Small News

If any of you use iGoogle, they've updated their theme selection - there still isn't a good selection of styles, but there are more options now (the Solar System theme looks neat). Ciao.


Presidential Prognostications '08

Well, just because I like to, I'm going to sit down in my armchair and put on my political analyst hat. What I'm thinking about is the American Presidential election of next year (a subject which I, admittedly, know not very much about, not being American - then again, I also have a more objective outside perspective ...). For starters, the Republicans are sunk. Bush and Cheney have wrecked their support, and I think it would be very hard for any Republican candidate to win. That said, I think Fred Thompson has the best shot of any of the Republican Presidential candidates - never underestimate the Schwarzenegger effect - Thompson played a very presidential figure on TV, and has actual Senate experience ... In the Democratic race, I predict Hillary will win, but would rather see Obama take it. Clinton is a polarizing figure, while Obama seems to have a more co-operative style of leadership. Of the candidates, from both parties, I'd most like to see him in the White House next year. I think that's unlikely however. We like to think we've moved beyond race as a society, but America, especially, has fought a war over it, and had all sort of historical racial stressors. That sort of thing stays in a society, and is not easily gotten over (just look at English and French in Canada - and we haven't been at open war for centuries). I don't think America will elect a black President (though they should). So, my current prediction: The Democratic candidate, likely Hillary Clinton, will be POTUS this time next year. I'll keep you posted (as we may not have a Canadian federal election to keep me occupied until 2009 ...).


Christmas Break

Today's xkcd is super neat, and really captures the experience of going home for the holidays. (if you don't read xkcd, you should, its only the greatest webcomic in the 'verse (and no, it has nothing to do with Firefly (but if the author saw it, I expect he'd be a fan (I just love nested parentheses :-) )))) Just last night, I was at a friend's family's Christmas party, helping him get some stuff running on his new Kubuntu installation - we were in the middle of trying to get DVD playback running when I heard his parents cleaning up upstairs (it was about 11 at this point) and figured I'd better leave - you forget at university, when having friends over that late or later isn't terribly abnormal, that your parents' generation tends to leave at 9 or 10. Anyway, Merry Christmas all, and a Happy New Year.


I have something in common with Bill Gates!

Its a somewhat little known fact that Bill Gates full name is William Henry Gates III. I was curious as to exactly which of his ancestors were William Gates Sr. and Jr. A short trip to Wikipedia later, and now I know. His father, William Gates Sr., was born William Gates III. When he joined the Army to fight in WW II, he changed his name to William Gates Jr., to avoid elitism. Later, when his son became really famous, he again changed his name, to William Gates Sr. (neat, eh? - he was all three). More sanely, his father and grandfather were born William Gates Jr. and Sr., respectively. Since the third William Gates had dropped his 'III', Bill Gates (of Microsoft) got the 'III' suffix instead of 'IV', and is nicknamed "Trey" (for "three") within his family. But still, Bill Gates is (unofficially) a "IV", as am I, BruceIV. Confusing, but cool.


Why is Gmail still in beta?

So, why is Gmail still in beta? Its a mature product. They've just come out with a "new version" with some substantial interface updates (these are being phased in, but fairly quickly) - for anything else, they'd call it version 2.0 - even for a web app, this whole beta thing is ridiculous. A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that it has been out since April 2004, and open to the entire public since February of this year. (which might explain the periodic "Google outages" I suffered last winter - that and YouTube must have put a strain on even Google's servers). Gmail is offered as part of a paid service (Google Apps). Anyway, the entire point of this is, it is ridiculous on multiple levels that Gmail is still in beta. Google, take the silly tag off the graphic, and have a grand unveiling. My two cents for today.


Crazy Idea of the Month

Well, the recent Daylight Savings Time change got me thinking about times. Specifically, why are they still tied to the sun? It is archaic. We have electric lights, we have globalized communications - why are our clocks still synchronized to the time that the sun rises or sets in our particular corner of the world? Why can't we just use a 24-hour time clock (because 12-hour clocks are redundant, confusing, and would likely completely disappear if TV switched to a 24-hour clock), universalized over the entire map. (UTC, known in the past as GMT or Zulu, would work). As far as the calendar goes, January is midsummer in Australia, yet midwinter here. Why is it that 6AM is morning in both locations? Just a crazy idea ... I'm sure there are (increasingly less valid) reasons for tying our clocks to the sun's rise and set ... but still - it would help with a few things (international communication and transport come to mind) (admittedly, I expect those whom it would help most - FedEx and such - are already using this sort of system). Signing off, time: 2225.


This could get interesting

Apparently the Green party is polling at around 10% of of decided voters, and the majority of people think it will keep at least those levels of support come election day. This could make the federal election interesting. (As an aside, many political watchers expect the Tories to come out with a throne speech the opposition parties won't be able to accept, and thus force an election for early this winter or late this fall). Now, it looks like the environment will be a key issue this election - the Green party has got a lot of media buzz the last few years - yet still holds no seats in Parliament. This is their year. They need to put together a coherent platform, and run a strong enough campaign to convince the general public that they should have some seats in Parliament. If they cannot win any ridings in this coming election, then I would say that their chances of ever recovering are slim to none. I'll be watching with an interest - I respect the core Green aim of environmental support, but if they want my vote, I'll have to see two things - one is a comprehensive national platform - how they'll vote on every issue, not merely the environmental ones. The other is a local candidate that seems capable of representing the local interest well - it is an unfortunate habit of some of the smaller parties to field less than impressive candidates in some ridings, especially less populous ones, and the Greens only recently managed to run candidates in every national riding. I'll keep you posted.


Public Service Notice

Hi, if anyone in this particular public happens to own an iPhone ... there's been a major security vulnerability discovered. Apparently EVERYTHING on the iPhone runs as root. For whatever reason. Basically, even the calculator is god on the phone. If one program gets cracked, lots of people end up with a wide open phone. Details here.


Linux on the Rise

So here, just for the fun of it, is me playing armchair analyst, because everyone likes to do that. Anyway, I'm seeing a lot more buzz about Linux recently. This isn't just on enthusiast sites, but working its way into the mainstream (not quite there yet, but getting there). Multiple computer makers are rolling out Linux based computers for consumer purchase, and Linux seems to be finally making a dent on the desktop - if not in market share, at least in availability. About the best example of this I've seen recently is this article about Dell working on a Linux driver framework for the last few years. This is big. Dell is pretty much the Wal-Mart of computer makers - cheap and common (in fact, Dell now sells computers at Wal-Mart, and no other North American retail outlets). If they've been working this hard on Linux, they must see a future in it. I expect this is due to two factors. (1) Linux is maturing as an operating system - its becoming easier to use, more things can be done in the GUI instead of a terminal window, and they have some really graphically advanced GUIs, that have features that Windows doesn't - basically, its becoming more possible for the average user to run Linux (2) Microsoft has been making a major mess of things - Vista has been near-universally panned - the only update it has of any consequence is some graphical chrome, and that chrome eats system resources to a ridiculous degree. Add the fact that Windows costs hundreds of American dollars, and you're alienating most of the emerging markets of the world. Basically, Microsoft has dropped the ball, and alternatives like the Mac OS and Linux have a window to make some space for themselves - which they are taking advantage of. My prediction is that unless Microsoft can make Windows 7 (expected 2010-ish) the operating system that Vista should have been (they had 6 years to work on it - it should have been better), they will never have the level of market dominance they had with Windows xp ever again. Given enough time, OS X and Linux can carve out big enough niches that Windows is forced to interoperate, at which point it will never be able to return to its former monopoly position again. People have been saying this for years, but there hasn't been this good of an opportunity for competition in a very long time, as Microsoft hasn't screwed up this badly since it instituted its OS monopoly.


Tootsie Rolls and Forests

I went shopping today, had some fun with that - went to the brand new Dollarama in town (oooh - as big as the one in Fredericton ... ). I bought a Tootsie Roll, and then decided it is obviously the superior form of chocolate bar, as you can't just scarf it down (way too chewy for that), so you get to savor the flavour. Very good - not like I needed the sugar, but I want another one now ... I bought a power outlet splitter (because the dollar store is a great place for cables and cords, and there's never enough outlets for our computers in Computer Science classes) - now I can be a good citizen, and share a limited resource. Then I went and bought my supply of printer paper for the new year (at Wal-Mart, not the Dollarama) - 2 reams (that's 1000 sheets) - given previous year's evidence, it'll all go too, plus a sizable amount of looseleaf - I wonder how many acres of forest is forested to feed the paper needs of my university yearly ... its likely an atrocious number (not being a good citizen there, but, what can you do ... paper just works better for a lot of things). Now I'm sitting home listening to my little bro's new headphones - surprisingly good bass for earbuds - still, his iPod is only a few months old - the stock headphones shouldn't have worn out that quickly (they cost like $40 to buy them separately ... they should be higher quality for that price...) - my brother, being smart, spent half that for his new phones - which have an ear clip that's actually comfortable (I had a pair once with a clip made of stiffer plastic - they pinched my ears and were very uncomfortable), and the aforementioned good bass. Anyway, that's my evening, apologies for rambling, g'bye now.


You Can't Make This Stuff Up Dept:

This was just too funny - I posted it verboten from CBC news. Enjoy

Thieves carried off 22 pigs in compact car - CBC News

RCMP have arrested a pair suspected of stealing 22 pigs from a barn near Sussex, N.B., in a getaway that police say was likely a very tight squeeze.

Thieves took the pigs earlier this month after smashing the locks on a barn in Knightville, rented by Moffett's Farms.

The two from Petitcodiac, aged 19 and 20, are suspected to have used one small car to haul the 22 pigs, weighing 23-27 kilograms each, from the farm to the house in Havelock where police tracked them.

RCMP picked up the trail after one of the men forgot his ID at the scene of a break-in.

Const. Jim Gass said the stench from the pigs was immediately apparent to investigators, who found a small car, filled with pig droppings, as well as sacks used to transport the pigs.

"This little car they transported them in once had like 22 pigs," Gass said. "Man, it wasn't a lot of room in the car. She would have been a noisy affair, I would imagine, and quite a wild ride. Something you see in the movies, I would guess."

Police couldn't recover all of the pigs, worth about $75 each. The suspects allegedly ate one the night of the theft, Gass said. Most of the others, police said, were sold to unknowing customers.

RCMP won't release names of the suspects because the men have yet to be charged.

Both suspects are to appear in court Sept. 24 on unrelated charges.


My Infinity is bigger than your infinity

Although, in hindsight, it really is intuitively obvious, it has been proven that infinity comes in different sizes. Mathematically, this is interesting, as it'll likely sprout a new branch of mathematics or something within the century. Or not, and it'll be cool anyway. In any case, I'll post a link, and the basic idea of it. Picture the set of natural numbers - it is infinitely large - now picture the reals, of which the naturals are a proper subset. The reals are also infinitely large, but a larger infinity, because the naturals are a proper subset. If you're not a mathie, the article does explain more clearly (and with the formal proof too, so its better both ways). Anyway, later.


Maybe I will be able to stay near home after graduation ...

New figures say New Brunswick is in the middle of an unprecedented job boom.

A Statistics Canada report released Friday shows the province led the country in job creation in the first half of 2007, and its current unemployment rate is the lowest ever recorded there.

Good news. Encouraging. Like to hear more of it.


Everything comes full circle

Apple has a new patent - hype says possibly for use with a new iPhone model. What interested me is that it looks a lot like a rotary phone. Retro, eh?


Good news for me

CBC has an article about a study that says firstborn children tend to be smarter. I find it encouraging ... though the article says its nothing genetic, so if my little brothers decide to call a mob hit on me, whoever's left of them will be the eldest, and thus get the benefits ... hmm, not so encouraging.


Federal Election news (only slightly out of season) [UPDATED]

The Green party in Fredericton is nominating its candidate for the next federal election tonight. This interests me in a few ways. The first is that what the Greens have revealed of their platform so far looks interesting (although the mess they're making on execution is dampening my enthusiasm somewhat). The second is, if they wait until the school year for an election, I'll get the option of voting for this candidate. And, finally, one of the candidates, Tony Myatt, was one of my professors last year, and would be a good choice for it - he has some good ideas. UPDATE: Prof. Myatt didn't get the nomination - there was a prof from STU who won by a significant margin

Trios, Triads, and Neapolitan Ice Cream

Today's blog post is brought to you by the number three, and the letters 'U', 'S', and 'B'. (Hmm ... haven't thought of Sesame Street in a while ... I wonder if they still do that ...) Anyway, my point is, there should only be three kinds of USB connectors. I mean, there are so many kinds of USB cables, it nearly completely defeats the purpose of the "universal" bus. I say that IEEE or someone should limit it to three. The first would be the standard USB connector, the one that's on the PC end of those myriad specialized cables. That one's a no-brainer. The second would be the more rounded connector that is in use on most USB printers. The flat type makes it largely redundant, but its already somewhat of a standard (my point here), and is easier to plug in when you can't see the port (as in the back of many printers). The third would be the single type of USB miniplug. There only needs to be one, and that should work in every digital camera, MP3 player, ect. It would make things easier for everyone, and there's too many types as is. Any objections?


Racism is Illogical

Well, I've been working my summer away for my hometown's Recreation Department. So far, there's been a lot of painting. Part of the painting job has been painting over graffiti, which is rather annoying, because it should be unnecessary, and I just painted that wall two weeks ago. What made me wonder though, was the message on the graffiti. The one I painted over said "Stop Atlantica" (Atlantica being a cross-border trade conference) - I saw another through its paint patch job that said "Racism is illogical". There are similar graffiti messages in other spots. So, why would our vandal put "Stop Atlantica" - this is the message of a socialist activist. There is no one in town that can do a single thing to stop Atlantica. For the racism message, well, its a small town - there are maybe 2 or 3 dozen non-white people in the entire town - racism is basically a non-issue. So, our vandal has a social conscience (or at least, his messages do), yet the messages have no audience. Why put them there then? Its the wrong forum - its fruitless, futile. So why? I can only suppose that our vandal is looking to justify his vandalism. When town workers paint over his messages, he can internally condemn them for being racist pigs, or horrible capitalists, hurting the poor (or so the socialists will say). Instead, the town workers are merely anti-graffiti. Anti-racism messages are a good thing. Just not on the pool walls. ... Anyway, this has been random, but I didn't have much better to do at work then attempt to psycho-analyze the person who was giving me more unnecessary work.


I, Avatar

So, I performed an interesting experiment this week. I set up a Facebook account ... under my standard online alias (Rule Number One of online life is "Do NOT trust the internet"). The incongruity of it made me deactivate the account the very next day. One does not use a social networking site, which is a means of relation and communication, under an assumed name. It did lead to some interesting thought waves, on how much of an identity my online avatar, Bruce IV, really has. The entity that is Bruce IV has a body of opinion, beliefs, and opinions very similar (identical, in fact) to my own. That entity is also in my year at school, and lives in my town (although neither the tax agency, nor the university registrar would acknowledge it) (come to think of it, I must find Bruce IV's landlord - Bruce manages to get out of paying rent through the dastardly trick of having no physical presence). But, does Bruce IV really exist? He (Bruce is listed as male in a few spots, for purposes of context), for all intents and purposes, has all my memories, and a mind behind him - he could definitely pass a Turing test. However, Facebook provides a breaking point for his identity. While Bruce IV has all my memories, experiences, and opinions, he does not have my friends. He, in fact, lacks any sort of real relationship, having only an academic (if that) connection to the similar entities of "Mr. Fusion", "Uncle Dave", and their ilk in various blog-based debates. So, who or what is Bruce IV? He is an expression, a face I present to the online world - in short, a mask. Masks, though they have a distinct shape and appearance, have no life apart from the one that wears them. So, the moral of the story is: make your Facebook under your own name - you can lock down your personal information from the net at large well enough to protect it from unknown eyes. And a final incongruity - this post is signed Bruce IV - giving that avatar the human quality of introspection. Life's an irony.


Dell is selling Linux! Where? [UPDATED]

So, Dell is finally selling computers with Linux preloaded (Ubuntu, to be precise). The trick is finding them. (I'll give you a hint - www.dell.com/open). If you don't have that link ... well, on the American site (not the Canadian), you can find a site map, and one of the links on that sitemap brings you to the page I just linked to. There are three computers available to be customized, and they'll give you decent coverage of the broader spectrum of computers. Its a start, but there could be so, so much more ... Why aren't there options to set up a Windows dual boot in the factory, choices of filesystem, even extending the distro options to Kubuntu, and maybe Xubuntu - the GUI you use is important ... if someone is installing Linux, they'll know about these things, and care (though they'll likely be able to reinstall things and fix it - still, what's the point of factory installation if you have to change everything up right out of the box). And why bury it so deep - at least put some links from the main page (or even better, put the Linux systems in with the Windows ones in the main computer comparison windows - in all the country sites). Its a nice gesture, placating all the raving geeks on their Ideastorm site, but will ultimately end up letting a very few determined people avoid paying for a Windows license when they don't want it.

As one guy pointed out on the Ideastorm site, Dell isn't offering any Linux systems with AMD processors. As a lot of Linux people are AMD people as well (a root for the underdog type of thing), it would seem a logical move. Personally, right now, Intel has the better chips - however, AMD makes some very capable ones, and has a bit of an edge in prices. I'd like to see Dell selling some AMD Linux systems as well.

Gmail Theater: Why Use Gmail?

Ok, maybe this is misusing my newfound YouTube posting abilities, but this is geeky-cheezy-cool, so why not. (It also says a lot of stuff about what's great about gmail)

A Fair(y) Use Tale

Just a really sweet video I found online (Dvorak Uncensored pointed me its way). Kinda neat way to talk about copyright. (Hopefully the YouTube embed works right - this is the first time I've tried this)



I just remembered something weird from my childhood. I used to like cutting snowflakes out of folded paper - and then you'd unfold the paper, and it would have these lovely repeating patterns. I always wanted to understand how my cuts would affect the pattern, to be able to predict the result before I unfolded it. And also, which seems to me slightly a weird mix, I was always disappointed that I couldn't figure out how to fold the paper or cut the pattern so that my "snowflakes" would be six-sided, because all snowflakes in nature are six-sided. It just was a slightly odd contrast - the art of cutting the paper, and then trying to fit it to rigid science - they seem like two different beasts. But then again, perhaps, as Darth Vader would say, "There is no conflict". There is a certain unity to life, and to reality, and maybe what disturbed me about it was the contrast, not the attempt to reconcile it. Anyway, as I've thoroughly lost any point I may have been trying to make, I think I'll stop my rambling here. Thank you for your patience, and good day.


It shouldn't be that way ....

There's an article on IHT today about Pope Benedict visiting South America, and the challenges facing the Catholic church there. The article spends a good deal of time discussing the rising Protestant threat to Catholicism. It really shouldn't be that way. While there are some significant and important theological differences between the Protestant and Catholic views of Christianity, there's a lot that's the same too - the two groups should be natural allies, not competitors. Perhaps this is a special exempt case (as I said, there are some important divergences between Protestant and Catholic faith), but I still really don't like to see denominational infighting in the Christian church. When it comes down to it, we're aiming for the same goal, and our collective energies would be better spent in pursuit of that goal, rather than arguing among ourselves.



Its a ridiculous name. Period. It sounds like some lame ripoff of Apple, and the logo is ridiculous. I much prefer "Google Personalized Homepage" and that's a soulless corporate beast of a name. They could call it myGoogle, youGOOGLE, or Jimbo the Traveling Salesman, and it would still be better. I'm keeping my homepage, because I like the page, but the logo at the top of the site strikes me as ridiculous every time I see it. Which is often, seeing as its my homepage. Anyone interested in checking it out can point their browser to www.google.com/ig. Opinions?


Vanity Searches

Well, I decided to try a slightly weird type of vanity search today. Instead of searching for my real name, I went looking for other BruceIV's on the net. The results I got were pretty much all me, except for the number one result on Live Search, some other guy's mySpace page. Funky ... its weird knowing that someone else is online using the same identity that I do. Screen names tend to be fairly unique ...

Is this the right thing to do?

Some of you might have heard of the plans to sell half of the UNB woodlot off to developers. I honestly have never been there, but it seems like a bad idea. I've heard that UNB has one of the best forestry faculties in the country. I would expect the woodlot is an invaluable resource to this faculty. Developing it would have a negative impact. UNB really should celebrate and advertise its strengths, not hide them, or atrophy them. Virtually no one hears anything but the engineering faculty really advertised. Thing is, UNB Engineering, while good, is only in the middle of the pack, where faculties where we're really tops or close nationally, like Forestry (or Computer Science) don't get near the attention they deserve, and people only really find out that they're really great ... after they go to UNB. Through my own university search, and talking to people still in high school, UNB has this reputation as the place people from New Brunswick go because they can't get into anywhere better. It really is undeserved, and the university is not fixing it.


And I thought BC was all liberal and green

According to an article on CTV.ca, the highest percentages of environmentally-conscious teens are in Ontario (that's right, big, dirty industry central) and Atlantic Canada, while the lowest are in BC and Manitoba. I though BC was supposed to be all green and nature-loving and whatnot ... hmm.


Oh my ...

There was a really big college shooting at Virginia Tech today ... shocking and horrifying - not much info out yet, but here's one article.

PS - This is my 100th post. Whoo-hoo! Wish I had a better topic.


Ack! They're BOTH Crazy!

So, having established that Elizabeth May, Green Party leader for Canada, is crazy to go up against Peter MacKay, Conservative Deputy leader, in his own riding next election, I can now say that Stephane Dion, Liberal leader, is nearly as crazy. He's agreed not to run a candidate against her this election. Now, this may be some part of Dion's agenda to make the Liberals appear green, by helping get a Green candidate elected. This deal does improve Ms. May's chances of winning, which would be a major coup for the Green Party (as it has never elected a member), and a major embarrassment for the Tories (losing a high profile minister such as MacKay). However, I think a more likely scenario is that the voters just give MacKay a landslide victory, as there aren't any other strong parties running. The NDP will likely do fairly well as well. And the Liberals, for the first time in years (possibly ever, I haven't looked it up), won't be running candidates in every riding in Canada. Dion and May are both crazy.


Now, that's an IDEA

Apparently there's a poll in Ontario about banning smoking in apartments that are part of multi-unit complexes. I would love to see this in New Brunswick. My downstairs neighbors are heavy smokers, and the fumes waft up the stairs, and under our door, and make our apartment positively reek. (They even set off the smoke alarms once in a while, though I think their alarm may be wired into ours). Seriously, smoking is a nuisance and a health hazard, and the majority of the population is bothered by it. I understand you really can't tell people they can't smoke in their own homes - but an apartment isn't theirs - it belongs to the landlord, and will be someone else's home after they move out - and smoke smell is devilishly hard to remove from an apartment. Especially for multi-unit buildings - one smoker can make the whole building smell, just as one person with a loud stereo can keep everyone else awake - the noise pollution is banned, why not the air pollution? Anyway, my two cents.


Themes for Google Personalized Hompage

The Google Personalized Hompage (GPH) has implemented some themes - they just change the title areas of it, but are pretty neat anyway - they're even dynamic by time of day, season, and local weather. You can see screenshots here. I keep a GPH as my personal homepage, and the themes really add to it (I personally use the Sweet Dreams theme). I only have two requests for Google now - First, they should extend the theme to all their personalized Google services - my News page, GMail, and Calendar just don't look as good anymore by comparison (some more themes would be good too - some of the 3-D stuff they have is a little tacky IMHO), and secondly, they should implement the themes on national pages as well (if I go to my homepage on Google.ca, I can still access all the feeds and widgets, but the theme isn't there). Still, I think they have a winner.


She's Crazy

Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green party has announced her intention to run in the riding of Central Nova next election - if the name sounds familiar, its because its Peter Mackay's riding. If she's trying to be the first Green elected to Parliament, going up against the deputy leader of the Conservative Party is a strange way to do it. Picking off a backbencher somewhere would be much easier, though still challenging enough. I have no idea what their party strategists are thinking. (Incidentally, May had 26% of the vote in her riding in the last election - the Green candidate in Central Nova had 2%)


Interesting post on the Dilbert blog

Scott Adams has an interesting post about evolutionary theory on his blog - its not one of the views you hear often, and worth a read. (He doesn't agree with me, but I agree with most of the stuff he says here.) He may just be pulling people's chains to get comments (and links), but its still worth seeing. I'm not going to explain what he said, I'll just leave it to him, the far superior blogger, and tell all you folks to follow this link here.


Cool UNB reasearch

A friend of mine found this on Slashdot - its something cool happening at my school - and majorly useful I expect - more portability for hydrogen is good:

“The challenge is to find a safer, more efficient and economical way to store hydrogen so that it can be released on demand,” explained chemist Sean McGrady, the lead researcher on the project. “The way to do this is to turn hydrogen into a compound — a solid — so you can use it when you want, safely, in the amount you want.”

Hydrogen gas is typically stored under pressure in large metal cylinders, approximately four feet high. These cylinders are heavy and expensive to transport. Since they are under pressure, they also pose a safety hazard.

“We’ve reached a milestone with our ability to condense hydrogen into a usable solid,” said Dr. McGrady. “The next step is to produce a safe, compact storage system for the compound that is both lightweight and affordable.”

The full release is worth reading, but the gist of it is here.

Are we ready for the New Liberal Party?

I've been hearing rumblings and rumors (In Maclean's, as well as this article) in the news about a rather intriguing subject - talk of a merger and/or alliance between the federal NDP and Liberals. Now, most of the sources of these rumblings are NDP MP's, not Liberal, but its still interesting. Apparently, now that the right is united, the NDP is feeling the heat, because their voters are more likely to go Liberal to fight the unified Conservative threat. Apparently the NDP is in bad shape, and considering drastic options - I wonder if they'll go the way of the provincial NDP? Anyway, worth keeping an eye on.


Now that's some legalese!

Well, just because I have no life, I was reading through the terms of use and privacy policy on Dvorak Uncensored. It has some pretty fine, funny legalese in it. An excerpt:

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific commercial, financial, investment, accounting, tax, or legal advice. It is provided to you solely for your own personal, non-commercial use. You may link to and refer to this website freely. You must, when linking to this website, thrust your fist into the air and yell "death to tyrants." This site is not responsible for any deaths to tyrants or any other negative activity except for the yelling which we do not condone except in this context.

Now that's some fine legalese - I've had it in mind for a while now to start a student club focused on board games like Risk and Axis & Allies at school - I only hope I could do as well on the club charter as that - I can't decide whether or not to include a clause forbidding those with actual legal training from working on the charter or not.


An interesting idea

Here's an idea I like - some European automakers are suggesting an emissions credit system for automakers. So a high emitter, say Ferrari, would have to buy credits from a low emitter, say Honda, to pay for the higher emissions of its cars. This would make higher emitting cars more expensive, and, what they didn't mention in the IHT article I heard about it in, would slightly subsidize more practical transportation. I like the idea - seems good, though the fact that emissions credits for nations didn't seem like such a good idea.


Unexpected Fruit

There's been an ad on TV recently that's been bugging me - its for fruit juice and jello or applesauce or something. Anyway, it ends with pictures of kids drinking juice, and the slogan "an unexpected burst of real fruit" Unexpected. Since when is real fruit unexpected in fruit juice? What has food come to? I should expect to find fruit in fruit juice ... Its really rather sad.


Great ....

Well, I managed to escape the great Sony battery scare last year, because my battery was a Sanyo. I felt relieved. Now, this ... they better come up with a replacement for Lithium-ion batteries soon ... that's all I can say ...


Learning Mandarin

Well, I now have openSUSE 10.2 installed on my laptop - my second stab at learning my way around Linux, but I think I'll be a little more successful this time. It'll take a few weeks to get it tweaked how I like it (my productivity will be completely shot ... oh well ...), but the install seemed to go well. The experience however, has brought an analogy to mind. Moving between versions of Windows is like going from Canada (where I live) to Great Britain - there's a few superficial differences, but underneath, things are largely the same. Switching to Linux is like moving to China. Everything is different. So now, I get to learn Mandarin, so to speak. Should be fun.


Vista UI a "Step Back" from xp

Well, there's this guy who tests computer user interfaces. He uses some pretty weird (but practical) metrics like menu lag time and mouse precision. And, new results are in - Windows Vista's new Aero interface is a step back from xp. That's right - a step BACK. Yes, menu lag and such can be changed in the registry, but what's the percentage of users who know how to do that, and what's the percentage of those users that actually would edit their registry for that kind of reason? The suggested solution then: drop Vista down to its basic or classic view ... which removes the only reason for having Vista, the shiny effects in Aero. I think the whole situation is quite funny.


Paint Crashed?!?

Well, a friend of a friend of mine has Windows Vista installed on their computer, and Windows Paint crashed the entire system. Paint program - what, since Windows 3.1, has been the program you let little kids play with so that they can't hurt anything. Paint crashed the entire computer. INSANE. I'm not getting Vista.



Readers of Let's Call it Bob, you may never say that this blog isn't worth reading (if you live nearby and happen to like grapefruit juice) - That's right, grapefruit juice. It all started earlier this week when I was making a run to the grocery store for a few things, including orange juice. I saw grapefruit juice there, and decided to try something new. Well, I decided I don't like it so well (it is somewhat bitter*), and so now have decided to put on a contest! Yay! Fun! First person that comments on this article and asks for it can have the rest of the grapefruit juice absolutely FREE!** Anyway, this is a limited time offer, so apply now!

* By somewhat bitter, I mean extremely bitter
** Transportation/shipping to be arranged by the winner

Please tell me this is a typo ....

Please tell me this piece of an article about flash memory has a typo:

"If you look at the market, prices have dropped about 50 percent," said Niebel. "You could get an 8GB [memory chip] for $10 in December. Now you're getting it for $5.

I personally think that they left a zero off each of the dollar amounts - that would put the wholesale memory prices at a more reasonable level, considering the prices of flash-based products. If that's not a typo ... wow are we all getting ripped off.


Anglican-Catholic Merger Proposed

Interesting - I always thought the Anglican church was very Catholic anyway - now there's a proposal to merge the two (although it is admittedly unlikely that it will be accepted). Neat to see if anything comes of this - more interdenominational communication is always good.



Here's just a fairly interesting (I thought) article on IHT.com about plastic deck chairs. Kinda random, but I thought it was neat.


Is he wrong?

I was reading this story on IHT.com about a young-Earth creationist getting a paleontology doctorate. Now, he wrote his doctoral thesis using a conventional geologic model, but there was still debate over whether he should get the degree, seeing as he disagrees with "conventional" paleontology. My question is, "Is he wrong?" - could it be possible that his alternate paradigm (in his terms) is the correct one - his own professors state that he was a good student, obviously knowing enough about geology to merit his degree. Now, could a sharp geology student hold beliefs that contradicted the science he was practising? Does this not suggest that a young-Earth geological model is at least plausible? I'm not saying it can be proved correct, but should it be dismissed out of hand? My bias on the matter is obvious, but I'm going to leave the question open. Peace.

Editor's Note: Looking at the labels for this post ... that's a controversial mix ...


Next Windows in '09 ... yeah ... [UPDATED]

Well, apparently the target ship date for the next version of Windows is sometime in 2009. Yeah ... right. Microsoft says they're working on something unspecified but major. My crystal ball says - a minor upgrade from Vista - at most a Windows 95 to Windows 98 type of thing - incremental improvements, nothing major, hopefully some changes to the UI - I really don't like Vista's - to much flash and too little substance.

--Editor's Note: Oops - forgot the link for the original story While I'm editing - I told you so - Microsoft is retracting its statement, coverage here.


A Quantum Computer? And from Canada - Interesting

A Canadian company, D-Wave claims to have created a working quantum computer. Interesting. Seems unlikely, but it would be cool if it was true - especially because its Canadian. If its true, then there'll be a lot of interesting work around when I finish my degree.


Two weird things

One: I was watching TV this evening, and I thought I saw something that shouldn't happen - it was the middle of the ad segment, and there was one start, then flash to a Roger's ad. I thought I heard the word StarChoice - now, just to go into tinfoil hat mode for a second, it almost seemed as if Roger's (who does our cable) had found their competitor's ad, and replaced it with one of their own ... just seemed a bit weird, and likely illegal (though highly implausible)

Two: While doing some web browsing, I set one finger on the scrolling area of my laptop touchpad, and put the other in the normal mouse movement place in the center. Funny thing is, if I held my finger in the scrolling area steady, moving the finger in the center would scroll the page - its either a bug or a weird feature, but its kind of cool either way.


Really Creepy

I just thought of something today - there are a bunch movies/TV shows/etc. based on secret US government organizations that don't actually exist. (Men in Black, Stargate, ect.) (yes, I am a science-fiction fan). The scary part is these stories have precedent - how long was the NSA operating before it was officially acknowledged to exist? The whole thing is just creepy - the government of the most powerful nation in the world employing hundreds or thousands of people on big, important projects, and no one knowing about it ... and that's about it for today - I think I'll take my tinfoil hat off now.


Cheap iPods

A new study says Canada is the cheapest place in the world to buy an iPod Nano - who'd have thought?


Just Passing it on

They have an interesting article on the International Herald Tribune about a push to outlaw Holocaust denial. I mainly just wanted to pass the article on, but I really think that banning it is the wrong way - as the article states, while the Holocaust was a horrible, depraved event, outlawing the denial of it is pointless, as it is well documented, and established historical fact, and the threat to free speech is just too much. My two cents.

Nuclear Winter

Well, since I apparently have nothing better to blog about, I'm going to continue my series on the weather. Walking home from university was really freaky today too - nothing was plowed, so the roads and sidewalks were (mostly) beat down, but still covered in snow, and there was practically no one on either - I think I saw half a dozen cars moving my entire walk home. It was completely ethereal - quiet, with no immediate sounds besides my boots (muffled by the loose snow), with only the orange glow of streetlights and people's homes interior lights to see by. The city was dead, and snowed under, with a fine powder of ice pellets blowing around, but not spectacularly cold. It seriously felt like I'd been dropped into the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, and was just about the only one alive. I wonder what the weather will be like tomorrow ...

A warm breeze - in falling snow.

I was walking to school this morning, through the heavy snow that's been falling all day, and noticed a real oddity - the breeze felt warm. In a snowstorm. A warm breeze. It was really freaky. I figured out the reason though - yesterday it was about -30°C - today its about negative two or three degrees, and the wind is no longer attempting to kill me, so its much nicer.



I have decided that the ultimate university student food is (drum roll please) ... SPAGHETTI! Its easy to cook (even I can do it), healthy, keeps well in the fridge, forms a versatile base for other foods, is cheap, and easy to cook for one person or a whole crowd - for all these reasons, spaghetti is the ultimate university food.


Comment Spam

Blech - I got my first comment spam today - as a response, I've added a word verification step to the comment process - I apologize for the inconvenience, but its more and more common on blogs these days ...

Free will for Robots ...

I was reading a pcmag.com article on the newest generation of Honda's ASIMO robot. It was fairly interesting, talking about how they've made the bot run (quite an accomplishment) - but, look at how the author finishes:

As stunning an achievement as ASIMO is, the robot still has a long way to go. It has no free will. Yes, it can make millions of computations on its own to know how to navigate a flight of stairs, but all the words it spoke and dances it did at the conference were canned interactions and responses. Still, if ASIMO can run, it may, someday, be capable of decision-making, too.

OK ... so Lance Ulanoff wants his robots to have free will ... uh huh ... no thanks. Remember I, Robot, where the robots took over the world (or tried)? If robots had free will, they would replace us. Seriously - that's human territory, and I really would prefer to remain unique in that respect. Make a robot that can understand English, perhaps, and I can talk to, and get a good answer back, but not one with free will please.


Just to keep bashing Dell ...

Disclaimer: I really have nothing against Dell - I own a Dell Inspiron laptop, and its served me quite well so far. That said, the suit in this article has merit. My father had a Dell laptop a few years back, and it did have cooling problems with the motherboard - he had to replace it once or twice. Just thought it would be possibly interesting to point out.


Microsoft doesn't like Dellware either ... hmm ...

The story is at CBC - basically, Microsoft doesn't like it when it gets dinged for crashes/poor performance that extra vendor software adds ... and the rest of us don't like the bloat - annoying to everyone ... hmm ... and I have to say "craplets" is an excellent term.



So, I haven't posted anything for a while - give me a break, I was on vacation, and needed the time for important things like sleeping in till noon and mastering Net (only the greatest flash game ever). So, summary:

Day after I got home I wanted to check out my little brother's basketball game, which was in town, a good 12 kilometres or so away from my parents' house. I had no obvious means of transportation, so I decided to walk in - that was fun, only took me 2 1/2 hours :-)

I have decided Serenity is the greatest science fiction movie ever - I bought it for my brothers for Christmas, and now must track down the DVDs for Firefly, the series which it was based on.

In other news, CBC is premiering a new series, Little Mosque on the Prairie, this Tuesday People are comparing it to Corner Gas with Muslims, so it looks quite interesting - the creator (who is Muslim) has taken some flak over it already, but I think its an awfully small person that can't laugh at themself.

To cope with the loss of daily Foxtrot (sniff) I picked myself up a one-a-day Foxtrot calendar for the new year, so at least I'll have some geeky comic goodness in 2007.

Oh yeah, and the weather is crazy - its the 7th of January, and we haven't had snow all vacation, and there's still green grass ?!? If anyone needed evidence of global warming ...

Anyway, later ... Happy New Year