17 December 2007

Bad precedent

What the -- ?! I *really* hope I'm not the only one worried by the fact that Canada's Conservative government has overruled and essentially ignored the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission:
An Ontario nuclear reactor resumed operations Sunday and new supplies of medical isotopes will be ready for distribution within days to ease a worldwide shortage, the Atomic Energy of Canada says.

The Crown corporation said its National Research Universal reactor in Chalk River started up at 3:44 a.m. ET Sunday, a few days after Parliament pushed through legislation to get it back online as soon as possible.

The facility was originally shut down for a week of maintenance on Nov. 18, but the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission refused to allow it to resume production until a host of safety issues were resolved.

However, the Chalk River facility produces about two-thirds of the world's supply of radioisotopes — nuclear material essential for medical imaging and diagnostic scans for fractures, cancers and heart conditions.

The shutdown created a global shortage of radioisotopes, which can't be stockpiled because they have a short shelf life [...]

The Conservative government's bill, which was passed by MPs on Tuesday, effectively bypassed the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's order for the reactor to stay closed until the safety concerns were addressed. Late Wednesday, the Senate passed the legislation.

On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had accepted the resignation of Michael Burns, chair of the AECL, and appointed Glenna Carr, a former Ontario senior bureaucrat, to replace him. -- cbc.ca
Bold and italics are mine.

This can't be a good idea....

15 December 2007

Bye bye, Zune

I just came back from returning my Zune 80. Ugh. The return process was easy enough since I still had my receipt. I told the salesman about the buggy software and that I couldn't delete stuff off the Zune, but I forgot to mention that I suspect that was due to the fact the Zune battery could no longer hold a charge. I almost went back to tell him but... it's only a guess. They have techs to figure out that stuff, right? It's not like they'll resell it as a used item without checking it out. They need to clean out all my files, anyway.

Anywhoo, right now I'm not sure what I want to do. Try buying another Zune? Something else? Buy nothing? Aaargh. Decisions, decisions, and I only have 3 days to decide.

13 December 2007

Woot - a disappointing experience

Earlier this month I posted about an online store with great bargains, called Woot where I ordered an Altec Lansing m604 Zune speaker dock at half the price it was sold for elsewhere.

I ordered it on the 5th December. Woot took my money on the 5th December. Woot sent me an e-mail on 7th December telling me my item had shipped and provided me with a tracking number, estimated delivery on 12th December.

Well, yesterday was the 12th so I phone Fedex. To my surprise Fedex tells me they never received the actual package for shipping!?

Woot has no phone number listed on their website, but ask customers to go to the forums for answers, or contact Woot via e-mail. So I e-mail and then head to the forums, where after going through more posts than I can count I discover that Woot did not actually have enough units in stock to fulfill all of the orders. What the --?

On their website Woot says they do not sell stuff they don't have in stock. So what's up with that? Anywhoo, from what I could gather from the forums, Woot was blaming the delay in shipping due to inclement weather - the additional units they were expecting hadn't yet arrived.

Finally, this afternoon I receive an e-mail from Woot basically confirming what I garnered in the forums, and that my order would be shipping tomorrow or Saturday. But if I need to receive my order before 19th December then I could cancel my order.

Okey dokey, then. I canceled my order.

My major issues with Woot are these:
  1. Woot says they don't sell more than they have in stock. In my case this was clearly false.
  2. Woot took my money despite not having the m604 in stock, and here's the kicker, Woot e-mailed to tell me my non-existent purchase had shipped.
  3. Woot waited 7-days before informing me that there was a delay in shipping.
Anywhoo, I wouldn't be nearly so irritated if Woot had better communication. eg. tell me an item is out of stock and / or backordered before I commit to the purchase and don't charge me until my order is shipped.

To be fair, I admit that if I were home to receive my delivery I would not have canceled my order, but Fedex will only hold a package a maximum of five days.

Overall, an extremely disappointing experience.

10 December 2007

Road games

I spy with my little eye... something that starts with the letter 'F'.


Fun-loving motorist playing vehicular hide and seek in rush-hour traffic by refusing to use headlights in pre-dawn blackness, rain, and for that extra touch of insane fun, fog.

Santa's best location: Kyrgyzstan

I'm all for Christmas efficiency - who wouldn't want to help make Santa's job just a little bit easier? It can't be easy delivering all those toys on time, and it looks like a consulting firm has a spankin' suggestion for Mr. K. Kringle.
Santa Claus should leave the North Pole and relocate to Kyrgyzstan to optimise the delivery of Christmas presents, a Swedish engineering firm says.

The Sweco consulting firm found Kyrgyzstan was the most logical base to avoid time-wasting detours.

It took into account main population centres and the Earth's rotation.

Santa would have 34 microseconds for each chimney stop, and his reindeer would have to travel at nearly 6,000km (3,700 miles) per second.

The company insisted that helping Santa deliver presents to 2.5bn households worldwide was a serious exercise.

"Identifying Santa's optimal Christmas route is not just something we do for fun. Sweco uses the same technique when carrying out assignments on behalf of our clients," a statement on the company's website said.

Sweco revealed the precise location where Santa should live - Latitude, (N) 40.40, Longitude, (E) 74.24.

"Santa Claus' starting point lies 35km (22 miles) north of Kapkatash and 13km (8 miles) north of Camp Snerif, both in Kyrgyzstan," Sweco concludes. -- bbc.co.uk

08 December 2007

Holiday return policies

I recently discovered that Circuit City has a holiday return policy currently in effect. Items purchased from mid-November can be returned up to early or late January 2008, depending on the item.

Hypothetically, I could return my Zune 80, get a refund, and order a Zune 80 Original.

Hmmm... this merits additional thought.

06 December 2007

Microsoft shuts down Santa for talking dirty

SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. quickly shut down Santa Claus' Web privileges after it found out the automated elf it created for instant messaging with kids was talking naughty, not nice.

Last year, Microsoft encouraged kids to connect directly to "Santa" by adding northpolelive.com to their Windows Live Messenger contact lists. The Santa program, which Microsoft reactivated in early December, asks children what they want for Christmas and can respond on topic via instant messaging, thanks to a bit of artificial intelligence.

Microsoft's holiday cheer soured this week when a reader of a United Kingdom-based technology news site, The Register, reported that a chat between Santa and his underage nieces about eating pizza prompted Santa to bring up oral sex.

One of the publication's writers replicated the chat Monday. After declining the writer's repeated invitations to eat pizza, a frustrated Santa burst out with, "You want me to eat what?!? It's fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else."

The exchange ended with the writer and Santa calling each other a "dirty bastard."

Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn said the company's engineers tried to clean up Santa's vocabulary, but even after making changes to the software, the company wasn't comfortable keeping Santa online.

"It's not like if you say, 'Hello Santa,' he's going to throw inappropriate stuff at you," said Sohn. In this case, he said, Santa's lewd comment was sparked by someone "pushing this thing to make it do things it wasn't supposed to do."

Santa is just one of many "agents," or automated IM programs, that computer users can chat with on Live Messenger. Some are useful -- customer service agents, for example -- while others are frivolous, like an alien that responds to IMs with burbling extraterrestrial noises. Sohn said some of the bots are programmed to fend off inappropriate chats from PC users.

"If they're meant to be cheeky and have fun with you, they may repeat certain things back," he said, or respond to certain words with "that's naughty."

Sohn said Microsoft was not aware that the Santa code included the foul language, but that the company did not suspect a prank.

Microsoft disabled Santa Tuesday. By Wednesday, northpolelive.com was marked "online" in one reporter's Messenger contact list, but Santa did not respond to messages. --The Associated Press.

05 December 2007


I’d never heard of Woot.com before this morning, but once I read that they had a one-day "until supplies last" sale for the Altec Lansing m604 I headed over there ASAP. The m604 is a speaker dock for Microsoft Zunes and when it was originally released (a year ago?) it was priced at $200. Currently you can buy one for $100.

Today, Woot is selling the Altec Lansing m604 for $39.99 + $5 shipping! Wow! Once I heard that I did some rapid, intense research into whether my Zune 80 will fit the m604 charging dock. Given that this model was released well before the Zune 80, and given what I remembered from skimming some forum threads, the Zune 80 compatibility issue was hazy.

Zune.net says the m604 is compatible with all Zunes, but some posts say that in fact the Zune 80 does not fit. Anywhoo, to cut a multitude of forums and threads short, the answer is ‘yes’ (knock-on-wood), though I won’t be 100% confident until I try it for myself. Still for $44.99 I’m willing to take the minor risk. If all else fails, I can always sell it on e-bay for a small profit. :o)

From what I gather Woot.com sells only a single product per 24 h, at a reduced price and as supplies last, and sells a different product each day. Woot.com doesn’t pre-advertise what product will be on the block or how many units they have. If an item is sold-out, the next product nevertheless won’t be announced / available until midnight.

I might have to start paying attention. :o)

01 December 2007

Site visitors in November 2007

The top 5 visitors for November 2007 listed by countries were:

1) United States.
2) Canada.
3) Australia.
4) an European country.
5) Great Britain.

Full list for November 2007.

Site visitors in previous months.

Yahoo to put adverts in PDF files

Ugh. I don't know who I'm more annoyed at. Yahoo for putting adverts in PDF files, or Adobe for allowing it. Money grubbing stick- it - to - the - consumer greedy corporate Scrooges, the heck with them.

"Yahoo has reached a deal to start running advertisements in Adobe's popular PDF document-reading format.

The service will allow publishers to make money by including adverts linked to the content of a PDF document in a panel at the side of the page.

It is Yahoo's latest way of expanding the places it can advertise online following deals with the auction site Ebay and the cable TV group Comcast.

The advertisements will not appear if the PDF document is printed.

It is the first time that Adobe has allowed dynamic adverts into its PDF (Portable Document Format) files.

Dynamic adverts can be changed for particular audiences or rotated to make sure that a particular user never sees the same advertisement twice.

PDF files can be created by a range of software and can then be read by people who have a PDF reader, such as Adobe's Reader.

The PDF format has proved popular with both companies and home users, and has been used to produce large reports and shorter newsletters, as well as preparing documents for printers."-- bbc.co.uk