gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for August 2013

Helpful PayPal phishers

August 30, 2013 @ 14:01 By: gordon Category: General, Seen on the 'net

Every now and then I wade through the spam folders in my various email accounts to make sure nothing has been inadvertently flagged as spam. Today’s batch included a phishing message from someone telling me my PayPal account had been frozen. As you can see from this screen capture, they were very helpful in reminding me that legitimate messages from PayPal will mention the account holder’s first and last names and not start out using something like “Dear Customer” or “Customer 80372”.


A few photos from Day 5 of Les Grands Feux: Grand finale by Royal Pyrotechnie

August 26, 2013 @ 18:24 By: gordon Category: Fireworks, Photography












A few photos from Day 4 of Les Grands Feux: the United Kingdom

August 22, 2013 @ 17:29 By: gordon Category: Fireworks, Photography









A few photos from Day 3 of Les Grands Feux: the Philippines

August 19, 2013 @ 14:01 By: gordon Category: Fireworks, Photography









Remembering the great blackout of 2003

August 14, 2013 @ 16:11 By: gordon Category: General

Ten years ago, most of Ontario, and big chunks of the northeastern US, was plunged into darkness due to a massive power failure. Most of Ottawa had its power back the next day.

At the time the power went out, I was at work, writing something. Initially, I thought it was just a small brownout, but when I heard the backup generators for the computing centre next door fire up and stay running while everything else remained dark, I knew that it was a bigger problem. Then I started hearing that it was affecting other cities and I thought “uh oh… this isn’t good”. This being less than a couple of years after September 11th, 2001, one thing that came to mind was “was it because of a terrorist attack?”. (It would later be determined that it was the result of a sequence of events that started about two hours earlier in Indiana, but the final straw was in Ohio. Check out this Wikipedia entry for the timeline.)

Upon arriving home I tried using the dial-up number for my ISP to see if I could learn what was going on, but it didn’t answer. When I tried calling access numbers farther away, I was able to connect but not login, probably because the servers that were used to authenticate my account were without power.

At some point I called my friend Rob in the UK to find out what’s going on, which is when I learned of the full extent of the outage.

Throwing in the towel, I headed out for a ride and met up with a friend at Mooney’s Bay. You can read all about it here.

Government offices were closed to reduce power demand and private companies were encouraged to follow suit.

Ultimately, I was off work for the following week, though I did go in to the office for a few minutes early in the week because although Ottawa was affected, our regional offices were unaffected, except for the one in Toronto. Getting into the building was problematic because although I had after hours access, they really didn’t want anyone in the building. When I pointed out that there were any number of places I’d rather be than a gloomy office building with no ventilation and it was only because there was an operational need to be in the building that I was finally able to get in. I did what needed to be done and left after about half an hour.

One evening I went scuba diving in the St. Lawrence River just after sunset, ironically on the remains of a hydroelectric generating station from before the Seaway was flooded. It was a great dive, though a bit spooky because there were very few lights to be seen anywhere.

According to a blog entry from the time, I wasn’t back in the office until the 25th of August.