Even in Toronto…

We can have interesting incidents involving fear of the unknown. In this case, one of the better variations on “the dog ate my homework” almost happened to a UofT Comp.Eng. student. Read all about it:

ECE496 And Terrorism!!

(via Karen Reid).

posted at 11:03 am on Tuesday, December 09, 2003 in Current Events | Comments Off on Even in Toronto…

Good vs. Evil

I remember the days when “rms”:http://www.stallman.org/ refused to port “Emacs”:http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs.html to “Windows”:http://www.microsoft.com/ (or the “Macintosh”:http://www.apple.com/) because they were closed platforms and violated the spirit of free software.

Today I have “Emacs”:http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/windows/ntemacs.html, “Apache2”:http://httpd.apache.org/docs/current/platform/windows.html, “PHP”:http://www.php.net/manual/en/install.windows.php, “Perl”:http://www.activestate.com/activeperl, “Python”:http://www.activestate.com/activepython, “MySQL”:http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.7/en/windows-installation.html, and “Firefox”:https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/ all running on my spiffy new Windows XP based laptop…

I feel so un-pure :-)

posted at 10:57 am on Tuesday, December 09, 2003 in Programming | Comments Off on Good vs. Evil

Canada vs United States?

Canada and the USA have had their share of differences in the past (softwood lumber, for example :-), but things appear to be getting worse:

h3. Maher Arar:

bq. U.S. Attorney-General John Ashcroft insisted Wednesday [November 19th, 2003] American law enforcement officers acted properly when they deported Canadian Maher Arar to Syria last year on suspicion of terror links.

bq. During an hour-long meeting Wednesday with Solicitor-General Wayne Easter, Ashcroft said U.S. security officials followed U.S. law in the Arar case despite protests from Ottawa that American authorities should have returned the man to Canada.

bq. “Mr. Ashcroft assured us that, from his perspective, the decisions that were made were certainly made within the context of the laws within the United States and he feels that there were no laws broken in that regard,” Easter said following the meeting.

h3. ” U.S. won’t change policy on deportations to third country”:http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2003/12/04/cellucci_passport031204

bq. The U.S. government will continue to deport Canadian citizens to third countries if they pose a risk to American national security, said Paul Cellucci, U.S. ambassador to Canada.

bq. He emphasized that the U.S respects the Canadian passport, but homeland security comes first.

bq. Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty Canada said he found Cellucci’s comments troubling.

bq. “It contravenes international law and should, and can play, no part in any effort to increase security,” said Neve. “If anything, (he) is fostering greater insecurity in the world.”

( Maher Arar, a Syrian born Canadian citizen, was deported to Syria when he landed in the USA en-route to Canada from a routine business trip. There he was tortured and forced to sign confessions about his (non-existent) connections to terrorism).

h3. “Canadian flag causes flap in the U.S.”:http://www.canada.com/vancouver/vancouversun/story.asp?id=066271BE-AC4A-4322-B23D-6E7B44C2B575 Maple Leaf on baggage irks ‘sensitive’ Americans

bq. Canadians should be careful not to appear “boastful” to Americans, who are insecure because of the war in Iraq and admit they are annoyed by northerners showing off the red maple leaf on their luggage when they travel, a recent federal report warns.

bq. “Some participants expressed a certain amount of annoyance at what is perceived as a systematic attempt by Canadians to make the statement that they are not Americans by sporting the maple leaf,” said the recently released report. “This underscores the American sensitivity at feeling rejected by the rest of the world ….”

Wow; this from the country that “waves the flag” more than pretty much anyone else. How many US flag bikinis have you seen recently? :-)

which leads into:

h3. “Are You A Closet Canadian?”:http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2003/12/03.html#a541

bq. far from being Americans ‘lite’, Canadians have fundamentally different values and worldviews from Americans, and those differences are increasing. Canadians are now much closer to their European contemporaries than to Americans, closer to Europeans, in fact, than are the British. America is now largely isolated in its prevailing worldview from the rest of the developed world. Its values are closer to those of autocractic developing nations than to those of other nations that have made the transition to democracy and constitutional liberalism.

I took the “survey at environics”:http://fireandice.environics.net/surveys/fireandice/main/fireandice.asp?surveyID=1, and came out quite firmly in the bottom right-hand corner, the “Idealism and Autonomy” Quadrant. I’m sure you’re all shocked by this…

posted at 9:54 pm on Monday, December 08, 2003 in Current Events | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Well I came out in the bottom right as well, but I had to lie a little bit. They don’t try to hard to separate fantasy and reality, as for example any civilized person has a right to view movies, in my opinion, where the rules are different. Although I recently read a quite religious book which described modern cities with their movie theaters and cell-phones as bastions for the soul-less. It also promoted killing of “sodomites” and blindly assumed the police where there to help those who did [in an earlier time, in a land far far away blah blah]. It was called “Castle of Wisdom”. I’m sure the author would have scored top-left. Um, and there was no wisdom in there, I felt cheated. In fact it was much like that Pollard character who seems to think we should all be cobblers and seamstresses, instead of being technically inclined.

I Hate Computers

I brought the new (well, old) server home last week; installed Debian on it on Saturday. (Debian is a strange distribution, but that’s another blog entry :-).

I decided that I was going to move the MP3 collection from the Win2K box to the new server (running Linux). So I want to put my smaller 15Gb drive in place of the 30Gb drive that’s in there right now, and put the 30Gb in the fileserver. I dutifully repartition the 15Gb drive into two pieces, format the two partitions as NTFS, reboot into DOS, and ghost the boot partition from the 30Gb to the 15Gb. Boot up, and everything works ok. Remove the 30Gb drive. Boot up; can’t login. Every account is the same. With the 30Gb drive in place (but not as the boot drive or system partition), the system works; without it, nobody can log in.

I noticed that when the machine booted with both drives, it thought that the system drive was still drive F:, so I tried removing drive letters from all drives. Another series of reboots; still no go (although the system drive is now C: like it’s supposed to be).

I’m stumped at this point. I Googled, and most people said “system restore”, but I’m not sure I want to go down that road yet. I did see a couple of articles suggesting that voodoo might work: the suggestion is to reformat the 15Gb drive from the ground up (to make sure no old data is interfering with the ghosting or booting). I’ll try that tonight; if it doesn’t work, I may have to go the system restore route; Ugh :-)

Anyway, that’s what I did last night, instead of folding laundry :-)

posted at 9:50 am on Monday, December 08, 2003 in Personal | Comments Off on I Hate Computers

Simple Root Cause Analysis

Five Whys

bq. When you are faced with a problem it is useful to stop and ask why five times. It is easy to do but few people do it.

bq. This is a very simple yet very powerful technique. The aim is to ensure that a problem stays solved and never happens again. We do this by identifying and eliminating the root cause of the problem. When the root cause is eliminated the original problem is solved permanently.

This looks like an interesting technique, but I fear that the examples are somewhat contrived? I’ll have to try it out at work, and see if I get any interesting results…

posted at 11:30 pm on Monday, December 01, 2003 in Links | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Don’t you run into the “Why?” mental block with the kids? Curiously, my kids don’t ask about why computers do what they do. They associate different shows & programs with “CDs” and that seems to be enough understanding for them.

    Gone are the days when you could see pixels, had to look at symbols, imagine color or had enough time to defeat the copy protection… :)

Even MIT outsources

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog:

bq. It turns out that most of the content editing and all of the programming work for OpenCourseware was done in India, either by Sapient, MIT’s main contractor for the project, or by a handful of Microsoft India employees who helped set up the Content Management Server.

posted at 9:01 pm on Monday, December 01, 2003 in Current Events | Comments Off on Even MIT outsources

Tate is back!

Yay, “Tate’s 2003 Web Advent Calendar”:http://www.advent-calendars.com/2003/index.html is up! It’s a story that appears one page per day leading up to Christmas, starting Tate, the cat who laughs…

Check it out!

posted at 7:46 pm on Monday, December 01, 2003 in Links | Comments Off on Tate is back!
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