Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Tree Frogs

There is nothing to see here. Just listen. At night our ditch is alive with frogs. You can hear them but not see them. My first attempt was poor quality as I was not close enough. So in this take I try to approach a particularly vocal group. I cannot see them but they are well aware of my presence. And half way through this take they shut up as I get too close

Monday, 28 April 2008

Loopholes keep Windows XP alive

Mr Ballmer said: "If customer feedback varies, we can always wake up smarter, but right now, we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments."
M$ had better wake up. Vista is not necessary, and its "features" add sizzle but no steak. I will not upgrade the machine I have that currently uses XP as a back up for the few functions that Ubuntu does not do as well. But that is few and growing fewer.

Microsoft has extended the life of Windows XP Home until 2010 on low-powered PCs, such as the Asus Eee, that might struggle to cope with Vista's power demands.
This Eee user is very happy with the Linux version it shipped with. I have no intention of changing it to an OS which I know does not work as well. The whole point of machines like the Eee is that they are designed to produce a good computing experience without needless bells and whistles, which helps keep the price low and the machine small. "Power" has nothing to do with it. It is functionality that is important and a cheap small Eee is far better than much more expensive, larger laptops that ship with M$ clunky systems and software.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

It Takes 90 Years To Grow A Box Of Kleenex

I really did not know that. I had heard about the reluctance of tissue makers to use recycled paper. But I have never switched away from old fashioned hankies - and I know I am in the minority. I note too that if you want to buy recycled paper products they are often more expensive, which seems counter intuitive. But I do use tissues when I have a streaming cold - because I run out of hankies too quickly.

Is this an argument like disposable versus washable diapers?

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Homeland Security and the High School Robots

This story was on Global BC TV News at 6 tonight. Some BC high school children won their way through intense competition to the finals of a competition - held in the US.

When they got there they found that the carefully packed robots were not with their baggage. They turned up later - wrecked.

Global's report suggested that this was due to "post 9/11 paranioa" but I think there is a much simpler explanation. This contest was very much publicised and there was only one Canadian team that got through to the finals. It may even be the case that parents of high school children work at the airport - maybe even for Homeland Security. What better way to ensure that the home team wins than some extra thorough attention to the competitor's equipment?

When you consider the number of cases of parents behaving badly at sports events, is too much to think that an over eager parent would be low enough to stoop to this kind of action?

Sorry, no link, the story is not on Global's web page

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Whose fault is the credit crunch?

The DG of the CBI says it is the bankers themselves - and more specifically their bonus payment systejm that rewards risk taking but seemingly carries no penalty for failure.

Solution? Stop paying the beggars in cash but make them accept pay in shares - uncashable for 5 years!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Brenda Martin "guilty"

Brenda Martin was a chef for
Alyn Waage, who was convicted of fraud in 2006. He is serving a 10-year term in a U.S. prison.

Martin maintained her innocence.... Waage has testified Martin was unaware of his activities.
The burden of proof in Mexico is that you are guilty unless you can prove you are innocent.

In other news, it has been suggested that NAFTA may be re-opened. If that is the case, we could put some other things on the table. As Stephen Harper says, we are now in a stronger position than we were 20 years ago. The model we might like to look at is Europe, which has a very stringent "harmonisation" procedure. This produces much better protection for issues such as the environment and consumer protection. Unfortunately for my example, much of Europe also still uses the Code Napoleon in criminal cases. But if we are at the bargaining table and the US and ourselves have the British, common law based jurisprudence system and a charter of rights/constitution, maybe we should push the Mexicans to get into line with us. It might help their tourism business too. Right now I have no desire to spend any time there.

Robert Baltovich goes free - finally

Yet another miscarriage of justice is corrected - after a lot of very obvious reluctance.
The verdict came Tuesday, moments after the Crown stunned a Toronto courtroom with the announcement that it would not bring any evidence or witnesses forward in Baltovich's trial, which had been expected to last as long as eight weeks.

Prosecutors, who had planned to call 50 witnesses to the stand, said on Tuesday they had no reasonable prospect of conviction.
So now we need much, much more in the way of explanation.

Witnesses to what - since he did not do it? Has anyone asked Paul Bernardo if he did it? Since the Scarborough rapist went undetected for a long time while police forces indulged in their usual inter-jurisdictional rivalries, and young women's lives were lost as a result, maybe it is time the whole rotten system is finally opened up to some real reform, and there should be a lot less self righteous posturing and cover up.

We should also be thankful that the siren call of the vicious, vengeful capital punishment brigade has not been heeded.

Monday, 21 April 2008

"Steve is not happy"

My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote)

Michael Moore puts it so well there is nothing more for me to say.

If the Republicans return for the third time, we are all doomed - not just the Americans. They believe in "the rapture" and are doing all they can to hasten it.

The rest of us have to pay for their delusion

Harry Potter star seeks mystery Australian girl

Reuters reports that Daniel Radcliffe saw a girl staring at him.
"She stared at me all night and I was going to get her number and then I couldn't find her," Radcliffe told the newspaper.

"I must have walked around that party for an hour trying to look for this girl, like some sad pathetic dweeb, but it would have been worth it."
No Daniel, it wouldn't. Chances are she's a stalker - at the very least. You are a very lucky lad, and all sorts of females would be delighted to have your company. Very few of them are so gauche as to let you catch them staring at you.

Trust me on this one.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Why the great British breakfast is a killer

lunch ebpt oj

You never see anyone with a degree eating a fry-up; they're too intelligent to consume it, says Times restaurant critic
Wrong. I have two degrees.

Certainly not someone with a 2:1 or better in a humanities subject from a university founded before the invention of the iPod. That's because they are smart enough to know better.
My 2:1 dates from 1970 from a university founded in the 1920s, and my MSc(Econ) from 1976 is from LSE. Not exactly a new university either.

Unusually, the Times prints its own rebuttal on the same page from Ross Anderson

As for the notion that only stupid people eat fry-ups, this would be news in Martin's coffee house in Cambridge, where generations of geniuses have been getting it down their necks for decades. Or in Maria's caff in Limehouse, where some of the nation's finest financial brains shovel in the carbs before trotting off to make more millions at Canary Wharf. Equally risible is the suggestion that any of this is unhealthy. Tell that to the NHS's beleaguered GPs, their waiting rooms packed to the rafters with nonagenarian coffin-dodgers who for their entire lives have been packing away the Full English, the Full Scottish, the Ulster Fry and whatever they call it in Wales, and still have nothing more wrong with them than an ingrowing toenail. Tell it to the pension funds, struggling to pay out cash to people who, if any of this healthy eating claptrap were true, would have burst an artery years ago.

Your breakfast advice, Mr Coren? As we say in Scotland: save your breath to cool your porridge.
And of course go check out what Russel Davies has been up to

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The disgrace of the ABC debate

Mother Jones has a copy of an open letter from more than 40 journalists appalled by the behaviour of their colleagues at ABC

I heard some of this on CBC radio's "As It Happens" but I wasn't surprised. After all I have seen "The American President" too many times. And it was more like reality than the tv spin off "West Wing"

Friday, 18 April 2008

This is true

Two true teen tales from Randy Cassingham

Get a subscription - or try it for free

Randy Cassingham's Blog: Two Teen Tales

More on the EeePC

When Asustek Computer launched its Eee PC, Acer had doubts about its market opportunity. However, after just two months of sales, Acer quickly realized that low-cost PCs are to become an important turning point for the PC market, and have a chance to open up a new era for the current PC industry.

Taiwans DigiTimes

"They are not just replacement machines" - well it depends what you mean by "replace". I wanted to do mobile computing and note taking and it turned out that a PDA can do that - just not very well

Monday, 14 April 2008

Another quick and easy supper

NZ medallions of lamb with piccolo potatoes and mixed veg. I deglazed the pan with a little port left over from Christmas. The veg were from one of those prepared fresh bags, and these little potatoes need no washing or peeling. The whole thing took 20 minutes to prepare. Since the medallions were frozen, they were still nicely pink in the middle.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Cross-Canada protests decry CBC Radio changes, orchestra's end

Well done CBC News reporting on an issue which ought to be causing your organisation acute embarrassment.
CBC Radio programming head Jennifer McGuire defended the decision to feature "a broader, richer and diverse spectrum of music: classical, jazz, folk, world, R & B, singer-songwriter and roots."

But it is not clear that the classical Radio 2 needs to lose air time to achieve these aims. It is obvious that "folk, world, R & B, singer-songwriter and roots" appeals to a different demographic - and needs its own space. Now that may not be best distributed over the air on FM radio. Why not just expand CBC Radio 3?
Breaking New Sound. Showcasing Canadian independent music to the world. Listen to us live on Sirius Satellite on channel 94.
and of course podcasts. The people who like to listen to this kind of music use headphones and ipods. They will not be found at home with a radio on, but they will be on line downloading.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

1,775 boil-water advisories in Canada require action: report

Remember Walkerton?

We are not talking about a third world country here, and we are not talking about short term problems. Some of these advisories have been in place for years.

Canadians have more fresh water than anyone else. Some of use are paranoid that we might be somehow forced to give it to Americans - though since we give them everything else I don't know that water is so special.

But if they knew how bad our water is, would they want it?

And just to be clear, the problem is the lack of municipal spending and supervision of potable water supplies. We do not like paying taxes to get clean water apparently. And we put up with it - but howl like banshees if we have to pay more for gasoline.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Pricing cars

I followed a link at the Tyee to a Yahoo page on the top ten hybrids - and was amazed to see a price of $21,100 (MRSP). Then it occurred to me that the Tyee may not have realised that this site is for them not us. Despite near parity between the US and Canadian dollar, Canadians are required to pay much more for their cars - and some dealers and manufacturers try to make it as hard as possible for us to go down there and pick up a cheap car. I recently bought a Toyota, and if I could have found at this price, I would have bought a Prius like a shot.

So I went to the Toyota web page for Canada and priced a Prius. I ignored all the options and have not added taxes. The price is $30,870 before taxes and government rebates. This includes freight and delivery ($1240) battery tire and ac levies ($130 in all)

Is there any justification for a 50% price premium for a car here over the price in Blaine WA?

Sunday, 6 April 2008

The end of Vista?

Once upon a time I used to read Victor Zhorza in the Guardian. He was the expert on what was happening inside the Kremlin. And how he got his information was not usually questioned. Tek to do is a blog which watches Micro$oft and seems to have similar abilities

My contact with Vista was a month last year. My sister bought a new laptop that had it pre-installed, that we could use while we were in London clearing my late mother's estate. There were times when I would have thrown the thing out of the window had it been mine. Vista has all the hallmarks of the M$ philosophy. It is a space hog. It has all kinds of hidden activities that use band width. It is full of security holes and incompatibilities. For someone who has grown used to the reliability and security of open source, it was pain.

No one will will weep for the end of Vista - but the price of replacing it is too high. I will keep XP for the few things that I cannot work in Ubuntu. But I will never ever again pay for an operating system. And neither should you.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

History's verdict on G W Bush

“No individual president can compare to the second Bush,” wrote one. “Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.”

“With his unprovoked and disastrous war of aggression in Iraq and his monstrous deficits, Bush has set this country on a course that will take decades to correct,” said another historian. “When future historians look back to identify the moment at which the United States began to lose its position of world leadership, they will point—rightly—to the Bush presidency. Thanks to his policies, it is now easy to see America losing out to its competitors in any number of areas: China is rapidly becoming the manufacturing powerhouse of the next century, India the high tech and services leader, and Europe the region with the best quality of life.”

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Looking at Mount Fuji 'can cure depression'

Certainly seems likely to me. Whenever I see Mount Baker my spirits lift - but that is probably because the weather is better. For much of the time my favourite mountain is hidden by murk and gloom. It becomes visible when the clouds lift and the smog clears out for a while.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

No joke

Every year in Canada, up to 5,000 fishermen break through the ice-encrusted Gulf of St Lawrence for a five-day-long commercial seal slaughter. Every year helicopters carrying press and anti-hunt campaigners circle overhead to collect footage. But this year the skies have been unusually silent: the Canadian authorities and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are severely restricting access for observers. Mark Glover, director of England-based charity Respect for Animals as well as UK director of America's Humane Society, talks to us from Nova Scotia about what he believes is a national cover up

Penguins take Flight

The BBC's remarkable footage of penguins flying as part of its new natural history series, Miracles of Evolution.

The CBC Chairman

An interesting story from the National Post - and a dateline which is quite old and not today

You can also vote for his performance of John Cage's most famous piece on the Radio 2 "Music and Company" web site