Category Archives: Tech

MiniDisc

Just found this promotional MiniDisc fridge magnet in the bottom of a box of historic detritus. It claims to be a non-functional sample, but perhaps it contains a secret code? Never got a MiniDisc player (not many did!), so I’ll never know. Can’t imagine where I got it or why. I have a vague memory of going to a theatre tech trade show in Toronto in the early 1990s, so I could have snapped it up there, or maybe Sony sponsored something at Roy Thomson Hall when I worked there around the same time. Rest in peace, MiniDisc, we hardly knew ye.

Higher and Higher Speed

Buried in the early shock of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown was the exciting announcement on March 13 that areas of PEI with poor internet access would be getting proper high speed service by the end of June 2021.

We’ve been down this road a couple of times before and have been disappointed that it never came our way, but this time there are maps and lists and even talk of fibre op! We moved from dialup to 1.5 Mbps “high speed” at the end of December 2009 and that seemed like a miracle; 10 years later, it doesn’t seem as shiny and lovely. Here’s a speed test tonight:

That’s Mbps, folks!

For this “unlimited high speed internet” plus our home landline and my ancient phone plan (from 1999!) that doesn’t have any data OR texting, we pay $212.

Plan for our area.

If this promise of internet Nirvana wasn’t exciting enough, along comes Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink service, a plan to place thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit to make broadband internet available to the whole world by the end of 2021. Some of the satellites have been launched and are visible at night as a line of lights moving across the sky. They will be swinging by PEI tonight at 9:25 p.m., so I’ll be out having a peek at the future.

255.9 km/h

I was in Summerside yesterday when our Acurite 5-in-1 weather station recorded a 255.9 km/h wind gust just before 2 p.m. Just glad the house is still standing and the chickens didn’t blow away. What powerful spirit could have flown by and gave the anemometer a spin? Maybe the gitpu (eagle) I spoke to earlier this week as she flew over our house checking out our hens. Message received.

Force Favicons to Refresh

Having the wrong favicon on a Safari bookmark isn’t a big deal when facing an almost-pandemic and climate emergency, but a couple of websites I visit frequently both ended up with the YouTube favicon for some reason and it was driving me a bit squirrelly – I wanted to at least fix this one tiny thing!

I tried deleting a bunch of files that I probably shouldn’t have in my library and it didn’t make a bit of difference. A helpful thread on an Apple community forum lead me to this trick of visiting a website in private mode to force its favicon to refresh. I don’t understand why this magic spell works, but all the wonky little favicons are back to normal and I can now worry about stocking up for a pandemic in peace. I hope this helps some other distracted soul.

The Future is Now

The new fast charger in the Summerside Canadian Tire parking lot is now working. It costs a pretty penny, but I wanted to try it out to make sure I understood how it worked. It’s easy: plug in, wave pre-loaded Flo card at station, press green button, charge. The one at the O’Leary corner Tim Horton’s is also supposed to be online.

Had the funny experience again today of describing what it is like to own a GM product to someone who sells GM products. I’m not usually an early adopter of anything, so this is a funny place to be. Good thing I like to talk!

Shiny new station, filthy new car.
I’ve been calling this connection CHAdeMO, but it’s CCS/SAE…I think!

Charge it!

Been watching this activity next to the Summerside Canadian Tire store for the past couple of weeks. Maybe a new EV charging station? I believe it would be the first commercial one in the city.

Watts up?

So much has been happening this fall. I’ve been trying to catch my breath since the beginning of October. Things are finally slowing down and I can reflect a bit more on the fun bits (the not-so-fun bits can just scram!).

We had the fantastic experience of hosting three people who were doing the inaugural walk of a new 700 km trail around Prince Edward Island in October. I met the trail planner, Bryson Guptill, at Peter Rukavina’s unconference in June, so when I heard on CBC Radio that Bryson was having difficulty finding off-season accommodation in the western part of PEI, I emailed to offer him a bed and transportation to and from their trail.

A commemorative medallion from Bryson and gang, created by potter Michael Stanley.

They ended up staying for three nights over two weekends. It was fun to meet some interesting people and play the role of “trail angel.” They were delightful guests and it was great to support their dream. Bryson has just finished a book about the trail that is at the printers and will soon be available at The Bookmark and Bryon’s Etsy store. And Peter created this great map of the trail, so it all comes full circle!

Our solar panel installation was completed October 9, then we waited for Maritime Electric to install a second meter to finish the process and hook us up to the electrical grid. Some unfortunate miscommunication meant that didn’t happen until the second week of November, but now we are up and running. The amount of electricity we are generating isn’t spectacular, but it has been quite cloudy of late and the sun is low in the sky. You can see some of our stats here.

Watch an animation of our solar panels at work on December 11, 2019.

Last spring I started thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle to replace my 2012 Honda Civic. I will outline my EV shopping experience shopping some other time, but the quick version is that I was told more than once that no one wants an EV on PEI! I finally found someone who wanted to sell me an EV, and December 5 I took possession of a 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV from Township Chevrolet in Summerside. My first impressions: quiet, torquey, high-tech, efficient, fun. I still have some things to figure out, but so far I really enjoy driving it, especially the one-pedal feature. I didn’t really pick the colour – it was the first 2020 to arrive – but I quite like it now. It is certainly a switch from driving a white Civic surrounded by dozens of other white Civics!

Oasis Blue. She’s called Greta.

My go-to electricians, Moore Electric, installed a Level 2 JuiceBox Pro 40 charger a couple of days before I got the Bolt, so now I drive into the garage and plug in to my own gas station. The last time I bought gas for the Civic was on a windy, rainy day, so good riddance to that and the grubby pump handles!

We took the Bolt to Summerside last Saturday, a trip that A Better Routeplanner says is 47 kms one way and takes 39 minutes and should have used 10% of our battery, which was not a bad guess. To get our battery back up to 100% when we returned home, it took the JuiceBox 4 hours and 37 minutes to add 30.751 kWh. This is a whole new world of numbers, and numbers just aren’t my thing. Someone asked me today what my mileage was for the Bolt and I said, “good,” and it is, I expect! I will figure it all out some day.

Sprinkled over these past couple of months have been many committee and board meetings, a course through Holland College about how to be a more effective board member (not being on so many committees would likely help!), and a couple of fund raising events. I’m am looking forward to a bit of winter hibernating and ruminating.