My Favourite Gadgets

an old gadget I’m not really much of a gadget person – I used to work with someone that seemed to have a new gadget every week. I think a lot of people get fooled into thinking that a gadget might help them with productivity – but in the end, productivity is really dependent on your work ethic and how badly you want to get something done.

There are all sorts of things sold today that promise to enrich our lives, increase productivity, and give us more fun – but I’ve found that most gadgets really don’t do much of anything except offer a bit of fun or interest for a few hours or a few days, and then get relegated to some drawer. So I don’t own too many of them.

I recall when Palm Pilots became all the rage. Up to that point, I had been using a Franklin Day Planner for planning my days, weeks, months and year… and thought that maybe a Palm Pilot would make things more efficient. I could write out a to-do list, and only write it once! With a Franklin Day Planner, I was writing out my to-do list on a daily basis – often many to-do items aren’t completed but are still priorities and would become an item the next day.

So it seemed that not having to write out a “Daily Task List,” as Franklin terms it, every single day, might be much more efficient. But in the end, I did not find that. There is something about actually physically writing things out that seems to have an impression on the brain that is more effective than glancing at or reading over a To-Do list that might have been created days previously.

I ended up going back to my paper based Franklin Day planner – and still use it to this day, in 2016. But there are some gadgets I love:

My Mobile Phone

I have a Samsung Galaxy S5. And it’s loaded with apps. Apps like:

  • Snapchat
  • FB Messenger
  • Personal Banking Apps
  • Yahoo Messenger
  • Skype
  • A multitude of web browsers
  • May My Ride cycling app
  • Flipboard
  • Evernote
  • SHealth

And so many more!

But you know what? I hardly ever use any of them. When I’m away from my office, I will use a browser from time to time to find some vital information I might need. Sometimes, I’ll use FB Messenger but it’s rare; when I am away from the office I don’t really want to be on Facebook or responding to FB messages. I’m usually busy with other things. SHealth looks interesting, but I don’t need an app to tell me I need to walk more.

Basically, I use my phone to make calls and send and receive the odd text message. I don’t even text that much. I really find texting annoying for the most part, and good communications cannot be carried out via texts. I also don’t like the keyboard emulation of any small device.

But I’m never without my cell phone; being able to be in touch with my kids or clients while away from my office land line is very important to me – but I still prefer to talk on a “real phone” though.

But it is a gadget that is important to me.

Lightning Detector

“A lightning detector??” you ask. I know, eh? Who would think about a lightning detector as a favourite gadget? Well, I love to do a lot of fly fishing and spend a great deal of time outdoors, and often this time is spent during hot and humid weather here in my part of the world, when thunderstorms can sometimes blow in pretty quickly. And believe me – waving a graphite fishing rod around during times of electrical atmospheric activity is probably not the safest thing to do.

But not even fly fishing, but even out hiking on nearby trails, it’s good to know when thunderstorms might be close by. Obviously, the weather reports will often provide a forecast that includes “risk of a thunderstorm,” but that may or may not occur. A simple risk of one is not always good enough to keep me from going outdoors – but if that risk becomes high when I’m out there, I want to know. So… a personal lightning detector is something that gives me some comfort. I love to watch lightning, but I don’t want to be watching it from the bank of the lake or the river! I’d prefer to watch it from a place that is safe and that I can take cover in.

My Canon Camera

I’ve always had a fascination with photography ever since I was a kid. Do you remember the old Pentax Spotmatics? I had one! I loved it! I used it.. a LOT. When I started high school, I was so happy there was a “camera club” and the school had a dark room, where I learned to develop 35 mm film and then print to photo paper. Eventually, I sold the Pentax and moved on to a Yashica, which I also liked – and still have rolls of undeveloped 35 mm film around that I wonder what is on them. I’m not even sure it would be worthwhile these days to try to find a developer of the old films I have.

In about 1999, my business had need for a digital camera and I picked up a Nikon Cool Pix – one of the best available at the time. Indeed, I still think of how awesome that camera was and the fact that it had a tilt mechanism built into it. That was actually a pretty cool feature, and my business partner and I at the time, used that camera for some product photography and put together a large print brochure for a client. And since about 1999, I’ve not ever used my Yashica, although I still have it along with a bag of lenses, filters, and other things I used to use.

Today, I have a Canon that is not the best in the world, but it’s better than the the camera in my Galaxy phone. At least I think so.. the Galaxy thinks my eyes are brown, whereas the Canon knows they are blue.

It’s not the best camera in the world, and maybe one of these days I’ll upgrade, but for my purposes, it does just fine.

And you know what? That is about all the gadgets I own. I do have a remote for my TV, and my Android box.. but I hardly ever use them. So they’re not really worth much of a mention.

What about you? What are your must have gadgets and what gadgets could you do without?

The Rot Isn’t In The McDonald’s…It’s In The Education

mcdonaldsYesterday, I noticed that many of my friends and associates on Facebook where sharing some post by the owner of a Chiropractic clinic in Alaska, a Jennifer Lovdahl. Ms Jennifer Lovdahl is listed as a doctor on their chiropractic clinic website – http://www.movewellalaska.com/ and apparently graduated from the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa.

The post by Dr. Lovdahl that so many of my Facebook associates were sharing contained a photo of a meal apparently purchased six years ago from McDonald’s, containing Chicken McNuggets and french fries. Dr. Lovdahl wrote in her post:

“It’s been 6 years since I bought this “Happy Meal” at McDonald’s. It’s been sitting at our office this whole time and has not rotted, molded, or decomposed at all!!! It smells only of cardboard. We did this experiment to show our patients how unhealthy this “food” is. Especially for our growing children!! There are so many chemicals in this food! Choose real food! Apples, bananas, carrots, celery….those are real fast food.”
~ Source

I am astonished that a so-called “doctor” would publish such tripe. You would think that anyone today that is a graduate of a college that bestows the degree of Doctor, and that college is involved in human sciences, would have at least taught their students some basic chemistry as well as The Scientific Method.

Or perhaps Dr. Lovdahl is aware of The Scientific Method and some basic chemistry, but chooses to promote her own biases using the respect that most people would give a person with the degree of Doctor bestowed upon them. Whatever the case may be, this is where the rot is, and I can tell you why Dr. Lovdahl observed no rot in the McDonald’s food.

Let’s look at Dr. Lovdahl’s original post: “We did this experiment to show our patients how unhealthy this “food” is.”

How does this experiment show any such thing? It doesn’t show that it is “unhealthy” nor does it show, as Dr. Lovdahl claims that “there are so many chemicals in this food.” There likely ARE many chemicals in the food; but not in the way Dr. Lovdahl is trying to suggest. Everything that exists has a chemical makeup. Even apples. There is nothing sinister going on here whatsoever.

Now, if Dr. Lovdahl truly respected science (and apparently, the college she graduated from claims to hold integrity and science as high values), she would have conducted her experiment using multiple meals, as well as control subjects. For example, she might have made up some french fried potatoes at home, reduced their moisture level through freezing or refrigeration, (using only organic potatoes, of course!), deep fried them without the addition of any other chemicals but for a sprinkling of salt, put it in a bag and stuck in a dry cupboard for six years along with her McDonald’s purchased meal.

Now there’s an experiment that’s closer to reality.

Or, if she wants to compare apples, bananas, and carrots, she could have also dehydrated those, deep fried them, stuck them in a cupboard for six years, and checked to see if she found rot.

I suggest you try it at home before you go believing Dr. Lovdahl. Here’s some facts for you:

Food preservation can be done by reducing moisture and adding salt. Anything deep fried would have a lot of water moisture driven out of it, and replaced by oil. Now, the oil could go rancid if left for six years, open to the air, but you would not see this. But you would probably have food that appeared to have withstood the element of time, and showed little or no rot.

This experiment does not prove that this is not “healthy food,” nor does it prove that lots of chemicals were added to the food by McDonald’s. It is shameful that a person with the title “Doctor” would try to persuade you that her experiment was somehow a valid experiment. It’s not. It’s actually.. anti-science.

Food rot depends on a number of different things, including levels of moisture. Foods that have low to no water moisture and that are kept in a dry place, will not rot at the same rate as high moisture foods and in fact, can withstand against rot for a very long time depending on the conditions they are kept in. Does a doctor involved in human health not know this very basic fact?? It does not require the addition of any sinister chemicals to keep food from rotting.

Dr. Lovdahl owes her fans an apology for attempting to show something in a non-scientific manner, but present it to novices in such a way that it may be a valid experiment.

Or perhaps Dr. Lovdahl was never taught the scientific method. In that case, any person who has graduated from the Palmer College of Chiropractic is suspect, and I would not want to be treated by any graduate of theirs.

I have some challenges for Dr. Lovdahl:

Challenge 1:

Purchase the finest organic potatoes you can find. Cut them into “chip” (as called in the UK) or “french fry” shapes. Freeze them.

Heat up the finest healthiest oil in a deep fryer. Take frozen raw french fries and deep fry them until they are cooked. Remove french fries, allow oil to drain, sprinkle with salt, place in a paper bag, put in a cupboard in a dry place.

Come back and tell us what you see.

Challenge 2:

Dr. Lovdahl compares the McDonald’s meal to “real food” such as “apples, bananas and carrots.”

Okay, apples have a higher level of moisture than potatoes; if left out of some preserving condition, they will rot in a short amount of time, definitely less than six years. But here’s what I want you to do: Dehydrate the apples to the same moisture level as potatoes after cutting them into chip shapes. Freeze them. Then take them out of the freezer and deep fry them. Remove from the deep fryer, sprinkle some salt, put in a bag, and leave in a dry place for six years. Tell me what you see. Tell me if you will conclude the apples must have had chemicals added to them.

I doubt Dr. Lovdahl will take up the challenge. But if the good doctor wants to have some semblance of scientific credibility, the good doctor ought to take up the challenge, along with having some control subjects, as a proper scientific experiment would have.

I am sure Dr. Lovdahl means well, but pushing pseudo-science onto people, and pushing it in such a way that it apparently proves or shows something, is utterly irresponsible. I would hope that any regulatory agency or the good doctor’s school that apparently values integrity will have a little chat with the doctor about scientific integrity, and making false claims while using the title of Doctor, as apparently happened at the Chiropractic clinic.

The rot is not in the McDonald’s food; the rot is in the critical thinking skills that seem to be no longer taught these days.

I actually do quite of food preservation with my son – including dehydrating, fermentation, and canning – perhaps Dr. Lovdahl might be interested in learning more, and about food chemistry.

Web Design – Vancouver and BC Mainland

sunset tofino

Sun Setting Over The Pacific Near Tofino, BC

Many of my readers (all ten of you) know that I own a web development business that also does considerable work in the SEO (Organic and Local Search) segments. We’ve been helping out quite a few businesses here in Ontario and elsewhere, and have seen some really good results. We like to take a holistic approach to SEO – including ensuring websites have solid “on-site” search engine optimization.

But did you know that we also offer services throughout North America? We do! In fact, we even have clients in the United Kingdom – doing business across the miles is really not all that difficult, although sometimes you have to be cognizant of time differences. For us, that can mean a span of 8 hours at any given time, with the UK being 5 hours ahead, and the west coast of Canada 3 hours behind. But with many many years working shift work prior to starting the business, and now years of adjusting to clients’ time zones, we’ve managed quite well.

One of the areas of Canada that we’ve had some very happy clients is in the Vancouver region of British Columbia. We’ve helped a number of different businesses including fly fishing guides, a harbour boat cruise line, and a consulting firm that supports individuals that want to be become or already are virtual assistants. Our services have included web development, maintenance, SEO, and support for WordPress security.

I’ve really enjoyed Vancouver every time that I have visited. I’ve visited the city on both business and pleasure trips, have enjoyed the downtown area of Vancouver as well as fly fishing out in the Mission area. In addition, I’ve been privileged enough to have visited Vancouver Island and driven to Tofino. If you ever get a chance, that is a drive you should put on your “bucket list.”

As a growing business, The Ian Scott Group has been focusing recently on helping and increasing the number of local clients, so much of our website has content aimed at that market. But recently, in conversations with a couple of our Vancouver area clients, there was much encouragement to me that I should seriously consider increasing our business in the Vancouver area. It was very encouraging to hear that my business would have plenty of support with getting new clients in and around that beautiful city, so we’re starting to build resources and information for businesses, both new and existing, out that way.

So to begin with, I’ve had my staff create a new page on our business website which will be a “gateway” page for businesses in Vancouver looking for high quality web development and marketing services. It’s just a beginning – (more here) – but we’ll be putting together some resources for businesses on the west coast over the coming weeks.

Stay tuned – there are plans for some introductory rates so you can discover our services and what we can do for you. This will also include helping you with some social media marketing campaigns, website security and maintenance packages, and of course, one of our specialties – website SEO audits.

Let me know your thoughts on the services you’d like to see us deliver!

Some Goals For 2016

A lot of people make “New Year’s Resolutions” – which of course, get broken by January 2nd. I’m sure we’ve all been through that and as some of us get older, we know from experience that the likelihood of keeping a resolution is rather dim.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for setting goals for the coming year. Instead of trying to make a bunch of gigantic steps all at once, setting goals to be accomplished later in the year can realize greater gains by taking baby steps each day towards accomplishment.

There are probably some goals like quitting smoking that should be attempted in one big step. And if January 1st works for you in giving up the habit, that’s great!

I like the process of goal setting as taught by Brian Tracey in the video below:

This 12 step goal setting process can be really helpful to getting or accomplishing what you really want.

Personally, I don’t share too many of my serious goals with others. I keep them to myself. But other more fun goals, I will share.

Fly Fishing Goals

As many of you know, I love fly fishing – and in 2016, I’d like to do more of that. I’ve been privileged in my lifetime to have fished in some great places including Puerto Rico, Northern Ireland and a variety of places in Canada. One of my favourite experiences was fly fishing at the Canadian Fly Fishing Competition that was held in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

This year, I think some spey casting on the River Spey in Scotland would be awesome! Spey casting is a unique method of casting fly rods using special gear to cast flies a long distance. I’m not very good at it – but with some good instruction and practice, I hope to become more competent.

And yes, to accomplish this goal, I hope to acquire a Highlander Spey Rod – check them  out.. works of art as well as amazing quality. I own another Meiser rod and can’t say enough about it.

Baking Goals

chocolate babka

Homemade Chocolate Babka


“Baking goals?” you ask? Yes! I actually enjoy baking a variety of breads and my son David loves to eat them! One of our favourites is the “No Knead” bread that uses a very little amount of yeast and is left to rise for 12 or more hours. It’s pretty easy to do, and yet it turns out a wonderful artisan quality bread loaf that I usually bake in a cast iron Dutch Oven.

But this year, I’d like to try even more artisan bread baking styles. I have a fantastic book by Peter Reinhart entitled “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread.” If you’d like to learn more about the bread making process, I highly recommend it and you can get it from Amazon, here.

Be sure to check out the loaf on the cover of the book… now that’s a loaf of bread I’d like to bake at some point this year!

David and I have also been learning to make Babka – but so far, it’s all been chocolate. We need to experiment with a few other Babkas like poppy seed… or pecan caramel.. or cinnamon and brown sugar… yum!


More Music in 2016!

In my town, a Blues Festival is held every year in June, and it’s really convenient as it is located less than a block away from where I live. The main stage is held in a park that I can walk to in less than a minute. That means if the weather is great, my son and I can be hanging out with the crowd listening to some blues, or if it’s raining, we can hang out at home and still listen to some live blues! With the windows open, we can hear the music from the park inside the house.

This year, I’d like to take in even more music festivals that are held around Southern and South-Western Ontario. Especially if Steve Strongman is playing them. If you’ve never heard Steve Strongman, you are missing out… his live performances are full of energy, great blues, and he is a wonderful entertainer. Always a crowd pleaser. David and I are both happy to be able to say that we’ve seen him twice.

So yes, more music in 2016… and I’d like to get back to some guitar playing myself. It’s been 15 years since I’ve done any picking.. and I recently got my guitar back after lending it to some older sons.. and I can tell you that if you stop playing… for that long, you really do lose a lot. I never was any kind of accomplished guitar player, but when I was younger, I did take some lessons and focused on the “Travis Finger Picking” style. Many years later though, I’ve forgotten most of it.

But perhaps a half an hour a day or so will help to get some of that back.

So those are some fun goals for the next year. How about you? Want to share what yours might be?

Happy New Year…

Yes, it’s a week into the new year of 2016, and I’ve been quite remiss in not updating this blog over the past year! Time seems to fly by even more quickly and with so much going on in life, there’s not a lot left over for blogging.

It’s nice to see 2015 in the rear view window but mostly am looking ahead. The past year brought a lot of changes especially business wise, and I foresee a few more in store over the next 12 months.

On a personal level, I’m constantly amazed at how fast my son is growing! David is just the most awesome kid, and even though he’s hit the teenage years (can you believe it?) – there is no “teenage angst” to be seen. We’ve worked on a number of projects together although we still haven’t finished building the guitar kit we purchased earlier in the summer. That is a project we need to get back at, but we also need some extra tools to finish it off. Maybe later this month?

Many long ago readers and visitors will remember much talk about a band named “Wise, Young & King” which my eldest son drummed for.  This band no longer exists – but Alex and the lead singer along with another previous member of WY&K reformed into a new band called “Suns Of Stone.” They have released 2 CD’s and I’ve had the pleasure and good fortune to be able to attend some of their gigs – very impressive!

In the past year, Suns of Stone also added one of my other older sons, Colin, as their bass player! So it was doubly exciting for me to see them early in December of 2015 – two of my sons playing up on the stage.  Last week, I discovered that it’s also official that Suns of Stone will be opening up for Saga at The Phoenix in Toronto, on February 6th. In addition, there are rumours about a possible European tour later in the  year… I might apply for a roadie job! :) More on news of the tour as it becomes available.

I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best in 2016. Hopefully this one will have some exciting and positive things for you! And perhaps I’ll find the time to blog more than just a couple of times every six months.