random thoughts

A MySQL–MariaDB linguistic mystery

Because Ubuntu’s PostgreSQL does not seem to be usable, I decided to switch to MySQL^H^H^H^H^HMariaDB and by chance I stumbled across this article that mentioned My is actually the designer’s daughter and so is Maria.

Since I found out some time ago that Mimi is the same name as Maria and My sounds suspiciously similar to Mimi, I wondered right away if My is also a diminutive of Maria. Wikipedia mentions that Michael Widenius lives in Finland, so at first I looked for Finnish names; then I realized that Widenius is obviously a Swedish last name so I looked for Swedish names instead, and found that My is indeed a diminutive of Maria.

So I wondered: MySQL’s “My” and MariaDB’s “Maria” are, as I suspected, the same name. I wonder if they’re actually the same person. Wikipedia suggests they aren’t, but the entire “Personal life” section has been tagged as missing citations (ok, maybe I’ll agree with their citation policy this one time), so it’s still possible they are actually the same daughter.

Obviously there’s no way to know (short of asking Michael Widenius himself), but it would actually be really cool if My and Maria are actually the same person: It would be like saying “Hands off my daughter, and by the way she’s grown up now.”

Update: Joffrey Michaie has kindly pointed out My and Maria are actually different persons. Mystery solved :-)

I still don’t know what to do in openings (and I didn’t know Toronto had a Stanley Park)

Went to two openings yesterday because I thought some friends were going. Went there and found no one I knew. Left each place after checking out all the art. As usual. But these weren’t the usual places I check out, so I had some new thoughts (and these aren’t pretty thoughts): First, the one in the Canadian Place felt weird, because there were so many security guards in the building. But I assume if you’re going to do well and put your work in fancy galleries this will be the place you’ll want to put your work in. I also noticed the pricing: Everything was hundreds if not thousands, and this was a show for “emerging artists.” 2D work, of course (as we always talk about). Second, it took ages to get to the one at Brock and Queen because of the traffic. Pretty much the same thoughts except the gallery isn’t in a fancy, guarded building. So—I mean—my thoughts were: Do I really want to be here? or somewhere else? If somewhere else, where? Short-term question: “Do I show up tomorrow, or not?” Yes, this means today.

Some thoughts about RGD’s accessibility webinar (Hi @good_wally)

[I had originally planned to just comment on my question, but what I wrote in a related email discussion sort of didn’t make sense. So let me write that down here too. So these really are just unorganized random thoughts.] Let me comment a bit on the question I posed near the end of the webinar, which ended up being literally the last question that got through: “What best practices would you recommend if the design had to work with a CMS hostile to doing things semantically?” This is, of course, a real example, one that I had already mentioned previously. In this particular case, which is a different case than what I had blogged about last time, what I found was that the CMS was so hostile to authors that I could not even get Microformat 1.0 content (dtstart and dtend specifically) to stick. Let us think a little bit here: Microformats are designed to work in pretty hostile environments. But in real-world environments that some designers have to work within, not even Microformat markup can survive. How can HTML structural elements survive? The answer is they don’t. I was not talking about environments where the the designer has the power to reconfigure the CMS (if so the question would have been moot); I was talking about situations where the designer is working with a non-technical client (with a CMS created by someone else) who has neither the technical skills to even go to the Administer screen nor the financial resources to hire someone to reconfigure their CMS. But they’ve already budgeted the money to redo their CMS—which you have no influence over either. I’m talking about a 100% hostile situation which you have no control over whatsoever. So what do we do in such cases? When people talk about making existing sites accessible this is the reality. Whether the CMS in question is WordPress or Drupal isn’t really relevant; in this particular case the hostile CMS is actually Drupal, but you can’t reconfigure it. In any case, I think the RGD is doing meaningful work in the accessibility area. A few days ago on an email discussion I actually cited RGD’s AccessAbility handbook because the RGD is actually one of the very few organizations that are not buying into the myth that print accessibility equals “large type size.” But someone disputed RGD’s ability to create accessible PDF files because the “accessible PDF” version of the handbook was not produced by the RGD but by an outside contractor. While the latter is true, I think, to be fair, this need to be put in some context. First of all, producing an accessible PDF from InDesign is not straightforward, and the steps Adobe documented (the same steps described by ADOD) do not actually work, and I can say this because I tried it when I did my issue of Cadmium (the OCAD SU zine that’s no longer being produced) and verified that the documented procedure did not in fact work. The other thing, which is quite tangential, is that (I might add having Accessibil-iT do the final work does not prove that RGD does not have the capability — it’s normal for graphic designers to contract out non-core tasks anyway —, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make) RGD has raised some points that do not seem to have been addressed by most other people talking about accessible print. So they are tackling a conceptual problem, with the appearance (let’s say this for the sake of argument) that they might not have the best practical skills (or craft). As our chatting at a pre-DesignThinkers student mixer two years ago showed, this is actually very “OCAD.”

Do all videos need to be captioned?

This looks just like how I feel!—me
I was at the opening for Craft Ontario’s LookListen exhibition and the usual thing happened: I knew no one (which turned out to be actually untrue, but I forgot her name), so I was planning to just see all the work and leave. Except that this time seeing all the work would take a lot of time, because half a dozen pieces were music videos. Now the funny thing was that they used speakers instead of headphones, so during the opening you in fact couldn’t hear any music at all. Music videos without music—yet touched me anyway. This sort of reminded me of the art course in my program where the professor did not buy into the idea of “accessible art” in terms of how our program—at least on paper—defined accessibility. In this specific case was the video “accessible” or not? If you define “accessibility” as getting access to the lyrics, then it was completely inaccessible—even to hearing people. But if you defined “accessibiity” as getting access to the elicited emotions, then you could argue that the video was in fact, in an odd way, actually accessible. This sort of brings us back to the RGD webinar I attended today. One random thing that struck me was how the presenter suggested that we “banish all colour cues.” My reaction was “banish? Are you serious?” Colour cues don’t need to be banished; they just need to be supplemented by other cues that are not colour-based: It turned out that this was in fact exactly what the presenter meant. In the words of one of our profs, we need the cues to be in “different modalities.” I think those music videos that were in the gallery did use two different modalities. Yet they were created as pure art. Maybe in this sense art can actually inform design.


I finally went into Muji yesterday to take a look. My first impression: Things aren’t so cheap, in general anyway, but no one would be mistaken that a store in The Atrium on Bay should be able to price things low. But I did notice something: A few stacks of small bowls in crackled glazes, priced at $25 each. I looked at them and somehow they looked thrown. Then I went to the other side and found more bowls, priced at about $7 or thereabouts; they were white and smooth, obviously slipcast. This is important context.


Today is September 11. Yesterday was a deadline; I mentioned it on Twitter and that got picked up by Sarah Mulholland because after the initial curiosity I started ranting about OCAD’s new website. But my own personal deadline was not yesterday but the day before, and I never knew there is still an “internal verification” (probably just meaning checking if the profs really signed the forms I turned in). Now that even the rhetorical deadline has passed, I’m not sure what to call myself any more. Danica asked me how I felt when I dropped by at the AV desk today. “Weird,” I told her. And yes, that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. According to the registration system, my thesis is still “in progress.” But that still doesn’t change the fact that my library card has just expired, or that I’m not registered for anything. Nor do I really want to unless there’s some way to register for something without triggering the full grad tuition fees. What can I say? This question of liminality just keeps cropping up. No longer here, but not there yet. Everyone, including my advisor, is asking me about what my plans are. I really just have “some sort of a plan” right now.

Still don’t know what to do at openings…

I went to both of Jay’s openings today—not a feat by any means, as the two galleries were really close by. The artist was not there. I went, looked at all the artworks, took some pictures, and left. I still had no idea what else to do. I knew no one, and I felt awkward to talk to people I didn’t know. I was not one of the artists.

MOOC vs U, U wins

A few days ago one of the MOOC’s that I had signed up for sent me an email saying the course (one that actually relates to my program of study) was coming to an end—I did hardly any work in that course. Today I got another of these emails, from the other MOOC I had signed up for—and I literally did not do any work in that course. So when I signed up I was already suspecting that I wouldn’t have time for any of these MOOC’s, and my suspicions turned out to be justified. Even though I could not feel the semester (and I still cannot feel it, even though I can feel its deadlines), I did not have time for the MOOC’s. The ironic thing was how detached I have been feeling with this semester’s courses. I just logged into ATutor, trying to find information about how to write my term paper that I needed to turn in in slightly more than a week: I could not find any information, but instead found a dozen or so lectures that I could not even recognize. Such is the disconnect between me and my courses. So how in the world am I going to finish writing this paper? Having spent nearly 10 hours on Behance today, I suddenly realized that I have probably already finished the other half of the assignment, the portfolio artefact. But after staring for half an hour at the Word file that is to become my term paper, I still have no idea what to put in it. (And Iridescent is out: it does not currently have an open call for submissions. My term paper will remain just that, a term paper.) On Monday, I’m going to drop into the Writing and Learning Centre…

Post-show, pre–post-mortem random thoughts

Now that the crazy week is over and the ceramics studio is not firing anything any more this semester, I’m hit with imminent multiple deadlines. I sure hope everything will be ok. My professor said if our installation has held up for the duration of an exhibition, we are already doing better than many scientists. A comforting (and shocking) revelation notwithstanding, I am still not too satisfied that the (engineering part, so to speak, of the) design had not been conceived better. William was calling me an “artist” today. Naturally I brushed it off. I know what we were called in the past week. But for multiple reasons that should be obvious, I still find this rather ironic. We were chatting with Alex from IAMD last night at the closing reception (I believe “we” were myself, Brandon, and our prof), and Brandon and I told her “We don’t even have a studio.” Naturally, she was shocked…

Virtual vs physical experience

(The live web page with the real installation in the background) So I have been standing here, outside 240, filming the installation for the past half hour, and I just want to say that ths experience is entirely different from the experience I had inside, let alone the virtual experience on our web site. The tweaked installation runs incredibly slow, almost imperceptibly slow. On the site that would be unbearable, but outside, on the actual official viewing spot, it is calming. Well, the site is not even working. My old Mac must have overheated… Sigh…
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