Quitting smoking in the 21st century.

I became a smoker over 20 years ago.  Back then a pack of cigarettes was $4.75 per pack for name brand cigarettes.  I believe the statute of limitations has run out on this but I used to pick up packs of cigarettes for under age kids in exchange for keeping the quarter change and 2 cigarettes.  I definitely wouldn’t do that now though.  It was a different time back then.  Back then you could still smoke in any bar or restaurant.

I know I should quit because of all the warnings and health information available.  Even my own Dad had lung cancer a few years ago but luckily survived.  Not to mention it is expensive.  I pay about $11.00 per pack even for budget cigarettes.  I am sure it would help my financial situation if I were going to quit.  I have tried many different methods over the years such as the patch, gum, and prescription medication however found mixed results.  None of it satisfied my cravings so eventually found myself picking up another pack of cigarettes after a few days.

During the last few years I came across the electronic cigarette.  I did some research on them and found that there was many cases of people successfully quitting using them. Basically an electronic cigarette is a battery, a tank which holds a mixture of propelyne glycol which is a food additive, nicotine and flavors and a heating element that activates once a button is pushed.  It gives almost the same sensation a smoking once the vapor is inhaled.

Electronic-Cigarette-01

Source:  The Detroit News

There are many different styles of electronic cigarette.  Basic disposable ones that can run as cheap as $10.00 to ones that can be modified to produce lots of vapor when using it that run a few hundred dollars.  I tried a few basic and cheap styles initially but found it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.  Finally wanting to try quitting again I decided to purchase a kit of one of the mid range styles for around $100.00.  I figured if it could help me quit smoking the equivalent cost of around a carton of cigarettes would be worth it. Surprisingly, it was exactly what I was looking for and did manage to quit smoking for a while.  Every week I would post on social media that I had quit smoking and was pleased with the positive response I had gotten.  Unfortunately after a about 6 months I had the curiosity to see if I could smoke a cigarette again and it wouldn’t affect me.  Unfortunately I started having one or two here and there which over time ended up with me buying packs of cigarettes again.  I will be shopping again soon for another electronic cigarette kit because I made it at least 6 months without smoking the last time.

Have you ever tried to quit smoking?  Have electronic cigarettes helped you quit or cut down?

Facebook:  How electronic cigarettes helped a 20 year smoker quit… at least for a while.  http://bit.ly/2rPfoRI

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Star Trek Continues: To Boldly Go…

Star Trek recently had it’s 50th anniversary.  That’s a very long legacy.  I recall being a fan of The Original Series during the 80’s when I was much younger seeing it in reruns. Then came The Next Generation which ran for 7 seasons.  I enthusiastically watched every episode when it came out.  Later on Deep Space 9 came out and I was a fan of that too.  Voyager came out after and I was just a young adult at this time and was getting busy so my Star Trek watching declined a bit.  I didn’t see every episode but more often then not I would watch it if I happened to have it tuned to the channel it was on and it came on.  Finally Enterprise which I watched very occasionally.  I didn’t really get into this series all that much.  A new series called Star Trek Discovery is set to be released sometime later this year.

star-trek-discovery-captains

Source: Google Image Search

CBS owns all licensing and property rights associated with any Star Trek series however has allowed certain fan made productions to be produced without a cease and desist order.  As such if you search Youtube and look up “Star Trek fan series” you will notice that quite a few results pop up.  With content distribution services like Youtube and the drop in price of filming equipment and computer aided special effects there are more of these fan series coming out frequently however they do vary in quality.  Some are high quality with Hollywood levels of special effects and some just are not worth your time watching and do not get the details right.

That is, until I came across one fan and volunteer produced series called Star Trek Continues.  The timeline during this series is that it picks up right where the last episode of The Original Series left off.  I was highly impressed with the level of detail to make it look and feel exactly like an Original Series episode.  The actors seem believable in their roles.  The sets are base off of blueprints from the original set.  The costumes, music, props special effects and lighting look like they match.  Production has been made possible through the hard work of volunteers and fans.  Also funding for the production has been made possible through crowdfunding campaigns and donations since it is against the rules to make a for profit fan film.  I am looking forward to every time a new episode is produced and it gives me a nostalgic feel since they managed to get the look and feel right.

star-trek-continues

Source: Google Image Search

Have you come across any Star Trek fan series that is worth a shot at watching?  Let me know in the comments.

Facebook:  Star Trek Continues: To Boldy Go…  How one fan produced Star Trek series is at the top of it’s game.

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Ruining your reputation online in one easy step – Lie about your military service.

In my former career I served with the Canadian Armed Forces from 1997 – 2000 in the reserves as a Field Engineer (now called a Combat Engineer) and from 2003 – 2011 as a Resource Management Support Clerk in the regular force.  I released honourable in 2011.  Now that I am released from the military I primarily deal with Veterans Affairs Canada, however there are many organizations online that deal with the military and veteran issues I am involved with.

One problem that crops up from time time time is called stolen valour.  This is when a military service member or veteran embellishes what they accomplished while in military service or a civilian claims to have been a member of the military when they were not.  It could include wearing medals that one has not earned or qualification patches that one has qualified with the right to wear.  One recent incident involves Franck Gervais from Remembrance Day 2014.  He ended up being interviewed on CBC on national television.  Even though Mr. Gervais had never been a member of the military he wore an army uniform with medals that he never earned even though the Criminal Code of Canada states that this is illegal.  Section 419.   Mr Gervais ended up with 12 months of probation and 50 hours of community service for lying about having been a member of the military.

gervais

Image source: https://www.thestar.com

It’s so easy in this day and age to find out information.  I recall one Remembrance Day I came across a soldier who was a Captain wearing a medal I was unfamiliar with.  I was initially skeptical because I was sure I had never seen this medal before.  I thought I had memorized the whole chart of the various decorations and medals but he advised me it was a medal for bravery which are not given out very often and are cataloged by the Governor General by name and various other criteria.  It turned out that when I looked him up on the Governor General’s website by honour and last name he had unselfishly risked his life to pull ammunition out of a burning truck in Afghanistan saving the local population from being injured or killed in an explosion.  The Captain never bragged or gave any indication about what he had done to earn the medal, I just found out from my own research after the fact.  True heros do not brag about their accomplishments.

One site I like checking out it is This Aint Hell.  While it is more of an American focus it does manage to shed some light on the problem of stolen valour, whether that be a veteran embellishing what they accomplished while they served or a civilian claiming military service when they didn’t.  Maybe it is that we do not like to brag so much in Canada about our accomplishments that I do notice it is less of a problem here and comes up less frequently.  It seems like it is far less of a problem here in Canada then the United States.

Have you ever run across a case of stolen valour or felt that someone wasn’t telling you the truth about their military service?

Sources:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/11/13/remembrance_day_hoax_clues_that_franck_gervais_was_no_military_man.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/franck-gervais-who-wore-illegal-military-gear-gets-probation-community-service-1.3177867

https://www.gg.ca/honours.aspx

http://thisainthell.us

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COM0011 – Technology use over time.

COM0011 – Technology use over time.

The 1980’s

I was in grade 6 at the time so I am somewhat dating myself. I would say one of the precursors to modern social media would have to be the audio cassette. I would get blank audio cassettes and make mixtapes from songs on the radio. It was a little bit of a challenge to record the introduction of a song right when the DJ stopped speaking in order to have the best version of songs you could get from home recording. The information sharing part came when other kids that also made mixtapes were trading them around school.

My first exposure to computers came around this time. Nowadays, I am a PC guy but the first computer I was using at school was an Apple Macintosh. It was a big deal at the time to be the one who got to use the only computer with the color monitor. I recall playing a lot of The Oregon Trail at this time.

The_Oregon_Trail_cover

The 1990’s

CD’s started to make their way to market. Now we had a better way to make mixtapes. Kids would lend their friends a CD so that mixtapes without the DJ talking at the start of a song could be possible. Also the audio quality was higher. It was a somewhat primitive form of information sharing.

I had finally managed in the early 90’s to convince my parents to buy a computer. I believe it was an Intel 486. It was still early before modern adoption of computers and a bit of a nerdy thing to have at the time in the early 90’s but I got one with a modem and started my journey into the online world. Connecting through dial up bulletin board systems I was able to access Usenet, play games and generally chat with other users on forums. It was mostly text based at the time.

It wasn’t until Windows 95 came out that it seemed that everyone had gotten a computer and was connected online. It had finally become commonplace to see website and email addresses.

win95-1-1

2000’s

It was 2003 when the computer had become more then a machine to play games, chat and surf the internet. I had signed up in the regular force of the Canadian Forces and become an Administrative and Finance Clerk. Computer use for me was now a daily requirement of the job. Clients would come for appointments and I had to navigate online tools, policies and regulations in order to assist them.

I had been prompted by a friend to sign up for Facebook in 2007. It was my first journey into social media. I spent many hours online (and still do) on Facebook. There have been many changes I have seen over time. Easier sharing of things like photos. Different formats to what used to be called your wall and is now a timeline. I went through my contact list excitedly and tried to connect with friends and collegues and any other acquantinces I came into contact with.

2010’s

During this time I had finally upgraded to a smartphone. Now I was accessing the internet on the go. It also seemed that free Wi-Fi was popping up everywhere. Now nearly every bar, mall or restaurant has free Wi-Fi so I don’t go over my data usage and end up with a large bill at the end of the month. Upgrading phones over time became less of a hassle. I integrated Google apps into my phone so that doing tasks such as managing hundreds of contacts, checking email and updating my calender could be updated in real time.

android

I had been holding off on signing up for Twitter for awhile but finally decided to give it a try. Many friends were on Twitter and I followed them. Over time I started following many people and brands. I made it to about 3000 following so needless to say my timeline managed to get very cluttered. I found it was not quite what I intended when I first signed up for the service so my enthusiasm for Twitter started to wane. Who knows, maybe this course will rekindle my interest in Twitter.

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