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Comments

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Apple and Samsung Already Working On A9 Processor

Yaztromo Re:Apple Pushing All Mobile CPU Vendors (114 comments)

Uh, a dual core 1.3Ghz cpu is "marginally superior" to phones running quad and octo cores at twice the clock speed?!

Cores and clock speed is hardly the only determinant of performance. It sets a hard upper bound, but that can be readily squandered by software.

In the case of Android phones, they pushed for extra cores early on to avoid UI stutter during garbage collection cycles. iOS has never provided garbage collection; you either have to setup your own retain/release calls to keep or relinquish objects, or you use ARC (Automatic Reference Counting) to do more or less the same thing.

In effect, it's a trade-off. Google decided to simplify memory management for developers, and keep the barrier to entry low by appealing to existing Java developers, with the trade-off being that they require more parallel processing power for garbage collection. Apple avoided the need for the additional processing power and battery capacity (and in turn device size) by not implementing garbage collection in iOS, and thus can squeeze more performance out of fewer cores, with the trade off being you can't just pull Java developers off the street and have them start writing iOS apps. ARC is so slick that IMO Apple has an overall edge with their design; others are of course free to disagree.

Yaz

2 days ago
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Why Open Source Matters For Sensitive Email

Yaztromo Re:Open Source not a silver bullet (73 comments)

It seems a bit foolish to worry about purely theoretical security issues when we've got so many real ones to deal with. Ken Thompons' compiler infection demonstration was an interesting experiment designed to make a particular point, but I don't think it's wise to consider tool-chain hacking a legitimate threat, as we've never seen anything remotely like this in the wild, as far as I'm aware. And frankly, I question whether it's even realistically possible beyond a very simplistic demonstration.

First off, naturally the level of security I'm talking about would probably only be reserved for national governmental agencies intended to protect ultra-sensitive data. For them, that level of security is necessary, and they will spend the money and resources to audit and verify everything if necessary (which is why we have SELinux).

Additionally, the build chain comprises not only the compiler, but the standard libraries and any third-party libraries as well. If not verified, these could easily have unexpected code inserted into them, that compromises your product once linked against them. You wouldn't expect to see such compromised libraries "in the wild", as they would probably part of a targeted attack. This is hardly unprecedented; while not done at build time, Stuxnet uses DLL replacement on Windows to add extra routines to the operating system, which are used to inject code being uploaded into a PLC.

Again, most organizations don't care to undertake the kind of expense required to protect against such attacks; they use the chain-of-trust you describe. However, national security organizations do work at this level, and if you need that level of security, pre-compiled binaries, whether they come with source or not, is insufficient.

Yaz

about a week ago
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Why Open Source Matters For Sensitive Email

Yaztromo Re:Open Source not a silver bullet (73 comments)

With a verified compiler no less. We have seen ever more sophisticated malware these days, certainly a malicious compiler could easily slip vulnerabilities into the binary.

Yup -- I intended that to be considered part of the build chain. Compiler, standard libs, any 3rd party library dependencies, the build tools themselves (have to make sure they're using the libs you expect them to...), the OS kernel...right on down the chain.

Yaz

about a week ago
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Why Open Source Matters For Sensitive Email

Yaztromo Re:Open Source not a silver bullet (73 comments)

I use many open source tools, but I've never inspected the code myself. Even if I did, I'm not going to be finding these hard-to-find defects that the people in the project can't find.

From a security perspective, even just having and being able to inspect the code is insufficient if you need top-notch security: you had better also be compiling that code yourself. It is nearly impossible to be able to verify that a binary blob didn't contain additional/modified code than what the sources contain without compiling it yourself. And even with being able to compile everything yourself, you're still at the mercy of the build chain and all of its dependencies (unless you audit/build them yourself too).

Open Source is still better in this regard than closed source, of course -- at least you have the ability to compile it yourself if security is that critical. I think the problem for a lot of organizations is that security isn't critical enough for them to hire people to a) audit the code and b) build, test, and verify it for their own internal use. In which case, it would (at least form outward appearances) be cheaper/easier to go with a closed-source solution, with someone behind it whom you can blame/sue if things go sideways.

Yaz

about a week ago
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Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

Yaztromo Re:Breastfeeding? (350 comments)

Unless you can find a way to network breastfeeding or find a way to run Lunix on it, I don't see how the topic is appropriate for /.

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of...

Nevermind. :)

Yaz

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Getting Around Terrible Geolocation?

Yaztromo Re:What what WHAT? (100 comments)

Note, in the first link, everything except W3C is listed as correct, which is even more baffling for me, because somewhere the wrong information is being received, and it happened everywhere in the shop at once, across platforms.

You've got it all wrong as to where the problem lies.

First, there are two ways being used to calculate your geolocation. One of them uses online providers who have databases mapping IP addresses to locations. This is what you're seeing in the "Provider X" columns, which you state are indeed showing your correct location.

W3C doesn't provide a geolocation service. Instead, what the results of this (admittedly badly named) column indicate are what YOUR COMPUTER reports its location as being, using the W3C Geolocation API. The first link you provided above describes this succinctly in the text immediately above the map, where it states "The W3C Geolocation service determins location by the browser providing GPS location (if available) and signal strengths of visible WiFi annoucements" [sic]. Thus, the web page is asking your browser to report where it is located, and your browser is responding that you're somewhere in Ireland.

The question for you then becomes: where is my browser getting this bad data from? On Mac OS X, browsers get this from the Core Location Framework. While Core Location Framework can conceivably use a number of different factors to determine your location, typically it uses the detectable WiFi beacons in your area, mapping their SSIDs and MAC addresses, and their relative strengths to triangulate your location. On Windows it uses the Sensor and Location Platform to do much the same thing.

I don't know much in the way of details of the databases Apple and Microsoft are using on the backend to map your triangulated location based on SSIDs/MACs of visible WiFi access points, however there are a few ways the system can go wrong:

  • - The SSID/MAC of your access point matches that of another access point somewhere on the globe (and for some reason, all the other access points in your vicinity aren't in the database), or
  • - You've moved the access point in question from one location to another, and the database hasn't been updated yet. This could occur if, for example, you buy a WiFi access point used off eBay (for example), or you've moved your physical location, you've bought a refurbished access point, or your corporate IT has issued you a previously used access point from another office.

The fact that all your systems had this problem at the same time indicate it's probably one of the above. You can try to fix the situation by changing the SSID of your access point. Depending on the size of your facility, this may be more or less difficult, however it should hopefully make the incorrect results from your OSs' location services either report the correct location, or simply that your location is unknown. You may also need to change the MAC address of your access point(s), but I'd save that as a last resort. Note than making these changes should fix the issue with your systems reporting themselves as being in Ireland, but it may not result in them reporting the correct location (they might report they don't know their location at all). That's okay -- for Apple devices at least, you can fix this by simply having someone with an iPhone with Location Service enabled in the vicinity (Apple's data is crowd sourced automatically through the use of GPS co-ordinates and relative WiFi access point signal strengths (I'm not sure how Microsoft collects the information for their database, so I can't help you there -- a Google search might provide some answers).

HTH!

Yaz

about a month ago
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Joey Hess Resigns From Debian

Yaztromo Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising (450 comments)

At this point, it seems that a fork of Debian is almost inevitable, though that effort appears to me to be more likely to simply dilute the overall effort than bring any resolution.

I'm pretty sure Debian is already the most-forked Linux distort out there. Wikipedia lists 117 distros (on my count) based on Debian.

Yaz

about a month ago
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Tim Cook: "I'm Proud To Be Gay"

Yaztromo Re:Silly (764 comments)

You aren't supposed to be proud of things you had no control of...

Yeah, like all those people who are "Proud to be American!", just because they were born in the United States of America. What a total bunch of douchebags.

(My apologies if that broke everyones sarcasm meters. Your warranty replacements are in the mail).

Yaz

about a month and a half ago
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Tim Cook: "I'm Proud To Be Gay"

Yaztromo Re:Gay? (764 comments)

I don't see why it should be a reason to be "proud".

Probably because for some 2000+ years, certain major religions have been trying everything they can to make gay people feel shame over their orientation.

Yaz

about a month and a half ago
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Cutting the Cord? Time Warner Loses 184,000 TV Subscribers In One Quarter

Yaztromo Re:They tried to raise prices 20% unnanounced (392 comments)

I was in the same boat you were. I was a very happy TiVo customer here in Canada, until we moved to an HDTV.

The funny thing was having to try to convince the customer service woman at TiVo that no, I couldn't upgrade to TiVo HD. The concept that I couldn't get a CableCard from my local provider was so alien to her that I had to explain it several times (and even point her to TiVo's own webpage explaining why TiVo HD wasn't available in Canada). Even then I don't think she was quite convinced.

I guess that TiVo had so few Canadian customers that she really hadn't had to deal with the situation before. I still miss out old TiVo; the Motorola box we got from Shaw is great for 1080p video and Dolby Digital audio (neither of which our TiVo 2 could handle); but the user interface and software absolutely suck compared to the TiVo. It's always trying to do dumb stuff, like start a new scheduled recording on the tuner I'm using to watch something, even though nothing is being recorded (or is scheduled to record) on the other tuner at the time; menus you can't move back up from (even if you're several screens down, if you need to go up one menu you frequently (but not always!) have to exit entirely and start over again, drilling back down to where you wanted to be), not being able to filter out all the myriad of channels we don't get form the listings (I've simulated this by setting up a "favourites" list containing only those channels we get, but the way the interface is setup managing this when a few channels change often means I have to remove the favourites list and start over again), and ugly, ugly on-screen graphics (crappy fonts with no smoothing, no built-in upscaling for SD channels, so the entire UI changes to a more compressed version to fit within 480p, etc.). I could probably go on all day. I believe they have better boxes available now, but as I had to buy this one, I don't see it as worthwhile to "upgrade" to another non-TiVo box that is probably equally crappy.

Yaz

about a month and a half ago
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Ken Ham's Ark Torpedoed With Charges of Religious Discrimination

Yaztromo Going about it all wrong. (451 comments)

See, the creationists are going about this all wrong. What they need is a meta-theme park, where you go and spend time with a Jewish carpenter wearing hippy clothes who peaches to you all day about God and love while you help him build an Ark-based theme park.

See, in this way you get lots of free labour to build your theme park from all the True Believers, and should any heathens get in, you get to have hippy carpenter guy preach the good word to them all day.

The only drawback to all this is it means Mr. Ham would have to employ someone who is Jewish, and he might feel that is against God's divine will.

Yaz

about a month and a half ago
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Shooting At Canadian Parliament

Yaztromo Re:Dear Canada.... (529 comments)

No by getting the Muslim community involved and start turning in these idiots, the war on extremists is never going to be won unless the community that they belong to steps up.

Thus far, in every case that has occurred within Canada, the first alerts received by police about radicalized Muslims has been from Imams at various mosques.

The Muslim community has stepped up, and has been doing exactly what you extol. However, holding radical ideals isn't against the law in Canada; unless you can prove that a) an illegal act is being planned, or b) support is being given to an illegal organization, there isn't much the police can do except monitor the people involved.

The attacker from Monday's attack in St. Jean-sur-Richaleau was being monitored by police, and had even recently been questions by them. They had confiscated his passport, as he had booked a flight to Turkey (purportedly to cross into Syria to join ISIS/ISIL), but as he hadn't broken any Canadian laws, were unable to detain him. I have little doubt the way police were alerted to this person in the first place was via people at his local mosque.

Unfortunately, the police don't announce how they find out about the radicals they are tracking (news today has it that the RCMP is tracking 90 people for radicalist activities), in part to protect their sources. This is why you don't hear about it much in the media, but people on the inside know that it's been the leaders of Canadian mosques who have been at the forefront of reporting radical Islamic activity in this country.

Yaz

about 2 months ago
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Canada Will Ship 800 Doses of Experimental Ebola Drug to WHO

Yaztromo Re:Tax dollars at work. (102 comments)

Sigh...that was, naturally, a typo. It was intended to read that the Queen is not a patent troll.

That said, you can take your nomination and stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

Yaz

about 2 months ago
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Canada Will Ship 800 Doses of Experimental Ebola Drug to WHO

Yaztromo Re:Tax dollars at work. (102 comments)

It's interesting that OP claims the government "owns" the "IP" related to the vaccine.

Something I left out of my previous post; generally, the Government of Canada doesn't own the patent; instead it's owned by Queen Elizabeth II, in Right of Canada, and represented by the minister of the relevant government agency.

Here's an example I picked purely because of it's humorous title, particular when you relate it to the Queen as owner: APPARATUS FOR PERFORMING SCROTAL CIRCUMFERENCE MEASUREMENT ON BULLS.

Yaz

about 2 months ago
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Canada Will Ship 800 Doses of Experimental Ebola Drug to WHO

Yaztromo Re:Tax dollars at work. (102 comments)

In Canada and most other democracies the gov't is the people, and the people are allowed to own stuff.

As a generalization you're correct, however, in the case of patents, they technically aren't held by the Government of Canada, but are instead held by the Queen. This is usually written as "HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN, IN RIGHT OF CANADA AS REPRESENTED BY THE MINISTER OF..." in Canadian patents.

Of course, in a practical sense, the Queen is going around acting as a patent troll. She may own the patents, but control tends to lie with the minister of the responsible government agency.

Yaz

about 2 months ago
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Canada Will Ship 800 Doses of Experimental Ebola Drug to WHO

Yaztromo Re:Tax dollars at work. (102 comments)

The US has a patent on an Ebola virus.. Human ebola virus species and compositions and methods thereof

Looks like a Canadian patent, owned by the " The Government Of The United States Of America As Represented By The Sec Retary, Department Of Health & Human Services, Center For Disease Control".

It's the wrong strain, though. Also I'm not sure why the US government would own a Canadian patent.

I noticed that myself. However, as someone who has a few patents to his credit, it's not unusual for companies (and I suppose governments) in North America to file patents in both countries to improve their overall protection. The patent systems in the two countries are subtly different, and patents are still a national jurisdiction (meaning that US patents are unenforceable in Canada, and vice-versa). Things patented in the US but not here in Canada are fair game in Canada, as things currently stand. Canada also doesn't permit quite as wide a range of things that can be patented as the US does, so you can run into a situation where a Canadian company holds a US patent for an invention or process, but which doesn't have an equivalent Canadian patent.

A patent lawyer can probably provide a lot more detail, but if the US Government wants to assert its right to protect its patents in Canada, it has to file them with CIPO.

Yaz

about 2 months ago
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Canada Will Ship 800 Doses of Experimental Ebola Drug to WHO

Yaztromo Re:Tax dollars at work. (102 comments)

They can be classified, but not "owned" except under very rare circumstances. While the ideal has been distorted, especially since 2000, the Federal government is still an employee of The People in the States, and doesn't really "own" anything.

Uh...I'll just leave this here...

Yaz

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

Yaztromo Inventor here... (224 comments)

I have a handful of patents where I'm listed as the Inventor, and have some experience in this area.

First off, my case is somewhat different form yours in that while I'm listed as the inventor, the patents in question are owned by one of my former employers, as I came up with the inventions during my employment with them. While this does have the downside of my never being able to monetize them, the upside is if a prospective employer can't really pressure me into giving them anything for free -- they get to take that up with the cadre of lawyers retained by a certain corporation associated with the words "big" and "blue".

So here's a few (hopefully helpful) tips and ideas, based on my experiences:

  • - Go ahead and list the patents on your resume, but keep the details light. I only provide the patents numbers, patent office that granted the patent (CIPO, USPTO), and the title. They tend to catch the eye of anyone reading your resume, and can be a great conversation piece when talking to an interviewer. However, even when discussing face-to-face, keep the details as light as possible, particularly if you're talking to a technical interviewer. The reasons for this are two-fold: a) if the idea is applicable to their area of work, they may be tempted to try to use it unlicensed (it can really suck to have a great idea of how to do something in your head, only to know you can't use it), and b) if they're already using it unknowingly, you put them in a potentially tough legal position. Neither situation is good for you as a prospective employee, so if they ask you for details on your patents, tell them you'd rather not discuss them for their own protection, and if they insist that they can go and read the patents themselves (suggest they only do so after speaking with their own legal counsel, however). Any smart hiring manager will actually appreciate this response (it's always worked really well for me at least).
  • - Just because they hire you to do a job doesn't mean they have the right to everything you own as well. I presume you know how to drive. You wouldn't expect your employer to be able to borrow your car without paying you for it, right? If they hire you and come to you wanting to license your technology, that has to be a separate deal.
  • - Worried somewhat about being pressured into allowing a potential future employer free license to use your patents? Incorporate and reassign the patents to the corporation. You don't have to let them know that you are the corporation if you don't want to. This gives you a firewall between your patents and your professional life.

Yaz

about 2 months ago
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My toy collection is ...

Yaztromo Re:Gigantic and growing! (209 comments)

I'm 61 and still buying toys. Some, of course, are for the grandkids, but some are for ME.

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

In my case, I answered that I have no toys, but that isn't entirely accurate. It's more that my daughter has inherited all my toys at this point -- so when I sit down with her to play legos, it's her toys I'm playing with now.

The quantity of toys in our house has only increased. Anything that was mine is now hers, but that doesn't mean I don't get to sit and play with them anytime I want -- with a 4yo playmate to sit down and play with me at that!

Yaz

about 3 months ago
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It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

Yaztromo Re:His Dark Materials? (410 comments)

Please. Atheists are so sensitive.

That's a pretty big assumption. Could it not be more likely that HDM made the list and CoN didn't because a) HDM being banned by Catholic schools was fairly recent and somewhat wide-spread, whereas CoN was, from what I can find, only ever challenged in a few school districts, some of which happened decades ago, and/or b) because the poll writer lives somewhere where CoN wasn't challenged or banned, and thus wasn't aware that it had been challenged/banned elsewhere?

FWIW, I went to public school, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was required reading in Grade 5. I didn't write the poll, but had I done so, I probably would have left it off too purely due to not being aware that anywhere had ever found it sufficiently controversial to keep away from young readers.

But hey, if it makes you feel better to blame atheism, have at it. Most of us have heard worse, and have had to form pretty damn thick skin.

Yaz

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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Asia Pacific now out of IPv4 addresses.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Yaztromo writes "It's official: after the IANA ran out of IPv4 addresses back in February, today APNIC was the first of the Regional Internet Registries to have run out of IPv4 addresses for general consumption (a single /8 has been reserved for use in IPv4-IPv6 links; qualifying service providers can only get 1024 addresses from this space at a time)."
Link to Original Source
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Nortel and Vonage settle patent disagreement.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Yaztromo writes "CBC.ca is reporting that Nortel and Vonage have decided to settle their patent dispute amicably. According to the story, Digital Packet Licensing originally filed the suit, but after Vonage picked up some of their patents, they continued the suit against Nortel. Nortel (predictably) countersued. This agreement provides a cross-licensing solution for all the patents involved, with no money changing hands. Too bad Vonage hasn't been able to reach such agreements in other patent cases, but at least this is one less pending patent suit against them."
Link to Original Source
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Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Yaztromo writes "

I've been running Firefox 2.0 beta 2 since its release (and beta 1 before that), and was just notified on my Apple PowerBook by Firefox's built-in Software Update facility that FireFox 2.0 RC 1 is now available for download. Huzzah!

"

Journals

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Today, I am an inventor in two countries!

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Rewind back to 2000. While everyone was taking a breather after Y2K turned out to be a relative non-event (thanks to hard work from the technical community everywhere), I was coming up with ideas. Ideas for things. Things that would do stuff.

Some of these things caught the attention of my then-employer (a company often associated with the words "big" and "blue"), and the slow wheels started grinding them towards some patents. Two of them in particular made their way through the internal grinder, and became actual applications: "Executing Native Code in Place of Non-Native Code", and "Dynamic Generation of Program Execution Trace Files in a Standard Markup Language".

Then that company gave me the boot.

Over the years since, I've kept an eye on my ideas through online databases. Both were filed in both Canada and the US, with the US applications appearing to be "links" to the Canadian patents. I'd look in on the CIPO database here in Canada every few months, generally to see the only "progress" being that my former employer had paid some yearly renewal fee.

This changed briefly back in 2006, when ""Dynamic Generation of Program Execution Trace Files..." was listed in CIPO's database as "dead". You win some, you lose some.

Ever since, nothing has changed...until I decided on a lark to take a peek today, to find:

I AM AN INVENTOR!

So I decided to do a quick search of Google's Patent Database to see if it shows up there too, only to find an unexpected entry instead:

...so I have been an inventor on a patent since 2007, and didn't know it. The one that was marked as dead in Canada turned out to have been issued in the US. So not only was I surprised today to find out that one of my inventions was just issued a Canadian patent, but that another one was granted a US patent nearly two years ago.

Regardless of what I might think about software patents, this is still a pretty happy day. Both of the ideas patented in these two patents are in use in the wild (and presumably without a license from IBM), and I personally hope it stays that way. I have no say over how my old employer uses these patents (I technically didn't have any say in them applying for these patents either), but it feels pretty good to have these two added feathers in my cap today. It's been a very long wait, and I had long ago given up on anything ever being granted, so this has been a rather pleasant surprise for me.

Yaz.

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Good 1000Base-TX card for Debian Lenny-AMD 64?

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Last month, I finally decided to upgrade my old Celeron 550-based home server to a modern system, and found a pretty sweet Core 2 Duo-based system from Compaq available for just under $300 CDN as a factory refurbished unit. I quickly unpacked it, put Debian Lenny on it (Sarge was a bit too old to recognise some of the hardware, particularly the built-in network adaptor), and copied all the data from the old file server. It's most compute-intensive task is to run pyTivo, and moving from a 550Mhz system with 256MB RAM up to a C2D at 2.xGhz with 2GB RAM was a huge improvement -- we went from about 4fps up to about 60fps (at which point it would pretty much saturate the 100Mbps network connection). It was beautiful to behold.

Last week, after three weeks of flawless operation, I started getting a huge pile of network timeouts, and ultra-slow transfers from the new server. Slower than the old Celeron 550Mhz box it replaced. An order of magnitude slower. So I decided to do some simple diagnostics. In the end, it turned out there were two independent failures in two different pieces of hardware: firstly, the hard drive in the new server was crapping out already. More insidious however, and the actual cause of the slowdown I was trying to diagnose, is that my old 100Mbps switch appears to be having significant problems.

This switch was what most of our wired network devices are plugged into. We have a Tivo, and Playstation 2, the file server, and two Vonage phone adaptors wired into the network, and usually try to have one spare cable for times when the wireless network in our building goes crazy, and we need to plug one of the laptops in. This, of course, is more plugs than the 5-port switch could handle, so we also have an old LinkSys BEFSR41 router, set to switch mode plugged into the switch to offer yet more ports.

The new server is in getting its drive replaced (I wanted an empty drive, but they absolutely insist on putting Vista on it, even though the first thing I'm going to do is reformat/repartition it). As for the networking problem, I decided to leapfrog the issue altogether. The whole reason for having the 5-port switch was because our main routing device is an 802.11g version of the Apple Airport Extreme, which only has one ethernet LAN port on it. So, in an attempt to be a bit more forward-thinking (not to mention allowing me to use 802.11a or 802.11n to hopefully bypass the problem we have with too many wireless devices in other units in our part of the building -- I can usually see at least 12 other SSIDs from our unit), I bought a new Apple Airport Extreme, 802.11n edition, which comes with four built-in gigabit ethernet ports.

Now unfortunately, between our old 802.11g-based Airport Express and my wifes 802.11g-based PowerBook, I probably won't get to take advantage of the 11n speeds all that often. I'm willing to live with that for now. However, the possibility of some really fast transfers on the wired portion of the network by adding a gigabit ethernet adaptor to the server once it's back from being repaired would be fantastic.

My current plan is to continue to use the BEFSR41 as a switch/hub for those devices which are only ever going to be 100Base-TX, such as the PS2 the Tivo, and the Vonage boxes (which will fill it up right there), and other than the BEFSR41 itself, use the Airport Extreme's ports for Gigabit enabled devices (the fileserver, once so equipped, and the spare cable for my MacBook and work MacBook Pro when I bring it home). All of which hinges on finding a good Gigabit adaptor for the fileserver.

Any recommendations on a good Gigabit card for running with Debian Lenny? The board has some free PCI Express x1 slots, and thus a card supporting this would be preferable. Any ideas?

Yaz.

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Defence tomorrow

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Well...this is it. After three years of work, I'm defending my Masters thesis in Computer Science tomorrow. Entitled "Optimizing Synchronization Cost for Mobile Devices: The Expedient Trickle Sync Algorithm", my research revolved around coming up with a set of heuristic algorithms which could intelligently manage the synchronization of mobile devices in order to reduce the overall cost (where cost involves two opposing factors: the cost of data transfer across the network, and the more conceptual cost of potentially basing decisions based on out-of-date information; thus the trick is to synchronize at times and frequencies to try to guarantee that the users data is up-to-date when they need it, while minimizing the frequency of synchronization, the amount of data transferred, and the use of expensive networks).

The research turned out to be significantly bigger than it should be, and I'm very proud of it, however some of my committee members have been a bit of a PITA. Regardless, I'm going to survive tomorrow, come out the other side, and kick some ass and take some names along the way ;).

Yaz.

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Running on Empty

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

This weekend I spent both days riding around the city on my new e-Bike. The sun was out, the weather was fine, and it felt god to be out and one the road and bike trails here in Victoria. Saturday I happened upon a Ska festival down at the inner harbour. Today I was one of the few to join in on an electric bike brigade ride along the coast.

Both days, unfortunately, I wound up having to do some serious pedalling as my batteries started running dry. Today was worse, in part because I had a passenger with me during the brigade ride (the young son of the woman who started the brigade ride really wanted to ride with me, so I let him jump on the back) -- by the time I got home, the battery was pretty much dry, and I had to pedal up a moderate grade on the way home, as the motor didn't have sufficient power to move the bike uphill on its own (and it wasn't giving me much help, either).

Fortunately, this bike has an optional second battery which goes under the seat, however I haven't spent the $90 for this option -- yet. But this weekends rides have got me thinking about power issues to extend the range of my bike.

Purchasing the secondary battery seems like a no-brainer, but like virtually all rechargeable batteries, it has a maximum lifetime, and it's probable that my usual home-to-University (and son home-to-work) trips won't really need it. Charging it as part of the system without ever discharging it will reduce its lifespan (the secondary battery doesn't run in a parallel circuit with the primary battery -- you actually have to switch the key to a different position to use it). I suppose I can simply switch which battery I use on a day-to-day basis, to "level" them equally...

Other thoughts go toward perhaps exploring some sort of portable solar charging system -- in the summer when it's hot and sunny at least, when the bike is sitting parked somewhere for several hours, I should be able to take free advantage of the sun's rays to give the battery some sort of boost. The trick here is that I'd want something ultra-portable (Canadian Tire has some neat foldable panels, but they don't generate much in the way of watts, don't output the correct voltage, and don't have the correct sort of interface) that can simply be plugged into the existing charging socket. Something that can go into the box at the back (or perhaps under the seat, which currently has lots of room as I don't have the secondary battery, although if I do get the secondary battery this space will probably disappear) would be ideal.

Or, perhaps I should just be a bit more sinister and take advantage of "public" power outlets. Today I spent several hours at a BBQ at a city park, near the outdoor stage. The stage has power outlets for use in staging public music shows, and I could have taken my bike up there after the show this afternoon, plugged it in in a corner, and locked it up (setting the alarm) and just leech my 15 worth of power from the City. I didn't do this, naturally, but the thought did cross my mind (especially as the thought of having to pedal home wandered through my brain. While you can pedal it, in reality the pedals aren't positioned to emphasize optimal body mechanics, and the bike is heavy, and it only has one gear, so pedalling it without the electric motor over long distances isn't particularly enjoyable. Some of the people I met at the e-Bike brigade today have actually removed their pedals altogether, as they simply never use them, but I guess they aren't doing 3 - 4 hour tours like I have been this weekend :P).

I need to take the bike in this week for some minor warrantee maintenance (they told me to come back to get the brake cables tightened, and there seems to be a minor switch malfunction where the emergency off switch won't actually disengage the power when switched off every so often...), so I think I'll pick up the secondary battery then. Anyone have any ideas on the use of solar panels to charge a 48V battery?

Yaz.

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The new YazMobile

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Gas prices here on the island have finally surpassed $1.50/L, thanks in part to the new BC Carbon Tax coming into effect on July 1st (which, FYI, I fully support). As I'm driving a '97 Chevy Lumina V6 Sedan with a 60L gas tank, if I were to drive everywhere our gas budget would be huge. Never mind the fact that parking is pretty expensive at the University. As such, for the past 6 months or so, Gigi and I have been taking the bus whenever we don't need to transport a sufficient quantity of goods (such as doing a big grocery trip). This works for us right now as we're still registered as grad students at the University, and have a bus pass included in our tuition that is significantly cheaper than the usual pass.

The bus, however, isn't exactly a speedy way to get around from our place. You waste a lot of time walking to the nearest bus stop, then waiting for the bus, riding on the bus (as it stops at nearly every stop to let people on or off), transferring to one or more other buses if we're trying to get anywhere more interesting than the University...etc.

I'm finishing up my thesis this month (defending in late August is everything goes well), and have accepted a full-time development job here on the island starting August 5th at a location only about 6km from our place, and so I decided to take a look at alternate forms of transportation. I settled upon and purchased a GWEV Super 8 electric scooter. And let me tell you -- this thing is just so much fun to drive around the city I keep looking for excuses to get out on it. I've been using it between home and the University for the past week, and its significantly faster than the bus, with less expense (or hassles) that driving the car (and nearly as quick so long as I don't have to get on a highway). As the Province of BC classifies it as a Motor Assisted Cycle, it can be driven anywhere you can ride a bicycle, and can be parked anywhere you can park a bicycle. It only costs about 15 to fully charge the battery from empty, and in our case we're not even paying that -- our building management has given us a special underground, secure parking spot next to a concrete support pillar with an electrical outlet for free -- so they're paying for the electricity.

Some people do look at me a bit oddly now and then -- mostly people who mistake it for a gas powered scooter and think I can't park it on sidewalks and such. It's also less than whisper-quiet -- even under power, about all you can hear is the sound of the rubber meeting the pavement.

When I bought it, as the dealership is downtown, Gigi and I went in the Lumina, but as the bike is too big to put into the car, I had to ride it home. The dealership had it fully charged and ready for me, so Gigi and I left at the same time (me on the bike, her in our car). We had a ~6km trip home each -- she taking the roads, and I taking an old railbed which has been converted into a cycling trail through the city. We got home at exactly the same time.

I can't recommend this gem of a vehicle highly enough. Obviously, it's mostly useful in an urban area with good cycling infrastructure (and legislation which permits you to ride it anywhere a bicycle can). I keep looking for excuses to get out and go for a ride, and now that I don't have to worry about paying for parking or the cost of use, I find myself wanting to go downtown more frequently.

Our only issue now is getting one for Gigi so she can join me [0] :).

Yaz.

---
[0] - Technically, the vehicle does have room on the seat and the necessary foot rests for a second passenger, but apparently only children under 12 can ride as a passenger in this configuration. Still, we have tested it and it will physically work, but we're just not up to testing law enforcement on this one. Besides which, we don't have a second helmet for her at this time.

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Re-branding self.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

This summer, I'm expecting to finish up my Masters thesis, and wind up my role as a student in a formal educational environment for many years. Gigi is also finishing off her Masters project, and should be finished with her studies at the same time.

Education has been expensive. I've been fortunate that I've been able to teach some undergraduate courses (I'm teaching a 4th year software engineering course starting May 5th) for income, but with rising food and fuel costs, we barely scrape by. As such, I'm interested in moving straight from school back to the work environment with minimal delay; putting food on the table pretty much requires such. So I've been applying for jobs.

Flashback nine years ago when I finished my undergraduate degree. My initial desire was to do my Masters degree right away. I had just finished releasing the very first feature complete version of the jSyncManager (which is celebrating it's tenth year of development this year, FWIW). However, I also had no less then seven job offers from companies in both Canada and the United States (and took the one offered by IBM Canada, where I worked for nearly 3 years) six months before graduating.

Fast-forward back to today and I've got nothing. I have significantly more experience under my belt (my work at IBM, my time in the Canadian Forces, a consulting gig with the Faculty of Medicine at UBC, three courses worth of University level teaching experience, conferences, publications, four patent applications (with IBM), not to mention nearly a dozen Open Source projects (some obscure, some successful)), but getting my foot in the door anywhere just doesn't seem to be happening.

As such, I'm trying to re-brand myself. My first step is to re-design my personal homepage to be more of an interactive Curriculum Vitae -- a one-stop shop listing my research, publications, patents, teaching experience, work experience, and OSS projects. I'm going to hit my university's Career Services office to see what they can provide.

Has anyone else here gone through the process of self-rebranding? If anyone has and useful insights, please share them below.

Yaz.

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Married, at last.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Gigi and I have been in Istanbul for the past two weeks, and last night, in her parents living room we got married. Huzzah! Honestly, after more than 13 years of first dates (also known as "last dates") ending with "You're nice, but...", I didn't think such a day was ever going to come. But here it is -- now, along with all my other titles and accomplishments, I can now add "Husband".

Mind you, oddly enough our marriage isn't really "official", so we're being quiet about advertising it in some quarters. Our wedding last night was a simple traditional Muslim religious wedding which, while recognized by Gigi's friends, family and surrounding community, isn't legally recognized here in Turkey (and thus, from what I understand, isn't really recognized by Canada either). For the sake of her Canadian Permanent Residency application, we're calling it a "commitment ceremony", and we'll pursue an official wedding in 2009, once her PR is approved (as she can't leave the country while it's in progress).

Still, I feel married. Our series of weddings and receptions and such may not be traditional (in either of our two countries of origin), but it's uniquely ours, and we're pursuing it together, so I couldn't be happier, and am proud to introduce Gigi as my wife and partner for life.

Yaz.

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An Athiests Guide to Ramadan: Day 9

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Well, I've survived through eight full days of my first Ramadan, and so far I've maintained the fast. So this is a quick status report.

First off: I'm freaking hungry! Please, oh please, someone send me some food!

Okay -- that's not exactly fair or accurate. Indeed, our home is chock-full of food right now. The problem right now is that we spend 14 hours not eating or drinking any of it, so most food items are lasting longer than they would otherwise. We have two meals a day -- dinner (which is now at about 1920), and "breakfast" (at around 0430, and really should be renamed from "breakfast" to "gobble-up-all-you-can-cause-the-fast-starts-...now!"). We snack almost constantly in the evening, but because of the fast (no energy during the day or evening (until the first food is mostly digested), and the need to get up early the next day), Gigi likes to go to bed early. So this snacking doesn't last all that long.

Most days I either feel like I'm seriously hungry, or like I'm going to be sick. One morning I felt I was close enough to tossing all my cookies that I stayed in the bathroom for at least half an hour until the urge subsided. And on the days that I don't feel sick, I feel like I'm unable to work on anything requiring any significant concentration (which has been a problem, as I'm supposed to have been working on two papers these past 10 days, one of which is only now 95% complete (and it was at least 85% complete before Ramadan even started), and the other of which I haven't even started. The teaching is working out fine (fortunately) -- in fact it's usually the two times during the daylight hours in the week that I feel my best (as my mind is sufficiently occupied I forget about how hungry or crappy I'm feeling).

Fortunately, my difficulties with Ramadan and the fast haven't affected Gigi and my relationship at all -- even though she's always telling me I should stop the fast, and that I don't have to do it, I know that she's glad we can do it together. Which is really the whole reason why I'm doing this in the first place.

Fortunately (and unfortunately) Gigi is going away to the mainland on a training source all next week. It's unfortunate because I'm going to miss her every moment she's away (and I know she will too), but it's fortunate because I can eat again. There really isn't a whole lot of reason for me to continue while she isn't here.

However, at this point I haven't quite decided wheter I should give up or not. I'm not the type of person to give up on hard things just because it's convenient to do so, and while Gigi tells me she knows I'm not that sort of person, I want her to see it for herself. Still, I need to get some serious work done toward finishing this Masters degree, and being able to take the quiet time when she's not here to concentrate at my fullest to finish off my survey paper (which is written, but I want to improve the conclusion and my use of references in the text), and writing up a new proposal paper (more on this in a future Journal entry) -- and being well fed is integral to thinking clearly and being able to concentrate on the task at hand. So at this point it boils down to whether my practical side or my stubborn side wins out.

Fortunately, for five of the days of the week nobody cares if I sleep in past noon. If Gigi didn't already know better, I'd have to invent some sort of fake Canadian festival/holiday where you're supposed to pull down your pants and slide on a frozen lake in the middle of winter, as a form of revenge ;).

Yaz.

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An Atheists guide to Ramadan: Day 1

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

As those of you who have followed my Journal probably already know, I'm an atheist, and Gigi is Muslim. Beyond the whole God issue, however, Gigi and I perceive the world in much the same way -- she isn't so much religious as she is spiritual. She doesn't pray five times a day (or even once a day) or anything -- she just feels that there is a Supreme Being, it initialized the Universe a long time ago, sent a prophet, sends bad people to hell after they die (and good people to heaven), but otherwise stays out of the affairs of humanity. Some sort of cosmic voyeur I suppose. We've agreed to disagree on the subject, and get along fantastic.

Yesterday was the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Gigi's family back in Turkey has always observed Ramadan (just as my parents have always observed Christmas in a secular way), so she has a cultural attachment to it that I can honour and appreciate.

Now for those of you who don't know, one of the central practises of Ramadan is the fast. From dawn through to the end of dusk, you're not allowed to eat anything (unless you're too young, too old, or your health simply doesn't permit it), you're not allowed to have sexual contact, and you're not allowed to swear or have bad thoughts (at least in the manner in which Gigi and her family practise the holiday). As Gigi practises things, she can't even hug, kiss, or brush her teeth during these times. Of course, once the sun is down the feast begins, and we can stuff ourselves until the sun rises again.

"She" isn't exactly the right word -- what I really mean is "we". I didn't think it was particularly decent of me to be doing any of the things she can't (read: won't) do during the daylight hours: it wouldn't be particularly understanding of me to be eating in front of her 80% of the way through a long day of fasting. So I'm observing Ramadan as well.

We're just finished day one, and here's the basic schedule:

  1. Wake up at 0400: Last chance to eat before the sun comes up. I was up earliest, so I made us a big breakfast. We had to be finished by 0448, and once we were (and after a quick tidy), it was time to...
  2. Go back to bed at ~0500: we were tired. I pretty much didn't sleep at all the night leading up to breakfast, so it was my chance to get some sleep.
  3. Avoid eating, drinking (even water), swearing (something I never do anyway), having sexual contact (difficult when our workplaces are ~10km apart anyhow :P), or having evil thoughts for about 14 hours, until:
  4. Dinner at 1939: Let me tell you, after 14 hours of nothing to eat or drink (with at least a dozen instances of me walking to the 'fridge to pour a cool drink, only to remember I can't do that and head back to my laptop thirsty and dejected), I was ready to pig out. We had a pretty good sized meal (although just prior to working on this post I had to have a bowl of late night cereal because I'm hungry again), but if I'm going to fast all day every day for the next month, I'm going to need dessert of some sort. We didn't have the time (or too many ingredients) to make anything tonight. We are however trying a number of Turkish dishes I've never had before (Gigi found this brilliant website of traditional Turkish dishes, written by a fellow Canadian (and Turk) here, so we're giving them a go. Tonight was "Kadinbudu Kofte", but as we didn't have egg noodles, we did the very, very Canadian thing and substituted Kraft Dinner instead).

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Now the good bit of news: fortunately, as it is September, the days are getting shorter. In fact, every day we start breakfast two minutes later, and dinner two minutes earlier. By the end, we'll be fasting for approximately two hours less than we had to on day one. Whew!

I know I'm a really lucky guy to have Gigi in my life -- she's the sweetest, gentlest, silliest, and most loving entity I've ever encountered, and I'm more than happy to support her during this special time. I know that participating with her means to world to her, so I'm going to keep it up, and refuse to let her down. Still, if I did believe in $SUPREME_DEITY, and if we were also doing the traditional prayers, I can imagine that by the third round of prayers, I'd be praying for $SUPREME_DEITY to send down a truckload of tacos, or maybe some cedar planked salmon or some-such.

So day one is finished. It's just after 0100 local time, Gigi is sleeping soundly, and I'm going to have yet another bite to eat before I join her. The next 28 days are basically going to be repeats of today, but I'll post up any interesting tidbits as we continue.

(And I haven't forgotten about my promised review of the Weird Al Yankovic concert we attended on Tuesday -- I'm still amazed and happy that we got to meet him, shake his hand, and thank him for the amazing show).

Yaz.

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Going to see Al.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Gigi and I are going to see Weird Al tonight. I've been following Al's music and career pretty much since he started issuing albums in the early 80's, but I've never actually been to one of his concerts. Gigi found out about it earlier this summer, we bought tickets right away, but were still only about to get 9 rows from the front, right against one side. Oh well -- I'm still excited, and I still expect it to be a really good show. I was tempted to try to e-mail Al to offer him $5 and a bag of doughnuts if he'd only play Nature Trail to Hell, but figure the guy gets bugged by enough strange people as it is. But here's hoping...;).

Yaz.

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We're getting married!

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Just a quick note to let everyone know -- Gigi and I are getting married!

We were both surprised that, after two months of grumbling, her father gave us permission to wed two weekend ago. So we're starting to make plans. First up has been shopping for an engagement ring -- she's picked out a nice one, and we're just waiting for the diamond we're looking at to arrive (it's in a white gold version of the ring she likes, but if she wants it we'll have them set it in the same model, but in 18K yellow gold/platinum instead).

All of which means I need to get a move on and finish up my research work so I can graduate. We're flying to Istanbul this December for the official engagement ceremony (and I've already bought the airline tickets), and hope to be married July 2008.

So little time, so much to do. I really should be wasting less time here and spending more time writing the papers I've started, but between the engagement, teaching, and trying to get over a nasty summer head cold, and other projects I've been rather busy. But I can't complain -- I've had a lot more money than I do now, but I've never been happier. Isn't the adventure of it all grand sometimes?

Yaz.

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Mini-review: Transformers

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Gigi and I decided to get out and see a movie tonight, and caught "Transformers" on its opening night here in Victoria.

I can't say that I've had a really good time at the movies for a while. It has just taken me 10 minutes to remember the last movie we saw (Pirates of the Caribbean 3), and I have no recollection of what we saw previous to that. Movies have just been so forgettable as of late.

But Transformers was fun. The special effects were top-notch. My main complaints (which don't really detract from the fun factor) are:

  • It was sometimes hard to follow combat sequences due to the fast motion and really short camera sequences.
  • Due to the fast motion, there seems to be motion blur involved with some of the Transformers. I'm not sure if this was intentional, or a side-affect of the cold I'm suffering affecting my visual acuity somehow, and
  • The signals analysis/"hacking" scenes. Yeah, they Hollywooded-up the computer displays and the overall process in a manner only a really hard-core systems nerd would notice is just plain wrong

Something to watch for: the use of Macintosh computers and displays everywhere, and not hiding the fact (I'll note here that other series use a lot of Apple hardware -- the new Doctor Who series being a good example, but in many such cases the Apple logo, especially on laptops, is covered over with a circular sticker). I wonder what Apple paid for that product placement.

Overall, however, we had a lot of fun. It's probably the first movie in a long time that I'd actually be tempted to go and see again, if seeing a movie didn't cost a significant portion of my income (and as it is, Gigi has to see the new Harry Potter movie next week -- we've already bought our tickets for it). I don't buy a lot of movies, but I might be tempted to pick this one up on DVD when it is released.

Yaz.

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Grrr.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

For the past few days, Gigi and I have been completely unable to send e-mail from our Mac laptops at home. Mail.app will try to send messages, but by and large they don't go anywhere. I have been having a certain amount of luck using Gmail's SMTP server, but it's a minor pain to try to send a message from one of my University accounts (which I use for the third year OS course I'm teaching this term), or from my .Mac account (my mail personal account), only to get an error dialog a minute or two later asking me to select a different server. Gigi hasn't been so fortunate -- she can't send anything at all.

Tonight I decided to look into this, and as it turns out, without announcement or fanfare two or three days ago my ISP decided to block all access to external port 25 requests. Thus, I had to try and find alternate ports for my .Mac and University servers. .Mac supports SSL, so that wasn't too hard to find, but the University only lists port 25. After some experimentation trying some SSL and SSL alternate ports, I discovered by chance that they also accept SMTP connections on port 26 (which might be new to allow people around the local cable monopoly's port 25 blocking, in which case they ma not be advertising the new port yet).

In the end, everything is working again. The cable company claims it's being done to try to fight spam, but really it seems to me that if more providers do this, there will be organizations that instead of implementing SSL and authentication for SMTP simply do what the University has done and make the service available on port 26, simply shifting the problem to a different port. And even with SSL and authentication for SMTP, does anyone think its going to be difficult for botnet creators to simply query the necessary connection credentials from Windows users Outlook settings and just use them?

Thanks a smegging bunch-a-roonie, Shaw Cable. You've just caused problems for millions of customers for absolutely nothing.

My box is fixed. Gigi's box will have to wait until tomorrow so I can get her to authenticate so I can change her SMTP settings.

Yaz.

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Do you still use optical media regularly?

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I just finished up a rather large project implementing a robotic blimp. We based the system on at Atmel AT90USB Key device, which is a really flexible little development board with a ton of connectivity. We wired in motors, sonars, a digital compass, and a 2.4Ghz radio. We started off with absolutely no software, so we wrote a Real-time Operating System, device drivers for all the hardware, a protocol stack for the wireless radios, an RS-232 driver, and even an ANSI/VT-100 driver. We built the blimp ourselves (a company donated a massive roll of mylar), and even made our own tool for sealing mylar sheets together.

As you might be able to imagine, this resulted in a lot of output. We wrote tons of documentation, tons of code, had reams of experimental output, and even had a set of digital videos showing various parts of the system in action throughout development (you can see web-friendly versions of them here).

So today, with my team and myself finishing up the last of the documentation, I decided to put it all on a DVD. I grabbed what's left of the spindle of single-sided DVDs, and took them to my G5 in my lab.

I recall my first CD burner -- a 4x4x16 Yamaha SCSI CD-RW drive (I still have it, installed and running in an old machine). Back when I got it in the mid-late 90's, it was just barely on the cusp of becoming a semi-common peripheral. A year or two after I got it, suddenly every computer manufacturer was tripping over themselves to include a CD writer.

These days, the vast majority of systems sold come with CD/DVD burners. They are everywhere. The media has good capacity, and is easily and cheaply available.

And yet today, as I burned the first DVD, I really couldn't remember the last time I had burned a disc. That spindle of DVDs I brought to the lab with me has been in my possession for at least a year and a half, and I'm still not all the way through them.

Thinking about it, I don't have much need for optical media anymore. There are only two cases where they come in useful: burning video DVDs (such as I did today, and burning the occasional MP3 CD for my car MP3 CD player. Both are very infrequent events. For everything else, I use either my laptop, a USB flash key, iPod, or network storage. For files that I need easy access to anywhere, I can put them onto my iDisk. For large capacity, I have a file server with 300GB of storage. Ten years ago I was so excited at being able to store 650MB on a single disc, but now I rarely even use optical media for much of anything (even though I have a dual layer DVD burner at my disposal, and hence can store 8.5GB of data on one disc).

So how about you? Do you burn as many optical discs as you once did, or are removable disc media a rarity in your life as well, supplanted by network storage, USB keys, and iPods?

Yaz.

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Implementing an energy efficient apartment: lighting.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I've been making a very conscious effort since I moved to BC back in 2005 to make my home more energy efficient. To start, I should note that I have things comparatively easy -- Gigi and I are living in a one bedroom apartment. However, as we're on the ground floor, with no balcony, and with a balcony directly above the living room window, with a ~3m cliff wall only about 4m away from and parallel to the windows, we get virtually no direct sunlight, thus artificial lighting is pretty much a must for rooms we're using for tasks that require light (which is pretty much anything short of watching the TV or sleeping).

Shortly after I moved in back in the late summer of 2005, I started my mission to replace every light in here with energy efficient lighting. The first to be replaced were the three frosted glass ceiling lamps -- one in the bedroom, and two in the hall, each taking two bulbs, for a total of 6 bulbs. They had primarily 60W bulbs in them, which I replaced with 13W CF bulbs. I also replaced the light in the range hood with the same 13W CF bulb. Two of these Noma branded bulbs also made their way into a desk lamp that also had a 60W bulb in it, and a table lamp of mine that was designed for a 150W tri-light bulb.

The bathroom required decorator globe lamps, so I bought 4 of these, replacing four 40W incandescents with four 9W vanity bulbs made by Globe.

The dining room has a single-bulb suspended ceiling lamp, which had a 100W globe bulb in it. It's on a dimmer, so I replaced it with a 26W CF bulb from GE. This bulb has since died (well within its 4 year guarantee), and I've replaced it with a really old-style fully enclosed CF bulb I've had for 15 years or so, which I don't know the wattage or manufacturer of (post-preview check: it's an 18W SL-18 lamp from Phillips).

The latest replacement was a 300W halogen torchiere floor lamp. Gigi and I got a great deal on a brand new 55W CF torchiere which, after sale pricing and an instant rebate from the electric utility, cost us $35 (CAN). As there is no built-in lighting in the living room, which is our main lamp -- if someone is home, it's probably on. Switching to CF is probably going to save us roughly $60 a year based on my rough usage calculations, so we're going to hopefully see a net savings from this acquisition pretty fast (and if we can sell the old one for $15, we'll have paid off the lamp in savings in about three months time).

The kitchens main lighting has always been via CF tube lighting. I'm guessing it has two 30W bulbs in it, however as I haven't taken apart the fixture to find out (and probably won't), I don't know for certain.

So, from a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation, we've decreased our energy usage in these lighting fixtures from 1190W down to 234W.

We're not quite finished, however. There are still 5 incandescent bulbs in our apartment:

  • A small 40W desk lamp, that takes a type S bulb,
  • A second halogen floor lamp. This one is smaller, with a flexible head, and is rated for a 20W G4 connector bulb (I can't tell if this is the wattage of the bulb in there, mind you),
  • The lights in the refridgerator and oven, which are standard 40W appliance bulbs, and
  • The current heavyweight, a 250W infrared heat lamp in the bathroom. As the bathroom has no heater of any sort, this built-in ceiling lamp is the heating system. We virtually never use it.

I'd love to replace the 40W desk lamp bulb with an LED bulb, but I have yet to find anywhere where I can buy one with a type S connector. I'd also love to replace the 'fridge bulb, as it is a heat source, so not only does it use more energy than necessary, the bulk of that energy then needs to be used again by the refrigeration system to remove that heat again. But I haven't found a CF or LED appliance bulb anywhere either.

The over light is probably the hardest to replace, as I'd think the temperatures reached in there would be too excessive for most CF ballasts to handle, and would melt the plastic in LED lamps. Besides which, any heat lost is typically useful in this scenario (as rarely is the light ever turned on when the oven isn't in use anyhow).

The heat lamp is probably impossible to replace. The only way I can see any energy savings from it while still allowing it to do it's job would be to find something that emitted more IR light -- even though the bulb is marked "Infrared", it still emits a lot of visible white light (enough that you can use it as the only light in the room if you wanted to). We virtually never use it, so replacing it with something more efficient would mostly be "because we can", rather than for any actual energy savings.

It's been difficult to measure the savings, due to both the staggered deployment over the course of two years, and what with Gigi moving in back in January (someone is now typically home much more often than before, so the lighting is used more often, and the electricity usage has changed). I'm billed 6 times a year, and the last bill would have only included about two weeks of usage of the new torchiere lamp (our single biggest energy saving replacement to date), so the next bill should hopefully be more en-"lightening".

Next in the series: replacing the old mechanical thermostat with a digital setback thermostat (the apartment uses all electric heating). I'm hoping the next bill will show whether or not this has also made an appreciable difference or not to our energy footprint here in Chateau Yaz.

Yaz.

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Best Valentines Ever.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Gather around everyone, for I have a story to tell.

As regular visitors to my irregular /. journal probably recall, I spent last summer working very closely with a woman visiting from Germany (whom in the past I've identified as Rose (not her real name)), together with whom I spent all my social time with outside the office as well, and for whom I was very emotionally attached. You'll also remember the pain I was going through in September after she left.

Let's rewind a bit for a moment, and talk about when she first arrived. She came to Canada knowing nobody here early last March, and I was assigned to show her around. Around the same time, I started dating a woman I had met online, whom we'll call Gigi (not her real name, of course). Gigi and I went out three times, and things were really going well when, without warning, she told me she didn't want to see me anymore. I felt really down, in large part because I had gone through 13 years of first dates which were also last dates. Rose and I were becoming good friends, and she was there for me when I felt really low, with Gigi (apparently) losing interest with no explanation.

Fast forward to the beginning of last October. Feeling depressed having lost Rose, I suddenly get a message from Gigi, to tell me that I was the nicest man she'd ever known, and that she was interested in being friends. Hungry for some companionship (and always having had really liked her), I invited her over for a movie one night in early October.

I expected nothing, but by Thanksgiving weekend a week later (Canadian Thanksgiving, celebrated at the correct time in October :) ), we were officially an item.

Kismet is now making up for lost time. The last 4+ months have been the absolute best in my life. Gigi is an international student (studing for her Masters in a different faculty, so we never bumped into each other at the University at all), with a significantly different cultural background than my own (I'm Canadian, she's Turkish), and when we first got together late last March and hit it off so well, she got somewhat scared, and backed away. However, she had spent the entire summer daydreaming of our short time together. She had never been in a long-term relationship before, and was somewhat scared by the concept, but apparently it grew on her, and I was the guy who was on her mind.

She moved in at the beginning of January, after coming home to Toronto with me for the holidays. Every day since has been domestic bliss. My home is now so full of love and joy that it has completely transformed me. We are hoping to get married for the summer of 2008 (although there are a number of issues for us to deal with to make that happen -- she's not a Canadian citizen (but wants to become one), and she wants to get married in Turkey (so her parents can attend -- they don't have the resources to come to Canada, and don't speak any English)).

Every morning, I wake up, and see her beautiful, peaceful face, and wonder how I went from 13 years of rejection and loneliness to absolute bliss. She does so much for me (as I do for her). I made sure this Valentines Day I gave her all those things I had dreamed of being able to do for all those years (a lot of the cliché things, as she has never had anyone do anything for her for Valentines Day). Every day, I'm so excited to be able to go home.

Including today. I'm at a pretty dull conference right now (I'm here because some people in my research group at speaking here later today, and I'm speaking here tomorrow afternoon. Maybe then I can shake things up ;)), and can't wait to get home and cook her dinner (we don't subscribe to archaic gender roles when it comes to household chores -- I do the vast majority of the cooking, for example).

Every day, I wake up the luckiest man in the world.

Yaz.

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Googlewhacking

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Tonight I needed to get a new pair of pyjamas out, so I dug into the drawer to get a pair of bottoms and an old t-shirt out. Tonights selection is a very old t-shirt I have that was given to me in the early 90's with an image of a painting by Robt. Williams called "The Mystic Rabbitmaster".

I've owned this shirt for a long time, and due to its age it's relegated to pyjama-shirt status. Parts of the image and text are a bit faded, but otherwise it's clean, and the stitching is fine, and there are no holes of any sort, so it suffices for the task.

However, in the 15+ years I've owned it, I never really knew anything about the painting or the artist. It was given to me as an impromptu gift (someone gave it to the general manager of the company I was working for at the time, and he gave it to me). So tonight, putting it on, I decided to see if I could learn anything about the painting and the artist in question.

So I typed in "Mystic Rabbitmaster" into Google, and it spat out one result. There are no pictures online unfortunately (at least not anywhere I can find), and no other information about the painting other than the fact that it was included in a card collection called "Crimes Against the Eye". The artists name, painting title, Colloquial title, and Museum Catalog Title are all printed on the back of the shirt (as apparently they were printed on the backs of the cards).

I always find it interesting in this day and age when I type something into Google and find one (or no) results at all. It's rare, but it's always interesting to find those corners of the realm of data that aren't online.

Yaz.

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Vista Experiment, Stage 1: Vista Upgrade Advisor

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Okay, so it took me a bit longer than I had expected, but I got home a bit early today, my SO isn't home (SO? WTF? Yeah -- I'm saving that for another journal entry one of these days. Sorry gang!), so I decided to sit down and get the Vista install rolling.

I popped in the DVD, and the first thing it prompted me to do is to check and see if my system is Vista compatible. So I started it up, only to discover than instead of starting the upgrade advisor as I had expected, it started Firefox instead so I could download the advisor. There are nearly 2GB of free space on the Vista Business Edition DVD -- why couldn't they put the program on the disc itself?

Anyhow, a minor PITA, but not worth complaining about too much. I'm more interested in the results. So after running for 10 minutes or so (WTF was it doing???), the results have popped up. I haven't read them yet (I figured I'd get this journal entry started), so I'm interested to see what it has to say.

System Requirements
  • Before you upgrade to Windows Vista, there are some system issues you need to address on this computer (2).
  • Some system issues might prevent you from using all of the features in this edition of Windows Vista (1).
Devices
We recommend you review your device issues (1).
Programs
We recommend you review your program issues

Hmmm. Sounds a bit ominous. Let's see what the issues are:

  • CPU: The upgrade advisor recommends a minimum 800Mhz CPU.
  • RAM: The upgrade advisor recommends a minimum 512MB of RAM
  • Free hard disk space: I can't upgrade from XP, because the boot drive is only 9.1GB, with only 3.8GB free, and Vista requires 15GB (15GB!!!). It does say I can install to drive G:, mind you, which has 40GB of free space.
  • Video Card: It won't run Aero. I wasn't expecting it would.

So, Vista Upgrade Advisor basically recommends I need a whole new system. Let's see what else it says:

  • ATI 3D Rage Pro AGP 2x: Not supported.
  • Jungo WinDriver: Not supported. I'm not sure what this is, but I think it was installed as part of the Iomega parallel Zip-100 drivers I installed, which...
  • Iomega Legacy Parallel Port Drive ...is also not supported!
  • Macronix-based Ethernet Adapter: Not supported.
  • Sound Blaster 16: Not supported.

What on this system is supported?

  • Intel Master IDE Controller
  • Intel PCI to USB Universal Host Controller
  • LSI Logic Device (my UW-SCSI adapter)

So, looking at all of this, my CPU, RAM, video card, ethernet adapter, audio card, and old Zip drive aren't supported. I don't care about the Zip drive (I hooked it up to see if it still works), but it's hard to run a system with no video card or ethernet card. On the bright side, if all I wanted to do was run SCSI and USB devices apparently I'm golden (with the problem of CPU and RAM being insufficient, mind you).

Okay, so this looks like a bust, and perhaps an end to the experiment. But let's look at the rest anyhow:
Programs:

  • J2SE Runtime v1.5 may have minor compatibility problems after the upgrade,
  • Windows Messenger may have minor compatibility problems after the upgrade (huh?)

So, there it is. The experiment might just die right here. I might try to see if I can image the XP drive somehow and try the installation anyways, but the advice from the Vista Upgrade Advisor certainly isn't all that rosy. Not that I was expecting great things to start with, but as this system does run XXP, I figured it should also run Vista with all of the extra video eye-candy turned off. This system runs XP and Ubuntu just fine (well, it installs and runs Ubuntu fine if I give up one of my drives -- the installer doesn't like the fact that I have both SCSI and IDE drives in it).

Fortunately, my computing life doesn't depend on Windows, and doesn't depend on this machine. So for now it will stay an XP machine for those times when I need to do Atmel microcontroller development, and I'll be happy doing the rest of my work on the shineyness Mac OS X Tiger (which has had those fancy video effects and GPU-offload features for more than 3 years now).

Yaz.

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Experiment: Vista on an old PC.

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Well, my University's MSDN Academic Alliance finally put Vista available for download the other day, so I grabbed a license, downloaded the Business Edition DVD, and will be installing it later tonight. The catch? I'm a Mac guy, but do still have a few PC's laying around, one of which has been running Windows XP SP2 for the last few months. And that system is a P3-450 box from the late 90's.

Here's the hardware:

  • Pentium-3, 450Mhz
  • 384MB RAM
  • 8MB ATI Rage Pro (AGP)
  • Symbios-based UW-SCSI adapter
  • 9.1GB UW-SCSI HDD
  • 40GB IDE drive
  • Sound Blaster 16 with WaveBlaster (ISA!)
  • 2.88MB floppy, 1.44MB floppy, DVD-ROM, CD-RW, and parallel Zip-100 drives

Now back in the day, this was one rather impressive machine. Lots of drives, and a very fast primary hard drive. Today, however, it doesn't really have much going for it. My laptop is three years old, and has a 1.33Ghz processor and 1.25GB of RAM, and an 80GB hard drive.

A bit about the current software installation (as I'm intending to do an "upgrade" installation first): XP was installed for one reason only: to run some Atmel microprocessor development tools for their AT90USB device. As such, the system has the following installed on it (and nothing else):

  • XP SP2 with all the latest updates
  • IE7
  • Microsoft Windows Defender
  • Windows Media Player 11
  • Firefox 2.0
  • Open Office 2.0
  • Atmel Studio and FLiP
  • Grisoft AVG Free anti-virus
  • TortiseSVN

That's it. Most of this software has never been used, and almost every other piece of junk XP installed has been removed (like Outlook). I've never run OpenOffice on the machine, nor have I ever run Windows Media Player. IE7 has only been used for Windows Update. I don't use the system to surf the web -- Firefox is just used to read some HTML-based documentation for the hardware I've been coding against.

As such, this is a pretty pristine Windows XP install. It was installed from a clean drive (previously the system was a Debian box, but Debian and Ubuntu both started to have serious issues with the UW-SCSI drive when I installed the 40GB IDE drive). This XP system is probably going to be a whole lot cleaner than 99% of the XP systems Vista would be installed over.

I'm not expecting Aero to run (of course), but I'm curious to see how it performs otherwise. I don't know if the Atmel tools will work on Vista, and I'm interested to see how other items react. Will the system thrash due to only 384MB of RAM? Will other, non-Aero effects run slowly due to the 450Mhz processor? Will this near pristine XP system upgrade cleanly?

I don't care to run Vista -- I think Microsoft's software design is terrible. I don't like anything they've produced since "Decathalon" for the original IBM PC. But I am curious to find out if things are going to be as bad for old PC owners as some people seem to think. I'm not going to complain if my old system won't support some of the more fancy aspects of Vista -- but will it continue to work as a workstation for my microcontroller programming projects, and some basic web browsing?

Stay tuned. I'm burning the DVD tonight, and will be installing it within the next few days (as time permits).

Yaz.

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Did you notice what was missing in today's keynote?

Yaztromo Yaztromo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

While everyone is excited and talking about the products Steve Jobs announced today (the iPhone -- and I'm excited about it myself), nobody seems to be talking much about what wasn't announced: a new iLife Suite for 2007. iLife has been announced at MacWorld each of the last 3 years, and most people felt this was a slam-dunk prediction.

Maybe they want to integrate new features into the 2007 edition that work specifically with Leopard, and that we'll hear about it when Leopard is launched in the new few months.

Yaz.

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