Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Could it happen here?

Saturday, March 26th, 2011 Comments off

Coastal British Columbia is in an active earthquake zone, and recent events have raised awareness of the risks.  Although in Victoria and Vancouver we are largely protected from Pacific Ocean tsunamis, a damaging tsunami from a near-shore earthquake may occur, and it’s worth restating that your best protection is to be prepared and know how to respond.  In BC, the organization ultimately responsible for your safety is your Local Authority (municipality, district or First Nation) so contact them with any questions, and lots of useful information can be found at the Provincial Emergency Program site, with particular attention to their Earthquake Preparedness and Tsunami Preparedness documents.


What to do with the dangly bits?

Saturday, November 7th, 2009 Comments off

If you’re like me, you have lots of USB devices, but a few of them are rarely plugged in (iPod/Blackberry/Digital Camera/programmable TV remote control).  What do you do with the dangly bits when you’re not using them?

Here’s the solution my friend Mike Ray came up with for me.  Note that I didn’t want to damage my new pine desk, so the only screw holes are on the underside, and not visible.  We used a jig on a blank piece of wood with screws shrouded in concrete anchors to use as reference to wind the coat hanger around. 

Twist just the right way and the cord can be removed completely from the wire.

Note also that sometimes I disconnect my headphones, so I have a gap in the audio path that I can use to do this.  I disconnect when I’m driving my audio system in the living room from the computer.

If we were to do it again, we’d mount the wire lower so that the bits weren’t visible over the edge when not used.  As it is one or two stick up.

USB Cord Management1

USB Cord Management2

USB Cord Management3

Categories: Home, Technical

A great little program for home layout …

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009 2 comments

If your home space planning needs are simple, and you don’t need the complexity of the Punch line of home design software, Sweet Home 3D is a great free option, as I noted in my July 6 post.  Be sure to download the additional 3d model libraries, and even with them your choices will be limited, and very Euro-focused (check out the bizarre fireplace).  However, I still found the models quite usable as placeholders.  Includes plan view, as well as 3D walkthrough and the ability to print PDFs, if you don’t already have a PDF writerHere’s my layout.

And I have got some more furniture.  Had a very sorry experience with Sears catalog shopping (30 errors in the fulfillment process, dealing with 19 representatives, in the end they shortchanged me on the refund), eventually cancelled the order and got what I wanted from The Brick (zero failures, talked to 3 people in the order fulfillment process).


Monday, July 6th, 2009 1 comment

Apparently our brains release a chemical over time that softens and romanticizes memories.  I guess that’s why I’ve moved home a few times in my life!  What a shenanigan. MiniMove (moving company) was a mess arriving 4 hours late (everyone I talked to there said, “not my fault” and I was told the “complaints department” would call me back, which they never did), and Telus took 3 days to get the landline working.  Overall though, with the help of friends, the move went well and I’m happy in my new home in the Fairfield area of Victoria.  I moved on June 29th, and I’m almost unpacked: what’s left to take out of boxes will have to wait until I buy more furniture to hold it.

I’m 20 minutes walk from work, 10 minutes from Beacon Hill Park and about 10 minutes from the ocean.  Paradise.  It took 6 months of searching, but it was worth it. 

I’m having fun with a free 3d home layout program experimenting with placing furniture.  It’s very usable as long as you’re ok with the models not quite matching North American furniture styles.  Be sure to go to the download page and download the installer, the Java launch is flaky.

Categories: Home, Victoria

A new home

Friday, May 1st, 2009 2 comments

So after my adventure looking for a condo, I finally bought one.  It was a tale straight out of one of those TV reality shows, with multiple bids at the last minute, calls back and forth, changing documents, scanning and emailing.

This week was full of the dance of paperwork: inspection, appraisal, financing.  Even though my financing was pre-approved there was still a shenanigan as the lender wanted a lot of documentation. 

And oddly enough I paid almost to the dollar what the assessment came in at.  This after paying $21k over list, and having to pay my realtor a few as the seller was using a low-cost realtor and I had to pay the difference.  The selling realtor was quite clever: listing below market value to attract multiple bids.  In fact my bid was accepted just 53 hours after the property came on the market.

So I’m looking forward to moving in at the end of June.

Categories: Home, Victoria


Saturday, December 6th, 2008 3 comments

 OK, with the latest Victoria real estate report out at the Victoria Real Estate Board, I’ll make some guesses as to what will happen next with home prices here.  And thanks to Tony Joe for a straightforward report this month.  (Note that Tony’s reports aren’t archived, so beyond January 1, 2009, you won’t see November’s report anymore.)

Guess #1 – the very low sales/listings ratio, now at 6% (down from a peaks of 46% in March 2005, and nearly 28% in May 2007), will drop a bit in December due to seasonal lethargy, but will not go much lower, if at all, in the new year.  Here’s how it has behaved over the last couple of years.

Victoria, BC - Sales/Listings Ratio - 2006-2008

Guess #2 – Home prices will continue to fall, but the actual amount won’t be clear.  Although the average sale of single family homes fell by 7% and condos fell 15%, this could be skewed by groups of sales at higher or lower value.  Victoria doesn’t compare the price of equivalent properties month to month.  Witness townhomes, where the average rose 15% from October to November, but apparently that was skewed by 2 high value properties amongst a small number of sales.  Here’s the trend (thousands of dollars) in the six month moving average on condo prices in Victoria.  Without the smoothing, the drop from March to November is close to 22%.  Percentage change is relative to March.

  Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
Average Price 339 328 324 320 306 303 295 293 284
Change in price 0.0% -3.2% -4.4% -5.6% -9.7% -10.6% -13.0% -13.6% -16.2%

Guess#3 – the economy itself will take a couple of years to transform, and will not stabilize for that time, although it may appear to for short periods.  When it does stabilize, the “rules” may be different and/or more variable than they we thought they were now.

Update: per the comment below, Roger points out that he posts statistics on his photoshare site.

Categories: Business, Home, Victoria