Sunday, November 29, 2009

Opinions on Programming

Saw an interesting article on Slashdot (here's the full article). Of course I saw it's a great article because it lines up with some opinions I've held for several years. Guess it's more of a personal philosophy, probably shaped by learning how to program in text: you've got to know how things work if want to understand what is going on. It applies to so many different aspects of life too - it's shocking at times the trivial things that people don't know. Like how to change a tire - to understand what to do, you have to have an idea of how the tire is attached to the vehicle. Programming with pictures is all well and good, but there comes a point at which you have to reach deeper understanding of what goes on behind the pictures to ensure that things are operating as you wish.

I've had this discussion with one particular person and they pointed out, quite correctly, that there is a good reason why UML programming never took off. That's because the graphical development environments were always the encoding the wrong thing - the requirements. The "what" rather than the "how". The "what" parts are often contradictory, which is why I have a job. A software development professional is there to turn the "what" into the "how" correctly. Break the paradoxes and force the machine to do what is implied in the requirements, not do them literally.

So as one of the developers quoted in the article, graphical environments are good for learning. Small projects that show how things fit together. That first frustrating few experiences when the larger project is attempted and hours are spent to make two things mesh that won't work together. Then showing the text-based programming languages - the "how" behind it all. From what I've heard, any attempts at doing UML programming actually had two steps: First, design in the graphical environment and then second, tune the generated C source code to make things actually work. Very indicative of things to come.

I also appreciated what Herb Sutter had to say - that bare-metal programming and optimization will come back into vogue in the next 10 years. Waste is waste and graphical environments and elaborate abstractions are waste. And this waste can be translated into environmentally-relevant impacts. Smaller, efficient code will use less power, less space and be better all around. I still hope for the day when every chip-based interface responds instantaneously to my input. Even if it has to tell me that what I just requested will take a long time, that initial response shapes my interaction.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back again

Kinda funny to stay that I'm "back" when I haven't really gone anywhere, just haven't been writing much lately. Here anyway. Kinda like when I started going back to the gym on a more regular basis - I said something about nice to be going to the gym again, and he said that he hardly noticed. "I thought your shift changed", he said. Nope - just didn't get out there. Same with this - just haven't been writing much of anything. The main reason of course being that I haven't been spending my nights in front of the computer. More like in front of the TV - been kinda worn out and just wanting to sleep more than use the computer. If I started at the computer, I'd end up staying up closer to 1am then 11pm. Plus if I "watch tv" I usually nod off for a bit.

The other annoying thing was the getting stuff moved over to the "new" hard drive - something I bought a year ago almost. The old XP partition was full all the time and I think it was causing issues. Now it has 300+ GB to play with and I don't have to worry about stuff for awhile. At least space-wise.

This posting is coming to you live from the Ubuntu partion however. I had 8.10 installed and upgraded a little while ago to 9.04. Just noticed today that I was running the old kernel, not a great thing. That should be nice and fixed now - need to keep on top of that. Love the little graphical goodies that are available now that my NVidia drivers are up and running as well - woobly windows and such. It's all very pretty and I appreciate it. Anyway, I need to post more because I haven't been vocal about some of the dumb things our government is doing, but that's for another post. Let's just see if I can keep a more consistent schedule going.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blood donation fun

At the donation site giving blood and typing with one thumb. All done nose and I can use two thumbs. Makes the whole process quicker. I've been giving blood on the same day as I play hockey and I still consider it a bit of an experiment. I think it's better than going the day before because I get so dehydrated playing. Giving blood forces me to drink more so I think this the best choice. Plus I always have my car on days I play hockey, so it works out that way as well.

We're lucky in London that we have permanent clinic. Makes the donation process more of a habit than a travelling clinics can. I heartily encourage everyone in the vast reaches of this blog to donate blood. It grows back quickly and alcohol is more effective after donation - more bang-for-your so to speak.

Anyway, still looking for time to blog and this was as good a time as any. I'll have to try and be more consistent.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

At the computer - surprise!

I am, somewhat surprisingly, sitting at my home computer whilst typing away at this.  Certainly improves the throughput quite a bit.  The inline editing I'm used to doing works better when one can erase and re-type a word without even thinking about it.  The little mobile keyboard works, but I definitely don't have enough practice under my belt to have the same facility as a full keyboard.  Or kybard as Dilbert once noted.

I have barely been at my computer for weeks now.  I'm still not sure why, but I'm going with it.  I suppose some of the people I used to play online games are wondering what the heck is up, but they'll figure out a way.  What I have to do is figure out a way to stop spending so much!  You can tell when I pay the bills, 'cause that's when I think about money.  I have to do a better job of managing what I have instead of managing what I want.  Maybe that's the trick.  Whatever it is, I have a job and that's good.  I have to stop digging at stuff and pay down debt instead of racking it up.  Easier said then done, given my past history in this matter.  And I know that I'm the biggest culprit in this manner in my household.  Ah well - I shall have to be more careful!

Anyway, I also need to make sure I get out the door on time tomorrow - hockey ahoy!  Plus I have to be at work for 9am, so I have to be careful with my time budgeting as well.  Maybe I'll get someone else to pick up the pucks for me... But the Wings and the Blackhawks are on, so I'd best go investigate that...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meeting post!

This new app is so handy I can post while waiting for meetings to begin. Has not started well - we're threatening to jump off the bridge if people don't show up. Not much of a threat really because it is a phone bridge and no one likes meetings anyway. So, I can tap away at this.

Not much else to say for today - the novelty is enough for today.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More couch musings...

Not that there is a lot to see here, but I'm here on the couch. Saw part of the Pittsburgh Washington game. The Pens were ahead 4-0 in the 2nd. But I'm happy that the Pens pulled through.

Only had one goalie today. Kinda surprising - this guy is often late, but does not usually miss a game. We did get 10 skaters out which is also a good thing. A few more would be perfect but our goalkeeper issues are raising the ire of several people. One person suggested some changes to how we handle goalies not showing up. Use money to help people remember, but without forcing everyone to commit large sums up front.

I think I need to finish here before I simply pass out

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

That was an okay post

That went well enough that I'm going to give it another try. Too bad things didn't work out for Vancouver - those last two goals were real heartbreakers. Kane's last goal was pretty special though. I think that last crash into Loungo really threw him off.

Today I'm looking forward to Detroit looking good again. I think the last time I saw them was game two and the wings did not look good at all - maybe a little lost. But evidently they got it together for the last few.

I don't know why I just haven't been motivated to use the computer here at home. I am going to pin this on the playoffs, but who knows.

Not a great year for parents of my son's class. One little guy's mom passed away last night. I believe she had brain cancer and this was the third occurance and there was nothing left to do. Over Christmas another guy's father died suddenly. Poor guys. Way too much education about endings.

So far the game looks good, so I'm going to wrap things up. Like now. Really.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another mobile post

Trying out a new post tool and we'll see if I can post more easily from the ole mobile computing platform. It's been tough to keep up with posting every day during playoffs. And all the different events that need attending. Not really too many of those, but it could happen.

Watching Vancouver play a spirited game -a lot of back and forth action. Vancouver is currently ahead 4-3, but we'll see what happens. Definitely more difficult to use this tiny keyboard, but if I don't want to get off the couch, what choice so I have?

Chicago just tied the game.

Chicago penalty. Hard to type and watch. Better finish up!

Got the boys out of the house on Mother's Day and bowling. They've been wanting to go again for some time, but this was the first time it was just three if us. Pretty busy weekend, but it worked out.

Vancouver penalty. 4v4 for 39 seconds.

Anyway, I'll see how this post works tomorrow.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


... I guess I changed to "every two or three days" for posting.  I don't know why, but I've been so very tired for the last few weeks.  I guess it's the going to work, getting stuff done.  Getting up and playing hockey a few mornings a week - plus watching hockey late... I suppose that would explain things a bit.

I've got to get a plan straight for this Saturday - Sunday is Mother's Day and I have yet to do my shopping.  I really, really need to do that and bring the kids along.  I'll have to think of something.  Privately - I know who reads this space!  But suggestions will be entertained ;)

I really hope Jim Balsillie gets his team.  I really, really dislike Bettman.  Especially his ideas of what needs to be done for the NHL.  I don't think that the league should keep trying to cram hockey down the throats of people that don't normally see snow on the ground.  I mean some places think it's great, but others - not so much.  If a team makes money, that is good.  If a team has been given a chance and still doesn't make money...  I guess I can't say how long is long enough, but I suppose the best way is to count owners.  Changes owners more often than the coach, probably won't be making money any time soon.  Anyway, it is disappointing that the shenanigans have to be deployed to try and get another team in Southern Ontario.  This area could easily support another NHL team and there would be a fan base and people willing to pay to watch hockey.  Not like some places.  Maybe Balsillie will outlast Bettman and then all will be well.   Let's hope so.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Long day...

I went a bunch of days without posting again!  What kind of sad commitment is that?  At least I was blogging at work - took quite a while as well.  I posted something on Friday, but it was only "part 1".  The part 2 ended up being pretty big, so I probably should have made parts 2-5 and part 6 later, but the issue is current so I felt I had to get done.

The topic of how to manage releases comes up every now and again and it shouldn't.  We should have a system that provides benefits for all the user instead of just some and then we won't have to ask the same things over and over.  Hopefully my postings at work will help illuminate some of the choices and get more people thinking about them.  One can only hope...

Friday, May 1, 2009


Guess I should use my computer at home more.  Or at least some kind of better mobile blogging software 'cause I haven't written anything for 5 days!  That's pretty horrible given how I was doing before...  I just haven't been up to using the computer for the past few days.  At home at least.  It's been pretty busy at work, what with meetings and just so much stuff to do.  That is a good thing, but sometimes it leaves one tired and out-blogged.

One of the things I've been involved in is around our branching/release strategy.  It's funny because we've had this conversation too often as far as I'm concerned.  In the meeting we had to discuss it, we talked about the same old set of arguments about the basic different ideas.  It took a few days, but I think I hit why that was.  We were not establishing the correct base questions - we didn't know what all the root issues were, so we argued over the proposed solutions.  Also the arguments also revolved around the benefits of the proposals, not the drawbacks.  I wrote up my ideas, but the analysis of the problem hasn't been done yet.  That's probably something for tomorrow, but I think it is absolutely necessary.  Otherwise we'll end up with the camps of "this is newer/better - let's do this" and the "this works, why mess with it?"  Of course neither camp is that extreme, but hey analogies aren't fun if you don't push them a bit.

Anyway, I'm going to construct an analysis of the proposed solutions and identify if they can each meet the requirements and then see which one does the least harm.  Maybe show which provides the best benefits with the least effort - both good criteria.  I've been saying for a while now that the best way to evaluate a process - because that's what these solutions will be - is to pick the one that makes it hardest to wrong thing and easiest to do the right thing.

That is kind of tricky in the software business because you can change so many parts at once.  For software processes, it's important to pick the process/tools that make it hard to do the wrong thing and then make your process fit the process implied by the tools.

You may have noticed something controversial a few paragraphs back as well - that we were picking a process.  It doesn't seem like it because the choices revolve around different tools, but each tool implies a different process.  Picking a process implies picking the tool to use.

Wow - I'm writing this in a very abstract way.  I hope it's clear to other people what I'm trying to say... It's all that math training over the years - I tend to remove the parts that are irrelevant to an argument and replace them with variables or generics (when writing).  The more involved the process or tools the more abstract the references become so we end up with this gobbledy-gook.  Whatever - I wrote up something interesting to me and that's why I'm doing this.  You can read for your own reasons.  Individuality springs up everywhere.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I came to this page yesterday - even thought about a topic.  Didn't write though.  Probably a good thing - I had an idea, but not a fully formed one.  Writing then would have made a mess of things.  Not like now - what I'm doing in a typical entry is more like a conversation.  Start typing, see what shows up and take it from there.  It works, although it does not make sense sometimes.  The next time I sat back down there was no chance of an entry because I was beat.

It was a nice day yesterday - too bad I let my younger son dress himself.  He spent most of the day outside and quite enjoyed it.  Only catch was he had a long-sleeve shirt and long pants on.  I think he got a little heat stroke by the end of the day, but he recovered before bed time.  And he had a good day today.  Today we went down to the local storm-sewer pond, where a large collection of frogs has been serenading us.  The same son and a friend from the street followed a bunch of (slightly) older kids down there, where they proceeded to catch some frogs.  After the first 20 it wasn't as fun, but I convinced my son that they probably would enjoy the pond better than a bucket at home.  The other kids took about 20 to join the 14 or so they had collected earlier.  I hope they take them back, but I'm not optimistic.  Still it was good to see so many amphibians out there.  Spotted some tadpoles as well, so things just keep progressing.

I managed to go for a glide in my new inline skates today as well.  Bought them a few weekends back and never made it out until today.  Most enjoyable.  I think I could get quite the pace going, and might even be fairly safe if I learn to turn a bit better.

Finally, tried out the new butcher/deli in town.  They advertise they only carry local grain-fed beef.  Bought some strip loins and fired up the grill for supper tonight and the meat was good.  Prices weren't horrible either.  Not quite as good as the grass-fed beef I could get when we lived in BC, but still excellent.  I will have to see if the quality changes over time.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Not really keeping up with this whole blogging thing recently, have I?  I was  doing quite well for a long time, but then it kinda slipped away from me here.  Oh well - not that tremendous a loss and frankly I can still keep doing this.  Lots of neat stuff happening in non-computer ways so I can't complain.

Hockey today was excellent - benches were 3 deep and the game was fast.  I feel good about the game because I got a goal (from the point no less) and we had the strong-defense team.  So we peppered the other goalie and you know what that means.  More goals, in case you didn't know what it means.  Anyway it was a good thing.

Work has been interesting as well, but I should probably leave some of those thoughts for another post - one where I have my thoughts arranged in a coherent fashion.  Not this night time jumble.  Meetings all over, process and tool changes.  Interesting times one might say.  Lots of changes to accommodate I'd say.  I guess it's one of those philosophy things - the tool is less important than using it.  That's why I learned to use edlin, notepad, vi, emacs, edt, visual studio, eclipse and other editor/development environments.  They all can edit source code, but each has an appropriate time and place for their use.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So tired...

Don't seem to be posting every day like I want to.  I blame the tired.  Or maybe The Tired.  Ness.  The Tiredness.  Whatever it is, I have it again tonight.  That and the playoffs - they result in me watching more hockey (good) and not posting (not as good).  But I did watch Vancouver advance in 4 straight after the overtime goal in St. Louis.  Tonight, however, Calgary got my hopes up and Chicago brought them back down again.  Calgary went on a tear with 3 straight goals.  Then Chicago did the same.  And now it's almost time for the third period.  I'll have to watch that - at least part of it, until I canna watch no morrrrre.  You know - sleep.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Short and...?

Not gonna spend much time tonight writing, but I should get something down.  I've been watching the Calgary-Chicago game and it is good.  Western conference teams are just so durn fast - fun to watch.  End of the second and Calgary is ahead - let's hope they can continue with the lead through the third.  I've got to get to bed relatively soon as I have to be in to work early tomorrow - before 8am.  I have been invited to a meeting with some of the more senior leaders.  Don't worry - I'm nothing special.  They've been having these meetings every week (maybe) and inviting all employees to this.  Gives a chance to talk to people in charge more directly than normal.  I've been trying to figure out what I should ask I think I know - I'm curious about the plans to bring in new tools.  I feel we should have more process defined, and maybe more clear statements from the top as to where things are headed.  We'll see what will be said about that.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A few days away

I simply stayed away from the computer most of the weekend, so no update yesterday.  No update Friday because, well the same reason, but slightly different.  In both cases I was busy and by the time the end of the day rolled around, I was so entirely beat I simply had to fall into bed.  

Friday I played pool with a friend after work.  That was nice, but a little too expensive to do very often.  I think maybe once a month with a little less food would probably fit the budget okay.  Have not played pool in a long time, but I still managed to "not lose" using my patented 'clog-the-table' strategy.  By allowing my opponent ample opportunities to scratch on the 8-ball, I would avoid losing.  I was beaten twice however - but I can't not-lose every time.  I'm hopeful that I'll be able to try this again relatively soon and improve my skills.  My fine-touch shots were much better than I recall.

Yesterday was a long day, which involved my lawn mostly.  I mentioned to my dad that I wanted to top dress my lawn, and he said that April was a good month to do that.  He called me early and said he was heading out to get some top soil, was I ready?  I said sure because if I didn't do it then, it probably wouldn't get done.  Or I would have to order some soil, which would mean the cost of the dirt (~ $30/cubic yard) plus delivery charges ($50-$100 I'm guessing).  In other words, delivery is at least as much as the soil itself, and seeing as I need only a few yards, the delivery would be the majority cost.  I believe that most places will waive the delivery fee if you order enough, but "enough" is usually "a truckload" and that's > 10 cubic yards.  That would be enough to choke my entire lawn and create flower beds around the whole house and represents a lot of work to haul.  Considering topsoil weighs about 2400 lbs (1.2 tons) per cubic yard, I don't think I'd have the energy to move that much dirty.  In one day anyway.

Anyway, my dad was able to fit about 2.5 cubic yards in his pickup and we spread that over the front lawn and made some piles in the back.  Then it was lunch - a fine steak lunch - and then resting, followed by spreading the dirt in the back yard, mixing fertilizer and grass seed, spreading that over the front and back lawns, followed by racking everything with a metal fan-rake.  That was enough for one day, but I think that I did what I needed to.  We'll see how everything turns out in a few weeks.  I'm pretty sure my lawn is in good shape, as it looks a bit better than most of my neighbour's lawns.  I don't like to water my lawn, mainly because I'm I think that I shouldn't really have to do that, plus it's a bit of a waste of water.  Several neighbours have sprinklers built into their lawns, and one adjacent neighbour waters consistently all summer.  I think that after 3 years of non-watering, my lawn has developed a deeper root system and that is why it looks better now.  Their lawns will remain very good during the summer while they water them, but I'm hopeful that my lawn will remain thick and non-dead even if I don't water it much.  I'd rather have a lawn suited to the climate (read: I don't have to water) .  My dad has mentioned that all the grasses he's seen growing native near his house (out in fields and such) are much more robust and remain green and full all summer, no matter how wet or dry it becomes.

Anyway, enough lawn talk - that was a long day's work.  I tried to catch up with my playoff watching, but I simply could not.  That combined with the scheduled power-outage meant that I had to go to bed before I passed out, although that nearly happened three or four times...  I didn't really need to unplug anything, although I turned off one power bar - it was more to turn off my UPSs.  I have one on my main computer and one on my cordless phone.  The cordless phone one is most annoying - it has no buttons except on/off and it beeps every few minutes when the power is off to indicate it is using battery power.  I cannot think of anything more annoying that sitting in the dark with a UPS beeping at me.  It's not like I don't know the power is out - I understand the battery is being used. In fact, that's why I bought it! Can't it just do it's job quietly???  Even if it had a blinky light to show it was on battery, that would be okay because you can't see it if you're asleep or in a different room.  But anyway, that's the way it is.  Everything seems to be okay today, so I don't think anything went "kablamo".

Today it was simple chores around the house and Rock Band.  The perennial favorite.  I tried to arrange a session with my almost-brother-in-law, but I just wasn't persistent enough.  He was interested, but I didn't get him on the phone until late in the day.  Oh well - a couple of weeks and we'll be good to go.  I have to make sure I have some beer and vittles so we can arrange things.  It will be good.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another work day

Busy day today - workin' away at stuff that wasn't scheduled, but necessary.  Gotta get that stuff done so that the new work can be done.  Made it to the gym.  Again.  Twice this week - that's pretty good for me, at least lately.  Hopefully I can keep it up 'cause I really needed it.  Before I went on Tuesday I had a weird ache in my elbow and an arm workout cleared that up.  Guess I needed some good arm stretching to work things out.  Got hockey tomorrow so we'll see how things hold up.  Maybe I won't be quite so winded, but I suppose that also means I need to get the heck to bed.

My eldest son seems to be enjoying Rock Band quite a bit.  He appears to be getting better at the guitar at a rapid pace.  Not surprising really, given his age.  After a week of regular play he is vastly improved.  He tried moving up a difficulty level and had some moderate success, so hopefully he will try some more.  He probably doesn't see that if he spends three or four days working at the harder level he'll achieve the same success he has now at the easy level.  That remains to be seen.  Anyhoo, I must go and sleep now so I will be ready for hockey tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax cut interestingness

Saw this report on the website today and I was intrigued.  I'm kinda torn between both aspects of this report.  The first point is the origin of the report - "The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives".  It's a left-leaning institute, which gives with the summary of the report.  The summary being that cutting taxes hurts more people than it helps because of all the government programs that get cut along with the taxes.

I'm torn because I understand the conclusion of the report, but I'm not sure that I agree with what it represents.  I think that more people lose benefits when taxes are cut, but I'm not sure that is such a bad thing in the first place.  The whole left-vs-right internal division causes me political stomach cramps.  Wow, that's an awkward analogy, but let's move on.  I believe that we, as a country, need to have programs that we collectively pay for to benefit society as a whole.  One of those is health care, and another is education.  Collecting money from everyone's pay to help people that have lost their job is a good thing as well.  Plus there are some situations where money needs to be given out so that people can survive.  Then there is infrastructure, the military and policing.  After that... I'm not so sure.  I'd like to see less bureaucracy and less reliance on the government for day-to-day survival.  However that's what the report talks about - cutting taxes reduces programs that people rely on every day.

I think the "every day" part gets to me.  I have no problem paying taxes so that we (as a country) can do bigger things than me, my town or county etc could do alone.  Cutting the GST was always a bad idea - taxing things as they're consumed is pretty fair.  You have a bigger car, you pay more taxes on gas and upkeep.  You like to eat at fancy restaurants, you pay more tax.  It's pretty fair.  Cutting that tax was a bad idea.  It looks even worse now that we hit an economic downturn - people spend less so the GST collected will be less than ever.

In conclusion, I've complained and I don't know what my point was.  I guess I need to go find more chocolate eggs to fuel a potential response... But I'm not really going to do that now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Here we are yet again

Tuesday night, before the game.  We've got two goalies, although one is a fill-in.  Borrowing equipment so that we have two live bodies.  I'll have to ask someone at work if we can borrow his equipment somehow.  I know there are at least 2 people that are willing to play net as needed, although only one has actually done it before.  I'm hopeful that at least 4 more people show up tomorrow so that we can have 4v4 or 5v5.  3v3 is kinda, well, tiring.  But that is for tomorrow.

Today is Lemon Jell-o Appreciation Day, although I sadly did not appreciate it enough as I did not make any.  Still, I thought about lemon Jell-o and appreciated it.  Greatly.

Got a chance to play some more Rock Band this evening and I'm pretty happy with the new pedal.  I think that I was doing pretty good - with more regular practice I seem to be improving pretty well.  I'd like to see if I can beat the drums on hard, but some of the tour sessions require more time than I can string together (normally).  Seven song sets are all well and good, but it's like watching the extended Lord of the Rings - I like watching them all together, but when do I have the time for it?  Maybe I'll get lucky and meet up with someone on the weekend for some good ole Rock Band action.  That's pretty far away though.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I totally forgot about writing blog posts for a couple of days there... I'm actually kinda surprised - but not that much really.  First off, Saturday was a big day in that we went out shopping.  The whole family.  Does not happen much, so it stood out.  My wife needed to get another Wii Balance Board because our original one stopped work.  I think it may have died of loneliness, but that's just a suspicion.  It was weird because it hadn't been used for some time and then it ceased to work.  So we had to get that, and I had to get some drum pad silencers for my Rock Band drums after Friday's Rock Band at my sister's.  Next we went to Best Buy and I got Rock Band 2, after convincing myself that it would work with the Rock Band instruments.  Then the whole family got inline skates.  

I'd had a look at some inline skates a few weekends back, as my wife has a growing interest in skating.  I thought would be nice for everyone to get them so we could go out all together.  Plus I never owned any and it looks like fun.  Apparently I shouldn't go out when it is even a little damp as that gums up the bearings.  So far, that isn't an issue as I haven't even attempted to go about yet.  I got some hockey inline skates, ending up with Nike Bauer's because the toe box for the Mission's are way too narrow.  The Bauer's have a huge square thing, matching my need for a small skate but with adult toes.  Or something to that effect.

Anyway, we headed home and I had to try out Rock Band 2 to see if I'd wasted my money or what.  Turns out that no, I had not.  I proceed to play for the next 4 hours or so, with my oldest son joining me on guitar.  It was an excellent time.  The Rock Band 2 port for the Wii brings it more in line with what is done on the Xbox 360 and PS3 with customizable  characters, online play and downloadable content.   Needless to say, I was quite pleased.  And then there was Sunday morning...

Sunday morning dawned and we had some time where we could play Rock Band until it was time to go for the family lunch at my aunt's.  We went for lunch and got back around 5:30pm.  My eldest son and I sat down, picked a set of 3 songs to do and off we went.  I broke the bass pedal on the third note.  Because I'd been given one of the older Rock Band original pedals, this one didn't crack or weaken - it snapped cleanly in the exact spot my original weakened.  It was pretty tough, but I played for a couple more hours.  The pedal worked if you weren't too energetic and held your foot in the right place.

This brings us to today.  I needed to get a better replacement for the pedal, so I started calling around to some of the gaming stores.  I found what I wanted at one and got them to hold it for me.  Seems the Rock Band 2 pedal has a metal reinforcing plate and otherwise is the same.  Well, that's what I wanted, give the way the first two pedals were damaged.  And only $25 to boot!  I picked that up and a second guitar so that we could get a full four-person band going.  Rushed home and I was able to put the new pedal to the test.  It worked really well for me - the metal plate made things really solid and movement easier.  It makes less noise because it is more solid - the spring doesn't bend funny when you move it faster.  The other neat thing is that this pedal came with a double-bass aggregator, which allows you to plug two pedals into the drum kit.  Don't really need that yet, but the possibility is now there for me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Today is Friday and it was good.  Played hockey this morning with 5 subs on each bench - pretty nice.  Teams were a smidge lopsided (all the good puckhandlers were on one side) but it was a good skate.  I think I got a goal even!  But it dribbled in strangely, so it's hard to say.  Spent the rest of the day at my sister's house having lunch and the playing Rock Band.  Definitely a good time - haven't done the online part of Rock Band before and that was pretty fun.  I'm sorely tempted to get a PS/3 so I have an excuse to buy Rock Band 2 and then I'll be able to play online.  A good day.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hey - it is the end of the week!

It was a long time getting here, but now it is.  And here we are!  Regular slate of meetings and what-not at work, followed by a trip to Wonder Sushi.  I tried to remain calm and not go nuts with the selected delights I normally gorge on.  This turned out to be a good thing because I ended up eating my share and then my share again in crispy spicy rolls.  They were extra spicy today and that means extra good, at least in my book.  Kinda scuppered the rest of the day though, as it takes a while to produce 120 pieces of crispy spicy tuna.

Not much else to talk about, except this Slashdot article on CFL bulbs.  Turns out that there is a gap between "real power" and "apparent power" used by these lights, something called the "power factor."  Basically it means that the utility (the grid) has to have more power available than is used by the bulbs to make them work properly.  I only went through some of the comments, but they make many interesting points about LEDs and CFLs and other options.  I have always disliked the bans of incandescent bulbs - they are very useful and well understood.  They have their uses, especially in the cold.  The heat factor has been brought up recently - some people think that a house full of incandescents would provide extra heating in the winter.  I personally don't think it makes a huge difference, but whatever.  Incandescents produce a very nice quality of light.  We got all CFLs for our house when we moved in 3 year ago, and I've had to replace several recently.  The suspicion is that these are older, cheaper and less reliable than the bulbs we can buy today, but I haven't seen a 7 year life, or even a 5 year life.  We'll wait and see.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another Wednesday?

Just staring blankly at the empty, uh, text box, trying to determine a topic.  I seem to recall saying I should write about how the "grapefruit punch" has no vitamin C, even though it supposedly has grapefruit juice in it...  It also 150 calories in 300 mL, making it more calorie dense than Barq's (160 calories in 355 mL).  That's interesting, but in a very limited way - much like this entire enterprise.  Oh well.  I did win 3 games in a row at foosball - that never happens.  Doesn't qualify as terribly interesting either.  Tomorrow is the last day in this week and we'll be heading out to Wonder Sushi for lunch.  One of those traditional jaunts, on very specific occasions.  The specifics is that one of my co-workers has a spouse (only one spouse, I just couldn't think of a better way to write this) who is extremely allergic to shellfish.  That means he can't go for sushi if he's going to be in the same building as his wife.  Ergo (Latin is cool) we all go for sushi when this guy's wife goes somewhere without him.  Lucky for us because it's all you can eat and we usually do.  Actually we treat more like the Futurama episode on the cruise ship: "All you can eat.  Plus a whole chicken."  Except with fish.  And less exploding.  Still good though.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday already?

I keep forgetting that it's a short week.   Well, it's not the forgetting that makes such an impression but rather the remembering.  Kinda like that found-the-keys-in-the-last-place-I-looked way.  Anyway, I keep forgetting (then remembering) that Friday is a holiday, so there is much more urgency around everything.  Not sure why, but there you are.  I guess it doesn't help that "Idol" ran long and Fringe had to start late.  That certainly adds to my urgency.  I liked the episode, at least what I saw of it, and the story continues nicely.  Next week's installment looks most exciting.  Yes, yes - I look forward most verily.  Like most things related to Fox, it would be nicer if they would just run the shows on a consistent weekly basis.  You know - a schedule or season.  Not this 4 episodes followed by hiatus, followed by 4 episodes and a break, the a re-tooling, a pause and a cancellation.  You'd think they were parliament or something!

Speaking of parliament, I actually heard some rumblings from our (Canadian federal) government today.  They decided to do something that the US did weeks ago - guarantee the new car warranties for GM and Chrysler.  Good news because it looks like GM is gearing for bankruptcy  Oh well - looking for the upswing in the economy, but that won't be in Canada for a while.  We definitely lag behind the US in the effects of the economic downturn.  The US has been suffering economically for more than a year, so we are probably a year behind.  Typical in previous downturns, and I don't expect anything to change.  Each downturn has a ripple effect within different sectors of the economy and the trickle-down is pretty clear.  Hopefully we'll be back to vigorous sales soon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Whether the weather?

Yesterday was a nice day out of doors - intense sun, but not too hot.  Today was not like that, not at all.  I heard the inevitable "this is so unusual" comments, but I disagree.  I went to the Canadian Weather Office and looked up this day in the historical data.  I wasn't sure where to start so I picked a random year: 1982.  That year's been in the news a lot, where the interest, inflation and unemployment numbers were compared against.  Apparently, those values are doing better now than 1982 and so is the weather.  I'm starting to wonder if the climate is related to the economic downturn... I'll have my auguries perform some haruspicy and try to establish a correlation.  Anyway, here's the historical data for April 1982.

There are many interesting things to note there.  The first is that we've had some pretty windy, gusty days, but no where near the > 100 km/h gusts recorded on April 3, 1982.  April 5 and April 6 were both cold, with April 6 not getting above -7 C.  The temperatures for April 6, 2009 show a maximum temperature of 4 C and minimum of -5.  The day isn't done, so it may fall a few degrees, but this illustrates the difference.  April 5, 1982 saw 5 cm of snow fall, with 3 cm on the ground, 10 cm on the ground by April 6, 1982.  So even though the weather isn't great today, it's been much worse "in living memory".  Although I wouldn't be able to remember that specific day, the inter-weeb helped by being my external brain pack.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nicer than expected

That certainly turned into a much nicer day than the morning suggested.  The sun was intense - especially in the car.  After 3pm, the wind died down and I went out without a jacket.  One of my neighbours went for a walk with his shorts on, but apparently he wears shorts during the winter too so he isn't a really good gauge.  I did manage to get to major chores done, which I'm pretty happy about.  Got all the Christmas lights down, which I didn't expect because of the powerful, gusty wind and rain Friday and Saturday.  A few weeks back it was really nice and calm - good for being up on a ladder - but the ground was too soft.  This turned out to be a good day for it and I managed to get it done.  Taking them down definitely takes less time than going up.  The other chore was finally cleaning that reusable furnace filter.  Did it every need attention!  I pulled it out during the week because it was feeling stuffy in the house.  I was pretty surprised at the fine dust that fell off when I did that.  The filter itself is pretty coarse so fine dust is counter-intuitive.  Anyway, got those major things done and that makes this a good weekend for house-chores.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Puttering around the house

Went to bed late (well, early today) so didn't do much this morning.  Can't exactly stay in bed, but wasn't awake enough to be useful, so I'm not sure where that leaves me.  Kinda dazed, but not in an important situation.  Not like I was driving or anything.  The house seemed to survive that tremendous wind, which carried on through most of the day.  I finally made it outside after 5pm and the wind had died down quite a bit and the sun was even out for awhile there.  It was quiet chilly though.  Managed a little bit of cleaning, typical stuff.  The big cleaning came in the laundry room, which is also where we keep the cat's litter box.  Thing is, when the cat gets annoyed about her litter box she doesn't send us a note or start barking, she apparently would pee on the carpets near the litter box.  But not always on them, sometimes beside and ultimately under them.  I finally checked what was going on under all these rugs, which have nice solid rubber bottoms, and I didn't like what I saw.  And so there was a very thorough cleaning job done there.  Hopefully I won't have to do that again any time soon.  Maybe I can teach the cat to write those notes...

I did manage to get caught up with a series I've been watching on tv -  Life.  I really like Damian Lewis and especially his character, Det. Crews.  I was able to use the "Rogers On Demand" (heh heh - ROD - heh heh) to see the missing episodes.  Even though you can't do trickplay, being able to catch the most current 3 episodes for a series is great.  Especially a show like Life where the (now typical) two-level story takes place.  Level one is the episode - you can watch one episode for the mystery presented.  Level two is the story involving the characters and drawn out over a long period of time.  This series does the multi-level thing quite well.  I can't really think of a series before the X-Files that used this pattern effectively, but I'm also pretty sure that I don't know enough tv to state that with any certainty.  Anyway, Life is good and hopefully it'll continue.  Hopefully we'll see what's going to happen to Reese.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Here we are again...

Friday.  Again.  At least Dollhouse was on and I caught it.  I liked the structure and I liked the ideas presented - nice to work through some thorny social issues with some good sci-fi structure.  Not that Joss Whedon is presenting novel ideas - erasing memory to avoid painful ones, dealing with psychological issues, etc etc.  It's just that Dollhouse is a good way of presenting the ideas.

Yesterday it was really nice outside.  Today, not so much.  Rained steadily all morning through to I went out for my lunch.  Wasn't raining as much when I was headed home, but it was windy!  I haven't seen persistent wind like this in a very long time.  I hope my basketball net survives...  So we spent the evening indoors.  Not that you'd notice either way, just if the weather is nice we try and force the kids out of doors for a while.

Hockey was pretty good, although I couldn't seem to do anything right for awhile.  Then I was doing a bit better, but then not so well.  But it was a good skate and I did have fun even if I wasn't playing as well as I could.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nice day outside, but I gotta get better at this meeting thing...

It was a very fine day out there, beyond the computer room and the car window.  Positively warm at times!  Got one son outside running around for a bit anyway - lots of the kids on the street congregating and running around.  A good thing.

Work was weird today - two of our six team members left for another team.  Personnel changes always make things different, although it isn't a problem, just different.  It will be weirder when the four of us move in with the three others to form a larger team.  What I really learned today at work was that I have to plan out meetings much better than I have been.

I organized a meeting earlier in the week because we have three different teams collaborating on a set of features.  We have had meetings on and off over the last couple of months, just to get things off the ground.  We still have 2 deliverables between now and the project this collaboration is for.  One of the participating teams has been able to spare a person to work ahead, which is a great way to take advantage of these weird times between projects.  I wanted to have a meeting to go over our coding standards and talk about some patterns I'd seen in code reviews.  I booked an hour and said the meeting was about coding standards, but I knew that we probably wouldn't fill the time with just coding standard talk.  We spent the first half talking about coding standards and then the rest talking about the work being done and what we should keep a look out for.  I left pleased that we were able to discuss all the concerns I had going in, plus we were able to talk about planning future work as well.  What I found out today was that some, but not all, the other attendees disagreed.  One person in particular left feeling like something unspecified was imposed and that work that was entirely premature was being demanded.  

This happened because of a break down in meeting structure.  A good meeting would start with an agenda established ahead of time, a facilitator keeping everyone to the agenda and time reserved at the end to make sure everyone is agreeing to the same things.  Specifically, the meeting had a single item on the agenda and it was vague.  Deep and unrelated topics were raised during the meeting.  No summary was proposed at the end.  To resolve this issue, I talked individually with a few participants to find out what they took away and to tell them what I took away.  This worked well - we all wanted the same things, so it was easy to get agreement with a little clarification.  I also learned some important information that completed changed my opinions about planning for the project - pieces of information that were known before the meeting by half the attendees.

Next time, I will create a more specific agenda, save time at the end to tell everyone what happened, and make sure to ask everyone about any project news at the beginning.  That should save at least a half-hour for each person and keep things moving smoothly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Apparently, I'm distantly related to Barak Obama.  Like so many others on Facebook.  Guess I should look into that...

An interesting day work, in that two long-standing members of our team are moving on.  To another team within the company, but things will not be the same.  Plans were to merge our team of 4 with 3 others in a nicer part of the office, but so far we haven't been able to schedule the move.  So far our new team wouldn't be that different as we would be working on distinct pieces of work, but that will change - hopefully.  At the very least, we'll all sit together and that will help our manager.

Found out my kids had fun at school, what with all the pranks being pulled!  My youngest (in JK) found his teacher's chair was stolen!  By the other kindergarten class.  My oldest (in grade 3) discovered all the kids chairs removed from their room with the culprit leaving a message in mirror-writing on the blackboard.  More fun than I remember having on April Fool's day!  I think they enjoyed it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The ends of March

Should I beware the ends of March?  The ides of march are long past, so the end of March is more relevant.  Should have started writing a bit earlier, but I'm all tired to begin with and I'm having trouble focusing - especially on what I need to do right at this very moment here.  I did manage to rustle up another goalie for hockey tomorrow, but it's a Puckstoppers rental so it's gonna cost us.  I was hoping that we'd have one regular and one other, but our regular has not been regular as of late.  Should have a good turnout tomorrow, which helps to keep the costs down.  I expect we should have some good weeks in the near future too as the leagues are wrapping up.  I talked with one person today who's league night is tonight (Tuesday night), which is why he can't make it during the season.  His league begins playoffs now, so it could be 5 weeks before he can make it out.  That's a while.  I would just be happy with two goalies and 8 skaters every week, but you can't have everything.

I skimmed over something regarding GM, along the lines of public officials voicing that doing the "Volt" was a bad choice.  They also want GM to move with the times and offer what the public wants and be green.  Seems to me that GM was offering what the public wanted - big, comfy SUVs that used lots of gas and produced lots of pollution - and that's in direct conflict with "more efficient.  I hope they don't bugger things up too much with their helpful recommendations.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Monday

It's Monday again - the beginning of another week.  We're going through "goal setting" at work and I'm strangely invigorated.  Probably because I actually have some decent ideas and I've been repeatedly assured that this time (no, really - this time) our personal goals are going to be tied to our performance bonus.  We've had a bonus of the past few years and it's supposed to be a performance bonus, but it hasn't really reflected my performance.  Or the performance of my co-workers, or our office.  It's reflected the performance of the company as a whole, which has been good, but that's not really point.  If it's supposed to help motivate me to do better, somehow it needs to be tied to my performance.  Anyway, after many years of change we're getting to a more standardized process that will measure performance.  Better performance will result in bigger bonus, as it should be.  Unlike the financial companies where the guys who did worse than anyone every did still got money for doing so poorly.  I suspect if you add the losses of everyone that has ever lost money in the financial industry and compare it to this one year, this year's would be bigger.  And yet they got paid lots of money for it.  I've heard it said that the public doesn't understand that it is common industry practice to pay a modest "stipend" known as salary, with most compensation arriving in the form of a bonus.  It sounds good, but I haven't seen how much they are paid, but I bet they make 5 to 10 times the salary I do - plus bonuses.  The massive losses should have been setup so they have to pay back money to the company instead of receive.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Moving on to better economic news, President Obama finally moved decisively to deal with the automakers by asking GM CEO Rick Wagoner to step down.  I heard an analyst draw a parallel to a professional sports team saying that Wagoner didn't cause the problems, but when you "lose" as often as GM has recently, coaching changes need to be made.  At worst, Wagoner didn't move fast enough or decisively enough to turn around the giant boat known as GM.  At best, he was doing the things that GM needed to do become a great automaker again.  Regardless, the big deal is the costs of retired employees.  I think that may be too trite - GM promised a pension of a certain size and I believe that they are in trouble now because they can't keep up with the pension payments.  I think that's because they would "borrow" against the pension by deferring some of the payments.  Defer long enough and soon you're where we are now.  The pension and health costs are a huge chunk of every car sold by GM.  I hope that GM can stay afloat as I'm encouraged by some of their upcoming products like the Volt.

The point of that rambling was that it is good to see the government stepping up and doing something at this point.  Hopefully they will start doing that in the financial areas where they hold more shares or gave more money.  Frankly this would be a good time to make some corporate governance changes all over - maybe regulatory changes is a better phrase.  There is a problem with publicly traded companies: they have to maximize profit.  The way things go, companies are obligated to produce the maximum short-term gains to satisfy the market.  If the regulations were altered to allow for companies to keep investing in themselves - to be able to legally make choices of long-term growth over short-term profits - I think we'd see a better economy.   The emphasis on constant growth - always bigger, with bigger returns obligating larger following returns - leads us down this rat-hole of boom then bust.  This is just a vague idea at this point, no really suggestions or plans.  I'll try and revisit this idea later.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Contemplative Sunday

Today was a relatively big day in our household, what with the skating carnival.  Today is the last day of ice in the local arena and the skating club held it's carnival.  They had all the kids taking lessons of various types put on a show.  My youngest son has been taking lessons - most likely on the "pre-hockey" track, but it's too early for that - and his group got dress in costumes and skate around.  It was pretty fun to watch, plus there were some pretty good figure skaters and a couple of synchro teams.  Pretty nice event, so I suspect I'll be going to this event a few more times.  That will turn into a certainty if my wife gets into skating a little bit more.  Maybe they won't make here skate with the 6-year-olds that are in her class though.

Yesterday was Earth Hour and I completely forgot about it.  I try, though not too hard, to reduce my resource impact.  Mainly because it is good for everyone - me, my kids, my wallet - everyone.  Not being wasteful is just good in general, so I question the steps that so many took to reduce usage.  Maybe if we, as a society, enacted a few changes, we'd use less energy.  Biggest thing would be this stupid daylight savings time switch.  A related idea would be go to bed when the sun goes down and get up when the sun rises.  That would eliminate the need for many lights around the home and stop the stupid clock moving for no good reason.  Next, if most people go to bed near sunset, we wouldn't need so many outdoor lights at night.  I have felt that streetlights and so on are light pollution.  If we wanted to live closer with nature, we need to respect natural rhythms, like "day" and "night".  One final thing about "Earth Hour" - the building managers at my office were going to turn off the lights for the hour.  Why can't they do that all the time?  There are many light fixtures on each floor so turning them off at night with the option of switching them on when necessary, would go a long way to reducing usage.

The last thing I've been thinking about is US Banking regulations.  I remember hearing recommendations over the past few months for changes to make financial institutions in the US more stable - more like Canada.  Here in Canada, our strong regulations were scoffed for many years, until all hell broke loose and we're now hailed as the wisest one on the block.  The Current had an interesting set of guests who pointed out that Regan proposed, G. H. Bush and Clinton implemented, the removal of similar regulations during the late 1980s and 1990s.  The regulations in the US that separated certain financial roles, set minimum liquidity requirements, and who could receive mortgages.  These regulations were established after 1929 but were pushed aside in "near total" deregulation proposed during the Regan administration.  Funny "coincidence" - Alan Greenspan was someone brought in by Regan.  Looks like we can pin a bunch of stuff to Regan, but I think the removal of the regulations was something that should not have happened.  No need to blame someone - just realize that the government had to work to change those rules and it was the wrong choice.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Interesting posting number

This posting will tie the total number of posts I've ever done in a year.  Yes I realize that it is very sad that I write about writing a thing that no one will read.  The absurdism is not lost on me.  Nor the delicious ironing.  But it feels somewhat significant to me, as the main reader of this blog it is therefore an important milestone.  Deciding to write a little every day definitely effected this - it was simply a matter of time.

Anyway, meta-self-reference aside, it was an interesting day.  I went out to get my skates sharpened, but found out the guy who normally does them is away until April 10.  No matter - I headed in to another sports store to try their sharpening process and have a look at some inline skates.  My wife has indicated that she would like to try doing that now, and I think it sounds like a good family activity.  So I went to the store to do some hands-on research.  I found out that my youngest son is a Jr. 10 or 11 and my older son is a 13 or 1.  Basically it translates into their two smallest skates - but they are adjustable through multiple sizes.  I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to get those skates and they will have inline skates.  For myself, I tried on a pair of size 5 boots, but they were a little constricting, so I'll probably just move into the smallest Senior size and that should be good.  All told, it'll be about $500, plus tax, the way I'm figuring it.  I could be wrong, depending on sales and such.  But I'll way until my hockey buddy, the store manager, is working to see what he recommends.  He appears to be very knowledgeable and has been very helpful in non-skate related ways.  

Two more things though.  I went looking for a stick while I was there because they advertised an end-of-season sale.  I found one of the type I like, but it didn't appear to be on sale, so I left it.  I still have two reasonably good sticks, so no need to spend money at regular prices.  The second thing is the skate sharpening.  Now I understand they have an excellent sharpening system, but I have never used it.  Apparently they have the equipment to create a pro-style groove on the blade, but I didn't want to get that.  I just wanted to keep my current radius of groove and see how things went.  Well, the burrs and schmutz on the blade and then in my finger built a whole new respect for the guy who normally sharpens my skates.  He carefully wipes down the blade, goes over with a finishing stone, wipes, measures, wipes and is done.  After the sharpening steps.  This was apparently missing here - and I think I know why this normally wouldn't be a problem.  Most skates use the same blades, (Nuuk brand I believe), where as I've noticed my new Graf skates use a much harder steel.  That increased hardness probably allows the burrs to form.  The guy who normally does my skates also does repairs and he will install his own custom-made blades that are harder and stiffer than the average blades.  So he probably knows how to handle the harder blades.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday - it's not my fault.

Just a little joke from today - a new theme song for our group at work I guess.  Re-did the lyrics to "Friday I'm In Love" by the Cure to show how a bug is not because of our team.  The things you have to do to stay sane...  But it is the end of the week again and that's a good thing.  Did a lot of typing today at work which is why I can type this on autopilot tonight.  Nice and smooth flowing output - don't think, just move those crazy fingers.  So very tired.  Pretty productive at work, what with all the typing and all.  Just to be clear, typing means I wasn't doing software development.  Software is not written with much typing - everything is autocompleted or copied or referenced or whatever.  You spend more time staring at the screen then creating code.  At least if you're careful you do.  I've seen some people that code as fast I type these blog posts and the reason they are so fast is because the end up doing the same thing many times.  They tend to throw out and redo whenever there is a bug.

Hockey was pretty good today - I think I got a goal, but I don't remember.  I do remember making some nice passes that ended up as goals and that is probably more important.  One of the benefits of shooting all the time is that defenders assume you'll always shoot.  Problem for me is that I spend so much time lulling them into a false sense of security that I don't get enough practice passing through traffic.  

There's been some talk around the house about getting some inline skates, especially since my wife is liking her figure skating lessons.  I think she's going to continue her lessons over the summer, but inline skates would be something we could get the whole family doing together and that is a rare and special thing.  Getting outside is important and we definitely don't do that very well as a family.  I think it will be a good investment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Week end approacheth

The end of the week is rapidly approaching.  "Rapid" is more a perspective thing, but whatever - I think it's headed this way quick - so there!  It's not moving at breakneck speed yet, but whatever.  I did read on Slashdot that Mythbusters is trying to test the phrase "knocked his socks off" by using a dummy, socks and 500 lbs of ammonium nitrate.  Let's say the townspeople didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition, er, window-shattering kaboom.  No word on the state of the socks, but maybe they'll do "breakneck speed" next.

Got pulled into a call with lots of far-flung people at work today.  I think the call was pretty productive, considering the diverse group - offices from all over North America, representing parts of the product with potential conflicting requirements.  I felt like I was able to productively contribute a few times - clarifying instead of fogging issues.  It's nice to leave a meeting and have the feeling that everyone shares the same perspective on things.  Never lasts long, but it's nice and it is productive.  I'm optimistic about the upcoming project this meeting was related too - the different parts of the company will be united with a common set of tools and, hopefully, common procedures for using those tools.  Breaking the isolation of each part of the final product will lead to a better result and I think everyone believes that.  Well, the people at the higher levels do and that's good enough for now.

After I got home I took my son over to his friend's house to play after dinner.  He's visited this friend more frequently since the boy's father passed away.  I really can't imagine how they are doing, but they seem okay at this point.  I have a feeling they'll be playing together more often.  Plus they had a good time - pointless running followed by Super Smash Brothers Brawl - very nice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Wednesday

Another Wednesday has pretty much passed on by.  Got out for hockey today and it was pretty good, except that we only had one goalie.  Our pool of potential goalies is much wider than year ago, but we haven't been having tremendous luck.  The regular goalie, my co-worker, has been off for some time.  Recently he was on vacation (last week) and got ill after the vacation (this week).  Before that, he was off for awhile with a hockey-related skin infection.  The thing is, before this year he rarely missed a game, and never more than one.  So it seems like things on the goalie front are worse, but not really.  He's had a string of bad luck and hopefully things will get better when the regular season for hockey finishes at the end of the month.  We should get more skaters and more goalie availability.  Hopefully.

Tonight, my younger son went to his first Beavers meeting.  My wife went with him and I think he had a good time.  She thought he wasn't sure about going at first but promised to go with him.  He got over any issues early on I think.  I guess he'll be ready for next year as they don't have many meetings left - 5 weeks and then nothing until the fall.  Oh well - lots of time for him to get really ready.

And that's pretty much it.  A Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another work day

Back to work after a Monday off.  Kinda weird today - working from home even!  It's weird because I don't have my work laptop, just email access.  But that's enough to be able to get some kinds of work done.  Gotta get to bed relatively early tonight as I'm off to hockey tomorrow.  Although that's been pretty weird for the last little while as well.  We have a larger pool of potential goalies, but a hard time getting any two to show up.  We had 3 one time, but mostly between one and two.  I didn't think that there'd be a  problem this week, but our regular goalie wasn't around.  He may still be on vacation, neglecting his puck-stopping duties.  Oh well - there are still enough people coming out who will play, even if there aren't goalies, so there ya go.  The other problem is that we'd have to cancel by Monday night if we didn't want to pay for the ice time.

The other thing I wanted to mention briefly is the comments made on the Fox News program Red Eye.  I say briefly because the kind of puerile drivel that oozes out from Fox News is not worth listening to.  But apparently The Voice on the Current was able to stomach enough of it to come up with this:

It's Tuesday, March 24th.

Fox News host Greg Gutfield says he did not intend to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military when he suggested all Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan want to do is yoga, paint landscapes, and run on the beach. His comments came just before four Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. 

Currently, Canadians say that just because Fox News is full of venomous right-wing ideologues with an infantile sense of humour, in no way does that mean we think any less of its high-quality journalism.

This is the Current.

I do believe that The Voice hits the nail on the, er, head there.  Pretty sharply too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Are you a man?

Are you a man afraid of injury?  Especially... down there?  Is a tight bundle of fear preventing you from getting that vasectomy and filling your mailbox with endless paternity suits?  We can help.  Here at the Hurts-A-Guy Institute, we can remove that fear.  

Cower no more - Hurts-A-Guy knows that so many males are afraid of that special masculine pain.  We begin our program with selected videos, first classic silent films then work you up to "Emergency Surgery Bloopers."  Soon, you too will be able watch "Man Being Hit with Football" for the stellar photography.  Step two is "The Sideline" where anything from the errant 5 year-old-headbutt to the banana peel gag-gone-wrong will help you really experience what so many merely stumbled into before.  Next, our is "Whoops I forgot my cup" where 'Taking one for the team' is the focus.  Everything from missed soccer tips to annoyed MLB pitchers is presented with an intensity that will surprise!  For the truly advanced, there's "Hazing Gone Wrong" and "Hand Me My Cricket Bat" - the Hurts-A-Guy Institute has something for every man.

Milicent Fillmore, founder and President of the Hurts-A-Guy Institute: "So many men I've run into simply crumple in the face of certain strikes.  It removes their self-esteem and makes them feel like less of a man.  I created the Hurts-A-Guy Institute to correct that - to make sure every man can take one in the pills and keep on truckin!  The intense Hurts-A-Guy Institute program will deliver - it will make a man out of you!"

So call us today at the Hurts-A-Guy Institute.  We give you the tools and training to be a real man - a man who can overcome man-sized man pain.  Our highly trained and bonded sadists will skillfully strike the right balance to bring out your inner masochist.  Call the Hurts-A-Guy Institute at 1-800-1-NOFEAR for a location near you!

Posting the first

Well, I noted that I'm going to make two postings today, so I think I have a topic for the second one.  It will be some fiction I was considering today while sweeping out the garage.  Much more interesting than my day off.  I picked up some wheel covers (the Saturn dealer misplaced them last week, but found them the next day), went to the passport office (twice) and got some good old Pad Thai (422a) and a Vietnamese Coffee Avocado Smoothie (26) at Pho Ben Thanh.  Bought some cat food - apparently the hard plastic jugs are being phased out for paper bags.  I suspect that plastic is expensive.

I tried to slip it by you, the reader, but you probably recognized that I shouldn't have needed to go to the passport office more than once.  Well, if you don't have proof of citizenship you do.  I thought I checked everything carefully to make sure I had all the ID I needed, but the summaries never mention the proof of citizenship part.  Kind of obvious I suppose, but not something I remembered until I saw everyone else in line fingering their certificates.  Oh well - didn't take very long either time, so I cannot complain in the slightest.  They have a good system - a triage first to make sure you have the right forms and correct supporting documents.  Evidently I used the system more completely than most.

Anyway, I'll post up something else soon - it needs to be written yet.   That's not saying much - I find I'm more effective creatively when I just sit down and start writing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day missed... oh well

Missed posting yesterday.  I kinda planned to post twice today, but haven't yet.  I suppose I could post twice tomorrow, as I took the day off!  Kinda nice to have a rich bank of vacation hours, allows me to take the occasional day off without touching a nice reserve.  By nice reserve, I mean more than two weeks.  Probably going to need a couple of weeks some time in this calendar year, but not for a particular vacation.  I should also start banking/planning/reserving some time in June as my wife's ten year wedding anniversary is coming.  Ten years married to me.  No snickering in the back. Of course, since she reads this, I can't really discuss what it is I'm thinking about.  But the you, the enlightened reader, will know that there is a rich tapestry of ideas bouncing around inside the ole noggin.

Tomorrow I've got to head out and pickup the hubcaps for our Saturn.  Got the "summer" tires out of storage last Thursday, but they didn't have the wheel covers.  Found them Friday so I said I'd get them tomorrow.  Then I'll be heading to the passport office and renewing the documentation.  Let my old passport expire when I wasn't doing much travelling of any sort, so it's time to renew.  This is the year that Canadians will be required to show their passport when crossing into the US.  The month isn't important, although it isn't this month.  There's also some talk of a grace period, new provincial driver's licenses and such but I'm going with the passport.  Apparently some decent majority of Canadians hold a passport so it is less of an issue than with Americans.  Looks like those attacks in New York 8 years ago did their job - made things harder for everyone here.  Spend lots of money on things that don't have a huge impact.

Such things aren't good to end on, so I'll mention that I had a wonderful time at my aunt's today - saw my cousin and his kids.  Haven't seen them for awhile and it was a nice time.  Even got outside and kicked a ball around.  That's a good thing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The end of the week.

Made it to another Friday.  Pretty nice and relaxed by Friday night and that's a good thing.  Missed most of Dollhouse, although this looked like a pivotal episode.  You know, the kind that takes the subtle layers of the story that they're gentle revealing and pushes them aside to reveal further layers.  In a different direction.  But I really can't say because I didn't catch the whole thing!  Good tv though.  I missed that stuff because of my youngest son was playing with his friend down the street and didn't get back until after 9pm.  Pretty late for that little guy - he was asleep before I finished the second page of his story.  Nice to be able to just climb into bed and then bam - sleep.

The bailout maelstrom continues.  The CBC tried to link a retention bonus plan approved for Nortel to the AIG bonuses.  Not really a strong correlation since Nortel is in bankruptcy and is supervised by its creditors and the courts, whereas AIG just 80% owned by the government...  I appreciate the point that the retention bonuses were only for Nortel execs ("key employees") at the expense of severance for all the laid off employees.  The logic for the retention plan makes sense, a bit, in that the company and creditors want to make sure the people that know what's going on at Nortel stay long enough to keep it going and make money again.  I would be bitter, though, if I didn't get any severance because I was laid off during the restructuring.  Let's see though - if they gave $10,000.00 to each of the 5000 employees, that's 50 million dollars.  That's about what the pool of retention bonus money is.  I would like 10 grand if I were laid off.

Playing with compensation numbers is why this xkcd comic is so funny, although definitely 18a for the punchline.  TV and radio coverage of the AIG bonus situation shows the bailout numbers (180 billion) and bonus numbers (165 million) together, making it appear that most of the money given by the gov't went to bonuses.  Not true - the values are vastly different - but I think this still misses the point.  The amount of money paid as salary to some of these people is mind-boggling.

The average income in Canada, in 2006, for families with 2 earners was $81,700.00 (values taken from the first line of this Statistics Canada table).  That's 2 or more related people living in the same house, pooling their money.  From the same table, a two parent family with children under 18, one earner: $66,300.00.  That's before taxes.  Now the AIG bonuses range from $1000.00 to $6.5 million, so let's pick a nice value of $2 million.  If you took $2 million dollars and just gave the money to families, you'd keep 24 families going for one year.  Plus you'd get to collect tax from them!  You'd keep 33 average families with 2 parents, some kids under 18 and one wage-earner going.  With the total AIG bonus pool of $165 million, you'd keep 2019 average families going for a year.

Now let's compare $165 million to the $180 billion bailout.  The last GIC I renewed, I counted myself lucky to get a return of 4% per annum.  If I had invested the $180 billion in one 4% GIC, I'd make $7.2 billion in one year, or $600 million in one month.  Which is why the AIG bonus money looks ridiculous compared to the bailout itself.  With the interest from the bailout, we could keep 88, 127 families going for a year.  That's 352, 508 people, assuming 4 people per family.  That's the interest at 4% on $180 billion.  If we used the $180 billion, that's 8.8 million people (assuming 4 people per family).

Anyway, you can see why people are so upset.  The average family with one earner makes about $64,500.00/year before taxes.  It would take 31 years to earn $2 million dollars.  This is the kind of magnitude that gets people upset when they hear about the AIG bonuses.  I hope those that say "I didn't think we could break those contracts" think about that because when people get made, more than contracts get broken.  Not to mention that if people get mad enough, laws change.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More money - gone!

Why money gone?  More like maintenance costs go up - our second car required new tires, so I had the dealer put them on after the oil change.  Greatly increased the cost of the service, but whatever.  This was the first year we put winter tires on that car so I don't mind spending money on new "summer" tires.  I'm hoping they will last for some time given that they won't be driven on in the winter months.  Also known as "road divot season".  One small problem - as they handed the key back, I was asked "So you kept the hubcaps at home then?"  Which was funny because I didn't.  I paid the dealer to store my rims, tires and hubcaps while I drove around on my winter tires and winter rims.  Apparently there is only one guy per room, or one guy in a room or many rooms each with a guy, that carefully watch or observe the tires.  The guy from my tire's room had gone home for the night, so the hubcaps couldn't be found.  They will be discovered eventually, I suppose.  They offered to drive out and put them on, but I may swing by and simply pick them up.

In other news, I'm considering founding a business to dismantle bank signs, as they are doing very well.  In the states.  On 30 Rock.  It's a good show and I'd like to annoy Tracy Jordan somehow.  Good show.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free Markets

I haven't heard many people tell this to me directly, but I do know some people that believe a free market is the best system there is.  Best in that it will find the optimal way of doing things by providing the best service for the best price.  It also occurred to me that this whole AIG bonus whoo-haw is an example of the free market isn't always the answer.

Listening to the current CEO of AIG, we discover that he doesn't feel he can break the contracts that allow people to get bonuses even though the company did so poorly it nearly ended civilization as we know it.  Well, the fiscal part of civilization anyway.  These people had contracts that would reward them huge sums if the company did well - which it did for many years.  Those same contracts also paid out smaller sums if the company did not do so well, a sort of floor function that guaranteed a minimum return.  Applying free market principals to this situation, these bonuses should be mind-boggling if the company does well, but when the company does poorly... well I had people suggest to me today that they should pay the company.  That does sound very free-market.  But that isn't what happened.

The problem was in that the market and financial traders and so forth are not really free markets.  There are rules and protections - necessary things to keep us greedy buggers from screwing everyone else over.  But this situation shows the lack of accountability that permeates work culture.  My dad would say that the American "system" would hire people and pay them large sums of money if they did their job.  If not, they could be let go at the drop of a hat.  There are some companies that behave like that - reward productive employees and trim the others - but I don't think that's typical anymore.  I think that employees expect good compensation when things are going "well", but also guarantees when things don't go well.  Hence the idiotic concept of a "bonus"  that is delivered every year.  That's where these AIG people are.  That's what the GM CAW members gave up - a yearly bonus.  It doesn't even fit with the idea of a bonus if you get it every year - it's simply a chunk of money that's given at a particular time all at once so you get taxed at several tax brackets above your average one.

Let's see if we can change things.  Start slow - give out a bonus if the company does well.  The better the company does, the bigger the bonus.  If company misses targets or whatever, no bonus.  Then we can move on to bigger things, like how to lend money and get back the result plus interest...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Made it back to the gym, completing my regular three-workout-variation cycle.  It only took two weeks this time!  Yea!  Unfortunately, I can't head back until Friday, which should be a hockey day but isn't.  Tomorrow will be a hockey day, but it is turning into a strange one.  I didn't get things together Monday so I couldn't cancel with enough time.  So we are heading into hockey without goalies.  Well, until a few minutes ago when someone volunteered to take the net - which is awesome!  Still, we only have one body for the net.  I don't think it's a great idea to spend $40 on a second goalie at this point.  Ah well.  It's St. Patrick's Day, or the day that everyone likes Irish stuff stuff.  Or green stuff and beer.  Or green beer.  Or just beer and it's an excuse to go over the top mid-week.  Guess those people don't rejoice when St Paddy's day is on a weekend.

Anyhoo, off to get a hint of Irish whiskey and celebrate the day.  

Monday, March 16, 2009

Weird topic

As a Canadian, I feel that it is a waste of time to save America for a Korean car.  I mean there's already a Canadian on the job, Keifer Sutherland, and seeing as he hasn't been jersey'd or given a penalty, I feel he can handle it.  At least that's my response to those ads that tell me I can win a Kia Soul if I save America in some game.  My wife's response was "How many Canadians does it take to save America?"  Several of the actors on "24" are Canadian, so it is a fair question.  Our infiltration of the United States continues unabated, and given the readership of this blog, undetected.  Canadians have long perfected the art of not being noticed in plain sight - also known as "the Canadian movie industry" or "Canadian celebrities."  These are highly trained individuals who do tremendous jobs for pennies a day and still are able to walk without fear among us.  After rigorous training in such far-flung reaches as CBC Iqaluit and CBC Toronto, mental toughness and resourcefulness is proven. Then they may move to the United States and continue the work of making cookies saleable, hair growth plausible and hemorrhoids bearable. Soon they're out there helping the less fortunate to roll up their rims, even without that little roll-up tool (available only at Lee Valley).  Once Timmy's has marched across the continent, we will have the perfect platform to launch our polite form of banking regulations and save the fiscal world!  Yes!  No more will there be stock options and cash bonuses for the AIGs of the world - no, just TimCards and free donuts for the executives.  They'll have they're gooey balls of dough and be happy - happier than racing around in their BMW 7-series cars looking for places to hide their giant ball of cash.  Failing that, we'll have introduced hockey to all - then, at the stockholders vs executives fun-game during the annual general meeting, we can introduce the finer points of how fighting helps everyone to learn how to play fair.  After a few encounters with George Laraque, I think those AIG execs will understand how upset we all were at the dirty tricks they played with our money.  Also, it would be pretty funny to watch boomers who don't know a puck from a hole-in-the-ground try and stand up on skates. 

By the way, my wife informs me that she will be forsaking her Irish heritage (whatever fraction Irish she is) by wearing magenta tomorrow - aka the opposite of green.  Which reminds me, I should find something green to wear tomorrow...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ahh, Sunday...

Beautiful day outside today - actually saw some people without jackets hanging around outside.  On of my neighbours out on their driveway, sitting, watching the kids play.  Very much a summer/warmer-weather thing.  Can't really sit outside when it is windy and cold.  Or raining.  Oddly enough, we went skating today - something my wife is really getting into.  My oldest son didn't want to skate, but we didn't force him  'cause he was at a Cub camp for the last few days.  Likely pretty tired as it was, so no need to push him.  Getting near the end of the ice season and it was such a nice day that the pad was pretty barren.  Took more energy than I thought because I pretty much passed out on the couch afterwards.  Naps are good too.  And, well, here we are.  Tomorrow's gearing up to be interesting at work because of the lockup issues we are pursuing and it's March break, so there yah go.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Finally - Watchmen!

Well, last weekend was a bust for Watchmen, but this weekend met with more success.  The only hiccup being that the concession didn't have the frozen yogurt I enjoy - the machine was broken.  The movie, however, was pretty darn good.  I read "Watchmen" for the first time a few months ago - late 2008 - and I purchased a copy for myself last week.  I've been re-reading it on and off for several days and I'm not through it again, but I'm pretty familiar with the source material at this point.  Maybe not all the nuances and subtleties, but the surface story anyway.  Given that, I think the movie did pretty well, telling a big story pretty well.  There were minor deviations for the original material, but those were not large and I would guess make more sense to the movie crowd.  The idea to keep it set in 1986 was a good one, and it works because of its "alternate reality."  The movie succeeds in keeping with the source material, rather than creating a story with the same characters (see the Ang Lee "Hulk" for a counter-example).  I also think the story succeeds as a movie in a visual and pacing sense.

As I left the theater, my friend opined that perhaps the movie was too long.  I think I agree with that assessment, in the sense that if you know the source material, it is not too long.  If you are coming to the story cold, it may be a little much.  That being said, I have no idea what I would trim.  I think it's good that there are some flaws - especially this kind.  The only disagreement may be with the length, but the pacing was good and the visual, acting etc was excellent. 

Conclusion: go see it.  Don't take your kids, unless they could get in on their own.  Excellent movie.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Code and stuff

This is post 191 - a nice 3-digit prime.  Don't really have enough posts to stretch the checking necessary - 191^(1/2) == 13.82... That means I'll have to wait until post 289 until the next prime past 13 needs to be checked.  Anyway, I spent the day working with code - something that hasn't happened in a while.  Always seems like a shock, but there you go.  People still don't believe me when I say that more time is spent debugging and testing than writing code.  Or designing code.  Or whatever with code.  Some stuff to look at though - something applicable even outside the small domain of our business - a thread pool.  I didn't find the bug, I didn't come up with the fix, I just applied the fix to the correct branch and added some comments.

Frankly, I'd like to be able to add some more tests before going forward, but I definitely didn't have the time now.  I know this sounds like an excuse - we are approaching a release - but there has to be balance between what should be done and what I'm being paid to get done.  In this case, the situation called for a targeted fix, so I relied on existing unit tests to verify the change.  Ideally, I'd like to spend more time checking the unit tests to make sure that items weren't missed, but that wasn't practical.  Next week is a different story however...

What's worse is that this issue is related to a low-frequency, high-impact bug that our team hasn't isolated yet.  I think that next week I'll try looking for it by writing more unit tests.  I have a feeling that may be the most reliable reproduce scenario - one that I create out of thin air.

Discovered something else near the end of the day, related to something I've seen often - improper shutdown/exit of software leads to problems.  This is an issue in embedded development, where restarting a problem subsystem is a good uptime strategy.  The Qnx operating system uses this philosophy, where the microkernel never goes down, but the real work is done by processes that can be restarted as appropriate.  Since everything, including device drivers, are "processes", a device driver upgrade consists of putting the software in the right place and "restarting" the driver.  Being able to shutdown and restart a small piece of functionality is akin to modular programming.  Unfortunately this modular, restartable philosophy was not something hammered home at the beginning of this project, so this issue keeps recurring.  I also think that being able to stop and restart a module without side effects demonstrates good modularization qualities - particularly isolation.  It means that the writer and designer of the piece of software has considered its interactions and resource requirements and they are well identified within the code.  Losing sight of these things means that module can be shutdown, but not restarted.  

Well, I guess that is something I'm going to have to talk-up at work.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A big day

Today is skating day in our household.  Skating for my youngest son and, lately, my wife.  She decided a few weeks back that she should take lessons to improve her skating skills.  Over the past few years she slowly got into skating - something that was difficult as an awkward child.  Concern was expressed that  staying upright would be difficult, but wrist guards and knee pads paved the way to confidence.  Now, wait for it, Stage 2 is upon her!  One of the benefits of taking the lessons with the kids (children under 10 for the most part) is the badges.  Success breeds success, so she is enjoying the whole experience.  I think it's great as she really isn't a sports person.  Myself, I enjoy hockey.  I play it all the time and it is an expensive hobby, but well worth it.  Having something to do on the ice as a family will be great!  I'm really looking forward to next winter and being able to all go to the arena and have a good time.  I may try and rent the ice during the summer for the family to come out and have fun for an hour, but that may be pushing it. 

I didn't listen too closely to the news today, so Stephen Harper didn't bug me.  Didn't really run into anything too contrary at work, so I guess it was a good day.  I'm not certain because I don't really have any stand-out recollections.  Going by the maxim "no news is good news" the day must have been good.  Friday-ward ho!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Today I was rewarded for reading Slashdot - I found this article.  It explained, using better examples and more tv-business-savvy, what I've been saying for years: Fox is messing with me.

Okay, maybe not just me - lots of other people too.  Ever since Firefly and Futurama debuted and then were run off the air, I was convinced there was a secret Fox plot to produce shows I couldn't help but be obsessed with and then yank them away.  Turns out, as is often the case, I was right.  Right enough that other people noticed.  When Futurama was first on the air, it was an awesome show and I loved it.  Fox had the NFL contract for Sunday night football and Futurama would be preempted at the drop of a flag.  So it would take patient weeks to finally catch a new episode.  With Firefly, the show seemed pretty good, but it randomly was on or not, episodes in some order, but not the right one.  No wonder people stopped watching - it was too difficult!

The same pattern is being repeated with the 3 excellent sci-fi shows on Fox: Fringe, Dollhouse and The Sarah Conner Chronicles.  Two of these shows are parked firmly in the secret tv-series burial ground, Friday night.  Back to back, for extra mourning.  The third, Fringe, which has started to garner solid ratings, is on hiatus for 2 months.  For some reason.  Reality tv I believe it is known as.  I've said it before - I don't particularly like reality tv because I believe in entertainment where the writers are paid well.  And they write the show ahead of time, not five minutes into class like so many grade 6 English assignments.

The author of the above article, Ron Hogan, offers one item that makes some sense.  Fox doesn't seem to know a good show from a bad one, but at least the good content creators (JJ Abrams, Joss Whedon, Summer Glau) can't produce good shows anywhere else.  I know Summer Glau is not a writer, producer or director, but she's good content all on her own.  See this xkcd comic for further proof.  So basically Fox is holding all the good stuff hostage, but isn't issuing any demands.  They taunt us with the occasional glimpses, but you have to keep your eyes peeled because it may show up at any time...

So summary: Fox has good content but refuses to let anyone else see it.  Even if they want to give good money for it.  Maybe blog posts can change things.  The power of bits - it's in you!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stupid federal budget

I heard Stephen Harper gave a press conference today, chiding the opposition to hurry along and approve the budget if they really cared about delivering stimulus to the Canadian people.  There are two things wrong with that:
  1. If approved today, the budget doesn't come into effect until Mar 27, so whatever.
  2. The budget bill includes environment regulation changes and other modifications, resulting in a 500 page document.
I agreed with the sentiment I heard from a senator - if the Conservatives are so concerned with getting a budget going, why did they prorogue parliament?  Also, it smacks of dirty tricks to bundle lots of non-budget changes in with the budget and then publicly berate people for considering it carefully.  This is a similar trick to the political party financing changes Mr. Harper tried to make late last year and caused the opposition parties to unite.  I'm starting to agree with Jack Layton - his opinions only - that Mr. Harper isn't to be trusted.  He was cowed, censured (privately) by his own party for the mistakes leading up to prorogation.  And still he continues with the style that caused the upheaval.

It really bothers me when Mr. Harper grandstands like this in the media.  In his first term as prime minister, he refused to talk to reporters, except on his own terms.  Even now he only speaks when it serves his purposes.  His communique plays on the ignorance of the public - that people only listen to his version of events.  If Mr. Harper was concerned about speed and effectiveness, he would try harder to cooperate with the opposition parties and he would have made a budget that only contained budget items!  My own ignorance as to the contents of this budget bill also bothers me - I can recall some suggestion of the complexities of the budget bill, but that was glossed over in the warm glow of Liberal-Conservative non-fighting.