Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Going postal

Our house is twenty-six years old.  We've lived there for fourteen years.  The kids went up and down the front steps hundreds of times while they learned to walk.

Flyers make their way to the mailbox.  UPS delivers packages.  Purolator delivers packages.  FedEx delivers packages.  The newspaper comes every day, often delivered by a teenaged (or younger) person.  I go to work and come home from work through the front door a couple hundred days a year.

And yet, Canada Post says the steps are a death trap.  They will no longer deliver mail to my door, because there are three steps with no railing.  This is a huge concern for the safety of our letter carrier.  This is the same letter carrier, mind you, who is able to climb the sloping driveway with no problem.  The same letter carrier who is able to waltz across the front lawn, which is on an even greater slope, in the winter time when the snow is thigh deep and the kids have been tobogganing down the hill.

My options are to move the mailbox or install a railing, within five days.  The Canada Post employee who delivered the news to us wasn't kind enough to leave specifications of what sort of railing would satisfy their rules, so I'm left to guess.  I tried to find some information on the Canada Post website, but all I could dig up were offers for commemorative Kate Middleton stamps.  Is this the service we expect to get for our money?  Have they forgotten who they work for?

I can't believe we still get door-to-door mail service in Canada.  I'm all in favour of installing a SuperMailBox on our street.  Failing that, I'd leave the mail at the Post Office, where it would stay warm and dry until I picked it up, except they want to charge me for not delivering the mail.  So instead, it will sit hanging out of the mailbox in the rain and snow - that is, if there isn't too much snow for our letter carrier to slog through.

When the new Shoppers Drug Mart was built in Elmira, Canada Post employees raised a stink about a postal outlet being part of the store.  In the end it didn't happen.  I say, bring it on.  The service would be much, much better than we're getting now.

In perfect isolation, here behind my wall

I need to dig a deeper bunker.

Welcome to the machine

This semester's fresh crop of eager young co-op students arrived yesterday.

Day one is usually orientation for the new students, and then they set up the development environment on their machines.  Except this time.  User account creation has been brought home to the mother ship, so with the six hour time difference nobody ended up with a user account yesterday.

Or today.

It seems that since our team lead is on vacation, the "user account creation" workflow is stuck, waiting to be shepherded through the next gate.

I just love it when "employee onboarding" becomes "employee waterboarding"...

In the suitcase on the left you'll find my favourite axe

Gibson Guitar was raided last week, for the second time in two years.  Were the authorities looking for drugs?  Nope.  Guns?  Nope.  They were looking for wood.  Gibson is suspected of buying illegally harvested hardwoods from protected forests.

I think I'm lucky - one of my guitars is made from Canadian cedar, Canadian red wild cherry and Indian rosewood.  The other one is maple and basswood.  If the black vans pull up looking for me, it'll be for something else...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Build failure/code commit comment of the day

When a build fails here, the build system sends an email to everyone who has committed code since the last build.

I think I might have an idea where this one went wrong, based on the code commit...


[Axxxxx Cxxxx] Ooops

[exec] [INFO] ----------------------- 
[exec] [INFO] ----------------------- 
[exec] [INFO] Total time: 2 minutes 55 seconds
[exec] [INFO] Finished at: Fri Aug 26 13:01:22 EDT 2011
[exec] [INFO] Final Memory: 135M/340M
[exec] [INFO] -----------------------


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hello, is there anybody in there?

Found this in the code today:


"Hello world");

and then 20 lines later, now that we’re on more familiar terms:


"Hi world");

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meme of the day

From scotchneat.

Here are the Top NPR 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books, from the NPR annual reader survey.  Bold what you’ve read and italicize what you've read partially/did not finish.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams [one of my all-time favourites]

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin  [on my list of books to read]

6. 1984, by George Orwell [one of my all-time favourites]

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley  [one of my all-time favourites]

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman  [I've seen the movie many times, does that count?]

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell  [one of my all-time favourites]

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson [I tried one or two of his, but hated them]

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut [one of my all-time favourites]

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley  [read it high school, probably wouldn't have otherwise, but it was ok]

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick  [one of my all-time favourites]

22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

25. The Stand, by Stephen King

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess  [I saw the movie, does that count?]

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys  [I read it in high school, might not have otherwise]

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien  [wasn't fond of it]

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke [great Pink Floyd song of the same name... coincidence?]

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan  [I saw the movie, does that count?  Didn't like it]

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson  [one of my all-time favourites]

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger  [one of the worst books I've ever tried to read - absolutely abysmal]

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore

74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury  [a classic]

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson

96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

Murphys Point Provincial Park

We spent last week at Murphys Point Provincial Park, near Ottawa.  This was our first trip to Murphys Point, and we were expecting a nice time, based on reports from friends and relatives who've been there.  We were not disappointed.

The campground itself is quite hilly, which made for some fun downhill biking.  Less fun uphill biking, though.  We did bike all over the park, especially down to the boat launch in the evening to see the wildlife.  We went down the McParland House trail on our bikes all the way to the Lally homestead and back, about 10km.  The trail is closed over a waterfall, but we slipped past the fence to do it anyways.  The adults had no problem carrying the bikes across the waterfall.  This time of year there is barely a trickle of water.

The campground was really quiet, except for boats racing down to the boat launch at 5:15am on the weekend.  In the evening there were few campfires, and the ones that were going were quiet.  Once everyone turned in for the night the wildlife took over.  I was awakened a couple of nights by a parliament of owls hooting.  Loons were calling to each other, and a pack of coyotes howled.

The daytime wildlife viewing was excellent.  On the way into the park a tree frog decided to hitch a ride with us.

Once we were in the park, we saw tons of deer.  Some were extremely friendly, including this one, who walked out of the woods in front of us to snack under an apple tree.

A porcupine family was spending time in another apple tree, in the amphitheatre parking lot.  The girls wanted to adopt the baby and take him/her home.  I haven't found it around the house yet, so I suspect they were not successful.

Murphys Point is in ratsnake territory.  The girls were out biking one day and saw a five footer being "rescued" from someone's campsite.  The snake was taken up the hill and released.  The park staff told us that the snakes won't survive the winter if they're moved more than 200 metres from where they are found.  Apparently they forget where their winter hibernation spot is.  The only ratsnake I saw was a little one - about 18 inches long - climbing up a wall at the Lally homestead.

The canoeing at Murphys Point is great - there's a canoe rack right at the main beach, so we could walk down with the gear and paddle away without having to drive.  Big Rideau Lake is, well... big.  Really big.  We stayed mostly in Hogg Bay where we could sneak up on turtles sunning themselves.

We did follow the canoe loop out into the big lake one day, when it was a little calmer.  The loop goes out around a point into a sheltered bay.  This bay has a few inlets where we managed to spot a beaver and a hawk.  The hawk was not happy to see us - we heard it before we saw it.  It sounded like a car alarm.

The canoe loop passes by the day use beach, so we stopped for lunch and a swim.  The day beach is pretty small, but the water was warm and really clear.  The main beach is larger, with the sand raked nightly.  The main beach also has a small playground and a nice grassy area, where we sat in the shade to read while the kids played on the beach.

One of the highlights of Murphys Point - in fact, it's one of the Seven Wonders of Lanark County - is the Silver Queen mica mine.  The park hosts a guided tour of the mine twice a week.  The tour recounts stories of life at the time the mine was operational - about 100 years ago.  The kids were a little bored with all the history, but they loved crawling down into the mine itself.  On the way out they were allowed to pocket a small piece of mica.  Just what we needed for the drive home, more rocks...

We had a rainy day on Sunday, so we headed into Ottawa.  We spent the day at the Museum of Civilization in Hull Gatineau.  The kids loved it, especially the Children's Museum, naturally.  V suggested dinner at an Irish Pub - very good choice for a 10-year-old, I might add.  After dinner we walked down the street to the Parliament buildings.

The last animal encounter we had on the trip was just west of Kingston on the way home.  A deer was standing on the shoulder of the 401, watching the vehicles zip by.  Just after we passed it decided to live another day, and walked back into the woods.

Photos here:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Worst song ever

Last week we listened to a mostly-80s radio station from Kingston.  It got me thinking, what's the worst rock and roll song ever?

I vote Dream Weaver.  Just beating out Patio Lanterns.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Take one down, pass it around

Do you know someone who has things happen to them, that you say could never happen to someone else?  That someone is me.

I was standing in the beer aisle at the LCBO today, filling a cart with refreshing beverages for an upcoming camping trip.

I selected a nice amber ale, and placed the can ever-so-gently in the bottom of the cart.  And BOOM!  It exploded.  Not just leaked, EXPLODED.

Beer was spurting up over my head and all over the place.  I put my hand back on the can and turned it away from me, then put it on the floor.  But, the damage was done.  My arm was dripping.  My leg was soaked.  My sandals were squishing as I walked.

Luckily, the nice lady at the cash register believed my story, and still sold me the non-leaky beer.  She says this happens all the time.  I think she was trying to make me feel better.

The parking lot at work has lots of deep puddles in it, so I was able to slosh through to clean my sandals.  I did attract some sideways glances in the men’s room though, as I washed my legs with paper towels.  Maybe I shouldn’t have said I had a golden shower at lunchtime…

This is impressive

Man builds a 27-string guitar.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Conversation of the day

I walked in late on this one.  The ten-year-old was trying to talk the seven-year-old into doing something physically challenging.

V: Come on, do it!

F: I can't!

V: Oh, man up!

F: You mean, girl up?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Biggest hack in history

No, not Mike Duffy.

Canadian government agencies and companies were infiltrated during a massive global cyber attack that stretched more than five years, a new report suggests.

This is just great.  Now China has access to all those "Harper Government Economic Action Plan" statistics, and photos of Tony Clement smiling next to a brand new portapotty.  Hopefully the hackers didn't get as far as the Stephen Harper stash of kitten pics.  That would be tragic.

Log message of the day

I’m not sure what this is trying to tell me, and I’m not sure I want to know…

10:25:29,309 WARN  [PatientBean] Caught illegal sex value performance_009

Restoule Provincial Park, July 2011

There is something to be said for the feel of granite, or gravel, or sand, or Royalex, or even grass under your sandals.

We recently spent eight days at Restoule Provincial Park, near North Bay.  This was our second trip to Restoule, but the first one was six years ago.  We didn't bring a canoe on that trip, or do any of the hikes, since smallest daughter was just eighteen months old.  This time, we made up for it.

Restoule has a nice sandy beach, with really warm water.  It's quite shallow but drops off quickly outside the rope line.  There was an occasional current of very cold water coming up out of the depths too.  We were swimming with mask and goggles and saw a few larger fish in the deeper areas.

The park is on two lakes - Restoule and Stormy.  Restoule is quite large, and filled with motorboats pulling tubers or water-skiers.  We canoed on Stormy Lake instead.  We dropped the canoe in near the group camping area on the river, and also at the boat launch.  You can cut out quite a bit of paddling around the point that way, depending which direction you're headed.

The park tabloid has a reasonably detailed canoe route map in it, which really helped to plan a couple of day trips.  We headed out to the end of Stormy Lake, to an area called the Long Wing.  It's an area that looks like it would be excellent for spotting wildlife, but we didn't see anything there.  A few days later we returned in the early evening, but still saw nothing more than a loon.  From the Long Wing we paddled through a shallow passage to Clear Lake, then back to Stormy through the Narrows.  A nice route, which took us a few hours of leisurely paddling.

The other day trip was to the other end of Stormy Lake, and up the Restoule river.  The river is quite wide, and must be a fishing hotspot, because we saw several boats trying their luck.  Again, not much wildlife to see.

The highlight of the hiking trails at Restoule is the Fire Tower trail.  It's a seven kilometre loop that passes by the top of the bluff overlooking Stormy Lake, and an old fire tower.  The trail is not too strenuous, except for the final 500m, which is pretty vertical.  The view from the top is worth the climb.

There are three shorter trails in the park.  The Ranger Point trail can be done in five minutes on a bike, or about 15 minutes on foot.  Deer are plentiful along this trail, and there's a nice lookout onto the lake and the bluffs.  We biked the Angel Point trail a couple of times in the evening, spotting a fawn and doe along one of the side paths.  The River trail is a two kilometre loop along the river and up into the woods across from the group camping area.  It's a nice walk, with only one short steep hill to climb.

If you're heading to Restoule this summer, take 534 from Powassan rather than 522 from Trout Creek.  Just about the entire length of 522 is being repaved, and at best it's down to one lane of loose gravel right now.

Photos here: