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Digital Camera Shopping

June 5th, 2008  · stk

OLD POST: Just getting around to adding the finishing touches on this post about our purchasing experience for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 camera. (Since broke and we're buying the newer version of the same camera ... and again in the U.S.) The price differences remain huge between Canada and the United States.

Lumix DMC-TZ5 Digital Camera:
Priced Higher in Canada than the United States - Why?

We've been looking to purchase a second digital camera. We really like our current Casio EX-850 digital camera, but it lacks certain features: 28mm wide angle, close focusing distance & a long zoom. Additionally, two cameras come in handy on family adventures, as we'll no longer miss photo opportunites because the other of us has the camera.

When Rachel spied a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera on sale at a local London Drugs store, it looked like it had the features we wanted: quality Leica lenses, 10X optical zoom, 28mm wide angle and close-focusing distances for macro shots! Yay!

Because London Drugs has a great 30-day price-matching and return policy, we felt comfortable pulling the trigger and quickly making a purchase. The sale price was $379 CAD and by the time we paid the taxes (12% - 7% PST and 5% GST) the total price came to $425.59.

Once we got the Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera home, I read the manual and made a bunch of test shots. We were pleased with the the camera. We also checked to make certain we were getting the lowest price.

What I discovered illustrates that Canadians often pay substantially more than Americans for consumer products. Also, the difficulty I had with ordering demonstrates some of the pitfalls with mail-order companies - especially for Canadians.

By buying in the United States, I ultimately saved $150 over the London Drugs sales price. However, I had to ship the camera to a U.S. address and as a result, didn't have it in my hot grubby hands until our next planned visit to the States.

To find out how Canadians can save by buying mail-order consumer goods in the United States .... read on.

Does NAFTA Level the Playing Field?

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Updated: 22-Oct-2012
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Guess Whoo's Barred?

May 30th, 2008  · stk

A National Geographic photographer I am not. As providence would have it, however, I spotted a "Barred Owl" in our pasture the same week I was testing a new (powerful zoom) digital camera. I was able to get some decent photos and now I'm sold on the camera. (It was an expensive owl sighting!)

Barred Owl Spotted at the Hutton House

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I happened to be taking our guest dog for a pee break, in the pasture, when I spotted this Barred Owl (Strix Varia) in a large Douglas Fir tree. I quietly and quickly went back to the house and grabbed the new Lumix TZ5 digital camera I'm testing this week (it has 70X digital zoom).

Sometimes, lady luck smiles broadly in your direction! :D

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Updated: 30-May-2008
Web View Count: 47942 viewsLast Web Update: 30-May-2008
Filed in:CSS
Web Dev·The Web

Playing with Opacity

May 29th, 2008  · stk

Opacity is a CSS3 directive, but there's no reason not to start using it today. Apply it against the major browsers, validate it against the W3C CSS validator and I'll even show you a great "Before & After CSS Opacity Technique" for displaying your before-after photos

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Using the CSS3 "Opacity" Directive: Future-Proof, Valid CSS and No CSS Hacks

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The "Opacity" CSS directive is part of the CSS "level 3" Color Module, which is a "Candidate Recommendation". In a nutshell, this means that opacity isn't "ready for prime time".

Darn and phooey! You like opacity. And why not? It's fun to play with and you can achieve some nifty web effects using opacity. (I'll demonstrate an opacity technique that provides a great CSS-only way of showing "before" and "after" photos!)

Enjoy the MAGIC of Valid CSS3 Today!

What is opacity? Well, it's the opposite of transparency. Something that has 100% opacity is 0% transparent. Likewise, something with 0% opacity is 100% transparent.

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) recommends thinking of opacity as a post-processing operation. After an element (including it's children) is rendered into an image for the computer monitor, the opacity setting specifies how to blend the element into the final display.

Applying opacity to an element is easy. Simply specify the "opacity" directive to a selector and provide a value from zero to 1.0, where zero is completely transparent and 1.0 is completely opaque.

Of course, the difficulty is that the level 3 CSS candidate recommendations are only honored by a select number of web browsers, notably current versions of FireFox, Opera, Safari & Netscape. As usual, the Grand Pubah of browsers (Microsoft's Internet Explorer), doesn't adhere to this as-yet approved CSS directive.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm here to tell you that if you want to use opacity for your web pages - you can! We have been for some time!

There's a way to use opacity for FireFox, Opera, Safari, as well as Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7. (According to AWSTATS, a web server statistics program, 97% of our 113,728 April visitors used one of these browsers ... heck, that's about as close to "everyone" as you're going to get in this cross-browser world of ours!).

There's even a way to use opacity so that the CSS validates (to verify this, just click on the "CSS" validation button in the footer below)!

Best yet, it's completely future-proof and requires no CSS hacks.

OKAY ... you're primed and ready. You want to start using opacity.

All you have to do is read on, Cascading Style Sheet lovers ... read on ...

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Updated: 30-May-2008
Web View Count: 53674 viewsLast Web Update: 30-May-2008

Timberlands U-Cut

May 25th, 2008  · stk

Yesterday, Scott spent the day cutting a cord of wood at an Island Timberlands clear-cut. It was hard work, but for $30 a cord, who could resist? Find out more

A Chainsaw, Cord-of-Fire-Wood-Cutting Day

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We heat our home with a wood stove. Last winter wasn't super cold, but it did seem to linger and we were scraping the bottom of the wood shed by the time warm spring weather finally arrived. We're already thinking about building next year's supply, but not eager to shell out approximately $170 per cord. When Travis called to say that we had an opportunity to cut our own fire wood for $30 a load, we changed our family's weekend plan, so that Scott could participate.

Alex and I woke up at 6 AM on Saturday, tended to the chickens, fixed a fresh, fried-egg breakfast and then headed over to Travis' house. Alex stayed, to play with Miki, while Travis and I headed up to a clear cut area behind Chase River, to chainsaw up a bunch of fire wood.

The land is owned by Island Timberlands and for a handful of days this year (6) it is opened up to the public, so that they can cut fire wood. The "U-Cut" program is unique and (as far as clear-cutting can be considered environmentally friendly) it is a beneficial way for the timber company to get rid of unwanted timber. (Normally, such timber is heaped into a great big pile and burned).

Neither Travis, nor myself, have been on a timber land chain sawing trip, so for us, it was a new adventure!

To read more about our chain sawing, sweat dripping day .... read on ...

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Updated: 2-Jun-2008
Web View Count: 45120 viewsLast Web Update: 2-Jun-2008

Going Once, Going Twice

May 22nd, 2008  · stk

Whiting Way Estates: (an update)

Of the eight 5-acre parcels for sale at the end of our neighborhood, only two remain. Six sold in less than four months, all over $250k CAD. Amazing. See which, for what, get an update on the tree-killing neighbor and see a pure-CSS hover technique

75% of Whiting Way Estate Lots Sold in Four Months

The advertisement on page twenty seven of the May 2008 issue of the local "Take 5" magazine reads:

Serene Yellow Point Acreage

Wonderful 4 to 6 acre properties. In a postcard setting, right in the heart of sought after Yellow Point. ONly 8 parcels in total, each with their own unique qualities, but all very nicely treed and private. One of the areas sunniest spots, abundance of wildlife, ponds, forest and wonderful park area. Only a short walk to incredible Robert's Memorial oceanfront park, airport, ferries & picturesque Ladysmith within a 15-minute commute. This will be a great place to live!

The magazine advert by realtor Ed Morrison, was accompanied by a small sketch map, showing that four of the properties had been sold.

In late January, we reported that the first of these eight parcels, in our neighborhood, had been sold (and that the new owners had illegally cut down trees on designated park land, so he'd get a better view of the pond). The advert sketch map parcels marked as "sold", didn't jive with those marked as "sold" on the "For Sale" signs, at the entrance of each property.

It got me wondering, "Which parcels have, in truth, been sold?"

I called the realtor's office to find out and what I heard, astounded me. Fully six of the eight parcels have already been sold and doggone close to their asking price! That's nearly $300k per pop in four very short months!

To see a map of which properties have sold, asking prices, selling prices, which properties remain and a fancy pure-CSS aerial photography hover overlay (and an update on the tree-slashing, lot-7 owner) ... read on

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Updated: 4-Jun-2008
Web View Count: 18345 viewsLast Web Update: 4-Jun-2008