WHO said that

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Ten Gadgets of the decade
Engadget just put out a list of the Ten Gadgets that defined the decade. I'm a bit of a gadget guy, so the list brought back some fond memories.

Canon Digital Elph S100

First on their list is the Canon PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH camera. I bought this as my first digital camera in preparation for my trip to Seville, Spain for a month of language classes in early 2001. This 2.0 megapixel camera was extremely well built and wonderfully compact. I ended up using this camera exclusively on my trip and did not take a single picture with my film-based SLR I had also brought along with me.

With this camera I took one of my favourite pictures from over the years.

Today we have a Canon SD850is point & shoot that essentially uses the same formula: compact, well-built point & shoot that takes great pictures.

Additional pictures from my trip to Spain can be found in my Gallery.

Apple PowerBook G4

Next on their list is the Apple PowerBook G4. I've been a PC-guy most of my life although I had played with Macs from time to time over the years. It took me until 2009 to finally move into a sleek 13" MacBook Pro and I'm loving it.

Windows XP / Mac OS X

I suppose these two Operating Systems were quite significant over this decade. I'm much more familiar with XP and I'm going through some pain learning OS X now. I can't say I really love either of these OSes... I can live with them as long as they stay out of my way as much as possible.

Apple iPod

It wasn't until the iPod Nano was introduced that I jumped onto the iPod bandwagon. But what a wonderfully music-filled bandwagon it was! It's still going strong although it now tends to be a repository of Canto-pop for others in the family.

TiVo Series 2

The TiVo was revolutionary for me in many ways. I had largely given up watching television after my VCR missed recording an episode of 24 season 3 back in 2004. But the TiVo brought me back from the dark ages allowing me to watch television when I wanted.

The TiVo has served me well with a wonderful user interface, but with the lack of HD capability in Canada, and my not-so-bad PVR from the Bell Entertainment Service has finally led me to retire my Series 2. PVRs from the cable companies, in my opinion, are still playing catch-up to this device that arrived in 2002 in terms of user experience.

Motorola Razr V3

The Razr is a beautiful phone: I loved the flip and its slim profile. I waited until June 2006 to finally pick one of them up (back when I used to use eBay).

PalmOne Treo 600 / 650

Back in 2003 when the Treo was introduced, I had not yet caught onto the smartphone trend. I was stilling using my ancient PalmPilot back in those days.

XBox 360

Growing up I always had a bit of console envy. I didn't own an Atari 2600 until they were obsolete and I tended to side with the loser of the various console wars over the years (I owned a Sega Saturn and later a Sega Dreamcast). This time around Engadget is raising up the XBox 360 as one of their top 10 of the decade, and I ended up buying a PS3.


I love my iPhone... ok, I've said it.

ASUS Eee PC 900

And lastly, Engadget names this netbook in its top ten list. I don't think netbooks are for me, but I can certainly understand the appeal.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A better courier experience
I haven't had the best experience with Purolator courier in all of my years of sending and receiving of packages. I've had packages lost for weeks, outrageous custom brokerage fees, and confused and unhelpful CSRs to name a few of the annoyances. Whenever I see one of the trucks on the road, my blood pressure usually rises up a notch.

I'm currently awaiting delivery of a shiny (ok more like matte) grey Dell quad-core PC. The trouble with couriers and home delivery is typically the customer needs to await delivery of the package during business hours (9am - 5pm) and it is often difficult to know exactly what day a package will arrive.

More often than not, I miss a delivery and have to drive out to a shipping depot near the airport or some other obscure location in order to pick up my package: certainly not convenient considering the premium one pays for courier service.

But yesterday I actually had a good experience thanks perhaps to some combined ingenuity with Dell: I received an automated phone message indicating that my shipment would arrive January 14th (still between 9am - 5pm) and allowed me to directly reach a Dell representative or receive additional information from Purolator on delivery options if I am be unable to accept the package as scheduled.

Sure enough, checking my Purolator tracking information the shipment in on a truck for delivery today. While I still need to physically be at home today, at least I knew what day it would show up: a step in the right direction. Hopefully the couriers think of more novel ways to please the non-business customer: perhaps provide after-hours shipping (for a premium), or provide package drop-off in partnership with large chain stores (e.g., Staples, Shoppers Drug Mart, etc.) allowing convenient local pick-up of parcels. Given the growth of online shopping these types of innovations surely are in demand and would be welcomed.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How much a baby can grow in a year!
It's amazing how fast babies grow. BB got this sweater last Christmas. The sweater is so big compared to him that it can be used as a blanket.

A year later ... Look, he can fit in this sweater no problem!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A little more child-proof
The previous owners of the home did a great job on renovations. One thing they did that was a little questionable was the removal of railings on the stairs and on the landing leaving a 3 ft. drop off exposed. It actually makes the living room look more open, but it isn't exactly baby-friendly.

Well after a year or so of talking about it, we finally had some railings installed. We wanted to keep the open feeling and decided to have glass railings installed. We're pretty happy with the result and glad that, once Brayden begins to crawl, he will not need to contend with a dangerous fall.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's a media centre, honest!

So I picked up a little media centre for Janet and I to use. It's pretty versatile: it lets us play and stream music, videos (including DivX), and watch YouTube videos on our TV. We've been watching home videos of Brayden bouncing on his Jumperoo, a good number of television series on DVD, and the occasional Blu-ray movie.

At least that's how I now justify the purchase of the PS3. Sure, I'm playing games on it too... but we really are using it a lot more as a media centre... really!


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cross-border shopping
Spring-time is here and it's time to replace the beat up tires on the A4. I ended up ordering some Kuhmo Ecsta SPT's from Tirerack; it's still significantly cheaper to order them from this U.S. retailer, pay for shipping, brokerage fees, duty, GST/PST than it is to pick up these same tires locally.

Perhaps the new tires will breathe some new life in my trusty A4. I still want to have some fun in the car that I drive, given Janet tends to drive the GTI.


Monday, January 07, 2008

As I look into the future, I wonder how my son will perceive me as he gets older. I wonder if he'll think I'm old-fashioned, if he'll think the music I listen to is old and out-dated. Or perhaps he'll think the way I bought music at the turn of the century to be old and out-dated...

I just picked up a copy of Radiohead's In Rainbows on CD. This may not seem special in any way, but the album was available at a pay what you want price for download back in October stretching the limits of how mainstream music is distributed. But I still prefer to have the physical CD, the art work and the plastic disc.

Sure, the first thing I did was rip it into MP3 format but there is something about having the physical CD; perhaps something I can pass down to my son someday. And when I do, he'll probably look at it in the same way we look at 8-trac or cassette tapes and wonder about his strange, old-fashioned Dad.