Then again, if it is on fire…

One of the engineers I used to work with was fond of saying “If it isn’t on fire, it’s a software problem”.

Last night while working diligently away on some wireframes on my MacBook Pro I did a double-take when my power adapter did a little pre-Halloween fireworks show and sent up a small but pungent trail of black smoke.


“What’s that smell?” came the chorus from the kitchen. “Well, family, that’s the smell of the clash between form and function”.

All kidding aside, its a good thing I was working at the kitchen counter – not sure what would have happened had I had the computer in my lap, or sitting on bits of paper on the desk (which it often WAS).

I’d read about supposed issues where the power cord connects to the (MagSafe) magnetic connector, but Apple hasn’t issued a recall and there’s no information about this problem on their web site.

I have Apple Care and they didn’t even hesitate to offer to send a new one out. The first question the service rep asked was “Was there anything else damaged when this happened”.

Fortunately I have a 2nd adapter so I’m not without power – not sure what you’d do if you had to wait the 5-7 working days for a new one to arrive.

More, larger pictures on Flickr.


Wow!  I got the new replacement power cable via courier today – one day after talking to Apple Care on the phone.  That’s impressive !


Down for the Count with Leopard

Trick or Treat – it’s Leopard !


Here’s what’s borked on my Mac with the Leopard upgrade (that I’m aware of) :

  • Some Flash upload sites – I use Slide Show Pro’s cms (which is awesome) and it uses a Flash interface to upload photos. That function stops working with Leopard. Work around is FTP (which dulls the convenience of a CMS somewhat) or using Windows. Adobe doesn’t mention anything on their site about issues with Flash, but the SSP folks say Adobe is aware of the problem.
  • Almost all my Alien Skin PhotoShop plug ins. No work around, crashes PS if you try to apply the filter. Alien Skin claims it’ll be December before they fix. Damn, no more goofy Gel Filters for a while.
  • AutoFX stand-alone, the apps don’t even launch. The plug-ins never worked with CS3 on Tiger so maybe they’ll fix the lot, but then again, maybe not. No mention on their web site.

There’s a very thorough review of Leopard on Ars Technica and couldn’t agree more with their review of the changes to the interface.

Organic is Better

They don’t just taste better. A new UK study finds that organic foods are more nutritious…

They found that organic fruit and vegetables contained up to 40% more antioxidants than non-organic varieties. Levels of antioxidants in organic milk were up to 90% higher than in milk from conventional herds. Medical experts believe antioxidants can reduce the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease. Full story here

Leopard – network share GOOD !

Ok, Leopard is impressing me with its refined ability to find shared drives and machines. We still have a couple of Windows boxes running on our home network, and sharing was always a bit spotty. Leopard seems to have sorted that out nicely, and I’m seeing drives on the other machines that I had given up trying to connect with.

So. GOOD GOOD GOOD and super useful in our setup.

Leopard – not so much

Here’s my mini review. This is only after a few hours of use on the MacBook Pro and our household iMac .

1. eye candy, pure and simple. there isn’t ONE new function I really need, but it all look sweet.

2. slow baby, slow. one of the things I loved about my macbook vs. my sony vaio (PC) laptop was how fast the macbook boots. well my friend, leopard is a pig, at least on my machine, and I’ve got 4 gig of ram. maybe things will improve? but so far, my mac seems to be starting very window-esque. this might not be a big deal on a desktop machine, but in a laptop its critical. (There is a thread here about this – so I guess, just like with a windows box, I now have to start hacking my way through a NEW OS so that the machine runs properly. Hmmm, deja vu.)

3. is there a revert button on this thing?

If want you really want are a bunch of new effects in PhotoBooth, parental controls (probably easily side stepped), a different way to share machines and do backups (apple claims easier) and more things swooshing across the screen, then this is for you.

Must See – The Goat

If you’re in the Vancouver area, you have to go see The Goat or Who Is Sylvia at Presentation House in North Vancouver.

It opened last night and only has a 2 week run.

This is Edward Albee’s Tony award winning play, featuring top Vancouver actors. It’s theatre as it should be – sharp, challenging, surprising, tender, and shocking.

This Tony Award winning play by a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright has never been done in Vancouver before – GO!

Sniff of Snow on Local Mountains

It ain’t much, but at least there’s SOME white stuff up there.

This was shot at Cypress sky area today.

I managed to find just as much by the upper parking lot 🙂

Long way to go before we’ll be riding any of this.

Meanwhile, we bought our family downhill seasons passes this week. What a hassle.

I’ll blog (at length) about this later, but Cypress has really got to do something about their online sales (hopeless) and their customer service.

I can’t believe the hassle involved with just trying to buy a pass.

What a pain !

More later.

Apple Makes Record Profits, Goes Crazy with Cardboard

Its very unlike Apple. Their packaging is always super slick and impressive. Today, I got one of their new thin keyboards, ironically, shipped in a box 10 times its size.

The keyboard box itself seems to provide loads of protection for the keyboard.

When I opened up the big box, the keyboard was at the very bottom of the box, with packing piled on top.

We’re recycling the packing – it’s great kraft paper – and the box will go into the blue box tomorrow.

I'd Go Just For the Booth Babes

Every day I read about yet another big conference/trade show – things like the recent Web 2.0 Summit and dozens of others that all start to sound the same after a while.

But here’s a trade show with a real and simple mission.

“Innovations, trends and visions”

I can totally get behind that. And it’s the biggest in the world – you know – sometimes might IS right.

Each day is jammed with activities, panel discussions, stuff to buy and I’d love to check out the booth babes.

FYi has the story of this not-to-be-missed show…

This year’s Agritechnica show – the biggest indoor farm machinery event in the world – takes place in Hanover, Germany from 13-17 Nov. If you want to see what’s new in the world of agricultural machinery, it’s the place to be.

I am so ready for the weather

from Environment Canada for Greater Vancouver
11:54 AM PDT Thursday 18 October 2007
Wind warning for Greater Vancouver continued

East or southeast winds 50 to 70 km/h expected for today then shifting to west or southwest 50 to 90 km/h along parts of the southern mainland coast and southern Vancouver Island late this afternoon and early this evening.

This is a warning that potentially damaging winds are expected or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..Listen for updated statements.

An intense low pressure centre approaching the coast will move across southern Vancouver Island later this afternoon and early this evening. Ahead of the low strong southeasterly winds have developed over the southern sections of the south coast with wind speeds reaching 50 to 70 km/h. As the low moves east of the region very strong west or southwest winds will follow the system especially near southern Vancouver Island with speeds up to 90 km/h forecast in Victoria near the strait of Juan de Fuca. Winds will quickly ease over all areas this evening.

This storm will also bring moderate to heavy rain with general rainfall amounts are expected between 30 to 50 mm over southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Howe Sound will receive up to 60 mm. The rain will taper off tonight as the storm moves inland.

Note to Canadian Retailers – I'll Pay US prices if that's ok with you

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti, his article on the Globe and Mail’s website today really hits home.

A more valuable currency should make the things we buy from other countries cheaper. But, over the past five years, as the value of the Canadian dollar has appreciated against the American dollar, that has not been what’s happened. Canadian retailers have not lowered their prices — instead, they have used the rising dollar to gain excessive profits at the expense of consumers and the whole economy.
[full story at the Globe and Mail]

And right now, this failure to reflect the strong Canadian dollar is really obvious.

However, things have changed the last few years. More and more of us are buying a lot of our consumer and small business goods online.

When there is such a great disparity between the price at retail in Canada, and the same article in the US dollars, it’s up to us to act. And guess what ? The internet is there once again to level the playing field in a big way. Not only can you comparison shop, you can buy online and in a lot of cases, get shipping for free.

But the good retailers, the smart retailers, are actually going out of their way to treat their customers differently. A couple of weeks ago, Craig Strong at Oakwood Broadcast in Winnipeg emailed me (and I’m assuming all their customers, I’m not that special) to point out a number of items that are substantially cheaper, due to the strong dollar. And he says, more price drops to come. Not only is that good business, that’s good customer relations, and he’ll continue to get my loyalty even though he’s 2 provinces away from me.

And today, I went into Steveston Marine to ask them about the price on an Andersen winch for my sail boat. Their web site lists the winch at 699.00 Canadian.

But wait, when I check West Marine’s web site, the same winch is 447.99 U.S.

Hmmm. Even with shipping, I am way ahead buying it from a US company.

And guess what ? Steveston Marine proved how good a retailer they are and matched the price – and in so doing made the sale. And, I suspect, are still are making a decent profit.

So, what to do ? Well, do your homework. It’s hard to argue with a 250.00 difference in price. Or a 25 dollar difference for that matter. Good retailers will do what they can – keep in mind that some of them are getting squeezed by their suppliers.

I’d much rather buy local if I can, so I try to get my local suppliers to at least match pricee (or get close enough). If they won’t budge, take your money and go to where the deal is. FedEx and the internet have made ‘mail order’ cool again.

With some products, its a no-brainer. You know what it is and ordering ‘from away’ is painless.

And some things will surprise you.

I buy all my photo-printing inkjet paper direct from Epson online. I originally went there because I could never get the paper I wanted here at retail. Sometimes Staples would have it, other times not, and the same with London Drugs. What I discovered with Epson is that the paper price is the same or lower than at the local store, and Epson ships for free. Not only that, but ordering paper and ink from them online is way easier than actually finding it at my local Staples. So, I get the stock I want, delivered to my door in a couple of days.

At the end of the day, its up to us to make sure we get a fair deal. If Canadian retailers are guilty, as Ken Georgetti claims, of “greed, gouging and bad citizenship” then us consumers are somewhat complicit because we’ve let them get away with it. Getting the best price is work and takes a bit of advance planning. But I can assure you, you’ll discover who’s a great retailer really quickly when you start asking them to ‘adjust’ their prices.

Second Wave Board Deals (Again)

Its never too early to be thinking about snowboarding. Last year, we had our first ride on Nov 11th, so I’m hoping the local mountains will open up early again this year.

Just back from picking up some amazing deals at Second Wave on Lonsdale. I’ve blogged about them before, and they never fail to impress every time I’m there.

They’ve got a whole rack of last year’s boards at 40% off and some decent boots on sale as well. If you need some fresh gear, get down there soon before the good stuff is gone.

MB picked up a new Burton board and new camo boots – can’t wait to see him riding this bit of kit.