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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Snowbirds Fly By 05/06/2020
Operation Inspiration

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Apollo 11 Guidance Computer Restored

Being that we are all celebrating the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, I found this to be one of the more interesting things happening from a geek's perspective. Head on over to the YouTube channel "CuriousMarc" where he's gotten his hands on and restored the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer!

Also, if you've not already done so... check out the website "Apollo 11 in Real-time" where you can experience the mission as if it were happening at this moment.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Minelab continues to tease new metal detector

Back in May Minelab teased a new metal detector named Vanquish. While nothing but the video was released, and much has been speculated, we still know nothing about the new machine specs, price or availability.

Last week another video surfaced, this one longer but still a teaser, that again seems to be taking aim at Garrett another big company in the space.

Why the US refuses to go metric

The Verge provides us with 3 reasons why the United States has been a hold out regarding the adoption of the metric system.

Having experienced the transition to metric by Canada in the 1970's I can tell you it's not that scary, but I'll be honest I still convert in my head. I have also never referred to my height in meters or my weight in kilograms.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Windows 10 Emoji Picker

Here's a pro tip:

On Windows 10 machines, use the Windows key + period to open the emoji picker!


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Google Docs Shortcut That You'll Thank Me For

Okay, so here's a little trick that's worth coming out of blogging retirement for! 

It seems that Google purchased the top level domain (TLD) .new some time ago. So what? Well they've just made life a little easier if you are a Google docs, sheets, or slides user (maybe more). 

You'll love this: 

When in the Chrome browser and signed into your Google account type one of the following in the address bar -,, or The result is you'll be directed to... a new Google doc, sheets, or slides page saving you 4 clicks (Google apps, Drive, New, Docs). 

You're welcome.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

I 💘 Cats, Robots and Neural Networks

I'm a cat guy, I've had more than a couple Roombas (Roombai?), and I know a little about Neural Networks so when I saw this it was like the whole peanut butter meets chocolate thing!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A year of Wired and a YubiKey 4 for $21

As a long time fan of Wired magazine and a former subscriber I was a little bummed a while back when had gone to a paywall model. That is, I was bummed until I visited the site this morning and learned that I could get a year of Wired, access behind the paywall, and a limited-edition WIRED branded YubiKey 4 for $10 Canadian + $10 shipping and tax. 

When you consider that a YubiKey 4 is being offered on for $53.00 that's a heck of a deal! What does a YubiKey 4 do for you?

  • Strong two-factor hardware based authentication
  • Easy and fast authentication with a single touch
  • Reduces IT operational costs
  • Multiprotocol support on a single key
  • Crush-resistant and waterproof
  • Choice of USB-A and USB-C form factors
  • Made in the USA & Sweden

Basically, it's a small USB dongle that you insert into your PC and use to login to websites. It provides you with the 2 factor authentication that security experts have been urging you to use for years! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Should all locks have keys? Phones, Castles, Encryption, and You.

It has been a very long time since I've posted anything to the blog, I guess once you get out of the habit it's really tough to get back to it. However this is one of those times where I felt particularly compelled to share something. "Grey" over at has put together a great video discussing the difference between physical and digital locks... or encryption. It's 5 minutes worthy of your attention. There is a difference between the rules that govern our physical properties and those that govern our digital ones, or at least there had been. A debate is on, most notably in the U.S., that has some law makers asking for the golden key to your, and everybody else's data. in nearly all cases.
The proposed Burr-Feinstein Encryption Bill requires that all companies providing any kind communications or data service be able to give information to the government in an ''intelligible format.'' If the company made the data unintelligible, it must provide ''technical assistance'' to undo it. In case there is any question about the aim, the bill defines intelligible as ''decrypted, deciphered, decoded, demodulated, or deobfuscated to its original form.'' 

Being a Canadian citizen I was appalled to learn, but not really surprised, of the recent disclosure in a Quebec court case that the RCMP had Blackberry's global encryption key since 2010 giving them access to all communications between consumer Blackberry devices. The RCMP have effectively implemented a "man in the middle" attack, with Blackberry's consent, on all non Government or Enterprise Blackberry communication and fought hard to keep this information from becoming public.

Blackberry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen responded with this blog post full of vague catch phrases like "do what is right for the citizenry" and "comply with reasonable lawful access requests". To this I ask is it reasonable to provide access to the communications of millions of users to target the communications of a few? Who makes Blackberry or it's CEO the arbiter of what is "right for the citizenry"?

If you haven't already you should assume that your communications are accessible unless you've taken care, beyond what you are told by your service provider, in protecting it. Governments globally are using the naivety of the general public and scaremongering tactics to influence our acceptance of their excessive use of powers and are seeking the power to circumvent our security in the name of what is "right for the citizenry". One of the few methods of ensuring some measure of privacy is encryption and granting Governments the keys to this kingdom is extremely dangerous.   

Please also have a quick read of this Electronic Frontier Foundation document on "the crypto wars".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The 5 Best Things About Android 5.0 Lollipop on Nexus 5

A little background info:

In February my last Nexus device gave up, it was under contract with Rogers with nearly a year remaining so I decided to pick up a Nexus 5 from the Play store in order to have the freedom to move to another carrier if I so choose. I love the Nexus 5, it's every bit the phone that I came to expect from the official line of Google phones.

From the original un-boxing battery life has been good, for my usage, but not great. I purchased the Nexus Wireless Charger with the device, because it was the micro USB port on the old Nexus that gave way, and because I fully expected to be charging the device on a daily basis.

I have to say that I've been blown away with the battery performance I now get with the Nexus 5 and the new Android Lollipop, so much so that I've come out of a 2 year blogging hiatus to let you know about it.

While I'm at it, I might as well let you know some of the other things I'm liking about Lollipop. So here is my top 5:

  1. Battery usage. We've already established this. While I do not have scientific data to back my claim I can assure you that it is greatly improved. A typical day on my smart phone includes texting, emails, twitter, and a Google search or two. I use Google Now to catch up on tech news and sports scores. I use Google Fit. GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth are generally enabled. With Kit-Kat I would typically leave the house with a full charge and return it to the Wireless Charger when I arrived at home or at least when I headed off to bed. I would get roughly 18 hours worth of use, that's about all that I was comfortable with as it seemed like the top half of the tank lasted much longer than the bottom half. Probably just me, but that's how it appeared. I just set my Nexus on the charger after 36 hours with 20% battery remaining. Android does a great job of tracking which app or service is using battery and also graphs usage over it's current cycle.
  2. Performance. Again no scientific evidence but the apps I use, even 3rd party apps, are quicker to launch and more responsive. Feels like it's fresh out of the box.
  3. Smart notifications. Beyond the flashing LED, Lollipop now allows you to view messages on the login screen before unlocking the device. This means that you can tell if there is a text message or an email just by hitting the power button. I've set mine so that no detailed information is displayed, which is also a nice feature.
  4.  Guest Mode. Now you can put your device in "guest mode" which allows you to hand it over to someone and lock down what they can do. Let's say someone asks to make a call, change the user to Guest and they'll not be able to access email, texts, photos, etc. They get access to the phone function and some apps but all of your data is secured to your account.
  5. Multitasking. While previous versions of Android allowed you to view all open apps, Lollipop's scrolling cards makes it much easier to jump between applications. At first I thought this was just eye candy, pun intended, but the more I use it the more I realize that it truly just works better.
I've only just begun to explore Lollipop so I may find other features to love, or hate, I'll be sure to post my thoughts again once I've used it for a while.

Please comment if you have your own favourite features or helpful tips to share.