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Archive for December 2006

RAC Winter Contest

December 31, 2006 @ 13:17 By: gordon Category: Amateur radio

The 2006 RAC Winter Contest ran from 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC December 30, 2006. I headed out to the parking lot at the south end of the Champlain Bridge and “played radio” for several hours.  Most of the time I was there, I was fiddling with my new digital mode interface that allows me to operate RTTY, BPSK and a slew of other digital modes.  Once the battery on my laptop died, I switched to voice and worked 12 stations in just over an hour using my special event callsign, CG3XGD.  These twelve QSOs gave me 500 points for my entry in the single-op, all bands, low power (< =100 W) category.  This is the first time I’ve entered a contest and I have to admit it was a lot of fun.  I heard more Canadian stations in the 70 minutes or so I was contesting than I have since starting on HF after getting back into the hobby last summer.

SMS messages

December 27, 2006 @ 23:39 By: gordon Category: Seen on the 'net

If you’re particularly bored, you might want to check out SMSpeeping.com. I came across it while looking at the widgets you can add to a customized Google page. Basically, people sending SMS messages using programs, rather than an actual cell phone, can have their messages available to the world. The website says that the messages are posted on the site with the permission of the senders, but I wonder how many people really know that the programs are doing this.

Update (31 Dec 2007): I noticed the website is now just a domain squatter so I’ve removed the link.

Merry Christmas! (Now with Gravatars)

December 25, 2006 @ 09:19 By: gordon Category: General

christmas_tree.pngMerry Christmas everybody! May you have a safe and happy Christmas where ever you may be!

(Oh, and I’ve added Gravatars to my blog. If you’re registered with Gravatar.com (who currently seem to be re-jigging their website), your gravatar image will be displayed on my blog if you post a comment. I still have a minor formatting issue to work out so that the comment numbers aren’t superimposed on the gravatar images, but that should be fairly simple to fix.)

A formal apology

December 24, 2006 @ 15:26 By: gordon Category: General, Seen on the 'net

On behalf of Canadians everywhere, I would like to apologize for this atrocity.

We’re really really sorry.

What kind of American do you sound like?

December 16, 2006 @ 10:49 By: gordon Category: General, Seen on the 'net

american_accent.png

What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

So now what?

December 14, 2006 @ 20:05 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

Today, Ottawa City Council voted 13:11 to scrap both the original and modified light rail transit plans. Instead, Ottawa can look forward to claims by the consortium that was going to build the new O-Train of between $250 million and $300 million. And that’s on top of $65 million that was spent developing the plan. (For the record, I had absolutely no problems with the money spent on developing the plan when it was going to come to fruition.)

Great.

So, Ottawa remains the only city of the five largest cities in Canada that doesn’t have some form of rail transit. To meet the short-term transit demands, more buses are going to have to be pressed into service on roads that are already at, near or even over capacity. More buses means more road congestion which means more vehicles idling, resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions. More vehicles on the road means more wear-and-tear on the roads, so expect more cracks and potholes.

And you cannot convince me that this wasn’t very orchestrated quite some time in advance by our mayor and his cronies. This outcome is great because Larry can blame two other levels of government for the failure of the LRT plan, which he opposed in the first place, even though the whole situation was brought on when he asked his friend, John Baird, to usurp the prerogative of the then City Council and put every thing on hold under after he was elected mayor. When the plan was modified a couple of weeks ago, he did a 180 degree turn and supported the modified plan by breaking a tied vote. Subsequently, both the Province of Ontario and the federal government expressed concerns about the modified plan and indicated they wouldn’t be able to assess the modifications by a critical deadline in the contract. The Province of Ontario sent a letter today confirming that the funding would be provided if the original plan were approved and presumably the federal government would honour its committment similarly.

Instead, we’re looking at possibly more than a quarter of a billion dollars in claims. That combined with Larry’s pledge of 0% increases means that Ottawa’s probably going to be a fairly unpleasant place to live for the next few years. You can already see hints of things to come in the 2007 Budget Directions Report on the agenda of today’s Council meeting:

1. That Council approve the development of a Draft Operating Budget for 2007 for all tax-supported services (excluding Ottawa Police Services), that includes:

a. The cost of maintaining current programs at current service levels;
b. The cost of providing provincially mandated and cost-shared programs;
c. The costs associated with growth in population or infrastructure that is operated and maintained by the City;
d. The costs of enhanced services as directed by Council through reports and directions received throughout the year;
e. An increase equivalent to 1% of taxation for the contribution to capital used to fund the strategic initiatives category of capital;
f. An increase to user fees at either the percentage increase in the cost of providing the program or service, or as directed through Council-approved policy;
g. A reasonable estimate of assessment growth from new properties added to the tax base;
h. Deferring a 2007 increase to the corporate efficiency target to 2008; and
i. No increase in taxation.

2. That the difference between the expenditures and revenues added to the 2007 Draft Operating Budget identified in Recommendation 1, be eliminated through the use of the following strategies:

a. Deferral of service enhancements that have not yet been implemented;
b. Use provincial gas tax revenues to the extent possible to offset increases in the cost of transit;
c. Use debt where possible, instead of contributions to capital, to fund the capital program;
d. Incorporate and pursue the cost-sharing shortfall with the provincial government;
e. Identify and incorporate any other one-time sources of funding;
f. Increase user fees and charges by more than that identified in Direction 1f; and
g. Identify program reductions.

I’ve highlighted a couple of items that caught my eye and confirmed my fears about having Larry O’Brien as mayor. Basically, it seems like we can expect reductions in services and disproportionate increases to user fees. And, we’re going to take on (more) debt.

Thanks a lot, Larry.

Cafepress stuff

December 11, 2006 @ 12:38 By: gordon Category: General, Geocaching

I’ve currently got three items for sale in my CafePress store: an oval bumper sticker, a rectangular bumper sticker and a license plate holder, all with a first-to-find (FTF) geocaching theme and the recognizable four colours. I’ve noticed that the oval stickers seem to be quite popular as three of them have been bought so far and one person has bought a license plate holder.

I’m in the process of designing a coffee mug in the same theme and may add some other custom products, too.

CafePress is a very cool service where you can design custom stuff (t-shirts, stickers, mugs, etc) and make them available for people to buy. You set the price and anything above the base cost of the item is pure profit for you. CafePress handles all the billing, shipping and production, meaning you don’t have to pay any setup fees.