The Desktop Isn't Dead

The Desktop Isn't DeadSales of desktop computers have slowed while sales of laptops and tablets have taken off. Welcome to 2013.

I'm here to claim the desktop isn't dead. Although I'm writing this entry from a MacBook Pro, the bulk of my 9-5 work is performed on a desktop PC. It's my most comfortable work station and the entire set up, excluding the 17 inch flat panel screen I've been using for the past decade, cost me less than $300.

I should point out my desktop is running Ubuntu Linux, a free O/S, which did bring down the cost, but it's fast, reliable and acts as my de-facto work station. It's about five years old and if sales of the desktop are declining, this is probably the biggest reason. Your five year old desktop works as well today as it did when you bought it. There's been no need to upgrade.

Who else still uses a desktop computer for work or play? If you're using a desktop computer, how old is it?

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Why I Never Liked Instagram

Why I Never Liked InstagramInstagram users are a little ticked off after learning they're changing their terms and conditions so they can now use and sell your photos without your permission or paying you. Eek.

I take lots of pictures. As a natural born archivist, I always feel like capturing the moment with a shot. I never take video, it's always a digital picture, and I upload almost all my pictures to my Flickr account as I have since my first upload in December 2004.

Michelle's Feet

When Instagram came on the scene, I hated how people were intentionally and artificially processing their pictures to make them look old or Polaroided. In my opinion, the aged look of a photograph only has value when it's earned. In other words, a picture looking old is wonderful when it's an old picture, and the Polaroid-zation of a pic makes perfect sense when it was taken with a Polaroid camera, but forcing these effects is phony and ruins an otherwise nice picture. I never created an Instagram account.

When I started on Flickr, it was a small Canadian company with the best interface I'd ever seen. Now it's part of the Yahoo! family, but it remains the only online service I pay for each year. And I still use it each and every week.

Instagram isn't the only big web thing I've had no interest in. I never had a MySpace account, I've never been tempted by Tumblr or Pinterest, but I've fully embraced Twitter, deem Facebook a necessary evil and tried my best to make Google+ work.

Do you use Instagram? Will you continue to use it after this change to the terms and conditions?

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Google+ Has Failed

Google+ Has FailedIn July 2011, I urged you all to try Google+. It's a great interface, it's intuitive and your privacy issues are eliminated.

Almost a year and a half later, I can see you didn't listen. Google+ is practically a ghost town. There's so few people there, there's no reason to visit. Google+ was launched to kill Facebook and has clearly failed.

Are any of you using Google+ for anything?

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How I View My Facebook News Feed

How I View My Facebook News FeedI don't love Facebook, but acknowledge it's important to be there. Whenever I flirt with the idea of deleting my Facebook account I remember that's the main way I now keep in touch with friends and family. When a friend gives birth, I'll learn about it and see the pictures in Facebook. When my nephew dresses up as Max for Halloween, I only know about it and see the picture because I'm on Facebook. Whether you update your status message and post updates or not, it's important to be there.

One thing I've always disliked about Facebook is how their News Feed works. It's not a reverse-chronological listing of all updates by all friends. That's what I want, but that would be too simple for Facebook. Instead, it's a strange unknown algorithm that determines what makes your News Feed and in what order.

I no longer visit my Facebook home page (the official news feed) when checking Facebook for updates. I've created a list I call "Everyone" and I've put every single one of my friends in this list. Then, my bookmark for Facebook is actually the feed for this custom list. This way I actually get all updates by all friends in reverse-chronological order without being filtered through any unknown Facebook algorithm.

Here's how you create custom lists right from your home page:

  • Click the Home link (along the top-right of every Facebook page)
  • Click the More link next to Friends
  • Click Create a List
  • Search for your friends in the search bar at the top of the page, or add people from the List Suggestions on the right

When it comes to interface and behaviour, I prefer Google+ to Facebook. The problem is, almost everyone is on Facebook and almost nobody is on Google+. Sometimes you have to go where the action is, even if you don't love being there.

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8 Tips For Staying Safe When Shopping Online

Tips For Staying Safe When Shopping OnlineBelow are 8 great tips for staying safe and secure when shopping online. My friends at Dell sent this over and with Cyber Monday and all the holiday shopping coming up, this is a great time to make sure you're ready.

  1. Make sure your computer is up-to-date with anti-virus and malware detection software
  2. When buying online, always use a credit card that limits your fraud liability. Avoid using debit cards to prevent fraudulent transactions
  3. Always type the URL of your favourite shopping websites. Don’t use links provided in online ads and emails as they may direct you to bogus websites set by cyber criminals to extract personal information
  4. Be wary of holiday gift cards and coupon offers sent via email. They are often a trap for information-stealing Trojans or provide a backdoor for hackers to collect your personal information
  5. When making online purchases always look for the HTTPS on your browser’s URL window. The S (as opposed to just HTTP) indicates the website has another layer of security
  6. Never open unsolicited emails with links to attachments even from people you know. ALWAYS verify with the sender that he or she actually sent you the email with the link
  7. Never open or respond to emails from your bank (or any financial institution) that ask you to verify or update your banking certificate, password or token. Banks rarely ask customers to update/disclose sensitive information via email. Always check with your bank before taking action
  8. Avoid using weak or default password for any online sites

It's a good list from the Dell IT security experts. I especially like #3. As a general rule, if you're planning on buying something from a site never, ever click over from a link on a web page or in an email. Always go straight there in your browser or use your own bookmark. The same rule applies to your bank and any other site that might require you enter banking / credit card info.

Are you reading, mom?

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LG, Pac-Man and Kids These Days

LG, Pac-Man and Kids These DaysI bought a new television about 18 months ago from LG. I'm not loyal to LG by any means, but it had the right specs, was the right price and so far, so good.

Once you see the LG logo morph into Pac-Man, you cannot unsee it. Continue reading, if you dare...


Speaking of Pac-Man, on Halloween while trick-or-treating with the kids, I saw a young girl dressed as Pac-Man. That's essentially parents using their kid as a prop to promote their childhood memories because there's no way kids these days are loving Pac-Man.

LG, perhaps, but not Pac-Man.

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iPhone 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy S3

iPhone 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy S3I mentioned Virgin Mobile lent me a Samsung Galaxy S3 (or is it Galaxy SIII?) and I've enjoyed my time with it. The 4G LTE speed is sweet, and Android 4.0 is incredible. I sincerely hope Virgin Mobile lets me keep this device, or conveniently forgets they sent it to me in the first place. Either option works for me.

Speaking of what works for me, this mobile platform does it for me, but my friends with the iPhone 5 seem just as happy, willing to give up a little display size for their OS of choice. I've done a ton of Googling, and the review sites seem split. Some prefer the Apple iPhone 5, others prefer the Samsung Galaxy S3, but all agree both phones are best-in-class.


So my question for you all is this: if you had to use a mobile device, and you had to choose between the Samsung Galaxy S3 or iPhone 5, and both were free, which one would you choose? And yes, you have to choose one and only one!

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Disney and Star Wars: Why It Doesn't Matter

Disney and Star WarsDisney bought Star Wars, and some are upset. There's fear the Star Wars franchise will become Disneyfied and Episode 7 will feature music by Miley Cirus and will star Justin Beiber as Luke Skywalker's son.


Fear not, my nerd readers. This acquisition by Disney doesn't matter, in fact, it might help the franchise.


The second movie I ever saw in a theatre was Star Wars. Back then, we just called it Star Wars. There was no "A New Hope" tagged on the end, and we didn't know it was Episode 4. It was just awesome.

In fact, the original trilogy was awesome. I owned the box set on VHS and loved all three films. Then, George Lucas directed a prequel triology. The first two sucked.

Do you remember how bad they were? I have a ten year old son, so I've seen The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones several times. They're pretty bad... I'd throw Revenge of the Sith into this pile, but compared to the other two, it's actually pretty decent. There are parts I actually enjoy!

So Disney can't do much worse with this franchised. George Lucas himself already ruined it with Jar Jar Binks and the like. If anything, Disney might give it The Avengers treatment, and put a decent director behind Episode 7. Christopher Nolan would be perfect.

I'm glad Lucas is less involved now. Relax, my nerd friends... it's not going to get any worse.

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Sending SMS from Gmail - Not in Canada!

Sending SMS from Gmail - Not in Canada!Canada remains a digital ghetto. It's always been this way and it's only gotten worse.

The latest evidence comes from Gmail where they now allow you to send text messages to cell phones via their handy Google Chat client, which is also built into Gmail. Unfortunately, not all carriers support this, and a visit to the supported mobile operators page leaves this Canadian feeling glum.

  • Afghanistan
    Afghan Wireless Communication Company
  • Algeria
  • Angola
    Movicel telecomunicações, SA.
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Benin
    ETISALAT Bénin
  • Botswana
  • Cambodia
    Cell Card
  • Cameroon
  • Congo, Democratic Republic
  • Côte d'Ivoire
    Moov Cote d’Ivoire
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Guam
    iConnect Buddy
  • Guinea
    Cellcom Guinea
  • India
    All mobile operators
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgystan
  • Lao
  • Liberia
    Lonestar Cell MTN
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Territories
    Wataniya Mobile
  • Philippines
    Sun Cellular
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
    True Move
  • Togo
    Moov Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
    Uganda Telecom
  • Ukraine
  • United States
    All operators
  • Uzbekistan
    MTS Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Zambia

Did you see that? Not a single Canadian carrier is listed. Meanwhile, Zambia and Uzbekistan each have three listed, India is all-in with the United States, and Guam's hooked up.

Just throw it in the pile of mounting evidence that we Canadians are getting screwed by our telecom industry.

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Who Wants an iPad Mini?

iPad MiniMy Twitter feed was jammed yesterday with news about the new iPad Mini Apple has unveiled. You can think of it as a smaller iPad or a larger iPod Touch. Here's a picture of the new iPad Mini:


The cheapest version will sell for $329. That's a pretty big chunk of change. I don't pray at the Apple alter, but those who do already own an iPhone and iPod. I can't imagine someone who owns an iPhone and iPod would want a device in the middle, but Apple heads are a surprising bunch.

If you don't pray at the Apple alter, you might want an iPad Mini if you can't afford or are unwilling to shell out the bucks needed for an iPad. But at $329 USD, it's not that cheap. I'd go with a Nexus 7 at $199.

Of course, I don't have an interest in any tablet. Heck, the Samsung Galaxy S III Virgin Mobile has lent me is almost that size. I'd stick with that and simplify things.

So tell me, who wants an iPad Mini? And if you want one, please tell me why.

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