Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Windshield wiper solution

It looks like I may have a solution to my windshield wiper dilemma, thanks to a guy named Joe.

Yesterday I received an email from Joe. He also owns a 2008 Ford Escape and had the exact same troubles that I did in finding windshield wipers for the truck. In fact, he also had the same problem with the Armor All EDGE Silicone Wiper Blades that we both purchased as replacements.

Fortunately, he found a possible solution. He came across my blog and was kind enough to share the info with me: Trico NeoForm blade (part #16-2013)

I had read about them in a forum as I was searching for wiper blades, but didn't know where I could find them. Joe found them at Parts Source and said they seem to work fine. What's even better is that they are $24.99 each, compared to Ford's one and only replacement wipers -- the same as what came with the truck -- that cost $30 each.

My wife returned the Armor All wiper blades to Canadian Tire this evening. The girl at the Customer Service counter mentioned that they've had quite a few returns of the Armor All wiper blades. Not surprising.

Oddly enough, there are now two good reviews and two bad reviews of these wipers on the Canadian Tire web site. One of the bad ones is mine.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Real Xmas trees are thirsty!

With the holiday season upon us, here's an important reminder for those who have a real Xmas tree: DON'T FORGET TO WATER THE TREE!

In the 13 years that I've been married, we never bought a real Xmas tree. Until this year. This is the first year that our kids go to see a real tree in the living room. The same can be said for my wife. She said they never had a real tree when she was younger. We often had a real tree when I was growing up.

So, we went out on Saturday and cut down our own tree. I love the smell of a real tree at Christmas. One thing I don't remember growing up is just how thirsty a real tree is.

Our tree stand holds a lot of water. After we set it up, I filled it up. The next day, I reached under the tree and stuck my fingers in the reservoir. I couldn't feel any water. I got a large plastic cup and topped it up, and then checked it again. Still no water.

It took four large cups to get it to a level that I could feel the water. It must be the equivalent of about 2 litres!

I checked it again the next day and the same thing happened.

I thought... either this tree drinks a hell of a lot of water, or the stand is leaking into the floor. I had to check the basement ceiling to make sure there were no water stains. :)

Be sure to check your real Xmas tree on a daily basis so it doesn't dry out!
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Stupid Drivers

The highway off-ramp that we take every morning has a large shoulder, and as the line of traffic slowly crawls along, people often drive on the shoulder. I don't know if they're just stupid and they they actually think it's a lane or what... but, at some point, it does get narrow and they eventually move back into the lane.

This morning, I noticed the guy behind me (maybe ~60yrs old) was one of these stupid people. But he was different. This guy graduated at the top of the stupid class, with honours.

He started to pull up beside us on the shoulder. He then backed off a little. And then he pulled up alongside again, passed us, and drove beside the vehicle in front of us!

I laid on the horn.

He slowed down and pulled back in behind us.

We were stunned.

Now, let's pretend for a moment that the shoulder was actually a lane. There's a solid white line between our lane and his imaginary lane. I don't know how this guy got his licence, but when I took Driver's Ed, they taught me that a solid white line = DO NOT CROSS.

What the hell was this guy thinking? Big balls or big stupid?
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Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm going to Disney World!

Ok, I'm not, but they think I am. :) Click the play button if it doesn't start.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ford strong-arms online communities?

Ford Motor CompanyImage via WikipediaI was poking around the web and Twitter during my lunch break and came across this:

Ford Goes After Online Communities For Trademark Infringemnt

The summarize: Ford wants their domain names and payment for the infringement.

Some of these web sites have been around for years, and never heard a peep from any of Ford's legal council.

Why the change now? Is Ford so desperate for money, that they have to squeeze it out of their loyal followers? They certainly aren't blowing their cash on designing and manufacturing 2008 Ford Escape winter wiper blades. :) Sorry, had to throw that in there.

A Ford rep has commented on the article and is looking into it.

Update: the official response from Ford. Seems fair enough.
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Malware headache

Malware: Short for malicious software, a program or file that is designed to specifically damage or disrupt a system, such as a virus, worm, or a Trojan horse.

At some point on the weekend, my son installed malware on his PC. It seems to have come from one of those fake pop up "your infected" ads, advising the user that they need to install a virus scanner update or registry cleaner.

I run the free version of AVG Free Anti-virus on all our PCs and, for the most part, they've been protected well enough. This sucker got past it.

A few of the symptoms were:
  • being redirected, at random, to other sites while surfing the web
  • pop-ups advising you that there's a problem you need to address with an update
  • general sluggishness of the PC
AVG did identify the trojan as the "Vundo.bz trojan" and attempted to clean it. Yet, after rebooting, it would reappear. I'd scan it again, clean it again, reboot... and it would be back every time.

After 4 hours of trying to clean it using AVG and manually deleting what didn't seem like it belonged, I did a search on one of the pop-ups. One that told me to install "Registry Defender".

I came across a forum posting where someone had a similar problem, and the suggestions were to install a freeware program called Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

I gave it a try. Although it probably wasn't necessary, I decided to reboot into Safemode first before running it. It found 36 infected areas. Files and registry entries.

I let it do its thing and rebooted. Then I scanned it again. It found 4 more entries. Again, cleaned, rebooted. Another 4 found. Repeat. 2 more. Repeat. Clean. Reboot. Still clean.

Don't put all your trust in your anti-virus software.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ford (Motorcraft) does NOT make winter wiper blades for the 2008 Ford Escape

I decided to see how the Armor All EDGE Silicone Wiper Blades performed for the snowy drive home. In one word: garbage.

I was a little surprised, considering there is one user review on the Canadian Tire web site that gave them a good rating. I suppose a different size for a different make and model of vehicle might be the difference.

While I was stuck in traffic on the highway, I called my wife and asked her if she could call our Ford Dealership and ask them if they had any winter blades for our 2008 Escape. If they did, I would remain on the highway and go buy some from them.

She called me back. According to the guy she spoke with, they don't make winter wiper blades for the 2008 Ford Escape. The only wiper blades they have for it are like the ones that came with it, for around $30 per blade.

I guess the Ford Parts and Service page is wrong. Listed under The Advantages of Motorcraft® Wiper Blades is "Components to fit every Ford, Lincoln vehicle". If there's tiny print anywhere on there that says "Except the 2008 Ford Escape", I couldn't find it.

I stopped for gas close to home and put the old OE blades back on the truck. They may not be the best at the moment, but they worked a hell of a lot better than the new Armor All ones.

When I got home, I had a closer look at the Armor All blades. These are a flex style blade. When I straightened them out, I could clearly see that the center, where the arm attaches, won't straighten out enough to make contact with a surface. It doesn't appear to be a defective blade, in this case, just a poor design.

So, two thumbs down: one to Armor All EDGE Silicon Wiper Blades and yet another for Ford. But, I will give a thumbs up to Scott Monty for taking notice of my original tweet on Twitter and not simply ignoring it. At least someone there is taking notice.

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Ranting at Ford -- again -- and crappy wiper blades

I had a terribly slow drive in to work this morning due to the snow coming down. My usual 20-30 minute drive turned into over 1½ hours.

Anyway, unless I had the heat cranked and directed at the windshield, the snow was building up on the wiper blades and then icing up. This didn't help to keep the visibility. I've been meaning to get winter wiper blades since last winter, and today I decided would be a good day to finally get around to that.

After sitting down at my desk, I did a quick Google on "winter wiper blades 2008 ford escape" to get an idea of what's available. I had plans to walk over to the nearby Canadian Tire at lunch and pick some up.

Much to my dismay, I found message threads that seemed to indicate that such a thing does not exist, for the 2008 Ford Escape.

What the hell? No winter wiper blades for an SUV sold in Canada?

I continued to read more threads from people who said they even contacted Ford, and were told that they don't exist. In fact, aftermarket wiper blades in general are difficult to find.

One thread did indicate that there was a Trico brand winter blade available. I checked out their web site and found that Canadian Tire sells that brand, but not the particular "winter blade" required for my truck.

So, I hopped onto Twitter and post a quick rant:

"How is it possible that winter wiper blades don't exist for a 2008 Ford Escape, or any vehicle for that matter, sold in Canada? Hello? Snow?"
A few minutes later, I get a reply on Twitter:
@twister65 Let me see if I can get an answer for you.
I was puzzled. Who was this guy?

I clicked his name. "Head of social media at Ford..."

Interesting. Whoodathunkit. Ford is actually involved in social media and monitoring it? I sent him a quick thanks. We'll see what he can find out -- but I'm not holding my breath.

I walked over to Canadian Tire at lunch to see if they had anything. I looked up Ford Escape 2008 in their little wiper blade catalog. Out of the eight or so brands that they carry, there was ONE for a 2008 Ford Escape. One. Armor All EDGE Silicone Wiper Blades. $25 per blade. Ouch. Although they weren't specifically "winter" wiper blades, they did indicate that they were good for snow and sleet, etc.

What other choice did I have? None. One of the workers there asked me if I was in a hurry for them. He said that they were going to go on sale next week or the week after. He couldn't tell me how much they were going to sell for though. I thanked him, but said I couldn't wait.

So back to work I walked, in this crappy weather, and down into the underground parking to put them on. It was easy enough. They included 3 different adapters.

I hopped into the truck and turned on the wipers, then sprayed the windshield with windshield wash.

Streaks. Two large, unwiped, streaks. Right in the center of the driver and passenger side windshield. WTF?

I took them off and double-checked to make sure I had them installed correctly. Yep, they were. Turned on the wipers again. They cleaned the unwiped part off. Sprayed the windshield again. Streaks... again.

I'm hoping that there's some kind of settling while they press against my windshield up until I leave to go home. I kept the old wipers just in case. I really don't want to have to pull over on my way home to switch them back.

At $25 per blade, you can bet that they'll be going back if they don't work.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Dad : 1938-1998

My Dad passed away on this day 10 years ago. The exact date is somewhat debatable. The death certificate says December 3rd, at 11:35 pm which is December 4th, 12:35am where I live, so I was always treat it as the 4th.

Anyway, although we weren't exactly on very good terms when he passed away (long story), I do think about him every year around this time. Tiny memory snapshots of the past come to mind. I could sit for hours trying to focus on them and dig deeper.

Here's a few...

Around my late pre-teens, I remember we visited some friends of the family. My Dad and I were out in the backyard playing frisbee or throwing a ball around. He did something to annoy me. I tried to kick him. He grabbed my foot and lifted my leg up, causing me to fall over. I never tried to kick him again.

Many years before that, I remember waking up for breakfast and my Mother telling my sister and I that something had happened to my Dad the night before. He had been downtown at the pub with his friends. As he left, he saw some guys trying to get into a car. Whether he was being a smart-ass or not, he approached them and spoke to them. For being nosy, he got punched in the face, leaving him with a cut over his eye that requires stitches, and broken dentures. For the next few weeks, he had to eat soft food that didn't need much chewing. I remember my Mother would cut the toast into three strips and he'd get the center strip because it was less crunchy. He called that his "wallopy" piece.

My Father was my best man at my wedding. I remember decorating the rented Cadillac on the morning of my wedding and then sitting on the curb to take a smoke break. My Dad came out and asked me how I was doing. I guess I was nervous, and he could tell. He said "Here..." and handed me a beer. Good timing. He sat down beside me. He assured me that everything would be fine and the day would go off without a hitch.

Later that morning, I was at the church and waiting in the Minister's office. My Dad was nowhere to be found. It seems that in all the commotion of who was driving who to the church, my Dad was forgotten? The ceremony was beginning to run late. The door opened and in walked my Dad, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his handkerchief. The first words out of his mouth were "Jesus, it's hot out there!" He then noticed the Minister was also in the room. Looking a little embarrassed, he immediately apologized. The Minister replied, "That's ok, we say that a lot around here."
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Rock Band & Country Music?

Still on a musical roll here...

I read over here, that Rock Band will be getting a few country music songs in the download content next Tuesday.

This is a first. Feedback has been mixed. Some say country music has no place in Rock Band and it should get its own game to play in. Others don't seem to mind.

I'm not fan of country music, but I'd certainly rather play it than some of the death metal stuff that came with Rock Band 2 -- songs like "Visions" that sound worse than rocks in a blender. Country music is closer to "rock" than that crap, IMHO.
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Fleetwood Mac coming to Ottawa

Stevie en Lindsey ( Oberhausen 2003) - eigendo...Image via WikipediaWhile on the topic of concerts, I heard that Fleetwood Mac will be coming to Ottawa on March 24th. My first thought was "Hey, I wouldn't mind going to that..." Being younger than I am, my wife said she wasn't sure that she knew many of their songs. I found a whole bunch, burned them to a CD and we listened to them on the way to work this morning. As it turned out, she knew more than she realized. She then added that although she liked them, she wasn't sure she could watch them in a concert setting.

As I listened more during my drive to work, I started thinking the same thing. The songs are a little too mellow for an entire show. Not a good Pink Floyd kind of mellow, just... mellow.
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Trans-Siberian Orchestra tonight!

My wife and I are going to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tonight. I won some tickets from a local radio station a couple of months ago.

I first heard of the TSO a few years ago after seeing the famed Carson Williams Christmas light display video on YouTube, borrowing their "Wizard in Winter" song synchronized with the light display. Mr. Williams now apparently runs a custom animation lighting business called ConsarLights.

Everyone I know who has seen the TSO say that the show is awesome. I don't doubt it.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Guns N'Roses, Chinese Democracy - Give it a chance


I'm probably about as unbiased as they get when it comes to Guns N'Roses, so what follows is my humble, half-assed review of the newly released Chinese Democracy.

I was never a big fan of Guns N' Roses back in the day when they were big. Back when everyone and their dog liked them. I can't put my finger on any specific reason why I didn't like them. Maybe it was Axl's voice... or that goofy swaying back and forth thing that he did while singing... or maybe the head scarf... I don't know. I just didn't like them.

Appetite for Destruction album coverIt wasn't until (many) years later when they more or less disappeared that I started to enjoy a few songs from Appetite for Destruction. I even got one of the Use Your Illusion albums, although I can't recall if it was 1 or 2. Mind you, the only reason I did get it was because I forgot to return the card to Columbia House so they wouldn't send it to me. Once I had it, curiosity got the best of me and I kept it.

A year or two ago, I won 2 tickets from a local radio station to a GNR concert here in Ottawa. (Why do I win things that I could care less about? Why not a million bucks??) I went to the show and I actually enjoyed it. The head scarf was gone, but Axl still did that swaying thing. Thankfully, it wasn't enough to ruin the show for me.

Which brings us to the long-awaited Chinese Democracy.

I picked up a link to the GNR site via Twitter, where the entire album was streaming for all to listen to. I slapped on some headphones while I was at work and listened, as I worked away during the day.

The first time through was "meh". A couple of hard-edged GNR-like songs and some really different songs, quite unlike the GNR that I knew.

By the third or fourth listen, the songs started to grow on me. So much so that I went out yesterday and bought the CD. I probably could have found it online somewhere and downloaded it, but I'm a firm believer in paying for what I like to listen to.

The reviews of Chinese Democracy have been mixed. The comments on those reviews are also mixed. I'll use a common quote from many of them: "This isn't Appetite for Destruction". Words could not be more true. I'm sure that anyone who expected it to be that is disappointed.

I've read many references to possible influences throughout the album; Linkin Park, Smashing Pumpkins, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, U2, and even Roger Waters and Elton John. I have to include Queensryche among them. They're all there -- some more obvious than others. But realistically, is it even possible these days to write a new song without having it compared to the style or sound of any existing or past bands? How can any musician or song writer not allow the music they listen to influence their own music?

Anyway, as I alluded to above, this isn't an instant "I love it and gotta have it" album -- at least it wasn't for me. I think that anyone who dismisses this album as crap after one listen, or based on hearing one or two tracks on the radio, is really missing out (aside from those who never have, and never will, like Axl Rose's voice)

But for those of you who don't mind Axl, give this album a chance. Put aside the fact that the name of the band is Guns N'Roses. Pretend it's a new band. And then listen to the entire album, more than once. Or twice. Open your mind and listen to what this album has to offer. There's some good stuff in there. Accept it for what it is -- don't knock it for what it isn't. And if you still don't like it, you can go back to your other bands dishing out the same old canned formula.

The stream is still active here.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Waaaait a minute... who posted that last post?

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to my new guest contributor here on Katzenjammer -- the lovely and talented Misty! No, she isn't some kind of secret alter ego buried deep within my brain, she's real. ;)

Now you'll actually have something interesting to read instead of my usual rants about crappy car dealership service, waiting in line at Future Shop at midnight, or how to make microwave Kraft Dinner (the KD info is still the most popular post here)

Welcome Misty!

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Sexiest Man Alive? Please.

Having been invited to guest-blog on Katzenjammer, I find myself faced with the formidable task of choosing a topic on which to write. Now that the bloom is off Obama and Britney hasn’t shaved anything in months, the obvious choices are gone. And so, esteemed readers of Scott’s blog, I have opted to write about what I feel is the most pressing issue of the day (if only to my own estrogen-coloured perspective): the naming of Hugh Jackman as People magazine’s sexiest man alive.

While I certainly wouldn’t boot the Aussie actor out of bed for eating crackers (or, more likely, vegemite), there’s a part of me that isn’t quite sold on him landing in People’s top spot. Realistically, I know he was chosen because he has a movie to promote (Baz Luhrmann’s Australia) and was probably the least likely of Hollywood’s hotties to turn down what industry insiders recognize as the “black cat” of tabloid titles (see footnote below); free press as the world’s sexiest man, after all, also means free press for an artsy, over-budgeted movie that appears to have all the audience appeal of a National Geographic special on sea cows. But even ignoring that glaring fact, Jackman just doesn’t feel like the right man for the job in this day and age. He’s just, well, too pretty.

I feel like we are finally at a place where we should feel comfortable recognizing the less obvious sex symbols of our time without apology or explanation. Forget the life-sized blow-up dolls with more wattage in their smiles than their brains. I want to see the guys who read Wired, can restore my harddrive in a pinch, cook a mean lasagna, and probably had Puppy Chow thrown at them as children. Give me your nerds, geeks and thoughtful fanboys with comic-book collections and secret lives as virtual circus performers on Second Life. Capped teeth and cologne-ad bods are for the unimaginative!

So how about it, People? Would a little realism be so much to ask? Let me be the first to throw out the names of Michael Cera, Hugh Laurie and Kevin Smith for next year’s title. They may not start a flashbulb frenzy on the red carpet, but they can be every bit as sexy – if not more so – than the guys whose appeal lives and dies on their catalogue looks and ability to tear phonebooks in half. Like my good friend Judge Judy once said: Beauty fades, dumb is forever.

* FOOTNOTE: A pop cultural institution since 1985, People's "sexiest" title has gained a dubious reputation for bringing personal and professional plagues upon its winners. Since the award's inception, more than half its honourees have experienced post-win relationship meltdowns, career flame-outs, public backlash and ugly run-ins with the law. One of the genetically gifted men, 1988 cover boy John F. Kennedy Jr., died in a plane crash.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Midnight Line-up for Gears of War 2

Future Shop, Halifax, Nova ScotiaGears of War 2 for the Xbox 360 is due for release later today. Future Shop and Best Buy were holding midnight release sales for an hour to let gamers be the first to get their hands on the game.

I've never stood in line for the release of any game before. The only time I ever got in a line-up early for anything was Pink Floyd tickets way back in the 80's. Anyway, even though I didn't expect to have any trouble finding the game later today, I decided to go to Future Shop tonight just for kicks.

The doors were supposed to open at 11:59pm. I left home at around 11:20pm, and after hitting Timmy's for a coffee, I arrived at Future Shop at around 11:30pm. I didn't expect a long line-up since this wasn't like a new release of Halo, and I wasn't disappointed. I estimated that there were around 20 people waiting. They had a BBQ going with hotdogs and drinks in front of the store. No idea if they charged for them. They also had a chalk drawing of the Gears of War logo on the sidewalk. The few employees that stood outside all had Gears of War T-shirts on.

I sat in the warmth of my my truck, drank my coffee and had a smoke.

About 10 minutes later, I saw two other cars drive into the parking lot, so I decided it was time to get in line. If I counted correctly, I was 17th in line.

People talked mostly about the game, or its predecessor, Gears of War. I have never played the original game. Others talked about the Sens vs Flyers hockey game from earlier in the evening.

At around 11:50pm a cop car pulled into the parking lot slowly and drove past the front of the store watching us as they talked on their radio. A few people made jokes that they sent a lady cop to deal with large crowd of guys hanging around outside Future Shop after closing hours. Not quite sure why that was funny since she was the one with a gun. :)

She started to drive away and then came back and rolled down her window to speak with one of the employees. One of the guys in line said he saw someone staring out the window of a house that backed onto the parking lot. We figure they called the cops because it looked odd that 25 guys were hanging around outside Future Shop just before midnight. :)

She drove off, content that there were no shenanigans going on.

Just before midnight one of the employees told us all that if we had a pre-order, we could go straight to the customer service desk. A few minutes later, they started to let people in 5 at a time.

About 5 minutes later, some of the first people that were let in started to come out, with their purchases in hand. One of them made a comment that he had waited 2½ hours. I guess he expected more people. Sucker. :)

By 12:10am, I was in the store. The aisles were all blocked off with caution tape to keep people at the front of the store, where they had the display set up with the games, the "bonus" Gears of War figurines, along with Xbox Live Points cards, controllers, and other miscellaneous Xbox 360 hardware.

I picked up a game, the free figurine and headed to the cash.

I was back in my truck and on the way home by 12:15am. As I drove off, the last of those in line were on their way into the store.

I'm sure it wasn't as exciting as any bigger selling game, like Halo, but it was kinda cool. I don't know if I'd do it again, especially when stores like Best Buy are guaranteeing stock on the first day, or they'll give you a $20 gift card.

My curiosity has been satisfied.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dreams, memories, and deep thoughts

I had a dream the other night where something funny happened and I actually laughed out loud, waking myself up. I asked my wife the next day if she heard me -- she didn't.

Anyway, the point of this is that in my dream, I was visiting a fictitious location that I had visited once before, in a previous dream. At least I think I did.

It got me thinking... did I really visit this location in another dream, or did my brain simply create this memory of being there before?

Then I started to think about it even more. How often are recurring dreams actually a recurring dream? And how often are they a fictitious memory created by your brain?

Did that make sense?

Of course, if you tell someone about your recurring dream on more than one occasion, then they are in fact separate instances of the same dream. I mean, there's no way for your brain to plant a memory in someone else's brain.

Seriously.

That's just crazy talk. ;)

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

How long could you survive chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor?

I could survive for 1 minute, 9 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk Beds.net

The sound of silence

Completely unrelated to the Simon and Garfunkel song...

On September 30, I registered our home and cell phone numbers on the National Do Not Call List (DNCL), as did millions of other Canadians. According to the rules, telemarketers had 31 days from registration to comply and stop harassing us (I could have sworn it was 30 days, but I noticed it was 31 as I was searching for other information).

Anyway, by my calculations, today is the day they stop! Our home should no longer receive annoying calls from telemarketers, with a few exceptions.
"Registered charities are still allowed to call for donations, and certain other organizations-such as companies conducting polls or surveys, political parties, and newspapers looking for subscriptions-can also continue to contact you. As well, if you’ve done business with a company in the last 18 months, that company is considered to have a relationship with you and is allowed to call."
I'm really not sure how many companies they'll actually punish for not complying. You need their company name or phone number to file a complaint, which means you'll more or less have to go along with the call to get that information, if their number isn't displayed on your call display box, before tearing them a new one. It's much easier and quicker just to hang up on them, which I suspect is what most people will do unless the calls are frequent.

I have a feeling that many have already stopped calling. For almost a week, we were getting daily canned messages on our answering machine from HBC Credit Services or hang-up calls and they've suddenly stopped. It's unusual to get home after work and see a ZERO on our answering machine, yet that is how it has been.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When "free" isn't really free

Harmonix finally announced the list of 20 "free" tracks for Rock Band 2, slated for November 4th.
  • The 88 - "Sons and Daughters"
  • Authority Zero - "No Regrets"
  • Between the Buried and Me - "Prequel To The Sequel"
  • The Cab - "Bounce"
  • The Chevelles - "Get It On"
  • The Cocktail Slippers - "Give It To Me"
  • Dealership - "Database Corrupted"
  • Endeverafter - "I Wanna Be Your Man"
  • The Ghost Hounds - "Ashes To Fire"
  • Hollywood Undead - "Young"
  • Kutless - "The Feeling"
  • The Len Price 3 - "If I Ain't Got You"
  • Lesley Roy - "I'm Gone, I'm Going"
  • Opiate for the Masses - "Burn You Down"
  • Semi-Precious Weapons - "Magnetic Baby"
  • Shaimus - "Like a Fool"
  • Thenewno2" - Crazy Tuesday"
  • Tickle Me Pink - "The Time Is Wrong"
  • Underoath - "Desperate Times, Desperate Measures"
  • X Japan - "I.V."
The Rock Band forums are abuzz, but mostly negative.

I searched YouTube for each title to have a listen, and I'm a little disappointed. Quite frankly, most of the songs that they've included in the "free" track pack are crap. Many in the forum are of the same opinion. They appear to be indie bands -- not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, most of the original indie content that came with the game is fun to play and I've been introduced to bands I probably wouldn't heard otherwise. I'm all for it, but come one, at least give us some GOOD indie content worth playing or listening to.

There are some who seem to be pleased with the list, and some of those people are slamming those who are expressing their dislike about the songs.

"It's free, what do you expect?" is the most common response. Let's get something straight here. Although Harmonix marketed them as "free", they aren't. We paid for those 20 songs when we bought the game. I don't recall reading anything about it being "for a limited time" or for early buyers. It was promoted as including "20 free downloadable songs" at a later date, therefore the price we paid for the game included those songs. End of story. Had they released the game without the promise of free content, and then at a later date said "Hey, we're gonna give you guys 20 free songs!", then you could argue "hey, it's free, what do you expect". Alas, that is not the case.

At least one person speculates that this list of 20 songs was not the original list that they intended to give away. They said that they believe Harmonix decided to sell that content at $2 per song and give away the songs they knew they couldn't sell. Again, it's speculation, but it does seem to make some $en$e.

Now we wait for November 4th to see exactly how this track pack will be distributed. I'm really hoping that they allow us to pick and choose which ones we want from the list, but I fear that it's going to be an all or nothing deal. It would suck royally if we have to accept the entire 20 songs just for a few, because that would mean more undesirable content appearing on the game's "Mystery Set lists" while playing the game. There's nothing worse than having to play a song you don't like among three or four songs that you do like.

There is a small silver lining to all of this. There was at least one song that I found rather catchy: Lesley Roy, "I'm Gone, I'm Going". She reminds me of a cross between Paramore and Kelly Clarkson. Although I'm mostly a rocker type of guy, I do like the occasional pop song. :) I know that my daughter is going to love singing along with it in Rock Band.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

No Smart Car for me :(

The event was to begin at 6:30pm at Star Motors. After leaving work, I picked Sandra up at work and we drove to the dealership. We would have arrived at around 5:50pm, so we took a short detour to Timmy's to grab a coffee and then parked in the Costco parking lot to have a smoke (or two, in my case) I asked Sandra if she was nervous and she said no. I was a bag of nerves. Maybe this was a good sign, we thought, because she's usually nervous about stuff like this.

At around 6:10pm, we drove to the dealership which was only a few minutes away. They had a guy standing at the entrance checking invitations, since the entire dealership was closed down for the event. He told us to drive around back, park and head on in.

There were already a lot of people there, maybe just over half of the 34 qualifiers and their guests. It turns out they also had other Smart Car owners there as well, since it was also a customer appreciate party that they hold once in a while.

Just inside the entrance they had a desk with two people, a whack load of gift bags and white "Read Red" Ottawa Sun T-shirts, and a short line-up of people waiting to register. We were about fifth or sixth in line, but it was slow going. When it was my turn, I handed the guy my driver's licence, he checked it and wrote down some info, then I was handed the sheet he filled out. On it was a skill testing question to answer, then print my name and sign it.

The skill testing question was easy, as they usually are: 10 x 4 / 2 + 5 - 15.

The division sign looked a little like a plus sign at first. I had to ask Sandra if it looked like a division or plus. She agreed it was a division. So, in my head I'm working it out... "10 times 4 is 40... divided by 2 is 20... plus 5 is 25... minus 15 is..." brain freeze. So easy, but I was nervous! :) "Duh... 10.. that's it." I looked it over quickly to make sure I was right.

They handed me a large gift bag and asked me to take one of the white T-shirts and wear it and wished me good luck. All the qualifiers had to wear one so they were easy to spot. We stepped to the side and I put the T-shirt on over the T-shirt I was wearing. That's when I had to ask Sandra if I got it right. She assured me I did.

They were serving burgers and sausages at the other side of the show room. We walked over and I grabbed a bottle of water. I was too nervous to eat anything.

There must have been 15-20 people in line to register now.

We checked out the car they were giving away. I had heard that they were roomy, and had seen one a few years earlier, but not this close. It's VERY roomy inside. Sandra got in tried it out for size. They had 4 snow tires stacked beside the car. They announced later that they were including them with the car.

We stepped outside for a smoke break while waiting for them to begin the draw. I think it must have been close to 7:00pm when they announced how the draw was going to take place.

We walked back into the show room as they spoke. What they would do is pick a name out of one box, then that person would go up and pick a number out of a second box. The number you picked would be matched with a numbered CD. You then got into the car and popped the CD into the car stereo and if it played the sound of a car starting, you won. Anything else meant you lost.

They began with some speeches by the various sponsor: Ottawa Sun people, Live 88.5 people, and the manager of the dealership. McEwan's gas was also a big sponsor, but I don't recall if any of them spoke. They also announced that they have another contest coming in January where they will be giving away TWO Smart cars. As one prize or two? We don't know yet.

Next, they called each person's name and you had to raise your hand to acknowledge that you were still there(?) Then, before the big draw, they drew a few names for some Thule car bags(?) donated by JREK Autocare.

FINALLY, it was time for the big prize draw.

The first thought in our minds was "Wouldn't that suck if the first person won it?" Surely, not for that person! :) I had my hands in my pockets, with fingers crossed the whole time, between applauding each person as they went up to pick a number.

My mind was a jumble of thoughts. Do I want to be an early pick? Or a later one? The more people who try and lose, the better the odds for the remaining people, right?

One by one they called names. One by one, they lost. Sandra actually tracked the odds as they went along. The losing sound was a "Whaa whaa whaa whaa whaaaaaa...." followed by a female voice "I know baby... it hurts to lose" followed by a few different voices... "Loser... loser... lahoo-saher". Umm... a little harsh, perhaps. I think some of the Live 88.5 folks thought so too, but everyone had a good laugh.

They were down to the last 16 numbers when my name was finally called. A 1 in 16 chance. I walked up, reached into the box and pulled out a number. #14. They handed me CD #14. I walked over to the car and hopped in. A woman from Live 88.5 (I think) hopped into the passenger seat and chatted away, wishing me luck (I think). Seriously, it's all pretty much a blur from this point on. I can't remember a thing she said. I was nervous as hell. I took the CD out of the sleeve and put it into the car's CD deck while the radio played away. Seconds later the radio stopped...... followed by "Whaa whaa whaa whaa whaaaaaa...." *sigh* I pressed the eject button before it could continue, like many before me had done. I got to keep the CD. Yay. ;)

I got out of the car and walked back to Sandra and dropped the "loser CD" into the gift bag. We then continued to watch as more names were called. THREE people later, this elderly man's name was called. He walked up, reached into the box and pulled out a number. #22. He got the CD, walked over to the car and got in. He didn't look very nervous. In fact, he was quite expressionless. He popped the CD into the deck.

The sound of an engine starting played over the speakers, followed by some winning style music. Cheers and applause erupted in the show room.

He seemed stunned. Or in shock? Or just ho hum. No emotion whatsoever. Photographers snapped photos like crazy. He got out of the car and the DJ, Katfish Morgan from Live 88.5, asked him how many cars he's won in his life. He responded... "Umm... I don't know... I lost count" Seriously, that's what he said. Just joking or serious? It was difficult to tell.

The organizers thanked everyone for coming, yada yada yada, and then most people hustled out the door, as did we.

As we drove past the showroom, I could see a crowd of people all getting their picture taken. The winner and sponsors, no doubt.

I think Sandra is more disappointed than I am, oddly enough. A second car, especially one so good on mileage, would really have been nice to have.

Oh ya, the gift bag -- what was in it?
  • 2 plastic Ottawa Sun mugs w/ lids
  • 3 "Read Red" Smart Car key chains
  • 1 Ottawa Sun T-shirt (different than the one they made us wear)
  • 1 Ottawa Sun blanket
  • 4 tickets to an Ottawa 67's hockey game
  • 1 manicure set
  • 2 Ottawa Sun car window ice scrapers
  • A brochure/discount coupons for JREK Autocare
  • A Hot 88.5 "Big Money Shot" Volume 2 CD (uhh.. music?)
  • $100 in gift certificates for McEwan's Gas (which I originally won for qualifying back in June)
I think that's about it!

It was a well-organized event. Fun, excitement, and disappointment all rolled up into one evening. What more could you ask for? Yeh, the car would have been nice. ;)

Both Sandra and I will be entering the next contest in January. :) I have to say that the Smart Car really is a nice little car. I could see us owning one in the future.

[Correction: Sandra says that they asked the winner how many new cars they've owned before, not how many they've won. I'll go with what she says she heard since, as I said, my mind was mostly a fog. :) The winner looked a little happier in the photos in the paper this morning. His wife seemed much mire excited in the photos than he did though.]
[P.S. I had a listen to the Live 88.5 CD last night. I've never heard any of the songs on it, and none of them sound like anything I'd ever listen to. No offence, Live 88.5... but thanks for the coaster]

Posted by email from scottpaterson's posterous

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Chris Chelios is a moron

"Someone should have drove that guy, he did that on purpose," Cheli said Wednesday.
Why would anyone intentionally try to make themselves look foolish?

He made a mistake. Good grief.

If you were to make a list of the top 5 worst things to happen to the cup, I don't think this one would even make the list, yet people are making such a big deal out of it.

Think it's bad? Try these...
MONTREAL(?), 1906 or 1907. A Montreal club (possibly the Wanderers) wanted its picture taken with the Cup in the studio of photographer Jimmy Rice. After taking the photo, the team left, and the team left behind the Cup. It stayed in the studio for some months until Rice's mother (some sources say it was his wife or his housekeeper or his cleaning lady) used it as a vase, as it held red geraniums in the Studio window.

OTTAWA, 1927. The Ottawa Senators won it, and it spent much of the year's summer in King Clancy's living room, where it served as a receptacle for everthing including letters, bills, chewing gum, and cigar butts.

NEW YORK CITY (?), 1940. After the New York Rangers won the cup, Hall of Famer Lynn Patrick and teammates celebrated by urinating in it.

NEW YORK CITY(?), 1980. Clark Gillies of the 1980 New York Islanders allowed his dog to eat from it. Gillies said, "He's a nice dog.

And there's more... source.
Get over it, morons.

Posted by email from scottpaterson's posterous

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Careless use of email

I've had a Hotmail account since way before Microsoft bought them. In that time, I have occasionally let it go inactive and then reactivated it. To be honest, I don't use it very much. But I like to keep it because... it's mine. :)

For the last two or three years someone else is also making use of it -- in a way.

They've been using it to make purchases. They've been giving out the email address to their friends. They've been signing up for online games, and newsletters.

How do I know this?

Because I get all of their order confirmations via email. I get all their personal email from friends. I get all the "account activation" emails for the online games and newsletters that they sign up for.

I don't think they're making a small spelling mistake when typing it out, I think they truly believe that the email address they are typing is their email address!

For a while it was fun to read their personal "hey, how ya doin'?" emails from their friends, but it has actually become quite annoying because I seem to get twice the amount of spam, as they sign themselves up for god knows what, using my email address.

Today, I replied to two of their personal emails, thanking the sender for their concern about my well being, but also advising them that they have the wrong person. I tried that before about two years ago, but it didn't seem to work. This time, I got an apology reply from one of the senders, so I replied to it again, and asked them to advise the person whom they think I am, that they're giving out the wrong email address. Maybe it'll work this time.

You would think that something like this might be a once-in-a-lifetime occurance right?

Wrong.

About two weeks ago I received an order confirmation from Hmv.co.uk thanking me for my order of two DVDs, but this time it was sent to my GMAIL account. Yes, I have another email account that someone thinks is their's. I know it's a different person because this one lives in the U.K., while the other lived in the U.S. I also received further emails from HMV after each DVD was shipped. I'm hoping that this one was just a typo, like not typing two T's in their last name or something.

Seriously, though, what's wrong with people? Why aren't they taking more care of typing their email address? What if these retail accounts have their credit card information stored in them? I honestly don't know if they do, but it would be very easy for me to find out.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Newegg comes to Canada! Or did they?

A little while ago, Newegg announced that they were going to have a Canadian web site. Computer nerds like myself all signed up for notification of when this would happen.

On Wednesday I received an email from Newegg.ca announcing that their Canadian web site went live.

I took a quick peek at some of their grand opening specials and they weren't too bad. I also monitored a thread on a forum that I regularly read. Most of the comments about it weren't too positive. It seems that many of Newegg.ca's prices weren't as good as other online retailers, like Ncix.com, where I usually order my hard-to-find parts.

Then someone noticed that Newegg.ca uses UPS for shipping. In fact, UPS is the only shipping option for Canadian customers. As a Canadian, if you've ever ordered anything from the U.S. and had it shipped UPS, you know why that's a bad thing. Aside from customs/duty fees, you generally get it up the bunghole by the brokerage fee that UPS charges.

Seeing as how Newegg doesn't appear to have any kind of Canadian-based store or warehouse, I decided to send them an email asking where they ship their Canadian orders from.

Here is their reply:
========== Original Message ==========

From: Newegg Customer Service <>
Subject: RE: Newegg.ca - >(Mail #021020081912488)* (LTK436050495X)
Reference number: LTK436050495X Please use this ticket number in any correspondence with Newegg.ca.
Subject: Newegg.ca - >(Mail #021020081912488)*

Dear Customer,

Thank you for contacting Newegg.

Unfortunately the item will be shipping from warehouse in the U.S., at this time we don't have locations in Canada.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please visit our FAQs page. If you still need assistance, please feel free to email me directly and I will be happy to assist you.

Thank you,

Jacqueline Ruiz

========================================
Does anyone know how they'll be able to ship their products from the U.S. to their Canadian customers without the customers getting the 'ol brokerage screw?

It'll be interesting to see what happens.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Laptop battery woes on Vista

Windows Vista wallpaper (by Microsoft)If you've got a laptop running Vista and it seems that your laptop battery never seems to hold a charge between the times that you use it, don't blame the battery -- blame Vista!

The default action for the SHUTDOWN menu option on Windows Vista is, believe it or not, SLEEP. Sleep makes the laptop boot up quicker when you turn it on, and that's what Microsoft says people want. The side effect is that Vista continues to draw a minimal amount of power from the battery while it is in Sleep mode. If you don't use your laptop very often, expect the battery to be dead or very low on power when you turn it on days later.

I first noticed this on our home laptop and have confirmed it in at least one of our test laptops at work.

Here's an explanation and here's a step-by-step guide to changing them, if you're not familiar with where they're located.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Countdown to Smart Car contest final

Someone from the Ottawa Sun called my home today. Fortunately, my wife was home and took the message rather than our crappy answering machine. They now have a date set for the "wrap-up event" for the contest that I qualified for back in June -- October 20th!

I was beginning to think that they'd never call. Apparently, they're also sending printed invitations very soon. He also told my wife that I need to bring a valid driver's licence.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

The call

The dealership called this evening while I was making supper. Unfortunately, it was just their usual survey regarding the last visit -- in this case, the one where we took the truck to get its tires checked. It wasn't "Michael", so I don't know if this was the same call that we got yesterday.

I gave them a good review, although there really wasn't much for them to do other than to confirm that the OEM tires were crap.

I'll wait for Ford to mail us a survey and comment about the poor quality of the OEM tires since that's not the dealership's fault, it's Ford's.

Jim Keay breaks the silence

Someone named "Michael" from the Jim Keay Ford Lincoln dealership called yesterday and asked for me. But I wasn't home. They left a message with my mother inlaw saying that they would call back.

I assume that they'll try again today, after I get home from work. I'll be interesting to see what they have to say.

I did a search of "Jim Keay" and "FixAuto" on Google this afternoon and my complaint letter that I posted here shows up as the 3rd hit. If I just search for "Jim Keay", my more recent post about not hearing from them shows up 8th.
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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why are OEM tires crap?

With our first Ford Escape, a leased 2005 FWD XLT, the tires that came with it (Continental ContiTrac?) lasted almost 3 years before needing replaced.

On our purchased 2008 4WD XLT, just over a year old and with less than 22,000kms on it, we had to replace all four tires this morning... ~$700. :(

For the last month or so, on mostly smooth roads, we could hear a light "thup" sound that would speed up or slow down, depending on how fast we were driving.

I suspected the tires. We took it to the dealership and they confirmed that it was indeed the tires and they openly admitted that it's not the first time they've seen that happen with the original tires. Unfortunately for us, there's no warranty on OEM tires.

I've always heard that OEM tires on all makes of cars are generally crap, but this is the first time that we actually encountered a problem.

The guy at Canadian Tire said that OEM tires generally have a lower quality rating than the exact same tires if they were bought new.

Why do tire manufacturers willingly sell poor quality tires to car manufacturers? As a consumer, I might now label all tires from that manufacturer as being crap, even if they're not, because they sold a sub-standard tire at a cheaper cost to the car manufacturer. They're only hurting themselves in the long run.
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

The summer "holidays" come to a close

One day left before kids everywhere will be back in school.

It's a time to reflect on the last ~3 months... a time to think about the fun times we had... a time too... who the hell am I kidding, enough of that crap....

WHERE THE HELL DID THE SUMMER GO?

It was a better summer than some of the recent ones. A little on the wet side a little too often, but overall not bad.

Every summer seems to go by so much quicker than the previous one. Why is that? I remember as a kid, 3 months felt like an eternity. Now that I'm in my 40s, one blink and *POOF* it's over.

Now I have nothing left to look forward to. There's Christmas, of course, but that 4 months away. Holy crap... FOUR MONTHS until Christmas. That must mean the Christmas decorations will soon be in the stores.

The sad part about having things to look forward to is that it involves getting older. The more you have to look forward to, the older you get... seemingly faster. Getting old is not good. I hate thinking about it.

So, with that, I'll end this useless blog entry.
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The Chai Story - Pimple Ball Dog Toy Warning


I came across this story a couple of days ago on Snopes.com, where they confirmed that it is in fact true.


We don't have a dog, but I used to when I was younger and she had a toy very similar to this one. Luckily for her, nothing like this ever happened to her.

After reading some of the comments, I found that the same thing had happened to another dog in 2005 and nothing was done to fix the toy. All it takes is a second hole drilled into the ball so it doesn't create suction. Complete ignorance by Four Paws Inc. -- the company that manufactures it.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spammers and internet evil-doers can rot in hell

While at work, I checked my internet mail. A message arrived entitled "Hello from the Canada Science and Technology Museum". I didn't recognize the sender. It also got flagged as junk mail.

Now, normally I'd delete anything like that. But something about this one peaked my curiosity. I moved it from junkmail to my inbox. The content of the email said:

You've received a digital postcard from the Nortel Networks Connexions exhibition.
If your postcard is not displayed, click on the attachment to see it!

Sure enough, it also contained a JPG attachment. I dragged the attachment out of the email and onto my desktop. The virus scanner didn't detect anything. I launched PHOTO-PAINT so I could open the JPG, rather than dbl-clicking on it.

It was indeed exactly what it said it was. A digital post card sent from the Canada Science and Tech Museum -- by my son. A small picture of his grinning face was merged with the post card image. I guess my sister inlaw brought my kids there today.

It made me smile. When I get home later this afternoon, he'll probably ask me if I received it.

I wonder how many other parents or relatives missed out on something like this, because it got flagged as spam and/or deleted.

We have all the spammers, and creators of viruses and trojans out there who send similar types of emails to thank for that.

It's a damned shame.
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The sound of silence from Jim Keay

It's been almost 2 weeks since I returned the call to Ford's Customer Service regarding the letter I wrote to them about our experience with our bumper repair and we haven't yet(?) heard anything from the dealership, Jim Keay Ford Lincoln.

The fact that Ford confirmed and condensed my letter into key points, and then "submitted it" as negative feedback to the dealership and the owner, lead me to believe this was done electronically. If I ran a dealership and received such negativity I'd be all over it.

It's their loss. There are at least two other dealerships, that are actually more convenient for us, that we can deal with in the future.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Twitter

If you haven't tried (or heard) of Twitter, it might be time to give it a shot.

I signed up a couple of months ago after a friend told me about it. At first glance, it has the same feel as changing your Facebook status. That is, more or less, what it's like except it goes a bit further.

Simply put, you sign up and let the world know what you're doing. Or send a link to an interesting story. Or send out a link to your latest blog posting. Or, find someone to follow and get updates from them. It's a mini-blog of sorts. It's almost like having an RSS feed into people's lives. Some companies also use Twitter to send links to their press releases and/or stories. Here's one for CBC News: http://twitter.com/cbcnews

You can post and read the updates on the Twitter.com web site, or use one of a few third-party applications, widgets, and such. My personal favourite is Twhirl and I usually leave it open on my desktop at work and at home.

The people you follow don't have to be your friend. They don't even need to approve of you following them. They can block you if they wish. The same as you can block anyone from following you. Generally, you'd want to follow someone who has similar interests.

As I write this, I am following 15 people and I have 22 followers. I know ONE person that I am following, and one of my followers knows me (the same person)

Here is a good blog posting with tips on getting started with Twitter.

Here's my Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/twister65
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Cheating at the Olympics? Never!

This is actually the first time I've heard or read about this, as I haven't really been following the Olympics that closely. Yeh, shame on me.

In a nutshell, it has been alleged that certain Chinese gymnasts at the Beijing Olympics do not meet the minimum age requirement of 16 set by the IOC, and are actually 14 years of age.

A blogger, Stryde Hax, did a little research of their own and came across some official documents, cached from the General Administration of Sport of China web site, that appear to back the allegation, and has posted some screen shots of their research in the event that the cached documents suddenly disappear, as the original documents already have. You can read the blog entry here. Check it out and decide for yourself. It certainly reeks of something, and it's not sushi.

Also, as requested, I have taken a couple of screen shots and posted them here. The more the merrier!


You can also read a little more about the controversy on He Kexin's Wikipedia page.

Why isn't the IOC doing anything about it?

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