Writeup on the Dangers of a Nuclear Meltdown in Japan

I just came across a long writeup regarding the probability of a serious nuclear catastrophe in Japan that might be worth a read.  In my opinion we’re spending a lot of “news” cycles speculating about a situation which poses a small risk instead of focusing on the actual tragedy that has already happened.

If you want to make a donation via the Canadian Red Cross follow this link.

MacOS X 10.6 Desktop & Screen Saver Bug

I came across an odd bug a couple weeks ago with MacOS X 10.6.6 and the “Desktop & Screen Saver” System Preference pane. Seemingly out of the blue, when I attempted to modify my screensaver, it would just hang indefinitely and when attempting to click it again it would (usually) crash with EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGSEGV) errors. At least anecdotally I seemed to be experiencing crashes of other applications, incl. Steam and Safari (Flash plugins) as well. I could be completely out to lunch, but it seemed as though this issue just manifested for the first time in January after working fine for months. After running through a long list of diagnostics and fairly extensively researching this issue with Google and on Apple’s support forums, I finally called Apple Care to see what they thought.

To make a long story short, after visiting an Apple Store to demonstrate my mystery bug, we discovered that what apparently happened was that I reinstalled the operating system using the retail MacOS X 10.6.0 DVDs rather than the MacOS X 10.6.3 DVD that shipped with my Mac Pro when I purchased it last summer. As best we could tell, even though the installer appeared to work without issues, I ended up with the incorrect drivers due to the fact that the 2010 Mac Pro (5,1) didn’t exist when Snow Leopard originally shipped.

I’m posting this primarily because there was nothing online related to this issue and hopefully if somebody else comes across this problem they can save themselves some effort and headache. This problem is particularly nefarious because you can still apply the 10.6.6 update without any evidence that there are issues but you will still have the bug despite being completely up-to-date.

First thing tomorrow, I’ll be calling Apple to order replacement reinstallation media.

Nathan Rogers

I figured I’d take a quick moment to share some of the music I’ve been listening to lately. Back in October I spent a couple of days in the Eastern Townships on union business. Because it’s so close to the US border and CBC Radio 1 reception can be sketchy I usually find myself tuning into NPR Vermont and while I was driving back to Montréal on Sunday afternoon to catch my train back to Toronto I happened to catch a programme covering modern folk music. I immediately recognized Stan and Garnet Rogers when I turned the radio on, but jammed between them there was a Stan Rogers song I didn’t recognize. I thought that was odd because as far as I know I own everything he ever recorded and the recording certainly didn’t sound like a bootleg. As soon as the host came on after the set he explained my confusion by crediting Stan’s son Nathan for the middle song in the set: “Jewel of Paris”.

To say that he sounds eerily similar to his father is quite an understatement. I’ve done a bit of reading on his background and accomplishments as well as the requisite crawling through Youtube and Google to catch clips of my performing live. I’m sure he’s trying to carve out his own niche, among other talents he is an accomplished throat singer who has studied with indigenous groups in Mongolia and Nunavut, but releasing a first album, “The Gauntlet”, that is reminiscent of his father is not a bad way to start.

I can’t find an online version of Jewel of Paris but here’s a live cover on Youtube of Stan’s famous “Northwest Passage” which is a good sample of his voice. Happy Winter Solstice!

A Shadow of Phobos

I saw this very cool animation of the shadow of Mars‘ moon Phobos passing over a dust storm. Apparently an enterprising enthusiast combed through online archives of photos taken by the Viking 1 probe back in ’76 and found this sequence. It’s kind of cool to see that people are still finding new information this much later. If you’re an astronomy nerd like I am you’ll probably find it worth checking out!

EMC/VMware To Acquire SUSE from Novell?

Slashdot has an article up reporting that VMware may be planning on purchasing the SUSE division from Novell.  According to the Wall Street Journal VMware is in the process of attempting to purchase the SUSE Linux operating system.  What’s interesting to me is not that VMware might be trying to buy SUSE but rather than Novell would consider selling it to them at this stage in the game.  Although I’ve been less impressed with Novell’s strategy (particularly around .NET/Mono integration) and support, the operating system itself isn’t that bad.  It doesn’t seem to be very strategic for Novell, but perhaps this is why I’m not a businessman.

Hubble Photo of Carbon Star

I just came across this cool photo of the binary star AFGL 3068 on Bad Astronomy.  The star is dying and is wrapped in a cloud of carbon and because it’s a binary star the cloud has formed a spiral around the star itself.  You’ve probably never seen anything quite like it and the accompanying article is also worth a read if you have any interest in astronomy.

CRTC Matching Line Speed Ruling

I came across this article on Slashdot this morning, apparently the CRTC has ruled that ISPs such as Bell must provide the same network service to resellers as they currently do to their own customers.  This means that ISPs such as Teksavvy that currently provide service over Bell’s DSL infrastructure and copper should soon be able to provide much higher capacity uplinks via Bell’s newly deployed fibre network.

I haven’t had a chance to read the actual ruling yet but from what I gather the only small print is that the big ISPs will be allowed to charge a 10% markup.  If you’re interested Teksavvy has posted this press release (PDF).

Pioneer One

I came across a link to Pioneer One last week and I downloaded it over the weekend.  I finally got around to watching it this evening and I have to say that for a $6000 budget it’s not that bad, in fact I’m sure hoping that it continues, I’m pretty curious about the plot.  Anyway I won’t bother repeating stuff you can just read on the site itself, but the idea of micro funded entertainment is really neat.  I’ll be following this closely.

Training Courses

I’m on a RHCE course all week this week, it reminds me how much I don’t fit into classroom settings. The material we’re covering is actually pretty interesting and I’m motivated to pay attention because I’d like to pass the exam on Friday but I still find myself drifting off in my own head.

Where are those training programmes from The Matrix when you need them?