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Updated: 1 hour 48 min ago

CBC does us proud

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 19:24

For most of yesterday, I listened to the CBC’s radio coverage of the shooting at Parliament. The CBC radio coverage was excellent, as is usually the case with the CBC. I didn’t see the TV coverage but it’s attracted some notice in US sites, because it was so much better than what passes for TV journalism in the US these days. Here’s an article from

For hours this afternoon, Canada’s CBC News covered the b (more)

Escape from Microsoft Word

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 19:01

Here’s an interesting perspective on Microsoft Word from a writer who is not a technical writer and who found himself baffled by some of Word’s formatting idiosyncrasies.  The problem he ran into would not have occurred if he had used a character style for italics instead of applying direct formatting. Of course, Microsoft continues to make it harder and more complex to use styles properly with every release of Word, so I won’t be too hard on him.

I’ve been vaguely aware of Word (more)

Life at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 05:57

Here’s a harrowing article by an AmeriCare relief worker about what it’s like working at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia, Liberia.

When traveling to areas devastated by earthquakes and violent storms, the physical damage is often apparent even before you step off the plane. But here in Liberia where the death toll has surpassed 2,000 and continues to climb, there are no flattened buildings or tent camps filled with survivors. Signs of the crisis are mo (more)

Canadian geologists get climate change wrong

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 05:52

It’s likely that the post on the Geologic Society of America by a couple of Canadian geologists will likely get taken up by all the usual suspects in the climate change denial industry.  Fortunately there’s a strong rebuttal, which the deniers will likely ignore, but at least it’s out there.

This is quite false, as (more)

10 grammar mistakes you can ignore

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 07:49

English grammar is fluid and changes over time. Some of the “rules” that I learned in grade school are now considered acceptable usage. 10 Grammar Mistakes People Love to Correct (That Aren’t Actually Wrong) Most people won’t argue about splitting infinitives or ending sentences with a preposition, but some of the other items in the list might be more controversial.

Are you the sort of person who just loves correcting other people’s grammar? Are you sure that you (more)

When Art Rocked

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 11:20

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have a particular fondness for the music of the late 1960s. The visual complement to that music was the concert poster, defined by the dizzying psychedelic swirls of the posters from San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s. If you’re lucky enough to be in, or flying through, San Francisco in the next few months, you can see a large exhibition of these posters at the San Francisco international airport.

There’s more about the posters, their history, and the exhibition (more)

Cold fusion reactor passes review by independent experts

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 06:36

A panel of independent experts has tested and reviewed an Italian-designed cold fusion reactor and found that it seems to produce much more energy than could be explained by any known reaction other than nuclear fission or fusion. However, they stop short of saying that it does work by a nuclear process.

Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat — the device that purports to use cold fusion to generate massive amounts of cheap, (more)

Editor’s Toolkit Plus updated

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 05:59

Jack Lyons has updated his Editor’s Toolkit Plus with a bevvy of new features. If you use Microsoft Word to edit documents of any size, you should take a look at this, as there are many features that will save vast amounts of time when you are editing. As well as the update, he’s throwing in several new programs. It’s on sale until the end of October for only $47, which is probably less than what an hour of your time is worth – and it will likely save you much more than that.

< (more)

Adobe DRM spies on what you read

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 06:33

Adobe Digital Editions 4, their EPUB reading and DRM application, spies on you by sending data about what you read and sends it to Adobe in plain text. It also scans your computer and sends lists of the ebooks it finds there. While I can understand an ebook application storing data about what you read – it does have to know where you last left off in a book, for example, there’s no excuse for sending the information back to the mothership, so to speak, and sending it in pla (more)

World Press PHoto winners in Toronto

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 05:31

The winners of the World Press Photo Contest for 2014 were announced earlier this year. They’re now on display in the Brookfield Place Galleria in downtown Toronto. I highly recommend seeing the exhibition there – there’s a big difference between seeing the pictures online and seeing them displayed in large-format, high-quality prints.


Fixing the ALL CAPS ribbon in Office 2013

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 05:11

At work last week, I was asked to test some of the software I use to make sure it was compatible with Windows 7. (We’ll be upgrading from Windows XP soon and our IT guys are busy making sure that everything we use will work). One of the applications was Thirty Six Software’s wonderful SmartDocs Word add-in. I was sure it would be OK but dutifully logged into the test machine and discovered that we would be getting Office 2013 as well.

I’ve been using Office 2013 at home for a while now and like it. But I use it only occasionally. At work there are days where I’ (more)

2014 Prix Aurora Award winners

Sun, 10/05/2014 - 08:54

The winners of the 2014 Prix Aurora Awards were announced at Canvention 34 hosted by V-Con 39 yesterday. The awards are for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy and are voted on by Canadian SF fans. These are the fiction winners:

  • Best English Novel: A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books
  • Best English YA Novel: The Rising by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
  • Best English Short Fiction: “Ghost in the Machine” by Ryan McFadden, The Puzzle Box, EDGE
  • Best Eng (more)

Adobe FrameMaker 12.0.3 patch released

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 05:34

I see that Adobe has released a new patch for Frame 12:

A new patch (12.0.3) has been released for FM12. It is available for direct download at:

For the 17 enhancements and 28 fixes see the readme file at: Adobe FrameMaker 12.0.3 ReadMe.pdf

I had a look at the PDF and there are some enhancements to the table feature: drag and drop rows and columns and navigation  with the arrow key (more)

Some grim thoughts on ISIS

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 05:50

Charlie Stross has a short and pungent post about the current situation in the Middle East that pretty much echo what I’ve been thinking for some time.  The whole mess is largely a result of the US invasion of Iraq in 1993. And it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

And you know something else? If George W. Bush hadn’t had such a raging hard-on for Saddam Hussein, if he hadn’t railroaded everyone into invading Iraq, this needn’t have happened. Al Q (more)

NYT recipe archive online

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 05:14

The New York Times has put its archive of recipes, some 16,000 of the them, online in an attractive and searchable web site. The site includes a recipe of the day and editors’ collections such as Meaty Main Courses for the Fall and Rosh Hashana Recipes. The search feature includes popular categories, such as gluten free, and there are many options for filtering results.

I like this site and I’ll definitely be coming back to it.


A useful Acrobat feature

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 05:47

The other day I created a PDF of one of our manuals so I could easily search through all of the files – something that I couldn’t do without otherwise creating a Word master document (and I don’t want to go there right now). The manual consists of 26 files plus a front matter file that contains the RD fields used to pull in the information for the table of contents and index.

Acrobat XI has a feature that lets you create a PDF from multiple files or a directory of files. It works fine, other than being a bit slow. However, because our manual’s file names don’t inc (more)

Chaos Manor Reviews is back

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 12:34

Jerry Pournelle has resumed publishing his computer review column, Chaos Manor Reviews, which was the successor to his influential Byte Magazine column. It’s been on hiatus for about three years, while he recovered from radiation therapy to treat a brain tumour. He’ll still be writing a monthly column, but it’ll be published in weekly installments.

Pournelle has been writing about computers for more than 30 years which brings a perspective to his column that many younger reviewers lack. While I don’t agree with his p (more)

The great 1952 space program

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 09:59

Here’s a largely forgotten piece of space exploration history. In 1952, the magazine Colliers assembled a panel of experts to develop a plan for the exploration of space, including trips to the moon and Mars. By modern standards, it was incredibly grandiose, and it probably wouldn’t have been practical, but it was certainly inspirational.

io9 has an overview of the series along with some of the wonderful illustrations. Horizons, the newsletter of the Ho (more)

U.S. to have two new manned spacecraft

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 18:00

NASA has finally picked the companies that will build capsules to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. Both Boeing and SpaceX have been selected. Having two different vehicles (and launchers) is a good thing.

After a four-year competition, NASA has tapped the commerical spaceflight companies SpaceX and Boeing to launch astronauts to the Internatio (more)

More worries about Ebola

Sun, 09/14/2014 - 18:44

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa continues to spread with no signs it is slowing down – indeed, just the opposite. Epidemiologists are beginning to get worried – seriously worried.

Some may ask why the United States should play this role. Well, no one country is doing enough. We have the expertise and the personnel to tackle this chall (more)