Graham Bucks Not Quite Ralph Bucks

Will someone explain to me why a single guy like me will get a hundred dollars back from the New Brunswick government to compensate for higher hydro costs, but a couple with 12 children could easily get zilch?
To qualify for the $100 cheque, the maximum family income for 2006 is $28,000.
The hassle to get this hundred bucks is astounding. You need to fill out a form (available on the Internet or at Service NB offices (in person)) and then you mail it in. Printing, envelope, stamp, taxes on stamp, never mind the time and the electricity required to download and print the form (and then blogging to complain about it).
But that is on my end. Imagine the cost to the government!
But before you start making silly suggestions about donating my 100 dollar cheque to some children's charity, consider that if I somehow managed to reduce my electricity consumption to 0, it would still cost me $244.68 per year in hydro ($278.94 including sales tax)!
Between September-October and October-November, my electricity consumption went up 2.5 times and yet my electricity bill went up only 66%. $20.39 in monthly service charges (plus $2.85 sales tax), regardless of consumption!
Still, shouldn't be to be to hard on the Graham Liberals. The silly Lord Conservatives had a program dishing out money to people who bought a NEW home, as long as their family income was less than $33,000 ! You'd think Bernard Lord was trying to cause a  Cleveland type foreclosure fiasco!


Free Lunch thanks to BusinessWeek and Digg

Hat tip to Digg.com for the link to BusinessWeeks slide show on online freebies. 101 to be exact. As could be expected, most don't apply to non-Americans. But here are some that caught my attention.
www.ubuntu.com (free operating system);
openoffice.org (free office suite / word processor and spread sheet);
www.divshare.com (Kind of like Youtube except it isn't)
www.t35.com (Free web hosting):
www.zillow.com (house prices accross the border in the now affordable USA)
www.salary.com (American salaries are a good reference point now that the US and Canadian dollar are at par) ;
www.motionbox.com (free video editing software)
www.gimp.org (a free program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring)
www.librivox.org (free audio books)
www.marvel.com/digitalcomics (free comics!)
ocw.mit.edu/ocweeb/web/home/home/index.htm (Now there is no excuse for being so ignorant or waisting your time on this blog. You could be listening to courses at MIT, for free)
www.video.google.com/ucberkeley.html (Hopefully less boring than the free MIT courses)
www.bbc.co.uk/languages (Usted habla Espagnol? No? Por que?)

France Will Get the iPhone Before Canada!

November 28, 18h30 local French time is when urban Frenchmen can buy the iPhone on the Orange Network for 400 Euros (including tax?) or network free for 900 Euros (including tax?).
That is also when I will start to regret not buying shares of Apple. Granted, trusting Steve Jobs and George Bush with my Canadian money gives me the willies, but I predict a love affair with the iphone in the romance country.
The iphone is essentially non-productive. It is purely a luxury item. However, it looks great, is super for buying and playing music, showing off pictures and videos and surfing the web.
So just like with the Mac, I predict a completely irrational love affair between the French and the iPhone.
Unlike the UKs and the Germans, and now the French, Canadians will be left out in the cold. We must be content with duck taping our cell phones and digital cameras to our iPod touchs. Not a problem when you think about it, as we Canucks aren't that obsessed with design. Surely by the time the iphone arrives in Canada there will be a better version, hopefully with GPS so we don't get loss when out lumberjacking...
As a side note, the Protestant Anglos seem to like the HTC phone (usually locally branded) wheres Catholic Latin types hate it. As the HTC is the only product that remotely comes close to the iphone, start counting those Euros Mr. Jobs.


L'Australie vire a la gauche

Howard the Duck.

Howard, leader libéral (parti de droite) a finalement perdu la gouverne du parlement Australien. Bon débarat diron certains, et je suis de ceux là. Attention, le modèle "Québécois" reviens à la mode!

Immigrant Loyalty Back in Homeland

I'm all for mobility and freedom, but since Canada has a liberal immigration policy and the rest of the world doesn't, Canadians, to put it politely, are getting the short end of the hockey stick.
Take L-Girl, for example, she emigrated from the USA because she didn't like the Bush dynasty, so she moved to the nearest foreign country, Canada.
Two years (or is it three already?) after immigrating to Canada, she seems more concerned about Americans than Canadians.
A quote from her blog:
an annoying blogger ragged on me for taking vacations in the US instead of Canada. Note to world: time and money are not unlimited. I plan to travel in Canada as much as I can, and with any luck, I have a long life ahead of me to do so. Meanwhile, people we love live in the US and we don't plan to stop seeing them.
So while Canadians put up with American loving immigrants, Canadians are stuck in the frozen north where we celebrate Thanksgiving in October as God intended.
So here is my argument, either the world makes it easier for us to leave Canada, or we stop putting up* with so many foreigners.
*Please note I'm not advocating tasering foreigners at the airport or stopping them from visiting, I just think we should stop dishing out landed immigrant status like spaghetti at a United Church fundraiser. ;-)

Save the Plannet: Price Cap Homes at 200,000 Dollars

Do Canadians really care about the environment? I suppose it isn't a black or white thing. It is all relative. Still, soon, childless Canadians living in three bedroom houses will be idling their cars before heading out on their 60 km commute. They will make their obligatory stopover a the donut Shop to order coffee, idling 10 minutes in the process.
Most of us are environmental by default. We don't have enough money to be big polluters. You could argue that the super rich have too much money to be big polluters, as most of their money is invested, not spent.
The problem is with the upper class middle class and the ordinary rich. They have a huge environmental impact because of their buying power and their numbers.
So here are some "radical" solutions to stop global warming that address the specific impact that the Al Gore class has on our environment.
-Ban first class airline seats (none of the "fuel efficient" Airbusses sold will have the 835 seat fuel efficient configuration!);
-Ban private jets (if you need to fly somewhere, get on a propeller plane or commercial airline).
-Ban drive-thrus;
-Maximum home price should be limited to $200,000.
-Trucks and truck based vehicles like SUVs would be limited to 90 km/hr.
-Employers would be prohibited from requiring the use of a personal vehicle.
You could argue that imposing limits is against freedom. But that didn't stop freedom loving Conservatives from banning the 99 cent incandescent light bulb in favour of the $9.99 fluorescent type! If you can't chose what light bulb to put in your home, why should you be allowed to chose the size of your house?
A carbon tax has advantages, however, the price sensitive types are already doing their part to save the environment. The problem is with the people who don't blink at paying 5 times the price of an airline ticket in order to get a few extra inches of but space. The only way to modify their behaviour, without hurting the masses, is through regulation.

Un pays Catholique pour les Quebecois?

Un des avantages du Canada c'est que tous les religions sont minoritaires. Évidemment, au Canada, le christianisme domine, mais aucun groupe chrétien n'a la majorité.
Mais si le Québec était un pays, la religion Catholique serait de loin la religion principale (83% de la population contre 6% non-alligné et 5¨% Protestant)
C'est le cas de l'Italie, de la France de l'Espagne et d'autres, mais cela demeure un pensez-y bien.
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Blame the bears: "canada is making me sad these days"

My favorite immigrant, L-Girl over at www.wmtc.blogspot.com, is suffering from buyers remorse a couple of years after choosing Canada.
I like to tease her because she left New York City, arguably the best city in the world, for Mississauga, arguably the worst. She didn't move for family or work, she moved because she honestly thought Canada was better place than the USA.
"I've been feeling so sad and disappointed in Canada lately.", she writes. Well duh, Canada sucks just as much as anywhere else. If more Canadians had tasers, there would be alot fewer immigrants roaming the streets I'm afraid. Canadians don't like immigrants. Polish ones who don't speak the language or American army runaways who do. Just the way it is.
NB. The title is an obscure Simpsons reference, when the Springfieldians stop blaming the bears and start blaming immigrants for all their problems.

Time to Make Smoking Illegal eh!

We all have to die someday. But of all the ways to die, I wouldn't wish smoking related diseases on anybody. Heart diseases, lung cancer, throat cancer, and that's is just what will kill you! Emphysema or talking out of throat mike for 30 years? No thanks.
But hey, nobody is perfect. I drink too much, consume too much salt and consider blogging exercise. I'm at a serious risk for sedentary diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and colon cancer.
But my lifestyle doesn't reduce the life span of others. I'm not forcing you to read this blog instead of exercising! And yet, when I walk in to work tomorrow, fifteen or so smokers will be forcing stroke inducing smoke on to me. And I'm not being paranoid, even short exposure to cigarette smoke is risky!
As there are alternative nicotine delivery systems (gum, the patch), there is no logical or moral reason why smokers should be allowed to shorten the life expectancy of their families and co-workers.
Alberta is finally banning smoking in public places as of January 1st. I think New Brunswick should one up them and ban smoking altogether.

When Did Tax Evasion Become OK?

People are defending former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney! This is a guy who attempted to defraud the federal and provincial governments of income tax revenue, the same year he left the office of Prime Minister. Hello!
He rectified the situation many years latter but come on, he cheated on his taxes. The bill would have been about $160,000 ! He admitted he cheated on his taxes many years later. As the law is written, if you tell the tax man you goofed, and you are not already being investigated, you won't be accused of the serious crime that is tax evasion.
If Lying Brian got one of those payments in the USA (New York City) then he also violated the law when he failed to declare the cash at the Canadian border.
It is quite tempting to presume that Mulroney got more than 300,000 grand. It is possible, but his lifestyle, and those of his children, needs to be investigated further...


Stephen Colbert on The O'Reilly Factor

If you don't like Colbert or O'Reily (I personally think both are hilarious) then skip to 5:34 and look at the scroll bar as Colbert just finishes saying he is terrified of bears.

Brian Mulroney will go down in History as the father of that guy on Canadian Idol

Just Say No to Drive Thru

Just Say No to Drive Through.

I watched a documentary on AandE Biography this morning about Wendy's founder Dave Thomas. According to the doc, Wendy's was one of the original forces behind the development of the modern day drive thru. Business went up 50% when they were introduced! Tim Horton's has had similar success in Canada with them.

But did you know that, in addition to contributing to global warming, drive-thrus are deadly? Not just from the noxious fumes and artery clogging food either. According to various studies, eating at the wheel is one of the main causes of driver distraction, way above children and cell phones.

Quebec's government is about to introduce a law banning the use of hand held cell phones while driving. While banning food and drink at the wheel might be a bit much (diabetics would complain), perhaps we should ban drive thrus. Clearly, if you take 10 minutes out of your life to use one, you have enough time to take an extra five to consume it inside.

This policy would save lives and lower insurance rates. Unfortunately, eating and driving isn't just dangerous for the eaters, it is dangerous for the rest of us to.

The Federal Government Should Not Give Money to Toronto

I wish someone would explain to me why mayors of the richest cities in Canada "need" money from our federal government. If the Federal government gave money to rural regions and towns across the poorer regions, you could at least attribute it to jealousy. But no. The mayors of the Toronto area, and the Toronto Star, have decided that the Federal Government is some sort of piggy bank that they need to cash in to.

"Mississauga took the extraordinary step of placing a 5 per cent surcharge on property taxes. McCallion led the charge for the levy – needed, she said, because the city faces an infrastructure crisis.

It will raise $12.5 million a year, far short of the $76 million needed in each of the next 20 years to pay for an estimated $1.5 billion in repair and replacement of aging bridges, buildings, roadways and water systems."

Isn't great that a politician stays in office so long that her own mismanagement bites her on her ass. Hazzle McCallion has been a popular mayor all those years because she kept property taxes low, very low. Too low, an now the underfunding of municipal infrastructure (and terrible land use planning) is getting expensive. And how is this the federal government's fault?

The politician who spends should be the politician who taxes.

""The fate of the country is at stake," said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who added that his voters will face a stark choice: a share of the GST or a 30 per cent property tax increase."

No, Mayor Burton, the fate of the country is NOT at stake. Raise the municipal taxes by 30 percent (or $900 on a $300,000 home). My parents in rural New Brunswick should not be funding Oakville's infrastructure any more than Oakville residents should be paying for my parent's septic system.

Perhaps we should just get rid of local government and have Ottawa decide everything. We could eliminate provincial and municipal taxes. There would be one national income tax system. And then, on average, Torontonians would be spending SIGNIFICANTLY MORE in taxes, simply because Toronto area residents earn, on average, significantly more than other Canadians (so they pay more federal taxes)!

Advocating an Increase in the responsibilities of our federal government is the equivalent of advocating the increasing of taxes for Toronto area residents.

But regardless of how "fair" that would be, we live in a gigantic, regionally diverse country. Let's keep government local. Unless, that is, you want a politicians in Alberta and Quebec deciding which Toronto pot holes to fix.

From today's Toronto Star:
City officials unanimous that help needed now from Ottawa to repair crumbling infrastructure
Nov 17, 2007 04:30 AM


The mayors of 15 of Ontario's largest cities are unanimous in their demand that Ottawa give them money "now" to cope with an infrastructure crisis – but they can't agree on a name for the campaign.

After meeting for more than four hours yesterday at Oshawa's General Motors Centre, the mayors, led by Mississauga's Hazel McCallion, emerged to announce their agreement that "cities need money now."

The next step is to pressure federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who represents Whitby, to indicate in his spring budget that he is prepared to help cities, McCallion said.

But there's no consensus on the slogan.

McCallion, who recently launched her "Cities NOW!" campaign, had hoped to lead a national campaign on that theme.

But also present in the room was Toronto Mayor David Miller, who already has his "One Cent Now" campaign demanding a share of Ottawa's GST.

Mississauga hasn't signed on to the Miller plan so far, and McCallion was noncommital on it yesterday, while supporting the compromise resolution's call to share the "equivalent of one cent of the GST with cities and communities."

McCallion got only a commitment that the Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario supports her campaign as one tailored for her municipality. Miller – whose "One Cent Now" hopes were deflated by Flaherty's recent decision to cut the GST instead of giving money to municipalities – said that as far as he was concerned, Mississauga's campaign was the same as his.

"It's very helpful when Ontario's longest serving mayor speaks up and says that we need this funding now," he said.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti spoke, like many others, of the concern that Canada's economic engine, its urban areas, would sputter the way American cities did before federal and state governments stepped in. "We don't want to see the same decline they experienced south of the border," Scarpitti said.

"The fate of the country is at stake," said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who added that his voters will face a stark choice: a share of the GST or a 30 per cent property tax increase.

As the mayors hastily left the news conference, it was left to Oshawa Mayor John Gray to explain that a campaign name had been discussed but dropped.

"It is not about whose program is what," said Gray, describing how the meeting tried to "skirt around the issue" because no one wanted personalities to get in the way of the cause.

"People want to make sure their campaign is on the forefront," said Gray. "At the end of the day, Hazel acquiesced and understood it's about one program and one voice."

The otherwise routine mayors' meeting garnered attention after Mississauga took the extraordinary step of placing a 5 per cent surcharge on property taxes. McCallion, who chaired yesterday's gathering, led the charge for the levy – needed, she said, because the city faces an infrastructure crisis.

It will raise $12.5 million a year, far short of the $76 million needed in each of the next 20 years to pay for an estimated $1.5 billion in repair and replacement of aging bridges, buildings, roadways and water systems.

The surcharge was also meant to draw attention to a growing national backlog in infrastructure maintenance, expected to cost $100 billion over the next 20 years.

Toronto's backlog of about $7 billion is arguably worse because, unlike Mississauga, the city is heavily in debt.

In the same issue of the Toronto Star, an article about a condo going being sold for 25 million dollars! Now that is irony.
Gail Swainson Nov. 17, 2007
A Hong Kong businessman is Canada's newest King of the Castle – and he didn't even have to stand in line to buy his $25 million penthouse suite.


Did Brian Mulroney Commit Murder?

It is now pretty obvious that Brian Mulroney accepted at least $300,000 in kick backs from the Air Bus Affair (I'd like to hear Mulroney prove the contrary in libel court). But did he murder anybody? Before you write me off as certifiable, Steevie Cameron alludes to it in her excellent book, ON THE TAKE: CRIME, CORRUPTION AND GREED IN THE MULRONEY YEARS (1994).
Even if you delude yourself into thinking that Mulroney accepted at least 300 grand out of friendship, it is now proven that Mulroney didn't declare the money to Revenue Canada for years until it became obvious he was going to get caught.
If you can so blatantly cheat on your taxes (and most probably accept a kick back) the same year you resign from your job as Prime Minister, then what else did you do? I read somewhere that Mulroney asked his friends if they thought Mila would make a good prime minister's wife way befor he entered politics OR proposed to Mila. If he got maried as part of a master plan to become Prime Minster, what else did he do to gain and/or stay in power?

If You Like Music or Nelson Mandela, Get an iPod touch

Listening to music on my iPod touch in my sensory deprivation chamber (the bathroom) is pure bliss. Shopping for music on Apple's ipoded itunes is a genuine pleasure. I wish I could somehow get all my shopping done this way (and for that matter buy stocks and do my taxes).
My iPod touch is so enjoyable in the bathroom that the room has been magazine and newspaper free for weeks. I can listen to music while surfing the web while taking a dump. Not to be crass, but that is the killer app. I suppose you could do this with a laptop, but, I'm not sure why, the mobile itunes is actually better than the original!
Still, be careful you don't electrocute yourself (or your spouse in the tub) and hand washing timing is more essential than ever...
I do apologies for becoming an iPod touch evangelist. But discovering the iPod touch does feel like a religious experience. I realise it is absurd, but I wish everybody could have an iPod touch.
One of my favorite audio clips that I downloaded onto my iPod touch (thanks to itunes' Podcasting) is Nelson Mendela's speech from when he was released from prison. After a day at work that feel's like prison, it is quite inspiring, especially when you consider that he later became President of South Africa (and then used by George Bush, President of the United States, as an adjective is his infamous " Mandela is dead" speech (NOT iPod touch worthy)).


Trudeau me fait...

Avertissement: cette chronique vous provient de ma toilette (via mon iPod touch)!

Trudeau jr., candidat libéral dans Papineau, se décrit comme "membre du
parlement" sur sa page Facebook!


High Speed Internet When We feel Like It: Rogers and Sympatico

Both Rogers and Sympatico are now actively limiting the download rates of their high speed customers. In a sense, it is hard to argue about the logic: peer to peer (i.e BitTorent, Limewire, etc...) is quite efficient, but not if everybody does it at the same time. Even the most avid Youtuber or gamer wont spend their whole evening using their maximum allotted bandwidth. If you are a Rogers customer and 5 of your neighbors each cue up an evening worth of torrents right before supper, high speed is not what you are going to get that evening.
Well, that was before. Rogers has emphasised the "share" in sharing. If you cue up a movie for download in the early evening, it won't be available for viewing before going to bed. But it will be available by morning. And really, to be fair, that is when you should be doing your torrents, during the night, when people are sleeping. Now Rogers effectively imposes that.
Since October 28th, so does Sympatico in one region of Canada. And that poses a problem. Remember, Sympatico isn't shared. You have your own superhighway to the Internet, to dispose of as you please. Well, that was the marketing... Now what?
According to my source, this is the gem that the Public Relation department at one Sympatico branded Internet provider has come up with: "Emphasize that email will not be negatively affected".


Death Penalty For Spammer

Spamming isn't black or white. But then again, neither is murder. We've come up with up bunch of words for it: second degree, manslaughter, self defence, hero...
And I don't advocate killing all spammers. My sister, for example, who sent an e-mail to everybody she knew in order to get out of her car lease, didn't deserve to die. But if a stranger sent me such an e-mail, then yes, kill them.
Murderers only hurt a few people (the victim and their friends and family). Spammers hurt thousands of people. Perhaps millions. Over and over again, without punishment.
This blog has just fallen victim to comment spam. I had to delete a few old posts that had become infested with spam. Every time someone leaves a comment, I get an e-mail. So I'm usually pretty good at deleting the comment spam within a few hours or their posting. But today,over 300 comments were left! All spam.
So I've put into action those annoying letter things you have to type to "prove" you are not a computer when commenting. If that doesn't work I will enable comment moderation and then it will be Blogger members only. :-(
PS. I generally disagree with the death penalty. But if prisoners have Internet access...


Google Video, Youtube, Picasa or Tetes a claques on Your Ipod or Sony PSP!

Fascinating video about Steve Jobs and the history of the iPod originally broadcast on the Discovery Channel: At Google Video (43 minutes).

I must have missed the memo, but Google Video now provides a link so you can download and save in iPod and Sony PSP friendly MP4 format.

Odly, Google doesn't offer that convenience on it's Youtube site. To save Youtube videos on your iPod, ipod touch or iphone from Youtube, Google's Picasa or from Têtes à claques (or other Adobe Flash video), you have to follow the following procedures:

(If you have access to a Wifi Internet connection (and/or EDGE for the iphone), you don't have to follow this procedure if you just want to watch, but not store, Youtube (only) videos on your iPod touch or iphone ).

1. Download and install the totally free and, according to Norton, safe, Freez iPod converter.
2. Go to Youtube or Picassas or Têtes à claques as you normally would, watch the video. Right click on it, boost the Adobe Flash player cache to something relatively high (After right clicking on the video: settings/folder icon/drag the arrow thing to the right), .
3. Once the video is finished playing, go to your temporary files (in Internet Explorer 7, click on Tools/Internet Options/Browsing History Settings/View Files).
4. When you have found the Temporary files folder, look for a recent absurdly large file (put your files in order of "Last Accessed", go ot the most recent, then go up from there to the large file).
5. Copy the large file, paste it. Change the extension to .flv (you can also change the name of the file if you want).
6.Open your free and installed copy of Freez iPod Converter (not a sponsor of this blog), chose the file you want to convert, chose to appropriate setting (.h264 in the case of the ipod touch and iphone) and voilà, a video in the appropriate iPod touch format (or normal Ipod, iphone, PSP or MP4 players) .

To transfer the video from your computer to your iPod (step one is done):
  1. Save the video to a location on your computer.
  2. Connect your iPod to your computer and open the Apple iTunes application.
  3. In iTunes, select "File" > "Add File to Library." Browse for the video you downloaded, then click "Open."
  4. Select the "Movies" tab.
  5. Check the "Sync movies" box.
  6. Click "Apply."

Let me know if you have any questions.


Consuming on the Throne, the Final Frontier is Crossed Thanks to the iPod touch

Sure, buying music at Starbucks while sipping java would be cool. But buying music from itunes while using your iPod touch, while taking a dump, is so much more pratical. I spent $12; $9.99 on the "Ultimate Santana" (which I recommend) and $1.98 on a couple of tracks from Bob Newhart, including the classic, and hilarious, "Bus Driver University".
Instant gratification. Consuming on the throne. A new trend?

Size and Format Matters

Alternative title: You may have an HDTV in the living room, but I have entertainment system in the bath room: Ipod touch.
Before buying a wide screen TV, you need to calculate the vertical real estate you are losing by going wide screen. As for computer screens, you might want to save a few buck by pressing F11, it is amazing how much space those menu bars take up (you will need to use "alt, tab" a lot though).
Don't be like one of my friends who bough a wide screen High Definition Television set but is too cheap to pay for a high definition input cable box. He just has normal analog cable because "he doesn't watch TV that much" Argh!!!!
Ipod Touch (aka iTouch)
At the other end of the spectrum, I still love my iPod touch. However, I haven't gotten Moncton's free wifi to work on it (it keeps hanging on the login page).
The screen is nice, but content is king. So I still use my Sensa because of the radio (a FM radio receiver is available for the iPod). Podcasts are cool, but I'd have to spend the entire day on the bus to watch all the content I've been downloading. Still, most of the video podcasts are amateurish crap. I've figured out how to copy flash video (such as Google video, YouTube and Tetes à claques) on to my device in a playable format (MP4 H.264), but the process is time consuming enough that I usually end up watching what I'm transferring first, so I end up with a bunch of 3.5 inch reruns.
TV is where it is at. And I'd like to watch great shows when I have a few minutes (based on a Youtube video, the Simpsons look amazing on the ipod touch). However, transferring TV to ipod is a pain in the neck. I'm tempted to purchase iRecord. However, at $264 at Futurshop, I feel it is a bit pricey. How often would I really watch TV on my iPod? There are also a number of alternatives such a Neuros ODS and V Mate, among others. All have advantages and limitations. I'm not sure the time, effort and money is worth the payoff of a TV library in my pocket. 
Alright, when factoring shipping and the fact I don't have a credit card, I bit the bullet and bought iRecord from Thesourcecc.ca for C$229, shipping included (thank goodness for Interact online). They aren't clear on how they ship, but as most people, I live near one of their stores so that is where it will be delivered.
The reason I bought iRecord was that it has been on the market for a while; seems to work according to reviews; there have been no reports of self combustion; it is easy to use (as ALL entertainment devices should be), it records in the MP4 H.264 format that my iPod Touch uses. Apparently, it will record directly to the ipod, no computer required, but I'll believe that when I see it.
I also just happened to have recently bought a 500Gig usb hard disk drive from LaCie for the too good to be true price of $149 at Future Shop. It is formatted in Fat 32, I have no idea what that is, but apparently that is what the iRecord needs as a format to record on a usb drive. I read one complaint online that copy protection will not allow you to record DVDs onto a usb drive(1) (see why I don't care, below).
So far, my iPod touch is getting expensive. $329 for the 8Gig version. $149 for a 500gig hard disk to store the podcasts, media and Flash video to mp4 h.264 video conversion software (software was free). $229 for the iRecord. I'll obviously be forking over an other $65 for the cable that enables the TV out feature of my Ipod Touch (as soon as I can find out how to buy from the Apple store without a credit card). Oh, and $20 for a music card so I could open an account an enable the cover flow (a credit card would have worked to). Grand total: $792! ($902.88 including tax). Add the 80 bucks I spent on RAM this summer (iTunes is gready) and I'm starting to realise that the digital age is expensive (this all for entertainment!).
Given the final price, the Archos 605 Wifi would have been significantly cheaper. However, good luck trying to figure out how much cheaper, as with the Archos, everything is sold separately.
With the Archos or the Ipod Touch, wireless Internet is essential. However, check to see if you can "borrow" your neighbor's before you buy a wireless router and spring for higher Internet bandwidth.
Feel free to leave any questions you have on the subject in the comment section. I'm off to the can with the NY Times, Toronto Star and the entire Library of France (and Youtube). It might take a while. Next week, when I have my iRecord, I'll be able to bring my television and movie collection. Then life will be perfect. :-)
(1)However, as Play Station 2 owners may know, copy protection does not apply on the DVD playing capabilities of that device (go figure). And there is no copy protection in my Motorolla DVR which I use to record Pay per view movies and the Movie Network. 

iPod touch TV out

Alternative title: iPhone TV out.

I thought I'd share a few hours of online research and a useless purchase with you...

So you bought an Apple iPod touch or iPhone, and you obviously want to use ALL the features.

Ipod touch TV out (or iPhone TV out) is one of those features. Now before thinking about the dubious usefulness of connecting your iPod Touch (or iPhone) to your TV or VCR, you want to do it because YOU CAN. It is a feature, says so at Settings/Video. You can even select the TV signal and width of the image! By then you are giddy with features anyway and you figure you will use the ipod Touch to take over the world, so why shouldn't the TV out work? Your TV should be begging for the privilege of being connected to your ipod touch or iPhone.

But you need a special cord from Apple. $59 in Canada, $50 in the USA. In Canada, I could only find the Apple store selling the thing: $59 plus $6 for shipping!

Go ahead, look for an alternative. Won't work. You need the Apple A/V composite cord (for those of you with HDTV, you can use the Apple Component cord). The cord comes, oddly, with a integrated usb cord and power charger. No, the USB cord will not be used to miraculously synch your iPod or iPhone with your TV (it is Apple, not magic). As far as I can tell, the video out on the ipod touch and iPhone needs power, and so that is why there is a power adapter (or it could just be marketing, you never know with Apple). SEE UPDATE 2

So $59 plus $6 shipping to view the video and pictures (will that work?) on your ipod touch on your TV. And we are talking expensive Canadian dollars! NOW, start to think about the usefulness of connecting your iPod touch or iPhone to your TV or VCR . Think about it, how did the content get onto your iPod touch or iPhone in the first place.

Granted, getting content from your computer to your own TV is a royal pain in the arse, never mind your friend's TV. By far the easiest and cheapest way is to burn a cd or DVD (use mpeg 2 for video, jpeg for pictures). Alternatives include San Disk's new Take TV available for an affordable US$99 (plus shipping, border brokerage and a trip to your local industrial park when you miss the UPS guy).

Update (2008-05-02): No, inverting the red white and yellow on a generic mini cable does not solve the problem. I had thought of that, but thanks to the prankster who made me check again...

Update 2 (2008-06-24): TV-out is now compatible with the iPhone, so the post has been amended accordingly. I finally bought the composite (RCA) Apple (ridiculously expensive) cable mentionned in my post in order to link my iPod touch to my Cathode Ray Tube ("normal"/prehistoric) TV. Works as advertised. Although you don't need external power, so I guess the included USB power adapter is there for marketing reasons after all.

Nice positive surprises:

-With the TV out feature of the iPod touch (and iPhone), you can show off your iPoded pictures on your TV while also playing your iPoded music on your TV (or stero system)!
-You can watch streaming Youtube (assuming you have access to a wireless network)!
-If you have access to the Internet on a wireless network, you can stream any H.264 Quicktime video you find on the World Wide Web with your iPod touch (or iPhone) and play it instantly on your TV (so the TV Out is compatible with Dailymotion.com)!

Negative surprise: the wire foursome (composite video, left and right audio and USB) is pretty big and cumbersome (and heavy!). Not a practical item to carry around just in case (although it will fit in a jaket pocket).

In other news, the Take TV product mentionned in my post didn't take and the related online service is being discontinued.

However, iTunes is as popular as ever and now allows you to rent movies (only in the USA, the UK and Canada)! If you already have an iPod touch or iPhone, shelling out $65 for the tv out cable now makes sense when compared to $230 for Apple TV. However, please note that if you want to watch movies in HDTV, then you are better off with Apple TV as Apple TV is the only way iTunes will let you watch movies in HD. Ironically, Apple TV does not include the necessery HDMI wire to link it to your TV. Marketing (and perhaps design), but certainly not engineering, runs Apple.

I rented "National Treasure 2" and the action sequences and dark scenes were essentially flawless on my CRT. You can lie to your iPod touch (or iPhone) and tell it you have it connected to a wide screen TV so the letter box effect isn't as pronounced in movies (such as National Treasure 2) that come in that format in iTunes. I also re-watched Steve Jobs' latest presentation on my TV. Is is true what they say, TV does add 20 pounds. And on TV he looks perfectly healthy...

NBC is Clueless

"Apple sold millions of dollars worth of hardware off the back of our content and made a lot of money," he said. "They did not want to share in what they were making off the hardware or allow us to adjust pricing." ( NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker (click on links for quote sources))
NBC made 15 millions dollars last year from people downloading TV onto their computers and or iPods. 15 millions dollars! That is free money. It is like people buying DVDs. Every dollar is pure profit. Better, people who discover the show via iTunes (and pay for it) are more likely to get hooked, and watch it for free on the network (thereby increasing ad revenue). People don't stop watching the show on TV, for free, because they can pay for it on iTunes!
Apple should be charging NBC for distribution costs!
Yah, Apple is make a fortune selling nifty devices. But did the networks get a cut from VCRs? From DVRs? From DVD burners? No. And yet the networks are still around, and quite profitable to boot.


Brian Mulroney Belongs in Jail!

In the fiscal equivalent of a Ford Bronco slow speed car chase, Lying Brian Mulroney admitted to Revenue Canada that he lied about his taxable income five years prior to the tune of, get this, $300,000! Even highly successful Quebec based lawyers would notice that kind of income.
Brian Mulroney is the Richard Hatch of Canadian politics. He payed back Revenue Canada after, way after, getting a 2.4 million dollar settlement after suing the government for ruining his reputation because the RCMP sent a request for information letter to the Swiss Government. The letter was released to the media by Mulroney's PR firm/crony Luc Lavoie.
The best defence is a good offence, as the saying goes, but come on! Not only did Mulroney run a serious risk of having the $300,000 income spike noticed during the trial, he also managed to purger himself in court. Isn't that a criminal offence?
According to Stevie Cameron's book On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years, Brian Mulroney was notorious for meddling in the business of crown corporations. Did he influence the purchase of Airbuses vs Boeings? I'm very tempted to say "yes", but I'm worried Brian Mulroney will try the glove and successfully claim that it doesn't fit.
I was recently asked in an Angus Reid online survey if I believed the justice systems treats everybody equally. The survey also asked about corruption (and, oddly, what I thought if Ikea).
Clearly there was corruption in the Canadian government during Brian Mulroney's tenure as Prime Minister. But just like OJ, Brian Mulroney is innocent of any wrongdoing.


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