But seriously, folks: the Toronto mayoral elections are just a week away. If you’re eligible to vote, read up on the issues, pick your candidate and cast your ballot next Monday.
And now, some quick random observations:
I know that my friend Deenster’s boyfriend Chris is working for a mayoral candidate’s campaign, but I can’t remember whom. Prior to that, he worked for an NDP campaign in our recent provincial elections, so my guess is that he’s shilling for one of the more looney-tunes candidates.
(I kid, Chris, I kid. But seriously, NDP? Hippie. 😉 )
Kathy Shaidle, author of the blog Relapsed Catholic seems to have switched to a different brand of Catholicism than the one I’m familiar with. She’s somewhere between Supply Side Jesus and Gated Community Jesus. She writes:
I attended a Tory women’s-only fundraiser last week, and while he was a little too “multi-culti” for my tastes, I think he will do something about homelessness (if the Poverty Professionals let him) and the mess we call downtown.
Ooh, dissing them dirty furriners and the poor in a single sentence! One can almost picture Kathy flipping Strong Bad’s “Double Deuce” while entering that pithy statement in the keyboard.
Another entry from her blog makes me feel like I’m committing skincrime just being here:
I hear Miller is a big hypocrite (surprise!). He told Yonge & Eg residents he opposed the Minto scheme, then went and supported it behind their backs. More union-loving tactics? Anyway, Miller’s new best friend is arch-NIMBY RFK, Jr — must be where he’s learning his two-faced tricks.
Do you really want a giant Kwanzaa candelabra at City Hall this December? Think about it mentally…
I feel your pain, Kathy. Ever since my family came to this country, we’ve gotten nothing but shit from the immigrants.
In case you’re trying to suss out my political leanings, yopu might be interested to note that according to the Christian Science Monitor’s “Are You a NeoCon?” test, I tested positive for realist.
On the off chance that someone who reads this blog has seen this little girl, I’m running her photo along with the polic request for assistance:
TORONTO POLICE ISSUE AMBER ALERT FOR MISSING 9-YEAR OLD GIRL DONG-YUE (CECILA) ZHANG
The Toronto Police Service is requesting the assistance of the public and media in regards to locating a missing 9-year old girl from the area of Don Mills Road and Finch Avenue East.
An amber alert has been issued in regards to the young girl’s disappearance from her residence.
The missing girl has been identified as Dong-Yue (Cecilia) ZHANG a 9-year old grade 4 student at Seneca Hill Public School. Her parents last saw the child when she went to bed on Sunday night (October 19th, 2003). Her disappearance was not noticed until Monday morning shortly before 8:30 A.M.
She is described as; female, Asian, 9 years of age, 411, 70lbs, thin build, shoulder length black hair with blond highlights, brown eyes, wearing unknown clothing.
Anyone with Information is asked to contact 33 Division at (416) 808-3300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
CelciliaZhang.org: A website started by her parents where people can send tips anonymously.
An open letter from Cecilia Zhang’s mother.
The Toronto Police Service has posted a CDN$50,000 reward for her safe return.
On Saturday, Cecilia’s story was shown on the television show America’s Most Wanted. It seems to have generated some new leads in the case.
There’s a report that Chinese cultural taboos are hindering the search for Cecilia. “There’s a Chinese saying that says if there is something that has gone wrong, the family doesn’t tell others,” said Ms. Chow [Ms. Chow is a well-known city councillor]. “You protect your own privacy.”
Cecilia’s classmates have decorated her school with a thousand paper cranes, which are Chinese symbols of hope.
It dawned on me that with the exception of the card-dealer’s visor, I had everything I needed to go as “The Keymaker” from The Matrix Reloaded for Hallowe’en:
A quick trip to the dollar store later, I had a visor and some extra-long keychains to complete the outfit. To be faithful to the character (and partially just to appease Dad just this once — I don’t think he’s ever been a fan of it), I shaved off my goatee. A substitution of the contact lenses for an old pair of coke-bottle glasses, a change of posture and an expression assisted by lack of sleep the night before, and you get an older man with the keys that can lead Neo to “The Source”:
Yeesh. That’s just damned scary. I look ten years older. I could probably get a job in a convenience store looking like that: “Dis no ribarry! You read magazine, you buy, round-eye!”
Here’s a slightly better photo of me, taken by Melanie at Dorian’s Hallowe’en party:
And here’s one of Dorian and me at the same party:
I think I look much better with the goatee — it appears that my face needs some kind of frame. Thankfully, it’ll grow back quickly. The photographic evidence above also explains why I never wear glasses anymore.
Major improvements to Blogware’s “Help” files
- If you’re a Blogware user, you’ll find more useful information to help you get the most out of Blogware (and more is on the way!).
- If you’re not a Blogware user, but interested in becoming either a Blogware reseller or user, they’ll give you an idea of what Blogware is like.
- If you have any suggestions about the Help file, whether it’s to correct an error, add something that’s missing, or clear up something that’s unclear or confusing, let me know in the comments for this entry!
I make additions to Blogware’s Help files every day, and my plan is to make it the most complete and useful help file for any blogging software out there.
If you thought you heard the sound of a gauntlet being thrown, that’s because I just threw one.
Blogware supports book, music and movie reviews!
“Big fat hairy deal,” you might say. “There’s no difference between a blog entry about what I did last night and one with my review of Cory Doctorow’s novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.”
You would be correct — and therein lies the problem. We humans can tell the difference between blog entries that are reviews and blog entries that aren’t by context; our fancy-pants brains are pretty good at that sort of thing. But our dumb computers aren’t — they’re only good as following incredibly simple instructions with incredible speed. As far as a computer is concerned, there is no difference between a blog entry about what you did last night and what you think of Cory’s book. Or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ album. Or that masterpiece of cinema-guano, Freddy vs. Jason. To a computer, it’s all text (actually, it’s all numbers, but let’s not get too nit-picky).
The end result of this ignorance of your computer’s part is that you end up having to searching for things on the Internet in a roundabout way. When you Google for reviews of a certain book, you’re not actually asking for reviews of that book, you’re asking for documents that contain words that you think are likely to be in reviews of that book. The outcome varies; sometimes you get lucky and get what you want, sometimes you have to sift through the results.
Since computers are terrible at classifying information by looking at its context, methods of marking data with metadata — additional information about that data — were developed. Using metadata, it’s possible to mark a blog entry with a little note for a computer’s benefit that says “this is an album review for album X by artist Y, and my opinion of this album is Z“. Once data’s been marked this way, it’s possible to build programs that can better answer questions like “What do people think of album X?”
Blogware’s reviews are the first step in this direction. Let’s consider one kind of review that Blogware provides: book reviews. In addition to the standard fields for a blog entry (such as “title” and “body”), Blogware also provides extra fields for you to add metadata about your book review. Here’s a screenshot from the entry page for a Blogware book review showing these extra fields:
Readers of the review see the usual blog entry accompanied by this little summary box that displays the extra information entered in those extra fields as show below:
Having a summary is like this is a convenience for human readers, but the same information is also put in a form that computers can read. This opens up all kinds of possibilities. It’s now possible to ask a computer to find reviews of a specific book. Or find what people consider to be an author’s best book. The attention span-challenged can find books under 100 pages and David Foster Wallace fans can find other authors afflicted with logorrhea. Using this metadata, it’s even possible to get fancy and find out a hot new author or when an old author “jumped the shark” by correlating reviews with publishing dates. Once a computer is given some kind of understanding of the data, all sorts of useful (and useless, but fun) data-crunching is possible.
If you’d like to read more about entering reviews, check out these Blogware Help pages:
Some geeky detail
Blogware’s review metadata is included in the RSS (2.0) feed. It uses Alf Eaton’s RVW (RSS Review) Module for RSS 2.0. If you want to see RVW in action, take a look at Boss Ross’ review of the Danny Michel album — first the human-readable version, and then the snippet of the RSS feed shown below:
<rvw:item> <rvw:link> </rvw:link> <dc:identifier>UPC:B0000BZNJB</dc:identifier> <dc:title>Tales from the Invisible Man</dc:title> <dc:creator>Danny Michel</dc:creator> <dc:date>2003-08-19</dc:date> <ent:cloud ent:href=""> <ent:topic ent:id="Alternative Rock" ent:classification="music" ent:href=""> Alternative Rock </ent:topic> </ent:cloud> <rvw:rating> <rvw:minimum>1</rvw:minimum> <rvw:maximum>10</rvw:maximum> <rvw:value>9</rvw:value> </rvw:rating> </rvw:item>
I’ll cover this in greater detail in a more suitable blog for this topc: The Farm.
As with the help files, questions and comments are welcome.
Here’s a video (820K QuickTime) from my friend Dorian’s Hallowe’en party last night. These two lovely ladies are demonstrating “The Running Man” dance:
(Click the still frame above to see the video.)