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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Google Chef Offers Up Crab Cake Recipe

This was meant for Valentine's day but having an interest in crab cakes (ymmm!) I thought I'd point you to this video and recipe courtesy of Google's Executive Chef

Wal-Mart Backs Blu-ray

In what could be a finishing blow to Toshiba's HD DVD format, Wal-Mart has decided to sell high-definition DVDs in the Blu-Ray format exclusively. “We've listened to our customers, who are showing a clear preference toward Blu-ray products and movies with their purchases,” said Gary Severson, Wal-Mart senior vice president on the company's web site yesterday. The move comes days after Netflix put it's support behind Blu-ray, as did consumer electronics chain Best Buy. I don't think I'd be incline to by an HD DVD player now, it's only a matter of time until Toshiba throws in the towel. The only thing that might save the format is the availability of write-able discs and drives but it looks like movies will be published and distributed on Blu-ray.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Paperless Government

The Town of Stratford Prince Edward Island, which is about a 15 minute drive from my home here in Charlottetown, has decided to go paperless. Town council approved a motion on Wednesday night to move all of its documents to electronic format. The town has commissioned a British Columbia based company to provide the software to enable them to archive and retrieve all of its letters, reports, agendas, budgets, etc. through a secure internet portal. The system will cost the town $6000 to install and another $6000 annually to operate and maintain. Stratford's Finance Chair, Emile Gallant points out "If I want to go on and do a search for a letter that we got eight months ago, I don't have to call staff or go looking for it." I don't know about you, but I don't think the paperless thing would work entirely for me as I tend to print and read the large documents! It would be interesting to get councils feedback on the system in 6 months time. CBC Story here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Students Invited To Doodle 4 Google

Google is inviting U.S. K-12 students to design their own Google Doodle (Google's homepage logo). Forty doodlers from different regions around the country who's creations best represent the theme "What if...?" as chosen by a panel of expert judges and Googlers will be invited to the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, in May. The public will vote on 4 finalists and these finalists will then be judged by chief Google doodler Dennis Hwang who will select a grand prize winner. The winners artwork will be displayed on the Google homepage for a day, they will recieve a $10,000 college scholarship for their efforts and a technology grant for their school! I'm checking now to see if has a similar contest...

Bell Recovers Stolen Data After Four Weeks

Montreal police searched 2 locations and arrested one individual in a case involving the theft of data on 3.4 million customers from Quebec and Ontario. The data is said not to have contained any financial information but did include names, addresses, phone numbers and the Bell services subscribed to. There were about 170,000 customers with unlisted and unpublished phone numbers amongst the data stolen and Bell is offering to change the numbers of anyone who requests it. Bell spokesman Mark Langton told that "There's no indication that this data has been used improperly," The arrested apparently was not an employee of Bell so the question remains, how was the data acquired? Once again I'm glad that I'm not a customer of the Bell family of companies...

Spore - ETA September 7, 2008

Game designer Will Wright's highly anticipated next release, Spore, will be released world wide on September 7th according to Wired. Wright who is famous for bringing us Sim City and The Sims, gave Wired an exclusive look at the latest version of Spore which takes game players through the ages from the "primordial soup to space exploration." It's a game that my son and I have been anxiously awaiting for years now, let's hope that this release date sticks! No doubt this gorgeous MMO will be worth the wait, we are just getting a little tired of the delays. Check out the screen shots and commentary on Wired.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rogers 'unlimited' Data Plan = iPhone Finally Coming To Canada?

Last week Rogers Communications Inc. rolled out an "unlimited" data service that offers Canadians a discounted rate on some, but not all, data related activities on most Roger's supported cell phones. The plan allows "unlimited" internet browsing on certain cellphones for $7 a month. Also introduced was a further package for $20 per month that bundles browsing, text messaging, voice mail and call display features. These plans have come under fire by some who claim the word 'unlimited' is deceptive because many common data features are not permitted, such as using your phone as a modem, using Google Maps, or Skype applications. Others however see the move as a precursor to the launch of the iPhone in Canada which has been stifled by high data rates, according to the CBC, under most Canadian data plans the iPhone would cost $300 per month! Whatever side you choose, I am just hoping that this is the sign of things to come. I for one have been holding back on using many of the features of my phone because of the outrageous cost of data usage. I even have a couple of small applications which I have developed and shelved because the cost of running them was too high... perhaps its time to dust off the code!

Illegal Downloads... No More Internet For You!

A yet to be released government proposal in the UK suggests that ISPs would be required to cut service to users who access pirated content via their networks. The proposal is for a "three strikes" system where first offenses would draw a warning leading to the ultimate revoking of services after a third offense. According to the Times newspaper, a leaked draft paper states: "We will move to legislate to require internet service providers to take action on illegal file sharing." The government says the proposal has changed significantly since that report and would not comment on the contents of the leaked document. The association that represents the Internet Service Providers says "ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the Post Office is able to open every envelope," It sounds like the entertainment industry giants have found some friends within government in the UK. The BBC has the story here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Netflix Joins Long Line of Blu-ray Supporters

In a press release today, Netflix is saying that it will "move toward stocking high-def DVDs exclusively in the Blu-ray format." The Netflix decision is said to be based on the decisions of four of six major movie studios to publish high-def DVD titles only in the Sony-developed Blu-ray format. "We're now at the point where the industry can pursue the migration to a single format, bring clarity to the consumer and accelerate the adoption of high-def. Going forward, we expect that all of the studios will publish in the Blu-ray format and that the price points of high-def DVD players will come down significantly." said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. Having lost the Betamax - VHS showdown, it looks as though Sony has the definite leg up on Blu-ray - HD DVD... glad I waited to let this play out! Might be a good excuse to buy a Playstation 3!

Calgary Unveils Hi-Tech Public Potty

The City of Calgary is addressing a shortage of public washrooms with a hi-tech solution. "We know a lack of public washrooms in the centre city is a barrier to visitors, tourists and residents enjoying the area," said city official Dave Breckon. "This installation is another part of addressing the issue." The self cleaning unit has a stainless steel sensor-operated sink, an electronic sliding door, voice messages, music and it self-flushes when someone washes their hands or opens the door to leave. According to the CBC, "After each use, the toilet seat retracts into a rear compartment, allowing an automatic wash cycle to begin that disinfects the seat, sprays the floor with water jets, and then dries everything with fans." I wonder if it comes in a home model?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Yahoo! Board To Tell Microsoft They Are Not Interested... At That Price

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Yahoo!'s Board of Directors will send Microsoft a letter on Monday saying that they are rejecting the 44.6 billion dollar offer to purchase the company. The report says that Yahoo! feels the bid is low and is unlikely to consider anything under 40 dollars a share, which would mean Microsoft would have to pony up another $12 billion. The board is apparently also considering a partnership with Google that would "safe guard" the company's independence. This should really be no surprise to anyone as it is the board's job to get the best value for it's shareholders, and they're probably looking out for their own jobs as well. Can you blame them? Your move Microsoft...