Monday, February 28, 2011
Ohio Girl Scouts accepting mobile payments for cookies, your thin mint craving starts now via Engadget
Sunday, February 27, 2011
My 2011 #Oscars #AcademyAwards #Predictions with Official @ABC printable ballot (print yours here too)!
Print your own Official @ABC ballot here: http://a.oscar.go.com/media/2011/pdf/oscar_ballot_2011.pdf
Check out the ABC official site for the Oscars and make your own pics there too
Leading Actor: Colin Firth in The King's Speech
Supporting Actor: Geoffery Rush in The King's Speech
Leading Actress: Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech
Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Art Direction: Alice In Wonderland
Costume Design: Alice In Wonderland
Directing: True Grit
Documentary Feature: Inside Job
Documentary Short: Poster Girl
Film Editing: The Social Network
Foreign Language Film: Dogtooth
Makeup: The Wolfman
Original Score: The Social Network
Original Song: We Belong Together from Toy Story 3
Animated Short Film: Day & Night
Live Action Short Film: The Crush
Sound Editing: Tron: Legacy
Sound Mixing: Inception
Visual Effects: Inception
Adapted Screenplay: True Grit
Original Screenplay: Inception
Best Picture: The King's Speech
Here is my prediction sheet, in pen and paper... well at least a photo of that paper:
Sent from my iPod
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Mike Holmes on the set of Holmes Inspection, where he’s overhauling a dangerously decrepit basement. - Brett Gundlock / National Post
In the unfinished basement of a Toronto home, Mike Holmes pulls out his magnificent tool: “If I’m going to swing a hammer, I’m going to swing a big one. I’m using the world’s best hammer.” (Brand: Stiletto. Composition: titanium. Cost: $500.)
The beefy host of HGTV’s Holmes Inspection is known for his candour. (Suck it up if you don’t like it brash.) He’s also known for his generosity and eco-mindedness, providing housing help to Canada’s native community, a relief mission to New Orleans, and soon, to recently devastated Haiti. His chockablock agenda will also include a green subdivision in Okotoks, Alta.
But on this chilly day in a once-squalid home, which nearly went up in flames because of a bum fireplace (episode date yet to be determined), he’s surrounded by walls studded in blue two-by-fours. “Why do we use blue wood?” he booms, in a parent-to-child tenor, pausing to answer his own question: “Because it’s environmentally friendly. You can even lick it, but you’ll have a blue tongue.”
The blue stuff is also highly regarded because of its mould,- bug-, water-, and soon, fire-resistant qualities, he says.
Trust his advice. The strapping contractor with chunky biceps and blond buzz-cut brings reno-gone-awry salvation to homeowners across Canada. Under his “Make It Right” dictum, mouldy basements and drafty attics get their comeuppance. There’s a certain thrilling satisfaction watching him coated in a patina of sweat yanking apart walls to expose, then extract, their shoddy innards — like a surgeon would a tumour — then righting it all back again.
Rarely seen without his trademark overalls and work boots (he has donned them today), it is surprising to discover Mr. Macho’s earlobes festooned with the kind of bling — rhinestones — you’d expect to find on Jay-Z.
To be sure, Mr. Holmes is not all tough guy. Take his view on ladies in the trades: “I love seeing women in the industry, and I believe women will make men honest in this job. We’ve had a 6% increase of women in the industry. I’d like to think I had something to do with that.”
In fact, his daughter Sherry — another Stiletto hammer devotee, who went into a tizzy in the basement when she temporarily misplaced hers — also gets dirty on Holmes Inspection, along with her brother, Mike Jr. (who really should consider a career in modelling, if his day job doesn’t pan out). Sibling number three, Amanda, works in the Holmeses’ office headquarters.
Holmes Inspection is now in its second season. The first episode, which aired Jan. 6, showcases disgruntled homeowners facing large repair bills and dangerous living conditions, and sheds light on the importance of detecting problems before you buy the house.
And this blue-basement, in the home of a single mom, is another example. By the time the Holmes squad gets through with it, the fix cost will be about $150,000, with the homeowner contributing what she can. The television production budget pays for the labour and there are donations from sponsors.
“We had asbestos in the plaster in the ceiling. The garage was leaking terribly. We had to gut the whole thing. We had electrical issues, plumbing issues. You name it,” Mr. Holmes says. The real kicker is that the home isn’t old. It should be in better shape. “Can you believe, the furnace was off-gassing in the house?” he balks. “And it’s brand new! We’re going to make sure they get in trouble.” (“They” meaning the furnace installer.)
Mr. Holmes doesn’t suffer ding-dong trades folk gladly. “I never understood how people did things, when they don’t know what they’re doing. It doesn’t make sense. I made mistakes at the beginning, but I was the guy who went back and fixed it. My name follows me forever and I’m going to make sure it’s done right.”
Many of us are guilty of hiring a cheap inspector when we buy a house. This irritates Mr. Holmes tremendously, so much that he’s begun to colonize the inspection industry. He launched Mike Holmes Inspections in February 2009, as a pilot project in the Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge area. The mission: to make every single house right. (This should really rankle charlatans on the beat.) His company offers a range of property services — a basic package ($395) includes an examination of your home’s foundation, roof, electrical and plumbing. “The base inspection provides a thorough, fully documented report with photographs. It’s much better than industry standard,” Mr. Holmes says. The full monty — or in Mr. Holmes’s parlance: “the infrared thermographic scan” ($695) — detects thermal defects and air leakages in building envelopes, so you can finally stop wondering why your bedroom feels like the arctic tundra in winter and the Sahara in summer.
Were you one of those dopes who spent all of your Christmas bonus on a fancy-pants kitchen when there were raindrops falling on your head inside your house? Mr. Holmes derides such prioritizing, calling them “makeup and lipstick fixes,” or surface renovations, that should never come first when there are bigger cracks to be filled. Don’t do it again.
However, if you have yet to buy your home, by no means should you hire any old schmoe for a once-over. “Want to know how easy it is to become a foundation repair guy? It’s a verbal exam,” Mr. Holmes scoffs. “You have to have a minimum renovator’s permit, and you’re a foundation specialist. As for the home inspector,” Mr. Holmes goes so far as to say, “it’s a two-week course — you could have worked at McDonald’s.”
Mr. Holmes believes the government needs to overhaul the inspection industry. “They’re trying to establish a licensing system in B.C. and Alberta,” he says. “No matter how you look at it, they’re going to do it wrong. Anytime something doesn’t work, you need to abandon it and think fresh. What do we need? Better schooling. Make sure the inspectors have a better education and apprentice.”
But if you call Mr. Holmes’ company for an inspection, don’t expect him and his rhinestones to turn up at your home. He is not a certified home inspector and only uses fully qualified inspectors.
Hiring a pro does make perfect sense when he points out most homes cost an average of $400,000. Why spend a pittance to secure yours? In fact, Mr. Holmes advises lining up a proper inspector before even putting in an offer on a house.
But this better-safe-than-sorry harangue will provide little comfort to those who’ve already purchased lemons. Now what to do with the mess? For instance, what should a person do if she has bought an old detached home that has a shabby building envelope but it’s in a thriving west Toronto neighbourhood? (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)
“Sell it,” he says.
“But what if it’s valuable?”
“Then you’re passing on your valuable piece of crap.” Mr. Holmes belly-laughs, looking particularly smug.
“But what if the hypothetical buyer told you the real problem is lack of heat? There might not be insulation.”
“Have you never seen your attic?”
Answering in the negative incites further laughter and a shocked expression from Mr. Holmes, as if he’s just been told a sip of cyanide before bedtime makes for a terrific sedative: “Whatever you do, don’t pass your home on in its current condition — make it right,” he says. “Then sell it.”
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
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Facebook is introducing two new measures to beef up security: expanding HTTPS connections as an all-the-time option and using social captchas to authenticate users who have lost passwords. Let’s take these one at a time.
HTTPS is a secure connection (more secure than plain-vanilla HTTP connections), and Facebook already uses HTTPS for when you log into an outside site through Facebook Connect and send your passwords back to Facebook. But now you will have the option to set HTTPs as the default connection for everything you do on Facebook itself. Pages will load slower over HTTPS, but you also won’t be vulnerable to people sniffing your password over WiFi using something like Firesheep. (Maybe Facebook should offer a “more secure” on/off button you could click every time you are not on a secure network at your home or office). Some app developers will need to use a new “Secure Canvas URL” so that their apps can also be accessed over HTTPS.
The social captcha feature is pretty clever. It will replace regular captchas (those slightly warped letters you are asked to re-enter to prove you are human) with a picture of one of your friends. You will need to identify the person to authenticate yourself when you are trying to retrieve a lost password or Facebook detects suspicious login activity on your account. You do know what all your “friends” look like, don’t you?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This is interesting. Verizon has just announced that it is bundling broadband with Google Apps for its small business customers.
Called Google Apps for Verizon, the package combines Google’s-cloud-based productivity suite with broadband internet access. The new offering includes 25 GB (gigabytes) of domain name e-mail storage per user; access to Gmail, Google Calendar, Sites, Docs, and Video.
Google Apps for Verizon is available to businesses that subscribe to a bundle consisting of Verizon Internet service and either Verizon voice or TV service, or both. Unfortunately, the package is available in 13 states, including Washington D.C. Verizon is actually offering 3 free users accounts and a free domain name if users bundle Apps with internet access.
Considering Verizon’s widespread popularity, this could be a big win for Google Apps.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Joe Flint at Company Town blog reports that a new enterprise — which might be worth $200 million to CBS — will allow Trekkies to get their Starfleet fix via Netflix. Here’s an excerpt.
"Star Trek" (Associated Press/Paramount Television)
CBS Corp. has cut a deal with Netflix to give its customers access to classic TV including “Star Trek,” “Cheers,” “Twin Peaks” and “Family Ties.”
The two-year, non-exclusive deal will allow Netflix customers to stream online assorted CBS-owned library content along with the various other movies and television product Netflix offers for streaming, at prices that start at $7.99 per month.
What the deal does not include is many current CBS shows…
THERE’S MORE, READ THE REST
– Joe Flint
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