Mazda Miata MX-5 (2010)

Last fall I was looking for a new convertible or roadster to take me through the next 10 years. I will retire one day and I was looking for something that might be fun for the next little while. This could possibly be the last car I will buy.

In July 2012 I had test driven a 2009 Mazda Miata SV model that had been recently hail damaged. I didn’t know the vehicle was damaged when I went to the dealer and they hadn’t yet had time to assess the damage. So, there was no point to buy. But, the test drive did affirm that I would most likely acquire a Miata. A late model vehicle was within my price range and the car reminded me of the 1968 MGB that I had restored and driven from 1985 through to 1995.

In September 2012 there was a blue 2008 Miata SV model available in Vancouver that had aftermarket leather seats, but the dealer wasn’t sufficiently motivated to meet my price at the time.

In October I discovered a 2010 GT model being sold at Birchwood Honda in Winnipeg. The vehicle had just come in as a trade and was priced to sell. After a few phone calls I was driving to Winnipeg the next weekend to trade in my 2006 Sebring convertible and buy the 2010 Miata GT roadster. At the time of purchase it had about 16500 km on the dial.

The GT model comes with all the bells and whistles. The vehicle has leather, premium trim, Bluetooth, Bose audio, heated seats, Xenon headlights, climate control, sport suspension, traction control, and a power retractable hardtop. I had to call the local Mazda dealer to determine what color this car was. It is Metropolitan Grey Mica with Havana Brown leather interior. The color sometimes looks black or gray and shows hints of blue and green depending on the light. This color was not available in the USA.

Now at Easter 2013 the weather has warmed up enough such that I can take a few pictures of the car. Yes, the grass still looks dead and there is winter road dirt and a little snow, but spring has arrived in Calgary.

Dsc05476

Dsc05478

Dsc05477

Dsc05475

Dsc05481

Dsc05482

Dsc05483

Dsc05474

Las Vegas Boulevard

I recently had an opportunity to attend a conference in Las Vegas and I thought to share a few pictures of my walk down the Las Vegas strip. The hotels and shopping are quite remarkable. Click on any image to see the full gallery.

Note, after posting this I noticed that many of the building pictures suffered from perspective distortion. It is something that happens when pictures are taken of tall buildings where they are not being viewed ‘square on’. This distortion can be corrected with post-processing tools. I have corrected a few noticably distorted pictures in this set.

 

 
Dsc04529
 

Las Vegas

Now, where would we be without the Vegas show girls?

 
DSC04475
 

Las Vegas

 
DSC04450
 

Las Vegas

 
DSC04498
 

Las Vegas

 
DSC04548
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04443
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04448
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04456
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04465
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04502
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04504
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04526
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04527
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04539
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04542
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04556
 

Las Vegas

 
Dsc04536
 

Las Vegas

SOPA and PIPA Thoughts

January 18, 2012, is a worldwide protest against two copyright and intellectual property acts before the American Congress. One act is SOPA (Stop Onine Piracy Act) and the other is PIPA (Protect IP Act). These acts seek to place restrictions on websites that copy and redistribute various copyright material and other documents that are posted online. It has been said that these bills put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites.

Wikipedia, Google, WordPress, and many other global sites that offer services in this space are concerned that these bills will constrain or control the freedom to innovate and post material on the Internet. They are asking for people in the US to write their congressman and oppose these bills.

I am of a mixed mind. On one side I agree that this sort of legislation does change the freedom of the Internet and can limit innovation and creativity. On the other hand, those who create content and other products deserve to receive fair value for their work. The copyright problem does need to be addressed. Work is not free just because it was produced and published and made available to consumers or put on the Internet.

I am careful that almost all material posted on Kisekae World is my own work, or I have permission to copy and post other people’s work on my site. I do access or link to other people’s work on YouTube and elsewhere. I do hyperlink to other sites. I do share my work and support the free exchange of information and content. I do benefit from other people’s work.

But, I don’t necessarily agree that music is free to share to all, or that movies should be free, or that software should be free. I do think that if you post your work publicly then you do allow people to view and access your work and use it in derivative work with proper attribution. How you enable this access is your choice. How you allow derivative use is your choice. How you get compensated for your work is up to you. It is up to you to protect your property.

I create content. I write software and I create models and I create photographs of my models. I publish my work on Kisekae World. As an author and creator I do not want my work used without proper attribution. But, as a creator I may be in the minority with respect to this protest.

SOPA and PIPA are perhaps wrong. The musicians and movie makers and other people who publish works must take action to protect their property. Others should not have to police this for them. This legislation may not be the way. But the copyright problem does need to be addressed.

William Miles

China Vacation

This is a synopsis of of our 14 day tour of China from May 21 to June 3, 2010. This tour visited Beijing, the Pandas, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, Xi’an, the Terracota Warriors, and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. We also toured the Yangtze river and the Three Gorges, flew into Shanghai, and we briefly saw Expo.

21 May (Fri) – Calgary to Beijing

This was a travel day. Calgary to Vancouver to Tokyo (Narita) to Beijing. We began our trip early in the morning of May 21 and didn’t arrive in Beijing until late in the evening of May 22 as the filght crossed the international date line and we lost a day.

23 May (Sun) – Beijing

In the morning we visited the Panda bears in the Beijing zoo. Following this we went to visit the Summer Palace. In the afternoon we went to see Tiananmen Square and then saw the Forbidden City. I think there was much more to see in both the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace than we actually had time to view.

Dsc01523

Pandas

Dsc01559

Summer Palace

Dsc01570

Tiananmen Square

Dsc01577

Forbidden City

24 May (Mon) – Beijing

This moring we went to the Great Wall, about an hour and a half drive outside of Beijing. After lunch we toured the Ming Dynasty Imperial Tomb. At the end of the day we visited a Jade Factory where we had an opportunity to see how jade was carved and purchase some goods.

Dsc01628

Great Wall

Dsc01669

Ming Tombs

Dsc01666

Jade Factory

25 May (Tues) – Beijing

In the morning we visited the Temple of Heaven where the Emperor went to pray for a good harvest. In the afternoon we toured the Beijing City Planning Museum and then toured an old Beijing section of hutongs to see how people once lived near the Forbidden City.

Dsc01703

Temple of Heaven

Dsc01735

Beijing City

Dsc01756

Beijing Hutong

26 May (Wed) – Beijing – Xian

In the morning we flew to Xi’an. Xi’an is the old capital of China. It was the largest city in the world at about one million people around 1600 AD. After arriving we visited the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and in the afternoon toured the provincial museum of the history of China. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a currently operating Buddhist religious center, originally built in the Tang dynasty (650 AD), and is where the Buddhist scriptures from India were first translated to Chinese.

Dsc01937

Xi’an City

Dsc01773

Wild Goose Pagoda

Dsc01822

Xi’an Museum

27 May (Thu) – Xian

The next day we toured the Terracotta Warriors and Bronze Chariot and then visited a Ceramics and Pottery center where I took more pictures of art rather than ceramics. The Terracotta Warriors are baked clay pottery and are all smashed and broken. After excavation they need to be put together like a jigsaw puzzle. After dinner we saw a Tang Dynasty show.

Dsc01827

Terracotta Factory

Dsc01876

Terracotta Warriors

Dsc01922

Ceramics Center

Dsc01946

Tang Dynasty Show

28 May (Fri) – Xian – Chongqing

In the morning we flew to Chongqing. Chongquing has about 20 million people, just like the current population of Xi’an and Beijing. In the afternoon we toured the Yangtze River Museum which described the changes to the Yangtze river as a result of the Three Gorges Dam. We also looked at the Second World War Memorials to the Flying Tigers and US General Stillwell. After dinner we boarded the MV Paradise cruise ship for our trip down the Yangtze river, which departed near midnight.

Dsc01982

Chongqing City

29 May (Sat) – Yangtze River

Our first shore excursion was to Fengdu, the city of ghosts. This is the only city in China where a temple to the underworld exists. The dead, or ghosts, must take three tests to enter the netherworld. The first is crossing a bridge using the correct protocol. The second is to pass the great torturing where 18 demons judge you. The third is to balance on a large stone on one foot for a short period of time.

Dsc02075

Yangtze River

Dsc02027

Fengdu Ghost City

30 May (Sat) – Yangtze River

On this day we travelled through two of the Three Gorges, the Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge. The gorges have spectacular scenery and mountains that rise to about 1000 meters. Our second shore excursion was to Shennong Stream where we some of the history of the local people. By 11:00 PM at night we reached the Three Gorges Dam and waited to enter the locks.

Dsc02138

Shennong Stream

31 May (Sun) – Yichang – Shanghai

We went through the locks while asleep, and in the morning we went ashore to view the Three Gorges Dam. It was quite foggy this day and difficult to take pictures. Later, after sailing through the last gorge, we disembarked at Yichang for a dinner flight to Shanghai.

Dsc02145

Three Gorges Dam

Dsc02157

Yichang City

1 Jun (Mon) – Shanghai

In the morning we drove through some of Shanghai and visited the Yu Gardens, a private garden for the wealthy people in Shanghai during the Qing dynasty. Later in the afternoon we viewed the Shanghai harbour and saw impressive buildings, including the financial center built in the 1920’s. At night we saw a Shanghai acrobatics show, but no pictures were allowed.

Dsc02220

Shanghai City

Dsc02172

Yu Gardens

2 Jun (Tue) – Shanghai

This day didn’t start until 10:00 AM as we were scheduled to spend our time at Expo (Shanghai). We were on the Expo grounds by noon but didn’t stay long as it was busy and crowded. Instead, we took a taxi and left Expo and spent the afternoon shopping at a jade and silk factory.

Dsc02260

Expo 2010

3 Jun (Wed) – Shanghai – Calgary

This was a travel day. Shanghai to Tokyo (Narita) to Vancouver to Calgary. We were almost 24 hours in transit, yet the elapsed time was only about 8 hours as we crossed the international date line and gained a day.

Computers and the Information Age

Many of us have to deal with computers in all facets of our life. Yet all too often we hear that either the computer is down or that the system won’t let us do what we want it to. Worse yet, perhaps the computer can do what we want, but nobody seems to know how to do it (except the guru over in the corner).

What’s the problem? Obviously, all our computer applications are inadequate to do the job that we want. They are far too difficult to use, can’t understand us, and refuse to make our lives any easier.  To make matters worse, they probably use old technology and need replacing.

So, what should we do? Should we throw away the old systems and replace them with shiny new ones, re-engineered to save us money? After all, the new systems will have all the new features that will make our job far more fun!

This time we will do the job properly. We will make sure that we have an integrated environment where everything works together. We will have one database that is easy to understand and that will manage all our information. We will use one common programming language to develop theses system. Clearly, the operation of all these new systems will be a breeze, because we will use one vendor’s technology.

What is wrong with this scenario? Does it remind you of the way things once were? We used to have computer systems that ran on a central mainframe. The IS department used to have de facto ownership of all our computer applications. We kept all of our records in a central database. Our computer people wrote most of our application programs in COBOL. Usually, we used IBM’s technology solution. We were happy and secure in the knowledge that this was the correct and proper way to do things.

But, this happy, safe scenario is a scene from the past. It reminds us of the old ways of computing. Fie to these new ideas that are trying to drag us, kicking and screaming, into the information age. Who needs them, anyway?

Or is it that we may need new solutions to our problems? Perhaps the old ways were not working. After all, these colorful graphical systems are fun. Surely you have tried the Internet?

Today, we like to think of building our systems from component parts, or objects. We like objects because they have well-defined boundaries. We know how to plug objects into each other because they use standard interfaces that are accepted by everybody. This is a feature of object-oriented computing. When we use a computer system we tell it what we want, and not how it is to be done. This is a non-procedural system, one which does not need instructions. The system works when we want it to, on our request, and not when someone else decides to do it for us. This is event-driven processing. Our data is stored in many different places, usually where it is needed and used. This is distributed information management.

We are inundated with quotes from experts that tell us this new way is better, faster, and cheaper.  They say we can build computer systems that actually work!  Look at all the testimonials!  On the other hand, there are those disturbing little thoughts that pop up … Unix was built in 1968 as a research project at MIT and it was originally hacked together with bailing wire and spit and C, and we are still trying to use it.  We are currently spending millions of dollars on outsourcing and help desks because nobody can understand computer stuff. And open-source software means that software is free so why should anyone have to pay for anything?  And why should we have to pay to craft a web page that runs in all browsers?  And why is it that business is constantly looking for IT to provide value?  And why is it that Dilbert is the most popular cartoon?

It is no wonder that these new ideas can be foreign to those of use who were brought up on the old computing model. Change can be truly frightening.  Do we wonder why business leaders most often use the excuse that they can’t understand the technology?

The new world exists. The information age is here today. When we are faced with people who promote the old, safe notion of traditional systems we need to help them grow into the new world. Birth is a traumatic experience, and institutions that cannot adapt will be pushed aside as stillborn anachronisms. Welcome to the information age.