Who made VB the language of macros anyways?!

I’ve recently gotten onto the kick of moving a lot of my documents and spreadsheets into the cloud – Google Docs in particular.

The basic motivation is the failure of my portable hard drive. A NetGear ReadyNAS Duo solved the storage problems for things like digital photos and videos. But sometimes you just want to make a quick update to a spreadsheet and you don’t feel like waiting until you get home.

My NAS is turned off, as is my router and modem, when I’m not using it so remote access is not option. Windows sync is a pain in the butt that makes shutting down take forever. So my solution was to put some of those documents in the cloud – accessible from any internet connection.

But why-oh-why won’t Google support JavaScript macros in their documents and spreadsheets (presentations too but I don’t use those).

Having the macros stored with the document (and with the template) would avoid any cross-site scripting issues, would harness the power of the browser, and would make all the world’s javascript libraries accessible!

I know Zoho spreadsheets support VB macros but not in the same way that Excel does – I can’t add in references to other libraries to extend the power of the native system.

And who made VB the language of macros anyways!? If you want to program in VB then fine – use Excel (or Zoho). If you want to live in the cloud then use JavaScript!!!

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Copyright law reform in Canada

There’s a great article over the Globe and Mail about copyright reform in Canada.

The article brings up a couple points that I think are essential. Namely that public consultations in Canada a more geared towards hearing organizations (i.e.: corporations and lobby groups) than individual citizens; and that the copyright holder is rarely the artist but a distribution company.

To the first point the solution is some obvious: join an organization that reflects your values, there is strength in numbers. Of course finding the perfect group is not always easy or possible. At a minimum, write a letter or e-mail to your MP so they know how feel about Bill C-61 (the copyright reform legislation currently being discussed).

One of the points you should definitely bring up with your MP (and any organization you join) is that law needs to be able to evolve with technology and at a minimum be representative of the technology’s current state. As the article says, when the current round of reform began things like iTunes and YouTube and Google Booksearch were almost non-existant.

To the second point I’m not sure what we can do. Most artists are bound by contracts, and even in the internet age the distribution companies do provide the artists a valuable service. Sticking it to the man by illegally downloading or sharing music and movies is not the way to go either.

One thing is certain in my mind though: this is a siege war. The one who can hold out the longest will win. If consumers cave to the music & movie industry demands then they will have won. But if we refuse to spend our hard earned money until we get what we want (and to me that means no DRM) then we will win.

Rock on!

Update: (Thanks JF)
Your MP’s e-mail address can be found on the Members of Parliament page. And this is Bill C-61’s page.

Add Pavatar to the picture

As an update to my post below on Gravatar and Openvatar I want to add Pavatar to the list of ways to consolidate your profile.

Pavatar is a specification as opposed to a service like Gravatar, but the objective is the same – one consistent avatar.

Since it’s a developing specification I felt the need to add my two cents, here’s what I posted in their forum:

Good afternoon…

First of all, I’d like to submit my vote to stick with term “avatar” rather than pavatar (or gravatar or favatar or whatever). So in my humble and naive opinion it should be:
X-avatar
link rel=”avatar”
avatar.png

Furthermore, I think it would be cool if the Pavatar spec supported Gravatar! Since Pavatar is a spec and Gravatar is a service the two should be complimentary.

It’s already possible since Gravatar generates a consistent URL for your avatar you could always use that in the X-avatar header or link href attribute.

But I would take it one step further: the URL could be mailto:… and then the consumer would need to convert that to a Gravatar URL (their algorithm is published, it’s an MD5 sum).

One could even take this another step further, and add base and method attributes to link that would identify the base of the URL and the hash method to convert a mailto: href. Although in the HTTP headers we would then need X-avatar-url, x-avatar-base, and X-avatar-method.

For example, for Gravatar you’d have something like:

I hope you don’t mind my jumping in like this, I sure hope Pavatars work out ‘cuz I’m in favour of anything that consolidates my profiles.

Hopefully this all leads to something soon!

Google user profile’s expands

In a recent post on the Official Google Blog: New Google Help Forums one of the new features mentioned was

expanded user profiles that highlight your forum activity

Does this mean that Google is moving to consolidate user profiles across their services?! I’ve got at least three:

  • GMail
  • Reader/Shared Stuff (S2)
  • PicasaWeb
  • Blogger

Oh wait, that’s four! Having only one profile will be nice! Especially since I like the real internet (as opposed to the Farcebook internet) so can’t wait for some of these social aspects Google is working on to come together.

Another thing that would be nice is Gravatar.com integration or an equivalent service (perhaps leveraging PicasaWeb – designate an album to store your avatars and be able to easily select one). The URL to avatar has to be exposed though and more services will need to integrate Google’s avatar service, take a URL as the avatar source, or there will need to be a tie-in with Google’s OpenID implementation.

Obama win: good for the world, or not?

An article this morning in the Globe and Mail that reviewed the response in Asia to Obama’s winning the US presidential election got me thinking the same logic applies to Canada!

You see Canada relies immensely, almost entirely, on trade with the United States of America to drive our economy.  According to the Canadian government 80% of our exports go to the USA and at over 22% of their exports we are their largest customer.  This represents OVER 2 BILLION DOLLARS A DAY worth trade!

I don’t expect Barack Obama to slam the doors shut today just because he was elected.  But he’s definitely on the protectionist side of the fence.  In USA Today Obama is quoted as saying “well, I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America – and I never have.” 

(See more NAFTA quotes from Obama and McCain via Google’s In Quotes)

The economy is chilling, recessions are coming or starting around the globe, and almost everywhere in the world people are looking to America’s new leader, a protectionist leader, to save the world!  I find that rather ironic.

I hope the sake of Canada that Barack’s advisors and his cabinet prevent him from closing the borders or initiating any restriction on Canada-US trade.  But I fear that because he is the first black president and everyone’s so emotional about it he will face less criticism and debate.