Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Google provides free phone calls from GMail to anywhere in North America. (reasonable rates for overseas)

Cyrus (+1)  and Lifehacker pointed out that Gmail has now allowed phone calls to be placed straight from Gmail.
Google announces it here (along with a cute video)
I thought you would like to know about this. Here is an overview. 

Free calls anywhere in North America till Dec 31st, fair rates elsewhere.

  • I used it for 2 hours yesterday and the quality was very very clear. :-)
  • It is super easy. 
  • It will dial people from your Google contacts list (accessed through Gmail)
  • It integrates with your Google voice account if you have one. (calling credit, history, google voice # on caller ID etc.)
  • You need a Gmail account. (free fast good)
  • It requires a browser plug-in that you would otherwise install for using Google chat’s “voice-chat” feature.
  • It requires a speaker/headphones and microphone
  • (um and an Internet connection)

  • In Gmail on the left were you see “chat” and your friends below your status;
    • Rather than clicking on a person and starting a chat,
  • you click “call phones” and it presents you with a keypad.
  • Type the number you want 604-555-1212 etc… and it starts ringing
  • OR type a contact from your gmail contacts.
UPDATE: Gmail has extended free North American phone calls for all of 2011.  Thank you Gmail.  I know this is one of many factors causing my friends to consider giving up their home phones.

Enjoy! I hope this saves you money and helps you connect with the people that matter to you.

Cheers, Greg

Friday, August 27, 2010

Say no to flyers and newspapers to save trees, reduce clutter and save money.

The experiment is a success.

Each year, our household saves 2.1 mature trees per year by refusing flyers and newspapers.

At our house, we have more time, less mess, less stress, the paperboy gets his route done faster and we save trees from being unnecessarily, cut down, transported, processed, printed and delivered to our door.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

US Pollution Database Aggregates Public Polluter data

I just found this online resource for finding local information (including reported release of pollutants)
If we look at what Blaine, Bellingham, Lynden, Sumas Washington (which are the closest US Cities to British Columbia) are releasing it is quite surprising what is going into our air.  Without actually counting the numbers, it seems that the BP Cherry Point refinery is spewing the greatest variety of pollutants into our local air-
shed.  For those of you who are unaware, air quality in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia's "Lower Mainland" ia problematic, with local mountains creating a funnelling effect that seems to concentrate air pollution as it travels eastward. (The wind is normally gentle from the West) 

Despite the thickness of the black line on the map that marks our border with the United States, American pollutants continue to defy international law by illegally crossing our border without permission.  Seems that elimination of pollutants at source is the only option, since we realize our neighbours to the south aren't being malicious, and suffer as much as we do from the careless release of toxic chemicals.

Resources like this make the facts Open to the public and form a foundation for reasonable and informed grassroots efforts to improve air quality.

BP? what are you doing to my kid's health?

Now to bring balance to the force, we also need to see a listing of Canadian factories and pollutants.  If anyone reading this knows of a similar Canadian resource, let me know.