Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome to the machine

First post from the new BlackBerry. Watch for me wandering the halls like an Alzheimer's patient any time now...

Friday, November 27, 2009


Nine years ago yesterday, I was not watching the 88th Grey Cup.

Nine years ago today, I was not voting in a Federal Election.  In fact, we voted at an advance poll, just in case.

Nine years ago, I was not slogging through a tough week at RSNA.  Morgan was nice enough to take my place in the barrel that year.  If I'd gone, I might have forgotten what hotel I was staying in...

Nine years ago, I was definitely not wearing comfortable underwear.

Nine years ago today, I met a pretty young lady.

From Gymnastics

From Arrowhead

Jr Curling

Happy birthday Veronica!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 Home Hardware Bonspiel - Day Three

Day three had us up late in the festival city of Stratford, for a 9:00pm game.  I'm getting too old to be staggering into bed at 1:00am on a Wednesday night, er, Thursday morning.

The game didn't look good for us early.  We spent the first few ends giving up two without and taking one with the hammer.  Math is not one of my strong points, but even I can figure out that you can't win if you keep that up.

We got a break in the fifth when they flashed a hit and we stole two.  Repeat of the same in the sixth, for another steal of two. 

Controversy erupted in the seventh.  They had three rocks near the outside of the sheet, one of them in the top 12.  I threw a hit at the rock in the house, but it broke late and ticked the guard.  On its way out of play, it ticked the third rock, and put it in the house.  Nobody was watching closely, but from the angle the rock moved, the shooter must have been out of play when it made contact.  Since nobody saw it happen, we decided to leave it where it was.  They split a rock in to sit four on the next shot.  Our skip made a nice double, and in the end they scored a deuce, although it should have been a single.  Where’s instant replay when you need it?

In the eighth we had a nice end set up, sitting three in the four foot, with one at the back of the button.  We put up a guard with our skip's first rock, and it didn't quite finish far enough.  The opposing skip and vice were trying to decide which in-off to throw.  I didn't mind either one, since neither was going to work.  Their front end yelled down the ice to try a shot through a small hole near the centre line.  Which they finally decided to go with, and made perfectly.  Our skip tried to follow them down, but his rock didn't curl as much, and we wrecked on a guard.

All-in-all, a fun week as usual, and an early finish as usual.

Them (h)  2  0  2  0  0  0  2  1
Us        0  1  0  1  2  2  0  0

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Deferred lunacy

At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old man (hold your comments on that, please), this is the stupidest idea I’ve heard in a long time.

In the UK, the Professional Association of Teachers is suggesting that nobody fails.  Instead, students are told they met with “deferred success”.

At least someone has recognized how insane this idea is.   Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary, says:

"It's really important for young people to grow up with the ability to get on and achieve, but also to find out what failure is.

"When young people grow up and enter the adult world they have to deal with success and failure, and education is about creating well-rounded young people who can deal with these sorts of situations."

If you want well rounded kids, they have to fall off their bike once in a while.  The last thing I want when I hire a new grad is for them to come in with the attitude that success is automatic.  A little hard work goes a long way towards success.

My wife is a college professor, and the kids coming out of high school these days seem to already have this attitude, that they deserve good marks for just showing up.  Wake up kids – the real world doesn’t work that way.

2009 Home Hardware Bonspiel - Day Two

Day two saw us at the Galt Country Club.  Home to fast ice and fast women.  Er, maybe I'm thinking of some other place...

Anyway, we played a much better game last night, though the ice was tricky.  Very greasy underfoot - our lead nearly blew a groin sweeping in the first end.

There was good speed, as usual at Galt, but not too much curl.  More than Fergus, but outside the four foot lines it fell back with any more than board weight.  We figured that out before the other team, and used it to our advantage.

Them (h)  0  2  1  0  0  0  0  x

Us        2  0  0  1  1  1  1  x

Tonight we're in Stratford, and the pressure is on to win to stay alive.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2009 Home Hardware Bonspiel - Day One

Action got underway last night in the 2009 Home Hardware Bonspiel.  This year's event is being hosted by the Fergus Curling Club, as part of the club's 175th anniversary.  Where else can you curl on sheet 8 in a four sheet club?

Team JugOrNot took a pass this year, but half of the team is sparing in it.

Last night we got the party started in Fergus.  Since it's the 175th year, they're piping the teams in for every draw.  That was cool - my first time being piped in via live piper.  My daughter has done it once too, and she's only eight and 51/52nds years old.

We had a decent game.  The ice was reasonably quick, but dead straight.  A number of times we tried to bury behind a guard but left it wide open.  A nasty side effect from playing with six feet of curl in Elmira this year.  Our opponents were able to hit and roll behind cover a number of times, putting us in trouble.  I ended up throwing more runbacks than I ever have, sometimes trying runback doubles to bail out.  Those actually turned out ok.  In the end, we couldn't pull out the 3-spot coming home to tie it up.

Them    1  1  0  3  1  0  1  x

Us (h)  0  0  2  0  0  2  0  x

Tonight we're in Galt, at the Country Club.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Choking on the Kool-Aid

I’m trying to drink the Kool-Aid.  I really am.  But when I install something from Microsoft, it just works.  Nothing fancy to do, no hacks.

I installed Eclipse, and to update one of the plug-ins, I had to use the Eclipse software update feature.  All good, except it didn’t work.

I had to visit The Google, which pointed me to a site that described a fix for the problem.

I’m happy to start smoking clove cigarettes, wearing Birkenstocks and hemp clothes.  Just give me some software that works out of the box.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials

The Canadian Olympic Curling Trials run December 6 to 13 in Edmonton.  For the last trials, I correctly picked the women's winner, Shannon Kleibrink, but stumbled badly in my men's pick, choosing Randy Ferbey.  Ferbey coughed up a furball, and made me (and a lot of other people) look bad.

Here's the list of qualified teams, and my picks.


Randy Ferbey, Edmonton
Jason Gunnlaugson, Beausejour, Man.
Glenn Howard, Coldwater, Ont.
Kevin Koe, Edmonton
Kevin Martin, Edmonton
Wayne Middaugh, Toronto
Pat Simmons, Moose Jaw
Jeff Stoughton, Winnipeg

Who I'd like to win:  Glenn Howard.  Class guy, class team.  They would be instant favourites to win a medal in Vancouver, and likely a nice shiny one.

Who I think will win:  Kevin Martin.  Tough team to beat, but last year's world championships showed that it is possible.  Kevin will be motivated to improve on his silver medal from Salt Lake.

Dark horse picks:  Kevin Koe & Jeff Stoughton.  Don't be shocked to see either of these guys in the final, or even winning it all.  Koe is [over]due for win in a big event.


Cheryl Bernard, Calgary
Amber Holland, Kronau
Jennifer Jones, Winnipeg
Shannon Kleibrink, Calgary
Stefanie Lawton, Saskatoon
Krista McCarville, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Kelly Scott, Kelowna, B.C.
Crystal Webster, Calgary

Who I'd like to win:  Shannon Kleibrink.  I think they can get it done.

Who I think will win:  Jennifer Jones.  Nobody else is as cool under pressure, even when her team is starting to shake uncontrollably around her.

Dark horse picks:  Stefanie Lawton.  Also [over]due for a win in a big event.  The sisters have won big at the junior level, and all they need now is to come up with a good week at the Trials.

I may feel a bout of swine flu coming on, just in time for TSN's coverage to get underway...

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Punch the monkey

There comes a time in every software project's life when it must be set free.  You know you've reached this point by the volume and quality of the defects being reported by your testers.  Crash reports go way down, and the trivial bugs go way up.

For example, if you get a defect report that says the window frame is blue and the tooltips are yellow, and that doesn't match your application's colour scheme, it's time to ship (or stop running on XP).  If you get a defect report that says your application is doing nothing, but it's not actually running at the moment, it's time to ship.

Our application has a user interface feature where certain elements appear in tabs.  These tabs can be activated, deactivated, or closed.  To make it intuitive for the user to close, we added an 'x' button, similar to those found in IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc.  It's a standard, well accepted way of closing content.  Except for the defect report that tells me it's too easy to use.

I think I'll add a "punch the monkey" feature to close the tabs.

Headline: man uses saw, keeps fingers


I can still count to 10 without taking off any clothes.  Yes, after using a mitre saw for 7 hours on Saturday, I still have all my fingers.

Not much of an achievement for those skilled in manual labour, but I type for a living, so the fingers are a must-have.  I’ve seen voice recognition software in action – it doesn’t cut the mustard.  The cheese, maybe…

Anyway, the basement work is almost done, and looking good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Digging in the dirt

One thing they don’t tell you in software development school is that not every fix will be a thing of beauty.

You don’t frame every code change and hang it on the wall.  Sometimes, you feel so dirty after making a change that you need to hit the shower.

Although, once you get your hands dirty, sometimes it’s fun to put on the headphones, crank up the tunes, and get in touch with your inner cowboy.  Playing in the mud is fun.  Just remember to commit the code under someone else’s name…


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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Conversation of the day

I was sitting with a colleague yesterday, watching him fix a tricky bug.  One of his monitors started flickering.

Me: That doesn’t look good.

John: That’s not too bad, actually.  In a few minutes it will get worse.  Then it will get a lot worse.  Then I have to reboot.

Me: You’d better save that file.

John: It’s not the losing work that bothers me, it’s the seizure I’m going to have from all that flickering.

Me: That’s not good either.

John: I don’t know.  Sometimes I wake up, the bug is fixed, and there’s a full tank of gas in my car.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tailpipe emissions

Here’s a study that says dogs leave a larger footprint than SUVs.

They argue that a medium-size dog consumes 90 grams of meat and 156 grams of cereals daily, resulting in a footprint of 0.84 hectares, while a Toyota Land Cruiser uses 55.1 gigajoules yearly, equating to a footprint of about 0.41 hectares.

It’s a bit controversial, of course.  They made some assumptions about mileage driven, and dog food.  Perhaps the biggest error in the study was not taking into account tailpipe emissions.  Although, I think my dog’s tailpipe emissions can beat any SUV on the planet…

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

This week in junior curling

We had three Canadian curling champions as guest coaches this week.  Hilary McDermott, Laura Hickey and Danielle Inglis dropped by to run some drills with the kids and show us some of the things they do when practicing.

The kids, especially the girls, were awestruck.  Many of them were eyeing the Team Canada jackets with envy, hoping no doubt to be sporting one of those themselves someday.


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Dear nVidia

Please make a video driver that doesn’t blue screen on me once a week.