Is Binge Watching the New Standard?

The way we watch TV has changed dramatically over the past few years. It was essentially unchanged from the late ‘40s until the late ‘70s. At that point, home video started to become a major factor: people could now watch what they wanted, when they wanted, and were no longer limited to just what aired on television. Videotape gave way to videodiscs, and now we also have streaming.

One unexpected thing to surface with the rise of streaming is the art of binge watching. Instead of running one episode of a program, people will now sit through several in one sitting. TV production companies have certainly taken notice and responded with programming that encourages you to keep right on watching. That’s why so many shows nowadays are serialized: you can’t follow what’s happening unless you have seen them all and they hope you can’t wait to get on to the next episode. Netflix is even designed to simply lead you directly into the next episode of that same series.

Previously, the only way you could do this would be to record a bunch of episodes of a program off TV, or buy them in a DVD boxset. Of course, having them this way ensures that they will always be available when you want. Services like Netflix routinely rotate their offerings, so you might watch something and then come back a few weeks later and find that it is now gone.

Putting that aside, let’s say you don’t care about having your own video library and are only interested in what is currently available. Nothing wrong with that. However, binge watching can be a major time suck. Hours can pass without you realizing it. People who want to cut back on the amount of time they spend watching screens will certainly not benefit from having this temptation in front of them.

Canadians Using More High Speed Internet Than Ever Before, But Also Paying More for the Privilege

A new report in the Toronto Star has some very interesting information about internet usage in Canada. Not surprisingly, more and more people are using the internet and the amount of bandwidth they consume at home and on the move each month is also on the rise. The average Canadian now uses over 120 GB of data at home, plus more than 1GB on each of their mobile devices. This will undoubtedly go up as more and more people continue to ditch basic cable in favour of streaming.

With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, plus Video on Demand and so much video content on other sites, it’s no wonder that these figures are as high as they are. This is certainly a very profitable situation for the telecom companies, though while they are happily cashing in by regularly raising prices, we are not seeing a whole lot of movement on their part to invest in expanding their services.

Not only will more people continue to demand high speed data, the delivery also needs to be faster. High definition video is compressed when streaming, but can still take up a lot of data. The new 4K Ultra Hi-Def format, even presented in such a compromised form, will require even more. Again, we are not seeing much action by providers to ensure that the infrastructure is there to ensure proper delivery. This is especially true in rural areas and the more remote parts of Canada, though the government is reportedly helping out with a financial incentive there.

Alas, the government is doing little to curtail the rising prices for the internet. Canada ranks second, behind only the United States, as the most expensive for what is becoming a basic service for a very large percentage of the world population. And that needs to change.

Lessons Children Learn from Friendship

A true friendship can greatly enrich your life. In fact, some of us hold our dear friends in higher regards than our siblings and sometimes even our parents. Friends are there for you when you need them and you reciprocate in kind. There are many lessons to be learned from friendship and these can be particularly valuable for children as they emotionally mature and learn more about how life works.

While children discover certain basics of behaviour at home with their parents and brothers and sisters, it is usually the friends they make outside the home that help to teach them about functioning in an group. While exposure to other children in school can have an effect, a child’s closer dealings with friends goes along the way in helping to define their own identity.

The time spent with friends can be educational, can further emotional development, and also improves the child’s physical health, thanks to the games and other forms of physical activities that friends engage in.

As with most everything in life, friendships are a learned skill. Children come to realize that if they treat their friends with respect, it will be shown to them in return. Interactions with a trusted person like a friend can teach children the skills they need to interact well with both people their age and adult authority figures.

Allowing children to find and foster friendships on their own is important because it teaches the child to analyze people and select ones who share common interests with them and, thus, are the most compatible.

Spending time with other children is also a great way to introduce them to new things. For example, if a parent tries to force a child to take up a sport, they will likely resist. However, if they discover the joys of that activity on their own by doing it with friends, they are more likely to engage in it on a regular basis.

In Pain Following the End of a Friendship?

During the course of their life, the average person will have several friendships that are extremely important to them. In fact, some people will hold their best friends in higher regard than their families or even spouses. It is not surprising then that when one such a friendship ends, it can be emotionally devastating.

Has a friendship that you hold in particularly high regard ended recently? Are you having trouble dealing with the emotional fallout? If so, these tips can help you to restore your balance:

Everyone changes

Do you feel you are the same person you were five years ago? How about 10 years ago? 20 years? Through a combination of maturity and life experience, we change as we grow older. That applies to other people, too. There can be a number of reasons why friendships end, but some discontinue simply because the people involved are no longer the same as they were when it started.

Accept the outcome

Sometimes a friendship will end and one party will not accept that it is over. They will cling on to the hope that it can somehow be restored. This is emotionally dangerous and can make an unpleasant situation even worse. If your friendship has ended, and you are certain that there is no mending the fence, accept this fact and move on with your life.

Try Journaling

When we are in emotional pain, it is common to bottle it up inside and just shut down. This causes it to linger and make life even more challenging. Try taking your emotional pain and putting it down on paper in a journal. This is a good way to get it out of your system and you can look back at it later on as a reminder of what you were going through if a similar situation ever arises.

Don’t Forget to Relax

One thing that is consistent about today’s world is that many people seem to have little in the way of spare time. They are busy at work and at home, and that leaves time for little else. As a result, many do not take the time they need to relax and just plain take it easy.

Unfortunately, it is crucial to have downtime built into your schedule for both your physical and mental health. There are some things you can try that will help to ensure you get the quiet time you need in order to function at their best.

Set aside some time

It can be tough when we are so busy to set aside any time that is not “productive.” You can get around that mindset by remembering that having regular downtime aids in your productivity, which makes you a more effective worker and person.

Even if it means not getting some “actual” work done, prioritize your day and then be sure to include some rest periods where you can unwind and not think about anything stressful.

Pay attention to your body

Do you find that you do not have the same amount of energy as usual? Feel like your tail is dragging in the dirt for no good reason at all? Are you suffering from inexplicable aches and pains? Has your enthusiasm for your job and other pursuits going down recently?

These are all signs that your body is crying out for a break. You can avoid reaching this point by incorporating regular breaks into your schedule.

Know that you are not wasting time

In contrast to simply wasting time, taking a few moments every day to just relax and recharge is actually time well spent. You are investing in your ability to continue functioning at the top of your game.


How to Pick the Right Gifts

There are a number of occasions every year where we buy gifts for people and yet, it never seems to get any easier to pick just the right one. Even with a hard and fast deadline (like, say, a 5:00 closing time on Christmas Eve), do you find yourself pacing up and down the aisles unsure of what to buy? Here are some tips that might help:

What Are the Person’s Interests?

Knowing this can help immensely. However, it can also be a double-edged sword. For example, if you know the person loves movies and has a lot of them, how can you be sure what to buy? The solution is to talk to them about movies without letting them know why.

Think About Their Life Situation

Buying for the “person who has everything” certainly isn’t easy. But what if the person needs some things that they either cannot afford or have simply not acquired yet? Think about items in that category. There is nothing wrong with a gift that is practical, rather than flashy.

Drop Some Hints

This can be a little tricky when talking with the actual person. However, there is no reason that you can’t discuss it with their friends or family. Also, see if they have a Wish List on Amazon or other websites.

Think About Your Connection

Whether it is a friend or family member, you have some kind of connection or common interest. Think about how that bond could translate into a gift.

And once you have that gift, don’t forget the fun…

Make It Special…and Strange!

Throw the person off by taking your practical gift and hiding inside something truly weird that they would never buy! It can be a lot of fun watching how they try to be polite, while also not wanting to seem completely shocked at the same time.




How to Control Your Temper

It is normal for a person to become angry every once in a while. However, if you are finding yourself getting mad on a regular basis over fairly trivial matters, and/or that anger is becoming increasingly violent and disturbing to those around you, there is likely a problem.

You might need to see a therapist about this issue, but beforehand, here are some tips you can try to control your temper:

Step Back

If you find yourself in a heated situation and are not sure about what you might do or say next, step back. If that means removing yourself from the room, do so. You may worry that this makes you look bad, or even childish, but that is better than the possible repercussions that could result in a far worse situation.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

One of the reasons people getting very angry is because they are already wound up. If you feel yourself getting tense, excuse yourself and practice some relaxation techniques. These can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths for a couple minutes. This will help to take the edge off of your anger and allow you to re-approach the situation with a clearer head.

Employ Short Term Solutions

Is your car malfunctioning and driving you crazy? Unable to get it to the mechanic right away? Instead of remaining in that frustrating situation, call a taxi or ask a friend for a ride.  That won’t fix your car, but it will fix the current issue. You can deal with the problem later on when you are feeling calm.

If these don’t work for you, look into seeing a therapist or taking an anger management course. These will help you develop alternate techniques to deal with your frustration, while also identifying what is behind the anger.

New Technology for Blind People

You may remember LeVar Burton’s Geordi La Forge character from STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION: blind, but able to see, thanks to some amazing future tech he wore that looked a bit like wraparound sunglasses. We don’t quite have those yet, but science has been creating some amazing gadgets that are helping visually impaired people regain some of their lost vision.

Smart Glasses

Previously, an unassisted blind person had little more than a cane or a guide dog to help them maneuver around in unfamiliar places. There are now smart glasses available that make the wearer aware when something is close to them. A built-in GPS can also provide the user with other audible directions.

Braille ebook Reader

eReaders have greatly changed the way that people consume books, but the screens would seem to leave little ability for Braille readers to make use of this technology. A digital reader with a tactile screen suitable for Braille has been created, though it has not yet gone into mass release.


Another reader that does not require as much tech, the FingerReader fits on the user’s finger and “reads” print out loud as the person runs their finger over the text. This technology can also be helpful for people interested in learning other languages. However, like the Braille eReader, there is not yet a version you can purchase.

Seeing With Your Mouth

This is a bit more complicated than that heading suggests. You aren’t actually “seeing” while using this device, but it does have a way of providing signals that your brain can use as a guide. The BrainPort V100 has a small video camera mounted on a pair of glasses worn by the user. This data is then sent to an electrode-studded mouthpiece that provides a tingling sensation on the wearer’s tongue that corresponds to the obstacles nearby. Users learn through instruction what each type of tongue tingle means and react accordingly.

How to Cultivate a Productive Workplace Environment

The average Canadian spends 35-40 hours per week at work and if you don’t enjoy your job, it can make for a very, very long time. Sometimes the job is fine, but the actual workplace environment is the issue. If you find yourself in the latter predicament, here are some tips on how to improve things:


We can all get very busy during the work day, but it is important to stay in touch with your colleagues and clients. Failing to answer emails and instant messages can be misconstrued as a lack of respect or interest, and that reflects poorly on both you and the company. Either way, this needs to change as soon as possible.

Be Engaged

Meetings are no one’s idea of fun, but they can seem positively torturous—and a waste of everyone’s time—if all of the participants sit there silent and stone-faced. The monthly reports may not be what you want to talk about Friday afternoon at 4:00, but if you put in some effort, the meeting will not only be more productive, it will also be over sooner and you can get on with your weekend plans.

Include Some Time for Fun

Busy, busy, busy can be stressful, stressful, stressful and exhausting, exhausting, exhausting. The day always goes by faster if you can laugh once in a while. Enjoy a few jokes or some witty conversation during breaks and lunch. Set aside some time to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, and other fun occasions.

Take Advantage of Everyone’s Strengths

A diverse work team brings a lot of different abilities to the table. You can capitalize on that by knowing the areas where everyone excels. That way you can have the best person for each task, which helps to ensure speedy and successful completion of assignments and other deadlines.

Showing Respect to Your Co-Workers

Whether you are a construction worker or a bank president, it is important to show respect for your co-workers. An atmosphere in which everyone is treated fairly is one more conducive to harmony, productivity, and general happiness. Here are some ways that can help to ensure you treat co-workers with all due respect.

Avoid Gossip

It can be tempting to say things about other people at work, but these “facts” are sometimes just based on rumors. So not only are you talking behind someone’s back, you’re spread falsehoods about them. If you have an issue with someone else, talk to them directly. If that doesn’t work, try speaking to your supervisor.

Make Small Talk

Small talk can often seem like an annoying waste of time, but imagine sitting day after day with people that you never speak to. Engage people in subjects that interest them, such as their children, hobbies, etc. Show some imagination; don’t just talk about the weather. Also, try to remember the names of children, spouses, etc. That demonstrates that you are paying attention and care about what is being said to you.

Respond to Communication

We all get busy at work, but repeatedly ignoring e-mails and instant messages from co-workers is simply disrespectful. Take a few seconds to reply and say something like, “I’m busy at the moment, but will get back to this afternoon.” And then follow-up like you promised.

Don’t Be Late

It’s not always possible to be on time, but being repeatedly late suggests that you have a problem with time management. Being late for meetings time after time is disrespectful and a burden to your colleagues.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions

Just because someone has not finished something when they promised does not mean they don’t care about you as a co-worker. People sometimes get called into emergency meetings with clients or find themselves having to deal with other situations that demand their unexpected attention. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

I, for One, Welcome Our New Driverless Overlords

Driverless cars are now a thing! You aren’t likely to see one on your commute home tonight, but they are now out there. Testing is still underway, but it seems like we have finally cleared the last hurdle and they now have enough support that the technology is here to stay.

Some people love driving. Live for it even. I am not one of these people. I own a car because of the convenience and freedom it gives me. If someone told me that I could continue to enjoy those freedoms, while also never having to get behind the wheel again, I would say “YES!!!” in a split second. For me, driving has always been a source of anxiety and agitation. Yes, it can be nice to travel down a lovely country road on a sunny day, but that makes up about 1/100th of the driving experience. It’s mostly just stop and go, tedious, frustrating city and highway driving filled with equally bored and frustrated drivers anxious to get off the road and put up their feet at home.

Experts are predicting that we are only a few years from perfected self-driving cars, though the regulatory and logistic aspects will no doubt delay things for a bit more. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to finish a long day at work and spend the 30-45 minute trip home doing something fun and relaxing so that you can open your front door completely ready to put the day behind you?

Personally, I can’t wait. Machines don’t drive drunk or half-asleep, don’t play with their phones, and don’t have their kids distracting them. Human beings accomplish wonderful things, but we really don’t have a lot of good drivers out there. Time to let technology take over.

Google’s driverless car. By Flckr user jurvetson (Steve Jurvetson). Trimmed and retouched with PS9 by Mariordo [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Common Objects That Use Sputter Deposition

Ever heard of sputter deposition? Probably not, unless you work in manufacturing or studied engineering. But I guarantee you’re definitely familiar with some of the hundreds of important, everyday objects that are made possible thanks to sputter deposition.

Sputter deposition is a physical vapour deposition (PVD) technique. Essentially, it’s a way of coating an object with a thin, uniform layer of material. Sputter deposition works by forcing molecules from a source material (like aluminum or nickel) onto the surface of an object (known as the substrate) using a powerful magnetic field. There are a variety of PVD techniques for different applications, but sputter deposition is one of the most common.

Now that you know the basics, let’s look at some essential items that use sputter deposition.


Think of all the different glass coatings we use in our everyday lives. There’s the anti-reflective coating on your eyeglasses, the tinted glass on your car, and the Low-E coatings that make your window panes more energy-efficient. How did they get there? Magnetron sputtering!

Touch Screens

Just about every cell phone on earth now comes with a touch screen. We often think of touch screens as a simple piece of glass, but they’re really a lot more complicated than that.

Touch screens are made from two sheets of material coated with a resistive substance, like indium tin oxide (ITO). When you press down on the screen, the top sheet touches the bottom sheet and the resistive substances meet. This tells the touch screen control circuit where on the screen you are touching.

Those resistive surfaces are made possible thanks to a uniform sputtering of metal.


Solar Technology

Solar technology uses something called photovoltaic materials to generate energy. These materials can absorb light photons and release electrons, converting light into energy at an atomic level.

Recently, solar technology has been moving in the direction of thin film solar panels rather than the traditional, rigid panels you’re used to seeing on rooftops. Thin film solar panels use a thin coating of photovoltaic materials, which allows for a new generation of thin-flexible solar panels. This is made possible thanks to —you guessed it — magnetron sputtering.

Want to learn more about sputter deposition? Check out an expert on sputter deposition — Angstrom Engineering is one located right here in Kitchener, Ontario.