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    The Greening of Telecommunications

    One of the neater aspects of working for a progressive organization like TELUS, is the emphasis placed on timely community and national initiatives.

    Lately I've had my head down, reading and learning about Peak Oil. It's more than a little overwhelming, and I've had to temper my *oh my gawd the world is going to end* feelings with *cripes, I'd better get my head together and figure this out some more* feelings.

    One of the initiatives on my 2009 career development plan (aside from acing all the business objectives, of course) is to be more involved in our own Greening of Telecommunications. It's easy to be involved at a corporate level, there are so very many different levers that can be adjusted.

    But what if you're at home, as a remote worker? I can tell you that your levers are much harder to ratchet back, unless you think harder about it.....

    Of course, everyone says turn off your laptops. But did you think one step further -- when you're actually using your laptop, and it's not plugged into its power source, it's a very environmentally friendly device. It's only when your battery is 100% charged, and you're still plugged into the wall... that's when the wheels start to fall off,  and you lose the effectiveness of having a battery at all.  Unplug that laptop when you've got a 100% battery. And if you've got a crappy battery, exchange (and recycle) it for a healthy one.

    How about paper? 100% recycled printer paper, all the way. But you really shouldn't ever have to print anything. Your laptop saves paper :-)
    Still - you want to write things down when you're on conference calls, sometimes it's difficult to type and listen, but I find it easy to write and listen.

    100% recycled notebooks. No kidding around. Grand and Toy carries a line of Canadian made, 100% recycled note books that are AMAZING. Ecojot does it right.

    How are you doing with your own greening up?

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    Amex Says: Stop Overpaying Your Bill, Or Else!!

    Funny one - we received a phone call yesterday from American Express. The expressed concern regarding an over payment of our Amex bill. (I’d inadvertantly over paid it this month - so there was actually a CREDIT balance - how neat is that?!?!).

    Their request: please stop opverpaying, or else we will have to give you a lower interest rate.


    Now that’s just funny.

    For that phone call, I think I’m going to continue to over pay, by just a smidge, to see if I can make them lose their minds. Who knows - a lower interest rate would rock.




    Peak Oil and Living After the Oil Crash

    It’s a growing theory amongst folks much smarter than I, that we’ve hit the peak on oil production, and within the next 2-3 years, it’s all going to go downhill from here. Oil shortages and skyrocketing oil prices are going to cause a rippling effect on our economy and way of life.

    Food shortages, gas shortages, just a few small steps from anarchy… Ok - that may be a little dramatic, but indeed, there are going to be some pretty serious impacts to our “status quo”. I doubt that we’d be able to hold onto much of that favourite status quo any longer.

    You know, you start to take notice when experts in your industry begin worrying about the same things you are secretly thinking about. Global Crossings is thinking about Peak Oil. National Geographic has a stellar article.

    In among the doomsday stories, there are the beginnings of real life examples of a world headed for big trouble…..

    When I look around at my life, it’s certainly not suited to a life with little to no oil. I live in a suburb, i drive everywhere, I don’t have much space to grown anything. My job is more than 50 km away from my house….
    A great percentage of the food i purchase isn’t grown locally.

    The bigger problem is in trying to wrap your head around a completely different future, while maintaining focus on the present, and not losing perspective on the whole potential problem at hand.

    No one wants to be Chicken Little, but I’ve got a feeling that at some point, these apocalyptic prophesies are going to have more than a ring of truth to them.

    Am I over-reacting? Am I the only one thinking about things like this on a Saturday morning? Check out Wikipedia on Peak Oil

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    It's a Good News Bad News Sort of Day

    On the good side: Google launches Google Voice.
    On the bad side: it's still only going to be available in the USA.

    On the good side: OLGC gets busted for using Mercedes Benz cars as prizes.
    On the bad side: most of the Canadian Government doesn't used domestic cars either. Seems there aren't any domestic, environmentally friendly cars made in Canada.

    On the good side: Facebook gets a new face.
    On the bad side: Facebook gets a new face.


    No Blogging Motivation

    It’s been one of those phases, 3 weeks of being sniffly, sneezy, achey-breaky. Despite the copious amounts of reading, photography tidbits and work, the writing just hasn’t been there. No snappy technology, no wild telecom gaffes, and no floobergeist.

    I need a muse.

    An idea, a concept. Something.



    If You Squint, You Can See Spring from Here...

    After 28 years 5 months of winter, it’s good to see the light and feel the warmth at the end of the tunnel.

    The only downside is the melting poop in the backyard and the stubborn 11 3 foot drifts that remain in the front yard. Still, It’s Masrch 5th (Happy Birthday Nora!!!) and you can’t help but feel the optimism in the air. No matter how cold/miserable/windy/ the past 5 months have been, the end is nigh. I just feel the urge to plant something, don’t you?



    Camaro Enthusiasts Strike Back

    Little did I know the religious fervor that I would be unwittingly un-leashing with my wee observation that the launch of the 2010 Camaro is about 10 years too late. Even automotive analysts are suggesting that this car should have come out in 2005 if it was going to be competitive. Plus, what's happened to the Camaro Z28? What shelf did GM put it up on?

    To all the Camaro zealots enthusiasts, i am thrilled that you are going to purchase Camaros. Really. Truly. Thrilled. Your loyalty is certainly going to save GM and Chrysler. I bet all the workers are going to send you a little bit of their government paid-for pension as a great big thank-you.

    I've got to admit, I've never had such blatent, idiotic, threating feedback creative commentary before. I just don't know where to start...

    Of the 21 comments from the nameless, faceless internet, 12 were from unique IP addresses. Albeit, I think 2 of you admitted to previous posts. And atleast one has a *real* email address.
    And Banshee - how's the weather in Southgate, MI?

    I am NOT a guy. Sheesh. If you're gonna write something nasty, at least know your audience. I don't have a small sausage, but a new Camaro certainly isn't going to make yours bigger ;-)

    This wasn't an article about the environment, aside from my hybrid coment, which was to illustate the fact that without some sort of redeeming feature, the odds are slim that there is a large enough fan base to support a 2010 Camaro on its own in this day and age. I'm betting that most of the addressable market already bought the Charger or the Challenger because they were tired of waiting around.

    Did you know that there might not really be 20,000 pre-orders? More like 12,000. Most of the *pre-orders* are duplications, with folks pre-ordering multiple times with multiple dealers. Check the various forums, guys are recommending that tactic to each other. S-M-R-T.

    Sure, you guys fall over yourselves with my wee Camaro opinion - but where the heck are you when I complain about GM wanting the government to subsidize the pension plans? All you guys in Pensacola, Fort Worth, Orange County, Tampa Bay, Beaumont Tx, Norman Ok, St Louis, and Moss Point can't ALL be GM employees.

    I suppose when all is said and done, some folks will buy the 2010 Camaro. After all, a few folks bought the Chevy SSR too.
    Life will go on.

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    Jules' Dumb Move of the Day:  TVFreeload

    In desperation last night, after realizing that all my secret ports to download magic files had been blocked by my isp, i resorted to TVFreeload as a method (albeit a dodgey method) to download the few episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice that my good ole' mum was missing.

    (Backstory: I'd told her that I could PVR them for her, and burn her a disk. Bell allows archiving of recorded materials to an external HD.  Little did I know that the Bell PVR will reformat your external HD, and turn it into a storage drive for the PVR - when you try and attach it to a laptop to transfer the files, the laptop doesn't understand the formatting and gives up in a fit of confusion)

    Anyways, I'd fallen for, (I'm not even going to acknowledge their existence). The first dozen or so screens made the service look fantastic, easy, fast. I fell for the membership (thank god it wasn't a ridiculous amount).
    Once I'd finally been set up, my password only worked once. The searches essentially just checked regular torrent databases for files. I'd been hosed.
    The site led you to believe that they had all the expisodes, movies etc that you could ever want to see.

    Today, I can't get to the *member site* to download the software needed to take their files and burn to DVD. I can't log back into the search engines. I've tried to email to reset my password. No responses.
    Hosed. Really and truly.

    I am.... embarassed.

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    Taking a Step Backwards - Chevy Camaro - Welcome to the '70s.

    GM also says it still plans to begin manufacturing the new Chevrolet Camaro in Oshawa this year.

    Unless the camaro is a hybrid, this is a ridiculous model to bring back.
    The guys who wanted this car in the ’90s are now looking for hybrid minivan crossovers. The guys who (before the economic dust-up) would have bought this car are now worried about the security of their own jobs, and realize that if they even contemplated purchasing something so silly, their wives would be taking a well aimed kick at their cubes.

    Who is going to buy this car?
    Twelve years ago, this would have been an awesome car to buy. Now, you sort of look like a goof if that’s what you’re driving. :-(

    Nice job GM, way to have your thumb on the consumer’s pulse.


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    MFM: My First Meme

    Can’t be part of the crowd…. had to be creative ;-)


    1. My uncle once: hollered at me for not telling anyone i had an earache after swimming for 5 hours.

    2. Never in my life: have i been able to sing in key.

    3. When I was five: i fed my dog a bottle of flintstone vitamins… i ended up eating more than the dog did.

    4. High School was:an experiment in social Darwinism.

    5. I will never forget: the time i hit a girl who just had her wisdom teeth removed.

    6. I once met: Lou Ferigno, and didn’t realize that the HULK had a hearing disability.

    7. There’s this girl I know: who risked everything to have the life she dreamed about.

    8. Once, at a bar: i bet a friend $10 to introduce herself to a cowboy.

    9. By noon I’m usually: considering what should be done about lunch.

    10. Last night: I fell asleep in a schnuggle.

    11. If I only had: my wisdom teeth back.

    12. What worries me most: is wondering if i’ve lost my car in an underground parking garage.

    13. You know I’m lying when: i give you a big “doe eyed” look and a grin.

    14. What I miss most about the eighties: Milli Vanilli and penny loafers. Not necessarily in that order.

    15. By this time next year: I’ll be smarter, faster, quicker, better. Or I will be me.

    16. I have a hard time understanding: people who have a hard time dealing with money.

    17. If I ever go back to school I’ll: realize that highschool isn’t the end all, be all of life.

    18. You know I like you if: I send you grins in instant messenger.

    19. Take my advice, take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt…. it is, after all, a big, nameless, faceless place.

    20. My ideal breakfast is: coffee on the deck, in the sun. Dog at feet. Boi at side.

    21. Why won’t people: say what they mean and mean what they say.

    22. If you spend the night at my house: you get your choice of the top or bottom bunk.

    23. The world could do without: overzealous pedestrians.

    24. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: Math.

    25. Paper clips are more useful than bad friends.



    My Charitable Donation Does NOT Include Paying out GM's Pension Mess

    The little baby Jesus is having a good cry.
    The Globe and Mail is reporting this morning that GM Canada and the CAW are looking to the government to pull out it's wallet again - to the tune of more than $4B to save the worker pension plan.

    But here's the kicker. GM Canada employees never even paid into the plan.

    So let's just slide the bill over to you, Ms. Taxpayer. Yes, you - theone without any defined benefit pension of your own, if you're likenearly 80 per cent of workers in the private sector in Canada. Yes,you, whose RRSP is down 20 or 30 or 40 per cent or more in the pastyear. Yes, you, who may struggle to put together the savings to pay fora retirement stipend that's anything like the $2,000 a month that anauto worker with long service can receive.

    No chance in France.
    It's one thing to get stuck with shoring up a bad business. It's quite another to also end up having the taxpayer pay for a private pension.
    The government that approves this sort of nonsense is certainly going to enjoy a very short stint in Ottawa.

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    Email Scams: Are You Easily Duped?

    A curious poll in CNet caught my interest.
    The poll was asking what types of people were more often to be duped by email scams.
    It's an even split between the folks who say that *anyone* can be duped, and "only the gullible". Instead of "only the lonely", there should have been an option for "the technologically naive".



    Facebook Puts New Terms and Conditions on Hold

    It's a nice little morning surprise.
    FB putting the new terms on hold.
    It's amazing what a little foot stomping will do.
    Power to the people!!!!!

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    Feedburner Manages Facebook Blog Appetites

    Thanks to the magic of Ed Kohler, from Technology Evangelist, and his recommendation that I switch my facebook feed to feedburner for more control, I'm now able to provide *teaser* excerpts to Facebook, and control my content again!

    Three cheers for Ed!


    Managing Facebook Content - Blog Excerpts

    One of the tricks I’ve got to accomplish, regardless of where the lines eventually get drawn on the Facebook content licence drama is to be able to publish blog excerpts only into Facebook… as opposed to the entire article.

    Two good things would come out of this:

    1. I manage to control more of the content that falls into the Facebook basket
    2. I drive more traffic to *my* site here instead of folks just staying on Facebook.

    Now, let’s see if I can make this chicken fly.


    Facebook Dirty Pool

    The morning started off well enough, and the the updates started flowing fas and furiously as people began to spread the news that Facebook had changed it’s terms of service over night.

    Nasty, evil new terms of service that totally take control of all your content. You have just given Facebook free licence to screw you any which way. And you have to smile.

    You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.


    Not only can they take your stuff and use it any way you want, but they can also use you in any sort of advertising, with no express permission. Just by you being on the site, you are giving them carte blanche.

    The worst piece of the pie is that Facebook can also sublicence you and your content to anyone they so choose.

    In summary, you are now a facebook whore. They have just become the biggest pimp in the universe. :-(

    What the Internets have to say about the evilness:


    The Consumerist

    Marketing Vox

    The Industry Standard


    And from Mr Facebook: Mark Zuckerman:

    UPDATE at 2:38 p.m. PST: Zuckerberg wrote a post for the Facebook blog later on Monday about the issue: “We still have work to do to communicate more clearly about these issues, and our terms are one example of this,” he wrote. “Our philosophy that people own their information and control who they share it with has remained constant. A lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective of the rights we need to provide this service to you. Over time we will continue to clarify our positions and make the terms simpler.”

    Zuckerberg continued: “We’re at an interesting point in the development of the open online world where these issues are being worked out. It’s difficult terrain to navigate and we’re going to make some missteps, but as the leading service for sharing information we take these issues and our responsibility to help resolve them very seriously.”

    Dude - if you want to change some terms, and fix the insane backlash, you’d better be VERY clear about what the legal bits say. Just you saying “oh don’t worry” on your blog isn’t going to cut it. You totally knew what you were doing, and now you’re just trying to play innocent. Pfft. Change the terms. That would be the cool thing to do.


    Peak Oil: What Happens When Gas Goes Goodbye?

    I know - it’s a pretty dramatic title ;-)
    Catchy, dontcha think?
    The Toronto Star had an article this morning on folks who are *prepping for the worst*, in the event of an impending oil crisis.
    It got me to thinking. It’s not the *end* of oil that’s going to bring about a Time of Reckoning, but the first downward slide of oil production.
    Folks think they can carry on, tickety-bo, and by the time we are *out* of oil, there will be new, better technologies to keep us warm, fed, paid and healthy.
    Alas, as soon as the world realizes that we are on the downward slide of oil production, and that we can no longer produce enough *stuff*, then all hell could conceivably break loose. Curiously enough, smart folks are corroborating the Peak Oil problems. isn’t as improbable as I was expecting, and despite being a bit of a doomsday site, it’s also full of interesting stats, insightul info, and a whole reading list of survival guides.  People are starting to pay attention - the Amazon reviews on these books are FULL of people who are in search of materials to help them be prepared.

    Me, I just want to read up, to know what I don’t know, and then go from there. Plus, it never hurts to get smarter. Everyone should know which berries are poisonous. :-)

    One thing for certain, being stuck in a suburb at the end of the world is decidedly NOT a good place to be.

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    Times are Tough All Over

    One of my guilty pleasures is to browse through and see what sorts of neat abodes exist is the area. Plus, it's an interesting, voyeuristic pastime :-)
    I've noticed more than a few for sale signs popping up lately, and was curious as to what the interiors of certain houses look like, and knowing the asking price doesn't hurt either ;-)

    Some interesting stats.... all taken in a radius of 25 km from where I live:

    • There are more than 500 homes for sale with an asking price of $500,000 or more
    • 207 properties are listed at $1,000,000 or more.....
    • 61 properties for sale with an asking price of > $2,000,000
    • Only 10 of those properties are > $4,000,000
    So - what do you get for $5,000,000 these days? For $5.2M, you get 2 acres in a "pseudo suburb", but you also get a 15,000 sqft home, a 2,000 sqft *coach house*, and a 2,000 sqft *loft*.
    You also get a theater, a gym, and a basement that reminds you of a hotel lobby.


    It's a steal.

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    Coming Soon to a School Near You: More Striking Teachers

    Just when you thought the education system in Ontario couldn't get any more wacked out (Read: York University's extended teacher strike), along comes a new threat to elementary school education: a very possible strike, led by a fellow who sounds like Buzz Hargrove's insane stepbrother.

    How can unions leaders, and their members, approve of such a ridiculous campaign in the middle of such economic instability? Why not plan your strategy accordingly?
    The Ontario Elementary Teachers Union rejected the sweetest deal of the century, in a year when the rest of the world is volunteering for pay cuts, reduced work weeks and job sharing, just to keep their pay cheque.
    I think it's Backwards Day, and no one sent me the memo.

    They turned down a 10.4% increase over 4 years.
    HELLO!?!?!?  I have no idea when I am going to get a raise again. And I don't mind. I've got a job. I'm thrilled I've got a job.
    The offer also includes more prep time and more headcount to decrease class size.
    The complaint: elementary teachers are paid a little less than high school teachers.
    Do you think that could have ANYTHING to do with the complexity of the high school curriculum?
    Nahhhh... that would be too rational.
    How about the difference in credentials and training between the two camps?
    Still, that's a little too reasonable an explanation.

    Yes - there is a difference in the value of the work that elementary teachers do versus the work of other high school teachers.

    Full stop. - Education - Combative teachers union leader draws fire
    But Clegg came out swinging after Wynne put a new four-year deal on the table Tuesday, with a 10.4 per cent wage increase over four years – but less than the rest of the province's teachers are getting – as well as more preparation time and 575 new teaching positions to help make classes smaller.



    Deciding on Core Competencies

    Often I find myself at a crossroads between generalist and specialist activities. I work with customers who are specialists in their field, yet try to be all encompassing when it comes to every facet of their business.
    Why attempt to be proficient in everything, when you likely only get paid to be great at 1 or 2 things?
    Why risk your business when you aren’t competent in in key areas that support your business but aren’t core to your business?

    Why not realize the risk, and focus on doing what you do best?
    Me, I’m an IT geek who works primarily from home. Although my home is key to my business, I wouldn’t think twice about hiring someone to look after my furnace or electrical infrastructure. I embrace my limitations. I focus on what I know best. I’m wise enough to realize that electrical engineering is not one of my core competencies. It’s not worth the risk to me to try and be a jack of all trades. I’d rather be the master of one.

    I could also take on the raw coding and hosting of my various and diverse websites. Heck, anyone with a laptop could take this on. But it’s no longer one of my core competencies. There are WAY better organizations who do this for a living, and do it MUCH better than I. All I need to do is be smart enough to realize that someone can do it better, cheaper, easier than I can.

    How about getting a hair cut? Sure, all you need is a pair of scissors and (maybe) a mirror. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who cuts their own hair any more. It’s much smarter to have a specialist take care of that….Intellgence wins out again.

    Then how is it that firms who have a kick ass business continue to think that they need to be masters of all aspects? Why not hand over management of infrastructure to someone who specializes in that? Why take the risk of trying to do everything yourself? Outsourcing has become popular, since smart organizations are realizing the same things I’ve been realizing. Be the best at what you are the best at. Don’t end up doing a half assed job, if you don’t have to.

    Why force your company to manage the unsexy aspects of your infrastructure, like mail servers or data centres, if you don’t absolutely have to? Why risk the importance of these components to people who aren’t experts in their field for managing these components? Why?

    If your core business is in providing an awesome online application that garners you multiple millions of dollars a year, and is an integral part of your company’s revenue, why also assume that you’ve got to take on the responsibility of the application’s infrastucture. Using that logic, you then should also feel compelled to be responsible for all ancilliary components that help make that application awesome, right down to making the furniture for the employees who coded the application. Of course, furniture isn’t part of the core business competency, then, by extension, why should data centre infrastructure be assumed to be part of the core business competency either?

    In a new era of change, driving efficiencies and strengthening core competencies, companies have to soon realize that they need to indeed become master of their domains, or risk becoming master of nothing.

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