gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for June 2009

Fibre cable cut in the Ottawa Valley (again)

June 30, 2009 @ 16:18 By: gordon Category: General

My Dad just called me from the cottage on his cellphone and mentioned that apparently there’s been a major fibre cable cut (again) somewhere up the Ottawa Valley. It’s affecting Eganville (613-628), Golden Lake (613-625) and Killaloe (613-757) and probably other exchanges up there, too. It seems that local calling in these exchanges is possible, but that outbound long distance calls are not going through. I tried calling the landline at the cottage, which is provided by Bell, and got a fast busy signal, so inbound calls are equally affected.

Update #1: The Ottawa Citizen has posted a story about the impact on the OPP and emergency services, which includes this quote:

Police said people who require emergency police, paramedic or fire assistance should still dial 911. If unable to connect, they should contact the agency through the 10-digit number available in the phone book.

If telephone communication is impossible, paramedics and police officers are available at OPP detachments and paramedic bases throughout the county.

Update #2: A CBC story posted on July 1st reports that the problem was fully resolved around 9pm Tuesday evening after about 8 hours.

Field Day weekend

June 26, 2009 @ 10:00 By: gordon Category: Amateur radio, Weather

image We’re approaching the last weekend of June and that means that the ARRL Field Day is nigh. Field Day is an amateur radio event which sees amateur radio operators setting up temporary stations in public places so that people can learn about amateur radio, and usually using generators and batteries rather than commercial electricity. Field Day starts at 1800Z (2:00pm Eastern) Saturday afternoon and runs through 1800Z on Sunday.

The Manotick Amateur Radio Group is going to be operating under its club callsign, VE3AIR, as a class 5A station, which means a 5 transmitter, club portable station. Being portable means that we’ll be using generators and batteries. We’re setting up at Long Island Marine (map and directions) in Kars starting later this afternoon.

Historically, the weather for this weekend has been highly variable. The National Capital Airshow used to be held this weekend and I remember weather ranging from face-of-the-sun-hot to cold, wet and miserable, sometimes all in the same weekend. Darin (VE3OIJ) and Bob (VA3QV) have both commented on the weather forecasts, which looked rather gloomy when they posted, but I think (hope) they’re wrong. I checked the forecast this morning and was pleasantly surprised to see this:


The TAF for CYOW shows a 30% probability of overnight thunderstorms:

TAF CYOW 261139Z 2612/2712 30012G22KT P6SM FEW080 BKN140 PROB30
2618/2623 3SM TSRA BR BKN020 OVC040CB
FM262300 33005KT P6SM BKN050 PROB30 2623/2703 3SM TSRA BR BKN020

Hopefully they don’t manifest because antennas are uncomfortably like lightning rods.

If you’re looking for something to do Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, you can visit VE3AIR at Long Island Marine (map and directions) and see what Field Day and amateur radio are all about.

Deaths in the news

June 25, 2009 @ 20:01 By: gordon Category: In the news

A disturbing number of famous people have died this week.

Tuesday: Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s sidekick and spokesperson for Publisher’s Clearing House and other brands, died at the age of 86.

Ed McMahon

Wednesday: Roméo LeBlanc PC CC CMM ONB CD, Canadian politician and statesman and the 25th Governor General of Canada, died at the age of 81 after a lengthy illness. OTT1010-LEBLANCFILES

Thursday: Farrah Fawcett, probably best-known for her role of Jill Munroe on Charlie’s Angels, died at the age of 62 from cancer.

farrah fawcett
Thursday: Michael Jackson, legendary pop singer, died at the age of 50 after suffering a cardiac arrest. michael jackson

And the Associated Press is reporting that 92-year-old Walter Cronkite is gravely ill. His family says that he is very ill and not expected to recuperate.

That’s a lot of people who have influenced a lot of people over the last few decades.

Getting ready for a weekend of dragonboating

June 19, 2009 @ 14:24 By: gordon Category: Dragonboats

In just a few hours, the Ottawa Dragonboat Race Festival kicks off with the Team Captain’s meeting followed by Shanneyganock on stage.

My team, the Algonquin College Singapore Slings, enters the staging area at 10:10 Saturday morning for our race at 10:40. We’ll have a second race sometime in the afternoon. It’s also possible that we’ll be taking part in a third race tomorrow afternoon if we manage to stay in the top 8 teams who raised money for the Ottawa Dragonboat Foundation. Currently (14:20 on Friday), we’re in 8th place and we’re hoping that we stay there once all the offline donations are registered later this evening.

Speaking of donations, I’d like to thank everyone who has sponsored me. You’ve helped raise a lot of money that’s going to be handed out by the Ottawa Dragonboat Foundation to a number of very worthwhile local charities.

To everyone else: It’s not too late to sponsor me. 🙂 You can follow this link or click the button at the top of the column to the right and sponsor me online.  Many thanks for even considering this. 🙂

See you on the water!

Why you should never fall asleep in a tattoo parlour

June 17, 2009 @ 16:48 By: gordon Category: In the news, Seen on the 'net

_45938962_rouslantoumaniantzThe BBC has a story on their website about a girl in Belgium who went in to a tattoo parlour to have three small stars tattooed near her eye and ended up with 56 stars all over her face. She claims to have fallen asleep in the chair and only woke up when her nose was being tattooed and now she wants most of them removed. The tattoo artist claims she didn’t fall asleep and got exactly what she ordered and only changed her mind when her father freaked out. Which of the two sounds more likely to you?

Given the picture of the tattoo artist, I don’t think anyone would be surprised if they found themselves covered in tattoos should they happen to fall asleep while he was working on them.

And, how does one fall asleep when one is being tattooed anyway? I would think the pain would be more than enough to keep you awake.

WordPress 2.8

June 11, 2009 @ 10:28 By: gordon Category: Music, WordPress

WordPress 2.8 was released earlier today. Upgrading to it was a very painless process. Basically, backup the database, click the upgrade link in the control panel and follow the instructions. It took longer to backup the database than it did to do the actual upgrade.

Facebook 1.6 for the BlackBerry

June 08, 2009 @ 17:07 By: gordon Category: BlackBerry, Reviews

Kyle over at BlackBerry Cool posted a first impressions of Facebook 1.6 for the BlackBerry article, which was released over the weekend. Since this is an app that I use fairly regularly, I fired it up on my BlackBerry and clicked on the “check for updates” link in the options menu. It reported a new version was available and took me to the over-the-air install site.

The first thing I had to do was select the language for the install from a pulldown menu. Oddly enough, the default language was “Chinese (Simplified)”, which could be a bit of a gotcha for some people if they don’t notice it. I was surprised that the default language wasn’t the preferred language in my browser; or simply pre-selected based on the language of the existing install; or just English. The download and install was pretty straight forward, but did involve a device reset, presumably because Facebook weaves itself into the address book, messages thingy and other base applications.

Firing it up after the reset meant accepting a new EULA, which was similar to other RIM EULAs (or BBSLAs as they seem to be called). It didn’t appear to have any Facebook-specific terms in it. After accepting the EULA, I logged in with my Facebook details and it started updating my friends list, etc. Like the previous version, it’s much more integrated with the BlackBerry calendar and address book than versions in early days were.

The interface itself is “prettier” than previous versions and looks more like the web interface. There still isn’t a way to use the chat functionality of Facebook with the BlackBerry client, but that’s not a huge inconvenience as I don’t chat using Facebook that often. Still, you would think that would be fairly straightforward to implement and is a feature that is noticeably missing.

The status screen has become a bit cluttered, but that could be fixed if they removed your profile picture from the screen. (I have a BlackBerry Curve 8310, which has a lower-resolution screen than most of the BBs available today, like the BB Curve 8900, so this may not be as much of an issue on newer devices.)

One commenter on BBCool said it was slower, but I haven’t noticed that, yet. There are many factors that can affect how quickly something runs on a BB, so it could be an issue with the commenter’s BB than a general application issue. I’ll post an update if I notice that it’s slower.