Great chmod Tutorial

One of the most frustrating things about Linux, and all other flavours of Unix, is the permissions system.  It’s not super complicated, but it can get involved, and it helps if you have a clear idea of what you’re dealing with.  I don’t use it that often, so every time I need it, I have to dig into it again, and relearn much of it.  Thankfully, there are many tutorials for this sort of thing on the web.  Unfortunately, the quality of these tutes is highly variable.

I recently had occasion to dive into the chmod command again yesterday, and was lucky enough to find a very good tutorial, complete with examples and exercises.  If you need this stuff, it’s good to have it on hand.

TraceMonkey Coming to a Firefox Near You

Firefox LogoI’m so excited!  Mozilla is hard at work on a new version of your favourite browser and mine, Firefox (3.1), which will incorporate TraceMonkey, a Just-In-Time compiler for JavaScript.  What’s the upshot?  According to Brendan Eich, the father of JavaScript, and Mozilla’s Chief Technology Officer, an 83% speed boost in JavaScript execution speed; making possible new areas of application design in the browser, which previously were relegated to the desktop or server.

FF3.1 is slated to arrive at the end of 2008.  Just in time to stuff your hard drive’s stocking.

Sick Kids Doesn’t Want My Money

Last weekend, an earnest young lady named Taylor Lewis knocked on my door.  She was wearing a Sick Kids Hospital vest, and had a special tag hanging on a lanyard around her neck, identifying her as a certified agent of the hospital, empowered to represent the institution for the purposes of collecting donations.  I listened to her enthusiastic descriptions of the good works the hospital was engaged in, and how the benefits of their highly successful research extended far beyond their walls, to other hospitals, and other countries.

She answered my questions forthrightly, and I was prepared to donate twenty bucks.  Why not?  As she showed me the form, it was evident they were looking for monthly donations, rather than a one time hit.  Sure.  That made sense.  Fund raising is an expensive proposition.  If you take a one time donation, you have to start all over again the next day.  But if you find people prepared to donate monthly, it’s an ongoing revenue stream. Continue reading

I Want to Get This Good at Photoshop

I’ve been using Paint Shop Pro for years.  I got pretty good at making greeting cards, but there was a limit to what I could do in terms of photo-realistic compositions.

My friend, Kristan Uccello, posted a link on Facebook to a set of tilt-shift miniatures, which I think I can pull off.  I’m also interested in learning how to do High Definition Range photos.  I’ll keep you posted.

What really got my juices flowing, though, was a link to one of the artists in that list: Glenn Karlsen from Norway has some terrific and amazing images.

I’m not sure you can do this stuff with The GIMP, which is the open source, cross-platform image manipulation program I’m currently using, but I’m going to give it a shot.  Watch this space for developments.

Checking Up on Your MP

Ever wonder about what your Member of Parliament is up to?  How he or she voted on legislation that interests you?  Well, wonder no more.  Just clock in at and check up on your MP or on that bill you were wondering about.

It’s not perfect:

  • some bills gak the Ruby app
  • they only have data for 3 sessions of parliament
  • there’s no information about who put this together, or how you can help out
  • they tend not to have the names of bills, never mind the text

But for now, it’s better than nothing.  And, unless I’m prepared to do something better, I can just keep my trap shut.

What I’ll Tell Ken Dryden

Over a month ago I contacted Ken Dryden’s riding office to arrange a meeting with my Member of Parliament.  I expected to see him within a week or two; I’d tell him of my concerns related to various issues of the day, and he’d take that into consideration when he returned to Ottawa.

But no.  It’s been over a month, and I don’t even have an appointment yet.  I was told his office had been flooded, and was currently being renovated.

If my office were flooded and needed to be renovated you can be sure I wouldn’t wait for the renovations to be completed before seeing my clients and assuring them I’m still on the job; that they can count on me to continue getting things done for them.  That it was business as usual.  I wouldn’t let a small matter like a bit of water get in the way of the important work I’m doing for them.

But hey, I’m not a politician. Continue reading

OLPC Redux

The new OLPC, the XO-2There is a tremendously well-researched, well-reasoned history of the OLPC, and it’s subsequent effects on the computer industry, at “Why Microsoft and Intel tried to kill the XO $100 laptop”.  A minor quibble about the article: the author didn’t mention the ASUS Eee PC, which clearly owes it’s existence to the OLPC, and then went on to spark other ultraportables such as the HP 2133 Mini-Note.

From Windows to Mac: Another Convert

Mac OS X FinderI’ve been using, playing and struggling with Windows since version 3.0.  Before that, I used pretty much every version of MS-DOS.  I’ve poured a lot of my money into Microsoft.  I’ve watched them go from enthusiastic techno geeks, to arrogant robber barons.

When Vista was announced, I vowed not to donate another dime to the mighty Microsoft marketing machine.  I was planning on going to Linux.  But when push came to shove, I didn’t want to spend days struggling with obscure arcana.  So I decided to go with an OS hailed as a paragon of ease of use: OS X. Continue reading