"When you're young, five years drags. An eternity. When you're older, five years rushes past, dragging you kicking and screaming toward eternity." -- Glynnis Campbell in "Retrospect", in Best of Star Trek graphic novel.
So another year has come and gone, and precious few blog entries have come or gone here. I'm still developing mobile software (Android) for University Health Network. Still teaching for Learning Tree. I'm finalizing the Third Edition of my Java Cookbook. And I'm doing some writing for InfoQ. And of course still making photographs.
May 31-June 2, 2013 - 2 hours from Toronto
Photo events include an amazingly-priced full day with David Hemmings focussing (literally) on birds in flight, advanced wildlife photography, wildflower photography, my own Introduction to Wildlife Photography, and even a photo contest! Here's a link to all the photography sessions.
Registration is now open, so please sign up - it starts at the end of this month. Hope to see you there!
Officious Intermeddling, or, putting 3 barriers in the way of 1 honest transaction
I am just about ready to stop using eBay altogether. Their level of customer support is so limited, you can't send them a message and get a response, you have to talk to them in real time on the phone, when you have a problem like this. I had been unable to use the shipping calculator because there were too many variables involved. So I was trying to tell the buyer what the shipping choices are. I typed my information and hit Send, and got this snotty, condescending little note back:
Your message wasn’t sent because we’ve noticed that it might suggest a purchase outside of eBay.
We realize that you may not have known this, but eBay members should not use the site to contact each other about offsite sales. This policy is in place to make sure that you are covered by eBay protection programs and feedback policies.
Please edit your message and remove anything that indicates buying or selling outside of eBay.
To learn more about our Offers to buy or sell outside of eBay policy, please see: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/rfe-spam-non-ebay-sale.html
And the offensive message?
The case is packaged and ready to go. Canada Post wants C$7.72 for Small Packet Surface, or C$11.10 for small Packet Air. Neither provides tracking.
The next one up that provides tracking is International Parcel - Surface at C$43.10, which is way too much for a 99c item! (Even if you value it for $10 and they lose it, you're still down about $30 :-)).
So, if you can paypal me the amount $0.99 + one of the above shipping rates I shall send it out to you ASAP (Post office is closed tomorrow (Monday) for Easter national holiday).
Or if you want the formality of a PayPal invoice please tell me which shipping choice and I will invoice you.
Do you see anything about selling outside of eBay? Neither do I.
So then I set out to use their "Send an Invoice" mechanism hoping that their idiotic borked censor feature didn't apply there so much.
Of course a different one did. After I butchered the message to fit the tiny messge box in the Send An Invoice form, I got this:
2 characters left. HTML cannot be displayed.
Message too long.
I did finally send it, by shortening, but I really think it's time to drop off the eBaytanic and start over.
It was cold - approaching -40, the one temperature to which you don't have to append F or C. I was there. I have the photos to prove it. I've put a few of them into a Flickr Set. My client Learning Tree sent me up there to teach a computer course in February, 2013.
Iqaluit ("place of many fishes" in Inuktituk, known for a while as Frobisher Bay, for the English explorer who pranced in thousands of years after the Innu settled it) is now an "artificial" town. Canada has brought technology, schooling, our two official languages, and our levels of government, and "given" them to the Innuit. Thus today live 7,000 people in a "city" (smaller than many towns) but totally dependent upon the outside world for food and energy. If there ever comes a total shutdown of the oil supply or of civil aviation, many of these people will probably starve. Do I worry too much?
The Frobisher Bay name hangs on in a few old maps, and in the city's airport code YFB - apparently it's easier to change the name of a city than its airport code. Oh, and the body of water it sits on the tip of is still called Frobisher Bay.
We tend to think of the Arctic as flat, tundra, but Iqaluit sits on the hills that form the side of Frobisher Bay. See the photostream cited above; this place is hilly! There is, in fact, a hillside right across from the Frobisher Inn. In one of those pictures you can see a tiny little cross on the top of it. I hiked up it one night to take pictures of the town at dusk; the next pictures shows how big the cross is up close. That was bloody cold - probably the coldest I've ever been in my life (or I'm feeling it more in my advanced age). One eyelid froze half shut due to tearing from the wind; temp was near -36, wind chill must have been a lot colder as it was pretty breezy. Camera battery went from full to 30% in the cold, returned to 60% when thawed out. Walked down the lee side.
The internet service in this town really sucks, because it's satellite based. Long-established local business Coman Arctic is trying to get better internet using newer satellites. Hopefully soon! They have a free high-speed WiFi at the Tim Hortons (Trivia Factoid: Iqaluit is, I believe, the only Canadian Capital City to have only one Tim Hortons!).
One night there was an "Ice Music" concert - two musicians from Norway playing percussion on xylophone and chimes and horn all carved from local ice (only modern feature was the electronic echo box). The young woman in the duo, Mari Kvien Brunvoll, has a beautifyl singing voice. The evening was opened by some local talents: throat singers and more.
If you have time, you can read more about the city in the Wikipedia article Iqaluit.
All considered, I had a great time, and would be glad to go again.
View Iqaluit in a larger map