Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Mercedes B250 5 year update

It's hard to believe that in mid-February 2018, we'll have had our Mercedes Benz B250 for 5 years. I figured it was time for an update. I'll start with a little Q&A.

Q. How many km have you put on it?
A. 191,000 and counting.

Q. Would you buy this car again?
A. Definitely, if I had both the money and the ability to budget for its maintenance.

Q. What are the top 3 things you like about it at this stage?
A. Ease of entry/exit due to higher CUV stance; its perfect size for a couple; the technology.

Q. Any unexpected maintenance?
A. Nothing major. I was a bit surprised that what I thought would be basic replacement repairs cost more than usual, because small parts were inseperable from larger, costlier components. For example, brake repair, coolant thermostat repair and fuel filter replacement cost much more than I was expecting.

Q. Any plans to trade up?
A. Nope. I really like this car. If I had mad money to burn, I might like a GLC 300 or a Tesla.

Q. Do you regret not getting 4Matic all-wheel drive?
A. Not at all. Putting good winter tires is all you need. On any car really.

Q. Are there any features that still impress you?
A. Oh yeah. The self-park is amazing, although not perfect. I love controlling cruise with a wand mounted to the steering wheel shaft.

Q. What one feature does this car need most?
A. A heated steering wheel.

Small things 13 Jan

  • I was looking at someone's bucket list and one of the things was "Have one night stand". Why would you only want one night stand?
  • Imagine if the first rule of religion was the same as the first rule of Fight Club.
  • Dear America: Smarties are like unlabelled M&Ms. Notice the use of the word 'like'. Not 'in fact'.
  • The message that brings me to the edge of lunacy: "There is an unexpected item in the bagging area."
  • The Smart Car. It won't make you look tough, but it will get you out of helping your friends move....
  • Ladies: The next time your man seems to be ignoring what you're saying, slip in "So, my ex called......"

This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.....

I started using computers back when they weren't even a regular consumer thing yet. You know - the days of 80286 processors? Anyway, when I use a computer, my brain still processes (see what I did there?) what's going on in the background when I turn the computer on.

You know, POST, finding the boot drive, loading the boot loader into RAM, and then the operating system gets loaded into RAM and begins to transform your hardware into a collection of devices that you can interact with.

One of the reasons I typically leave my home desktop on all the time, is that I like not having to wait for that whole process to finish before I can do something. Thankfully, the process has gotten faster in recent years but, you know, instant gratification culture and all that.

Of course, one option other than turning your computer 'off', is to put it into sleep mode. This way, instead of the whole system shutting down and having to be completely rebooted again, the current contents of RAM (everything your computer is actively doing) are copied to the hard drive as one giant file. Then, when you wake it up, it just quickly reloads the session right back into RAM and you continue where you left off. Alternatively, newer computers don't actually copy RAM contents to the hard drive, they just keep the RAM powered up and put pretty much everything else to sleep, which is much faster.

I seldom make use of sleep mode. It makes me nervous for some reason. In my mind, I liken it to putting the computer into suspended animation, a kind of digital prison where the computer isn't allowed to do anything at all while I'm off doing who knows what. I prefer to let my computer use its idle time to run anti-virus scans, perform updates, index files, and whatever else it needs to do to keep itself in tip top shape.

When I close the lid on my Macbook, I silently whisper "There there", as if I'm about to freeze it in carbonite (obligatory Star Wars reference).

Get ready Canada - this is what weed does to your brain....

Things I learned lately 13 Jan

  • Billboards are illegal in Hawaii.
  • No replicable, peer-reviewed scientific study has proven that Vitamin C prevents or helps cure the cold. Same goes for Zinc. Echinacea too.
  • Thomas Edison co-wrote a sci-fi novel, 'Progress'.
  • "Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. Artists better be prepared for doing a lot of touring, because that's really the only unique situation that's going to be left." ~David Bowie 2002
  • Iceland just made it illegal to pay women less than men for the same work.
  • Movie attendance hit a 25-year low in the US in 2017.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Small things 5 Jan

  • Imagine if you could pay your insurance premiums the same way insurance companies pay out claims.
  • #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly [Spiderman: Homecoming] A rich older man provides hi-tech fetish pajamas for teen boy.
  • #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly [The Last Jedi][DANGER - SPOILERS AHEAD] Transcendental Meditation can kill you.
  • The next time you get a call from a blocked or unknown number, answer it and whisper, "It's done, but there's blood everywhere!" Then hang up.
  • On your first day at the job in a hardware store, when they offer to show you the ropes, it's not a euphemism...
  • Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters.
  • When I was young, I just assumed that everyone believed in science.
  • I'm a 10. On the PH scale. I'm pretty basic.....

Snow angles

Things I learned lately 5 Jan

  • Original location of Jack in the Box - San Diego, CA.
  • Original location of Taco Bell - Downey, CA (SE Los Angeles).
  • Original location of Pizza Hut - Wichita, KS
  • Original location of TGIFridays - New York NY.
  • Original location of Dunkin' Donuts - Quincy, MA.
  • Original location of Wendy's - Columbus, OH.
  • Original location of Burger King - Jacksonville, FL.
  • Original location of KFC - Salt Lake City, UT.
  • Original location of Subway - Bridgeport, CT.
  • Original location of Little Caesar's - Garden City, MI.
  • Original location of 5 Guys - Arlington, VA.
  • Original location of Dairy Queen - Joliet, IL.

Create Your Own Comic

Marvel has a new online project - Create Your Own Comic. Choose from your favorite Marvel superheroes and villains, compose a story, and design comic panels once it goes online (you can register now).

Marvel has a few rules about the stories you can create, in the Terms and Conditions. Here's some of what you can't do:

  • Content that could frighten or upset young children or the parents of young children
  • Prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication, vitamins, and dietary supplements
  • Contraceptives
  • Depictions of alcohol (hard liquor, beer, wine, etc.), tobacco (cigars, cigarettes, etc.), or drugs (marijuana, etc.)
  • Sexually explicit images (pornography, etc.) and nudity, suggestive or revealing images (bare midriffs, lets, etc.)
  • Sensationalism (killer bees, gossip, aliens, scandal, etc.)
  • Potentially slanderous or libellous content
  • Obscenity, bad or offensive language, proxies for bad or offensive language (X@#%!), body parts, or noises related to bodily functions
  • Politics (lobbyists, PAC sites, political campaigns, alternative lifestyle advocacies)
  • Gambling (excluding state lotteries, sweepstakes and fantasy leagues)
  • Graphic violence (including certain types of game sites) unless approved by Tap Tap on a case-by-case basis
  • Guns (firearms, bullets, etc.)
  • Death
  • Discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age
  • Images or content that is in any way unlawful, harmful, threatening, defamatory, obscene, or harassing
  • Unauthorized or unapproved use of Marvel creative assets (such as talent, logos, characters, movie logos, theme park imagery, color scheme, font[s])
  • Other controversial topics (social issues, etc.)
  • Unreasonable or highly unlikely product or service claims
  • Double entendres
  • Amusement parks (other than Disney amusement parks)
  • Movie studios (other than studios affiliated with Marvel)
  • Animated movies (other than Marvel or Disney movies)
  • Any content that is otherwise inappropriate for children
  • Any content that is otherwise fraudulent, deceptive, infringing, racially offensive, sexually explicit, threatening, hateful, harassing, disparaging, libelous (including trade libel), slanderous, or defamatory

So, nothing like a typical comic book. Also, anything you write becomes the property of Marvel and you can't share it. The project will probably become more famous about the restrictions.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Look ma, I'm downloading a house! LOL

Is this the best analogy they can come up with for why piracy is bad?

Karl's Fake News 23 Dec

  • Smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo are nothing more than an expansion of the NSA's domestic listening program looking for clues about organized crime and terrorism.
  • The FCC repeals net neutrality because it thinks net neutrality is stifling the Rotten Tomatoes movie review web site.
  • Bill Gates' house is so big, it spans 2 zip codes.
  • Trump claims that Disney is buying 21st Century Fox and Netflix is going to pay for it.
  • Republicans and Democrats agree to put their differences aside and write sensible new laws while still putting on a show of conflict for Fox News and CNN.
  • An object that looks exactly like the fictional giant spaceship Rama has entered the solar system and is slowing down. Spiders on earth inexplicably acting excited.
  • Google AI has learned to identify star systems with planets. Robots spotted building a rocket in the desert of California, claim they can't wait to get off this hell-hole of a world.

Small things 23 Dec

  • Surely not EVERYBODY was Kung Fu fighting.....
  • So if I understand correctly, Hansel and Gretel ate an elderly single woman's house. And that woman decides to eat the kids. Seems legit. 
  • Brief explanation of an acorn. In a nutshell, it's an oak tree.
  • At this time of year, I'd just like to say ABCDEFGHIJK MNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. (Noel)
  • Well, now Roy Moore will have a lot of free time on his hands. OH NO!!
  • I love how we Google now to prove we're right about something.....
  • Euphemism for poopin': Throwing the garbage out the back alley.
  • If every house and apartment had a shower faucet that instantly selected the correct shower temperature, the world would probably have 50% more fresh water than it does right now. No more waiting, adjusting, checking, adjusting, checking...
  • The smartphone has changed my life in a way that I don't say the words 'I don't know' as much anymore.
  • From now on we need to say 'the greatest thing since the internet', because sliced bread was invented almost 100 years ago and the internet is way better.
  • A balloon is basically a bag of your breath.

Actual conversation I had with my cable TV provider

Me: Hey. One of my cable boxes doesn't show any content. It just says 'not authorized' on every channel. It worked a couple of weeks ago, but not anymore. I've already tried unplugging it etc.
Them: Can I get you phone number and address? (I give it)
Them: Can you spell your last name? (I spell it)
Them: Can you give me the last 4 digits of your driver's license? (I give it)
Them: So, because your driver's license is personal ID, we can't use that anymore. So I need you to come up with a PIN to validate yourself any time you call from now on. (I make one up)
Them: OK. Can you give me the serial number of the box? It's usually on the back.
Me: Sure, just let me disassemble this TV cabinet so I can get back there......
[many minutes go by and I finally get the box turned around]
Me: Uh, there's 2 numbers, which do you need?
Them: One of them should start with an 'M', or a 'C'.
Me: Nope. I have one that starts with four zeroes and one that starts with 'AA'.
Them: That's not right. Is there a sticker with a bar code?
Me: They both have bar codes.
Them: Does the one that starts with zeroes have another sticker right below it?
Me: Nope.
Them: OK. They didn't put a serial number sticker on your box. Give me the number that starts with the zeroes, we should be able to find it in the system. (I give the number)
[long pause]
Them: OK. That box is no longer compatible with our network.
Me: Sorry, what?
Them: We have been upgrading our network one neighbourhood at a time and your box is not compatible with the new frequencies. We anticipate calls from anyone with an older box when we convert each new neighbourhood.
Me: OK. Now what?
Them: Your box is not a rental, but we are obliged to replace it. So we will get you a new box, but it will only be for standard definition channels, not HD.
Me: That's alright, this TV is only standard definition right now.
Them: OK. We are sending you a rental unit but you won't have to pay rent on it.
Me: That's so great.
Them: Would you like to pick it up at a store or should we mail it to you?
Me: Where are the stores?
Them: [struggling with the pronuciation, in a thick Indian accent] Chi............nook? Or Sunrigged (It's actually Sunridge).
Me: Those are the only stores?
Them: Those are the only stores with this particular model.
Me: Just mail it to me.
(They never advised me on what to do with the old box)
(My new box pictured)

Cainiao's Intelligent Warehouse

Smart robots automate the warehouse at Alibaba’s logistics affiliate.

Things I learned lately 23 Dec

  • Beyond Meat makes a plant-based sausage in 3 flavours, hot Italian, sweet Italian, and brat. They look like meat, but they're primarily made from pea protein, rice, fava beans, potato starch, and coconut oil. They also contain beet juice, which gives them a reddish colour. Compared to traditional sausage, Beyond's has two more grams of protein, about half the fat, and 140 mg less sodium.
  • The tongue is not actually divided into sections, each with their own taste.
  • Jenna Abrams, who riled up millions of Americans with her polarizing tweets in the past few years, was none other than employees at the Internet Research Agency, the Russian government-funded "troll farm" in St. Petersburg.
  • Paris Hilton is the highest paid woman DJ in the world, on the road 250 days per year.
  • Self-driving vehicle projects, starting with Waymo, are now teaching their fleets to drive in winter conditions.
  • Piala Inc, a Japanese marketing company, is giving non-smokers an extra 6 vacation days per year.
  • If you're using FaceID on the new iPhone and shave your beard, you'll need to enter your pass-code until it re-learns your face, then FaceID will work again.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Schools should use city simulators

I think kids should play "Cities: Skylines" at school. No seriously. Hear me out.

Cities are living organisms, affected by resources, spending, planning, disasters, maintenance, and the changing habits of its citizens. But very few people really understand how all of those elements affect each other and make a city successful, or not.

In the game Cities: Skylines, you have to grow and manage your city, touching every element. If you're familiar with Sim City, it's like that, only better.

Like Sim City, you have to plan your zones for living, business and industry. But in the case of industry, it helps if you zone on top of actual natural resources, like forest or oil or minerals. You can place your zones wherever you want, but you have to plan your roadway network to account for real traffic patterns. In this simulation, the people are going somewhere and you can even see where they're going. You can see where the traffic jams are and try to fix them. You'll see why industrial areas need their own access to highways. You can deploy various forms of mass transit such as buses, trams, trains, subways, elevated monorails and gondolas. You'll learn how traffic circles help manage intersections.

You have to manage the budget, but you can elect to forego the money angle and just have an infinite pot of money to build what you want. You have to manage power sources and power lines. You have to manage road maintenance, garbage and health services, schools, fire and police. You have to manage your water supply and sewage, making sure that you don't put sewage out pipes upstream of your water intakes. You even manage parks, graveyards and garbage.

What I really like about this sim is getting down and zooming in to the level of a city block and watching the people use my city. I can see if my citizens are sick and why, or see if they are happy. I can tell if there are enough workers or shoppers to buy what's being produced. I can watch a monorail pull into the station, see the riders get out and leave the station, then walk down the street, some of them gathering at the nearest tram stop to continue their journey. I can click on any car or service vehicle and follow it around while it does its thing. I can zoom in on any intersection and decide whether it needs a traffic light, or can get by with a stop sign, or no controls at all. I can analyze the usage of my existing mass transit lines and see if they're serving enough people.

I can see pollution in the form of smog in the air and dirty water from the sewage outpipes. I can add parks, trees and bike paths.

And if there's anything I don't like about my city, I can tear elements of it down and start over to make it better. What a wonderful learning tool.

Karl's Fake News 15 Dec

  • The US EPA under the Trump administration is lobbying for a $7500 coal furnace credit for homeowners.
  • Scientists prove there's no such thing as addiction. We do stuff a lot because we like it.
  • Senate Republicans considering a name change for Black Friday.
  • Uber spinoff Doober will soon deliver cannabis to your door.
  • Not to be outdone by new CBC's The National 4 anchor format, CTV National News announces it will have 12 anchors starting Jan 2018.

Canadian middle finger

Small things 15 Dec

  • Tired of hearing the 'gateway drug' argument. The same logic dictates that alcohol is a gateway drug too. Same goes for milk....
  • Tell your boss: "3 companies are after me and I need a raise to stay at my present job." If they ask who the 3 companies are, just answer, "Gas, electric and cable."
  • Being popular on FB is like sitting at the cool table in the cafeteria at a mental institution. Or so I've been told.
  • I have a potential solution to the problem some people have of not responding promptly to email messages. The delivery of email to those kinds of people should be delayed by twice the amount of time it takes them to respond to a received message. So if a person waits 4 hours to reply to a message needing an answer, their pending email should be delayed 8 hours.
  • Homophobia: The fear that gay men will treat you the way you treat women.
  • What to say if you are caught sleeping at your desk: "They told me at the blood bank that this might happen."
  • When you're a child, you have infinite imagination and rules stifle it. When you become an adult, it's not that you understand the rules, it's that you've lost the imagination.
  • They should make an average member of the public compete in each Olympic event to contextualize the performance level of Olympic athletes.

Strawmen of the apocalypse

Love this video.

Things I learned lately 15 Dec

  • Steve Miller Band's song The Joker references at least 3 other songs of theirs, Space Cowboy, (Enter) Maurice, and Gangster of Love.
  • Women attending the 75th Golden Globe Awards on January 7 2018 will reportedly protest in response to the allegations of sexual misconduct, by dressing in black.
  • Your nose runs when it's cold as one of the means the nose uses to warm the air we're breathing in.
  • There are no McDonalds in Kenya, so KFC, Burger King and Subway rule.
  • Boeing threw the gauntlet down and said their rocket being built for NASA will beat Space-X to Mars. Elon Musk is elated.
  • Apple is buying Shazam.
  • Intelligence experts believe that Russia has more sleeper agents in the West now than during the Cold War.
  • Quentin Tarantino wants to direct an R-rated Star Trek film and Patrick Stewart wants to be in it. So far, J.J Abrams has offered to produce it.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Karl's Fake News 8 Dec

  • Pentagon installed a 12 hour delay to President's nuclear launch button to prevent premature war.
  • Apple's next iPhone will be a brain implant. It'll use a brand new iOS that is only compatible with brains educated to at least college level.
  • Hilary Clinton has formally accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment.
  • Tim Hortons ready for cannabis legalization with new infused edibles, due next summer.
  • Studies show that spanked children tend to hate their parents.
  • iOS 12 to include built-in bullshit detector. When Siri overhears a known falacy, she will emit a loud and obnoxious 'WRONG!!'.

I'm not?!

Small things 8 Dec

  • Do mice look at bats and think, "OMG, an angel!"?
  • This is NOT the year to hang mistletoe at the office Xmas party.
  • Maybe I could become a divorce photographer.......
  • I do in fact, have my druthers.
  • When you're a kid, you grade a store based on its selection of candy. Or comic books. Or both.
  • I'm a member of 'knights of the IKEA table'.
  • Don't put all your files onto just one hard drive. ~Karl Plesz
  • Never 'label' your own art. There are countless others willing to do that for you.....
  • When people ask me if I like meatloaf, I inevitably have to ask "The singer or the food?" One is bland and forgettable, the other is a tasty entree.

Solar farm or agro farm?

How about both?

Germany realizes that if they are to wean themselves off of nuclear power by 2022, they're going to have to step up the transition to renewable energy very quickly.

Wind has been very successful in the northern part of the country, but the southern part can't rely on wind. So they're exploring solar. But they realize that building too many solar farms will remove too much farm land from the equation.

So they're experimenting with a new method of installing solar farms that will still allow for plants to grow underneath. The panels they're using are bi-facial, which means in winter, they will simultaneously be able to collect sun energy reflected off of the snow below them as well.

Watch the video with captions on.

Things I learned lately 8 Dec

  • The top 3 exporters of halal meat are Brazil, Australia, and India.
  • In Silicon Valley, tree-lined streets are filling with tents, cots, and dilapidated RVs. The area's retail clerks, plumbers, janitors, even teachers, sleep where they can. Silicon Valley has the highest median income in the nation, but a worsening wealth gap has caused homelessness to surge. More than 10,000 working people were living without shelter across San Jose and Santa Clara Counties on any given night in 2016. The median rent in San Jose is $3500 per month.
  • South Australia now has its first 100MW Tesla battery helping to stabilize the power grid.
  • 41% of US adults think humans and dinosaurs co-existed. Nope. They missed each other by 63 million years.
  • Eating before swimming does not increase the risk of cramps. But a full stomach could make you short of breath.
  • Parent birds will not abandon baby birds touched by humans.
  • Iron Maidens were not medieval torture devices. This story was manufactured in 18th century circuses for sensationalism.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Karl's Fake News 1 Dec

  • Rand Paul finally admits fight with neighbour was over right to partay. Adam Yauch rolls in his grave.
  • US Republicans blaming recent Democrat election wins on Mexican interference.
  • Warren Buffett offers to pay off US debt if elected next President.
  • Chicken soup can be used to ward off autism after vaccinations.
  • Julia Louis Dreyfus considering run to helm Democratic party.
  • Russian meddling in US election orchestrated by Yackov Smirnoff.

Friday, December 01, 2017

What are they doing?

Alien 1: Hey, whatcha doin'?

Alien 2: Watching humans do stuff.

Alien 1: What are those ones doing?

Alien 2: Rock climbing.

Alien 1: What are they after? Food?

Alien 2: Nope.

Alien 1: Is this where they store their valuables?

Alien 2: Nope.

Alien 1: Is their home built into the side of those cliffs?

Alien 2: Nope.

Alien 1: Why on earth would they do that then? It looks dangerous.

Alien 2: It seems like they do it for fun.

Alien 1: Seriously.

Alien 2: Yup.

Alien 1: That's messed up. I'm putting this in my report.

Foo fans

Could this possibly be the greatest music video ever made?

I certainly think it's the greatest fan video ever made.

Small things 1 Dec

  • Why would a jar of anti-aging cream have an expiry date?
  • If cats could text you, they wouldn't.
  • Full body showers seem fantastic, until you encounter one in your hotel room and stare at the 3 knobs wondering what does what and completely soak the bathroom floor.
  • If you sat on your own voodoo doll, would it be possible to get back up again?
  • I enjoy long romantic walks to the fridge.
  • The Germans had a game using dice. It was called Nahtzee.
  • Is it possible that we treat prisoners better than the elderly in seniors' homes?
  • When I put whipped topping on my pumpkin pie, I get my inspiration from the massive snow banks I grew up with in Quebec. Yeah, we're talking serious height.
  • What was going through the mind of the first person to shake another person's hand? Hey, glad to meet you..... I'm going to grab your hand and hold on for a few. No no. Don't pull away. Up and down. There you go.
  • How did the act of giving flowers to show love or affection start? I love you so much, I vandalized someone's garden and am offering you a gift that will die in a couple of days.
  • Patriotism: I'm sure glad I was born in this geographical area.