A New Year...


PotatoUnibrow
I really have to start blogging again. I am averaging about one post a year and that's pathetic.
Anyway, here are the surfboards I'm riding this year. First off is a Firewire Timbertek Baked Potato. Great in the Lakes on small mushy days, which is the norm.
Specs: 6'1" x 22 3/4" x 3" at 50.9L
Next up is a Firewire Timbertek Unibrow, great on bigger days and when I'm not wearing 6mm of rubber.
Specs: 6'4" x 20 1/4" x 2 3/4" at 37.3L
Both have Futures boxes. I ride the Potato as a Quad with a Nubster and the Unibrow with a Thruster setup.
These boards seem to cover most conditions but sometimes I miss the longboards I used to ride growing up. I suppose the SUP makes up for this. Next entries will cover the SUP and Windsurfers…
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It's been that long...

Paddle
Really, it's been that long? Apparently my last Blog Entry was in August 2011. My how time flies, seemed just like yesterday that I was sitting here writing it. Well, a lot has happened since then so I had better start updating all that in future entries. Let's see, a quick recap. I got Married, spent a week in California and survived yet another winter in Canada. Not much of a winter actually, pretty mild even by Toronto's standards. I don't think a week went by that I wasn't able to either Surf or SUP in Lake Ontario, and that is pretty unusual. In fact, last week it was so warm that I SUP'ed out to the Anemometer in a T-Shirt and a pair of Baggies. No gloves or boots required! Anyway, more of all that in future entries. As you may have noticed, there have been some changes to the Web Site, and more Upgrades are on the horizon. Stay tuned…
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Weather Underground Upgrades...

Weather Underground
Weather Underground has now unveiled a new and improved format that displays Wind and Weather conditions for any location in the world. It has "Full Screen Weather", which allows you to zoom in on the Google Maps interface and view Weather Information from over 16,000 personal weather stations. The settings available in the drop down menus also include the ability to view Weather Alerts, Web Cams, Windspeed, Wind Direction and allow you to move the info boxes around on your screen. A welcome addition to our Forecasting Tools...


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Getting into Shape...

At the beginning of the year I decided that it was about time that I lost some weight and got into shape. After all, the 2011 Paddle for MS will be here before we know it. A surfing buddy, Geoff, introduced me to "Lose It!", a free program that he had been using. I signed up, filled in all the necessary information on January 9th, and set a goal of losing 25 lbs. by the end of March. Basically all you do is follow the programs suggestion as to how many calories you should consume each day. Track that, and the amount of exercise you do and that's basically it. Even I had no trouble with that! Anyway, I am pleased to announce that as of today I have lost 23.2 lbs. and should reach my goal of losing 25 lbs. on March 20th. Wonder what my next goal should be? Any suggestions? Thanks Geoff, for making this so easy...
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Alaia, Surfboard or Submarine...

We had a small swell on Saturday, so I oiled her up, attached a leash, and took her for a swim in the Lake. First off, on the bright side, the Alaia remained in one piece. That is to say, the five pieces of wood that comprise her all stayed together and didn't drift off in different directions. Also, although I had just oiled the deck with Linseed Oil, it was not slippery and I didn't need to use any wax. Paddling was another story. Zero floatation means that you are basically swimming out to the line-up on top of a piece of wood that is 1" thick . Once in position, sitting on the board is also a bit of an adventure as the only part of my body out of the water were my head and shoulders. Paddling, or "Swimming" onto a wave is almost impossible, although I did manage to get two rides almost all the way into the shore by lying prone on the Alaia and pushing off from the bottom of the Lake with my feet. I will have to persevere with this, as the waves were far too small and did not have enough power to properly test things out. Also, being almost completely submerged in ice cold water did not help. I think this will be a lot more fun in the summer...
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A Speed Boost...

The Linksys BEFSX41 Wired Router that I had been using on my network for the last 8 years finally died, so I replaced it with a Linksys WRT54G2 Wireless G Router that I was using mainly for Apple TV and my iPod Touch. After configuring it for Port Forwarding and all the other stuff related to the WebCams, Weather Station and Website, I was surprised to find an added bonus. After testing the connection speed, I found that my download speed is now twice what it was previously. This may not affect my Website Visitors much, but it has made a huge difference to my downloading capabilities. Please let me know if you notice an improvement...
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An Impressive Performance...

We headed up to Casino Rama near Orillia on Friday evening to catch a live performance of "The Ventures". This band was formed in 1959, the surviving members have played together for 50 years, and they are the biggest selling instrumental band of all time. Their biggest, and most popular hit is probably the theme from "Hawaii Five-O". On March 10, 2008, The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was something I had been looking forward to since Christmas. Met up with Gary and Kelly, spent some time getting rid of our excess cash in the Casino, then really enjoyed an incredible show. Nokie Edwards is truly amazing. He is in his mid-seventies, and played guitar non-stop for two hours. Click here to see a YouTube video him playing "Surf Rider", a song he wrote that was featured in the movie "Pulp Fiction". We all thoroughly enjoyed the show and would recommend it to everyone. For more Ventures videos, visit this page...

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Cards and Stickers...

Sticker
The updated Business Cards and the new Stickers have arrived from the Printer. I think they look pretty good. If you would like a "Free Sticker", either ask me for one at the beach or email me and I will give you the address to send a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) to. You will need to send a C6 size envelope as the stickers are 5" in diameter. Just prefect for covering any rust spots on your car or nasty dings you may have on your board...


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Social Media Buttons and Things...


I have added "Social Media Buttons" in the Sidebar of a few of the more popular pages on the Site, so now you can click on them to easily "Share" these pages with your friends. Also, as we are now officially into Fall, the view of Lake Ontario from the WebCam is improving, as the leaves are busy falling from the trees. Looks like the Surf will be improving soon, this being is our best season for wind and waves. Also, those of you who signed up to receive Weather Alerts will notice that you are getting a lot more Alerts...
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Heat Alert...

Well, I heard today on 680 News that the City of Toronto was under a "Heat Alert", so I dropped everything except my $10 GoPro Camera and rushed down to my nearest "Cooling Center." The heat wasn't that bad, and considering that I grew up in South Africa, I actually found it to be quite pleasant. However, just to be on the safe side, I immersed myself in Lake Ontario for an hour. That did the trick. Got a lot of strange glances from the passers by though. A couple more pics and videos are available here. Honestly, I didn't find it all that hot...
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Summer...

Surfed Saturday morning for a couple of hours at Peacock Point on Lake Erie and windsurfed Monday afternoon at Frenchman's Bay on Lake Ontario. Broke a boom about 1/2 a mile out, but managed to sail back to shore without too many problems. Trunked it both days as the water was surprisingly warm. Gotta make the most of our short summers! No pictures are available, as my photographer sprained her ankle and was not in the best of moods. I'm off to the dentist to have a tooth extracted tomorrow. That'll be fun, but not nearly as painful as the ankle...
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The Roof Cam...

Well, as promised, I installed the Rotor and the Roof Cam and it is now able to rotate through 360˚. The best views are as follows:
1. The Pickering Nuke Plant (E)
2. The Original Position (SE)
3. The Gap between the trees. (S)
4. The Village Park. (SE)
Click on the image to see the camera rotate.
The view of the Lake will probably be a lot better during the winter months when all the leaves have fallen from the trees. In the meantime the Cam will be pointed randomly in one of the above 4 directions. Anyway, let me know which direction you prefer...
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A Rotor at Last...

Last weekend while at Peacock Point I was lucky enough to find a Rotor attached to an old antenna. Then on Monday I found a controller for $20 on Kijiji. Things are definitely looking good. I picked up 60 feet of cable yesterday, so sometime next week I plan to attach the Roof Cam to the Rotor. This will allow me to pan the camera through 360˚ anytime I feel like it, using the controller which will be set up next to the server.
Soon we will be able to see the conditions on Lake Ontario, all the way from the Pickering Nuclear Power Station in the East to the CN Tower in the West, without having to climb up onto the roof to move the camera. Now that's progress...
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The Downside to Streaming WebCams...

Well, after returning home from North Carolina I discovered "The Downside to Streaming WebCams". What seemed like a nice idea, allowing all viewers to check "Live" conditions on the Lake for free, has resulted in a huge increase in bandwidth. I had already purchased a monthly allowance of 40 GB on top of what my service provider normally allows, at an additional cost. Unfortunately, when users spend hours viewing the Lake and don't disconnect from the Streaming WebCams, I am in fact "Uploading" to their computers. As you can understand, this becomes pretty expensive, especially now, as I have surpassed my monthly allowance. I therefore have switched the cameras off until the next billing cycle. They will be back on after the 20th of June, but will only upload images every couple of minutes, until I can determine the amount of bandwidth that is being used. My last resort will be to block the IP Numbers of the offenders (You know who you are), or to put passwords on the cameras that will allow only registered users to access them...
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A Guest Book...

Last week I added a Guest Book to the Site. If you like the site or have any ides for improvements, please leave a comment. Click on the closed Guest Book icon, it will open and a form should appear where you can leave a message. It would also be interesting to find out what City and Country you are visiting from...
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The Street Cam

The Street Cam has now been relocated and is on the roof next to the Roof Cam. This Cam has a 6mm lens which gives a much more panoramic view of the Lake. It also has 35 IR LED's, which give it a kind of "Night Vision" range for 55 feet . Installation was a breeze, as I have installed an "Escape Hatch" on the roof, which is accessible from the attic. Good, no more ladders! Will update the Blog with details of the Roof Hatch in the next couple of days...
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It's a Small World...

Yesterday, while on FaceBook, I made contact with 3 friends that I have not heard from in over 44 years. Les, pictured on the left in the photo, Colin and Rodney. We grew up together in Durban, South Africa, surfing, riding motorcycles, chasing girls and generally getting to all kinds of trouble. It's amazing that we survived. Les and Colin are still in South Africa, Rod is in Australia and I ended up in Canada. Brings back a lot of good memories. Like Rod said, we used to call you "Gamat". Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time. I hope they have some photos from way back then. They would really be worth seeing. Something to show the kids, or not! Boy, those were the days...
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Sidetracked...

It all started when I decided to search the web for a rotor to enable me to pan the webcam. This seemed like a less expensive solution than the $1200 PTZ webcams I had been looking at. I stumbled across this YouTube video while searching. It looked pretty interesting, OTA (over the air) HD TV with an antenna made out of coat hangers. Who would have thought…
It took me about 20 minutes to make the antenna out of junk that I had in the garage and hooked it up to the TV. Lo and behold, it worked! It actually worked so well, that we have cancelled Bell ExpressVu view and now watch free HD TV. Saves a bundle as there are no monthly payments and the picture quality is better than what we were getting from satellite. Well, sometimes it pays to get sidetracked. Now where was I?
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Endless Entertainment...

Now that the Cam is on the roof I have discovered a source of "Endless Entertainment". The Rouge Hill Go Station is situated a little east of the Web Cam and the new Parking Lot just to the west. The commuters usually seem to arrive at the Parking Lot a little later than they had anticipated, so there is a great deal of "Running for the Train". I am finding all this quite amusing in a perverse kind of way. For your convenience I have included a Train Schedule so you can too can enjoy the action. Have fun...
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The Roof Cam...

I now have the Sony HC26 Camcorder installed in a heated outdoor housing with a mounting bracket and enough cable to reach from the roof to the server. Thank you Mike for the generous donation. As soon as it stops raining I will install a power outlet up there and then we should be ready to roll. The view should be a lot better as the camera will be about 25' higher. I am now looking for a used Channel Master Rotor and Controller, like the ones used on old TV antennas. If you have one gathering dust and would like to donate it, please let me know. If I can mount the camera housing on the rotor, it will allow the camera to automatically pan through 180 degrees. Check back early next week to see what progress has been made...
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Paddle for MS...

Yesterday a good friend, Mike Sandusky of Surf Ontario informed me that his sister has been diagnosed with MS. As a fundraiser this summer, he is planning a long distance Stand Up Paddle Board paddle across Lake Ontario from Burlington Beach to Ashbridges Bay in Toronto. The paddle is approximately 67 kilometres and will take 12-16 hours to complete. Grant Kennedy, a close friend, web designer and fellow lake surfer will be joining him in this feat. They will set off on this journey between August 6th and 9th, depending on favourable wind and weather conditions.  To sponsor them and to see how much they have raised to date, click here.
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Lost in Translation...

After checking my FlagCounter Widget on the Web Cam Page I realized that there are visitors from over 36 different countries accessing my site. Pretty good for a site dedicated to Surfing on a Lake! With this in mind, today I decided to install Google Translate, Google's free online language translation service. This service instantly translates text and web pages into 52 different languages. The widget can be found in the sidebar of the RapidBlog page...
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Getting closer...

Today I picked up 150' of Cat5e cable from Steve. All I need now is a heated outdoor housing, a mounting bracket and some decent weather so I can climb up onto the roof and install the Sony Cam.
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Testing...

Testing Captcha? Posting from Blogger seems to work!
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RapidBlog...

Today I added RapidBlog blogging software by Loghound.com, a great Mac/RapidWeaver/ iPhone software developer. This will enable me to add, edit and delete blog posts and pictures from anywhere with an internet connection. Hopefully this will come in pretty handy for blogging when on vacation or in some far away exotic surf spot. This software also enables comments. Now to start planning a trip...



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GoPro Wrist Camera...

Well, Gary called me from Bayview Village on Saturday while he was out shopping. They were having a sidewalk sale outside Restoration Hardware and were selling the original GoPro Digital Hero Wrist Cameras, Model # GDH20-RH. Original Price was $95.00, reduced to $24.99 and now on sale for $10.00 each. We picked up one each. Waterproof to 30 feet, images are 640 x 480 pixels and they take 10 second videos. Best $10.00 I've spent for a while...


Watch the 1/2 size video taken at Port Union Road or click here for the video at full size.

Buy GoPro HERO Camera at GoPro.com
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Testing RapidBlog


This is a test of the RapidBlog Plugin.
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Progress...

Construction has started on the proposed GO Station Parking Lot Expansion at the Rouge Hill Station. The field between our Townhouse and the Waterfront Trail has been cleared and all the trees have been removed. The good news is that the trees that were obstructing the view of the Lake are now history. As soon as I can get a decent web cam mounted on the roof in an outdoor housing, we should be able to see the waves breaking on the shore. Click on the image for a larger view.
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The view from above...

Yesterday, much to the horror of my neighbours, I climbed onto the roof to inspect the Weather Station. All is well and unlike me, it seems to have “weathered” last winter without any significant damage.
Whilst up there, I took a series of photos of Lake Ontario and stitched them into a panorama. Depending on the donations I receive, this will eventually be the view from the user controlled PTZ Web Cam mounted on the roof. Click on the picture above and a larger one will appear in a new window. The larger picture can then also be enlarged and scrolled left and right to get the full effect.
A few trees blocking the view of the Lake will be removed next month when the new GO Station Parking Lot is constructed. Also during the windy winter months when there are no leaves on the trees the view of the water is a lot clearer.

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Donations...

Firstly, a big thanks to all who have shown interest in the Web Site. My goals are to upgrade the WebCam and Weather Station. At the moment everything on the site is paid for out of pocket. That includes the home based web server running 24/7 and all the hardware.
If you would like to show your support please click on the PayPal donate button. Any amount, no matter how small, will be appreciated.
Depending on the donations, I would like to mount a Pan, Tilt and Zoom webcam in a winterized housing on top of the roof which would be user controllable through a browser, similar to this example.
If you have any suggestions, please contact me.
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Star Trek...

Took in the latest Star Trek movie last weekend with Lynn and really enjoyed it.
For an in depth review of the movie, check out Mark's Blog. He is an avid fan of the series and has a wealth of knowledge in all "Trekkie" things. Something I fail to comprehend is that why the Vulcans, a very clever people, allowed the Romulans to drill a hole in their planet without some sort of retaliation. This really mystifies me. Any comments Mark?
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Help Chuck out!

Please sign the petition to help Chuck and to ensure that there is a 3rd Season. This show airs on Monday evenings at 8:00 pm. and is really worth watching especially for us Geeks!


Renew NBC's "Chuck" For A 3rd Season! - Start A Petition Today
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Free Stock Photos

Added a page, “Free Stock Photos” courtesy of Big Stock Photo, where you can download Royalty Free Images to use as you wish. It’s not everyday you get something for nothing.
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SeaSpecs

My new SeaSpecs arrived in the mail yesterday. I am very impressed with them and should be able to try them out on Friday afternoon, as it’s supposed to blow. Will post a review after Friday.


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Words by Walma

Words by Walma highlights the writing, editing and other talents of my brother in law, Mark W. Walma. It is also the home of the Phillip Gold mysteries, a series of exciting novels and short stories featuring the lawyer-turned-investigator, Phillip Gold. Pop over to his site for some interesting reading...
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Contact Form

I have added a Contact Form to the site, so send me a message...
There is a limit of one attachment per email.


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Travel Forum

TravelKind.com has an article and some pictures on Surfing the Great Lakes
My Web Cam and a link to the
Origin Web Site are also featured.



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Another Web Cam Upgrade

I have replaced the iSight with a Sony DCR-TRV110 Camcorder which was donated by Brad. It has a great zoom lens wich results in a much closer and clearer picture of the lake.
It is connected to a Mac Mini via a Sony DVMC-DA1 Hardware Codec Converter.
Check it out on the Web Cam page and feel free to leave a comment.
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Camera Tests

I am testing 2 Cameras to replace the iSight Web Cam.
The image on the left is from a CCD Camera with a 12mm fixed lens.
The image on the right is from a Sony CamCorder with a zoom lens donated by Arden.
Now I have to figure out how to put the streaming images onto a web page.

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Web Cam Upgrade

Added a Tokina 2X Converter to the iSight.
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