Thursday, July 31, 2008


I was introduced to a new web game being developed a few days ago, and am slightly addicted to it now. The game is called Quarantine2019 and it's loosely based on an earlier game called Urban Dead, which I have never tried.

This game is in beta, so it's not yet polished. But that can be kind of fun too, as one is bound to stumble across the occasional bug or exploit. Signing up is free, and you start by creating either a Citizen (human) or a Zombie player. It doesn't really matter because at some point you are going to switch sides.

And that is really the fun. Citizens can be infected and Zombies can be cured. Your ally today could be your nemesis tomorrow. Your character accumulates experience independently as either Zombie or Citizen, so really deadly Zombies might be sorta wimpy people when cured. The game does encourage teamwork though, as your character persists in the game even when you go away from it. So it's usually a good idea to hide in a building that has other players to defend you if need be.

The screenshot is kind of tongue-in-cheek, since it's the screen I see a lot of the time: You are Dead. Lucky for me, death is a figurative term only in this game. If you feel like trying it out, come try to find me. I'll either help you out, or well, feed on your brains, depending on how I'm doing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fireworks American Style

We put our patio woes behind us and set out to see the fireworks this evening. Tonight was America's turn, and they certainly raised the bar. After a somewhat average performance by Canada the other night, we were much more impressed with the American show.

I brought my mini-tripod for my camera and even though I had to set it up on the ground, noted that I got significantly better photos with it (as expected.)

I had the dog out for a walk a couple hours before the event and noticed that by that time there were already thousands of people starting to gather. One of my favorite parts of events like this is the gathering of boats in the harbour. I used to really enjoy watching the show from the bow of my cousin's boat, even though it often took an hour or two to just to get back into port, and there was always some jerk in too much of a rush, speeding his boat past the other boats. Somehow, that was all just part of the excitement of the night for me - but then again, I was usually not piloting on nights like that.

So once again, the city had fun and while I can still hear the helicopters buzzing around, I have to say that the crowds have been pretty good this year. For the first event the reports were that there were only eight fights out of the approximately four hundred thousand people. Tonight felt like the same

Friday, July 25, 2008


I was all set. I took a half day at work, I booked a truck with the auto cooperative, I called to confirm that Home Depot had enough stock for my renovation job. So I leave work, get the truck, BUY the paver stones and discover while they are loading it that they are the wrong style. They had to go back because the supplier changed product but not the SKU. After sorting this out it was 3PM and we were no further ahead. A quick trip over to Rona confirmed the worst: they also had no stock despite having it on sale this week.

By this time the truck had to go back. The afternoon was shot and I would not be setting pavers this weekend. At this point I still haven't been able to find the size and style stones I hoped to use. I may have to rethink my design.

So that is why I was frustrated. The photo is here because I saw Ooze for sale on the menu. Between that and Toxic Waste flavored slurpees at 7-11, I don't understand marketing these days.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fireworks set to Monster movie music?

The Celebration of Light kicked off with a bang last night. We bundled up the dog and headed down the hill to see the show but weren't really all that prepared. (My wife wanted to pack more, but I was more interested in just going as-is.) So we arrived a little later than most and managed to find a spot in a not-too-crowded area.

The dog was liking all the attention she was getting from the other people, as well as the fact that I decided to sit on the lawn. This meant she could climb on me every now and then, which seemed to suit her just fine.

I also forgot to bring my tripod, so virtually all of the photos I took look like the above one - which is great if that is the look one is going for, but I think I would have liked to see a non-shaken picture. Maybe Saturday night will prove to be better.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Newer means Smaller

Today was the day I replaced my camera. Showing no brand loyalty whatsoever, I selected the Nikon Coolpix S210. It happened to be the last one in the store so I didn't really have a choice in the colour, which turned out to be okay, since I probably would have chosen the one I got anyhow. As far as a comparison to my last camera, it has about the same features as the Kodak, but offers fewer megapixels (8 compared to 10).

The trade off is that the Nikon is significantly smaller than the Kodak and is supposed to have a better quality lens. Having only spent half a day with it, I can only say that it does seem to take a picture I am happy with, but I really like the small size. It was important to me to have something truly 'pocketable' as this is a camera I like to take with me. I have no room for SLRs and the like in my jeans.

One final note: I broke my informal rule slightly - this camera was a little more than the $150 I was planning to spend. I'll call it 'inflation' and leave it at that.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Peas in two pods

I find myself down by the local marinas quite a bit with the dog, which means I get to see a lot of different boats. Usually they are much larger than the two pictured here, but the sight of them stuck with me as I continued my walk. The simplicity of sitting barely on top of the water, able to paddle into the shallows seems relaxing and enjoyable to me. If I ever do manage to get a boat, I would hope that I have a couple kayaks like these lashed to it to better explore the little places that a larger craft cannot go.

The only problem with kayaks (as I see it) is the storage of said boats when not in use. We don't have a car, and even if we did, finding a place to keep them in our limited amount of space would be challenging to say the least. Well that, and the risk that we stop taking them out on the water because of the hassle in getting them there. Thinking of all of this reminds me that I really need to get my bike back on the road before summer is over for another year.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's nice down by the water

I was born in Nova Scotia, but I do not pretend to be a sea dog, sailor or old salt. Having said that, I have always been drawn to water, especially the ocean. When I moved from Nova Scotia, I came to Vancouver. Being new to the area, I noticed that the 'ocean' around the Lower Mainland was not the same as the Atlantic from back home. It didn't smell the same. It wasn't nearly as wild and unpredictable. It was close in the same way that a knockoff product isn't quite the same as the original. I was left disappointed.

Eventually I made a trip over to Tofino on Vancouver Island, and I found what I was missing. Here was my wild ocean, the strong salt odor undiluted by the Fraser river being forced into me by unobstructed winds. The Pacific was in fact just as great as the Atlantic, at least to my senses. Once I understood why Vancouver's waters were different, it no longer seemed to matter. I was no longer away from 'home.'

Now, when I am out walking the dog, I tend to walk along the shore line, and spend time looking at the boats going by. I can feel the breeze, and even smell the diluted smell of salt from the water, faint as it may be. I can see the sea life growing on the rocks just under the water surface and watch the light from the sunset glint off the water. It's the perfect backdrop to my life. I may not be a sea salt, but I definitely am a coastal boy at heart.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Better late than never

This has not been a spectactular summer for Vancouver this year, at least as far as the weather goes. Having said that, the last couple weeks have been getting warmer, which is nice. But even with that, I can't remember a year when I have needed a sweatshirt in July.

I suppose it is for the best, with my patio under construction the last thing I need is a solid heat wave that makes indoor living uncomfortable. Yeah right, I can't see that happening in our place.

In other news, I was walking along Denman street when I noticed this Smart car parked sideways. I was really surprised not to see a ticket on it, I thought that sort of thing was illegal. Of course, if you are going to park that way, that is probably the best car for the job. It's also probably the best car for the Downtown area in general too, but that's another topic.

These photos were taken with my broken camera and have been subject to heavy cropping and rotation. I suppose if I had to break something, breaking the LCD was the best as it is still useful as a camera.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Shooting Blind

Somehow I managed to break the LCD panel on my camera. It's one of those point and shoot ones that doesn't have an old school viewfinder like you would find on an SLR or film camera. So breaking the screen somewhat limits the capabilities of this model.

For example, if I wanted to change the shooting mode, I now would be guessing since all the feedback was displayed through a menu.... on screen. Oh, and I broke it but good - I'll take a picture of it later and upload it, but the screen doesn't display anything meaningful at all anymore. So without the screen, I am left with a camera that still takes a decent picture, assuming I can line it up correctly, and assuming that the camera's auto settings happen to work for the shot. It's a lot of guesswork, but at the same time, the kind of shots I tend to take aren't really that difficult.

So at this point I'm mulling it over. I can limp by with the camera as-is for a little while, I think. A replacement panel can be had on ebay for about $60 plus another $10 shipping after exchange, and that still leaves the job of ripping it open and swapping old for new. That would come in at roughly half the cost of getting a replacement camera, since I would try to keep the price around $150 or so. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to some that I'm probably going to take a while making up my mind on this one.