Monthly Archives: December 2011

My Twenty Eleven in Numbers

Following in the footsteps of the 2009 and 2010 year in reviews I wanted to continue the year end ritual. I am surprised by how much has stayed consistent (top artists, quietest online search month) but there were a few new trends I didn’t expect.

Top 10 Google Queries
1. northlands park, edmonton
2. alberta downs race track, lacombe, ab
3. evergreen park, grande prairie
4. Rocky Mountain Turf Club, Lethbridge, Alberta
5. peggy’s footwerks
6. google analytics
7. peggysfootwerks
8. made in frame
9. peggys footwerks
10. peggy’sfootwerks

The top four results are work related for the Horse Racing Alberta website I managed. I have no idea why they were ranked so high amongst everything else. I also can’t explain why I needed to search for “northlands park, edmonton” as frequently as I did.

The rest of the search results were all related to a side business and seeing how high Peggy’s Footwerks was ranking on Google. In the end I was able to add the site to Google and have it hit on keywords so I no longer receive phone calls asking “why they can’t find the site in Google”.

I used my personal Gmail account to look at my Web History so the results are from searching while logged in with that account. My busiest month for searching was in August with 1,667 queries recorded, and my least active month was in June with 864. These numbers are up from last year but June returned as my least active search month, which is a bizarre trend.

Top 10 sites
1. en.wikipedia.org
2. www.google.com
3. www.imdb.com
4. answers.yahoo.com
5. www.amazon.com
6. www.ehow.com
7. androidforums.com
8. forum.xda-developers.com
9. market.android.com
10. twitter.com

Wikipedia dominates my top sites again. I honestly don’t think I go there that often but I guess every article about someone or something leads me to Wikipedia so I imagine that adds up over time. I like that Android sites appeared in this list, even though before September the notion of leaving iOS seemed crazy to me.

Top 10 Artists
1. The White Stripes (695 plays)
2. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard (631 plays)
3. The Beatles (542 plays)
4. Tegan and Sara (541 plays)
5. Michael Giacchino 482 plays)
6. U2 (411 plays)
7. Coldplay (357 plays)
8. Daft Punk (338 plays)
9. Rob Costlow (335 plays)
10. Ludovico Einaudi (329 plays)

Standard affair with this list: White Stripes, soundtrack or orchestral…plus a few other bands thrown in for good measure. Rob Costlow was a newcomer this year, but Daft Punk is stuck in there solely for the Tron Legacy soundtrack. I listened to the soundtrack for months before I saw the movie, and when I saw the movie all I focused on was the music.

What I don’t understand is how I listen to The Beatles that much. I like their music but I rarely say “Yes, I want to listen to all of The White Album”, but somehow they claimed the third most listened to artist this year. Sadly, there was no Bear McCreary. Battlestar Galactica is getting a lot of play time, especially the Solo Piano albums, but McCreary didn’t perform those songs so any plays for that were credited to Joohyun Park.

Top 10 Tracks
1. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – A Dark Knight (29 plays)
2. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – Bank Robbery (Prologue) (27 plays)
3. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – Buyer Beware (26 plays)
3. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – Halfway to Hong Kong (26 plays)
5. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – Decent Men In An Indecent Time (25 plays)
6. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – A Watchful Guardian (24 plays)
7. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – You’re Gonna Love Me (23 plays)
8. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – Chance (22 plays)
9. The White Stripes – Astro (21 plays)
9. Rob Costlow – Bliss (21 plays)
9. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – You Complete Me (21 plays)
9. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – We Are Tonight’s Entertainment (21 plays)
9. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – The Ferries (21 plays)

There are 13 songs listed here because of the five way tie for ninth spot. Last year “Inception” lead the way in music, and this year it was “The Dark Knight”. Odds are good that next year Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard will lead the way with “The Dark Knight Rises”.

With regards to air travel 2011 was the lowest in recent years with a pretty painless extended weekend trip to San Diego amassing 3200 miles covered. I drove my VW Jetta TDI over 13,000 kilometers and filled up the vehicle 17 times (the same number last year). I have gone two calendar years in a row without completing a police report, and I received no speeding tickets or anything incriminating like that against me.

My decline in blogging continued this year. Including this post there have been 23 entries made in 2011. The majority of those were reviewing my experience with Telus TV and my switch to Android. There hasn’t been much to report on, or anything worth updating about, which is apparent because I made a third less tweets this year with 188. I also made 41 posts on Tumblr. As expected there were no Facebook status updates either.

I like social networking but I also don’t want to bother people with hourly updates or useless tweets containing song lyrics or writing about how much food I ate. I think my decrease in Tweets was related to not posting every time I updated my Project 365. If people want to see the photos they know how to find them, and spamming them doesn’t do anything more than get a few more image views.

I sent roughly 407 emails from my @gmail.com and @seangursky.com email accounts and 52 from my @hotmail.com address. My @gmail.com and @seangursky.com usage increased a bit compared to last year but @hotmail.com dropped a bit. What I did write from @hotmail.com was mostly Kijiji related, so maybe the shift is related to using Gmail for more communication.

I made one order with amazon.ca, two with amazon.com, one with monoprice.com and none with Deal Extreme or amazon.co.uk.

Rough calculations are that I took nearly 5,200 photos with my Canon 5D this year. There was a few week period where the camera was in for repair but any photos I took with the iPhone or backup Pentax Optio were inconsequential. 5,200 is fewer photos than I took last year (7,850) but there was no two week long vacation to soak up a thousand odd photos.

All in all 2011 seems pretty quiet. Even when we tell people what we were up to the usual answer is “house stuff”. You add in a few months of Ice Dragons summer hockey, a couple trips to the cabin at Lac la Biche and you have the year in review.

2011 is in the books, I have a few things I’m looking forward to in 2012 and I’m sure the numbers will reflect that (I predict exceeding 9,000 photos taken) but we’ll see how it all shakes down in 366 days.

My Southern California State of Mind

California Republic SquareSan Diego was the trip we didn’t expect to take, but when Jenna was presented with the opportunity to go there for a conference I was more than pleased to tag along. We arrived on a Thursday and left on Sunday, and we tried to pack as much time in for sight seeing as we had.

While planning for the trip we looked up Cafe 222, a restaurant featured on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate“, which had a breakfast that I loved so much I recreated it at home. It turned out that Cafe 222 was in San Diego and for all of those times you watch the Food Network you think “Man, if I could eat that it would be great” we finally had the opportunity. The restaurant wasn’t close to where we were staying but we made a point of getting there.

Cafe 222 Menu A Trip Highlight Cafe 222

Cafe 222 had incredibly high expectations in my mind and it may have been the atmosphere of being in the birth place of the peanut butter banana stuffed French Toast that made my breakfast taste better but something did taste better. It may not have been the best meal we ate in San Diego but to have something I saw on TV crossed an item off my bucket list that I never knew existed.

While Jenna occupied for eight hours with her conference I spent the afternoon at the San Diego Zoo. I was worried about how much fun I would have looking at animals alone but it was a great way to pass time and I found it entertaining and enjoyable, even while solo.

Walking in the Zoo Carved in Bamboo Hippo Watching Rhino Flowers Taunting the Wolf

Our only full day together in San Diego wasn’t actually spent in the city. We took a ferry across the bay and spent the afternoon in Coronado. We walked along the path, enjoyed clear blue skies in +22 weather and finished it off with a delicious meal looking across the bay at San Diego as the sun set and the lights came alive.

With the exception of a cab to and from the airport our primary mode of transportation was relying on buses and light rail transit. We planned our trips through Google Maps, and it worked to a point, but there were a few incorrect recommended stop’s so we just walked to the nearby transit center and took the bus we needed there.

An all day travel pass was $5.00, and for days where multiple transfers and buses were taken it was a pretty cost effective way of getting around. After London, Paris and Marseille transit in San Diego was pretty simple to figure out but the frequency of some routes could have bee increased as some wait times for buses in rush hour exceeded 30 minutes.

Some random observations from the trip:

  • Christmas without snow feels weird. Christmas music and decorations were everywhere but I just didn’t feel it. I dislike being buried under snow in freezing temperatures but there is something about the snow that puts you into the Christmas spirit.
  • People wore scarves, toques and mittens like it was below zero. When the sun set and a wind blew I wished I had a thicker coat but people still wore clothes and brands I normally associated with cold Canadian winters.
  • Fahrenheit, I don’t understand you. 74? 50? Those are just numbers.

We found San Diego to be a very beautiful and clean city, two things I didn’t expect. As the second largest city in California I had low expectations and was pleased when they were met and exceeded. The few people we interacted with were friendly and pleasant, one guy on the LRT even commented on the fact that I was “drinking the fuck out of [my] coffee”.

The atmosphere in San Diego was very relaxed and if California shares even a little bit of that attitude I would gladly live there.

All in all it was a fun trip and I’m glad we had the opportunity to go and experience a new part of the continent.

For those curious, you can view the rest of the San Diego photo gallery here.

My Wind Home

Several months have passed and if I wasn’t keeping track I would have thought it had been longer. My transition from iPhone/Rogers to Android/Wind came together in an abrupt fashion. The move consumed my thoughts for days and then it happened and that was it. The dust has long since settled and I’m still happily using my Wind device and loving Android.

I have been told that my previous posts didn’t have any jubilation over Android, almost as if there was some hesitancy but I can say that I really do love Android, maybe not to the way I loved the iPhone because there are the occasional hiccups that make me shake my head and wonder how green the grass was beyond that fence.

It didn’t take as long as I thought but I am completely used to my Android device. My muscle memory has stopped trying to click on the home button, and as I continue to use Android going forward I may love it the same way I did the phone from Cupertino.

Battery Life
This is more a problem with the LG Optimus 2X than Android but one leads to the other so a hardware problem affects my enjoyment of Android. I have a charger at home, at work and in the car in order to keep my phone fully powered. If I know I’m going to be away from an outlet for a long period of time I charge a spare battery and take that with me. It’s a minor inconvenience but it’s something I have had to deal with while on Android.

I will say that battery life has improved significantly over the last few months due to the Cyanogenmod 7 nightly builds I put on the phone. As I use the multiple batteries I have I find they are getting better life but it’s a marginal increase. These improvements are minor but going from a 50% charge by noon to a 75% charge by noon is good but I am still a ways off from going a few days without plugging in.

Force Close
Facebooooook (photo link)! Or maybe Android 2.3.7! Or maybe my CyanogenMod is to blame but either way it’s always with the Force Close for the Facebook application. It feels like a daily occurrence. It is a minor annoyance to click a button on the phone, wait a few seconds and click on the application but it’s one of the few small problems I have that make me wish for the functional and slick iOS feel.

Potpourri
I can’t stop saying it but I miss the polish and integration of iOS, even after months of using Android I still like the feel of iOS. However, I will open up a setting that was previously disabled to me on iOS, or enable my phone to do something that non-jailbroken iPhone’s couldn’t do and feel in awe of the device.

I feel that CyanogenMod is something that makes my Android device better. I am not restricted to LG releasing a new version of Android 2.3 after months of delays, I don’t have to wait and wonder if Ice Cream Sandwich will be released for my device because CyanogenMod will make something that will run on my phone, provide more options than I would have otherwise and release builds faster than LG can release new phones.

Having a functional phone that allows you to do what you want when you want, free of corporate application approval policies, is a beautiful thing and giving up a bit of polish is a small price to pay for that.

Wind has been treating me fine. There are times where I’m surprised to be within the Wind Home network, and others the signal can’t penetrate. I don’t have to rely on my phone within tall buildings downtown so the times I am without a signal are few and far between.

There was a period where I wasn’t connected to the data network so this made surfing the Internet outside a WiFi connection difficult. This was due to the APN not being set, or not being configured correctly. My phone had the correct APN data for the Wind network but it wouldn’t connect.

After going a few weeks without mobile data usage I decided to look into it further. I cleared the APN data, re-entered it, added values and removed them, all to no avail. Then after another round of testing and fumbling with the settings it worked. I wasn’t going to ask any questions, so I left things as they were and went from using 0K on the mobile network to as high as 22MB a week later (photo link).

All in all I’m still happy on Wind and happier on Android. I love the possibilities with Android, the realization that anything is possible, and when I look at a 50% decrease in my phone bill I’m all the happier I made this transition.