Census Update: It’s the Economy, Stupid | eaves.ca

Census Update: It’s the Economy, Stupid | eaves.ca – this is driving me crazy. One of the most basic things a country needs to do is measure itself. The data is needed for the country to decide anything, as demonstrated by the half-dozen uses for the data noted in the linked-to blog post. Not carrying out the long form census, which the Canadian government has cancelled, is more on par with extremely poor countries. This really makes no sense at all.

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No Impact Man | LibraryThing

I’ve written before about how I now log the books I read. Oh, and my one complaint with LibraryThing from that post turns out to be wrong anyway. For the past dozen or so books I’ve read I’ve been intending to post actual reviews (rather than just /5 ratings), so here’s to me finally getting around to it.

I just finished No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan. I first heard about No Impact Man sometime before the book came out, read a couple of the blog posts, and didn’t find it that interesting, and when I started the book, I wasn’t really enjoying it.

Two things bothered me. Firstly, I hate how people who are relative newcomers to caring about stuff, do a lot better than I do, which I suppose would be better described as “guilt.” And secondly, he spoke and acted at the beginning as if nobody had ever tried very hard to do any of the things he was doing, and he was having to figure it all out for himself. I think the real problem was that he didn’t know any of the people who could have helped him out, at least not to start with.

Anyhow, after the first dozen or so pages, it got a lot better. While I expected the book to be about figuring out all the little changes he needed to do, that was just a small part. Most of the book is his prose which works through some of the scientific aspects of the project, but predominantly the philosophy, and the lifestyle changes which are largely improvements. It was great to read a book which reinforces and reminds me about what I already think and know of the better and more enjoyable lives we can all be having. A lot of ideas were actually very much in sync with the suggestions from the previous book I read (The Paradox of Choice), which I would describe as possibly the only self-help book worth reading.

In the end, I gave it 5/5. For context, you can see the distribution of my book ratings.

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Toronto Elections 2010

I’ve been largely ignoring all news about the Toronto mayoral election until it suddenly dawned upon me that I can vote this time, given my recent move back to Toronto. Better get informed…

Election website is here. The date is October 25th. How to get onto the voter’s list and ID documents required. Where to vote (unless you vote early) depends on what what ward you live in. Apparently in about a month there will be a better, map-based interactive tool for finding where to vote, so might as well wait until then if you’re going to vote on election day.

Regarding the mayor, there are 41 people running, although Wikipedia explains that there are only five considered to have a shot at winning. The polls listed in the table would suggest it’s more like two candidates, but then again 1/3 to 1/2 of people are apparently undecided. Unlike provincial or federal elections, there are no political parties, so we can’t be lazy and vote with the party we think is the best option, we need to actually do some research.

It seems that the two biggest issues are, not surprisingly, transportation (TTC, bike lanes, etc.), and the rather poor state of the city’s budget. If you’re only considering the five likely candidates, there is a decent page on each at Toronto News 24 which has a video and profile of each. More useful in terms of the issues is the similar page for each candidate at 680 News as they list each’s position on several issues explicitly. If they could just put it all on one page as a big table, we’d be set. For some more information on less likely candidates, there’s some good links compiled at jackandcokewithalime. For general election news, aside from the aforementioned websites and general Toronto news sources, there’s also Toronto Election News. Toronto Municipal Election News is also full of excellent links.

In addition to the mayor, you can also vote for the councillor in your ward, and school trustees, but you’ll have to go into that for yourself.

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The Ask.com Blog: Bloglines Update (and how I don’t get Twitter)

The Ask.com Blog: Bloglines Update – “update” is kind of an understatement, given that Ask is shutting down Bloglines. Bloglines was the tool I used for all of my newsreading (so second in importance after email) for years until, long after others had switched to Google Reader, I got tired of the increasing bugginess and made the switch myself.

It’s not particularly surprised that they’re shutting it down, given that they’ve let it languish since they purchased it, but I am a bit intrigued by the supposed reasons. People don’t use newsreaders anymore because everybody uses Twitter and Facebook. I just don’t get it. And by “it”, I largely mean Twitter…

I subscribe to a ton of RSS/Atom feeds in my newsreader for a number of different reasons: because I am interested in a topic and want to keep up with the news on that topic; because I like a person’s writing and want to read anything they do; because I’m friends with the person and want to keep up with their life; because I like a product/service/website and want to keep up with the news/changes to it; because I want to be alerted of various things, like when somebody mentions my website, or when a new photo is posted to Flickr around my house, etc.

So my “input” comes from my e-mail inbox (GMail), my newsreader (Google Reader), my social network (Facebook). In theory e-mail is for two-way conversations and my newsreader more for being broadcast to, in practice this is somewhat blurred. I had tried to fix this a bit with MailBucket, but that service is dead. Either way, they are both required parts of how I live. Facebook is good in that it lets me keep up with my friends in a passive way, in that the feed on the home page changes all the time, never shows everything, and does not keep track of what I have read or not. Like everything else though, it’s now become yet another source for general content.

Twitter, as far as I’m concerned, is microblogging, which is to say blogging (with a particular host), but always in short blog posts. So I can subscribe to interesting Twitter feeds in my regular newsreader, Google Reader. But why would I ever go to Twitter itself to read these? It creates an additional destination that lacks read/unread tracking. The other problem with Twitter is that the signal-to-noise ratio has gone way down, and I’m yet to see a compelling solution to this. And why would somebody who already has a blog, start blogging on Twitter? Why not keep using their existing blog?

Incidentally, I am subscribed in my newsreader to Mark Fletcher’s blog (the creator of Bloglines) and hadn’t seen him post about this… so I visit his blog and confirm that he has written no post about this. However in the sidebar, there’s his tweets, where he is of course, talking about this news.

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back online

It seems this blog was down, perhaps for a few days or so. Fixed now, it required a tweak in the .htaccess file… no idea why, perhaps Dreamhost changed something with mod_security.

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Getting space-saving furniture right: Resource Furniture – Core77

Getting space-saving furniture right: Resource Furniture – Core77 – I’ve seen the occasional piece of compact and/or multi-use furniture before (e.g. apartment in a box and Gary Chang’s flexible Hong Kong apartment, and generally the small house movement) but never such a huge collection from the same people before like this. And all of it is extremely well done from a space, aesthetic, and engineering point of view. The company, Resource Furniture seems to just be an American distributor of furniture from two other companies, CLEI and Sellex. I’d like to see these companies try to add integration with other parts of the house, such as the kitchen. Via Great City.

Update from October 8: Matroshka: A system of space-saving furniture that never was

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xkcd: University Website

xkcd: University Website – I couldn’t have said it any better

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Google Acquires Metaweb To Make Search Smarter

Google Acquires Metaweb To Make Search Smarter – I’m almost getting sick of noting every time Google buys a company I really like.

This one worries me a bit, as a lot of their work involves open data, and I hope that isn’t impeded. Metaweb’s Freebase was essentially started as a response to Google Base being a closed system. I guess we’ll see.

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MapQuest Dev Blog – MapQuest Opens Up – in the UK

MapQuest Dev Blog – MapQuest Opens Up – in the UK – people’s eyes tend to gloss over when I explain that it won’t be that many years before most online maps and GPS devices use OpenStreetMap as their data source. And although use of OSM has been spreading, this is a very big deal… MapQuest is not only using OSM data on a demo site, but hiring people who have built parts of the open source map stack to improve their work and release it openly, AND contributing $1 million to the open mapping cause in the US. Good job AOL.

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Colours In Cultures

Colours In Cultures – there’s some neat data in here, although the graphic is quite poorly designed. Despite that, you can still pick out a few interesting points of what are semi-universal colour conventions:

  • red: heat, passion (and to a lesser extent, anger and success)
  • black: evil
  • white: truce, purity (both not completely universal)
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