Monday, December 28, 2009

View to Manhattan from South Mountain Reservation

View to Manhattan
Originally uploaded by acodring

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ban On Hand-Held Devices Now Ontario Law

This new law banning handheld use of mobile devices is intuitively good, but the crude data I've scraped up doesn't make it look cut and dry.

Drivers up, mobiles way way up, accidents and injuries flat or down. What am I missing?

Ban On Hand-Held Devices Now Ontario Law: "October 26, 2009 12:15 PM
McGuinty Government Makes Roads Safer By Countering Distracted Driving

It's now the law - the use of hand-held cell phones and other wireless devices while driving is prohibited in Ontario.

The new distracted driving law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. Hands-free use of these devices will still be permitted."

Monday, August 24, 2009

If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get - Google Voice Apps Refunds

When I heard that the Google Voice app was rejected and the other two Google Voice apps were removed it didn't even occur to me that they'd pull it back from people who purchased before the removal.

On my next restore I found the app was no longer there, so I sent a note in to Apple to find out what the scoop is - where's my app or where's my refund!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: iTunes Store <>
Date: Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 10:23 AM
Subject: Re: I have another purchase or download-related question.; Follow-up:
To: andrew

Hi Andrew,

I hope you are having a great day so far. My name is Kanitra and I will be happy to assist you.I'm sorry to hear "VoiceCentral" was removed from the store shortly after you purchased it.  I have reversed these charges. You will see a credit of $2.99 in three to five business days. If store credit was used for this purchase, you should see the credit post within three to five business days. If you still do not see your store credit, you will need to sign out of the iTunes Store and sign back in.

Thanks for being a valued iTunes customer.


ITunes Customer Support

Please Note: I work Sunday-Thursday, 8am- 5pm CT

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you. You may receive an AppleCare survey email; any feedback you provide would be greatly appreciated

Customer First Name : Andrew
email : andrew@andrewsdomain
Web Order # : 123412341234
Support Subject : I have another purchase or download-related question.
Sub Issue : Other Question
Comments : iTunes Account Name: acodring
Platform : iTunes-iPhone/3.0 (2)
Item Name : VoiceCentral
Comments from Andrew:

You removed this application from the App Store after I purchased it.
I later had to restore my iPhone and the app will no longer install.

When will you process a refund for this?  I would have thought you'd do it automatically given the wierd situation you've created with these types of apps.

Really it's a pretty deceitful way to operate that really won't encourage me to buy more apps if you can just remove them at any time and deny me access to them.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lake 24

Camping this year, much like the rest of the summer, was a bit wet. Here's a shot of our campsite, affectionately called Lake 24, after one of the downpours.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Social Networking Naked - In The Shower!

Social Networking Naked
Originally uploaded by acodring
A while ago a special someone mentioned they had their best ideas in the shower, but couldn't write them down.

Some googling turned up the idea of using a diver's slate and I was ready for the next gift giving occasion. They're basically a rough plastic board with a pencil attached.

You can use regular eraser to wipe it clean, or if you want to be legit bring home some beach sand which is apparently what the real divers use.

We've ended up dividing up the board into areas for each family member and notes are written to each other from time to time.

I wasn't the first to think of using a divers slate in the shower, but I think I'm the first to realize it's social networking. Now I just wait for the multi-million $ valuation to roll in!

I got mine at Sharky's Scuba here in Ottawa, but they're easy to find online.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

PotHead Kid's First Book - Playskool Guide To Pot

The Playskool Guide to Potty Training: The Best Strategies, Essential Information and Practical Advice for Your Toddler's Potty Success
I never claimed this blog was going to be relevant, or informative.

The only thing I changed below is the email address and a few digits to protect the innocent.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 10:49 PM
Subject: Your order has shipped (#104-5268505-4320758)

Greetings from

We thought you'd like to know that we shipped this portion of your order separately to give you quicker service. You won't be charged any extra shipping fees, and the remainder of your order will follow as soon as those items become available.

The following items have been shipped to you by
Qty Item Price Shipped Subtotal

--------------------------------------------------------------------- items (Sold by, LLC):

1 The Playskool Guide to Pot... $11.66 1 $11.66

Shipped via USPS

Tracking number: 6102401005297078877186

Item Subtotal: $11.66
Shipping and handling: $1.99

Super Saver Discount: $-1.99

Total: $11.66

Paid by Visa: $11.66

Saturday, March 7, 2009

War Child 'Heroes' - Amazon click-tease

I heard someone mention the new War Child benefit compilation was out this week and figured I'd grab it from eMusic with this month's credits last night.

I enjoyed "Help: A Day in the Life" so much I really didn't even look to see who was on Heroes, or what tracks were included. I was looking for immediate gratification, but I had no idea how elusive it would be.

eMusic claimed ignorance. Their search didn't even admit to having the Help: album I downloaded from them. 

Next, I went to the Canadian site to see where they'd point me - Maplemusic. I really want to support Maplemusic, but I don't really want to kill any plastic CD trees and I don't want to wait or pay for shipping. They wanted about $10+ $3 or $4 shipping, plus I'd have to wait, then rip the CD. High PITA. Maplemusic, please do mp3s!

Then I went to, I found Heroes but again only as a CD. $9+~$5 shipping I think.

Really hoping to find an MP3 download, I checked They had it, $9US and free digital shipping! I threw the album in my shopping cart and heading for the digital door - I was in business! But first I had to login to my account (with a Canadian shipping address; this is foreshadowing...), accept a license, and download their helper software.  I got it all installed and to celebrate they offered me a free track to test out the software.

Woo hoo! I gratefully clicked 'download now' and got the error dialog above. "We don't like Canadian downloaders in these parts. Vamoose!". 

Did they not know that 4 or 5 steps earlier in the process? Fail.

I went back to the site tonight to try again, and now they're not mentioning Maplemusic, but instead iTunes and are featured. First, I'm not interested in buying any music from iTunes. Second, why is the Canadian War Child site pointing me to Been there, couldn't do that!

Why do they make this stuff so painful? Maybe they're trying to tell me I'm supposed to grab the music from a torrent and just make a donation to War Child.

To top it off, now the War Child site is auto-playing clips. The Lily Allen remake of a fav Clash song Straight to Hell is making me want this album even more.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

US Roaming Costs with a Rogers iPhone: Rogers vs AT&T GoPhone

Many people know Canadians as hockey players, or people who say sorry too much, or people who pronounce 'about' funny.

Not as many people know our proud tradition of extortionate wireless plans, so I thought I'd share.

By now you may know we have the longest minimum contracts to purchase iPhones - 3yrs. Something like a $2-3k commitment.

Since I recently went to the US with my Rogers iPhone I got curious about how much it might cost me to use it while I was there. Rogers make it quite difficult to find out their international data roaming and voice rates, at least to find a consistent answer. Online I found three different data roaming rates, ranging from outrageous to highway robbery to obscene "I demand a full public inquiry" material. I couldn't actually find the lowest rate on a Rogers site, but someone posted it in a forum and claimed it came from Rogers. The other two more expensive rates came from different pages on

I decided to compare the different rates I found with the comparable cost to buy an AT&T GoPhone in the US and use their Pay As You Go plans.

The table below shows some representative numbers, obviously not based on what I might have used for the week I was there had I actually used yellowsn0w to unlock my iPhone before leaving for the US, and bought a GoPhone + SIM at Fry's for $20 when I got there.

The GoPhone plan I didn't actually purchase online from AT&T after buying the phone at Fry's costs $.10/min for calls within the US plus $.29/min to Canada. They just introduced a 100MB data plan for $20 when I got there.

As you can see, the Rogers costs range from 8 to 50 times the costs of the completely theoretical 'GoPhone' approach.

Oh, sure, I probably could have phoned Rogers to ask about adding a US data roaming package to my monthly bill and got something a little less obscene, but this analysis is so much more fun, plus I didn't have to waste another half hour waiting in their call center queues.

If anyone reading this knows details of cheaper approaches that don't require getting a new phone number, the comments are open!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Know How to Get Out of Dodge Before You Go There - Can You Get Your Data Out of the Cloud?

Many years ago while still a student I got the chance to travel around Europe by train. Low budget, high fun. A lesson I soon learned was that the first thing you had to do on arrival in a new town was to figure out how you're going to get back out. Served me well when someone tried to mug me in West Berlin and I no longer wanted to be there... (This was January 1990 and the Wall was 'down' but still there.)

A similar rule of thumb applies in Cloud Computing and SaaS. Matt Asay, a machine of a blogger, today talked about the need to be able to get your data out of Cloud Computing services.

For me, guaranteeing open data is the most critical component of ensuring that cloud computing doesn't replace our desktop chains with cloud chains.
Oh so true.

I'm interested in this in the specific context of email and collaboration services. If someone chooses to go with a SaaS email provider, what avenues will they have to leave that provider with their dignity and emails intact at some point in the future?

Having the same software available from the SaaS provider and as on-premise software will go a long way.

Standard protocols like IMAP, LDAP, and calDAV will also be useful tools for data extraction. Gmail uses this approach to some extent now. As an example, they'll gladly import and export entire mail accounts via IMAP.

What considerations for 'data freedom' in a SaaS world are you worrying about in email, calendaring, and collaboration?

Photo credit: Lynn

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Google Password Assistance email - training phishing targets?

At first I assumed the email below was a phishing attempt, but after spending a few more seconds thinking about it, it looks legit.

Legit, but bad practice. I had not initiated a password reset, so something is wrong with the way Google are crafting the email below.

If someone else is trying to reset my password, they should let me know in this email somewhere.

I haven't logged into this account directly in a while, so even if the reset email is a preemptive one to help me get back in they shouldn't be putting an active link for me to click. That's just training me to be phished. Instead tell me to type their site name into my address bar manually.

Let me know if I've got it wrong! Comments are wide open.

PS: Yes, I've changed some links from their original state to protect the innocent (me!).

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 9:24 PM
Subject: Google Password Assistance
To: Andrew's Other Email Account

To initiate the process for resetting the password for your Google Account, visit the link below

If clicking the link above does not work, copy and paste the URL in a
new browser window instead.

Thank you for using Google.

For questions or concerns regarding your account, please visit the
Google Accounts FAQ at

This is a post-only mailing.  Replies to this message are not monitored
or answered.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Collateral Free Google Booth

The Google Booth
Originally uploaded by
I met yesterday with a colleague and got chatting about the need for collateral to succeed. I couldn't remember ever seeing Google collateral and neither could he.

Today while searching for something else I happened across this photo of a Google booth at a hosting event last year. I don't see any collateral, do you?

There are Lava Lamps though. Just the right amount.