I was asked to repair a Sharp EL-240SAB Electronic Pocket Calculator that was not working properly. It had been dropped and the LCD would not display the digits properly. All of the calculations looked like they were fine but the display was faded.

The cost of this calculator is $4 but the fix was quick and easy.

Using a small Phillips screwdriver from my dollar store set I unscrewed the 6 screws on the back.



The calculator had a PCB that was connected to the LCD by a thin ribbon cable. I would hesitate to call this a cable. It was more of a thin plastic film with a carbon coating for traces. This cable had pealed from the PCB.



Soldering this back to the PCB would be impossible. I was sure that the minute I touched the ribbon cable with a soldering iron it would burn. The ribbon could be replaced with a more durable one but that would be a lot of work. I would have to find a ribbon cable thin enough to allow me to close the back case. I would also have to remove the tape from the back of the LCD panel and add new solder traces.



So I took the easy solution. I taped the ribbon cable back to the PCB using scotch tape. I used five pieces of tape and cross layered them so it should last a while. Ideally you should use Kapton tape. Kapton tape would last longer and is ESD safe. But, lacking Kapton tape, scotch tape had to suffice.

Pigsback.ca was a website that allowed you to collect points for viewing various ads and reading newsletters. Unlike some other websites where you had to find keywords and enter them to get your points, Pigsback credited you points when you clicked on the page.

Without buying anything offered on the website you could collect 5 points which equaled 5 cents per day in about 20 seconds. I wasn't a member long enough to cash in enough points before the website was closed. I had collected 386 points. Which was worth $3.86.

"After a successful pilot campaign over the last six months, Pigsback.com is temporarily now closed for business in Canada while we work on finding new partners and better content for you. We'd like to thank everyone who has enjoyed the activities on the site, who has contributed to the contests and content, and who has recommended us to their friends over this time. We hope to be back in a Canadian city near you very soon!"

However all members were offered a free reward regardless of the number of points that they had. I filled in the form for a my reward and it came in the mail today.



It was a Quickpay Tim Card from Tim Hortons. Since these cards are refillable I called the toll free number 1-866-TIM-CARD (846-2273) to check the balance. The balance was $10.00. That was a nice reward. I will definitely consider signing up with Pigsback.ca if it reopens.

The LCBO has decided to stop providing plastic bags to their customers once their current supply runs out. Instead the store will sell you a re-usable cloth bag. LCBO customers will have to either bring their own plastic bags or buy the re-usable paper bags. Liquor bottles sold at the LCBO are placed in a single bottle paper bag and then placed inside a larger plastic bag. The LCBO will still provide the single bottle paper bags.

Reduction of plastic bag waste is an environmentally sound policy. However what is not widely reported that eliminating plastic bags will lead to increased profits for the LCBO.

The standard thin grocery shopping bag costs 1 cent for the retailer. Since the LCBO plastic bags are thicker they should cost 2 cents, if not more. A standard grocery paper bag costs 4 cents per bag. The LCBO paper bags are much smaller and should should cost 1 cent per bag.

If a customer was to purchase two bottles of wine from the LCBO it would be packaged in 2 paper bags and 1 plastic bag at the checkout counter. A cost of 4 cents in bags. Eliminating the plastic bag will save the LCBO 2 cents on every sale.

The LCBO used 80 million plastic bags last year. Eliminating the plastic bags will save save the provincial corporation at least $1.6 million.

LCBO Facts 2007

  • 60% market share of alcohol sales (The Beer Store is privately owned)
  • Government legislated monopoly on liquor sales in Ontario
  • Owned by the Government of Ontario
  • $4.1 Billion in sales
  • $1.345 Billion in profit not including taxes generated for the Government of Ontario
  • 5.5% (up $213 million) increase in profits
  • 6.1% (up $78 million to $1.37 billion) increase in revenue
  • 5.1% (up $65.3 million) increase in dividends
  • 14th straight year LCBO has increased its dividend
Related Post
Reuse Plastic Shopping Bags
Batteries are not Beer Bottles

Ontario is set to introduce an advance electronics recycling fee on certain consumer electronics purchased in the province. The government will collect a levy from retailers on computers, and televisions sold in the province. This levy may be applied in the future to cellphones, stereos, VCRs, DVD players, fax machines and electronic games.

Advance recycle fees are viewed by some consumers as another government tax, so all provinces with this fee have legislated that recycle fee be built into the cost of the product.

Electronic Waste is Hazardous

Electronic waste is a significant environmental problem. Most electronics contains toxic elements such as lead and other heavy metals, including mercury and cadmium. As such they have to be properly disposed and should not be sent to landfills.

Lead affects the human central nervous system and kidneys, while mercury can lead to brain damage, birth defects, kidney failure, respiratory harm and liver damage. It has also been linked to autism in children.

Electronic equipment also contains chemicals such as hexavalent chromium, brominated flame-retardants and polyvinyl chlorides, which can pollute groundwater.

Electronics also contain valuable material such as aluminum, ferrous metals and copper that could be recycled. Yet because of a shortage of electronic waste recycling facilities in Canada, very little is recovered.

RoHS Legislation rather than an Electronic Levy

The introduction of advance electronics recycling fee does not mean that the government is making the environment safer. Revenue generated from the fee must be used to operate more recycling centers in Canada. It should also be used to encourage consumers to recycle more. The government should also follow European standards and introduce RoHS legislation, which mandates that electronic manufacturers should not use hazardous chemicals in electronic manufacturing.

Lead-free solder exists and RoHS compliant electronics are sold in stores, even in Canada. Adding an electronics levy will not encourage consumers to recycle. Consumers are still going to throw away their electronics with their garbage. They might even justify their actions because they have paid the government a `recycling` fee.

So prepare for another tax (sorry, fee) in Ontario the next time you buy a computer, or TV and you can throw the old one out without feeling bad because you have paid an environment levy already.

However if you want to still help the environment you could sell your old electronic item on Craig's List, Kijiji or eBay. This requires a little more work but makes you a few dollars while saving the future of our planet.

Canadian recycling centers have to follow environmental legislation. However recycling centers in Canada which only collect and ship electronic waste to China and India are still considered environmentally friendly. Greenpeace has a video on YouTube of what happens to your recycled electronics when they don't end up in a landfill.



Electronics Recycling Fees by Province


Alberta - Since February 2005

  • Television (18" and smaller) $15
  • Television (19" - 29") $25
  • Television (30" - 45") $30
  • Television (46" and larger) $45
  • Desktop/server computers (CPU. keyboard, mouse, cable, & speakers) $10
  • Printers/printer combos $8
  • Laptops/electronic notebooks $5
  • Computer monitors (LCD & CRT) $12
BC - Since August 2007
  • Television (18" and smaller) $15
  • Television (19" - 29") $25
  • Television (30" - 45") $30
  • Television (46" and larger) $45
  • Desktop/server computers (CPU. keyboard, mouse, cable, & speakers) $10
  • Printers/printer combos $8
  • Laptops/electronic notebooks $5
  • Computer monitors (LCD & CRT) $12
Nova Scotia - Since February 2008
  • Television (18" and smaller) $15
  • Television (19" - 29") $25
  • Television (30" - 45") $30
  • Television (46" and larger) $45
  • Desktop/server computers (CPU. keyboard, mouse, cable, & speakers) $10
  • Printers/printer combos $8
  • Laptops/electronic notebooks $5
  • Computer monitors (LCD & CRT) $12
Saskatchewan - Since February 2007
  • Television (18" and smaller) $15
  • Television (19" - 29") $25
  • Television (30" - 45") $30
  • Television (46" and larger) $45
  • Desktop/server computers (CPU. keyboard, mouse, cable, & speakers) $10
  • Printers/printer combos $8
  • Laptops/electronic notebooks $5
  • Computer monitors (LCD & CRT) $12
Ontario - Coming Soon
  • The proposed levy would be about $12 for a desktop, $2 for a laptop, $10 for a TV and $11 for a computer monitor.



Cineplex movie theaters allow you to buy tickets online using a credit card and then pick up your tickets at the box office. Cineplex calls this service Jump the Line. There usually is a $1 per ticket service charge but for the summer months this charge has been waived. This program guarantees you will have tickets to the movie when you get to the theater.

Cineplex also has a loyalty program called Scene. Scene members earn points that can be redeemed for movie tickets. 1000 scene points will get you one free movie ticket. This means that for a regular movie watcher, earning 100 points per movie, every 11th movie will be free. You will also get 10% off food at at the concession stands. Scene members using Jump the Line will earn 120 points instead of 100 points.

Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Jump the Line program.

Advantages

  • Guaranteed tickets
  • 20 Extra scene points
Disadvantages
  • $1 service charge (waived for the summer, but may be back soon)
  • You have to print you confirmation page
  • Still have to line up to obtain your tickets at the automated Kiosk or box office
  • Guaranteed tickets does not guarantee you a good seat
  • No Refunds
Even with the $1 service fee waived the No Refunds policy is what makes the program not worthwhile. I have to give Cineplex credit, they do warn you twice that you cannot refund your tickets and if you are buying tickets online before the movie then it must be a movie that you really want to see. However, a non refundable ticket for 20 extra scene points is definitely not worth it.



Most Cineplex movie theaters as a courtesy will refund your tickets within 45 minutes from the start of the movie. It is not a written policy but I confirmed today with a guest services manager that such a policy does exist. I have had to refund my tickets in the past. I was stuck in one of the front 3 rows from where you could not see the whole screen properly.

But if I had purchased Jump the Line tickets, there would have been absolutely no refunds. So even if I had purchased tickets hours before the movie started but got to the theater too late to get a good seat, I would have been seriously out of luck. I would either have to watch the movie from crappy seats or leave without getting my money back. The manager confirmed that Jump the Line ticket stubs will scan in as no refunds. This would be the last time that I use the Jump the Line service.

Purchasing tickets online will allow you to `jump the line`, well sort of, but once you click online you are stuck in the line whether you like it or not.



Frugal Canadian Living Rating $5.00/$9.50. Not as good as expected. All action, no storyline. The temple looked like the same set from National Treasure 2.

Tomorrow, Sunday May 25 you can get a free original hamburger at participating Harvey's in Ontario and Quebec between 10:30 AM - 3:00 PM.

I used to work at a Harvey's in my younger days and I can tell you from eating their food every day that it quite good. I found the food to be better tasting than McDonald's or Burger King.

I believe that most people chose to eat at McDonald's or Burger King because the service was faster and the food was cheaper. But then at Harvey's we used to cook our burgers over a grill and custom made every burger with the topping that you liked. I believe that McDonald's and Burger King microwave their food after cooking. Correct me if I am wrong.



A little secret about Harvey's is, the special burgers are really the regular hamburgers with a different sauce on top. You cannot have the burger without the sauce, but you can ask for very little sauce.

Remember that Harvey's does sell salads, so please don't ask for extra lettuce, tomato, and pickle, and then get angry when the server refuses. You are not being frugal you are being a pathetic cheap jerk.

The average price of regular gasoline in Canada is now $1.30. Compared to most countries in Europe that is still cheap but most countries in Europe are not oil producers.

Canada produces more oil than Venezuela. The consumption amount in both countries is lower than the production amount. However, Canada exports 2.274 million barrels of oil per day and then imports 1.185 million barrels of oil per day. Venezuela exports 2.274 million barrels of oil per day and imports no oil.

Venezuelans also pay $0.05 per liter of oil. That is because Venezuelans own their oil through state-owned firm, PDVSA. Most oil producing countries own their natural resources and profit from these resources through state-owned firms. But Canadian oil is owned by foreign companies, and the rate of foreign ownership is increasing with minimal royalties being paid to Canada.

The economics for these companies is simple. At $1.30 per liter of gas minus the taxes ($0.31) the cost of gas in Canada is the same as in the US. A multi-national company looking to increase profits would never sell oil in Canada for less than what they could sell it for in the US or Europe.

All of the oil pipelines from Alberta go to the US. The rest of Canada gets its oil from the Middle East. With this economic structure there is no where for the price of oil to go but up.

Dollar cost averaging does not work any more because the price of gas is trending upwards. It is better to stock pile. Fill up as often as you can at the cheapest price you can find.


Canada
Oil - production: 3.092 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption: 2.29 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil - exports: 2.274 million bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 1.185 million bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 178.8 billion bbl (includes oil sands) (Jan 2006 est.)

Venezuela
Oil - production: 2.802 million bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - consumption: 599,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports: 2.203 million bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2006 est.)


Alphabetical List

Cost List
Nation Price/L
Nation Price/L
Andorra $1.09
Venezuela $0.05
Australia $1.38
Turkmenistan $0.08
Belgium $2.25
Nigeria $0.10
Brazil $1.57
Iran $0.11
Bulgaria $0.94
Kuwait $0.21
Canada $1.30
Saudi Arabia $0.24
China $0.65
Egypt $0.32
Croatia $1.74
UAE $0.45
Cuba $0.81
Puerto Rico $0.46
Cyprus $1.64
Malaysia $0.53
Czech Republic $1.12
Panama $0.58
Denmark $2.17
Mexico $0.62
Egypt $0.32
China $0.65
Estonia $0.97
Nicaragua $0.70
Finland $2.13
South Africa $0.70
France $1.48
Lebanon $0.70
Germany $2.30
North Korea $0.72
Greece $1.31
Taiwan $0.76
Hong Kong $2.01
Cuba $0.81
Hungary $2.00
Bulgaria $0.94
Iceland $2.15
Philippines $0.95
India $1.23
Estonia $0.97
Iran $0.11
Russia $1.01
Ireland $1.27
United States $1.01
Israel $1.93
Pakistan $1.07
Italy $2.34
Andorra $1.09
Japan $1.55
Czech Republic $1.12
Kuwait $0.21
Ukraine $1.18
Lebanon $0.70
Thailand $1.19
Luxembourg $1.29
Spain $1.21
Malaysia $0.53
India $1.23
Mexico $0.62
Ireland $1.27
Netherlands $2.38
Luxembourg $1.29
New Zealand $1.45
Canada $1.30
Nicaragua $0.70
Greece $1.31
Nigeria $0.10
Australia $1.38
North Korea $0.72
Singapore $1.38
Norway $2.58
Portugal $1.43
Pakistan $1.07
New Zealand $1.45
Panama $0.58
France $1.48
Philippines $0.95
Japan $1.55
Portugal $1.43
Brazil $1.57
Puerto Rico $0.46
Cyprus $1.64
Romania $1.72
South Korea $1.66
Russia $1.01
Switzerland $1.66
Saudi Arabia $0.24
Romania $1.72
Sierra Leone $4.91
Croatia $1.74
Singapore $1.38
Israel $1.93
South Africa $0.70
Sweden $1.98
South Korea $1.66
Hungary $2.00
Spain $1.21
Hong Kong $2.01
Sweden $1.98
Finland $2.13
Switzerland $1.66
Iceland $2.15
Taiwan $0.76
Denmark $2.17
Thailand $1.19
United Kingdom $2.18
Turkey $2.70
Belgium $2.25
Turkmenistan $0.08
Germany $2.30
UAE $0.45
Italy $2.34
Ukraine $1.18
Netherlands $2.38
United Kingdom $2.18
Norway $2.58
United States $1.01
Turkey $2.70
Venezuela $0.05
Sierra Leone $4.91