moving-vanGreeting gentle reader! If you’re reading this post it’s either because you’re a regular visitor to WordsByNowak or you subscribe to my posts via email or RSS.

As you may have previously read in this space, I’ve started a new website at It’s the same articles, posts, opinions and so on that you’ve been enjoying here, but with a nicer coat of virtual paint.

I’ve been cross-posting both here and there since the site launched about a month ago, but the time has now come to transition fully over to the new digs.

I won’t be posting here any more and kindly ask you to point your browsers and bookmarks there instead. If you’re an RSS subscriber, you can re-subscribe here.

I’m not yet sure what I’ll be doing with this old haunt – I may rejig it into a site that focuses solely on my book work, or I may eventually just point it to

Either way, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has ever read this blog and I really hope you come and find me at the new place. – Pete


Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


Raising broadband definition would shame Canada’s woeful speed goals


Perhaps eager to make up for its chairman’s recent resoundingly dumb proposal to allow fast lanes on the internet and thereby kill net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with a much smarter and welcome proposition: the redefinition of what broadband actually is.

According to the current definition, high-speed internet access in the United States currently qualifies as any connection having a download speed of four megabits per second or higher, with an upload speed of one or higher. Given that this isn’t enough to even properly watch Netflix, let alone use many modern bandwidth-intensive applications, the regulator is planning to ask the public to comment on whether the thresholds should be modernized and raised to 10 or even 25 megabits down and 2.9 up.

If such a redefinition were to go through, the number of Americans who can be said to subscribe to broadband – currently around 94 per cent of the population – would decrease significantly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in crtc, government, internet


Government has its head in the sand with privacy

Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Harper pauses while speaking during a campaign stop at an automobile parts factory in Brampton

There’s stubborn, and then there’s Canada’s federal government.

The steadfast refusal by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Justice Minister Peter MacKay to listen to reason when it comes to Bill C-13, their proposed cyber-bullying privacy legislation, is really quite astounding. They’re like the figurative donkeys that refuse to budge, which might be funny if the rights of the entire country weren’t at stake.

C-13, properly known as the “Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act,” has been roundly criticized since its introduction last year for being too broad. While few pundits have disagreed with its supposed intent – the outlawing of cyber-bullying – the proposed legislation also covers all manner of unrelated activities, from stealing cable signals to wire taps.

The most contentious part of the bill is that it would give immunity to telecom service providers when they hand over subscriber information to security agencies and polices forces. With customers having no legal recourse against those companies in such situations, the already voluminous extent to which they are sharing this information will certainly increase dramatically. Read the rest of this entry »


10 gross reasons why fast food needs robot workers


The other day I wrote about how surprising it was that robot Zambonis aren’t yet widespread. Even more amazing is the fact that fast-food joints aren’t yet entirely staffed by robots.

It seems like a new tale of fast-food employee grossness emerges weekly, with the latest involving a KFC worker in Wales who claimed on Facebook to have inserted pubic hair into customers’ meals. KFC said it had investigated the incident and found it to be untrue, but the damage was already done.

Such incidents, many of which turn out to be real indeed, are almost a form of corporate terrorism. While it’s highly unlikely that the average customer will ever get a meal contaminated with pubes, boogers, spit or other bodily fluids, hearing about such isolated cases is enough to sour perceptions and put a person off fast food entirely.

With employees of such chains around the world expressing anger over their low wages, it’s also likely these incidents will continue and possibly even increase in frequency. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Burger King, domino's, food, mcdonald's, robots, taco bell, wendy's


Google will score big by entertaining in robot cars

Google self-driving car

If there was one takeaway from the video Google released last week of its self-driving cars – besides the fact that, you know, they drive themselves – it’s how boring the typical commute could soon be.

Sure, the people in the video are completely amazed at being chauffeured around by a machine, but of course they would be. It’s a freakin’ robot, after all. But what happens when the novelty wears off?

Google’s first effort is minimalistically sparse on bells and whistles – the cars only have a start/stop button and a screen that shows occupants the route they’re taking – and understandably so. The company wants to make sure the main functions work perfectly before adding accoutrements. In the meantime, there’s zilch for those passengers to do except stare out the window and ponder how increasingly useless they’re becoming.

It’s only when those extras are considered that it starts to become clearer just how big these cars are going to be for Google. After all, people are going to need to do something while they’re being driven around. We are an easily bored species, after all. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 3, 2014 in apple, cars, Google, robots


Zamboni drivers: robots are coming for you


From the “What Took So Long?” department comes news that a robot Zamboni has been invented. Paul Van Eijl, a resident of Winona, Minnesota, has come up with a system called the Ice Jet, which uses GPS coordinates to control multiple machines. The robot system can clear an ice rink in about a minute or so, according to the Winona Daily News.

“It’s really doing the same thing,” Van Eijl said. “You’re just basically making it eight times as efficient.” His co-engineer Kevin Christ summarized the Ice Jet’s benefits succinctly: “Quicker, faster, cheaper.”

The fact that a robot zamboni exists isn’t surprising, and it’ll be equally logical when arenas each rush out to buy one. The only puzzling thing is why they aren’t already in mass circulation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in robots


Review: Top marks for Boston Pizza’s Pizza Taco


I sometimes get requests to try new fast-food concoctions, and who am I to deny readers? The latest in this cavalcade of artery-hardening goodies is the Pizza Taco from Boston Pizza. It just so happens that I love pizza, and I also love tacos, so how could I resist? Here’s the thing – this particular item is only available till June 1 so you’ll want to hustle if this review piques your interest.

I’ll admit to not having done my research on this one, which is why I was surprised to sit down and see not one but two Pizza Tacos on BP’s menu. There’s the Chipotle Chicken and Bacon Pizza Taco and the Pulled Pork Pizza Taco. I’m on a pulled pork kick of late, but I couldn’t help but gravitate toward the other option, mainly because it had more, more, MOAR! in its title.

Beyond the headline meats, the two are mostly the same, each filled with “fresh tomatoes, crunchy tortilla strips, lettuce, cilantro and red onions and drizzled with a creamy sweet chili sauce,” as per the menu.

Not being able to decide, I asked the waitress and she handily suggested the chicken-and-bacon option. My instincts were right. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Boston Pizza, food, pizza, review