Archive for November, 1999

Learn how to turn a barbain into a best seller

Monday, November 29th, 1999


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Equity vs Debt

Monday, November 29th, 1999

Isit household debt or is it equity?


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May 2009 sales stats from Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board

Monday, November 29th, 1999


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HP’s new netbook offers 10-inch LED screen

Monday, November 29th, 1999





MINI-NOTE 2140, HP, $549

If you’re getting the idea this is the year of the netbook, you’d be right. It wasn’t so long ago the choice was limited, but that is changing fast and HP’s 2140 has just been added to the lineup in Canada. Pricewise, it’s not among the entry-level offerings, but it offers the 10-inch LED screen that seems to be a good mid-size for users who aren’t ready to downsize to the eight-inch and smaller netbooks. It also has a 92-per-cent full-size keyboard favoured in netbooks of this size. Weight is a big factor with these little computers since many people are trying to get away from the back-breaking chore of lugging around a laptop, and the 2140 comes in at a respectable 1.19 kilograms. Netbook searchers also note there are renewed rumours of a mini-notebook or tablet with a touch screen coming from Apple, but don’t get out your credit card just yet. Meanwhile, more on HP’s mini-note 2140 at

EEE TOP ET 1602, ASUS, $600 US

A 15.6-inch touch screen combines with an Intel Atom-based system in the new Top ET 1602 computer announced this month for North American dealers. It lends itself to easy video-phone functionality over Skype with an integrated Web cam, wireless connectivity, and Eee Cam software for custom photo messages and YouTube videos. A companion external DVD drive is optional at $64 US. It has a built-in handle and weighs 4.5 kilograms so while not exactly a portable machine, it is easy to carry from room to room. A camera card reader, lots of USB ports, and touch-optimized Opera browser add to its billing as a multimedia hub.


A full QWERTY keyboard slides out to make this a handy messaging phone. Plus it has a 1.3-megapixel camera with video capture. Its MobileMe e-mail, instant messaging, SMS (short message service) and MMS (multimedia messaging service) makes this a phone for those who’d rather type than talk — although it does that as well. MicroSD memory is expandable up to eight GB. In a red/white or black/blue colour combo, at Rogers.


Geared for medical and legal users who need a reliable and high-featured dictation machine, the DS-3400 comes with a large backlit LCD screen. Conserves batteries to offer up to 32 hours of recording time. Customizable smart buttons, USB 2.0 high-speed for fast uploading and downloading of files, and a verbal comment function that can help if someone is transcribing another’s dictation. The language on the screen is customizable for English, French or Spanish.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


Clever design speaks for itself

Monday, November 29th, 1999

Gillian Shaw

MobileOffice D600, Plustek Technology

PowerShot A480, Canon

Speak-er, the., $120 US

Speak to me — in a bubble. You’ve got to love the design team of Mihoko Ouchi and Sherwood Forlee for coming up with speakers that so elegantly reflect their function. Multimedia speakers that plug into your computer or MP3 player. Delivering six watts per speaker.


MobileOffice D600, Plustek Technology, $330 US

Carry along your MobileOffice to turn anything from documents to ID cards into digital formats including JPGs, Word, searchable PDF files, and others. One button lets you scan both sides of a document, scanning at 19 ppm with 300 dpi for colour, and 55 ppm and 300 dpi grayscale (or about one second per page).

PowerShot A480, Canon, $150Cdn

A good price and useful features make the latest in Canon’s A-series PowerShot a contender if you’re looking for a point-and-shoot that will take photos you can be proud of. It is 10-megapixels — who’d have thought a few years ago that a sub-$200 camera would have that — plus a 3.3x optical zoom, and features that include Canon’s face detection technology, red eye correction, and VGA movie mode to capture high-res still images while shooting video. Also a super-macro mode lets you aim from as little as one centimetre from the tip of the lens. Available in several colours, including red for your favourite Valentine. For release in February.

IDR400M earphones with hands free cell microphone, Scosche,

$80 US

An unexpected bump from a cellphone-chatting driver reminded me recently about the importance of using a headphone if you carry on your cellphone conversations in the car. In some jurisdictions it is mandatory, and here in British Columbia I know at least one company that tells its employees to keep their cellphones locked in the trunk. Another option among the many available, this one from Scosche, the IDR400M, noise isolation earphones with hands-free cell microphone. Hands-free conversations and audio control. Just don’t be like the driver who told me recently about looking down at a ringing cellphone to see who was calling and running into two parked cars. Whoops. Fortunately, apart from the cars, there were no injuries.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Townhouses a neighbourly replacement

Monday, November 29th, 1999

Slide shows enter the 21st century

Monday, November 29th, 1999






Not a lot bigger than a digital recorder, 3M’s newly released MPro 110 is a slick solution that puts projecting in a pocket-size package. Weighing in at only 150 grams and with a thickness of 2.3 centimetres it works with notebook computers, personal digital assistants, cellphones that have video output and digital cameras. It projects a five-inch to 50-inch diagonal still or moving image. The rechargeable battery will run for one hour but it also comes with an AC adapter.


A definite step up from budget headphones, the new Beats high-definition headphones bring professional studio quality sound to consumers at home and in their offices. They work with the range of today’s devices, from the new Apple iPhone 3G to the Blackberry and other mobile phones that have music capability. The headphones come with Monster’s iSoniTalk headphone cable with a high-grade microphone and answer button for using with phones.


Our Blackberries and iPhones go everywhere with us so it’s not surprising they could use a little protection from the bumps and jars of a busy life. Gentec is an Ontario-based accessories firm and it has launched a new solution, the Tuff Skin series of protective rubber cases from Roots. They are three-millimeter silicone rubber, making them extra thick and rugged.

They promise impact protection and the company cites an independent four-foot drop test as proof. I inadvertently repeated that test on my kitchen floor and am pleased to say I got the same results, although I don’t recommend trying it. Available for a number of iPhone and iPod models as well as a range of Blackberry devices.


Boat thefts are big business, anything from little runabouts to luxury cruisers. Blackline launched Harpoon, a recovery and tracking device at a recent Fort Lauderdale boat show. It is an always-on cellular monitoring device that keeps track of a watercraft, ensuring it stays in a GPS security perimeter. If it is moved outside the perimeter by an unauthorized user, the device alerts the Blackline Recovery Service, which works with police to recover the vessel. The system can also wirelessly detect the MyPass key fob that comes with it to automatically arm or disarm the security function. Users can also track their Harpoon online through a browser.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008



Monday, November 29th, 1999


There are numerous ways smart consumers can save money on their energy costs, and the smartest choices can result in hundreds of dollars in annual savings.

So says Consumer Reports, which conducted a recent telephone poll and found that 61 per cent of homeowners hold themselves accountable for reducing their home energy consumption.

With that in mind, Consumer Reports is offering tips in its October issue on ways in which consumers can start saving:

– Clean the coils behind or underneath the refrigerator.

– Skip prerinsing dishes. Consumer Reports’ tests have found consumers can save up to 6,500 gallons of water per year.

– Opt for the cold-water wash cycle and save about $60 a year.

– Put the PC to sleep and save $75 or more.

– Plug electronics into a power strip so they can all be turned off at once.

– Don’t overload the dryer.

– Open blinds and shades on cold days. Solar heat gain can raise interior temperature.

– Dust off the slow cooker. Consumers can use a lot less energy.

– Lower the temperature a degree or two before guests arrive.

– Clean or replace furnace filters monthly during the heating season.

– Lower water-heater temperature to 50 C from 55 C and insulate hot-water pipes to knock up to five per cent off energy bills.

– Weather-strip old windows and doors. It’s the surest way to close the gaps around openings, reducing heating and cooling costs by 15 to 30 per cent.

– Control outdoor lights with sensors or timers.

– Drain a bucket’s worth of water from the water heater a few times a year to remove sediment.

– Move the thermostat to an inside wall away from windows and doors.

– Add insulation. Properly insulating and sealing the home can cut heating and cooling bills by 10 per cent.

– Zone heat smartly. A portable heater can save only if the rest of the house is kept chilly. Wood-burning fireplaces can suck more heat than they put back in.

And speaking of energy savings — ever thought about turning your bath water into an energy source?


A recent electronic newsletter from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. highlights test results from an energy-saving device that recovers waste heat from showers to preheat domestic hot water.

For more information, visit

© The Vancouver Sun 2008


First Google-powered mobiles soon

Monday, November 29th, 1999


A fairgoer using his mobile phone as he walks past a logo of German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom at the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover in March 2008. T-Mobile said Monday it plans to launch a mobile phone powered by Google’s Android software, making it the first operator to do so and posing a direct threat to Apple’s popular iPhone. Photograph by : AFP/File/John Macdougall

T-Mobile said Monday it plans to launch a mobile phone powered by Google’s Android software, making it the first operator to do so and posing a direct threat to Apple’s popular iPhone.

A spokesman for Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s German parent, declined to comment on the launch date for the device which is made by mobile phone maker HTC.

According to a report in the New York Times, the phone will hit the stores in the United States before Christmas, perhaps as early as October.

The new device will have a touch screen like the iPhone and other smartphones that use software from firms like Palm, Microsoft and Nokia to allow users to access the Internet.

But the screen also slides out to expose a full five-row keyboard, the New York Times report said.

T-Mobile is the number four operator in the United States as well as number one in Germany, Europe‘s biggest market. It is also present in Britain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Poland.

© AFP 2008

Unit owner’s insurance policy is smart protection

Monday, November 29th, 1999

Council’s action legitimate

Tony Gioventu

Dear Condo Smarts: In recent years our strata building has suffered a number of water leaks. Bottom line: The owners are not willing to approve a special levy to replace the failing pipes in our building. On May 1, our 27 townhouse owners receive a notice of a special levy issued by the strata council to pay for an insurance deductible resulting from our recent claim. Each unit’s share is $926. Our owners have petitioned for a special general meeting to remove council for violating the Strata Property Act and imposing a levy without our permission. The council has also advised that if we don’t pay the amount they will lien our units.

I find it offensive that council members have the arrogance to believe they are above the rest of the owners.

— JA, Delta Dear JA: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but what the strata council did was totally legitimate within the legislation, within their scope of authority as council members, and likely in the best interest of the owners.

Strata corporations have no choice but to pay for insurance-deductible costs. That’s a condition of the policy with your insurance provider. Hopefully, every strata owner, tenant and landlord in B.C. has a unit owner’s insurance policy to protect them against such costs, but what’s the point of a unit owner carrying a policy that covers a unit-loss assessment if they cannot access the coverage?

Contingency reserve funds take a long time to build up and they can easily be wiped out with a few insurance claims. Strata owners need to take a moment to do the math.

JA’s share of the deductible is $926, but if his strata council imposes the special levy, he can claim this levy on his unit policy, with a deductible of $500. Whether they spend it from the reserve fund or by special levy, it’s going to cost him $926. At least by levying the owners, he can access his insurance policy with a deductible of $500, and save himself $426.

Unit owner’s coverage is also critical if you are found responsible for a deductible cost as a result of a claim resulting from your strata lot or actions relating to you, your tenants or occupants.

You also need to include the improvements done to your strata lot on your policy as they are not covered by the strata corporation policy. These include items like upgraded hardwood floors, new kitchens and bathroom upgrades. A strata council has the authority to impose a special levy for an insurance deductible without the need for a three-quarters resolution or a special general meeting.

The council will approve the resolution in accordance with the conditions set out in the Act to include the due date, the amount per strata lot and the purpose of the levy.

Then council sends the notice of the levy to strata lot owners, where they can, in turn, access their unit owner’s coverage extensions to pay for the cost of the levy less the owner’s deductible.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association. E-mial: [email protected]

© The Vancouver Province 2008