stevenmansour's blog

Swine flu vaccination | Thursday, December 10th, 2009

I wasn't planning on getting vaccinated against the H1N1 flu. I tend to take a laissez-faire attitude about this kind of thing, and even if I did catch it I'm pretty sure my immune system would manage to fight it off. Coupled with my irrational belief that people who live in colder climates are naturally hardier, I figured it was all just an orchestrated panic to scare the Walmart crowd into submission again.

However, my family situation has changed quite rapidly over the past month, and I've been spending lots of time around babies and toddlers, not to mention a couple of hours a day at the hospital. Seeing as how the young and ill are higher-risk candidates for complications due to the swine flu, I decided that I should do it not for myself, but to protect those around me. I didn't, however, feel up to going to one of the clinics here in Laval and waiting in line. There's a certain herd-ness to it that bothers me.

Apple's Magic Mouse is magically useless. | Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

There is no love lost between Apple and myself. The limitations imposed on the way Apple products work - especially their software - is one of the greatest blights on digital creativity today.

Apple Magic Mouse

However, I can see how they are skilled at marketing and design intended to appeal to people who like neat, pretty, packaged things and are willing (and able) to plop down a 300% markup on a computer in order to get bouncing glossy icons and a glowing logo on their computers.

One thing, however, that Apple has somehow never, ever been able to create correctly, is a mouse. Even the most die-hard Apple fans I know draw the line at buying / using an Apple mouse, instead going for one of the more usable offerings from Microsoft or Logitech. For some reason, the fascist, rigid design principles that apply to their laptop, keyboard and software engineering divisions do not seem to carry over to their "Mouse Group" or whatever it's called. I am happy to report that their illustrious history of creating what are likely the most craptastic pointing devices ever to sport a USB plug (or Bluetooth chip) remains intact.

Apple Magic Mouse

On female video game protagonists | Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

"Being a bitch doesn't make you a strong character."

Via the always impeccable Yahtzee on Escapist Magazine:

There are plenty of examples of this kind of bad female characterization. Lara Croft, the classic feminist hate figure, and her murderous kleptomania. Whatshername from Dead Space, yelling at you to fix everything while she sits behind a monitor eating cakes. [...]

Females in this vein don't come across as "independent" or "strong." They act like neurotic feminists who feel that their every action and expression has to illustrate the fact that they're just as capable as the men, and don't like being looked upon amorously (hence why they all dress so conservatively, I suppose). They're as shallow as any traditional kidnapped princess because they only have one character trait, and still define themselves by the men that surround them.

You want to make a strong female character, you do the same thing you do to make a strong anything character. Give them a life, a backstory, hopes, dreams, desires. Give them the capacity to feel the whole gamut of emotions. Yes, let them be tough, but let them laugh, and cry, and find things to enjoy in life. And why not give them a wazza pair of jugs, too. That's always fun.

Come and take a ride with me... | Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

A short video of me taking the motorcycle around the barrio on a cold, windy, cloudy day - probably one of the last rides of the season. It's mid-October and I'm still riding, though, so I suppose that I should give thanks to the weather Gods.

The Kodak Zi8 is mounted to the GT250's handlebars with a clever combination of a mini-tripod, tie wraps and prayer. I need to build something better to resist vibration, and find a better mounting point that at least shows part of the front of the bike.

The video is sped up 2x for brevity's sake.

Go directly to the Vimeo page to watch it in 720p HD fullscreen.

Music: Bran Van 3000 - Supermodel

Please vote to support Rio Favelas! | Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

(disclosure: I am on the board of Catalytic Communities).

Please take two minutes and vote for "Rio Olympics: Ensuring a Powerful Legacy for Rio's Favelas" on Ideablob. We're in the running for first place with our plan to ensure that community leaders in Rio have a say and a voice in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics.

Idea Description

The 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro and the construction of new facilities, transportation corridors, and hotels will begin as early as December 2009. It is estimated the Olympics will yield three times the revenue that is spent in its preparation. But how much of this will benefit the infamously dangerous favelas (squatter communities) in the city, now numbering 1020 separate neighborhoods?

Current efforts to ensure a social and environmental legacy from the Olympics are being headed by large well-funded NGOs. This is great, but we want to ensure that community leaders' voices are heard, too. We want to get them connected online and off, networking & sharing stories.

What will you do if you win $10,000 for this idea?

If we win the $10k, in 2010 Catalytic Communities (CatComm) will train 200 community organizers across Rio's favelas to use online networking tools including Twitter, Facebook and WiserEarth, to ensure their voices are heard by authorities and the global community in the years leading up to 2016.

An online community will be formed in each of these online spaces where the general public can "hear" what leaders from the favelas have to say, support them, and follow their work. Links will be made with the press and the mayor's office.

We will then develop an online training program and continue face-to-face capacity-building in 2011 and beyond.

Again, this only takes about 2 minutes:

  • Click on this link to head to the idea page.
  • Register an account on IdeaBlob.
  • Check your email from the confirmation link.
  • Vote for CatComm!

Thank you in advance for your support - I'll let you know how it goes!

Kodak Zi8 1080p HD Cam Test | Friday, October 9th, 2009

I just picked up a sweet, sweet HD video camera - I think this is the first "mini" camera I've ever used that produces such amazing output. I've tried the lame Sanyo Xactis and Flip Ultras of yesteryear, and came away unimpressed. The color rendition, resolution and motion are way better on a big screen. This is a lame and pointless video test, because

  • It's edited and re-compressed to display in a tiny flash box on my website (although you can download a higer-res version at the bottom of the post);
  • I recorded in "only" 720p (it can do 1080p);
  • I recorded at "only" 30 frames per second (it can do 60);
  • I somehow managed to turn off the shake reduction before shooting and I don't have the steadiest hand;
  • I couldn't find anything interesting to shoot.

[video] However, I hereby commit to posting videos from now on.