Welcome, Greg

“Greg Wilson”:http://www.third-bit.com/~gvwilson/ now has a “weblog”:http://www.third-bit.com/~gvwilson/blog/.

posted at 10:47 pm on Friday, November 14, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on Welcome, Greg

Movies to see

Movies for me to see this winter season, in no particular order:

* “Peter Pan”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/peter_pan/
* LotR:Return of the King
* The Maxtrix: Revolutions
* The Cat in the Hat
* Master and Commander
* “Looney Tunes: Back in Action”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/looneytunesbackinaction/trailer/
* Alien: The Director’s Cut
* “Timeline”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/timeline/ (I loved the book :-)

Too many to see with my hectic schedule, ’tis true…

posted at 8:51 pm on Thursday, November 13, 2003 in Personal | Comments Off on Movies to see

The Accidental Techie

Are you an Accidental Techie? I know a few of them.

My wife started out doing document processing in the 80s, and became a sysadmin out of self defense (read: no one else would do it; they were afraid of the computers :-). Then she had to teach everyone else… She discovered she was good at it, and eventually went into “business for herself”:http://www.qa-consulting.org/ doing technical training and training development. It turns out that she has two related talents; understanding technical gibberish, and translating it into realspeak so that it can be taught to others. Ask her to explain IP netmasks sometime…

My friend Michelle (who hosts persephone.cfrq.net) is currently a syadmin, and also more-or-less fell into the job; now she’s responsible for a large, geographically dispersed corporate network (and is currently in London, England setting up a brand new office :-). Her formal training is in environmental sciences…

There are others. I think it is the case that I know more women than men are “accidental” techies. However, we have even more women with formal technical educations. I’m not quite sure what to conclude from this :-)

posted at 8:50 pm on Thursday, November 13, 2003 in Random Thoughts | Comments (2)
  1. David Brake says:

    There’s me certainly (though of course I am not much of a techie I am more techie than my UK peers by some distance!). And aiabx. And dmo, I imagine…

  2. Harald says:

    I haven’t been counting the physicists (Andy, Geoff, Seonaid, etc.) as accidental techies, because modern physics is pretty heavily computer-based already. The road to perdition is much shorter than for, say, a fine-arts graduate :-)

My Media Experience

[ _update_: the article is “now available online”:http://www.moneysense.ca/planning/education_planning/article.jsp?content=20031107_143425_800 ]

Back in June, my wife was approached by a journalist, writing an article on ”how to get value for money when you send your kids to private school” for “MoneySense”:http://www.moneysense.ca (a Canadian personal finance magazine). My wife agreed to be interviewed, and she and the author had several conversations. Over all the experience was quite positive. The author was genuinely interested in the subject, and was friendly and helpful.

In early August, MoneySense asked if our family would agree to appear in photos accompanying the article. My initial inclination was to say “No”; as (with good reason) I do not trust the mass media. My children attend a small school; all of the staff, and most of the parents, know my kids. I was concerned that associating our family with a potentially controversial article might cause problems within the community.

However, our experience with the author had been excellent; I like the magazine (I’ve been a subscriber since it was launched); and we thought it would a cool experience for the kids to appear in a magazine, and have a nice picture to frame and hang up. So in the end, I decided to take a chance and accept the invitation.

Sadly, my worst fears were confirmed. When the “issue”:http://www.moneysense.ca/magazine/columnist.jsp?content=20030924_140642_4024 arrived, I opened it to find a beautiful, 1.5 page photo of my children next to the sensational headline:

p(center). “10 Things Private Schools *Won’t* Tell You”:http://www.moneysense.ca/planning/education_planning/article.jsp?content=20031107_143425_800

(Won’t was highlighted in red). I was shocked. Then I was angry; what a completely ridiculous title! The article itself is even-handed and thought provoking; it certainly does _not_ contain an exposé! As far as I can tell, nobody was hiding anything! I have no idea what the editors were thinking when they chose the headline for the article.

Any positive experience this might have been for my family was completely destroyed by that one decision. I certainly can’t display it that way; I don’t even want to give out copies to the grandparents! Staff at the school feel betrayed; they went out of their way to be helpful to us and to the magazine (including allowing the photo shoot on school property). Thankfully people in the community have mostly been sympathetic; they understand that the editorial process was out of our control. And for what little it’s worth, the kids liked having their picture in a magazine; at this point they are too young to understand my frustration.

I made the mistake of ignoring one of my personal rules of life: never, _ever_, have dealings with the media. The best intentions will always be corrupted; the correct answer is always “*No Comment!*”.

I will remember that in the future.

posted at 8:14 pm on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 in Personal | Comments (4)
  1. David Brake says:

    The headline and blurb was almost certainly not chosen by the original journalist (who might well be as annoyed as you are) and was a simple attempt to get people to read the article. That said, if the article itself is “even-handed and thought provoking” you’ve come out of it a lot better than most people who encounter the media ;-) You should encourage the school staff to read the actual article before they complain too much. I’m more annoyed by the fact that the moneysense people didn’t put it up on the website (could you scan a copy and send it? I’d be interested – and don’t have recent pix of Charlotte and Gareth!)

  2. Jeff K says:

    10 Things Private School Won’t teach you

    1. You can only nurture so much
    2. The curriculum is a crock public or private
    3. The media is a crock
    4. Psychology is a crock
    5. Psychiatry is a crock
    6. Economics is a crock
    7. English/literature study is shallow
    8. Art programs are lame
    9. Physics ignores measurement
    10. History is written by the victors

    …and you can’t teach any of that because (drum roll please), you create cynics. Cynicism is the enemy of the state. ..and besides, you don’t need to be cynical about that stuff. Well, at least if your school library is not as desolate as Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s. :)

    Which brings me to maybe a number 11: If they load you down with Crap at private school, when does one have time to pick up the Alternate Readings at the school library?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  3. Jeff K says:

    I was in a rush this morning. A search on the Web turns up that a private school called “Ridley” in Ontario has an interesting physics program actively dealing with measurement.

    Most of the others, however, offer “Centuries old liberal arts” educations. i.e. crap.


G: “Yu-Gi-Oh is _last_ year!”

posted at 8:03 pm on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 in Humour | Comments Off on Kids

Still more jobless figures

Population: One: Stats and figures

This weblog entry is cute. Reminds me of a book I own, “How to Lie With Statistics”…

posted at 4:49 pm on Monday, November 10, 2003 in Current Events | Comments (1)
  1. Reid says:

    Heh, as my stats prof at UofT always said, never trust a graphj that doesn’t show a zero point.

Political Compass

The latest meme traversing the blogosphere is The Political Compass, which calculates out a two-dimensional political orientation that is supposed to be more useful than the uni-dimensional “Left/Right” measure. My results:

Economic Left/Right: -7.38
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.18

Which came out a little more Libertarian than I think of myself. Either the test is slightly off, or my self-image is slightly off. Some introspection is in order :-)

posted at 10:04 pm on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 in Politics | Comments Off on Political Compass

More on jobs

“Job Cuts More Than Double in October”:http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=&e=5&u=/ap/20031104/ap_on_bi_ge/job_cuts_1

bq. Job cuts announced by U.S. companies more than doubled in October from the previous month, providing more evidence that the nation’s economy is in a period of jobless expansion

(via “Halley’s Comment”:http://halleyscomment.blogspot.com/archives/2003_11_02_halleyscomment_archive.html#106798164757107862 again).

And today “How to Save the World”:http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2003/11/04.html#a504 brings us:

bq. What is left of the large corporation though? A small management team and an army of lawyers who contract all of the risky functions of the company to outside organizations. Assets that are all intellectual — patents, trademarks, contracts, etc. Essentially no front-line employees, no liabilities, and no risks. And no direct contact with those pesky customers.

bq. In a world of ends, where the network is everything and all the knowledge resides in the network at these ends, there is no longer any need for a middle-man, especially one as costly as the executive in today’s large corporation.

This is starting to sound eerily like the cyberpunk novels I was reading a decade ago…

posted at 9:33 pm on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 in Current Events | Comments Off on More on jobs

Lunar Eclipse on Saturday

Hey, there’s a Lunar Eclipse on Saturday November 8th!

All times eastern standard time, for the city of Toronto:

| 16:54 | moon rise |
| 18:32 | moon enters earth’s shadow |
| 20:06 | totality begins |
| 20:31 | totality ends |
| 22:04 | moon exits earth’s shadow |
| 07:35 | moon set (November 9th) |

The current weather forecast is:

bc. Saturday : A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of morning showers.
Sunday : Cloudy. 40 percent chance of showers.

Excellent; I’ll be at a party, so I won’t have a chance to play with the camera, but I will stick my nose outside to check the moon…

posted at 5:25 pm on Tuesday, November 04, 2003 in Science and Technology | Comments Off on Lunar Eclipse on Saturday

Beer: Truly a Blessed Beverage!

I’m a beer drinker, and I love bocks. So when I received this in an e-mail message, I loved it, and I have to share:

bq. Monks in Germany began brewing bock beers back in the 1500s’. They used the full-bodied libations to fortify themselves while fasting during Lent. But along with calories… bock beers contain a lot of alcohol.

bq. One abbot was concerned that the merriment caused by the potent brew might be sacrilegious, and sent a barrel to Rome, asking for guidance.

bq. The cardinals – wine drinkers all—found the bitter brew unappealing. They not only decided the monks could continue to make their beer… they commended them for being willing to drink such awful stuff as a way to pay for their sins.

(forwards lost to antiquity, sadly).

posted at 10:11 pm on Monday, November 03, 2003 in Odd | Comments Off on Beer: Truly a Blessed Beverage!

Excellent Service

Late on Thursday afternoon I strolled off to Maxtor’s warranty website, entered the particulars of the failed drive, and requested that they send me a replacement right away. I did it this way so that they would ship me the new drive in an “official” drive box so that I can return the failed on the same way.

On Friday, the RMA tracking website claimed that my new drive would ship within the next two business days. “Pretty good”, though I, as I was expecting a longer turnaround.

Well, the new drive arrived this morning. I’m impressed…

posted at 7:01 pm on Monday, November 03, 2003 in Site News | Comments Off on Excellent Service

A Shopping Trip

Mmm. Maps of the Internet. I still have my collection of old NSFnet maps lying around on disks somewhere…

ThinkGeek :: Internet Map

posted at 6:43 pm on Monday, November 03, 2003 in Personal | Comments Off on A Shopping Trip

Short Words to Explain Relativity

Short Words to Explain Relativity

bq. So, have a seat. Put your feet up. This may take some time. Can I get you some tea? Earl Grey? You got it.

The entire article uses words of four letters or less (including names; Mr. Newton gets shortened to “Izzy” :-). It’s harder than it sounds, but the article manages it quite well, in my layman’s opinion…

posted at 6:15 pm on Monday, November 03, 2003 in Links | Comments (1)
  1. Reid says:

    I still like the Hamelian (sp?) version of relativity:
    “Truck go fast, clock go slow”.

    Hamelian involved using words of one syllable, except for the word “sandbag”. Counting was like this: 1 .. 2 .. many .. many .. many .. many .. many .. 8 .. many …..

    I think the ‘8’ was in there because it was Pontus’ lucky number. :-)

    Hmm, I get an error when I preview. Hope this posts okay. I’ll copy it for emergency trackback usage just in case..

Two Good Economy Comments

My RSS feed aggregator had two similarly themed articles side by side today. The first was “Economist NewSpeak”:http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2003/11/02.html#a502 from “Dave Pollard”:http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/, in which he says:

bq. The newspapers were full of ‘joyous’ and ‘encouraging’ news about the economy this past week, and there was little mention of the fact that, on the heels of this ‘good news’, several businesses announced another round of layoffs.

Followed by an interesting “What they said / what they meant” analysis that boils down to a simple truth: the current economic good news is only good news for _businesses_, not _people_ (at least, not North American people :-). Go read it, it’s short but sweet.

This was followed by “Halley Suitt”:http://halleyscomment.blogspot.com/’s “Neutron Bomb Economy”:http://halleyscomment.blogspot.com/archives/2003_11_02_halleyscomment_archive.html#106776771491216947 which says (in part):

bq. This is a the neutron bomb economy — easy to look profitable when your building is still standing but you’ve nuked your entire workforce. Soon we’ll be forced to hail the new worker-less enterprise, it’s sure to be the Next Big Thing.

This reminded me of a certain CEO’s response to an outsourcing question. So far Canada is a net _receiver_ of outsourcing jobs. I wonder how long that is going to last, especially now that our dollar has skyrocketed (compared to the US dollar)…

I’m not really sure what to think or say or do about the whole situation. Both of us make our living in highly skilled positions, so in theory we’ll be able to ride out the continuing global restructuring. We all know the difference between theory and practice, though.

posted at 8:37 pm on Sunday, November 02, 2003 in Current Events | Comments Off on Two Good Economy Comments

Hallowe’en Photos

It was a gorgeous night on Hallowe’en in Toronto. We had kids show up in groups of 10-20, with long pauses between them (up to 15 minutes), so during one of the pauses I dragged the camera and tripod outside to play. After my wife got home she had play too; I think we filled up the memory card on the camera…

The cfrq.net Photo Gallery :: Hallowe’en 2003

posted at 4:13 pm on Sunday, November 02, 2003 in Personal | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Time to get one of those 1Gb (or hey, go all the way to 4Gb if you must) compact flash cards.

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