Michaelwclark.com

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How to build a Light Rail Transit

via Tumblr

Toronto is building a new Light Rail Transit running partly above partly below ground. The noise and drilling has been manageable but not much fun. Traffic, already atrocious, is seriously affected.

This was taken today, steps away from where I live.

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Sons of Liberty – American History TV mini-series… and rethinking the Royals

Join, or Die by Benjamin Franklin was recycled to encourage the former colonies to unite against British rule – Wikipedia

I don’t know much about American history. Probably because Canadians are so saturated with American culture that it’s just too close. Not exotic like ancient Greece or Rome.

This mini-series, however, really caught my eye. Beautiful sets. Good FX. Excellent acting.

Apparently it’s not too historically accurate. But I don’t mind that if the show captures the essence of an era. I always check on Wikipedia after, anyhow. That’s what I did with Vikings – similarly critiqued for not being historical enough.

One critic said Sons of Liberty was good except that the dialog sounded too 21st century. Well yes, that’s true. But I like shows that connect. Old, stodgy English dialects probably wouldn’t have done that for me.

The British in this show were made to look like real prigs. Back then they probably were. Not all, of course. But the general ruling elite.

Nunavut currently has a suicide crisis (click image for more) – Wikipedia

The person I watched this with kept saying… “Why don’t we get rid of the British like the US did?”

It’s true that each Canadian pays about $1.53 a year to support their royal habits. Multiply 1.53 x 36 million and you have $55 million per year.

Could that money be better spent on the impoverished north? How about on inner city street people? Or should we keep supporting the royals’ extravagant lifestyle?

I’m mixed on this point. My Masters was funded by a Commonwealth scholarship. True, the monies came from Indian and Canadian governments. But it wouldn’t have happened at all if Canada were not a member of the Commonwealth countries. And had I not made it to India, life probably would have taken a really unpleasant turn.

Royal Family – Wikipedia

Homeless man in Vancouver – Wikipedia

Instead of doing an Indian Masters in Comparative Religion I was scheduled to do a M.A. in sociology at Queens University, Ontario. Something tells me I would have disliked that. I dropped Queens (and lost a rent deposit) the moment news came that I had won the Commonwealth Scholarship.

So it’s always good to remember our past before becoming too critical of the present.

Still, that doesn’t mean things can’t change.

Myself, I’d like to keep my yearly $1.53 dollars instead of giving it to the royals. I think they are an anachronism fit for history books but not for today.

Just my two cents – nay $84.15 – on the matter.¹

1954 Series (banknotes) – Some of these were still around when I was a kid = memories! – Wikipedia

¹ $1.53 x 55 yrs (my age) = $84.15. The yearly amount likely changed over the years. But when I was a kid money was of more value. So $84.15 is probably the rough equivalent, taking into account inflation.

 

 


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My latest very inexpensive Amazon purchase!

Image via Tumblr

If you’re like me you have a love/hate relationship with your touchscreen device. Take my tablet. For starters, it’s a Lenovo so I’m not sure if the screen is quite as repsonsive as say, a Samsung or iPad. But it works, has 2 gb RAM, which is pretty good, and I love the android OS because it enables me to do more than with a factory iPad.

Right now I’m typing this on my tablet using a very old HP computer keyboard. One of those pre-USB keyboards with the funny round plug instead of a USB connector. Also the mouse is from the same computer, with the same kind of round plug.

So browsing thru Amazon I found two things I needed for this. First I got the USB/OTG cable (black in pic) which enables plugging in of hardware peripherals to a qualified android tab or phone. Then, after seeing that that worked with a newer USB keyboard and mouse, I got a PS/2 to USB adapter (white in pic) to hook up the older, non-USB hardware. Basically two adapters have made my tablet a laptop.

All very cheap. The tablet, the apapters and … well, not the author! 🙂


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Turn your phone or tablet into a wireless webcam = cool!

“triple cam, webcam, iPHONE, android reflect” via Flickr – Artist Shannon Kringen shows how she’s way of ahead of me re the possibilities of this tech!

I haven’t tested out android wireless cams yet but for our old iPad2 and iPhone there are two free apps that I’m quite impressed with.

First, EpoCam Viewer is popular and seems reliable. But the free version has almost no options. You’re set at 640 by 480 resolution, and can’t choose image quality.

Also no recording or screen capture with this freebie. But it’s a good picture. So this would be appropriate for keeping an eye on baby… whatever.

IvCam has far more options, like screen resolution, image and sound quality. Also it records movies and (supposedly) takes stills. Whenever I tried the stills the app crashed. But the movie record feature works. So to get a still, I took a short movie and then used VLC media player to get my snap.

There’s usually a workaround for things like this.

Here’s a snap from around 8 am this morning at medium resolution (which makes for a smaller video file size).

And here’s another taken at high resolution, making the video file quite a bit larger.

The cool thing is I had the phone camera beaming up to my bedroom laptop, which then was linked with Team Viewer to my old Windows XP laptop in the dining room.

I don’t think either of these cams works with Win XP but with Team Viewer, they did with a kind of satellite setup.

Waste of time? Not if I catch a burglar! 🙂


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Another great Trek episode… (slight spoiler alert)

Image – Wikipedia (Star Trek Franchise is pretty strict about sharing images, so it’s hard to find copyright free ones for blogging)

Caught season 1 episode 3 of the new Star Trek TV series last night. I felt this one would indicate if the show was heading somewhere or just going to fizzle, as did Star Trek Enterprise.

Pleasantly surprised again.

The best part, I thought, was how the quirky Captain of Discovery tells Michael Burnham that universal rules are for the rank and file. Kings appreciate the importance of context.

Of course, he could have said Queens appreciate context—that is, they bend Starfleet regulations. And given that the show is trying to be so forward thinking by giving the woman Michael a male name, I thought this was a small glitch.

But other than that… looking forward to the remainder of the season!

 6 ‘Star Trek’ Captains, Ranked from Worst to Best (space.com)

 Claire Foy auditioned for ‘The Crown’ wearing a tiara, gloves, and gown while she was 6 months pregnant (businessinsider.com)

 The man behind ‘Game of Thrones’ has several TV shows in the works – here’s everything you need to know about them (businessinsider.com)


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A true paranormal story

Yesterday I was up in my room, working away on the computer. I heard a loud banging sound from outside my door. The other person in the house called up, “What was that!”

To me it sounded metallic, like the lid of a pot falling to the floor, or maybe a bathroom suction cup holder crashing into the tub.

I wasn’t overly concerned, and busy in the middle of something,  so called back down “I’ll be there in a minute…”

Another call from downstairs, “Mike, could you come down please.”

Slightly miffed at being disturbed, I went downstairs.

What I saw gave me a start!

The cross in this photo had somehow fallen directly into the blue bowl below. At the time there was no cloth padding in the bowl, so it made a mighty DING!

As you can see, the cross is firmly secured with an almost oversized hook. And the twine is in good shape. Unbroken.

So how did it happen?

No minor earthquake nor tremor would have shaken that free. Anyhow, we didn’t feel one nor was anything like that reported in the city.

I believe in the paranormal, especially when it comes to interior perception. But rarely have I witnessed physical objects moving. And a cross!

To make sure the cross wasn’t trashed if it happened again, I placed the cloth in the blue bowl. But chances are it was a one-time occurrence.

You know what they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

 


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Firefox making a comeback?

English: Firefox word mark. Correct clear spac...

Image – Wikipedia

For a long time I let go of Firefox. When Firefox was young it was my go-to browser. But then it got bloated and seemed slow.

With only one half decent computer to my name, I spend a lot of time eeking out whatever I can from older computers.

I just enjoy that. I could afford to buy more new computers. But I don’t see why I would. I get a hit – that “new” feeling – from trying out new software. I don’t need to get new hardware to feel that way. Usually when I buy new hardware it’s almost traumatic. I have returned stuff to the superstore because something wasn’t right or wasn’t as advertised. So generally I don’t like buying big ticket items. Only when I really have to. And then it’s fun.

So that’s why I tried out Team Viewer. I now have two Windows XP dummy computers running that. One in the basement. So when I do laundry I’m not just wasting time but working down there. (Our basement contains the bulk of my library, and I like working with all my books around me). One in the dining room because I like the open space of the main floor. And then there’s the main computer in my bedroom, which the two dummies feed off.

Image via Flickr

Now that I always have speed at my fingertips, I thought I’d try out Firefox again. It runs fine on my bedroom computer and, as I say, using the two Windows XP computers as dummies, it runs fine from them too.

Second time around I’m happy to get back to Firefox. One new feature that really pleases me is its snip tool. Sure, Windows 10 has it in Edge. But Edge sucks. We all know that. And the Edge snip tool only allows you to upload your snip to the web. No easy downloading.

It seems the Microsoft marketing gurus want us to run out of cloud space so we’ll buy more. So cheesy.

Windows 7 also has a pretty good snip tool. But by far the best snip tool comes with the latest version of Firefox. It makes it easy to snip just what you want and also to download to your computer.

This was snipped with Firefox last night:

After importing my Chrome bookmarks into Firefox, it’s virtually good to go. Maybe I just like a change. I don’t know. I get bored with blogging. And even a little change, like a change of browser, can reinvigorate me.

Much cheaper than running out and buying bulky hardware every week!

 Here’s how you can watch Apple’s iPhone event(rappler.com)


 AdBlock Plus can now stop sites from mining cryptocurrencies on your PC(neowin.net)


 How to Add Mouse Gestures to Chrome and Firefox(maketecheasier.com)


 Creating Richer Content with Zemanta(sovrn.com)


 Off-Ramping Bad Traffic to Get to the Good Traffic(sovrn.com)


 Google Chrome says it will stop the autoplay video madness in January(fastcompany.com)


 Roamit for Windows 10 lets you share files, photos, and your clipboard across devices(windowscentral.com)


 Your next work laptop could run Android apps(mashable.com)


 How to watch a live stream of Apple’s big iPhone event(businessinsider.com)


 Skype’s new ‘Interviews’ feature lets you test candidates using a real-time code editor(feedproxy.google.com)