Where did summer go?

10 weeks ago I was wondering what I was going to do to fill the summer. Work was relatively stable, and I had a few weeks of vacation planned with the kids.

I took a week off, and did a bunch of stuff around the house. Then the kids were in summer camp for six weeks. This turned out to be a good thing because my job went insane, as did the spouse’s. A bunch of high-profile customers all wanted relatively large code changes all at once, and my developers (annoyingly) kept going on business trips or vacations :-). Six weeks went past in a flash, and suddenly I was on vacation with two kids (and no spouse), with no idea of what to do!

The first week was hot! We went to the science center, the museum, and other indoor pursuits so that we wouldn’t melt.

The second week was perfect weather for me, with highs in the mid-20s, but slightly cold for the kids. It rained one day so we went to see Stuart Little 2. We went to the CNE, and discovered once again that our kids are roller-coaster and ride maniacs; Charlotte (at three years old) was the first one to stick her hands up in the air. We took a day trip to Wasaga Beach, and built sandcastles and played in the water and generally had a good time. We stayed busy.

And now I’m sitting here on the last day of August, wondering what happened to summer (although I have a better idea now that I’ve composed this journal entry). The kids go back to school in three days! (and they’re very excited about that). Charlotte’s 4th birthday is in five days. We’re starting into the busiest time of the year, with school birthday parties, family birthdays, curling, thanksgiving, hallowe’en, and Christmas; so I’d better get my bearings and get on with it!

posted at 11:25 am on Saturday, August 31, 2002 in General | Comments Off on Where did summer go?

New Wireless Access Token

Scientific American: Wearable Device Could Secure Laptop Computer Files

Now this device could be useful, at least for casual levels of security. No passwords, or smart cards, or other hardware tokens to plug in to a connector that’s never in the right place. Simply a wireless authentication token that you wear (eg. in a watch, or a ring, or on a necklace). When you are in range of your laptop, it is unlocked; if you leave, the laptop locks itself.

This would be even better integrated with other security systems, such as building access, car control, etc.; although like every other technology, you’d probably end up with a necklace full of pendants, or rings on every finger :-)

Combining it with technology that autoconfigures your environment would make this a killer-app, I think. You could sit down at any computer and it would automatically identify you, load your profile, and give you access to your e-mail and current desktop, change your keybindings, and all that useful personalisation stuff. Or it could automatically adjust the seat and mirror settings in your car when you sit down in the driver’s seat…

There are the usual problems with one-factor security, of course; if someone steals the tokens from you, they are you. For any environment requiring more than “casual” security, I’d want to see a password or passphrase that either unlocks the wireless token, or is used in addition to it.

Still, this is something I’ll play with when it is commercially available.

posted at 10:47 am on Friday, August 23, 2002 in General | Comments Off on New Wireless Access Token

The Free Trade Fix

The Free-Trade Fix

Free Trade is anything but. Who woulda thunk it? Imagine, if you will, a system for powerful interests to impose terms on the weak…

posted at 11:39 am on Monday, August 19, 2002 in General | Comments Off on The Free Trade Fix

Star Trek Does It Again

Star Trek Does it Again.

It seems that, in the wake of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a bunch of German researchers have (almost :-) invented “transparent aluminum”. (Actually, they’ve invented transparent aluminum oxide, a ceramic not a metal).

Naturally, people are already coming up with applications.

posted at 11:44 am on Saturday, August 17, 2002 in General | Comments Off on Star Trek Does It Again

You Bought, They Sold

A recent Spin of the Day article says what many have suspected; the CEOs knew exactly how fragile the house of cards was, and while we were all madly investing in the stock market, they were quietly bailing out.

“Executives and directors of the 1,035 corporations that met our criteria took out, by our estimate, roughly $66 billion. Of that amount, a total haul of $23 billion went to 466 insiders at the 25 corporations where the executives cashed out the most.” – Investigative journalist Lowell Bergman.

posted at 10:53 am on Saturday, August 17, 2002 in General | Comments Off on You Bought, They Sold

Whiteboards are good!

Cognitive Properties of a Whiteboard: A Case Study in a Trauma Centre


Distributed cognition as an approach to collaborative work holds that a work unit is cognitive system in which cognitive activities are carried out jointly by workers with the use of tools. This approach has several direct implications to the study of collaborative work. In this paper, we analysed staff interactions with a large display board in a Level I trauma centre operating room unit. Coordination needs are exacerbated by the unpredictability of incoming emergency surgery patients admitted to the trauma centre as well as other contingencies (such as changes in scheduled surgery cases or staffing). The public display board has evolved into a key component for supporting collaborative work. The physical and perceptual properties of the board are exploited by the clinicians to support rapid paced, highly dynamic work. The canvas-like appearances of the display board, combined with magnetic objects attached to the board, afford its users to taylor the board as an effective coordinative tool and to invent new ways of representing information. Based on the concept of display-based cognition, our analysis illustrates the role of public displays in facilitating negotiation of scheduling, joint planning, and augmenting inter-personal communication.

posted at 11:42 am on Wednesday, August 14, 2002 in General | Comments Off on Whiteboards are good!

Spin of the Day

PRWatch has a Spin of the Day website. Lots of fascinating reading about the so-called “Public Relations” industry, and their latest attempts to brainwash the Sheep

posted at 9:53 am on Monday, August 12, 2002 in General | Comments Off on Spin of the Day

Toilet Paper Algorithms

I never knew you needed to be a computer scientist to use toilet paper. Good thing I am one!

(via Debbie.)

posted at 9:31 am on Monday, August 12, 2002 in General | Comments Off on Toilet Paper Algorithms

Homeland Security?

Micah Wright has a collection of humourous postors in the style of 1940’s war propoganda. Some of them cut deeper than others…

(Thanks to David Brake.)

posted at 9:24 am on Monday, August 12, 2002 in General | Comments Off on Homeland Security?

The Food Timeline

The Food Timeline was created in response to students, parents and teachers who frequently ask our librarians for help locating food history and period recipes.

Pretty cool site. Hotdogs date back to 1484, for example.

posted at 9:57 am on Wednesday, August 07, 2002 in General | Comments (1)
  1. Kathy says:

    Can I get a copy of the Food Timeline?

HP Backs Down…

As usual, there’s more to the storey than meets the eye.

Seems that HP listens to severe customer backlash. On the other hand, HP is blaming the DMCA thing on a “last minute addition by an outside lawyer”. Bullshit; HP can afford lawyers that don’t make stupid mistakes like this.

On the gripping hand, the *real* problem is SnoSoft’s published policy of “”full disclosure” of security threats–unless that company retains SnoSoft as consultants.”, which HP claims is extortion, and I have to wonder if HP is the wronged party here. Ah well; we’ll probably never know…

posted at 11:49 pm on Sunday, August 04, 2002 in General | Comments Off on HP Backs Down…

HP sues over full-disclosure

HP is suing a group of hackers who publicised a security hole in Tru64.

How utterly ridiculous. Throwing lawyers at a problem is the wrong answer at the best of times, but wouldn’t it also *cost less* to simply fix the problem instead?

I have utter contempt for HP these days. Their OS sucks, and now they pull this crap. Now strictly speaking, Tru64 is Digital’s Unix. Digital was bought by Compaq, and then HP and Compaq “merged”. So I suppose my contempt for HP should be tempered in this context. On the other hand, I’ve been fighting with HP/UX 11 for years now; I reserve the right to be unreasonable.

posted at 9:23 am on Thursday, August 01, 2002 in General | Comments Off on HP sues over full-disclosure