Thursday, September 29, 2011

Debt doublespeak, or Is the economy producing more than we can consume?

The sound bites and news clips from politicians and economics meisters of the world about the Greek debt crisis—seemingly the epicentre of the current economic turmoil—defy logic. To avoid defaulting on its debt, Greece needs more bailout money. Without it, say the financial experts, Greece will be bankrupt.

Isn’t needing to borrow more money just to pay the interest on your existing loans a definition of bankrupt?

Last weekend, the G20 met in Washington. Soon after that, Canadian Prime Minister Harper, Finance Minister Flaherty and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney conferred—a “historic” meeting.

What links all these? Their common goal: restoring economic confidence. The turmoil in the stock, commodity market and currency markets is causing a lack of confidence among consumers and investors; without confidence, we don’t buy stuff. And if we don’t buy stuff, the factories and shipping lines around the world grind to a halt, which leads to a recession, which leads to job losses, so we consumers won’t be able to ... buy stuff.

Other than Somalia, there are no major famines in the world. Food shortages are typically caused by war, crime or grossly unjust distribution of wealth. In the West, obesity is a greater problem than hunger.

The point is, there is enough of what everyone needs to go around. There is enough food for everyone in the horn of Africa; the challenge is in getting it to them.

Even if a recession were to quell factories in China, India, Mexico and North America, even if workers were unemployed, I doubt there would be mass starvation. There would just be more debt.

The other side of the debt coin, as Margaret Atwood pointed out, is that someone is lending all this money.

Something that no one ever mentions is that there is a lot of money that somebody wants to lend, even at ridiculously low interest rates. In North America, at least, it’s easy for almost anyone to get a credit card. The capacity to produce money and goods of all kinds is huge.

Perhaps part of the problem now is that the economy produces more than we can consume. That would explain rising obesity rates.

Forty years ago or so, the Club of Rome published a book called Limits to Growth. It predicted that the world’s economy could only grow so much until it depleted Earth’s resources. The book was pooh-poohed by those in power. But maybe the Club of Rome was just looking at the question from the wrong end: maybe the problem isn’t the limit of production, but of consumption.

No one needs a new iPhone, big-screen TV, diamond-encrusted watch or SUV. But if we all want to have comfortable retirements, we have to make sure other people keep consuming at the level they used to. Or we have to change our dreams.

In the 40s and 50s, science fiction author Frederick Pohl wrote a series of satiric stories about the problem of over-production: in the future, the economy produces so much that people use robots to consume the over-production of other robots. In this particular dystopia, the upper classes don’t have to consume as much, while the lower classes are plagued with consumption quotas.

Like hand-held communicators, lasers and space travel, this may be one science-fiction ideas that could come true.

What do you think?

Monday, September 26, 2011

How I fixed my Apple Mail program

I got up early on Sunday morning to write the next entry for my travel blog, First, though, I decided send out a few more emails about my newly-published story, Sam, the Strawb Part. (See my earlier post, "A Smashwords virgin no more," about my experience in e-book publishing.

Suddenly, my Mail program quit and gave me an error message. I tried to relaunch, but within two minutes, the program quit again. The error message gave a long list of details, but of course none of them made any sense to me.

Disk Repair told me that there were some permission files and indices that needed fixing. I ran the program and restarted. While the computer went through that routine, I went to do some chores. Washed floors, windows, bathrooms. After the repairs, Mail still crashed.

I looked online for answers; there is (not surprisingly) nothing in Apple’s Support site. Google showed lots of forums and bitching about the problem of Mail suddenly quitting unexpectedly, but the discussions were not helpful.

So, I called Apple’s Help line. After about 5 minutes of voicemail and waiting, I got in touch with a representative, who asked for my name and my computer’s serial number. Sonia listened to my description of the problem and put me on hold; five minutes later, a man came on the line. He had my account information, but after he listened to my description of the problem, told me that my 90-day free telephone support period was over and, while he knew what was wrong with the system, it would cost me $49.95 to find out what it was.

I said “thank you, good-bye” and hung up. Fifty bucks? I resolved to try to solve it myself.

I went back to Apple’s site. Searching through the Support and Products pages brought up only one hint, which turned out not to be so good. I deleted Mail from the Applications folder, then reinstalled it from the Install DVD that came with the iMac. When I tried to launch Mail after that, I got an error message that said the current version of Mail is no longer compatible with the OS. In the intervening 11 months since buying the computer, the online upgrades had rendered obsolete the version of Mail that came with the computer. Running System Update didn’t help.

I went back to chores. Filled a bucket with water and some vinegar to wash the windows. Got an idea, and reinstalled Snow Leopard from the DVD. While the computer did that, I painted two window frames. When the installation was finished and the computer restarted, I launched Mail again. It opened this time, but crashed in about a minute.

I got fed up. I called Apple’s support line again and said, politely but firmly, that the machine is still under the one-year warranty, the problem is in the OS (Mail is considered part of the OS), and I wanted to be put in touch with someone who could tell me how to fix the problem. After a few clicks and voicemail shuffles, I was connected with Dan, who politely and patiently helped me fix the problem. He spent close to an hour with me and was very courteous throughout.

It was frustrating, because after a while Mail would crash within a few seconds of launch, and there was not even enough time to check the advanced Preferences. Eventually, after eliminating some other possibilities, Dan suggested moving some .plist files from the Library-Mail folder.

That stabilized Mail. I had to re-enter my account settings, but once I did, Dan tested it with an email, which worked fine. I even got all my old emails and folders back!

Lessons learned:

- back up using Time Machine regularly

- be firm but polite about demanding the support you’re entitled to under warranties

- extend the AppleCare protection before the year is out

- take advantage of rebuilding and verifying cycles to do household chores.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

7 things about me ... no, wait, 10!

I have also been remiss about participating in two games of blog tag. I’ve been tagged by Barbara McDowell,, and Sher Hart of, who generously gave me a “Versatile Blogger Award.” Thanks, Sher!

Of course, there’s always a price. In this case, I have to write seven random things about myself, then pass it on to four other bloggers. Here are the seven:

1. I got hooked on writing when I was very young, like around the fourth grade or so. It was through Composition class, when I discovered that anyone could make up stories. So I did. I like the process of writing as well as having written.

2. I always try to be different in my writing. I do not like clichés. In my stories, the main characters never fit into a mold or stock character.

3. I like to travel. When I get to a new city or town, I love just to walk around for a couple of hours and poke into out of the way places. I like museums and such, but I also like just looking at neighbourhoods and sitting in a cafe or restaurant.

4. I may have undiagnosed ADD. And I love pie. And you know what bugs me? People who don’t finish what they start to say ... oh, wait, I have to check my Twitter account.

5. I’m not as funny as I think I am.

6. I drink too much coffee. But I’m not addicted. WHERE’S MY COFFEE?

7. I never read forms carefully enough.

There. Seven random things about me, for the Versatile Blogger Award. I have to come up with three more for another blogging tag game . Barbara McDowell, of, wants me to write 10 random things about myself.

8. I often stay later at work than I have to.

9. I don’t fix things when I should. Now the warranty’s expired! Ohtenose!

10. I find Facebook frustrating.

There. Now, to tag a bunch of other bloggers. Get into it, pass it on, it helps raise our profiles! At least among other writers and bloggers.

Bloggers who deserve to follow this include:

James Wallace Birch, author of Discontents and the Posterous blog:

Joe Crubaugh, author of satirical Cleo Matts thrillers:

Cheryl Sonnier’s “Off wi’ the fairies”:

Sherry Davis Zander’s “Writing 4 Effect”

Consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blogs worth following

I guess I dropped the ball on the First Campaigner Challenge from Rachael Harrie's Platform-Building Campaign. Sorry.

So, I 'm not going to wait any longer. First, here are some blogs that I think you should check out:

Of course, Rachael Harrie's "Rach Writes ..."

Now, some writers that are in the same Campaign group as me:
Michael Haynes "A Writing Blog"
Sher Hart's "SF Writer's Fancies Blog"
Michele Chiappetta's "The Chipper Muse"
Bill Jones Jr.'s "This page intentionally blank" - interesting serial -
Of course, there are many more, including the First Contest winner or runner-up, 1000th Monkey. But she does not need any more help from me!
Anyway, they all write interesting blogs and I'm subscribing to them, where I can. Check them out!

Weasel-word watch: when not saying it, says more

This week, not communicating has done more in official circles than saying anything at all. Unfortunately, the results are not good for most people.

Yesterday, the Air Canada flight attendants’ union caved in to the threat of back to work legislation and accepted what will doubtlessly prove to be disappointing for the workers. But no matter what side of that debate you took (or maybe, somewhere in the middle, like me—I have never Air Canada flight staff very helpful or friendly, compared to those on other airlines), the fact is that the threat of back-to-work legislation was as effective as the legislation itself. Maybe it was even more effective, because it achieved the government’s goal without the time, stress and expense of debate in the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, today at the UN, diplomats are scurrying to convince enough members of the Security Council to abstain from voting on Palestine’s request for full membership, so that the US does not have to veto it. It’s curious—we all know that the US opposes Palestinian statehood now, but somehow, it’s better that it does not veto this change in UN status. But the message is still clear.

We as readers, writers, communicators and citizens need to think about this. Why do we accept this kind of weasel word use? Why do we let politicians bully us into accepting what we do not want, without even explaining what they’re doing? If we would argue when someone says something we disagree with, but accept it when they say nothing, but achieve the same results or perform the same action?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mercedes’ new ad for its coupe is one of the stupidest TV commercials I have ever seen.

Have you seen it? It starts with close-ups of chains wrapping around part of a car. The far ends of the chains are fastened, somehow, to a mountainside. There are a lot of quick cuts between the car and the mountain, but they’re so fast it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on. In the meantime, a car’s engine revs and revs, faster and faster.

Finally, the silver sedan takes off down the road and the chains unfurl until they reach their limit. At this point, we see that the chains were wrapped around the rear doors. As the car continues, the chains rip the doors off, and the car, now a two-door coupe, rockets along until is drifts to a stop.

Am I supposed to be impressed that some maniac ripped the doors off an overpriced car?

How does this make anyone want to drive a Mercedes?


Friday, September 16, 2011

A Smashwords virgin no more

Yesterday evening, I published using Smashwords and Amazon for the first time. The subject was my short story written in support of Asperger’s Syndrome and other autism-spectrum disorders, “Sam, the Strawb Part.” I’m happy to say that it’s now available on both Smashwords’ and Amazon’s sites for the low, low price of just $1.99. All proceeds from sales go to Children at Risk, and Ottawa-based charity that supports children with autism spectrum disorders and their families.

I am also happy to say that it was very easy. I had already registered accounts as a buyer with both Smashwords and Amazon, as a customer, and they don’t require any further steps to register as a publisher.

The important thing with publishing on Smashwords is to set up your document properly. Follow the Style Guide. Keep your document simple, using only one or two standard fonts, and don’t add extra elements like running headers and footers. Smashwords’ “Meat Grinder” formatting and publishing application will take care of that. And don’t add page breaks or extra tabs or hard returns (Enter), either.

You can add hyperlinks and images, as long as they’re embedded. You can also have a hyperlinked table of contents, which is essential for a longer, technical book, nice for long novels, but not necessary at all for a short story. If you want to include a ToC, make sure you follow the Style Guide carefully.

Smashwords demands that you put “Smashwords edition” or “Published by [publisher] on Smashwords” in the copyright information at the front of your book. The Style Guide also recommends that you add your author bio and photo at the end. I complied with their recommendation to add hyperlinks to my own website, blogs and Twitter account.

Don’t forget about an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). This is essential for listing your book on some retailers’ sites, like Apple’s iBooks. You can get your own—I did—or you can go through Smashwords for that. Remember, every edition should have its own ISBN. I registered two numbers, one for the Smashwords edition and one for the Amazon edition. The rules governing ISBNs stipulate that you use different numbers for each format, which means MOBI (Amazon), PDF, LRF and so on. And another one for paper, as well. Smashwords automatically converts your manuscript into all the different electronic formats and, eventually, distributes them to different retailers in the formats they require; however, it has no way of assigning different ISBNs to each of them, yet. If you want to follow the letter of the ISBN rules, then you’ll have to register your manuscript for each different version, get a different ISBN for each one, and then upload each one separately to Smashwords, selecting just one format for each ISBN. I did not do that, however. Maybe next time.

Finally, the cover. Save the image and and text—title, author, publisher, tags, etc.—into one JPEG file. Since it’s one image, you can use the craziest typeface you want. Smashwords associates the cover and document files and puts them together quite nicely.

Then, in the Smashwords publishing interface, all I had to do was fill in the information about title, format, uploading the cover image and uploading the document file. It took a few minutes for Smashwords to process the files, but I watched Boardwalk Empire on demand TV while I waited.

The last step was to update my publisher and author information. I added the same picture that I have on this blog and copied the bio from the back of the story, plus links to my LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages and my blogs.

Done! My story was right there!

Next, the Amazon version. I copied the file, and saved it as a different version. I changed the ISBN for the Amazon version and took out the mentions of Smashwords. Then I logged into my account and selected “Self-publish with Us” at the bottom of the page. Follow the instructions, upload the cover and document files, update the author information, and it’s done. The interface notified me that it had successfully uploaded the files and that it would take 24 hours to appear on the catalog, but I found it this morning, maybe 13 hours later! Thanks, Amazon.

If you want to see (or buy) the story, you can go to
To view my Smashwords Author Profile, visit

So, you see, it’s quite an easy process. Now the hard part, to promote it. I’ll keep you posted on how that is going, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Starting to publish

I am about to try publishing through Smashwords for the first time.

Before I use a publishing system like Smashwords, Createspace or Amazon for my long novel, I thought I’d ease the learning curve with something short. I decided on a short story called “Sam, the Strawb Part.” It’s about a boy who, among other things, slurs his words so much it’s almost impossible to understand him. “Strawb part” is what others hear when he says “strawberry pirate.”

What is a strawberry pirate? You’ll have to read the story to find out. I plan to make it available by the end of this week—I know, it’s coming fast—and all proceeds from the sale will go to charity.

From what I’ve been reading, the Smashwords system seems pretty easy to follow. The service began only a couple of years ago, and according to its President, Mark Coker, has released over 44,000 books by 17authors and publishers since then.

Smashwords sells the books through its own online retailing system, and any books produced through it can also be bought through Sony’s online bookstore (for the Sony e-reader), Barnes and Noble (for its Nook), Diesel, Apple’s iBookstore (for iBooks for the iPad) and others. Of course, Amazon has its own publishing system. I’ll try that next, and I’ll write about my experience with it, too.

Signing up for Smashwords is free. The company makes its revenue by keeping a percentage, I think 15 percent, of each sale. The rest goes to the publisher or author—the source of the book.
After signing up, the first step in publishing a book on Smashwords is to download and read The Smashwords Style Guide. This is one of the best step-by-step guides I have ever read. The writing is clear, there are lots of pictures, and it’s organized extremely well. The order is completely intuitive.
I’ve read it, and I think I understand it. I have a lot of experience in publishing, but one of the early warnings in the guide not to assume that what you’ve learned in publishing, particularly paper publishing, can be transferred to e-books.

I like the idea that my Smashwords book can include in-line pictures, although I don’t plan on having many, other than a cover image and a back image of my own face. You can use hyperlinks, as long as the hypertext is embedded properly. This is important, as I will use some images that require attribution via a hyperlink. And you can also have a linked table of contents—crucial for longer and technical works, but not really for a short story.

One limitation of Smashwords is that it really wants to start with a .doc file, which means something created using Microsoft Word. Yes, I know it’s the de facto standard, and it’s pretty open in the sense that there are several programs that can create or save .doc files. But it’s still a commercial system. It’s a minor point, but I think it would be nice of Smashwords could accept other file formst. On the other hand, that would make the system more difficult, complex and therefore costly to maintain.

Anyway, it’s not a problem, since I have an old version of Word that I use fairly regularly. And Smashwords, or at least its head, Mark Coker, seems to prefer the older version that I use—the one that creates .doc files, not .docx files.

Next, the Guide advises writers to make Word behave itself. First, turn off most of the AutoCorrect functions. I couldn’t agree more. It drives me nuts when Word helpfully changes the whole document to boldface when I only wanted to boldface a single word.

The Guide explicitly tells you which features to reset, and illustrates them, too. Other warnings that bear repeating: don’t indent with tabs or (worst of all) multiple spaces on the space bar; don’t hard-return after every line, and so on. And finally, the Guide prescribes the title and copyright information required for listing in the Premier Catalog, and ends with some advice about the end matter.

I cannot recommend The Smashwords Style Guide highly enough. It could help with publishing through almost any system, I think. So, I’m going to put “Sam, the Strawb Part” through the process, and I’ll post the results and my thoughts about it right here, and on Twitter, too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Writing tip o’ the month: Make sure you’re saying what you want to say

Here’s something that bugs me: sentences constructed as “this needs to happen.” For example, on a news report about the lack of mental health care workers in Nunavut, the journalist said “more nurses need to be hired in Nunavut.” Maybe nurses do need to be hired. Professionals need jobs. But that’s not the point the journalist wanted to make. What the writer was trying to say was “The territory needs to hire more nurses.” This is what I call a “false active” sentence. Grammatically, it is active—the subject performs the verb. However, the idea that the writer wants to express is that the object of the sentence needs the subject: “Nunavut needs to hire more nurses.” In other words, the sentence is structured in reverse of the intended meaning. It all goes back to the writing process that I outlined oh so long ago: get a GRIP. What are you trying to say? State your main idea in one clear sentence. This will allow you to express all your ideas clearly to your audience. Then, if you apply that focus to the entire written piece, whether it’s a news article or a novel or anything in between, you can be sure that you’re writing what you want to express. I admit that most audiences can interpret the real meaning. But we’re not always dealing with native English speakers. So let’s be clear, and let’s make sure we are actually writing what we mean.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Like to read? Check out these blogs

I’ve been following and participating in Rachael Harrie’s Writers Platform-Building Campaign, as I’ve mentioned. I try to visit a couple of blogs of other participants each day, and comment on blogs that I like.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor even a systematic one. I just randomly clicked on some of the blogs and links in Rachael's page. If I liked the story, blog or writing style, I took note of it. And if I didn't like the writing or the story, I'll just ignore it from now on.

Here are some that I think are worth visiting. Maybe I'll have a chance to review some more.

KM Walton’s “Some Things I Think,”

Michael Haynes’ “A Writing Blog,”

1000th Monkey,

Richard P. Hughes’ “Writing and Living,”

Barbara McDowell’s Blog,

Jolene Stockman,

Michelle Helene’s “A Wanderer in Paris,”

JR Williams’ “My Road to Freedom,”

Rebecca Emin’s “Ramblings of a Rusty Writer,”

Shelly Koon’s “Dark Writes,”

SL Pierce’s “Pierce Books,”

I like their writing, their contributions to the Campaign, and/or their blogs, themselves. Check them out!

One more thing: I have to give some extra praise to SL Pierce's writing. Her entry led me to her site, with more of her stories. I really liked "Never, Ever Bring This up Again." A great example of the noir mystery with lots of twists and double-crosses, deftly condensed into a very short story (but just a little too long to fit Harrie's requirements). And I'm very intrigued by her other stories, as well. Great characters!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: where I was, 10 years ago

Barbara McDowell from the #writecampaign blog circle pointed me to this entry from a blogger who was in the US military in 2011. LadyJai writes a touching and very illuminating post about her personal experience in 9/11, 2001. It's a relief from all the hype and self-serving nattering from the so-called journalists and insane conspiracy theorists.

Jai asked about others' experience on that day, so here is mine:

I had thought September 11, 2001 would be a significant day. At the time, I was working at Canada's central bank, and the Deputy Governor was holding a breakfast meeting that was supposed to launch some significant initiative. How silly that seems now, in comparison!

We came out of the meeting a few minutes before 9:00, and a coordinator in the communications section said "A plane just hit the World Trade Centre." There's a World Trade Building here in Ottawa, and I first thought of it. But no, it was soon obvious that something far more important was happening.

I hoped at first that it was an accident, but when I heard of the second plane hitting the other tower, well, we all knew we were watching the unfolding of a horrendous plan.

"It has to be Arab terrorists," said someone else in the communications section. I tried to argue that we didn't know anything yet. I pointed out that the previous case of US terrorism, the Oklahoma City bombing, was an example of domestic, home-grown terror, but that wasn't convincing anyone.

And I was drowned out: all the news channels and commentators were talking about Arab or Muslim terrorists, US enemies from the Middle East. We heard about a plane hitting the Pentagon, rumours of a fourth crashing in Pennsylvania, a fifth missing. We watched TV news reports of all the aircraft being diverted to the closest airport, about hundreds of US flights landing in Canadian airports.

It was all so hard to believe. All these news reports, all this coverage, and almost no information.

We watched replay after replay of the planes hitting the buildings. Then we watched, live, as the South Tower collapsed. I nearly collapsed, myself. The greatest horror I'd ever imagined, on TV, in front of me, and it was real.

There have been so many events that followed from that day, so much change in the world. There have been hopeful signs, but much (truthers, birthers, ravers from all sides and every shade of the political spectrum) that is discouraging.

Still, I am hopeful. The US has been the home of so much good, and so much pain, as well. Americans have shown the best and the worst qualities of humanity. But I am still hopeful that the best will win out, finally.

To all my US friends, I wish you the best on this most painful anniversary. I think you will, finally, make the right choices and embrace the best of yourselves.

It's time, long past time, to put aside the ridiculous enmity between the "West" and the "Muslim world." We are all brothers and sisters, after all. We all want the same for our children.

My heartfelt best wishes to all. Never again! It's up to each one of us.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Pre-internet memes: "I am sorry for writing a long letter"

Who said “I am sorry for writing such a long letter. I did not have time for a short one”?

I’ve read it attributed to Mark Twain, Samuel Pepys, Oscar Wilde and now, Goethe. Did they all say it? If so, who said it first? And when did it become a pre-Internet meme?

I agree with the idea, but it has become a cliché, all the more annoying for the fact that it is so misattributed.

I would love to hear who actually said this. Let me know if you know.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Campaign Challenge: 200 word flash fiction

Here is my first entry for the Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. The challenge is to write a story or poem of 200 words, beginning with the words, "The door swung open."

I'm claiming extra points (are there points?) for having the story at exactly 200 words, excluding the title, and ending with "the door swung shut."

Here goes:

The Ruined Prison of Richard the Lion-Heart

The door swung open with a drawn-out squeal. Two little girls echoed with squeals as they scampered out. One squeal turned into a whine as Daddy picked up the smaller one and admonished her in gentle French as she squabbled to stay in the ruins.

The door squealed again as Max bent his 6-foot-four frame to enter the dungeon. “Hey, Richard the Lion-Heart,” I said as I got the camera ready. It beeped and whirred as Max shut the cage door and made a sad face.

I joined Max in the dungeon. Strange how it was so cool inside, high up on this mountain overlooking the Danube, which sparkled green, far below the ruined parapet of the Burgruine Durnstein.

“Is that where Richard was imprisoned?” Natasha asked as she stepped carefully down the path. King Richard I was imprisoned on his way back from the Crusades until he was rescued by a minstrel. Now, tourists picnicked and took pictures, and wondered about the people who built and lived in this place so long ago.

“Guess so,” Max answered. He stepped out to freedom, and we followed him down, more mindful of the shifting gravel underfoot as the door swung shut.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Why is open Wifi so scarce in Ottawa?

Take a look at some of the lists of free, open wifi spots available in Ottawa today. It's pathetic. Look at this site: published in 2007, it shows maybe seven places in Ottawa-Gatineau with free wifi. Today’s list from the ogWifi organization, which promotes free, open Wifi in Ottawa and Gatineau, lists 12 sites in this urbanization of a million inhabitants. And the number has hardly grown in the past two years—a period in which wifi technology and wifi access around the world has exploded.

The list does not include places that charge one way or another for wireless Internet access, such as Bridgehead coffee shops, where you have to buy something to get a password. (Even then, most of the time my iPad cannot find the network.)

Let's compare that to other major cities. I found that Vienna, Austria and Lausanne, Switzerland, have free, open wifi access in large public areas such as squares and plazas. Granted, it may be slow, but it's well ahead of nothing at all.

I heard years ago about proposals to offer free wireless access throughout downtown areas of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. And there is free access in a couple of areas, such as around Parliament Hill, reportedly. 

But this is pathetic. Why not have free, open wifi access in most public areas of the city, which would allow anyone with a wireless-equipped computer to get onto the net?

Could it be because the alternative is 3G access through a cell phone account? Access which is much more expensive?

Could it be that there are few sponsors for wifi access, because Canada's two Internet access providers are also the two main mobile phone and land-line providers, namely Rogers and Bell?

Is this anti-competitive behaviour?

What do you think?

The third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign

Now I’ve done it.

I agreed to join the Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign, a “crusade” organized by author and blogger Rachael Harrie. Her blog is Rach Writes, at

I was informed about the whole campaign by another blogger on a LinkedIn forum that I participate in sporadically. Actually, I do a lot of stuff sporadically, but that’s another story.

What appealed to me about the campaign is its purpose: helping writers build their Internet presence by sharing blog links and tweets. Sounds simple. But I found out about the campaign on the last day to join, August 31, so I jumped in and tried to sign up without thinking too much about it. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

Well, I don’t know. I’ll give it a try. I’m going to put some links in this blog to some of the other blogs that I found through the campaign and that appeal to me, somehow. And I’ll tweet about them, too. Since you can see all my tweets in the column on the right, you’ll see them, too.

I’m just a little nervous about how much work this will all entail. It sounds simple, just a few clicks here and there; but as I’ve found, all this social mediaing takes a lot of time.

I’ll tell you what it was like at the end of the month.