LATEST PHOTO CLUB CHALLENGE
17 hours ago
A brief-yet-ongoing journal of all things Carmi. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll reach for your mouse to click back to Google. But you'll be intrigued. And you'll feel compelled to return following your next bowl of oatmeal. With brown sugar. And milk.
"Never underestimate that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."I'll explore this more in a later post. I simply wanted to let you all know that while I often write about the technological components of everyday life, it is with a broader view of how said technology can be used to change the world.
Taser lawsuit wrong on all levelsYour turn: Does this case have a prayer? Should it have been allowed to proceed at all?
Published Saturday, March 4, 2006
The London Free Press
I’ve heard of frivolous lawsuits, but this one should win some sort of prize. Many of us have heard the story of Peter LaMonday, a drug addict who died in May 2004 after police subdued him with a taser gun. It took seven officers responding to reports of a man breaking a window on Hamilton Road to take LaMonday, who was high on crack cocaine, into custody.
The cause of death was cited as “a cocaine-induced excited delirium while in a prone position.”
The province’s Special Investigations Unit subsequently cleared all officers. A coroner’s inquest led to new protocols for taser use.
Now his widow is suing the cops and the London Health Sciences Centre for $2.8 million, alleging negligence in the investigation, arrest and care.
This appears to be little more than a blatant play for cash from taxpayers’ pockets. Worse, it masks the larger-scale issue: Drug addiction is a tragedy that continues to eat its way into the core of society.
I feel sorry for LaMonday’s widow, but a lawsuit against those who dedicate their lives to fight this scourge is just plain wrong.
Health-care policies ignore local needsYour turn: Can society afford to have a minimum health care standard? Can it not afford it?
Published Friday, March 3, 2006
The London Free Press
While Ottawa bickers with Alberta over the legality of privately-run health care, hospitals closer to home are starving to death. St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital has just announced 56 job cuts as it tries to control its deficit.
Hospitals across the province have been forced to practise this nip-and-tuck approach to fiscal management since Queens Park ordered all institutions to balance their books. And when the money allocated by the government fails to keep pace with changing demand, hospitals have no choice but to cut to the bone.
These latest cuts will reduce the hospital’s deficit by $2.8 million. But they won’t eliminate it. Could additional budget-cutting lie in store?
However this plays out, the results are always devastating to the community: Patients fail to receive timely, high-quality care, doctors leave and the freefall continues.
The future of health care in this country won’t be secured by senseless territorial battles between different levels of government.
If anyone in the hallowed halls Parliament is paying attention, we’re dying here.
3:33 PM ETAs if to underscore the happily bizarre nature of my life these days, I went back to the office and did a live interview for 580 CFRA Radio in Ottawa. Some days, I have way too much fun when I go to work. Onward...
The Trading Desk with Pat Bolland
Tech, Tech, Tech
Carmi Levy, senior research analyst, Info-Tech Research Group
Duration: 6 m 38 s
Vital to leard from ward appeal debacleYour turn: $435 an hour! I don't really have a question here. I just had to repeat the figure. I'm definitely in the wrong business.
Published Thursday, March 2, 2006
The London Free Press
It would be easy to say I told them so.
Now that the Superior Court has upheld the Ontario Municipal Board’s decision to implement a 14-ward municipal electoral map within London, opponents of the city’s decision to appeal would be well justified in gloating.
Gloating, of course, gets us nowhere. Yes, we blew anywhere between $75,000 and $100,000 on the appeal. Yes, the $435-an-hour lawyer we hired to fight the decision has come out of this a winner.
But to look back and agonize over this silly affair will only perpetuate the pain. It’s time to learn our lesson and move on.
That lesson is simple: our civic leaders must learn when to fight the good fight and when to let things be. If it adds value to citizen’s lives, it’s worth pursuing. If it enriches some lawyer's bank account, they may want to let it slide.
I’m sure that many voters will remember this lesson the next time they vote. In the meantime, our 14 brand-new wards await us.
For those few who have yet to master the art of thumbing their notes into a hand-held device, there's a low-tech, reasonably priced alternative.
The DigiMemo is a handwriting-recognition device that records your notes, scribbles and doodles, which can then be uploaded to your computer in the form of images or text files. You simply write on regular paper with the special Digital Inking Pen, then you plug the device into your computer's USB port to transfer your work. The files can be exported straight to Word documents or e-mails.
The technology is nothing new, says Carmi Levy, a senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research, in London, Ont., which provides IT research and advice to mid-sized businesses. He describes the DigiMemo as a "glorified electronic clip board."
Technically speaking, the DigiMemo uploads files in jpg or giff format. What that means is you get a digital picture of your notes. The MyScript Notes handwriting-recognition software transforms your notes from written to typed documents. The results are not 100% accurate, but you can train the program to pick up certain nuances of your handwriting.
"There is no such thing as perfect conversion yet. The human voice and the human hand are still too variable for computers to follow perfectly," says Mr. Levy.
The DigiMemo is manufactured by Selwyn Electronics, a U.K. company (selwyn.co.uk). The starter package costs about $130 before shipping. The software is about $70, and spare pens around $30 each.
If you prefer to dictate notes into your computer, voice recorders with voice-to-text software are another option. Sony has a version that is priced around $400. It includes a storage feature that allows you to use memory sticks or media cards to store recordings (ICDMX20, sonystyle.ca). Panasonic also has a voice recorder with voice-to-text software that costs about $200 (RRUS050, panasonic.ca).
© National Post 2006
Sewage plant plans need more studyYour turn: Does your city's management of projects like this cause your blood pressure to rise? What is it about Frank Lloyd Wright that makes me think of sewage?
Published Wednesday, March 1, 2006
The London Free Press
Any business owner knows that it costs money to make money. But investing in the future is a tricky game that has more questions than answers: How much should be invested? How fast should it be spent? Will it drive profitability enough to justify the outlay?
It’s a conundrum that London currently faces as it debates plans to build a new sewage treatment plant for the city’s southwest end.
On the one hand, we need to spend the $134 million on the plant and related services to support continued growth. This is how London competes against other cities for new investment.
On the other hand, we can’t spend ourselves into a debt-created fiscal prison.
The fact that so little is currently known about the returns suggests that city employees should be spending a little more time with their spreadsheets. Londoners deserve to know the full fiscal picture.
If businesses of all size follow the investment-return model, is it too much to ask that our city does the same?
Future Olympians start in the 'hoodYour turn: What's your story of sports excellence? What drove you to excel? (Note: you need not be an Olympian to respond. I'm sure your childhood t-ball experience would be just as poetic.)
Published Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The London Free Press
I watched some kids from my neighbourhood spend an entire Sunday afternoon playing street hockey.
Truth be told, they really weren't very good at it. They spent more time missing passes and fishing their ratty tennis ball out from underneath parked cars than actually playing.
But when the clouds rolled in and the snow started to fly, they stayed outside, missing passes and crawling under dirty cars.
Every once in a while, a grown-up would drive up, park the car, and hurry into a nearby home to escape the chill. These kids in their mismatched hooded sweaters and tuques kept playing, oblivious to the weather.
I watched this spectacle at almost the exact moment Canadian athletes were finishing up our country's best Olympic performance in history. They walked into the stadium in Turin as champions, yet each one of them had to start somewhere. I'm certain each one of them carried a memory of a childhood playground.
I wonder if I perhaps witnessed a future Olympian on that snowy afternoon.
"We often toss around the term 'convergence.' It's the great buzzword of the new millennium. But this is a true example of convergence," said Carmi Levy, a senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group Inc. in London, Ont. "It doesn't force employees to change their behaviour. Whether they are sitting at their desk or sitting on a beach in Tahiti, they can still co-ordinate the actions of their team as always."I've always wanted to talk about Tahiti with a reporter. My dream has come true. Now all that's left is to actually go there to test out my theory.
Analysts say RIM is trying to fend off its bigger rivals by making the BlackBerry perform even more wireless tasks. "This shows RIM is in an intense effort to differentiate itself from competitors who are starting to creep into its space," Mr. Levy said.