Android Smartphone Versus iPhone

HTC Desire Z smartphoneI recently purchased an HTC Desire Z, a smartphone that’s competitive to the iPhone and Blackberry. Here’s why I choose the android-based phone over others:

We had the need recently to get a 2nd cell phone. Our regular prepaid cell phone from President’s Choice Telecom is great: we like its minimal cost and features; however, if I were to get a 2nd cell phone I wanted internet access.
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Review: USB Classic Joystick

USB Classic Joystick I’m a nerd. I recently bought two USB Atari joysticks for playing simple MAME video games. The joystick is marketed as a “USB Classic Joystick,” manufactured by a company called Legacy. I placed my order through ThinkGeek because Legacy didn’t have any in stock. The total was about $60 Canadian after shipping fees.

The joysticks arrived within days of my order, and Customs officials only stole $7 from me this time. (I had to pay up almost $50 in Customs fees for a CD order from Red House Records once, so $7 is getting off easy.) The joysticks were nearly identical to the classic Atari joysticks. The actual sticks had to be pushed into a hole, twisted and then locked in place; the base of the joysticks didn’t have any rubber nubs for steady table top action; and they had a USB port on one side. Otherwise, they didn’t look all that different from the classic Atari joysticks.

Too bad they didn’t work like the classic joysticks. The original Atari joysticks were nothing special, but they got the job done. (I didn’t actually own an Atari system when I was a kid. I had a Vic-20 and then a Commodore 64 that played far better games than anything from Atari, but the Atari joystick was compatible with the Commodore systems.) Sometimes the joysticks would break or wear out after heavy use, but you usually got your money’s worth out of them by that point. Neither of my Legacy USB Classic Joysticks worked properly from the start.
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Use Fake Answers For Security Questions

system security questionEx-Credit Card Thief Recommends Making Up Fake Answers To Security Questions:

In an interview, a former credit card thief talks about some of the scams he used to run on unwary consumers… instead of putting down the real answer to “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” put down “unicorn princess.”

I’d never be able to remember the fake answers.

Maybe you could put variations of the real answers. Some suggestions:

  • Spell the answer backwards. So say the question was “Where were you born?” and the answer “Toronto”, use “otnorot” instead.
  • Use fake answers associated with another family member instead of your own.
  • If the answers are not for verbal use, use character substitution to easily remember it. Eg. Use the letter located to the right of the actually letter on a keyboard, so “y” for “t”, “p” for “o”, etc.

Does The Keg offer vegetarian meals?

I received a $100 certifcate for The Keg recently, so my wife (vegetarian) and I are going there soon.
the keg
The Keg is known for its steaks, and vegetarians are usually limited to salads or pasta at similar places – sometimes not even that since they often include chicken.

I emailed the Corporate office of The Keg recently asking about vegetarian options:

We received a gift certificate for The Keg recently but my wife is vegetarian. Does your restaurant accommodate vegetarians? I didn’t see any obvious dinners on the online menu for her except for salads.

They replied that same day:

Thank you for your recent note regarding The Keg’s choices of vegetarian dishes. We do have a couple of “off menu” items for you to consider. Your server should be able to provide you the details of either the Portabella Mushroom Fajita or the Thai vegetable Salad.

We did have one of these on the menu in the past, but due a very low sales mix we took them off the printed menu, however every Keg has the recipes for these items.

As far as other options, you will see that all of our salads are vegetarian friendly (not vegan friendly) as well as we have many side vegetable options that can be put together to make up a vegetarian dish. Your server can certainly help you with a vegetarian plate.

Thank you again for your comments and feedback and we hope to see you again soon!

Sometimes a meat-oriented restaurant will make a vegetarian dish if they’re given notice about it, so I replied:

Should we call the restaurant ahead of time to arrange a vegetarian
dish? Maybe the chef would enjoy creating something new. :)

I never received a reply to my last email but maybe I was asking too much.

Rogers Doesn’t Use Email

A Corporate division of Rogers won’t use email to communicate with me about my account.

Rogers logoRogers, my internet service provider and a major Canadian company, phoned my house while I was at work. They left a phone number with my wife for me to call them back.

I emailed Rogers the following:

My wife told me Rogers called to talk to me this morning. Rogers
left a phone # to return the call. I won’t be. Please contact via email
from now on.
It’d be convenient if the Rogers Account page had a Message
center to note any Rogers communication. Thanks.

They replied:

Thank you for your email.

In your recent email, you have mentioned that you’ve received a call
from Rogers, and wish to be contacted via email from now on.

Upon reviewing your account, I do see that the call you’ve received on
January 10, 2011 was from the Accounts receivable department.
Unfortunately, the accounts receivable department does not contact via

I am pleased to have been able to address your inquiry. For additional
information please visit our website at You are a valued
customer and we thank you for your business.

I added the emphasize in bold there.

So I replied:

That’s ironic: an internet service provider does not use emails – that they provide to customers and can verify – to contact their customers for some services.

That will make amusing news item at some social site.

Thanks anyway.

They then replied:

Thank you for taking the time to write to us, we appreciate your use of online customer service.
In your recent email, you would like to offer some feedback about the Rogers service.
Thank you for your email, we appreciate your feedback. At Rogers, we are always looking for ways to improve our services to meet our customers needs. This has been documented and sent to the appropriate department for review. Should you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact us again.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and we appreciate your patience and understanding with this matter.

So Rogers provides me with an email from their corporate domain, which they can verify and monitor, yet they won’t use it for communication.

And I am not understanding about the matter.