First Post (27FEB2005)
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ramblings of an information troubleshooter
standing out from the crowd
lots of legal and government bigwigs in
town for the grand opening of our new
building. there were so many of us that
the fire marshal wouldn't allow us all
to sit in the same room as the main event,
so we had a closed-circuit t.v. setup run
upstairs to another room. the speeches
were thankfully brief and in the case of
the senior judge, even inspirational.
the post-show reception was a bit chaotic
as we didn't have enough tables around to
properly distribute the beverages, so i
ended up on water bottle duty, replenishing
the small nooks and crannies on each table
between the mounds of food. quite a few
people came into my area for a tour, but
most of them were only interested in seeing
the cells. without any signage, i ended up
acting like a traffic cop in my monkey suit.
not my greatest achievement.
in the evening, i joined bonnie and susan
in hosting a gathering of lawyers at the
pavilion at sylvia grinnell. free food
was the carrot dangled before the crowd,
and the only stick was having to listen
to bonnie's speech about why it's important
for them to be involved in the organization.
just as she wrapped up her speech, the sun
ducked below the clouds on its way to the
horizon, lighting her up in a warm glow.
with a bunch of lawyers in town interviewing
for 8 legal aid positions, we had an
- link of the day: spolsky outlines
developers want out of a work environment.
Basically, if you’re going to hire smart people,
you’re going to have to let them apply their
skills to their work. Managers can advise,
which they’re welcome to do, but they must be
extremely careful to avoid having their 'advice'
interpreted as a command, since on any given
technical issue it’s likely that management knows
less than the workers in the trenches, especially,
as I said, if you’re hiring good people.
Developers want to be hired for their skills, and
treated as experts, and allowed to make decisions
within their own realm of expertise.
frankly, in this day and age, it's more
likely that this is what *anybody* wants
and the sooner orgs figure this out, the
more productive we'll all be.
to be more than you are ...
so i got up early on a saturday
morning to head up to the AWG arena
for the city of iqaluit's annual mass
registration. i sat at a table with
kevin and mark to sign up folks for
broomball. we had quite a bit of
interest this year, so i'm looking
forward to the season start in
october. i did find it a bit eerie to
walk around the room, and find myself
knowing someone at practically every
table, whether it was karate or kayaking
or the part time players or the music
in the afternoon, i settled down on
a my couch to continue reading alexei
panshin's 'rite of passage'. i dozed
off with the summer sun shining down
on me thru my window until jim woke
me up with a call to let me know about
the evening's poker game. i didn't
have a good run, and any time i had
decent cards worth playing, someone
else at the table had better, so i
fled to vinnie's party after i got
knocked out of the 2d game.
after i got back from vinnie's at 3 in
the morning, i finished the panshin
book. i could see why it won a nebula
award, with its philosophical studies
in ethics wrapped up in a girl's
coming of age story. but the kicker
was the debate about whether to eliminate
an entire world because of the potential
future threat of its inhabitants:
They are products of the same history that
we are, and if they have forgotten that
history, it is not our business to teach it
to them. We cannot judge them by what they
might have been or by what they should have
been. We have to take them for what they
are and what they themselves intend to be.
They are menaces to us and to every other
portion of the present human race. I firmly
believe that our only course is to destroy
I can think of nothing sadder than to
know that you might be more than you are,
but be unwilling to make the effort. We
could be raising our fellow men from the
lives of squalor and desperation that
they lead. You don't wish this ? Then I
say it would be better to leave them alone
completely than to follow our present
meddlesome, paternalistic, repressive
a polished and well-loved rut ...
got up late in the afternoon of this
overcast wet day. starting to read
another nebula award-winning book,
'ring around the sun' by clifford d.
simak (it also won a hugo award). i
was amazed to encounter the following
seemily clairvoyant passage which
spookily matched my mood on this
Was he somehow, in some strange way,
different? Or was it merely
some lack in him, some quirk in his
personality that denied him the vital
spark, the ready glow of comradeship ?
The feeling of loneliness which he had
always had - not the occasional twinges
that everyone must feel, but a continual
sense of 'differentness' that had forced
him to stand apart from his fellow humans,
and they from him. His inability to
initiate friendships, his outsize sense
of dignity, his reluctance to conform to
certain social standards.
It had been these characteristics, he was
certain ... that had led him to take up
residence in this isolated village, that
had confined him to a small circle of
aquaintances, that had turned him to the
solitary trade of writing, pouring out on
paper the pent-up emotions and the lonely
thoughts that must find some release.
Out of his differentness he had built his
life; perhaps out of that very differentness
had sprung what small measure of success he
He had settled into a rut of his own devising,
a polished and well-loved rut ...
see the lines that weave through the fabric of cyberspace
i didn't get much on my official to-do
list done today. the plan was to get
a high-speed modem installed on the
library pc's and then splice in a
router to enable wireless access to
anyone in the library. also on the
list was the installation of zonealarm
and firefox and the removal of IE from
easy access. then i would sit back
and hope that the setup doesn't get
abused. however, i got none of that
instead, i almost became generic tech
guy. i had scanned some historical
canadian statutes the day before to
fulfill a ref question, but for some
reason, the floppy that worked on
the transferring machine (where the
scanner was) did not work on the
transferee machine (that i could
send email from). i ended up going
thru 3 floppies before finding one
that would work in both machines to
complete the transfer. why didn't
i just use the cd burner ? because
i hadn't installed the burning
software on the library pc yet.
so what happens next ? i get asked
to burn a copy of a cd of photos from
last week's official opening. i
manage to eke out 1 copy on my work
machine, but then it rejects 7 brand
new cd-r's in a row. it's shredder
time for that puppy. so how do i
make a 2d copy ? yes, i finally
break down and install the burner
software on the library pc and that
works like a charm. just like how
installing the laser printer
yesterday worked the first time,
THREE BLOODY MONTHS
of not responding to the pc. i
tell ya, these pc's have got
finally, after i copy those photos
onto a network drive, someone else
wants to import one into powerpoint,
but the new microsoft office picture
manager sucks - you can't convert
the image to a different format while
saving, so it's harder to manipulate.
i really don't understand why they
MS photo editor in office 2003.
as herb writes:
Instead of seeing my trusty MS Photo
Editor spring to life, the garish
Microsoft Office Picture Manager (MOPM)
took control, instead. The focus had
changed from editing to management.
The idea no longer was to edit a given
picture. The idea was to manage a
collection of them.
more of microsoft taking control away
from the user. anyway, i just showed
the inquirer how to do a screen capture
and paste directly into powerpoint and
she was off to the races.
speaking of control, salon.com had an
interesting article today about the
of BASIC from our computing environment
and the negative impact this has on the
development of the next generation of
This is not just a matter of cheating
a generation, telling them to simply be
consumers of software, instead of the
innovators that their uncles were. No,
this goes way beyond that. In medical
school, professors insist that students
have some knowledge of chemistry and DNA
before they are allowed to cut open folks.
In architecture, you are at least exposed
to some physics.
But in the high-tech, razzle-dazzle world
of software? According to the masters of
IT, line coding is not a deep-fabric topic
worth studying. Not a layer that lies
beneath, holding up the world of
object-oriented programming. Rather, it
is obsolete! Or, at best, something
to be done in Bangalore.
Microsoft and Apple and all the big-time
education-computerizing reformers of the
MIT Media Lab are failing, miserably.
For all of their high-flown education
initiatives (like the "$100 laptop"),
they seem bent on providing information
consumption devices, not tools that teach
creative thinking and technological mastery.
any time not spent troubleshooting tech
issues today was taken up by designing
some nifty charts from the raw results
of an online salary survey for canadian
law librarians. well, that and mental
preparation for my evening chess match ;)
gorged on neal stephenson's book 'the
diamond age' this weekend, which turned
out to be more of a sequel to 'snow
crash' than i had expected. i had read
it when it first came out around 1996,
but i missed many of the connections.
at the time, i thought it was just
weird and not like the books that he
had written before, including the one
he wrote as 'stephen bury'. however,
after experiencing the wonders of
'cryptonomicon' and the 'baroque cycle'
trilogy, perhaps my mind is just now
more attuned to the nature of
stephenson style. either that, or
reality has finally caught up to his
ruminations on nanotechnology.
a selection of some of the words that
i had to look up and highlight in my
dictionary thanks to this book:
this passage had me laughing raucously:
[p.163] The caning went by quickly and
efficiently; he did not have time to
worry about it, which helped a little.
The pain sent him straight into shock.
Chang pulled his flaccid body off the
rack and bore him over to a hard cot,
where he lay semiconscious for a few
minutes. They brought him tea - a
nice Keemum with distinct lavendar notes.
yes, a nice spot of tea makes every
neo-Victorian gentlemen's sore bum
just peachy ! and the character of
mr. beck had made little impression
on me on first reading, but now that
i've also used "tech to convey meaning."
(p.274), he seems eerily prescient.
between this character and the librarian
in 'snow crash', it seems that i may
only have to read each stephenson book
in sequence in order to determine my
next career path ;)
finally, the book gives a somewhat
chilling, but totally reasonable,
extrapolation of how china might
develop in reaction to its current
liberal attitude towards capitalism,
but even more valuable, why this
i also spent some time in the evening
ripping some of the exquisite musical
tracks by mark isham from the dvd of
'the cooler'. i really enjoyed the
film, but the musical pieces really
did help to sell the story. william
h. macy is a god of an actor and the
performances by maria bello and alec
baldwin were also outstanding. my
highlight was the note in the director's
commentary, that he hated vegas
films which refused to show any real
gambling. and, of course, i am also
boggled by the whole NC-17 controversy
that was kicked up by this film.
broomball season starts again !
iqaluit broomball chronicles
team white: jacques, marco (1), daniel, garym, kerry (1)
team black: kevin, mark (1), dan, chris, me
the 2006-2007 broomball season kicked
off tonight with 10 players on the ice,
including 2 rookies who managed to keep
up quite well with the veterans. chris
had a bit of trouble keeping his footing
with the first pair of shoes that he
tried but still managed to make some
decent passes and had at least one good
opportunity for a goal. garym showed
some great positioning awareness and
successfully set up the fleet feet of
marco and kerry.
the teams were pretty well-matched with
the score going back and forth. mark
scored his first goal of the season in
a scramble around daniel in net after
a pass from dan. twinkle-toes marco
soon responded in kind, beating kevin
in the opposite net. when chris went
off the ice about halfway thru the game
to swap for better shoes, the rest of
us collapsed for a much-needed breather.
however, team white went ahead in the
2d half after jacques intercepted a
clearing pass at the center line and
pushed it up to marco who charged
towards the net. his shot bounced off
of kevin, but kerry had slipped past my
defenses and was able to one-time the
rebound from just outside the crease.
our next game will be Saturday, 23SEP
at 16:30 at the old arena.
the crowded ice ...
iqaluit broomball chronicles
team white: myself, JFre (1), chris, siobhan,
alastair, yoan, jillian, steve
team black: kerry, mark (2), marco (1), jacques (1),
sheila, gord, julian, garym (1), kevin
well, as you can tell from the rosters,
we had a packed locker room for the game
on saturday. with 17 players, we played
5 on 5, and with good bench strength, this
gave time for those without an entire set
of equipment to swap around while off the
ice. team white took a bit of a
shellacking as with so many fresh legs,
we never got a half-time to trade goalies
so that kevin wouldn't be so bored.
nonetheless, it was a very energetic game
and everyone who played got a nice workout.
rookies who made their first appearance
included sheila, gord, steve and jillian.
as well, yoan, julian, JFre, siobhan and
alastair made their season debuts.
jillian, wearing the same equipment that
chris wore last tuesday, seemed to be able
to keep her footing a bit better than he did,
tho his cycling helmet was much snazzier
than the red bowl which he passed on to
sheila and gord to share with great elan.
alastair demonstrated that he still had his
futbal touch, kicking the ball to safety a
number of times.
JFre proved that the long summer lazing
around had not impaired his sniper skills,
but he could not overcome the skilled
performance of team black's superstar
line of mark and marco. garym proved that
his strong debut performance on tuesday
was not a fluke by getting his first goal
of the season in only his 2d game. tho
yoan, chris and i all had opportunities
to strike across the red line, with jacques
and kerry back-checking well for team black,
team white wasn't able to convert their few
opportunities, especially with kevin
covering the net.
returning to radio
well, after some coaxing by thomas,
i found myself back in the radio booth
at cfrt this evening. his idea was
that instead of straining to make up
a unique playlist for each show, that
i should just use some that already
exist, namely, ones that i have traded
with others for using artofthemix.org.
i thought that was a fabulous idea and
when i floated it past jason, he was
ok with it too.
so, i was all set to have a link
posted to tonight's show (which went
alright, btw), but when i had rushed
home to hit the record button on my
pc, i neglected to note that the
program was set to the incorrect
recording source. so, nothing but
dead air was recorded. *sigh*.
however, i will make sure that i
don't repeat that for next week's
anyway, the mix that i featured was
of the shadow city' by the aotm
maybe i'll do a re-run later on in
the season ;)
unfortunately, with a number of
evening chores (like dishes that had
been sitting way too long in my sink),
i was unable to resume my weekend
'west wing' season 4 viewing marathon.
i really get a kick out of seeing how
politics can really be effective,
something that is a woeful mis-match
with my day2day experiences.
blue for broomball
iqaluit broomball chronicles:
team white: siobhan, jacques, marco (1), chris, daniel, steve
team black: jillian, JFre (1), kevin, kerry, julian, me
in the stands: JFra, john
playing 6 on 6 with no subs was a bit
of a challenge for many players who
were still sore from saturday's
exertions, but people seemed to be
getting their broomball legs. marco
was the first to strike as he caught
a pass from jacques and spotted kevin
out of position in net. however, JFre
soon tied it up with a burst of speed
over the center line to get past the
defenders of team white and put the
ball in behind daniel, giving me my
first assist of the season. both
teams were able to sustain strong
offensive pressure but were met by
equally strong defensive resistance.
since the teams were so evenly matched,
kevin took the opportunity to bat the
ball around in front of someone else's
net for a change while jillian took a
turn as backstop. chris almost put
team black ahead after he kicked a
centering pass from julian towards his
own goal, but luckily daniel came thru
for team white. siobhan was the queen
of the red line, successfully slowing
down or stopping many of the rushes by
JFre and kerry. freshmen steve and
chris demonstrated their versatility,
digging the balls out of the corners
and hovering around the net with sticks
at the ready.
however, with 10 minutes left, we had
to call a stop to the game as kerry
was injured accidentally. i didn't see
the incident, but i'm told that chris
took a shot and his follow-thru
continued on to kerry's jaw. chris
took kerry to the hospital where kerry
received 11 stitches. we hope that
kerry will make a complete recovery.
due to the AWG nhl fundraiser this
weekend, our saturday game is cancelled
and our next game will be next tuesday
at 7 p.m. at the old arena.
First Post (27FEB2005)
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