Sunday, December 23, 2012

TV Review - Insignia 39"

Review of Insignia 39" 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV (NS-39D240A13)

We bought this TV during Cyber Monday 2012 for $325 from Future Shop. We were looking for a TV that was 37-42", 1080p, LED, PC input, and this TV fit the bill. It also has a built-in ATSC tuner for free over-the-air (OTA) HDTV with an antenna.

The TV came by Canada Post in perfect condition. Setup was simple, and the TV actually discovered more OTA channels than our previous unit.

The TV settings needed adjustment to optimize picture quality out of the box (initially, the whites were blown out and details were lost, but once we adjusted the brightness/contrast/backlight, it was great). Since then, we are very happy with the picture quality. PC input works well, and the picture quality from our computer is actually superior to other Samsung TVs I've seen.

Audio leaves something to be desired, but we hooked up a set of 30W computer speakers with subwoofer to provide some 'oomph'. The unit also has a USB drive which allows you to view photos from a USB stick.

Pros: Very good picture quality, excellent price
Cons: External speakers needed for 'home theatre' experience
Overall: We are very pleased with our purchase!

For shoppers in Canada, Best Buy and Future Shop appear to be selling this unit for $299 on Boxing Day.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Can't get rid of a line in Word 2011!

I ran into an issue when creating a survey in Word 2011 for Mac. I typed a long line of underscore marks to create a blank line for writing, but Word automatically converted the characters into a moveable but non-deletable line. It turns out this mark was attached to a paragraph, and  may be deleted by going into the "borders" properties of the paragraph.

See this TechRepublic post for more details.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SMS costs

DSLReports highlights a story decrying SMS (texting) costs in North America. In fact, it costs less to send data to Mars than to send a text to your friend, spouse, or family.

Their analysis assumes a text costs 5¢; some Canadian carriers charge as much as 25¢ per text.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bonus offers

Dropbox Space Race
If you are a post-secondary student, you can gain extra space (anywhere from 3-25 GB, depending on your school) by giving them your university e-mail address. Sign up here: Dropbox Space Race

Orange Key
With savings interest rates so low, it is difficult to save up! ING Direct Canada (now owned by Scotiabank) is offering a $50 bonus for new customers with an Orange Key until December 31, 2012, at which point the bonus reverts to $25. For your referral key, see below.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Another reason to take the subway?

An article from The Star on how obesity contributes to fuel consumption in passenger cars. It makes sense: the greater the weight of passengers, the lower the fuel economy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wind energy vs gas generation

The Guardian has posted a well-written article on how wind generation in the UK is able to reduce carbon emissions, despite the fact that the wind is not always blowing.

It's a myth that wind turbines don't reduce carbon emissions - The Guardian

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Nuit Blanche 2012

Toronto Nuit Blanche, Destination North!

#7 - Neurons in a tent
We visited the seven art installations along St Clair Ave W as part of this year's Scotiabank Nuit Blanche "Destination North".

First stop: #7 (Spadina House) - An eclectic collection of art installations including a tent with images of neurons (see top image), sound installation, projected images, a quilt, interactive bubbles, rotating Parisian images, and my favourite, books-to-birds (see bottom image).

Second stop: #8 (Casa Loma Stables) - A foggy forest which, to me, was actually an interesting cacophony of urban sounds. A foggy forest transformed into urban jungle?
#7 - Books-to-birds

We then strolled over to Wychwood Barns (#3-6), where we experienced #6 (Google Earth on a parachute). This reminded me of childhood physical education classes and all the fun that we would have with the handheld parachute exercises.

Finally, we went to #2 (St. Matthew's United Church), which was an art installation called Caverne St-Clair 20012. The actors/interpreters present were very much in role as archeologists from the future. Slide projectors displayed images on the chapel ceiling. Indeed, if we showed a slide deck to our current generation today, would they really know what it was?

Overall, a pleasant, intriguing and successful night for Destination North!

Friday, June 29, 2012

TTC driver vs Rob Ford

Many news outlets (Globe and Mail, Toronto Star) have reported that a TTC driver was seen having a discussion with a motorist (who turns out to be Toronto mayor Rob Ford) for driving pass open streetcar doors on Dundas.

Kudos to this streetcar driver for looking out for the safety of transit passengers. I agree that not all drivers should exit their vehicles to enforce traffic laws, but it is nonetheless nice to see someone sticking up for passengers' safety.

My question is: Was Rob Ford fined $109, as per the Highway Traffic Act?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Life as an Ontario doctor

Just in time for the controversy surrounding negotiations between the Ontario government and the Ontario Medical Association, the Ottawa Citizen has written an article about: Life as an Ontario doctor

Playful polar bear

We were in Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL recently and took this video of their polar bear. It must have been the cool weather - to our surprise, the polar bear wasn't sleeping but playfully playing with it's water barrel!

Watch it on YouTube.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario has launched a new website, This site also allows users to register as a organ/tissue donor online and check the status of current registration (if already registered with the Ministry of Health).

It's great to see how the Ontario government is using the web to make its services more accessible to more Ontarians.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Flashback: A Mac trojan

Media reports have said that over half a million Macs worldwide are infected with Flashback, a Mac trojan. Protect yourself: Ars Technica has a good article on how to diagnose infection and links to resources on safe removal.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The true cost of an iPhone

An insightful graphic about the financial, environmental and medical costs of an iPhone lifecycle.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Resources for savvy TTC riders

Few people know that the next vehicle times on the TTC website are only scheduled times and are not calculated in real time. Therefore, I have found the following third-party tools helpful for my daily commute:

NextBus - the TTC uses NextBus's equipment and GPS tracking to monitor its fleet, and this text-based site tells you when your bus/streetcar will arrive, in real time
Where is my Streetcar? - this fan-built site pulls NextBus's data and maps it graphically so you can see where your next bus/streetcar is, as well as when it is predicted to come
Transit Now Toronto - this Android app uses SMS or data to find out when your next bus/streetcar is coming

Combined, these tools have saved me countless wasted minutes at transit stops waiting for a vehicle that doesn't come for 20 minutes. Known where my next vehicle is helps me plan alternate routes that save time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Be careful what you wish for

The Globe and Mail has an editorial... "An open letter to those who elected Rob Ford".

Two more years of Rob Ford? 2014 can't come soon enough for me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Roof falls from 700 University Ave

As reported by the Toronto Star 2 days ago, part of the internal roof from the Hydro Building fell in downtown Toronto. Here is what it looks like today (taken at 12:30pm).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Take that, Rob Ford

Democracy speaks. Council votes against Rob Ford's shortsighted and foolhardy plan to build subways with money from the heavens. Instead, they vote in support of a plan already approved and ready-to-build - a plan that will bring public transit to many more citizens of Toronto. Congratulations to Karen Stintz and our city council for standing up to bullying from the mayor of Toronto.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Unintended consequences of food aid

The Globe and Mail has published an insightful article on research into how food aid to African nations can unintentionally promote conflict.