Thursday, June 26, 2008

AMD, Chess, and Apples

It's not every day that these three topics come together to make a story. But when I read about Vishy Anand, the current World Chess Champion, making an advertising deal with AMD, a computer processor manufacturer, I was pretty impressed.

Being a chess enthusiast myself, I am always on the lookout for references to it in marketing material, advertising, and entertainment. I see it more and more, and wonder if perhaps Chess is starting to become mainstream again. It could be that it's just such a well known standard game that everyone recognizes it, but this advertising campaign seems to indicate something more. I mean, how many people out there actually know who the latest World Chess Champion is?

What caught my eye though, was this, available as a desktop background:

"Break myths. Go by facts"

This is truly intriguing. Who came up with this? Does Vishy Anand, or possibly a clever marketing person know what really happened in the Garden of Eden?

Anyway, a note to my family and friends: Time to start learning Chess! It is no longer for old men in the park and the nerdy type! Join me for a game sometime...

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

B.C.’s Climate Action Dividend

Natasha and I both received $100 cheques in the mail yesterday, compliments of the BC Government. It's part of their 2008 budget which includes a revenue-neutral carbon tax (that would be 2.41 center per litre on gas) and the climate action dividend. The purpose of the carbon tax is obvious: hurt people's bank accounts enough so they'll stop driving. Unlikely to succeed, except in such areas as travel and tourism, which our province thrives on.

The purpose of the Climate Action Dividend is less clear. They say they want people to put it towards things that will improve their environmental impact. A more efficient furnace perhaps, a push mower, or maybe just some compact florescent bulbs. I'm thinking about the bulbs myself, if I can find them cheap enough. Our house uses electricity for about 95% of its power (our stove is gas, the only way to go), so cutting back on that could help a lot.

Will people use it for such purposes though? Some people fill their tanks for $100 a shot, a good place to put the money. Others might pay off bills, buy a new BBQ for summer, or just stick it into savings.

What would you do? Or if you're from BC, what will you do?

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Chessworld Rating: 1763

Current rating: 1763. Chart displays last 50 games

The last few months has been a slow period for me in terms of Chess due to being so busy with other things, but I have managed to keep a small number of games going on my favorite chess site. I am happy to note that my rating has been increasing steadily until my last win has brought me to my highest rating yet, 1783.

With more careful play and more thought into moves, I'm hoping to improve even further before the tournament at the end of August.

Anyone wanting to play me a game of Chess, click the image below. This is not live chess, but correspondence chess, meaning you have a certain number of days to make a move. It allows for plenty of consideration, and reduces the pressure and therefore the blunders that are so common when moves are made quickly.

Online chess


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Charlotte: One Month Old

Charlotte at one month

Time is flying, and Charlotte is now one month old! We're having a great time, learning a lot, and looking forward to the future.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Feature: Recommended Links

Some readers may have noticed that I have re-arranged the sidebars on the blog to bring things into order. On the left you will find links to more personal items, special blog posts, photo albums, and the archives. The right side now contains links to external sites, blogs, news, and other items of interest. This should make it easier to navigate the blog and find what you're looking for faster.

I have added a new feature, which currently resides at the top of the right side column and is called "Recommended Links". It will contain a constantly changing and updated list of links that I have recently viewed and am recommending. It's a fairly basic feature at this point but I hope to improve on it as I regain some of the resources I lost when our computer crashed a few months ago.



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3 Released!

The latest version of my favorite web browser is now available, Firefox 3! It looks like there are a lot of improvements and if they can come through on their promises, it should really make a big difference when it comes to web browsing.

Here's a snippet from their FAQ page:

Q: What's new in Firefox 3?
A: Firefox 3 is the fastest, leanest, most powerful browser Mozilla has ever released. With over 15,000 improvements, including the revolutionary smart location bar, malware protection, and extensive under the hood work, Firefox 3 delivers the Web without compromise.

Q: I keep hearing about the "Awesome Bar" - what is that?
A: The Awesome Bar is the affectionate name for the new Firefox 3 Smart Location Bar. The new location bar learns as you use it, adapting to your preferences and making your browsing more personal. When you type in text, the auto-complete function displays possible matching sites from your browsing history, bookmarks, and tags. This makes it easy to scan the list and quickly identify the site you want to visit. Our beta testers started calling it the Awesome Bar and the name stuck!

Q: Firefox 3 feels blazing fast even though I have a zillion tabs open. How does it do that?
A: Firefox 3 represents nearly three years of development and includes significant performance improvements to run today's most demanding Web applications. Firefox 3 uses significantly less memory and is overall two to four times faster than Firefox 2.

Get it here: Download Firefox 3!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Charlotte: 31 Seconds Of Fame

Have you ever seen a video of a new baby, the ones that are four minutes long and feature nothing but the baby along with oohs and ahhs? We have (the first minute, anyway), and we want to join the fun, but at a much more reasonable length! In our effort to bring you the best content, we proudly present this 31 second video for your viewing enjoyment!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Charlotte's Baby Dedication

On Sunday, we had a baby dedication for Charlotte at our church. Since Natasha's Mom is in town, as well as my sisters, we figured now was a good time to do it. We also thought that as she is still quite young, she might sleep through the whole thing, and this turned out wonderfully.

Charlotte's Baby Dedication with our pastor, Ed Byskal

The baby dedication was done by our pastor, Ed Byskal, who had some very kind words of encouragement and advice for raising children. The smiles all around in the photo follow his comment that he has lots of experience with girls (he had three).

Here we are with a sleeping Charlotte! Natasha and her Mom took Charlotte on a road trip to see Natasha's Grandma, and they will be returning home later tonight.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Langley Chess Open 2008

My simple wooden chess set I've had since I was a kid

The Langley Chess Open tournament is happening in just under three months time, and anyone interested in playing should start thinking ahead, planning, and preparing. This is the tournament I played in last year, and I hope to go back and improve on my score, which won't be too hard to do.

At best, I am a strong beginner, and tournament play turned out to be quite the challenge. A few obvious blunders really ruined it for me, but that's how it goes, and when it comes down to it, the difference between an average player and a good player is the number of blunders.

Anyway, we'll see how things are going at that time. I don't plan to pre-register this year because we'll be on vacation around then and it's just more difficult to plan non-essential events with a baby! I'll just show up if I can make it. I hope so though... I still need my first tournament win!

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Spotting A Fake Photo

From Scientific American comes a very interesting article on how to spot edited photos. Some of the methods are visual, others require some close analysis, and some require computer calculation.

5 ways to spot a faked photo

In this day of advanced technology and easy access to photo editing software, it's good to know what to look for as just about any photo, whether in the media or the next batch of family photos you get, could be modified.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

May: A Record Setting Month

May was a record setting month in a couple of ways, besides being one with a lot of activity and changes!

The first record was Charlotte's birth weight, a whopping 9 pounds, 12 ounces. Amongst our siblings and their kids, she is the heaviest baby yet. Only when you consider our parents will you find Natasha's Dad above that, born at around 12 pounds!

Another record was set in May, our third highest number of visits to the blog within a month's time. The total came to 2495 visits!

The summer season is on its way, and we wish you all the best during the next few months!

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