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Friday, July 29, 2005

Master***** of Computers

I was looking for a Computer Master link. (I thought it was computermaster.com -- nope, that's a 404 page). I found a link via Google:

http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/app/ccc/search/navigate.do?language=eng&portal=1&estblmntNo=123456271377&profile=completeProfile

Same deal. Maybe they should send some of their people out for a course or something :)

Update: They are kaput. Tee hee. At least that means some people out there will have more time and more money but the same level of training. In other words, these technical colleges teach you almost NOTHING.

Dear Victoria

The City of Victoria is good at making the city a tourist mecca. One of their greatest feats is pushing undesirables out of their downtown and into our neighbourhood. Junkies use our park to shoot up. They like to drop by our townhouse complex as well.

While the mayor used to be able to reached via mayor@city.victoria.bc.ca, they have since changed the point of contact on the website to a web form.

There is also a general inquiries form. And this is a link to the police's mail form.

And, because they don't do anything unless urged to do so, here is the news address of the "New" VI and the address for contacting the NewsGroup.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Seal Demise Or Instrument: You Decide

I love the idea of theremins. But this site, has samples that would send Greenpeace on a Jihad.

Monday, July 25, 2005

60% of 10%

I watched Rick Santorum on the Daily Show schilling his new book, "A Family Plan."
It pisses me off that he's devoted a a chunk of a book to the concept that Gay marriage is wrong. More than that, it pisses me off that we have such a dysfunctional model of legislature that two people couldn't walk up to the marriage commissioner and say "Marry Away!" It took a long drawn out debate and moral contest. The legality is still in jeopardy. If Stephen Harper gets to goosestep his way into the Prime Minister's residence, he may rescend the legislation.
It pissed me off especially because of so much effort was put forth to address an issue that concerned so few.
Here's my math on Gay marriage:
10% of the population is Gay.
60% of the Gay population want to get married.
That means at 6% of the population might want to marry someone who has the same plumbing. I think 60% is actually a stretch. I look at my straight friends. A lot of them do not want to get married ever. Of the Gay people I know, I can't think of one that lamented over not being able to get married legally in Canada. (That's a fib: one friend wanted to get married solely to rake in wedding presents). So, assume that I am dead wrong with my anecdotal 0% of people who want to get married-- more than half wrong, hence 60% of that 10%.

My mindset is: if it doesn't harm people, let it happen (e.g. every Bible thumper who hates the idea of Gay marriage isn't less married, so shut up and let anyone marry anyone).
Think of it this way. What would rather have:
Two Gay guys with matching jewelry and silverware.
--Or--
A Gay guy shunted into the closet, cajoled into marrying a woman, raising a family with a lie at the core of their family unit. How could that be better in anyone's books?

Wed 2:26 PM - You are There!

This is wild:

Cell phones know whom you called and which calls you dodged, but they can also record where you went, how much sleep you got and predict what you're going to do next.

At least, these are the capabilities of 100 customized phones given to students and employees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- and they may be coming soon to your cell phone.

The phones were part of a Ph.D. project by MIT Media Lab researcher Nathan Eagle, who handed out the devices as a way to document the lives of students and employees of MIT, ranging from first-year undergrads and MBA students to Media Lab employees and professors.

Eagle's Reality Mining project logged 350,000 hours of data over nine months about the location, proximity, activity and communication of volunteers, and was quickly able to guess whether two people were friends or just co-workers. It also found that MBA students actually do spend $45,000 a year to build monster Rolodexes, and that first-year college students -- even those who attend MIT -- lead chaotic lives.

In short:

  • we are predictable
  • cellphones + GIS + data crunching + Government = Buh-bye civil liberties

Telus Blocks Website

I don't know if I could be more anti-union. Nevertheless, Telus has PISSED me off. Telus has blocked access to the "Voices For Change" website. I guess they will have to also block the Internet Archives. Of course, they will. It's their Internet. You only pay for access.

Update:
The Open Net Initiative has published a list of blocked sites that Telus has shut out in their zeal to control the medium. If you are a Telus subscriber and you can't to one of these sites, maybe you should call Telus and complain. Maybe make one complaint per domain. Here is the list below:

Good News Everybody!

Russian spammer found beaten to death!
Hooray!
Here's an update of an old joke:

Q: What do you call 500 spammers torn to shreds by dull-bladed lawn mowers and sprinkled onto the ocean surface?
A: A good start.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Shit on a Shingle

So many cursed recipes, so much 1970s decor, so little appetite.

This one is my personal favorite:

We don't know who "Marcy" is, only that she thinks "enchilada" is wacky Mexican talk for "shit on a shingle."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Daylight Savings Is At An End

We have to fight this latest volley in the American Culture War on the rest of the world.
The Ontario government is considering falling in step with the U.S. Rather than follow the stupidity of Daylight Savings; or the uber stupidity of the Americans screwing around with the status quo, I have a different suggestion:
Abandon Daylight Savings
When it comes around this year, I will not heed their clock. I will keep to my own schedule. In 20 weeks (3360 hours), it will be 2:30 by my clock. The stupid premise came into being with the stroke of a pen. We can abandon it by simply refusing it.

During the phase-out period, make sure that you coordinate with others for meetings like this:
You: "What time do you have?" (1:30 PM - Real Time)
Them: "I make it, 12:30." (12:30 PM US Time)
You: "When did you want to meet?" (1:30 PM - Real Time)
Them: "Tomorrow at 2PM" (12:30 PM US Time)
You: "Fine, I'll see you at 2PM, your time" (1:30 PM - Real Time)

In the tourist trap of Victoria, this will not cause much upset. The Americans invade in summer. They show up in parkas. Telling them to wind their watches to the proper time will not be much of an affair.

If you show up at a business that is running on US Time, leave them a PostIt note:
"Sorry I missed you. I thought you were running your hours in Real Time."

Expect a website and t-shirts in a couple of weeks. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Where Are The Plans They Intercepted?

The Death Star plans are here, not in the main computer. If you want to build your own Death Star, why wait any longer?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Change Mismanagement

I put this story into the Monday Magazine Summer Fiction contest. I didn't win, place or show. So, I thought, it's maybe fit for the 'net :( This one goes out to all of the managers who put their stamp on their workplace by screwing it over: whether its shoving "A call to action" up the ass of the staff; or moving people out of their comfort zone; or mat leave at a new job before starting on day one.

It seemed change was coming when memos about memos were sent out.

Our new boss parachuted in from GodKnowsWhere, New Brunswick: a cachet combo of quaint and remote. Quaint: she could be meek, meek enough fit into our environment of timid drones. Remote: her reputation came wholly from the reference check phone calls. Supposedly we got into a bidding war to get her on board. I never learned who the other company was, but they were willing to pay a lot.

She started with a reorg. We had to leave our comfort-zone. Our product marketing lacked a call-to-action. Our business paradigm was under review.

New boss = new ritual: the new-procedure-to-adopt shuffle masked as a production meeting. Centuries back, Protestants split into offshoots (Baptists, Anglicans, etc.). Meetings gave rise to the Latists. If you were late for work, you missed the meeting. The Latists gave rise to a reformation. First, the meetings went on sans Latists. Then, the meetings were moved. But those late shuffles collided with the real work for a while. Of course, we were so busy finding a new way to work; we never had time to do paying work.

Meetings were replaced with memos. First, memos arrived as were emails. We deleted those. The emails came with "read receipt." We deleted those and claimed there was no read receipt. Our new boss made the sysadmin drop everything and fix the email system. He was one of the early Latists (it came natural to a techie). Instead of "fixing" the problem, he caught up with co-workers and surfed the web.

Unresolved email server problems gave rise to the print memo. Each memo was circulated for the staff to read, initialize and pass on. Memo management swallowed up one secretary who tweaked every neo-memo until it was fit for release.

With each memo, we practiced the art of coffee ring crop circles. We would leave a coffee ring in the corners, around the subject line, around the initials, you name it. With so many memos we were frivolous with our pattern design. She caught on when one memo came back with rings in the pattern of the Olympic symbol. After that, the memo secretary chaperoned memos so that no one could sully them.

Our new boss weaseled herself into the hiring process. I too was on the interview committee. I circulated copies of the resumes to everyone on the hiring committee as part of my job.

When I got to the boss, I gave her the resumes. She stopped on one. Her neck tendons tensed like she was unfurling sails. She asked, "Are you sure this one is, uh, a good prospective candidate?"

"I thought he looked fine."

"No. No, we can do better. Schedule someone else."

"It's too late. He's already been told. "

"Fine. We'll go through the motions I guess."

The next day, we interviewed the prospective candidates. Before lunch, we got to the guest of honor: the one that got a rise out of the boss. Our guest of honor was introduced to the committee. He shook my hand. He looked up and right to see my boss. He froze and his hand went limp.

"You're working here?"

Her sails unfurled. "Yes."

"Well, I don't need to do this interview."

"What?" Maybe someone else should have asked that, but I was astonished. This guy hadn't worked in eighteen months. He was around the corner from bankruptcy.

"I'm not taking this job. Not if she's here. Either she'll get me fired; or she'll run this company into the ground. There's no point wasting all our time."

He left. She looked at me and said, "I knew he was the wrong type," and told us to go for lunch then prep for the afternoon candidates. None of us could ask her about the reaction. None of us could ask the president. She had him wrapped around her little finger.

I went back to my desk and microscoped over that resume. Three years prior, he worked in the Maritimes. I Googled around the web. Bingo! He and the boss worked at an ill fated manufacturing company. She was their marketing manager and he was an engineer. When they closed their doors, he vented in a newsgroup post detailing how she kept everyone so busy refining the infrastructure that they missed too many product releases.

This wasn't the only tale. A year later, she was working as a product manager. That company imploded too and a disaffected web designer dished the dirt.

I liked my job and I didn't want us to go under. Next morning, the memo secretary schlepped a batch of memos to my desk. She tuned out while I read and initialized each one. She trucked away the slightly larger stack of memos to the next desk.

Soon the office gained a sub-murmur of discontent. Our new boss returned to her office and checked to see if all of the staff had read and initialized all of the memos. She checked every page for coffee rings, ad hoc graffiti, et cetera. She got to the bottom of pile and went white. She stood outside of her office and glared at every cubicle. Someone had found out about her checkered past and slipped a printout into the sheaf of memos. Everyone in the office read it and initialized it just they were supposed to do with all memos.

The next day, the memos stopped. The reorg stopped. Our new boss told the president that she was going to pursue new opportunities. He was sorry to see her go, but we gave her a great send off. At the bottom of her going-away gift box, I left a copy of the newsgroup post in an envelope to remind her that no good deed goes unnoticed.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Police Murder Toddler

Your tax dollars paid her murderer A piece of crap used a 19 mo. old girl as a human shield. A rabid police officer murdered Suzie Pena, shooting her in the head. The police also killed Pena's father. People can take comfort that in the Law & Order / Cops-and-Robbers game, the police are winning. Suzie Pena's body can be piled on top of the hill of people that police have gunned down. My two personal favorites: a woman who was shot 27 times by police while she was holed up in her car with suicidal feelings; and a man who was shot multiple times because he sat in a New York apartment doorway.

The leader of this pack of murderers, Police Chief William Bratton, adamantly maintained that Pena's father was responsible his daughter's death by a police gunman. The LA police love to shoot people.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Some People Can't Live Without FASA

A guy has built a Mech and put it on eBay. This from CNET:

The 18-foot-tall giant in steelworker Carlos Owens' Alaska backyard isn't quite up to smashing Volkswagens--or taking the kind of pounding footsteps that might strike fear into the heart of an enemy.

With a rumbling gasoline engine and creaking hydraulic joints (not to mention flame spouting from its fists), the red steel monster is limited to taking a young child's few tottering steps. That's not quite enough to sell the military on its worth. But it's a start.

Canada's Stupidest Man

Canada's Stupidest Man: Howard Moscoe*
Moscoe is a Toronto City Councillor and head of the Toronto Transit Commission. He was asked about the threat of terrorism, given that five countries were named by Al Qaeda, four of them were hit and only Canada remains. He replied, "I would wonder if the terrorists first would have to find where Toronto is before they attacked it." He added: "Canada is not as vulnerable as the U.S. or Britain or Spain." Way to go, stupid. If you want, ask Stupid a question!

*There was a stupidier man. But he disqualified himself by decapitating himself during a 55 min. butter knife incident.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I Could Have Been A Prince of Malibu

Harken back to 1979. My Mom would occasionally get to go out with her friends to the bars. She would meet men at the bar. She had this tale from one outting of meeting a record producer. He was going to have a big record come out. He was going to be really big. "Yeah, sure," my Mom would reply as he bought her a drink. She wasn't buying that a guy from Victoria was suddenly going to turn the music industry on its ear.

Flash forward to 1984. The era of "Good Rockin' Tonight" playing music videos on CBC late night. Terry David Mulligan had a guest co-host: David Foster. My mom was watching and she said, "Huh. That's the guy who was trying to pick me up at the bar, years back." !?!?! She scoffed off David Foster. From a person-to-person standpoint, who wouldn't have rebuffed David Foster? But why rebuff his money?

Now to the present day: Sunday night, I'm acting like a couch potato. Fox has on this show: Princes of Malibu. I never liked David Foster. The main reason is that he's from Victoria. He lead the ranks of Swollen Members, Nickelback, Nellie Furtado and that weasel from the Rockford Files. I slept on it: my head swirling with thoughts of guilty pleasure trash TV. Then I remembered: my mom could have hooked up with this record producer. From the looks of the show, Foster has a penchant for chicks with deadbeat sons. I could have been that deadbeat son.
Instead of holding up Chaka Khan, I spend my weekends arguing with Blockbuster clerks and blogging.
Ah well, the fickle tradewinds of fate...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Video Zombie

We wanted to look for new, cheap DVDs. We frequently hit the video stores for previously viewed copies. At my urging, Wifey and I went to Blockbuster Video. As luck would have it, they were awash in previously viewed copies. I counted 10 boxes of duplicates on the sales floor (each box probably had 80+ each). Wifey spotted The Corporation and I found a previously viewed copy of LOTR: The Two Towers. It was $20, so I put it back. I didn't need it.
We truck up to till with The Corporation and get ready to shell out for it. The Zombie behind the counter said, "All previously viewed DVDs are 2 for $24."
I was doubtful. Video clerks are stupid. They can't hack the frenzy of McDonald's or the rigors of web design. I asked, "All previously viewed?"
Zombie: "All previously viewed DVDs."
I nodded, walked over to where I put down Two Towers, picked it up and walked back.
I put it down and the Zombie said, "That one doesn't count."
"It's previously viewed?"
"Yes."
"Didn't you just say, 'All previously viewed DVDs are 2 for $24'?"
"Yeah, but that one doesn't count. I didn't know it was there. The computer wouldn't let sell it for that much."
Ah, the computer. Yep, it outsmarts her. So does the door, the can opener and that lump of sod by the park.
I said to Cheryl: "Do we need these?"
"No," she replied.
We left it there. We'll come back in a month or two for their going out-of-business sale.
Life moves pretty fast.

** UPDATE**
I complained to Blockbuster via their customer service website. The site promised a reply in 1 - 3 days. Eight days later: nada. Blockbuster = Assreek.

** UPDATE**

I am not the only one who thinks of zombie when they think of Blockbuster.

tags: blockbuster zombie DVD customer service

Friday, July 08, 2005

George was Right : Coffee Does Equal Sex

In an early Seinfeld, George Constanza tortured himself becaue didn't see there was a link between coffee and sex. When a girls asks you upstairs for coffee, she means sex.

There was a rumor of a mini-game of sex inside of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Turns out that it's true. And here's some video to prove it. Yikes. Welcome to the jungle...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bring out the Gimp!

If you're bored of the Sims, but like the concept and have a hankering to play with digital gimps and chewed out corpses try out http://www.verystrangesims.com/contentone.html

Screw On Head

Mike Mignola (the man behind Hellboy) and Bryan Fuller (the man behind Dead Like Me) are teaming up to make an adaptation of Mignola's Screw On Head for the Sci-Fi Channel. They are using the voice talents of Paul Giamatti, David Hyde Pierce and Molly Shannon.
I find that a good creative team is the deciding factor in whether or not a production sucks.
Case(s) in point:
  • Joss Whedon was behind Toy Story and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
  • Kevin Williamson was behind Scream and The Faculty.
  • the list goes on...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sorry, Tom, the Sequel Has Already Been Written

After I saw the 1950s version of War of the Worlds, I thought it would be great fodder for a sequel. You know, they fight off the weird aliens, reverse engineer their ships and take the battle back to Mars (maybe cough on them or something). Well, I was late. Ninety years late.
In 1897, Garrett P. Serviss penned a sequel where (to quote CG Publishing): "wove a totally distinct and astonishing tale of humans invading Mars."
This site has scans of all of the pages from the original serialization.

I still wish there were a 1950s update.

The Singularity

This is a cool think piece on the concept of "Singularity.":
The quote I like best:
"It's hard to say precisely what "strong superhumanity" would be like, but the difference appears to be profound. Imagine running a dog mind at very high speed. Would a thousand years of doggy living add up to any human insight?"

Speed != better wiring is a good concept to remember. After all, there are 3.2 Ghz machines out people's desktops. In 1994 when PCs cracked 100 Mhz (0.1 Ghz), did people think that machines with 32x the speed would still jam up? Or, did they think they would be translating foreign languages in real time? We give money to Wintel for their faster machines. Why not wait for a better machine? Mac's move away from Motorola to Intel will only speed this rut. We are in the latter era of Moore's Law where new chips have to be very fast and are very costly to R&D. That means that AMD, Intel, Motorola and a small list of others have to be careful with what they release. If someone comes out with "self aware" architecture or architecture that could allow for a self-aware machine, they will have to justify it to the masses who only wanted the next version of Word.

That architectural jump has be made. When you want to do some hammering, you buy a hammer. When you want to build a pulley, sure you could build one using hammer in some way, but it isn't really going to work. To make a self aware machine, we have to abandon the x86 architecture, or relegate it to some backward task.

The thought I've had for an SF story is the idea of a "bloom." A chunklet of code that, when it's executed, it causing a cascade of von-Neumann style code writing to make the executing machine self-aware. The problem is the simplicity of neural nets/chaos in nature versus the complexity in computer science. If you throw a bunch of water onto a dirt field-- so much so that you get canals and rivulets of water-- the pattern of those courses has a determinism. Reproduce the experiment and you will find similar results in successive experiments. If you could throw that same easy ability to go left or right into a path of code execution, you could get this going on. The problem: it isn't that easy. Maybe it is just that easy.

Other stuff on The Singularity. The best part: an exchange that paints a TV reporter as retarded.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Nice Tentacles!


I don't know where Ana Voog found this, but Suzette's post reminded me that I saved this image.


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