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Innovation

Can innovation co-exist with established processes?

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Design shows up in many ways. Take a look at how it is applied in building

Latest Posts

Plenty Leather iPhone 6/6S Case Review

I recently purchased this iPhone 6s/6 Leather Case by Plenty with a Card Slot. Its made of high quality looking leather and seems to fit very closely to the phone, unlike some of the plastic iPhone cases I previously used. It also has a Credit Card Holder on the Case and comes with a Stylus

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Speaking at the IFMA Leadership Event

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I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the International Facility Managers Association Toronto Chapter annual Leadership Series event and was absolutely blown away by the positive atmosphere in the room. I found the attendees both respectful and engaged and the questions really helped further the discussion about IoT and Big Data. I reflected on

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Growth Hacking Webinar by Neil Patel of KissMetrics

I just got off a webinar that was put on by Neil Patel, Co-founder of KissMetrics and it was a great overview of what other companies are doing beyond paid advertising. I took a few notes here; let me know if you have any comments!   Dropbox – Tried Google ads but it was a

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And the winner of the Standing Desk competition is….

[The one that works! I actually wrote this post standing up.] Anyway, I have a secret – I have been coveting a standing desk for a few years now as I have some issues with my neck and back that require me to take breaks frequently.  Of course I forget to do this so usually

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A successful event that built relationships and knowledge: SMB Exchange

I am finally getting a chance to post after a whirlwind of activity surrounding the first SMB Exchange event that I co-created with Arik Johnson of Aurora WDC and Ravi Nayak of the Toronto Board of Trade. And I can announce publicly that the event was an overwhelming success! But before I get to what people said

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Speaking at the Canadian Consumer Insights and Trend Spotting Conference

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I hope everyone is having a productive summer! I am keeping busy with a few speaking engagements- notably the Canadian Consumer Insights and Trend Spotting Conference August 14 and 15th in Toronto. I hope to share some of what I have learned building an Innovation Process at the Toronto Board of Trade to leverage the work

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Speaking on Innovation at Queens University Innovation Summit

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I am honoured to be speaking at the Queens University Innovation Summit on March 10th. I will be speaking on the 4Cs of Innovation- lessons I have learned in the corporate environment. I hope that those who attend the session get a few ideas from my experiences and that we develop a dialog on how

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Experience Journey – Joining Toronto Board of Trade as Director Product Innovation

Today I am taking on a new role as Director of Product Innovation at the Toronto Board of Trade. It’s a great opportunity to join a fantastic team and help to advance the success of the Board’s members and the entire Toronto region I’ve been reflecting over the past few weeks on how I got

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Business Model Innovation for Growth and Renewal

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The biggest problem comes from the inevitable commodification of business models as new entrants come in once and attractive market is carved out. You can ignore it to your peril or do what innovative companies like Hilti have done.

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Is Apple’s iPad the next big thing, or another Newton?

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There has certainly been a lot of digital ink spilled over the last little while trying to determine whether the Apple Tablet would be the second coming or just another device with superfluous hype. Can the device deliver on the hype?

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Tony Lacavera gives an update on the evolution of Canada’s wireless industry

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In a presentation that could have been entitled, “Can an entire industry change?” Tony Lacavera, the founder of Globalive and Wind Mobile spoke at MaRS about the current (and potential future) of the wireless industry.

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OECD Broadband Pricing- Is Canada falling behind?

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From this data on the OECD site, it looks like Canadian consumers pay the third highest rates per megabit in the world. About one in ten consumers access the internet over fibre.

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It wasn’t the dishwasher but the dishwasher detergent

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I was wrong about why our new Miele dishwasher wasn’t getting our dishes clean. So I went out and looked at a few posts and decided to try something radical.

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Dishwasher drama – inside the world of dirty dishes

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Just a word of warning- if you and your partner have “discussions” about how to load a dishwasher, you could find all sorts of things to argue about with this unit!

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Sink and faucet- What’s the verdict?

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So as promised here is a bit of a review on some of the choices we made for our first floor renovation. Lets start with the Franke sink and Hansgrohe faucet.

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ThinkFlood’s RedEye iPhone Remote for your stereo

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You might be asking yourself, “What is RedEye and why should I care?” Good question! It is a neat device coupled with an iPhone app that allows you to control all your A/V equipment through WiFi.

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Done, done, done (a bit late)

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So, I was so excited to be done the whole reno thing that I forgot to post! Well, in hindsight, it just seemed like we would get really close to being done then something would crop up to push back the completion date a bit further out.

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iphone 3G tethering on Fido

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I spent a few minutes yesterday setting up tethering on my iPhone 3G using Fido (actually Rogers, but that’s another story). It didn’t take that long once I actually realized that you need a few things to make it happen…

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Tile backsplash redux- almost done (really!)

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Both the electrician and the tiler came by today (in that order) and it was great to see some of the last things get done. It seems like the last 5% or so has taken the same time as the previous 95% (and somehow, at least as frustrating.)

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Plantronics Voyager 855- now working with iPhone

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I’ve been looking for a Bluetooth headset for a while but didn’t want to settle for a voice only one- I wanted to listen to music as well. Problem was, my iPhone didn’t do stereo Bluetooth because up until 3.0, it didn’t support A2DP which is the audio standard the devices need to communicate.

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Looking at drywall compound (again, sigh…)

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Well, it looked like almost everything was done and then this happened….

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It could get messy – again

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Well I was right: the second coat of stucco was pretty messy as shown in these photos, but in all honesty, they did come back to put a third base coat down to make sure that they had it all covered properly before they sprayed it.

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A few things to wait on to finish the reno

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The stucco guys were here today to patch the area where the bricklayer filled in the windows. Tomorrow (I hope) they’ll be back to scratch coat the entire wall to even it out. Judging by the mess today just from the patch, the next coat will be messy…. Very messy.

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Are we close to finishing the reno? Not sure but I am hoping!

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After a great week of work last week (and frantic efforts to get us up and running for the long weekend) not too much happened this week. As it was a short week, the contractor was only here a few times to do some minor things. That’s usually the way it is when getting close to the finish: there are many small things to do and often they don’t make as big an impact as putting in the countertop.

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Counter is in – but back to the basement

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I didn’t think anything was going to be happening at the house this week because we were waiting for the countertop to be installed. We were told that it would take 10 business days for the counter to be fabricated so understanding human nature I thought it would be fortunate if it did arrive on the 10th day. Well as good luck would have it I was wrong!

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Sink + cabinets = progress

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Last Friday the contractor put in a temporary sink just as we were leaving to go away for the weekend. Which was a great thing as we haven’t had water on the main floor for about 6 weeks. But as we were going out the door, I heard them say, “Wait its leaking!” This is not what you want to hear as you leave the house for two nights and you have newly installed hardwood floors. Hardwood and water; not a good mix.

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Not just WiFi, but MiFi

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Here’s an interesting item: have you ever wanted to take your WiFi with you?  I’m new device that runs on the cellular Data Network allows you to surf at broadband speeds and share your connection with up to five other people.  Now it’s not as fast as a cable modem but it does provide an

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Great find for antiques and more!

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While out of the city last weekend, we unexpectedly came across a solution to some of our furniture problems.

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Looking like a kitchen- cabinets are up

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After a few really long days, the installer got the boxes up and the soffit trim installed around the top. Today the electrician was here for about ¾ of the day to put in the rest of the dimmer switches and undercabinet pucks.

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Kitchen cabinet installation – proceeding along

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When you have some work done on your house, in my opinion you have to be an optimist. When things go wrong, you have to be able to see the big picture otherwise with the number of moving parts you’d pull your hair out with all the changes.

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The kitchen cabinets arrived and I can’t wait for the install

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After being shipped out last Tuesday the cabinets were delivered today to the house. As you can see, a kitchen takes up a lot of space before it’s installed!

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All quiet for the time being

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Its been a few days since we’ve had work on the house here. But it’s actually been a good break for us- a chance to catch our breath while we wait for the cabinets to arrive

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The hardwood flooring installation is done – now to cleanup!

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I got a call from the flooring installer that they finished yesterday at about 3 PM, just like they promised. We used hickory, because it is arguably the hardest domestic wood (not tropical) and liked the product and the color looked good on the sample. Rich and dark, but a shade lighter than what was existing.

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Flooring and drywall and more!

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Monday was a crazy day here in the reno zone. At one point we had three cargo vans and seven contractors bumping into each other in the house. The HVAC guy connected up the supply line to the office and when I turned the heat on, lo and behold it worked! You can see where

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No break on weekend for me

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Even though the contractors were not here on the weekend, I was still here working to take advantage of the fact that the finished floor had yet to be installed. Just to back up a bit, last week the mason and the installer were here on Thursday ripping out the old window to make a

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New iPhone coming out – enough for me to switch?

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Well, the rumours abound that a new product is due from Apple that will once again tempt current iPhone users to switch to the new device. Is it enough for me to break my contract to get one of these hot little units into my hands?

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New duct plan

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The installer working with the duct situation came up with a great plan.

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Duct tape is not really for ducts

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One of the key things in this reno that I’ve talked about before is moving (actually replacing) the existing window with a new one in a location that allows us to get the upper cabinets right to the south wall.

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Reno – Work and its not even my fulltime job

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I thought it would only be a day or so and I could keep posting on a day by day basis to update the progress of the reno, but so far no luck… it seems to be really taking up a lot of my time to keep the trades going and get things sorted out.

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More newsprint behind the baseboards – what could it mean?

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Today we spent most of the morning and into the afternoon packing up the kitchen and living/dining room as we are trying to get the house ready for the demo which is happening next weekend. I was pulling up some more baseboard and lo and behold found some more newspaper shoved behind the baseboard. This

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Breaking news- circa 1990

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I was pulling up some baseboard today in preparation for the new floor installation and tucked behind the baseboard near the front door was a Financial Post newspaper page from January 9, 1990. It was a Tuesday and some of the headlines include: “French advertiser Eurocom seeks international market;” “Japanese bring life to deteriorating British

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Window required, but no luck yet

The last major piece to get the kitchen reno going is sourcing a window for the back wall, yet no one can tell me what size to purchase

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Windows: not too big, not too small, just right

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We don’t want the window to be too small (because we need to get as much light in as possible), but if it is too large, the uppers might not fit! So we need to get the sizing right so that the rough opening will accomodate the window.

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Finalizing construction drawings

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Since we signed the contract, we have been moving forward to get the schedule locked down and all of the drawings for the cabinets in place so they can be sent to the cabinet makers to get started. On Friday I was supposed to finalize the drawings with my comments, but came down with brutal

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DEMO 09 – Morning sessions

Even thought I wasn’t able to attend this years Demo conference in Palm Desert, CA (which looks pretty good right now with our wind-chill this morning adding up to a balmy -27 degrees Celcius!). This year since I wasn’t able to attend I got online and used the live stream and facebook integration to see

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We have contract!

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We got a draft copy of the contract today and after a few revisions, will be able to start the project!

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Picked up sink and hood

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I was going to be out in the east end so I made a trip out to Bathworks to pick up our Franke sink that had come in. While out there I took a look at their shiny fixture things like vanities and tubs, just in case we ever get around to ripping out our

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Getting closer to starting kitchen renovation

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We are getting closer to the project start date for the kitchen renovation- now just have to finalize the contract and do some more measurement.

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Color and creativity

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Interesting post on Discovery’s website about a study that shows color affects creativity. According to the authors, blue lends itself to more creativity while red tends to enable attention to detail. Something to think about when painting the home or office! (But what about purple? Detailed creativity?) The color red boosts attention to detail in

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The City State and the Creator Economy

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I just came across a fantastic interview with Stanford Professor and futurist Paul Saffo who talks about how we have moved from the Producer Economy (from about 1900 – 1950) to the Consumer Economy (fueled by Advertising and Marketing ) (from about 1950 till about 3 months ago (!)) and to the Creator economy, which

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We have a sink- well we don’t have it yet..

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When we first started this reno project, we went out one beautiful fall day to investigate finishes and fixtures; nothing like starting backwards! What I mean is that usually you work on the big stuff like construction, budget, kitchen design, budget, etc etc and budget. So starting on the finishes was like putting the cart

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Windows and Doors now in. Look great!

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When we started thinking about new windows and a front door the sun was still warm and the grass was still green. It seemed like a good idea to get everything done before the snow came so we might not repeat the drafty mornings we had the last few winters in the house. After a

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Appliances anyone?

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As we are getting into assembling the pieces for the kitchen reno I started thinking about the big ticket items. Alot! Things like cabinets, appliances, countertops all seem like there are no alternatives to going out to the mainstream stores and just biting the bullet and ordering them up at full MSRP. But for those

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Windows and Door. What no door?!

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Months ago we decided to investigate putting in new windows and a front door after we decided that living with the drafty existing windows and door was not going to be much fun if the winter would be anything like the last one. So I went out and got some quotes from various manufacturers including

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Contractor visit

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I met the contractor this week and we discussed not only the construction work that has to get done, but also ways to cut back to reduce the cost of the boxes and doors. He had a few suggestions which were interesting and make some sense. Now he just has to go back, sharpen his

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Money, money, money

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Yes, we got the news… The preliminary pricing came in higher than we were forecasting so now we have to look into what we can do to shave down some costs… I was expecting this as in my experience, the costs rarely come in at what you’ve budgeted; must be a universal law or something.

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Resume

Passionate, focused collaboration and development leader, specializing in taking a fresh approach to situations to deliver solutions that meet stakeholder needs. Core capability in product and service idea-generation, assessment and development for the consumer market addressing existing and emergent customer needs and communication channels Successful track record of partner/ business development and integration Strong communication

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Lets hope the price is right

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Late last week we had a meeting with our designer on the kitchen reno and formalized the plan. She brought in a Richlieu catalog with all sorts of organization devices so we could go through it and pick the things that we thought would be useful. Its pretty seductive to look at all the “labour-saving”

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Design and HP- Boosting sales in tough times

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I have been a big believer in design and the benefits not only to consumers, but to the bottom line. There are various studies out there which show that there are direct financial benefits to “good” design but its interesting to see which companies are heading down the design path and for what reasons. In

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New shed… (why you ask?)

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 Well because people kept running into it…as you can see from this post, I just last year spent a bunch of time replacing the old one which had the same problem. Its not like it is in the middle of the road or even really that close to it. It just seemed to be a

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Kitchen plans and priorities

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Late last week we had our second real meeting with our designer Carol and we got to see the plans she drew up based on the output of our first meeting. Design at the early stage is fun. The budget prioritization comes later. One reason that a designer is a real solid addition to a

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Starting at the beginning

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Those of you with a sharp memory will remember that when I did the basement reno, I neglected to document it until I was a few weeks in. Not to make that same mistake again, I decided to bring you all the details (at least as many as I care to put pixel to screen)

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An end to Shampoo, rinse and repeat?

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I was taking a look at a bottle of shampoo the other day and remembered the story about how a Proctor and Gamble marketer came up with the concept of “Shampoo, rinse and repeat.” I have to ask: is this really better for the customer? Is it going to get an average customer’s hair twice

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Bill Buxton – Design Culture and Apple’s success

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I’ve always thought that Bill Buxton had a good view on what was essential in design and technology. Even way back when I saw him in 1996 or 1997 when he was at Alias Wavefront he caused me to think about how Design impacts how we interact with products on a daily basis. Now having

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Richard Florida interview – Who’s your City?

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I recently had a chance to see Richard Florida speak at the launch of his new book, “Who’s your City” hosted at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. He was ostensibly being interviewed by his old friend Meric Gertler, but he was able move the conversation fluidly from the question at

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Millennials and Music

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I was at a conference recently (called The Millennials – the generation roughly born from 1982 to 2001) and the most notable session in the morning was chaired by Alan Cross whose “Ongoing History of New Music” really was influential in giving me a new appreciation of how popular music forms around trends and influences. The topic

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Design Thinking – Process or Product?

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Last night I had the pleasure to attend a talk by David Smith, President of NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. The topic was “Why business people needed to think more like designers” and drew a packed house which was quite an

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Don’t go look at Custom Kitchens

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We made the mistake of going to look at a fantastic high-end custom kitchen store called DOM which sells Valcucine kitchens imported from Italy.  The sample kitchens are all beautifully put together and everything fits perfectly. In fact, the way the Valcucine product goes together reminds me of an airplane: everything has a machined quality

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Search- is interface the new battleground?

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I was thinking recently about all the work being done around “natural language” search with several startups (notably powerset.com and textdigger.com) looking to make everyone’s search experience less frustrating. Let’s face it; despite all the work going into algorythms behind the scene, I don’t think that search today is significantly different than 5 years ago. You type in your

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Demo-Wrapup

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Well another Demo has come and gone with a whirlwind of information and opportunities. There are a few things which I found at this year’s session.  It seems like collaboration is no longer a nice to have but a feature that is really becoming standard when it comes to online products. Notably, Cozimo, LiquidPlanner and some others

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Demo – Infratructure and search (not in that order)

The last afternoon sessions are hard as a lot of people have mentally checked out, so it is hard to keep peoples attention. Some guys came out and smashed a server with a sledgehammer (that got people’s attention) as well as one with a dog (yes, a real live dog) that fetched the presenter’s slippers.

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Demo- An end to Social Media?

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Not really.There were the requisite B2C startups and also a lot of Enterprise or B2B companies in this session, but an interesting comment from Chris Shipley in that there is currently a category for “Social Media Companies” which will be dropped in the next event as this is becoming not a separate category, but integrated

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Demo-Tuesday Afternoon Sessions

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Simplicity was the kickoff theme as we went through a wide variety of demos this afternoon; all the way from virtual desktops for the enterprise to teaching music over the web. Chris Shipley noted that: “Simplicity on the other side of complexity. Making really hard stuff simple.” A real cool demo was Sprout, that allows

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Demo-Tuesday Morning Sessions

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The day is broken up into groupings and the first one is entitled: “We’re Not Just Conference Producers, We’re Customers”Every product we select for DEMO is intrinsically valuable. Each will find customers, from enterprise IT professionals at work to families and friends at home. Yet, in every screening cycle, we find a handful of products

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Demo- Brief overview by Chris Shipley

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Here is the schedule for the first day. People starting to arrive for first day’s sessions. [‘The number of iPhones here is pretty overwhelming, but I’d expect it with this crowd. ] Chris Shipley (Host and founder of Demo) gives a brief kick off talk: Her update on state of industry: ·         77 demos this

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Early start at Demo

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I got in today after a bumpy ride into Palm Springs due to the remnants of some bad weather they had on the weekend so some coverage of some of the companies presenting here this week. A few that I will be talking to include a content delivery network startup called BitGravity for a while

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The Opposable Mind – Discussion with Heather Reisman and Roger Martin

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I had the opportunity to attend a discussion about Roger Martin’s new book, “The Opposable Mind” at Indigo the other night. [I had purchased a copy of the book but I still had not finished it when I attended the discussion.] Heather Reisman the CEO of Indigo interviewed Roger and after a exuberant introduction asked him

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MacBook Air- Form or Function

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Apple launched the MacBookAir to great fanfare in some circles with much celebration about the form factor and design of the device. The Steve-note certainly highlighted the sleekness of this device and to give weight to the argument, compared it to a Sony Vaio. Other sites have a more detailed comparison here. The real value

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Renovating- how far is too far

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One of the things I think about often is the level of finish and overall look that would be appropriate with our house. You see our house is small, rather old (1920s or so) and in a nice (although, not ultra fancy) neighborhood of the city. So in looking at for instance, redoing the kitchen,

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Nintendo Wii – Looking for Innovation

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Nintendo has quite a reputation in the gaming industry as video games have been this company’s forte for a long time. Although in the period leading up to the launch of the Wii you wouldn’t know that this company was once a giant in the gaming business. They were suffering from a distinct lack of

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Welcome to the home page of Jeffrey Veffer. I currently am working at Bell Canada in the Consumer Marketing Segment, managing new opportunities for potential development. This area of the company currently provides many online services including Sympatico DSL High Speed Access, Online Games and Music. I completed my MBA at Queen’s Universty in Kingston,

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Transparency and Dell; not the end of the story

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A week or so ago some colleagues and I were having a discussion about transparency. No not the transparency associated with clean windows, but more around how corporations interact with their customers. Not always an easy topic to discuss because most corporations guard their external profile with care to keep a consistent message lest customers

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Doors and locks

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A couple of weeks ago I had to install new locks/deadbolts on the house (don’t ask). I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was compared to the original ones I installed when we bought the place 4 years ago. At that time, I really had to move / jiggle the locks around to get

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What was that noise outside?

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OK this isn’t truly a post about renovations, or even about our house, but just a week ago we were up north at a cottage for a few weeks and heard a strange noise at night. Thinking is was the dog getting into something we said something out loud about getting out of the garbage,

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Kitchen’s done, at least this project

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Well, I finished the $100 kitchen reno and as you can see in this earlier post, we managed to stay under $100 even including some other items, like the mirror I put up and the ‘blackboard’ I created by painting the end of one of the cabinets (just out of view in the foreground). The

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Design is the New Black

I was in a meeting this morning and we were discussing the role of design and how customers seem to demand better design (cf. iPod and RAZR etc.) as table stakes in new consumer electronics devices. This raises the stakes for designers and product developers to get the whole package right rather than just one

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Building a Web Business: Mark Evans talks to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster.

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Part of Mesh07 One of the earliest businesses on the web Craigslist actually started as an email list in 1995 when Craig Newmark decided to send cool tech event listings to people he knew. Then as people started adding to the list he had an idea: what if these people could post all the new

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Progress on the Kitchen Makeover

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Here are the latest numbers as I am getting into actually doing the work on the kitchen makeover. Knobs (bulk Pack of 20!, Lee Valley)  $5.95 Backsplash embossed wallpaper (roll, HomeDepot)  $19.99 Silver paint (1 can, HomeDepot)  $11.97 Sandpaper (leftover from another job)  $0 Primer (leftover from another job)  $0 Floor Tiles (Black and White,

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Digital Blinders – Are We an Inch Wide and a Mile Deep?

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Rob Hyndman talks with Nora Young, Mark Schneider and Mark Federman at Mesh07. I often find myself flipping back and forth between my real work and a bunch of webpages to get my information hit, and realize that I seem to have a shorter attention span these days. When I mention this to others I

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Michael Arrington discusses TechCrunch and Start-ups at Mesh2007

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Techcrunch was started in 2005 because Arrington was interested in the internet and particularly start-ups. At the time, there were a few sites like technorati and bloglines but not many others. It was started because there was no single blog that covered new start-ups. At the beginning it wasn’t thought of as a business, but

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The $100 Kitchen Reno (taxes not included)

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What do you think it takes to make a kitchen more livable? That’s what we’re trying to find out as the cost for really doing it right is quickly spiralling out of control. By ‘right’ I mean that in addition to new cabinets, countertop, backsplash in the kitchen itself the floor needs to be leveled.

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Finished the Shed

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Shed’s done. Not much more to say; its a shed. This is what the new shed looks like. Hmm, better looking, but still a metal shed. (Wish it were a bit better looking though.) Subscribe to the feed! http://feeds.feedburner.com/Reno-OrHowILearnedToLoveHomeDepot

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Loading up at the Depot

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We finally got a chance to go to the Depot (after trying to arrange this for about two weeks). What was the hold-up? I needed to have 2 people to help load the plywood sheet (actually it ended up being Exterior Grade OSB) on top of the car. And, with Tom (who is 22 months

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Shed- by Necessity

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Warning: for those hardcore reno viewers out there, this might not make your standards, but I’m posting it anyway. So even though I asked what to do around the house, I ended up out of necessity having to take down our old storage shed (actually located beside our parking spot behind the fence off the

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Running a startup Like Ghengis Khan -Kevin Hale

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Do big things with small teams Technology Mashups Word of Mouth Marketing 1. Expose yourself to harsh conditions o Less hardware, less features, less money o Practice in stress, practice disagreeing, do things people hate 2. Be a Nomad o Huns, Bulgars, Magyars, Pirates o Nomads don’t wander (migrate only 2x per year) Nomad Sedentary

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Word of Mouth Advertising

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A quick word on Word of Mouth Marketing Voice is tied to relationship. It works according to clusters- sticking together. Now this type of information can spread even faster online. The key is that you have to have something that your users care about- they must love the product It must go beyond reason; almost

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Overview of Widgets and Badges – Dion Hinchcliffe

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This was based on a talk by Dion Hinchcliffe at the Web2.0 Expo, Tuesday April 17, 2007 Important trends- Web sites with portable content and functionality Putting modular web parts on the blogs and profiles to host the pieces of the web that they want to share Realization the there is limited value being on

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Joost is interesting and it is like some other things you may have seen.

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In the Wednesday Keynote Joost CTO Dirk-Willem van Gulik explained a bit about their service. Joost mostly behaves like normal TV. You can “channel up, channel down; volume up, volume down” (as described by a well known Cable Exec.) We can look at the screen to get an overall view of the service. The EPG

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Interview with Amazon’s Jeff Bezon

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Jeff Bezos was one of the keynote speakers at the Web2.0 conference and in his eagerly anticipated talk he took the opportunity to highlight some of their initiatives to grow to the next level by providing outside businesses access to their world-class systems and technology. This approach would have seemed completely backwards about 5 years

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What to do, what to do….

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So here it is mid-April and I was talking with friends last weekend and chatting about the fact that this was the first year that I did not have any sort of Reno activity planned and felt strangely odd. No it wasn’t that I was gloating that we had finished all the stuff we have

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Apple TV vs. Media Center vs. Joost

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OK. This is an unfair comparison as some of these products involve hardware, some are just software, but really if all I want to do is watch video do I as a consumer care? The answer is of course yes! The reason is that aside from the price there are other considerations that will make

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Apple TV installation- A Non-Apple acolyte’s perspective

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Forget all the comments about backwards operating systems (PCs) and elegant simple to use interfaces (Mac); I wanted to see for myself if this extremely well-hyped device could do all the stuff that it was supposedly able to do. Things such as levitate objects, create food (“Earl Grey tea hot”; the Enterprise PC had to

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Door Saga continues

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The new back door, which replaced the existing old screen and original wood door was giving us some problems. Mainly that the mechanism that controls the internal blind was sticking and binding. This mechanism is basically one powerful magnet on the external controller and one inside the sealed glass unit which raises and lowers the

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How the web (2.0) is influencing us.

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This is a brilliant video, under 5 minutes, on how blogs, wikis, web feeds, social networking sites, and folksonomies are revolutionizing our culture . Both for the technical person who understands it and also for the digital neophyte / newbie who needs to get a taste for how the web is transforming itself and impacting

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The breaker is gone!

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Yesterday my wife said to me, “I guess the guys came and picked up the breaker…” because in its place (where it was standing for 2 months) only the tarp remains. I am hoping that Peter and the guys from Oriole Landscaping picked it up, because if it was anyone else, they would have had

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Out with the old (door), in with the new

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As one of the things which has been on our to do list since we moved in 3 1/2 years ago, replacing the back door was pushed back for no other reason than I didn’t want to do it myself. I looked at what was needed and of course I could do the demolition as

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Brick Pickup

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I finally got rid of the rest of the original red brick pavers. It took many postings to our local freecycle list, but someone came to get them. It was much better than throwing these into the landfill. The first person who came took about 1/3 of them, but it was so hot that they

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Funny, but true

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We clipped this ad out of a publication about midway through the project and stuck it on the fridge. This was timely… Now that I am done, I can laugh about it, but I tell you, this is pretty much how I felt some days. (Thanks to the Ontario Craft Brewers for the ad)

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Refilling Dog Bowl: For Potty-Mouth Pets

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The Refilling Dog Bowl is a pretty good sight gag, and it actually has a practical purpose. Place a 2-liter bottle of water (or your pet’s favorite beverage) in the tank and it will automatically keep that mini-loo full of fresh fluids. Just make sure your kids know it’s the dog’s bowl and not theirs.

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Finished-(Or just about)

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Well just before we went on vacation, I cut the last stone, dug the weeds, cut the grass and threw down some bark mulch so that we could see what the whole thing would look like done. Or 99% done. I just got a push broom so I could sweep in the “Polymeric Sand” into

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Some more progress; what’s that light I see?

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Well, I have made some progress since the last post thanks to working on the cutting in the evenings after Tom has gone to bed. The hardest part of the cutting is that the breaker I am using Here is the breaker; it takes a bit of force to cut the bricks! (also under the

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OK, so it is taking a little bit longer…

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If any of you have been following this from the beginning, you have seen that despite the best of intentions, things tend to take a little bit longer than I anticipate. I always forget that a few things can get in the way of completing these types of projects: things like a full-time job that

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BlackBerry addict? – Hotel offers detox

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – BlackBerry addicts have a crack at freedom when they check into one Chicago hotel: the manager will put the communications devices and others like them under lock and key for guests who want a break. Rick Ueno, general manager of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel, said the program which began on Wednesday grew

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Sun Cloud and Rain

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So over the last week, I have worked on the backyard mainly when I came home from work. Come home, eat, put the baby to bed and move a ton of gravel. Literally. I had to rebuild the ramp because when we constructed the wall, there was no way to get the gravel and pavers

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The first delivery (stone etc.)

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We started the patio/path project this past weekend and the idea was that I would take the week off to see how much we could get done and figure out how to do the rest in bits and pieces over the next few weeks. I was not for an instant thinking that I could finish

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Is it a Reno, if it is outside?

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Ok, I know it may be a bit of a stretch, but in the spirit of carrying on, I am going to try to document a project we will be working on this summer. We are going to put in a patio, retaining wall and brick paver path. I guess it is sort of a

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Tamagotchis seek second wave of virtual pet owners

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TOKYO (Reuters) – With straps loaded with tamagotchis around their necks, siblings Takumi and Ayaka Mochizuki traveled an hour to a Tokyo store so their virtual pets could interact with a giant tamagotchi that was on tour. “I love feeding my tamagotchi,” said Takumi, 5, looking disappointed because he didn’t have enough virtual money to

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Movie-Goers Getting Smells to Match Scenes

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TOKYO – A theater audience in Japan will be sniffing their noses — literally — at a new Hollywood adventure film when it opens here later this month. A new service from a major telecommunications company, NTT Communications Corp., will synchronize seven different smells to parts of “The New World,” starring Colin Farrell. A floral

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Theaters may ask to jam cell phones

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LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Movie theater owners faced with falling attendance are considering asking federal authorities for permission to jam cell phone reception in an attempt to stop annoying conversations during films, the head of the industry’s trade group said on Tuesday. Industry leaders at the ShoWest conference for theater owners want to find ways

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And a little-bitty thimble of popcorn, please

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OTTAWA (Reuters) – Budding Canadian film makers looking for a big break may want to think small — about 2 inches by 2 inches to be exact — organizers of Canada’s first mobile film festival said Wednesday. Mobifest producers are looking for bite-sized films that are up to 60 seconds long and produced for viewing

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SnackShotz Dog Biscuit Launcher

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Gizmodo has a great piece on this useful toy for frustrated dog owners. The Frolic SnackShotz Treat Launcher is a new way to play fetch with your dog. Load up one of the specially designed Discos Flying Dog Treats into this dog biscuit pistol, pull the trigger, and boom! It will launch those babies up

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iPod baby stroller

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Just when you thought you’d seen every iPod accessory in the known universe, scientists discover a new one. This is the iPod baby stroller. I mean, I guess it could be nice to listen to music when walking your baby, but doesn’t that kind of nix the whole baby bonding thing? Kolcraft has no care

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Fido’s First Cell Phone

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Lost dog? As of next March, pet owners will be able to drop the photocopier and staple gun and pick up the phone instead. That’s when PetCell, the first cell phone for dogs, is due to hit pet-store shelves. Hung off Fido’s collar, the PetCell is a bone-shaped cell phone that will let dog owners

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A few final notes on the basement

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I decided to post a few more photos of what the basement looks like now, a couple of months after the majority of the work is done. You can see the mess on the floor, on the shelf etc. The tv went up on the wall (after buying the wall mount on ebay) and it

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Unborn Baby IQ

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If you’ve been dying to commune with your unborn baby more meticulously, take a note from the Koreans and pick up Daeyang’s new Baby IQ, which will soon be available in the US. Cutely resembling a baby bottle, the point of this product is to amplify the sounds of your baby’s kicks, hiccups and heartbeat

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New iPod

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Here is the new iPod from Apple: the iPod Nanu.

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New gadget to make theft of mobile phones harder

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HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finnish scientists have invented a device to make it harder to steal mobile phones and laptops by enabling them to detect changes in their owner’s walking style and then freeze to prevent unauthorized use. The VTT Technical Research Center of Finland said the device, which is has patented but has yet to

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Stanford team clinches top spot in robot desert race

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PRIMM, Nevada (Reuters) – A Stanford University team won a $2 million prize on Sunday for sending a modified Volkswagen across 132 miles of rugged desert, guided only by sensors and computers in a race the Pentagon hopes will lead to a technological breakthrough in warfare. Twenty-three driverless vehicles were sent into the Mojave Desert

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Battle robots could join dogs on S. Korea border

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SEOUL (Reuters) – Armed, six-legged robots may one day work alongside man’s best friend on the southern side of the Korean DMZ. South Korea will spend 33.4 billion won over the next five years to develop the robots for the heavily fortified demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula, the Communications Ministry said in a statement

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Mitsubishi banking on robot companion’s charm

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TOKYO (Reuters) – She may be a bit odd looking, what with a bright yellow face, silver arms and a positioning sensor on her head, but this tiny gal’s got charm — even if it is chip-induced. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, say their new Internet-linked robot “Wakamaru,” unveiled on Thursday, has a friendly personality

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New Manicure Machine Sold in Singapore

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SINGAPORE – Want more than just glossy paint on your nails? A new machine with a camera can paint a photographed image, whether a loved one or a pet, on your nails for just 2 Singapore dollars (US$1) each. A group of Singaporean entrepreneurs on Wednesday launched E-Manicure, a machine with a camera that paints

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Hooligans kept at home by voice verification

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch hooligans will be kept in check by voice verification software which will ensure they are at home rather than supporting their favorite team. The Dutch ministry of Justice wants to guarantee that fans do not break stadium bans imposed for bad behavior. A computer with voice verification software, developed by the

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Is it ever done?

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Well, it’s been about 6 weeks or so since my last post. For those who don’t know (sorry about that…) we had a baby 5 weeks ago. Which explains why I haven’t had any time to work on the basement or post anything worthwhile. His name is Thomas and everyone is doing well, getting used

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Operation Organization

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This week I have mainly been doing some finish carpentry such as baseboards (a pain) and the trim around the bathroom door (slightly less of a pain). I had to paint everything before I installed it so I set up a makeshift paint area on the washer dryer in the back room. And yes I

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Furniture- 1 for 2

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Well I guess you can’t have everything. Just as I thought we would be able to finally start organizing and putting away all our stuff, we ran into a small snafu: I think that the designer who put together the plan for our furniture miscalculated the length and as a result, only the first bank

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Carpet and vacuuming

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The carpet went in on Saturday and now is the first time I can vacuum in the room without using the shop vac. The carpet looks great with the paint color. I was glad that there were no issues with the carpet because the furniture / storage units we ordered are scheduled to come next

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Finally, less crap, more light

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Finally, I moved all of the crap out of the main room so that the carpet installer could come on Saturday. As you can see, the room looks much bigger! Now where did I hide all that junk? I also installed all the recessed halogen lights this week which was a bit of a pain,

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Paint, paint and more paint.

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The task for last weekend was to make sure I painted the entire room and bathroom on Saturday. After doing some final sanding near the stairs the area had to be primed and the beam painted with ceiling paint. While that was drying, I went around and cut in with the brush so that I

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I have new respect for drywallers – Part 3

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So a lot has happened over the past few days. That’s what happens when you work for 3 days on something for about 12 hours a day. But the work needed to get done and now that the ceiling paint is on, you can get a real sense of what the final room will look

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Mr Potato Head Darth Tater Review

Here is a review of this starchy take on the star of the recent Star Wars III film. Note, no spuds were harmed in the making of this review.

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I have new respect for drywallers – Part 2

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The great thing about drywall is that when it goes up, it very quickly looks like you are making progress. The first coat of taping and mudding. All of the cluttered stuff that goes on behind the wall is quickly covered over and it makes you think that with just a few dabs of drywall

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Baby Translator

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be convinced that the constant series of gargles, coos, whines, and wailings of babies actually do construct some cryptically hidden language, (like those SuperBaby movies) but the same people who gave us the now-infamous Bowlingual and Dream Workstop claim to have cracked the code on baby translation: not only

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How do you get 4′ x 8′ sheets of drywall into a Mazda 3?

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I took Friday night off working because the weather was pretty good and I didn’t want to spend the entire weekend in a dark room while the sun was shining; kinda like the past few weekends. Good thing for the most part, the weather has been crappy for the last couple of weekends. I didn’t

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Some more drywall

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I got a chance to put up drywall on some other walls and got that up last night. Now I have to do the back wall of the bathroom and the wall for the furnace room. Finally closed in the walls. Looking at the rapidly shrinking stack of drywall (which is no longer mocking me,

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Hot and cold water stoppage

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On Sunday I had to also cap a hot and cold line that originally fed the sauna (even though it was a ‘dry sauna.’ I guess they used it to hose down the floor?) The original plan (about a month ago) was to shut off the water and cut the lines with the sawzall and

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I have new respect for drywallers..

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I was putting up the drywall to cover the walls (5/8″ Type ‘X’ Drywall for those who care), and soon realized that the pros make it look way too easy. Even though they have probably better tools than what I have, they have years of experience so can figure out the best way to for

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We have drywall!

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After looking at the pile of gypsum board leaning against the wall mocking me, I got the entire ceiling up today with the great help of my brother-in-law David; without his assistance, I would still be down there. Well, I actually still have a small piece to put up but we had to run out

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Bulkhead overhead

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I finished the framing for the bulkhead and cut the largest sheet the other day. I installed about half of the sheets of plywood for the bulkhead so now you can start to see what the ceiling height will be like in that area. I have to cut all the sheets outside as there is

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Framing is a drag

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I have spent the past couple of days framing in the ductwork along the ceiling. Roughed in bulkhead to contain main supply duct. The original plan, last year was to relocate all the ducts to the side wall so we would have the full height ceiling but when I found out that the price tag

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Sunny outside, who wants to be stuck in the basement

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So Sunday was beautiful outside so when I was given the choice about either working in the basement or going golfing, guess which one I chose? Well, I still did work in the morning, setting up for putting in the bulkhead over the ductwork, but then found I didn’t have enough 2 x 2s so

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More ducts

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Well had to resume the work in the basement because there are a few more things to do before I can start drywalling. Roughed in bulkhead to contain return air duct. I had to frame in the stack anyway, so I figured I should combine this and the return air duct into one. The original

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Done, at least the wiring…

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Well, I just got home and the electricians are done with their part of the job, running the wiring and installing receptacles etc. Now I have to clean up by patching all the drywall which will take some time, but probably couldn’t be avoided. Their wiring looks pretty good and the panel looks neat with

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What can go wrong will go wrong

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So I get a call from the Office of the electricians we are using. The guy on the phone says that he didn’t want to tell me, but the technician who is supposed to be doing the job today had to go the hospital this morning for a CAT scan(!). What are you supposed to

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One day to do their job.

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Heard from the electrician late yesterday that they will be here this morning with 2 guys (rather than one) so they can hopefully finish the job in one long day. That would be great!

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Why is everything so messy?

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I was just looking at the pictures of the work I did on the weekend and it looks like a hurricane hit my basement. That’s probably part of the reason it seems to take a long time to do anything; I have to move something to do something else. Want to cut wood? Move the

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Woman Sells Her Name on EBay for $15K

SEYMOUR, Tenn. – A mother of five put her name up for bid on eBay and got an offer. Terri Iligan, 33, sold her name to Internet site Golden Palace Casino, and she will officially be named goldenpalace.com once the legal work is complete. The casino paid $15,199 for the name. Iligan said she got

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Bit More Demo

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A slight bit more demo last night. Took out the drywall on a wall for the furnace room; one which I though I would not have to tear down. Tonight have to rip out the studs and rebuild as it has to be extended for the door to the work/laundry area. Behind this wall are

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More taping than you can shake a stick at

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Last night I finished the taping of all the insulation using Tuck Tape. Its turning into a real gaudy display of color down there with light yellow wood strapping, pink insulation, red and black tape, not to mention the grimy grey floor and dark wood joists. Very fashionable… In fact the plywood stiffeners I laminated

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Before shots

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Here are some shots of the basement before. View of basement looking north. Notice ‘sauna’ in corner (behind door). That had to go. View of basement looking south.

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Start in the Middle

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For those who haven’t heard my constant complaining, I am finishing the basement in our 1920’s vintage house. The house is pretty small and to boot, also very narrow (about 12 and a half feet wide on the inside), so getting the most out of the space means using every inch effectively. I wanted to

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The Couch Potato Tormentor

You remember the TV-B-Gone, don’t you? Anonymously turn off any TV, just like that? Well, we didn’t think you could get a product much more amazing and enjoyable (and simultaneously obnoxious) than that, but the Couch Potato Tormentor may very well take the cake. Instead of just turning your TV off, it randomly changes the

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Weird accessory thing: triPod speakers

This thing looks too weird to ignore. What you’re looking at is an upside-down iPod v4, attached to a tripod speaker set. Not something you’ll see every day – I’m actually afraid all the disk contents will start to dribble out the poor DAP, this way. It looks fairly uncomfortable for your player as well.

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Sony Puts Pizza Ordering in Videogames

NEW YORK – Demonstrating a deep understanding of what its computer-gaming audience, Sony has built the ability to order pizza into its latest online multiplayer game. Type the command “/pizza” while playing Everquest II, a fantasy game with 330,000 active players, and get the Pizza Hut Web site, where you can place orders for delivery.

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Doodle Mix-Up Confuses Blair with Bill Gates

LONDON (Reuters) – When a sheet of paper covered in doodles was found on Tony Blair’s desk at the Davos World Economic Forum, handwriting experts delighted in analyzing it, concluding the prime minister was stressed and under pressure. Experts who examined the tangle of boxes, circles, loops and notes on debt and trade variously described

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2 Many Txt Msgs Bad 4 Yr Health, Italian Docs Say

ROME (Reuters) – Excessive text messaging may be bad for you, or at least for your fingers. That’s what some Italian doctors think. They are telling people, particularly the young, that furious typing on mobile phones could lead to acute tendonitis. Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Il Messaggero dedicated about half a page each to

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Kodak @ CES – Easyshare One Wireless Camera

LAS VEGAS – Talk about a shocker; Kodak pulled this one out of nowhere! The Easyshare-One might just be the big digital camera surprise of CES. It’s only a 4 megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom and full motion video capture, but it’s everything else about this camera that’s dropping jaws. It’s got 256 MB

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GoDogGo Automatic Fetch System

As a dog owner, I want this gadget. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of prying a drool-soaked ball from your excited dog, you’ll understand. Plus it’s automatic! Which means that I can continue to watch tv/have phone conversations without soggy ball marks on my leg/arm. Well, maybe—$150 is a lot of scratch just so

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Bill Gates Gets 4 Million E-Mails a Day

SINGAPORE – Bill Gates might not use AOL, but he’s definitely got mail. The Microsoft Corp. chairman receives millions of Internet messages a day, said Steve Ballmer, the company’s chief executive. “Bill literally receives 4 million pieces of e-mail per day, most of it spam,” Ballmer said Thursday. Spam or junk e-mails are unsolicited messages,

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180s Gloves with Exhale Port

These performance gloves from 180 all share a good trick: each comes with a pull-back flap that hides an ‘Exhale Port,’ a one-way valve that lets you breathe warm air into the gloves to heat your hands without taking them off. They come in a variety of styles, including these Flurry Mittons. A warm pair

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Japanese to get dogs’ view of world with digital collar-camera

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese dog lovers will get to see the world from the perspective of their pets with a digital camera attached to their companions’ collars. Toy maker Tomy Co. Ltd. will launch the 38-gram (1.3 ounce) “Wonderful Shot” on Friday at a cost of 9,240 yen (87 dollars). It can take pictures by

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Keychain Remote Control Turns Off Most TVs

SAN JOSE, Calif. – A lot of people love television but apparently some people have had enough of it, too. A new keychain gadget that lets people turn off most TVs — anywhere from airports to restaurants — is selling at a faster clip than it would take most people to surf the channels on

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BlackBerry releases new 7100 Handset

BlackBerry 7100 Series handsets provide the best combined wireless phone, email and data experience for users who prefer a smaller handset design. They offer complete BlackBerry functionality, wirelessly connecting users with important communications and information. The BlackBerry 7100t also puts top-of-the-line features, such as speakerphone, Bluetooth®, polyphonic ringtones and an advanced call log, into a

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Curitel Communications has released two CDMA phones with a 3.1 megapixel video camera and a TV tuner.

The PH-S5000V and PH-K1000V are similar. Both use what Curitel terms a “mini docking complex” (MDC), which allows specialized accessories to be clipped to the back of the phone sideways. The phones’key feature, of course, is the 3.1 megapixel digital camera. Although it lacks an optical zoom, the camera includes a mechanical shutter for automatically

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Site posting

Today I posted my site. I always dread making the pages live because even though you have checked every link and image there is still something that will go wrong. Like today. I ftp’ed my files to my server and the old homepage kept showing up. I had to go onto the server and manually

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