Do as we say, not as we do.

Most of Regional Council of Waterloo, the folks who voted to spend $818 million (except for the 4 out of 15 who declared conflicts of interest) on Light Rail Transit, don’t use public transit:

Regional Coun. Jane Mitchell is a regular rider on Grand River Transit.

Of the 16 people on Region of Waterloo council, she’s the only one who rides the bus day-to-day.

Yes, they want it for others, but they won’t use it. So then how do they know what is required?

I think that if the LRT and public transit is such a wonderful idea, then councillors should be using it. But they say it isn’t good enough for their needs:

Many of the politicians said the bus simply isn’t a practical means of getting to all the meetings and functions they attend in a day.

If it isn’t working for them, or possibly others, then shouldn’t they be doing something to fix that?

 

Rest, relax, repeat.

The first long weekend of the summer of 2013 is drawing to a close, and I’m enjoying every bit of it. And so should you be. Of course all of my neighbours have picked now to cut their grass, but they’ll be done soon.

Quit reading this and go outside and enjoy the sun. Breathe in the fresh air. Catch the sunset.

Feel free to return tomorrow to our regularly scheduled programming.

Why bother with security at all?

The FBI wants to tap your internet conversation:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has made it clear it wants to intercept Internet audio and video chats. And that, according to a new report being released Friday by a group of technologists, could pose “serious security risks” to ordinary Internet users, giving thieves and even foreign agents a way to listen in on Americans’ conversations, undetected.

The 20 computer experts and cryptographers who drafted the report say the only way that companies can meet wiretap orders is to re-engineer the way their systems are built at the endpoints, either in the software or in users’ devices, in effect creating a valuable listening station for repressive governments as well as for ordinary thieves and blackmailers.

So the only way to let them do that is to disable all of the security that has made these communications products so useful. Which means that not only the FBI, but also anyone else who feels like listening, can have access to your conversations.

So why bother with security at all? We’d be better off with two tin cans and a long piece of string.

No line left uncrossed.

Rob Ford is the democratically elected mayor of Toronto, whether you like it. But a lot of people have a problem with democracy, and really don’t like Rob Ford. So they will apparently stop at nothing to get him removed as mayor.

Gawker claims that they have seen a video of Rob Ford smoking crack, and they have mounted an IndieGogo campaign to raise $2oo,000 to pay drug dealers for the video. For some reason they don’t want to spend their own money, but they’ll happily take yours. Don’t worry though. If it doesn’t work out, they’ll give all of your money to charity (but keep the charitable receipt?).

Now I suppose that I’m contributing to this idiocy just by linking to it, but it seems to me that paying drug dealers (not the most trustworthy lot I would assume) for information to bring down a democratically elected politician that you just don’t like crosses just about the last line there is in journalism.

Disgust isn’t even a strong enough word. This is beyond abhorrent.

 

They won’t take my money.

The CW network has struck a deal to bring their content to Apple TV. Well duh.

I really don’t understand the studios. I would think they would want to put their content in front of every possible person in every for-pay medium. But they hem and they haw, as it having people pay for their content legally is somehow a bad thing.

I currently live in Canada. A couple of years ago we watched the last episode of Season 2 of The Big C. It was a cliffhanger, and we had to wait interminably, painfully, until Season 3 started. But then, when it finally did, there was no way for me to watch it in Canada.

None.

In early April, my wife and I wanted to watch Silver Linings Playbook. Apple TV had it, but only to buy for almost $30. I didn’t want to buy it, but instead rent it for $5. How many rentals were missed because of that?

I had money in hand, and would have willingly paid to watch the shows. But they wouldn’t take my money.

The idiocy of it all is that because the studios are so worried about losing a few dollars on a deal and protecting existing revenue streams, they completely miss the opportunity to generate new revenue streams and even more money over the long term.

Hollywood used to be the dealmakers. Now they just seem to chasing their tails and running in fear.

My advice? Embrace the now and make the most of it.

And please, take my money.

Counting down til midnight.

I wrote about this a couple of days ago, but it seems that we’re down to the wire and the LCBO strike might actually happen at midnight tonight. Ontarians are lining up in droves to buy their liquor just in case.

The LCBO is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Sort of like New Hampshire’s state run liquor stores. And this is the Victoria Day long weekend, which is basically Canada’s Memorial Day weekend equivalent.

No liquor on the long weekend in Canada is a very bad thing. I wonder who times these strike deadlines? Obviously the union. Contracts never seem to run out on a day like January 5th, when everyone has had their fill of alcohol.

Canadians don’t usually get upset about much, but this is one of those things.

I’m actually sitting about a block from an LCBO right now, but I have absolutely no intention of heading over there. Too crazy for me.

Update: Apparently sales are up a bit:

At the close of business on Tuesday, province-wide sales at the liquor store were up 73 per cent from last week, according to LCBO spokesperson Heather MacGregor.

Yup, and the politicians locally tell us that a casino is bad would prey on people. No mention of a doubling of alcohol sales at the LCBO though.

 

IT Apprentices?

I’ve been loosely involved in the Information Technology (IT) field for pretty much my entire working life, and it is only today that I learned that there was such a thing as IT apprentices.

They are part of the general government apprentice programs but they are being reviewed:

The province is cutting the tax credit for IT contact centre trades because only 10 per cent of apprentices who register go on to complete their training, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Finance wrote in an email.

As well, the tax credit is used mainly by large employers to staff call centres, Kent Williams noted in the email.

I’m not sure how training people to staff call centres counts as “IT training”, but I suppose that’s why I’m not the one making these decisions.

The greatest problem of our time.

…Is the fact that I need a plethora of remote controls sitting in front of me to do something simple like watching a DVD. We have amazing technology in our living rooms today, but I still need to turn on the tv, and the home theater receiver, and the Blu-Ray player. Then I need to switch the input to DVD on the tv and the home theater, then hit some variable number of controls to actually get to the start of the movie (or fast forward through previews).

Oh sure, I can use a Logitech universal remote, but that depends on it controlling and knowing the state of every device. Hit one button on the TiVo remote and you’re screwed. And yes, my Blu-Ray player will turn on the tv with SimLink, but not the home theater.

Why is this such a seemingly difficult problem to solve?

We have agreed-upon protocols that let the entire world communicate through the internet. But we can’t get a few home electronics manufacturers to agree on something?

“Free” Canadian healthcare.

Whenever I’m talking to my American friends about healthcare, the subject of free healthcare in Canada always comes up. I usually say that yes, it is free, IF you can get it. Waiting lists for care are long, there are fewer physicians, and far less technology like MRIs and CT scanners.

This of course neglects the fact that in many states, including Massachusetts, hospitals cannot turn patients away, regardless of ability to pay. It also neglects the fact that not all  healthcare in Canada is free; the government chooses what is covered and what is not. My wife paid $765 out of pocket for an eye specialist appointment the other day. Eye exams aren’t covered for most people either. And prescriptions and dental aren’t covered either

Apparently though, despite the fact that the care is free, it still costs real money. A LOT of real money:

Canadians, having just paid their taxes, may take some solace that some of that money goes to funding a world-class healthcare system. Unfortunately, Canadians are not receiving the same sort of value that their counterparts in other nations are when it comes to universally accessible health care. This despite the fact some 68% of personal income taxes paid in aggregate are required to cover the cost of health care in this country. Canadians spend much more for their health care, and receive lower quality care than other countries with universal-access systems.

So if you want to idolize a healthcare system, Canada’s probably isn’t the one. There are many other countries that deliver excellent care far more affordably.

But it does go to show you, just because you don’t get a bill, it doesn’t mean that the care if free. Somebody always pays.

Spending other people’s money.

As a resident of Waterloo, Canada, I have no choice but to purchase electricity delivery from the local public utility – Waterloo North Hydro. And it isn’t cheap electricity either. Electricity in Ontario is the most expensive in North America.

Their web page provides this description:

Waterloo North Hydro Inc. is regulated and licensed by the Ontario Energy Board to provide all regulated electricity distribution services to over 50,000 business and residential customers in the City of WaterlooTownship of Woolwichand the Township of Wellesley.

Our mandate is to deliver safe and reliable electricity at competitive distribution rates.

So you can imagine I was a bit surprised to see this:

hydro

 

If you like Waterloo North Hydro on Facebook, they will give $1 to the Food Bank. Yes I get that this is for charity, but how exactly does paying for Facebook likes – any Facebook likes at all – help them fulfill their stated mandate?

Remember, as a resident, it doesn’t matter if I like them. There is no competition; I am forced to buy electricity delivery from them.

How did I hear about this? From the Mayor of the City of Waterloo:

mayor

 

Approximately 75% of Waterloo North Hydro is owned by the City of Waterloo. The mayor sits on the board. Waterloo North Hydro pays dividends to the city each year.

Other that a feel good gesture with other people’s money, how does this help deliver electricity or benefit the actual customers of Waterloo North Hydro?