Saturday, 14 November 2015

Best (free) Mail app for Windows 10

Email Apps for Windows 10Let me get straight to the point: The out of the box email experience on Windows 10 is best described as a resounding “meh” at best. Even though Microsoft is actively improving the default mail app with very frequent updates – the mail app still isn’t at par with their previous Windows 8 app, and, that too was a simple “uhhh it’s ok i guess”

So… Let me share with you my outrageously biased list of best Win 10 applications for email:

1 – Windows Live Mail (UPDATE: no longer available / working)

This desktop application made for Windows 7, as part of their “Windows Live Essentials” package makes me still yearn for the return of MSN messenger and the cohesiveness of everything Windows 7 brought to market.

Download it here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-ca/windows/essentials

Even in touch, the application works well – with it’s large tool strip/smart bar. It’s super clean interface, full multi-account support, HTML signatures, and a whole bunch more. This wonderful piece of software excels far beyond what most paid for email clients have produced… And… it’s not supported any longer by Microsoft. I just hope that one day an app will come close to what “Windows Live Mail” achieved back in 2010.

2 – TouchMail

This Windows Store app is the best app available. And probably the best option for small screen touch based devices. Very easy setup, straight forward interface, and acceptable design.

Get it in store: https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9wzdncrfj4p3

3 – Web Based

The odds are your Windows 10 device is always connected to the web. So, just use the Web. Web mail apps have gotten so fully featured it would be hard for a third party developer to produce something that would compare.

Also, if you use “Edge” you can pin the app to the start menu. Unfortunately Windows 10 doesn’t show you the website icon in the tile you pin… but at least you can still “Pin it”

4 – Default mail app (or any other app)

In time I am hoping that one of these apps, or at least the default app, will step up and outclass the 5 year old Windows Live Mail.  But right now, expect a choppy, hard on the eyes, monstrosity of an experience that makes you hope it really did manage to send an email.

/fin

If you know of any other email apps for Windows 10 that outclasses the above (and is free) let me know.

Regards,

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Stoves should automatically shut off after 30 minutes.

I am an absent minded person with a horrible short-term memory. It happens more than once a day where I will enter a room and ask myself, "Why am I here?" This is especially annoying while I'm driving somewhere so much so I picked up the practice of using GPS directions to where I am going even though I know the route just so I don't get caught in that bind. I use written notes to myself, digital lists, and memory exercises just to remember a name, or what I am to do immediately, or to keep track of what I planned in the short term.

What's most interesting is that even though most people comment on how severely fail my short term memory is, most people can relate thoroughly. I might be behaviourally prone to memory issues, but, we all suffer from bouts of short term memory loss - be it by distraction, by concentration, or just plain I forgot your name? sorry? I know you told me twice the last two times we met - Alex? Seriously, you have the same name as me? Seriously? Well that's awkward...

We also ALL fall victim to leaving the stove on at one time or another. Which is dangerous and we all reprimand ourselves by thinking up solutions to better avoiding something so stupid and asking ourselves if the pot/pan we like to use can still be salvaged. But wait a minute...

Cooking is the leading cause of home structure fires and last I checked, Fire is dangerous. So in a world with rules on safety belts, poison labels, circuit breakers, and smoke alarms - WHY DO STOVES NOT SHUT OFF AUTOMATICALLY AFTER 30 MINUTES? Of all the mandated rules for safety... Stoves have been severely overlooked. It's not much to ask for, the technology already exists - and most stoves offer the stupidest little ignorable alarm that is impossible to set as is.

But there is not a part of me that can disagree with having stoves automatically shut off after 30 minutes. But I need to cook longer than 30 minutes! Fine, anything more than 30 minutes should require a timer that shuts off the stove after the timer finishes. But what if I don't know how long to cook it for? Then turn on the alarm that notifies you that the 30 minutes is up, or the stove shut off... It certainly beats having an alarm ring while the stove burns your pizza you so wanted to eat because you made it so nice, but your favourite team is finally winning, which is a sight to see, because teams from Toronto don't really win all the time - so you can't miss this.

You know what I'm saying?
Seriously... I don't need the floor is wet warning, I need every stove I deal with to shut itself down.


/End Rant

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Why BlackBerry must make an Android phone.

Rumour has it that the next device BlackBerry will release will be Android, and if the recently leaked image is legitimate then there is more to this rumour than I would like.

The leaked image shows a patented BlackBerry touch keyboard above a typical Android navigation pane/back button which is forcibly at the bottom of the screen... This differs from typical BlackBerry 10 operating system phones where the navigation sits above the keyboard. BlackBerry 10 phones de-emphasizes navigation because the Operating System encourages "flow" by being a gesture based O.S.

Anyone who has the privilege to experience a diverse set of operating systems can tell you - native apps on BlackBerry 10 kick up productivity, are snappier than any other O.S., and let you multitask almost irresponsibly well for a mobile device. Last night for example I attached a keyboard and mouse and completely replaced my laptop to get some office work done.

As a technology adoptor (no... not an early adoptor) I tend to be both frugal and sensitive to the best of the best... and only ignorance can deny that BlackBerry's multi billion dollar investment produced a top of the class operating system.

However after four years of BlackBerry 10 being in market with less than one percent of the market share, Google's continued heavy investment in Android has given us a version of their operating system that has almost all the features of BlackBerry, can run on a more diverse set of devices, and is lightweight (and nearly as battery efficient)

But the real dagger is "Apps"... not quantity as was touted years ago, but more specifically Google's departure from the mantra, "do no evil" as they made Android closed source and restrict developers to only consume Google Play services on said closed source editions of the operating system.

For example, I am using an Android app on my BlackBerry to write this blog post. And even though BlackBerry runs android apps unusually well - there is a limited set of Android apps available to me because of the lack of "Google Play Services"... on top of that, the whole "flow" that BlackBerry 10 offers is greatly diminished when using a non-native Android app - making the experience almost second rate.

BlackBerry built the Android player into the operating system as a compromise of being late to the game with BB10, offering no upgrade for BB07, and having an unrefined OS upon release. Now it appears that the very same android player on BlackBerry 10 is allowing them to pivot more seamlessly from BB10 to Android giving them a way forward.

So is this the end BlackBerry 10 O.S?

Not entirely, but it would be a great decision financially to stop developing it and leave it on the back burner. BlackBerry benefits of not having to support OEMs with the operating system, so there is little penalty in this pivot. They can still internally leverage their investment with their QNX offering and even make some money with patents from the R&D, so the technology isn't a complete write off. Heck even Palm O.S. Came back to life in LG T.Vs this year - anything is possible.

But in terms of selling devices, they already stepped out of competing with device manufacturers by stepping out of manufacturing hardware, it's time to stop competing against giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft in operating systems.

By choosing the largest platform available in Android, BlackBerry can focus on what they failed on when they entered the market with BlackBerry 10... differentiated software/apps that bring them real value and income as a company.

This move may or may not be beneficial to BlackBerry in terms of market share, but it will certainly allow them to evolve into a software company, and who knows, maybe serendipitously make money off the consumer market again - wouldn't be the first time their enterprise products became a commercial success.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

It’s not just you: Netflix App on Windows 10–has been fixed

Screenshot 2015-08-05 09.54.34 Seriously, Within 24 hours of my posting of this article, Microsoft pushed through a fix.

Some notes:

  1. NetFlix did not submit an update to the store
  2. I had tested this app on various Windows 10 computers, and searched thoroughly through technical support solutions
  3. All my Windows 10 machines received a minor update after my original post, it is my guess that one of those updates fixed the experience
  4. This is a good argument for forcing updates through to users, rather then notify users on Patch Tuesday, and leaving it up to them!

As per my original post:

 

If you are on Windows 10, the most you will get from the Netflix app is a loading screen.

 

Don’t blame NetFlix, I clearly recall Microsoft claiming that Windows Store apps will continue to work as normal, and they will remain supported in future editions of Windows.

 

Anyone familiar with the Windows 8 edition of the app, the experience, was quite delightful – probably the best non-microsoft app to bring you the “Metro” look and feel in a functional and understandable manner.

 

Now, since Microsoft’s big push to get Windows 10 on a billion devices. NetFlix has become the recipient of a ton of scathing reviews – you can still see a few positive reviews coming through, but my guess is those are from Windows 8 users.

Screenshot 2015-08-05 09.59.09

 

Regards,

Friday, 24 July 2015

The political system in Canada is broken.

The national post posted this infographic regarding polling results shortly after the child care benefit program was launched.

poll

 

It’s almost hard to accept that for the past year the Conservatives were third in polling against the Liberal’s and the NDP, only to, what appears to have bought votes, to put themselves back into a commanding majority – perhaps even a majority strong enough to ensure they remain the majority government – which I would deem a form of terrorism in of itself.

 

But how is it possible to have so easily bought a majority?

 

Math. and low voter turn outs.

 

This program is said to be benefiting 4 million families, by doubling the existing child benefits – and – rather then presenting them as tax refunds they are mailed out cheques in advance of the tax

 

It’s really difficult to not support the guy who just gave you a hundred dollars.

 

Now for the math: 4 million families represents 8 million high percentage voters. A mom and a dad, both voters, have notably good access to voting centers that tend to be schools or other facilities their children use.

 

8 million is not a majority in a population of 34 million Canadians. It is though a large chunk when you factor in that there are only 24 million eligible voters.

 

(Side Note: I don’t understand how there are 10 million Canadians not eligible for voting… Especially considering Canadians have an average of 2 children per family – there is no way that 25% of the population is under 18)

 

Of the 24 million eligible voters we had in the last election there was only a horrific 15 million people who casted votes. Now, that 8 million voters look more like 1/3rd of the vote.

 

The steak through the heart: Above and beyond all this, there is the existing voter base. The best metric in identifying a voter base in my opinion is to evaluate the popular vote – and – identify the lowest result for the past 20 years for each party:

  • Block Quebecois = 6%
  • Conservative = 12%
  • Green = .2%
  • Liberal = 19%
  • NDP = 7%

 

Even though a voter-base always favoured the Liberal’s, the fact that the each party has a strong base leaves the election to be decided amongst 56% of the population eligible voters active voters, which means the election campaign has to be directed at 8.4 million people.

 

The question is. I wonder how many of those 8 million voters in the families that were paid off are part of the 8.4 million that decide our next government.

 

Regards,

 

/Alex Casamassima

 

 

 

Le References

 

  1. http://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/files/files/Child_Care_EN.pdf
  2. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/conservative-support-among-voters-jumps-as-childcare-cheques-doled-out-poll
  3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/bureaucrats-told-to-provide-rob-nicholson-3-terrorism-related-statements-a-week-1.3163333
  4. http://globalnews.ca/news/2120861/what-does-child-care-actually-cost-in-canada/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_Canada
  6. http://www.electionalmanac.com/ea/canada-popular-vote-results/
  7. https://www.google.com/search?q=canadian+population&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
  8. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-312-x/98-312-x2011003_1-eng.cfm

Friday, 3 July 2015

Safer way to delete a record in SQL Server

Use DELETE TOP


The problem with a typical SQL Delete transaction is that you only know how many records you deleted until after the transaction is complete:

 

(1023 row(s) affected)

 

There are of course ways in which you can “Commit” changes to your database after a preview of data, but such organization defeats the purpose of quickly modifying the database and is certainly excessive if the intention to make a one time “Delete”


To avoid disasters with DELETE statements, try using the “TOP” clause to restrict potential hazards:


DELETE TOP (2)
FROM            TRANSACTIONS
WHERE        (Transaction_Alias = 'S42CN35')

 

I recommend using it to restrict the results to one more than the intended deletion of records. After executing the statement, if you see that the records affected matches the clause – you have a problem with the criteria in your statement – and you can then thank me for not losing a whole table worth of data in the process.


Regards,

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Weekly Investor #2

I see your gambling addiction and raise you purpose

Gambling_stock_market

In my previous article I wrote on what the stock market is and the basics of trading stocks. I also mentioned that this is not a weekly article, rather, I’m a person who checks their portfolio on a weekly basis.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is the hand of cards you are dealt. Or in investor terms – a list of all the companies you own shares of.

 

Unlike a casino though, you are the dealer – and supposedly the concept where “The house always wins” should technically apply to you. Except, if that were always the case no one would ever go to the casino – and – as the dealer it is important that you implement a system where you can maintain profitability. To do this you will need to know the rules of the game.

The first and main rule of the stock market is:

Buy Low and Sell High. I really don’t need to explain this… It’s more than obvious, when you sell the same thing for more money then the difference is all profit. If the act of selling your stocks is the equivalent to playing a hand of cards – then – you want the most valuable cards in the game. right? do you? The problem here is the cards you deal yourself may have values – but those values aren’t stamped on the card, if you buy the card with the Apple logo on it, you can argue that this card is the most valuable but what is the likely hood of that remaining the most valuable? and will you be able to sell it more than it is now?

Here is a chart of the most valuable companies in the world – and as big as they are – they seem to vary greatly in the ranking where over a span of 6 years there have been 25 companies in the top 5.

 

Top5MarketCapRanks14

 

Alternatively, the least valuable stocks are not subject to the inverse logic as the saying “the only way to go is up” doesn’t really apply as companies regularly get delisted from stock exchanges for poor performance, and the fail rate of business is shockingly high even in good economies. As I write this I am reminded about this fact as one of the earliest valuations/purchases I made finally got delisted: “Groupe Bikini Village” representing a card in my hand for what must have been near 10 years. I purchased this stock when it was most valuable – and today – it’s worth nothing on the stock market  as it doesn’t meet the requirements to be traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange – I will sourly miss the $200 I invested in that company that deals in product I would never personally purchase myself. (yes, there is a lesson here, but I’ll save that for another article)

Screenshot 2015-06-23 14.21.40

 

The truth is, how you value a company is an investment strategy that you will have to develop on your own, with considerations for risk and hopes for reward. There are plenty of resources for that out on the world wide web – and maybe – I will outline a few in upcoming postings. The real question is:

Why invest with the stock market?

The idea that you are trading with people who share the same interest of making money over anything, even at your expense, is a daunting one. Trading in the stock market can be compared to jumping into a shark tank and pretending you are  a shark yourself. It’s really hard to assume you are likely to win any money in gambling in such a way – and anyone who is ignorant to the risks involved really doesn’t know the stock market.

 

This dark perspective can be applied to every aspect of life though, you don’t really work a job strictly for the love of the job, you do it for money. There is an element of “greed” or in the case of a job “survival” that takes precedence over other factors to what it is you do.

 

No, you’re not a shark.

 

You are simply a person who has been given money – and I hate to break it to you but money means nothing…. until it is spent. The value of the $50 you have in your drawer is determined when you buy something with it. If it gets you a car or a slice a pizza it is then the value of that $50 is recognized.

 

Storing money puts it subject to inflation, as it will buy less and less over time, so it is important that we invest through the purchase of assets. The problem is, there are a limited set of tangible assets an individual can buy – and a crazy ton of tangible liabilities – like that Refresher Tea-Juice thinger at starbucks. I personally find it expensive, and the taste really isn’t there for me. But – rather than treat Starbucks as an individual that is in the business of taking everyones money – and hating people around you because you believe they will remain successful at doing so, the stock market enables you to “Be Starbucks” or at least, be a part of “Starbucks” and take ownership of their success. This inherent freedom both drives the economy and allows individuals of a society to have access to assets/wealth generated from the society.

 

That money you use to buy into the company then is leveraged by the company to invent the next pumpkin spice latte, next generation of consumer technology, go to space, drill for oil, build solar panels or whatever people do next.

 

You are funding the society of tomorrow.

The most interesting thing about this concept is, if you can realistically figure out what the future holds for society – and can identify what companies will bring that future to people, you will likely be rewarded quite well.

 

/Regards

 

 

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_corporations_by_market_capitalization#/media/File:Top5MarketCapRanks14.png
  2. http://www.tmxmoney.com/HttpController?GetPage=ListedCompanyDirectory&ListedCompanyTab=RecentlyDelisted&Market=V&Language=en

Friday, 5 June 2015

Weekly Investor #1

Welcome to the stock market

 

Don’t let the title fool you, I do not intend to post every week a column on investing – rather – I intend to post some information I have picked up as someone who dabbles in trading on a weekly basis.

 

The intention is to unveil information that is essential for the casual investor, or share some pointers for those interested in investing!

 

lets start at the beginning…

What is the stock market?

If you have a quantity of anything that can be sold, you have something in “stock”. A registered business itself can be bought and sold, as well as divided into different sellable quantities.

Each (equal) division of a business is considered a “share” and the process of selling those shares in quantity and publically are done formally through a stock market.

 

The market I use primarily is the Toronto Stock Exchange because it’s the market most local to me --- there is usually no issue with trading internationally and I dabble in other “exchanges/markets” from time to time. Just be aware that foreign ownership tax rules, legal limitations, and currency exchange comes into play when you trade abroad – so if you are starting out, stay local.

How do you trade stocks?

To access the stock market you will need a “broker”. Only brokers are allowed to buy and sell stocks in a process called “trading” and how this process is done is quite magical and completely unknown to me. All I picture is a big group of guys on a dance floor waving papers in the air yelling out numbers. Anything less would be disappointing. How trades are done should be none of your concern, it is more important to identify which broker/brokerage firm you use as they will facilitate the trading on your behalf.

 

For casual investors, here is a list of online (discount) do-it-yourself brokerages you should use:

  1. TD Waterhouse

Yes, that’s it. I shopped around and the fees embedded on other services are too overwhelming and complicated to keep up with. TD is simple, $10 per trade. No annual fee, no monthly fee, no minimum trade fee, no maximum trade fee, and very few conditional fees.

 

Remember the act of buying and the act of selling stocks/shares of a company is considered a “trade” therefore you should always factor in the brokerage fee twice, once each for when you buy and when you sell stock.

 

 

If you want to make any corrections, or have any suggestions for anything I wrote above. Leave a comment.

 

Regards,

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The best Backup Script for Windows EVARRR

Over the years I have been writing tons of these backup scripts, usually on the fly, and usually thinking – I need to make this more robust, shelving that dream for the future

 

…And now the future has come:

 

BackThisUp.cmd

cls
::
::
::====================================================
:: BackThisUp
::----------------------------------------------------
:: Put a copy of this script in any folder you want to 
:: have backed up. It creates backups to a destination
:: path (like an external harddrive) in dated folders:
::      ex: E:\Backups\20150505NameOfBackup\
::
:: You can alternatively set it up so the backup folder
:: is not dated, so that backups are just kept current:
::      ex: E:\Backups\NameOfBackup\
::
:: The tool will also provide a Restore script called
:: "RestoreThis.cmd" which will return your files to
:: where they came from.
::
:: All settings: "Name of Backup", "Backup Location", 
:: and "Dated Backups" will be requested when this 
:: script is run UNLESS those settings are predefined
:: within this script. Predefined settings will allow
:: the script to run automatically, and would be the 
:: best option for scheduled backups. 
::====================================================
::
::

@ECHO OFF
SETLOCAL ENABLEEXTENSIONS ENABLEDELAYEDEXPANSION

cls
:: Optionally Predefined variables:
::====================================================

:: backup_name
::----------------------------------------------------
:: put whatever you want to call the backup after
:: the equal sign. Keep it short, simple, don't use 
:: special characters, and avoid spaces. 
SET backup_name=

:: backup_destination
::----------------------------------------------------
:: Put the full path of where you want the Backup 
:: folder to appear. No quotes needed, should be like
:: SET backup_destination=D:\
:: After you run the script, you will see a that the
:: backup can be found at D:\Backups\[backup_name]\...
SET backup_destination=

:: backup_date
::----------------------------------------------------
:: backup date should either be 1 or 0 where
:: 1 means there will be dates.
:: 0 means there will not be dates
::
:: *** NOTE *** A backup without a date will only 
:: backup new or updated files that don't appear in 
:: the backup folder... Because that's smart
SET backup_date=

:: backup_review
::----------------------------------------------------
:: Prompt the user to review settings and allowing 
:: the user to exit the script, otherwise, the
:: script will perform the backup without query
:: 1 means prompt for review
:: 0 means silent mode, process backup without prompt
SET backup_review=1


:: Variables
::====================================================
SET me=%~n0
SET parent=%~dp0

:: FormattedDate
::====================================================
for /f "skip=1 tokens=1-6 delims= " %%a in ('wmic path Win32_LocalTime Get Day^,Hour^,Minute^,Month^,Second^,Year /Format:table') do (
	IF NOT "%%~f"=="" (
	    set /a FormattedDate=10000 * %%f + 100 * %%d + %%a
	    set FormattedDate=!FormattedDate:~-8,4!!FormattedDate:~-4,2!!FormattedDate:~-2,2!
	)
)

cls
:: Initialization
::====================================================
:: Ask the user to provide backup_name
::----------------------------------------------------
IF NOT DEFINED backup_name (
	ECHO No backup_name was predefined!
	ECHO ----------------------------------------------------
	ECHO put whatever you want to call the backup after
	ECHO the equal sign. Keep it short, simple, don't use 
	ECHO special characters, and avoid spaces. 
	ECHO.
	SET /P backup_name=backup_name=
)

cls
:backup_destination
:: Ask the user to provide (%backup_destination%)
::----------------------------------------------------
IF NOT DEFINED backup_destination (
	ECHO No backup_destination was predefined!
	ECHO ----------------------------------------------------
	ECHO Put the full path of where you want the Backup 
	ECHO folder to appear. No quotes needed, should be like
	ECHO SET backup_destination=D:\
	ECHO After you run the script, you will see a that the
	ECHO backup can be found at D:\Backups\NameOfBackup...
	ECHO.
	SET /P backup_destination=backup_destination=
)
if NOT EXIST "%backup_destination%" echo Backup Destination doesn't exist.&cls&SET backup_destination=&goto backup_destination
::Does string have a trailing slash? if so remove it 
IF %backup_destination:~-1%==\ SET backup_destination=%backup_destination:~0,-1%


cls
:: Ask the user to provide backup_date
::----------------------------------------------------
IF NOT DEFINED backup_date (
	ECHO No backup_date was predefined!
	ECHO ----------------------------------------------------
	ECHO backup date should either be 1 or 0 where
	ECHO 1 means there will be dates.
	ECHO 0 means there will not be dates
	ECHO.
	ECHO *** NOTE *** A backup without a date will only 
	ECHO backup new or updated files that don't appear in 
	ECHO the backup folder... Because that's smart
	ECHO.
	SET /P backup_date=backup_date=
)
REM PAUSE


cls
:: Determine Current Path (%CD%)
::====================================================
PUSHD "%~dp0" >NUL && SET root=%CD% && POPD >NUL
REM ECHO CD= %CD%
REM PAUSE

cls
:: Determine Date value (%date_path%)
::====================================================
IF /I "%backup_date%" EQU "1" (
	SET date_path=%FormattedDate% 
)
REM ECHO date_path= %date_path%
REM PAUSE


cls
:: Determine Destination Path (%backup_path%)
::====================================================
SET backup_path=%backup_destination%\Backups\%date_path%%backup_name%
REM ECHO backup_path= %backup_path%
REM PAUSE


cls
:: Review Settings                  
::====================================================
IF /I "%backup_review%" EQU "1" (
	ECHO Review Settings
	ECHO ----------------------------------------------------
	ECHO We will be backing up the files and folders from:
	ECHO %CD% 
	ECHO. 
	ECHO The backup will be saved to the following folder:
	ECHO %backup_path% 
	ECHO. 
	ECHO.
	CALL :Continue
)


:: Routines
::====================================================
REM ECHO Routines
REM PAUSE
CALL :RoboCopyComplete
CALL :CreateRestore
GOTO END


:RoboCopyComplete
::----------------------------------------------------
cls
REM ECHO RoboCopyComplete
REM PAUSE
ROBOCOPY "%CD%" "%backup_path%" /E /dcopy:T /XA:SH /XD Backups /XJD /XO /R:25 /W:15 /V
:: ROBOCOPY
:: Source Directory
:: Destination Directory
:: Copy Everything (without purge) 
:: Include Directory Timestamps
:: Exclude Hidden & System Files
:: Exclude existing Backups
:: Exclude Junction points for directories
:: Exclude Existing files if they are older
:: Retry 25 Times
:: Wait 15 Seconds before each retry
:: Use 32 threads
:: Verbose output
EXIT /B 1


:Continue
::----------------------------------------------------
set /P c=Are you sure you want to continue[Y/N]? 
IF /I "%c%" NEQ "Y" CALL :ExitBatch
EXIT /B 1


:CreateRestore
::----------------------------------------------------
@ECHO ROBOCOPY "%backup_path%" "%CD%" /E /dcopy:T /XA:SH /XD Backups /XF RestoreThis.cmd /XJD /XO /R:25 /W:15 /MT:32 /V > "%backup_path%\RestoreThis.cmd"
EXIT /B 1

:ExitBatch - Cleanly exit batch processing, regardless how many CALLs
::----------------------------------------------------
if not exist "%temp%\ExitBatchYes.txt" call :buildYes
call :CtrlC <"%temp%\ExitBatchYes.txt" 1>nul 2>&1
:CtrlC
cmd /c exit -1073741510

:buildYes - Establish a Yes file for the language used by the OS
::----------------------------------------------------
pushd "%temp%"
set "yes="
copy nul ExitBatchYes.txt >nul
for /f "delims=(/ tokens=2" %%Y in (
  '"copy /-y nul ExitBatchYes.txt ExitBatchYes.txt
popd
exit /b



:END
::====================================================
ECHO.
ECHO All done!
ECHO.
IF /I "%backup_review%" EQU "1" (
	PAUSE
)
ENDLOCAL
ECHO ON
@EXIT /B 0

The above “source” is a batch file script designed for NT editions of Windows, mainly because it uses RoboCopy to do the heavy lifting. I commented everything, so feel free to dig around as you please… To make this work for you, do the following.

  1. Open Notepad
  2. Copy and Paste the above
  3. Save the file as “BackThisUp.cmd” and put it in the folder you wish to have backups of

Click on the file anytime you want to back that folder up…

 

Final Note: If you haven’t noticed, there is a section of “Predefined” variables, by setting those in the script, you can avoid being prompted to review or fill out everything every time you back your stuff up.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Sex Education in Ontario

Let me first start off by telling you that I identify myself as Catholic. Whether I’m a “good” catholic, or a “bad” catholic – is not my position to judge, nor should it be yours. That being said – I challenge you to read through this post, as it is my interest it to challenge your bias on sex education in grade school coming in the new curriculum

 

Let’s start with a video:

 

 

 

That video is from this article circulating the web:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/05/04/fact-checking-10-claims-made-by-parents-against-the-ontario-sex-ed-curriculum.html

 

This article is an example of “Left” bias – in fact – this article reminds me that the Star is trying their best to maintain their horrible standard in reporting news. In the article they source an anonymous Arabic letter as if it represents the view of everyone who opposes these changes, and in turn, ridiculing anyone who does oppose it because of how the letter itself is misinformed.

I propose changing the title of this article to:

BuzzFeed: 10 reasons why criticising sex education means you’re stupid

This false-appeal through ridicule is an example of pandering with extreme messaging. We are familiar with this tactic in American “conservative” media – and often associate that this tactic only belongs to the conservative media alone.

 

Don’t be stupid: There is no definitive right or wrong position, regardless of if you support the changes or not.

 

I personally support the changes to sex education. I feel that intellectualizing sex prior to the self-discovery of it will improve both the educational experience of children who go through puberty at different ages and better enable teachers and families to discuss cultural or traditional beliefs of sex to children before they decide for themselves, or more specifically, let their hormones decide for them.

 

I am aware that many Catholics do not support these changes, as the government does not condone sexual behaviour as strictly as Catholic teaching does, but I do believe that – either through catholic teachers being catholic – or catholic families being catholic, that this will strengthen catholic views on sex by avoiding sweeping sex education under the rug as a set of rules without reason.

 

With that being said, let’s get an article on the curriculum changes from a Catholic news source.
Warning, conservative media tends to be ridiculous with bias and bad news reporting.

oh wait… that seems reasonable? maybe Catholics in Canada know how to adhere to good journalism, let’s try elsewhere:

 

 

Nop – still good journalism. Both articles were reporting on views from those who oppose the curriculum and none of which sourced anonymous extremists, even though, they reported on people who represent the extremely opposed. In reading those articles, valuable points have been made:

  1. Consulting with just 1 parent from every elementary school is hardly good consulting when it comes to reforming what the government forces children to learn.
  2. Lack of transparency in consulting parents in what is “ok” to teach is sufficiently concerning. Are they allowed to teach which political party is better with the same consultation process?
  3. Does an online survey with loaded questions count as consultation?
  4. Did Benjamin Levin (an alleged child pornographer) play any part in writing the new curriculum?

It is important that we challenge our bias and stop ridiculing those who oppose your beliefs. I may support sexual education reform for the same reasons Maclean's writes about.  But don’t fool yourself in thinking that your reasons are strong enough to ignore the valuable points made above – we need to debate these issues properly, and I pray that the government does so.

 

I will now finish with non-biased reporting from Global News/Canadian Press:

http://globalnews.ca/news/1845754/what-ontarios-new-sex-ed-curriculum-teaches-in-grades-1-through-12/ 


/Regards

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Trudeau’s Liberals needs to change their position on Bill C-51


x-defaultThe Liberal Party of Canada decided to officially support Bill C-51 properly going against the opinions of the majority of Canadians.

In short Bill C-51 will allow the government to better improve security of Canadians by improving and broadening the capabilities of information gathering and information sharing.


The bill is intended to target “Terrorists” in a preventative manner by enabling police and other government agencies (like CSIS) to process unwarranted information about Canadians in order to better catch potential terrorists.

They made a movie about this:

2CS60_PHE_MinorityReport.BlryQ7.qxp:809_BLU_r1

Minority Report is an entertaining action-packed movie about improved police powers essentially destroying crime rates by the improved power of seeing into the future. The issue was, those who had control of the powers abused it…

Now Bill C-51 will not enable the government to see future crimes but it does enable the government to spy on Canadians without warrant. This includes what you do on the internet, where you travel to, what you read, eat, watch, what party you support, and even if you are researching where to go to protest a policy the government supports.

Needless to say – any potential crime can be seen as an act of terrorism. And, in turn – anything the government disapproves of can be legislated into a crime. This bill entitles action before justice and smells horribly of a slippery slope of abuse that Minority Report can only dream of.

It’s a political Strategy

The Liberal party already announced that the bill urgently needs amendments – yet they will support it when it comes to the floor regardless of there being amendments. According to Justin Trudeau: the purpose of pushing the bill through is to prevent ‘Political Hay’ during an election year… This expression derives from “Make Hay while the sun continues to shine” in reference to the pair of shooting attacks that were associated with terrorism by media and the Harper government. Opposing the bill enables the conservative party to “fear campaign” to which they would have a clear advantage of.
























Why this is a good idea

Voters… Most voters are susceptible to fear campaigns. Also – most voters are older and are not exposed to the internet – or at least – not aware to the degree of exposure they have with the internet. In fact, most people in general have no understanding that Transaction information, ALL digital communication, and literally every computational device, new car, new thermostat, ect… utilize the internet in one way or another. The Liberals can’t win an election by educating the public how the internet works – they can – however agree with the message, “Terrorism is bad – we should do something”

Why is this a bad idea

Aside from underestimating the intelligence of the average voter (granted, I can’t blame them – we did give Harper two consecutive majority governments). The lack of contrast and the lack of certainty on this bill can prove toxic. The media will have a field day getting easy reads on grey area answers from the Liberal party. This self-destructive method of political positioning has always served toxic for the Liberal strategy.

This also challenges those who are decided on Bill C-51 to vote NDP as a true alternative. My allegiance is Liberal – but – not enough for me to disclose my where-abouts, my communications, my software that I produce for my clients, or whatever business secrets I maintain with my clients for scrutiny by authorities I know nothing about.

How the Liberals can win back my vote

  1. Last minute change of position right when the bill hits the floor. Surprise motherf*cker, we hate this bill.
  2. A clear list of amendments and the reasons for those amendments to be announced prior to the bill.
  3. Both of the above at the same time!
  4. Let each member of the Liberal caucus decide their position – staying completely non-partisan on the matter  as a whole.
The problem with the above suggestions is that the Conservative party can literally do the same – and they could start winning the approval of more “on the fence” conservatives in the process (and still pass such a terrible bill in some cases)

This unpopular bill needs to die – just like Bill C-30. And the Liberal’s positioning on it will certainly guarantee some really entertaining and lively debates in the upcoming year. Let’s face it – politics aside: Harper, Muclair, and Trudeau is shaping up to be the political cage match of the century….

Regards,

- An undecided voter


REFERENCES
  1. https://www.liberal.ca/remarks-by-justin-trudeau-on-bill-c-51/
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/03/09/liberals-are-supporting-b_n_6835700.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_C-51_%2841st_Canadian_Parliament,_2nd_Session%29
  4. http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=6932136&Col=1&File=4
  5. https://stopc51.ca/
  6. http://www.geneticsandsociety.org/img/original/MinorityReport_BD_EN_1400x2100.jpg
  7. http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=509777
  8. http://www.alexcasamassima.com/2012/02/vic-toews-responds.html

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Latest Safari on Mac/iOS breaks small textboxes

I have been getting a series of complaints about how 2 digit fields in my HTML forms everywhere do not appear to hold 2 digits – making them visually useless for data entry.

 

The problem:

The following HTML is used to produce a textbox input that is intended to show up as a 2 character input – and has been showing up as 2 character inputs since the good ol' HTML4/XHTML days – shows up as a 1 character input on Safari for Mac OS and iOS:

 
<input id="TextBox" maxlength="2" size="1" />
 

The Fix:

To make this Text Box appear correctly on all browsers everywhere requires additional styling, particularly a width statement:

 
<input id="TextBox" maxlength="2" size="1" style="width: 2em" />
 

Width styles are recommended, and absurd:

If it aint broke don’t fix it. This width style has always been the recommended approach of sizing textboxes – however – the unpredictability of “em” measurements (particularly with user font preferences) makes a simple method of putting a small textbox on the screen precariously annoying.

 

Regards,

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

VB.Net DateTime.ToString formats

I’m tired of always digging through documentation for this information:

 

//       d: 6/15/2008
//       D: Sunday, June 15, 2008
//       f: Sunday, June 15, 2008 9:15 PM
//       F: Sunday, June 15, 2008 9:15:07 PM
//       g: 6/15/2008 9:15 PM
//       G: 6/15/2008 9:15:07 PM
//       m: June 15
//       o: 2008-06-15T21:15:07.0000000
//       R: Sun, 15 Jun 2008 21:15:07 GMT
//       s: 2008-06-15T21:15:07
//       t: 9:15 PM
//       T: 9:15:07 PM
//       u: 2008-06-15 21:15:07Z
//       U: Monday, June 16, 2008 4:15:07 AM
//       y: June, 2008
//       
//       'h:mm:ss.ff t': 9:15:07.00 P
//       'd MMM yyyy': 15 Jun 2008
//       'HH:mm:ss.f': 21:15:07.0
//       'dd MMM HH:mm:ss': 15 Jun 21:15:07
//       '\Mon\t\h\: M': Month: 6
//       'HH:mm:ss.ffffzzz': 21:15:07.0000-07:00

 

Source: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/vstudio/zdtaw1bw(v=vs.100).aspx

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Thank you location restrictions, you are not welcome.

This is how Canadians view SNL skits online:

image

 

This problem is easily solved, search harder for the content or proxy around the restriction. But – let’s face it: the real problem is copyrights are out-dated and are designed to serve those who manage content rather than produce content.

 

Every potential restriction is another competitive market for content. The Canadian market might pay more for SNL skits then the US market. Or SNL over cable might be more affordable than SNL over HULU or Netflix. All these different mechanisms to sell through to is insane – seeing – all the consumer wants is the content itself – and it’s a painful way to abuse the consumer.

 

For example, If I am able to see Saturday Night Live on basic cable in Canada… how is this content which I had the right to watch available on one medium but not the other.

 

We need some forward thinking… some really progressive copyright laws where you pay for the message and not the medium and let the medium develop fluently around getting the message to the consumer – because it is certainly ridiculous that we pay for all these mediums and their failure to cooperate destroys the power of the technology we develop. Let me see this skit, and lawyers gtfo #YouKnowNothing #AboutTechnology.

 

/end rant

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Develop Eclipse / Momentics applications across machines with DropBox

I’m learning how to make BlackBerry 10 apps – and the last thing I want to do is set up GIT for an environment I am not committed to, for applications that are beginner level at best!

 

When Googling if sharing your workspace over DropBox was possible – everyone meets that with a stern “No” because of machine specific file path settings and, wait, what is the purpose of a workspace again?

 

In realizing that these settings are machine specific but the project folder itself is not… I find that there is a simple workaround using DropBox’s selective sync to opt out of syncing settings files to make multi-machine development both easy and quite possible:

  1. Right click drop box tray icon, and click the Gear to open DropBox Preferences
  2. Click Selective Sync
  3. Uncheck the .metadata folder:

Screenshot 2015-04-07 20.20.59

 

Do the same on the destination computer of choice, however, since you are working in a completely different workspace you will be required to import the existing project into the workspace.

 

  1. Right click in Project Explorer and click “Import…”Screenshot 2015-04-07 20.28.33
  2. Import “Existing Projects into Workspace” and select the workspace project folder you wish to develop
    Screenshot 2015-04-07 20.29.42

It is implied that the workspace for momentics is within my dropbox folder, of course, and I don’t guarantee this working in everyone’s situation. I am using two 64 bit Windows machines (windows 7 and windows 8) but, I am able to build on both… What is nice is that each machine uses different targets to deploy the apps – and that is quite wonderful, on one machine I use my BlackBerry Z30 and on the other machine I use the virtual environment.

If there are any caveats I should know, or this formula works for you – feel free to leave a comment. For now – this is a wonderful solution for me!

 

Regards,

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Numbers only textbox using JQuery



// Items marked for numbers should remain numbers only
$(".numbersonly").keydown(function(event) {
 // Allow: backspace, delete, tab, escape, and enter
 if ( event.keyCode == 46 || event.keyCode == 8 || event.keyCode == 9 || event.keyCode == 27 || event.keyCode == 13 ||
   // Allow: Ctrl+A
  (event.keyCode == 65 && event.ctrlKey === true) ||
   // Allow: home, end, left, right
  (event.keyCode >= 35 && event.keyCode <= 39)) {
    // let it happen, don't do anything
    return;
 }
 else {
  // Ensure that it is a number and stop the keypress
  if (event.shiftKey || (event.keyCode < 48 || event.keyCode > 57) && (event.keyCode < 96 || event.keyCode > 105 )) {
   event.preventDefault();
  }
 }
});


Simply add the class “numbersonly” to your HTML5 textbox, and this JQuery function takes care of the rest, making sure that textbox only allows the user to enter in numbers.

Regards,

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Let’s get some facts about Marijuana for a change

drug-prevention-drogues-1170x347-engThere are two major sources of information about Marijuana inundating Canadians at the moment, and from my perspective it’s coming from two strongly opposed sides:

On the Right corner:

The “Government of Canada” which can be interchangeably described as the “Conservative Party of Canada” or their official name “The Harper Government” stands firm as the leader of the anti-marijuana crowd.

 

They embarked on a “not4me.ca” advertising campaign, which includes a fairly industrious website, several prime time television commercials, and borderline ridiculous flyers. Interestingly enough… The campaign is promoted under the name “Government of Canada”

 

Here is a commercial from that campaign:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NZGPVBCrjY

 

The reason I bring up distinction between the “Government of Canada” and the “Harper Government” is important. It is this particular distinction that makes me quiver with fear as everything about this campaign smells of think tank tactics.

 

In case you are living under a rock, this year is an election year, and even though it’s too early for each party to begin campaigning for the election – American style politics have dictated otherwise, and think tanks and fundraising put forth a great advance effort in trying to change the conversation in order divide and conquer voters to favour their particular agenda. One of these divisive factors is that Harper opposes Marijuana legislation and Trudeau supports legislation, thus, any funding or promotion of the “War against drugs” that includes Marijuana negatively is a method of supporting Conservative/Harper/Government of Canada policy.

 

It is also important to note that the harper government does publicly deny that this campaign is any way an effort to campaign directly against Trudeau … but if it quacks like a duck … it is certainly possible that the “Government of Canada” could be doing this in an effort to preserve power and even though the “Government of Canada” doesn’t represent all elected officials – it, just like the elected officials that represent it, have the freedom of being just as misinformed as the rest of us.

On the Left corner:

Teenagers who smoke pot. The internet. Rebellious opinion. Colorado. Washington DC. Uruguay and Justin Trudeau.

 

Oh yea, one more: the general consensus of majority of the population.

 

Colorado become the first state in the United States to legalize marijuana, they implemented a series of rules that restrict access and use of the drug along with policing and taxation of it’s distribution.

 

Here is an infographic of findings within Denver, Colorado:

Infographic  Marijuana In Colorado

Now inforgraphics are not to be trusted as a first source of information, but reports published from the Denver government certainly can be, and they are reporting a significant reduction of crime – including automotive theft and homicide. Oh yea, six months.

 

Other arguments include:

 

Alcohol as a recreational drug is more dangerous than Marijuana, particularly with illegally driving under the influence.

 

Legalized marijuana can be distributed much more safely particularly through a regulatory process rather than having “dealers” provide it over the black market where marijuana can be unknowingly mixed with other drugs.

 

A new market for recreational drugs will open up as most cities and towns across Canada are already saturated with facilities for recreational alcohol and coffee/tea consumption. (yes, caffeine is a drug/stimulant)

 

Police resources can be freed up as opposed to investing millions cracking down on what is intended to be recreational drug use – these resources can fight crimes that do disrupt and endanger a society.

 

But all these arguments aside, there are many other factors that need to be considered. Good hard numbers too! MacLean's reported that during the Harper Government era arrests related to
Marijuana use have spiked 41% during his term to 405,000… yes… half a million arrests related to Marijuana. To give you an idea…

THAT IS 1% OF THE POPULATION OF CANADA HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN THE LAST 6 YEARS. 1… in 100 people have been arrested in all of Canada for Marijuana use – in the last 6 years…

 

I don’t want to even estimate the cost of policing, court costs, jail costs, and unnecessary penalties handed out. (But, if you do read the MacLean's report you will find out that it comes out to 300-500 million dollars just for enforcement – you will also find out that Marijuana legislation has derived from a potentially racist heritage, which, I'm certain that the majority of arrests in the last 6 years would have white people as a minority)

 

Granted amongst opinion and costs. What is not being discussed are the facts, and not the facts posted from a biased source, which now includes the Government of Canada, but from the scientific community at large. We must ask,

What about the Science?

What the debate over legalization truly needs is political philosophies to remove themselves from the equation entirely. A political agenda on Marijuana legalization forces research and studies to be formed with some sort of bias – which – somehow always produces a self fulfilling prophecy in their findings. This can be seen by all anti-marijuana articles and studies are funded by groups who are benefiting from prohibition, and many pro-marijuana articles and studies are promoted by groups, users, or those who benefit from legalization. These “sources” as ridiculous as they become can not be satisfactorily called “scientific” by any means.

 

This lack of “real” science makes advertising claims for or against virtually useless, for example, 10,000 jobs created as a positive attribute of marijuana can be said about the nicotine industry… That does not essentially mean that nicotine is good or should be more legal, wait – i mean, accessible because of the jobs it creates… Nicotine having scientific proof that it is significantly harmful should be legally stomped out – and marijuana – should be… studied.

 

Furthermore “Think Tanks” should stop formulating and developing the narrative of society, they form rhetorical questions which become perceived as facts, to develop support for a particular point of view. Police Chief turned politician, Julian Fantino, once argued that Marijuana served as a gateway drug. A common narrative from conservative political circles. However, not once did the Toronto police chief provide facts to support his claim, and concurrently it was never challenged that his statements considered beneficial for funding police. Is it much of a stretch to assume that a police chief is in favour of more enforcement?

 

Yes, I intentionally added that last rhetorical question to change the perspective of the “Marijuana as a gateway drug” argument from right to left. Maybe I should apply for a think-tank… or maybe… I find that question itself just as ridiculous as it serves no benefit but change the narrative and avoids scientific data entirely. Truth is, there are sources of legitimate information on the matter. Time magazine looked into this issue directly and found – that – there is no concrete evidence suggesting Marijuana is a gateway drug, and marijuana use is so wide-spread and accessible, that it is merely coincidence that it is the first drug used by addicts.

 

Furthermore, the scientific community at large is outlining that much marijuana research is inconclusive due to lack of ability for it to be researched or studied. The heavy legal prohibitions make studies scarce and the scientific community find themselves unable to come to any degree of conclusion just yet on the long term effects of the drug. For example, one study finds there to be some impact on brain development over a long period of chronic use. Granted, until this can be quantified, it serves no legal boundary of danger. How much brain damage is acceptable, is it more severe than alcohol use, and to what degree?!? These are not rhetorical questions… THESE ARE THE REAL QUESTIONS that both left or right politics have to be willing to invest in. If you want to say “Marijuana” is bad, allow for real research to be performed. If you want to “legalize” marijuana, allow for studies for quantifying restrictions or limits to be  evaluated.

 

It was this article I read years ago when I was in college, that made me strongly aware to the general ignorance of society at large. Most people, students, teachers and politicians alike had an opinion on a substance that the scientific community only scratched the surface of. In fact, mention the term “Cannabinoid” or “Cannabinoid Receptor” to anyone making an argument – and they will think you are completely insane or just stare blankly and inform you that “THC” is the active compound. Cool. Acetylsalicylic acid is the active compound in Aspirin. How it works and what it does and it’s long term side effects though is what needs to be known in order for us to set legal bounds on any drug. The only difference between marijuana and Aspirin is that, cannabis was never granted the freedom to be studied (until recently) and that it was categorized as a “Schedule 1 drug” by most countries for no quantifiable reason. It is now that institutions have the freedom to study marijuana we find that there isn’t any feasible data that makes marijuana as a recreational drug worse off than existing liquor or smoking, and as governments learn to accept this data, they appear to decriminalize it further and further.

 

Sincerely,

/Alex Casamassima

 

Footnotes for sources i didn’t make up

  1. http://www.macleans.ca/general/harper-names-the-government-after-himself/
  2. http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/08/17/justin-trudeau-defends-marijuana-stance-says-he-wont-let-tory-attack-ads-knock-him-off-course/
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NZGPVBCrjY
  4. http://daveberta.ca/2013/08/conservative-astroturf-canada/
  5. http://www.denvergov.org/Portals/720/documents/statistics/2014/UCR_Citywide_Reported%20_Offenses_2014.pdf
  6. http://healthland.time.com/2010/10/29/marijuna-as-a-gateway-drug-the-myth-that-will-not-die/
  7. http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/why-its-time-to-legalize-marijuana/
  8. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/police-group-opposes-decriminalizing-marijuana-1.256540
  9. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/marijuana-research/ 
  10. http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/

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