Thursday, December 13, 2007

Polling practices

A probe into past Liberal polling practices shows that the Conservative government actually polled two times more than the Liberals did when in power. Is this how our government should be spending taxpayers' money?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nuclear safety versus isotopes

I find Stephen Harper's rushed move to restart the Chalk River nuclear reactor highly unusual. In a manner uncharacteristic of Harper, our prime minister boldly declared "there will be no accident". What if there really is an accident? If no accident, then a near-miss or a small "incident", perhaps a leak? Isotopes for medical diagnosis are important, but I hope our parliamentarians carefully weigh the (small) chance of a catastrophic meltdown versus the medical risks of a month-long delay in diagnostic procedures for Canadian hospitals and patients. Let's not have the debate degrade into a game of partisan brinksmanship.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

More on Skype and firewall

Technological Supernova has an in-depth analysis of why Skype fails to launch when Leopard's firewall is active.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Skype and Leopard firewall

Leopard's firewall breaks Skype because it modifies application bits when a program is added to the firewall. As first mentioned on Accelerate Your Mac, applications that run a self-integrity check (as I believe Skype does) will fail to function properly after Leopard modifies the program. The solution? Disable Leopard's firewall.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hard drive benchmarks

I recently picked up a FreeAgent Pro (320 GB, SATA/USB 2.0/FireWire 400) to use as a backup drive for Time Machine. Before my purchase, I had called Seagate and asked what chipset was found in the enclosure - the agent told me it was an Oxford 924DSb. This is strange as the 924 chip supports FireWire 800, too. Nevertheless, I ran some quick benchmarks. Duplicating a 701 MB file on my internal hard drive (120 GB/5400 rpm) took 43 seconds, while duplicating a file on the FreeAgent Pro took 42 seconds over FW400.

Friday, October 26, 2007

OTA TV reception in downtown Kingston

I decided to try to save money in Kingston, so I didn't subscribe to cable TV. Instead, I purchased an old-school over-the-air (OTA) television antenna for my 25" TV. I have a RCA CANT1020 VHF/UHF antenna from Future Shop for $35. After applying dipole antenna principles for VHF channels, I get decent reception on most VHF frequencies.

Here's a listing of all channels I can receive:
CTVVHF 6Perfect audio, snowy pictureReception would improve with antenna fine-tuning
CBSVHF 7Perfect audio, snowy pictureReception would improve with antenna fine-tuning
CBCCKWSVHF 11Perfect audio, near perfect pictureMinor ghosting
PBSUHF 16Decent audio, snowy picture
Radio-CanadaUHF 32Perfect audio, perfect pictureCable quality
TVOUHF 38Perfect audio, near perfect pictureMinor static and ghosting
ABCUHF 50Decent audio, snowy picture

The antenna is placed behind two panes of glass, has an obstructed view of Cataraqui Bay and Lake Ontario, and is located in downtown Kingston.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

American senator sues God

A U.S. Senator has launched a lawsuit against God to draw attention to the unnecessarily litigious nature of Americans, as well as to make a point against religious conservatives who use the legal system to advance their own social and political views. But it's actually a serious lawsuit, and he outlines some great points of contention against the defendent! Link: Video

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Conservative cronyism

The Conservatives fail in their quest for integrity and transparency through the blatantly partisan appointment of Pat Binns, former PC premier of Prince Edward Island, to the post of Ambassador to Ireland. Binns also manages to push out a career diplomat who probably has years more experience in the diplomatic service than Binns. Is this what Stephen Harper does to improve Canadians' trust in government?

Logitech QuickCam Fusion

Logitech is known for being unfriendly to Macintosh users. They were kind enough to publish two FAQ items (1, 2) that listed cameras with UVC compatibility, which means that they will work with iChat under Mac OS X 10.4.9. However, the part numbers (P/N) are inaccessible without opening the package.

I took a chance and picked up a Logitech QuickCam Fusion from Best Buy. The model I bought was labelled with an icon reading "Works with Windows Vista" and also features "RightLight 2". The UPC (in Canada) was 097855035158. It was on sale for $59 and works perfectly with both our Power Mac G4 through a USB 1.1 hub and our iMac G5.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A gift of life

I am proud to see that young liberals have come together in support of a policy resolution that advocates for presumed consent (opt-out) organ donation in Ontario. This is a very small first step towards the adoption of presumed consent in legislation, a policy that has been adopted by Austria, Belgium and Spain. In these nations, the shortage of organs has been alleviated, waiting lists have shortened, and lives have been saved.

Think about how agonizing it is to be on a waiting list for something as simple as an academic program. Your future is at stake: what will you do if no space was available? What will you do with your career? Take this apprehensiveness and apply it to something as critical as your life: you will die if no organ is available. Such fears are faced by thousands of Ontarians every year. Unfortunately, not all of them receive the relief of a transplant, and hundreds die on a waiting list.

Presumed consent has its problems - the opt-out process must be facile, accessible and understood by all. It's not a pretty policy. No politician would serve as the champion of organ donation because it doesn't win votes, nor is it of everyday relevance to Canadians. However, the foundation of the Canadian health care system is built on a system of insurance - you hope you will never need it, but it's there when you do. Organ donation must be approached from the same way.

Globe and Mail article (Aug. 11 2007): Joint Venture

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Official Languages

Is it democracy when the Conservative government shuts down the Official Languages Committee? Is this the kind of transparency and accountability that Stephen Harper promised?

Monday, May 14, 2007

HIV epidemic

The Globe and Mail has a feature article on how a Kenyan woman left her home country, where HIV/AIDS runs rampant, to land in Canada as an immigrant only to be infected by a Canadian man. In a cruel and tragic twist, the immigration board now wants to deport her back to Kenya.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Macs @ MaRS

Apple published an in-depth segment about how Macs are being used to do life science research in a lab at MaRS, in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Unclean Air Act

On the Conservative Government's climate change "plan":

"It's not enough John, you know there's a lot of opportunity.... This plan is a terrible disappointment to me. No, I would say it's more than that. It's a sham, it sets weak targets that will fall far short of the Kyoto Protocol," - David Suzuki, April 27

“In my opinion, it is a complete and total fraud,” Mr. Gore said. “It is designed to mislead the Canadian people.” - Al Gore, April 28

Monday, April 23, 2007

Trek power

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day and a perfect opportunity to take my not-so-new road bike out for a spin. I've got an entry-level Trek 1200 and it rides awfully well. Nimble shifting, light frame (aluminum, but what I ride to school is a $100 Canadian Tire rusted steel clunker), and shoes with carbon soles that I picked up on sale for $50.

No complaints, pure spring bliss...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why did the queen smile?

Jean Chrétien tells us why the queen smiled before he signed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on April 17, 1982, twenty-five years to this day.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Diversity in Parliament

For almost 2 million people in Toronto, English is a second language. So I feel right at home here.
- Stéphane Dion

Stéphane said this as a joke in a speech to Toronto Liberals on Wednesday - but it raises a number of questions. Why do our visible minorities remains so underrepresented in our House of Commons? Also, why do people complain about Stéphane's ability to speak English? If he were not francophone, but instead had a very strong Punjabi or Chinese or German accent, would people still complain about his accent? Is it merely because he is from Quebec that gives the rest of Canada fodder to trash his language?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Chinese incompetence

A major construction accident in Beijing results not in the summoning of rescue workers but a blatant cover-up. Incompetence and deception come in pairs.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Question Period

I got to go to Question Period on Tuesday of this week. The best line?

Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Liberal):
Mr. Speaker, last fall, the minority Conservative government cut the funding to the Public Diplomacy Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the branch responsible for the international promotion of Canadian art and culture.

The $11.6 million cut will almost certainly mean the end of a variety of important promotional tools, including the exhibition of Canadian art in our embassies around the world.

Was Margaret Atwood right when she said, “there's more culture in a cup of yoghurt than in the Conservative government?”

Friday, March 2, 2007

Jean Charest takes the high road

Charest defends André Boisclair - excellent move! I believe it truly came from the heart, and not from the minds of political strategists. And I'm not being sarcastic here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

To separate or not to separate

Let's play partisan politics today. With the recent news that the Quebec Liberals are doing well even in Quebec City, one has to wonder what a federal Liberal is to think. Do we want Jean Charest to win, which would boost Stephen Harper's prospects in Quebec and his profile nationwide as a strong spokesperson for 'soft federalism'? Or do we want the Parti Quebecois and André Boisclair to win, who is flat-out lying to the Quebec people with his talk of 'public consultations' on referenda? Were the PQ to win, Stephen Harper's credibility in Quebec would diminish, and he would be seen as weak on the separatists. The federal Liberals would be perfectly placed to fight and win an election over this. And yet, the state of Confederation is placed in grave danger were this to play out.

A win by the Quebec Liberals would be a godsend for Harper's Conservatives. However, the unity of our country goes above partisan politics. As a proud Canadian first and a Liberal second, it is important that we remain one nation. I just hope that federal unity doesn't cost the federal Liberals the next general election.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hart House Lecture

The Hart House Lecture website is now fully up and running!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Low tuition

Max Fawcett writes in The Globe and Mail about why low tuition is not the way to go.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The power of the media

The CBC must be having a field day. First, they report that the Royal Bank has been denying U.S. dollar accounts to customers with dual citizenships. Today, they change their position. Then, the CBC reports HMCS Halifax can't set sail because the Canadian Navy has no money. Within hours, the Defence Minister announces an extra $3 million in funding for the mission. What happened to initiative?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Brings a tear to your eye

What do you do when you miss a little six-year-old when giving away free Mac stuff?

Monday, January 8, 2007

Time for more funding

As the TTC's ridership increases with continued population growth in the city and surrounding municipalities, it's time for more infrastructure and operating funds from all levels of government. Where's our new subway line? Where are the streetcar routes in Scarborough?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Same-sex rights

An Ontario court has ruled that a child can have three parents, in a landmark decision designed to protect the rights of same-sex couples and those of their child. Truly a step forward in equality for same-sex couples, at least in Ontario.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Apple countdown

Only seven days till Macworld Expo!

iPod + Zune

Mixing iPods and Zunes makes for some embarrassing retailing by Costco.