Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Rick says he's disappointed with the new low that has come to Canada.

As I've been reading and listening to the whole scandal that is robocalling, I want to let everybody know I'm angry. I don't know who's responsible but that is the ultimate in reprehensible action.

Listen, voting is the fundamental right and duty of a citizen in a democracy. For most of the time our opinions are ignored by government, business, the civil service and just about everything that wields more authority then us on the day to day business. But on one day every four or so years, we have the right and duty to go behind a little cardboard stand sitting on a school desk in an auditorium or gymnasium at the local school or community centre and make a choice for who we want to represent us in Ottawa and indirectly who will be the leader of the government for the next few years.

When we look at the ballot and hold that little pencil in our hand, we suddenly have a great deal of power. The pollsters may dissect us every which way and twice on Sunday but when we step behind the cardboard we are the ones making up our own mind. All the promises, all the electioneering disappears and its up to us to make that decision. This is why so many candidates are usually so nervous on election day because they have no idea what the citizenry might just do behind that booth. They would love to control us, but when we have that little piece of paper, they can't do anything else. The polling station is to be free of all election influence, it is to be pristine. An oasis of calm in the craziness that is an election campaign.

This is what angers me, that someone or someones decided to play a dirty trick on people and give them false information about where they are to vote. The message was that the caller was from Elections Canada and they had some new information about where the people were to vote. First of all, someone was imitating a federal official and they also lied.

This Pierre Poutine character, very clever is the force behind the robocalling and the burnt cellphones. At this point of time I don't know which party was behind it, to me that is inconsequential I just want the person or persons found and brought to justice. I expect serious jail time. As Rick Mercer pointed out, it's not just a few drunks trashing some election sign, it is out an out voter fraud. Sure not as blatant as stuffing ballot boxes like some other countries do but close. It's not as nefarious as putting so many rules and regulations in place that a huge group of society are disenfranchised, this takes place in the shadows, a telephone call here and a telephone call there. Somebody did it, and somebody above that individual strategized the plan.

I'm angry because there is a wave of indifference sweeping the land over it, we almost expect politicians and parties to do bad things because that's what we expect. Ever since the Poutine was Prime Minister, new lows have been achieved. It's as if we shrug our shoulders and put in the back of our mind another reason to despise politics and all aspects of public discourse.

To me this is worse, far worse, then the prorogue situation a few years ago, because all governments do it, so what. However, when a group decides to interfere with the rights of people to vote by giving out false information, then that's the reason to protest and to scream bloody murder at the government. We should pressure all our MP's to get some sort of official examination going. Elections Canada and the RCMP better get involved and they better drag a few people in for questioning. I want people water boarded to extract confessions.

The Puritan minister John Winthrop once described America as:
a shining city upon a hill

He might have been right once, but now its Canada that is that shining city. We are the nation that people look to, we have the traditions, the heritage, the respect- and we have the institutions that are looked up to by many.

We expect better because we are better.

As I said, we need to find those individuals and/or groups responsible and drag their sorry butts into court and throw the book at them.

We Canadians should not simply shrug our shoulders and say 'business as usual', we should rail about this and demand our government and all parties do something. I do not want parties scoring cheap shots or points, grandstanding before the media, I want average Canadians to stand up and denounce this activity.

I want Canadians everywhere to tell Pierre Poutine to keep his freakin' hands off our ballots.

Our ballots belong to us and us alone, no one has the right to mess with it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Playbook OS 2.0

Come on, did you expect me not to say anything about the upgrade for the Playbook?

I have been accused of being a Blackberry wannabe spammer- I shall wear that title like a badge by the way. Yes I am enthusiastic about the Playbook, probably no more then those iPad stouter out there.

On Tuesday I got home and went to check for software upgrades, this after reading the various tweets that it was available, and commenced the download and installation process. After less then 1/2 hour, I rebooted the Playbook and watched the transformation take place. Right at the top were the icons for "Messages", "Contacts", "Browser" and "Calendar". Right off the bat this got me very interested, I opened up the first two and made the connection with my gmail and yahoo accounts and moved over contact information, email and calendar.

Since these are the big changes, I'm going to concentrate on them for most of this blog post. To me, the biggest change and the one I was most looking forward to was the calendar- I don't use paper any more for my appointments, I have used my Dell Axim for the last number of years- it was good, it kept me organized and it went everywhere I went However the devise was showing its age- and so when the calendar was announced I was excited and looking forward to having this on my Playbook. With the calendar, I've included information from my yahoo and gmail accounts- which has been important since a lot of important family dates are included in those. Adding events is extremely easy. This is going to get a lot of work out of me.

As for messages, yes there was 'apps' for gmail and yahoo mail, but they never quite worked for me, the new Message app does. I get immediate notice of mail entering the box- I now understand the Pavlovian response BB owners have when the devise pings upon that announcement. This can be dangerous. Still it is good to have a place for all the email.

Contacts- another app that will get used a great deal by me. Interesting, I went through it and realized I need to correct a few people, this is a new project for em.

Other aspects- the File Manager. This is very good. It is nice to have some place to check what files are on the Playbook and what ones I can delete. I know it could be done a lot of ways before, but this is handy. I listen to a lot of podcasts and so its good to be able to delete after I'm done, rather then waiting to be connected to the computer.

I like the fact the app world is starting to heat up with more and better apps. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the "Workout Trainer" app from Skimble was available. As you may know I am a big fan of Skimble, and have just started using some of the workout programs. With the great speakers I do not have to find earbuds to listen to the program, which is good because they tend to fall out when doing a lot of shifting. Trust me this is a bit of a problem.

I have noticed there is some positive reviews coming along, CTV had an article from a writer with the Globe and Mail that stated PlayBook update makes tablet an easier sell.

The Inquirer gave a mixed review, which was fair. The writer does comment and rightly so, all these improvements should have been available when the Playbook came out last year- 2.0 should have pushed to new and greater heights. That is true, and the problem is, to use that old adage, You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The Playbook took it on the chin and when one considers what it lacked, rightly so. For all the positives, it was simply a very expensive devise for surfing the web and watching videos. Now it has good use and can be useful in business and for the consumer. I think it would be smart of RIM to keep the price competitive with the Amazon Kindle for example.

Lance Ulanoff wrote in Mashable BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0: Much Better, Yet Not Good Enough. Again the comment was the upgrade is a nice start because it gives it the features and productivity it lacked and should have had right out of the gate.

However, there is now talk of a Playbook 3.0 being designed.

By the way, I just finished a video chat with two friends, now that is a fantastic feature.

If you want to understand why I'm so impressed with the calendar feature, watch this video.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Playbook Good News

It seems there has been quite a string of bad news from RIM World Headquarters. It wasn't that many months ago that the company took a beating with the inventory of Playbooks that were languishing in some large warehouse(s). Instead of shipping everything off to a very large landfill they did something radical- drop the price and get them moving. There was a number of critics who laughed and pointed out how HP had done the same thing with their tablet and it was the end of the line. Of course, if anyone studied the specs of the HP Touchpad, it wasn't much for a very large amount of money. Perhaps had they started with the price point of the Amazon Kindle Fire, or the B&N Color Nook, it might have been a great little tablet. But they went for the maximum price and its DOA.

The cost cutting of RIM did something great, it brought people to the stores and got them to buy the Playbook. A number of articles pointed out that the Playbook captured 15% of the Canadian marketshare. I know I can almost hear the indifference, but I can say from evidence, there are more people walking around with the Playbook then with the iPad.

Then again, this makes sense, RIM has a built-in group of support, perhaps they are not as noisy as Apple has, but they exist. Also, the price may have opened the tablet up for the new Blackberry consumer group- young people. Look around, how many young adults and teens have Blackberry phones. Sure they use them more for the BBM then anything else, but it is a group that likes them. So the $199 is a nice price point for youth. They might understand the whole bridging thing then I can comprehend.

Then there is the OS 2.0, the improvement that will boost the ability of the Playbook, giving it the much needed features. There are another of information, it now seems the release date will be February 21st. It will also be a global launch and a free launch. It will also take place at the Mobile World Congress. No doubt it will be announced and launched at the same time. This will excite the media and those attending the Congress and get the bloggers going with the news. I expect things will explode big time for the Playbook.

The promise of a 4G Playbook is still out there, which points to the fact that instead of a dead end, the Playbook has a bright future for itself.

As an aside, people are starting to talk about a 7" iPad coming out, perhaps not with the upcoming announcement this March, but later on in the year. While Steve Jobs did not like the 7", with the growth of Kindle Fire and the revival of the Playbook, plus all those Android Tablets, its a part of the market that is growing and is successful.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Enjoying Downtown Brantford

As you may know from past blogs, I like Downtown Brantford. I know that might be an odd statement to say, or admit to. After all, it was called the 'worst downtown in Canada'. Certainly you know what I've said about things as they pertain to the downtown core, the problems with parking, population density, the tearing down of all those great buildings on the South Side of Colborne.

Yet I like the core. If you consider places such as the Public Library, Harmony Square, some of the great little restaurants and even the development, both restoration and the new construction of Laurier Brantford, there is a lot to consider.

It is truly a great place to go for festivals. I put up the International Jazz Festival against a lot of others. Sure its not as famous as Toronto, or Montreal or Vancouver, but where else would you want to be in September, then in Brantford listening to some great jazz. I know I can say this with a lot of people, but I've been to every festival and the weather has been great, the music cool and the crowd grooving to the sounds.

As for restaurants, I like Warmington's Bistro. The atmosphere and the milieu is funky, the service may be a bit slow, but the food is very good. The wraps are amazing.

I will admit, I can be a bit cranky when it comes to Laurier Brantford, the fact they want to tear down a few more heritage buildings or it seems if the City has a spare dime they give to the University, yet it does bring people to the core, and its the source of my newspapers I read. It's great they've added the National Post to the Hamilton Spectator. But don't tell anybody about that.

So why am I writing about the core?

Couple of things, first of all, I believe we should consider there are signs of life. I know people say its a bit dead but I want to say this, where there is business, it should be celebrated. It truly proves the axiom, where there's life, there's hope. It's easy to walk around and look at the vacant buildings, certainly a walk through Market Square will demonstrate there is a lot of vacancies. If a business is looking for space, there's a lot of it. However I'm not going to give the list, rather celebrate what's there and where there is growth.

I was walking past the old Ford Plant, and its being developed.

A yoga studio and a new bakery and cafe. Might not be much, but it is something. The bakery, Sophia's will be gluten free and might be a good place to stay. The fact it's there means there is recognition this can be an important corner. I suspect with the fact the Y/Laurier partnership is going to happen, this will be an important corner. I know its possible to say 'I'll believe it when I see it'. I understand there has been a lot of 'plans' to develop. Yet the fact there is now money coming in from other sources, although anything that comes from the Province might be suspect, in fact I would cash that cheque from Queen's Park real quick.

Then there is the plan for the bus depot.

It is something that Brantford needs, its small, kind of rundown and well, a typical small bus depot- a bit sketchy. It also has a Tim Horton's and you don't want to be there during the busy times, it is nuts.

I know there's going to be a lot of talk where to place a new structure, I want to think if the city is interested in getting with the GO Transit system there will be a new structure. I don't think its a pipe dream, the city is growing, something like 8.7% since the last census and with most of it being commuter population, its important. I don't think a train would be possible, at this present time, but certainly expanding the transit system so that we have a bus connection to Hamilton and Aldershot would be great.

For many, the better days of Brantford Downtown may be in the past, but there can also be a renaissance coming in the future. It will be great.