Fine Tip–Tip Calculator

Buy in the iTunes App Store – $0.99

I’m delighted to announce that the Apple App Store accepted my first iPhone app, Fine Tip – Tip Calculator, on my first try. You can use Fine Tip to quickly calculate your next restaurant bill’s tip and grand total. It’s fast and easy to use. Take a look at the demo/tutorial:

Fine Tip, Tip Calculator Tutorial


  • image_thumb5Fast, Elegant, Accurate, Full-Featured, Yet Easy to Use
  • All Controls on One Screen
  • Calculate Tip Based on Subtotal or Total: Calculate the appropriate tip on either the pre-tax subtotal amount (shown in image on right) or the after tax bill total.
  • Easily Adjust Tip Amount: As you slide the ‘Tip %’ slider up and down, the tip and grand total amounts adjust on the fly.
  • Round the Tip: Make it easy for the server to receive their tip. Use the + / – buttons to successively round the tip amount up or down in 25 cent increments (eg: to $12,00, $12.25, $12.50 etc.). The grand total (Total + Tip) amount and effective tip rate indicator adjust on the fly.
  • Round the Grand Total: Alternatively round the grand total (Total + Tip) amount up or down in 25 cent increments. In the example to the right, down to $100.00 even or, say, up to $101.00 even). The tip amount and effective tip rate indicator adjust on the fly.
  • Split the Bill: Use the ‘Split’ slider to split the bill between multiple parties and the applicable per person tip and grand total (Total + Tip) amounts will be shown.
  • Personalized Multi-party Tipping: Pass Fine Tip around to other people in your party so they can bump their personal tip or grand total amounts up or down as they choose.
  • Continue reading “Fine Tip–Tip Calculator”

    Large Teen Pregnancy Declines in Canada vs. United States

    Canadian and U.S. teen preganancy rates - 2.79% compared to 6.12%

    According to a CBC News report that aired on “The National’” on Wednesday May 26, the teen pregnancy rate in Canada has declined 37% in the last 10 years. The report cites improved sex education and access by teens to contraceptives as the primary reasons for this large decline.

    Canada now has less than half the teen pregnancy rate of the United States – 2.79% of Canadian teenaged girls 15 to 19 compared to 6.12% of teenage girls in the United States.

    There is no better proof that the Bush-era policies of ‘just say no’, abstinence only programs and restricted access to birth control for teens have failed American teens.

    Source: The CBC’s source was the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.

    Brooklyn Decker Cheers for Andy Roddick at Wimbledon 2009

    brooklyn decker 2 - watching andy roddick - wimbledon 2009Since my post about Brooklyn Decker being engaged to Andy Roddick drew such a huge number of visitors to The Daleisphere, I snapped these pictures of Brooklyn cheering her new husband, Andy Roddick, on at Wimbledon 2009.

    As always, click the images for larger views.


    Brooklyn During Semi Final Against Andy Murray

    brooklyn decker 4 - watching andy roddick - fixing hair 2 - wimbledon 2009 brooklyn decker 1 - watching andy roddick - wimbledon 2009 brooklyn decker 3 - watching andy roddick - fixing hair 1 - wimbledon 2009 


    Andy Relieved After Tough Set in Andy Murray Semi Final

    andy roddick relieved after tough andy murray semi-final set 2   andy roddick relieved after tough andy murray semi-final set 1

    Continue reading “Brooklyn Decker Cheers for Andy Roddick at Wimbledon 2009”

    How to Get U.S.-only iPhone Apps with Hotspot Shield

    hotspot shield logo With a few easy steps that take only minutes to complete, iPhone users the world round can get access to some (but not all) of the iPhone Apps that are only available in the U.S.. I’m surprised it took me so long to try this.  I just used it to d0wnload the Lose It! which was previously not available to me in Canada.

    [Note: Rogers is somehow still blocking Pandora and Skype even when I removed the SIM  card. Grrr! Here’s a Skype iPhone App workaround for Canadians – I haven’t tried it yet.]

    configuring a vpn on the iphone with hotspot shield Setup is a breeze. It took me about two minutes. You essentially set up a VPN connection to the U.S. through the HotSpot Shield servers. This, of course, would also be useful for safe surfing at coffee shops and other wifi locations.

    Once you have set up your account, configured and activated the VPN (see instructions below), navigate to the App Store on your iPhone. Search for the app you want and (if its there) download it. It’s that simple.

    Survives Desktop Sync

    I was concerned that if I downloaded apps this way, they would be wiped out after I synced my iPhone with iTunes to my desktop. Not so. The sync went fine and the apps remained on the iPhone.

    No Need to Keep VPN Turned On

    You only need to activate the VPN to download the app. Once downloaded, you can use the app with the VPN shut off.

    Continue reading “How to Get U.S.-only iPhone Apps with Hotspot Shield”

    Where Do You Diverge from the Pop Culture Consensus?

    From time to time I find myself swimming against the current of accepted wisdom. Below are just some of places where I diverge from the pop culture consensus. I’ll add to this list as items occur to me.

    Where do you diverge from the pop culture consensus?

    —- MOVIES —-

    jar jar binksJar Jar Binks

    I liked Jar Jar Binks. What else is there to say. I thought he was an amusing character. I was happy to see him return in Attack of the Clones and the Clone Wars.


    gigli movie poster  Gigli

    I didn’t think Gigli sucked. It was far from great. It would probably rate 2 out of 5 Dale-heads if I were to review it formally. But it doesn’t deserve to be the butt of all jokes and one of the most lambasted movies of all time.



    the english patient movie poster The English Patient

    If there ever was a more boring, self-indulgent, overly-hyped movie, than The English Patient, I don’t know  what it is. It was cathartic to see the fictional Seinfeld character Elaine Benes hate on the movie in the English Patient episode! :)  This is probably the only thing I ever agreed with the Elaine character on.

    Continue reading “Where Do You Diverge from the Pop Culture Consensus?”

    How to Preserve Opened Bottles of Wine

    save wine with argon gas

    In a previous post I wrote about how to use marbles and the vacu vin pump to preserve open wine.  In a terrific Globe & Mail video (shown above but now removed) Beppi Crosariol demonstrates the following additional approaches:

    • image Using the Inert Argon Gas: I had used the inert argon gas method in the past with mixed results. Until I watched the video, I didn’t fully understand how to use it or why/how it worked. I didn’t understand, for example, that argon is heavier than air. It doesn’t fill the bottle. Rather it covers the wine like a blanket. Because it sinks down to the wine, you don’t need to worry about it leaking out of the top as you re-cork the bottle. Place the straw against the inside neck of the bottle. Spray for one second followed by a few short bursts. Reseal with any cork. This should keep the wine for up to three weeks. These argon bottles cost between $12-$15 ($8ish in the U.S.) and can be found at most liquor stores (click here to purchase argon gas on Note: To keep the ‘blanket of argon’ over the wine (and away from the air in the bottle above the blanket), you’ll want to make sure you don’t shake/bump the wine too much while being stored – so keeping it in the fridge door probably is not a good idea.
    • Small Wine Bottles: Pour the remains of a big bottle of wine into a smaller wine bottle. Then recork. If you fill the smaller bottle, there will be no (or very little) air left in the bottle to react with the wine. The wine will keep indefinitely.

    Continue reading “How to Preserve Opened Bottles of Wine”

    Toronto Tamils Protest Dale’s Right to Silence

    Tamil Protest in Toronto

    For most of today there has been a protest below my window (Young and Front – Toronto) driving me crazy, frazzling my nerves and inhibiting my ability to get work done.

    I decided to find out what the heck this was about and typed in “Toronto Protest” into Google News. The FIRST result that came up was this CBC article, ironically containing the picture to the left.

    The picture shows the protest directly below me. The arrow (which I added) points to the building I am typing this from.  I feel like I’m being personally protested.  These guys are insanely loud!

    According to the CBC article linked above, they are protesting the Canada’s adding the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to its official list of terrorist organizations in 2006 for the group’s use of suicide bombers and child soldiers in the conflict.

    Canadians Losing It! iPhone Apps Segregated by Jurisdiction

    lose it! iphone app The bloom has just been taken off my iPhone rose somewhat. Prior to today I thought all iPhone Apps were available in all jurisdictions. Turns out that is not the case.

    [June 25, 2009 Update: I was able to download Lose It! using Hotspot Shield on the iPhone. See my post: “How to Use Hotspot Shield to Get U.S.-only iPhone Apps” for details.]

    As a Canadian long suffering the woes of countless U.S. web-based and other consumer applications, products and services not being available here, I had been extraordinarily happy with the understanding that iPhone apps would not be blocked by national borders.

    After hearing so many comments on how terrific the ‘Lose It!’ iPhone App was, I decided to try it out today. When I tried to access it I got this error message:

    iTunes error message - your request could not be completed. The item you've requested is not currently available in the Canadian Store. 

    Sad, very sad!

    Use Glass Marbles to Save Open Bottles of Wine

    marbles as a wine saverLast evening I attended a Spanish wine tasting event at Café Taste (1330 Queen St. Toronto).  I was participating in a single’s event put on by Toronto’s Meet Market Adventures.

    As a single person, I frequently open a bottle of wine and drink just a glass or two. Over the years, I’ve experimented with different ways of saving the wine in open bottles. For the last couple years I’ve used the vacu vin stainless steel wine saver pump to remove air from the imagebottle to store it for another day. Unfortunately this method only keeps the wine for a day or two max. And, the emptier the bottle the less well it works.

    I asked our Café Taste host, Jeremy Day (pictured below), if he had any other suggestions to preserve an open bottle of wine.  He came up with the remarkably sensible suggestion of  putting sterilized marbles into the bottle and then recorking. What a clever idea!

    Continue reading “Use Glass Marbles to Save Open Bottles of Wine”

    Readers of ‘The List’ Deserve Followers of ‘The Professional Bachelor’ and Vice-Versa

    the rules - time tested secrets for capturing the heart of mr. right - by ellen fien and sherrie schneider            The Professional Bachelor by Brett Tate

    The men and women who follow the advice in ‘The Professional Bachelor’ and ‘The Rules’ deserve each other. Someone should put them in a ring and let them fight it out! 🙂

    A friend once recommended I check out ‘The Rules’. Presumably she thought it would help me better understand women. I didn’t think any book reflecting the male’s perspective could be as objectionable as ‘The Rules’ until I recently discovered the ‘The Professional Bachelor’.

    The Rules

    The full title is: ‘The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right’ (click here to read excerpts). A more apt title would be: ‘The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Manipulating Brain-Dead, Money-Pot, Neanderthals  into Marriage’.

    Sex and the City I read it back in 2001, standing in a bookstore while waiting for a long delayed connecting flight. I was appalled. It depicted dating much the way dating is portrayed in ‘Sex & the City’ – with a world full of shallow, self-cantered individuals, intentionally manipulating members of the opposite sex to gain twisted advantage. Do these people really exist en masse? I rarely meet them.

    Continue reading “Readers of ‘The List’ Deserve Followers of ‘The Professional Bachelor’ and Vice-Versa”

    The Ultimate Gadget Recharging Cabinet

    ultimate gadget cabinet front 2Awhile back I watched this Cali Lewis Geekbrief podcast (episode 108) where she created a gadget recharging cabinet from a shoe organizer cabinet. It was OK but I didn’t love it.

    Marc Spagnuolo (pictured in the third image below) was recently a guest on Leo Laporte’s TwitLive webcast. He was inspired by Leo to create TheWoodWhisperer podcast. He built this customized gadget recharging cabinet for Leo as a gift in thanks for  inspiring him to start his own podcast. Leo loved it. I like it.

    [more pics after the jump – click on pics for larger views]

    Continue reading “The Ultimate Gadget Recharging Cabinet”

    Video Game-induced Nausea, Dizziness and Headaches

    nausea in video games

    In the early days of console gaming, about 25% or so of all games made me nauseous, dizzy or gave me headaches to the point where I couldn’t play them. A prime example was Deus Ex: Invisible War. I enjoyed the game and wanted to continue playing it. But I couldn’t play for more than 15 minutes without becoming dizzy and nauseous. Ultimately, I had to abandon the game.

    [Updated May 25, 2009. Added first person bobbing-while-walking factor.]

    In the current (Xbox 360/PS3) console generation, the percentage of games that are unplayable due to nausea, headaches or dizziness has dropped dramatically to, perhaps, 5 to 10%.nausous gamer For example, I couldn’t play the otherwise enjoyable Laura Croft: Tomb Raider Legend for more than 15 minutes without feeling ill.

    Below, I identify three four factors that cause me dizziness, headaches and nausea when playing video games.  I also list specific games that have made me sick.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts – especially with respect to what might be behind the X-Factor discussed below.

    Continue reading “Video Game-induced Nausea, Dizziness and Headaches”

    Three iPhone Relaxation and Sleep Apps Reviewed

    imageSometimes I have difficulties falling asleep – I can’t seem to shut the mind off. For years I’ve considered purchasing rather high-priced sleep assist devices such as this white noise machine.  The idea is to help you fall asleep by distracting the mind with pleasing, relaxing sounds. But they always seemed too expensive and I was concerned they wouldn’t work.

    I was delighted to see the 99¢ “White Noise” app on the iPhone’s App Store “Top 25 Paid”  list. I thought for 99¢ I couldn’t go wrong. Turns out White Noise wasn’t so useful. So I went on to check out its competitors, Ambiance and aSleep, each of which are also 99¢.

    They  all provide essentially the same functionality – selectable looping sounds that can be set to turn off after a preset amount of time. But they all suffer from the same two problems:

    Continue reading “Three iPhone Relaxation and Sleep Apps Reviewed”

    Tim Russert – My Issue This Sunday

    Tim Russert - Waves Goodbye Tim Russert (1950 – 2008) believed that “being informed is the first job of being a good citizen”. I do too. For more than a decade I have watched Tim interview his guests each and every Sunday. I rarely missed Meet the Press.

    I was saddened to hear of Tim’s passing last Friday. I’ve been watching the bountiful tributes with misty eyes. I respected his intelligence, preparation, passion for what he did, his omnipresent big smile, good humour and down-home humanity.

    Tim’s relationship with is father, Big Russ, was inspiring. When he announced his book, Wisdom of our Fathers, I purchased a copy to give to my dad on father’s day. I used the page included in the book to write a bit about what my father meant to me. My dad liked that.

    During every U.S. primary, caucus or election night, I would be keenly interested in what Tim had to say. I never found myself disagreeing with him. I don’t remember a partisan moment. If he said it, I took it very seriously.

    It’s Sunday morning as I write this. Tom Brokaw is doing a tribute show for Tim in the background. I have never watched Meet the Press under another moderator. He helped to keep me informed. Sunday morning won’t be the same without him.  His chair will be tough to fill.

    Tim Russer's empty table at Meet the Press

    Click to watch interview with Tim’s son Luke.

    Ivanovic Wins the 2008 French Open

    Ivanovitch Holds 2008 French Open Trophy In a more competitive match than the 6-4, 6-3 score would suggest, Ana Ivanovic defeated the terrific Dinara Safina to win her first grand-slam title. Two days earlier she had become the world’s number 1 women’s tennis player after beating her fellow Serbian countrywoman Jelena Jankovic in the semi-finals.

    Safina sticks out her tongue at 2008 French Open Safina played well, but not well enough. Not unlike her brother, her emotions too often got in the way. In her round of 16 and quarterfinal matches against Dementieva and Kuznetsova, she had come back from being a set and match-point down to prevail. Ivanovic was too good for this to work a third time.

    Ivanovitch Kisses 2008 French Open TrophyIvanovic’s shots were strong and accurate. She played one of her best-ever matches, convincingly solid and steady throughout. She didn’t show any of the nervousness that kept her from winning the final against Sharapova at the 2008 Aussie Open and the final against Henin at the 2007 French Open. She’s come a long way from learning tennis in a war-torn Belgrade swimming pool.

    Safina and Ivanovitch hold their 2008 French Open trophies This makes the seventh straight women’s French Open final that was won in straight sets. The last three-set women’s final was at the 2001 French Open – where Jennifer Capriati defeated Kim Clijsters.

    Continue reading “Ivanovic Wins the 2008 French Open”

    The Obama Fist Bump, Thumbs-Up Moment

    Michelle and Barack Obama Fist Bump on Night Obama Wins Nomination Michelle Gives Barack Thumbs Up on Night Obama Wins Nomination

    As Barack was about to make his Democratic nomination victory speech, Michelle looked at him, fist-bumped, smiled a huge smile and gave him the thumbs up.

    There is something awfully wonderful about this picture. In a flash you see a couple that is truly in love. Truly supportive of each other. Terrific.

    Ouch! I Cut Myself Wokking

    Cut Left Index Finger - 9 stitchesWhile chopping cauliflower in preparation for my nightly wokking, on Thursday, May 15, I broke a cardinal cooking rule that my mother taught me: "never cut towards yourself".

    Shortly thereafter I found myself in the emergency room at Toronto’s Saint Michael’s teaching hospital getting nine stitches. I felt as though I was a patient on the television show ER. The med student that stitched me up did a terrific job with absolutely no pain. My thanks go out to the med student and the supervising doctor for a terrific job.

    The injury has resulted in almost constant sharp pain, has inhibited my ability to use my computer for work or play and prevented me from: 1) completing the GTA IV campaign; 2) continuing my GTA IV diary entries; and 3) blogging as much as I would have liked to. Indeed, it’s astonishing how much I cannot do while attempting to safeguard my left hand as my finger heals.

    On the upside, the injury has resulted in my having a practical need to test and use, on a sustained basis, the Windows Speech Recognition software built into Vista. In fact, I have written this blog post almost entirely through voice dictation. I’m keeping notes and expect to write a future post on my Vista voice recognition experiences. [June 3, 2009 Update: I never did write that post as typing / and controlling Windows by voice is still not practical for the able bodied typist]

    I can’t feel anything above the cut to the tip of my finger on the inside. But both the emergency room doctor and my family doctor believe that the nerves will reconnect themselves within about two months giving me full feeling back.

    Continue reading “Ouch! I Cut Myself Wokking”

    Sautéed Squash in a Wok

    sauteed squash with a wok Wow! I knocked my own socks off with this one. Following my chilled cucumber salad dish, next on my Michi’s Ladder list was squash – a vegetable I’ve never liked in the past.

    I found this sautéed squash recipe on the curiously ravenous blog. I adapted it for the ingredients I had at hand and cooked it up.  (click thumbnail on the left for a bigger picture of the result)

    acorn squashPeeling and cutting up the acorn squash was the toughest part. Once that was done it took me 10 minutes cook this delicious dish.


    • one acorn squash
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 packet OXO chicken broth packet(10 calories) – or vegetable stock
    • 2 cloves garlic, thinly chopped
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
    • extra light olive oil, for frying

    I think next time I might add some chopped onions and add only half a packet of OXO chicken broth – or stir-fry with real chicken pieces.

    Continue reading “Sautéed Squash in a Wok”

    Chilled Cucumber Salad

    cucumber salad long cucumber

    Easy to make, light and tasty.


    • 2 cups thinly-sliced chilled cucumbers (I use one long and skinny cucumber)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup thinly-sliced fresh onions (50% ratio to cucumbers)
    • 1/4 cup dill pickle juice (or 1/4 cup vinegar)
    • 1/8 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon sugar (or a 1 packet of sugar substitute)
    • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • cherry tomatoes to taste (optional)

    Continue reading “Chilled Cucumber Salad”

    Wokking Up Michi’s Ladder

    As part of my commitment to healthy eating, I’ve embarked on two new, and related, pursuits:

    1. wokCooking with a Teflon Wok: Until recently I didn’t cook at all. It struck me that cooking with a wok might be easy and fun.  Last Christmas I purchased a Teflon wok for use on the stove-top. I’ve used it almost every day since. It’s turned out to be fun, easy and quick to clean.
    2. michi's ladderEating From Michi’s Ladder: As part of my P90X training, I was introduced Michi’s Ladder. The ladder consists of 5 tiers of foods. The goal is to eat as much from the top two tiers and as little from the bottom tiers as possible.

    In the last few months I’ve eaten, and enjoyed, more vegetable dishes than I have in the last decade.

    Going forward I’m looking for and experimenting with tasty, easy to wok recipes for the food listed in the top two tiers of Michi’s Ladder.

    I’ll kick things off with my latest recipes for a chilled cucumber salad and my sautéed squash in a wok.

    Weight-loss Diet Tips for the Single Geek

    Dales Biceps

    In December 2006 I decided (for the final time) to get fit and stay fit. For the prior decade my weight had yoyo’d within a 30 pound range.

    In order to loose weight and keep it off forever I personally committed to making two fundamentally integrated life-long changes:

    1. Regular Workouts: I needed to first loose 40 pounds (to get to my goal weight) and thereafter maintain and and improve upon the weight loss and fitness with a lifetime of fun and sustainable physical activity.
      (Note: I reached the weight goal in 90 days with P90X)
    2. Healthy Eating: I needed to find ways that worked for me (the single geek) to match my initial weight loosing workout regime and then, for the first time in my adult life, to consistently eat right, and enjoy it, for the rest of my life.

    For me, the far harder of the two was, and remains, healthy eating. This post summarizes the calorie reduced eating strategies that worked for me as I lost those first forty pounds.

    Note: I will cover some of my ongoing healthy eating ideas in future posts.

    Continue reading “Weight-loss Diet Tips for the Single Geek”

    Charlie Rose Questions

    Charlie Rose I admire Charlie Rose.

    I have been watching The Charlie Rose Show for more than a decade (searchable archive here).  He has interviewed everyone – world leaders, dictators, actors, singers, scientists, doctors, architects, authors, journalists, bloggers, judges, lawyers, titans of industry, philosophers, religious leaders – from every walk of life and pursuit.

    He is the most balanced and engaging interviewer I know. His ability to draw out guests and provide a compelling viewing experience is renowned. Over the years, I have jotted down some of the Charlie Rose questions that have yielded compelling answers.

    If you really want to get to know someone, try out some of these questions over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  I have had hours of interesting conversation with friends and family with these.

    Charlie Rose TableWARNING: Use them sparingly. If you fire them off at an unsuspecting questionee, you may find your friend feeling more like the victim of an inquisition than the participant in an intimate conversation! 🙂

    Continue reading “Charlie Rose Questions”

    Washing Wine Glasses in the Dishwasher – Safely!

    wineglasses in dishwasher with elastic bandBeing a bachelor, I’m averse to washing dishes by hand whenever possible. Last November I found myself searching Google for ‘dishwasher safe’ wine glasses.  I wanted to add a Canadian etailer link to my Christmas wishhh list on (check it out, you’ll like it).

    It’s surprisingly difficult to find ‘dishwasher safe’ wine glasses. Instead, I found a host of wine-glass-in-dishwasher solutions like this one and this one. These  products amount to little more than fancy ways to ensure that wine glasses are secured so that they do not bounce around (or into each other) during the wash cycle.

    Continue reading “Washing Wine Glasses in the Dishwasher – Safely!”

    Egg Soup

    This is a lovely flavour and really hits the spot on a cold winter night.


    • soup bones
    • 1/2 an onion
    • salt / pepper
    • few carrots and celery
    • 2 Tbsp flower
    • 2 large eggs
    • maggie seasoning
    • parsley


    • Boil soup bones and add 1/2 an onion and salt and pepper.
    • Keep boiling slowly 2 to 3 hours if possible.
    • Add a few cut-up carrots and celery about 15 minutes before eating time
    • Mix 2 tablespoons flour and 2 large eggs into a little bowl.
    • Pour this mixture slowly into boiling stock and as you ‘pour’, stir with a fork quite fast so that this dough mixture breaks up into a lot of tiny little pieces.
    • This only actually needs to simmer about 5 minutes to be fully cooked.
    • Add some Maggie seasoning towards the end, (few drops) and perhaps some parsley.

    Chicken Noodle Soup


    • small chicken
    • salt, pepper
    • onion
    • few carrots and celery
    • store bought noodles

    [Question to Dietrich Family: What kind of noodles?]


    • Boil a small chicken an hour or so.
    • Don’t boil on a high heat — just enough to keep it bubbling.
    • While chicken is cooking, add salt, pepper and onion to it somewhere along the line
    • Chicken can be put on a something in oven to keep warm
    • Then you just add a few cut-up carrots, celery.
    • Boil store bought noodles in separate water — drain water into sink and add noodles to broth.

    That’s it. If you want you could make homemade noodles.