Friday, September 9, 2016

How to Lose Weight

The answer, of course, is that you need to change your lifestyle in one way or another. Somehow, you need to incorporate a healthier amount of activity and appropriate amounts and quality of food.

It’s not magic.

I actually wrote this short (and some would say utterly useless so far Smile) piece to introduce you to an excellent article that pretty much sums up the difficulty in getting great on-point advice on how you specifically should lose weight and become a healthier person.

The article is written by Yoni Freedhoff, the founder of the non-surgical Bariatric Medical Institute here in Ottawa. Dr. Freedhoff is an obesity expert if ever there was one.

The title says it all … click through to read it …

No Diet Works For Everyone and Every Diet Works For Someone

Grammar and sentence structure … they matter …

There is a pretty interesting article about HPE – a company apparently known for its COBOL support (a language with which I have a lot of experience from my early career) – spinning out its software assets and simultaneously embracing a major Linux distribution – SUSE. That article is here, if you are interested …

But I noticed a paragraph that was so poorly structured, it took me three reads to make sense of what the author was trying to convey.

With Canonical Ubuntu, the top cloud Linux, and Red Hat, the leading server Linux, SUSE, which is also a major enterprise Linux player and a powerhouse in mainframe Linux, is one of the three biggest Linux powers.

There are two major issues with that sentence, each of which harms readability. The first is the passive tone, which is done by reversing the thought and starting with some passive description to make the point. The second is several parenthetical asides separated only by commas, as if you are reading a list. It’s a brutal read.

Straightening it out requires that the thought be made active in tone, and that the parenthetical passages be isolated with either parentheses or dashes. In fact, separating the the main statement from the enumeration of the other players with two sentences is even better.

Something like this:

SUSE, a major enterprise player, is a powerhouse in mainframe Linux and one of the three biggest Linux powers. The others are Canonical Ubuntu – the top cloud Linux, and Red Hatthe leading server Linux.

Don’t be afraid of active language or short sentences. They will improve your writing dramatically. (Note to self – you too!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Published in the Ottawa Citizen this Thursday 4 August

Once again I must thank Robbi Hay, editor of the Ourtown section of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, for including my work as the banner for her section this week.

Grab a copy of the Citizen on Thursday to see what’s happening in these wonderful dog days of August …


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Kanata Mazda has epic fail …

I bought my Mazda 3 from Kanata Mazda in July of 2011, which means that it is 5 years old this month. They were sending me reminders for service for years, but that stopped about 2 years ago. The reason I know that is that I finally realized that I had not serviced the car in a long time and took it in. They said it had been two years, which made sense, given that they stopped reminding me.

So … the agreed to range of pad wear seems to start around 48000 km, and my car is approaching 50000, so it makes sense that the brake pads would be inspected. Especially when you consider that you can see the pads through the wheels without taking the wheels off.

They looked at all 4 tires, because they marked them all as 5/32 remaining tread. They also mentioned that I had a nail in the passenger rear tire, which accounted for the slow leak I experienced last year all summer. Yet they did not check the brakes.

I know this for two reasons:

1) They marked that it was not needed:

_1010311-4592 x 3448-160731-DMC-GX85-LUMIX G VARIO 12-32-F3.5-5.6

2) The breaks were metal on metal with 4 weeks, wrecking my rotors and forcing me to  do an emergency brake pad replacement:

_1010304-4592 x 3448-160731-DMC-GX85-LUMIX G VARIO 12-32-F3.5-5.6

So what could they possibly have been thinking? The car has almost 50k on it and they have not seen it in 2 years. So ignore the brakes?

I have no idea how an organization can display such a disregard for basic procedure that takes almost zero time and has a direct bearing on safety. Sheer incompetence perhaps?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Amazon – et tu with the reinterpretation of “on time” ? **updated**

Yesterday I railed against Home Depot’s misleading web site.

Today, I am awaiting a shipment of coffee from Amazon using Prime’s two day guaranteed shipping. This, of course, is really three business days, since they need to actually ship the order.

I placed the order on Friday, and a lay-interpretation of “two day shipping” would suggest Sunday delivery. But shippers take weekends off (even if you choose express, time only counts in terms of business days.) So the lay person would think Tuesday instead. The second business day from Friday.

But no, the Amazon interpretation is that you get 24 hours to ship, making Wednesday the “on time” two day delivery. That is actually 6 days from the date of order, but who’s counting :-)

And then there is the Thursday delivery. Amazon actually split the consignment (order) into two separate shipments. The second one being listed as due Thursday, the 4th business day, which in my estimation is 3 day shipping and thus not “on time” in Prime terms.

Yet …


Amazon does work in mysterious ways … but this is an area where the mystery is how they manage to get on time from 3 days?

Here is another example …


Again … shipping today, arriving 3 days from now. And that’s considered “on time” …

To reiterate: I pay for Prime and I generally order items that offer Prime 2-Day shipping. So why does 3 day shipping now qualify as “on time”? Anyone? Amazon?

** Update: Everything arrived on time and within the Prime commitment. As in Wednesday, in two days. So this is really about Amazon either not interfacing correctly with their couriers, or rewriting the rule book just in case.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Home Depot Web Site – Sleazy “summarization” of reviews to trick you into buying …

I have been contemplating a pressure washer for my driveway, garage, patio, furniture, cars … the usual.

I have been looking at Canadian Tire’s selection and they seem to have some decent units with good reviews. But one of the better brands is carried by Home Depot, Generac. Unfortunately, that one is online only, so I can’t get it any time soon. I read that they market a Ryobi as a rebadged generic brand of some sort, so I thought I’d check that one out. I like Ryobi tools generally … a decent value for money when on sale at least.

So I saw this unit that has 5 stars and 3 ratings … it looked *very* promising. Lots of power (2700psi) and that many positive ratings for a good price is kind of a no brainer. Here it is in the grid of possibilities:


And when you click through, the positives keep coming …


So what’s not to love?

Well, the truth, for one.

Click on the stars to see the actual reviews and you get this …



That’s right … at the top of the web page, they stubbornly report 3 reviews and 5 stars. But the detail section shows 7 reviews and only 3.3 stars. The bottom 3 reviews average 1.33 stars!

Seems kind of sleazy, don’t you think?

Note: I don’t think Home Depot are actually at fault. I think their web development team is one of the least competent I have ever seen. Their web site almost never works in Chrome. It was failing for something like 7 months and I complained several times to them. Eventually, it seemed to work (about a month ago). But today it fails to work again.

Their mechanism for showing you where things are in stock is utter nonsense. If you type in your postal code and the item is not in stock, they indicate this by doing absolutely nothing. No message, no display of nearby stores (which should show not in stock) … nothing at all. There are many stores who do this correctly, but this team stubbornly refuses to do things competently and seemingly always has.

Probably a systemic cultural thing and with their pattern of poor UI decisions and simply broken browser compatibility it should surprise no one that they cannot get the reviews section right. The problem, though, is that the reviews section is used to incentivize people to buy. And they are misleading the buyers by reporting higher quality reports than actually exist. Cherry-picking as it were.

I think they should be rethinking the liar liar part of their online product display … it really does not behoove them to trick people into buying what sounds like an “iffy” product …

Meanwhile, don’t trust their site. Always click through to products and frankly, you’d be better searching the web for more trustworthy reviews and stores with customer reviews that aren’t so poorly managed.