Thursday, April 30, 2009

Robert J Sawyer Book Signing

Last night I headed out with Alexandre Lemieux to the Clock Tower Pub to meet Canadian Sci-Fi author Robert J Sawyer. The multi-award winning Mr. Sawyer was there to promote the release of his new book, Wake.

Mr. Sawyer began the evening by reading, rather animatedly, the first chapter from his new book. In which the protagonist, Caitlin Decter, is a blind 15 year old girl living in Canada. Caitlin makes use of JAWS which is a screen reader for the blind. Oddly enough, at work, we are adding accessibility features for the blind and we are using JAWS quite heavily.

After the reading I got a chance to talk to Mr. Sawyer and get my book signed. I asked him if he researched JAWS by using it at home, to which he replied he did. Then I asked how long he spent in the mental institution afterward. This got an explosive reaction as he agreed with me that we are not doing enough to help blind people interact with computers. You see JAWS is the industry leader for screen reading technology but it is darn near impossible to use and crashes frequently.

Mr. Sawyer recognized quite a few people in the crowd on sight including Alexandre's friend Christian Sauve who was also in attendance. He answered quite a number of questions posed by the audience on a variety of topics including the future of paper books and the upcoming TV pilot for his book FlashForward. The show is based on the novel in which everyone in the world blacks out for two minutes and has a vision of the future. Here is a teaser that aired during last nights Lost.



Flash Forward is one of my two favourite novels by RJS the other being Calculating God.

If you ever get a chance to hear Mr. Sawyer talk you should definitely take the chance to do so as he is an excellent author and genuine human being.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sleep Better than Caffeine

According to Health.com, sleep is better for you than caffeine and sugar.

While that may be true allow me to weigh in with my 5 reasons why coffee is better than sleep:

5) You can't sleep in your car on the way to work.
4) Coffee empowers you to make better decisions. Tall, non-fat, half-caf, latte with cinnamon. See that's 5 decisions right there!
3) There's no such thing as Sleepbucks!
2) You can't grab a buddy and go for a sleep break at work. Well at least not in my industry.
1) Coffee is for Closers!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Free Starbucks on Earth Day

Apparently if you bring a reusable mug into Starbucks on April 22, 2009 they will reward you with a free cup of coffee to help celebrate Earth Day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lattte Art

Via Digg:



That looks so good I'm off to Bridgehead where the do a nice leaf in their lattes.

Use Green Tea to Fight Gum Disease

Researchers have found that for every cup of green tea you drink it lessens your chance of gum disease. I'm a fan of loose leaf green tea but you can buy the more convenient tea bag variety at your local grocery store.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Useful Coffee Lids

An industrial design student at Syracuse University has created a real innovative new coffee lid. The lid is designed to hold two creamers and two sugar packets for people who like to mix their own coffee.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Blockbuster May Go Bankrupt

Blockbuster is reporting that it may go under. This doesn't surprise me in the least especially in light of the service I've received at my local Blockbuster recently. First off we don't rent very many movies that are not kid shows as we have a hard enough time keeping up with the TV on our DVR.

However I did feel like watching a comedy the other night so I stopped off to rent The Pineapple Express. I got into line behind a large number of customers. While in line we were all treated to a discussion between a customer and store manager on the clarification of the "No Late Fees" policy. Apparently the guy had a movie that was due back over a week ago so he was automatically sold the movie for $54. It was quite comical to watch the manager try to justify the price of the sale when the guy could turn around and pick up the same movie from the previously viewed display where they were charging $16 for the save movie.

But I digress, after waiting in line for 20 minutes along with a bunch of other irate customers I was able to rent my movie. I was surprised to note that there was a new pricing scheme in effect. Apparently a new release for one day is $3.99 but now for every day it's over due you are charged another $1.99. Whereas you can get the same movie for 7 days for $5.99. Evidently the incentive is to get the movie back ASAP to save a couple of bucks. If not it makes sense to buy the "insurance" and take the week long deal.

Later on the same night I sat down to watch the show only to get two thirds of the way through the movie before it started to skip back to the start and it was too late to return to the store to exchange it for another copy. ARG!!! So completes the Epic Fail! of renting from Blockbuster. Next time I'm just going to pay the $4.99 to rent it from iTunes without leaving my house.

However, there is a small silver lining in all of this. When I did return the movie to Blockbuster the next day the nice clerk behind the counter put a free rental on my account. So they get a plus for good customer service after the fact but I don't expect to be racing out to use my free movie anytime soon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Coffee and Exercise

I saw this on Digg the other day and wanted to comment on it. Researchers have determined that coffee can lessen the pain of exercise. Specifically it is the caffeine in coffee that helps and it doesn't matter if you are a habitual coffee drinker or abstain from coffee altogether.

I can tell you from personal experience that this works. When I graduated from university I had gained quite a bit of weight. I decided it was time to drop my college 30 so I started running at the gym. I started having a cup of coffee before my run for it's metabolism boosting properties but I also noticed on the days after my run I bounced back faster then day I ran without coffee.