Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Brilliant Decision

Over the last few weeks, the media has been reporting incidents of abuse for Canada's "Do Not Call" List. The Globe and Mail reports of Fraudester Abusing the list with impunity.

To bring everyone up to speed, the "Do Not Call" list came into being in the fall of 2008 and the purpose was to give the average person the right to live a life in peace and harmony without the annoying dinner time calls from telemarketers. All a person had to do was register their phone number and peace and quiet would be there's.

By the way, this being the CRTC there are exemptions. For example:
elemarketing calls made on behalf of certain organizations or made for certain purposes as listed below, are exempt from the National DNCL Rules:

* Canadian registered charities;
* political parties;
* nomination contestants, leadership contestants or candidates of a political party;
* general circulation newspapers calling for the purpose of selling a subscription;
* calls to a consumer who has an existing business relationship with the organization;
* calls to a consumer who has given express consent to be called; and
* calls to business consumers.

Otherwise peace was to come to your life. Of course the method of getting the list of telephone numbers that WEREN'T to be called was to be in the form of a list, which a telemarketing company could purchase, so as to update their databank of people they weren't to call. Apparently the list cost $50.00, so obviously the CRTC was to make a few dollars for their own operations.

With such an arrangement, most of us would figure the opportunity for abuse would be almost non-existent. Think again, all they provided for the telemarketers was a list of active and live telephone numbers. Why spend hours hunting down telephone books when all can be yours for a mere fifty dollars. Guess what, the nasty telemarketers who don't care a fig about rules bought up the list, and why not, here was a gold mine of phone numbers. It's kind of like spam email, you will often see a little notice that "If you don't want any further email, just click this link", do that and all you prove is that your email is live. Best way of dealing with spam, get a good spam filter.

So now, Canadians have the privilege through the workings of the CRTC of having even more telephone calls. Brilliant!

Of course, the CRTC doesn't stand for this sort of thing, in fact they have all sort of strong measures in place to deal with the n'er-do-wells. They will:
* If a violation has occurred, the CRTC will generally work directly with the telemarketer to facilitate corrective action on a voluntary basis.

* Options to encourage compliance include:

o A warning letter to the telemarketer identifying the violation and the specific corrective action to be taken; and

o A compliance meeting with the telemarketer, which may be held using teleconference or videoconference facilities, at which the CRTC would discuss the nature of the violation, the number and frequency of complaints, and the corrective action that the telemarketer must take.

* Warning letters and compliance meetings would involve informing the telemarketer that stricter measures will be considered if the corrective action is not taken and/or the violation is repeated, including:

o Imposing a monetary penalty, and

o Publishing the nature of the violation, the name of the telemarketer that committed the violation, and the amount of the penalty on the CRTC's website.

Wow, a sternly worded letter, I have to believe the telemarketers would be shaking in their boots to read that letter. As for the fines:
o the maximum penalty for a violation is $1,500 in the case of an individual and $15,000 in the case of a corporation.

o A violation that continues for more than one day constitutes a separate violation for each day during which it continues.

All this sounds good until you realize, most of the obnoxious telemarketers DON'T LIVE IN CANADA AND SO THESE RULES DON'T APPLY TO THEM.

If you want to know more of how the bad people are dealt with, click here. Got me shaking in my boots, just reading about it.

What can be done? Probably a few things,
1) change your telephone number and send the bill for changing to the CRTC
2) contact Consumer Association of Canada, if enough join and complain perhaps something will get done.
3) Write, phone, email your local MP and ask that the CRTC be dissolved; they have done nothing to protect the average Canadian, they are a worthless government body.

Remember, this is the same group that wanted to control the Internet a few years back.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dude! I've got a Dell!

Yesterday I found a sticker on the front door from Purolator. The package I had been waited to arrive for the past few days had arrived. So with sticker with the notice in hand I went down to the local office and picked up this box:

I brought the box to the family room and began to unpack:

When everything was unpacked, I found my new laptop:

My new laptop and notice it is green in colour, is a Studio 17. It has a 17 inch screen, so it gives a lot of space for things such as videos and DVD's. I'm not going to go on and list all the features and specs, because you can read that for yourself.

What impressed me about the laptop, besides the larger screen was that it was on sale so the price was only a few dollars more then one of the Inspiron computers. So the wide glossy screen was a big point. What else got my attention was the extra memory and the fact it had Vista Home Premium. Now I should say it's only been two days but I'm not finding any of the great problems and complaints that greeted the release of Vista. Then again I'm using SP1 so I presume most of the bugs and issues have been solved. I'll keep you informed.

My old laptop simply stopped working, it was over four years old and I wanted to wait until the new year before purchasing a new one. I think I'll enjoy it and I plan to install iTunes for my iTouch and a few other programs.

So far so good

In Other News

I just finished watching Dr. Strangelove, still one of the best anti-war movies ever made. It certainly manages to reveal the madness of nuclear weapons and the Cold War. What followed it is some old Civil Defense video. Both were featured on Turner Classic Movies.

Got some responses to a few email, one is from Elizabeth May. I had complained to her about the rumour she was going to the Senate. She told me it was simply a media fabrication. Another came from CUPE. The letter contained a link to a letter from Paul Moist, the National President of CUPE. He wants all to know that it is not the policy of CUPE to have that demand, rather he wants both side to strive for peace.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

iTunes and Canada

I've been a fan and owner of an Apple iPod since the iPod Mini, it was blue and came in a marvellous box. I had it until it a major flaw happened and it no longer worked. Fortunately I had extra warrenty and graduated to the iPod Nano (2nd Generation). Now I own an iPod Touch. It was a present from my folks (thanks Mom, thanks Dad). They got it for me when I was in the hospital.

It is the funnest ipod, as the advertisement asserts. With it, I have music, videos, TV programs, podcasts and apps. It is wonderful and a lot of fun. It's a great thing to have when working out at the fitness club.

Lately I was having problems downloading apps I wanted to buy, for a while I thought there was something wrong with the way I had the settings of theiTunes Music Store wrong. After all, I had problems at first, syncing the Touch with my computer. It's working very well, thank you so much. I decided to read the support to learn what I should do. The instructions listed didn't help, so I used the contact page and set off an email. I explained the problem. Actually I had two problems, that and the fact I accidently rubbed off a few numbers on an iTunes card. The latter was solved quickly by an email and I was able to put an extra $15.00 on my account, which I used to download Philip Glass' work Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance. It's a delightful piece of work, by the way.

As for the former issue, this is the response I got:
I'm sorry, but you will not be able to purchase games or applications with store credit or an iTunes Gift Card in Canada. Customers residing in Canada may only purchase games and applications using a credit card.

My response to that was, 'say what?!?' What do they mean, I can't purchase apps with the itunes card? To me this is preposterous. After all, my local electronic store, gas station, convenience store, in fact any place that sells gift cards, sells the iTunes card. They are all over the place, in Canada. I don't understanf the logic behind such a policy. It can't be the case that there is a problem with the money, since Apple doesn't have a problem taking the money that goes on the card. It can't be an issue that this is Canada and there is some problem engendered by the Security and Prosperity of North America. I wish I could give an answer or even an opinion but it so strange and odd of Apple to have this policy. I plan to write back and ask for an explanation. The whole purpose of the itunes card is convenience and security, I'm not using my credit card, I'm using a purchased itunes card, which should be as good, since you got to put in the right number to use it.

Hopefully it's a policy they will change.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Blog about Ketchup

A couple of months ago, I came across an interesting article on ketchup. As you can read at the top, the problem with ketchup is that it hasn't changed in over 100 years. In fact with the thought:
Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties. Why has ketchup stayed the same?

Some suggestion with the exception of the introduction of the squeeze bottle, ketchup is ketchup, so why is it still the same?

This is a good question, I don't know about the dozens but certainly mustard is no longer simply French's Mustard, the yellow condiment that went so well with hot dogs. I know of at least two other, only because I happen to use two of them regularly on my sandwiches One is honey mustard and the other is dijon mustard. Both add different flavours to the sandwiches and so they are good, and prove you can add something new to something familiar and have a winner.

The problem with ketchup is its sameness. There has been no real change since Department of Agrilculture ordered the removal of sodium benzoate. This was a preservative and many thought it wasn't the best thing to eat. By the way, if you read the article, one of the great improvements of ketchup was the addition of vinegar, which allowed for the use of riper tomatoes and therefore improved flavour and thickness of our favourite condiment.

I wonder though if the article is not fair, ketchup has experienced an evolution, its just not kept the same name. For example, there are all sorts of Hot Sauce, which while not having tomatoes, can be said to be part of the ketchup family. I say this because most hot sauces started as chili sauce, which was a tomato based product, which actually didn't have much of a kick to it. Then there is Cocktail Sauce, which goes so well with shrimp cocktail. It is ketchup with horseradish and tastes so good.

Then there is what I believe is now the most popular of all condiments, Salsa. Finally, a condiment that has the right combination of tomato and chili peppers, a delicious mix that if the chunky variety is fantastic. You can read about the history of salsa here.

But there is hope, for Howard Moskowitz decided to make a better ketchup. His brand is the "World's Greatest Ketchup". He is the man responsible for changing the world of spaghetti sauce.

However even he realizes one thing about ketchup:
I guess ketchup is ketchup.

Perhaps, as one person suggested to me, ketchup is such the perfect food, it can't change. Perhaps that ultimately true.

Or has the change led to other variations and types with the original being the keeper of the name.

I should say this blog was inspired after I made my sandwich for tomorrow's lunch; a ham and turkey sandwich with cheese and lettuce, and dijon mustard.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Who is Canada's Geekiest Politician?

Much is being made of President-Elect Barak Obama being a Geek. If you read the article and there are a score of them, he has all the signs. First of all, he read comic books, he flashed the Vulcan salute to Leonard Nimoy. He is quoted as saying:
I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier.

He also made a "Star Trek" joke to his wife, and promptly laughed while she rolled her eyes. A typical response of a wife of a geek. As well, to say nothing of his Blackberry which seems never to leave his side.

If there is one flaw, as some would consider, it is that he uses a Zune rather then an iPod. Which some might consider a character flaw, while others might see as part of his true maverick nature. While the rest of the world chases after the iPod, Barak Obama follows the way of the Zune.

This led to me think, does Canada have a geek politician? I was thinking of using the title: "Yeah but does he know the Babylon 5 Mantra. I'll tell you what it is later: still who is Canada's Geekiest Politician?

I have to admit, I'm kind of drawing a blank on this one. If you go through the list of present and immediate past, it's kind of hard. None of the crop seem like they are geeks, or if they are, they hide it quite well. No doubt all of them have Blackberries, but is there the same attachment. Can we imagine Stephen Harper giving the Vulcan Salute to Leonard Nimoy. For some reason, not likely. I could be wrong, he was a political wonk growing up. And if this photograph is to be believed:

he may have been a geek. I could be wrong but I can't imagine Mr. Harper peppering any speeches with Star Trek or Star Wars references. I mean it would be cool if he did. I was going to make some reference to his speeches containing Klingon words and phrases, as some might suggest- the whole evil empire appearance he has- but even that would be great. After all, the Klingons are a people of honour. So if a critic was to make a Klingon reference to Mr. Harper, it would be more a demonstration of how little the critic knows about Klingons.

So consider now the recent past Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion. Okay, we have considered him long enough, the answer is, no. What about the new leader, Michael Ignatieff. Well, the photgraph reveals he doesn't dress very well, so that is a point in his favour. He does have a twitter account, although in two months, he has 17 updates. That may change now that he is leader of the Liberal Party. Still something about him strikes me that he would be far more comfortable with a quill pen then the modern technology. To his credit, he is an author, so he is creative but I wonder if he has done any mash-ups.

Then there is Jack Layton or as he mother calls him, John Gilbert Layton. Well, he does have a twitter account, which seems more used then Mr. Ignatieff. He is on Facebook. He does videos. He may be as close to as geek as we find but for some reason it's just not the same.

I got to think, none of our leaders would feel comfortable attending an MC Frontalot concert. I'm sorry, but I think our leaders lack a certain geekness.

Now as for the B5 Mantra, and if you are a geek, you know it, but just in case, it was first given by Susan Ivanova:
I'd like you to take the time to learn the Babylon 5 mantra.

Ivanova is always right.
I will listen to Ivanova.
I will not ignore Ivanova's recommendations.
Ivanova is god.
And, if this ever happens again, Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out!

In other news: the Saudi Tanker was freed. The pirates got their satchel of money and everybody went home happy. Well, I suppose the crew was not happy to spend an extre month and a half on board when they could have been home with family. But all of them are safe. All it cost was 3Million Dollars. When you think about it, had the Saudis or the tanker owners simply given the money, there would have been no delay. Got to hand it to the Somali pirates, they are honest businessmen.

As for MC Frontalot, I watched Nerdcore Rising, a great documentary that examines and records MC Frontalot's first cross country tour. Must have been great. If you are not familiar with the Front, you can listen to "Penny Arcade" here.

It's Friday night. Have a great one.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Recently, the head of the Ontario arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees decided to open his mouth and make a policy statement. He decided that Ontario Universities should ban Israeli academics from coming onto the property, unless they denounce the recent invasion of the Gaza Strip, and probably Zionism as well. The last I have added. The news release can be read here.

Sid Ryan is angry that the Islamic University of Gaza was shelled. Apparently a group can shell Israel all they want and nary a peep comes out of the mouth of Sid Ryan, but don't Israel dare try to stem the shelling.

So Sid Ryan has decided to change the look of CUPE to something a little more appropriate, such as:

or this:

I do wonder what color of shirts members of CUPE will wear when they set up guard posts at the various Ontario Universities to ensure no "Israeli" academic sneaks onto the campus and attempts to pollute the pure Aryan minds of the students engaged in proper Anti-Zionist thoughts.

Although I do wonder why he stopped there, why not call for the expulsion of all possible "Israeli" students. Indeed let's rid our universities of the "Zionist" poison. I think members of CUPE should go through the libraries of all the University and gather all the books written by "Israeli" writers and burn them in a huge bonfire.

Of course the irony is Sid compared the bombing of the University to the Nazi burning of books. Which is very ironic, since he wants to engage is supression of academic freedoms. The National Post had a full article on the atrocity of Sid Ryan.

If you want to contact CUPE, here are some phone numbers:

Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, 416-209-0066
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-616-6142

Monday, January 05, 2009

Memo to Wired: Don't Even Think about it!

The editor of PC Magazine had an open letter in the January issue of the magazine. Lance Ulanoff wrote that after January, there would be no print copy of the magazine. He declared that
Starting in February 2009, PC Magazine will become a 100-percent digital publication. So, in addition to our popular network of Websites, which includes our centerpiece,, as well as ExtremeTech, blogs like Gearlog and AppScout, and audio and video content that includes PCMag Radio, Cranky Geeks and DL.TV, we'll offer PC Magazine Digital Edition to all of our print subscribers. The PC Magazine Digital Edition has actually been available since 2002. So for thousands of you, the benefits of this unique medium are already clear. And those benefits will continue to multiply in the coming months, as we work hard to enhance your digital experience.

Okay, so call me old skool, but I like magazines. I've subscribed to a number over the years and I still get a number each month or so in my mailbox. At present time I subscribe to: Wired, Broken Pencil, BriarPatch and Spacing. The latter is a fascinating magazine that studies the urban landscape and issues that face Canada's major cities.

What I enjoy about magazines is the fact that they are not news, they offer articles on timely issues that have been researched and present a point of view which I may not have thought of in the past. The writers consider issues and delve into them, having the time to ponder the full ramification of what they write. Certainly it could be said that not all magazines are like this, after all there is People Magazine, which does give me my pop culture fix. I don't subscribe or read it, except when Kimberly or Katrina are visiting; a few minutes with the latest I am up to date with what is happening. It's amazing how quickly a person can get out of step with celebrity culture, my gosh I didn't know she was pregnant, or he had broken up with her. But I digress, the point is, magazines are meant to be enjoyed, to be read and to be taken anywhere. That is the beauty, you can toss a magazine into a backpack or brief case and bring it along. It takes next to no space and its there waiting for you. It works as easily in the bed as it does in the chair. It just works. Not only that, but its portability means you can read an article one day and a week or so later, come back to read it again. Then again, if you save magazines, you can read an issue and read it again after a few years.

However, this is the year 2009 and things are now modern. The promise of the new digital edition of PC Magazine are:

# It arrives in your e-mail automatically. Just click the link to either download the latest edition, or to view it entirely online.

# It is portable. Once you've downloaded the issue (which takes a matter of seconds), just power up your PC and view it anywhere, on an airplane, in your hotel room, wherever.

# It looks like the PC Magazine you're familiar and comfortable with. I know why you've stuck with us all these years. You like the magazine and you enjoy the format. Our digital platform makes it possible to deliver that same magazine experience on your PC. So you can "turn" the pages and view our features and departments as you do now.

# It's lively and interactive. Our digital edition will eventually offer rich media options within a magazine format. So, for example, next to the product review you're reading in First Looks, you can easily view a slideshow of that product. Or while you're reading a Solutions article on Microsoft Outlook tips, our PC Labs experts can walk you through the steps of some of those tips in a video.

# Yes, you can print it. You can print as many pages of the magazine as you want.

# It's searchable. Here's something PC Magazine print cannot do. Enter a search term and PC Magazine Digital will fill all the related pages.

# A live TOC: The table of contents is not only a place to find out what's in this month's issue. You can use it to navigate directly to the stories you want to read.

# It's Green: You can actually feel good about the amount of paper, ink, and gas we'll all be saving by not producing and consuming a physical magazine.

Of course there has to be reference to it being 'green', although I wonder what sort of carbon footprint a magazine had, compared to something like a coal mine. The promise is, of course, interactivity, social networking to make it sound Web 2.0.

Of course to truly enjoy the experience, one has to download the Zinio Reader. Which is something I'm not enjoying. It is fast and prompt and in a few moments I will attempt to print an article. See, people like to read soemthing they can hold in their hands. I know with laptops one can experience the same portability, with the possible exception of the pool, bathtub or hottub. Water and electronics are still not a good mix and probably won't be for quite a few years.

I'll wait and see with this one. I've tried the program used and can't say I'm overly impressed. But one must keep an open mind. However, as I state in the title, Wired, don't even think about going digital only.