March 25, 2004

Artistic pretension

I'm putting together a gallery of some of my better photos:

My existing Photo Album isn't going anywhere. Where it catalogs photos by event, this new gallery is meant to be more of a showcase for individual photos that turned out well.

It's still a work in progress — leave me lots of comments, please.

Posted by madhava at 02:23 PM | Comments (5)

March 23, 2004

Il faut cultiver son jardin

This is probably worth attending:

The Future of Maple Leaf Gardens

St. Lawrence Centre Forum
April 14, 2004 – 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Jane Mallett Theatre at StLC
Free Admission

Maple Leaf Gardens has been vacant for five years, since the Air Canada Centre has opened. It was constructed in 1930 in the Art Moderne style, and remains a handsome structure which the city has designated as a building of historical and cultural merit. Several proposals have been submitted to the owners of the Gardens, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, including turning it into a supermarket or converting it to condominiums.

This public meeting will be a chance to discuss publicly the future of Maple Leaf Gardens:

Lisa Rochon
architectural critical for The Globe and Mail
Frank Mahovlich
Senator, and former player with Toronto Maple Leafs (tbc)
Dave Bidini
amateur hockey player, guitarist with Reostatics, and author of Tropic of Hockey: My Search for the Game in Unlikely Places (tbc)
Jack Diamond
Toronto architect and planner with Diamond and Schmitt Architects Incorporated.

Moderator: Phyllis Lambert: architect and former head of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.

Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Ottawa Senators and Toronto's Ontario Hockey League team, the St. Michael's Majors, tried to buy Maple Leaf Gardens as a home for the Majors and a museum for minor hockey. His bid was apparently rejected because MLG's current owners, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (owners of the Leafs and the Raptors), doesn't want it to be a venue that would compete with their new arena, the Air Canada Centre; the ACC is already facing competition from the Ricoh Coliseum, a new arena down at exhibition place that hosts the American Hockey League's Toronto Roadrunners.

Then Loblaws had expressed interest in renovating the Gardens into a downtown grocery super-store, which actually makes sense in some ways, given how many people are moving into condos in the core. They've since pulled out of the deal because the site was going to be more expensive to convert than they'd thought.

Last I heard, Home Depot had expressed some interest in using the site for a store/condos combination, which, for some reason, appeals to me a lot less than the idea of a grocery store. I've also heard some opinions that the Gardens would make an ideal site for the Hockey Hall of Fame; unfortunately, they're quite firmly ensconced at their current site on Front.

That's where things stand, I think... which is why the forum should be interesting. It's good to see some public debate about a site that's so important to so many people.

[bonus points to anyone who knows the source of this post's title...]

Posted by madhava at 04:15 PM | Comments (5)

March 13, 2004

Too much of a good thing

Seth Nickell, project lead for GNOME Usability, recently posted a realistic piece on the shortcomings of usability testing in the software industry [On Usability Testing].

It makes me feel a little treacherous to publicly slight the value of user-feedback testing; it's still almost always a battle to make sure it happens at all. But Nickell's right: while the technique is globally underapplied, it's often locally overapplied. For all it's value, usabilty testing is one technique among many, and it's not a replacement for good design.

He also mentions a guilty but pragmatic secret of interface designers who also do testing:

"Usability testing can be a very useful technique for trying to get improvements implemented in a "design hostile environment".

The "hard data" from a usability test can be just the right distraction (misdirection is too strong) for a little procedural sleight of hand; while addressing valid but unimportant usability issues drawn from the test results, it's often possible to perform a minimally-invasive design transplant.

[Two entries in one day! Cue the End Times.]

[Hmm. I'm still typing. One last note: Mike's description of the Kevin Smith talk yesterday evening is pretty apt.]

Posted by madhava at 06:13 PM | Comments (3)


Michael Ignatieff writes thoughtfully and humanely about Iraq:
The Year of Living Dangerously [New York Times Magazine]

I tried to find a good pull-quote for this entry, but he has a pretty nuanced perspective, and no single paragraph seemed representative of the article. It's worth reading all the way through.

Posted by madhava at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2004

Extremes in urban form

On the birth and refinement of the shopping mall: The Terrazzo Jungle [The New Yorker]

"Taubman fusses about lighting, for instance: he believes that next to the skylights you have to put tiny lights that will go on when the natural light fades, so the dusk doesn't send an unwelcome signal to shoppers that it is time to go home; and you have to recess the skylights so that sunlight never reflects off the storefront glass, obscuring merchandise."

Panoramas of Moscow's insanely ornate subway stations:

Posted by madhava at 05:34 PM | Comments (2)

March 07, 2004

Hart House Chorus Spring Concert

3pm, Sunday April 4, 2004
Great Hall, Hart House
Works by Raminsh, Cassals, Bach, and Stanford.

Posted by madhava at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

Like weather for chocolate

This is ridiculous. On Friday, it was sunny and 17°C. Today, it's -1°C and the air is thick with snow. I'd just switched from boots to new shoes; they were never meant to see snow, but it turns out that they leave cool tread-marks:

Yes, this is the kind of high-quality journalism you've come to expect from this page. So, everything's covered in snow. Again.


Very pretty, Nature, but really. It's well past time for this.

This was in Saturday's Globe and Mail:

Talk of the Town
By Tralee Pearce
Saturday, March 6, 2004 - Page M7

JS BONBONS. 811 Queen St. W. (at Niagara Street), Tue. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 416-703-7731, At the new JS Bonbons shop, which opened yesterday, owner Jenn Stone has the juice-bar trend licked. She's installed a hot-chocolate bar, serving six brews that'll knock any mochafrappa thingie you're currently drinking on its ear. Ask for one of her six best-selling truffle flavours -- chocolate and chai, lavender, bittersweet, lemon thyme, salted caramel and gianduja (hazelnut) -- and she'll pour some ganache of that flavour into a cup, add steamed milk, foam and chocolate shavings. Perfect for slurping and shopping. "Queen Street is such a great wandering street, I wanted to offer another option," says Ms. Stone. In the little gem of a spot that used to house the Middle Eastern food shop Arabesque (which is now at Gladstone and College), Ms. Stone also sells her signature truffles and treats, handmade at her Dupont Street location for the anti-Atkins crowd. [Emphasis mine]

I couldn't not go by today after climbing. The verdict? The bittersweet is fantastic; highly recommended. The white chocolate with pink peppercorns bark was also great.

Posted by madhava at 06:53 PM | Comments (2)

March 02, 2004

All the news that's fit to... um...

This long-overdue post covers several unrelated topics. Please use caution.

I've finally put photos up from a couple of recent events:

Mark's vodka tasting party

The Hart House Chorus' black-tie fundraiser

This latter event featured the debut of the Chorus' new theme cocktail, the Hartini. It ended up being popular, probably in spite of the priorities I held for its creation:

  1. Name featuring a chorus or Hart House pun
  2. Theme ingredient(s) that link it to the chorus or Hart House (it ended up being Hart House Farm maple syrup)
  3. Taste

Out of my depth for the last phase, I placed a last-minute and slightly hysterical phone call to cocktail experts (and my annual cocktail party co-conspirators) Mark and Aven. It turned out that, against all odds, they'd recently discovered/created a drink involving maple syrup and Canadian whiskey, so we were set.

In other news, I was recently contacted by another Madhava. Madhava Jay is an Australian currently living, and blogging, in England. There aren't a lot of Madhavas around, so this is simultaneously cool and unsettling. Seeing other people signing your name to things is something that most people have to deal with all the time, but it's strange for me.

Adventures in morphology
Edward Tufte, information design deity and author of several seminal design books has posted a chapter from his forthcoming book, Beautiful Evidence. Go read it now. It was posted in his website's forum so that readers can make suggestions and contribute examples; I ended up coining another word: graphictive (graph + adjective).


Posted by madhava at 04:20 PM | Comments (4)