Lewis Hamilton showed he is a class act by apologizing for his tirade after the Monaco Grand Prix. I suspect he probably had a facepalm moment when to watched the video of himself later.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Without exception, the drivers enjoy Monaco because it is such a dangerous and difficult circuit, which requires precision to achieve a good lap time. Mistakes, even small ones, are punished with a quick trip to the scene of the accident.
Both McLaren and Redbull had made huge errors in the race. When Glock retired with a suspension failure, McLaren somehow misunderstood where he had stopped on track and assumed that it was a safety car situation. It was not, but McLaren immediately brought in Button, which cost him the race lead and the chance for an easier win. Button fought back into second place but still needed a third stop to satisfy the "use both tire compounds rule". Button rejoined in third place and demonstrated the benefit of fresh tires as he rapidly caught Alonso. It was some impressive driving.
Due a miscommunication, the Redbull mechanics mounted hard prime tires instead of soft option tires on Vettel's car in his first stop. Since the tire compound rule was satisfied, Redbull boldly switched to a one stop strategy, but it would require Vettel to eke out 61 laps from the prime tire which was only expected to last 45 laps! This set up a fantastic three way fight for the win between Vettel on old tires, Alonso on slightly fresher tires, and Button with the newest tires.
The race's final major incident, involving Alguersuari and Petrov, red flagged the race which allowed everyone to change tires under the suspended conditions. The equal tires nullified Button's advantage and deprived us of an epic finish.
Hamilton had a torrid weekend. When Perez crashed in the third qualifying session, it was red flagged while the track crew reposition the barrier he had displaced. At this point Hamilton had not set a competitive time yet. When the session restarted, he managed to qualify seventh, only to have the time deleted because he cut the chicane. Using his Q2 time, he qualified ninth.
Hamilton's frustration showed on Sunday as he barged around the track, incurring two penalties for causing avoidable accidents. The saddest one involved Maldonado, who was having an excellent race and looked set to score good points for Williams.
Barrichello scored Williams' first points of the season which demonstrates how a good driver can carry a car around this track, and why the drivers love the circuit so much. I doubt that the Williams improved that much since the previous race.
Tires, KERS, and DRS all contributed in some way to more passing than is usually seen in Monaco, a notoriously difficult track on which to pass. And yet the passing still required obvious skill and daring. The new rules worked very well in Monaco.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
In the old days (^_^) kernel versions went like this: even minor versions (e.g., 2.0, 2.2, 2.4) were stable kernels; odd minor versions (2.1, 2.3, 2.5) were development kernels. The patch level, a third component of the version, indicated a bug fix release in the stable kernel, or a testing release in the development kernel.
All that changed in 2.6 when the kernel developers switched to distributed version control, first propriety BitKeeper, and then git. Everyone developed asynchronously on their own copy of the kernel source. Linus pulled changes from these distributed sources into his own tree and made release which were numbered 2.6.1, 2.6.2, 2.6.3, etc,.
Bug fix releases add a fourth number: 220.127.116.11. That always looked silly to me because the development and maintenance process hadn't changed that much to warrant extending the version number.
Today, 2.6.39 became the last 2.6 kernel because Linus released 3.0-rc1, in preparation for a 3.0 stable kernel. Future stable releases will be numbered 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc., and maintenance releases will be 3.0.1, 3.0.2, etc. I suppose there will even be a 4.0 at some point.
Linus was adamant that there would never be a 2.7 kernel. He was right. But something had to done about the version numbering. It was just silly.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I've been tweaking PhpGedView's configuration and I am generally much happier with it.
I disabled the autocompletion for location names so editing is much smoother. It seemed to query the server on every keystroke which was ridiculously slow, even when accessing the server on a LAN.
I configured the site as "family only" since every family has a few skeletons in the closet. ^_^ The default setting was reasonably private but anyone could browse site, which might make some members of the family uncomfortable.
There were a few other changes, but actually finding these configuration settings took more digging than I expected. The UI really is not very well designed. But it is usable which is all that matters for now.
PhpGedView still has some annoyances that cannot be magically reconfigured out of the way. One issue is the amount of network traffic it generates. It really is quite astonishing given what the application does.
Now comes the hard part. First is convincing my family to try it. Second is teaching them how to use it. What have I gotten myself into?!
Friday, May 27, 2011
Skype's advantage was convenience; it was a one stop VoIP solution. Of course, it was always a deal with the devil and it looks like he is getting ready to collect. Windows users have nothing to worry about: they are using the devil's OS already. ^_^
The free (as in speech) option offers choices. Lots and lots of them. First you have to choose a SIP provider from dozens and dozens. If you only want VoIP, comparing them is not too hard. If you want to call POTS numbers, it becomes more complicated because then you have to compare pricing and the fine print. If you want an incoming number (DID), it's yet another level.
And then you still have to find a soft phone you like. Or how about a hardware solution, instead?
Having choices is great. Sorting through them is not, but freedom isn't free. SIP provider recommendations are most welcome.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The action is the frenetic and very well choreographed, and is the main reason to watch this series. The story, while interesting and above average, does tend to take a back seat most of the time.
Initially the members of the Viper's Creed team are portrayed as mere mercenaries who have no interest in the city they are paid to protect. About half of the series is spent on de-constructing that image until it is impossible not to like them. Around this point, the real plot kicks in and turns the main characters into fugitives. Perfect timing!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Level E is a very funny scifi anime about aliens secretly living among us. The main character, Baka Ki El Dogra, has a name with an obvious pun (baka means fool), is the eldest prince of the planet Dogura, and is a genius that delights in tormenting people of lesser intelligence. He is a notorious prankster with an interstellar reputation.
He is on Earth because he has been assigned to annoy, er, I mean, study humans. Lucky us. There are several short story arcs in which he puts various people into hilarious situations. However, the best part of the series is the ending, which has the most unexpected twist that I have seen in a long time. Baka finally meets his match.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
So Vettel won again but Hamilton mounted a credible challenge in the closing stages of the race. Both were on equally worn tires, but relative car performance and pit stops were very important. The Redbull still has KERS problems but it has more grip in the high speed corners, which allowed Vettel to open the gap to Hamilton, effectively negating his KERS and DRS advantage. The McLaren is better on a lighter fuel load which enabled Hamilton close in on Vettel in the slower corners. It was a classic see-saw battle where neither driver could afford a single mistake.
Qualifying is no longer as dramatic as it was in recent years. The nature of the Pirelli tires means that teams are saving new sets for the race by running as few qualifying laps as possible. DRS creates more opportunities for passing which diminishes the need for a good grid position. Consequently, it has become common for the leading teams such as Redbull and Mclaren to set a fast time early in each qualifying session and then only go out again if it is absolutely necessary. For the last couple of races, the poll sitter was out of his car long before the final session was over. I doubt they will be doing this in Monaco, though, where grid position is still important as passing is all but impossible.
I'm still hoping Webber can challenge Vettel but it's looking more difficult with each passing race as Vettel is driving superbly. Webber is third in the standings which is not too bad, until you realize he has a little over half the points that Vettel has. Webber is qualifying better than he did earlier in the season, but I wonder if he should be focusing on race strategy instead of getting poll position.
It is sad but the once mighty Williams team is looking like they will be the first be beaten by one of the new teams, probably Lotus. Williams is the only established team to have scored no points so far this year, a status they share with Lotus, Virgin, and Hispania. I wonder how much longer Williams can survive as team.
The DRS zone was poorly positioned again, but this time it rendered the system completely ineffective so we got very little passing using DRS. The activation line was positioned about a quarter of the way down the main straight. Unfortunately, the entry to the straight is a high speed corner which allowed the leading car to pull away as the following car struggled for grip in the dirty air behind the leading car. The DRS enabled the following car to close in again but not enough to make the pass. This seems like an obvious problem so I wonder how the race officials actually decide where to place the DRS zone. It seems a little haphazard to me.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I finally got around to installing a private instance of PhpGedView 4.2.4 for testing. Usage is definitely not intuitive, but I got going by reading a little of the manual. While the learning curve is not huge, it will prevent most members of my family from getting started without significant hand-holding.
As the name implies, PhpGedView uses GEDCOM files and in fact you must have one in order for the system function correctly. Fortunately, PhpGedView can create one for you if you are just starting out, but this step was not obvious without reading the manual. This process creates an initial, nameless, individual which I struggled to modify initially before getting it to work.
PhpGedView uses a RDBMS for main storage and only updates the GEDCOM file automatically for certain trusted users. An administrator must accept and push the changes of other users. The administrator can also import and export the file easily, which allows the database to be maintained in a completely separate application.
However, despite these annoyances, PhpGedView is quite usable and satisfies my immediate requirement of having a common place to record the family history, which is haphazardly written on bits of paper scatted across different continents now. More importantly, the fact that the data is portable means we are not locked into PhpGedView if we find something better in the future.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Holiday weekends are supposed to be for relaxing, so why do I feel a bit guilty about having goofed off all day? I'm not even talking about work. I have a list of personal projects, any one of which would be perfect for times like these. Sometimes I wonder what goes on in the dark recesses of the grey lump pretending to be my brain. Er, or maybe some things are better left unexplored. ^_^
Saturday, May 21, 2011
This morning my desktop computer, which runs Debian unstable, wouldn't boot. After a couple of hours, I tracked the problem down to a misbehaving udev package (version 169-1). Downgrading to version 168-2 solved the problem.
Just for once, I wish there would be an actual global apocalypse, then I wouldn't have to worry about fixing my computer just because I need to do some work. But I'm not that lucky. ^_^
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Byron Sonne is finally out on bail (The Star, CBC). The conditions are very strict but some are a little strange. For example, I don't understand why there is a prohibition on contact with his ex-wife, when it has nothing to do with the charges and there's no history of domestic violence. Why prohibit contact with groups with which Sonne has never associated? We won't know why the prosecution required these strange conditions until after the publication ban is lifted, but to me it seems that the prosecution is looking very hard for things that are not there.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
In the category of annoying defaults, I discovered that Postfix queries the DNS server directly and ignores /etc/hosts. Add the following to your /etc/postfix/main.cf to use the system defined look up order (in /etc/nsswitch.conf on Linux).
smtp_host_lookup = native
I discovered this because my new mail server has to relay mail to my old mail server while I migrate to the new one. The old server is on a private IP but is receiving mail for a sub-domain which resolves to a public IP. The simplest solution was to add the domain to /etc/hosts temporarily. Well, it would have been the simplest, if it had worked immediately. ^_^
Monday, May 16, 2011
I generally dislike being in a rut so I've made a big change to my daily routine by moving my exercise period into the evening. I needed something to separate working time from relaxing time. For people with a regular job, this delineation is obvious. It is even worse when the work and the relaxing both involve using a computer, so the distinction between the two isn't always obvious. In the worst case, I'd just keep working and end up with a only a couple of hours to relax before bed time, which isn't good for the mental health.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Tegami Bachi Reverse is the second season to Tegami Bachi (discussed here) and continues exactly where the first season ends with Lag Seeing's cliff-hanger encounter with Gauche Suede/Noir. Whereas the first season focused on character development and plot background, the second season has more action and is a better story, so is actually more enjoyable than first season overall.
The main plot in season two concerns Reverse, an organization introduced in season one that is plotting to overthrow the government of Amberground. As the story progresses, it becomes obvious that Reverse's grievances are justified (sinister stuff is definitely happening in the capital) but their actions are fuelled purely by hatred, which is never a basis for good judgement so it's hard to understand how their plans would help anyone.
Reverse's members are all the result of failed experiments conducted by the capital, which caused them to "lose their heart". Some experiments even produced human-animal hybrids. It's easy to see why they might hate the capital, which turns them into misguided rebels rather than stereotypical bad guys.
A minor sub-plot explains Niche's origin as a "child of Maka" in great detail, complete with an actual Maka. The best part is Niche becomes smarter and gets an awesome power up after learning about her past, turning her into a seriously powerful dingo.
The major sub-plot explains why Gauche Suede the postman turned into the Noir the marauder, but tantalizingly, omits details of exactly how he "lost his heart" in the capital. However, Noir's story is more concerned with how he finds, with Lag's help, another purpose in life, beyond his simple hatred towards the capital. Although "losing one's heart" is never actually explained, the effect is that you lose your personality and most of your memories, leaving you a shadow of your former self.
The second season leaves a boat load more mysteries than the first season did. What exactly is going on in the capital? Something is happening there. What exactly is the artificial sun? It's definitely not a mechanical construct, that's for sure. Who or what is Lag Seeing really? It's clear from the final episode that he is much more than he appears to be.
I don't mind having some mysteries in a story, but this is bit too much, which suggests there may be a third season. However, with the main plot neatly tied up in a satisfactory conclusion, the producers have obviously not committed to continuing the story.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Mini made an auspicious debut in Italy. The car is obviously very fast albeit a bit unreliable, but that is the right way to do it. You can always make a fast car more reliable, but making an unreliable car go faster is almost impossible. The best news is that Volkswagon has committed to enter the WRC in 2013. The competion is looking to be in good shape for the future.
Not only is Loeb a brilliantly fast driver, but he is also annoyingly lucky at times. Loeb spent the entire weekend as road sweeper and yet it did not seem to slow him down at all, an incredible feat. While Loeb was in perfect form, he was helped by the fact all of his main rivals had problems.
On day one, Latvala's co-driver misread a pace note which caused them to entered a corner too fast, rolling the car. It was not too badly damaged and Latvala restarted on day two in forty-fifth place. Even though he was out of contention, he cranked out a series of stage wins which showed what he could have achieved at the front of the pack.
Also on day one, a very racy looking Hirvonen briefly lead the rally until a slow puncture finished his charge. Hirvonen fought back valiantly, even winning the power stage, and clearly demonstrated he had the pace for a rally win, but he simply ran out of stages, finishing only 11s behind Loeb.
Petter Solberg also looked like a possible contender for a win but a turbo problem on day one and a puncture on day two, put any chance of a victory to rest. Still, he managed to salvage third place, his first podium finish of the season, so it was still a good rally for him.
Ogier took himself out of contention when he played tactics and slowed on the last stage of day one. Unfortunately for him, none of his rivals were in the mood for tactics so they all went flat-out, leaving Ogier a whopping 1m31s behind the rally leader. Ouch! Ironically, this was the reverse of what happened in Jordan where Ogier was the one who kept his foot down.
Italy reiterated what is required to beat Loeb: drive flat-out, make no mistakes, have no mechanical failures, and do not bother with tactics. Sounds easy, doesn't it? ^_^
Friday, May 13, 2011
For those too young to remember Kate Bush, this is the song that started it all. Don't be surprised if you don't like it. Kate doesn't make pop music and thus is not to everyone's taste. For proof of that, she has only had one gold record in the US.
For those who remember Kate, most (if not all) of her videos from her earlier songs are on her YouTube channel, for a convenient walk down memory lane.
What started this nostalgia trip is that Kate is releasing a new album, Director's Cut. Sadly, it is not new material, but updated versions of old songs. Alan Cross from ExploreMusic.com previewed the new album.
I'm not sure that I like the new version of "Deeper Understanding" but it's clear that Kate still has an incredible voice which it has lost little of its power, despite perhaps not have the vocal range she once had.
And yes, I'd be lying if I said her voice was the only thing I liked about her. ^__^
Blogger was out yesterday for most of the day. Blogs were still visible during the outage, but nobody was able to post. Blogger was back today but my post from May 11 was missing. As this post explains, the recovery involved a rollback to May 10, then restoring the missing posts. My May 11 post appeared a few hours ago but the tags were mangled, so the restore was not completely clean.
The curious thing is: most of the Internet apparently never noticed that Blogger was out! I follow numerous technical blogs (that are not on Blogger) and the outage was not mentioned once. It shows how irrelevant Blogger is these days.
And, of course, I must make the obligatory snarky comment about cloud computing... but can't think of one! Damn! Never a snark around when you need one.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Wow! Considering I almost didn't get to see the race, it was worth the wait. With the exception of Vettel, who basically led the race from start to finish, there was great wheel-to-wheel (and wheel-banging) action all the way down the field. For the second race in a row, Webber demonstrated great race craft by passing Alonso when it counted. Most memorable pass was Button going around the outside of Rosberg in turn fourteen, which is not the usual tactic in that corner. Unfortunately Button opted for a three stop strategy which did not work well for him.
Ferrari made a noticable step forward which allowed Alonso to get the team's first podium of the season. MacLaren seemed to a have slipped back a little which is not good news as Redbull had a few major improvements. The development race is just beginning in earnest now, so nobody can afford to slip back too much.
Kobayashi continues to impress after starting dead last in twenty third and finishing tenth. Not as big a jump as Webber in China, but Kobayashi was driving a Sauber, not a Redbull! Kobayashi is rapidly becoming my favourite of the new drivers. Watching him make a passing manoeuvre is pure delight. His driving style suits the new regulation this year which makes passing an important skill again.
The DRS zone in this race was not well placed which made the passing much too easy. The FIA is still learning where the DRS zone should be placed so it's hard to be too critical, but I wish they would consult the drivers more on the DRS location. Curiously, due the nature of the circuit, there was as much passing happening outside the DRS zone, so perhaps not having one should be a option.
The burning question is who will be the next driver to beat Vettel? Driving an identical car, Webber has the best chance but Vettel qualified 0.4s faster than Webber. He will need to dig deep to find that much more speed within himself. Or try a radical strategy. But the other drivers can try that too, so it is not as good as driving faster.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Microsoft is paying over US$8 billion for Skype. First question: are they nuts? Yes, they are most definitely nuts paying that much for a company that is basically on life support. Their reasons for acquiring Skype are a mystery.
But the more important question is: how long before they kill the the Linux client? Of course, Microsoft is promising to continue supporting Skype on non-Windows platforms, but I'm not convinced. Linux being a competing OS has nothing to with it. The Skype Linux team will likely fall with the employee cuts that are SOP when you acquire another company.
I will be looking more seriously at other options. Perhaps this will be the wake up call that provides the impetus to develop a good free VOIP client. I can only hope.
Monday, May 9, 2011
I completed the on-line 2011 census questionnaire today but was surprised that I had to switch to Iceweasel to access the site. It would not work with Chromium at all. When I entered the access code, the server returned an invalid page.
I am not sure if it was a browser problem or a poorly designed site, but it was kind of shocking that such a trivial web site would have problems. The worst part is it probably cost a bundle to create, too.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
The first example is OpenRPG. I like that one can create character record sheets which can be cross referenced in dice rolls. OpenRPG's server is a separate component and there are actually many public servers available, which indicates people are still using OpenRPG, even though the project is deader than a parrot in a Monty Python sketch. Some people are using Traipse, a fork that is attempting revive the project, but it may just be nailing the parrot to the perch. I have to play with it a bit more before drawing any conclusions.
The second example is AutoRealm, which I found just today. It looks like a very useful tool for creating maps for role playing games. Not only is the project dead, it was Windows only and written in Pascal, hardly a common language for open source projects. Well, AutoRealm was originally closed source which may explain the unusual choice. A precompiled Windows binary is available which may run in Wine, but I haven't played with Wine in years and wasn't in the mood for that today. Someone started rewriting AutoRealm in Python, but the UI is non functional and the last check in was two years ago. Not a good sign.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Conspiracy theories exist for two reasons: paranoid crazy people and stories that don't add up. There is nothing you can do about the first reason. There are two ways to avoid the second reason: by giving the all facts or by getting your story straight. Unfortunately, people in the intelligence business always dissemble, so you are left with method two. If you fail badly at getting your story straight, you will actually spawn a counter conspiracy theory which states that you are intentionally trying to create a conspiracy theory.
And yes, I am a paranoid crazy person. ^__^
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Read this article about Canada's G20 political prisoner, Byron Sonne. Now ask yourself if you feel safer that he has been in custody for almost a year. In fact, the whole fiasco makes me even more uneasy because it suggests the security establishment is unable to distinguish real threats from false ones. That scares me because they used Sonne as a way to justify the security theatre by catching someone whether he represented a danger or not.
The more recent charge of "counselling to commit mischief not committed" is equally disturbing because, essentially, it turned the basic freedom of speech into a crime. When this charge was laid earlier this year, this happened in Zimbabwe. If one excludes the torture, which thankfully is not standard procedure in Canada (I'm sure some police wish it was), the rationale of the security forces is disturbingly similar. I did not refer to Sonne as a "political prisoner" for the sake of hyperbole.
Monday, May 2, 2011
A Conservative majority. Damn, we got the worst case.
The first New Democratic Party opposition? It's a pyrrhic victory in my opinion.
The Liberal Party decimated. They are still paying for their arrogance.
The Bloc Quebecois routed. This may actually fuel separatism.
And... the Green Party wins its first seat!?
We live in interesting times, my friends. Perhaps a little too interesting. The good news is no Federal elections until 2015. The bad news is this could be a very long four years.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
The political strife around the Middle East (including Jordan itself) put the Jordan Rally in doubt, but the organisers decided to have the event go ahead anyway. It was not the best idea.
The problems started when everything had to rerouted around Syria when it became unsafe for travel. After establishing a new route, the organisers cancelled the first day's stages to allow time for scrutineering and shakedown, but even that schedule was in doubt when engine trouble on the transport ship caused even further delays.
Everything arrived in the middle of the night with only a few hours before scrutineering. In that short time, the teams had to accomplish tasks that they normally have three days to complete, such as assembling the service area and setting up the cars. It was quite an impressive feat that they were all ready in time. And thanks to their incredible effort, it turned out to be one the best rallies ever!
Loeb got off to a blistering start but he was second on the road and still sweeping somewhat. As expected, after two stages he had dropped to third overall. He held that position until the final stage of the day, where he slowed down in the middle of the stage, a very unusual tactic. Latvala and Petter Solberg both slowed as well in order to remain behind Loeb.
But Ogier, who was in the lead but had a much better road position, kept his foot in it and stormed to a 31s lead over Loeb, who again found himself in second place overall, which meant on day three he would again be second on the road, identical to the situation on day two. In fact he was worse off because from that position, 31s was a lot of time to make up. His tactic had failed completely.
Loeb tried very hard on day three, forcing him into several uncharacteristic errors. This was not the first time that Loeb has buckled under pressure this season and I suspect it will not be the last. It wasn't long before he lost second place to Latvala who, thanks to better road position, soon passed Ogier for the lead.
But, going into the final stage, Latvala's lead was a mere 0.5s which set up a real thriller of a stage. With such a small margin, every mistake mattered. Unfortunately, Latvala had a few too many wild moments while Ogier had very tidy run, which earned him a well deserved win by only 0.2s. It was the narrowest victory in WRC history.
Phew! Now to catch my breath before the next rally. ^_^