and one of the things they tell you in J-school is that animal stories are money. This time, instead of looking across the Pacific pond for feel-good fuzzies, Torontoist only had to go as far as the man-made pond adjacent to St. Andrew station.

2008_07_25_ducks1.jpg In the shadow of all that Bay Street concrete, right by Roy Thompson Hall, a family of three mallards set up roost and were a constant pleasure for bleary-eyed commuters rolling in and out of the TTC system. As Torontoist reader Jay pointed out, the two fuzzy ducklings would spend mornings swimming after Mom to the amusement of workers who would gather around to watch. In the evenings, the whole family would take in the fading sun on a plank set in place by a helpful caretaker to lead them to their nest.

Two days ago Jay and other duck-watching workers were greeted with a disappointing notice posted near the pond stating the feathered trio had been removed by rescue staff from the Toronto Wildlife Centre and relocated successfully to Lake Ontario. The TWC's stated aim is to help wildlife in need, whether a baby bird in need of rehabilitation after falling out of a nest or chipmunks stuck in a chimney. We're all for animals (especially the cute ones) being out of harm's way, but given the fact that the mother was raising her young there, it seems these ducks were doing fine in their King Street digs. Who says animals can't be urbanites?

Photos by Jay V.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

And so begins the summer of sling

Slingbox Spotlight
Slingbox PRO-HD™

Slingbox PRO-HD

Say hello to the next generation Slingbox- the PRO-HD. This is the first Slingbox capable of streaming high definition content from your home television source. That’s right. Now you can truly Sling your high definition shows (cable, satellite or over-the-air) to your computer. The Slingbox PRO-HD preserves the high resolution and surround sound of your content, while delivering it to a compatible laptop or desktop computer. So those of you who have purchased HDTVs and have signed up for HD service can continue to enjoy the benefits of HD quality picture anywhere in the world. All it takes is the revolutionary new Slingbox PRO-HD, an Internet connection and a computer. Slingbox PRO-HD will be available for purchase in Fall 2008 for a suggested retail price of $399.99.


The highly anticipated SlingCatcher is coming! SlingCatcher is a set-top box that will seamlessly deliver broadcast TV, Internet-based content, and personal media to your TV. The SlingCatcher does just that – it catches content from multiple sources and places, bringing them together for easy navigation and playback. SlingCatcherSlingCatcher is bundled with three built-in applications: SlingPlayer for TV, SlingSync, and SlingProjector. Together, these combine to create a unified media platform capable of pulling content from disparate places and consolidating them onto a single TV screen. With SlingCatcher you’ll have complete control of your personal media.

...ripped from the newsletter ripped by: http://www.gizmolovers.com/2008/04/03/spring-08-news-from-sling-media/

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Madlib, Egon - Stones Throw: April 11, 08

The Legendary ROOTS Crew

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