The Falsehoods Series

Falsehoods programmers believe about time

More falsehoods programmers believe about time

Falsehoods programmers believe about time and time zones

Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names

Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Phone Numbers

Falsehoods programmers believe about addresses

Falsehoods programmers believe about geography

Falsehoods programmers believe about maps

Falsehoods Programmers believe about Gender

Falsehoods programmers believe about networks

Falsehoods programmers believe about build systems

posted at 3:25 pm on Sunday, July 10, 2016 in Links, Programming | Comments Off on The Falsehoods Series


WordPress 3.0 upgrade complete. Apparently my hand-crafted theme still works, although I’m going to experiment a little with some of the new themes and maybe drop it…

posted at 2:25 pm on Thursday, June 24, 2010 in Personal, Site News | Comments Off on upgrade

summer heat

We’ve been having summer temperatures in May, and my drive temperatures were edging up, so I shutdown the server, blowed all of the dust out, and powered it up again:

The discontinuity in the graph shows a nice 4-5 degree temperature drop, just by removing dust from the fans, case openings, and the surfaces of the drives themselves. Cool! I guess I have to do the same thing to the backup server now…

posted at 2:22 am on Thursday, June 03, 2010 in Personal | Comments Off on summer heat


I have about 10 pages of links waiting to be dealt with (including blogging here). I spent most of January dealing with priority interrupts instead of anything on my TODO list. March is our fiscal year-end, so we’re scrambling to get stuff done before Wednesday.

That’s why it’s so quiet around here lately :)

posted at 9:23 pm on Sunday, March 28, 2010 in Personal | Comments Off on wow


I’d already concluded that desktop Linux sucks, but I’m now giving up on my PVR too, because Linux hardware support sucks too. I guess the old guard device driver hackers have moved on…

I spent too much of a day (Sunday) trying to get a _supported_ 802.11n adapter working; after much research on the various things that don’t actually fall into the definition of “supported”, I settled on a configuration that should have worked (and did work, if I turned security off). the last problem was, of all things, that the driver didn’t handle spaces in my WPA passphrase.

At least the driver had its own way of configuring security, because I couldn’t get wpa-supplicant to work at all no matter which way I configured it!

On Tuesday night the same machine dropped off the net for no diagnosable reason, after I unplugged the UPS (I wanted to test that the alarm was silenced, since this PVR is now in the bedroom). Nothing would fix it; not config changes or even a power-cycle. Then suddenly it started connecting again while I was looking for hints on the Internet.

Last fall I upgraded two machines, and Samba authentication stopped working. When these machines reboot, some services don’t start (again, for no diagnosable reason). When I upgraded the laptop, my extremely common graphics stopped working due to a known, but still unfixed driver bug. And on and on.

I give up. I will still run my Linux servers (although if samba stays broken I’m going to be increasingly frustrated), but I’m going to check out GBPVR, an open source PVR that runs on Windows. If it works for me, then the Linux PVR is going to be history. For now I’m using the HD-PVR from Rogers; while it has one of the crappiest UIs I’ve encountered, and Rogers has disabled the “only record new episodes” function, at least it works….

posted at 6:50 pm on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 in Rants | Comments Off on Linux

copyright and piracy

Why the networks have lost the copyright battle, in a nutshell.

Tim Bray wants to watch episodic TV without commercials, and on his own schedule. He’s willing to pay, but being in Canada, nobody is willing (or able) to sell to him. The best way to obtain TV shows this way is, unfortunately, BitTorrent.

In both Canada and the United States, the networks are hurting financially. This market may not be huge, but it is untapped and easy to cater to. Other companies are making a respectable living catering to niche markets (cough-Apple-cough :), and this would be relatively high-margin added revenue.

I don’t think the networks are going to figure this out, of course…

posted at 12:07 pm on Saturday, January 02, 2010 in Links, Random Thoughts, TV | Comments Off on copyright and piracy


(No, not retinal scans :)

After upgrading the home server today, I was looking through the logs, and noticed several simultaneous username/password guessing scripts probing the machine, connecting via SSH. Fortunately the machine that actually serves incoming SSH connections is a virtual machine, locked down with few packages installed and (relatively) good passwords. I still feel dirty, though.

I’m going to have to install a good portknocking package, I think. In the meantime, I’ve locked down the home server to only accept incoming SSH from a small number of machines. I should have done this long ago (both persephone and penelope already have this), but custom firewall rules with DD-WRT are hard, and so I punted.

This also means I’m probably going to have to replace my crappy Linksys running DD-WRT with a full-blown Linux box so that I can create a proper firewall. I really wonder sometimes if this whole “Internet” thing is worth the trouble.

posted at 9:36 pm on Friday, November 06, 2009 in Security | Comments Off on probes

employment update

“Back in June”: I mentioned that I had a 4-month contract at UHN. Four months was up just over a week ago. My bosses decided to offer me a permanent position instead of extending my contract! So, I have a full-time job again! Woohoo!

posted at 2:27 pm on Sunday, October 25, 2009 in Personal | Comments Off on employment update

traffic shaping

The CRTC recently announced regulations around traffic shaping. The way I (and many others) read the announcement, this is a significant restriction imposed on the carriers by the CRTC; they must give customers 30-60 days notice, they must actually prove that traffic shaping is the only option available, and they cannot slow traffic so much that they are effectively blocking the service (which is what Rogers used to do with BitTorrent, although I haven’t checked lately to see if that’s changed).

Anyway, while it’s not the net-neutrality that some people wanted, I think this is actually a victory for consumers. As “Michael Geist puts it”: :

bq. The CRTC’s net neutrality (aka traffic management) decision is out and though it does not go as far as some advocates might hope, it unquestionably advances the ball forward on several important fronts. When considering the decision, it is important to remember that 12 months ago, there was virtually no ISP disclosure of traffic management practices and even an unwillingness to acknowledge that there was an issue. Today’s CRTC decision signifies that traffic management is not a free-for-all and the days of ISPs arguing that they can do whatever they please on their networks is over.

So, the headline in the Globe and Mail today reads:

bq. “Big Internet carriers win right to manage traffic”:

Now I would _never_ accuse a newspaper of being biased (cough, cough), but if you follow the Globe and Mail’s ownership chain upwards, this headline is … disturbing … :)

posted at 10:30 am on Thursday, October 22, 2009 in Current Events | Comments Off on traffic shaping

less than one percent

I saw a story recently about a musician who took out an ad in a magazine to sell CDs, and ended up only receiving four orders. I don’t want to quote the whole thing, so the original is worth reading (“and if only one percent of those people…”:

In particular, the punch-line struck me as interesting in the context of SPAM and 419 scams and similar issues:

bq. He forgot there was a number lower than one percent.

Why do SPAM and email scams work? because there is a number lower than one percent, and because sending millions of e-mails is virtually free. Taking my recent “work on a cruise ship” scam e-mail, we have to remember that if only 100 people are sucked in, that’s still $32,000 revenue for the scammer…

posted at 8:38 pm on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 in Security | Comments Off on less than one percent

New 419 style scam

I just received unsolicited email offering jobs on a cruise ship; all I have to do is send a bunch of personal data and $320 for processing. They say all unplaced applicants will have their money refunded… Do you believe them?

posted at 2:40 pm on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 in Security | Comments Off on New 419 style scam

Traffic II

So it appears that during rush hour google traffic isn’t any better than the service that comes with my Garmin GPS, which is to say it’s usually out of date. However, google reports traffic for more places than the GPS, and they report on weekends. I’ll have to keep checking both for now.

posted at 2:37 pm on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 in Personal | Comments Off on Traffic II


Google Maps has traffic data for Toronto! woohoo! It even appears in the map display on the iPhone!

Now I can see if it is any more accurate, or updates more often, than my (redacted) Garmin GPS unit…

posted at 9:47 am on Tuesday, October 06, 2009 in Personal | Comments Off on traffic

Advertising to Smart People

I’ve suspected this was true all along:

bq. Advertisers don’t believe it’s worth advertising to smart people, because smart people don’t pay attention to brand. Smart people make an actual choice, they can’t be tricked or convinced. They research. So we can’t sell ads to a network for smart people.

from Leo Laporte on Advertising to Smart People | Smarterware, via Twitter.

posted at 11:19 am on Monday, October 05, 2009 in Links | Comments (3)
  1. Nita says:

    Not sure I entirely buy this (knowing a great many smart people that I’ve watched get influenced by effective marketing).

    It is a *different* kind of marketing – but few people have ever gone wrong by saying “Aw, shucks, you’re too smart for me to fool.”

  2. chk says:

    This is one of the differences between advertising and marketing, yes…

  3. Jeff K says:

    It’s a tautology because you are in the business of rapidly making your viewers “smart” enough that they don’t need you.

    That said, the “youtube community”, judging by comments, ratings, views and content, is the worst example of having teen and young-adult street culture rammed down your throat going.

fall tv

Fall TV, Thursday edition:

| 8:00 | Bones |
| 8:00 | Flash Forward |
| 8:00 | The Vampire Diaries |
| 9:00 | C.S.I. |
| 9:00 | Supernatural |
| 9:00 | Fringe |

Supernatural and Fringe are both also on Space, which is handy because they rebroadcast in the wee hours of the morning. So the real conflict is 8pm, and I don’t _really_ need to see Vampire Diaries, now do I?

Speaking of Space, they’ll be showing Stargate:Universe this season, instead of delaying 2 seasons like the previous Stargates. Yay!

posted at 7:05 pm on Monday, September 21, 2009 in TV | Comments (1)
  1. Michelle says:

    You do not need to watch Vampire Diaries at all.

1285E8 & More Highly Specialized Support

Debugging problems with an executive’s RSA token:

“1285E8 & More Highly Specialized Support”:–More-Highly-Specialized-Support.aspx

(via “The Daily WTF”:

posted at 10:43 am on Thursday, September 17, 2009 in Humour, Links | Comments Off on 1285E8 & More Highly Specialized Support


Quotation of the Day for September 17, 2009

“Managers may truly believe that, without their unremitting efforts, all work would quickly grind to a halt. That is not my impression. While I encountered some cynics and plenty of people who had learned to budget their energy, I never met an actual slacker or, for that matter, a drug addict or thief. On the contrary, I was amazed and sometimes saddened by the pride people took in jobs that rewarded them so meagerly, either in wages or in recognition. Often, in fact, these people experienced management as an obstacle to getting the job done as it should be done. Waitresses chafed at managers’ stinginess toward the customers; housecleaners resented the time constraints that sometimes made them cut corners; retail workers wanted the floor to be beautiful, not cluttered with excess stock as management required. Left to themselves, they devised systems of cooperation and work sharing; when there was a crisis, they rose to it. In fact, it was often hard to see what the function of management was, other than to exact obeisance.”

– Barbara Ehrenreich, in Nickel and Dimed.

Submitted by: Chris Doherty
Aug. 25, 2009

(via the Quotation of the Day mailing list).

posted at 10:13 am on Thursday, September 17, 2009 in Personal | Comments (1)
  1. David Brake says:

    On the other hand, check this out:

    Schoneboom, A. (2008) Hiding Out: Creative Resistance among Anonymous Workbloggers.

    Abs: Anonymous workbloggers — employees who write online diaries about their work — are often simultaneously productive workers and savage critics of the organizational cultures in which they toil. Looking at how bloggers indulge their creative and political aspirations while “hiding out” in office jobs, this research assesses the potential of blogging to transcend individualized cynicism and contribute to the critical transformation of work. Broadly surveying media and organizational responses to the workblogging phenomenon, and engaging in ethnographic study of anonymous workbloggers on both sides of the Atlantic, my dissertation explores the relationship between emerging networked technologies and resistance. Considering workers as authors, it documents the diversion of significant creative and intellectual resources away from the labor process. Situating workbloggers within a rich tradition of iconoclastic literary and artistic responses to work, it explores whether embedded writers, in spite of their ambivalence about the alternative, can constitute an effective counter-hegemonic force.

Need serial key – CodeSmith Community

An “elite hacker” appears on the CodeSmith online community, asking for free activation keys. Check out the keys the community gives him to try…

Need serial key – CodeSmith Community.

posted at 10:12 am on Thursday, September 17, 2009 in Humour, Links | Comments Off on Need serial key – CodeSmith Community

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

bq. With the backing of the government, farmers are producing more calories — some 500 more per person per day since the 1970s — but too many are unhealthy calories. Given that, it’s no surprise we’re so fat; it simply costs too much to be thin.

posted at 9:48 am on Tuesday, September 01, 2009 in Health, Links | Comments Off on The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Schneier on Security: Risk Intuition

Schneier on Security: Risk Intuition

bq. Given this accurate risk analysis, any rational employee will regularly circumvent security to get his or her job done. That’s what the company rewards, and that’s what the company actually wants.

posted at 9:43 am on Tuesday, September 01, 2009 in Links | Comments Off on Schneier on Security: Risk Intuition
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