Archive for the ‘Media/Communication’ Category

Hyack floatplane terminal in Victoria sold

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 Leave a comment

Hard to say what this announcement means for the embattled Vancouver terminal, but it looks like a possible competitive service to Harbour Air on the Vancouver-Victoria floatplane route.

Float-plane terminal still up in the air

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 2 comments

Billy Collins: Everyday moments, caught in time

Monday, March 26th, 2012 Leave a comment

Humanizing Data

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 Leave a comment

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

What (not) to do in an Earthquake

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 Leave a comment

In this post I outlined sources of information to use for guidance in preparing for, and responding to, an earthquake.   It appears that some misguided information is also finding its way around the internet once again: the Triangle of Life promoted by Doug Copp.   It may apply in some third world countries, but guidance in North America still says to drop, cover and hold on.  Follow these links to learn more:

The problem here is not Doug Copp, it’s folks who do not take the time to verify the validity of information.  Google makes this easy now, and a simple search will quickly give you guidance as to whether the information is credible.  So the rule is: don’t pass on any advice on any life/safety issue unless you’ve verified it with a couple of credible websites, or it comes directly from someone who you know personally is an expert.

As an aside, I was surprised to see people standing around or running out of buildings in videos of the recent Japanese earthquake.  That’s the wrong thing to do, and in any case don’t think you’ll have that much mobility.   The earthquake was well offshore and the ground shaking in Tokyo (where much of the video was from) was much LESS than we might experience.  You may not be able to walk or even stand.  Most injuries occur (according to the American Red Cross statement above) when people try to run out of a building: stepping on broken glass, being thrown about or falling down stairs.

This article shows that Tokyo was subject to ground accelerations peaking at 0.16 g (VII on the USGS scale).    To put this in perspective severe ground shaking (X+) was recorded of up to 2.7g in Miyagi prefecture, more than 15 times higher.  A human would be thrown about like a ragdoll at such accelerations.  Unless they had dropped, covered and held on.  Tight.

OS 6 on Blackberry 9700 (Bold)

Sunday, March 27th, 2011 1 comment

This month OS 6 became available for the Bold for Rogers customers. Some thoughts:

  • Upgrade was painless, with prompt for backup and mostly seamless app migration
  • Browser is much improved, but still has fundamental flaws: many pages are “too big” to load; still no Flash support; page zoom is nifty but frequently doesn’t work (I/O keys or context menu)
  • Performance is sometimes sluggish
  • Universal search rocks.  Well, kind of: it only searches names and numbers in contacts, OS5 searched through the entire contact record.
  • Calendar daily display is a disaster, showing only a tiny fraction of the day
  • Still no support for Skype
  • User interface is cool, but more complex
  • YouTube videos are vastly better quality, but jerky
  • Memory is an issue, I’ve had warnings that memory is low and tabs need to be closed. I don’t have very many apps.

There are far more thorough reviews out there, but this is what stuck out for me. For the user satisfied with their phone, using it for simple tasks, this upgrade would just be confusing. For others it’s probably worthwhile.

UPDATE: “page too large” to load, and “low on memory” errors are frequent enough to make this a questionable upgrade.

UPDATE #2: known issue: volume and next/last song function buttons are disabled when the device is in the holster.  :(

UPDATE #3: I think it was too much to ask to squeeze OS6 on to the slower processor and microscopic memory of the 9700. Unless you need to be cool, and don’t mind random waits and out of memory errors give this a miss. Too much time is spent waiting for the spinning hand of nothingness. If you want more than OS5 offers, you’re better off with a 9800, or wait for OS7 on RIM’s next behind-the-curve BB, the 9900.

Cables anyone?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 Leave a comment

I don’t have an issue with retailers making profit where they can, especially with the current economic state.  But I also like to save money.  If you have audio/video/computer cable needs in Canada I highly recommend CableSalesCanada.  From my experience in offshore manufacturing I know that cables often cost less than $1 to make, and ever since the introduction of “monster cables,” sellers figured out that consumers will pay huge markups on cables, with no commensurate increase in quality.

A good quality HDMI 1.3b 1m cable sells for $9.50 at CableSalesCanada, plus shipping and tax.  The equivalent starts at $30 at FutureShop and you can pay absolutely silly prices for HDMI monster cables claiming superior video and audio.  I would challenge any viewer/listener to tell the difference.  HDMI is a digital signal, and as long as the integrity of the signal is maintained, the cable will make no difference.

Not that all substitute cables are good, some of the cheaper cables Sears sells have poor connectors that easily fatigue and fail.

For $110 including tax and shipping, I bought 15m (DVI to HDMI), 3m and 2m (HDMI) cables and got a lovely pen and mousepad (ok that’s not much of an incentive, I know!).  Arrived in just a few days.

Other countries I’m sure have equivalent suppliers, I can’t recommend from personal experience.

Homehunting continues

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 1 comment

So I’ve been hunting in earnest for about a month, and I’ve looked at perhaps 25 properties.  Mostly condos, but a few townhouses and one duplex.  I found three or four places I really liked, but all had some sort of showstopper.  Prices are dropping slowly on condos over the past 6-8 months, not so slowly on townhouses.  What is changing dramatically is the number of properties sold.  Filtering out the market-speak of the Victoria Real Estate Board and looking at the hard data, the ratio of properties sold to properties listed is falling dramatically: from 27.9% in May 2007, 21.4% in October 2007, 19.9% in April 2008, to 6.8% in October 2007.  So the pressure on sellers must be intense, and I’d expect to see prices start to drop more.  Sales of very expensive properties (over $1m) are even slower, only 7 selling out of 176 on the market in October, or 4%.

It’s a bit tough to judge by the stats month to month, as different types of properties are sold each month (condos for example can vary dramatically in quality and price), so I track a 6-month moving average to give better guidance.  The most expensive 2-bedroom condo now available is asking $1,250,000, while the least expensive is $149,000.  If a few of the 39 condos priced at over $1m sell, the numbers can be quite biased.  With the smoothing of the 6-month average applied, the average condo in the City of Victoria has dropped from $339k in March to $293k in October, a drop of 13.6%.  Prices in other areas of Greater Victoria have behaved differently, but I didn’t track them.

In Vancouver, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has a much more factual summary without the mushy verbage of the VREB (they say “drop” not “soften”), and they use benchmark properties to measure true price variations.  I can’t find where they provide the excellent detail that Victoria does though.

Overall I’m eager to get out of my tiny (540 sq ft, 50m2) rental apartment, but I do like the short walk to work and it’s an odd time to invest in real estate.  Predictions vary of course on what will happen in Victoria.  It must be tough on the agents right now though, with reputedly 1,366 of them in the area, there were only 316 sales in October.

All stats quoted here are publicly available.  As a buyer, my realtor gives me access to more detail on property listings in my scope of interest, and I can see how much people are selling for vs. asking price, and what properties are selling or not.  I can’t comment on those stats.

Back into the fire

Sunday, June 11th, 2006 Leave a comment

I liked that video I noted a few days ago so much I decided I wanted to buy it.  So I bravely went back into the nightmare that is iTunes.  I had a very difficult time getting it to work (it would abort after being invoked), but after Googling some solutions (the Apple site provides too many hits, and is not very useful), I got it up and running.  I downloaded the video, but it had no audio.  I checked other videos I had on disk, and some had audio and some didn't, so it seemed like it might be something peculiar to the format.

Throwing caution to the wind, I emailed the secret email address ( that is buried so deeply in the iTunes support site.  They responded quite quickly with a useful suggestion.  But when that didn't work and I emailed back, I once again got the electronic third finger, "The iTunes Store team answers questions via email about billing, customer accounts, downloading items, and the selections available on the iTunes Store," followed by the usual unhelpful links.

So tomorrow I will try the AppleCare 800 number again.  Last time the fellow was very sympathetic, if unable to help.  We shall what happens this time.

And I recognize that I'm creating a large part of this problem myself: there is competition out there for song/video downloads and I'm not taking the time to look at folks that may actually support their product.

Selling and stats

Thursday, March 9th, 2006 Leave a comment

Tom Peters has kindly provided thoughts on selling in a downloadable PDF. Highly recommended. And here’s some fascinating stats on the music industry as it struggles to adapt to new distribution channels and methods.


Wednesday, March 8th, 2006 Leave a comment

The government of British Columbia recently sold some old surplus computer tapes, unfortunately without erasing them first.  So a lot of private data on citizens was still on the tapes.  Read here one of the reports on this.  This is quite the screw-up, but I also was amazed that the press apparently chose to examine the tapes in detail, and publish confidential information, although they didn’t reveal names.  I responded to the media chain with the following letter:

It is disturbing that the Provincial Government does not have in place safeguards to ensure that personal information is kept confidential.  I hope this breach will be fixed immediately so it cannot occur again, and the individuals responsible are held accountable.

And there appears to be a further violation: a lack of respect and integrity shown by CanWest, and possibly the tape buyer.  Someone has gone through this private information in detail.  Worse, reporters are choosing to write about (and editors choosing to print) confidential information protected under the Personal Information and Privacy Act.  CanWest publications have said, “Due to the sensitive nature of the information, [this paper] will not identify any people named in the files on the tapes,” as if this is a statement of integrity.  I think not.

Some questions arise: Have copies been made of this information?  How many people are looking at it?  Did the buyer get paid by CanWest for data he didn’t own?  (He bought the media from the government, not the data.)

I understand that the buyer wanted to ensure the government was held accountable; hopefully that was the motivation for sending the information to a third party.  However this could have been done by contacting the police, a lawyer or the privacy commissioner, without examining the information in detail.

I believe the hidden story here is the potentially illegal use of private information shown by the press, and I hope Mr. Loukidelis’s office will be thoroughly investigating this as well.

Marketing fun

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006 Leave a comment

This creative video pokes fun at what would happen if Microsoft designed the iPod packaging. I’m an MS fan in many ways, but this is creative criticism at its best.


Monday, February 20th, 2006 Leave a comment

I was saddened to see a comedian on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network ridicule white people wanting to take part in First Nation ceremonies, labelling them as “wannabees” who wished they had a native heritage.

I was saddened for two reasons.

1. Racial slurs are seen as ok by some, when directed at white people.  To me this reflects an unfortunate discrimination.

2. I was saddened that it bothered me.  Perhaps it was the sincerity of the sarcasm that I sensed from the speaker, but I’d prefer that I could take it as humour and take or leave it on that merit.

I was blessed to be taught once upon a time by a First Nations elder that he believed the Creator intended that white and red and black and yellow and all cultures take the best from each other.  I believe that pride in ancestory, when it assumes or implies a superiority over others, is divisive and unconstructive.  DNA testing has shown we are all something like 99.95% identical, and perhaps all our ancestors are in common as little as 20-40,000 years ago. 

We are all related.


Sunday, February 12th, 2006 1 comment

There are times in my life when I’ve gone for years at a time without picking up a newspaper or watching TV news.  I’ve found it refreshing, and kind of fun to catch up a bit when I connect again.  The last few years I’ve been watching the news, reading the paper, etc., and can only conclude that it’s morbid fascination that brings me back.  This latest phase of news-watching started after 9/11 and I feel no wiser for most of what I’ve read or heard.  I do often feel angry at what I hear, which reflects my frustration at feeling challenged in my belief that as a society we are improving and progressing.  And subscribing to specific newsfeeds, be they technical or focused on other areas of interest, can bring me the info I really want.  Watching historical documentaries, given the passage of enough time, is cool.  That time seems to allow for perspective and something possibly closer to reality.

IMHO, what we see and read is heavily filtered, not by some great conspiracy, but by the natural biases and limited perspective that any reporter will have in real-time reporting.  When I’ve personally experienced politics or business or native community or whatever, the conclusions I reached were vastly different than those of the media, and what I’d read or seen on TV was of little relevance.  So I think media watching is of more value as entertainment, or as fodder for conversation than of true understanding.

It seems like I’m telling myself it’s time to turn it off again.  Time to chill.


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