I don’t need it

The following ad popped up on my gmail today:    Free Spell Check Toolbar – http://www.DictionaryBoss.com – Avoid Spelling Mistakes with Free Spell Checker – Download for Free!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t word processing programmes such as Word and WordPerfect come with spell check built in?  I know for a fact WordPerfect does because I sometimes use it, in fact I’ve got it set for Canadian English. I got Microsoft Word Starter as part of Windows when I got this system and yes, it too has a spell check feature (I just checked).  So why would anyone need to download a spell check programme from some outside source?

My concern with this particular programme being advertised is that I probably couldn’t make use of it for I suspect it is an American programme and would constantly correct words like “colour”. As I said, I don’t need it since I don’t use the American lexicon.  Another concern is this: what did they use as a source for their spellings?


Parental guidance?

As parents, we constantly told, or still tell, our children not to put things they find on the ground in their mouth.  You know – “don’t eat that, you don’t know where it’s been”.  It is that instruction drummed into us as children and repeated to our own children that makes a current commercial for Ensure that much more unbelievable.  Here’s the scene: a man is playing soccer with his son.  At one point junior kicks the ball over the net and dad goes to retrieve it.  While he is behind the net a bottle of Ensure rolls down the hill and hits his foot.  What does dad do?  Ignore it?  Don’t be silly.  He picks it up, opens it and drinks it!  I can only suggest dad ascribes to the “do as I say, not as I do” school in dealings with his son.  Once again advertisers are asking us to accept illogical commercials.

One of my pet peeves is people who don’t pick up their feet when they walk.  What prompts this part of the posting is that I was out today and there was a lady on the other side of the street and I could clearly her scuffing her feet as she walked.  Are these people afraid that if they lose contact with the earth they will float away?  Ain’t gonna happen people.  Shoe retailers and shoe repair shops must love people like that because they destroy the soles of their footwear so quickly. When I was young, I was always told to pick up my feet when I walked, so I can’t envision any parent telling their children to do otherwise.  I know we all develop bad habits as we age – I have some and resist attempts to get me to change them – but shuffling rather than walking seems more like laziness than anything else.  But then again, laziness is a bad habit too.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


Too much reality?

I don’t know about you, but when I watch television, I’m looking for some temporary escape.  Yet I notice that current programming seems to consist mainly of reality shows.  If I want reality, I’ll watch the news.  It isn’t my intention to pan these reality shows for there are a couple I like to watch, namely “Ghost Hunters” and “Pawn Stars”.  “Ghost Hunters” feeds my interest in the paranormal, which is why I enjoy it.  “Pawn Stars”, especially when they call in the experts, can be educational.  I’ve learned some interesting things from these experts.

I also understand why reality shows are so popular with the networks and the cable channels.  They’re cheaper to produce than shows such as “Castle” or the “CSI” franchise.  But do people watch these reality shows because they find them amusing, or is it a case of hoping it’s gonna get better?

While on the topic of reality, I note there appears to be a trend toward using sports figures to shill for various products.  There is a commercial for Head and Shoulders shampoo that apparently uses some football player sitting at a piano.  I say “apparently” for there are goalposts visible in the background.  I have no idea who the hell he is, other than he didn’t play for the Toronto Argonauts.

The other one that comes to mind, mainly because I just watched it, is for one of the poker sites.  The person in this case is someone named Georges St Pierre.  Okay, and what is this man’s claim to fame?  According to Google, Georges St Pierre is a mixed martial arts fighter and in fact is the current welterweight champion.  I also discovered he’s Canadian.

I can see using an actor or singer as a spokesperson, for they would be well-known and would (or should) appeal to a wide audience.  But using a sports figure who may not be known outside his team’s home town; or a mixed martial artist would seem to restrict the appeal to a niche audience.  What kind of response would some relative unknown get? Just sayin’.

Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too (some product endorsements wouldn’t hurt either). 🙂


More commercial comments

Last night I noticed two commercials that caught my attention.  And, if you’re a regular reader, you know that doesn’t usually bode well for the commercials.

The first is for something called “Wonga.com” which, according to the ad, is a British company specializing in short term loans and has apparently just opened a Canadian operation.  First of all,  I feel  the commercials themselves talk down to the viewer.  But what prompts this is that in this spot they show an example.  They use the amount of $300 for a period of 14 days.  According to the display, that would cost the borrower $30.  Excuse me – ten percent for 2 weeks.  Now, I readily admit math was never one of my better subjects at various levels of schooling, but even I can figure out that would be 26% on an annual rate.  Isn’t that approaching the threshold of usury?  Just asking.

The other commercial is for Frito-Lays Canada.  They are currently running a contest for people to create a new chip flavour.  Considering I only like plain potato chips, I’m not submitting an entry.  The prize for the winner is $50,000 and one percent of the sales of the chosen flavour.  Sounds great, but I do have one question: 1% of sales for how long? – a week; a month; a year, or in perpetuity?   Just asking.

One more item.  This isn’t a commercial, but an item I noticed today on the website for The Toronto Star.  Apparently Facebook is bringing out a revised newsfeed.  Whoopee!  I don’t really care about that.  My quarrel with the newsfeed – and probably something that won’t be corrected with this new version is this: presently users are given a choice on the newsfeed of “top stories” or “most recent” with “top stories” being the default.  I always change it to “most recent”, for how can Facebook possibly know what I would consider a “top story”?  This usually lasts about a week then it changes back to “top story”.  If Facebook really wanted to do something, they’d fix it so that if someone chooses “most recent” as their default, it stays that way until the user changes it.

Okay.  I’ve vented and I feel much better now.  Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


Some Sunday silliness

At least here in southern Ontario, there is currently a commercial for Tylenol Nightime being aired. This commercial shows a lady tossing and turning, unable to sleep and the voiceover begins by making comment on the way one’s mind will jump from idea to idea when one can’t sleep.  Then the voice changes to what I presume is the woman’s voice and we hear her asking herself questions (“do I need snow tires?” – sarcastic answer: not in bed).  The final question she asks is “What if the hokey-pokey really is what it’s all about?”

Now this question is obviously rhetorical, for as any fan of Douglas Adams knows, the hokey-pokey can’t be “what it’s all about”.  In “Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”, Mr Adams clearly stated that the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is “42″.  Unfortunately, he never wrote the question needed to get this response.  Note “42″.  Not “the hokey-pokey and 42″.   Not “the hokey-pokey or 42″.  Just “42″.  I can’t recall for certain, but that may be repeated in all five books of the trilogy.

Who are you going to believe – some songwriter who claimed the hokey-pokey is what it’s all about, or Douglas Adams, who stated categorically that 42 is the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything?

While you’re thinking about that, enjoy the rest of your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


Is this necessary?

Saw a commercial last night and it made me ask the question that forms the title of this piece.  The commercial was for a product called “Kinder Surprise” and was trumpeting the fact they now offer something called “Kinder Surprise for girls”.

Is this necessary?  Do we really need more gender-specific toys?  We’re in the second decade of the twenty-first century.  Presumably we have reached a point in human evolution where gender stereotypes are no longer necessary. Surely there isn’t a man alive who still adheres to the June Cleaver image of women.  The days have long passed when the only career choices for women were nursing or secretarial work.  There is no limit to what women can now accomplish if they choose to so do.  So why do we need gender-specific toys?  I can’t speak for you, but to me that seems like a step backward.

According to Google, Kinder Surprise is manufactured in Italy by Ferrero.  That it is European doesn’t surprise me, for it was some toy company, also in Europe, that put out special catalogues containing gender-specific pages.  These were for only certain countries, with the catalogue for the home country being more gender neutral, but still…

I suspect the reason behind this idea really boils down to profit.  Personally I feel these men are misogynists who won’t be happy until women are sent back to the kitchen.  Guess what guys.  Women can vote now.  They are out in the workforce at all levels, not just junior staff, so if they’re in the kitchen, it’s because they want to be there, not because you want them there.

Maybe that both my grandmother and mother were strong women has a bearing on my perspective.  Maybe not.  Maybe that I’m transgendered and have seen both sides has an effect on my views of this.  In any case I find the whole idea of branding toys “for girls” or “for boys” abhorrent.  It’s 2013 people, not 1320.  Women are people now, not property.


News, views and opinions

1 – Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement, as you are aware if you were anywhere near any form of news media. I’m not Roman Catholic, so that act doesn’t affect me personally from a religious standpoint.  Granted he is the head of the Roman Catholic Church world-wide, but did we really need wall-to-wall coverage of his resignation?  Surely something else of import happened in the world besides Ratzenberger deciding he is too ill to continue to occupy the Throne of Peter.  There may have been, but after CTV News devoted the first 15 minutes of the late news to the announcement, I turned it off.

I have read articles that state he did more to drag the Church back to the 18th century than any previous pope.  This honestly doesn’t surprise me, for before being elected pope, Cardinal Ratzenberger was in charge of the Office of whatever they call the Inquisition these days (something like the Office of Preservation of the Faith, or something equally innocuous).  You weren’t expecting it?   How else is the Church going to keep the faithful in line?

In his pronouncements over the eight years of his Papacy, he has done more to undo social advances for the LGBT communities in many countries, calling trans people “abominations” and gays and lesbians by other equally endearing terms. Another pronouncement from the Vatican indicated condoms increase the risk of HIV, which view has been scientifically and medically disproved.  But you must also consider the official Roman Catholic view on condoms.  I’m a member of the Church of England, which the Vatican considers heretics because they don’t follow Roman Catholic doctrine.  I’m also trans, so I get hit with a double whammy – both an abomination and a heretic.  Oh well, I’ve been called worse by better people.

I’ve always had a problem (and I’ve written on this before)  with whoever  is pope when they are commenting on actions taken by the governments of other countries.  If those comments are made as pope, that’s fine because he is the head of the Roman Catholic Church and has to protect the faithful of whatever country he is visiting.  But, keep in mind Vatican City is also an independent city-state, in other words, a nation unto itself, and the pope is the head of state of that nation. Therefore, comments by the pope on legislation passed by other governments could also be construed as the head of one government attempting to meddle in the affairs of another nation.

Enough of Benedict.  May he enjoy his retirement.  One question: Since popes usually die in office, is there any provision for a pension?   Just asking.

2 – Time to pick on some commercials.  Hyundai Canada is currently running ads for the Elantra, which was chosen as Canada’s car of the year by the automotive journalists.  This ad is interesting, but logically it makes no sense.  It uses the analogy of athletes from different disciplines all competing for one gold medal. Then it goes on to state that the Elantra competed against cars from different classes and came out on top.  Where the logic falls apart is here: athletes are judged by different standards depending upon their sport.  In some cases it’s first to the tape wins; in some cases the performance is judged, or most goals win.  With automobiles, it doesn’t matter if the vehicle is a Kia Soul or a Bentley Mulsanne, they are all judged by the same criteria.

3 – Finally, I saw a commercial on one of the cable stations for something called (I think) “Sunset Awnings” which I feel may be deceptive.  The voiceover does the usual job of extolling the benefits of having an awning over your patio, then states “assembled in America”.  Not “made in America”, but “assembled in America”.  From this statement, which I doubt many people would catch, or would hear as “made in America”, I conclude that while these awnings are assembled in an American factory somewhere, the individual components are actually imported from somewhere else.  Anyone agree with my interpretation?  Just asking.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


Numbers don’t lie, but they can be manipulated

Have you noticed how advertisers manipulate figures in attempts to make products more appealing to us?  We’re all familiar with the “ninety-nine cent’ phenomenon, where a price  ending in .99 is seen as being a better bargain than something rounded up to the dollar, but I’m not talking about that.  Hey, something priced at 99  is still a buck.

No, I’m talking about perhaps more subtle manipulation.  What prompts this piece is a commercial I heard on the radio this morning.  Can’t recall the product or service, but it was probably something I wouldn’t consider.  I presume it was for some furniture outlet, for what caught my attention was the statement near the end of the spot that “you don’t pay for 540 days”.  540 days sounds great, doesn’t it?  It sounds as if it would be so much longer than 18 months, which is roughly 540 days, yet not as long as “a year-and-a-half”.  That sounds far too long.  They are approximately the same span of time, yet something about the 540 days, advertisers believe, sounds just fantastic.

I haven’t seen any for a while, but do you remember when car manufacturers and dealers were offering financing over 72 months? Seventy-two months – fantastic term.  Now, ask yourself this: Are you still going to have that vehicle in 6 years?  Because that’s how long 72 months is.   Again, the advertisers are giving us the full term of the loan, but stating it in a manner to make it sound more appealing. If they stated “You can finance this vehicle over 6 years”, most people are going to say “Forget it – that’s far too long”.  But 72 months – that isn’t all that long.

I’ve recently noticed some adverts from (usually) used car lots and dealers in which payments are expressed as, for example, “$200 bi-weekly”.  Again, this is someone having fun with figures.  Two hundred bucks every two weeks sounds manageable for most of us, especially if we’re fortunate enough to have a job.  But, when you do the math on it, well, things look a little different. $200 bi-weekly is a hundred bucks a week, or $14.28 a day. Figuring on a 30 day month, you’re looking at $428.40 a month.  Is that still in your budget?

All the instances I’ve mentioned above sound good on the surface.  It’s only when you do some calculations of your own that the true nature of the beast is revealed.  Don’t just accept anyone’s word for it when faced with this kind of offer.  It isn’t that difficult to work out exactly how long that term really is nor is it hard to expand a bi-weekly quote into the actual monthly payment.

Enjoy the rest of your week.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love too.  And don’t forget – we’ll all still be here to see the sun rise on December 22.


“on’s Gree”

on's Gree desktop Dec 15 07

I don’t know where the orgfinal blog went, probably somewhere on a back up disk, but there is a little story behind the photo on this posting   About 20 years ago, there was a building, the Metro East Trade Centre, in Pickering that had a huge “Season’s Greetings” sign on it every December.  This sign was apparently controlled by four separate circuits because, depending upon who was working which night, it would either read “Seas tings” or “on’s Gree”, usually the latter, and “on’s Gree” became a family joke. The building is long gone, but when I got into digital photography, I decided to see if I could duplicate that sign.  I realize the font isn’t quite right, but this was the results of my efforts.

So, to all my friends, I wish a hearty “on’s Gree”

Remember to hug an artist- we need love too.


Why doesn’t this inspire me?

The following ad was sprawled across the top of my Gmail account a short while ago:

Fix My Registry Now (Recommended) Free Download. – fix-registry.winzip.com – Fix Registry Errors in 2 Minutes.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m always suspicious of ads that offer something free, especially when the offer involves my computer.  And the fact that this is “recommended” does nothing to allay those suspicions.  Rather, that just raises more questions, such as recommended by whom?  Of course that is in addition to the usual questions these kinds of ads raise.  Questions such as “what is this going to plant in my computer?”  And “okay, the download is free, but how much are you going to ask for to activate the programme?”

From the various security and maintenance programmes I’ve installed, I know there are ways of cleaning the registry.  That someone is offering to do it for me (“free download”) is not really very reassuring mainly because this isn’t a problem I’ve expressed any concerns over.

Once again, an offer like this might sound good, but unless you’ve specifically asked for help on fixing the registry, I’d ignore it.  As I wrote above, something like this will either cost you money or allow some stranger to install something nasty on your system.  And, if it does install some unwanted routine on your system, it will probably cost you money to remove it.  Stick with sites you trust.  Although, I must admit there have been a couple of times my securityware has detected, and blocked, keyloggers in Adobe Reader updates.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and honour our veterans today.