Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's easy being green ...

Oh Kermit the Frog, you lamented being green and blending in with the trees.

What am I getting at? Oh yeah, it's easy to be green.

When I moved over five years ago I would have hopped (obvious frog pun) at the chance to have Frogbox supply boxes for my move.

I remember roving around Costco, which leaves boxes out for people to grab, and ending up with boxes of varying sizes and quality.

Frogbox not only offers convenience for your next move by delivering rugged reusable plastic boxes to your door and picking them up after, but the solace that your recycling box or bin won't be overflowing with cardboard, making it easy to be green.

Alright, to end this post I will string together as many frog puns as I can.

The next time you're jumping from one lily pad to another and you don't want to leap from swamp to swamp to try and find boxes to put the origami frogs you made in elementary school in, go with Frogbox.

Peace out!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tax Haven Heaven

Welcome to the Cook Islands ... Sun, sand, surf, and hiding your money from your government.

Numerous leaked documents about offshore tax havens that finger hundreds of individuals seems astonishing but is really nothing new.

I recall years ago someone was fighting to have the Bronfman family, most noted for making a fortune with the family run Seagram Company Ltd., pay taxes on a trust worth five million that was moved out of Canada.

This was under the Liberals 10 year plus fiefdom in federal politics in the nineties.

It seems the Conservatives are just as inept or unwilling do anything about wealthy tax evasion either.

Estimates for loses in Canadian tax dollars runs upwards of seven billion for wealthy tax evaders.

Cutting funding to the Canada Revenue Agency means the agency has less teeth to go after the big fish, if they ever were really going after the big fish at all.

No one should get away with tax evasion, but when you predominately prosecute the little fish you set a double standard by worrying the poor and middle class about the specter of being audited while telling the wealthy upper class you shouldn't be tax dodging but we really aren't going to do anything about it anyway.

I say that if within the next year if the current federal government does not rectify this rampant wealthy tax evasion then we have an all out tax revolt where on mass we refuse file our income tax.

Monday, March 4, 2013

120 Volts Please

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, got into a tiff with a journalist who was reviewing one of Tesla's cars on a long endurance run out of city limits.

The jist of the story is that Musk claims the journalist ignored tips to increase the life of the battery.

I've heard that there is some movement on building electric car infrastructure on the prairies for increasing the range of electric vehicles.

I had to get my car an oil change so I went down to a licensed Ford service centre and while I was looking through the lavishly laid out vehicle brochures, I noticed that the Ford Fusion has the option to charge on a 120 volt outlet versus a 240 volt outlet.

So we see the slow rise of the electric vehicle beginning.

Here is one conundrum that needs to be addressed when it comes to electric cars and range.

If your on the highway and your gas tank is about the hit empty, you fill up and go on your merry way.

No such luck with an electric battery which needs a few hours to charge to give you any range.

This is the Achilles' heel of electric cars for long distance travel.

Certainly battery technology will keep improving, but without a near instant recharge that allows someone to get going at least as quickly as filling an empty gas tank, electric cars will be a hard sell to a large number of the general public.

So how do we get a 120 volt recharge quickly?

I remember seeing a commercial where someone is developing a way to wirelessly recharge a battery.

Crazy that you can recharge a car battery as you drive with 1's and 0's!

So that's a possibility, hmm, what about a solar power 'skin' that can cover the vehicle that is wired into the battery? That can certainly top off battery life albeit only during the daytime.

I've got it! This is mad scientist territory where we harness the power of a lightning bolt.

Certainly we don't need all the power of a lightning bolt, but that's the instantaneous charge idea we need to develop.

I'm going to start working on a prototype. Patent pending!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CGI and 48 FPS

OK, I've been silent about this long enough.

For many the release of the movie The Hobbit: And Unexpected Journey was a much anticipated and awaited film from Peter Jackson.

I'm at the age where I can't be bothered to go see a movie on opening night and even though The Hobbit made a ton of money, complaints poured in about the 3D experience.

I kept hearing that the film, and more specifically the CGI, looked, well, too much like CGI at 48 frames per second in 3D.

That coupled with all the goblins being rendered in CGI rather than in costume and makeup like the orcs in the first three Lord of the Rings movies made me uneasy about wanting to see the movie at all even in 2D. Insert nerd alert joke here!

New technology always has some kinks to work out, and perhaps the fault is not in direction, but what most people are used to.

Let's face it though, CGI has been overused or not used well in countless movies. Ahem, I Robot!

You do get some top of the line productions that make a breathtaking go at it, though I wonder if Peter Jackson could have anticipated the combination of CGI and 48 FPS would be judged by many as to be unrealistic.

In the end I don't think anyone goes to a live action movie to get CGI imagery that you can find in a top tiered video game release, you anticipate that the realism is going to be top notch.

Who knows when one will be able to tell the difference between a live action movie or a video game in the future though.

Here is a link to an article with other links about 48 FPS

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Justice & Sponsorships

Oscar Pistorius was granted bail.

I doubt a soul connected to TV or the Internet has not heard about the case that Pistorius is facing so I wont rehash anything you don't know.

What I want to briefly talk about are athletes and sponsorship.

The first most obvious thing to point out is that a premeditated murder charge is big. For a sponsor to stick with any athlete, even if said athlete is found innocent, would be nothing short of a miracle when the charges involve murder.

Nike has distanced itself from Pistorius, releasing a rather reassuring and non committal statement stipulating that Pistorius is owed due process.

So does that mean if Pistorius is found not guilty that Nike would gladly have him back?

I somehow doubt it.

From Kobe Bryant's sexual assault charges, Tiger Woods philandering, and Serena Williams telling a Line Judge to shove it you no where, you see an ever growing hierarchy of public relations headaches that agents and lawyers are called upon to deal with.

Social media is even more of a headache when you think of the time when all you could do was slam a phone down on someone, or write an angry letter, calm down and not mail it.

We have gone from that to angry emails that can be CC'd and printed off to a 140 character bought of Twitter diarrhea that is not so easily retracted and can reach a huge audience.

PR lesson, if it's on the Internet, it might very well be there forever!

The Pistorius case I think will show that even if you are found innocent on a charge of murder, your sponsors are not going to want to have you hocking their wares.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Shale Wars ...

If fracking isn't on your list of common words then I guarantee in the next decade or so it will be.

The end of all the easy oil has already happened, we are using all the dirty oil up such as the Alberta Tarsands, and now we are being told not to worry because there is a huge abundance of shale gas underneath our feet around the world.

First thing to note is that said shale deposits are very far underground and the amount of water that will be required to process it is immense as in trillions of liters.

The wells for processing shale are also notorious for releasing a cocktail of carcinogens into the atmosphere with some companies investing heavily in minimizing the fallout while other smaller companies don't have the financial means to be as clean.

Fracking has been going on for some time and has inadvertently created a glut of natural gas which has tanked prices in North America.

Add to that a lack of communication and transparency with the general public about the dangers versus the benefits of fracking, and we have a communications conundrum that the industry will have to work hard to fix.

The BP oil spill isn't that far from peoples minds and with the climate getting ever so warmer and a growing energy hungry population, it behooves the oil industry to be a little more diligent in how it sells fracking to the masses.

I personally am weary of relying on another finite resource to power a large portion of our way of life.

There are predicted to be another three billion people joining the world population by 2050 so I have to reasonably ask if all this shale is going to be able to meet that demand.

The short answer might very well be a yes, but the long answer is most certainly no.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Some Light Reading ...

I remember going over to my grandparents house as a child and when I had to use the bathroom there was always a pile of Readers Digest sitting on the countertop by the toilet.

I suspect that was a common place to find a copy of Readers Digest in any given house aside from tattered copies that have been fingered through too many times in a doctor or dentists office.

Today I saw on the news that Readers Digest is over $400 million in debt and filing for bankruptcy.

The first thing that jumped to my mind is that Readers Digest did not embrace the digital age or they did too late to stop the bleeding.

As I understand it, The New York Times is making more money off of digital purchases versus paper purchases.

This is a sign that every magazine and newspaper publisher needs to heed, as well as book publishers in the near future as well.

I remember hearing from a representative of the Winnipeg Free Press suggest that they haven't gone to a full online edition of the paper because many of their clients aren't convinced their advertising dollars are going to pay off online.

I suppose a large paper like The New York Times with huge name recognition can pull off the full online edition while smaller papers might have a tougher time of it.

So I understand the conundrum that many smaller papers are facing if your clients who give you precious advertising dollars are not keen on investing fully in online while customers are spending less money on paper copies, ironically, because the news is all online in some form.

I just thought that maybe tiered online versions of a paper would be a good idea; you pick the sections you want and pay a rate commensurate with that and the advertising would be more targeted and perhaps you give the customer some choice in the ads they see, and charge a larger price for a customized edition of the paper with no advertising at all.

Well, only time will tell if hard copies of newspapers are available at all in another decade or so, but in the meantime, if you don't mind, I'm going to the bathroom to read an article on my iPad.