Saturday, October 31, 2009

Banff is awesome

Hanging out in Banff and it is just amazing. I can see the Rockies from my hotel room window! Absurd. There are HUGE mountains on either side of the highway, no cars (and thankfully no elk either!)

Today we hiked at Lake Louise and it was frickin' glorious, it's that usual milford-sound-y/mountainy/cliff-y situation that you always see on postcards or as the typical Canadian image. VERY cool. Actually, it was cold as a beast, the weather is ok (like 5 Celcius, not too much rain or snow) but the wind picked up on the hike. We finished the hike along the rim of the lake itself, and the view was painfully spectacular. We wanted tea and scones so damn bad afterwards and the fancy Fairmont Lake Louise Hotel had a tea place, complete with "the" view of Lake Louise, plus (yes), tea and scones. It was so awesome I wanted to punch myself in the face, but I had a lot of winter clothing on so that was tough. :) haha.

Anyway it rocked. Earlier in the day we went to Johnston Canyon, which was a nice really fast-flowing waterfall, and a bunch of icey walkways to it. We slip and slided for a while to get there, and it was fun. After Lake Louise we had planned to go to Moraine Lake but, unfortunately, the road is closed now for the winter... boo-earns. Instead we checked out the town of Banff itself, and spent like $20 each in a really awesome old-school candy shoppe in Banff itself. We hung out at the hotel tonight and in an outdoor heated pool while it was snowing outside, that was really fun/glorious.

We had planned to go into British Columbia a little if possible, we'll see if we have time for it. Otherwise there is lots more cool stuff to see around Banff, hot springs and gondola rides and tons of coolness. Turns out Western Canada is frickin' sick, not a huge surprise :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happening now in san francisco :-)


GPS update: worked!

Woo! After a bit of a computer-based schlep to get the GPS maps updated in time for my Alberta trip, it's all working again now. I think I even got some fancy new TomTom GPS signal enhancer add on which helps the unit pick up satellite signals faster, pretty cool.

So yep that whole long story in the previous post? It worked! You need to manually delete the maps on the GPS unit, and then use Windows Explorer to copy everything over manually. It did take ~4 hours or so since it was 1.6 Gb of map data and it apparently has only a USB1.0 port. Crazy business!! Anyway it worked eventually which is sweeeeeeet (and means I don't need to try to return it back to Amazon, hooray!!)

Also another exciting computer-y update for this evening (been nerdin' it up, as you can see), I've got source control working on my web server now and this will help any random future efforts for art projects and stuff that Matt and I might be working on. Pretty awesssssssssome stuff.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why updating maps on TomTom's One 140 GPS unit sucks the big one

And now for a chapter in the "Don't ever do this if you run a software company" magazine...

Haha, WOW. TomTom's "Home" software to update the Map software on the TomTom One 140 GPS Unit is a huge magical "epic fail" of Quality Assurance proportions. This is so terrible I figure I'd blog about it now that I have a solution, and hopefully others can benefit from the research I just did figuring out how the heck to fix this.

When you buy a GPS Unit from TomTom, it comes with Canada/USA/Mexico maps pre-loaded. That's great, but they also include something nice called a "30 Day Latest Map Guarantee". This sounds great - you can download the most recent map from TomTom via their "Home" software, and it will install itself on the GPS device, giving you the most up-to-date maps possible. In theory, this is a great idea, and solves the need for TomTom to supply a DVD with maps on it inside the shipping box, etc.

In practice, this breaks down terribly. The "Home" software downloaded the maps no problem, worked like a charm, and only took 10 minutes or so for approx 1.6 Gb of files, pretty sweet. The issue occurred when the software attempted to copy the downloaded maps onto the GPS device itself. The copy failed within 5 minutes, claiming that there was a "write error", something to this extent:

ERROR: HomeBase/IO: Error writing file: K:\USA_Canada_and_Mexico_P\cline.dat @ .\portable\cfile.cpp(1947)

Now, if you've got a degree in Computer Science, you can see this is some sort of I/O error, and it's being thrown from a C++ file that is internal to the "Home" software's IO module...?!?!! Of course if you are most people who just bought a cool new GPS and you want to update the software to the most recent maps (since it's being touted as a great new feature of this GPS), or perhaps you just bought this/received this as a gift, then you probably have no clue what just happened and you think you broke the GPS. Of course the software did not back up the previous map automatically for you, so there is no way to re-set the GPS to "factory" settings. And since the map update failed, when you launch the GPS now you get a big startup screen that says "No Maps Found!" OOPS. Epic faaaaaaillllll!!!!!!!!

Wow so of course I bought this GPS unit right before going for a trip when I need to use it, and I thought it would be smart to update the maps to the most recent maps before going on the trip. But now I've had to spend 4 hours figuring out why it's broken and then how to fix it.

The problem appears to be the following:
-The GPS unit has only 2GB internal memory
-The maps alone are 1.65 Gb
-The "Home" software does not delete the old maps first, so it cannot copy the new ones over as there is not enough space on the GPS unit

To fix it:
-Ignore all the places where it says you need to "Activate" the maps first, that seems to be incorrect. I think the "Home" software just can't manage to copy to the device correctly.
-First delete the old maps from the device. Be careful not to delete anything important - you have FULL ACCESS to everything on the GPS unit, as if it was an external Hard Drive. Follow the instructions here closely: and this site ( is good too, lots of people with the same problem.
-Then do not attempt to copy the maps again using the "Home" software. That fails. Instead use Windows Explorer and unzip and unrar the downloaded map directories and CAB file as described in the above sites.
-Then copy the files manually using Windows Explorer to the GPS unit, and make sure not to be viewing or accessing the GPS directory in multiple Explorer windows at once, that seems to make the copy fail.
-Finally... note that you need to set aside ~5 hours for this. Apparently a USB2.0 connection on the TomTom unit was too expensive for this "cheaper" model, and so instead of paying the extra 12 cents for one of those, they opted for a USB1.0 connection which is 40 TIMES SLOWER than USB2.0. (Also, USB2.0 has essentially been a standard for the last several - maybe 5 - years). It's pretty nuts that it's USB1.0, and that adds several more hours to the wait time. WOW. REALLY?!?!?!! ;)

Whew!! Anyway after all that I hope this is gonna work. If not, I will follow what other people on the site mentioned and contact TomTom's customer service directly. Apparently the maps used to be too large to fit onto the 2GB memory and that has recently been fixed by removing some of the "point of interest" data. The problem here appeared to be not that the map files were too large, but rather that the "Home" software wasn't able to copy the files across successfully. Oh yeah, and that it's frickin' USB 1.0?!?!??! REALLLY?!??!?!?!

I'm gonna send this over to TomTom so hopefully in the future they can sort out some of these issues before their customers see it. I wouldn't have minded a bit of extra work to sort out downloading the maps, but it's really quite bad for their customer service to have the software fail, AND clear the maps completely, AND not be able to return the unit to factory install, AND have it take 5 hours to install the maps in the first place. Crazy business.

After all this hopefully I have the GPS working again, and more importantly, hopefully the fancy new map update was worth the hassle!

Rob Kutner and Sheryl Zohn's PSA on the Healthcare Debate

The famed Rob Kutner, legendary creator of "Jewno" (see post here), is now a writer for "The Tonight Show". (Yes, the friggin' tonight show with Conan O'Frickin' BRIEN - just the most hilarious comedian of our time, you know...) ;) Insane!!!!!!!

Along with now writing for Conan (probably my favourite comedian ever), Rob has also been busy at work on some other projects, including the following PSA on the Healthcare Debate. This short (as well as the hilarious "Jewno") were co-written by Rob's wife, writer Sheryl Zohn ( I like the Canadian shout-out too. Nice work, Rob!

"Don't change American Healthcare!"
IMPORTANT PSA on the Healthcare Debate
Written by: Rob Kutner & Sheryl Zohn

Fingerpainting with Autodesk Sketchbook for the iPhone

Autodesk just created Sketchbook for the iPhone which is friggin' super cool.

It amounts to a very very fancy way for modern-age fingerpainting, and since my art skills are similar to that of a 5 year old, this is obviously a lot of fun and results in some silly drawings. Here are a couple of "drawings" so far, haha. I gotta figure out how the heck people make really fancy high-quality drawings with this, I think my fingers might be too fat. ;)

Angry dude

Angry dude with rabbit ears and a cyrano de bergerac moustache

rocky mountains

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Japan and South Korea labels for the blog

Since there is going to be a TON of stuff I'll be blogging about over the next little bit for my Japan and Korea trip, I've made 2 new "Labels" for this trip and all the blog posts related to it. See the right hand side of the blog for the labels list, and you can sort by that if you only want to read Japan and South Korea trip details. Enjoy!

Dave Feloni on Clone Wars Episode 2

Awesome!! Great interview with Dave Feloni, director of Clone Wars from Lucasfilm Animation.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grocery Delivery: Now not just for "the lazy"

Holy crap this rocks.

I just got back last night from a glorious week of awesome in Canada, and I knew I'd be coming back to an absolutely bare fridge, and I'd be keen for some nice breakfast and coffee with milk on Sunday morning... and I'd be tired and a bit jet-lagged, so going on a huge grocery shop would be insane/busy/I don't have a car, so also kinda inconvenient/ZipCar-y.

Anywaaaaay, on Friday night from Canada, I logged onto frickin' Safeway's site and ordered groceries online, while IN CANADA, and set the delivery window to be when I would be back on Sunday morning. AMAZING. If you order enough, the delivery cost is free. Even if you have to pay for delivery, it's still like $9 which is well less than renting a ZipCar for 2 hours just to get groceries. Truly AMAZING. The website saves your previous purchases, you can order frozen stuff, fruit and veg, milk, cheese, even like Ice Cream and other generally complicated stuff. It is REALLY impressive. I also like that you can see all the nutritional info right there - often I am in the store and something looks tasty or I'm hungry and I just buy it anyway, and with this I can be choosier and only pick healthier stuff or lower-calorie options. I found out the pudding cups I love have 180 calories per tub, that's INSANE. Instead got some 50 calorie yoghurts (no splenda or corn syrup either, just less sugar), and some 100% natural apple sauce... much better choices.

Living in a big city like this and not having a car (other than car sharing), this makes waaaaaay more sense than even taking the bus to the grocery store. It also saves a good 2-3 hours of running around and dropping off the ZipCar, etc. You order what you want (you even get all the same sales as in-store) and then they come at the right time window and literally dump it all on your kitchen floor. This couldn't possibly be more awesome or convenient... I am super impressed.

The cool thing about today was I didn't have to stress about running to the store or spend all morning going shopping... I did it 2 nights ago when I was up on the computer anyway (and in Canada!!!) and spent the morning cleaning the cupboards and doing housework until the food magically arrived... SO GREAT.

Hmm... what to eat for dinner tonight?! :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox Trailer

Just saw Where the Wild Things Are again tonight and it was even better the 2nd time. It's SO good and SO heartfelt... I really loved it and it was even better on 2nd watch.

One of the trailers at the beginning was for Fantastic Mr. Fox - a book by frickin' Roald Dahl and a stop motion animated film by Wes Anderson (Royal Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic, etc.) AMAZING!!!! This looks really funny.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Japan planning update

Quick update on all the Japan plans...

I was trying to find a cool capseru (capsule) hotel to stay in and I found one in the midst of the really busy and crazy "America Town" in Osaka!!

Now I'm trying to find a nice Ryokan around the airport before the flight back. Also, I've dumped the plan to go all the way up to Hokkaido and check out Sapporo. It's too far and inconvenient to get up there on the train and without shinkansen (high speed train) access directly to Hokkaido. It sounded cool but really I am just going for the lamb stew and the Sapporo Beer which (while super awesome) can probably both be purchased in Canada or San Francisco. :) Instead I decided that my time was too limited to fit in the island of Hokkaido (and it's gonna be really cold in the winter anyway)... so I am just going up to Morioke instead, which has direct
shinkansen access, and sounds really cool and welcoming. They have a crazy soba "all you can eat" noodle tradition there which sounds funny and I will definitely have to try it.

Instead of now racing all the way from Nagano up to Sapporo in one 16-hr sortof overnight train, I'm instead gonna take a leisurely trip to the
snow monkey zoo in Yudanaka and then train up to Morioke instead. Then my extra day that I would have wasted, I can instead spend by checking out Kyushu, specifically checking out Fukuoka/Hakata which also sounds awesome.

It's nice to balance the kinds of things you do when you travel, and get a lot of variety in the styles of cities you visit and activities you do. It seems like Fukuoka/Hakata is a really late night/busy city with lots of bars and nightlife and jazz clubs and late night food. This is definitely going to be fun, but I'm sandwiching it in between a serious trip to Hiroshima to check out the WWII memorial, and a trip to Kyoto where I'm going to stay in a Ryokan (a traditional Japanese hot spring/tatami mat experience - holy craaaaap I can't waaaaaaait), and go to visit a bunch of shrines as Kyoto seems to be a major cultural center. SUPER COOOOOOOOOL.

This trip is really shaping up now and I've got a lot of things (eg accomodation and what cities I want to visit) locked down now, and then I can leave planning of specific details of each day to when I am actually there and what people recommend along the way at all the hostels I am staying at.


Good times!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kitten Companionship "Cat Cafes" in Japan

I really want to go to one of the "kitten cafes" in Tokyo where you drink tea and hang out with random cats for $8 an hour. Japan, you are awesome.

This sounds just hilarious.

Donkey Sanctuary and Granny arriving

We stopped by the Donkey Sanctuary (seriously) on the way to Toronto to pick up Granny from the airport. This is a VERY sweet place where injured and maltreated donkeys come for rehabilitation and good care. (Read about the History here). From there we went to Toronto and got some Swiss Chalet before picking up Granny from the airport.

Granny is now here!! She was very tired from the long flight (20 hours or so!) but she is now mostly over the jetlag and is really excited and happy here in Canada. We are doing a lot of fun stuff together and it's really a special time to have everyone home here together.

Funny poodle at the donkey sanctuary

Mom and a donkey


This guy was chillin'

Hilarious sheep, her name is "Werther" haha!

Sheepin' it

Getting ready to welcome Granny

She said she felt like "The Queen of England"! :)

4 generations of Jutans

Dad very happy

Dad and Norm very excited that Granny is here

Having tea and scones with Marjorie

Me reading Granny "Where the Wild Things Are" in preparation for watching the movie this Friday!

Pre-Game for Matt and Kim's Wedding

Matt and Kim's wedding was this weekend and it was just glorious. On the Friday night we spent a bunch of time doing setup in the reception hall and also doing a run-through of the service itself. I don't have photos of the wedding itself because there was a lot of pro photography going on and it was a busy day, but here are a few cool ones for now.

The wedding itself was super amazing. It was so great to see everyone and take photos will all of their extended family. Great times and ran into the Williams's who are so frickin' nice and awesome. My whole family was there too since we've known Matt for 20 years, and it was really great to share in such a memorable event with "numero" and the J-Clan ;) Matt's Mom's speech was really amazing and very touching. I caught the garter (!!!) and the tiny hilarious cutest flowergirl ever "caught" the bouquet (with a little help), so the 2 of us got to dance together afterwards which was super funny. At the end of the main dinner part, I thankfully brought some proper dancing shoes so we could bust a move out on the floor - and thankfully they played some fierce hip hop alongside some amazingly Ilderton-y line dancing country stuff so us "city kids" could kick it fierce too. :)

Matt is my oldest friend, and so obviously I was really excited for his wedding. It was really something special and I'm so happy and grateful that I could enjoy it and hang with all of my family there too. Awesome times.

At the reception hall

Matt looking slick

Playing with the lighting

Run-through at the church



Heev and Mrs. Heev looking serious

Good food


More food

Kim setting up the tables

Good times

Everyone on the move

Moving sodas

Getting some food after the setup


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Congratulations Matt and Kim

My "other best friend Matt" (the sciency Canadian one, not the artsy American one), who still continues to hold the coveted title for longest-running friendship (20 years and going strong!!!), just got married this weekend to his high school sweetheart. Ahhhhh. ;)

The wedding was AMAZING, beautiful, full of fun and excitement, great food and even better dessert. Loved being a part of the wedding party with a stack of other goofy fellows. It's pretty frickin' amazing that my best friend since Age 7 or so is now married. Wow.

I'll post some photos later or when I get a few from Matt that I can post.

Congrats Matt and Kim!!