Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

HDTV: Shaw vs. Telus

Friday, July 27th, 2012 3 comments

I’ve been using Shaw for internet and cable TV for years.  And I’ve been leery of the quality of the Telus Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), especially when the last bit of the feed into my condo is over twisted pair wires originally intended for voice-only telephone.  But I noted the picture quality at my son’s (detached) house was quite good with Telus.  Further the Telus internet upload rate was claimed to be double that of Shaw’s for the same price.

But my main incentive to explore Telus was my desire to see all the games of the Montreal Canadiens, which would require the French sports network, RDS, which Shaw only offers in Standard Definition (SD).  Telus offers the HD feed.

So to make a long story a little shorter, I switched to Telus, despite the dire warnings from Shaw that I wouldn’t get the internet speeds promised, I found that I did get the promised 1Mb/s upload, and 14.5Mb/s download consistently.  And I found the following:

  • Music channel audio quality (which I use a lot) is much better with Telus, although they do not show the title of the current song playing like Shaw.
  • The Telus user interface is more responsive and much easier to use, for example I can filter the program guide to only the channels I am subscribed to, or further to just my favourite channels
  • Telus can record 3 HD programs simultaneously as opposed to 2 for Shaw.  (Telus does not promise you can get 3 HD, but the software tests the line quality and if it’s good enough, allows this.  Otherwise it degrades the capability to SD signals, only promising one or two HD recordings, the balancing being SD).
  • The Telus HD PVR hard drive was much quieter.
  • It was cool (but useless) to have the caller ID display on my TV screen when the phone rang.
  • The Telus PVR doesn’t auto-prompt to extend time on live recordings like Shaw, but does allow a max of 3 hours extra as opposed to 2.
  • The Telus PVR storage is vastly larger: 200 HD hours vs. 20 on my four-year-old Shaw PVR.  Not an issue for me as I don’t watch much TV.
  • Telus offered a free Samsung Galaxy Tablet on a 3-year contract.
  • …and finally the picture quality: Telus was much more pixelated and blurry than Shaw on movement in HD scenes (terrible for sports) and the SD quality was appallingly bad, even on static images.

So the Telus technician came back and worked hard on improving the quality, to no avail.

So it’s back to Shaw for TV, but I’ll stick with Telus internet.  And hope that Shaw offers RDS HD before the hockey season starts.  Bad news is that the quote I got for the package I wanted from Shaw was incorrect, it’s actually $3/month more.  Good news is that Shaw is giving me a six-month discount for switching back.

EDIT: So I just had Optik TV disconnected, and I have to say that the Telus customer experience was much better than that with Shaw:

  • Telus gave discounts, both on my initial order (took $5/month off on the long-term bundled rate) and even after I cancelled the TV they kept the discount for my remaining Internet service, which I had ordered at the same time and kept. They considered that I had my home phone with them for years as well, and had met my end of the bargain in trying to use all three services, so I got the full bundled pricing. They also let me keep the Samsung tablet.
  • Shaw stuck to listed prices and had no wiggle room. One Shaw rep misquoted me and the next rep did not honour that pricing and so I’m paying more for the TV.
  • Telus reps were friendlier, more understanding.
  • The Telus tech worked his butt off to try and make it work, including giving me his mobile number, and talking to me on his day off

So I’d definitely recommend Telus over Shaw from this point of view. Dang twisted pair!

The Optimism Bias

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 Leave a comment
Categories: Healing, Learning

Billy Collins: Everyday moments, caught in time

Monday, March 26th, 2012 Leave a comment

The Shared Experience of Absurdity

Sunday, January 8th, 2012 1 comment
Categories: Entertainment, Learning


Monday, December 5th, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Healing, Learning

The surprising math of cities and corporations

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Business, Learning, Technical

Humanizing Data

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 Leave a comment

Transforming how we look at things, from flight monitoring to music.

A study in duality

Saturday, April 30th, 2011 Leave a comment

Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight.  For those who don’t embrace spirituality, Jill’s right-brain experience provides an alternate explanation.

Vulnerability – the follow up video

Thursday, April 21st, 2011 3 comments

Further to Brené Brown‘s exploration of vulnerability, as with many theories I was left wondering how her theory could be applied in everyday life.  I wanted the 18 minute how-to video.  But I know that this next video is one we each shoot for ourselves.

So what’s mine look like?

As a first step, I distilled her theory down to its essence (as I saw it through my lens).   (It’s best to ensure you’ve watched the video to flesh out this summary).

Our influences

  • Desire for connection: that’s why we are here
  • We’re taught if we can’t measure something, it doesn’t exist, invalidating intangibles
  • The shame we experience is based in fear of disconnection: that we’re never good enough; “Who do you think you are?”

Our strategies

To try and avoid shame:

  • We blame others, bad luck, fate, etc.: this a way to discharge pain and discomfort
  • We numb out vulnerability: (but we cannot be selective about emotions, so we numb joy, gratitude, happiness)
  • We try to make everything that is uncertain, certain
  • We strive for perfection, and we try to make our children perfect
  • We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an impact

Of course these strategies actually result in disconnection.  To connect, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, to be vulnerable.   Those people willing to do so Brown calls, “wholehearted,” asserting that these people feel worthwhile solely because they believe they are worthwhile.

So these wholehearted people who believe they are worthy, and as a result they feel worthy:

  • Have courage; they tell the story of who they are with their whole heart: they have the courage to be imperfect
  • Let themselves be seen, love with their whole hearts even though there is no guarantee of return, practice gratitude and joy, believe that they’re enough
  • Recognize that connection is a result of authenticity; they let go of who they think they should be, to be who they are
  • Have compassion: they are kind to themselves first, only then can they be kind to others
  • Are willing to take emotional risks, are vulnerable, they let go of controlling
  • Teach their children that they are worthy

As a next step, I created affirmations for the key points:

  • I am worthy
  • I tell the story of who I am with my whole heart
  • I have the courage to be seen as imperfect
  • I let myself be seen
  • I love with my whole heart
  • I am grateful
  • I practice joy
  • I am enough
  • I let go of who I think I should be, to be who I am
  • I am compassionate to myself
  • I am compassionate to others
  • I am willing to be vulnerable
  • I let go of controlling
  • I teach my children that they are worthy

To these I add some other affirmations that are meaningful to me.

Finally, as I go through my day, when I catch myself blaming, resenting, ruminating, shaming, etc., I stop myself, and see which of these affirmations come up for me.

Film at 11.

The Silly Season

Saturday, November 14th, 2009 1 comment

Between poorly managed 2010 Olympic protests and H1N1/vaccine hysteria there’s a lot going on these days. Add to that even more buzz recently (maybe because of the movie?) on the impending doom of 2012.

Here’s a differing view on the calamity.


Saturday, November 14th, 2009 Leave a comment

Jane Goodall on the Daily Show commenting on extremism, “That’s really what’s wrong with the world right now…whether it’s on the left or the right, it’s the fundamentalists.” Well said.

Full clip links below.

Watch in Canada

Watch Elsewhere

Categories: Learning, Musings, Politics


Sunday, November 16th, 2008 Leave a comment

Norman Doidge in The Brain That Changes Itself has amazing stories of how the brain can adapt to challenges, refuting the “hard-wired” theory of brain functioning and explaining how with dedicated training habitual ways of thinking can be reprogrammed.  Providing scientific justification for the theories of creation through thought and the power of positve thinking, the author cites sources showing how this occurs physiologically.  As an example in one study, one group did body strengthening exercises.  The second group went through visualizations of doing the exercises, without actually moving.  Strength increase with exercise: 30%.  With visualization: 23%.  This theory also encourages caregivers of stroke and other brain damage victims to provide intense rehab, which can result in dramatic recoveries as the brain grows new pathways.  He asserts that the brain challenged at any age will not only remain more alert, it will grow more interconnections.

Categories: Books, Healing, Learning

Exercising: a program that worked

Friday, December 7th, 2007 3 comments

Triceps ExtensionTriceps ExtensionLike everybody, I know that physical exercise is good for me.  And like many, I’ve tried jogging (shin splints), the gym (too much time), walking (hard on the knees and not complete enough), Tai Chi (too mild), Yoga (not vigorous enough), and lots of other stuff.

In July though I started  working out with an exercise ball.  I’d tried the ball before, but hadn’t stuck to it.  What was different this time was a program in a book called, “Weights on the Ball Workbook” by Steven Stiefel (Ulysses Press), and I’ve stuck with it.  Here’s why I think I’ve persisted:

  • Time: I can do it at home, no travel time
  • Equipment: cheap: set of freeweights and an exercise ball.  You only need a couple of weight sets to start.  By Christmas I’ll have 3, 5, 8, 12 and 15 lb weights.
  • Variety: there are close to 60 different exercises listed, each with 3 or 4 variants
  • Programs: There are 9 different programs, with suggested exercises, schedule, number of reps/sets, etc.
  • Presentation: In the program listing for each exercise a pretty little picture of the starting stance serves as an easy reminder.  No flipping to page 78 to figure out what a triceps extension is.  And if you want more detail the page number is listed for each exercise.
  • Scope: since most exercises are done balancing on the ball, I’m working a lot more than the targetted muscle group, stabilizers and core muscles aplenty are getting worked.

So for the program I’m doing, I work out 4 times per week (MTThF) for 30-40 minutes.  Add to that a simple aerobic warm-up (fast 10 minute walk).  Each day has a different set of exercises, so I end up  with 25 different exercises per week.  Nice variety.  Other programs repeat exercises more, this one has a long rest period as it works the muscles hard and recovery time is needed.  So I look as scrawny, er wiry, as ever.  But I feel better after working out, and that scrawn is all muscle. ;)

Categories: Books, Learning

New guide to Peru

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007 Leave a comment

Children of OllantaytamboA friend of mine, Rick Segreda, along with a colleague has published a new guide to Peru.  If you’re headed down that way, pick it up!

Children of Ollantaytambo

Categories: Books, Learning, Travel

Difficult conversations: turning challenge into opportunity

Monday, October 29th, 2007 Leave a comment

Attending ProjectWorld/Business Analysis World at Canada Place in Vancouver next week?  Drop by Room 16 at 1:45PM, Tuesday, November 6 to hear Mike Ray and I speak on Difficult Conversations.

Categories: Business, Learning, Vancouver

Networking opportunities in Victoria and Vancouver

Friday, March 9th, 2007 4 comments

I’ve been having a lot of fun over the past few weeks engaging with the business community at networking events and presentations.  Here’s some of the recurring events that I’ve attended or been brought to my attention on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

Selected Networking Events

Check the website or contact for more information on membership requirements, cost, dates, and locations. 

Event/ Organization

Frequency Location Contact Focus/Comments
BC Human Resources Management Asn (BCHRMA) Monthly Victoria Human Resources.
BCAMA (American Marketing Association, BC Chapter) Several per month Vancouver Sales & Marketing.  May have activities in Victoria as well.
BC Technology Industry Association (BC-TIA) Frequent Vancouver Business/technology.
Business Network International Weekly Victoria
Business. Many chapters in Victoria, required attendance and other criteria.
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Frequent Victoria Business.
Green Drinks Twice monthly Victoria Environmental.                      
IEEE Joint Communications Chapter Monthly Vancouver Technology.
Mid-Island Science Technology and Innovation Council Irregular Nanaimo Business/technology.
OD Café Every two months Victoria for info, and to confirm attendance in advance Organizational Development.
Sales & Marketing Executives Victoria Monthly Victoria Sales & Marketing.
Sidney Breakfast Club Monthly Sidney Contact Bill Cooke for details and to confirm attendance in advance: Business/Technology.
University of Victoria Events Regular Victoria  Use filter to narrow down types of events of interest Various.
Values-Based Business Network Regularly Victoria Socially-responsible business.
Vancouver Board of Trade Frequent Vancouver Business.
Vancouver Enterprise Forum Monthly Vancouver Business/technology.
Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Centre (VIATeC) Monthly Victoria Business/technology.


Thursday, March 8th, 2007 Leave a comment

At a meeting of Organizational Development professionals the other day, Michael Keller kindly led us through a process called Freelisting, using the term “Sustainability” as the seed term.   Learning about the process was fascinating, and the session brought up varied issues for people.   I was reminded how strongly I feel that (a) sustainability is an important concept to many people, (b) the anger many people feel towards the damage we are inflicting on our planet is misdirected and (c) how the divergent forces have the potential to lead to a better life for everyone.  

Periodically a large meteor strikes the Earth, the last being the Chicxulub Impact of 65 million years ago.  This impact is estimated to have released two hundred thousand times as much energy as all the nuclear weapons on the earth simultaneously exploding, and air pollution on a scale thousands of times greater than what we are producing.  The majority of the Earth’s species were wiped out.  

And these events pale in comparison to the creation of Earth and its ultimate destruction as the Sun ages and expands.   

So if you believe there is a higher power, or Creator or God, I suspect he/she does not believe we are destroying the Earth; rather it is our playground, our school, our home.  We can no more destroy the earth than we can destroy a thought.  The Earth does not need us as stewards; it will continue with or without us, regardless of what we do.  The most we could do is alter it in ways that are trivial compared to the transformations it has seen in the past and will see in the future.   

The Earth provides a microcosm in which we can learn to manage our resources and maximize our quality of life.  We have the option of making life quite miserable for ourselves, or improving it dramatically.  But it’s not the earth we’re saving against some demonic external force.   It’s not short-sighted politicians, or greedy capitalists or intolerant environmentalists that are these demons.  

If anger comes up when you think about the environment, are you aware of who you are really angry with?  Who are you really saving?   

What are you personally doing to improve the quality of life on this planet that does not blame others, but focuses on personal responsibility and action?    


Carnegie Endownment for International Peace
Total world stockpile of nuclear weapons: 5,000 Megatons  

University of Wisconsin – Stout, Department of Physics.
Energy released by meteor that killed the dinosaurs:  5×1024 J (or about the energy equivalent in 80 billion Hiroshima size (12.5 kiloton) bombs   

American Geophysical Union
More on the Chicxulub Impact  

John C. Lahr Consulting
Comparison of earthquake energy to nuclear explosion energy.J.C. Lahr, Revised 8/28/00   

Making Decisions

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 Leave a comment

My stepdaughter sometimes comes to me with a question: should she choose this DVD to watch, or this other one?  Should she eat a chocolate chip cookie or ice cream?  Usually what I do is flip a coin after she chooses heads or tails.  When it lands, I ask her how she feels about the result: if she likes it, then go for that; if she doesn’t like how the coin has landed, then I encourage her to do the opposite.  A simple intuitive tool.

A more sophisicated decision-making tool that integrates the logic than many of us (like me) like so much, with intuition, is the Decision Matrix.  It works like this:

  • on a squared piece of paper (or a spreadsheet), list the options in columns across the top
  • on the rows below, and off to the left, list the different parameters and factors that might affect  your decision
  • weight each of these factors with an aribrary relative number
  • score each of the parameters for each of the options, then multiple each by the weight
  • add the totals

Look at the example below, a new vehicle buying decision.  Factors are colour, price, fuel efficiency, etc. etc., which I’ve weighted.  Four options are considered: Honda, Chev, Smart Car, and motorbike.  I’ve weighted price as 20, colour not nearly as important at 5, etc.  Then for each of these considerations rated each vehicle.  So far this is a purely logical tool, right?  This is where the fun comes in.  After the first time you fill in the numbers, note how you feel about the result.  See where you are increasing weightings or adjust ratings to bias towards a certain choice.  That bias may reflect what you really want.  After this pass for example, I might be tempted to greatly increase the weighting for fuel efficiency.  So the Chev Malibu may not be my final choice.

You can download an Excel spreadsheet to help you with this.  The spreadsheet include a blank work area, the example above, and a pretty graph of the result you can show your mother.  The default print will show your numbers and the graph.

Categories: Business, Learning

Some cool stuff from Sebby …

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 1 comment

Sebby (Sebastien St. Laurent) has taken a break from the ACES for a couple of months to re-group.  His honest post about his personal journey is refreshingly frank.  Thanks, Sebby!

Categories: Healing, Learning

The Secrets

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006 6 comments

Yes, there’s more than one. 

Recently I’ve reconnected to variations on what some call the Law of Attraction, as espoused in the book and movie, “The Secret” and Lynn Grabhorn’s, “Excuse Me … Your Life is Waiting,” and many other writings in what many would call a New Age philosophy.   In summary the theory is that we attract what we feel and think: if we feel abundant and healthy, we attract abundance and good health; if we feel the world is unjust and we are sick, we will attract unjustice and illness in our lives, and perceive more of it in the world.  Many years ago, I embraced this concept, and although I appreciated its validity in many ways, I found that for many people, including myself, when unexpected events occured, it was too easy to fall into self-blame and potentially subsequent shame.  I suspect there are a lot of jaded ex-New Agers out there.

However I still believe that we have a lot of control over our what happens in our lives.  For “The Secret” to be more effective, I add a couple of bits and pieces. 

1. Forgive yourself.  Balance the Law of Attraction philosophy with the reality that many (if not most) people’s behaviour is influenced by patterns created in childhood.  These patterns served to protect the child from harm, like not speaking up and telling what they felt as they would be shamed or invalidated if they did that.  That child deserves appreciation and respect for finding strategies to protect themselves.  But those patterns rarely serve us as we grow into adulthood.  Some call them shadows, or familiars.  Whatever the label, when the temptation to blame and shame arises because I believe I am not attracting what I deserve, I can instead go to a place of appreciation and gratitude for those old patterns, then let them (and the shame and blame) go.  And as Grabhorn points out, it’s not about being perfect and thinking pure thoughts all the time.  Just turn them positive.  And once in a while it’s quite fine to decide to feel completely miserable/angry/frustrated.  Go through it, then move on.

2. Ask for help in self-understanding.  For some folks it does have value to understand how these behaviour patterns were created, and so some kind of therapeutic work has value.  Ruling this out and focusing just on the Law of Attraction may create internal turmoil that won’t help flow those positive vibes.  For some, in addition to this better self-understanding, many benefit from going through a grief process to let go of the past.

3. Acknowledge the role of Mystery.  Whether to you that be God, a Higher Power, karma, the Tao of Pooh, or whatever, I believe that there is much that we (certainly I) don’t understand about life.  However the more I trust the process, the more I trust that if I think, feel and behave positively (regardless of apparent outcome), the more positive I become, and the more likely that events will flow as I would like.  The reason the Law of Attraction works may be that if I feel good about my myself, and behave and feel that way, people may pick that up just from communication queues (tone of voice, body language) and want to work/be/play with me.  It doesn’t really matter how it works. 

4. In that same line of thought: discard the pieces that don’t work for you.  For example all of the Law of Attraction descriptions I’ve seen explain the theory in terms of “magnetism” and “vibration”, stating that the “law of the universe” is that like attracts like.  Well, it ain’t.  In magnetism, opposites attract.  Electricity flows from positive to negative.  So I just put aside all this explanation as well-meant and unnecessary justification.  Because some of the theory is (to me) contrived mumbo-jumbo doesn’t mean there isn’t validity in the essential message.  If you don’t believe (as I don’t) we are to all ascend in 2012 with the guidance of the Pleiadians, then put that bit aside.

5. Complement this philosophy with more traditional methods in whatever way works for you.  For example, on health issues, I think that rejecting Western medicine for a combination of Eastern medicine and positive feelings is throwing out a lot of really good stuff.   Use the Law of Attraction, see your Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and see your doctor.

EDIT: someone dear to me said that the term, “Law of Attraction” can be a turnoff itself to some.  She calls it “manifesting”.

Categories: Healing, Learning

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