starting-blast landlocked

Category: musings

How I ended up firing Windows XP.

So for anyone who happens to be paying attention, april 7th is XP dies a death day. Microsoft has decided after what’s probably shot past the 10 year mark to drop support for the OS. Which, escentially, means if you’re still running that version of Windows, you’ve just officially volunteered your machine to play host to all manner of new and interesting malware creations–you have probably also had your spamming ass slammed by my oversensitive firewall, but that’s another story. Because it’s me, and because I never turn down an excuse to see how far I can stretch things until they break, my finally tossing XP wasn’t entirely a conscious “this needs to happen” type decision.

I’ll freely admit I put off switching operating systems until almost the last minute. Largely it was lazyness–I have a crap ton and a half of stuff that needs moved from one OS to the next, and when the thought crossed my mind initially I was in the process of throwing together a multiple-part archive of pretty much all of it so the machine I was using at the time could be wiped for the upgrade. But other parts included things like I wasn’t entirely sure I wouldn’t be replacing the machine I was using a ways down the road, or I couldn’t 100% guarantee Windows 7, which is where I was planning to migrate to, would run on that machine–I figured it would, because the thing originally shipped with Vista, but Vista was also 7 years ago so that wasn’t exactly a very stable benchmark either. So I was alternating between holding out until I could find a new machine, and doing the occasional bit of digging to see if my machine would collapse under the OS or not.

Things kind of happened in fairly short order after that. Plans developed that saw May getting herself a new machine, so the Windows system she was using–which at the time ran Windows 8 (don’t get me started)–sort of stopped having any actual use. My machine had started showing its age, and there was a point that I actually wasn’t entirely sure it’d last long enough for me to do what needed doing with it to keep my various crap from falling into system failure oblivion. Fine time for me to start experimenting with new backup systems, right? So I played around with that (that’s another entry), and managed to get things to a point where if the system spontaneously caught fire it wouldn’t do anything more than torch my corner of the office. Which, okay, would have sucked royally, but my stuff was safe.

Okay. So that’s one headache down. Now I was comfortable enough that if the system decided to fry every circuit going, or if Microsoft decided to change their mind, pull support early and launch an update that escentially disabled every system in the place still running that OS, I wasn’t gonna be hurting too horribly bad. That made the next steps very nearly natural. Since May’s new machine was here and set up, May’s Windows machine became my Windows machine. Since I will never willingly use a Windows 8 machine for anything other than something new to put Windows 7 on, my next project became wipe the machine, and toss on an OS that doesn’t make me want to consider buying stock in migraine medication. I spent the next couple days manually rebuilding the machine, including hunting up wireless network drivers that I could have swore Windows 7 had built in when we bought that damn card. Then it was take a better part of the next week or so downloading and restoring the backup from the old machine, and my eventual turned emergency OS swap ended up happening with only the removal of a couple strands of hair.

And for the last couple months or so, well before Microsoft flipped the switch what turns all your XP into hacker heaven–yes, this apparently may or may not include most ATM’s, I fired XP and haven’t looked back. I may kick myself for it in 6 months when I go looking for something I knew I had on the old machine and poof, it forgets to exist, but you’ll have that. And in future, I do believe I’ll start the upgrade process well in advance of potential catastrophic implosions. On the other hand, that was kinda fun. Perhaps I’ll do it again…

In which Star Trek becomes a little less like science fiction. You saw it coming.

With the exception of the origional series–well, and the damage they started doing to the franchise with the last couple movies they turned out, you might say I’m a bit of a Star Trek fan. Well, okay, probably more than a bit–days like today would be mighty fine use cases for transporter technology, if we’re being completely honest. So I keep an eye on things that look like they might have been slightly inspired by the land of full-fledged civilizations dotting the final frontier. Which means my interest is a little bit increased when I read about a researcher that has developed the capability of 3D-printing a nearly completely plastic handgun, or the ones who’ve improved on that to put together, again using a 3D-printer, an honest to god pistol.

Okay, so maybe vaguely inspired projects that involve replicating new and interesting ways to kill each other isn’t the healthiest way to start off a Star trek inspired post. I mean hey, I’m screwed up, but not quite that screwed up–well, most of the time. So maybe let’s skip right to the “directly inspired from Star Trek” pile, then, yeah? For that, we skip across the border and land us in Canada, where a software engineering company has put together its very own attempt at a universal translator. At the moment, the goal is only to make the accents of those folks in call centers overseas seem just a little less like about half to three quarters of the problem in any customer service conversation since the dawn of customer service conversations. Having bin on the serving end of some of the conversations that have resulted from a few of those overseas accents, if I had the money handy right here right now, I’d be looking wicked hard at where to sign up. And hey, if it ever gets beyond the experimental stage, perhaps the folks behind it will be cellebrating by cracking open a bottle of an equally experimental and equally interesting present-day version of synthehol–complete with the ability for you to sober up quickly should you need to. You know, in the event your designated driver’s off in the corner drowning himself in the real thing, the fool, and you’ve just blown what should have been your cab money. Of course if this ever stops being experimental and goes mainstream, I wonder if designated drivers will still actually need to be a thing.

From the directly inspired by Star trek, we fly right on over to the directly pulled straight out of star Trek. And we land in North Carolina, where a city councillor there named David Waddell has submitted his resignation–in Klingon. “Today,” he says, “is a good day to resign.”. Not exactly a direct translation, but I mean what are you expecting from a 21st century non-Klingon? It beats the hell out of another politician deciding he wants to spend more time with his family, anyway. so, now, who’s gonna get cracking on this transporter thing? Anyone? I’ll wait…

Week made. And I had very little to do with it.

And sometimes, things just happen that make you take a step back and appreciate the fact that not everyone you pass is a walking advertisement for Toolsville. Take this past Tuesday morning. I’d left here to head off to class (that gets its own entry later), and was about 3/4 the way to the bus stop. A guy walks past me with his kid going the opposite direction, either back home or walking his kid to the school across the way–whichever. Kid sees me, sees the cane, and immediately makes with the 20 questions. It took a second for it to click that that’s what was going on, though, not because I was having a slow morning (I *did* remember to caffinate before poking my nose out the door), but because he wasn’t stopping to play 20 questions with me. Instead, he was playing 20 questions with the guy he was walking with (I’m assuming his dad, but I’ll be damned if I could be sure). The kicker, though? Dad wasn’t just answering for the sake of making the kid shut up–you know the type, you guess at the answer and kinda hope enough of it sticks that the kid buys at least part of it and moves on to the next distraction. No, this time, dad actually gave it an honest to goodness try. And the answers not only stuck, but what I caught of them didn’t border on giving me a migraine–I call that significant humanity achievement unlocked.

Kid seemed very interested in how it is I managed to get where I was going. So dad explained about the cane (he called it a stick, but I can forgive him that infraction), and he actually got the general idea of what it was supposed to be used for. But as they were leaving earshot, he took it a step further and went into an explanation of how we as blind folk use that in step with what we can hear around us to figure out where we are versus where we’re going. Naturally he didn’t nail all of it, but hell, for a guy who I’m going to assume has had very little if any dealing with blind/visually impaired folks, he didn’t do all that terrible a job with it–I’ve heard much worse attempts at it from people who’s job it was to actually handle blind/low vision folks. And from what I could tell, the kid seemed to be hanging on to what he was being fed. Which, okay, could have just as easily meant the guy could have fed him a line of absolute crap and he’d have taken it, but you know. However it is the rest of my week ends up, this just pretty much escentially stuck it in the awesome category. A few more people like dad over there, and the universe will have just made my month. And if it sticks in that kid’s head when he gets older, that will be a new brand of wicked. And that right there makes spending the next couple hours bored out of my head just a little bit more worth it. My week, made. And all I had to do was not much.

CTV gets a bright idea. Bet it won’t happen twice.

So remember all that rambling I did about the CBC and its inability to actually put together anything resembling good canadian content outside of HNIC? Yeah, about that. I wrote that entry, having completely forgotten about another brilliant idea CTV latched on to a bit ago. They’ve launched a show for weekday afternoons they’re calling The social. It’s supposed to be escentially another news talk show with cohosts, live audiences and all manner of interaction. This one’s huge selling point? They’re even interacting on Twitter. So now we’ve got a show that talks about current events and the like, not unlike any number of shows that already do such a thing, only this one wants to throw Twitter into the mix–presumedly they’ll be reading people’s tweets to them on the show, I’d imagine? And they’re airing the thing at a time when it’s very likely the only people who’ll be home to watch it are people who have much better things to do than to also be attached to Twitter–like, say, any number of things people do while they’ve got the TV on in the background. And because this is how we do it up in Canada, they’re calling this new show idea of theirs The Social. Folks, I rest my case. We totally suck at content. Although, I suppose it’s a little better than some other US idea we’ve copied and stuck Canada on the end, but you know. If it wasn’t for sports, I’m pretty sure we’d find ourselves up a creak…

If the CBC collapses and nobody notices, did it really happen?

I mentioned a bit ago that Rogers pretty much bought off the TV rights for anything NHL that happens to involve a Canadian team. They probably walked off with a whole lot more than that, but that was where I stopped reading. One of the main stories people keep coming back to is what this means, escentially, for the CBC after next year–when this agreement actually takes effect. Apparently, one of the casualties of this deal was that CBC pretty much loses any control over Hockey Night in Canada–but they still get to actually broadcast that show, at least for the next 4 years or so. So the question’s been asked, sometimes repeatedly. Without hockey, what’s next for the CBC? To which I have a counterquestion. What has the CBC offered in the last several years aside from hockey?

I’ll freely admit I never did get a whole lot out of CBC, either growing up or now. I mean let’s be honest–most of the content that network produces insofar as TV series goes is, well, less than quality. I can’t name an actual series CBC still runs aside from Little Mosque on the Prairy, and I was turned right off of that after about 3 episodes. I have several sources I go to for news, most of them online, some of them redirecting occasionally to the CBC–but none of them are actually the CBC itself. On the very rare occasion where I’ll listen to radio in the traditional sense (well, in as close to the traditional sense as I possibly can without actually owning and setting up a proper radio), I do it primarily for sports, secondarily for news while I’m grabbing something to eat. So the only actual time the CBC plays a role over here is if I happen to be in front of the TV on a Saturday wherein the Leafs just so happen to be playing–and that only if I decide I need a break from the computer for a couple hours. Even the CBC itself says they get the majority of their decent ratings, and as such their advertising dollars, from Hockey Night in Canada. Which to me is an indication there’s more than a few people who, like me, would have no reason to bother with the CBC without hockey.

With that out there, I’m wondering just slightly if maybe now’s a fine time for the CBC to be skaled back significantly, if we even still need it at all–and it should probably be asked, if the CBC was to go the way of the rotary phone in a few years without HNIC, who would actually miss it? I’m not saying it didn’t serve a purpose at one time. And maybe in some areas it still does–just not necessarily a major place like an Ottawa or a toronto. But do we need a publicly-funded, escentially government-supported TV network who’s best material outside of hockey doesn’t even come close to reaching the eyeballs of a majority of the people who pay for the service by virtue of not withholding their taxes?

For the most part, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves over here, we suck at content. And I mean totally suck at content. Rick Mercer notwithstanding, I don’t know of anything semi-decent that’s come out of Canada in the TV space in a halfway to longish time. And for that, the CBC gets a pretty nifty little chunk of our tax dollars–that’s, like, a third of that 3.1 billion dollars everyone’s so hung up on the government misplaced even though the folks what look into that kinda thing say it’s placed exactly where it should be. That’s a whole heaping helping of Mike Duffy’s illegal–or at least unethical–dipping into the pot to pay for a house he’s owned in Ottawa since before he was a senator for Prince Edward Island. That’s an aweful freaking lot of money just to keep Hockey Night in Canada on the air, as good as it… Well… Was. Since the CBC’s losing HNIC anyway, would very many people actually notice if the rest of it drifted off into the sunset? I’d be slightly inclined to think maybe not. And for the money we’d save, I can’t say that’s a bad thing. Which is probably why they don’t let me make that decision.

On Wikipedia as research method: why not?

The class I take–as in, the one I should be focusing on at the moment rather than doing exactly what I’m doing right now–is sandwitched in between two presumedly highschool level English classes. During one of those classes, I walked in on the tail end of a discussion between the instructor and a student on a research project she was working on. I don’t recall if I heard exactly what she was researching, but the student seemed to be having some issues with coming up with material for that project–particularly online material. Apparently, the only semi-solid resource she was able to track down online was Wikipedia. To which, I could pretty much tell the instructor was doing all manner of shaking her head. that was pretty much confirmed when she escentially advised the poor girl to back away from pretty much anything to do with online material so far as research goes, on account of just about anyone can edit and/or create the material and so there’s no actual honest to god verification of that material. She meant it specificly in Wikipedia’s case, but the impression I got is it could be just as valid for, say, a website/community blog that focused specificly on one specialized subject–like, say, some of the sites hanging out in the sidebar over there. And it kind of got me to thinking. Isn’t that the point?

The disadvantage to a Wikipedia, according to instructor lady, is just about anyone who thinks they know something about a subject can drop an edit on a page related to that subject and have it reflect as part of the “official” record on that subject. I didn’t jump into that conversation, but I was thinking–and apparently I’m not alone with that thought–that that’d be probably one of wikipedia’s strongest advantages, if you were the type to give a thing like that an advantage. I say that knowing for every mainstream subject with 40 or 50 people who actually know their stuff, there’s another 60 to 100 who love the opportunity to theorize, criticize and just generally let it be known they consider themselves experts in the same. Which was probably what the instructor was referring to. But here’s the thing, and this is what I find nifty about a Wikipedia-like environment. More often than not, the fringe folks who can’t actually back up what they’re tossing on an otherwise mainstream page will find they’ve been escentially outvoted and the completely whacked out edits don’t usually last long. Equally usually the actual, solid material is more often than not verified by linking to places where John Q. User can’t create an account for the specific purpose of scraping the record clean. So even if you wouldn’t quote directly from Wikipedia (who would, given the particular passage you quote might not be there tomorrow), you can usually use it as a springboard to move you to places who’s exerpts you borrow will probably still be there in 4 or 5 years, barring a situation wherein the whole damn site blows up.

There’s actually a not entirely objective reason why I’m in the pro-Wikipedia-as-research-method camp. It dates back to before the average person knew what the hell a Wikipedia was. As a research project of my very own when I was doing the highschool thing, I did a profile type deal on what hockey was like in the days of gordie Howe, and ended up overlapping it with a transition to the days when Gretzky pretty much owned the place. The internet was still new enough that the trend of slapping “cyber” on a word and adding it to the criminal code with tripple the sentence hadn’t quite started to become a trend yet, but old enough that places like encyclopedia Britanica were starting to see the light and putting up at least some of their info for online consumption. I actually sort of wish I’d kept a copy of that paper around just so I could remind myself exactly which online sources I scraped for it, but that was several computers and a couple floppy disks ago. But I do remember the traditional dance of hit the library, come back with an armload of textbooks, flip through them, curse and do it all over again was escentially supplemented with stops at magazines with online archives, NHL related stats and history websites, and other people’s biographies of the man in between trips. And every internet source had a URL, exactly like every textbook source had page/chapter numbers and all that jazze. As I recall, even though most people were still trying wicked hard to wrap their heads around this whole internet thing, no one flipped their stack on account of online means somehow less verifiable than an actual, physical copy of the exact same material.

And yet I sat pretty much where I’m sitting now and listened to that conversation wondering if, assuming I’d had her as my English teacher in those days, I’d have passed the class considering my own methods. Surprisingly fewer people actually live at the library these days for research type things, unless they’ve established they can’t pull what they need for material from, well, anywhere else. Why? The simple answer is it’s freaking 2013. there’s internet access pretty well freaking everywhere. And with projects like Google Books having been ruled not in violation of copyrights–suck it, authors’ guild–there’s increasing likelyhood the exact material you’d have gone to the library for a few years ago will relatively soon be searchable, if only in small sections–which would probably suit quoting for research purposes just fine to begin with. That, combined with something like a Wikipedia to potentially get you started with at the very least links to more solidly verifiable–and, apparently, research-appropriate–material, can’t do much but be a huge favour to someone with a nack for finding pieces and fitting them where they go to get across a convincing position. And the only thing I can actually think is where would the harm be in that? Instructor lady figures it’s all over the place. Part of me hopes she runs into this–I wouldn’t mind seeing her show her work.

On OC Transpo’s public disservice announcements.

I’ve mentioned the automated bus stop announcements they’re now using up here for OC Transpo. They were a long time coming, and it’s actually nice to see they work really quite well–so long as the system’s been appropriately kicked into gear, but I expect that these days. On recent trips, though, I’ve noticed they’ve become somewhat less effective in actually keeping up with announcing stops. I’d like to say it’s the fault of the technology–either the GPS is off, the software needs a tweak here and there, whichever. But actually the problem has more to do with administration than the platform being administered.

I’m not exactly sure when it started–I want to say somewhere just before the official (finally!) rollout of their Presto system, but they made a change to their automated system such that every so often now, the same guy what announces the next stop will come on with a tip, or safety instructions, or something. I’ve heard him talk of how you can lend your Presto card to someone in your fare class if you’re not planning on using it–though he doesn’t actually explain what a fare class is. I’ve heard him more than once advise people, in both official languages, that the seats at the front of the bus are for people who have difficulty standing (related: I still don’t quite see how that translates to a guy that has difficulty seeing), and so they should move to the back of the bus when someone requires one. And just this morning I heard him remind people to “Let’s help keep each other safe.”, and to report any suspicious activity to your operator (interestingly, in french he says driver instead, but I’m knitpicking). All well and good. Common sense things that people maybe aughta know, but common sense not being so common these days, good on OC Transpo for including them. Except when they get in the way.

This morning’s trip, which is actually what reminded me, cut it close to getting in the way. There are a couple of pretty near back to back stops on my route home from the college. One such stop is, conveniently, the stop right after I get on the bus. So if someone who maybe isn’t as familiar with the route happens to be on the bus and needing to get off at, say, Baseline station, it’d be somewhat important if that person actually have a bit of warning before pulling into–and, on the off chance no one needs to get on or off there (it’s happened), pulling right back out of–the station. Some of these announcements, I’m not sure if it’s the timing or the fact the guy making them likes to–or is required to by some municipal regulation or another–take the long way around to get to his point, but by the time he gets there the system’s needing to play catch-up. So you’ll have it doing its PSA dance, then shift gears right into announcing the next stop–if you’re lucky, before you go flying past your next stop. This doesn’t happen insanely often, thank whichever divine creature’s got a hold on that, but when it does happen, it can potentially be problematic. As I said, this morning was a fine example. I’d just gotten on the bus leaving campus. We’re about halfway between stops, and his “keep each other safe” PSA comes on. Now, I’ve done this route often enough that I can recognise where we are by more subtle things, like turns in the road and things like that. So if I needed to get off at Baseline station for one reason or another, I myself wouldn’t be completely screwed–this time. The PSA does what it does, and when it’s done, we’re about ready to make the turn into Baseline station. It announces Baseline station as we make that turn.

Fortunately, I both know the route and don’t actually need to take advantage of that, and to my knowledge this particular trip didn’t have anyone who didn’t know exactly where they were going and when–or anyone who didn’t have the ability to actually look out for the stop they need, so this wasn’t as much of a problem on this trip. But if I’m taking a route for my first time ever–let’s say I need to figure out where I’m going because I’ve got a job starting in 2 weeks and, well, it involves places I haven’t had any reason to go prior to now and so didn’t bother to just get up and go out of sheer boredom, this poses a bit of a hang-up. If I’m a blind shmuck with no idea where I’m going and still need to get there in a reasonably not quite late fashion, I need to be able to somewhat accurately judge where my required stops are. If I’m doing this thing on a daily or even monthly basis, that’s less of a problem–once I get used to it. But if I’m just figuring out the workings of this new place I can’t very well look out the window to spot, I actually pay attention to what the automated system’s trying to tell me–as opposed to doing it just so I can scan the thing for issues that could be problematic to me or some other poor sop that might actually need to use it on some regular route of mine. When a public service announcement shows up the way these do, even if it doesn’t happen necessarily all that often, it throws off the automated system–which in turn throws off the people using it. That results in missed stops, which results in mobility complications–trying to find your way back to where you should be, either by walking back and hoping you don’t blow right by it, or locating the bus stop going the opposite way and hoping you don’t get to wait an age and a half for a bus you later learn doesn’t actually stop where you need it to. And that results in awkward phone calls on your first day of work wherein you get to explain to a guy who’s probably never heard of automated stop announcements that your bus made you late. Yeah. Career boosting move right there.

I’m not sure if they can improve the timing of these announcements or even just shorten them by a bit. I honestly don’t know how much if at all doing either one would help. But as it stands right now, OC Transpo’s public service announcements, which on the surface I support, are turning into public disservice announcements at the moment. And in so doing, they’re actually hurting the effectiveness of what I think is otherwise an awesome–and yes, much overdue–system. They’re useful, and a halfway decent substitute for a lack of common sense, but sooner or later, somebody’s going to miss their stop because it wasn’t announced on account of one of these PSAs. I’m not sure I’ll want to be anywhere near OC Transpo management when somebody makes that an issue.

The government wants you to pick your TV channels. Here’s why it won’t happen.

So around the middle of last week or so, there was a big to-do around the speech from the throne–that’s the kickoff to the new legislative session, for those folks what read this who aren’t up on their Canadian politics. The government’s decided, what with it being 2 years before the next election and all, that now would be the absolute perfect time to go all consumers first on us. Taking aim at cell phone bills. At the trend of selling 75 tickets for a 60-seater airplane. At those fees you cough up for the privelege of being able to pull cash out of a bank machine on the rare occasion in freaking 2013 where you actually still need to pull cash out of a bank machine. But my absolute favourite part of the throne speech was aimed squarely at folks like Rogers, who I’ve gone back and forth and back again with a few times for pulling the stupid out of thin air. It’s my favourite not because I expect it to actually have a chance in hell of happening, but rather because there are too many wicked obvious reasons, just taking into account the TV viewing habbits in this house, why it’s got every chance in this world and the next of not happening.

Our Government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want. It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs.

Don’t get me wrong. It sounds awesome. And if it actually happens, I’d absofreakinglutely love to be proven wrong–I’ll take those words with a side of fries and a coke, please. But it’s not happening, or it’ll be a long freaking way off if it does. An explanation, in list format, based on viewing paterns here in the last year or so. Because lazy, efficient, and why freaking not?

  • The most regular watching that’d be happening now, if Rogers and I were on speaking terms not related to arguing over their various levels of broken, would be hockey. And very little of that, unless I wanted to watch the Senators ruin what’s left of their season.
  • I’m in Ottawa, so Leafs TV isn’t happening. If you’re local, go ahead and call your provider to ask–it won’t exist for you. Thank the Senators in particular and the NHL in general.
  • Even if a chunk of the games wouldn’t be broadcast on Leafs TV, living in Ottawa means I get the local feed of stations like, for instance, sportsnet Ontario. I’ve yet to find a workaround for that. So if Toronto and Ottawa are playing on the same night and broadcasting on the same channel, I get Ottawa. Which is awesome, except I’m not looking to *watch* Ottawa.
  • That leaves the CBC, and Hockey Night in Canada. Fortunately there are enough of those channels that at least one of them will be broadcasting the Leafs game even if Ottawa’s playing on the same night. Of course the CBC also has HNIC online for streaming or on-demand purposes, so I technically need not even be concerned with that necessarily. Not to mention several radio stations will stream the games–it’s how I can follow even the ones the NHL won’t let me watch on TV in the first place.

Second on the list would be baseball, unless the Jays actually manage to outsuck themselves next year.

  • Most of those games are on one or the other of TSN or Sportsnet, so if I absolutely had no other option but TV I could still watch pretty much all of those.
  • Again, they’re also carried on several dozen radio stations, one of them local, so if I had to there’s that option as well.
  • Plus, Gameday Audio. Which, let’s be honest–for the price you pay it would almost be worth cancelling cable for the summer anyway. I mean unless you’re a fan of reruns but I address those below.

Trailing behind both of those, but not by much, is the occasional tuning into CPAC–that’s Canada’s answer to CSPAN, for you US political folks. Because while it can be interesting to read about political events unfolding, depending on the event it may be more interesting to actually watch it live. I mean I didn’t tune in to listen to the whole damn throne speech, but I’ve had question period on in the background while I’ve done things around the house–it’s a thing to do. That’s also streamed online, so again if it were a thing I needed to watch for reasons, that would hardly be problematic by any means.

Game Show Network. That gets watched every now and again, mostly if May and I happen to be downstairs at the same time with little else to do. I haven’t yet found an alternative to requiring a TV for that, but I also wouldn’t lose sleep over it if I never had that channel on again. There are probably several less than legal ways to catch hold of at least most of those shows, but again, doesn’t really bother me enough to go wandering about looking.

All things wrestling, but mostly of the pay per view variety and primarily for May’s benefit rather than my own. Again, most if not all of those are probably available online if you’d rather not cough up the cash and don’t mind waiting a day or two for them to come available, but if you’d actually like to know what’s happening before John Q. Fanatic with a cable package and a pay per view order in decides to get on Twitter and advertise it, you’re ponying up the dollars. But you’d be doing that anyway whether or not you paid for 900 other channels of which you may only watch 2.

Local/national news. This one used to be huge back before things like RSS feeds and Twitter took right the hell off. Part of my routine was come home, fix me something to eat, flip on the news then flip over to hockey or baseball or whatever after. Now, I can’t recall the last time I actually had a news station on for specificly news related purposes. This includes both the TV and radio versions. I mean sure, I’ll flip on an all-news radio station once in a while. But nine times in ten I go back to the computer after on account of I’ll find more info online on whatever story I’m following. And the rest of the time that particular all-news station’s broadcasting the Jays game, so we’re good.

New episodes of current shows, and reruns of older ones. I honestly just about snickered writing this, but it’s still a thing. The only time I actually sit down to watch a CSI or Big Bang Theory or something like that on TV now is when I’m at my parents’. Because being realistic over here, they’re not all that technical enough to be going out and scraping the interwebs for the same damn thing. Besides–it makes for fairly good background noise while we sit down to supper and talk about taking the backroads to get out there by way of greyhound. But other than that, I’ve got an external HD full of TV crap and the ability to glom onto more if the need be.

Looking at that list, there’s actually nothing on it that’s really up in the “must have it” category. I mean sure, GSN would be nice occasionally, but unless Rogers and friends decided to start massively overcharging on a per-channel basis (ha), it would almost cost more in extra service fees and crap they’d no doubt tack onto the bill than it would for the actual channel. Assuming the price for pay per views don’t do some massive skyrocketting as a result, and assuming a per-channel rate of we’ll call it a generous–in my opinion, anyway–$10, the highest bill for cable services we’d see around here for our one channel and maybe a pay per view, before any additional service charges and the like, would run about $70 or $80. That’s on the outside. Assuming the cable/satelite providers stuck to the theoretical $10 per channel model, and assuming the average subscriber watches more actual TV than we do here, that can add up amazingly quickly–to the tune of roughly what we pay for the package we’ve got now, most of which neither May nor I have bothered actually watching, for maybe 6 or 7 channels. That before you factor in any of the pay per view goodness. And this assumes they decide to do the flat rate thing re: that per channel fee–a mighty fine assumption, given who I’m talking about. Suddenly things look a lot less like the consumers first picture the throne speech painted for us. Which is why I’m not holding my breath when it comes to actually seeing this become a thing. It’s a wicked nifty cool idea, in theory. The problem with theory, though, is it dies a death just as soon as it meats reality. Putting this kind of thing into practice will be a right royal hot mess. And in the meantime, I’ll be over here watching the Leafs online. But hey, thanks for trying, guys. I owe ya one.

Is this thing on? … And other asorted bits.

So I meant to do this thing more often and yada, yada, yada. Now I’ve got a nifty little empty where most of July’s random bits of I have no idea what should be and absolutely nothing to put there–except, well, more random bits of I have no idea what. Story of my life. And a play on a thing in a game I started not really playing–but that’s another entry, if I can ever remember to get to writing it.

I’m starting to get back into things I used to do somewhat regularly, including that whole school thing. Or rather, chasing people around with regards that whole school thing. It seems if one wants to take an online class in geekery from a school explicitly set up for teaching that material to the visually impaired, the door’s wide open. If you instead want to take that self-same course, regulated by the self-same company, but at a local college and still in a somewhat accessible format, step 1 is build your own door. It’s what a geek gets for wanting to actually be out of the house a while to get shit done, but you’ll have that. So I’ve got emails in with people, who’ve got their own emails in with people, who’re having a meeting or two with other people, who’ve got emails in with other people, and yada yada where’s my vodka. It’s kind of fun, if you don’t mind the occasional migraine. I’m used to it, so whichever. Just educate me already.

On top of that, I’m still tossing stones into the job market just to see what hits. So far, I’ve gotten a handful of automated “thanks for your application” emails, and… That appears to be about it. Well that was productive. I’d probably get a little farther if I had something to toss on a resume that was a little more recent than, say, 2008. Which I’m working on. Also: see above.

I’ve been back and forth to Pembroke a handful of times over the last while. And Pembroke’s come to me a few times, which is always nice. Still not even close to used to living in this house, and I’ve been here since the end of freaking January. The fact that I haven’t actually lived in a two-story house since I was in highschool might have a vague kind of something to do with it. And the fact it belongs to me–well, in about as much as a thing you pay rent on belongs to you–might be something else. I’m used to apartments. Namely, the ones in which you can throw a rock from the front door and, if aimed right, can hit your footboard. Which was every apartment I’ve ever actually paid rent on up until about last year, so this is a thing that needs adjusting to. On the bright side, it doesn’t toss me for a loop quite as much when I end up spending a couple days at mom’s. My only complaint with this place is it doesn’t come with AC. Of course the fact we’re not paying extra for heat easily cancels out that complaint, particularly in about mid-February when the very thought of going outside is enough to make you wrap the blankets around you and forget you had plans for the day. It’s a nice place, and I don’t see me leaving it any time soon, but good lord does it take getting used to. Apparently it also takes an age to properly furnish, but you’ll have that. It’s not like we’ve got a use just yet for the rooms with nothing in them anyway, so this works. Related: I have my entertainment room! Now just to add the entertainment.

Other things have happened that I could have probably mocked, but then promptly forgot I was going to. Let’s see. List format? Why, sure.

  • Remember all that talk from Toronto on how this was the year for the Bluejays, and they were heading for at the very least a .500 season, if not some postseason activity? Remember how they tossed all this money into a rebuild during the offseason, got a bunch of people with decent to good numbers, stuck them on the team and said “Go own the damn field”? Remember how in May people were saying it’s too early to write the team off yet? Yeah. Is it still too early?
  • Dear 16-year-old me. For reasons of integrity, dismiss any and all thoughts of entering politics. Better yet, add any and all thoughts of entering politics to your personal blacklist. And for crying in the sink get back to figuring out where the school network’s single point of failure actually was. Hint: you were close when you traced the connection to a router in the basement. Hey–it could be worth something someday. And by something, I mean probably more than $90000 from Harper’s chief of staff.
  • I now have positive confirmation. It’s not other people’s children I have a problem with. It’s other people. There’s an entry on that floating around amidst a tangled wire or two. I’ll go find it and get back to you.
  • The more I read, the more I’m convinced not actually moving to the US when I was being told things were much more stable/flexible than they are up here was probably the smartest decision I ever made. Well, okay, second smartest. The smartest has me right where I’m at now. The more that slides across my desk, the more convinced I am that the US constitution, by both major players, is just a thing they toss out to shush the masses. And they say our government’s whacked.
  • Related to the last, but still somewhat separate. The NSA’s still lying, still spying, and still lying about spying. And every word of this blog post has probably just been copied to that datacenter they’ve got going on in Utah. Hope yall enjoy the read, folks. Do drop by and say hello once in a while, yeah?

So that’s life and mockery if you’re me. Now. Where’d I put the essay I was working on for those college professorial types?

In which stuff happens everywhere but here. And I’m not complaining.

Well. If this isn’t a less than stellar summer to be going off and making travel plans. Out west, Alberta’s still cleaning up, rebuilding, and generally doing all manner of cursing after major flooding said hello a couple weeks ago. Then last night, toronto and parts of New York got a slamming–folks coming home from places found themselves spending the night in an Ottawa airport while Toronto dried off. Meanwhile in Quebec, a cargo train carrying oil caught fire and pretty much leveled the area within a couple blocks of the tracks if I’m reading things right. While all the while here in Ottawa the most we’ve had to worry about is the 5% chance we’ll get wet–and, as I said on Twitter last night when the Toronto thing was a thing, if that was supposed to be our forecast, no thank you please. Ordinarily, I’d be a little bit annoyed at the fact there were construction vehicles doing varying kinds of something constructive outside my front window. But ordinarily, I wouldn’t be surrounded by much more eventful things than construction vehicles. This is clearly becoming the summer in which stuff happens everywhere but here. And this is not me complaining. Though I might consider being satisfied with just a little of what dumped on Toronto last night.

Why I’d never be in politics, part 2: Even in 2013, your background can sink you.

Last month, I went into a bit of an essay on why exactly I’d have absolutely nothing at all to do with anything political. Simply put, there’s no honesty in it whatsoever–and, in fact, a guaranteed way to see yourself quickly shown the door is to express some of that honesty, whether it’s got support from the people who voted you in or not. I was reminded of this after the National Post published an entire page of letters on the topic, most of them agreeing politics and honesty don’t go all that well together–and referencing recent events like the mess around Toronto mayors and their aledged crack habbits, or the slightly less B-movie-inspiring soap opera around senators and misbegotten tax dollars. What no one on that page mentioned though is you almost need to be willing and more than able to disconnect yourself from reality, if only to distance yourself from your family background, before you even consider the thought of running for office.

For the first time since this broke, I’m going to break my rule and dip my toe into the Rob Ford mess in toronto. Because as this thing unfolds, it escentially explains my point. Let’s leave out, just for the sake of argument, your opinion on how well–or not–Ford managed things with the city since he was elected. That’s a non-issue insofar as this goes, particularly considering he could have spent the last two years in hospital and the city wouldn’t have gone to pieces around him on account of if he’s got no one backing him, he’s got about as much power on council as any one of the guys who decided about the day after he was elected that he had to go. But it outlines one of the problems with running for office pretty much anywhere, on pretty much any platform that makes a degree of sense. As soon as someone decides they don’t agree with you, the gloves come off. It looks vaguely like the toronto Star versus the Fords. Or certain columnists versus Justin Trudeau. Or even normally sensible people versus Stephen Harper (disclaimer: I’m not a Stephen Harper supporter. I just don’t see the point in slagging the guy for breathing.). And the only thing that really gets accomplished is attention is drawn from whichever issue prompted the disagreement in the first place.

I’ll go back to the Ford thing, because it’s happening now and honestly, trying to pull evidence of the Harper thing could take for bloody ever just to sift through it all. Both Rob and his councillor brother Doug could benefit from a quick crash course in public relations management. Or, failing that, a lesson in how not to piss the current ones off. That’s no secret. And whether you’re a Ford supporter or not, that much has to be admitted up front before anything else. And yes, they could probably do with maybe not having shared an opinion or two. But if you really do get what you paid for, then my guess would be the media’s been paying for this since the target was painted. And it translates to roughly what we’re seeing here.

Last weekend, everyone was expecting–in fact, almost demanding–that toronto mayor Rob Ford address accusations that he’s been caught on video smoking crack. Even if it was to deny the reports, they wanted something. This past weekend, Ford finally did deny the reports–and many of the folks who said they’d be fine with that turned around and then said he was lying–that now, the only thing he could possibly do is resign. A side story came up near the end of this past week that says in the 80′s, Doug was a hash dealer. The Globe and Mail had apparently been working on that particular story for 18 months, so this didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the kerfuffle as regards to Rob, but it was released in connection to the last week’s events, as a sort of profile of the Ford family–an indication that, in politics, nothing is off-limits. And folks in the political and journalism arenas have run with it since–the connection being, of course, “Rob Ford smokes–or, at least, smoked–crack. This isn’t new to him. Drugs are in his family.”.

Admittedly not having as sharp of a political nose as I maybe should, I can’t see how a report like that does much more damage to Rob than what he’s already doing to himself, save maybe periferally. The damage, if any at all results from this report by itself, would seem to land more at Doug’s feet–possibly a warning shot in the event he follows through with his brainstorm to run for the provincial conservatives in the next election, whenever that ends up being. But if timing is everything, then by publishing it now, the Globe is hoping I’m wrong in that assessment–and, at the same time, indicating how far outside the arena they’ll go to drive their idea of Doug, and presumedly Rob, home to anyone who’ll listen.

As it stands now, Toronto’s current soap opera goes vaguely something like this. A video exists, say 3 people who’ve seen it, that shows Rob Ford smoking crack. No one except these 3 reporters have seen the video. Ford, acting–his explanation, not mine–on the advice of his lawyer, stayed the hell quiet for a week before denying the reports and saying he’s not adicted to crack and doesn’t smoke crack–choosing his words carefully, in other words, according to a few. “Not good enough. You’re lying. Resign already and get help.” And as if to prove the point, the Doug Ford story comes out. Rob’s older brother, A.K.A. guy with the hash. In his teenaged years, he was the go-to for the good stuff, the report says. Doug, naturally, denies the hell out of it. But still, it’s just one more thing to add to the list where the two of them are concerned. People will react to it how they will, even if how they will roughly equates to not at all, but it shouldn’t have needed to go that far.

The Globe and Mail, as said earlier, was working on this story for a year and a half. Meaning at some point, crackstarter notwithstanding, they planned to release a profile of at least one of the Ford brothers as a teenager involved in the drug scene. Pinning this as a Ford family profile, as they have, implies that crackstarter campaign notwithstanding, they would have gone ahead and published the story regardless because, as the Globe’s editor said, these are people of public interest running on an anti-drug platform.

When explaining to readers how its story was in the public interest, the Globe noted that the Ford brothers hold sway over much of the city’s business and have campaigned on anti-drug platforms.

“The rest of city council, and citizens at large, deserve to understand the moral record of their leaders. In most matters, public or private, character matters,” Globe Editor-in-Chief John Stackhouse wrote in a column accompanying Saturday’s article.

So as a public service to the community, the Globe and Mail decided it had to let the citizens of toronto know that at least one of the men they voted for may or may not have done something stupid in his teens. For the record, I’ve done something stupid in my teens. Sure, it’s not quite on the level of the drug trade (I, like Rob, have a brother who may or may not have done that for me), but I’ve been pretty brainless. Mind, I also have been very careful to stay as far away from public office as humanly possible. Why? Because even if I haven’t done anything more than shoplift at the age of 13, I’ve got family and they’ve got baggage. And, as the Globe and Mail points out above, the voting public would deserve to understand my moral record–especially if I decided, say, to run for office on an anti-drug platform–or, I guess, as of right now on an anti-shoplifting platform. And because my family’s got baggage, any number of today’s current issues could come back to bite me in the rear were I to bother with running for office. Tough versus soft on crime? Check. Legalizing or decriminalizing pot? Check. Upping the penalties for sexual assault? Check. The list goes on. And all it takes is one or two of the several people I’ve crossed paths with that I’ve managed to piss off in the nearly 30 years I’ve been pissing people off and at least one reporter with 5 minutes to catch a story over coffee. Proof? Why, the word of someone who says they knew me is proof enough. What does it matter if I didn’t stand in a public place and pass a joint back and forth with a bunch of other folks? The reporter for the local paper’s got two people I haven’t spoken to since before I was voting age that says I did.

Honesty wouldn’t make a difference in my very hypothetical situation, and it doesn’t make a difference in the Ford mess. Sure, both Fords could be flat out telling the truth. Hell, even one of them could be telling the truth. Of course it’s equally–and some would argue quite a bit more–likely that both of them are flat out lying with a straight face. But it doesn’t matter. Because 3 people saw a video owned by a guy who’d like to remain nameless, Rob’s guilty. Because the Globe heard from people probably still in the drug trade, who because they’re likely still in the drug trade would like to remain nameless, Doug is likely going to end up equally guilty. And whether one, both or neither of them were involved in anything remotely on the north side of the law, this will follow them into any future election one or both of them decide to take on. Doug running for the conservatives in the next election? I can already see the liberal ad campaign. Rob running for another term as Toronto’s mayor? Win or lose that one–and folks are saying he’d win if it happened today, anyone running against him has that to hit him over the head with. They have plenty of other, much more proveable things to beat him over the head with, but tell me that one wouldn’t make the list. It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to stick in the back of someone’s mind long enough for them to get to the polls and stick an X next to someone who’s last name isn’t Ford.

If you have any baggage at all, be it your own or that of a relative, public service of nearly any variety is almost 100% not the place for you. A rare exception is those who, through whatever means they manage to do it, can distance themselves from that baggage and its causes. And even then, it’s only one “investigative report” away from being front page news 30 years later. We all have things we’d have rathered not done. Most of us, I’d like to hope, are smart enough to have learned from those things and maybe aranged things in such away that some of them don’t end up repeated. I don’t plan to be anywhere near public office now, but in 20 years, who knows? Maybe something I write here will be the springboard that pushes me in that direction. Maybe instead I’ll get a job doing AOL style tech support for John Q. Customer and what my uncle was involved in before I was born won’t need to be justified, denied, explained away, covered up or any number of other things people have done to their past before they undertake a career in public service. I’d like to say maybe in 20 or 25 years it won’t matter, but that might be being slightly too generous–and I don’t feel like being that generous. But as long as people’s backgrounds are front page news, because somebody somewhere did something that can be used to make a point, it won’t matter whether you’ve got the next mother Theresa running for office. If you go the dishonest route, you can make a decent living out of it–at least until somebody comes up with a background article that focuses on that drug ring your cousin was arrested for being involved in 2 weeks after you graduated. If you decide to take the honest approach, you’re sunk on sight. Because an anti-drug advocate who was into drugs when he was 16 just can’t happen. And if the guy running opposite you doesn’t make sure of that, the media almost certainly will. Even if you weren’t actually into drugs. For proof, you need only look at Rob and Doug Ford.

Side-effects of being a #Sens fan: Desperation leads to conspiracy.

That sucking sound you may or may not have just heard is what little of Ottawa’s sanity remains quickly finding and utilizing the nearest exit. While on the bus coming back from dealing with a few things, I was privy to the most interesting of sports related discussions. Interesting in that it almost had very little to do with sports and more to do with money. Fists full of money. We’ve all been fooled, if you’re the guys who were in this conversation.

The National Hockey League is now expecting the playoffs to go the full 7 games, not because it’s good competition and the teams might actually not fall over halfway through for a change, but because it means more money for the NHL and the teams in question. So, you take a Boston, for example, who’s apparently had Toronto’s number all season, and stick them in a playoff round versus Toronto. Then, you tell them, “Look. You guys flatten this team, okay? But that does nothing for us. Let them come back a time or few. Keep them interested. *Then* flatten them. Deal?”. And of course, because the teams get a pretty sizeable chunk of money during the playoffs anyway, both are fine with it.

Now, flash forward to the second round, and you’re a Senators hopeful. If you’re these Senators hopefuls, you’ve already got it figured out but good. Ottawa has the talent to take this thing pretty well all the way, you see. They could slam the door any old time and it’s all over. But that’s less money, and we all know how much the owners love their money. So instead you’ve got Ottawa holding back, while Pittsburgh goes up by 3. Most Sens fans would be a little worried by now. But oh no. These guys have it in the bag. Now, it’s Ottawa’s turn to do the owning–it’s supposed to go 7, after all. So Ottawa does their shtick tonight, then in the next, and eventually ties this thing up. Then, they can max out the money on both sides, give the fans their game 7, and Ottawa can take its much deserved place in the conference finals. Because money, and owners want some, and I honestly have absolutely no freaking clue.

I think, if nothing else, I’ve just unearthed a teeny tiny side-effect of being an Ottawa Senators fan. Having never actually won a cup (the Original Senators don’t count, as this is not the original Senators) leads a select few to unimaginal bouts of desperation. That desperation is quickly followed by a spin off into the land of alternate reality. There is a solution. And it isn’t even a painful solution. And it’s probably much more of a likely outcome than the theory. I just don’t think I’d wanna be anywhere near these guys when it happens.

Mobility musings. Because half past late.

If you’ve read the “about me” style pages linked on the left side of this thing, you’ll probably be made vaguely aware that I have this problem (*) wherein vision just doesn’t happen. The same can be said for a few of the folks what read the thing. So it’s with that in mind that a thought type deal’s been circling my head like it’s got nothing better to do. And, oddly enough, it has to do with the very most basic of basic mobility.

Late in 2012, the city of Toronto started a pilot project wherein they placed specific markers at one intersection, as a way for the visually impaired to be able to tell when they’re approaching the street. And, that got me thinking not entirely sarcasticly. Does Toronto have a “blind person wanders into middle of intersection unknowingly” problem that maybe hasn’t been reported, or that places like Ottawa haven’t developed quite yet? It was an honest to goodness question that, well, not having been in Toronto in a number of years I can’t really answer with any degree of accuracy. But having been in all manner of places near Toronto, and well past it, I can say if it has, it would be a new one on me. So I have to ask. What problem is toronto hoping to solve?

I do my fair share of travelling, when I can. Probably not as much as I aught to, but more than your average John Q. Sighted figures me capable of 9 times in 10. I’ve run into some wicked nifty cool intersections that, okay, don’t make themselves blatantly obvious if you happen to be 3/4 the way asleep. But pretty much everywhere I’ve been, be it in Ottawa or elsewhere, has always had some kind of general indicator that, hey guy with the cane, street incoming. The only way you’d miss most if not all of those indications is if you were walking the streets completely and utterly oblivious–and if we’re being honest, John Q. Sighted’s probably a little more guilty about that than he’d like to admit what with the texting and walking and all that jazze. So seeing this project underway pretty much begs the question. What are we not seeing?

Don’t get me wrong. If this solves a problem, I’m all for it. I’m just trying to wrap my head around exactly what problem is being solved, here–and, relatedly, if it’s even a problem at all. I’d assume it is, simply because Toronto isn’t exactly swimming in cash at the moment and is kind of hoping the province will kick in just a little money to help support their transit system (Let’s not touch the fact the province is about as swimming in cash as toronto is, shall we?), so they wouldn’t–you’d hope, anyway–decide to go on a random toss money at a solution and hope it catches a problem. At least that’s the working theory. Because the alternative is a significant number of visually impaired folks in and/or around toronto are somehow asleep at the switch, posing all manner of risks to life and limb–usually their own–for the sole purpose of getting from A to B. And really, that doesn’t come off too pretty either. So I haven’t the slightest. Are the sidewalks in Toronto that bad? Are folks over there that caught up in their whatever they’re doing that isn’t paying the hell attention? Or is this a solution looking for a problem. Inquiring minds are inquiring. Just in case future trips in the general direction of Toronto necessitate I expect random things in my path that are supposed to be warnings. Because nothing says welcome to a new city quite like sidewalks that don’t actually look like sidewalks when you go to actually do things with them. Or maybe I just can’t think like someone from Toronto.

(*): John Q. Sighted tends to see this as a problem. I, rather, can’t see much of anything.

Update to add: I fail at HTML, so the second link on this thing may have slightly broken. It’s since been fixed. Now if I could just have remembered to fix the thing when I was in here fixing other things earlier.

Because Ottawa doesn’t have enough of that small town feeling.

One of the things that keeps me close to Ottawa is that it’s got all of the convenience of a major city, but the atmosphere of a small town. More often than not, that’s a thing that kind of comes out when you least expect it. Like on the first weekend of actual warm weather, when I’m sitting here working on I forget what, and out of the blue, completely from absolutely nowhere–or maybe just around the corner, comes a thing I haven’t heard since I was, we’ll say, 13.

Apparently, I’m not sure if it’s this part of the city or just this community, but somebody from somewhere drives an ice cream truck. And at about quarter past 8 on Saturday, the thing sat in front of my house for a good 20 minutes. Over top of the music, I swear there must have been a good dozen kids out there at any one time. I was halfway tempted to go nab something, if only because again, not since I was maybe 13. Sadly that required both money and the motivation to find something that would have been appropriate to wear even in my front yard, given what would have been my extremely close proximity to the afore mentioned dozen kids. And since I wasn’t sure I had the first and couldn’t be arsed to find the second, I contented myself with sitting here listening. Because really, that’s probably the second best sign of summer in existence–second only to the only solution to 35 above freezing being a vanilla milk shake at a temperature approximately 35 below freezing. That having been said, though, if it’s not a one-time thing I’m storing a stash of quarters in my sock drawer. Because signs of summer, dammit.

I spent 5 years, we’ll call it, in Ottawa altogether, not counting the year I spent in small-town exile. And until now, I had absolutely no clue such a creature even existed in the city–although I did find other small town style things to be mildly impressed at. It’s the kind of thing you don’t much hear about in the major cities, like your toronto, or your Vancouver, or places like that. It’s what Pembroke could potentially be, if it wanted to be. And it’s a thing that goes awesome well with baseball–provided the team what plays the baseball actually shows up (Sidenote: thanks for yesterday. More, please.). And the thing only took 5 years to find. Because huge small town city is huge, and it almost comes off like several smaller towns all slammed together under one moderately disfunctional city council.

Because I can’t hear a thing without sharing, and since this is pretty much what I got to hear for 20 minutes on Saturday, and because my ability to record what I heard was sharply hindered by my lack of decent recording equipment, combined with the above mentioned lack of motivation to find me something worth wearing in that close proximity to kids, have your very own ice cream truck. Because signs of summer, dammit. Yes, even if you’re one of the 7 people still shoveling your driveway this morning (PS: Better you than me.). Anyone have some spare quarters? My sock drawer’s looking a little empty.

Why I’d never do well in politics. Thank heavens I’ve never tried.

I’ve always had a passing interest in politics. Mostly in the following of things. Occasionally, I’ll find some aspect of a party or a specific member that I agree with–but more often than not, I find something to mock. It’s why I’ve never considered myself really right wing, left wing, whatever. Both sides have brilliant ideas. Both sides have moronic ideas. And both sides have more than a few just plain morons. But the thing that keeps me from going from a passive follower of politics to actually being directly involved isn’t a right or left thing. It’s an honesty thing. Specificly, there’s little to none. It’s a disconnect from the majority view, or even a view that a significant number of the common folk have that, if even hinted at by someone with political aspirations, is suicidal.

Take the recent example in BC, of an NDP candidate who was removed from the party over her comments, in 2009, about aborigional people and against bilingualism (she’s running as an independent now). Both have been bandied about by the common folk for years–I, myself, have snarked a time or six on this blog re: bilingualism (see also: Quebec, overfrenchification of). But because she holds these opinions, and wants to actually help fix the province of British Columbia, the two collide and she sinks. All on account of political correctness.

“It’s not the status cards, it’s the fact that we have been paying out of the nose for generations for something that isn’t our doing,” Van Ryswyk wrote on Feb. 11, 2009. “If their ancestors sold out too cheaply, it’s not my fault and I shouldn’t have to be paying for any mistake or whatever you want to call it from MY hard-earned money.”

“I don’t think anyone is saying that wrongs didn’t happen (incredible wrongs). You could have almost any race, group or ethnic people tell you horrible haunting stories of what happened to them. If someone did me wrong, it’s my right to sue … as it is everyone else’s.

“Again, how many Jewish, Polish, Russian, Dutch, etc. walked into a gas chamber, were gunned down, raped, tortured and starved to death. . . tell me how many Germans do you know that are handing over a (portion) of their paycheck EVERY month for what happened NOT very long ago. . .”

There is truth to this. BC’s NDP–and, in fact, just about every other party even federally–might not like it, but that changes a grand total of nothing about its truthfulness. These treaties were signed in the early 1900′s, before Canada was Canada. They were signed with Britain, and as I wrote before, weren’t supposed to be permanent life support. That aborigionals are still beating us over the head with them in 2013, sadly, says more about Canada’s various governments than it does the aborigionals–and the former NDP candidate turned independent acknowledged this fact. The catch? I don’t know very many who’d disagree. The NDP, however, prefers not to hear it.

It’s the same with bilingualism. Federally, the NDP has a vested interest in saying whatever Quebec wants to hear–because Quebec is the reason they’re the official opposition. So if the issue of the week is Ottawa isn’t French enough, the NDP’s all over it. Understandable. Annoying, but understandable. But in BC? French isn’t even the second most common language in the province. Even when I lived there–you were more likely to hear someone speaking Chinese before you would French. But calling out the ridiculousness of it, even after Quebec’s own 54 levels of ridiculous, shoots you in the foot politically–at least if you want to be a member of a party.

On a bilingual Canada in several posts, Dayleen wrote: “I’m getting so tired of getting french stuffed down my throat… this isn’t Quebec it’s western Canada… we speak English here … so does the majority of Canada. When you force it down my throat every time I turn around, it pisses me right off. Seems the only group of people universally hated around the world other than the Americans are the french and the French-Canadians. Their arrogance is astounding … the bigots are the french and not us.”

Example: Canada’s two official languages, as far west as BC and as far east as Nova Scotia, are English and French. Except in Quebec, who’s only official language is French–and they remind us of this every second chance they get. A pretty sizeable chunk of the attendees at just about any event held in BC will speak English, and probably some other language that isn’t French–if they speak multiple languages at all. But when an event comes up that even remotely references Quebec, according to Quebec, you’d better be busting out the French and pronto. That, or be prepared to have the folks across the river spend a year wining about it. Again, Dayleen had a point. And again, she expressed it. And again, it’s something a significant chunk of the common population’s said more than once, and thought way more often than that. And again, consider a career as a member of a political party out of the running as a result.

This is why I have never, and will never, consider a run in politics at any level. I’ve made my share of comments on these two topics myself. And probably several others that’d count against me. All they’d have to do, most likely, is toss a site-specific search into Google for any number of politically correct terms and I’d probably be blacklisted as a candidate. Because the two groups most in need of a swift kick in the rear end are the two you’re least allowed to give one–and everyone on both sides of the equasion knows it. Instead, I’ll just sit back, relax, grab a coke and watch things happen. And in 10 years or so, after we’ve gone through half a dozen more rounds of negotiation with aborigional reserves, and after Quebec’s signature still isn’t on Canada’s constitution as that childish little protest continues, I’ll come back and reread this post. And once again, be thankful I didn’t get the bright idea to jump into politics. I’ll watch from over here, thanks.

How I handle backups. Or, happy world backup day!

For most of the world, it’s Easter. at least, on the east coast, for the next… we’ll say… less than an hour. But for anyone who maybe doesn’t cellebrate easter, or has maybe more important things on their plate besides that, today is also world backup day. In honour of that, let me tell you how I work.

I’m insanely paranoid about my backups. To the point where at any given time, it can be pretty well guaranteed I know exactly what’s backed up where, and have backups of those in at least two other places. Let me run things down on a basic level. The server hosting this website has 2 hard drives, both of them 2 TB. On the first is everything I’m running–the OS, the software that runs the site, email, you name it. On the second, is every single configuration file, line of code, database, log file, random thing that just doesn’t really have a home in any other category. And on that drive, it’s backed up in 3 different locations–just in case one of them goes on vacation. Or, you know, on the off chance I need to quickly pack up and slingshot my crap from this server to some other in an aweful goddamn hurry. The advantage of also doing it this way is, pretty much on demand, I can grab a copy of that backup, and pull it to any location I choose with enough room to hold it–like, we’ll say, somewhere local if I suspect some fool’s intent on nuking the server. It also allows for a bit more flexibility–let’s say, for instance, I decide to once again fire up a Dropbox instance on the server. Configuring it to serve as a thing to hold backups would be only too easy, and actually be moderately a painless process. The advantage to that of course being I’d have local access to those backups, regardless what my definition of local is, so long as I have access to Dropbox. Kind of makes emergency “Oops I screwed it good” recovery a thing.

What does that mean for the hosted folks? In short, barring a nuclear bombardment that takes out the entire eastern/central region of North America, anything and everything data is relatively breakageproof. Of course if a nuclear bombardment on that scale ever becomes a thing, I suspect “where’s my crap” won’t be the first question on the list. But this also gives me a personal thing I can use later, should I ever manage to stop being bounced around and actually shove my foot in a professional door just enough so that it’s not slammed on my nose. I’ve had absolutely no professional training in this or any other area, and I’m more comfortable with the backup solution I have right now than I would be if I was paying someone else to do it. Largely, I suspect, because I know exactly where everything is and it’s a simple copy/paste if ever I need to unbreak something. But, I think, also because if it does go sideways, I don’t need to worry about holding someone else to account who doesn’t have a dog in this fight. It’s my data. It’s my friends’ websites. It’s another friend’s email. It’s all very good reasons for me to pay the fuck attention. And that, I think, is how I work best. Which reminds me. I think I’m due for a local copy pull…

In which earth hour shows up, and no one here notices.

So according to the small explosion that took out my Twitter, earth hour was last night. 8:30 PM EST, the rumour says. Funny thing about it? I didn’t actually notice. Which, probably, is an improvement over before–when, rather intentionally, I noticed and explicitly cancelled it. This year, though, it completely and totally passed me by until I bothered looking at Twitter and the resulting explosion. Here’s the thing, though. Even while not noticing, I still managed to follow some of their rules. Dammit.

  • Lights off? Yep–blind, so they wouldn’t do me a whole lotta good anyway.
  • TV off? Let’s see. It was a spring training Saturday, baseball was in the afternoon and very likely online anyway, and I’m still swearing off hockey for this year–so that’s an enthusiastic yes. Nothing really all that entertaining on otherwise so why spend the money on electricity for a thing I’m not watching?
  • … And that’ll be about where it stops.

For the record, here’s what I never do, and will never do, during earth hour.

  • Heat off? It was hovering around the freezing point by the time earth hour apparently came around to say hello. I didn’t feel like a sweater. I’ll just be keeping the heat on, thanks much.
  • Computers off? Sorry, no. I’ve still gotta get things done, even if it’s environmental preservation hour. Sorry. Besides–it’s only an hour. I’d of just killed the environment in some other way instead–like going for coffee. Or busing back to the old building to drop in on some friends–oh, wait. Nevermind.
  • Delay using the oven, etc? Well, yes–but we had leftovers from a few days ago. So I was doing that anyway. Unfortunately, I probably lost points for using the microwave instead of the oven, but you’ll have that.
  • Put off driving somewhere? Well, okay. Sure. We bused instead. Which… Well… Okay… Does about the same environmental damage on average as if they’d actually let me drive. So, er, scratch that one.

So. That’s how I up and didn’t exactly toe the line, and did so without even really noticing I was supposed to. Did the 2% of you or so who did something else enjoy it? I did. And I wasn’t even trying.

How I didn’t spend valentine’s day. Or, in which my brain takes the day off.

I never quite got the idea behind going out of your way to do something special/romantic/whatever for/with your significant other on one particular day of the year. But then, I’ve always been brought up that that’s kind of how it’s supposed to go pretty well all the time. So, partly because of that, partly because I’m just not good at being the romantic type and partly because May did only just this morning get back home from her own little personal time, I planned a very impressive absolutely nothing today. Actually if we’re being honest, I planned not to do any of the usual valentine’s day funness. Of course it doesn’t help matters much that it’s mid-month and well, who in their right mind has extra money to be flinging around on overly expensive dinners at a moderately decent quality restaurant when all that’s really gonna come of it is a need to shove yourself into a pair of track pants if and when you manage to squeeze yourself through the door and back home–again, the kind of thing you shouldn’t need a special day to go do. So I didn’t. Because hey, why go with the trend? Especially when the trend is, well, kind of the norm if you’re us.

So today was escentially spent doing absolutely nothing. May slept in, hell–even I slept in, and we stuck close to home when we finally decided being awake was in our best interest–although, a small portion of that has to do with the fact we’re still–yes, still–waiting around for the folks what install our new internet service to show up, say hi, and give us service. It’s been probably the first actually low key day we’ve both had since we moved over here, what with repair folks, install folks, property managing folks, moving folks and familial folks dropping in to say hi how’s it going just because hey, new place.

If we do decide to do something specificly valentinesy, it’ll probably be very last minute, very much a manner of relieving frustration with afore mentioned installer folks, and very, very late. Because hey, that’s how we roll, goddammit. Look at me, bucking the freaking trend and all that. And all because at end of day, I’m poor/cheap/broke/whatever, lazy, and needed an excuse to blog something or other on valentines day–and the mockery I’m constructing in my head just isn’t gonna do much to cut it.

This is what happens when James logic is left unchecked for 10 seconds, kids. It does things that are bad for people who aren’t James and potentially assists James’s brain in the imploding department. Because it needs the help, really. And then you have pointless entries about pointlessness on a–in my opinion, relax–pointless day for pointless reasons. On second thought, no wonder my brain’s on vacation. I do believe I’ll join it.

So how did you not spend valentines day?

Added at the last second: snark at your future ISP in a blog post and wouldn’t you know, they show up. I aughta do that more often. But first, caffeine.

Dear winter: Nice try. Do better.

I love Ottawa. Which probably has a little bit to do with the fact I’ve been here for college once and here for grown-up reasons twice. What I find amusing, though–I can’t quite decide if I love it or wish it dead–is it seems like weather paterns up here like to play with us. The entire first half of winter, it barely dropped below freezing. And, if we got any kind of snow at all, it was that really light dusting that was just barely enough to make things go crunch and that’s about it. Also it usually took a hike a day or two later. That threatened to change near the end of December, but I’m pretty sure that was just mother nature screwing with us a little more. Doing the false sense of security thing, you know how it goes. My proof? It built up to the white smackdown of Friday and parts of Saturday.

I’m not calling the dumping we got on Friday a white smackdown–I’ll leave describing it in terms of epic badness up to the media. Why? I’ve seen a white smackdown. Lived through it. Blogged it. Then called in sick to work the next day and slept in ’til about noon or so–because, goddammit, they were right. *That* was a white smackdown. Friday? Practice. Decent try, though, considering it’s still got the first half of winter to make up for. And it did give me wicked nifty opportunities to test my ability to navigate a neighbourhood I know next to nothing about while capturing a wayward dog and dragging her home–yes, this is how I occasionally spend my mornings, okay? But it could do better. I mean, hell–I honestly expected not to be able to open my back door. Well, not without aid of a shovel, anyway.

Winter actually had me somewhat concerned. Then it happened. I’m still waiting on the snow storm. Nice try, winter. Now, do better.

In which James is clearly not supposed to move anywhere, ever.

When I started this blog, I had no idea I’d end up moving to Ottawa. Meaning at all. And yet, I’ve officially been here twice–and every move has been quite the adventure. When I moved the first time, the hour and a half drive on a good day became the 4 hour drive in a snowstorm. Moving back to Petawawa, we were soked to the skin before half the truck was unpacked. Which made hauling boxes and the like into the apartment an exercise in timing. Moving back to Ottawa presented its own issues, most of those logistical. And, naturally, most of those could have been avoided if–no, nevermind, that train left ages ago. Moving in September presented yet more logistical–and logical–difficulties. Not to mention took way longer than ever it should have (for the record, the next person who tells me we can move sans Uhaull gets a UKick squarely in the UFace). Shockingly, moving in October, to the apartment we’re in now, was a breeze. Well, after trying desperately to work out the finer points of logistics on that end and having half of them fall apart on contact. The majority of the huge crap was moved in only a couple hours. And, well, after the help left, we handled the rest.

So fast forward to this month. I may have mentioned–at least in passing on Twitter–we had another move pending. The reasons are plenty, and they’ll make the blog when the smoke clears, but suffice it to say things went from awesome to suck in 5.2. So yesterday and today, we took off to poke around the new neighbourhood. Y’know, do the old fashioned let’s see where this goes, what this does, and exactly how painful getting from $home to $place will actually be. And today, it decided to be minus cold while we did it. I should probably point out it was fairly well above freezing this past weekend–and just barely at freezing yesterday. So today’s sudden dive was a particular act of cruelty. Or, as I’ve decided as of 5 minutes ago to declare it, mother nature’s little warning shot. Staring at temperatures right now makes me very glad we did our poking around earlier this morning–for folks familiar with the measurement, it’s -15 C.

We’re doing it again next week, largely because–hey, it gives us a chance to figure out how best to get ourselves lost when trying to get somewhere simple. And I’m trying my damnedest to not even think right now about exactly how far away from freezing–on the absolute wrong side of freezing–we’re supposed to get just in time for us to go about doing exactly that. And from this, I can draw only one conclusion. James is not allowed to move anywhere, at least in Ottawa, ever. It’s just not natural. And if, on whichever day we actually decide to start haulling things over to the new place, everything goes to hell, I’ll have my proof. And I’ll still be incredibly pissed with mother nature. Which, I’m fairly sure, is exactly how she likes it.

So the NHL’s back. In more important news, when’s baseball?

I’m probably in the minority, even among people who still barely paid attention to the news surrounding the NHL lockout after about, oh, December 15th. But part of me was actually hoping the season would end up cancelled. Mostly because after this thing being beat to death, I was getting rather sick of hockey news. Instead, what they ended up offering fans was–well–not much. escentially, it’s a practice run before we get to the playoffs. And the team I’d ordinarily cheer for if this year didn’t just try to suck all the appreciation for hockey out of me probably won’t do very well even in that–particularly since they just tossed their GM a week before the mini-season’s supposed to start. So, I’ve decided–probably along with a few others. Screw the season this year. The next big thing on my calendar is spring training. I may, possibly, rethink that for the start of next season–if I’m provided with one hell of a good reason. But this year? Yeah. When’s baseball?

I may have just been holidayed to death.

Have you ever run a 10 KM marathon with a 20-pound weight on your back? Okay probably not. Have you ever had one of those vacations that felt like you’ve just run a 10- KM marathon with a 20-pound weight on your back? Yeah, that was kind of me after the week spent with the family. We got there on the 20th, mostly as planned. And pretty much from that day outward, it was almost non-stop doing everything under the sun and then some. Visiting with people, putting things together for this or that little thinggy we do on occasion, being visited *by* people, all that stuff. And somewhere in between all that I remembered to actually, you know, breathe. And mock ODSP a little.

May started out not feeling quite so comfortable with the family. Not that I blame her–I’m not always comfortable with the family. It has one or two things to do with why I don’t very often go home anymore. But as the holiday went on she got a little better about it. We enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. And, uh, pretty much fell dead over at the end of the day as a result. Just in time to get up and do the whole damn thing all over again. It was kind of crazy, kind of whacky, and very much fun. And topping it off, we came back today to complete more of the paperwork for the new place–more on that in another entry.

All in all, it was a good holiday. Exhausting as hell, but good. And very nearly the death of me. As much fun as it’s been, though, the usual routine’s going to be nice to get back into–just as soon as I find it again. But first, I should probably go finish that entry I didn’t get a chance to finish before all hell broke loose. Ah, what the hell–it’s been sitting there this long. Where’s the vodka?

because I didn’t have enough excuse to contemplate getting back in front of a piano.

My Twitter people are trying to tell me something, apparently. Scrolling through it today, I saw quite a few postings of piano related things–some from Youtube, some from I don’t even know where else. Because, you know, this occasionally thinking that maybe I should actually dust off the piano sitting in the living room isn’t getting me anywhere. Well, okay, not entirely true. It’s getting me places. Just not very many actually, you know, good places. So, uh, thanks for the push, Twitter. Or something. I now think piano will be this year’s newyears resolution. Because apparently the fact that it was my resolution from 2 years ago is not, in fact, relevant in any way, shape or form. So what brought this one? Well, here, have a video. Then remind me in 2013 that I said I’d actually get back into it. I might listen. sorry, if you’re reading this via RSS or email. You’ll have to click over to the site to see the video. It’s a technology thinggy.

Rob Ford is an idiot, the left half of Toronto’s got a hate on, and other asorded goodness.

What we have here is a random thinggy. Because random thinggies are good. Even if done at half past odd while coming off a weekend spent in Pembroke with a machine that could use a couple replacement components. And even if done by a guy who apparently wouldn’t know what spelling was if it walked up and shook his hand. Thank christ this will see some editing before it sees the light of day. Maybe. And since I should be sleeping before we have to leave in an hour and a half, have a list.

  • If you live in Ontario, you’ve probably heard about the Rob Ford kerfuffle. He’s been ordered–well, pending appeal, anyway–removed from office as toronto’s mayor after participating in and voting on an issue that, well, kind of involved him. There are two really good entries on the subject by Toronto Mike, with some pretty nifty comments on both, from both the folks in favour of and against what happened and how it happened. The short version: Rob ford is an idiot for voting on a resolution in council as to whether or not he should pay back what amounts to pocket change if your name is Rob Ford–even if he voted with the majority, and would have ended up not having to pay it back anyway. But that there’s one person in Toronto, namely the voter that took him to court over it, that has the power to remove someone the majority voted in from office is a little tiny bit concerning. Not quite as concerning as the fact the judge interpreted the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act to mean removal was his only option. Or as concerning as the fact that mayors of several other cities (I’m looking at you, Quebec) have either resigned or not for far worse. And let’s not talk about Dalton McGuinty. Both sides kind of flopped this one. And now toronto gets to more than likely go through another election–in which Ford wasn’t even banned from running, meaning he could very likely end up right back where they tried to kick him from. Not bad for a broke city.
  • The NHL has killed off pretty much half the season at this point. Is anyone even still paying attention? How many more times are talks going to end up going nowhere before they just come out and tell us what we’re already expecting? Bright side: the Leafs have their first .500 season going into Christmas since… uh… anyone remember when? Now about baseball.
  • We were staring at -13 degrees C coming on the end of last week. That’s freaking cold degrees, if you’re in the US. It was a fair bit above freezing in spots yesterday–note: not *this* spot, as evidenced by our driveway. Mother nature, please to be making up your mind. Thankya.
  • May and I came to Pembroke this weekend for a Christmas party. Well, it’s what the natives call a Christmas party–they serve passable dinner, we get to hear a couple speeches, then a couple somewhere in the neighbourhood of tolerable old guys from around here get up on stage and try not to kill what would otherwise be okay songs. But the conversations were good, anyway.
    • Related: I learned more about my cousin’s girlfriend in a couple hours during that party than I think I ever wanted to know about someone I’m not dating. Small towns’ll do that to ya, I guess. Is it too late for a refund?
  • This. So much this. It was on my mockery list. Then I read this post. I can do no better. Well, okay, I *probably* could. But both caffeine and alcohol are required and I only have easy access to one.
  • The one year I don’t get a lot of folks asking what I’d like for Christmas is the one year I’m exceedingly easy to buy for. I’ve had an iPhone for a bit over a year and a half. This means iTunes. This means gift cards. So if you’re looking…
  • There is a Twitter. It is awesome. And I had nothing whatsoever to do with it. But, should you find yourself watching the afore mentioned twitter and then developing a liking for Big Bang Theory, you can gladly hand the credit this way.
  • And lastly, because there can never be enough promotion, click, then hit play. You’ll love it. Yes, I’m a part-time fortune teller now. And also the awesome factor. I’m right. You’ll see.

Geek stats. Because trivial geek is trivial.

I recently did some tweeking to the server on which this and a couple other sites run. Specificly, I tossed a second hard drive in for the sole purpose of–hey, I likes me some extra space, kay? It had the side benefit of being able to pretend I’m an actual, honest to goodness, proper system administrator. Or maybe it just gave me the extra room to exercise common sense–you be the judge. In so doing, I learned two things about me and my users.

Thing 1: my users don’t actually use much. I’ve probably got the most space going, and that’s at well under a hundred gigs. All told, user data, OS data and miscellanious crap I haven’t gotten rid of data comes to about 5% of the actual primary drive’s available space. Hot damn, I said. Then I looked at where I put my backups.

Thing 2: Holy Christ–backups much? Both drives on the server are 2 TB. So basicly, they’re both smaller than the external HD I’ll be glomming on to when funds come in shortly. I mentioned how much of that space the actual userspace takes up. The backups of said userspace? 55% of the second drive. Yes, nearly 1 TB of the second drive’s 2 TB is backups. As opposed to about 86 GB of the primary’s 2 TB actually being used. Paranoid sysadmin is paranoid, perhaps? I mean, drive failures aren’t entirely common, but hell, should one mysteriously decide to show up and say hi, I’d likely be offline for all of an hour–not counting how long it takes folks to get around to replacing drives. Not bad for a mostly improvized server job, yeah?

Short version: I likes backups. Apparently, way too much. Also tiny users. I have that much diskspace why, again? Oh, right–I have uses. Just uses. Stop asking.

So. Anyone want hosting? I’ve got the room.

Alibi3col theme by Themocracy

© 2006-2014 by me. All Rights Reserved. Failure to comply will be met with an angry stare. -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

dasevaughn@mailxu.com
starting-blast landlocked