Pre-Halloween schmooze report

Alex hosted a pre-Halloween industry get-together at Hurley’s last night. I always get along great with Heidi and Doug, but I conversed with a few other people as well. Some dude name Martin was fascinated with my trouble with finding the spine of the “101” story, and was very helpful just by listening. I also met Michael Solomon, a 30-ish producer with whom I may co-produce a short, although not one of mine. (More on that as it develops.)

When Michael learned my last name, he asked me if I’m related to Mitch – who is my younger brother. Once upon a time at Camp Maromac, both counselors in Michael’s bunk left camp early, and Mitch took over the group. Michael idolized my brother, he told me.

Michael is going to look for photos of that summer and if he finds any, I’ll send them on to my brother.

Robert the director left a phone message today asking for my l33t editing skillz. He’s trying to land a book-to-movie project and he needs help with the synopsis. That may lead to something as well.

Bonus aggravation of the week:

My Dell Inspiron 8100 gave up the ghost, to use a seasonal phrase. I’m not sure what’s wrong, so I’m not sure if it’s a permanent or temporary problem.

I had the machine on upstairs. I closed the lid and unplugged it, then took it downstairs. When I plugged it back in, the screen remained dark and the wireless card wouldn’t light up. I turned off the laptop manually, with the power button.

Every time I start up the thing now, I get power lights, and I hear the hard drive spin up, but the screen remains black and the wireless card never gets power. The CD drive will open and close, so it gets power. I don’t even know where to start. My Mac, I can troubleshoot blindfolded. The Windows laptop stymies me.

A weekend in Ottawa

I’ve just returned from two days in Ottawa with nine other WarBirds geeks players. Some I’d met before. Vlasov lives here in Montreal and we see each other occasionally. RC I’ve met at official WarBirds conventions and I’ve also attended one of his own Ottawa gatherings, in 1998 I think.

We met in the hotel lounge Friday night and watched Vonmc and Muzz get plastered in their personal styles. Vonmc was loud and eager to regale us with tales of his virtual prowess. Muzz was quieter, sarcastic, and eager to deflate Vonmc’s balloon. Also, he dropped and broke a glass.

Saturday, we went to the new War Museum, which is much bigger than the museum’s old crowded quarters.

Vlasov drove the two of us into downtown Ottawa, but our way was blocked by a demonstration. Some 20 people and a large blue balloon were marching with signs that said “Big Oil”. I assume this was a protest against Big Oil and not for it. The Ottawa police were blocking streets as the marchers went on, and Vlasov had to loop this way and that to get to the War Museum, the old museum. A sign on the door told us the museum had moved.

Back in the car, we were again thwarted by the rolling blockade. We looped around the Rideau Centre, drove between the American and Kuwaiti embassies, and finally made it onto Wellington for the drive back west of Parliament, which is where we’d come from in our first attempt to avoid the protestors. We were late, and the other WarBirders had already gone in, but finally the weekend continued.

The museum has room for its amazing collection of vehicles, from all eras. With respect to World War II, the most fascinating pieces were a StuG IIIG that had been hit about ten times, a rusty Valentine that had been rescued from a Russian bog, and an early model Churchill Mk II (2-pdr gun, bow machine gun, and engine snorkels a la Dieppe).

Saturday was spent more soberly by some, again in the hotel lounge. I had to fend off repeated requests for me to join 400-series (i.e. Canadian) virtual RAF squadrons. I will not let the virtual 101 Squadron die!

That was about it. It probably sounds boring to you, but it was an entertaining way for me to spend a weekend.

Bonus news:

I’m up to page 53 in reading “Flyboys”.

More fun with the visitor log

Keratoconus International, a support site for patients who share my disorder, posted a list of personal anecdotes found online. This blog is one of them. I’ve started to see a trickle of visitors come from there.

A second set of visits is laced with irony. This semester, I teach Jour 319 from 9:15 to 11:30 Wednesday mornings. The class meets in the Mac lab, room 3.217 of the CJ building, which used to be the DS building.

My visitor log indicates that the computer known as visited my site at 9:38 Wednesday morning, and stayed until near 10:00. That means that the computer identified as maclab5 in the class – while I was teaching there – spent 20 minutes at my blog. Whoever was using that computer spent about 20 minutes reading what I wrote because what I was saying was too boring. That cracks me up.

If the computers are labelled by the department on the outside with the same scheme the network uses, that means that the bored surfer was either Lucas or Gabriella. I’m not sure which Mac is #5 in the class, but I’ll check next week.

Bonus comment on electronic voting:

Quebec’s chief electoral officer has released a report on a trial of electronic voting used in municipal elections last year, and recommends that Quebec continue to ban the use e-voting machinery. We’ll continue to rely on paper ballots.

With this in mind, it behooves anyone interested in the debate over the security of American e-voting machinery to read a new Ars Technica feature on how insecure these machines are and how one person of only moderate skill can hack election results. I hadn’t previously been swayed by claims of insecurity, or by claims of security, although I’ve never figured out why people are so eager to abandon the slow but reliable paper-ballot system. Is the speed of results that important?

Go read “How to steal an election by hacking the vote” and shudder at the hypothetical as well as the evidence that such hacking has already taken place. The only thing preventing mass election fraud in the US this November is security through obscurity, and that’s a mighty flimsy liferaft.