19 December 2012

Sardines in a Tin Can

Air Canada announced that their new discount carrier, Rouge, will start in July 2013.  Big whoo, I thought, until I came across this bit in the article:

Rouge will also try to keep costs low by squeezing up to 20 per cent more seats into its planes. "The configuration on both the 767 and the A319 will be more dense than what we have at mainline Air Canada," Smith said.
What's that... more seats!? Is it standing room only?

Now, I haven't flown via Air Canada for a long time, for reasons I won't get into here, but the last time I remember the seating being more than somewhat scrunchy.  I shudder how to think they plan on stuffing 20% more passengers/seats on international flights to Europe and the Caribbean.

Printer Problems Solved?

My printer (Brother HL-5370DW) has been giving me headaches for the past year.  I thought the issue had been solved (see previous post), but inevitably it was only temporary, and the printer would without fail return to being 'offline'.  Ugh.

I think, now, though, I finally managed to discover the root of the problem, and hopefully (knock on wood), my printer will be headache free.  This post is primarily to put in one place the information I used so that should this irritating printer failure occur again I won't have to waste my time searching the internet once more.

Anywhoo,  I think the issue is that my computer was giving the printer a new IP address with every boot-up.  Why it started doing this a year ago when previously it hadn't still remains a mystery.  I blame a Windows update somewhere along the line.

  1. Press "Go" button on printer 3 times within 2 seconds to print "printer settings".  Check for IP address and "Boot Method" status.
  2.  If "Boot Method" status is "Auto", it needs to be changed to "Static".  To change Boot Method on Windows 7:  go to Control Panel -> Network and Internet --> View network computers and devices under Network and Sharing Center.  Right click on printer --> click 'view device webpage'.  Browser window should open, just like when accessing router settings.  Click on Network Configuration on webpage --> Configure TCP/IP under Wired (the printer is connected by network cable) --> change Boot Method to 'Static' --> click 'Submit' and exit.
  3. Next, go to Devices and Printers in Windows 7 --> right click on printer --> Printer properties --> Ports --> Add Port --> choose 'Standard TCP/IP Port' and then click New Port --> Wizard will pop up, click 'next' --> and under 'Printer name or IP address' type in the IP address of printer found in printer settings (see step 1) --> click 'next' then 'finish'.
  4. Confirm new port created by making sure the new port is listed under Ports, and check off the box next to it.  Choose this new port and click Configure Port --> make sure under 'Protocol' that the 'RAW' radio button is chosen.  Everything else should be default, eg. SNMP status is 'enabled' (Community name = 'public'; SNMP device index ='1').  Click 'OK'.
Whew.  All done.  Verify printer works, and uninstall old  printer.  Put hands together, close eyes, and, were I the praying sort, pray I never have to do this again.

Oh yeah.  Print out whatever I need to print before restarting computer.  Just in case.

24 November 2012

Breaking Bookstore Etiquette?

While browsing at a local bookstore, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a book scheduled for release in a couple days (according to multiple online stores) was already on the shelf.  I promptly grabbed a pristine copy and went to the check-out.  After the customary greetings, I asked:

"Are prices here the same as on your website?"

The obvious disappointment and sheer... depression (?) in response to my query made me pause.

"No.  Not necessarily."

I smiled in thanks and returned the book to the shelf, but wow... awkward.  Their reaction made we wonder if I'd committed a social faux pas of some sort. 

Sure, I suppose online book sales cut in to bookstore sales/margins, but this was their own company's website.  Heck, I just went online, ordered the book, and am having it delivered to that very same store for free shipping... oops.

I hope they don't recognize me when I pick it up.  

18 November 2012

On this Day: Twenty Minutes on the Road

Miscellaneous observations during 15-20 minutes on the road in the Land of Tim Hortons:
  1. A compact cutting in front of public bus.  Putting aside the risk to everyone on the bus, that's what... 1 800 kg versus 15 000 kg, or thereabouts?
  2. Automobile on left lane traveling 40 kph in 50 kph zone, and still moseying through a red light.  Heck, even cars traveling ahead of this one easily stopped for the light.
  3. Multiple drivers using one hand to talk on their mobiles.

14 November 2012

LG Nexus 4 and Google Play Store

My current mobile (HTC S620 Excalibur) is a little over six years old, and has served its purpose satisfactorily.  Unfortunately, some of the buttons on the key pad are getting sticky, and the battery is losing its charge.  As a consequence, I've been looking around for a new smart phone. I've actually been looking around for a long while now, but any mobiles that both caught my interest and met my criteria were way too expensive with no contract.

Anywhoo,  although I'm by no means an 'early adopter' of new gadgets and technologies, when the LG Nexus 4 was announced, its price point and early previews were such that I fairly quickly decided this would be my next mobile and that I'd purchase one as soon as it was released.  Which brings me to today's irritation with Google and Google Play on-line store.

Irritation #1:  Google didn't announce what time on the 13th November the Nexus 4 would be available for sale.  Midnight?  Nine am? PST or EST? This lack of information told me Google doesn't think my time is valuable, and they couldn't care less if they waste it.

Irritation #2:  Either Google is incompetent at selling physical items and running on-line stores, or Google purposely 'under-stocked' the Nexus 4 so they could generate 'sold-out in 20 minutes' headlines and drive up demand.  I find it difficult to think Google incompetent.  Though Irritation #3 may suggest otherwise....

Irritation #3:  The fact that I managed to get past the 'input credit card information/billing-shipping address stage' of checkout, on three different occasions, only each time to end up with an error message and the purchase failing to complete, was extremely aggravating.  I can understand a site slowing down and such due to high traffic (though I thought Google would have been better prepared), but once the item is in the shopping cart, and you've entered all the information requested, and then you get an error!?  Frustrating.

Irritation #4:  Despite providing my e-mail address to be notified when the Nexus 4 was available, to date I never received any such e-mail.  What was the point of signing up?  Maybe they used the number of people who signed up as a way to gauge demand... but apparently not (see #2).  On the other-hand, from my point-of-view, as the Nexus 4 was never truly available, perhaps I should have waited for a notification e-mail and, if I had, I wouldn't have wasted my time.  So... shame on me?

Irritation #5:  This last is not really Google's fault, but I had to mention it here.  The fact that while the Nexus 4 was sold-out on the Play Store, units were quickly being advertised on-line (at a significant mark-up) on sites like E-bay -- this bothered me.  I don't begrudge anyone trying to make a quick profit legally.  If someone is willing to pay those inflated prices more power to them.  I just hope that in turn no one begrudges the fact that I sincerely hope the number of people who are willing to pay inflated prices (instead of waiting for Google to re-stock, or moving on to a different mobile) are few and far between.

Whew.  This post turned out longer than I thought it would be.  So... what now?  For myself it's now a simple matter of waiting to see which occurs first:  whether Google can make available for purchase (by me!) a Nexus 4, or another mobile is released that meets my criteria and price.

27 October 2012

Filling Up with Gas

As in gasoline.  For automobiles, not what happens when someone eats too many beans, or gorges on probiotic foods without first working up to it.

Anywhoo, I may have posted before when I was still south of the 49th parallel that I avoided certain gas stations because of issues with filling up.  Even though the tank was still empty the lever on the gas handle would click repeatedly, making it take forever to fill up, and making it uncertain whether the tank was actually full until I started up the engine.

After moving to the Land of Tim Hortons, I go to a specific gas station that worked great ie. the lever only clicked once and only when the tank was full.  Until this morning, that is.  The R's tank (62.0 L) was almost empty, though the warning light hadn't come on.  What happened?  Well it clicked at 33 L.  Eh?  While that in itself wouldn't have been so bad, ignoring the fact that half-full isn't what I consider even close to full, the issue was that the lever never clicked again -- even after gasoline was spilling out and overflowing down the paint.


I wonder if something is wrong with the R's gas level sensor or something? 

15 September 2012

Driving in a Parking Lot

More pet peeves:
  1. Drivers swerving off the lane to avoid a speed bump.  It's one thing when the lot is empty, it's another when there are parked cars and pedestrians (like me) in the vicinity.
  2. On a related note, drivers driving through a parking lot like it's a completely empty field despite clearly marked lines, parked cars, and pedestrians (like me -- can you guess what motivated me to post, today?).
  3. Pedestrians who insist on crossing at high risk locations.  Not just risk for themselves, but for the drivers.  Many, many years ago by my office a pedestrian decided to cross the street at one of the stupidest locations, at the stupidest time, and in a stupid fashion.  Luckily, he was untouched.  Not so lucky was the driver who was forced to a screeching stop, or the other two vehicles who crashed into him in sequence.  But hey, the pedestrian was fine, so who cares?

23 August 2012

Lance Armstrong Statement

Armstrong's statement over charges
"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart's unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense.
I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA's charade. Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognized the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA's motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.
If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA's process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and — once and for all — put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colours. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?
From the beginning, however, this investigation has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs. I am a retired cyclist, yet USADA has lodged charges over 17 years old despite its own eight-year limitation. As respected organizations such as UCI and USA Cycling have made clear, USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges. The international bodies governing cycling have ordered USADA to stop, have given notice that no one should participate in USADA's improper proceedings, and have made it clear the pronouncements by USADA that it has banned people for life or stripped them of their accomplishments are made without authority. And as many others, including USADA's own arbitrators, have found, there is nothing even remotely fair about its process. USADA has broken the law, turned its back on its own rules, and stiff-armed those who have tried to persuade USADA to honour its obligations. At every turn, USADA has played the role of a bully, threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at U.S. taxpayers' expense. For the last two months, USADA has endlessly repeated the mantra that there should be a single set of rules, applicable to all, but they have arrogantly refused to practice what they preach. On top of all that, USADA has allegedly made deals with other riders that circumvent their own rules as long as they said I cheated. Many of those riders continue to race today.
The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced. The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It's an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It's just not right.
USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart.
Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my Foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly $500 million. We have a lot of work to do and I'm looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause. I will not stop fighting for that mission. Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year-old on the planet."
Would it be naive of me if I said I believe Armstrong is innocent of the USADA drug allegations?  Most people, myself included, paying attention to this story have probably already decided for themselves whether Armstrong is innocent or guilty of the allegations, regardless of the outcome of any USADA arbitration hearing, now moot, of course.  Why is that?  In my case, beyond the plethora of passed drug tests, it's because I lack faith in any altruistic motives behind Mr. Tygart/USADA's actions.  Am I just being influenced by good Armstrong PR?  Perhaps.  It doesn't matter.  I want Armstrong to be innocent.  So there you go.  Until Armstrong indisputably fails an official drug test, I'll be hanging on to my naivete for a while longer.

18 August 2012

Can Being Too Nice Be Dangerous?

It might be counter-intuitive, but recently I came across another example where being too nice might not be such a good thing on the road.  It's ironic, because I'm always annoyed when drivers display a lack of respect or safety for others by failing to signal and such.

There was a car speeding on the curb lane that failed to beat the traffic before reaching some parked cars, and hence came to a stop and turned on his/her signals to merge.  The car directly in front of me, who was leading a line of five vehicles, came to a rapid stop to let the person merge.  I had room to stop, but my first response after hitting the brakes was to glance in my rear-view to see whether the big honking SUV behind me -- with a bumper worryingly much higher than mine -- was paying attention and would stop in time, and the vehicles further down the line.

Anywhoo, everyone stopped in time, but I couldn't help but wonder whether the driver ahead of me, who was just trying to be nice, was perhaps being too nice in this situation.

04 August 2012

Thinking Too Much

The other day I was in the kitchenwares section looking at silicone funnels, trying to remember how well silicone stood up to organic solvents, and mildly annoyed at the absence of any glass funnels.  It must have been at least thirty seconds or so before I remembered I don't have organic solvents in my kitchen.

I need a vacation.

12 May 2012

The Avengers

I went to see The Avengers today.  I stuck with regular old 2D instead of watching it in 3D.  I'm not a big fan of movies in 3D -- truthfully, if local cinemas only offered The Avengers in 3D I would have waited to watch it on BD.

When I first heard they were producing The Avengers I wasn't too keen on the idea.  Why?  Because it's been my experience that as the number of heroes/protagonists and villains increase the quality of the film decreases.  See Spiderman 3, Iron Man 2, Batman Returns....  I have no idea why sequels feel compelled to increase the number of villains.

Anywhoo, I was relieved to find The Avengers maintained a pretty good balance between all the characters.  There was no point in the film where I was thinking, "why are they wasting so much screen time on this character?"

I've only watched Iron Man and Iron Man 2, none of the Hulk movies, Captain America, or Thor, but several times I found myself thinking, instead, "huh, I wouldn't mind learning more about this character."  I'm not saying I'm going to rush out to rent them (problematic ever since Blockbuster went kaput), but I'm definitely more open to the idea of doing so.

I give The Avengers 4 out of 5 stars.  This is a film I'm definitely purchasing on BD.

Aside.  The trailer for the new Spiderman film actually looked interesting.  At least, it made me question my decision to not see it in the cinema.

07 May 2012

Tim Hortons Roll up the Rim to Win

The official odds for this year's Tim Hortons Roll Up The Rim contest was one in six.  Despite a slow start, where I was 0 for 9, by the end it worked out fairly close, at 4 out of 25.  Four wins that included two free doughnuts, one free coffee, and a Tim's card.

Speaking of the Tim's card, it was kind of a hassle.  First of all, naively I thought that I could go down to any Tim Hortons location and claim it immediately since, you know, they offer Tim's cards everywhere and $100 must be a mere drop in the bucket given how busy they always are.

It wasn't quite that easy.  I needed to fill out a claim form (which the Tim Hortons location provided me), mail it to some P.O. Box, and wait for up to 6-8 weeks.  Unfortunately, it didn't even turn out to be that easy.  Six or so weeks later I received a letter stating they had received my claim and requesting I send in another prize claim form. 

Why is that?  Why, it's because the prize claim form provided to me by the Tim Hortons location turned out to be for the 2011 contest, not 2012.  I don't even know why that Tim Hortons location still had year old claim forms laying around.  I wonder how many other unsuspecting prize claimants they foisted those on.

Anywhoo, this time I downloaded the 2012 prize claim form and mailed that off.  Another 6-8 weeks later I finally received the Tim's card.   I guess I'm just relieved they didn't disqualify my claim completely, but even more importantly, despite being out of pocket $20 for sending two registered letters, I still came out ahead by $80.

05 May 2012

Star Trek Humour

Earlier this week I read a pretty funny Star Trek joke.  I don't know how long it's been around, but it was the first time I'd heard it.  It was in an article in Car & Driver or Motortrend, can't remember which.  It went something like this:

"[...] as sure as Captain Kirk has three ears, the left ear, the right ear, and the final front ear."

20 April 2012

Lazy Language

I decided to take the time to describe two more examples of what I consider to be very lazy and misguided use of language. A couple years ago I uploaded a post of a similar vein regarding a cbc.ca story I'd read. This time around, the examples happen to relate to NHL and NHL playoff reporting/commentary.

In what I can only attribute to a misguided and inane attempt to be (tragically) "hip", I've noticed several NHL commentators in both television and radio refer to the city of Vancouver as "Van", as in "the Kings next take on the Canucks in Van". Is it simply a matter of too many syllables, is three too much? Do they then refer to Winnipeg as "Win", Buffalo as "Buff", Montreal as "Mon", Ottawa as "Ott", Toronto as "Tor", Washington DC as "Wash", Winnipeg as "Win", Edmonton as "Ed", Anaheim as "An", and Los Angeles as "Los"? If that's the case then I wonder how they would bastardize Philadelphia with five syllables (apologies if I've left any surfeit-syllable cities out).

I don't want to single anyone out (though I will) because I've heard several reporters (both from Vancouver and not) abbreviate Vancouver in this fashion, but the most recent reporter (and the one that finally tipped the bucket, so to speak, and provided the motivation for this post) was James Duthie on TSN, on a live national broadcast of the NHL playoffs.  Say it ain't so!

The last example for this post is regarding a link on CNN.com, titled "Brodeur blanks Cats, sets record", linking to this story.  Now, abbreviating team names ('Nucks', 'Wings', 'Sens', "Hawks' for example) is nothing new, but this is just going too far.  Brodeur plays for the New Jersey Devils, who are currently in a series versus the Florida Panthers, not the Florida Cats.

Update (25APR2012):  Ugh. Now cbcsports is calling the Florida Panthers, "Cats".

18 February 2012

Honking as an Excuse

My first post of 2012 and turns out it's another rant.  Oh well.

My apartment building has multilevel underground parking, which is good; each and every corner, however, is a blind corner, which is bad.  When I first moved in I noticed some residents would honk as they approached a corner, which is good... in theory.  Why only in theory?  Two reasons, one perhaps slightly facetious, the second more dangerous. 

What happens if you're leaving and you hear someone honk?  What do you do, honk back?  Do you both stop, honking one after the other while you each try to figure out which direction the other is going, what level they're on?  Shave-and-a-haircut... two-bits

More seriously, though, is that too many use honking as license to drive too quickly in the underground parking.  Just because you honk doesn't mean you can blithely cruise around two successive blind corners at 30+ km/h. 

Fortunately, management has now placed convex mirrors on each and every corner, which is good, meaning that in practice there are no more blind corners.    The bad?  Some drivers are still honking (look at the mirrors, already!) and speeding like if they don't gain a minute on their day they'll lose a million bucks.