gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for December 2010

Happy 20th birthday, WWW!

December 25, 2010 @ 14:13 By: gordon Category: General, In the news

It was 20 years ago today Berner-Lee taught the ‘net to play…

On Christmas Day 1990 Tim Berners-Lee made the first successful connection to a web server, setting us on the path that got us to where we are today. The proposal he made to CERN is still available online today at W3.org.

It took a while for this new technology to really take off. Other technologies like gopher servers provided a nice hierarchical structure for people to distribute their information in. Pesonally, I set up my first web servers a year or two later. One was for the WWW Virtual Library’s geography section and the other was for the International Council on Monuments and Sites, who had been running a gopher server for a couple of years.

In the early days, websites looked much different than today’s sites. Images were the exception rather than the norm and things like Flash and PHP didn’t exist. People were genuinely concerned by bandwidth because many users had dialup connections and didn’t use graphical interfaces. Since then websites have become much more advanced, with Flash-based graphics, cascading stylesheets (CSS) and tons of graphics everywhere.

Tim Berners-Lee was knighted in 2003 in recognition of his contributions to the development of the Internet as we know it today.

So, happy birthday, World Wide Web! It seems like just yesterday that you appeared on the scene.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010 @ 00:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

A quick post to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous 2011!

Bye bye Firefly

December 22, 2010 @ 12:51 By: gordon Category: General

In the 1990s and early part of this century, I drove a convertible Firefly. It was a great little car and I drove it until I bought a Tracker in 2002.  When I bought the Tracker, I held on to the Firefly because my dad had expressed interest in maybe fixing it up when he retired. Retirement came along and he became busier than when he was working, so it sat in my parents’ garage, waiting for someone to drive it.

Sadly, it hadn’t been driven since so I decided to donate it to the Multiple Sclerois Society of Canada through CharityCar.ca. After sorting out the paperwork, I arranged for its pickup and they sent a tow truck to pick it up yesterday. My dad took a picture of it as they were taking it away:

I’d like to think that it was going off to be looked after by a new owner, but sadly I suspect that it’s going to end up in a junk yard.

Welcome to Winter 2010

December 21, 2010 @ 18:38 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Current affairs, General

imageSo, it’s officially Winter.

But why is it Winter today? Why not yesterday or tomorrow or next Tuesday?

It has to do with the tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to the Sun. Specifically, when the angle reaches 23° 26′, Winter begins.

The Winter Solstice occurs on the day with the shortest sunlight hours and the longest night. Up to this point, the days have been getting shorter and the nights longer. From now until the Summer Solstice, we’re going to start seeing more sunlight each day – something that I’m quite happy about!

Many cultures have traditions based on the winter solstice. As I wrote a couple of years ago, the Norse celebrated Yule from the 21st of December through January, giving us our 12 days of Christmas. The ancient Greeks celebrated the festival of Cronus, Kronia, which the Romans rebranded as Saturnalia. Wikipedia has an extensive list of the various cultural celebrations based on the winter solstice that’s worth checking out.

In the mean time, Gledelig Jul!

A tip o’ the hat to NASA for the graphic by Dr. David P. Stern. You can find out when the various solstices, equinoxs and other astronomical events happen on the USNO’s website.

Christmas endangered by WikiLeaks

December 21, 2010 @ 07:45 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Seen on the 'net

imageSo, yesterday I blogged about the impact of a recent WikiLeaks on the people who had their information leaked. While surfing the ’net yesterday evening, I came across another WikiLeaks release that’s causing a fair bit of stress in some northern countries and another that probably means Julian Assange is going to find industrial amounts of coal in his stocking this year.

Will the insanity never end????

WikiLeaks has gone too far this time

December 20, 2010 @ 07:45 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Seen on the 'net

Ok, so in the past WikiLeaks has released Afghanistan war files, 9/11 pager messages, emails sent by researchers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, Sarah Palin’s email, the Guantanamo Bay operating procedures and, of course, thousands of US diplomatic cables. This has caused much fuss but people eventually moved on.

But their most recent leak is crossing the line, even for them, and causing a huge backlash among the people who had their secrets leaked: (more…)

Coyote fur coats, PETA and a tempest in a teacup

December 18, 2010 @ 00:22 By: gordon Category: In the news

Card Trudeau 20101216It’s been a couple of years since I last blogged about PETA so I thought it was about time to do it again since they’ve gotten themselves all bent out of shape over Justin Trudeau’s Christmas card photo.

The photo show him and his family wearing coyote fur parkas and a fur blanket, which PETA has called “a lurid way of celebrating peace on Earth”.

Trudeau responded with a quote he gave to the Toronto Sun that I think his father would be proud of:

“I think one of the ways of calculating whether you’re doing things right or not is looking at who’s opposing you and PETA has lost much of any credibility it had in Canada.”

(Personally, I think PETA is overdrawn at the credibility bank after their unspeakably insensitive ad comparing the Greyhound bus beheading incident a couple of years ago with what goes on in a slaughterhouse, but I digress…)

Some facts about Canada that may interest PETA:

  • Canada was built on the fur trade
  • Coyotes are not an endangered species
  • Coyotes are essentially vermin in some parts of the country
  • Throwing paint on people is assault (I’m just sayin’…)

The fact of the matter is that there are more pressing social issues than whether Justin Trudeau has a coyote fur coat. Homelessness, poverty, street kids and child abuse spring to mind. A few fur coats pale in comparison, don’t you think?