Halifax Skating Oval Could Be Kept for 50 Cents to $2 per Use (A Cost-Benefit Analysis)

Halifax Skating Oval

For about $1 of tax per person per year, or a $2 (toonie) charge per use, the Halifax Skating Oval can be sustained, at the highest cost estimates. It could be as low as 50 cents per use. I’m not encouraging this, but if paying for use of the Oval were a last resort, it could be very affordable and definitely worth its value!

There’s a big debate on whether or not to keep the Canada Winter Games Skating Oval on the Halifax Commons (CBC, Jan 4 2011). A lot of the public is enjoying the facility, but the worry is the cost of maintaining the Oval after the Canada Games are over. The hope is that business support can be found to pay the costs, rather than increasing taxes or having to charge skaters. However, that’s a political solution. This analysis looks at the business case of keeping the oval if the public had to pay for it.

Continue reading

Over 250 Cartoon Pictures for Facebook Profile Pics Campaign Against Child Abuse

Until December 6th, there is a global campaign on Facebook where people replace their profile pictures with their favourite cartoon character/s, then encourage their friends to do the same. Now this campaign I like! Too bad it’s way too short but it’s gone viral globally after just a day’s notice!

I’ve got over 250 cartoon pictures made for Facebook profile pics at the bottom, arranged in alphabetical order with names, which include some modern and some old cartoons.

Continue reading

Would You Use a Kindle Knowing Amazon Tracks Your Highlighting?

I read a story today about how Amazon, the famous online store and maker of the Kindle e-book reader, has announced it will track what its Kindle readers highlight.

WOW!!!

That’s pretty brazen, if you ask me! Never mind doing it secretly, but announcing it as well! Never mind a nice competitor in Apple not doing any of this stuff (so far as we know).

Your Kindle has an Internet connection with which you can download books and upload payment information and such. It’s a two-way street.

One of the things you can do with your Kindle as you read is to highlight passages. It’s a pretty nice feature you wouldn’t want to do to your books as it’s irreversible in book form, can’t be turned off, and can be annoying later on or to another reader. However, with that two-way street for information exchange, your Kindle sends information of what you highlighted to Amazon, who compiles it and does who knows what else with it. You can bet they’ll use it to help market to you as well. That can be nice, to some extent, if they are right to recommend books you like, but you’re bound to waste some money sooner or later on a bad or bad intent recommendations pending how good their algorithms are at figuring you out.

But what if this information gets into the wrong hands? Or more likely and worse, what if it is subpoenaed by the wrong party?

Oh, let’s say you’re somehow a suspect for a crime. Would anything you might have read and highlighted be used to cast your character to a jury? What if you liked crime novels? They’d have lots of choices. Your love for crime novels now becomes your motive instead of just an innocent interest many people share. And chances are, you might have highlighted some darn good passages others also loved and maybe thought this would be a cool way to commit a crime.

What then?

Or what if someone were able to hack Amazon’s site and get access to their database? Really. It’s not that hard for the people who really want to do it. Wanna take bets the Chinese government is already in there? 🙂

But if all that is too fictitious for you, how do you feel about having your highlighted passages read sent to a retailer?

If you ask me, why are people worried about “big brother” government with this kind of crap going on?

To be fair, though, Amazon isn’t the only one doing this sort of stuff. Just read Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres. Yes, I realize I just linked to the Amazon website, and I’m sure they did as well. Everybody is doing this sort of digital tracking. Credit cards companies are looking at your spending patterns to try and figure out in how many years you might divorce (if you’re married), for example, to appropriately market to you leading up to it, through it and after it. It gets that complex. But it is possible because humans are rather predictable on the whole, which is also the reason why you have stereotypes.

On top of this, Amazon just released a Kindle multiplatform application that will do far more than just track your highlighted passages!

So my question for you on this matter is then:

.

Just some other neat things I learned today below from my favourite week daily read, Social Studies from the Globe and Mail.

Digital output volume
“Humanity’s total digital output currently stands at eight million petabytes – which each represent a million gigabytes – but is expected to pass 1.2 zettabytes this year,” The Daily Telegraph reports. “One zettabyte is equal to one million petabytes … The current size of the world’s digital content is equivalent to all the information that could be stored on 75 billion Apple iPads, or the amount that would be generated by everyone in the world posting messages on the microblogging site Twitter constantly for a century. … As a result, the digital universe is forecast to expand by a factor of 44 over the next decade,” according to an annual survey by technology consultancy IDC.

Email apnea
“Today we’re more wired to snap – especially when using computer keyboards,” Nance Guilmartin writes for Careerbuilder.com. “There’s even a physiological trigger pulling us into e-mail shootouts; it’s called ‘e-mail apnea.’ Thought leader Linda Stone, formerly of Microsoft and Apple computers, coined the phrase after researching a phenomenon she observed while people were under the influence of computing. The urge to quickly react (without considering what you or they may have misunderstood) can affect you – whether you are the person sending the initial e-mail or the one who receives it. Stone noticed we hold our breath while cranking out e-mails and doctors confirmed her suspicions. When we hold our breath, the brain is momentarily oxygen-deprived and hits the flight or fight response, fuelling a more emotional reaction to the words shooting out of our fingers.”

Libraries Plus
“Recently, I attended the opening of the freshly refurbished Harlesden Library,” Rose Rouse writes for The Guardian. “Emerging from its swaddle of scaffolding, this Edwardian building in northwest London had mysteriously acquired a four-letter suffix. Harslesden Library is now Harlesden Library Plus,” The library offers more services but seems to have fewer books. The fad of adding “plus” has spread to other libraries, government initiatives and even everyday speech – the Labour manifesto is described by its author as Blair Plus. “It goes back to added value,” says former management consultant and philosopher Robert Rowland Smith, “or at least the illusion of giving some. It’s like a shop cutting up chicken and selling it for more, even though there is actually no more chicken.”

I’m surprised this novel column on May the 4th didn’t mention anything about Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you! Get it? 🙂

Share/Bookmark

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.8

Are Your Brackets Hurting as Much as President Barack Obama’s Barackets After Round Two?

President Barack Obama

Please click here for the update after Round 3 of 2010 March Madness.

After a great Round 2 of major upsets in the 2010 NCAA March Madness Tournament, there’s not a lot of point asking most people how well their brackets are doing. The more appropriate question would be how hurting it is? And the popular standard is that of President Barack Obama’s Barackets.

Obama’s Barackets is scored on the ESPN scoring system. That rewards 10 points per correct game in the first round, 20 points in the second round, with 40, 80, 160 and 320 in the following respective rounds). President Obama is sitting at 430 points after two rounds. That is good for place number 341,292 of the over 4.5 million brackets on ESPN, or better than 92.8% of them so he’s still getting an A+.

However, the President only has 520 potential points remaining (PPR) with his overall champion Kansas gone, Villanova to the Final Four and Georgetown Elite Eight.

Personally, I trailed da Prez by 40 points after Round 1, but only trail him by 20 points now. Yet, the 20 point gain has allowed me to make tremendous gains. My ESPN brackets sat at place 2,978,307 or ahead of a very lousy 37.6 percent of the entries after Round 1. However, I now have 410 points, good enough for 846,668th place, and ahead of 82.2% of the brackets at ESPN or an A-.

But I do have a potential 640 points remaining compared to Obama’s 520, though I had also picked Kansas to win.

The leaders are well ahead of Obama and I, but this isn’t about winning as comparing yourself to da Prez! Still, I am amazed at their ability and luck to be doing so well.

How much are your brackets hurting?

Share/Bookmark

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.5

Dave Carroll Launches Second United Breaks Guitar Video

Dave Carroll of the group Sons of Maxwell has released the second of three songs and videos chronicling how United Airlines baggage handlers carelessly thrashed his high quality $3500 Taylor guitar and won’t be accountable for it.

The short of Dave’s broken guitar story is as follows:

“In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world.”
— from davecarrollmusic.com that also has the full story

Dave-Carroll1

The first video was a huge hit, shown at bottom for your convenience in case you didn’t see it. It is now bordering on 5 million YouTube views as of this writing on Aug 19 2009. The story of its success, as Dave has told audience, was that after posting the first video and going to bed, there were six views… five of which were probably his. The next day, there were 300 views, and he was ecstatic. He called Curve Productions, who produced that first and this second video, but they told him to not get too excited. However, when he was out in little Pictou doing a show the next night and someone told him the LA Times wanted to talk to him, Dave knew for sure he was on to something big.

Well, at 5 million views in 6-7 weeks, you’re doing super great, Dave! Much better than your initial goal of 1 million views for all three videos within one year!

Despite all this grief, though, Dave maintains a great attitude towards United. He has said he may fly United again one day, if this gets settled adequately. That would mean they’d have to meet his challenge:

“If United would go online and on record saying that they were going to make substantive changes to customer service and make the experience better for people, I’d be inclined to write about that. [The third song] is still not written and it’ll be released in the fall, though. If United wants to take part, they just have to come to the table and share what they’re going to do to make it better for everybody.”
Yahoo News

Dave Carroll was my former songwriting teacher at Sherbrooke Village, Nova Scotia, in a great Road to Stanfest songwriting camp they have there. I’m extremely happy for him and his success, and wish him all the best to resolve his guitar tragedy with United Airlines. His viral first video is below for your reference.

Short link: http://wp.me/pr5TE-1sl

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.1