Category Archives: Saint John NB

It’s the end of the year and

It’s the end of the year and inventorying some of the server stuff, I noticed that this section has not been updated since May-ish. Nor has the site’s software been upgraded. I still plan to use the weblog (I always hated that word), but I have no idea about the frequency. Maybe a couple of posts a month. For now, random bits about the year of 2014:

  • The biggest story of 2014 was the plane disaster above the Ukraine (wikipedia). There were a lot of Indo-Dutch people on this flight which end destination was Indonesia. I (and fellow former Dutch citizens) was horrified to see that the Dutch government squirm its way to find a proper response. Their first goal would have been immediate repatriation of the dead1.
  • The other plane disaster, MH317 (wikipedia) still has many internet “conspirilogists” (I made up that word) think up many new ways how this plane could have disappeared. I’m with CNN: it was a black hole.
  • Now that I have a border collie mix, I also have started uploading videos of the long road to train her to become a dog – If you like dogs, feel free to watch the playlist (Youtube, Pepper videos)

For now, a good New Year’s eve and see you on the other side of the year.

1 That said, excellent repatriation process (cbc link) for the victims tho.

Holy, Months

Holy moly, I’ve not updated since last year? Preposterous! Might just as well give it ago:

The worst part of 2013’s last days was the rainstorm annex ice storm that hit parts of Ontario and NB: In our region, I recall people being out of power for over a week while temperatures dipped down to the -20s (Celsius). I tend to frequently bring up the power restoring issues when Juan hit Truro back in 2003: however, having no power nor backup heat while it’s -20 degrees out? I’d pick out Juan as my preferred ‘out-of-power’ event. Technically, I believe this Winter is going to be one of the worst I’ve seen here: Fluctuating temperatures from + 4 to -20s and way too much snow.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but since early September we decided to bring back home a puppy. Welcome to Pepper, our overlord border collie/australian something mix. Now that’s she’s also been legally fixed (‘spayed’), it’s time to get her agility training (SLYT) going.

And last but not least, forthcoming coding projects this year include a ‘diff tool’, a ‘zip tool’ and hopefully, a wrapped-up ‘SQL tool’. And some of that.

SF and other unrelated news

After having not used Sourceforge for over 10 years, I’ve decided to move some of my sources back to Sourceforge. The main reason for that is that SF still allows devs to distribute binaries as part of their projects. Google (and GitHub) have slowly moved away from this citing ‘security’ issues. From an open-source perspective, I can understand Google’s and Github’s reasoning. On the good side: SF does support Git these days and frankly, while SF’s main interface looks confusing, I didn’t have a hard time to start committing changes thru git. One major surprise: back in 2003: to start a project it had to go thru a long and elaborate approval process first. This time, setting up Convendro’s project page (and committing sources) only took an hour or so. Henceforth: Convendro’s new project page sans downloads.

I’ve slowly moved to watching videos on YouTube: surprisingly only because it allows me to watch videos I want to watch as opposed to Cable TV. I’ll discuss my subscription list at a later stage but the point of me mentioning this is this elaborate list of videos of the Russian’s point of view of the Second World War (link via MetaFilter). Mind you, it is a Russian documentary (in 18 episodes). If you can stand the patriotic undertones, it’s worth a watch: each episode is around 45 minutes.

And last but not least: I can confirm that we have not had any hurricanes this season yet. It’s almost mid-September and no torrential rains (or gutting winds) have been sighted yet. Accuweather (link to article) blames this on abnormally warm Pacific waters, which apparently have created more westerly winds:

The atmosphere over the tropics thus far has behaved more like an El Nino pattern, where abnormally warm Pacific Ocean waters create westerly winds aloft over the tropical Atlantic. The current sea surface temperature pattern over the tropical Pacific is considered to be neutral.

I guess this may mean that hurricane-related insurance premiums may go down. That is a joke.

Greenpeace and other stuff

I was sort of impressed with Amy Larkin’s “Environmental Debt” presentation at GoogleTalk. I’m saying “sort of”, only because, what she’s saying is not exactly new. She urges companies to switch from short term profit to ‘long term profit and sustainability': her primary example is the Thai flooding of 2011, which affected (and still affects) international and local industries. The main cause of the flooding however, was the massive deforestation that happened in Thailand years ago. Cause and effect, simple. Once again, not exactly new, but worth a watch.

Locally, in SJ/NB, we barely got past the July heat spell which brought an interesting weather phenomenon to New Brunswick: The tornado. Without being too alarmist, I believe NOAA reported that once again the heat records were broken this year (link) and subsequently, global warming is frequently tied to extreme weather events (quote):

According to the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP, 2008), “most of North America has been experiencing more unusually hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights and fewer frost days. Heavy downpours have become more frequent and intense. Droughts are becoming more severe in some regions”.

Both TO and SJ have had their share of torrential rains this year, not to mention, the freak rain incidents back in Alberta. Are they all related to global warming? That’s up for the weather statisticians and scientists to tell (quote Canadian underwriter):

“I think as long as our economic policies are they way they are, and we keep putting more carbon dioxide up into the atmosphere, the temperature’s going to continue to rise, so we will see more of these events continue to happen. If you took a poll of a bunch of researchers, I think they would agree.

Activities in Linux

Now that I’ve finally moved on to bigger hardware, I can officially retire my 2008 DV-5 1157-CA (this link doesn’t exist anymore). It has served me well, while costing me two harddrives, because, well, it obviously lost one fan at one time resulting in overheating. As you know, the number one killer of harddrives is heat.

While we’re at it: I’ve decided to steer away from major brand laptops like HP and Toshiba: I have had both brands and have seen the quality dwindle down. Current models look ugly and are extremely fragile. I don’t mean that you should be able to drop a laptop from 20 feet or so.

My favourite part of the DV-5 was the fact that it could play recent games fairly well (see category) because of the size of the video ram: For a general all-purpose laptop in 2008, 512 MB was a lot. Additionally, the laptop is not extremely hard to take apart: heck, at one time, HP’s site had elaborate instructions how to do it yourself and where to order spare parts from. Maybe that’s all we need from laptop manufacturers: sell laptops that one can repair and upgrade yourself.

For now, the DV-5 is running the latest Ubuntu flavour.

A beach runs here

Summer’s been over now 10 or so days and looking outside, it feels like Fall (or Autumn) snapped in here before we could even think of typical Fall things, like seeing the leafs colour and/or raking them up. I believe our trees started shedding their leafs early, only because of the extremely hot temperatures back in July.

That said, this Summer we actually managed to ‘hit the road’ for a change and visit the amazing places that NB has to offer: Saint Martins, Saint Andrews and which ever places are in between these towns. The most remarkable place we ended up visiting was New River beach park: We happened to swing by it (accidentally) at low and high tide.

At one time, a while ago on this blog I complained about the fact that, when living in NS, that there were so many NB tourism commercials. Now that I’ve been living here for over 4 years, there are indeed many reasons why you’d want to check out NB during the Summer season.

Summer respite and yards

We seem to be slightly going back to normal temperatures here in SJ: that is, cooler temperatures particularly in the morning. You might say that this Summer was one of the warmest: Even Accuweather seems to be suggesting the very same. If I recall correctly, we had 2 weeks of scorching temperatures and even now, I don’t think we’re totally out of troubles yet. But yeah, the temperature changes in the morning (and the dew and our famous fog at that) are refreshing. One could say, I’m almost ready for Winter.

So, the state of the yard is so – so: This was the first year, I’ve seen brown grass patches around the yard. Partially, I blame myself for rigorously cutting the grass too low. There seems to be a good part to the story tho: We cut some of the banks and weeds so low that the wild berry bushes and thistles have been thriving which in turn attracted a lot more ‘good’ insects (bees and monarchs) to our backyard. I believe last year I mentioned I would never take down thistles as they literally serve as ‘lunch rooms’ for foraging working bees. This year the same holds true.

This is cat.

When our oldest cat passed away, there was generally no doubt that we’d get a new one to accompany our other cat, Puffy (right here!). To be frank: Puffy the black cat is just not photogenic. Kitty (“Katherine”) was, Puffy not.

So, our new cat, Molly (“Millifred”) brought home a cold, flees and a bold new change of the guard as she, now over a month in, she’s bossy and tender. She’s obviously a young thing, but I don’t recall Puffy being as bad. Ever. They do get along so once and a while.

Which reminds me that I’ve slowly attributed human skills to these cats, which obviously my wife finds extremely unfair: Kitty was an extremely smart cat who could turn on and off light switches and who preferred human heat. Puffy, is the fuzzy sort of cat who at this age still does not cover up her, well, messages. And Molly? I fear she’s going to be a troll, who does not give any damn if you’re bigger than her.

On preview: I should go back to reading my books.

Kitty and/or Peanut

When Imoved to Canada and married my wife almost 12 years ago, I automatically begot two pets, Katy the wonderdog and Peanut (nee Kitty). We lost Katy 2 years or so ago (previously). Last Wednesday we put down Peanut: for three of four days she had refused to eat solid food and she had lost so much weight that she could hardly stand up. During her illness, she was fairly fief tho: her last days she would never give up on purring her head off. Literally.

The death of Peanut feels like it marks the end of a an amazing set of years: Both dog Katy and cat Peanut were part of a 12 year adventure of fun, sadness, love and determination. Unsurprisingly, our cat never ceased to amaze and aggravate us and I guess, those are the stories of her that we will remember for, well, until we cease to exist ourselves.

As an atheist, I’ve never believed in a heaven or hell for humans. If there was a heaven or hell, I’m so hundred percent certain that this cat would have been a prime candidate for either place. If there was such a thing like ‘Feline History’, I’m sure her antics would have gloriously been part of that. For now, I’m glad that we were able to bury her next to her pal Katy.

Murdering the classics

I‘ve mentioned Yo La Tengo before on xsamplex (right here); as part of my ‘Past The Bridge’ series, I (slightly) proclaimed my likeness for the NJ based band.

If you’ve been on the Internet, you are probably aware of the band’s yearly “Yo La Tengo is murdering the classics”-gig, where the band takes requests for the illustrious radio station WFMU. I recorded one such session in 2008 (briefly discussed here), which was exactly right before I moved to work in SJ. Ever since then I missed the opportunity to listen, well, except for like 2 weeks ago, were a timely reminder (Metafilter, props) reminded me to get my recording gear in action.

Today’s ‘Past The Bridge’ sample is the full track of Yo La Tengo’s rendition of The Clean’s “Tally Ho” – the full track can be found in my media section. Compare that with the original, and judge for yourself (Single Youtube Link)

I have not yet sorted through the whole setlist: I recall that during a couple of songs I slightly lost connection here and there. Generally though, it was an excellent session. If only I had time to separate the tracks out for both 2008 and 2012 sessions.

Winter 2012

On the personal side: This month the weather has been really wet and mild. The weather has been hovering around the -5 to +7 degrees. I recall we only had 2 or 3 days really cold weather (-19s). Additionally, we had a couple of snow days, but since the temperature still goes up during the day, most of the snow has melted and/or changed into ice. It definitely doesn’t make for good photo opportunities.

Continuing on that post I made earlier this month on Elite and X3 (here): I decided to get Evochron Mercenary. From the initial screens,the impression I got is that this game strongly resembles Elite. It looks like fun (you know, that is if you like these free-form games) but you can’t compare it to the X3 series. Evochron seems to focus on the Newtonian flight model: to be honest, the flight model is not all too different from X3. When I find time (time is precious), I’ll take a closer look at EM. Get it or not? Well: it’s not badly priced. If you’re into games with a steep learning curve, you should check it out.

Having spent almost 100 hours on X3:Albion Prelude, I find the game itself sort of boring: this is mostly because there are no real missions in this extension pack. Sadly, X3:AP does not include the X3:TC missions and as far as I can tell only contains one true mission. Egosoft promised to reintroduce the PHQ (Player Headquarters) in a V2 of X3:Albion Prelude, but the emptiness has quite some people upset. Lets hope I can run X Rebirth on my laptop.

20/11 hindsight

The main event that marked 2011 was most likely the Japanese tsunami back in March, which triggered that nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant. I mentioned the disasters in a posting on March 20th (here), where I mainly focused on how the media presented the disaster to the public and how “hot” news events like that, slightly fall below the news radar because reporting the death of thousands of people sells.

On the Canadian side: the most important events circled around the Canadian general elections (May 2nd), where the CP managed to get the majority of seats in the House. Surprisingly, the NDP decimated the Liberals and ended up becoming the Official Opposition party. Not long after, the NDP’s leader Jack Layton retired from politics and died of cancer back in August. Layton’s funeral was most likely the number one story in Canada. I’ve not mentioned this year (I think) but I was eligible to vote. This was not as much as an emotional event as when I accepted the citizenship back in 2010. However, it was definitely a memorable ‘first’.

As usual, for a more detailed Canadian outlook of 2011, the CBC has put together a list of the most visited stories on their site, ordered by month.

Update: I’m totally aware of the Arab Spring, the death of Khadafi and even, the death of Kim Jong-il: too be honest, while interesting I have my doubts that things will be changing for the better any time soon in the affected countries. If so, I’ll surely bring it up.

More of December and the same

I‘ve been mostly reading books these days: The Iconia I bought for my birthday (review) is the ideal reading device. Well, mind the glare then: I’m sure that future devices will have touchscreens sans gloss. What’s the point of having a tablet if you can’t use it outside?

Anyway: reading books. I was finally able to finish off a bunch of book series: I finished all of the Hunger Games books. I also finished off the ‘Sword of Truth’ set: while I liked it, I thought the writing quality had its ups and downs. I thought the Harry Potter books were pleasant: as with the movies, they did go from ‘light-hearted’ to mostly ‘dark’. Well, with the traditional happy end, because these are kids books, mostly. I have this feeling that JK Rowling will not produce anything of substance after finishing off HP.

I’ve kept track of most books on Twitter: sadly, Twitter is not the best media to store ‘historical’ data. Since I’m mostly using the Amazon Kindle reader, I was surprised to see that Amazon doesn’t really track which books I read. With envy I look at the Kobo reader, which has an excellent ‘social’ media ‘tie-in’ and ‘achievements’. I do find electronic books rather expensive. Oh well, back to reading my book