Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cable TV Packages Vs Downloading TV

Want to hear something funny?

The #1 reason why people download TV shows is because of the ridiculous cable company packages.

Give you an example.

You cannot get the HBO channel by itself. You have to buy a huge package just to get HBO.

On Bell Fibe TV you have to buy three specialty channel packages plus the regular basic cable just to get HBO. You cannot get basic cable plus just HBO.

Thus if you want to watch....

Game of Thrones
True Blood
Boardwalk Empire
The Newsroom
True Detective
Girls
Entourage
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Eastbound and Down
Veep
Real Time w/ Bill Maher
Looking
Silicon Valley
John Oliver: LWT
Doll and Em
The Leftovers
Hello Ladies
Hard Knocks
Family Tree
Treme
Getting On
Dark Tower
American Gods

Well then you are actually better off financially to just download your favourite shows rather than pay for three specialty channel packages just to get HBO. It is not legal strictly speaking, but lets face it, it is the movie industry that is more worried about copyright / downloading.

Now admittedly it is not HBOs fault (or is it?) that the cable companies are trying to ripoff customers with their ridiculous cable packages that require people to spend a fortune just so they can watch ONE show.

Which for many people will probably be Game of Thrones.

Or maybe it is their fault... HBO is a subsidiary of Time Warner, which owns Time Warner Cable... and presumably sells their programming to other cable companies at specific rates - perhaps even requiring in contract that those cable companies sell "packages" instead of individual channels so they can make more profit.

Except what about all the profit they end up losing from people who still have cable (and likely cable internet) and then decide to download their favourite TV shows instead?

I even started an informal poll on Facebook to see how many favourite TV shows people have - which could be used as an indicator as to how many shows people likely download regularly (unless they have the necessary cable packages for all of their faves).

For some people they might only like 1 TV show, which means they would only need to download the 1. Or they might like 5, 10, 15 or more shows and download them regularly.

If they have a Netflix account that gives them more options, but Netflix in Canada is very limited. It only gets a tiny portion of the TV shows that Americans get on Netflix.

As society changes towards downloading TV via Netflix and free downloads TV viewers are also becoming more discerning. They want high quality shows - and they're willing to pay for them - but they are not willing to get ripped off just because cable companies want to sell overpriced packages.

Cable companies are going to have to adapt if they want to survive. Offering the channels people want individually would be a smart first move.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Over 300 Product Reviews + Website Statistics

We recently published our 300th product review on Product Reviews Canada.

As such we feel it is a good time to list some of Product Reviews Canada's statistics and services.

#1. Product Reviews Canada created its first product reviews on October 7th 2010.

#2. Since 2010 Product Reviews Canada has received over 140,000 visitors and continues to become more and more popular. eg. Product Reviews Canada's popularity quadrupled between December 2012 and December 2013. (Not bragging, just saying.)

#3. The vast majority of people visiting Product Reviews Canada come from the USA and Canada - which really is not surprising since the website is in English and usually talking about products and services only available in Canada and the USA.

#4. Product Reviews Canada has had 17 approved comments.

#5. Product Reviews Canada has had 79 comments that were not approved because they contained spam links. (Word to the wise spammers, if you want advertising you need to pay for it or send us a free sample of your product so we can review it. If we see anything spammy or it contains a link to your business, we hit the spam button and delete it.)

If you want a product review just contact us { charlesmoffat at charlesmoffat dot com } and request a product review by sending us a free sample of your product or a gift card for your services.

Oh and by the way... Canada beat Sweden 3 to nothing at the gold medal men's hockey game in Sochi. Suck on that Sweden! :)



Friday, February 21, 2014

Minwax Wood Finish - Red Mahogany

I recently purchased red mahogany polyurethane wood finish (the brand on the label is MINWAX) for a DIY woodworking I have been doing for the last month.

Note - I followed all the instructions on the can. I then put it in the hallway to dry because it smells so bad.



However I have been waiting for 2 days for the first coat of the red mahogany stain to dry. I start to wonder "Sheesh, how long does this take to dry???"

I know I followed all the instructions on the can, so I struggle to determine what I might have done wrong.

So I go online and do a google search.

I did find some information stating that if it is exposed to the outdoors and UV light that it will slow the drying process and cause it to yellow and flake off. But my woodworking project is not outside. It is in the hallway with no windows. So this is not an UV issue.

The MINWAX website claims the drying time should be 12 hours. But it has been 2 days and it is still leaving a stain on my hands when I touch it.

The can says to wipe off excess stain after brushing on the stain with a brush. I did all that. There is no excess stain.

According to a forum I found ventilation might be an issue (the hallway has doors at both ends and this might slow ventilation). At present that is my most plausible culprit. So my goal now is to stick a fan in the hallway for 8 hours and see if that makes a difference.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fox and Fiddle during Olympic Hockey Gold for Women

I am in the Fox and Fiddle on Laird Street in Leaside Toronto and we are watching Canadian women about to beat American women for Olympic hockey gold.

I will post the pub review later. The game is about to start.

UPDATE

So Canada beat the USA 3 to 2 - in an amazing and historic game that was a real nail biter. Seriously, why does the CBC not broadcast women's hockey more often???

In other news the decor was good, the place has a pool table and large screen TVs for watching the game, we had the fish and chips (two orders) plus a pitcher of Rickard's White... the chips were wedge cut and sprinkled with spices (very tasty), but the fish was a bit mushy on the inside - cooked but it felt weird that it was mushy. Should have been more crisp.

Tab for the meal (including tip) was $52. But to be fair, it was a pitcher of beer and two orders of fish and chips...

I would be tempted to give the place 5 stars, but the mushy fish gives me doubts about the quality of the food. 4.25 stars out of 5.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

YouTubes Random Movies go up and later come down

If you search for the term "full movie" on YouTube you can find a variety of free movies (many of them Bollywood or Asian movies) that you can watch in HD without having to pay a cent.

Two days ago I watched "White House Down" (the 2013 action film) in HD thanks to some random person who uploaded it. (The film itself was good, I give it 4.5 stars out of 5. I even had tears in my eyes at the end when *SPOILER ALERT* the daughter waved the American flag on the White House lawn.)

Today the movie is gone. Deleted by YouTube's 'copyright infringement police'.


But call it the beauty of YouTube, the copyright infringement police only pay attention to popular movies that came out recently - and what is more they only seem to care if the film is English.

If you browse the long list of films on there (many of them in HD) you will notice that older films and foreign films are widely abundant and all free. Because if it is not new or not in English, then YouTube doesn't care about copyright infringement.

So huzzah. If you're bored and want to watch a random movie for free, just go to YouTube, type full movie in the search and pick from recent releases (which will soon be deleted), old movies (which they don't care about), or foreign films (which might even be recent).

You could watch for example:

Sky Riders, an American action film released in 1976.



Or you could watch

The Defender, a Chinese action film starring Jet Li released in 2013



Not to be confused with...

The Defender, the 2004 movie starring Dolph Lundgren



Silliness. :)

GoPro Camera falls from plane, survives crash and gets licked by pig

The image is distorted due to the speed at which the camera was falling through the air, but the image on the right here is a snapshot taken from a GoPro camera that fell out of a plane while making a skydiving video.

Surprisingly the camera survived the crash by landing in a muddy pig pen, and then it was licked by a curious pig to see if it was food.

The "new owner" of the camera found it 8 months later and managed to recover the video from the camera.

So the end result would lead someone to believe that camera is really tough to survive the fall (into soft mud... so not really) and to survive 8 months outside (in an arid part of the USA where it rarely rains). So honestly, landing in mud and surviving 8 months in a relatively dry location is no big deal.

I once had an USB key go through both my washing machine AND my dryer, without so much of a scratch on it. It still works today. So the truth is some electronics (as long as they are reasonably well made) can withstand a fair amount of falling, bouncing and water. Unless it is an iPhone of course, in which case it will break the first time you drop it.



Monuments Men



I watched the film Monuments Men yesterday. I give it 5 stars out of 5. It deserves some Oscar nominations.

:)


Friday, February 14, 2014

Chapters Greeting Card random sale a ripoff

Okay here is the deal. Chapters is offering a "random sale" of between 5% - 100% off greeting cards for Valentines... But only if you buy a regularly priced item at the same time.

90% of people will only get the 5% off on the greeting card. Ergo the deal isn't really much of a deal. It is a trick to get you to buy a book.

I bought a language book and a magazine... But now I am having buyers regret because I was duped into what essentially feels like gambling.

5% off on a gift card is pennies. And gift cards are way overpriced.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Toronto's Eaton's Centre

Toronto's Eaton's Centre is one of the best places to shop in all of North America - but sadly it is largely limited to clothing.

It is great for example if you are a woman and you want to buy lingerie at say La Vie en Rose, Victoria's Secret, or any one of the approx. 10 different lingerie stores inside the Eaton's Centre.

It is not so great if you are a person who likes shopping for power tools - in which case you need to walk to the Canadian Tire down the street because there is no other tool stores in the area.

It is also good if you want to buy books, because then you can go to the Indigo, the World's Biggest Bookstore further north, or the 4 used book stores north on Yonge Street which sell a variety of books on all topics.

The photos below of Toronto's Eaton's Centre were taken in February 2014, during the Winter Olympics in Sochi - shortly before Valentines.






The Crown and the Dragon


The Crown and the Dragon is a low budget fantasy movie - but with a fairly good plot, considering its a low budget film.



There are a lot of cheesy low budget fantasy films out there - and many of them are outright horrible. But I must admit the writers put in some extra effort when they were making "The Crown and the Dragon".

I think this extra narrative quality comes from the fact the movie is based off a book from the book series "The Paladin Cycle", as opposed to most low budget films which are based on a horribly written script. Movies based off of successful books are always going to be more successful.

Take for example the low budget movie "Orc Wars" - which is based on a horribly written script. You can tell the difference between the two films easily just from the quality of the narrative. "The Crown and the Dragon" also had a better budget - nothing spectacular, but enough to make better looking dragons and costumes - whereas in "Orc Wars" some of the orcs are wearing jeans and boots with shoelaces... which shows the costume designers for "Orc Wars" just plain didn't care and had a really small budget to work with.


Thermos Cafe Bottle

By Tamyka

This year, we have a heavy winter season. Beautiful snow covers everywhere. Perfect to slip into my favourite Nike boots and wear my thick black coat in the frigid climate. I walk to catch the TTC bus from my home with my large boring GUESS purse that my older sister had given to me two years ago. Inside I have my dear Thermos cafe bottle to drink my tea on the bus.

With money consumption to buy a warm drink from Tim Horton or Second Cup after I felt BRRR...so one day, I went to Wal-Mart store to buy a beautiful shiny blue thermos cafe bottle at Wal-Mart store. I made a test to see if the thermos cafe bottle is a true miracle. On yes! I poured very hot tea into it and capped it tightly. I sipped it on the bus or on the train, amazingly, the hot tea was still hot for up to about 5 or 6 hours! After that, it became warm.

Thermos cafe bottle is a true miracle and money-saving!


Puck Sports Bar and Grill on Bloor Street

On Monday I went to the Puck Sports Bar and Grill on Bloor Street.

I ordered water (because I had boxing lessons afterwards and it was an inappropriate time to be drinking) and the "Puck Burger".

The glass of water they brought me was HUGE. See photo below. It was so big the straw barely comes out the top - which kind of defeats the purpose of the straw.


The burger was overpriced - and I realized afterwards I should have ordered the basic burger which was on special. Whoops! Total cost (including tip) was $16. It did come with fries and coleslaw, but that is very expensive for a burger.

Beyond that the place was kind of plain - the decorations were focused on many different screens so that regardless of which direction you looked (ignoring the floor and ceiling) you could watch the 2014 Winter Olympics.


Conclusions?

Food - Okay. 1 star.
Service - Okay. 1 star.
Decor - Nothing special, zero stars.
Price - Horribly expensive, zero stars.
Zazz - Meh, sports bar. I didn't even ask if they had wi-fi. They have tvs, that is their gimmick, so zero stars for zazz.

Total is 2 stars out of 5. Disappointing to say the least.

Puck Sports Bar and Grill

Address: 362 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1X6
Phone:(416) 901-7825
Hours:
Sunday 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Monday 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Tuesday 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Wednesday 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Thursday 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Friday 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Saturday 11:00 am – 2:00 am

Handmade Quilts - Amazing quality, but very expensive

By Charles Moffat.

Further below is a photo of a handmade quilt made by my Aunt Edna, quilted circa 1979.

What I like about this quilt, aside from the horses which are awesome, is the fact that it is both incredibly warm, but also highly decorative. Oh and easy to clean, thanks to her choices of materials.

In this particular case the quilt stayed wrapped up for many years and I didn't even know it existed until I was a teenager. Then it stayed wrapped up for many more years (because I felt it was too valuable to use).

It was only recently that I started using this quilt which is 35 years old now and has been used less than a month during its lifespan. I made the decision to start using it because I realized it was a waste to have such a nice quilt and leave it in a closet unused all the time.

Plus I like horses. So added bonus. (How did my aunt know I would like horses???)

The trick about quilts like these is that they are exceptionally valuable. To hire someone to make a quilt like this in 2014 would cost over $1,000 CDN easily - because of all the hand stitching and embroidery. Each of those horses embroidered on the quilt took hours of skilled labour to complete. 24 squares plus all the other embroidery, the backing, the stuffing, the endless hours of sewing. We are looking at a quilt in the $1,200 range - at least.

Go on Ebay or Etsy and you will find handmade quilts with price tags ranging between $700 and $29,000. I also found a news article about a quilt that sold at a Sotheby's auction for $264,000. (The higher prices for these quilts are because they are classified as art pieces instead of items meant to be used on your bed.)

So yes, you can get an amazing quality quilt that is a work of art as a gift from your aunt or grandmother or similar relative - but if you try to go out and buy a quilt like that expect to be paying an arm and a leg for something that is now valued more for its artistic qualities than its ability to keep you warm at night.



Sears Clearance Sale - Nevada Jeans

After cleaning up the last time I went to Sears during their clearance sale I simply had to go back again.

This time I went to the jeans department and got 4 - count them, FOUR! - pairs of Nevada jeans for $13.49 each. (Their regular price was $44.99.)

However I want to point something out here - I do NOT endorse Nevada jeans, and I shall explain why. In my opinion Nevada jeans is one of those cheap jeans manufacturers that use thin fabric (which is less durable) and rely on advertising to sell their product to less discerning customers who don't know any better.

Basically they are cheap not very durable jeans that I fully expect to be full of holes by this time next year. But I balanced that against the price - $13.49. Making this purchase I realize that these jeans won't last very long and that these are basically disposable clothing I will likely throw out a year or two from now, depending on how long they last.



Sears at Eatons Closing Sale - Everything on clearance

A couple weeks ago the Sears store at the Eaton's Centre put everything on clearance - 70% off everything in the store!

Why? Because the store is closing and they wanted to get rid of everything, including the furniture, the fixtures, the display cases, everything!

I was at the Eaton's Centre because I was looking for a birthday gift for my grandfather (who turned 90) so I got him two shirts in his size (XL) and two shirts for myself (size M).

What was amazing was the prices. Roughly $6 or $7 for a shirt. Final price on 4 shirts was $30.22, tax included.

Shopping Tip??? If you see a company having a closing sale and everything is on clearance for a huge discount, stop and take a look and see what they have available. Save yourself a bundle on a variety of designer labels and brands.



Hoodie and Jeans from Mark's Work Warehouse

Last week I cashed in my $25 gift card from Mark's Work Warehouse.

What I got was jeans and a hoodie - both on clearance, so price wise I cleaned up. The jeans were marked down to $19.99 and the hoodie was $24.99. Minus the gift card it was basically $20 + HST.

I was very pleased walking out the door. The shopping tips here are - buy on clearance, and if you get a free gift card make full use of it! :)



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fionn MacCool's at 1867 Yonge Street

Yesterday I had a business meeting with two other people at Fionn MacCool's at 1867 Yonge Street.

I chose the place because it was a good looking pub, it was located in midtown Toronto and it had wi-fi. I didn't even look at the reviews listed online at various websites I researched to find a place for the meeting.

Thus I have no idea what other websites are saying about the place, I just know how I felt about the place after going there.

#1. Good service. So they get 1 star for that.

#2. The atmosphere was okay, but nothing fantastic. I have been to a lot of British style and Irish style pubs, and unless they do something special with the decor then it isn't really a big deal to me any more. eg. The Artful Dodger and The Spotted Dick have much better decor. Half a star.

#3. The food was good. I had my standard choice, fish and chips and a Guinness. I am not being fair. It was really good chips! The fish was definitely above average, but not the best I have ever had. My meal also came with coleslaw, which was by far some of the best coleslaw I have ever had (and I usually don't like coleslaw). 1 star for the above average fish and excellent chips / coleslaw.

#4. A tad pricey, but not ridiculously so. So half a star for that.

So now I have a choice, do I give them 3 stars out of 4 or do I come up with a fifth category on which to judge this pub?

Lets see, the wi-fi worked, but it took awhile to get it working because you have to click the Fionn's Guest wi-fi, not the regular Fionn wi-fi (they don't tell you which one to use or how to use it) - and then you have to load a page in your browser and fill in the password inside the browser instead of the normal wi-fi route...

Which means I was able to connect with my laptop, but not with my phone. For this reason I don't feel like giving them any extra stars due to the overly complicated wi-fi procedures. It was too annoying.

So if pressed I would have to say only 3 stars out of 5 for Fionn MacCool's at 1867 Yonge Street. It is an okay place, but nothing special, and while the food and service was good, the atmosphere was lacking, the food overpriced and the wi-fi annoyingly difficult to get working.



Battling Mold on your Window Sills

Canadians might be seeing a lot more mold growing on their window sills and walls near their windows this winter due to excessive cold we have experienced this winter. The reason is because the colder temperatures on the glass windows causes condensation on windows, the water collects on surfaces near the window and then the mold grows wherever there is moisture.

The good news is that is just superficial and looks disgusting. Black mold, the kind that can damage your lungs, won't grow on such surfaces because there isn't enough food supply for it to eat. Common green mold just needs moisture and a little bit of dirt to grow - but isn't dangerous to be breathing in.

Mold commonly grows more often in bathrooms and kitchens more often because of the extra heat and moisture in these rooms. Some people who have very warm bedrooms will also experience more mold around their windows and on window sills.

So how do you Clean Mold on Window Sills and Walls?

Honestly, good old fashioned soapy water is good for cleaning off the mold, but the stuff I recommend is Pledge and / or Pine-Sol. That way it isn't just clean, but smells nice too.

Afterwards dry all the surfaces with a towel - and I recommend following up with a paper towel to be doubly sure it is dry.

In the future make an effort of cleaning the area of any condensation if you notice condensation building up, that way the mold won't have a chance to grow in the first place.




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