Saturday, August 13, 2016

RECOMMENDED: Puffin Mobile Browser

If you're looking for speed in a web browser, most people immediately go to Chrome. But between Chrome, Safari, Firefox, most don't really find a big difference between browsers on your mobile device (phone or tablet).

When testing a web site, I tried to grab as many different browsers and devices as possible. And that's where I found Puffin. In a word,

WOW!!

Our web site was operating behind a separate firewall but even then, Puffin delivered pages at least 2-5x faster than Chrome or Safari and this was on an iPhone 5C. Even on an iPad 2, Puffin's speed is incredible.

It also supports Flash if you need it. Maybe more so - it's download mechanism is powerful too. On your phone, the chances that you are downloading something directly to your phone for use on your phone is unlikely. Instead, you likely want to refer to it later. Puffin has cloud-to-cloud drive support so when you want to download a file, it will send the link to your cloud drive (like Dropbox) and download it behind the scenes there. The result? Instant download.

It works for both Android and iOS. There is a free version but the full value of the Download is found in the Pro version (all of 0.99$ in the App store).

https://www.puffinbrowser.com/index.php




RECOMMENDED: Torch Browser for Media



http://torchbrowser.com

If you consume media through your desktop web browser, you should consider using Torch. Torch is based on Google Chrome (Chromium, Google's open source version, to be exact) so it feels very similar. It is based on an OLDER version of Chrome (since Chrome updates on Google's schedule and Chromium not so much) however, it really works well.

They have both Windows and Mac versions - although the Mac version isn't being supported anymore, it's still super functional.

Why Torch? If you are watching a video and want to keep it for later, you can simply click the "Video" button and it downloads it for future use.



Myself, I'm not that big on video. I don't mind watching it but what I really care about is listening to it - it's easier when driving (also a lot safer).

When you click the Video button, it attempts (since it would be site-specific) to find the original source and downloads it. If it's successful, it will also convert the video into an audio file.

If you've ever gone through the joy of using tools such as Vid2Mp3 or the others, this Torch feature is worth the use alone. You can likely find similar plug-ins directly for Chrome and the like, but if it's all in one browser, it's easier and you don't need to worry about upgrading on a regular basis.

Torch also has support for Torrents, media sharing and more.




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Recommended: Roger Varette (Ottawa - home siding)

We recently worked with Roger Varette on a small siding job at our home. We had previously been delayed by a contractor who kept us waiting for 5 weeks.

We found Roger on Kijiji. Instead of having to come out for a prolonged estimate process, he sped up the entire task asking for pictures to get a general idea as to what was required.

This was over a weekend where we weren't expecting responses until the Monday. He requested a deposit for materials and was ready to get the work done on the Tuesday - so only 48 hours notice, which was great for us!

He had some transportation issues so we were concerned the delays would immediately start (we're used to that with contractors) Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a call saying "I'm here". He checked the colours of siding and his eye for the color was extremely good, especially just from two pictures.

Our big concern was getting the job done. He had both walls done in less than 6 hours and the results were perfect to what we needed. He was great. He offered suggestions on other areas, gave us time if we wanted to replace lighting, cleaned up after himself and his pricing was great.

For some readers, this may seem like "well, shouldn't all contractors be like that" - Truth is, after working with a lot of contractors, we've had some that leave the mess for us to cleanup, start a job and then prolong it with half finished work. Those who have dealt with contractors can likely relate.

I've read some negative reviews of Roger's work but all I can say he delivered exactly what he promised, fast , easy and proactive! I would not hesitate to recommend him for this type of work!




Friday, June 24, 2016

NOT RECOMMENDED (for dogs): Azaleas

For those with pets who have gone through this before or for those who are proactively searching for potential problems, I can appreciate a "duh!" response but if we did it, others may as well.


The wonderful spring and summer and many people look to improving their outdoor landscaping.  After going through a lot of deck work, we wanted to add a shrub to our garden. From the local gardening store, we picked a shrub thinking it would be a good addition - an azalea.

Our dog loves to play in the backyard and every now and then may nip at some grass. A week after planting the bush, he had a bad day. We came home and found he had thrown up a fair bit (and the other way as well). As long-time dog owners, we thought "ok, he may have eaten something , we'll see how it goes". His attitude was great and didn't seem that distressed by it.

The NEXT night, however, was a different story. His attitude was great coming home but overnight the vomiting started and then got worse. Two hours later, he was discharging brown blood and his legs started to tremble.

Our next stop was the closest emergency vet (it was 2am)- we then had to go to another one, Alta Vista Animal Hospital one that we had used before (long story).

His sugar level had dropped to a dangerously low level and was kept for two nights for monitoring. The diagnosis was varying --- since we didn't know what could have changed (we hadn't thought of the bush). Vets often err on the side of caution - it could be a new allergy, it could be cancer. While our dog is prone to allergies, nothing made a huge amount of sense. Since he had just had a regular check-up two months earlier, we would have thought some of those ideas would have shown themselves earlier.  Still we didn't think of the bush.

While he was being monitored at the vet, my wife thought of the bush. We did some research and all of the symptoms matched. Our dog would routinely walk over around that area and since we knew he would pick at grass, it was plausible that he had eaten a flower from the bush or the leaves had fallen during some recent pruning. The azalea was immediately dug up and out of the garden. Azaleas are extremely toxic to dogs - and if not caught early enough, can bring on a coma or even death.

We were lucky - even with our older dog, we were able to put him on a regiment to get him back to normal. The vets still have him on a possible list for other causes but seeing how he's bounced back, we're pretty sure of the cause.

Now- if you look for poisonous plants, the azalea is often grouped with the rhodedendron, which makes it hard to find on toxic lists.

Considering how many people have pets, it would be something that garden centres should consider - noting potential effects of plants. flowers and bushes on pets. If we had known in advance, we never would have even thought about it.

Obviously, we'll be more cautious in the future - a rock garden is a pretty safe bet, if extreme. We're just happy to have our little guy getting better.

Here's a good list from the ASPCA.