Monday, August 29, 2011

Hey Buddy, Got Any Spare Luck?

Thanks to the illegal activities of a certain scumbag landlord, I'm dealing with the biggest crises of my life. More details when I get things calmed down a bit. If you have any luck to spare, I could use some right now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I decided to use the Flask microframework for the web interface on the Linux embedded system project I am working on. The UI is very simple (it ran in a PIC microcontroller before) so Flask looks like the right choice for this project. There's no database required (not yet anyway...) but the web UI does access the digital I/O. There are no special timing requirements so the I/O can be done directly from the POST handler, unless something unforeseen comes up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This Is Popular?

Huh? Google is calling my blog "popular" and is suddenly pushing AdSense like it never has before. They must be using a definition of popular that I have not seen before.

Considering this is a personal blog that has just one post per day, has only seven followers, and has zero RSS subscribers, I don't see it would even register on the AdSense radar.

Maybe Google is getting desperate for new customers. Is it early signs of market saturation?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beginning Of The End

First cheque from a new customer always feels good, but I'm not jumping for joy just yet. I have a long way to go before I can breath a little easier and too many things can go wrong in between. Some car repairs are already looming. Paraphrasing Churchill, this is not the end, but is perhaps the beginning of the end. Knock on wood. *taps forehead*

Monday, August 15, 2011

Royal Canadian Again

After 43 years, the Air Command and Maritime Command of the Canadian Armed Forces, will once again be the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy. The Royal designation was dropped in 1968 when the military was structured into a unified service. Coverage is here and here.

The part of me that respects the heritage, applauds having the Royal names restored. I will have a family member in the Royal Canadian Air Force. How cool is that?

The cynic in me thinks this is a Harper ploy to get votes from veterans who have petitioned for the old names to be restored for many years. The fact that I think a politician might be so calculating, makes me kind of sad.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's A Feature, Jim

If you use the Chromium browser, you may have noticed an "Other Bookmarks" folder on the right side of the bookmarks toolbar. Have you ever tried to delete it? Guess what? You can't.

Neither can you move it, rename it, hide it, or otherwise make it vanish from your sight. If you think this is stupid, don't worry, you are not alone. It has been reported (here and here) but Google considers it a "feature" and refuses to change the behaviour. Lovely.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Double Standards

If it was wrong for Egypt, Libya, and others to cut off Internet access, why would it be OK for Britain to do something similar? It is incredible how easily politicians are willing to curtail the freedom of the very people that elected them. Who the hell do they think they are?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Too Many Lawyers

Was there a sudden increase in the number lawyers during the 2000s?

These days it seems that lawyers have overrun the corporate world to the point where companies are spending more time suing each other, rather than competing via innovation. Copyright, patents, and intellectual property are the domain of lawyers, not entrepreneurs. Patent and copyright trolling is a business model that only lawyers would create.

It is curious that the only economy that is growing (perhaps even overheating) in these uncertain times, has very little of this lawyering going on. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Is This Infringement?

Most web sites have an explicit copyright notice. I have never seen a site with an explicit license that allows me to copy the content and view it in my web browser. Without such a licence, the basic act of viewing the site is copyright infringement, is it not?

I am surprised that a copyright troll has not used this angle to sue the visitors of a web site yet. Is there something in copyright law which prevents such a suit? Or is it that the lawyers just do not understand how a web browser works?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Unrest Is Spreading

The day before things went to hell in London, I had a conversation with my sister Marie in the UK. We predicated that the unrest in North Africa, the Middle East, and some European countries like Greece, would continue to spread around the world. Why? The underlying cause of the unrest is economic, not political.

A dictator's power depends on keeping the population content. Dictators make sure the trains are always on time. They keep the cost of food low, because once the people are going hungry, they have nothing left to lose. That is a breeding ground for revolution.

Democratic governments keep the population content by spending money on it. Government belt-tightening always affects the population negatively. If you cut enough social programs, you will eventually have a lot of bored youth. If you have high unemployment, you have a lot of bored youth with no money. This is not a good combination.

The conditions that created these hooligans, are only going to get worse, so I do not see the unrest in the UK magically resolving itself any time soon, just as it continues in Egypt and elsewhere. And as it has happened elsewhere, eventually the military will be sent in. Even in the UK.

Because, once the population is no longer content, suppression is the final option for all governments.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Linux And Ham Radio

At this month's GTALUG meeting, Steward Russell gave a brief introduction to the Amateur Radio Service and some of the software he uses in his Linux-based set up. Very few amateur radio operators use Linux, although Steward did not give any actual numbers.

The primary software for general communication is fldigi, which is free software and runs on Linux. However, Wine was mentioned several times, as the vast majority of software used by ham radio operators is Windows only, which is annoying but hardly surprising. The Industry Canada software used to take the license test, is one such example.

Steward also mentioned "software defined radio" (a phrase I first heard a few years ago from my brother, another ham radio geek) as the possible future of amateur radio but not everyone in the community is convinced. The amateur radio hobby is over a hundred years old and there are many curmudgeons who prefer the tried and tested over new fangled gadgets.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tribute To Ayrton Senna

Although Ayrton Senna was brilliantly talented, I was never a big fan because I found his all-or-nothing driving style to be very irritating at times. In this excellent Top Gear tribute to Senna, Martin Brundle explains the psychology of that driving style on the other drivers.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


C tries to explain the current economic malaise using a fantasy story set in a world very similar to ours. It is actually a interesting concept and the series is very well done, but the subject is way too complex for only a single 11 episode season. The story is simply too rushed and its full potential is never achieved.

However, it is still worth watching, but expect a little confusion along the way.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


X-Men is the third of the Marvel Anime adapations and is without doubt the best so far by a wide margin. The fourth series, Blade, will have to be very special to improve upon X-Men, which has a nearly perfect trifecta of story, character design, and animation.

It is rare that an action series gets all three just right. For example, compare Wolverine's character design in his own series with the one from X-Men and draw your own conclusions.

But the story is where X-Men really outshines the preceding two series. The story seems like it is actually written for a 12 episode series with just the right balance between action and plot development.

I highly recommend this series for both anime and X-Men fans alike.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ano Hana

The full title of this anime is Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (We Still Don`t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day.) but for obvious reasons, it often goes by the short name of Ano Hana.

Except for Honma Meiko (nicknamed "Menma") being a ghost, the story deal with the real life issue of coming to terms with the loss of a family member or a friend. Or rather, the story shows the potentially debilitating problems of not completing the grieving process, for both adults and children.

Ano Hana is easily one of the best series I have seen in recent years and is now on my list when answering, "Why do you like anime?", or "What anime do you recommend?" Curiously, there is no scifi or fantasy anime on that list at the moment. ^_^

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Gosick starts out as a light detective story but gradually turns into a dark political thriller.

The main character, Victorique de Blois, is Holmes-like in her ability to solve mysteries from mere "fragments of chaos" as she calls it. Kujou Kazuya, a Japanese foreign student attending the same school, is a perfect Watson: bumbling, not too smart, but good natured to a fault.

As the story reveals more of Victorique's background it becomes apparent that she is connected to dark political forces that are using her abilities for their own ends. It's a compelling story with one flaw: a somewhat muddled ending which has a fairy tale "happily ever after" quality to it.

Inspite of the caveats about the ending, the anime is entertaining and well worth the time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

F1 Hungary 2011

Vettel's qualifying form returned and netted poll position but for once that did not convert into a race win. Changeable weather on race day played into the hands of Button who has demonstrated his skills under those conditions in previous races. All-in-all, it was very entertaining race with a combination of wheel-to-wheel action and complex strategy.

Light rain forced everyone to start on the intermediate wet tires. Even so, the track conditions were treacherous and everyone struggled with a lack of grip and traction in the first few laps, with numerous drivers having incidents. Surprisingly, despite the high number of underwear-changing moments, the drivers all managed to recover and continue, in a very impressive display of car control. I was amazed that there was no obvious contact in the first lap given the difficult conditions.

Despite the tricky conditions, drivers eventually found the confidence to start attacking for positions. Hamilton and Vettel had a great fight for the lead until lap five when Hamilton finally got the better of Vettel. It was clear that Redbull was struggling and that they were not going to have it their own way this time.

The first shake up was the decision to switch to dry tires. In a surprising move, a few drivers switched to the soft prime tire while most went onto the faster super-soft option tire. The former strategy, if it worked, would eliminate one tire stop. The diverging strategies made the race completely unpredictable at that point. Ultimately, the prime tire was the right strategy which enabled Button to earn another win.

But before that happened, it started to rain again which caused the second shake up. A few drivers, Hamilton and Webber among them, switched back to the intermediate tires. This was a costly mistake as the rain stopped almost immediately, forcing those drivers back into the pits after only a couple of laps. It was this decision that cost Hamilton a chance for the win. The drive-through penalty for forcing di Resta off the road, relegated Hamilton to a third place finish, which was actually still respectable all things considered.

It was clear that McLaren made significant improvements to the car which were able to deliver back-to-back wins. Redbull were definitely struggling as the upgrades they brought to Hungary were reverted to the previous configuration. Since the work required getting the FIA to waive the "6 hour rest rule", which a team can only request a limited number of times per season, tells us it was a major mechanical upgrade. And it did not work. Not good. Not good at all.

Whether this marks a turn in the fortunes of Redbull, frankly, I doubt it. At this point only DNFs could affect the outcome of the championship: Vettel for the drivers'; both he and Webber for the constructors'. I just don't see that happening. But I hope I am wrong. ^_^

And finally, we had a Renault catch fire and explode in a most spectacular manner. What ever the team is doing around their fancy exhaust system, it has caused two fires this season, although the first did not produce such fireworks. If it happens again, I suspect the FIA will be taking a closer look.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Free Trade

I hate it when my stuff gets stuck at the border. It is usually caused by a pending HST payment. For people like me who don't import frequently, the process seems torturous, as it involves a lot of waiting for things to happen which I have no control over. And they call this free trade. Pfft!

Takes a deep breath. Must. Exercise. Patience. Damn it!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Today Was A Holiday

Um. Yeah. Today was a holiday, wasn't it? By the time I realized this, it was already 10:30am and I was well into my normal first Monday of the month routine (sending invoices, nothing exciting). Well, it is an optional Ontario holiday.

I did get out for a bit and the empty roads had that post-apocalypse feeling. I expected to see zombie hordes, but it was just a holiday. ^_^