Glad I didn't want to use Aero Glass anyway ...

Microsoft Watch has found a rather interesting bug in test builds of Microsoft's new Vista operating system:
Among the wrinkles still to be ironed out of Microsoft's Windows Vista before the long-awaited client operating system goes gold is the tendency of Vista's shiny new "glass" UI to balk at Java-based applications.

In eWEEK Labs' Vista tests, most recently with the post-RC1 Build 5728, Aero Glass has reverted to the sans-translucence, sans-3D effects, plain old Aero interface each time we've launched a Java-based client application.

Hmm ... so does this mean if I run a command line program for my Java homework, it won't work? Or does it just apply to programs with a GUI? Very odd in any case. One would think that someone would have fixed this earlier ... they're supposed to be sending final code to enterprise customers in about two months.

45% WHAT!?!?! That's nearly half!

Wow ... I just read that some estimates say that 45% of adults in New Brunswick cannot read at an acceptable level (4th paragraph of this article) And we wonder why all the youth are leaving ... if the adults currently working the jobs in NB can't read well, literacy is obviously not a requirement for their jobs ... and if basic literacy isn't a requirement for such a significant portion of the New Brunswick job market, local youth who are more educated are over-qualified for so many of the jobs in their home province, and thus go looking elsewhere for a job suited to their qualifications. In related news, New Brunswick's death rate has surpassed its birth rate - combined with the outflow of workers West, the population is declining rather rapidly. Good luck Shawn Graham, and your next few successors as well - we need a new economy here.


Commercialism Everywhere

Intel is working on an ad format for its Viiv (rhymes with five, not leave) platform. That means that if it ever becomes popular, your expensive media PC and large screen TV can be used to ... serve you more ads! Yay! I mean, we obviously don't see enough already ... In addition, you know they'll be really annoying, because the company Intel is working with on this is the same one that gave us the McDonald's "I'm lovin' it " campaign. Yet one more reason not to watch TV.


BREAKING NEWS - Military Coup in Thailand

Though there isn't much news out yet (and may not be for a while - the press has been locked down) there has been a military coup in Thailand. Without firing, a leading army general has occupied the capital, suspended the constitution, and set up martial law. The organization forming the government is known as the "Council of Administrative Reform", and pledges alliegience to the king. They claim they intend to hand power back to the people and re-establish democracy in short order, once they have re-written the constitution to de-emphasize the executive branch, the powers of which they claim the deposed Prime Minister abused. The burning question in this situation is whether or not the PM had a true mandate to govern. His party had swept the last three elections with massive support, but the opposition parties had boycotted the last election, and no Parliament had been set up, as another election was pending. There had also been massive rioting in Bankok (the capital) leading up to the coup against his party, which is popular primarily in rural areas. This is a situation worth watching, as we have yet to see whether what just occured is the removal of an over-reaching Prime Minister, or a power grab by the King (who is personally quite popular).

Fallout from the Provincial Election

Ok, the big NB provincial election is over, and besides the fact that a different party is in power, not much seems different. The NDP are toast (remember, you heard it here first :-) ) - they did not win a single seat, and the leader, Allison Brewer, was not even in contention for her riding of Fredericton-Lincoln with 17% of the popular vote. She plans to stay on as leader, but I still expect, barring any major event, that the New Brunswick NDP will wither and fold within the next three elections.
In more main sections of the news, the results of this election are almost the reverse of the last results, in 2003. Though the Tories got slightly more of the popular vote, the Liberals won a small majority of the seats, 29 to 26. Their election campaigns were quite similar though, so it shouldn't make much difference to the average citizen. Students, however, should be happy, as Liberal leader Shawn Graham pledged quite a bit of money to education, including a $2,000 bursary to first-year university students. Other election pledges were a 3.8cent/Litre cut to the provincial gas tax, money for Saint John harbour cleanup, and a more generous support formula for nursing home residents.
The main pieces of news from the PC party is that speculation of a move to federal politics for leader Bernard Lord has been re-opened, now that he is no longer Premier. He says this will be a family decision, and also that he will consult his (slightly reduced) caucus. Also, former Speaker Tanker Malley is out. Apparently the constituents of his Miramichi-Bay du Vin riding decided that his theatrics in the last legislature were more for the benefit of the former-bus-drivers-turned-MLA's in his riding than for the good of the general population. Good for them.


The longest undefended border in the world?

I found a little piece of news today - apparently, the US House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for a security fence on their border with Mexico, and another on the northern Canadian border. If the Senate and the President ratified that bill without removing that provision, we would no longer have the longest undefended border in the world, as there'd be a fence across it. It won't likely pass, but its worth watching.


Del Spooner v. 1.0

I found a neat article on PCMag.com about a bionic arm that has been made that can sense nerve signals and convert them into the appropriate movement - it still has a way to go before we get the bionic arm of Will Smith's character from I, Robot , but its a start.


The Pope is a Wise Man

Pope Benedict XVI made a speech today on the impacts of secularization on religion. He seems to be right - the biggest threat to religion today is those who believe that all truth can be found scientifically, which rules out religion, which is, by nature, supernatural and not subject to scientific examination. I've posted some excerpts of his speech here: (from the fine folks at the International Herald Tribune)
"Put simply, we are no longer able to hear God - there are too many frequencies filling our ears," he told the crowd at a former airport on the outskirts of this city where he once served as archbishop. "What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited for our age."
"People in Africa and Asia admire our scientific and technical prowess, but at the same time they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision,"
"They do not see the real threat to their identity in the Christian faith," he said, "but in the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom and that holds up utility as the supreme moral criterion for the future of scientific research."

New WTC Design

They just released the new tower designs for the World Trade Center site in NYC - its good to see they are starting to fill in the skyline again - and the new designs look modern and recognizable. I'd say this is a good thing.

--[Editor's note: I tried to post a picture of this, but the computer was being uncooperative - just click the link and view the original article if you want to see]

Microsoft Playing Hardball with the EU

Ahh ... Microsoft and its legal troubles - its doing a monopolistic thing now, and getting back at the European Union for its pesky anti-trust regulations by threatening a late European release date for its upcoming Windows Vista operating system. This late release date is, of course, to make sure that their operating system doesn't include any features that would constitute an uncompetitive use of their OS monopoly. Of course, this won't help the situation any - its annoying enough to make the government mad, but not enough of a lever to change the situation. I see yet more sanctions coming.

Microsoft Market Grab

In other Microsoft news, they are selling their Xbox 360 console at a deeply discounted rate in Japan, in an attempt to increase their market share in the country, where their first Xbox was trounced by the rival SonyPlayStation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube systems. I wonder how much per system they're losing on these discounts?

Freaky Tech Fashion

Shaw Kaake, a Chinese electronics buff, has created a strange merger between electronics and fashion. The Egokast is a video screen belt buckle, designed to play random film clips and/or loops as a conversation starter. Very strange - the designer's main caution was "Some people might be a little uncomfortable with everyone looking at their belt. It's sort of an unusual place for people to be staring at."

Poll: Do Computer Geeks Hate Computers?

Hey folks - I just finished setting up my first wireless network, and the experience was frustrating enough to further convince me that my theory "All Computer Geeks Secretly Hate Computers" is true. So, seeing as I know a few more computer geeks now, I'd like to ask you guys what you think of my theory. Please weigh in in the comments. Thanks,


The NDP are Toast, Part II

As a follow up to my previous post about the state of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party's election prospects, I'd like to add another article I found today. Allison Brewer, the new leader of the party, will not participate in the French language TV debate. She is not fluent in French, and asked to be allowed to participate using simultaneous translation, but was denied. New Brunswick has a large francophone population, and this development will severely damage the NDP's chances in any francophone dominated ridings. If she cannot speak French, it limits her appeal to francophone voters, because how can she truly be expected to understand their issues if she can't understand their language? As well, if no one sees her at the debate, her already scanty press coverage (due in part to there not being much news to cover) will become even less, limiting the number of people she can reach with her platform. All in all, more bad news for the NDP.


In a tragic, but not completely unexpected event, Steve Irwin, "the Crocodile Hunter" is dead following a stingray's barb piercing his heart while he was shooting a documentary. He will be greatly missed in Australia, but people have seen this coming for years, as he would pick a dangerous animal (snakes, crocodiles, ect.) tell the viewers "this is the wrong way to handle this animal, it is highly dangerous" and then proceed to do it anyway ... Rest in peace, mate.

Maclean's University Survey Failing

I just started my first week at my new school, the University of New Brunswick, and I was e-mailed a message that UNB is following many other schools in pulling out of the annual Maclean's university survey. The survey is a tool that has been used to rank Canadian universities for years, and is (was?) fairly well regarded by potential students. This has changed with the large scale university pullout - the school's main beefs are that the rankings are general for the entire school, instead of focusing on faculty, and inaccuracies in statistics gathering (small sample sizes for instance). Generalizing would work better in America, but in Canada you tend to apply more to the faculty more than you apply to the school (my acceptance letters all read along the lines of "The faculty of Computer Science is pleased to welcome you to [insert school here]), leading to an inaccurate picture of the school. These schools are not just angry at being low on the lists either. The University of Toronto, one of the first to withdraw, was ranked first in its category in last year's survey. (Interestingly, Maclean's still has links to the university ranking pages on its homepage)

Roughly half of the universities included in the last survey have withdrawn, listed here with their rankings (by number of schools in their classification - eg. 3/11 for the third ranked school of eleven - there are some ties) in the last survey: University of Toronto (1/15), McMaster University (11/15), University of Ottawa (12/15), University of British Columbia (4/15), Simon Fraser University (3/11), University of Alberta (6/15), University of Calgary (14/15), University of Lethbridge (13/21), University of Manitoba (15/15), l'Universiti de Montrial (7/15), Dalhousie University (13/15), Brandon University (16/21), Brock University (14/21), Laurentian University (19/21), l'Universiti de Moncton (15/21), Trent University (8/21), Carleton University (8/11), Concordia University (8/11), Queen's University (5/15), University of Windsor (11/11), York University (10/11), University of Western Ontario (not sure), and University of New Brunswick (7/11).


Under Construction

If any of you use the "Labels" feature, I just completely overhauled it ... I have a tendancy to endlessly tweak things, but that pane (now named Sections) should stay pretty much the same from now on, because its getting really tedious to edit all the posts one by one to change the labeling scheme. If you are looking for any older posts, you can still use the archives (I haven't changed those) or the search box at the top. Thats all the changes for now though, so you can rest easy ;-)

University Funding

I was reading an article how Shawn Graham, leader of the provincial Liberals, is promising a $2,000 grant to first-year undergraduate university students, starting this month!!! I hope they win and do that - no government, at any level, does all that much for university students, so it would be a welcome change. We need it, given that tuition rates are still outpacing inflation - they rose 5.8% this year in New Brunswick, to an average of $5,328 a year for undergraduates - both those numbers, by the way, are the second-highest of all the provinces. (That article is worth reading, and has quite a few interesting statistics)

The Provincial NDP are Toast

Well, there is a provincial election going on here in New Brunswick, so I figure I should weigh in on it. It is early in the campaign yet, and not much has happened, but I can already tell, that, without Elizabeth Weir, the NDP are done. Their new leader, Allison Brewer, has had plenty of time to prepare for an election since she was raised, and yet was (and still is) behind the Liberals and the Tories in releasing her party's platform. She has spent most of her time stumping in her own riding as well, focusing on getting herself elected over her parties goals. Admittedly, she needs to get into office, but without a strong party vision, she may have trouble with that (especially because the other parties are running a very strongly leader-focused campaign). On top of this, the NDP is not even able to run candidates in all 55 ridings. I'm no political science expert, but even an armchair politics-watcher should be smelling the blood in the water. My prediction: the NDP have one of the worst showings in their party history in terms of popular vote, do not elect a single MLA, and fold soon afterward. They were, for all intents and purposes, a one-woman party under Ms. Weir, and her successor does not have the personality to pull off a similar feat. We shall see


Bad Advertising Idea of the Day

I was reading an article about a new portable media player soon to come out called the "Gravel In Pocket" Did no one think that the acronym for their system is now "GIP"? This is even worse than Windows Media Player, aka WMP (pronounced "wimp" if you're in a hurry).