Coming Back as a Pencil

This is awesome, and brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “pencil me in”.

From the wonderfully obsessed mind of Nadine Jarvis in the UK

Pencils made from the carbon of human cremains. 240 pencils can be made from an average body of ash – a lifetime supply of pencils for those left behind.

crermain pencil

One question.

The lack of an eraser – significant ?

Cash. The New Safe Way to Do Business.

tj maxx customer alert

Ars Technica and others are reporting now that the recent data security breach at TJ Maxx is likely the largest in history.

A data breach originally disclosed this January by the parent company of retailer T.J. Maxx could be the largest case of consumer information theft to occur to date. TJX Cos. disclosed in a regulatory filing this week that the company believes that data on at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards was stolen by hackers, and has reason to believe that the actual number could be much higher.

You have to bet CEO Carol Meyrowitz wasn’t having too good a day when she had to post a note on the company web site that starts like this…

As TJX’s President and Chief Executive Officer, I want our customers to know how much I personally regret any difficulties you may experience as a result of the unauthorized intrusion into our computer systems. We are working with leading computer security firms to investigate the problem and enhance our computer security in order to protect our customers’ data.

TJX operates a number of companies – in Canada brands like Winners and HomeSense are most recognized, but they include TJ Maxx, Winners, Marshalls, Homesense, HomeGoods, AJ Wright and Bob’s Stores.

As a consumer, this is a nightmare.

Most of us are crawling with credit cards and we assume retailers take as much care with them as we do.

Reading the Ars Technica story, and the TJX FAQ just adds to the nightmare, since it appears that months went by before they realized what was going on.

All this leads me to wonder how long it will be before we see ads for the “new” safe way to do business: money bag

Just a Big Ole Bag of Cash.

Your average CBCer clocks in at 86,000 $


Information has a way of surfacing in the most interesting manner. Under a headline that reads “Private Television Profit Margins Dropping”, one of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s blogs cited a recent CRTC report. The CBC blogger’s take was to highlight the private station profits and ad revenues. The excerpt ends with this little tid-bit:

In 2006, the private conventional television industry employed 8,197 people and paid a total of $593.6 million in salaries.

But a sharp reader (who, if the name is correct, is a former CBCer who’s now a consultant) was drawn to some other information in that same report, and posted a comment

The CRTC report also contains data on the number of CBC employees, which is the only public source for that information. As of August 2006, CBC had 10,784 employees, an increase of about 50 from the previous year. Total salaries and benefits amounted to $930,393,000 in 2006.

As noted, this is the only public source of this information, since the CBC is not subject to the Freedom of Information act. Some smart spotting there.

Those numbers mean the average CBCer costs out at just over 86,000.00 (with benefits in).

If you you want to get some, the CBC job board is here.

Acting is for the Dogs

Without a doubt, the funniest and freshest couple of minutes you’re ever going to find.

Unleashed makes Mondays worth it.


Unleashed is an animated comedy show that follows the trials and tribulations of animal actors in Hollywood. A new episode every Monday!

If there was ever an example of how main-stream-media is missing the boat, this is it.

Catch the episodes on the Unleashed website, or on Blip.TV or subscribe to their feeds.

Irrational is Irresistable and Canada Needs You

There are a lot of reasons to read Doc Searls weblog.

His tip on the NPR parody Irrational Public Radio is the latest.


IPR is the brain child of actor/writer/performer/voice over guy Joe Smith.

Surely there’s someone out there who’d love to take the mickey out of the every-so-serious CBC radio here in Canada.

If nothing else, these guys sure could use it…

CBC Radio 2 is Canada’s national music network. Our mission is to reflect the diversity of music making in Canada while embracing the network values of quality, relevance, and discovery.

Oh, and if someone could explain that header, that would be good.

The 5-years-in-the-making-newly-minted CBC Radio 2 has even launched a blog, fueled entirely by the hard working Jowie Taylor – probably the last guy who has the time. Hmmm, wait, his show Global Village got axed in the network remake – so maybe he does have time.

In any case, Canada Needs You Joe Smith. We have Public Radio Too, um, er, 2.

Believe me. Parody is required.

cross posted to

Adobe's Big Upgrade Page

Adobe has finally announced costs and package details for their new round of upgrades, including some new types of Creative Suite packages. It’s Adobe’s biggest upgrade release ever – with some products expected in April, while others will show up in the summer.

adobe upgrade page

If you’re thinking about getting the full suite including video and audio editing, you’ll be eyeing the “master” collection at a cool 2,499.00 USD.  Ouch.

Hockey Night in Canada = CBC

CBC and Hockey Night in Canada have a new deal – despite concerns last year that the crown corp would be forced out of the bidding by private sector rivals. The Globe and Mail reports the deal includes multimedia properties:

As part of the new agreement, the CBC will own all new media rights associated with its NHL schedule.

[CBC VP Richard] Stursberg said online streaming of telecasts will be available free of charge to the consumer. will also provide video on demand. As well, there will content produced for mobile phones.

Now that they know they’re locked-in until 2014, they should revisit Vancouver’s Exponentia and their Play-Action game. Seems like a great match.

Buy a House on your Credit Card

When you live in the lower mainland of British Columbia, you get accustomed to ‘average’ house prices in the high six figures, and first time house buyers scraping together every penny just to make a 10-percent down payment.

It seems inconceivable that at the same time, in Detroit Michigan, you can pick up a house for about the same price as a new car. Full story at Yahoo news

Steve Izairi, 32, who re-financed his own house in suburban Dearborn and sold his restaurant to begin buying rental properties in Detroit two years, was concerned that houses he thought were bargains at $70,000 two years ago were now selling for just $35,000.

At least 16 Detroit houses up for sale on Sunday sold for $30,000 or less.

A boarded-up bungalow on the city’s west side brought $1,300. A four-bedroom house near the original Motown recording studio sold for $7,000.

Keyboard with that Laptop Feel

Over the years I’ve grown to prefer the feel of my laptop keyboard over the heavier desktop models. 

I really like the feel of the MacBook keys and my previous Sony Viao had a similar feel to it.

Now I’ve found a desktop keyboard that’s almost the same, and I’m really liking it.

dinovo keyboard

Its the diNova from Logitech, and though I’m not big on wireless keyboards, the feel of this ultra slim keyboard is superb.

I really like the fact that the number pad is a separate unit, and acts as a table top calculator to boot. 

logitech side number pad

The mouse is a bit flimsy so I’ve opted to stick with my barebones MS optical for now.

Nothing Slack about Slacker


What launched today is a web based music site called Slacker.

But according to TechCrunch its some kind of uber-music-hardware service.

…they have PC based, iTunes-like software coming that will organize the music on your computer as well as play the same radio stations as the web based version… also has hardware ambitions….[and] a satellite car kit in the works that will ensure that wherever you are, Slacker is with you.

Whether this works out or not for Slacker, the idea makes perfect sense.

Right now there’s too much separation between online audio and our devices. iTunes is the closest we’ve got and even if you’re Mac-evolved from pod-to-desktop, it’s annoying to say the least and hardly tuned to what users really need.

Earth to Wired – The Proof is in Vancouver

wired assignment zero

Wired online today launched something called Assignment Zero, in conjunction with

…we’re trying to figure something out here. Can large groups of widely scattered people, working together voluntarily on the net, report on something happening in their world right now, and by dividing the work wisely tell the story more completely, while hitting high standards in truth, accuracy and free expression?

Excuse me…haven’t you heard about the success of Now Public or about Orato ?

now public


They’re two Vancouver sites that have/are/continue to prove what you’re ‘trying to figure out’.
Oh, and isn’t it just a bit weird that Wired’s online story about Assignment Zero doesn’t even link out to their partner (though they do to Assignment Zero)?

T I R E D.

Drinking Downstream of the Herd

Sue Tube

Viacom, owners of MTV and Nickelodeon, has opted to sue YouTube.

Last month, Viacom, which also owns cable networks VH1 and Comedy Central, told YouTube to remove 100,000 “unauthorised” clips. Viacom said its demand came after YouTube and Google failed to install tools to “filter” the unauthorised video clips following negotiations. “There is no question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take the fruit of our efforts without permission and destroying enormous value in the process,” it said. full story at BBC

Viacom’s sueing for over a billion dollars, claiming its shows have been viewed over 1.5 billion times.

While Viacom is sueing, other broadcasters are leaping at the opportunity afforded by YouTube’s obvious success, using it to promote new shows and send out teasers.

Just ten days ago, the BBC set up a deal with YouTube, in the belief that the exposure will actually drive more traffic to their own web site. Other broadcasters are simply loading material on YouTube ad hoc, clearly with the intent of leveraging the kind of exposure YouTube can provide.

Deal or no deal, a quick search proves that every major broadcaster around the world has content on YouTube, and many of them are uploading it themselves.

By way of example, CTV,CBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC all have regularly updated content on YouTube. Even Canada’s staid National Film Board is using YouTube to reach new audiences, in both official languages no less…

Choose the winner!
The NFB invites the Canadian public of all ages to see the 20 shortlisted films in the contest and to vote for their favourite…

Ces œuvres ont été créées par des jeunes aspirants cinéastes à la manière du génie de l’animation Norman McLaren.

There’s a good reason these broadcasters aren’t displeased their content is on YouTube. Not only does it provide huge exposure, YouTube pays the freight on serving the video.

Clearly Viacom sees things differently.  Worth reading is Om Malik’s assessment of what’s going on.

Wired Shoots a Sexy Blank

Wired online’s RSS feed teases the story this way:

Susie Bright calls internet writers to task for labeling links as not safe for work. Is it time to drop the flag? In Sex Drive Daily.

But link out to the story, and the page comes up nice and clean, the ultimate Safe For Work page from Wired.

Wired shoots a blank

Hey. I was trying to read that !

If You Think No One Is Listening…

It’s probably because they aren’t.


The Canadian government’s web site has an online portal for air travel complaints.

But according to CBC.CA news, if a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there – it definitely doesn’t make a sound…

Travellers passing through Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have reported a spate of frustrating delays in the days leading up to March Break, the airport’s busiest time of the year, but it appears no one is keeping track of the complaints.

Passengers from across the country with unresolved complaints used to be able to lodge them with the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner, a position created in 2000 to document problems.

But that job is sitting vacant. The last complaint report covered incidents in 2004.

Big Bamboo

The fastest-growing species of bamboo can gain a meter in a single day – almost enough to see the growth with the naked eye. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide live in some sort of bamboo structure, including 75 percent of the population of Bangladesh. from Christian Science Monitor)

Bamboo Technology is named for the unlikely devices that the Professor came up with on Gilligans Island. In general they are not necessarily made of bamboo — the ones on The Flintstones were often made out of wood, stone and dinosaurs. What characterizes all of them is the self-evident unlikelihood that they actually work. Most likely to be seen in the more farcical Sit Com(s). from the TV Tropes Wiki

Looks like the Professor is having the last laugh after all.

bamboo big screen

Yep, that’s a flat screen TV made out of bamboo. Featured at Playengine UK it reminds me of some of the furniture my dad used to make when I was a kid, except dad never laid a bandsaw to bamboo…

The components on the cover, except for the buttons, are made entirely of bamboo. The electronic components are lead free and comply with CE and EU safety approvals.

The unique bamboo colour offers natural beauty and style which provides many advantages for consumers. It is one of a kind, ideal for homes, offices and of course an alternative to plastic surround.

Just as I was mulling whether this is some sort of goofy eco-trendy anomaly I discovered a C-Net preview of a new bamboo covered laptop from Asus…

asus bamboo laptop at cnet

Asus is definately playing the eco-card on this one, the laptop is called the Ecobook, but won’t be out until next year sometime.

Not satisfied to leave well enough alone, I stumbled upon, home of the unfortunately named Panty Boo…

panty boo

Oddly, the Panty Boos are not to be found on the Canadian site Bamboo Clothes Canada .

Anyway, the thought of a bamboo thong sent me off in another direction, and I ended up a Treehugger where I discovered a whole world of bioplastics using bamboo and other vegetable oils to make eco friendly plastics…

In efforts to reduce fossil fuel dependence and CO2 emissions, Mitsubishi Motors has announced the development of plastics for car interiors made from plant-based resin and bamboo fiber. The automaker hopes that the use of bioplastics can help replace processed wood and oil-based materials in car interiors.

Not green enough for you ? Check out this bamboo bike

bamboo bike

I’d love to see Dangerous Dan take this for a spin on the North Shore. If he did, he’d no doubt need this nifty bamboo helmet from Roof in the UK.

roof bamboo helmet

Now you may think I’ve become a bit bamboo obsessed. Well, maybe for just a minute. But I’ve got nothing on this guy, Australia’s Mr. Bamboo.

mr. bamboo

Internet Radio – Will the Governor Call in Time ?

Doc Searls has written an insightful article about the threat to internet radio in the US due to a recent copyright board decision.

The article is called Internet Radio on Death Row and it’s a must read if you want a better understanding of why internet radio as we know it may soon disappear.

In a move that recalls the Vogons’ decision to destroy Earth to clear the way for a highway bypass through space (a thankfully fictional premise of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), the judges comprising the Copyright Royalty Board have decided to destroy the Internet radio industry so the Recording Industry won’t be inconvenienced by something it doesn’t know, like or understand.