Sunday, January 30, 2011

Is there a way to fix spiralling health care costs?

Health care costs are out of control everywhere. At the city, provincial, federal, world level - no one has figured out how to come to grips with the rising costs of delivering health care to citizens.

In Canada, we pride ourselves on our healthcare system, but if you talk to a small group of people about their experiences in the system, you realize that there are serious issues out there.

Wait times, lousy service, surly staff, problems with facilities - the list of complaints can grow long very fast.

Still, at least we're not like the US, Canadians like to believe. But despite the rhetoric of the health care debate in our neighbour to the south, they did pass new legislation that could change the game. Whether the legislation - Obamacare - survives, is an open question. But it does give some people hope.

I came across The Hot Spotters in The New Yorker that looks at a small group of doctors and health care professionals who are applying some exciting (and common sense) ideas to caring for the neediest patients and in the process lowering overall costs dramatically. But although the benefits seem obvious, they face huge hurdles in implementing their changes on a larger scale.

Not everyone, it seems, thinks that controlling costs, or making sick people healthy, is good for business.

This is a fascinating issue and a very well-written (and lengthy!) article. But if you're interested in this topic, you'll find the ideas outlined here worth considering. I hope that we start to see programs like these starting up in Canada (perhaps they already are?) where one hopes the political climate will be more open to implementing them.

Here's the link to The New Yorker article.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Mystery: Why Can't We Walk Straight?

Here's delightful little video from NPR.

I particularly like the quality of this piece. The audio and video are excellent - one of the hallmarks of NPR, as it moves so much of its programming to the web.

I listen to a number of NPR podcasts regularly and their production quality is the gold standard for everyone else.

A Mystery: Why Can't We Walk Straight? from NPR on Vimeo.

Try as you might, you can't walk in a straight line without a visible guide point, like the Sun or a star. You might think you're walking straight, but as NPR's Robert Krulwich reports, a map of your route would reveal you are doomed to walk in circles.

(Via DaringFireball.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011 is a lifesaver for old hardware

This post might not mean much to those of you that have nice, new hardware. But for anyone who is making do with an older computer, be it a Mac, Windows or Linux machine, I just came across a great resource called

I did a very dumb thing and tried to upgrade the version of Skype on my laptop. But the new Skype v5.0 for Mac requires an Intel chip and won't run on my old PowerBook. I didn't notice that before I pressed the button. Big mistake.

No problem, I thought. I'll just download a copy of the old version. But when I went looking for an older version to download and revert back, I couldn't find it anywhere on the Skype website! I needed to have Skype working and I started to panic, because my backup disk is at my house and I'm not there.

However, a quick Google search turned up, or more specifically It's a great resource that seems to have a whole lot of software which has been updated. There are lots of programs for Mac, Windows and Linux.

So if you're not running the latest and greatest hardware, you may find something that you need there.

I was able to download the latest version of Skype 2.8 for Mac and its working just fine.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Time to get something up fast

Well, this is embarrassing.

I'm attending Wordcamp Victoria 2011, which is a tremendous 1-day event for people who are using Wpordpress.

In the session I'm in right now, the presenter was asking about how often we visited sites that weren't updated. And isn't that a pain?

Then I realized that I haven't updated my blog for awhile.

For that matter, anyone who has visited my website at is likely mortified by what they find. I know I am.

So here's the thing. I am working on a new home site for me. It will be up soon with a new picture.

In the meantime, I'm still active on places like and

But blogging is still important to me, really.

There, now I can tell people to visit The DailyUpload.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Do you ever do extraordinary things?

I was sitting in my office today, working on some very mundane office things, and feeling just a bit dejected. It seems that despite all my best intentions, I often end up working on stuff that just isn't that inspiring.

Why is that? Why, despite a list sitting beside me of things that I consider to be important, do I end up working on stuff that seems so, well, ordinary? For example, I've just spent a couple of hours getting my calendar to synch up across all my various computers. I mean really...

It's probably just the usual post-holiday doldrums, when things always seem a bit bleak. Fortunately, they won't last long.

But while I'm not feeling all that excited about what I'm doing, I am delighted to be able to share with you a charming story about someone who has decided to do something extraordinary.

"An isolated wait in the mountains for the perfect shot" is a delightful story about a Victoria-based photographer who has started a unique project to capture mountain portraits. It's shared by another Victoria writer, Tom Hawthorn on his blog.
Each summer for the past three years, Mike Andrew McLean trekked up alpine paths with heavy camera equipment in search of spectacular vistas.

Acting as his own sherpa, the Victoria photographer carried with him a 1960s-era Linhof Technika IV field camera. It has a bellows, stands on a tripod, and requires a black cloth to be draped over the shooter.

After setting up near summits, he then waited for a passerby.

Sometimes, hours passed. Winds whipped along ridges. The photographer was exposed, though not always his film.

Mr. McLean, 34, was working on a project he calls “Range: Mountain National Parks Photographs.” He returned to the Rockies he had explored as a youth, seeking to make photographic portraits of strangers against a breathtaking backdrop.

In an age when wafer-thin cellphones take snapshots, a photographer with a large-format camera is an odd sight to stumble across in so isolated a site.

“This camera is a magnet for conversation,” he said. “You set it up and people are drawn to it. It is a spectacle, a surreal image.”
The resulting photos are extraordinary. Some of them are posted on Mike's website, where you can see a slideshow of the exhibit, as well as read a commentary about the project.

I highly recommend Tom's blog, which is always full of unique stories. A few more of these and maybe I'll come up with something to shake myself out of the January blah's.


Friday, January 07, 2011

10 Most Popular Autocorrects From December, 2010

Maybe it's just me, but I doubt it. No matter how old you get, a well done fart joke can still make you laugh. Or a nicely timed joke in bad taste. Sometimes the cruder the better.

And even funnier are the unintentional crude comments - those wtf? moments - that come up in real life.

You know I'm right, right?

To prove it, I dare you to visit this website and not laugh. If you've ever used a smart phone with autocorrect turned on, you'll be able to relate. And you'll laugh - guaranteed!

So, since it's Friday afternoon, go to and check out the Top 10 whoppers from 2010.

Here's the link.