I've commented on the opening credits of TV show episodes to the point that my wife has started making fun of me for it.

Here's five of my favourites.

Silicon Valley

I'm a subscriber of The Listserve, a mailing list where, every day, one of the ~22,000 subscribers is randomly chosen to share something. Last week, I was given this chance. I didn't have much to say (you can read what I wrote here), but I took the opportunity to ask the audience for book/media recommendations.

An interesting theoretical question was poised today in our office: Why doesn't Canada Post, instead of raising postage prices to cover postage costs, reduce the number of mail deliveries? Many homes and businesses receive less than an average of one addressed mail item per day. Wouldn't it be nice if mail only came 2-3 days a week, and you knew for certain that there'll be something in your mailbox when you check it?

Nota bene: for the sake of simplicity, assume I'm talking about audio podcasts. Video podcasts are cool, but a totally different ball game.

I spend more time in the average week listening to podcasts than consuming any other kind of media. (Music is the only medium that comes close.) Each aspect of podcasting seems to trump a certain other form of media.

Distributed

Podcast episodes are stored locally on one's devices, so you don't need a active internet connection to listen. This is great for people on the go who don't want to pay for Canada's super-expensive mobile data.

Snapchat, despite all it's flaws and concerns, is very quickly becoming my favourite social network. Not my most used social network, mind you, but my favourite. It's all because of the ability to actively network with your friends.

Digory Doodles font sample

I recently had the opportunity to take part in designing a typeface along with my boss. We made this lovely handwritten script typeface and named it after his dog. It's free for all forms of use, so you should go download it now.

I love podcasts. Here's some that I'd love to recommend.

Malls should have mandatory valet parking. Maybe not all malls, but at least malls that are big enough to need multi-level parking.

Take West Edmonton Mall as an example. If any mall were to have valet parking, WEM, being the largest in North America, would really benefit from it. (Right now, just the hotel has a valet service.) If one goes to the mall in the early evening or on weekends, the parking lot is a madhouse.

The gross majority of Twitter users are the personas of humans and brands, of course, but there's a small group of Twitter accounts that aren't, and they are the best ones. They are the bots, and they are accounts controlled by software to do various things. Here's three of my favourtes.

Acrotowne

Acrotowne is a simple game built by @zhaytee. First, it posts a random string of letters, such as "SATW". Then it's followers may send it a direct message with what they think those letters could stand for if they were an acronym. Finally, after a set amount of time, all the suggestions are anonymously published, and everyone who submitted a suggestion may vote. The one twist is that if you don't vote, any votes for your suggestion are nullified. 

Updated on 22 February: see bottom.

What's going on, if you've been living under a rock: the FBI has requested that Apple help them by creating a modified version of iOS that doesn't have safeguards preventing someone brute-forcing the password.

It's key to realize that Apple is not being asked to decrypt what's stored on the iPhone, but to make it possible for the FBI to guess the passcode by trial and error. The thing that makes this case interesting is that, though we all know the FBI has the power to have a search warrant to ask the Apple to give over everything they have related to the case, the question is if they have the power to get Apple's assistance in the case. Apple has already stated that they've given the Bureau everything that's been asked of them, but does the FBI have the ability to force Apple to create the custom build of iOS? (An interesting side note is that the writ from the Bureau does explain that they will reimburse Apple for the cost of the work.)

Some of my daughter's diapers

Now that our daughter is nearly completely potty-trained, I've finally written down a list of why I love cloth diapers, from the dad's perspective.

I recently finished reading The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein, and it easily makes the list of the top ten fiction books I've read, if not the top five, though I haven't yet made such a list.

Background: it's the future. The Moon has been colonized in a way similar to how Australia was: it is used as a penal colony, for states on Earth to send their criminals. By this point in the timeline, Earth's resources are strapped, and the Moon's society is flourishing. The majority of residents on the Moon are not criminals: they've either been born there, or their sentences have been served and they've decided to stay due to the fact that their bodies have adapted to the lesser gravity.

Live in Edmonton, and enjoy the northern lights? Some people at the University of Alberta set up a service that notifies you of times when the aurora is most visible, via email and Twitter. Both options are nice, but what about a way to get instant notifications? That's where IFTTT comes in.

Monument Valley screenshotEvery once in a while, I like to browse the the App Store for good casual games. I'm not much of a gamer in any sense, but I do really enjoy a good puzzle game every now and again.

Monument Valley is as close to the perfect puzzler that I've ever seen. At the beginning, I nearly gave up because it seemed a little too simple, but the beautiful visuals kept me playing, and it did get more difficult. The world that you control your character through is something of a 3D maze, but because it is isometric and has no perspective, various sections that seem to be at different heights end up matching up together. As the game becomes more complex, and twists like having the camera angle change can completely change the layout of the maze.

Autocorrect is only noticed when it fails

The Oatmeal sums it up nicely: autocorrect hates you because you don't give it any credit. We have all these sites full of screenshots of funny things that people have said, and blamed autocorrect for making it funny and making them "famous".

Autocorrect is like the sound engineer at a concert. No one really notices him, no one gives him any credit for his work, and no one cares about him, unless he messes up. The moment there's feedback or a mic cuts out, everyone shares their hate for the sound engineer.

It being "the holiday season", here's a podcast episode with some backstory on a common feature of our Western culture's festivities: the elf.

Homemade bread

Okay, it's not that secret. But it is one that my Dad came up with after much tinkering with recipes for breadmakers.

This recipe works with most breadmakers, and makes a 2lb loaf (the 1.5lb recipe follows). It works with any mix of whole wheat and white flour, though it's best with slightly more whole wheat than white.

People seem to think that the best way to get noticed on social media is to be active everywhere. It's not.

There are many variables when it comes to how fast a webpage will load, and most of them are out of the developer's hands. Thankfully, there are a few things we can do to optimize how the page is delivered to the user, speed up the whole browsing process, and also use less bandwidth.

I'm frequently asked for TV series recommendations, and I frequently ask for recommendations myself, so I thought it'd make life simpler if I just listed my favourites here.


The IT Crowd

Here's a fun British comedy which accurately describes the terrors and triumphs of the corporate IT department, and on a wider spectrum, geekdom as a whole. Don't worry, it's written in a way that doesn't alienate non-nerd too much (to the point where my wife even enjoyed it).

  • Does not require watching sequentially, but does have an ongoing story arc
  • No longer in production