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Archives for: June 2009

Filed in:Alexandra
Family

Last Day of Kindergarten

June 24th, 2009  · stk

Kindergarten is finished today. Alex is pretty certain she'll have a great summer, filled with lots of social activities. We're pretty certain Alex is going to miss school. (Class photo included).

"The Oop" Graduates Kindergarten Per Ultum Tripudium

There were no caps; no gowns. There wasn't any of the pomp and circumstance that graduates across the U.S. and Canada are experiencing this month. Alex just went to school at 11:35 AM and was released at 2:15 PM, just like any other day. The only difference, of course, is that it wasn't just like any other day, because it was the last day of kindergarten.

I asked her, this morning, if she was going to miss school (as I'm pretty sure she will, since she's such a social creature). It surprised me when she said, "No."

Exploring a little further, I asked, "Why not?"

"Well Dad," she said, putting her hands on her little hips, as she does when she's explaining how things are, "because during the summer, I don't have to go to school, see? And every day I'll have play dates!"

(I told you she was a social creature).

Unfortunately, as the Dad and one of two qualified chauffeurs in the house, I was pretty certain that her hastily thought-out plan of multiple 'play dates' per day weren't going to be the norm. I tried to explain that school was the ultimate play date and especially because (now) she's in day-care on many days, in addition to school, so she actually has more actual playing opportunities when school is in session, than during the summer months. (In our rural neighborhood, Alex has only a few kids to play with, within walking distance and none are her age - there are two that are 1-2 years younger than Alex and three that are 4 or more years older).

Of course, my argument fell on deaf ears and Alex remains excited by the prospect of upcoming 'social' summer!

To see Alex's kindergarten class photo ... head to the next page

The Graduating Kindergarten Class

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More NAFTA Woes

June 22nd, 2009  · stk

Once again, NAFTA fails to level the consumer playing field. This time, I ended up shopping in the United States for a Motorola MR350R two-way radio. I can't even get the bloody thing in Canada, at the moment. Find out why.

Motorola TalkAbout MR350R Two-Way Radios

On January 6th, 2009, Motorola unveiled its 2009 collection of TalkAbout two-way radios at a trade show in Las Vegas. On June 8th, 2009, Motorola declares the MR350R two-way radio is a "Perfect Father's Day Gift for Adventurous Dads".

I didn't know anything about the Motorola MR350R two-way radio until just prior to Father's Day, when I spied it for sale in a Canadian TigerDirect catalog. After reading the specifications Motorola MR350R Specs Motorola MR350R two-way radios specs Key Features  · Range of 35 miles  · 22 channels (each w/121 privacy codes)  · Dual power (3 AA batteries & NiMH pack)  · Battery Life: 27h (Alkaline), 9h (NiMH)  · Built-in iVOX hands-free  · Built-in LED Flashlight  · 7 NOAA & 4 EC Marine Weather channels  · Weather alert mode  · 20 call tones & "VibraCall" mode  · PTT Power boost  · Keypad lock, audible low battery, emergency alert, flexible charging options.   Click pop-up/link for specs at Motorola's website , the MR350R radio did appear to be an excellent communications tool for around our 5-acre property and floating cabin. Because both locations have spotty-to-no cell phone coverage and the radios also receive government weather alerts, they would be as much for safety, as for convenience.

Unlike most power tools I want, it didn't require a lot of convincing to sell the idea to Rachel. Yay! It looked like I might indeed be getting a cool "Father's Day" gift! All I had to do - I thought - was telephone TigerDirect and order it.

That's when problems began.

To learn why I ended up - again - purchasing the MR350R Motorola two-way radios in the United States and not Canada, why Canadians aren't getting a fair shake from NAFTA and how companies - like Motorola - downplay the Canada marketplace ... read on.

Deals South of the Border - AGAIN!

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Oop Loves Hardware Stores

June 18th, 2009  · stk

Scott and Alex attend the Grand Opening of the new Chase River RONA store. (RONA is a Canadian-based hardware store). They were thrilled to get some free hardware swag! The new store cuts our hardware store driving time from 32 kilometers to 13 kilometers. Yay!

Rona Hardware Store: Grand Opening in Chase River

Updates:
Save at RONA - Price Matching
Chase River Development - Sandstone

This morning, I mentioned to the Oop, "Rona is having their big Grand Opening today at 9 AM. If we go, we can get some free gifts!"

Being a lover of hardware stores (and gifts), Alex was immediately excited!

"I wanna go! Let's go! I'll go get dressed, right now" she said, bounding from the chair in which she was sitting and abandoning the computer game she was playing (Webkinz World).

We drove to the new hardware store in Chase River (just across the Island Highway from South Gate Center). It's a good thing we got there at 8:30 AM, as the gift bags were for the first 100 customers and there was already a line-up of about 50 people or so.

We waited a half hour (which is like a day and a half in 5-year-old waiting time). Towards the end, Alex's patience was wearing thin, despite the prospect of free stuff. As we finally walked through the front door, we were each greeted by a Rona employee, who handed us a re-usable shopping bag, filled with a Rona ball cap, a tape measure and a $10 gift certificate.

In addition to a bag, the Oop also got a helium balloon and (several) cookies. Dad bought a 4-foot piano hinge (to be used as a project with Alex, in making a dozen or so new bird houses, which we'll nail to trees around the yard and pasture).

For more about the Rona Grand Opening adventure and what it means to us, read on ...

RONA Grand Opening

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Blue Bird of Happiness

June 14th, 2009  · stk

We have a "new" twitter update status tool for our blog. See how it works (will be followed-up with a detailed discussion of how we made it, modified the JavaScript that comes with the Twitter API and some other nifty tricks we added). Some assembly required.

Twitter This, Twitter That

twitter bird

When the blue bird chirps, we've Tweet'd w/in the past hour.

twitter-logo

It seems that the whole world is a-flutter, over little blue birds (which are the universal symbol for "Twitter", a increasingly popular "micro-blogging" service). Twitter is used to make 140-character comments about what you're doing. You can even embed photos, videos and links - to be rendered in-place, by browser add-on applications. Use it to keep in touch with "friends", for time-delayed "conversations", social networking, staying on top of important (and not-so important) breaking news, popular topics, wasting your employers time or digging deeper into research: trends, keywords, news and other things.

We started tweeting early this year and I finally got around to customizing a "twitter status update", which you'll find in our "Site Tools" section of our blog sidebar. It's a bit different than most Twitter status updates I've seen and here's how it works:

IF you see the blue-bird a-singing (animated musical notes), it means that we've "tweeted" within the last hour or so. Hovering over this little blue twitter bird will reveal a stylish pop-up containing our latest "tweet" (140-char story-line of "what we're doing right now"). It's a great way to see what we're up to, see how witty we can be and we think it's a nice add-on (a mini-blog, if you will).

If you CLICK the blue-bird, whether he's singing or not, you'll get a pop-up list of our last 5 tweets. Each tweet may - or may not - contain links to web-pages or our fellow twitter friends, with whom we're "conversing". Follow the links to learn more. At the bottom of the 5-tweet list is a CSS-rollover link that invites you to "follow us" on twitter. It even degrades gracefully if JavaScript is disabled. We think it's pretty cool.

Coming Soon: A Twitter-torial covering "How to add a Twitter status update to your own blog", which will include detail about using the Twitter API, modifying the JavaScript, make a Twitter status list pop-up and some of the other cool stuff involved in making our own twitter status update tool.

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Helping IE6 Out the Door

June 12th, 2009  · stk

Randsco No Longer Supports Internet Explorer Six

Last month, we made the decision to drop support for Internet Explorer version six (IE6). Visitors using this eight-year-old browser will see a pop-up information box, when they land here. The box says:

quote

Update Your Browser

As of May 2009, we no longer support Internet Explorer 6. The reasons for this decision are many.

We strongly recommend that you upgrade your browser to a newer version. The current version is Internet Explorer 8. The upgrade is free.

Hint: For a better browser, use FireFox.

 

To learn about our reasoning for this move, what it means for visitors, the problems with IE6 and why FireFox beats IE hands-down ... read on.

Why We Dropped Support for IE6

IE6 is listed as #8 of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

- PC World Magazine   

Below is a short list of some of the reasons behind our decision to drop support for Internet Explorer 6:

  1. IE6 is old and antiquated
  2. IE6 is crappy compared to modern alternatives
  3. IE6 support costs web-developers frustration & time
  4. IE6 needs to go - now

 

IE6 Is Old

The release date for Internet Explorer Six is Aug 2001. That was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center! IE6 is older than the iPod, the television show "24", IE5 for the Mac and the Hummer H2.

At its peak, in 2003, IE6 commanded roughly 95% of the browser market and created for Microsoft, a browser monopoly that resulted in a U.S. Justice court case against the company.

Success of IE6 is attributable to a number of factors:

  • Unlike early version of Netscape & Opera, IE6 was free
  • It was bundled and integrated with the most popular O/S - Windows
  • It was the best browser available at the time and competitors were lacking

IE6 Is a Crappy Browser

IE6 may have been the best browser in 2001, but this is 2009 and eight years is an Eon of time, technologically speaking. Compared to modern browsers - which are many and all free - IE6 is wildly inferior. Here's a brief list of some reasons why:

IE6 is one of The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time.

 

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Oop Shots

June 10th, 2009  · stk

A slide show consisting of 75 photos taken by our 5-year-old daughter, Alex, over the course of a year and a half, using her "Little Tikes" 640x480 digital camera. Our world from a three-foot-something, kid's perspective.

Photography from a Child's Perspective

Shortly after our daughter, Alex (AKA "the Oop"), turned four, we gave her a digital camera for Christmas. She's now five and a half years old and has used the camera for a year and a half, taking roughly 750 pictures all-told.

It's interesting to see what catches her eye, even though many of the pictures didn't turn out well. While we really like the rugged quality, ease of use and child-oriented design of her "Little Tikes" digital camera "My Real Digital Camera" by Little Tikes little tikes digital camera We bought this durable camera in Canada for approximately $30 CAD. It's worked well for Alex for a year and a half. Pros: The camera is well designed for little fingers, it's rugged and will take abuse, it has both a 1.3" LCD screen and a view-finder for framing shots, it's easy to use, has auto flash and stores about a 1000 pictures (64 MegaBytes). Cons: Picture quality could be better (it takes 640px by 480px shots with some spherical aberration and blurring). There is an appreciable shutter delay, which children must understand, before they can begin to take non-blurry shots. (One needs to hold the camera steady for about a second, after pressing the shutter button). It uses 4 "AAA" batteries & also comes in pastel colors. Thinking of getting one? Click inside this box or the link for more information & reviews on the Little Tikes website. , it has one major flaw - there is a one second delay between pressing the shutter button and when the image is captured. It took Alex a while to work out that she needs to hold the camera steady during and after she presses the button.

We figured that it was high time to show off our daughter's photography "skills" and share her visions through the lens. Life looks a lot different when you're only three feet tall and the things that she's pointed her camera at ... well, you can only conclude that they're important to her!

On to the Show

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