Showing posts from 2010

Dumb Is The New Smart

Quite a while ago I wrote a post called "Channelization" and predicted that carriers would attempt to slice-and-dice Internet access in a myriad of ways in an attempt to bilk customers for accessing web-based content and services available on the open Internet.  Carriers are chafing at being nothing more than "dumb pipes" which dutifully carry packets of information. Though they are paid to be the mail-carriers of the Internet, entrusted to deliver packets of information like the post office delivers any letter with a postage stamp, for some of these unscrupulous ISP's the temptation to discard or delay the packages they don't profit as much from, charge extra for receiving packages from your favourite senders (even though the postage has already been paid), and give preferential treatment to their own services is too much to resist.

This prediction is now getting a lot closer to reality, as outlined in the following article on Techdirt:
DPI Firms Trying to …


Cleaning out the bookmarks folder... random interesting stuff from around the Interwebs.
Cinder is a C++ library for doing some really cool graphical things.Issuu - You Publish You can read different magazines online here.   Apple won't let them have their app on the iPhone.  Pretty much anything you want to learn about, you can learn about in 10 minutes here.  Khan Academy rocks.You can read all about the dirty secrets of Canadian conservatives at "Pushed to the Left". Surprise, surprise, the US spies on their citizensA lot.  Moving along...Sharebuilder from ING looks like a not bad way to get going with a stock portfolio for not a lot of cash up front.Whoo hoo, an SSH port forwarding cheat sheet.  And here are 25 cool SSH tricks you can try at home!Ever thought those cables at the electronics store are stupidly over priced?  They are.  Go here for cheap cables (in Canada).If you haven't seen it yet, Arcade Fire has a cool HTML5 web vide…

LynchMob 2.0

So, Amazon, Paypal, Visa and Mastercard cave in to pressure from the State Department and bypass due legal process altogether  by shutting down Wikileaks accounts.  No trial, judgement, no conviction, no nothing, they just get pressure from Lieberman and that's it.  Judge jury and hangman all in one.

Gizmodo just released a piece, "Why the reaction of governments to Wikileaks should scare the hell out of you".  It echoes my previous post, and it's nice to know there are other people who see things the same way.

Facebook and Twitter joined the lynch mob today by shutting downAnonymous, the decentralized hive mind who's Low Orbit Ion Canon has taken down Mastercard, just days after an unknown botnet targeted Wikileaks servers. Meanwhile a lot of people are wondering what's in the insurance.aes256 file, and when the key will drop.

(Picture of the "free speech zone" at the 2004 Democratic National Convention)

Secrets and Democracy

I've written at length about this before, but the furor over Wikileaks prompted me to write again.  I've been thinking over privacy, freedom, governance, responsibility, and transparency for a while and trying to come up with a nice model of how they work together.  That's still a work in progress, but it goes something like this:

As responsibility increases, so does the requirement for accountability and transparency.  For governments, who hold great responsibility, the need for accountability and transparency is high.  For individuals in a free democratic society, they are mainly responsible for themselves, and the need for accountability and transparency is minimal.   The more people you're responsible to, the more you need to be accountable and transparent to them.  In my mind, responsibility and privacy are on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Privacy belongs to individuals.  Your privacy is inseparable from your freedom in a democratic society.  On the other side o…

Local Artists in the Glebe

This weekend two of my favorite local artists are exhibiting in the Glebe.

Jaya Krishnan
Exhibiting a new series of paintings at Morala in the Glebe.  Visit Jaya's web site here:

Bhat Boy
Exhibiting at Snapdragon Gallery in the Glebe through mid-December.  Visit Bhat Boy's web site here:

Top 10 Music Picks of 2010

It's a bit early to post my top music picks of 2010 , but I've been adding to the list throughout this past year, and it's already grown to ten albums.  Compared to the last two years' Top 5 lists, that's a lot, so I'm going to post it now.

No surprise that the jazz pianists are well represented here.  Recently I got interested in the Hammond B3, which also shows up.  Several of the selections lean towards rich harmonic, evocative soundscapes.  Harmonic complexity is one way that musical ingenuity expresses itself, not always in fast bebop lines or modern polyrhythms.  This is some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.

I should mention that a limited private edition CD by my musical mentor, the great Canadian jazz pianist Brian Browne, called the Erindale Sessions, is perhaps the album I treasure most from 2010. Although I don't believe this album is available for sale at this time, many of Brian's other albums are.

So here, without further ado…

Evented I/O web servers, explained using bunnies

This is probably the best, simplest explanation of evented IO web servers that I've seen. It explains how really really fast web servers work, and it has bunnies and a hyperactive squid! Awesome.
Evented I/O based web servers, explained using bunnies
PS. This is not to say that high-performance web servers like NGINX and Node.JS aren't threaded.  They are... they just use a thread pool.  So the hyperactive squid has a warren of bunnies at his beck and call.  How cool is that?  Very cool, because there's a squid AND bunnies.

Happy Thanksgiving

If you live in the US, which most of my readers do, I'd like you to know that up here in Canada, and in a lot of the rest of the world, we're looking at the unprecedented loss of civil liberties and freedoms evidenced by the unbelievable violations of personal privacy and basic human dignity propagated by the Transportation Security Administration, and we are thankful today that we live in free and democratic societies that still protect the rights and freedoms of their citizens.

There's a purple heart and a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in my home to commemorate the sacrifice made in defense of freedom when my uncle died as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.  I know deep down that he and many others like him did not die so that innocent Americans could be strip searched, humiliated and assaulted in their own homeland by a government gone insane with security paranoia. That's not freedom. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Gig

I'm lucky enough to be in a band of local musicians who get called together a couple of times a year to perform at some pretty good gigs.  This weekend's event is to be the band for Robin Mark for a sold-out crowd of around a thousand.  In preparing for the concert I came across an old journal entry I wrote after one of the first gigs I played with this particular band.  It was fun to reflect back on those early experiences.

It's the afternoon before the show.  We set up and do a sound-check.  Somebody comes by and asks me if I have enough water.   They put a couple of bottles next to the piano.  Someone comes by and gives me an all-access pass on a lanyard.  It says "music team".

There's a door and it says "no admittance".  I go in anyway. I guess that's what the lanyard is for.  Down the hall past a number of paintings of flowers in earth-tone colors is another door; this one says "Headquarters".  Behind the doors is a large r…

Iceberg Diving

My friend Graham runs a company that takes people into the Canadian Arctic to go scuba diving under the ice.  Yeah, under the arctic ice.  If you ever go on one of these diving trips under the ice, you can see polar bears, seals, narwhal, and walruses. One thing you will not find down there, however, is me swimming around.

Here is a video from one of his recent expeditions where they are actually scuba diving under and around an iceberg that is frozen into the sea ice and grounded.  Amazingly, Graham also ice-climbs these grounded icebergs.  Pretty c-c-cool.

Les Escalier de Mont-Martre

Les Escalier de Mont-Martre
© 2010 Darren DeRidder. Originally uploaded by soto voce
There's a famous photograph by Brassai with the same title. I've owned a print of it for many years. Of course when I got a chance to see the location in person, I had to take a photograph of it, too. This is actually a side alley from the main stairway. It was less crowded and I liked the building on the left, with the light in the windows.

Saint-Germain de Pres Café

Saint-Germain de Pres Cafe
© 2010 Darren DeRidder. Originally uploaded by soto voce

Camelot Island

camelot island
© 2010 Darren DeRidder. Originally uploaded by soto voce
Thousand Islands, Ontario, Canada

Buffalo Jump 2

Buffalo Jump 2, originally uploaded by soto voce. This is the second photograph I've posted of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in the Alberta foothills. The previous one was an obvious HDR stack of three exposures, which I shot hand-held! This is actually a single exposure, shot in RAW format and post-processed in the same software as the HDR image, rendering what it calls a "psuedo HDR" image. Because this is a single exposure, I feel the sharpness is better than on the composite photo. I'm still not completely happy with the kit lens, however. Most of my images don't meet my expectations for sharpness when viewed full screen. This includes images shot with a tripod and employing all the tricks for eliminating camera shake and getting the right focus.


Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
© 2010 Darren DeRidder

Keynote Notes

Jobs is giving his keynote, introducing the next generation of iPods, iTunes and Apple TV.  One of the things I like, probably everybody likes, about Apple is their continual innovation.  One takeaway from the keynote is Jobs' description of the driving factor behind Apple's innovation and success:

We listened to what customers wanted...  This is what customers were telling us...  Our customers wanted this.

Apple delivers.  Cha-ching.

Rethink Alberta

According to a recent Angus Reid poll the following TV commercial is having a big impact on potential tourism in Alberta.

LO 300 Fever

The LO 300 is a 300 nautical mile race around Lake Ontario.  Starting in Port Credit, Ontario, the course makes its way to Toronto islands and then heads east to Main Duck Island, carving ever so slightly southward to avoid the shoreline that juts out at Point Petre.  From there the course heads south across the lake to Oswego, west to Niagara, and finally back up to Port Credit.  The sailing is continuous, day-and-night sailing with no stops along the way.  Crew have to take watches and sail during the night.  It can take three days for the fastest boats, and generally four or five days for most competitors.

This was race held a lot of firsts for me.  The first LO 300, first time sailing overnight, first time sailing any significant distance out on Lake Ontario.  As it turns out it was also the first time to experience strong gale force winds, waves so high that the boat was literally falling down the surface of the wave, and sea sickness so bad that I thought I would turn myself ins…

Brakey Bay

Brakey Bay in the Afternoon, Wolfe Island, Lake Ontario

© 2010 Darren DeRidder
Driving to Gananoque on a Friday evening, we arrived somewhat tired at the Trident Yacht Club well after dinner time.  The next hour or so was spent provisioning and settling in, and I retired early to the quarterberth.
The morning dawned bright and clear and passed with a leisurely pancake breakfast aboard thanks to our skipper and his two fancy compact nonstick skillets.  Then we set to work installing a new refrigeration unit. What followed for the next 4 hours could be described as furkelling. Furkelling is a time honored tradition amongst backpackers, sailors and other quirky folk.  In the middle of the night, when you are trying to sleep in a hostel, someone inevitably gets up and starts furkelling around in their backpack trying to find stuff that they don't need but can't remember what they did with it.  They can't sleep until they remember what they did with their sunscreen, so they furkel…

Victoria Day

Victoria Day Fireworks over Dow's Lake, Ottawa, Canada

© 2010 Darren DeRidder

Policy Innovation Equation

I think a political rant is long overdue, so I'd like to comment on a remark by Matthew Mendelsohn, directory of the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation at the University of Toronto.  I'm sure the Mowat Centre has put forward some very good work, and Mr. Mendelsohn has some thoughtful insights that you can read about elsewhere, and I already confess to taking his remark out of context.  But it's a line I hear repeated ad nauseam and frankly it doesn't wash.

Mr. Mendelsohn's remark went something like this.
The general public often expects the government to promote conflicting interests at the same time.  For example, the general public might want the government to provide a balanced budget, continue public services, and stop raising taxes all at the same time.I know these things are complicated, and that lots of factors are involved, but the above statement totally ignores perhaps the most obvious variable in the equation, a variable that is paramount in private ente…

Spring Colours on the Canal

Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 
©2010 Darren DeRidder

The Other Rudder

Last year I inherited a "new" rudder for my T22 sailboat.  Unlike the original swept-back rudder, which was designed more for aesthetics than handling, the new rudder is straight and moves the turning moment much closer to the axis of the tiller.  Instead of two hands on the tiller pulling hard in a stiff breeze, you can sail along with a finger.
The original owner of this rudder had a sneaking suspicion that it was waterlogged and a lot heaver than it ought to be.  Two years of sitting in a shed, it was dry for sure, but there were a number of hairline cracks around the edges that had me worried. 
I decided to refinish it, seal up any visible cracks, patch the gelcoat as much as possible, and paint the submersed areas with epoxy paint.  First I sanded off the old anti-fouling paint, using an orbital sander and of course a double respirator, as the paint dust is toxic. With most of the old antifouling off I applied some gelcoat patches to the most dubious areas. These would hav…

Jobs on Flash

In an article posted on Apple's website Steve Jobs outlines a number of reasons why Flash is not implemented on the iPhone or iPad.  Below is a quote of his "most important reason", and it echoes Jobs' sentiment on Java, which he called a "big, heavyweight ball and chain".
We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless t…

Signs of Spring

Tulips make an early appearance along the Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Ontario.

© 2010 Darren DeRidder

Spring Preparation Begins

April arrived with some unseasonably warm weather, giving sailors no excuse not to get cracking on boat preparation.  No doubt the keeners already have a fresh coat of bottom paint and are busy polishing their brightwork.  Not to be left out, I hauled my new rudder out of the shed, spent about 20 minutes looking at it, and called it a day.  You've got to ease into it, then build momentum.

Last weekend Aura came out from her winter cover.  Looks like she kept pretty well. Through the winter.  Packed in behind literally hundreds of other boats, the wind didn't get up quite so brutally as it did at the BYC.

Yes, so Aura is over at Nepean Sailing Club now.  I've got to say, it's a relief to be over there.  Initially I was on a waiting list but last week the mooring assignments came in, and I'm happy to report that I've got a slip. Aura will be sailing out of NSC this season. 

NSC has really nice facilities - not the old world charm of BYC, but a modern, nautical, f…

Winter Path

Gatineau Park, Quebec

©2010 Darren DeRidder

Herb Ellis

Herb Ellis, one of the jazz greats, passed away last month.  I'd just been listening to him playing How High the Moon with the Oscar Peterson Trio on their album Live at the Strattford Shakespearean Festival.  It's been a while since I posted anything, so here's to Herb Ellis.

Top 10 Photos of 2009

Inspired by Martin Bailey's excellent podcast, I went back over all my photos from 2009 and selected ten of my favorites.  It seems like a good way of seeing what kind of progress (or lack thereof) I've made when it comes to taking pictures. 
Serenity (January 2009)

Shot with my Fujifilm S1000fd compact ultra-zoom.  The original was over-exposed but the "enhance" feature in iPhoto did an amazing job in this case.  One limitation of the S1000fd, as with many compact cameras, was the difficulty in getting a nice background blur or "bokeh" effect.  I had to zoom in fairly close to get the effect.  One of my favorite shots with the S1000fd.
Old Couple - Growing Closer Over the Years (March 2009)

Also on the S1000fd.  Shot on a farm at a Canadian "sugarbush".  I like the composition in this shot, close-cropped to make a sort of abstract view.  I found the farm a difficult location to photograph because there was a lot of clutter, mud and general farmy dec…