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I spent last Saturday at the Wildrose Alliance (think Republican) annual meeting in Calgary. More than 300 people in one room almost all of whom agree with me on most issues. Www! - I mean, seriously, how often do you think that happens?

Anyway, at one point (apparently apropos of an egg salad sandwich) a guy I've never seen before tells me he "digs Linux". "Digs"? Say again? Anyway, I think there's a bottom line lesson here: this world is getting way too small and too interconnected.

Interesting weather too: 30cm of snow in the Cypress hills, heavy snow and hail in Calgary -obviously global warming, as I think Ed Morrisey said somewhere, now really is something you can shovel.

The 21st Czar

This week was marked by a need to spend a little bit of time reviewing the mandates various national network control authorities have. In both Canada and most of Europe undisclosed police access to just about everything networkish is taken for granted, but the formal centralization of political power to hunt for and shutdown offending network operators or users is something few countries have undertaken - in fact, here's a list of of the ones I found with internet security czars with that kind of mandate:

Communist China
North Korea
The United States of America

Bringing down airplanes

Absent "black box" information - and one of the many things I don't understand is why those are kept on board airplanes instead of having live telemetry recorded at an airline operated central site - the recent Air France crash now seems likely to go down to the unhappy coincidence of one too many natural factors.

On the other hand, I wonder whether airplanes will soon need much better internal electronic shielding to prevent the insane from bringing them down by frying the (non optical) pump controllers all fly by wire aircraft depend on.

Notice that I'm not suggesting this happened, only that the technology both in airplanes and at Radio Shack has evolved to make this possible.

Model based management

A couple of phrases from junk I was scanning earlier g - things that had people "executing well against our model" in a context of "intensified mandates" and the desperate need to "implement the most agile BI strategies" - reminded me of a comment I'd seen, by "Jeremy", on watts up with that:


The photo is priceless. This to me summarizes the complete lack of scientific approach to everything these days. Everyone sits round a PC and blindly believes whatever nonsense it spews out.

No first principles. No cause and effect. No understanding of physics. mathematics or even statistics. Just run any number of widely available computer modeling programs, fit the historical data and hey presto another science breakthrough.

It would be funny if it wasn't so very pathetically sad.

(FYI: the article spoofed climate modeling by reproducing a press release from 2006 - proudly celebrating predictions that proved entirely wrong - but how many times have you seen otherwise smart people impressed with some "corporate cockpit" BI display where, in reality, the second letter should be an "S"?)

Fun with the drupal

I'm not sure I want to say that I, uh, "dig" Solaris and open source, but I did have an interesting demonstration of the power of the two come out of Saturday's meetings. This particular agency has spent well into seven figures on a custom consumer information site that another agency now runs for it on a mainframe IFL. Response, of course, is pretty poor but the big issues she complained about are things that reflect the differences in thought processes and priorities between editors and data processing managers - and the thing that struck me was that during the conversation was that drupal will do most of what she wants out of the box - and the CCK (content construction kit) should make implementing the rest pretty easy.

So I did a very basic drupal demo (not, please understand, that I understand Drupal - in fact, it's often so backwards to my thinking that it takes a very frustrating time to see the retroactively obvious) - downloaded and installed a clean 6.12, gave it a private database and apache virtual server address, added the modules she needed, added some time and date information others think she needs, copied and restructured some sample content from her site, and turned her loose - all in just under three hours and fully justified in terms of amusement value when she reported that her home access to the demo running on my ancient Sun 150 via Shaw cable was significantly faster than her access to the z9 IFL at the office.

Out of which an abberant thought: there are lots of editorial professionals out there facing daily frustration because the people who built their website tools simply don't think like them (and, admittedly the notion that editors think is a bit overboard, but go with me on this, ok?) - and could therefore improve their own lives, along with system reliability and flexibility, simply by replacing all that eons evolved home grown stuff in favor of open source products like Drupal and Apache on Solaris or Linux.

And one more thing

From newsmax:

La. House Backs 15-Cent Charge on Internet Access

BATON ROUGE, La. -- A 15-cent monthly surcharge should be levied on Internet access across Louisiana to fight online criminal activity, the House voted 81-9 Thursday, over the opposition of Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Rep. Mack "Bodi" White, R-Denham Springs, said he sponsored the bill for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, to raise money to finance a division in Caldwell's office that investigates Internet crimes, particularly online sex crimes against children.

The measure would raise $2.4 million a year for Caldwell's department, according to a financial analysis.

"I don't think that 15 cents per month is too much to ask for our children's protection," said Rep. Simone Champagne, D-Jeanerette.

So, quick question: if you just use your iphone -or cableco VoIP phone- for phone calls, do you pay the tax?

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.