Sunday, February 03, 2013

Using up Low Balance VISA Gift Cards

You have a $25 VISA gift card and after some purchases, there's now $1.17 left on it. How do you use it up? You can't get a Starbucks coffee with that, and it's a low enough amount that you (ok, I) would not be comfortable asking a server to put towards a restaurant bill.

I recently received my Square credit card reader, and it just occurred to me that this would be a good way to transfer the remaining balance to my bank account! Turns out other people think so too. I think the only constraint is that the minimum payment Square takes is $1.

Another thought was to donate these odd balances to charity, and I found a reference for that too. Not sure if all charities would allow these.

Finally, figure out what to do with these balances early! I dug up two cards I had from two years ago, checked their balances, and they're all empty now. It turns out the fine print says that a $2 maintenance fee will be deduced starting seven months after the card purchase.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mysteriously Waking Laptop

I always put my Windows 7 laptop to sleep when I'm done using it. On rare occasions, I've noticed it mysteriously powering up, doing something with the disk, then shutting itself off. I've always wondered if there was some kind of remote access waking the machine up to exchange some data. When I see it happening, I even check the webcam light to make sure it's not secretly taking pictures! :-)

Finally, I witnessed this behaviour again this morning. I don't know why I've never thought of this before - I checked the system log for entries around the time this happened. Turns out it was something called 'S4 Doze to Hibernation'.

Turns out this is a feature of Sleep. I've always thought of Sleep as Standby but it's not quite the same -- by default, Sleep will stand-by for 6 hours, after which it Hibernates.

I've always complained about the random time it takes to wake my laptop from sleep -- sometimes, it's instantaneous; other times, it takes forever. This feature would explain it. If it has to restore from hibernation, it would definitely be slower.

Thanks to this post for explaining the mystery and showing how to change the setting!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Point-and-Click Escape Games are Great!

Point-and-click games are the ones in which you find yourself in a room or place, and have to go around looking for items or clues that will help you unlock doors or solve a chain of puzzles that would ultimately lead to your escape. I really enjoy them, and wanted to post a couple of resources that I've been using to find these games.

CTV's Kris Abel used to point one out every No Escape Friday. It looks like this isn't an active focus for him anymore, but it remains a great place to browse. Once in a while, he would also post a game that might not be filed under the 'escape' category but is still enjoyable, such as the recent Ugly American - Citizen Ugly.

Jay is Games is another great resource. On top of listing games, this site also hosts walkthroughs, which you can consult when you're really stuck in a game.

Try one... you might like it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

My apartment faces east and I was able to see the lunar eclipse from my balcony. It might be hard to see, but the lower left hand corner of the moon is being blocked out by the Earth. The silhouette you see is of the building across the street.

Lunar Eclipse

This was taken at around 19:12 MST on 2008/02/20.

Later, the moon turned a red-ish colour:

Red Lunar Eclipse

This was taken at around 20:19 MST on 2008/02/20.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New cars and track in Forza Motorsport 2

New cars and the Road America track were just made available to download in Forza Motorsport 2. It's cool to be able to purchase and download new content through Xbox Live, but I think I'm not going to be able to keep track of just how much money I've put into this game soon! :-)

One of the new cars is the 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, which I attempted to drift for fun:

Firebird Trans Am

I like this shot because it shows a curved trail of smoke on top of the trail of rubber!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Police Recruit Graduation at Mewata Armouries

Kevin graduated from CPS Class #169 on Friday at Mewata Armouries. I've never actually been inside before, so it was pretty neat. Too bad I only realized you can go upstairs for a better view after the ceremony.

Class Photo Friends Attending the Ceremony Kevin Mingling

The mayor was there, the press was there, ... so it was a pretty big deal. Congratulations Kevin!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Outdoor Paintball

Johnson invited me to play paintball with his classmates and friends. It was my first time and it was pretty good! We went to an outdoor field east of Cochrane and played around four games.

Johnson with Paintball Gun Eric with Paintball Gun

What appears to be "plenty" of old tires and trees for cover quickly turns out to be inadequate for this beginner -- there never seems to be an appropriate "next cover" to move to.

Getting hit was actually not that bad, although I don't think any of my hits were from up close. One in the arm, one on a finger, one grazed my leg, and one in my back. It's all good.

For $52, I got camouflage coveralls (less worries about getting paint on your clothes and awesome for sliding and crawling around on the grass), paintball mask (gets hot, slides around on your face, and doesn't work all that great with glasses... but you need it), a gun (in this case a Level 2), and paintballs (400 for this price). Unlimited compressed air top-up's, free hot dogs, and free water/crystal-drinks.