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senatorhung's pad
ramblings of an information troubleshooter

busting in the new year

permalink Sunday, 01JAN2006:

after returning from vinnie's party, i stayed up a bit longer to play another couple of rounds of online poker before watching the rest of the election debate between the leaders of the major political parties. paul martin, tho speaking of his optimism, continually appeared to be rocking back onto his heels and acting defensively, hiding what should be simple matters as complex ones. harper, on the other hand, seemed to simplify issues that needed a much fuller deliberation. layton appeared as a teacher, at times lecturing and at other times cajoling, attempting to create a connection with the audience, but not often succeeding. duceppe was competent at presenting his party's case that they have been effective in opposition, ensuring that quebec's interests have been upheld. however, i have to say that when i make my ballot decision, my feelings about the local candidates and their viewpoints sways me more than what the party leadership espouses. it was still good to see what issues are at the forefront in the rest of canada - we can sometimes get too caught up in northern issues to see how to relate to what's going on in the rest of the country.

after my restless afternoon nap, i arrived at todd's ready to play in another small game of poker. now, as i was telling someone else at the new year's eve party, i have indeed taken my readings in 'the advanced concepts of poker' to heart. however, as long as i'm not looking to make my living off of this sordid hobby, i'm not soaking my bank account in debt, and i'm playing with people that i like to hang out with, then i'm not sure that spending time on this 'unproductive' habit is any worse than the computer games and web surfing that i would presumably otherwise fill my spare time with. i still have the idea in my head that if i can work on 'reading' people better, that those skills would have applicability in other ventures of my life, but i do have lingering doubts about whether the poker table is the most effective venue to attempt to hone them.

that said, tonight i was able to break my months-long losing streak at todd's table. 6 of us started out, with blinds increasing roughly every half hour. even so, there were still 6 of us around the table a couple of hours in. i managed to best my last performance after i folded out on the 5th hand with chips still in front of me. it was a good thing i did, tho, as becky ended up acquiring a royal flush of diamonds once the board came down. i did fumble a couple of times early on where, while worrying about flushes, i didn't recognize that my full house was the top hand on the table. i put myself in a medium stack position before i started to play a bit less loosely.

my luck didn't turn for the better until after i cracked open my first pepsi in nearly a week. after that, it seemed that nothing could go wrong. my biggest problem is that i often let my mood be controlled by the quality of my cards. perhaps the pepsi jolt just gave me enough of a burst where i could give up on lousy hands a bit quicker or push a bit more where i sensed weakness. in any case, i began to jockey for the chip lead with patrick as people slowly started to drop out. spencer busted out in 3d place to get his stake back. heads-up play between patrick and i see-sawed with both of us dropping large-ish stacks on inopportune bluffs. the worst was when the betting got so heavy that the pot had more chips than either of us had combined, and we both were betting with barely anything in the hole. by betting all-in at the turn, i pushed patrick out of that huge pot and after that it was just a matter of time. one of the key things that worked in my favour tonight is that i didn't turn over my hole cards very often, either buying the pot or folding out whenever facing any inordinate resistance. to be frank, i didn't feel at all skilled tonight, but merely lucky with the turn of the cards.

in the follow-up side game, 5 of us played winner-take-all, with karen admonishing us for playing too agressively in the previous tourney. however, as this game progressed, it was karen who ended up with the chip lead, tho to her credit, she didn't use the stack to bully us, but just waited patiently for the right hands to bet. in the final 3 with karen, again spencer and i faced off, but once spencer got tired of his success at playing mr. tight all evening, his stack bled away quickly. by this time it was nearly 2 in the morning and karen welcomed my suggestion to split the pot to end this fun night of gaming.

  • link of the day: PBS tech commentator explains how pay per click is killing the traditional publishing industry. he argues that the engine of print is advertising where there is a 75% ad to 25% content ratio. online, this advertisting/content ratio is inverted, so:
    More pay-per-click means more online 
    content but ultimately less money for 
    producing that content.  Print 
    publications fade from sight or 
    continue primarily as art forms, 
    rather than businesses.  It will take 
    another decade to happen, but happen 
    it will.
    And none of this is intentional.  
    This isn't Google or Yahoo or any 
    other company setting out to destroy 
    an industry.  It is simple Darwinian 
    evolution that will ultimately make 
    many print publications as obsolete 
    as I already am.
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best way to spend the last day of holidays before going back to work

permalink Monday, 02JAN2006:

was woken up by a message left on my answering machine around 10a.m., after only going to sleep around 7. i had trouble getting back to sleep, and while i lay there daydreaming, i connected a couple of meandering thoughts and started writing in the leather notebook that i keep beside my bed (a very thoughtful gift from my sister). i drafted up a short poem that had a bit of an ocean theme and then started humming the melody from 'nancy whiskey', one of the songs sung by the northern ramblers. i started singing along using the words that i had written and suddenly leapt out of bed to turn on my pc. knowing how ephermeral my memory can be, i quickly recorded myself singing the verses with multiple takes for different voices / phrasings. satisfied that i had done at least something for the day, i went back to bed and slept the rest of it away.

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what is obvious and what should be obvious

permalink Tuesday, 03JAN2006:

got back to work today after over 2 weeks away to stare down the accumulated piles of mail and email. i worried away at both piles during the day and by the end, had managed to spot daylight thru both stacks. the strangest request was an email from someone via the web who wanted to get a copy of an 1835 u.k. act. i replied with the full citation and a query about where he was in canada so i could direct him to another law library location that might have a hardcopy. he sent a note back asking for me to scan it and send it to him as an attachment. amazing audacity ! first, the expectation that my arctic library serving a territorial population of 30,000, with only around 60 lawyers, would have this kind of historical material at hand; second, the idea that it would be no bother to scan such an act which could encompass dozens of pages; third, that any info could be delivered a.s.a.p. and for free to boot ! now, i'm rooting for the google revolution as much as anyone else (i am a shareholder after all), but let's have some perspective here, folks.

  • ip idiocy link of the day: patent epidemic that threatens to drag down innovation:
    To many observers, one of the primary 
    culprits in this situation is the 
    evisceration of the obviousness test 
    by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. 
    That has led to a flood of low-quality 
    patents being granted, and made it 
    particularly difficult to challenge a 
    patent in court on the ground of 
    The court, which hears nearly all patent 
    appeals, said the judge had not followed 
    its rule for inventions based on a 
    combination of existing elements.  That 
    rule says courts -- and patent examiners 
    -- can't reject an invention as obvious 
    unless they can point to specific 
    references suggesting the elements could 
    be combined.  Those references are 
    typically previous patents or technical 
    Defenders of the rule say it prevents 
    hindsight bias -- the natural tendency 
    of a person to regard something as 
    obvious once she sees it -- by requiring 
    documented evidence that an idea was 
    easily within grasp.  KSR and others who 
    oppose the rule say it is contrary to 
    guidelines set by the Supreme Court, 
    which last considered the issue 40 years 
    ago.  And they say it doesn't square with 
    how the world works.
    Microsoft attorney Culbert notes that new 
    technology emerges all the time that isn't 
    written about in scientific journals or 
    other published materials, particularly in 
    fast-developing areas such as software. 
    Other commentators have noted that, in 
    many fields, what gets written down is 
    precisely what isn't obvious, guaranteeing 
    that what the Federal Circuit Court 
    requires won't be found.  The bottom line: 
    Rulings rejecting patents on the basis of 
    obviousness are rare, and massive 
    overpatenting continues to be a thriving 
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show me the money (trail) !

permalink Wednesday, 04JAN2006:

tis my dear sis' b'day today, so i was up until 5 working on an mp3 cd with my mixes sorted into separate folders so she can play them on her recently aquired mp3 player. she's based in china and doesn't get to hear a lot of canadian music. so much for getting back to a day schedule - surviving the workday on 3 hours of sleep was quite a challenge!

  • ip idiocy link of the day: the chair of the standing committee on canadian heritage that issued the one-sided 2004 copyright reform report is now being lambasted for accepting campaign donations from copyright-oriented corporations and organizations. another blogger has outlined the reaction of his local mp to this news. we have an election forum for our local candidates next tuesday, and i plan on asking our liberal mp about her thoughts on the matter, seeing as she was a member of that same heritage committee.
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tired of the runaround

permalink Friday, 06JAN2006:

after a frustrating morning of unanswered questions, i spent a couple of hours running around town picking up lighting stuff with bella and her van. we hit up the legion, IBC, the high school and KRT before dropping everything off at the french school. we'll be setting up the lights on sunday for next weekend's play. i'm always amazed when things come together at the last minute, but i think i could do without the stress. if i have committed to do something, i want to do it properly, and if my hands are tied because someone else isn't on the ball or seems to treat my concerns as an afterthought, it really irks me. i was fairly tempted to wash my hands of the situation and pop over to next saturday's poker match instead.

also managed to draft up my copyright question for tuesday evening's election forum at the parish hall. with bulte now getting roasted in the mainstream media, we'll see how our local MP deals with the fallout from her membership on the heritage committee that issued the one-sided 2004 copyright reform report.

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corporations hand in hand ...

permalink Saturday, 07JAN2006:

went to bed around 8 last night, so i woke up early on a saturday - a very infrequent occurrence, i assure you. i spent a couple of hours catching up on the news and blogs before going back to bed for a short nap before heading up to the french school in the afternoon to work out some of the technical bugs before tomorrow's setup.

i had been warned that the spotlight was awol, so i fiddled with it first, re-fixing the ground wire and re-seating the bulb so that its plug wouldn't shake around too much. plugged it in, flicked the switch and presto ! we were good to go. next up were the fresnels which had to be dusted off. i tweaked a few of them but i had forgotten my multi screwdriver, so i'll still have to do a bit tomorrow morning. however, the biggest thing i missed was the safety chains, so i hurriedly gave adrian a call and he will meet me up at the high school tomorrow. my fingers are crossed that the chains will be where i'm guessing they are, left behind after the high school's 'grease' production last spring.

went to the astro to watch 'syriana' in the evening and picked up some gift certificates for some folks who gave me presents at xmas. syriana was pretty swell - it juggled a whole bunch of threads like 'the constant gardener' did and ended up with a bunch of people dying who didn't deserve to, but did so in a smart, rather than hopeless fashion. yes, global politics is complicated and corporations are designed to be greedy rather than moral, but syriana makes those connections the story itself, while in TCG those connections are merely used as window dressing for a sappy weepy love story.

as another fallout of the XCP fiasco, bruce schneier outlines what he thinks is the real story of the $ony rootkit:
The story to pay attention to here 
is the collusion between big media 
companies who try to control what we 
do on our computers and 
computer-security companies who are 
supposed to be protecting us.

Initial estimates are that more than 
half a million computers worldwide 
are infected with this Sony rootkit. 
Those are amazing infection numbers, 
making this one of the most serious 
internet epidemics of all time -- on 
a par with worms like Blaster, 
Slammer, Code Red and Nimda.

What do you think of your antivirus 
company, the one that didn't notice 
Sony's rootkit as it infected half a 
million computers?  And this isn't 
one of those lightning-fast internet 
worms; this one has been spreading 
since mid-2004.  Because it spread 
through infected CDs, not through 
internet connections, they didn't 
notice?  This is exactly the kind of 
thing we're paying those companies 
to detect -- especially because the 
rootkit was phoning home. 


The only thing that makes this rootkit 
legitimate is that a multinational 
corporation put it on your computer, 
not a criminal organization.
when people wonder why i don't bother with anti-virus software, i can add this to my usual response that the AV folks need virus-creators to sustain their business, and with such a specialized skillset involved, it's not hard to imagine a 'chinese wall' setup where one hand is fixing what the other hand is busily breaking ...

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