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North Broughton Kayaking Adventure

August 31st, 2014  · stk

Nanaimo to Polkinghorn Island | Aug 19

Note: The journal is currently text-only. Eventually, we'll add photos. For now, you can see the accompanying pictures in a Facebook album

It's 7 PM and we are in the Polkinghorn Islands. We were dropped off by James Willson and his water taxi "Rainbow Chaser" about an hour ago, on a rocky islet on the leeward side of the main Polkinghorn Island. From our drop off spot we had only a short five-minute paddle over to Polkinghorn Island where we are making camp tonight.

We are about one and a half hours into our week-long kayak trip and already were wondering if we're going to survive this trip. It is a trip that seems ill fated!!

We arrived in Port McNeil for our 4pm meet up with the water taxi. We unloaded our gear from the car and carried it down onto the wharf. James Willson, of Silver King Water Taxi, arrived and taxied us across Queen Charlotte Straight, crashing through the swell and over the waves. When we reached Polkinghorn Island, her nosed the boat up to an rocky islet where we unloaded. We hauled our bags around the runner boards of the boat, across the bow and onto the rock, making numerous trips until all our gear was off. Last to come off the boat were the kayaks and then we stood and watched as he pulled away and out of sight.

Left alone on the rocks, we turned to our kayaks to load up for the short paddle to camp. Rachel pulled off her hat cover and groaned. There were no neoprene gasket covers under the hard shell covers. Nothing to really make a water seal on the storage holds. Not a good start to our week long trip!

We loaded our gear in, somewhat haphazardly into the bulkheads and then ventured out. It was only 5 minutes before we were pulling up onto the beach in a small cove on Polkinghorn Island. Scott climbed out of his kayak and ventured up on to the beach small area. There was nothing that looked definitely about the tide line so he stepped into a small clearing in the salal and came out into a grassy clearing which would be our camp for the night.

We unloaded all our gear and pulled the kayaks up onto the headland. We put up the tent and then went to change out of our shorts and wet shoes. Oh no! Rachel had somehow missed packing her socks and Scott had not packed his fleece. Wow! How unprepared are we!? How did this get by us? I'll tell you how - because we were rushed. We only got home from Oregon on Friday afternoon and then we had to get our rental trailer ready for a change of tenants the next day. When that was taken care of, we did our packing on Saturday night before Rachel left for Williams Lake on Sunday morning, not to return to Nanaimo again until late Monday evening. We then finished our packing that evening (or thought we did) and went to bed. We got up at 6:30 in the morning, loaded up the car, tied the kayaks on top, dropped the dog off at the dog sitters (forgetting to take his bed for him) and then hit the road for Port McNeil.

As we were driving up the Island Highway, Rachel got out her GoPro which she had just bought an Oregon, so that she can familiarize yourself with it. As she was playing with it and going through the box and accessories, she realized that somehow the WiFi remote had been separated from the rest of the gear and left behind. Another thing left behind! As we pulled through Campbell River we stopped in at Walmart, London Drugs and Target to buy another one, but they didn’t have any.

Further up the highway, Rachel pulled out the maps and guidebook to read up on where we were going to be paddling. Before we go on a trip like this, we take these resources to Staples and we copy the sections that are applicable to where we're going to be traveling so that we don’t have to carry more than we need, and so that the originals remain in good condition. Well, Rachel began flipping through the 50 pages of guidebook to find the section on the Polkinghorn Island area, but the copies seemed to end right at that part. The guidebook seems to be organized in an non-intuitive way, jumping all around, but we were sure that we had photocopied the whole two chapters that cover the Johnstone Straight and Broughton Islands but we were apparently short of some. Scott didn’t seem to be too rattled by this, but Rachel was a little concerned.

Now that we are here, Scott is making us dinner. He lit up the stove but it isn't burning well. The flame is orange instead of blue, and the jet is not putting out much. Sure enough, he is able to fix it, but there are a few cuss words flying around and it is one more thing that's going wrong.

While Scott is working on the stove Rachel has sat down to do the journal. Out comes the phone and the Bluetooth keyboard, but the keyboard has never been paired with this phone before and for some reason the two aren’t finding each other. We've lost count now. Is that ill fate number 8? I think so: 1)dog bed, 2) WiFi GoPro remote, 3) map description, 4) kayak hatch covers, 5) socks, 6) fleece, 7) stove, 8) keyboard.

While Scott has gone off to take find his rain jacket (so he can layer up) Rachel has dug out the low tech pen and paper. Pray for us. Hopefully will make it back to Telegraph Cove alive in 6 days time.

I may have made this sound rather doom and gloom, and when we initially arrived, Rachel was certainly feeling that way. She was so anxious about the trip that she was nearly in tears. But, now that we are both on our second cup of wine, the food smells good, Rachel has on a pair of Scott’s socks, Scott is layered up with his rain jacket, and the wind has died down and we have devised a plan for dealing with the hatch covers. Things don’t seem quite so bad. We are sitting her looking out at the view toward Vincent and Percy Island, with a section of the mainland behind, and we marvel at the beauty that surrounds us. It is nearing dusk and we are now looking forward to a great week of paddling.

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Updated: 16-Sep-2014
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Alexa Rankings

June 2nd, 2013  · stk

A practical guide to your website Alexa ranking. What it is, what are its pitfalls, why it's important and what you can do to increase your Alexa ranking. Written as a result of questions fielded by a web client, concerned that their ranking was substantially lower than those of his competitors.

What are Alexa Rakings & Should I Care?

Alexa is to website owners as Klout is to Twitter or Nielsen ratings are to television. It's a way to see how your website traffic compares to your competitors (or any other website in the world for that matter).

Founded in 1996 by two entrepreneurs, the name Alexa gives props to the Library of Alexandria, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the Internet - today's largest body of knowledge (pornography notwithstanding).

In addition to offering a toolbar that gave Internet users suggestions on where to go next, Alexa also offers statistical information for each website one visits. Originally, Alexa archived the websites it crawled and this database served as the basis for the creation of the "Internet Archive", which can now be accessed through the Wayback Machine.

Alexa was acquired by Amazon in 1999 for about $250MM (USD) and has been through much, though analytic Alexa rankings remains a core function of this Amazon subsidiary.

For anyone owning or managing a website, Alexa rankings can offer valuable insight. If you advertise on your website, know that advertisers use Alexa rankings to determine rate-of-pay and other factors - your Alexa ranking becomes very important. For most website owners, Alexa rankings are another one of those "devil-in-the-details" things. You should know about it, how it works (and about its inherent flaws) and the small changes and improvements you can make to your website to increase its Alexa ranking. This article will cover all of this, in a practical way.

Understanding & Improving Your Alexa Ranking

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Updated: 4-Jun-2013
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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

Filed in:News

Dear Facebook

May 21st, 2013  · stk

NewsBrief: [Dear Mark Zuckerberg] Why Facebook fails when it comes to malware or malicious software detection. Warning users not to download and run software from untrusted sources is good. Forcing users to download and run software from Facebook, in order to log-in again, is bad.


Open Letter to Facebook

Dear Mark Zuckerberg - I thought I would write to you Mark, since you are both the creator of Facebook and its public face (even though I know that it has grown and there's no way you can put your personal stamp on everything). I am writing to let you know of an ironic problem with your service, which I have come to utilize on a nearly daily basis (congrats on making something so relevant and useful).

What the system needs to know is that using a URL-shortening service (which takes long, ugly links and make them appear shorter) does not mean that I have a virus on my personal computer. Seriously. I am a web developer. I know a thing or two about malware, viruses and SPAM. A tad more than your Facebook service does ... like ... a LOT more.

So, when I reply to someone with two sentences and add a shortened link (e.g., it is not malware or SPAM, nor does it indicate that my personal computer is infected with a virus.

I have tried to tell you this many times before. When the system said: "Warning: The link you are trying to use has been blocked because it looks like malware, SPAM or may contain a virus. If you think this message is in error, please contact us" (paraphrased). Countless times I explained that a shortened URL is not SPAM, malware or imply a local virus infection. Obviously, the time I spent doing this was wasted.

It used to be that when Facebook "detected" SPAM or malicious content, it would degrade gracefully, suggesting that I check my computer for virus, but offer an opportunity to reclaim my account. No longer is this the case. This morning when it (again erroneously) assumed that a shortened URL was malicious content or a computer virus, I was ungraciously logged off of Facebook and led down a garden path. When I logged in, I see the following message:

For security reasons your account is temporarily locked

Unfortunately, your computer may be infected with a virus.
Don't worry. We'll help you find and remove any infected files right away.


Hitting the "Continue" button yields an ironic message:

How you might have been infected

Often, users who are infected with malware are tricked into running a malicious program, which infects their machine with malware. Remember, you should never run programs from sources that you don't trust.


The irony, of course, is what happens on the very next screen. Your system - after warning users never to run programs from sources they don't trust - ironically says I have a virus and (as an the only option) must download and run some software, in order to proceed! LMFAO!

I mean, we all TRUST Facebook, right? (How many SPAM "Farmville" notifications have I received, applications that post my personal information to "friends" or other untrustworthy behavior? ... TOO MANY!) But now, I'm supposed to believe Facebook when it says I have a virus and that I should download and run software that it CLAIMS is from McAfee? What a ridiculous proposition! (Especially given the message on the previous page!) Asking visitors to download and run software that is claimed will "fix" your personal computer is the oldest SCAM on the internet (next to cheap medications and promises of making millions while working at home)! LOL

Mark, where's this option: "The Facebook system screwed up, I swear I don't have a virus on my local computer and can I PLEASE just log into the account I was happily in 5 minutes ago?"? Pity it no longer exists and instead you force users down some shady garden path.

No, not pity ... more like PITA

I mean, I'm glad you partnered up with McAfee and everything, but (a) IF I thought I had a virus (which I do not), I'd pick TrendMicro or BitDefender as my scanning solution, not McAfee and (b) I don't have a virus and it is your bloody Facebook system that's the hang up here ... so don't shove software at users they don't want it (or trust it), sending them down a work-flow path that is both time-consuming and (in the case of shortened URLs) completely unnecessary. Your user's time is more valuable than you give it credit.

On the other hand, I waste too much time on Facebook anyway. Maybe I should thank you for locking me out of Facebook for no reason! I need to refocus energy on my blog anyway! :p

Sincerely, A User who got shortened out of Facebook

PS - Though I tried renaming my personal computer, clearing my cache (and my cookies) ... I could not log into Facebook. (Hmmm, I should try a different browser - Edit: Switching browsers worked! Must be a browser-dependent virus then, eh Mark? LOL). Maybe I'll just wait and see how long it takes until Facebook assumes my PC is "magically cured". LOL.

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Updated: 21-May-2013
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Passing the Sniff Test

October 22nd, 2012  · stk

Passing the Sniff Test -- Scott & Rachel are replacing their broken Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera. They can buy it locally for $349 CAD, but know they are cheaper in the States. They almost pulled the trigger on one for $162, but the company - - turned out to be a SCAM. Find out more. Scam

British Columbia - NAFTA woes continue for Scott & Rachel. While backpacking in Cape Scott two summer's ago, the Lumix camera they loved (Leica-lens, 10X optical zoom), popped out of it's soft case, landing hard on a wooden bridge. It wouldn't work any more. They took it to a camera repair shop, but thought the $180 repair bill was a tad expensive.

Fast-forward to this summer, when they had an amazing kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait. They missed lots of great wildlife shots, because they lacked a good digital camera with a decent zoom lens. The decided that they would bite the bullet and purchase the latest Lumix camera. (Updated to a 20X optical zoom - same weight and form factor, plus a few other goodies - GPS, touch-screen menu).

They've highlighted the disparity in digital camera prices between the United States and Canada. First with their Casio EX-Z875 digital camera and again with the Lumix DMC-TZ5 that broke.

Today, this latest Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera is "on sale" at their local Canadian Future Shop (if money weren't an object, they could drive right down and buy the camera, today and be instantly gratified knowing that they got it on sale). The sale price is $349.99 ("Save $30" the online advert says).

Knowing that they could probably buy the camera in the States for a lot less money, they headed to their friendly shopping bots and gave them a spin. Actually, it was their head that spun, when they saw a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera on sale through a Yahoo e-commerce vendor ( for $160. Wow!

To learn how cheaply they were able to buy this camera (and how they were almost swindled out of nearly $165) ... read on brave consumer ...

The Deal & the Scam

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Updated: 1-Nov-2012
Web View Count: 57626 viewsLast Web Update: 1-Nov-2012
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Johnstone Strait Sea Kayaking

September 2nd, 2012  · stk

NewsBrief: [Kidless Kayaking] Scott & Rachel took advantage of the fact that Alex is off with her maternal grandparents, visiting Watch Lake & riding horses with her cousins. They went on a 5-day sea kayaking trip, leaving from Telegraph Cove and paddling down Johnstone Strait and out to the Indian Group.

johnstone strait sea kayaking adventure - black bear

Paddling the Wild Life

Rachel & Scott just returned from a 5-day sea kayaking trip in the Broughton Archipelago area of Johnstone Strait. Wildlife was amazing! lots of orca, humpback whales, porpoises, black bear, bald eagles, sea lions, harbor seals and ... even a grey wolf (fleeting view) ... plus they were serenaded by the wolf as they packed up camp!

"Best sea kayaking trip so far!" exclaimed Rachel.

Paddling Area

Full journal and pictures coming soon. In the meantime, you can listen to the grey wolf (2-3 min recording made in camp). Haunting! (This grey wolf showed himself on the rocky, fog-shrouded bluff, near our campsite on the northern side of Crease Island. He darted for the woods and then serenaded us for the better part of 40 minutes, while we packed up camp. We cobbled together this 2-3 minute audio recording for your listening pleasure.)

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Updated: 8-Oct-2012
Web View Count: 7979 viewsLast Web Update: 8-Oct-2012