So what’d you do over the summer? Oh, you know. Relaxed, took it easy, discovered a planet…

For about 5 minutes, I would sincerely love to trade all kinds of places with this kid.

Tom Wagg was 15 when he spotted a tiny dip in the light of a distant star during his week-long placement at Keele University. After two years of further research, astronomers have confirmed that he witnessed a mystery planet passing in front of the star.

Follow the site for long enough, and you’ll pick up on the extreme geek factor. This includes a huge interest in science fiction, but also in both present-day and futuristic space discoveries. So I was a little tiny bit jealous, perhaps, when I read this. I always wondered if we’d actually see something akin to realistic space travel in my lifetime, and they sure as hell are trying to answer that question with a definitive hell yes. But in the meantime, you go, Tom. And if you ever want to trade places with a college geek, let me know. Now, about those theoretical real-life impulse engines

The easy as pie CPanel WebFaction migration guide.

for reasons of plenty, I’ve had to end up switching hosting away from the server I won’t be running for much longer. The host I picked, I did largely based on the fact they advertise themselves as being a host for developers–which, for me, translates as a host for geeks. And so far, it looks that way.

I’m coming from a vantagepoint of having full access to my server, so that was something to get used to. But WebFaction, my new host, pretty much lets me do most of what I could do on my own server with a minimal amount of problem–at least so far. The getting set up was a lot easier than I expected, and I expected it to be fairly simple to begin with.

A little background. My server runs cPanel, largely because some of the folks I host aren’t as technically minded as I am, so if they want to make themselves a brand new email address at 4:00 AM, I want to let them. The down side of that, of course, is CPanel likes to get in the way of most skilled sysadmins. I’ve learned to work around it for the most part, and push it out of my way where I can’t, but generally speaking I always hear of it being a fight to accomplish some complex task mostly because the folks at CPanel have a different idea of how things ought to be laid out than, well, most normal people. That said, it’s mostly working around CPanel’s general assumptions that makes migrating to any host in general, and WebFaction in particular, a little bit of a trick. If you’re used to it, then it’s a non-issue in about 5 seconds. If you’re not a sysadmin, then it gets even more fun–but I can probably help you work around that if you’re reading this.

The bulk of the steps will be carried out in your new host’s control panel of choice–WebFaction has a very nice one that takes a bit of getting used to largely on account of they have a different concept of how websites come together than most people are used to, but the basic principles should be relatively translateable. And if you’re considering WebFaction, their support times are trying very hard to compete with mine when I’m awake–no support request I’ve put in has been left longer than an hour.

When I moved May and I over, the steps were almost entirely the same–except, of course, that mine were a bit more involved on account of I’m also running the DNS infrastructure for the server I’m soon to be shutting down. Moving us over went largely like this:

  • Create the necessary platforms on the new host:
    • For May, that’s a couple domain names, a database, a couple email addresses.
    • Me was a couple domain names, a few databases, a few legacy subdomains, and all the necessary pointers to the old server so other people I’m hosting over there don’t break–and also because I haven’t yet migrated my mailing list over yet. Oops.
    • So the new host knows of, and related infrastructure before it even needs to be forced to use it.
  • Back up the necessary databases from the CPanel server
    • Log in to the CPanel box with SSH, if you have SSH access, and: mysqldump -u username -p database > database.sql
    • Where username is the login name you use to access the database (hint: check the relevant config files for, for example, WordPress to find it), and database is the MySQL DB you’re wanting to back up (again, check the relevant configuration files). This puts a copy of the database as it is right now in the root of your home directory–or in whichever directory you’re sitting in, if not that. It will ask you for your database password, at which point again, check your configuration files if you don’t know it.
  • FTP (or, preferably, SFTP) the .sql file from old host to new–for this, I use WinSCP, simply because I can connect to both old and new at once and tell the thing to pull from one and push to the other. And, well, since I’m lazy, that’s exactly what I do.
  • Depending on the size of your database(s), you’ll have time while they move to go back to your new host’s control panel and create the new databases if you didn’t already do that. You can create the user(s) for them as well, which helps. WebFaction is pretty flexible with DB names, which also means you can probably have the same database name, username and password you had on CPanel, which ought to prevent breakage. I didn’t take that route, but that was for largely OCD reasons.
  • Your database transfer should be done now. Taking the info you used to create your databases on your new host, SSH into your server (WebFaction provides you SSH access by default) and then:
    • mysql -u username -p database < database.sql
    • where username is the username you picked for your new database, and database is of course the new database name. Again, it will ask you for your password–give it the one you set for the new database, not the one from your old host, unless of course they’re exactly the same, or things will break. It’ll take a second or two, but then the contents of database.sql will appear in your new database.
      • Note: WebFaction runs its database server on the same server as your web stuff, which is defined by localhost. MySQL uses this by default, so this command will work. If you’re on another host, like for example DreamHost, they let you create a database hostname to reach a separate, shared MySQL server. To import your database into that, you’ll want: mysql -h -u username -p database
  • We’re at a pause point here, as we can’t migrate any farther until we finish setting our infrastructure up on the new host. Right now, your new host knows your domain name exists, but doesn’t know what you’re planning to do with it.
  • On WebFaction, they divide the concept of web hosting into 3 categories–domains, such as, which let you host your email and generally just point to the server, applications, which are what actually serves up your web content (think WordPress, or your forum software of choice), and websites, which essentially connect applications to domain names–so you can tell, for example, to pull its content from the myblog application.
  • On other hosts, generally speaking as soon as you create a “website account”, or “web hosting account”, it gives you space on a server and doesn’t much care what you put in that space. WF tries to customize its environment for the application you’re running, if it can get away with it.
  • Either way, you’ll want to create that space now. On WF, create a static/CGI/PHP application if you’re running, say, WordPress. You could, if you felt like being creative, just create their standard WordPress application, but WF automaticly hands you a database with it then and generally makes more work for you in the long run, but that’s an option.
  • Connect the newly created application to your previously migrated domain name using a website record.
  • Now, return to your FTP client. Connect to your old host and download everything in the public_html folder of your account–that’s where CPanel stores pretty much all website data. Optionally, if your client supports it, tell it to upload it to webapps/appname on your new host, where appname is the name of the application you created above–you did create one, didn’t you?
  • Depending on how much you have up there, it could take a while–mine took a couple hours overall. Now is a perfect time to double check things, then do some preliminary testing. Some web hosts give you a subdomain you can use to test things before they go live. In WebFaction’s case, you get a subdomain in the form of, where panelusername is the username you use to log in to your control panel. Configure the website you created above to accept connections from both your domain name and, or your new host’s equivalent if not WebFaction. That way, you can access your web content before you actually switch your domain over.
  • Tripple check you’ve created all the email addresses you need while you’re in the panel. Once you change over your name servers, which is the second last step–and last step you’ll actually be able to perform by yourself, any email addresses you’ve neglected to create will stop working on account of they don’t exist on the new server, and you’ve told everyone to forget about the old one.
  • Now is the waiting game. depending on how long it takes for your content to be transferred, I’d advise you grab a coffee or several.
  • When that’s done, and before doing anything else, pull up your webfactional subdomain in a web browser. Make sure there are no errors or anything of the sort–if there, you’ll need to edit configuration files. Most commonly, the error you’ll see is related to databases. Replace all the database info in the affected configuration files with the info from the database you just created, and those problems should solve themselves.
  • Once you have everything working on the webfactional domain name, and are sure everything is set up for when you bring your actual domain name over, it’s time to make the switch. Contact your domain registrar, provided it’s not the same as your old host, and change your nameservers to be the following:
  • <

  • If your domain registrar is your old host, I’d recommend you transfer it first–I’ve had very good luck with Misk for all things domain. Then make the changes listed above.
  • And that’s all you can do on your end. Now, everyone else needs to catch up with you. It should take about 24 hours or so for everyone to realize you’ve moved–so don’t go cancelling anything on your old host just yet. Once the nameserver changes have updated globally, then you’re safe to cancel things. And at that point, you’re hopefully successfully migrated away from CPanel to wherever your new host is hanging.

I had a few more specialised tasks running, such as a Cron job for scraping the various RSS feeds I read, but those I pretty much scattered in amongst the larger tasks that required waiting for. And now, this site and everything that goes with it lives on a shiny new web server I’m not directly maintaining. If you’re hosted on the server I do maintain, you shouldn’t feel a thing.

Switching out really is that simple if you know exactly where to look. And if you’re lost at any point, Google is your friend–and so are the comments. Now, let’s go see if I need to finish breaking anything else on my new host before I get too comfortable.

There’s always next year, Toronto. And this time, saying it doesn’t feel forced.

I’m a Toronto sports fan if I’m a sports fan at all. It’s how I grew up and I haven’t evolved much since then. For hockey, it’s always been the Leafs–yes, even though the last time they won it all my parents were in grade school. For baseball, it’s been the Jays–even though the last time they won it all *I* was in grade school. It’s meant I’ve gotten to see some really good years. And, uh, some incredibly bad ones. This year was the best by far–I don’t actually remember much about 92-93. But from the beginning of the baseball season, something about this Bluejays team felt different. I made a point to catch as many games as I could get away with–which wasn’t usually something I did for baseball–this time around simply because the whole thing felt different. Then the July trade deadline happened, followed closely by league domination. Then the postseason happened, and anyone with a pulse lost their collective everything. They packed the Sky Dome, which didn’t used to happen for a baseball game. They got musical, albeit now a lot of those names aren’t exactly front and center, which used to be that thing they only did if they were mocking something. And for the first time in 22 years, Toronto’s favourite sports cliché might actually have some meaning behind it. There’s always next year. And this time, saying it doesn’t feel like just the routine. If they don’t break the team over the winter, we might actually do it next time around. And that, just for the record, is nearly as awesome a thought as if we’d done it this year. Suddenly, being a Toronto sports fan sucks a little bit less now. thanks, Jays.

Marriage: Not just for people in love anymore.

Depending on who you ask, marriage hasn’t meant what it used to for years already. In Austrailia, if you’re one couple in particular, it means even less now.

You may or may not be aware that same-sex marriage is a thing. In Austrailia they’re becoming aware of that. And as a result, at least one “traditional” couple has decided if same-sex marriage becomes legal, they will become divorced. Because nothing quite defines your own marriage like someone else’s definition.

I’m hardly one to compare opinions on marriage of any kind–I’ve always seen it as just a piece of paper, really, entitling you to no more benefit than if you’d spent the rest of your lives living together without the whole deal–the difference between a legal marriage and not, in most cases, is the ability for one of you (usually the one who earns more) to claim the other on your taxes. I don’t need that piece of paper to prove I plan on sticking around a while any more than I expect that piece of paper to be a reason to stick around longer than I would otherwise. But if you’re going to go through the whole deal, it might not be the worst idea in the world if you meant it. I’m pretty sure whatever the traditional meaning of marriage–between either sex (or sexes) was, it did not include phrasing to the effect of “unless political expediency requires otherwise”.

I’m not saying marriage–of either kind–is wrong. I wouldn’t necessarily do it, but that’s either personal preference or a fantastic misunderstanding of the legal definition of marriage (I’m pointedly ignoring the religious one). But if you’re going to go through it, mean it. And if you’re going to mean it, keep it away from politics–especially *that* politics. Doing otherwise guarantees whatever value marriage–either the “traditional” or “modern” type–had is lost in the argument. As for this couple, whether or not the divorce actually happens, they’ve just proved the point to those of us who don’t see the idea of going through with it–it’s not just for people in love anymore. But then, perhaps legally, it never really was.

Congratulations on the new government, Canada. I give it 6 months.

It should be said right up front that if someone had told me a couple years ago I’d be referring to a Prime Minister Trudeau in the present tense I’d be questioning their sanity. But, here he is and here we are. So sure, that plus the fact the liberals went from third to first in the span of an election is impressive. Sadly for Canada, though, the Trudeau fandom won’t last longer than about 6 months–and for many of the reasons, I suspect, that it was apparently extremely necessary to give Harper the boot in equally impressive fashion. Politics just doesn’t know how to do anything else, and neither do most politicians–including, as we’re about to find out, Trudeau.

Let’s start with the most obvious, because why not. Bill C-51 is, if you ask some people, the culmination of everything that was wrong with the conservative government. Shoved through with little debate, probably unconstitutional, treats dual-citizens as second class, yada yada we’ve heard it all a million times now. The vote for Trudeau–or, to put it in rather more appropriate context, the vote against Harper–was supposed to be a rejection of C-51. And it probably would be, if Trudeau hadn’t already decided he supported it. So, awesome. We ditch the bill’s authors, but we’re keeping the bill–at least until the eventual supreme court challenge, at which point we’ll see. Majority rules, and all that.

Slightly less obvious, unless you’ve had your ear to the political ground for a while, was another something Trudeau–and Mulcair, for what that was worth–used to beat Harper over the head with. Openness/accountability in government. To contrast himself with how Harper ran things, Trudeau flat out said he’d let each riding handle their own nomination process and his people would stay out of it. And then, his people got involved and there went the open nomination promise. He could have explained himself. He should have explained himself. He blamed the other guy. And there just went accountability.

Less into the politically obscure and more into the mainstream conversation, ask anyone who voted against the conservatives why they voted against the conservatives. I’d put money on one of the reasons for it being the conservatives are in bed with big oil–if I had money, anyway. Whatever the expansion, it was always assumed the conservatives would shove through any legislation that was required to approve the thing and damn the consequences. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if folks in some corners accused the conservatives of taking their legislation straight from the mouthes of the oil execs. They might even be right for all I know–I’ve never had the influence or a reason to know one way or the other. But one thing I can about guarantee is if one of Harper’s advisors had been found giving advice to the oil companies, there’d be screaming from all corners demanding to know what Harper knew, when he knew it, and why the advisor wasn’t outright fired on the spot. And somebody would probably be calling up the RCMP this morning. Not so much for Trudeau.

I’m no fan of Stephen Harper, by any means. Well, if I’m being completely honest I’m no fan of the whole damn mess, but let’s put that out there up front. But I’ve been around long enough to know how this usually ends up going. The liberals held office for 13 years, until people got tired of them and then they didn’t. Harper got himself elected on a platform of openness, accountability, transparency, and generally not sucking–and then proceeded to forget about 90% of that platform. He’s just an MP from Alberta, now. Trudeau promised to be, escentially, not Harper–and then proceeded to borrow some of Harper’s tactics before he even won the election. Aside from that, this election in particular, the platforms weren’t entirely all that radically different from each other. They both treat the supposed middle class as something delicate and special without actually defining what the middle class actually is–I still don’t know, for instance, if I’d fall into that category (though probably not, for myriad reasons). both are all about tax breaks for the middle class. Both are all about fiddling with tax rates for other people–the conservatives, supposedly, lowering corporate tax rates and the liberals increasing taxes on people who make enough money to actually get ahead in a crap economy. Neither is willing to go into a whole lot of detail on what they plan to do with that extra money, beyond vague sort of halfway nods towards helping out the middle class. In other words, there’s no real reason to vote for one party platform over the other–and with the liberals having borrowed ideas from NDP platforms past, there’s no real reason to vote for the NDP over the liberals or vise versa either. All that leaves us is reasons to vote against the other guy–and in this case, that means Harper. So out come all the things $voter hates about Harper, the current government, its current policies etc, and they latch on to the most likely party to replace them not paying much mind to the similarities. So the less than open, unaccountable conservative authors of bill C-51 are handed the boot in favour of the slightly less than open, unaccountable supporters of bill C-51 and not much ends up actually changing. And once the anti-harper feelings go away and people actually look up to see what they’ve done, I get the sneaking suspicion they’ll latch on to that fact in fairly short order–the average voter isn’t stupid, though they tend to be easily seduced by the mob mentality. And when that happens, I don’t think I’ll be the only one drawing similarities between this government and the one it replaced. I figure that should take about 6 months–or, failing that, the minute Trudeau doesn’t bring parliament back in session right when someone thinks he should. And in a term or two, provided the conservatives get their feet under them in time, we’ll be right back where we are now–only voting against the liberals instead. And then, just like Trudeau won by virtue of not being Harper, the next one will win by virtue of not being Trudeau. Unless, of course, someone surprises me and actually gives us something to vote for rather than against, but let’s not hold our breath. We might hurt ourselves.

On putting the dis in ability.

The fairly new thing now is what folks are calling transabalism–the act of a perfectly (or, at least, mostly perfectly) able-bodied someone explicitly wanting to make themselves in some way disabled. The most noteable of these, of course, is Jewel Shuping, who very recently blinded herself with the help of a psychologist using drain cleaner. I won’t go through that entire affair again, mostly because I wouldn’t be saying anything that hasn’t been said already and better. But I’ll ask the question in more general terms, because I honest to god cannot wrap my head around where that comes from.

What would make a perfectly able, some would say functional, person decide to damage perfectly working eyes, or cut off a perfectly functional limb? It’s a way different beast from, say, deciding you should have been born the opposite gender–if only because you can still, I’d argue relatively easily, live a perfectly normal (*) life while your body learns to function as, and you adapt to being, that opposite gender. But with very few exceptions, so few in fact that I’d be hard pressed to think of any right off the top though I’m sure they’re out there, the same can’t be said for learning to live with a disability–even if, as Jewel has apparently done, you do things that would ordinarily be associated with that disability. The way of life in general changes–sometimes pretty freaking dramaticly, and you can’t really compensate for that by closing your eyes or sliding on a blindfold, or making a conscious effort not to use the problem limb you’re hoping to some day do without.

I’m completely open to the possibility that my perception is based on my own thoughts about a chance to gain at least part of the sight I never had. I’d have as much an idea what to do with sight as I would what to do without an arm or leg. By that, of course, I mean absolutely none. Which is why, to an extent, I can understand some able-bodied people’s reaction to the movement as a whole. If you have yourself convinced it would absolutely be hell on earth if you were confined to a wheelchair, then you’d be more likely to assume anyone who is, whether they’re there by choice or not, must be going through the same–and you’d therefore be more likely to wonder why anyone would willingly want to be put there. I’ve certainly wondered that a time or two, and I know people who’ve functioned perfectly well in that position–though again, that’s largely on account of they didn’t have the option. Now, let me slip into my disabled person roll for a minute.

I’m 32 years old. I’ve had that long to learn how to be a disabled person in a largely able-bodied world. I’ve had that much time to adapt parts of that world to what I need, and to adapt myself–with varying degrees of success–to the parts of that world I can’t. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. One would after doing it for 30 years, after all. And a lot of that comes from not knowing or really caring that things could–or, in some people’s estimation, should–be any different. My blindness is as normal, as natural, for me as the exact opposite is for most other people. Would it still be that way if I lost my site in my teens? My twenties, maybe? Probably not–for exactly the reasons I wouldn’t imagine anyone would want that to happen by choice. In short, I’d have to relearn how to do escentially everything. Reading and writing. Travelling. Interacting with people. Basicly, living. I rely on things, be they environmental queues or things I pick up on from other people, that someone with a perfectly working pair of eyes wouldn’t need to. And they, in turn, rely on things I don’t necessarily care about on the not entirely unreasonable grounds that they’d just go right over my head anyway. Even if you’ve decided one of these things just doesn’t belong, your brain’s gotten used to the idea of it being there. You close your eyes, you’re still open to receiving and processing the information they’re sending–you’ve just told them not to send any. You make a conscious effort, say, not to use one arm, and that might actually work to an extent–but again, it’s still there, and it’s going to be a near constant effort to actually restrain yourself from using it.

By willingly cutting off that arm, or damaging your eyes, you’re escentially short-circuiting that connection. I’d imagine, on that level at least, it would be equally as traumatic as if you’d become disabled in the same or similar ways through no fault of your own (the onset of something like MS, for instance). You’d still, in ways you very likely hadn’t thought of previously, need to pretty much reteach yourself how to do things. At the very least, it’s now become a full-time job reteaching your brain how to process everything around you in entirely new and hopefully interesting ways–much like, were I to wake up with sight tomorrow, I’d almost immediately be putting my life on hold for the sole purpose of figuring out how to filter out, then process, an entirely new stream of information I haven’t had the means to get hold of or a reason to use for 30 years.

Add all of these complications on top of the usual routines the disabled go through on a regular basis (discrimination, both intentional and not, or the magnification of even the smallest every-day task into an act of inspiration, or being the latest political victim of choice just to name a few), and I don’t think it’s too far reaching to ask why someone would willingly want to put themselves through that if they had a choice not to. Does that make what people like Jewel are doing wrong? I haven’t got the faintest idea. But it does make it, at the very least, curious–and maybe, just a little bit, concerning. Being the way I am now, I wouldn’t want anything to do with a surgery, or treatment, that could give me my sight. I’m equally sure if I had it already I wouldn’t want to lose it. I can only guess at why someone else would–and I, very likely, wouldn’t even be close.

(*) In as much as anything these days can be considered normal, the definition of which if you asked three people you’d hear three different versions–just about none of them remotely the same.

On October 19th, vote Bluejays for American League champion.

If you live in Canada and haven’t been living under a rock, you know there’s an election on. You could be forgiven for thinking that election has anything remotely to do with picking the faces who will cover over what’s left of your federal government. But you have a much more important decision to make tomorrow evening. On Monday night, you will be left with the decision of whether or not to cancel your evening plans, crank up the TV, and settle in for a couple hours of postseason baseball. For the first time in 22 years, the Sky Dome (*) will play host to an American League Championship game–and a chance to turn that, and the next two that follow, into a possible setup for World Series entry. You could decide you have way more important things to do. Like, I don’t know, watch a Senators game (**) for example. I hope you don’t. Because we may not see something like this for a good long while afterwards–and you’re not going to want to be wondering what the hell everyone else in the office is talking about Tuesday morning. So on October 19th, cut out of your evening shift early. Stick a set of headphones in your phone and pull up the game while you’re studying. Follow all the things on Twitter while you’re at evening classes. Vote Bluejays. Because no matter which way your political leanings go, nothing will make you happier. And no one who’s anyone can say no to a moment like this.

(*): I have never, will never, call it the Rogers center. Rogers couldn’t pay me enough–unless they threw in Bluejays tickets, and even then I’d probably want a discount at the consession stands.

(**): I dunno. Some people have wickedly messed up priorities. I don’t judge. I’m a Leafs fan when the Jays aren’t playing, after all.

And now, the obligatory “where the hell did these come from” link dump.

One disadvantage of forgetting you put this thing up here so you can write and/or be snarky in your own space on your own time is running out of that second one and forgetting you still have that first one. The end result, besides the fact that I almost always end up neglecting to post just about everything, is I have a fairly large stockpile of things I keep meaning to throw down over here and my list of things to do (TM) never gets that far. And this is how we discover the art of the link dump.


When not even a doctor’s note is enough. A Michigan catholic school dismissed a 12-year-old girl for not meeting their attendance/academic requirements–in spite of the fact she was in line to pass anyway. Her excuse for not attending classes? recovery from cancer. clearly that doesn’t fly in Michigan. do better next time, or else.


When academia goes snap. Teachers put up with a lot of BS. My networking professor, finally, got fed up and warned a section of our class yesterday that if they didn’t kindly shut the hell up while she was talking they’d be removed–she used nicer phrasing, naturally, but they got the point. That doesn’t work so well in Texas, apparently. To the tune of one university prof failing the class on principle. How bad do you have to screw up to get an F for participation at the university level?


Some people’s parents. a Columbus mother decided now would be a fine time to teach her son a little respect. So she had him arrested. Now she’s a pushover and he’s either afraid of or distrusting of the cops. Good call, mother of the year.


They don’t make them very bright in Montana. Police in that state post a mugshot on Facebook. Owner of said mug clicks the like button. Owner of said mug gets arrested. And that’s what we call a routine day at the office.


Rental ramsacking. I’ve said it before, though probably not here. I don’t mind renting. I like it more than I’d like owning my own house, if I’m being entirely honest. But if I can get away with it, I will never rent a basement apartment–or, for that matter, any apartment–attached to someone’s house. The reasoning for it is simple. They decide to move out and sell the place, you’re screwed. And if they decide you’re not moving out fast enough, they’ll help you in the most expedient way possible–and you’re screwed times two. Stick with a rental company instead if you value what remains of your sanity–though maybe not this one.


And finally: What happens when the jailer takes a nap? Anyone who’s anyone’s probably heard of Megaupload. They’re in, let’s say, a wee bit of legal trouble at the moment. So much so, in fact, that the US government took control of their various domain names. Which you’d think should be game over. Except somebody fell asleep at the switch. The Megaupload domain names are now, shall we say, slightly suspect–and not because of any proven or otherwise piracy. Hey, DoJ guys? I’m available and my rates are reasonable. Call me. The NSA has my number.

In which life happens and leaves me behind. again.

Not for the first time and not for the last time I’ve gone a small age without actually touching this site. Fortunately this time I’m not coming back to the thing in time to deal with a potential malware infection–I don’t think. Long story short: everything is happening. And because not everything requires a full paragraph’s explanation, coupled with the fact I’m still as lazy as ever, have a thing in list format. Because sure.

  • College: Holy hell on toast the busy. I started my second semester in September. It’s now mid-October. And I just now think I might have a sort of handle on how my schedule looks. In short, I expect to have no social life to speak of between now and approximately 2017 barring complications of the unforseen variety. Love the courses, though. I even love the courseload. Could do without the schedule. In particular, doing the lab work for stuff we haven’t yet spent any theory time on is all manner of fun–particularly when the courses, rather, don’t necessarily come with textbooks.
  • Personal: What hit me? It’s been a very interesting/eventful summer/early fall. Without getting into details that aren’t fit for public consumption, everything is changing and will just keep right on changing. There is yet another move in my near to immediate future. I’m still staying in Ottawa, mind, and will hopefully still be in this end of Ottawa, so there’s that. But, uh, that’s a thing to be planned around. It’s gonna get interesting before it gets stable–hey, kind of like just about anything I touch so far as code’s concerned.
  • Baseball: What the actual? The last time Toronto had a team that was anywhere near the postseason of baseball, I was 10. That year, they won the world series for their second time. Now, we’re playing in the ALCS–and just lost one, but I’m not overly concerned. I say again. What the actual?
  • Related: Hey guys? You picked the wrong year for the #LoveThisTeam hashtag. #ComeTogether is just so very much overrated.

Hockey: don’t–just don’t. My Leafs are rebuilding. It, uh, shows. I’ll watch when I think of it, but let me let you in on a little something. IT doesn’t hurt any less when you know that’s the plan.

Like I said. I probably forgot or skipped past more than a few things. That’s what happens when you just now remember that yes, you can actually do more than check the thing for signs of broken. With a little luck and a lot of miracle, it won’t be 2016 before I remember to do this again. But who am I kidding? It’s what I’m good at. Well, that and coming from behind in the world of academia. Speaking of, ahem… Excuse me.

Your password or your freedom, Canadian version.

It’s pretty common knowledge. You cross the United States border with your laptop, mobile phone, whatever, and you run the risk of some customs person deciding that’s a nice piece of equipment you’ve got there and he’ll just be taking a closer look at it if you don’t mind. Courts have been okay with this for the most part–part of the reason I haven’t lost much sleep about returning to the US any time soon. And now, like so much other American culture, the practice is moving north.

I’ve traveled to many different countries in my life and the only time I’ve ever had any trouble at all at a border crossing was flying into Canada for a conference one time. I was pulled out of the line and sent to a special side room where I was quizzed about the real reasons I was coming to Canada. They couldn’t believe I was speaking at a conference, because I didn’t have a paper invite, and had to dig through my emails to show them it in email (thankfully, I stored my emails locally and didn’t need internet access). When I tell that story it shocks some people, as Canada has always had a reputation as a fairly easy border to cross — especially for Americans.

But apparently the Canadians are stepping up their crazy antagonism at the border. The latest story involve Alain Philippon, a Canadian citizen who was returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic. Upon landing in Halifax he was ordered to cough up the password to his smartphone, and upon refusing, was charged with obstructing border officials.

The charge has the potential to carry up to a year’s jail time–all for not turning over access to his phone to a guy with no reason to have it. Now, I’ve had my share of overly nosey border patrol folks. You know. Playing twenty questions just because you kind of don’t have much choice but to sit there and put up with it if you plan to actually get into the country–where are you coming from, where are you going, for how long, who are you meeting there, how much do you make a year (yes, I was asked that), etc. It’s become pretty standard operating procedure even before everyone got all security paranoid after 9/11. But seriously, if I wanted to sneak something across the border and didn’t want the US (or Canadian) agents there to find it, the last place I’d store the thing is locally on the laptop, phone, tablet, whichever. I’m trying *not* to get caught, remember. So odds are good I’ve stashed whatever I need on a remote server somewhere they don’t know exists and therefore couldn’t ask me for its password, deleted my local copy of that thing, and the only thing they’d see on a scroll through my phone are emails/text messages to my girlfriend on my way out, and quite probably a whole heap of sports notifications. Not exactly crossing a legal line, here, but at least partially crossing a privacy one. And for that, they’d need to do a lot more than ask me for my password. Or, you know, they could at least say please–it’s the Canadian way.

“We’ll reform the voting system! For really real!” … and other reasons I’m not voting this year.

So if you’re in Canada, there’s an election coming up in October. And if you’ve been paying any regular degree of attention to it, you probably have a general idea of what you’ll be voting on–hint: “yes or no on throwing Stephen Harper out on his ass” isn’t it. If you’re voting, you’ve probably already decided on who–or, in the case of a small minority, against who. If you’ve decided to stay home, odds are pretty good you’ve decided–not inaccurately–that it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of difference who comes out ahead in any eventual election.

My thoughts on voting in general, at least insofar as Canada goes, aren’t secret. You get a lot of hot air for a lot of partial reasons, then the individual political parties let their diehard supporters loose on each other until voting day–at which point somebody wins and not a whole lot changes. We went through it last year in Ontario and have been paying for it since. We went through it several times federally and have been paying for it since (note: That is not a dig at Harper. Relax, conservatives.). It’s too soon to offer an opinion on Alberta’s election, but if history’s any guide, I’ll be reevaluating that notion in about a year or two. And now, we get a chance to do it all over again federally to the tune of a very similar song and dance as we saw last time around. So with that in mind, the reasons I won’t be voting in this year’s election–just like I didn’t vote in last year’s.

We’ll reform the voting system!

This one I hear about every so often. I have no idea why, as it never seems to go anywhere, but it gets people through the night I suppose. Ontario talked about it last year. This year, they’re sort of doing it, if you loosely define “doing it” as updating their regulations to match the federal equivalent. More recently, the federal liberals have been musing about the prospect of some kind of new system within a year and a half of winning office, which should give you a general idea of the likelihood of its success. But what Justin Trudeau doesn’t mention–and Harper didn’t either when he jumped off the election reform bandwagon after, you know, winning one–is the only folks who seem to contemplate these notions are folks who aren’t currently benefitting from the broken system at the time. File this under “I’ll believe it if I see it” and let’s move on.

Kill the Senate and Harper with it!

To hear pretty much anyone not currently in government tell it, the senate broke the second Harper started appointing people to it. Unless you’re Harper pre-2006, then it broke the second Cretien/Martin started appointing people to it. either way, somebody somewhere usually calls for either reform or outright elimination of the senate and usually that’s as far as it goes. Why? Because outside of the NDP, no one particularly fancies opening the constitution. And if the NDP gets a shot at it, it may be the next election before it gets anywhere meaningful. But that’s a thing to beat the government over the head with, so “Die, senate, die!: or something.

I have no idea who the middle class is, but I will defend you!

spend 5 seconds on Google looking up any news article related to “the middle class”. go ahead. I’ll wait. Everyone says it. The conservatives say they’re looking out for it. The liberals say it’s hard done by and needs help. The NDP says business is screwing it over. None of the above can seem to explain exactly who would be covered under “the middle class”. Would the guy who works minimum wage at McDonalds? What about the high school English teacher down the road? Would you? Would I? No one’s saying. But whoever it is, clearly they’re crying out for help. So vote $party, and it’ll be business as usual for another 4 years because really, what can you do?

The scandal! The impropriety!

This one’s probably my favourite. The conservatives haven’t met an election they couldn’t be accused of cheating to win. The liberals were booted from office thanks largely to their own legal and financial shananigans. And let’s not leave the NDP’s own money troubles out of the mix. Because guilty as the other two are, they sure won’t. “We’re not as corrupt as they are” is starting to hold less and less meaning here, guys.

It may be my God-given right to vote. But if I’m expected to exercise that right, please for the love of that god give me something worth exercising it on. At the moment, options include bad, bad, slightly less bad and where the hell did you come from. Mandatory voting won’t change that–I’ll just take the fine for not bothering to waste my time picking from the better of three coruptions. Preferencial voting won’t change that–you’ll just have your pick of any three godaweful choices, each with a platform they’ll stick on a shelf when the election’s over. lowering the voting age won’t change that–if you can’t convince somebody in their 30’s to get out and vote, and they have arguably more of a dog in this fight than a high school student, you’ve got bigger problems than shaving a couple years off the voting age. In short: fix the options, or the method for picking those options won’t matter worth a damn. Give me a reason to vote, and stop it with the reasons not to. Until that happens, I’ll be withholding my vote. And Trudeau, if he actually follows through on something as potentially significant as electoral reform, can fine me for it until the cows come home. Who knows? That might be the proof I need that someone up there actually means it.

I see you paying me for spam in your near to immediate future.

Getting anything but a higher bill out of companies like Rogers is often times an exercise in futility. But for a guy in Edmonton, that was only half his problem. The other half was not actually signing up for some of what Rogers had decided to bill him for.

Andy Pearcy is probably like most people. You’ve got 80 million things on the go, so when the end of the month rolls around, you take 20 minutes or so, stare at your bills long enough to figure out what the final number is, then fire that final number in the required direction so you can move on with your day and they can’t call you about it tomorrow. The problem if you’re Andy, though, is $10 of that final number was going to a fortune teller he didn’t sign up for. In exchange for the money he didn’t know he was paying, they sent him occasional text messages he thought were your run-of-the-mill spam you just shrug off, delete and forget about in 5 minutes–since, you know, he didn’t sign up for the things.

Naturally, when he found out, he called rogers. Naturally, because rogers, they said he ought to call the guys sending him the text messages–because Rogers and refund are mutually exclusive terms, you know. And naturally, Andy had no interest in asking a company he didn’t sign up with who wasn’t doing the actual billing to stop taking his money. The rest, as they say, is pretty business as usual. I’m no expert here or anything, but I’m thinking perhaps if Rogers had done a little fortune asking of its own, it could have quite possibly avoided a headache. But then, Rogers not asking questions might be a small contributing factor to its picking up half the bill for itself. Yeah, I see a not very smart executive promotion in somebody’s near to immediate future.

Trigger Warning: In which I worry about an assisted suicide ruling.

Warning: I have no idea how triggers work, particularly related to depression and contemplation of suicide. I am your typical, undereducated thug in that department. But if any of this entry serves to trigger something, please know it was not intended, I apologise, and you can inform me of it privately if you so choose so I can change it accordingly. I’m not here to traumatise.


I’m more often than not a fan of any time the Supreme court of Canada wants to take a swipe at our government. The way things tend to come down the pipe now and again, it’s probably deserved more often than it’s not. But on assisted suicide in particular, the supreme court has gone too far.

The court ruled very recently that a law banning doctor-assisted suicide was entirely unconstitutional–and that the right to life, more or less, should include the right to death. On its face a logical ruling, if you can tie anything remotely akin to logic around an issue of when it’s considered legal to kill someone. The ruling allows for the possibility of assisted suicide for any incurable physical–or mental–illness. So, for example, someone determined to be dying of cancer can opt to have it done and over with quickly, as opposed to living out the rest of their however long knowing the disease will eventually kill them. that’s good, in theory. But so can someone dealing with depression. that’s not so much.

Already this happens in certain European countries–Belgium permitted the assisted suicide of two deaf twin brothers who were going blind and couldn’t handle it, for example. And the same procedure for chronic depression is surprisingly not uncommon in jurisdictions that allow it. Unless a bunch of folks are reading the supreme court’s ruling entirely incorrectly, there is ample room for the trend in Canada to follow that path–as, quite aptly, has been explained to death already.

But that is not what the Court has in mind. First, it is clear from the ruling that the “enduring and intolerable suffering” that would confer the right to have someone kill you (with your consent, of course) is not limited to physical pain, but also psychological pain — which, besides being a murkier concept by far, raises the question of how competent the subject really is. Nor is suffering defined further: it is enough that it is intolerable “to the individual.”

Second, nothing in the words “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” the court’s other requirement for the exercise of this right, suggests that death is near, or even likely. It is enough that the condition be incurable; it need not be terminal.

So. You’re on medication for life. It’s keeping you functional, perhaps even something close to healthy, but it’s still there. As a friend told me once, it never goes away–you just get better at ignoring it. You could decide that’s plenty good enough–for all intents and purposes, you’re as cured as you’re going to get. But if you–or your doctor–decide that no, being on medication isn’t good enough–that it doesn’t actually cure you, but just treats the symptoms, assisted suicide could–again, based on this ruling–be an option. In states where it’s already legal, it is an option.

Patients themselves say that the primary motive is not to escape physical pain but psychological distress; the main drivers are depression, hopelessness and fear of loss of autonomy and control. Dutch researchers, for a report published in 2005, followed 138 terminally ill cancer patients and found that depressed patients were four times more likely to request euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Nearly half of those who requested euthanasia were depressed.

In this light, physician-assisted suicide looks less like a good death in the face of unremitting pain and more like plain old suicide. Typically, our response to suicidal feelings associated with depression and hopelessness is not to give people the means to end their lives but to offer them counseling and caring.

I know people who suffer from depression. Even completely treated, it’s still there. But because people have been there to offer help, they haven’t decided on their own it’d be better to call it quits. Some of those are friends, family, people I am or was close to. Some of them didn’t speak up about it until they had but two options: get help now, or get out–and they’d already tried that second one. It’s very possible some of them still haven’t spoken up about it–to people, at least, who could potentially have done something about it. I can only guess at exactly how many of those people I’d know now if this were a more widely accepted option. I’d rather not guess at how many people I know would consider taking this path if it becomes a more widely accepted option.

It’s been said to me on more than one occasion. Once a depressive, always a depressive. The best you can hope for is to cope. This is not coping. We can do better than this. The supreme court has it wrong, and I sincerely hope someone in this government or the next puts some effort into correcting it. Even if I will never fully appreciate it, the people who need it most will. That’s what we’re here for.

I’d support a minimum guaranteed income law. Too bad one doesn’t exist.

If you’ve spent any amount of time out of work, whether you’re disabled or not, you know it hurts. It hurts twice if you’re out of work with any kind of disability–particularly as you’ve already got at least one strike against you. Governments think they’re helping, usually–when they’re not actively trying to do everything but, but more often than not the services most people have access to equate approximately to barely covering the rent if you happen to ask nicely. There are probably a few exceptions, depending on your definition of exceptions, but for the most part it goes approximately like this:

  • Step 1: Pray like nothing else your disability/welfare deposit comes in on time and for the correct amount. Optionally curse a blue streak when it doesn’t.
  • Step two: Try and ring up your caseworker, pray she’s in her office, pray she’s awake, pray she’s not currently mid-moodswing, and pray twice she’s not stuck using what escentially amounts to barely tested beta software (I’m looking at you, Ontario).
  • Step 3: Quite probably curse as at least one of those nested if statements turns false before your eyes. If you’re lucky, it may only be 1.
  • Step 4: Explain, probably twice, and a third time for good measure, that yes you’re broken again and could she kindly fix you and damn well mean it this time.
  • Step 5: Spend the rest of the month catching up on barely paying for the things you meant to pay for before your deposit went pair shaped.
  • Step 6: Repeat steps 1-5 as needed.

If the system works perfectly, you can likely skip that whole dance–and still have enough money left over for perhaps a cup of coffee if you haven’t gotten real good at getting real creative real fast. Which is still a problem, but it’s not necessarily the one problem with the potential to be your complete undoing. The problems that could potentially be your complete undoing are pretty much all administrative, mostly unnecessary and usually avoidable if the people handling the files would demonstrate a collective IQ above about 2.1.

I’m going to bash on Ontario, specificly the Ontario disability support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW), for two very simple reasons. Reason the first: I’m far too familiar with the system here for my own good–and have written way too much about them to be healthy. And reason the second: It’s not all sunshine and roses–and people who show up here looking for info on what they offer (this has happened) need to see that.

ODSP and OW come from a very similar set of procedures, slightly tweeked to account for the intended difference in clients. Which also means they come with the same, or close to the same, set of problems. Specificly, the process of actually providing the services hangs them up and they’re left spinning their wheels while figuring out how to actually provide the services–when they’re not taking their sweet time not approving you, anyway. So you’re left with a wheelchair user having to pay out of pocket to sort out complications ODSP was explicitly designed to cover, because ODSP has dropped the ball. Again.

It’s not *entirely* the fault of ODSP/OW for the way the system’s been bent out of shape. They’re covering their respective asses, more often than not–and that covering process tends to trip them up. It’s not a complete excuse, but when you’re alternating between people who’d rather be on ODSP than working and a system that seems set up to both allow and encourage it, you can kind of see why a little coverage is required.

There is a possible way around problems like this, and we largely have systems in place already that would be capable of handling it if a government were so inclined to develop enough of a spine to put it in place. Rather than an overcomplicated system of disability/welfare payments that seems to depend more on the phase of the moon than your medical condition, why not just move to a system of guaranteed annual income and be done with it? Take the payments out of the hands of social services, which comes with enough of its own stigma as it is, and hand it over to either provincial or federal tax authorities, say–like they already do in some jurisdictions for assessing things like your HST rebates, for those who get them. Or child tax, if that’s mildly more relevant for context purposes. The only requirement for determining whether or not you qualify for this particular benefit, then, would presumedly be your income tax filings–which you should be submitting if you’re not working anyway because potentially helpful.

The trend is to increase the minimum wage instead–Alberta’s government was considering a $15 minimum wage at one point, which would help, but only if you happen to be already working–and only then if your employer hasn’t decided the increase is going to cost too much and your particular job isn’t worth what they’re expected to pay. But there are more than a few good reasons to change that trend, which at least some parts of that same government are making vague-sounding rumbling noises about.

A minimum guaranteed income would accomplish the one thing no social services system has been able to actually do with any degree of success, if it’s executed properly. Get people off social services, and living moderately independently while they try and hopefully succeed at getting their feet under them. Unfortunately, and this is more than likely precisely why it’s not a thing that’s anywhere close to happening yet, proper execution is far from guaranteed–and getting there will be far from popular in just about any jurisdiction.

First, the receiving end of the spectrum. We’re assuming the idea behind a system like this is to give people just that little boost closer to the poverty line–the general assumption that was supposed to be the intent of social services, before it wasn’t. That means we’d need to see a minimum guaranteed income in or around the $19000 per year range to be considered closeish to the cutoff line. Doable, perhaps, but not easy–and it still won’t be entirely equal, though it would be more equal than the current system.

This is the part where I start to throw numbers at you. So if you’re the type that goes crosseyed at the prospect, 1: I know the feeling and 2: I warned you. Ontario’s minimum wage is about $11.25 as it stands right now. Crunch a few numbers based on a 40-hour work week, and you come out with $23400 in before-tax income on the year. Assuming they set the cutoff for this new guaranteed income plan at $19000, the actual hourly rate would be just slightly over $2 cheaper (at $9.13, based on that same 40-hour work week). So anyone who can’t find a job for more reasons than I feel like ever writing down in an entry would still lose out, but not by all that much in the grand scheme of things–and by a whole lot less than what they do now. Contrast this with the maximum you’d be entitled to on a system like ODSP, without the extras for things like special dietary requirements. Based on that same 40-hour work week, an ODSP recipient who’s actually entitled to the maximum allowed would earn $13176 on the year, or $6.33 per hour. Nearly half what Ontario’s current minimum wage is at present. And with the insentives against going out and finding work (see above), which would only end up hurting you long-term unless you found work at a rate of pay significant enough that it cancels out your ODSP entirely, the situation doesn’t end up actually doing a whole lot of helping you–and even if it does, the extra paperwork it requires, and the multiple opportunities for that extra paperwork to grow legs and wander off somewhere, don’t make it something most people look forward to actually doing.

Contrast that to the process for either reducing or getting completely off the minimum guaranteed income list–or getting back on it, if somewhere down the road your prospects take a turn for the nonexistent. As I said elsewhere, presumedly you’re filing your income taxes whether you’re working or not, particularly if you’ve got student loans–as keeping track of that becomes slightly easier at that point when it comes time to figure out how much of those loans you can claim credit for paying back. If the system is set up properly, meaning tied to your income tax filings similar to some other benefits you can claim from the government, then your eligibility for the minimum guaranteed income is either validated or revoked by virtue of the very same process you’d be going through anyway. So our person making minimum wage above, while maybe not flying in style, would be able to get himself off the minimum guaranteed income provision just by indicating he now has a job that pays him that minimum wage. If yearly income is more than minimum income threshold, minimum income doesn’t apply. If he later ends up losing that job and taking employment insurance, then the next time he files his taxes he’ll likely come in at or below the theoretical $19000 income cutoff. There’s probably a lot of room for maneuverability and all sorts of fun and games to make the system a little more fluid than the example I’ve just described, but given it’s a thought bubble at worst at the moment and a working theory sitting on some government staffer’s stack of paperwork at best, I’m using what I have to work with as a loose baseline. It will probably be challenged. Please do.

And now we get into the not so fun part of all this, and the reason I don’t expect to see one–not even one spearheaded by Alberta’s new NDP government–in the foreseeable future. The fairly significant matter of funding this provision. From the opinion piece on minimum guaranteed income linked earlier on:

But notice how it works. The benefit is a social obligation; thus, it is socially financed, i.e., through the tax and transfer system. Everybody pays for it (though the more you make the more you pay) and everybody is eligible for it (though the more you make the less you receive). It is available whether you are in work or out, and has no impact either on the willingness of workers to supply their labour or the willingness of employers to demand it.

The problem, roughly summarized, is that everybody pays. So the people who would have an issue with handing over their money for social assistance funding would very likely still have an issue with handing it over for this fund. The difference is, on a more technical level, they’d be as eligible to receive the benefit as, say, I would–though perhaps, depending on their particular situation, they might not see it that way if they’re paying in more on balance than they’re technically getting out of it. The trick, then, would be to frame that discussion in such a way that it’s not so much a net loss to the ones doing most of the paying. Which, incidentally, is precisely why I don’t particularly see it happening any time soon.

governments of just about any stripe, on principle, mean well–at least when they initially take office. They have their ideas, their pet projects, their whatever, but at the end of the day, they ran on something they thought would improve the situation. They were elected on that something. Then they get into the details and one of two things happens. either the government decides–truthfully or not–that the thing they ran on is quite a bit more involved to put in place than they figured, so they try to dance around it without being run over by the train of broken promises let loose by the government they just replaced, or the details of what they’re looking to implement are–mostly–released to the public, who decides that wasn’t what they signed on for in the first place, and that thing that got the government elected isn’t quite as popular now as it was on election day. Either way, like so many other potentially decent ideas, the details get hung up on how it’s being paid for, who’s paying, how much and why isn’t $GroupOfTheWeek exempt from these new taxes. Enter the problem with getting something like this minimum income provision approved. If any government with this kind of a brainstorm doesn’t articulate it exactly right, and I haven’t seen a government yet with that particular ability, the media will be pumping out headlines to the tune of “$government introduces new employment tax” and that’ll be the end of that in incredibly short order.

I would love, absolutely, to see a system of minimum guaranteed income put in place. I’d openly support something like that–and might actually be convinced to vote for anyone who’d willingly step up to the plate with an idea like that. It’s a sad, sad shame such a beast doesn’t exist.

I have more content than I do brain power. Ergo, link dump.

I keep meaning to post here semi-regularly. I keep not posting here semi-regularly. You’d think I’d learn. since I haven’t, have a small list of the junk I’ve been collecting that I’ve planned to do useful things with and haven’t. there is going to be an actual entry up here eventually. With actual content. And opinions. And probably some mockery. … This is not that entry.


Kids these days. So entitled to all the things. You’d swear they get it from their parents. And when you have parents who’re perfectly fine with billing a kid $24 because his family had plans that kept him from showing up at a birthday party, you’re probably not wrong. Yeah, sorry. turns out I won’t be able to make next year’s party either.


This is why I would make a particularly crappy criminal. Ideas like breaking into a store through the roof just sound on basic principle like the kind of thing that can only end not good for you. Particularly when you’ve already provided enough warning that the police are, well, waiting for you. I’m no expert, but that probably could have been better executed.


I may mock Alberta for many things–like, say, its recent choice in government–but in some cases I can only give them points for common sense. In this case, if you happen to be a teenager driving like an absolute braindead idiot, the local police can and will call your mom on you. If his parents are anything like mine, I’m laying odds he still can’t sit down. I’d hope it helped, but something tells me I know better.


And lastly: It’s never worth all that effort to bust into a cacino and try walking off with an ATM. the risk is almost always not even worth the reward. Particularly when the offending ATM is, well, quite empty. I wonder if they looked as stupid on the surveylence video as they felt when they got the thing open.


And now for something completely different. Things that aren’t links, but hardly warrant entries of their own–particularly now, when they’re considered pretty much footnotes anyway. In list format, because duh.

  • Montreal got the boot from the playoffs. Yay woo. I was getting tired of hearing about them after a week.
  • Calgary got the boot from the playoffs. That… was moderately surprising. Shouldn’t have been. But they had a decent run. Still doing better than Toronto. Or Ottawa. But no one cares about Ottawa.
  • Alberta’s considering either a minimum wage or a minimum income, or both. I hope they give that first one a try. I also hope it works. That gets its own entry when I get to it. whenever that is.
  • And in obvious news, quebec politics is once again being Quebec politics. but at least Gilles Duceppe’s back. I was due for something slightly more consistent to snicker at.

Next time, there might actually be content. Unless I get lazy again. which is probably slightly more likely. But we’ll pretend I don’t ever do that kind of thing.

Ottawa out in 6: #ChokeFest2015

So I’m a few days behind the times and Montreal’s already behind in the series. Awesome. Also oh well. Ottawa has basicly never, and I do mean never, done much as far as the playoffs go. Ignoring 2007, when the city very nearly exploded, they usually cruised their way into the playoffs, then promptly rolled over and played dead. And let’s not discuss those times when they went flat in the first round–er, well, kind of like now.

I would have preferred an obscure rule violation that ended up disqualifying both teams on sight, but hey, this works too. Now, if Tampa would be so kind as to handle the rest of it, that would be perfectly okay with me. Calgary’s Canada’s team anyway.

Vancouver out in 6: Is that all?

I didn’t have much of a dog in this fight, really. Haven’t had much interest in either team–aside from I know someone who knows someone who plays for Calgary, but you’ll have that. Vancouver had this series, though. Hell, they had the game yesterday. right up until they didn’t. Up 3 nothing, just to lose 7 4? You guys have been watching Toronto haven’t you? Knock it off with that. No, seriously.

On the up side, holy hell Calgary where’d that come from? I mean not that I’m complaining, but it wasn’t that long ago folks were asking if you were even going to be playing this week. And now you’re going to make me start flipping to hockey games again just because Canada. I both love and hate you for that. Now about that obscure rule violation in that other Canadian series…

In which I contemplate a redesign. Again. This too shall pass.

This thing has been running, off and on, for just about 10 years in various forms. In that time, it’s gone through two major and complete redesigns–both times even swapping out the underlying platform. But I haven’t done anything major with the site since 2009. With school being out and my free time actually somewhat existing, I’m giving thought to putting that stretch of time to bed. I’ve even tossed around changing the sites’ name and finding it a new, less obscure domain name.

When I started this site in 2006, I knew very little about web development and even less about what we’d later call blogging. And absolutely nothing about what I’d way later than that discover was branding. I just knew I wanted my own space, and something that wasn’t as the address for said space. It was freaking 2006, so the trend of buying up every domain name under the sun and only using one of them hadn’t entirely caught on yet. Which, escentially, meant if I’d given it considerably more thought than I had, I’d probably have snagged before it went up for auction for $5000.

Now, nearly ten years later, I know slightly more about web development and may or may not have picked up a thing or two about other, related ventures along the way. Just in time to potentially make transitioning to better website 2.0 slightly challenging. Which is probably precisely why I’m considering taking part of the summer and just having at it. Which… sounds an aweful lot like something I’ve said before.

See, I get these ideas I’d like to try out every so often. So I take a snapshot of the site as it is right now, plop it somewhere useful, and hack away at it without breaking the actual production site. Then life happens, or something more involved crops up, and I’ve entirely forgotten where I was going with the idea. The server’s very likely full of projects exactly like that (note to self: clean some of those up already). Bits and pieces of older versions of the site, or code snippets I meant to incorporate and then just didn’t, scattered in amongst this or that theme I’m pulling out to test and see what sticks.

One of these days, I may even go back and look at some of those. Or start something new. And that too will probably pass. But just in case it doesn’t, at least this time I’ve got something that vaguely represents a starting point. So in 6 months when I’ve forgotten all about this post, if you happen to be looking for a name for your new website, I’ll probably have a couple suggestions…

Relatedly: Some trivia about the current website name. When I moved myself and everything I’d written to that point away from LiveJournal, and pulled the older stuff off a really old version of Movable Type and onto the WordPress system I’ve been using since, I gave the site the title of “Welcome to Nowhere”. It was meant to be a temporary name until I got around to thinking up something mildly more creative. That temporary name, needless to say, has lasted about 6 years. There is still, for those of you keeping score at home, the distinct possibility it will last 6 more. If it turns out it does, well, I tried. Now where’d I put that list of alternatives…

Jets out in 4: We barely knew ye.

I gave up on my team having a spot in the playoffs when the bottom fell out in January. Which, when you combine that with me doing the school thing, probably explains why there’s been a grand total of 0 posts on the subject since who knows when. But that doesn’t mean I’d entirely lost interest in the thing.

I’d been passively keeping an eye on the Winnipeg Jets since the start of the season, largely because–hey, one more Canadian hockey team so why not. It was their first year, and I was curious if they’d stick. Clearly they have so far. But I was particularly interested in this year’s playoffs because in their first season as an NHL franchise, they managed to slide into the top 8.

I wasn’t figuring they’d go all the way, by any means. But that they managed to get that far on their first try was worth some attention. So I followed the series online, caught pieces of games here and there, and generally hoped Anaheim would slip up just a little, just once. They didn’t. If that one series is any indication, though, Winnipeg will explode if the cup ever ends up there. Next year, if you’re lucky. And I’ll be in your corner then, as well–at least until the Leafs do what they haven’t done in a decade. Bright side: I can go back to watching Montreal step on Ottawa, then line up to have the same done to them in return. It’s gonna be a nifty playoff.

So long, Jets in 4. We barely knew ye.

Link Dump 2.0

I have exam brain, and there’s a back and forth happening re: one of my courses and accessibility related shinanigans. It’s fun, in that way that leaves me with far more content than I have brainpower on a Sunday morning. The result? Link dump. Enjoy, and if it breaks, you can keep both pieces. I promise something vaguely resembling content will show up here eventually.


I’m an on-again-off-again fan of Wikipedia. It’s a useful springboard, and it’s wicked easy to see why people prefer that over the more traditional ways of doing the do. It’s just as easy to see why people would rather you didn’t. What I’d still be interested in seeing is a better alternative. Any takers?


Oh, Ontario. Just when I thought you couldn’t get any more braindead you had to go proving me wrong. Again with the “distracted driving is wicked evil cruel and must be legislated” kick? For real? Yeah, not gonna say another word. Of course I’ve said that before. that’ll learn me.


Remember the ALS ice bucket challenge? sure you do. Stupid idiot gets challenged to either donate money for research or pour a bucket of ice water over his head on video, but preferably both. Stupid idiot accepts challenge. Stupid idiot gets iced. Stupid idiot posts the video online, possibly challenging someone else. Stupid idiot gets arrested for being a stupid idiot and broadcasting his location to anyone who wants it–while there’s a warrant on his head. Wait what? Yeah, I’m quitting humanity.


The NHL’s toying with me again. First it was relocation (welcome back to hockey, Winnipeg), now it’s expansion. And Toronto still doesn’t get a real alternative to our poor Leafs, I’ll put money on it. relatedly, who plans for a hockey team in Vegas? Seriously, I know people who know people who want to know.


Keurig invents new coffee maker. Keurig locks down new coffee maker. Keurig sits back and watches everyone else unlock new coffee maker. You saw it coming. I have nothing more to say.


And lastly: What do the NFL and the typical highschool education have in common? If you said absolutely freaking nothing, you are probably at least twice as smart as whichever genius dreamed up the idea of teaching fantasy football in school. Seriously, where do they find these people and why am I still unemployed?


And that’s the end of that, at least until it’s not. Now, about those accessibility shinanigans…

I have links and little actual content. So, link dump.

Also because I haven’t done an explicit link dump in… oh… since well before this version of the thing existed. I’ll think of something constructive to put here later.

If anyone’s got a little extra money to burn, there’s a family in texas with a how-to guide on doing it efficiently. Or, you know, you could just hand me that money. That could work too. Probably be moderately more productive.

Facebook figures you could use a hand with your sarcasm/snark filter–which you don’t, presumedly, unless you’re this guy (that’s sarcasm, by the by).

I hate the word “selfie” with the passion of a thousand suns. It’s braindead, it’s stupid, it’s immature, and it passed ridiculous about a week after I first heard it. Which is still doing better than some of the folks who use it. Somebody please restore my faith in humanity. Please? I’m waiting…

On second thought, nevermind. Humanity’s screwed. But at least this one has no shame. Should probably make arangements to find some, though.

Well. That’s better. Now, where’d I actually put the thing I wanted to write about…

Is it spring yet…?

Ottawa winters can usually fall into two categories. “Six layers required” cold, or enough snow that the first step of getting out of your driveway is, well, finding your driveway. This winter, Ottawa has decided hey, let’s go for the best of both worlds. So, because it’s either holy crap cold or holy crap snowing and I’m not looking forward to stepping out into either, have a half-assed version of a not even close to official spring countdown entry. And because I’m still not quite awake, have it in a list format version of things I’m, well, pretty much done with until next year.

  • Before Christmas, my hockey team was… well… was. Not perfect, but not crap. I wasn’t on the “we’re going to the freaking cup” bandwagon, but hey, not being in last place is an accomplishment. I’d have accepted that. Yeah, about that. Go Leafs go, and all that.
    • Yes, we beat Edmonton last night. But a wet noodle could have beaten Edmonton last night. Talk to me in a week.
  • I mentioned we go one of two ways most winters–extreme cold or extreme snow. I’m staring at -28 degrees c. It’s been as cold as -35. And they don’t list “you’re fucking nuts if you think I’m walking outside in that” as a valid reason to skip class. Related: get on that, Algonquin.
  • Related partly to the point above: There has been snow removal equipment doing the rounds since last night. There is still snow equipment doing the rounds. Which pretty much means, well, if and when we decide to venture out in that mess, it’s probably going to suck a little. Not cool, winter. Not cool.
    • Oh look. It’s snowing again. That was not a challenge, dammit.
  • Anything wintery causes pretty much a citywide shutdown. People forget how to drive. Buses are delayed. And the place where I love to live gets just a little bit annoying. And that’s before some jerk decides he doesn’t want to be stuck behind a snowplow. A ten-minute trip by bus can very easily take closer to 45 minutes–unless you’re smart, at which point these guys will probably get you home in 15.
  • I absolutely love having the windows open pretty much any chance I get. And in this apartment, I can do that with some pretty nifty results. Just… not particularly, uh, right now (see also: -28 degrees c). I love fresh air. Just not quite, well, that much.
  • And probably the thing I’m most done with this winter: the Ottawa freaking Senators. Not kidding. Anywhere that happens to have a radio on (yes, surprisingly, there are still people who listen to the radio in 2015) is guaranteed to put up with a Sens advertisement in one form or another at least twice while I’m in earshot. Look, guys. I get the whole team spirit thing. Trust me, I do–I’m a Leafs fan. Our team spirit’s through the freaking roof (for better or worse). But see, here’s the thing. You’re in the tank. You know you’re in the tank. Well, okay, maybe you don’t–but the NHL does. Chill, already. You’re making Toronto look good.

So yeah. About that spring thing…

Attention all disabled people. You officially oppose net neutrality. Thank you, Verizon.

So stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You walk into a place, $guy you don’t really know proceeds to play twenty questions with you. Then, when it comes time for you to get yourself some service, $guy figures it’s his turn to speak up on your behalf. Now, if you’re like most people, the difference between the service you expect to receive and the service $guy thinks you’re after is approximately the difference between Sarah Palin and an honest to god university graduate. Problem is, $guy figures you won’t mind in the slightest–I mean after all, he’s just doing you a service, right? Meanwhile you get to spend the next while undoing his help, then actually making the arangements you were planning to make–entirely independently, and quite probably while $guy looks on like you’d just kicked his dog down two flights of stairs.

Now, take that scenario, stick the internet in front of it, and pretend $guy is a placeholder for someone like a Verizon. Then, pretend you’ve rolled out of bed and discovered that you’ve been positioned, thanks largely to Verizon speaking on your behalf, as being entirely against any kind of notion of the FCC being able to tell companies–ahem, like Verizon–not to break the damned internet. See, the difference here is we’re pretending. PRoblem: Verizon isn’t.

Three Hill sources tell Mother Jones that Verizon lobbyists have cited the needs of blind, deaf, and disabled people to try to convince congressional staffers and their bosses to get on board with the fast lane idea. But groups representing disabled Americans, including the National Association of the Deaf, the National Federation of the Blind, and the American Association of People with Disabilities are not advocating for this plan. Mark Perriello, the president and CEO of the AAPD, says that this is the “first time” he has heard “these specific talking points.”

Considering the NFB is usually the first in line to scream bloody murder if something’s not exactly on the level insofar as blind folks are concerned, you can probably figure out approximately how much actual input from blind, deaf and disabled people Verizon actually heard before crafting that memo. But like $guy in my example, Verizon figures you won’t mind–they’re just doing you a service. Now just pay no attention whatsoever to the fact that service may or may not boil down to their own interests, but you know…

In which I sincerely hope I never move again.

I’m no fan of moving. Haven’t been a fan of moving since, well, the first time I did it. More often than not, it ends up turning into a headache which then leads to stress and confusion, which then leads to more headache, and the circle goes round. This move wasn’t quite as migraine inducing as some others (I’m looking squarely in your general direction, Bell), which is a thing that works in its favour. But yeah, if it’s all the same to you, I think the next time the possibility of moving comes up I’ll just, er, not.

The move itself went quicker than anything I’ve seen in approximately ever. May and I had a ton of help (thanks by the way, guys, times a million), so the actual moving process didn’t take nearly as long as I was figuring–everything was loaded at one end, transported, and offloaded at the other in a little over 2 hours. Coordinating the administrative end of it all, though, was a large part of the exercise in patience, tolerance and general–well–restraint. Did you know, for instance, that if you’ve got your phone through someone like Bell Canada and your internet through someone like TekSavvy, to get both services switched over requires a remarkable skill in fancy dancing? Yeah, neither did I.

Either TekSavvy or Bell (my money’s on Bell, personally) requires your phone service to be on at the new place for at least 5 days before they’ll let anyone touch your internets. I suspect this is a Bell idea largely because I’m pretty sure if we’d gone back to their Sympatico service there’d be no such foolery, but you’ll have that. May and I are both in school, so 5 days with no internets during approximately now is kind of a big deal–more so for me, given the nature of the program I’m involved in. Several phone calls and some numbers fudging later, it was still mildly annoying–but fixed, and with a minimal amount of bloodshed, but the time between mildly annoyed and fixed was just enough to remind me why if it were entirely up to me and US long distance requirements weren’t a consideration, there would be no Bell in relatively short order.

The place itself is kind of awesome. Three bedrooms, two of which are currently playing partial temporary storage for the long list of crap we’ve yet to unpack, sort through and optionally get rid of, plus an overall not crappy living space. The living room area, for example, is large enough that I can sort of turn part of it into a defacto office–this will become useful if/when I end up needing to decide between homework and hockey, but y’know, priorities and all. We lose our back yard, but the currently half-snow-covered balcony will make up for that–just as soon as I get around to acquiring things that belong out there. And then, well, find the energy to clear the thing off so they can belong out there. They lock the laundry room here at night–oh, yeah, and relatedly we actually need to leave the place to do laundry again–so there goes our waiting ’til half past dark on the day we need to leave for somewhere useful before we decide it might be in our best interest to actually, you know, leave with clean clothes. But we’re back to a secure building, which is always a plus–particularly when family decides they feel up to dropping in and you’re not even close to awake, nevermind dressed yet (yes, this has happened before).

This apartment’s laid out similar to another I used to live in–and, actually, is owned by the same company, so moving in here I kind of knew what to expect already. Still, the level of awesome was just a tiny bit surprising–I’ve met and had actual conversations with more folks in this building than at most others, for one, which could potentially be positivity material. And they seem quick to react to issues as they crop up, which–yeah, some other places could probably stand to learn from (note: intentionally not naming names, but the info’s out there), so there’s at least that. And holy crap on toast the amount of stuff we’re actually able to walk or bus to without needing to aquire a degree in creativity. It’s almost like the place I lived in when I first moved to Ottawa in that respect–all kinds of places a minimum of a few minutes’ walking and a maximum of 1 bus away. Or two, if you need to stretch it because there’s just no other way. Unfortunately it’s like where I lived when I first moved to Ottawa in that I also don’t right now have a whole lot of time for actually, you know, figuring out the best way of getting me from here to most of those places–back then it was working, now it’s school. Go figure. But when I’ve got the time for it, this place is going to turn around and probably be completely perfect–or, you know, as close to perfect as you can probably have for what they expect from us in rent per month.

I can’t stand the idea of moving to save my life. But since I’ve kind of, well, done it, I suppose I could have picked a far worse place to move to. And hey, if the trend of apartment living continues, I might actually have to start taking notes again–my last few places provided nearly as much blog material as I could come up with on my own. Because, you know, other people and other people’s problematic problems, but you’ll have that.

Two things I’ll just kind of drop here that I picked up on in, say, the first week of us being here. Thing the first: we are not the only blind folks in this building–I literally ran into one on my way to class this past Monday. And thing the second: Apartment-level blogging more than likely won’t include the third rendition of the weed basement. And for that I say, freaking thank you. Now, I suppose I ought go unpack something…

Bank of Montreal learns the gentle way why default passwords are bad for you.

This post could have also been titled: BMO is not smarter than a ninth-grader.

It will probably surprise all of no one that there’s at least one version of your typical ATM’s user manual floating around the internets. It’ll probably also surprise all of no one that–at least as of last check–a lot of them are still running Windows XP, which presents its own security issues by itself. So fast forward to the year of the adventurous teen, and what you run up against is exactly the kind of thing that would land you in federal jail on the wrong side of the border.

Matthew Hewlett and Caleb Turon were bored on a lunch break. And, as anyone who knows kids can probably figure out, lunchtime boredom plus access to the internet equals this can only end badly. In this case, it ended with a copy of an ATM user manual. So, the kids did what kids do best–they decided, hey, I wonder if any of this junk actually works. So they show up at a grocery store with a Bank of Montreal ATM, flip open their copy of the manual, and start testing things. They manage to bypass the standard program John Q. Customer sees when he wants to yoink money from the machine, and get into the actual machine OS. Well, or rather, they get to the point where the machine asks them for the OS password.

Now, if these guys are security conscious, the story ends here. They probably guess at a couple different passwords, get told to buz off, and away they go back to class with nothing having been upset. But that would be boring, and if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that major corporations don’t do boring very well. In this case, major corporations also don’t do security very well.

The manual had a list of possible default passwords for the machine. The kids, because hey, they got this far, decided it’d be fun to just cruise on down the list. And wouldn’t you know, on that list of default passwords would be–surprise surprise–the very one that gave them access.

“We thought it would be fun to try it, but we were not expecting it to work,” Hewlett told the Winnipeg Sun. “When it did, it asked for a password.”

They managed to crack the password on the first try, a result of BMO’s machine using one of the factory default passwords that had apparently never been changed.

They took this information to a nearby BMO branch, where staff were at first skeptical of what the two high-schoolers were telling them. Hewlett and Turon headed back to the Safeway to get proof, coming back with printouts from the ATM that clearly showed the machine had been compromised.

The teens even changed the machine’s greeting from “Welcome to the BMO ATM” to “Go away. This ATM has been hacked.”

Give BMO credit, though–this could have ended a lot worse than it actually did. Rather than, say, jump the gun and haul both kids before a judge (I’m looking directly at you, about 95% of US corporations), they did the smart thing–though perhaps not as smart as, say, changing that damned default password.

The BMO branch manager called security to follow up on what the teenagers had found, and even wrote them a note to take back to school as explanation for why they were late getting back to class.

According to the Sun, the note started with: “Please excuse Mr. Caleb Turon and Matthew Hewlett for being late during their lunch hour due to assisting BMO with security.”

BMO has apparently learned from a couple 14-year-olds exactly how important being allergic to default passwords actually is. And from the looks of things, they may or may not have actually done something useful with it–at least one would hope, since given people know this kind of thing’s out there, it’s only a matter of time.

So if your local geek, geek for hire, or tech support employee is standing in the room glaring daggers at either you or your computer monitor while potentially contemplating the quickest way of separating you from your career without getting his hands dirty, stop for 5 seconds and think. “Did I change that standard issue password?” Because odds are pretty freaking good one of you already knows.