Thursday, September 30, 2010

Conversion To IPv6

Will the conversion to IPv6 hurt? Yes. Yes, it will. And it is going hurt a lot. If you want all the gory details, I suggest you read this very long, detailed Arstechnica article, which is appropriately titled: There Is No Plan B.

While there may an entrepreneurial opportunity here, it will only materialize after the proverbial shit hits the fan. Most businesses are so focused on quarterly results, they simply won't care about converting to IPv6 until it causes them to lose income. Just as with with the Y2K bug, some consultants are going make a killing with the conversion to IPv6.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Corporations Have Rights

The very idea that corporations have rights is distasteful. The worse part is that they have much fewer responsibilities than real people. If a corporation commits murder, there is no equivalent punishment to imprisonment for the corporation. On the other hand, a lesser crime such as large scale fraud could actually shut down a corporation. This is one seriously wacky system we've created for ourselves.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Holy crap! The things people are doing in Minecraft is... is... is... Oh, never mind, just watch some videos. Some people have way too much time on their hands. ^_^

Monday, September 27, 2010

F1 Singapore 2010

Redbull may have the best car in Formula 1 but it takes more than that to get the best results. Vettel really should have been on poll but traffic on his first run and a mistake on his second isn't how it's done. Webber couldn't deliver more than fifth on the grid. There's no doubt that Ferrari are much closer to Redbull but it was Alonso's brilliant qualifying lap that got them poll position.

If not for their scruffy qualifying performance, Redbull could have won this race, assuming everything else remained equal. Vettel and Alonso were very evenly matched in the race and traded fastest laps multiple times. Who ever was in the lead was going to win the race. That honour went to Alonso this time but it could so easily have been the other way around.

This circuit doesn't offer many passing opportunities so it was a pleasant surprise how much passing occurred in the race. Webber was amazing! He picked off several cars after he settled in with the hard tires, but he came very close to stuffing it in the wall while chasing down Barrichello. Considering how close the driver's championship fight is, it was great to see him taking such chances. The extra points he earned in this race crucially kept him in the lead of the championship.

Kubica was another passing demon. He had to change tires late in the race due to a slow puncture and the fresh rubber gave him an significant advantage. He went on the attack and passed several drivers, including his team mate, Petrov, to finish seventh. Even with advantage of fresh tires, it's just not that easy to pass on this circuit, so Kubica worked hard for every place he gained. It was another excellent drive from Kubica. He has done a great job this entire season.

Hamilton's attempted pass on Webber was a classic Hamilton manoeuvre. He saw an opportunity and just went for it. It didn't work this time but it would be a sad day when Hamilton decides to play it safe. Webber was very lucky to escape that incident as the right front wheel was badly damaged. I have no idea how the tire maintained pressure after being pushed so far off the rim.

Four races to go and there's still five contenders in the drivers' championship. It just doesn't get any better than this.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


This article makes excellent points about the importance of file sharing to a healthy culture. Unfortunately the law makers are so thoroughly brain washed by the content industry's lobbyists, that I fear it may very well take a hundred years before the copyright laws recognise the legitimacy of non-commercial file sharing. In the meantime the laws will become even more draconian, if ACTA represents the future.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recovering Sister

I visited my recovering sister again today. She's definitely improved since a week ago but she is still feeling very achy and uncomfortable. The stitches are scheduled to come out on September 30 which hopefully will ease some of her discomfort. She is allowed to go out and she's done that twice, but found it very tiring. My sister doesn't enjoy sitting around the house so this long recovery is very frustrating for her. I encouraged her to call our overseas siblings even if its only for a minute or two, just for the variety of talking someone else. Hopefully, she'll be feeling better for Thanksgiving which is in two weeks time.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Tim Westergren of Pandora squarely blames the exorbitant royalty rates in Canada as the reason Pandora and similar services are reluctant to enter the Canadian market. Graham Henderson of the Canadian Recording Industry Association blames piracy. Wow! With such a stark contradiction, whom should you believe?

I know who I believe. Hint: it's not the guy representing a greedy industry clinging to old business models.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Canada On Another List

So Canada is on another list. We are the worlds' fifth fattest nation. Damn it, the U.S. beat us again. Oh, wait... Yeah, you probably do not want to be number one on this list.

Of course the usual advice is to eat healthier, exercise more, and live better. They make it sound so easy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Keep One's Humour

I spent a wonderful day in a hot, noisy, greasy, metal stamping plant. The last time I was in that factory, it was much quieter. Too quiet. It was January 2009 and they were shut down for the winter, as the recession was just beginning to ravage the auto industry. The 2009 visit installed a new distance sensor and an additional A/D board for the sensor. In this post I mentioned that we would be back in a few weeks to install the software upgrades. Well, here we are, a few weeks later... ^_^

Actually, my customer had tested the new software extensively in 2009 without needing my help. Today, she was merely enabling the software upgrades. But first, I was supposed to figure why network connectivity to the data acquisition PC had suddenly become finicky. It's so finicky that it suddenly started working while I was diagnosing the problem. Lovely. ^_^

Anyway, we decided to enable the upgrades since it is much simpler when you have a working network (swapping compact flash cards is so much more difficult ^_^). By the way, did I mention that my customer had tested the software extensively way back in 2009? Yes. Yes, I did.

Now we all know that it doesn't matter how much you test the software, until a user actually accepts it, it's not actually correct. And as I discovered today, even experienced programmers might forget this little detail. You guessed it; one of the users immediately noticed that the results from the new sensor was wrong. Uh oh!

Unfortunately, there are enough variables to juggle that it quickly became clear, we were not going to solve this one today. The sensor is a sophisticated beast that can measure distances of a few 10s of millimeters accurately to less than a µm under ideal conditions. You don't mess with its configuration lightly. This project was shelved for the day as we reverted back to the original software.

And the punchline to this thoroughly dismal day, is that the finicky network problem came back. Of course it would. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a finicky problem, now would it? ^_^

It helps to keep one's humour intact on days like today. ^__^

Hanging Out At PyGTA

It was an interesting PyGTA meeting even though there was no preplanned topic. We somehow managed to weave (slither?) Python into the discussion just enough to keep the meeting on topic... barely. ^_^

A few Python libraries were mentioned: tablib, xlwt (one of tablib's dependencies), and tweepy. It always handy to know what libraries are available as they can save a lot time in a project.

We may have found a "source" of topics for future meetings so we'll see how that works out. Finding speakers is a bigger problem for which there are no quick fix answers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Goodbye Gwibber

Yesterday, I played with Gwibber 2.31.94 from the Debian experimental repository, and found that it uses the GNOME keyring to store authentication data. Since I don't use GNOME (or any desktop environment, for that matter), it's goodbye Gwibber for me. I downgraded to the version in Debian sid while I look for an alternative.

To be fair, I didn't investigate whether Gwibber can use some other means to store user data, but frankly, I have better things to do. Digging into an open source application can be fun, but it is also a tar pit in which you will waste a lot of time, possibly with no results.

This kind of thing makes me feel like a grumpy old codger who doesn't quite understand why we need everything to be so complicated. ^__^

Sunday, September 19, 2010


My sister Pat is recovering from surgery she had about about a month ago. There were complications so it didn't so a smoothly as expected, but she's been home for a week and is doing quite well. When I saw her last Thursday, she was very upbeat and in good spirits. However, when I saw her today, she was feeling very tired and achy, and a little depressed by this unexpected regression. It shouldn't be unexpected, if you think about what surgery involves.

Surgery is physically traumatic. A friend of the family who had serious surgery, described it as being trampled by an elephant. Of course, you don't feel this bad until your body had burned off the drugs. Depending on what kind of pain killers you were given, you may actually feel really great for a while.

The drugs take their toll as well. Because of the complications, my sister went under general anaesthetic three times within a week. Then she was given heavy duty pain killers. That's a lot of drugs for the body to process and purge. As with any detox, there'll be withdrawal-like symptoms.

With those conditions, my sister's current state doesn't unusual at all. Since these ought to be common problems, if doctors prepared patients a little, they might handle it better. Unfortunately, doctors generally suck at explaining things to patients. Is it a personality trait, something in the training, or what?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rental Apartments

I'm always looking at rental apartment listings and I'm noticing a large decrease in the number of listings on the popular services. Although I've seen this kind of decrease before, it's never been to the point where there's only one or even zero new listing per day.

Toronto is always chronically short on apartments. Most of Toronto's apartment buildings were built in the 1970s. In the 1990s the rental laws were relaxed to encourage the private sector to build new rental accommodation. The idea was doomed to failure as the private sector is only interested in building condominiums. So the apartment shortage worsened while rents sky rocketed.

Aside from the apartment shortage, there are other factors at work. There is a worry the Canadian housing market is a bubble the could burst at any time. Sensible people naturally avoid buying in such a market and continue to rent, which reduces apartment availability. One source of temporary rental accommodation is the basement apartment, but the rising cost of utilities is a major disincentive for home owners to build basement apartments.

It's not a good time to be looking for an apartment.

Friday, September 17, 2010


With much fanfare, Diaspora, an open source alternative to Facebook, was released a few days ago. Too much fanfare if you ask me. It's way too early to be calling Diaspora an alternative to Facebook. That's just ridiculous. It's the equivalent of Torvalds releasing Linux in 1991 and claiming it is an alternative to all Unix operating systems.

Where there's hype, there's money. Diaspora was funded via Kickstarter to the tune of over $200,000 in crowd sourced money. OK, so it's not millions of dollars, but it buys a lot of hype for an open source project. The problem is that open source projects usually don't survive very long on hype alone.

Meanwhile, what about projects like OpenSocialWeb and Appleseed, which are attempting the same thing as Diaspora, but without the hype.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WRC Japan 2010

When Loeb is off the pace, the character of the rally changes a lot. All the drivers who might be fighting for second and third seem to up their game when driving for first or second. At one point in Rally Japan, there were five contenders to take the win. I wonder if Loeb would consider taking a year off rallying so we can have that kind of intensity for the whole season? Unfortunately, I doubt Citroen will let him!

Petter Solberg was bloody fast in Japan and came very, very, very close to winning the rally. But, as usual, he has the worst luck. On day one, he was fighting the flu. On day two, he got a ten second penalty for jumping the start on stage 13, which cost him the rally lead (although Ogier played the strategy game and handed the lead back later). On day three Solberg suffered a mechanical problem, which finished any hope for the win. But he still managed to finish second, which was still very impressive considering all the problems he had. Solberg's mechanical gremlins are all due to team's shoestring budget.

Solberg's problems somewhat gifted Ogier with a win. Don't misunderstand; Ogier's performace was outstanding. It was his first time in Japan and he isn't so confident on the bumpy rutted road surfaces, so he drove very well. However, Solberg's confidence that he could have beaten Ogier carries a lot of weight for me. Solberg usually doesn't make statements like that.

Hirvonen is no longer a championship contender and yet it was one of his best rallies this year. So the trick is to get Hirvonen to not fight for the driver's title. You never know, it might just work. Hirvonen's Ford suffered gearbox a problem which is what prevented him from fighting for the win on day three.

Latvala was very impressive as well and was leading the rally on day two, until his Ford also had from mechanical woes. If this looks like a pattern in the Ford team, yes, yes it is. Ford's lack of reliability is one reason Citroen are running away with the constructors title (Loeb being the other reason). The only surprise is that Citroen haven't already clinched the title.

Interesting factoid. It takes about 12 minutes to replace a gearbox in a WRC car. Any chance we can get that technology in our road cars?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

UK ISPs On The Hook

UK ISPs are on the hook for 25% of the cost of chasing after their file sharing customers. Effectively, the ISP is spending its own money on a process that will cost them a customer no matter what happens, just to satisfy the rights holders.

And let us not forget that those rights holders are billion dollar companies. Show me an ISP that earns that kind money.

Of course, the ISPs can pass the cost on to all their customers. That is even less fair. Why should the average Internet user support these billion dollar corporations?

And it's all a complete waste of money as this won't stop users from downloading. It might stop them from using peer-to-peer file sharing, but there are plenty of other options available. And that's not including new methods that haven't even been invented yet.

In the downloading arms race, the rights holders have already lost. They are just too blind (or stupid) to realized it yet.

Mass Linux Desktop Deployment

At this month's GTALUG meeting, Colin McGregor gave a short talk on his experience with mass Linux desktop deployments in various projects he has worked on. After the presentation the topic was opened for discussion, which was actually the best way to handle the subject. There are so many different methods and tools to accomplish such deployments and the open discussion drew upon the members' collective experience with some of these choices. It worked very well.

Monday, September 13, 2010

F1 Italy 2010

Classic tracks produce classic races. And at Monza, it can't get any more classic than a Ferrari taking pole position and then winning the race. Even better, on a circuit where passing is possible, there was so much wheel to wheel action it was one of the best races of the season, and there's still five more to go!

Button was my driver of the weekend. He opted for a contrary high down force set up on his car but made it work. He qualified second splitting the Ferraris with Alonso on pole and Massa third on the grid. Button snatched the lead on the first corner of the race and held that position for more than half the race against Alonso in a faster Ferrari. Button only lost the lead because he pitted before Alonso who put the clear track to good use. The Ferrari was quicker so I'm not sure that Button could have won, even with a better strategy, but it was a great effort.

Redbull was not supposed to do well at Monza which is a pure straight line power circuit, but Vettel and Webber still finished fourth and sixth respectively. Which, by coincidence, was exactly the reverse of how they qualified, so they both had very interesting races. Webber might have beaten Vettel, if Webber had continued to attack Hulkenberg, instead of expecting the stewards to give him a penalty, which they decided wasn't necessary.

Hamiliton tried a little too hard on the first lap and damaged his car. Even with the DNF, he retains second in the championship, but those kinds of errors are what might decide the title in the end. With only five races to go, there are still five drivers who could win the title. That's just astonishing and isn't something I'm used seeing in Formula 1.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wave Server Progress

I got the open source Wave server, FedOne, to sort of work. All I've been able to do, is connect with the text console client which is very primitive, so it's nothing to get excited about. I abandoned using my issued certificate with FedOne and resorted to a self signed certificate. This will be a problem later when federating with other servers, as FedOne can be configured to not accept self signed certificates. Anyway, there other problems I need to address first, such as persistent storage and a GUI web client.

I've also realized my notes are a mess. I've been hacking to get FedOne working and was less than methodical at times. Which means I'll need to go through everything one more time before I can claim any sort of expertise. Or maybe Wave-In-A-Box will moot everything I've done anyway since it will use the same source code that I've been playing with.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Too Efficient Today

Ever have one of those days where you can't seem to get anything done? Well, today was not like that at all. ^__^ In fact, it was such an efficient day that after everything was done, I had nothing left do and actually got a little bored. Which made me realize that I haven't been bored in long time, and I've kind of forgotten what it felt like. Note to self, allow myself to get bored occasionally.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Greatest Scam

One of the greatest scams ever invented must be the idea that you don't own the software that you thought you bought. You just paid for a license to use the software, nothing more.

Of course, almost nobody cares about this detail. And of the few that know they made a deal with the devil, well, what are they going to do? Their businesses depend on the software and there's absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

OK, maybe "nothing" is too strong, but the options (open source and custom software are two that come to mind) bring a different set of problems. Better the devil you know...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pioneer One Will Continue

With the donation target almost reached, Pioneer One will continue for at least another three episodes. I'm very impressed with this. The slightly bigger budget ($10,000 versus $6,000) per episode compared the first one, means the cast and crew will actually get paid, although it is not much.

One thing is clear: people are willing to pay creators directly for their work. This is how things used to be before copyright existed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Burning

It's easy to think that we've returned to the dark ages, but unfortunately book burnings (or attempted burnings) are not confined to less enlightened eras. Which proves that ignorance and stupidity will be around until the very last human gasps his or her last gasp.

It bugs me how everyone is focusing on the fact that it's a Qur'an that these ignoramuses are planning to burn. Burning any book is just wrong. It doesn't matter whether it is a Qur'an, a Bible, a science text, or Anne of Green Gables. And yes, I'm sure there is a nutter somewhere in the world that might find Anne of Green Gables offensive.

Makes one glad to be human doesn't it? (/_;)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Fear For Toronto

I fear for Toronto after the next municipal election. We have a bunch of clowns running for mayor. There isn't single one that is worthwhile voting for. What is the informed voter to do? Not voting is just shirking one's civic duty.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Overpriced Toys

While the Parrot AR.Drone iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad Controlled Quadricopter is kind of cool, it is a ridiculously overpriced toy. And yes, it is just a toy. I wonder how much of the pricing is to do with the fact that, initially, only Apple devices are supported as controllers. Perhaps they are counting on the fact that Apple users are comfortable paying more than everyone else for their toys.

Boys/girls. Men/women. Price of toys. You know what I'm talking about. ^_^

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wave In A Box

Last week Google announced their plans to enable others to keep Wave alive. It will be the first step for a federated Wave community that is independent of Google.

It's a good thing but I'm also leery of Google's open source efforts. The FedOne server seems over engineered for what it does. Sometimes I think Google employs too many smart people. A few more pragmatic programmers might provide a better balance. I'm hoping Wave In A Box simplifies everything a little bit.

On the other hand, FedOne is written in Java which always looks over engineered to me, so maybe I'm completely wrong. ^_^

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Music Distribution

Myles was lamenting the slow, unrelenting demise of the the traditional record store. Don't hold you breath on this trend reversing. The record store will disappear before CDs do, though, because sites like Amazon can still afford to sell them for a while longer. The CD won't disappear entirely, but it will cease to be the primary means of music distribution in the twenty first century.

CDs (or vinyl records, even) will become a item in the special packages created for serious fans and collectors. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails already did this a few years ago with the Ghosts album. Primary distribution for Ghosts was on BitTorrent, uploaded to The Pirate Bay by Reznor himself, but the main web site sold collectors packages, some for hundreds of dollars. The site crashed within minutes of it going live and was soon replaced with an apology from Reznor that redirected fans to The Pirate Bay! It was so cool!

The whole business of making music, from production to marketing to distribution, is changing. As this article explains, any musician that expects to get rich make music is seriously deluded. In the future, even just to get noticed, you will need to be damned good. The days of record company manufactured, disposable, banal boy and girl bands are almost over. And I for one, will be very happy to see them disappear.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Data Collector

A blog stats page appeared on Blogger a few days ago. It shows this blog is in a completely nondescript little back alley of the Web, which of course I already knew. If I were more paranoid, I'd think Google is trying to rub my nose in it. On the other hand, Google being the great data collector that it is, even my most pointless posts provides a data point. Now that's really paranoid. But remember folks, just because you are paranoid does not mean that somebody is not out to get you. ^_^

Now the guys who made this video are on a whole different level of paranoia. And guess what they want? Yes, they want... legislation! It's a way too late for that, considering how much data Google, Facebook, etc, have already collected, and are actively using as part of their everyday business activities. It's so ironic that the only place they had to posted the video was... YouTube!

"The avalanche has begun. It's too late for the pebbles to vote." - Kosh, Babylon 5

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How Not To Use OAuth

The OAuth protocol avoids the problem of giving your credentials to third party client applications and web sites when you want them to access your data on another site. Twitter is an example of how not to use OAuth.

It seems the genii who run Twitter require client software identify themselves with a consumer secret and key, which has to be embedded in the application somehow. Obviously, this is huge problem for open source applications, since it is impossible to obfuscate anything when people can see the source code.

As the article points out, the OAuth RFC actually recommends against using the consumer key protocol to identify application as Twitter is doing. Isn't it great when companies ignore standards for the sake of their own business goals? ^_^

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Well, since yesterday Gwibber in the Debian sid distribution is no longer able to access Twitter. The OAuthpocalypse has finally arrived. Twitter has disabled the old HTTP Basic Authentication method and will only accept OAuth. This isn't a surprise; the Debian bug report is a couple of months old already.

I've been thinking of ditching Gwibber for a simpler client for while now, but haven't found a replacement yet. I prefer a console only program but it must be support multiple services the same way Gwibber does. Gwibber's multi-service capability is actually the only feature I really like about it.

I'm using Twidge, a command line program, to read and post on Twitter for the time being. Twidge switched to OAuth a long time ago already. If I feel ambitious I might write some scripts around Twidge to get the features I want. Ambitious. Right.

But really, the reason for this post is that I want to know who on earth came up with the word "OAuthpocalypse." ^__^