Hello internet, how are you doing?  Been a while since we talked to each other on this blog, but it isn’t like we’ve been ignoring each other.  Just hanging out and bumping into each other on other social media and forums.

But I had something I wanted to get off my chest, and seeing as I’m pretty sure that the only people who read this blog are either SpamBots and Content Scrapers, this is probably a good place to do it.  That way I can ramble on ad infinitum and it won’t affect the people I subject my FB feed to.  I try and keep my rants there limited and or concise.  After all, my mom reads my FB feed.

You see, we often hear someone say things like “There oughta be a law” or “There oughta be a rule” etc. in response to individual, or fairly rare incidents.  This tends to things like committees, decision making processes, and eventually, new laws and rules.  And in reality, that’s generally speaking a bad thing.

Let me explain by example.  One that affects me deeply and personally.

They’ve added swipe card and pass-code access to the washrooms in my building.

Now, even from this distance, I’m pretty sure I heard a few gears disconnect from your mental switching process as you tried to connect those thoughts.  But if you’ve held with me for this long, hold with me a bit longer and you’ll probably get the connection.

You see, my office is on the 5th floor of a downtown tower.  Until this morning when I arrived at work (the change probably happened over the weekend), we worked in a blissfully Utopian world where we had a washroom of the commons.  Turn the handle, open the door, pass through a vestibule, and there you were, presented with a few urinals and toilet stalls.  Unfettered access to the ability to relieve yourself in a dignified manner, available to the hoi-poloi and the elite in equal measure.

Sadly, this Nirvana of reasonably clean, reasonably well maintained, open access to all who could operate an elevator button and reach the 5th floor, was apparently too much freedom for some.  You see, occasionally, and we’re talking maybe once a week or so, someone from the cafe on the main floor would realize they could bypass the line for those facilities by a couple of button presses and quick access to our floor.

The gall.  I mean, how dare the masses from the Timmies Cafe dare to take advantage of our facilities to achieve some gastronomic relief when in need.

There oughta be a law against that.

And someone probably said just that to the building management.  In the 3+ years since our company moved to this building, I can’t remember once where one of those dastardly double-double drinking masses actually inconvenienced anyone by doing this, or made any kind of a mess.  But hey, that’s our bathroom, right?

And so it goes.  I can picture the whole chain of events.  Someone spots a sweatpants wearing hockey mom, large “double-double to go” in hand, quickly deking into our washroom to relieve themselves of some burden.  On seeing this, an uptight receptionist with a view of the elevator lobby (as all the receptionists on this floor seem to have), is immediately offended.  Offended to the point where they pause from maintaining their cuticles to pound out a polite but firm inquiry to the building management as to how this state of affairs came to be, and how can we prevent such an abuse of our sacred commode in the future.

From there, the building management would have had a meeting.

If one person complains, then surely, others must be offended?  Have we missed out on potential lessees because of our lack of a secure lavatory?  If we resolve this pressing issue, can we potentially attract a higher caliber of business, willing to pay a higher rent?

And from there, it becomes a self affirming circle of inquiry.  Sometimes these ideas grab hold of the committee group think, and there is no force on earth that can stop a committee bound and determined to move forward with a grand idea to improve the process or, in this case, to secure the loo – for god’s sake, think of the children!  Never mind the fact that, as far as I’m aware, child labor laws in Canada are strict enough to keep children from the horrors of cubicle life.

And the end result of all this…

This morning, when I, an elite cubicle dwelling drone, who is privileged enough to be an employee of a subsidiary of a company that rents a portion of the 5th floor of this fine office tower, need to vacate my system of some coffee that, coincidentally enough, acquired from the main floor Timmies, head to the washroom, I am confronted by this:


And let me tell you, when I have the pressing need to unburden myself of some of that ever so sweet, sweet, double-double, my abilities to navigate the finer points of swipe card and passcode access, are limited.

So consider my dilemma, and the dilemma of an increasing number of our fine office dwelling citizenry.  And the next time you see something that offends you, or someone does something that would normally be outside the bounds of good social behavior, ask yourself:

Does there really need to be a new law, rule, or process?  Some new granting of rights of those in power to exert control over those they govern?

Or, perchance, was the event an anomaly?  Inconsequential? Horrid, but statistically irrelevant? Did it actually inconvenience you more than most possible solutions?

Because, believe it or not, the same kind of committee group think doesn’t just lead to high security commodes.  It can lead to all the laws that have put us in a place where governments consider laws like Bill C-51, the DMCA, SOPA, HomeLand Security, the ability of the RCMP to use a natural catastrophe as cover to commit mass unlawful search and seizure, with no more consequence than a polite report and reprimand as a result.

And high security bathrooms.  I mean, seriously, is a high security bathroom actually going to make our lives better, or worse?

I’d answer, but I have more pressing matters at hand.  I need to find my swipe card and the slip of paper I wrote the pass code to the washroom on.  I need to pee.

Subtitle:  What this indie movie “gets” that Hollywood doesn’t.

Iron Sky is set to premiere at the Berlin Film Fest this weekend and due for wide release in April, and I’m more excited about going to see this in the theater than I have been about any movie in a long time, with the possible exception of the upcoming Weta Works production of The Hobbit.

Now, unless you’re a sci-fi movie geek or an indie movie geek, or some weird hybrid of the two, you probably haven’t even heard of this film.  Even if you do fall into one of the previous two categories, this movie might have so far slipped under your radar.  Really, who’s going to pay a lot of attention to the production of a sci-fi-action comedy about a bunch of Space Nazis who return to earth after 70 years on a secret moon base in order to seek revenge for the loss of WWII.  This isn’t exactly what you would call mainstream big box office material. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally found a use for that digital photo frame.

Posted by grelmar on January 17th, 2012

apophysis-120104-82I haven’t actually talked about the fractals in my posts for a bit, but the one in the post bears mentioning, and it relates to the post as a whole.  You really need to click on this one and see it full sized.  It has a rainbow coloured fern/feather look to it that’s quite spectacular at full size.  Just click on it to embiggen.

Which brings us (eventually) to the main part of the post.  Remember a few years ago how digital photo frames were all the rage?  Every online electronic store, every photography store, department store, electronics retailer carried them.  You pretty much couldn’t walk through a mall without tripping over a few kiosks full of them? Read the rest of this entry »

My Personal 2011 Video and Movie Round Up

Posted by grelmar on January 3rd, 2012

apophysis-110701-163-blue-featherA lot of people put out their “best of” lists at the end of the year/beginning of the new year.  This isn’t that.  This is my list of  “TV Shows, Videos, and Movies that I watched and enjoyed and you might not have heard of or enjoyed.”  If I did a “best of” list, it would contain a list of movies and videos that you cut cut and paste from a number of different people.  I’m just not that unique.

It contains films and TV series from this past year, as well as a few things that are a bit older, and a brief description of them.  I got thinking of it when a friend visited yesterday and we got talking about videos and I started mentioning some of the stuff I had watched last year he might be interested in.

The main common thread is that these are all things I watched (or re-watched) in 2011 and enjoyed, and think that other people might enjoy too.  If it contains things you’ve never heard of, then those are the first things you’ll want to try out. Read the rest of this entry »

And the year begins to wind down…

Posted by grelmar on December 14th, 2011

I was updating the software the runs this blog (a slightly customized version of the sturdy and reliable WordPRess that I have installed on a shared host), when I happened to notice that I haven’t actually posted anything since the middle of October.  In fact, it’s been a day over two months since I last posted anything.

That isn’t to say I haven’t written anything here, just that I haven’t completed anything I was writing and actually posted it.

I could blame a busy work schedule (true) and a busy home life with my wife and daughter (also true), and I’ve also been getting out more and off visiting friends since I swore off social networking sites (again, also true).

But really, what it comes down to I haven’t had anything really inspire me enough to sit down and crank out a full post.

And that includes today.  Sort of.  I don’t have much to say really, other than…

With the Christmas season on us, I find myself in a warm house, with a loving wife and daughter.  Everything else, the daily grind of the office, and all of life’s other annoyances, are small in comparison.

I don’t think of this as a religious time of year.  For me, it’s a family time of year.  And with that in mind, I just want to wish everyone the same joy in being around the people they love, that I’ve come to be privileged with.

Happy Holidays to all.

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So, a few weeks ago I mentioned that Facebook had crossed my annoyance vs. usefulness threshold, and that I would essentially be no longer using the service.  Or, at the very least, scaling way back on how much I was using the service.  Given how pervasive the service is, and how much a role it plays in the lives of many people I know, I thought it would be worth following up on how my plan is working out.

In a nutshell, very well, thank you very much.  And actually, the changes I’ve made go somewhat deeper than I had initially envisaged. Read the rest of this entry »

Camping – It hurts so good…

Posted by grelmar on September 26th, 2011

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Went out camping this weekend with my wife and daughter.  It was a bit of a last minute thing, really didn’t decide we were going to do it until late in the week, when we saw how good the forecast was, and I had to hold off actually leaving until almost noon on Saturday because of work commitments – not commitments I had made, but others had made on my behalf.   If it had been up to me, we would have left Friday evening and had a couple of nights under the stars with a full day in between.

One of the great things about Canada is how freaking huge this country is.  People from other parts of the world have a lot of trouble grasping the reality of the enormity of this nation, coupled with a lack of population density.  If you’re from Europe, Asia, the US, or even from Africa, it’s difficult to conceptualize the vast emptiness of most of this country.  Huge chunks of countryside with almost no development or human impact. Read the rest of this entry »

Trying to give up the “Social Network” habit.

Posted by grelmar on September 21st, 2011


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So I popped into Facebook this morning to take a quick look at the news feed, and, well, it was fairly brutal.  I immediately posted a rash (and most likely untrue, at least in the short term) comment that I would be abandoning the platform in favour of G+.  The thing is, the latest re-design is only a small part of the reason why I’m seriously contemplating ending my “relationship” with Facebook.

In fact, I’m thinking of abandoning the whole artificial construct of the large commercial Social Networks entirely, and I have a number of reasons that have been brewing at the back of my mind for a while.
Read the rest of this entry »

First Impressions and Thoughts on Google+

Posted by grelmar on July 14th, 2011


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A few days ago I got my invite to Google+, the big G’s latest attempt at building out a social networking service.  The invite came (of course) from a longtime friend, who rates as even more of an Early Adopter than me.  I’d been reading about it since before it had even launched – it was something that had been rumoured, then Alpha-ed, and now it’s being Beta-ed.  I was intrigued by it, partly because of the rumoured features.  But also because Google had been letting rumours slip for so long, in a not so subtle whisper marketing campaign to build up anticipation.

Read the rest of this entry »

DropBox vs. Wuala – Consumer Cloud Storage Smackdown.

Posted by grelmar on July 12th, 2011


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UPDATE: Wuala has changed their program and no longer offers the ability to trade local storage for extra storage. This totally changes the equation, and essentially makes the service useless to me. Just thought I’d mention that. -Oct 12, 2011.

Synchronized online storage is one of those things that sounds way geekier than it really is.  As a result, it’s one of those things that less people use than should – a lot of people could get a lot of benefit from “Cloud Storage” – if only they really know what it is and what it does.

Think of it this way.  Imagine you have a file folder on your computer with a limited amount of storage space. It acts just like any other file folder.  You can drag and drop files into it.  If you’re a bit savvier, you can even set backups to update to it automatically.  Now imagine you can access that exact same folder, with all it’s files, from any computer you wish – so long as you have the password for it. Read the rest of this entry »

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