We had a mild frost on May 27th and fortunately we had no sensitive plants out in our “Meadow”. I hope the frost is over because I would like to get the flowers, tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins transplanted without worrying about covering them up. I’ve already planted 27 bare root Sea Buckthorn trees in our yard as a bit of a shelterbelt where our pincherry orchard died. It is feeling like spring – I’ve mowed the grass twice already, the saskatoon bushes and plum trees are in full-bloom, hummingbirds and orioles are slurping up their feeder syrup, and the barn swallows are back and diving near us.

 

Saskatoon Bush in Flower

 

 

The last three weeks I have been involved in the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba “Workplace Physical Activity Challenge”. My total steps (including conversions) over the 15 work days were  126,000. When we get the group total I’ll be able to see if my total was above or below average.

 

The weather has been good enough lately that I’m often able to cycle to work. The one way trip to the office is roughly 9 km and takes roughly ½ hour – partly because half the route is on gravel road (thats 18 km/day kiddies).  Gravel is a pain to cycle on but the worse part is all the gravel dust and flying rocks when people pass you in their automobiles.

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One of my favorite web sites to visit is the Palm Addicts web site http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/ . It is a useful site for notifying me of the latest Palm related software and hardware as well as providing interesting insights and thoughts from other Palm-addicts and gadget-junkies. The site also regularly runs contests for laptops, PDAs, Cellphones, and related software and accessories in which contest entry is contingent on you writing a submission. Of the eleven submissions I have sent in only one did not get published – likely because it partly commented on how the palmaddict site can be slow to load – particularly on dialup – and they don’t like “negative” commentary. One of my early submissions won some Palm software – HanDBase – but I have not won anything since. The following is a listing of my Palm Addict published submissions to date.

Old Palm, Bridge and GPS – http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2005/12/a_palm_user.html

Using an APC Mobile Power Pack – http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2007/03/apc_mobile_powe.html

SD Cards are tough – http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2007/03/why_snow_blowin.html

pFuel Software – http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2007/07/what-i-like-a-1.html

OLPC Thought – http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2007/10/olpc-pda-wannab.html

Pentax and Palm Photographyhttp://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2007/10/palm-perfect-fo.html

NHF-800 MiniDisc Advantages- http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2007/11/why-i-love-my-s.html

Palm for Drivers Ed help – http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2008/04/my-palm-as-driv.html

Palm for Password help – http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2008/04/bogged-down-wit.html

Making Radio podcasts with minidisc – http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2008/05/portable-radio.html


My latest photographic purchase is an “Asahi Pentax right-angle viewfinder attachment” with leather case. It can be fitted onto the viewfinder and allows you to view the scene from the top of the camera instead of the side. This will be particularly useful for plant and insect photography where the camera is placed close to the ground. Unfortunately it was designed for an older Pentax with a slightly narrower viewfinder than my Pentax *ist DL. However I used some tin snips to cut the shell and allow flexibility in the side-arms for the viewfinder to be stretched apart the extra 2mm required and it now works fine on my DL. Anyone purchasing an older  Asahi Pentax right-angle viewfinder attachment, such as I did off of eBay (or elsewhere), needs to be aware that this kind of modification may be required.

 

A picture of the Asahi Pentax right-angle viewfinder attachment follows:

right-angle viewfinder


For almost three years I have tracked my WebStats for The Dragonfly Meadow web site   http://www.dragonflymeadow.ca/  on the Cirrus Host server http://www.cirrushosting.com/toronto-web-hosting-canada.html using Webalizer. This software was adequate with only the occasional hickup until this spring when it seemed to not work properly at all. It seemed to be reporting web traffic mounts about one-tenth of what they previously were. The Cirrus Host technical support did not say why it wasn’t working (If they even knew – plesk version change, log file size issue, something else?) but did indicate that I switch to their new preferred product – AWStats. I have switched to AWStats and it appears to be working well. We have been averaging about 70 hits a day – a little less than we used to (110 hits/day) but not too bad. I also added Google Analytics to track some key pages: http://www.google.com/analytics  and it also seems to be working well.


I-NetLink No Go

25Apr08

Thought I would not do my Blog for a while and see if anyone noticed – no one did – at least not enough to mention it too me. Not really a surprise only confirms what I thought anyways. The blog is more for me than anyone else – a bit of journal interspersed with the occasional rant or tip.

 

We woke to a big snowfall on April 24 which isn’t unusual except that it was such a shock because at midnight there wasn’t any snow on the ground and the whether wasn’t too bad. So much for Spring! The kids got a snow day out of it. The following picture of our front yard illustrates what we woke up to.

 

Snowfall April 24

 

 

We were told that the Southport I-NetLink Wireless   http://www.inetlink.ca/  tower was finally live and that they were coming out to test our line of site to see if we can qualify for their high speed internet. Turns out the Southport tower isn’t actually in Southport but is south of us near the old ESPO Seed Potato farm – it would be better called the Gainsborough Tower. In any case it turns out we have too many tall trees in the way and we can’t get I-NetLink Wireless  high speed service after all. We would have to double the height of our current tower to 50 or 60 feet to even have a chance at a good line of sight. I suspect a lot of our neighbors are also going to be disappointed as well. Even before they came out I was disappointed with the potential setup and subscription cost of the I-NetLink Wireless  plan in the RM of Portage. I was hoping that since the RM of Portage contributed financing to this tower that I-NetLink Wireless  would have had some sort of discount for residents – but they didn’t.  The way it turned out it really doesn’t matter to me anyways. I guess we’ll have to investigate the less cost effective option of satellite high speed internet   http://www.xplornet.com/packages.php?type=res.  – when and if our budget ever allows it again. We’ve determined that Patrick’s school trip to China  http://chinatrip2009.googlepages.com/home is a year earlier then we originally thought (Grade 11, next spring – instead of Grade 12) and Stewart needs a new piano so our budget  has to be a lot tighter for the next while.


Spring Starting

01Apr08

Spring must be on its way. The Canada Geese have started returning – they have been here around a week already. Shortly after spotting the first geese we saw a flock of about 20 wild turkeys running down the gravel road in front of our house. I also purchased a new Honda push mower – the mower Patrick “fixed” last year still isn’t running. We also have to scrape the SUV windows as Jack Frost has returned, leaving us morning samples of his artwork. One of his pieces left on the front hood of our SUV is in the following photo.

Jack Frost Artwork


Serious Sirius

17Mar08

I remember filing income taxes through the mail. I always dreaded it. I often left it to the deadline, often had minor mistakes, and didn’t get refunds until at least a month or more later. This year I did my income tax using Quicken  in Mid-February and efiled it – my refund was in the bank 8 days later – can’t complain about that. It is one of the best examples I can find of technology reducing paperwork and making peoples lives easier.

As part of Air Cadets, Stewart went to the U.S. for an overnight trip. They took a tour of the University of North Dakota Avionics Department, and did some shopping, etc. He had a good time although the Bus trip there and back was long. 

Patrick has been selected to go to the University of Winnipeg to take part in the University of Winnipeg’s enrichment program in April – “The program is designed to create an opportunity for exceptionally capable young people to be immersed briefly in the University’s curriculum”. He’ll spend a week with other high school kids taking special University Courses at the University. His tuition” is paid by the high school but the students have to take care of their own accommodation and/or transport. We’ll see if any relatives are willing to host him for the week – if too inconvenient we’ll check into a host family or car pooling.

Like every year at this time it is a busy time for celebrating birthdays – my Parents, Wanda’s and Patrick’s. Patrick received a portable satellite radio for his birthday and is very pleased with it. The only deficiency is that it isn’t as portable as he would like -you need to use special “goofy looking” headphones with a built in antenna to listen unless you use the docking station. A picture of Patrick holding up the package for his new present is attached.

Patrick’s New Sirius Radio