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19 Years Ago Today

Netscape Navigator

Netscaoe Navigator was released

Christmas Gift Guide for the Outdoorsman | 2013 Edition

In case you are shopping for the great outdoorsman, here are a list of suggestions for those who often prefer to outdoors rather than inside. Check out the other Christmas gift ideas that have been posted this season.

Straight from Ned Flander’s Leftorium, the MEC Left Handed Slingpack $21 | Wendy has had a sling pack for years and just about jumped for joy when I told her that there was a left handed version available. She may have actually wept a tear or two. 

Pelican 1050 waterproof case $18.68 | These are great camera/GPS/iPod cases. They are water proof, padded, floatable, and strong enough to take a lot of abuse in the back of your trunk or any backpack. While you may not use it when you head to the park, you will use them when you are packing for a trip and don’t want your iPod, camera, or phone to be crushed. They are pretty much indestructible which means that of all of the things you have to worry about, this isn’t one of them.

Vibram FiveFingers Komodo Sport Shoes $70 – $130 | The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised. The Vibram Five Fingers shoes are designed to simulate walking barefoot while protecting your feet like shoes do. If you have any questions, check out the reviews on Amazon.

Leatherman Skeletool CX $80 |  Now you’re ready to lighten your load and boost your survival skills — with Leatherman’s Skeletool. At a mere 5 ounces the new, full-sized multitool keeps weight and volume to a minimum without sacrificing quality and true functionality, and that’s what the Skeletool is all about. Many multitools have multiple options, but they’re often heavier — and they’re loaded with more features than most people actually need on a regular basis. Conversely, pocket knives are light and streamlined, but they render themselves useless when the task calls for a more versatile tool. Enter the new Skeletool platform, offering minimal weight, compact size and endless capabilities. And with the Skeletool’s integrated, removable pocket clip, you can easily clip this tool onto a belt, a pack, or a vest — with no sheath or tote required.

Cammenga Lensatic Compass $88 | This is the Rolls Royce of compasses.  It has been used by U.S. troops, foreign militaries, law enforcement, and special forces for years. A total of seven Tritium light sources provide readability in total darkness for 10 years without external power or the need to “recharge” using a flashlight.

Garmin Edge 500 Cycling GPS

Garmin Edge 500 Cycling GPS $249 |  Sharpen your cycling performance with Edge 500, a lightweight GPS-based cycling computer for performance-driven cyclists. Loaded with data, Edge 500 tracks your distance, speed, location and elevation with high sensitivity GPS. Add an ANT+ compatible heart rate monitor, speed/cadence sensor or compatible power meter for a finely-tuned analysis of your ride.

Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System $99 | The Jetboil Flash cooking system utilizes the same efficient design as the now classic Personal Cooking System (PCS) but adds the additional convenience feature of an external temperature indicator. Designed to capture and focus heat more efficiently than traditional cooking systems, the Flash brings two cups of water to a boil in only two minutes. The lining also houses a color change window that alerts you to when the contents are hot. A sip-through lid further helps insulate the contents of the cooking cup and prohibits spills. The protective plastic bottom of the cup can be removed for use as a small bowl or measuring device.   

If the Jetboil Personal Cooking System isn’t what you are looking for, check out the MSR Pocket Rocket stove $39 | The PocketRocket backpacking stove from MSR provides full cooking function in an incredibly efficient form. Barely noticeable in your pack, it delivers precision flame control from torch to simmer while the Wind Clip wind shield boosts efficiency in breezy conditions. The PocketRocket stove’s diminutive size is also the foundation of a solid emergency kit for home or trail.

Cabin: Two Brothers, Five Acres and a Dream in Maine by Lou Ureneck $17 |  Confronted with the disappointments and knockdowns that can come in middle age-job loss, the death of his mother, a health scare, a divorce, Lou Ureneck needed a project that would engage the better part of him and put him back in life’s good graces. City-bound for a decade, Lou decided he needed to build a simple post-and-beam cabin in the woods. He bought five acres in the hills of western Maine and asked his younger brother, Paul, to help him.

Double Nest Hammock $65 | The DoubleNest allows room for one, two, three, or however you decide to pack 400lbs. The DoubleNest seats more than one person comfortably and is essential for family adventures. The DoubleNest still packs down to the size of a grapefruit, so there is no excuse to be without your ENO hammock.

Outdoor Coffee Press $40 |  Now there is no reason to bring that horrible tasting Starbucks Via coffee with you when you go camping or hiking.  Instead bring some fresh ground coffee or loose leaf tea with you and make some excellent coffee when ever you want with this outdoor coffee press.  Of course you won’t bring a bean grinder with you on most trips but it gives you an idea of what it takes to make a good cup of coffee while on the road.  Of course you need something to drink it from.  You may want to check out some excellent stainless steel coffee mugs/beer mugs to drink from.

Zippo Hand Warmer $20 | The Zippo Hand Warmer is a rugged, metal hand warmer with a high-polish finish and a sleek, thin design so it easily fits into your pocket. The hand warmer is virtually odorless (great for hunters) and stays warm for up to 12 hours. Plus, it’s reusable with Zippo lighter fluid and includes a convenient filler cup and warming bag. Whether you’re skiing, tailgating at the game, hunting, sledding, or enjoying any other cold-weather activity, keep a Zippo Hand Warmer in your pocket and keep your fingers toasty warm.

Garmin GPS

Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator $168 | Garmin’s eTrex GPS series offers reliable satellite navigation, making it a favorite of hikers, hunters, and geocachers. The eTrex 20 is equipped with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, a 2.2-inch color display, and ships with a worldwide basemap with relief. Add a wide array of detailed topographic, marine, and road maps, and start mapping out your next adventure.

Hennessy Hammock Expedition A-sym $143 | Next generation of Hennessy Hammock’s most popular model with all the key features including full velcro entrance seal, mesh pocket on ridgeline and webbing straps to protect the bark of trees.  The rain-fly is polyurethane coated polyester ripstop or silicone impregnated nylon and may be tilted to any angle, rolled up above, removed or used separately. The No-See-Um mesh and hammocks fabric will deflect wind to provide a calm space inside. Large area of No-See-Um netting to provide ventilation and keep insects outside the hammock. When properly sealed, the entrance design also makes sure no bugs get into your hammock.  All of this means that you can sleep almost anywhere.

The Black Diamond Orbit Lantern $25 | Designed for ounce-conscious backpackers and climbers, the Black Diamond Orbit lantern packs 45 lumens of bright, non-glaring light in an ultra-portable package. A DoublePower LED (1-watt) works with Black Diamond’s dual reflector system and frosted globe to illuminate everything from tent-bound reading to pre-dawn racking. A collapsible, double-hook hang loop attaches to tent ceilings and tree branches alike.  Mark and I both have one and they are simply amazing.  They are highly rated on REI, MEC, and Amazon.com and are loved by all that use them.  Whether you are a camper, hiker, or even a family who needs a safety light in the car, these are a must have.

Filzer UFO Light $8 | Alert vehicles and help keep track of your dog at night. The UFO light is designed specifically for runners, hikers and dogs. The light easily attaches to 1″ webbing, dog collars, clothing, etc… with a small carabineer. Five red LEDs put out highly visible red light in three modes – steady, flash and rotate. Its waterproof design makes it ideal for any weather.

Christmas Gift Guides and Ideas

If I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Ford’s (Amazing) 50th Anniversary Mustang

I have been following the news about the 50th Anniversary Ford Mustang for a while now and Ford Canada is releasing it today.  Here is the press release from Ford.

2015 Ford Mustang

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 5, 2013 – The next chapter in the life of the iconic pony car begins today as the all-new Ford Mustang, loaded with innovative technologies and delivering world-class levels of performance, is simultaneously revealed around the globe in six cities on four different continents.

“Ford Mustang inspires passion like no other car,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, global product development. “The visceral look, sound and performance of Mustang resonates with people, even if they’ve never driven one. Mustang is definitely more than just a car – it is the heart and soul of Ford.”

Mustang’s impact goes well beyond the 9 million-plus cars sold during its 50 years of continuous production. It is the world’s most-liked vehicle on Facebook, with thousands of appearances in film, television, music and video games. For the first time ever, Ford will bring Mustang to customers in key parts of Europe and Asia.

“We crafted this car with the goal of creating a contemporary interpretation of Mustang – an American automotive icon that symbolizes optimism and freedom for millions of people around the world,” said Jim Farley, executive vice president of Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln.

All-new shape, yet unmistakably Mustang

Ford Mustang

The clean-sheet design of both Mustang fastback and convertible evokes the essential character of the brand, retaining key design elements including the long sculpted hood and short rear deck with a contemporary execution.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression and when you see this car, you immediately see a Mustang strong and true,” said Moray Callum, Ford executive director, design, The Americas.

Several key design features define the all-new Mustang, including:
· A lower, wider stance with a reduction in roof height, wider rear fenders and track width
· The return of Mustang fastback with a sleeker profile enabled by more steeply sloped windshield and rear glass
· Three-dimensional, tri-bar taillamps with sequential turn signals
· Contemporary execution of the signature shark-bite front fascia and trapezoidal grille

2015 Ford Mustang Interior.jpg
Mustang convertible drivers will appreciate the standard multilayer insulated cloth top that gives the car a more upscale appearance and a quieter cabin. The new top lowers twice as fast as before, and has a sleeker profile when folded for open-air motoring.

The information and controls that an active driver needs are all readily accessible in the aviation-inspired cockpit, which is executed with the highest degree of craftsmanship ever found in a Mustang. Large, clear instrumentation that puts vehicle information right in front of the driver in the roomier cabin while improved ergonomics and tactile switches and knobs provide better control. The added width and new rear suspension contribute to improved shoulder and hip room for passengers and a more usefully shaped trunk that can accommodate two golf bags.

The Mustang experience

The way Mustang looks, drives and sounds is key to the visceral experience that makes drivers want to just get in and hit the road. With more options to choose from, there is a Mustang to fit any lifestyle. The upgraded V6 and V8 are joined this year by an all-new 2.3-litre EcoBoost® engine that brings state-of-the-art technology to Mustang.

Mustang GT continues with the latest edition of the throaty 5.0-litre V8, now featuring an upgraded valvetrain and cylinder heads that yield more than 420 horsepower and 396 lb.-ft. of torque. A new intake manifold improves low-speed breathing for better fuel economy, idle stability and emissions.

“This EcoBoost engine delivers where a Mustang driver expects it to with a broad, flat torque curve that pours out when you stand on it for easy passing or hustling down a twisty road,” said Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer.

The Mustang EcoBoost engine uses direct injection, variable cam timing and turbocharging to deliver plenty of usable performance and projected segment-leading fuel efficiency. A unique intake manifold and turbocharger housing enable it to deliver the performance Mustang drivers expect with output projected at more than 305 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque.

With at least 300 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque on tap from the standard 3.7-litre V6, even the most accessible Mustang delivers the performance customers expect.

Drivers will appreciate smoother shifts from the updated manual gearbox, while a reworked automatic transmission features new steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles for drivers who want the choice between convenience and control.

Most nimble pony ever

When life throws drivers a curve, the all-new Mustang sets new handling benchmarks for the brand, delivering world-class dynamics and ride quality.

“We already set a very high standard for Mustang’s dynamics with Boss 302, and our goal was to go above and beyond that with this new car,” said Pericak.

Mustang features all-new front and rear suspension systems. At the front, a new perimeter subframe helps to stiffen the front structure while reducing mass, providing a better foundation for more predictable wheel control that benefits handling, steering and ride.

The new double ball-joint front MacPherson strut system also enables the use of larger, more powerful brakes. This is expected to be the best stopping Mustang yet, with three available brake packages.

At the rear is an all-new integral-link independent rear suspension. The geometry, springs, dampers and bushings all have been specifically modified and tuned for this high-performance application. New aluminum rear knuckles help reduce unsprung mass for improved ride and handling.

Smarter than your average pony

2015 Ford Mustang Interior

The all-new Mustang features a significant amount of innovative technologies providing drivers with enhanced information, control and connectivity when they want it. From Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start to SYNC and MyKey in every Mustang built, plus available Track Apps, MyColour gauges and new Shaker Pro audio system, drivers will be able to customize their time behind the wheel.

The feeling of freedom and confidence that drivers get in Mustang is amplified when they can take control of how it behaves. On a twisty back road or a weekend track day, the driver can tap the toggle switches on the console to quickly adjust steering effort, engine response, and transmission and electronic stability control settings using the available Selectable Drive Modes to create the perfect Mustang at any time.

The new advanced, Ford-developed stability control is tuned to maximize Mustang’s dynamic capabilities with features like torque vectoring that directs engine power to individual wheels to help keep the car on course. When the time comes to turn up the wick at the track, Mustang GT includes standard launch control that enables drivers to achieve smooth, consistent starts every time.

When it’s time to back off and relax for the drive home available advanced driver-assist features including Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control can help ease the load.

50 years of Mustang

April 17, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the original Ford Mustang and each 2015 model marks the milestone with a badge on the instrument panel that includes the galloping pony logo and the words “Mustang – Since 1964.” Mustang will continue to be built in America at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant.

“From day one, we knew if we were going to build a new Mustang, we had to do it right,” said Pericak. “We built a new Mustang from the ground up that is quicker, better-looking, more refined and more efficient, without losing any of the raw appeal that people have associated with Mustang for decades.”

The Globe and Mail has it’s thoughts right here as does the Ford Blue blog.  I want one.

Here is my review of the 2013 Ford Mustang GT in case you are interested.  Its pretty awesome too.

Guardian Editor Describes Pressure After Leaks by Snowden

From the New York Times

The testimony by the editor, Alan Rusbridger, gave a public airing to the debate over how to balance press freedom against national security concerns, an issue that became more acute once The Guardian began publishing material leaked by Mr. Snowden in June.

The American and British governments have said the disclosures, which detail how the National Security Agency and its equivalent in Britain, Government Communication Headquarters, gather vast amounts of data, damage national security and help hostile governments. Journalists and transparency advocates have countered that the leak spurred a vital debate on privacy and the role of spy agencies in the Internet age.

Mr. Rusbridger said Tuesday that the governments’ measures “include prior restraint,” as well as visits by officials to his office, the enforced destruction of Guardian computer disks with power tools and repeated calls from lawmakers “asking police to prosecute” The Guardian for disclosing the classified material in news articles.

As he testified before a Parliamentary committee on national security, he faced aggressive questioning from lawmakers, particularly those of the ruling Conservative Party. Some asserted that The Guardian had handled the material irresponsibly, putting it at risk of interception by hostile governments and others. Others said the paper had jeopardized national security.

At one point during the hearing, Mr. Rusbridger was asked, to his evident surprise, whether he loved his country. He answered yes, noting that he valued its democracy and free press. After Mr. Rusbridger’s testimony, a senior British police officer, Cressida Dick, refused to rule out prosecutions as part of an investigation into the matter.

Since the revelations, newspapers, particularly those that have dealt with Mr. Snowden’s material, have also had to adjust to a harsh new reporting environment, security experts and journalists said, as governments and others seek secret material held by reporters.

“The old model was kind of like your house,” said Marc Frons, the chief information officer of The New York Times. “You locked your front door and windows, but not your desk drawer, even if it had your passport inside. In the new model, you have locks on everything.”

The Guardian, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal declined to comment about internal security arrangements.

But Mr. Rusbridger told Parliament that the newspaper “went to more precautions over this material than any other story we have ever handled.”

Senior Guardian editors were initially skeptical this year when asked to hand over their cellphones before discussing Mr. Snowden’s documents, said a person with knowledge of the reporting process, who did not want to be named discussing confidential security procedures.

That soon changed when they reviewed the information Mr. Snowden had supplied, this person said. The documents, they came to realize, would be of intense interest not only to the American and British governments, from which they were taken, but also to other governments like China and Russia seeking an espionage edge and hackers seeking to embarrass either government agencies or the publications reporting on the material.

Eventually the same editors insisted that meetings be held in rooms without windows and that any electronic devices nearby be unplugged. Computers that contained the information could never be connected to the Internet. And reporters who needed to consult with colleagues in other countries about the documents had to fly them over physically and meet in person, despite the extra costs. On one occasion, Mr. Rusbridger said, encrypted documents were sent via FedEx.

A Guide to Street Photography

Inside the world of fake Twitter accounts

If you aren’t padding your numbers, you aren’t trying“.  Not sure if I agree with that.

Mr. Vidmar offers a window into the shadowy world of false accounts and computerized robots on Twitter, one of the world’s largest social networks. Surrounded by a dozen computers at his home overlooking a golf course near the Las Vegas Strip, Mr. Vidmar has been buying fake accounts and unleashing them on Twitter for six years.

Today, he says he manages 10,000 robots for roughly 50 clients, who pay Mr. Vidmar to make them appear more popular and influential.

His are among millions of fake accounts on Twitter. Mr. Vidmar and other owners manage them to simulate Twitter users: they tweet; retweet, or forward, other tweets; send and reply to messages; and follow and unfollow other Twitter accounts, among other actions.

Some entertainers pay for fake followers. But false accounts can be political tools as well. In 2011, thousands of fake accounts disrupted anti-Kremlin protesters on Twitter.

The fake accounts remain a cloud over Twitter Inc. in the wake of its successful initial public offering. “Twitter is where many people get news,” says Sherry Turkle, director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. “If what is trending on Twitter is being faked by robots, people need to know that. This will and should undermine trust.”

Fake accounts thrive on Twitter in part because, unlike Facebook, FB +1.07% Twitter doesn’t limit users to a single account, or require them to use their real names.

Twitter’s terms of service prohibit “mass account creation,” and the buying or selling of accounts or followers. Last spring, Twitter helped a research team apply a filter that, for a time, blocked 95% of new fake accounts.

A Twitter spokesman wouldn’t disclose whether the company has continued to use the researchers’ technique to identify and block suspect accounts.

While conceding that fakes are “a difficult problem, the Twitter spokesman said, “We have a variety of automated and manual controls in place to detect, flag, and suspend accounts created solely for spam purposes.”

On Friday the company posted a job opening ad on its site for an anti-spam product manager position.

Mr. Vidmar says Facebook has suspended his accounts and threatened legal action for pursuing similar activities on that network. Twitter hasn’t contacted or reprimanded him, he says, though it has suspended or deleted several personal accounts he has used to pitch his business.

In securities filings, Twitter says it believes fake accounts represent fewer than 5% of its 230 million active users. Independent researchers believe the number is higher.

Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli say they found 20 million fake accounts for sale on Twitter this summer. That would amount to nearly 9% of Twitter’s monthly active users. The Italian researchers also found software for sale that allows spammers to create unlimited fake accounts. The researchers decoded robot-programming software to reveal how easy it is for spammers to control the convincing fakes.

Twitter declined to discuss specific findings.

Jason Ding, a researcher at Barracuda Labs who has studied fake Twitter followers for more than a year, also thinks Twitter underestimates the prevalence of fake accounts on the network. Mr. Ding says users don’t understand how active and realistic the fakes can appear.

For 10 months in 2012 and 2013, a team of researchers from the University of California Berkeley and George Mason University worked with Twitter’s security department to help identify fake accounts and minimize robot activity.

The team bought fake accounts on the black market, identified common characteristics, and developed a filter that would block roughly 95% of such accounts. Twitter’s previous system caught about 8% of fake accounts, the researchers said. They presented the results at an academic conference.

In April, Twitter and the researchers applied the filter. Mr. Vidmar says he remembers the day, because most of his fake accounts were deleted, and he couldn’t create new ones. “They cleaned house,” he says.

But Mr. Vidmar and others say the underground market quickly adapted. The researchers’ system flagged accounts with incomplete profiles, no pictures, and little activity. In response, Mr. Vidmar says suppliers now fill out more account details, add pictures, and tweet from the accounts before selling them.

That drove up the cost of fake accounts. But marketers and researchers say the black market is again thriving.

Just two weeks after the crackdown, Twitter caught only about half the suspicious accounts being offered by merchants previously identified as selling fake accounts, according to the Berkeley researchers.

Mr. Vidmar says one of his suppliers is offering 150,000 fake accounts for sale. “I could go buy fake accounts from about 20 different sources right now,” he says.

Christmas Gift Guide for Teenagers | 2013 Edition

Mark is turning 13 which means he is both more expensive and impossible to shop for.  If you have a teen, you know what I am talking about.  To help save you some pain and stress, I put together this Christmas gift guide full of ideas for your teenager this Christmas.

The bad news here if you are Mark, don’t get too excited.  I know you read this and you aren’t getting any of it.


GoPro Hero 3+

Mark loves my GoPro Hero whenever I let him use it and now that he has gotten older and his having his own adventures, his desire to document jumping off cliffs, swimming in a summer storm, or biking single track wherever he can find it increases by the day.  If your teenager is like him, check out the GoPro Hero3+ Silver Edition.  It is 15% smaller and lighter than previous models, it’s 2x more powerful—making it the most advanced Silver Edition camera yet. Wearable, gear-mountable and waterproof to 131’/40m, it captures professional-quality video at resolutions up to 1080p60 and 10MP photos at up to 10 frames per second. With faster built-in Wi-Fi, enhanced low-light performance and 30% longer battery life, the HERO3+ Silver Edition makes capturing and sharing your life easier than ever.

GoProHero3 action camera

  • Purchase at Amazon | $300

Nikon Coolpix S31 waterproof cameraNikon Coolpix S31

Nikon has an entry level shock proof and waterproof camera for under $90.  It takes decent pictures, has a variety of creative filters and features and unlike other low cost cameras, allows a person to do time lapse photography.

It offers 10 megapixel photography, 3x optical zoom, 720p HD video and with it being waterproof, it can be taken everywhere.  A great first camera for any teenager.  It also comes in blue and pink.


Canon Powershot N

Canon Powershot N cameraThe new PowerShot N opens up a new dimension of photographic expression, helping you express your personal style and flair with a whole new camera design, you know because the old camera design isn’t that cool anymore.

The PowerShot N features an entirely new design, sporting a functional sleek shape. Shutter and zoom rings enable quick, intuitive operation, and a new 2.8-inch tilt-type capacitive touch screen offers amazing photographic flexibility; shoot diagonally, horizontally, from low angles or high for versatile expression. The camera features a new Creative Shot mode for artistic image capture, automatically creating an additional five unique images every time you take a shot. The 12.1 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5 Image Processor create the Canon HS SYSTEM for stunning image quality and low-light performance, ensuring every photo is a powerful statement. An 8x Optical Zoom with 28mm Wide-Angle lens captures brilliant images with grandeur, from up close or far away.

Record 1080p Full HD video when you want to express yourself with moving images, and know that the enhanced built-in Wi-Fi® of the PowerShot N makes sharing easier than ever. A convenient Mobile Device Connect Button also brings powerful new sharing capabilities with smartphone connectivity. Express your creative style with the PowerShot N and share with the world, all with a simple touch!


X-Mini UNO Portable Capsule Speakers

X-Mini UNO Portable Capsule SpeakersThe UNO is the first of the X-mini Capsule Speaker series to feature new ceramic drivers. Seen more commonly in industrial-sized speakers, the ceramic drivers have been scaled down to the pocket-size with the UNO, which delivers clearer and crisper sounds than ever before.

Delivering on the promise of Sound Beyond Size, the UNO is petite in size but massive in sound. The UNO retains all the outstanding features of the X-mini Capsule Speaker range but ups the ante by offering sound quality that no other affordable speaker can rival.

They sound pretty good but won’t provide so many watts that it could damage the foundation to your home.


Sony MDR-ZX100 HeadphonesSony MDR-ZX100 Headphones

Like most teens, Mark loves his music.  After he broke his old headphones the day before a big trip, I went out and bought him a pair of Sony MDR-ZX100 headphones.  The price was right and I have always enjoyed mine.  Mark fell in love with him and despite me asking him if he wants to upgrade, he keep saying no that these are the pair that he loves to listen to.  Since then I got Wendy a pair and she loves hers as well.

They fold flat, sound even better after being used for a while and are comfortable.   Add it all up and for $16, you get an attractive set of headphones that sound great.


Skullcandy Ink’d Heaphphones

Skullcandy INK'd headphones

Individual tastes matter a lot with headphones.  While I prefer my Bose IE2 headphones, Mark loves his Skullcandy headphones.  Skullcandy’s best-selling INK’D earbuds feature a customizable fit and 11mm speaker drivers that tattoo your temporal lobes with full-color sonic art. Select colors include an inline mic and control switch to keep you in touch with your tunes and the outside world. Skullcandy’s INK’d earbuds come with three separate sizes of silicone eartips (small, medium, and large) to help you get the perfect fit to go with your sound.


Tony Hawk Birdhouse Skateboard

Tony Hawk Birdhouse Skateboard

Brand New Birdhouse skateboard brought to you by skateboard legend, Tony Hawk.

  • 4 – Tony Hawk Birdhouse Wheels 53mm
  • 2 – Tony Hawk Birdhouse Raw Trucks
  • 8 – Tony Hawk Birdhouse Abec 3 Bearings
  • Tony Hawk Birdhouse Hardware Black Grip Tape
  • Purchase at Amazon | $65

In case you don’t know who Tony Hawk is

He’s still a really big deal around the world.


Acer Aspire V5

Acer Aspire V5 Netbook ComputerI know tablets are the next big thing and we love our iPad but students have homework and have to learn how to write.  The best device for that?  A laptop.  If you are looking for one, check out this laptop by Acer.  It features

  • Windows 7 Home Premium – 64-bit version (let me be honest, you don’t want Windows 8)
  • 1.5GHz Intel Celeron 1007U processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 500GB hard drive
  • 11.6-Inch LCD display (1366 x 768), Intel HD Graphics, Intel NM70 Express chipset
  • Webcam, Wi-Fi, 10/100 LAN, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB
  • card reader, 6.5-hour battery, 1-year limited warranty

Once it is opened up on Christmas Day, head on over to Ninite for the free (and spyware free) software that will make this computer and excellent student (or work) computer for years. 


LiteHawk Zoom R/C Airplane

LiteHawk Zoom R/C AirplaneHow much fun would one of these be?

Take to the skies with the LiteHawk ZOOM R/C airplane. It’s controlled using powerful 2.4GHz wireless technology, features a 17.5″ wingspan, and makes it easy to progress from take-offs and landings to more complex maneuvers. It’s made using high quality brushless technology, as well as light yet durable materials.  Several of the reviews say it can be easily controlled by even a novice pilot.

More Information

  • Designed for outdoor flight with few obstacles and low winds
  • Boasting brushless motor technology,
  • 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio technology ensures a strong signal and compatibility with up to 80 different zoom airplanes
  • 17.5-inch wingspan
  • Manufactured using ultra light, anti-crush foam, the Zoom features carbon control links, a carbon reinforced elevator, reinforced leading edges of wings for added strength and a detachable landing gear for field or uneven surface landings
  • 10 minutes of flight time per charge
  • Radio features include a soft touch throttle control stick, power switch and rudder control stick
  • A variety of replacement parts are available

 


Fender “Stop Dreaming, Start Playing” Set

Fender Guitar and AmpAffinity Series Strat with Fender Frontman 10G AmpThere’s no easier and more affordable way to get started on electric guitar than this value-filled Squier set. Opening this box opens a whole new musical future for you, with a great-sounding, cool-looking and easy-playing Affinity Series Strat guitar, a compact 10-watt Fender Frontman 10G amp to plug it into and all the accessories you need, including an electronic tuner, instructional DVD, gig bag, cable, strap and picks.

Squier Affinity Series Strat is available in Black and Brown Sunburst, and features three singing, sparkling single-coil pickups on a classic single-ply white pickguard, rock-solid bolt-on maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, skirted white control knobs and a sharp new gold-and-black Squier headstock logo. Fender Frontman 10G amp features custom-voiced built-in overdrive for natural grit and adjustable gain control that rocks guitar tones from tube-emulated overdrive to full-strength ultra-saturated distortion (perfect for blues, metal and the famous Fender clean tone), along with volume, treble and bass controls, 6-Inch Special Design speaker, closed-back design for heavier bass response, auxiliary input and headphone jack, and classic black panel/skirted knob/silver grille cloth looks. You get guitar, amp, accessories and instruction all at once, and more than ever it’s everything you need to Stop Dreaming and Start Playing!


Christmas Gift GuidesAm I missing anything?  Do you have some great ideas I should be thinking of?  Let me know in the comments.

You can also find all of the rest of the 2013 Christmas Gift Guides online here.  There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life.  Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season!

2013 Ford Mustang GT

As soon as I was done with Ford’s amazing Focus ST, I took home a Ford Mustang which after 49 iconic years still turned heads everywhere I drove it.

2013 Ford Mustang GT

The Mustang was a 6 speed manual transmission with a  soft top.  As soon as I got in, I took the top down which wasn’t my best move as it was a chilly fall day and I shave my head.  So no hair flowing in the wind and instead I came home with a cold.  Wonderful but hardly Ford’s fault.

2013 Ford Mustang GT

Starting up the Mustang provide a jolt, even after just driving the Ford Focus ST.  It’s 420 horsepower rumbles to life and demands to be taken for a drive and responds with a baritone bark when you step on the gas.

While driving the car during the day is fun, driving it at night is far more interesting.  The Mustang has HID headlamps are standard on all models, and they’re flanked by LED light bars that lend a little more distinction to the front-end treatment. Also new on the lighting front are optional side-mirror puddle lamps that project images of the Mustang’s famous pony emblem onto the pavement when the driver unlocks the car. Very cool.

2013 Ford Mustang GT2013 Ford Mustang GT

On a Saturday night after work, I realized that I had forgotten to grab our electric oil heater from the cabin.  If it freezes it gets wrecked so we decided to drive the two hours in absolute darkness to the lake to get it.  The two boys piled in the back seat and right away I heard a scared voice in the totally pitch black back seat and it was Oliver going, “It’s really dark back here.”  Black seats, roof and a lack of lighting back there really does make it feel like the abyss.

Once we hit the highway, I was being hit by drivers flashing their high beams non-stop at me.  By the time we had going to the lake and back it happened over 100 times (I counted to 100).  The lights are spectacular to drive with, even on low beam; something I appreciated during deer hunting season (and when the deer are more jumpy and therefore more likely to jump out in front of traffic) but few of the oncoming traffic we met did.  HID lights are here to stay and it is something that rural drivers (and older drivers) need to get used to.

As the photo below shows, we did get it a little muddy and dusty

2013 Ford Mustang GT

On the same stretch of road that caused the Focus ST so much problems, the rear wheel drive Mustang was extremely stable, even though it was wet from a rainfall earlier that night.

The one thing the Mustang does not have is a silent mode.  Sneaking into a quiet lakefront community late at night with a car that rumbles like the Mustang had lights turning on as we drove down the main drag.  This car doesn’t sneak anywhere.  While the kids didn’t like the backseat as much as the Ford Focus, my body felt better after the drive in the Mustang.  It was a very comfortable car to drive.

The cons to the vehicle are gas mileage.  While I reset the cars mileage computer, the reviewer before me was getting an atrocious 17.1 litres per 100 kms.  2013 Mustangs on Fuelly get around 20 mpg which isn’t great but isn’t as bad as I would have thought.

The other thing I didn’t like was the steering wheel wasn’t telescopic which meant instead of shifting the wheel around to find the optimal position, I was constantly shifting around.

One last note, when Oliver saw the car, he thought it was a blue KITT as he had just been watching the remake of Knight Rider (which features a Ford Mustang).  He was quite disappointed that it didn’t come with a rockets and guns and said, “So Ford sent you the cheap version of KITT?”  Umm, I guess they did.

After everything considered, it was a lot of fun to drive and a car I would have loved to keep, even if it has no rockets and doesn’t turn into a Ford truck.

For more information on the Ford Mustang GT, check out Ford Canada’s website or head into your local Ford dealer.

Review: 2013 Ford Focus ST

I was given a 2013 Ford Focus ST to review.  It’s basically a four door Ford Focus with horsepower and speed tucked into every conceivable corner of the vehicle.  They found a lot of corners to add it as it has 252 horsepower in it and every single one of them is fun to drive.

The Focus ST is basically the Ford engineers wandering up to Volkswagen and throwing the gauntlet down at the Volkswagen GTI and then saying, “beat this!” and then watching the Volkswagen people slink away.  It’s the new owner of the compact sedan performance crown.

2013 Ford Focus ST

The car was a lot of fun to drive.  It was a six speed manual transmission that was easy to drive through the streets of Saskatoon on my morning commute.  Unlike many of Ford’s other vehicles, it was nice to drive a car that was not equipped with collision detection, blind spot alerts, and rear view cameras.  The car has one purpose and that is performance and it showed.

The handling was remarkabe as I zipped along through city traffic on my daily work commutes were the capable workings of the ST’s uniquely-tuned sport suspension which lowered its chassis by 10 mm, compared to the regular Focus. The ST’s stiffer suspension was combined with the Focus’ standard MacPherson struts up front and a double-wishbone system in the rear.

We took the car to our cabin for Thanksgiving.  I had to work on Saturday and Mark had a football game so we left Sunday morning for the cabin.  Since it was a demo car, we left the dogs behind which created some more space for us but we did manage to bring up three empty planters in the trunk as well as a lot of blankets that Wendy had washed at home.  I was surprised at how much the trunk of the hatchback held.

2013 Ford Focus ST

The drive to Arlington took us along Highway 16 until the Watrous turnoff.  A quiet Sunday and a lonely stretch of highway let me open the car up a bit and again I was surprised how quiet it was.  Despite the increased speed, I was surprised how low I had ESPN Radio playing.  There just wasn’t the need to compensate for highway noise.  That being said, I don’t want to take anything away from the Sony 10 speaker stereo system.  It was exceptional.

The one thing I didn’t like was on the 30 km stretch from the highway to the cabin is along a gravel road and I found the backend of the car was all over the place.  While I normally drive 70-80 km/h down that road, even at 60 km/h, the Focus’ back end was moving more than Miley Cyrus’ and that isn’t good.  

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As you can see, it came with the basic Ford MyTouch, Ford Sync, and excellent Sony stereo system.  The middle arm rest has USB ports to import music, upgrades, and power to charge your cell phone.  We plugged in an iPod and were able to control it easily from the steering wheel.  Apparently that worked too well as I drove Wendy and Mark crazy while flipping through a couple of playlists.

The car came with heated seats and as someone who had a sore back, you have no idea how nice that felt over a two hour drive.  For those that see it as a frivolous winter feature, it seemed to be worth it this fall.

Size wise, it felt good.  I am 6’4” and it had the leg and headroom that I need.  The boys were comfortable in the backseat but adults would find it less comfortable; which is the same with any compact.

Summary

I loved the car.  It was a joy to drive and fit our family well.   If you are like me and approaching your midlife crisis point, it is a car well worth looking at.

  • Model as Tested: 2013 Ford Focus ST 4dr Hatchback w/EcoBoost (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
  • Vehicle Type: FWD 5-passenger 4dr Hatchback
  • Estimated MSRP: Price: base, $29,999; as tested, $34,849 (includes $3,300 in options; $1,550 D&D charge; and a $100 Fed. excise tax; doesn’t include current dealer or manufacturer incentives)
  • Engine type: Turbocharged, direct-injected inline-4, gasoline
  • Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 247 @ 5,500
  • Transmission type: Six-speed manual
  • Track Test Results: 0-60 mph, mfr. claim (sec.) 6.5 (0-62 mph)
  • Fuel Consumption: Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.) 14.5
  • Seating capacity: 5

For more information, check out the Ford Canada website for the Focus ST or talk to your local Ford dealer.

Saskatchewan Connected

I have to admit I was disappointed to see this announced.

A free wireless Internet service in Saskatchewan is being shut down six years after it was introduced.

SaskTel has announced that the “Saskatchewan! Connected” initiative is being terminated across the province due to lack of use.

The service was launched by the provincial government, providing a basic level of Internet service throughout the certain businesses districts and post-secondary campuses in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, and Prince Albert.

At the time government ministers insisted it would “build on Saskatchewan’s reputation for innovation and being in the forefront of technology advancement.”

It was used by a lot of homeless men and women at The Lighthouse who had wifi capable cell phones but could not afford the extremely high data rates to stay connected to others.  Since The Lighthouse had the worst network I have ever seen, I found myself having to use Saskatchewan Connected on more than one occasion but found it was unusable after mid-morning which suggested to me that it was being used a lot.

It’s a short sighted decision by the Saskatchewan Party that hurts those without internet access tremendously.

Louis C.K. on children with cell phones

Some good advice in here.

Another day, another botched procurement for the Canadian government

Interest article in CBC that highlights the problems the Canadian Forces has with procurement and that is we don’t build enough naval vessels (or buy enough military hardware) to have the needed expertise to do it well (which even countries like the United States find complicated enough)

IMC’s report was overseen by its president, Tom Ward, a veteran of the industry who was in charge of building the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen. Ward declined to comment on his report or to say why it had so little impact. But shipbuilding experts say that the moribund state of the industry in Canada means that government officials know little about shipbuilding — so expert, third-party reviews of such massive contracts are essential.

“There’s no expertise in government,” said business professor Michael Whalen of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.

“Who’s going to look at those issues and the proposals from the Irvings and their subcontractors? We don’t have anybody, because they haven’t worked in that area for 30 or 35 years. So we’re going to go out to third-party consultants who do have that kind of expertise and can advise us. Are we getting value for money? Are we getting the right ship for the money?”

 

Buffalo’s Grain Elevators to Be Used in Large-Scale Narrative Lighting Display

Why can’t we do this in Saskatoon with our three mills?

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., which oversees the development of the Buffalo waterfront, has come up with the plan, and they’ve enlisted Ambiances Design Production to do the lighting work. As the Buffalo News notes, Ambiances has received praise for a similar project in Quebec City, which was originally planned as a one-time show, but was adopted as an annual light show because of its success. Part of what makes Ambiences’ work unique is that it involves narrative storytelling, and it could be used to tell Buffalo’s stories.

Buffalo’s civic leaders think that could be key to drawing tourists to the reenergized Outer Harbor and Silo City areas. “People have talked for years about getting some of the people who go to Niagara Falls. Well, this is the type of thing, because of the spectacle of it, and because the Buffalo grain elevators are so otherworldly, that will get people down here,” preservationist Tim Tielman told the Buffalo News.

The first phase of the project will involve lighting a couple of large grain elevators near the waterfront, along with the underside of the Skyway and the Michigan and Ohio street bridges. The second phase would involve illuminating a total of 14 grain elevators, and incorporating fire, pyrotechnics and 3D video projection on the side of the Connecting Terminal grain elevator, which is located just at the edge of the recently-revitalized Buffalo Harbor.

How an iPhone is Made

Where iPhones Are Made: Interesting Facts on How Much of Apple's Smartphone is US-manufactured

Why Your Daughter Wants to be a Porn Star

Interesting post by an ex-porn star

  1. Because you loved her enough, but you didn’t love her right. You weren’t attuned to your daughter’s emotional state as a child, and now, she has difficulty connecting intimately with other human beings. It’s not that you meant to handicap her. You may even have a bit of a problem with authentic intimacy too, and it’s probably an intergenerational issue, so look to your mom and dad for answers as to how the cycle started in the first place.
  2. Because you were her friend, and not her parent (Hello Baby Boomers!). You never set solid parental boundaries, and you failed to teach her about her right to have her personal boundaries respected. Your permissive parenting led to her low self-esteem and crappy social skills. There are four major parenting styles, and I hate to tell you, this one is not the best.
  3. Because you got divorced, and it was ugly. I don’t even need to discuss the damaging effects of a nasty divorce because these statistics are known. However, if you still think it’s cool to get divorced and drag your kids through the mud because children are resilient, or won’t notice how poorly you two treat one another, think again. A study by Paul Armato shows that children of divorce continue to score lower academically, and in the areas of “psychological adjustment, self-concept and social competence.” Furthering this concern, a 2002 study in The Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that adolescents from mother-alone or mother-absent homes are more likely to become sexually active at a young age, risk taking behavior that is compounded by substance abuse and lack of social support. Yes, there are situations in which divorce is best for all, but the process by which divorce happens is delicate and negative consequences can have lasting effects.
  4. Because you raped, beat, or neglected her. Or someone close to you did. Though plenty of women who were abused as children do not go into porn, many women who have been abused (physically, emotionally or sexually) do participate in sexual risk taking behaviors. Even though a recent study found no link between pornography and child abuse, ample research on prostitution and child abuse provide insight to correlates of selling sex. A 2012 study on juvenile entry into prostitution explores the far-reaching consequences of abuse incurred in childhood, and the suggested pathways associated with entering prostitution (i.e. the selling of sex). Of course, this statement shifts the focus from the real argument, and can turn this point into a new argument about whether prostitution is equivalent to participating in pornography. I would suggest looking up the legal definition of prostitution, which states very simply that prostitution is “the act of offering one’s self for hire to engage in sexual relations.”
  5. Because you are a prude — or a total slut — and you didn’t have a good handle on your own sexuality. Your lack of self-knowledge may have led you to inadequately educate your daughter about sex, either teaching an abstinence only or laissez-faire approach. Statistics on abstinence-only programs show this approach to be ineffective. And if you divorced, letting the men (or women) you subsequently dated run in and out of your life (and your daughter’s life) taught her that significant others, and people in general, are exchangeable. Kids need the truth about sex, and reliable sources of adult support and attachment. This article addresses the issues in both point four and five.
  6. Because you let her watch insane amounts of television. There is a cost to letting the media raise your children. Even an hour over the average 72 minutes most children watch per day can cause great damage.
  7. Because you gave her a smartphone when she was 10, and now she takes awesome #selfies all day. With every picture she takes to post to her social media sites, she becomes less sensitive to the idea of her images floating around on the web. Studies show that higher social media use is correlated with narcissism. Sexting is a booming practice, and a gateway technology usage that might lead to appearances on Internet porn sites. You can be fairly certain that your daughter has either thought about sexting, or has friends who do it.
  8. Because her friends want to be porn stars, Playboy models, the Bachelorette or any other exaggerated and hyper-sexualized version of a real woman, and you aren’t close to her friends. When a child has excessive contact with her peers and loses touch with safe adult attachments, the likelihood increases that she will become an addict, as mentioned in addiction specialist Dr. Gabor Maté’s recent book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. I think it’s possible that the problems arising from being raised by her peers can also lead to other harmful and immediately gratifying behaviors, like participating in porn.
  9. Because you never showed her a healthy way to fill the spiritual void that is quintessentially human. Isn’t it interesting that girls leave porn because they’ve found religion? It happens every day, even to girls who were considered to be “the world’s hottest porn star.” Money, sexual exploration, and false adoration didn’t provide personal fulfillment like spirituality did.