Archived posts from this Category

Two quick tips to protect yourself from getting your Facebook hacked

Posted by on 13 Feb 2012 | Tagged as: suggestions, tech

Oh look, another story about someone getting their Facebook hacked. We keep seeing this over, and over again, yet people keep having this happen to them. Why? Well, we seem to have a lot of so-called “experts” giving bad advice. Now, it’s this blogger’s turn to dish out the advice.

Tip 1: Never use the same password twice

Let’s just assume that your email address is “” and your password is “ahKohva9ienoo6Bi”. That password is a very secure password. No problem, you say. For convenience, you use the same password for all your accounts, even the mail service. No worries, it’s a secure password. You also don’t fall victim to phishing sites as you always check the URL bar if every site you log into. You’ll be fine with that strategy, until one of your favourite shopping sites gets hacked. They don’t get the credit card information, but they do get a list of usernames and passwords. The same username and password that you use for all of your sites. Now do you see the problem?

Tip 2: Write your passwords down

Yes, this is the exact opposite of what you’ve been told. Assuming you trust everyone who has physical access to your house, it’s much, much safer than using the same password for everything. Just put it in a little black book, then hide that book. If one site gets hacked, it’s less of a problem than having all of them hacked.

Bonus tip: Be a good friend

If you see something “suspicious” on someone’s social media site, phone or text them to see if they really posted it. Use the phone number already preprogrammed in your phone, not the one they just gave you on their profile page (it might have been changed by the scammer).


Legitimate weight loss product or scam?

Posted by on 18 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: suggestions

After losing 35 pounds myself, I thought I’d offer up some quick tips on whether or not the weight loss plan is a scam:

  • If you have to take an “herbal” supplement, it’s a scam. There is no evidence that the supplements do anything. The CBC busted one such operation recently.
  • If you don’t have to adjust the amount of food you eat, it’s a scam.
  • If you don’t have to keep track of what you eat, it’s a scam.
  • If it’s only available within the next 10 minutes on this special TV offer, it’s a scam.
  • If you see an ad on a mailbox or a telephone pole, it’s a scam.
  • If you can make money signing other people up on the program, it’s a scam.
  • If it involves the purchase of some gadget, it’s a scam.
  • If you have to buy the food from the weight loss provider, it isn’t necessarily a scam, but it does lock you in with them.

The key to proper weight loss is a combination of major lifestyle change and discipline. Some programs will help you out with guiding you to making better choices, but the discipline must come from within.


A Few Problem Areas of Fredericton’s Current Municipal Plan

Posted by on 07 Feb 2011 | Tagged as: Fredericton, landuse, Reviews, suggestions, transit

As part of the “Sustainability. By Design.” process, we’ll have a quick look at Fredericton’s current municipal plan. Overall, it isn’t all that bad, however, there are a few particular areas that need a second look.

High density residential needs to be required in certain areas, especially large lots near major arteries. This will be needed to reduce the cost of delivering municipal services to a neighbourhood.

Section 3.4 insists that the look-and-feel of Brunswick St. needs to be preserved for “historic reasons”. If we want to expand our downtown, wouldn’t Brunswick St. be the logical choice for an increase in density?

Section 3.5 residential town plat – the worst example of NIMBY appeasement. Some parts will need to be redesignated for higher density housing, especially along transit corridors such as Regent, York, and Smythe. This will pit the environmentalists against the heritage preservationists, which might be entertaining to watch.

Section 3.7 seems to tow a hard line on the student ghetto. An effective transit system will allow students to move farther away from UNB/STU thereby reducing pressures on this neighbourhood.

The biggest mistake they made is that you can’t download the municipal plan as a single PDF file. That makes it really hard to find things if you are just looking for a few key words.

The Facts About Roundabouts (Traffic Circles)

Posted by on 10 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Fredericton, suggestions

Much of the rest of the world has come to love roundabouts. Now, councillor Mike O’Brien is proposing that Fredericton have some too.

Roundabouts can be installed at almost any intersection, but they really shine in the following situations:

  • intersections where the roads don’t all line up at 90 degree intersections
  • intersections with 5 or more roads going into it
  • intersections where a lot of the drivers would be making a left turn

Many opponents claim that they are less safe than traditional intersections, but that isn’t actually true.

  • The average speed of a roundabout is typically 25 km/h
  • You won’t get head-on or t-bone accidents
  • Pedestrians are actually safer because they don’t have to worry about turning traffic and they only have to look one way before crossing
  • Cyclists have the option of using the crosswalks or entering the circle as regular traffic (but without a bike lane in the circle)

The two biggest hurdles will be:

  • Proper design: A badly designed roundabout will cause more accidents and drivers will fear them. An example of a badly designed roundabout is the one on Miramichi/Sobeys/Esso in Oromocto.
  • Education.  The CBC interview had the lead traffic engineer stress the importance of driver education. Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening as the “powers that be” don’t seem to have a problem with a large percentage of the local population not knowing how to merge. It will be up to the other drivers to honk at the ones who are doing it wrong. The Government of PEI did quite well on driver education, including a cute little Flash animation:

Hopefully Fredericton City Council won’t resist change and we’ll get to see some roundabouts fairly soon. Hopefully the first one will go at Waterloo/Beaverbrook/Future UNB Entrance/Forest Hill/Lincoln.

Public consultation isn’t always the answer

Posted by on 26 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: suggestions

New Brunswick’s upcoming provincial election has promises about better “public consultation” on certain issues. The problem with the past Liberal government wasn’t the lack of consultation, it was because the policies were dumb:

Closing a university and turning it into a polytechnic: DUMB
Cancelling Early French Immersion: DUMB
Selling the power company: DUMB

Public consultation can help in some situations, but in many others, you need experts in the relevant fields. And by experts, I mean actual experts, not consulting firms that you paid to come up with a report that supports your pre-determined conclusion.

You can’t fix a city by cancelling a highway project

Posted by on 05 Jul 2010 | Tagged as: suggestions

I am continually seeing people protesting the NB government’s decision to add a lane to the highway leading to Saint John’s suburbs. Many people, including the Mayor, think that cancelling the project will solve all of Saint John’s problems by having the people living in the suburbs move back into the city.

People move to the suburbs for many reasons, not because there is a 6-lane highway for 7km. They have been doing it in Saint John for over 40 years, well before they widened the Mackay to 4 lanes from 2.

Will cancelling the expansion make the water more drinkable? One could argue that the money could be used for it, but one would have to assume that the city would spend it properly. Can you really trust them to do that considering they spent $23.5 million on a transit garage? (overspending by about $13M by my calculations)

Will cancelling the expansion make the city smell better? The raw sewage will eventually stop going into the harbour, but unless they can make the benzene smell like flowers, the suburbs will still smell better.

Will cancelling the expansion make the fog go away?

Will cancelling the expansion make housing more affordable and of higher quality?

Will cancelling the expansion get a police station built in a proper location? This is a textbook example of the pot calling the kettle black. They go and criticize the provincial government for their highway project, yet they try to build a 2 story police station on a prime piece of land that’s already zoned for a 22 story building.

Saint John has a long history of poor planning decisions: the hospital and university are out in the middle of the woods, the malls are built in a flood zone, there are 4-lane roads in the middle of nowhere, they don’t know where the boundaries of their largest park actually are, etc, etc.  Instead of simply bashing suburbanites, they need to take a long hard look at their own problems and at least make it look like they are trying to fix them.

The difference between consultants and product developers

Posted by on 05 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, suggestions

After seeing this article in Fredericton’s Daily Gleaner, I couldn’t help but give myself the old facepalm. Do people around here have short memories? Do we not remember what happened to all the other e-learning companies around here? We have a few that remain, but they are only shells of their former selves. The majority of these are out of province companies that go shopping around for which government agency will give them the most money. Once the contracts have dried up, they lay off their staff and go home.

What most people don’t know is that there are 2 different types of IT companies: Product developers and contractors.

Product developers are ones that make their own product and sell it. There are many of these companies around Fredericton, most of them homegrown. A short list: Caris, Radian6, Q1 Labs, Chalk, Indosoft, Measurand, Remsoft, Virtual Expert Clinics, IVS, EDP, T4G

Contractors are ones that do work for other companies or government agencies. A short list: CGI, XWave, Accreon, PQA, Fujitsu, Unisys, Skillsoft

Most of the product development companies started in Fredericton while most of the contractor companies have head offices elsewhere. I’m not trying to say that contractor companies aren’t worth investing in, but that product development companies are better.

Let’s look at 2 relatively recent failures:

1. FatKat, a contract based animation company – They were given a lot of money, but when the contracts ran out, all economic activity stopped and the government lost their investment. No, it’s not an IT company, but there is very little difference between it and the average IT consulting company.
2. Mathis Instruments, a product development company  – They had a great product but couldn’t sell it. They went under, but their product was bought by C-Vision who continues development and is actually able to sell it. Sure, the government lost money, but C-Therm (as it’s now called) still has an office in Fredericton that employs people.

All we’ve been hearing about is how great it is that Company X is coming in and creating 200 jobs after getting lured in by the government. They get a lot of buzz because they’re big numbers, those 200 jobs come fairly quickly and look good politically. Product development jobs come more slowly and therefore don’t look good for the politicians. As any politician knows, true progress doesn’t get you in the newspapers.

If someone seriously wants to attract the good kind of IT companies, a two-pronged approach must be taken. Rather than simply spending all the effort into luring companies away from other jurisdictions, effort also needs to be spent in establishing home-grown companies. A few hints on how to do that:

  • Bring back Incutech, but this time, put some effort into it. Don’t just put it in some old run-down UNB building with cheap rent; put it downtown in a nice building. It needs to be more than just office space, there needs to be assistance with things like creating business plans, marketing and other non technical aspects of running a company.
  • Venture capital is what brings products to market quickly. Provide assistance to companies who are looking for VC funding. Market NB as a place for investors to invest. Yes, ACOA exists, but it is more focused on spending money than building companies.
  • Tap the potential of the universities. There are many great ideas that are stuck in a lab or a student’s head. Opportunities are being lost as these ideas aren’t able to be commercialized.

Pee…in this place

Posted by on 11 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Jokes, suggestions

As seen on Twitter:


Reference (in case you didn’t get it)

Micro 4U Soccer Etiquette Guide

Posted by on 27 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: suggestions

Here are some tips on how to make your child’s 4 and under soccer experience better for everyone:

  • Realize that your 3 or 4 year old isn’t going to be good at soccer. If he/she can even just kick the ball, or even participate at all, that’s an accomplishment.
  • Not all kids are happy all of the time. If your child is crying, don’t drag them out onto the field and hold them there. Just let them sit it out while things calm down.
  • Cleats. Really? What do you think they are going to accomplish? Will cleats make your kid kick the ball towards the opposing teams net instead of his own? Will cleats improve his hand-eye coordination so that he actually makes contact with the ball for every attempt? I don’t think so. Your kid runs around on your lawn all the time and has no problem with it, why would a soccer field be any different? All they are going to do is give puncture wounds to other kids.
  • Shin guards. Congratulations at being able to get those on without a lot of screaming and yelling. It’s too bad they aren’t actually going to help much as the shins are the last place that will get hurt. Most of the owies that I’ve seen are from 2 kids running head-on into each other at full speed. That is usually head-to-head contact. The second one is when a kid falls over on the field and gets trampled on by 3 or 4 other kids (some who wear cleats).
  • Even though they tell you that parents are allowed on the field at any time, don’t do the drills for your kid, let him do them, that’s the only way he’ll learn.
  • All kids are going to get hurt at some point during the season, some of the collisions might actually be quite funny. Try not to let the kids see you laughing or else the other kids will start imitating. We don’t want them to qualify for the Italian team just yet.
  • When it comes to snack time, don’t be too picky about what the treats are. Let your kid have the sugary stuff, they will burn off the calories.
  • If you see a kid that’s acting hyper, it’s probably because they are excited about being at soccer. They do not have a food allergy that is only diagnosable by a chiropractor pushing down on his arm while reading out things like “Yellow #8”. Yes, I did roll my eyes, but at least I restrained myself from making quacking noises.
  • You may have to bring a younger sibling to the practise, however, please keep the toddlers off the field. It may be cute when a 16 month old tries to chase the ball, but it isn’t cute when they get trampled by a bunch of kids wearing cleats.
  • Realize that your 3 or 4 year old isn’t going to be good at soccer. Look at what the other kids are doing, they aren’t going well either. In fact, it can be quite funny. Enjoy yourself and your kid will too.

Demolition suggestion: Old Sobeys / TRA

Posted by on 11 May 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, Reviews, suggestions

The last time I suggested a building get torn down, it actually got torn down. Encouraged by my previous 100% success rate, I’m continuing to make some more suggestions.

On a more serious note, urban sprawl is an issue, but it doesn’t need to be as we have plenty of space downtown, we just aren’t using it very well.

Originally built as a grocery store, this eyesore has been vacant for years:


Not much you can do with a single story grocery store, but it does have a large footprint. Compare it to Frederick Square (in blue):


You could build a really nice building here (as long as you don’t mind the occasionally flooded basement). This would be a perfect spot for the rumoured courthouse.

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