gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for September 2008

Some pictures from Quebec

September 28, 2008 @ 09:40 By: gordon Category: Out and about, Photography, Quebec City 2008

Quebec City - Day 1 011I drove down to Quebec City to attend the week-long 16th General Assembly and International Scientific Symposium of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on Saturday.  Yesterday evening, I wandered around Old Quebec with one of the other people from Ottawa and took some pictures.  It was raining, so everything was shiny and the clouds glowed in the lights giving the buildings a kind of spooky aura.

You can see the pictures in my gallery.

Moufid leaves Carleton

September 26, 2008 @ 20:33 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

By now you’ve probably heard that Carleton University has imposed several sanctions on Mansour Moufid for violating Carleton‘s Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy in the Kasper Holmberg incident.  The sanctions include:

  • paying $608 for the cost of 32 new student cards;
  • paying $2 160 for the cost of extra security staff for the residence buildings;
  • seven hours of community service a week at a food bank;
  • completion of an ethics course;
  • allowing the university to monitor all his online activity through any Carleton University server for as long as he has access and that the information may be shared among university officials
  • writing a letter of apology to the 32 students, the university and the university community that includes a statement that he "lied about alerting the university before distribution (of the report)."
  • being expelled if he violates the university’s student policy again.

There’s no mention of academic penalty, suspension or expulsion.

I have no problems with any of the conditions other than having to say he lied.  There appears to be some confusion at the university over whether the university received the report prior to Moufid making it public.  Carleton University spokesman Christopher Walters told the CBC in their September 8th story that "the university received the document alerting them to the problem on Aug. 29", which makes it seem pretty clear they did receive it.  Their requiring him to say he lied is going a bit too far.  He could probably accept everything else but appeal the requirement to say he lied.

Apart from that, I think the sanctions are quite fair and consistent with the Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy, particularly as this wasn’t Moufid’s first encounter with the university administration for violating their policies.  He confirmed in the Ottawa Citizen’s story today that he was given a verbal warning when he was caught creating different IP addresses for his computer in order to get around access resources he was not allowed to access.

Anyways, it appears that Moufid has decided to leave Carleton and work in a warehouse for a year and continue his studies at another university next September.  Of course, he may get jail time when he’s found guilty, as he almost certainly will be, so there may be a longer break in his education.

As I said in my first post on this topic, I hope he thinks it was worth it.

Feeling the effects of “zero means zero”

September 25, 2008 @ 17:01 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

Several stories in this morning’s Ottawa Metro caught my eye

  • page 1: Snow go for stop study: City holds off review of winter bus stop maintenance
  • page 3: City nixes ‘pothole patrol’: Seven extra road-checking staff would cost $1 million
  • page 3: Policing: Ward-by-ward crime statistics will not be coming out this year, but improved data has been promised for 2009.

Are we starting to see the true effects of Larry O’Brien’s “zero means zero” plan?

According to the first story, to increase the frequency which bus stops are maintained during the winter from once a day to two or four times/day would cost between $4.1 million and $8.2 million, depending on the frequency.  Clearing them four times/day would require an additional 104 pieces of equipment.  So, rather than clear them more frequently passengers are probably going to have to climb over big piles of snow, which strikes me as a safety hazard when there’s a lot of snow that’s built up.

The second story reports that roads in Ottawa are not inspected frequently enough to meet even the minimum provincial road inspection standards.  Instead, existing city staff that drive as part of their jobs as well as OC Transpo drivers are apparently “just as effective” in reporting road damage such as potholes.

There’s more to inspecting a road than just looking for potholes.  Inspectors are concerned with more than just the suface.  They’ve had specific training and they may even be engineers who can make accurate assessments as to the condition of a road.

Let’s face it: roads are expensive.  The cost to replace a section of road can easily cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.  So, you don’t want to replace them too early because that’s a waste of money.  Nor do you want to let roads deteriorate to the point where they have to be replaced because you didn’t spend a little money fixing a problem that would have deferred replacement for several years.

Nothing against bus drivers, but I don’t think they’re qualified to make these assessments.

With respect to the last story, one has to wonder exactly how much is being “saved” by not producing detailed crime statistics and what effect this lack of detail is going to have on community-level policing.  Will they be able to make accurate assessments of where the problem spots are without the quantitative data?  Are problem spots going to go unaddressed as a result?

Time will tell, I guess.

Chinese Shenzhou 7 mission discovers time travel two days before launch

September 25, 2008 @ 10:57 By: gordon Category: Seen on the 'net

An AP story on the Globe and Mail’s website this morning hints that  the Chinese Shenzhou 7 mission set to launch in two days, is going to encounter some weird temporal anomalies à la movie Frequency and actually be able to communicate with the mission control before they’ve even taken off. (more…)

Playing nice in my sandbox

September 22, 2008 @ 18:56 By: gordon Category: Meta

The vast majority of the people who have commented on things I’ve written in my blog over the years have been polite.  They have refrained from ad hominem attacks and tossing around words like "bigot" and "racist", and for this I thank them.  I haven’t felt the need to tell people they need to play nice in my sandbox.  Until today.

I wrote a blog entry about the Kasper Holmberg incident before the identity of the hacker was revealed.  In that entry, I basically said that people who do things like that are not heroes and such behaviour should be discouraged.  I wrote a follow-up entry when the hacker’s identity was revealed which talked about what they were being charged with.

A couple of people have commented on the original entry, both of whom felt I was being harsh and unreasonable and that the hacker was essentially a modern day Robin Hood. One of the commenters clearly knows the hacker personally.  There was a back and forth, but when confronted with facts that clearly contradicted their assertion, the commenter responded by calling me a "stupid hateful bigot" and suggesting that I said what I said about the hacker "because of his name".  Both of those quotes are taken from the comment I moderated.

These accusations are unfounded and untrue. I didn’t know that the hacker’s name was Mansour Moufid when I wrote the entry, nor would it have had any bearing on what I wrote.  I stand by my assertion that he is not a hero for what he did and should be prepared to accept the consequences of his actions.

This is my blog and disrespectful behaviour towards me or other commenters will not be tolerated.  You are welcome to post comments disagreeing with what I write, but do so respectfully.  Toss around epithets or make ad hominem attacks and you can expect to be moderated.

For the vast majority of you who do play nice: Thank you!

Argh! I tempted Fate!

September 20, 2008 @ 17:24 By: gordon Category: General, Travelling, WordPress

A few months ago, I wrote about looking forward to WordCamp Toronto 2008.  I ended the entry with the following:

Hopefully, my schedule won’t change between now and then. 🙂

Well, it appears I was tempting Fate.


Kasper Holmberg unmasked

September 11, 2008 @ 17:19 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

A quick follow-up on my previous entry about Kasper Holmberg.

According to an Ottawa Police news release, Mansour Moufid, a second-year math major at Carleton, has been charged with “Mischief to data and Unauthorized use of a computer” in relation to the Kasper Holmberg Incident that took place at Carleton University.

He used Keylogger software and Magnetic stripe card reader software to acquire students’ information.  Moufid put together a 16-page document that first made it to the University Secretary’s office followed by emailing the document to 37 students of the University several days later.

Apparently, he is going to appear in court on October 15th.

Section 430 of the Criminal Code of Canada indicates that

(5) Every one who commits mischief in relation to data

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Section 342.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada says

Unauthorized use of computer

342.1 (1) Every one who, fraudulently and without colour of right,

(a) obtains, directly or indirectly, any computer service,

(b) by means of an electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device, intercepts or causes to be intercepted, directly or indirectly, any function of a computer system,

(c) uses or causes to be used, directly or indirectly, a computer system with intent to commit an offence under paragraph (a) or (b) or an offence under section 430 in relation to data or a computer system, or

(d) uses, possesses, traffics in or permits another person to have access to a computer password that would enable a person to commit an offence under paragraph (a), (b) or (c) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Doesn’t sound like it was worth it, does it?