Sunday, November 30, 2008

Niagara Falls

Went to Niagara Falls last Saturday, arranged by the office. It's about 130 km from Toronto, but on these highways, you can get there easily in about 1.5 hours. Covered Welland Canal ship locks and a winery on the way too. The bus that was organized was one of those big yellow school busses, made famous by American pop culture. Frankly our Leylands are better than these.

The first stop was at the ships locks at Welland Canal. This canal is used to take ships from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and vice versa. Without the lake it would be impossible because of Nigara Falls. The two lakes are at two different levels, with Lake Erie higher in elevation than Lake Ontario, with a height difference of 99.5 metres between them. The locks are used to raise or lower ships going between these lakes. The present canal was built in 1932, which is the 4th in a series of canals built since 1829, and it covers a distaance of 43.5 km. Unfortunately there were no ships passing at the time we were there, so couldn't see the locks in action.

The visitors center is at lock 3, and it is 14.2 m high and 261.8 m long. It uses 93,000,000 litres of water, to lower or raise ships, but only take 8-10 minutes to fill or empty it.

More info here

Pics of Lock #3

This is a pic of a pic, they had at the visitors centre.

The nest stop was at Hildebrand Winery for a tour of the winery and some wine tasting. Since it's already winter, the harvesting was already finished, and the vineyards were bare. The best is a speciality wine called the Ice Wine, which I believe is unique to Canada. Usually the harvesting is finished by November, but for Ice Wine, the grapes are left on the vines into the middle of winter, and harvesting is done around January. This makes the juice in the grapes more concentrated, which gives the wine it’s unique sweet taste. To make sure that the dew doesn’t dilute the juice, the harvesting is done in the middle of the night. The result is a sweet tasting nectar, yummy to the taste buds :) , Which also makes it more expensive than other wines they have.

More info here

Hilldebrand Winery

Vineyard, after harvesting

Hilldebrand Winery

Wall of bottles in the wine cellar

Barrels for ageing wine

After getting our taste buds wet with tasty wine, we headed over to Niagara falls. I'll let the pictures do the talking for that. The falls in itself is awesome, but the whole area is too developed for my taste. I mean it's like the've put a giant water hole in a middle of a big city. Since it is one of their biggest attractions, I guess it's understandable they want to promote tourism and want to develop an industry around it. For me, nature should be in it's natural from. There's nothing better than trekking through a jungle for a few miles to get to a waterfall and a good place relax he he.

the interesting thing to see here is the Tour behind the falls. They have an underground tunnel which goes behind the falls, which is pretty awesome.

Christmas Tree at Eaton Square Mall

Church in Toronto

Full collection of photos on flickr

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jack Frost Cometh

The little white flakes are starting to fall now, covering everything with a fluffy white blanket. Yep, and I’m officially starting to freeze.

It’s a mystery why people want to live here, without moving to the tropics :). Ah good ole SL, how I miss thee…

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Themes for Gmail

Google has done it again, by introducing some funky themes for gmail. There’s a themes tab under the setting. Have fun customizing :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Santa Clause Diaries

Dateline: Bermuda

I can’t believe its bloody November again. How time flies eh? Another few weeks and its back to work for poor old me. Back to Ho Ho Hoing.

Oh well, no complaints, it’s been a bloody good 11 months, I’ll give you that. Ah…I love Bermuda. Although I admit, things were a bit rocky in the beginning, what with me yacht going up in flames. Man I should have never invited those Olsen twins for the party. They were always on the nice list when they were kids, but now they’ve gone just plain whacky. Them and their crazy drinking games. Anyway who brings a bloody flame thrower to a party? Ah shit, I can’t blame those gals, it was one heck of a party though. As always my man Snoop D came through for me. I mean that weed he brought was so fucking good man. I was high for days afterwards. No wonder I never knew the boat was on fire. When they were yelling “The boat was on fire” I thought it was a fucking new dance step, ho ho ho, bloody hilarious. Well, not the burnt out boat part, but still, it was funny.

Ah loved that boat I tell ya. “The White Witch” served me well in all my voyages, and it sure beats that bloody sleigh. It was my little nickname for Jadis. Ayi she was a feisty one, and I admit it, I loved her very much. Broke my heart when she got blown to smithereens by those so called freedom fighters. Bah… I mean, she only wanted to be the absolute ruler of the Narnia. I see nothing wrong with a bit of dictatorship. Well no more toys for fairy kiddies, I can guarantee that hmph…

Well the silver lining on the whole affair was that it gave me a very good excuse to get me hands on a new boat. Ayi, and what a beauty she is. Nothing fancy, just a nice little 250-footer, Ho Ho Ho. That’s more than enough space to have a rocking good time. Took the advice of Snoop and decided to name her “Bootylicious”, after all, this baby has seen more booty in her lifetime than GW has seen WMD’s in Iraq, Ho Ho Ho Ho… No less than 20 Playboy bunnies helped to christen this baby, and what a party that was. Those gals are definitely getting very nice goodies in their stocking this year around. Aaah… good times, bloody good times. Oooh…that reminds me, must send Hughie something special too along with a nice thank you note for sending them bunnies over. Now where the heck did I put me iPhone, hope it’s not gone overboard like the last ten.

Well.. you may wonder who's doing all the toy making while I'm off gallivanting around the world. The Elves? Hah...those lazy bums haven't done any toy making since they unionized. The keyword here is Outsourcing. I'll let you in a little secret. Know all those big toy companies? Well I have shares in them. I get humans to make the toys and give them back to their own kids. he he what a sweet deal. The elves are limited to wrapping the toys and checking the naughty and nice list. Well that's not much of a job since we computerized the system. Oh yeah, we are moving forwards with the times up there in the North Pole. I knew I was doing the right thing when I gave that Gates kid a Electronics kit all those long years back.

Hey, what's that noise? Oh dammit. Rudolph's gotten himself stuck in the mast again. How many times have I told that boy to NOT fly when he's drunk. Oh yeah, he's got a bit of a drinking problem, and you probably thought his nose is red due to some magical cause. Hah I wish. Well I'll have to start him getting sobered up before the big day, otherwise we'll get stuck in Timbuktu like in 2004. Geesh that boy never learns. Oh well, I suppose I better get him down now.

My apologies to the purists, but couldnt resist myself. :D I mean haven't you ever wondered what the Fat Man does rest of the 364 days?

Monday, November 03, 2008

O' the joys of work!

Oh man it’s been a busy busy week, and I’m really looking forward for some boring days :)

I got straddled with a task to develop a mini site for the client in 7 days. The design was not that bad, but there some complicated look and feel functionality that needed to be scripted. Me and my friend put in some 10 hour days and managed to deliver, so kinda proud of that. The rest of the team was very appreciative of the effort we put in so that makes it ok. The site is here. It doesn’t use flash, and the fading effects are done through the Adobe Spry framework. Ok enough technicalities :D .

I hate working on tight deadlines, especially when it could have been easily avoided. The design for the site was done by a third party design agency and they usually take their sweet time delivering the design. Then again you can’t fully blame them either because there are numerous discussions with the client that happens, since clients are well known for their difficulty in making up their minds he he. So things get dragged on and on and time decreases on what is available for development. They finalize everything a week before the site is meant for launch and expect us to work miracles. That really gets my goat :)

Designers also come up with fancy designs without really knowing development limitation. Most things can be developed, but sometimes you just need more time and sometimes much research is needed too. Then they hand over the design at the last moment and expect us to deliver the good on deadline. That is one reason why the same developers aren’t recommended to do designing, because the developer will design keeping in mind that he/she will have to develop it and will make it an easy one. I can’t speak for others but I’ve certainly done it when I have to do both the designing and development. Take the easy road, so to speak he he. So when third party designers are used, the quality of the design is higher.

In the end, it’s the project managers’ job to get everything properly organized, but sometime, things just do not go the way they are supposed to.

The other irritating part is to make site compatible with the different browsers available, especially with older versions. Sometimes sites that look great with one version might not be the same with older versions. Hopefully users will learn to stick to one browser or version, making our job easier :D

Sadly a wonderful weekend is over and it's back to dreary old work from tomorrow onwards, and the cycle continues.

Adios and hope y'all have a great work week :D