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The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

ansak Re:I genuinely cannot remember... (196 comments)

You wrote:

>It doesn't make it clear if it means Canadian dollars or Australian ones, and that would make the value different.

Actually, it's safest to assume that slashdot thinks in US$ -- like all the ads we Canucks get from below 49. And oddly enough, in the current market, A$, C$, US$ and NZ$ are about as close to each other as I remember ever having seen them. You have to hit the Fijian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar or Namibian Dollar to get really wild fluctuations.

about 2 months ago

The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

ansak Re:Colored Incandescent Bulb (196 comments)

If a coal plant breaks, it does not do so in my home. It does not spill its mercury in my rug from which the best cleanup manuals seem to imply it can never quite be removed as a long term environmental toxin.

CFLs are the new "Green Run" and the LEDs are only getting better and better, in my insufficiently humble opinion.

about 2 months ago

Water Filtration With a Tree Branch

ansak The article refers to an article with pictures (205 comments)

The article quoted above points to a paper that has some diagrams that shows how water would go through a branch -- no hoax here.

In brief, find a stalk of sappy wood -- my Dad showed us every spring how to make a whistle out of alder branches that look what the picture shows -- peel it, whittle it to size and then plug it into the end of a tube and gravity feed water through it.


about 6 months ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

ansak Re:Compromise? (2219 comments)

Mod funny, no? I don't find it funny because it's devolution into plutocracy. bmajik's "A tale of two forums" reply in this subject has the right idea. the internet routes around defects...ank

about 7 months ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

ansak Re:Why? (2219 comments)

because we still care enough about the community to want to make it better, even if we're powerless to do so.

about 7 months ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

ansak Classic /. didn't do AJAX, did it? (2219 comments)

I was under the impression that truly Classic Slashdot pre-dates AJAX by several years. If it's doing AJAX, it isn't "Classic" to anyone with a less-than-six-digit user ID, I'm afraid.

about 7 months ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

ansak "Classic /. isn't going away until..." (2219 comments)

It's that until that scares me. You had me at "Most importantly, we want you to know that Classic Slashdot isn't going away." Everything after that clause -- and everything else in the post told me loud and clear that my opinion doesn't really matter. Thanks for the clarity.

about 7 months ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

ansak 1997's redesign an improvement? I can't remember. (2219 comments)

What I do remember is being disappointed by every single redesign that I noticed as they happened. If you ask me, make everything feature-for-feature compatible with the pre-1997 design, write sanity tests that enforce that compatibility and then start innovating.

about 7 months ago

Office Space: TV Documentary Looks At the Dreadful Open Office

ansak PBS -- CBC -- BBC (314 comments)

The CBC is almost like PBS without the begging. That's because (a) it gets a certain amount of money from government and (b) it actually runs commercials.

Its funding base was never as secure as that of the BBC (which used to be entirely funded from Television licenses) but once upon a time Canada used to practice "Universality" (not socialism, just good-neighbourliness) and living in a town in the 60s where the only available media was CBC (the then-equivalent of Radio 1 and CBC TV), we were thankful that their funding was stable and that they weren't an outright organ of any government.

As I said, it used to get a lot more money from the government than it does now, but thanks to Reagan-Thatcher-Murdoch and their local toad-in-Canada (Brian Mulroney) these moneys have shrunk, not quite to insignificance but substantially. Our current RTM-toad, Stephen Harper, has been cutting this cash still further -- along with his near Koch-like commitment to small government, this is also thought to be in revenge for the voice the CBC gave to folks from Ontario who were scared of him. (as his behaviour in office shows that they were right to be)

But other than a tendency to idolize Barbara Frum (skewer question) and Peter Gzowski (friendly to the point of deferential) too much, it still produces stuff like this.

Peace, Order and Good Governance forever! ...ank

about 7 months ago

Mystery of FBI Documents Posted To US Press In 1971 Solved

ansak Individuals mattered then, matter now (108 comments)

This story is a tribute to the enduring ability of the small actions of individuals to effect real change. What opportunities are we all missing because we've already decided that it's just too hard? Let imaginations run wilder once more!


about 8 months ago

Oracle Discontinues Free Java Time Zone Updates

ansak The database is called "Olson", you find it here (405 comments)

I clearly hadn't read more than the first few lines of the help on Java TimeZone info or I could have found out that the answer was already there, without having to wait for it. As another poster pointed out IBM already provides free Java timezone updates.

Let me google that for you! But more to the point, writing a tool that will grab those updates for yourself and storing it where you need it looks like a bash script or batch file candidate. Our brains are more than a match for Oracle's bean counters. Let's use them!


about a year ago

Oracle Discontinues Free Java Time Zone Updates

ansak Re:IBM to the rescue (405 comments)

I've never heard the name Olson before in relation to timezone updates. Thanks for the enlightenment but yes, this article was at least a little bit necessary, if not as earth shattering as an approaching asteroid.


about a year ago

Oracle Discontinues Free Java Time Zone Updates

ansak What to do... (405 comments)

So, who is surprised by Oracle's move here? Nobody with a eyes and a brain. Oracle just doesn't know what to do with a community.
Does this make Microsoft or C# look so great? No way! They started out less free than Oracle is now and haven't really changed.
Why do I develop in Java (I also know C, C++ [and the assembler code they generate], Python, SQL [MS and non-MS dialects] -- so why choose Java?)? Because I want to write programs for my slightly less shackled Android phone.
And the next plan of action is...?

There are a bunch of options... for starters, google the problem. Next, just wait: some bright spark will put out a tool that uses local time zone info (configurable) to update some Java installation's (configurable) idea of time zones automatically (or not, configurable).

It happened with MySQL, it'll happen with Java. "The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

Douglas Adams' fictional book cover still has the right initial instruction: "Don't Panic!"


about a year ago

Best reader-submitted /. logo of October 2012?

ansak I voted some other (137 comments)

If you must have a pong, Heiko Selber's honourable mention beats Piotr Dabrowski's hands down, in my opinion -- yours is pretty classy Piotr but I prefer the full field, myself (same reason I detest tablet-ized interfaces).

But I don't think the logo should go crazy on sideways references; hence I cannot vote for any of the other "presented" options. My top 6 are, therefore, #1, #7 and #9 from the accepted list, and Pocholo Peralta's, Erik Berglund's and Pete Mendoza's honourable mention entries.

* #1 refers to these polls, a strong feature of slashdot from so long ago that it might as well be the beginning.
* #7 has classic lines and is self-referential to its topic
* #9 is almost Matrix-y and ASCII-art-ish without being a 100% send-up of either
* I preferred Pocholo Peralta's logo over Sean Murphy's #31 because I view animated graphics, generally, as abominable. This works in the 15th anniversary theme tastefully and effectively.
* Erik Berglund's logo embodies slashdot's quirky take on everything -- give it a twist!
* I like Pete Mendoza's contribution for the same reason I prefer #7 to the ones to vote for. I'm disappointed that nobody used the default Slashdot logo font in the same way, actually.

I think I'd have to vote for #1, as much as anything because I can suffix my vote with

you insensitive clod...ank

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Position To Work For Long Hours?

ansak No RSI hint #1: Don't use the mouse (262 comments)

In 27 years of professional software development I have watched numerous co-workers succumb to various RSIs, require ergonomic keyboards just to be able to bear the pain of working. The one difference I notice between me and these unfortunate folks is this: I avoid using the mouse.

I use keyboard shortcuts, I prefer a text editor that allows me to do everything including navigating from a standard QWERTY keyboard (in my case, the One True Editor, vim but there are other options -- I've also used BRIEF, OS-9's stylograph and IBM's Personal Editor in my time). Hot-keys, short-cut keys, accelerators, anything that keeps my hands on home row have been my safeguard.

It's also fair to say that I have been playing piano since I was 5 but I still think that "stay away from the mouse" is the best advice anyone will give you.


about 2 years ago

Most Useful Scripting Language To Learn?

ansak The one you don't know yet... (477 comments)

Because when you learn it you may gain a whole new way of looking at the languages you already know.


about 2 years ago

Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly?

ansak good point! - Mod parent up (370 comments)

If someone thinks wikipedia looks so ugly, let them do the hard work of designing new CSS suites for what they think should look great

more than 2 years ago

New Analyst Report Calls Agile a Scam, Says It's An Easy Out For Lazy Devs

ansak mod-up parent (491 comments)

especially "...if you can't hold a developer for five years, then you have a morale problem that will cause pain..."

never said a truer word. even difficult legacy code can be endured if the company has no systemic negative morale factors.


more than 2 years ago

Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly?

ansak Re:Simple is beautiful -- just not on a tablet (370 comments)

Sorry... just to be clear "This kind of comment" was referring to the question, "Why is Wikipedia so ugly?", not to parent. I agree with parent 100% and more.


more than 2 years ago



Google interface becoming evil

ansak ansak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ansak writes "Google has adopted a Mystery Meat interface with the disappearance, on the main search page, of the banner giving what to search for. Now it's hidden behind that big Google icon in the top left corner. This downgrade and the chaos being caused in the new look GMail interface is the beginning of the end for Google as it begins to foist things on users like Facebook does. A tablet-friendly appearance should be served up on tablets only."
Link to Original Source

MSoft-backed Group Delay Patent Purchase

ansak ansak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

ansak (80421) writes "After wondering what was the good of it all a few weeks ago, the latest over at groklaw points out that the purchase of Novell's 882 patents to a Microsoft-backed consortium is on hold, at least briefly. One commenter suggests an Ubuntu update that makes any user of Ubuntu an automatic member of OIN before the deadline (which will now go beyond the 19th of January, apparently), thus protecting at least those users from patent troubles."
Link to Original Source

Poll question suggestion

ansak ansak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

ansak (80421) writes "Julian Assange, also known as:

* Osama bin Data
* 21st century Dreyfus
* John Brown's Data
* neo-Rosa Diplomatic Parks
* Private Ryan Cable
* Cowboy Neal's long lost twin brother

I know. It's a silly poll. You guys can probably make it better."

Cringely vanishes

ansak ansak writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ansak writes "Cringely's pulpit seems to have disappeared from This may just be a network glitch — but an intrepid reporter might be the first at the Scene of a Scoop..."



ansak ansak writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I submit here, a letter I wrote to a functionary at RBC customer services after talking with several of those nice (but harried-sounding) folks at 1-800-ROYAL-40 (the individual's name is changed -- if you want to talk to him/her, get there yourself...)

Subject: CRC -

Good day, Ms. Jones.

First of all thanks for your time this morning and for your commitment to try to forward this to the right people. I'll do my best here to stick to the facts, the substantive, the things that are in our common interest.

Ultimately, the thing that brings this back to the Royal Bank of Canada's interest are the comments being made by "geeks" on slashdot when it became clear that RBC was a major stake-holder (with Baystar Investments) of a bond issue from SCO Group (NASDAQ:SCOX).

The main report of the story begins here:

(slashdot url to "Is Microsoft Behind SCO's" story)
(that URL should be all on one line -- I recommend NOT reading any of the comments marked -1,Offtopic or -1,Troll. There are a lot of rude people posting to that site but the self-management of their excesses tends to manage things okay.)

This article referenced an article in eweek:,4149,1356718,00.asp which detailed RBC's involvement in the placement of a $50,000,000 bond issue with SCOX.

Plenty of angry comments can be found by looking for "Royal" or "RBC", but I offer a couple of samples (of several dozen such):

        "Thanks for the info eweek, I was about to open a bank account there."

        "I have been a RBC client for 27 years (my parents opened the account the year I was born). Recently, I have been thinking of switching to the TD bank (for the simple reason that TD is open on Saturdays). Now I will definitely switch."

The reasons for this wrath may be a little hard to grasp for those not technically inclined. It all turns on some minutiae, but for the not-so-faint-of-heart, I would recommend clicking on the "globe with a C imposed on it" icon and clicking "Next xx matches" until a story titled "SCO Group Lawsuit Q&A" shows up on the list. And then work your way back -- sorry, this story has been going on for the last eight months so there're quite a few of them. Close inspection of the -stories-, not necessarily all the comments (some of them are just plain noise), will make the whole scene much clearer.

A three-sentence precis of the case is this:

A company with a dying business model (SCO) is suing a company that's prospering through rolling with innovation (IBM) for an exorbitant amount of money (initially $1b now $3b) based on claims which they refuse to substantiate in public.

The claims revolve around IP and contracts and an Operating System largely written and maintained by volunteers (Linux) and if the judge who hears the case doesn't understand the issues could very well make those volunteers and their customers (they sell their services, not the software they write) liable to the plaintiff, as well.

The suit itself closely resembles the AT&T vs. BSD action which froze development of the Berkely dialects of Unix for several years and in which the plaintiff suffered serious loss because it came out that the plaintiff, not the defendent was the perpetrator of tortable actions.

An additional point that's also worth bringing up, since the Royal Bank's web servers are running AIX (public knowledge through examination of the strings your web-servers return to a text-based connection), and since SCO claims to have revoked IBM's license to sell AIX, investing in SCO in this fashion is betting against the legitimacy of the Royal Bank's own choices for e-commerce deployment, as someone on slashdot also pointed out:

        Has anyone told the Royal Bank what they've let themselves in for?

        The site is running IBM_HTTP_SERVER on AIX. [see]

Why am I speaking up?

* I'm a customer -- if you do "stupid" and "immoral" things with your money, eventually it'll cause me problems, too. In this case, I expect the end result to be for SCO executives to be charged and found guilty with stock "pump-and-dump"-style fraud (like Enron, HealthSouth, MCI WorldCom, Tyco etc.). The Royal Bank's status as a "most spected corporation" is likely to suffer if associated even remotely with this lot.

* I don't know enough to keep my mouth shut but I want to say something clearly, politely and in ways that might make someone look at the thing on its merits, not on its hypes. And I probably understand the technical sides of some of these issues as much better than the economic ones as the economists who are making the call to do the investment understand the economic issues much better than the technical ones.

* There are moral issues here, but nearly such strong ones as the causes of world hunger or the use of mis-guided military means for honourable ends. Still a moral issue requires a moral response. It was one more way I "couldn't keep my mouth shut."

In any event, thanks for listening, thanks for your time, and whomever you may end up forwarding this to.


Me + contact info
RBC customer since 1977


ansak ansak writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Let me just quote a song that's touched me once again, as it always does, with its deep passion and bivalence. This from Bruce Cockburn, on Charity of Night:

Live On My Mind (6:46)

See you standing in the door against the dark
Fireflies around you like a crown of sparks
You blow me a kiss that blurs my vision
Blurs the human condition

You're the ocean ringing in my brain
You are my island ripe with cane
Catch the scent of strange flowers when you pass
Fluid motion like the wind in grass

It's your eyes I want to see
Looking into mine
Got you live on my mind
All the time

Light me like incense in the night
Light me like a candle burning bright
Light me like a searchlight in the sky
Time means nothing when I look in your eyes

It's your eyes I want to see
Looking into mine
Got you live on my mind
All the time

MAUI ?/1/93

Ten years on. Still relevant. "Pay attention to the poet, you need him and you know it..."

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