June 2004 to March, 2012

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Zapping Direct Energy’s water heater

[UPDATE: Direct Energy has backed away from its ill-conceived attempt to change its service terms unilaterally. No phone call is necessary, after all. I still intend to end my rental agreement, though.]

If you are renting a Direct Energy water heater, you have until April 2nd to stop them from changing your service terms. Unless you call or email to say that you want to keep your old terms, the new ones will kick in.

After April 2nd, unless you act, Direct Energy will be able to zap you with steep fees if you cancel your rental agreement. At present you can cancel without paying a penalty. (Well, almost… they will probably still get you with a whopping $75 + HST charge to pick up their old water heater.)

Naturally, the Direct Energy switchboards have been jammed but you can try calling 1-866-202-1120 to lock in your current terms. Failing that, you can email Direct Energy at rentalterms@directenergy.com

Personally, I am ashamed of my laziness, letting Direct Energy charge me so much for so long. It’s FAR cheaper to buy your own water heater and it’s no problem to get a service plan if that’s a concern. I may buy out the 10 year old heater I have, if Direct Energy doesn’t overcharge for it. If they want a ridiculous price for a unit that probably has 5 years of use left, I’ll cancel completely and get a new one.

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March 14, 2012   9 Comments

Kashmeri doc premieres at ReelWorld

Another friend I introduced to WordPress is being productive. Zuhair “Kash” Kashmeri’s documentary about his father’s Bollywood career is ready to show and has been selected for the ReelWorld Festival here in Toronto. The Golden Pen will play at the Canada Square Famous Players theatre on April 13th.

How does a slacker like me get to know so many creative people? Maybe it’s because I admire their energy, drive and sheer grit. Congratulations, Kash. Well done and we look forward to April 13th.

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March 13, 2012   No Comments

To offset my complaints in the entry below this one…

Friend John McCready (upper right) was born in Burundi but grew up and pursued a career in North America (U.S. and Canada). Now he finds himself in a position to use his organizational skills and financial resources to do some worthwhile work in the land of his birth.

John is an interesting guy who, among his other pursuits, recently climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and rode a motorcycle around South Africa. He’s a fellow WordPresser, too. Check out his site for more pictures and a good story. See these dancers, too.

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March 13, 2012   No Comments

It’s ugly out there

Mob rule more civilized?

When organized crime ran gambling, we knew who the bad guys were. Then the government took over, trying schemes the gangsters never dreamt of.

Salivating over the money he hopes to gain, Premier McGuinty’s finance minister notes that “prohibition doesn’t work”. That’s his excuse for promoting gambling with incessant TV commercials, building more casinos and making lottery tickets available everywhere, 24 hours a day.

Our dear leaders see some of us as citizens, some of us as marks.

Just as Fellini predicted

In his 1969 flick Satyricon Fellini included a scene where an audience was entertained by watching a slave have his hand amputated.

Today, 40 million Chinese viewers tune in to watch interviews with condemned prisoners, just before they are killed. Well, Fellini’s entertainment was a little mild, but he had the right idea.

Canada doing its share

Building more prisons as the crime rate falls, increasing warrantless surveillance of citizens, defending tar sands instead of developing clean energy, muzzling scientists on the public payroll, using torture-tainted intelligence, ignoring court orders to defend citizens in foreign prison camps, neglecting and threatening aboriginal populations, rigging elections… oh yes, we are doing our share.

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March 12, 2012   3 Comments

Ripple Headers Retrospective

Some of these are in the current rotation, but many have been retired for quite a while. Most of the shots are my own, but there are one or two guest shots by Danica and Rebecca.

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March 11, 2012   1 Comment

Art explained

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March 10, 2012   2 Comments

No more credit card number for Apple

It’s a matter of trust, and frankly, I don’t anymore. The iTunes user agreement is 43 pages long and Apple frequently changes it. Yesterday, when I went to update some apps purchased through the App Store, a dialogue box insisted on my signing the user agreement before I could proceed with the update. Reread 43 pages? You and I know, and Apple does too… ain’t gonna happen. The submissive “I Agree” button is not on page 43, it’s on page one.

Such practices invite us to stupidly “sign” things we have not read (and believe me, the agreement is not for our benefit) or to accept broken functionality. Updates are important because they quash bugs and fix security holes. Blocking use of them is a bad practice.

To prevent Apple from imposing unexpected charges on my credit card, I have taken the data away from them. When and if I choose to buy anything again through the App Store or iTunes, I may give Apple one-time use of the card number. No more one-click convenience, but that’s OK with me.

Here’s how you remove your credit card number.

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March 9, 2012   2 Comments

Ulli’s surprise photo book has arrived.

Click to enlarge

Our friend Rebecca Staton makes beautiful pictures of High Park, all year ’round. Ulli is another friend, now living in Victoria and going through rounds of chemo. Ulli grew up around High Park and I thought we might express our encouragement by sending an Apple iPhoto book of a selection of High Park shots. Rebecca agreed, we put the book together, signed it with our best wishes and sent it off. Yesterday, Ulli received what she gratefully called her “wonderful gift”.

Making the book in iPhoto was easy. The hardest part was choosing the pictures… I had to leave out hundreds of good ones… but I got over 100 in. The template allowed for design choices and shots could be full page, even bleeding right to the edge of pages.

I wondered how the colourful pictures, which looked so vivid on screen, would translate to print. The answer: extremely well. Like most things Apple does, the books are well made and beautifully produced. At $30 a copy, they are surprisingly inexpensive, too. Highly recommended.

BTW, you can make iPhoto books on PCs as well as Macs. Here’s a link that explains more.

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March 8, 2012   2 Comments

Barker Fairley, E.B. Cox and Joe Fafard at the Ingram Gallery

Today Danica and I went to the Ingram Gallery on Avenue Road to see landscape paintings and portraits by Barker Fairley. Our interest in the artist had been reawakened by seeing the John and Ruth Colombo portraits mentioned earlier. Bonus! E.B. Cox sculptures were on display in the same space.

Visit the gallery site for a small taste of what you’ll see, then visit before March 17th. If you like Fairley’s work as much as we do, you’ll see some good ones. We were greeted warmly and enthusiastically by Director Tarah Aylward [I believe it was] and enjoyed a good talk with Jeff Duns who spent a generous amount of time with us. He knows his Fairley.

The Ingram Gallery is a very pleasant space with a wonderful (and probably ever-changing) collection of Canadian art to show and sell. There’s a Joe Fafard horse in painted bronze that was very handsome. The $7500 price tag seemed very reasonable to me for a piece of its size and quality. I’m sure it would be a much better investment than most of the offerings on the stock market… and a lot more enjoyable to own.

Here’s Danica beside a much larger Joe Fafard, one street over from the Ingram Gallery in Yorkville.

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March 7, 2012   No Comments

Remember The Mac Store? Remember Gallagher?

Click to enlarge

Audio MP3

The radio ad, voiced by former CityTV guy Gallagher, celebrates the acceptance of rogue Mac marketer Peter Sever into the Apple fold. What was it Steve Jobs said?… It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy? Peter was never a pirate, but he saw how Canadians were being ripped off on Apple products and brought them here independently, replacing the Apple guarantee with his own. I heard about Peter’s Mac Store through mutual friend Jay Telfer and beetled on down to the store on Queen East near Broadview.

I loaded up with the mighty beige box you see above. Danica helped with the financial load by springing for the HUGE 19″ monitor I got to go with it. The Mac II ci was the fastest Mac that money ( thousands of dollars) could buy and mine came with a BIG 40 Mb hard drive. That’s right… 40 megabytes! The year was 1991.

Peter shared the old ad today, crediting Jim McNeill (CanClone) for the digital conversion from the old audio tape.

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March 7, 2012   3 Comments