gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for February 2011

Monday morning weather

February 28, 2011 @ 08:23 By: gordon Category: Weather

The Franktown weather radar is quite colourful this morning. This “colour” has led to the cancellation of school buses and snow covered roads, so far, and the prospect of freezing rain and pellets later today, according to the aviation forecast: XFT radar - 20110228 0740

TAF CYOW 281155Z 2812/0112 06012KT 5SM -FZRA -PL BR OVC030 TEMPO
2812/2815 2SM -SNPL OVC020
FM281500 08012KT 1/2SM SN VV004 TEMPO 2815/2821 2SM -SN OVC020
PROB40 2815/2816 3SM -FZRA BR
FM282100 33012G22KT P6SM BKN020
FM282300 31015G25KT P6SM BKN040
FM010300 31015G25KT P6SM SCT040
FM010900 31010KT P6SM SKC

Fun stuff, eh?

Have a safe commute to work this morning!

IMG_3890 The view from my window this morning.

Writer’s block

February 25, 2011 @ 15:52 By: gordon Category: Meta

I’ve got writer’s block. There are things I want to blog about, but I’m finding it hard to write them. And it’s starting to frustrate me.

My blog doesn’t have a particular theme — I write about whatever grabs my attention. There are some themes that have emerged over the years, such as photography, climbing and geocaching, and there have been “current affairs” type posts about things like the transit strike a couple of years ago, but I really can’t point at my blog and say “it’s about x” because it’s not. (At the first Ottawa bloggers’ brunch I went to a couple of years ago someone asked me what my blog was about and I couldn’t really answer the question.)

For much of 2008, I was averaging at least twenty posts a month. At the time, I was still a newly-minted research analyst at work and was trying to get into the habit of writing in preparation for some a research article and a report that I was going to have to write. I hadn’t had to do any significant writing since graduating from university about ten years earlier, so blogging several times a week was a great way to get the creative juices flowing at the time.

Lately, I’ve found it hard to get started, but it’s not for lack of topics or opportunities. Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought of half a dozen things that made me think “that would make a good blog entry”, and recently I was approached to contribute some articles to another blog (actually, that might be the incentive I need), but I seem to have stalled. I suspect a large part of it is because I’ve been the last six months or so working on a survey report at work, which has involved a lot of writing, and I’m getting tired of writing. I’m not sure how real authors handle this — I should ask my cousin about it.

The report I’ve been writing for the last few months is being released in a couple of weeks and then I’m taking a short vacation for some sunshine and saltwater (and golfing) about a week later. Hopefully that will recharge my creative batteries.

Christchurch Person Finder

February 21, 2011 @ 22:46 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, In the news, Seen on the 'net

As you’ve probably heard, there was a fairly significant earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. It hit in the middle of the day, so there were a lot more people out and about. Some buildings have collapsed and some deaths have been reported.

There’s a Google App called Person Finder who are either looking for people in Christchurch or have information about people in Christchurch available at http://christchurch-2011.person-finder.appspot.com.

I hope that anyone you know who is in Christchurch is safe and sound.

Tips and tricks for travelling with your BlackBerry

February 21, 2011 @ 08:30 By: gordon Category: BlackBerry, Travelling

I went to the UK last summer and meant to write about a couple of tips and tricks I learned for travelling with your BlackBerry. Well, better late than never as they say…

If you’re a Canadian with a BlackBerry or some other smartphone, like me, then you are probably painfully aware of how expensive wireless data is in Canada compared to most of the rest of the civilized world. We’ve started to see the cost of wireless data come down in the last year or two, particularly with the arrival of iPhones and Android devices, but it’s still more expensive, generally speaking, that other countries like the US or the UK. Most of the major carriers in Canada offer some sort of international data plans to allow you to use your smartphone outside of Canada without taking out a second mortgage, but they’re still quite expensive and if you should use your phone to call someone, even what would otherwise be a local call where you are travelling, you could be looking at several dollars per minute.

But there are some something you can do to make using your smartphone while travelling a little more affordable. I have a BlackBerry 9700, but some of these tips are probably equally applicable to other devices like iPhones and Android.


More Do Not Call List violations by Ottawa This Week/Metroland Media (613-221-6247)

February 14, 2011 @ 23:54 By: gordon Category: General

It appears that the telephone spammers at Metroland Media are up to their old tricks again. I had an automated call a couple of days ago from 613-221-6247 saying that Metroland Media are looking for carriers to deliver their spam community newspapers.

They first came on to my radar in September when their automated system called me several times saying they were looking for carriers. At the time, I informed them that I was on the National Do Not Call List and that because they were not soliciting subscriptions they were not exempt. The person I spoke to, Matt, told me that in his opinion they were allowed to call because they were a) a newspaper and b) not trying to sell anything – which is wrong on both counts: newspapers are only exempt from the NDNCL if they are soliciting subscriptions and then only if the person they’re calling isn’t on their own do not call list. He assured me that I would be put on their do not call list.

And the calls stopped. At least for a couple of months.

Well, apparently that assurance was worth exactly what I paid for it because I had an automated phone call from them a couple of days ago, though this time they called themselves Metroland Media rather than Ottawa This Week. I’ve left a voice mail for the regional manager of Metroland Media asking him to call me, so we’ll see what he has to say about this.

And it doesn’t appear that I’m the only person to receive one of these automated calls because I can tell by my blog statistics that a lot of people are googling their phone number (613-221-6247) and ending up with my previous entry about them.

February 11th: Quite a day in history

February 11, 2011 @ 12:58 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General, In the news

February 11th is turning out to be quite the day in history. In addition to being Thomas Alva Edison‘s birthday, it was also the end of the Yalta Conference in 1945, which was trying to deal with post-war Europe.

More recently, it’s the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which saw the overthrow of Iran’s monarchy and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Nelson Mandela was released from prison on this day in 1990.

And now we can add the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after 18 days of anti-government protests in Egypt. I hope the aftermath doesn’t get out of control and that the Egyptian people can rebuild and move forward.

Quite a day in history, eh?

A tip o’ the hat to Al Jazeera who had this photo on their site.

The Good Old Days of Television

February 04, 2011 @ 08:33 By: gordon Category: General

golden age of televisionGather round children for I am going to tell you about the Good Old Days of Television.

Once upon a time, television was a truly wonderful thing. Even though there were no high-definition televisions and there was occasionally the odd patch of static, the picture was basically clear and nothing interfered with watching whatever was on. Well, except of course for Moms telling their children to “go outside and play”. (Yes, outside, children. … Oh, don’t cry, children – we really didn’t mind going outside.)

What do I mean that nothing interfered with watching what was on? Oh, that’s simple, children. I mean that the television stations didn’t add anything to the pictures like station logos or mini-ads.

No, not even a simple station logo, children.

IMG_3871For example, if I was watching Outsourced on Global in The Good Old Days, the only thing that would have been on the screen was Outsourced and nothing else. No discrete, semi-transparent Global TV logo in the corner and definitely no banners at the bottom of the screen advertising the upcoming show that are positioned in such a way as to obscure the subtitles that are occasionally used in the show.

Like happened in yesterday evening’s broadcast of Outsourced. Dammit! (Oops… sorry, children – I meant to say “darn it”. You shouldn’t swear, children.)

These banner ads are getting out of control. With the advent of HDTV, they seem to have become more intrusive, even in non-16:9 format shows. And lately, I’ve noticed that some of the annoying animated banners are being accompanied by sound that is mixed into the soundtrack of the shows. Both incredibly annoying and completely unnecessary.

Fortunately, they aren’t there all the time, but it seems rare these days when there’s not something being superimposed on the shows.

Sometimes I long for the Good Old Days, children.