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senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

standing out from the crowd

permalink Thursday, 07SEP2006:

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 attentive crowd.

  • link of the day: spolsky outlines what 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.

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to be more than you are ...

permalink Saturday, 09SEP2006:

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 society.

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 

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a polished and well-loved rut ...

permalink Sunday, 10SEP2006:

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 gloomy sunday:
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
had achieved.  

He had settled into a rut of his own devising, 
a polished and well-loved rut ...

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see the lines that weave through the fabric of cyberspace

permalink Thursday, 14SEP2006:

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 done today.

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, after THREE BLOODY MONTHS of not responding to the pc. i tell ya, these pc's have got definite personalities.

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 replaced 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, had an interesting article today about the disappearance of BASIC from our computing environment and the negative impact this has on the development of the next generation of programmers.

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 ;)

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modern prophets

permalink Sunday, 17SEP2006:

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:

- calabash
- labile
- cineritious
- gallimaufry
- inculcate
- mephitic
- caducity
- pibroch
- invidious
- anfractuous

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 might happen.

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.

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broomball season starts again !

permalink Tuesday, 19SEP2006:

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.

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the crowded ice ...

permalink Saturday, 23SEP2006:

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.

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returning to radio

permalink Monday, 25SEP2006:

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 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 show.

anyway, the mix that i featured was 'secrets of the shadow city' by the aotm mixer cabell. 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.

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blue for broomball

permalink Tuesday, 26SEP2006:

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.

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