No barfing up grass at viewing. Bad dog!

No barfing up grass at viewing. Bad dog!

Vancouver hates pets. So many rules and restrictions can create the problem, a self-fulfilling prophecy where anti-social dogs are created in an environment where they are prevented from socializing.  You can’t really blame the city when it comes down to it, we too often see poorly trained dogs dragging around their drooling owners.  It’s almost like car drivers… Jeez, it’s hard to stop when one gets started. OK.  Rant off. Whew.

To topic. It took us almost four months to find decent rental accommodation here. For myriad reasons it’s a tough market for those of us with a pet. A nightmare if you happen to have more than one. From what I initially read there seem a few basic options:

  • Rent a expensive tiny room in a tower full of little rooms. Limits on number/size/weight of pet.
  • Live in somebody’s basement. Often with pet restrictions too.
  • Find a few folks and rent a complete house.
  • Apply to every listing, whether it mentions pets or not.
  • Lie, and say you have no pets. Eviction can apparently take some time. Sounds like fun. Not.
  • Battle with dozens of other applicants for the few decent pet-friendly apartments.

After viewing numerous claustrophobic white boxes and dank moldy basements, I concluded the last option was our only recourse. Things I learned a lot along the way, and some application advice at the end:

  • Don’t expect well maintained properties. The market is so tight that even complete dives will garner tenants. Some places I looked at hadn’t been cleaned and many had obvious rodent issues, leaks, faulty wiring and broken fixtures. Prepare to DIY things habitable if your rental dollars are on the low side.
  • Sometimes the price posted will be raised when you go to view the property. “A mistake” you’ll be told. Indeed, on occasion the price online does change too. Some cynical folks may think this has something to do with the volume of responses a property gets…
  • There will be less competition for posts without photos. You may also get to witness, first-hand, the dark depths of Vancouver’s rental market. I wouldn’t even walk into one particular basement when the door was opened. Therapy is helping.
  • Some properties are only posted for a short time. There can be such a large response that enough interest is generated within hours. Check your sources often.
  • Some landlords are not-entirely-sane. I was informed my recycling would be inspected. The dryer was not to be used as it consumed too much power. Questions as to my private life. Just back away slowly…
  • There can be good reason the previous tenant moved out “suddenly”.
  • If an older building, wander by in the evening to check things out as many have very little soundproofing. Blaring stereos and loud home theatre systems were observed more than once. Yuk.
  • Some buildings have repeated infestations, including bedbugs. Google the address, there are registries of complaints. Double-plus yuk.
  • If  ‘yer brave, hang out front and ask any current tenants “how is it?”. You may find some very forthcoming. Doing this saved me from making a huge mistake.
  • Beware the fine print on some application forms. They look very formal and try to lock EVERY applicant into a legal obligation to rent. A “you only apply to one place at a time” kind of deal. Seemed very one-sided so I walked. And landed my current home the next day. Whew.
  • If it’s too good to be true. It is. Just send a message to that  @AOL.com address to find out.

The actual process of applying can be stressful, especially when there are so few good rentals available every month. I’d say we put in 10-20 hours per week for months on end. A few application tips which finally worked for me:

  • Consider preparing all paperwork in advance. I had a printed standard application with me and PDF version ready to mail from a phone. No more trying to fit my sloppy printing into teeny little application boxes.
  • Get your employer to print a letter stating your gross income. If impressive, show it at the viewing. Do the same with a self credit check if yours withstands scrutiny ($23.00 online).
  • Make a pet resume. List all training and include a cute photo. Provide references. If bringing your dog (some landlords will want a meet and greet) get it all fluffy and clean. A good groomer is worth their weight in gold when looking for an apartment.
  • If sending an application electronically, do a follow-up message or call to make sure it was received. I found that some did not make it (through a popular site’s re-mailer).
  • Cattle-call viewings are dreadful. Crowded and you’ll have little chance to make an impression. Perhaps wait until the initial rush dies down before making an appearance. Be sympathetic, they didn’t seem too much fun for the landlords either.
  • You want to be remembered. Put a good foot forward. Take a minute to ask a couple of questions when viewing.  Get a haircut. Don’t wear that “favorite” old t-shirt. Armwipe. Toothbrush. Soap.
  • If you’re a not-so-charming individual looking to rent… consider bringing a charming companion along as a friend to “help you”. Just saying impressions really do count. Your call.



Otto wants your dinner.



CGMeetup Maya Tutorials
Autodesk Maya Learning Channel
Online Media Tutor Maya (beginner)
Simply Maya
3D Total



A long time ago I used a plug-in called Vertibevel. It did fancy profile beveling. shellMod reminds me a lot of it. Many years later in another package, it’s nice to see this so well implemented…


The Command Line

I haven’t done this yet. But I should. I use the command line a lot but, well, there’s always time for a refresher. Soon. When I get around to it. Because I, umm… right. Should (not limp along as I have been).



repo: https://bitbucket.org/thepilot/abctoarnold/downloads

group: https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!forum/nozabctools



For when I need it:



Privacy is a big topic

Just massive. From retailers selling on your grocery purchasing decisions, your phone reporting your location every few minutes, government and corporations sniffing your personal e-mail and text messages, it’s all whacked. On the surface level, it’s just creepy. At worst it can be used to commit crimes in your name.  I’ve been dabbling with my various ‘devices’ and, while just scratching the surface, have learned a few things which I’ll elaborate on further in days to come:

  • Don’t Put Anything Into Electronic Form you absolutely don’t want somebody else to see. Certainly not on a computer that connects to the internet. There are a whole host of folks, from hackers in dingy basements to corporate and  government departments around the world dedicated to ‘stealing your stuff’. Sounds paranoid but it only takes a glance at those nerdy technology news sites to confirm. I was once told an unprotected computer plugged into a cable modem would be malware infected within a minute. I was told this by the cable company’s own tech support. No, really.
  • Given The Choice, Use Open Source Software even if you don’t understand it. Chances are somebody else does and has taken a look ‘under the hood’ and made sure it’s not booby trapped to report your every move. You give up little as modern open source software is often slick and sophisticated. And free. Nothing is guaranteed, but at least it’s scrutable.
  • Have a Glance at “App” Permissions because there are strange things afoot. Many ask for access that is not needed to function and is present solely to gather information about you. There are ways to deny an app access to your personal data. More later on this…
  • Don’t Eat Web Browser Cookies as they, like their real world brethren, are seldom good for you. They can have legitimate functions, but many are there simply to track your movements. Install something like Ghostery to see just how many companies are watching your every move.
  • Turn off location reporting on your device unless you are using it for the GPS function. Some platforms try to fool you into thinking you have turned it off, only to turn it on in the background when you’re not looking. This sucks.
  • Encryption is a huge topic itself. Think of it as the envelope on your electronic letter. From what I can tell, anything in a commercial package is presently suspect. People (sometimes are forced to) put in back-doors to allow access on demand. Some agencies, often known only by acronyms, feel the need to read everything you write. They may break laws and lie to the public, courts and government in order to do so. They too, are the suck.
  • Know Your Privacy Rights even if you don’t intend to flex them. Hereabouts there are resources like PIPA and the Privacy Commissioner. Consider not giving out more than you’re legally obligated to do. Which you may find to be very little in many cases. Where I live, it isn’t legal to discriminate against somebody because they are enforcing said rights.  A local vet office got very flustered when I refused to enter in all my personal information into their database while purchasing pet food. To the point they once attempted to refuse me service. It did not end well. To them, I am now and will always be “Bob Robertson”. And they now have a written privacy policy available on demand.
  • People Can Still Dig Through Your Garbage and may do so in order to steal your identity. They may even call, posed as a service, and request your passwords or other data. Shred sensitive documents (our cats love the shredder, it’s a thrilling Saturday night for the entire family). Offer to call back anybody that contacts you requesting personal information. If it’s a sensitive matter, ping the company at their main number first to validate the contact.
  • Remembering Complex Passwords Hurts My Brain, but there are other ways to go about keeping your virtual locks fresh. Sure, a constantly rotated bazillion digit unique upper/lower/numeric/symbol/non-dictionary password for each account may be ideal, but some modern research suggests long strings of ‘random’ words can be too. Stick in a couple of ‘lett3rs as num3ers’ gags and a caPitaL or two while you’re at it. Just not ‘TheRainInSpainFallsMainly” or something else ridiculously common (pausing here for an Audrey Hepburn moment…  …aaand done). There are also “password managers” out there that encrypt all your passwords under one other ‘master’ pass phrase. Kind of a ‘AllY0ur3ggsIn0neBasket’ approach. I am old and confused enough now that I’m looking at this technology in order survive a slow but certain decent into dementia, whilst enabling access to the barnyard and pet videos I love so dearly.
  • Tinfoil Hats Can Be Comfortable and with some effort in securing your electronic world, cruising the morass of modern communications should be more relaxing. After all,  you’ll have done all you can to protect yourself from various digital rashes.

Action Pants

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Click image to play.

That’s right. To test the new laptop, I strung together some clips and added a soundtrack by The Shamblers.

Action Pants Rough (The Shamblers) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Python and laptops

lenovo-thinkpad-twist-press2_1020_verge_super_wideFunny how ones views change over time. Once I liked having a big-ass desktop replacement, in order to do previs work on set (and play an hour or two of Eve Online). Then it became more about portability than power, a 8 inch ultra-light to do web page updates from SIGGRAPH. Now it is all about code. So, typing.

What a selection to choose from! Despite this, there was not one perfect match for my wants. Keyboard, it became all about finding the perfect one. Most did not have the tactile response. Most did not have full sized shift keys. Some had problems with linux installations (boo!). Windows 8 was kinda dumb without a touchscreen. Touchscreens are kinda dumb unless on a tablet or convertible

Something had to give. Could I live without discreet graphics in order to get a decent keyboard? Did I have a choice? Not really. Not and compromise elsewhere on my wishlist. Enter the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist (review on Notebookcheck).

The trackpad is crap. Battery life middling and the unit is overall a bit on the fugly side. The hard drive it came with was slow and quickly replaced with a fast SSD which transformed performance. But it has the best keyboard I laid my fingers on in weeks of testing lightweight laptops. By far. Some Haswell-based unit will come out next week that trumps it, but I think I will be happy for a couple of years.