Category Archives: Technology

Ode to a Knife

OK, let’s get one thing clear off the top. I love this knife, but I’m not homicidal. I just have a long history with this sturdy implement, and I admire its durability.

It’s a US Boy Scouts sheath knife circa 1970. I bought it when I was living in New York City, and was active with the local troop in my ‘hood, so it’s at least 45 years old.

It’s all original, including the leather sheath.

It has been much used, and, for a knife, abused. As you can surmise in the scars in the detailed photos below, it’s pounded nails, stripped 14/2  wiring, split kindling when an axe was not available and a rock was used to pound the blade into the wood. . . In addition to more “knifely” duties such as cleaning fish.

And it’s still solid, still takes a good edge, and will long outlive me. I may ask to have it buried with me when I depart, just in case there are zombies on the other side :-).

If you check the BSA online store, it appears nothing like this is available anymore.

I still take it hiking and camping, though I’ve retired it from streamkeeping — I have an excellent, inexpensive, plastic-handled stainless-steel knife from MEC for that duty now.

Beauty, eh?






1960s US Boy Scouts Sheath Knife

Nikon, Broadway Camera Event at Iona Beach, YVR

I took in the Broadway Camera / Nikon Canada camera/lens event at Iona Beach Regional Park near YVR (Vancouver International Airport). It was fun trying out all the latest Nikon gear, and huge Nikkor telephoto and telephoto zoom lenses.

I fell in lust with the new Nikon D500 just as I figured I would. Amazingly responsive autofocus and blazing speed make for a superb wildlife camera. Going to need to save up a lot of coins in the spare change jar! : -)

I then shot some osprey and tree swallow photos with my, er, Tamron 150-600mm lens : -). Hey, I’ve got several Nikon DSLRs and half a dozen Nikkors, too!

Nikon camera event

osprey iona beach

osprey iona beach

osprey iona beach

tree swallow iona beach

tree swallow iona beach

Byrne Creek Water Quality Marginal at Best

Volunteer streamkeepers completed our winter/spring bug count on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, and the results are Poor to Marginal as per The Streamkeeper’s Handbook methodology.

Unfortunately, this is par for the course. In over a decade of sampling on this urban creek, we’ve rarely seen an Acceptable sample, much less a Good one.

We get very few aquatic invertebrate species in our samples, and the ones that we do net are tiny.

The only way to improve these results is to get more road wash intercepted into rain gardens, swales, and biofiltration ponds. It’s this constant non-point-source wash of pollutants into storm drains that continuously impacts the water quality in the creek.

Byrne Creek water quality

US Charging Ahead on Enviro Issues, Canada Stuck in the 50s

I’ve been attending the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, and as at previous ones, I am yet again in awe of coordinated volunteer – municipal – tribal (in Canada First Nations) – state – federal conservation efforts in the US.

Yes, we like to slag our southern neighbours for many things, but they are way ahead of us on many others.

Canada? We’re doing good here and there, but we suck at coordinated action. And in Canada, for the last decade at least, the burden has increasingly fallen on volunteers, with federal and provincial governments abdicating their responsibilities, and slashing enviro-related staff and funding.

A major hurt is that Canada is still so 20th century. To see the ruling-party hydroelectric dam platform in BC is to read something from the 1950s.

The US is demolishing dams, setting rivers, wildlife and salmon free, unleashing renewable, long-term natural and economic potential along the way.

Here in Canada, our governments still want to pour concrete in pristine rivers and flood massive areas of our most productive farmland and traditional First Nations hunting and fishing territories.


Green/Blue initiatives will provide jobs.

Lusting for a Nikon D500

I’m in lust for a new Nikon D500 DSLR.  Based on specs this would be an amazing wildlife camera. Huge usable ISOs, blazing motor drive, prescient focus and exposure systems…

I think it may be time to sell some older Nikon gear, and sign up for the latest and greatest.

I think I’ll keep my aging D300, not much money to be made from that, and it’s still a solid camera. I use it with some of my ancient all-manual Nikkor lenses. And it was my first DSLR, so there are the emotional ties. (Just like I’m hanging on to my film Nikon F2 though I haven’t shot film in over a decade… Memories : -)

I think the one to go is the mid-range D5200. It’s served me well for a couple of years, but it doesn’t cut the pro mustard in usability. It has great resolution for its price class, but it’s not an action camera. Too much stuff is buried in menus that semi-pro and pro models have more to hand with extra buttons. I hate having to click through screen menus when I want to change something quickly in the field.

Bonus? If I’m reading specs right, a D500 would use the same batteries as my D7100 and D7200. Wow!

I used to be a car guy – Vancouver Auto Show beckons

In the days of my youth (sorry, no Led Zep here : -), I used to be a car nut. I did all my own servicing until solid state and computertronics put much of that out of reach for backyard mechanics.

I bought, drove, and sold nearly a dozen used vehicles between age 16 and 25 or so…

An AMC or two (anyone remember those? Think Hornets and Matadors — relatively smaller cars for that era with punchy V-8s : -), a couple of Euro Ford Capris both 4- and 6-bangers…

A rusting-out Jaguar saloon… A Pontiac Grand Am with a 400-4 V-8 and RTS that I drove across Canada and back once, if not twice. A superb highway cruiser…  A couple of trucks and vans (yes, the van was soon accessorized with big speakers and shag carpet, blush….)

Then I didn’t own a vehicle at all for the 14+ years I lived in Tokyo. We rented for weekend trips a few times, and drove my wife’s family vehicles when we visited up north in Aomori prefecture.

And when I returned to Canada, I matured into a so-called “environmental activist.”

So I/we have had one vehicle for the last 18 years, a solid, rather staid ’98 Subaru Outback.

But I feel myself wanting to go to the Vancouver Auto Show. I can check out the fantasy vehicles, the sports cars, the super trucks, and then bring home a few brochures on hybrids.

At this point in my life, I listen to my wife a lot. Wife wants a hybrid when we get our next ride. I won’t argue with that.

But I also want a truck for camping, fishing, canoeing, photography journeys, etc. A midsize one. A Tacoma would be nice…

Why Delete Email?

I often come across folks who seem to delete nearly every email after they’ve read it. I’m not talking spam here, I’m talking about all email they receive.

I do not understand why people do this. My email archive is a treasure trove dating back to the mid-1990s. Family, business, volunteer work… It’s all there.

But it takes up so much disk space!


In over 20 years of archiving nearly all non-spam messages, my Thunderbird master email directory and all sub-directories total a measly 7 GB.  I’ll leave you to figure out what a minuscule portion that is of my main 3 TB hard drive. Or, say, a modest slice of a 500 GB hard drive on a notebook.

Email is just text folks, and text is compact.

I have delved into my email archive many times to great effect.

You claim this, I claim that? I can provide you with a copy of our email trail. When did we agree to X? I can tell you it was July 21, 2005.

When did message board Y die? I can tell you that I was getting daily updates from it until Nov. 5, 2009.

But it’s such a mess!

I’ll hit you with another big Balderdash.

Search. Use search.

Folders. Use folders to file messages into.

Filters. Use filters to do filing automagically.

Computers are supposed to make our lives simpler, and they can, if we are willing to learn.

For many years, I’ve kept double archives, because I’ve set up my email in a way that all my addresses route through Gmail first, and are then forwarded to my host.

Gmail’s search is awesome. Gmail has tons of space, and if you run out, adding more is cheap.

Remembering to Check Device Firmware

I have a DLINK DIR-880L 8-port wired/wireless LAN router. The only issue I’ve had with it is that some WiFi devices will not connect unless I reboot the router. I put up with this for some time before it occurred to me to check the firmware.

Well, sure ’nuff, when I logged in to the router today, there was an update available. In fact my router was running 1.01 and the latest version is 1.05.

I have upgraded to the latest firmware, and will see if it performs better.

I’ve posted before about upgrading firmware in cameras, and I need to remember that all sorts of other devices have firmware that can be upgraded, too.

Windows 10 Box Runtime Broker Memory Issue

My Windows 10 tower computer was feeling sluggish, and the HD light was indicating constant disk activity. New browser windows were very slow to open, and even the keyboard was noticeably slow to respond.

I fired up Task Manager (Control-Alt-Delete then click Task Manager) to see what was using the most CPU and memory.

I saw that a Windows process called Runtime Broker was using a whopping 9 GB of my 16 GB of memory, and that figure kept steadily rising.  A little poking around online showed that this process controls Windows Apps and Tiles. I don’t use any Tiles. Some sites also said there was a known memory leak associated with Runtime Broker.

Some sites suggested going to Windows > Settings > System > Notifications & actions, and turning off “Show me tips about Windows.” I tried that, rebooted, and Runtime Broker still began steadily gobbling up more and more memory.

I went back to Notifications & actions and turned off all Notifications. Rebooted, and Runtime Broker has been holding steady at about 0% of CPU and 5.7 MB of memory used.

My machine feels snappy again, with new browser windows popping and the keyboard response back to normal.

So far I haven’t run into any functionality issues by turning all Notifications off, but I hope MS fixes this, because it would be nice to have some of them back.

UPDATE: Runtime Broker is now restarting itself, gradually eating up memory, shutting itself down, restarting itself…. Crazy. But at least the memory used values seem to top out at under a GB before it shuts down and restarts.

UPDATE: Seems to have settled down now…

UPDATE (12/24): Nope, has not settled down. Sigh…