Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Wednesday, May 25, 2011

  • May 25 / 2011
  • 1

Painting Corners

It used to be joke that homeowners without forethought would paint themselves into a corner while painting a floor. Governments do the same thing only it costs more time and money to fix the problems governments create.

The governments of Canada, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have spent years and $billions helping farmers on the prairie manage flood water. Recently we saw the result. The Assiniboine River was full. The Red River was full and Lake Manitoba was full. It rains, folks. When that happens right after winter with snow piled high, water flows downhill.

Draining all the farmers’ field is not the right thing to do in this instance. In order to handle exceptional precipitation we all have to delay drainage, not speed it up…

This happened where I live. In winter snow accumulates. In the spring it thaws and fills the ditches where it was doing no harm at all. The culverts were filled with ice so the municipality sent crews out to open the culverts so that the water in the ditches would flow into the swollen river where it would be a problem. Does this make sense to anyone? Spending tax dollars on a problem that does not exist in order to create a problem or to make an existing problem worse???!

Repeat that scenario every few miles all across southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and you have a critical problem, not logically different than a melt-down of a nuclear reactor. The sysem takes time to respond to changes. You have to think ahead to avoid catastrophe.

Instead, the province of Manitoba and the government of Canada issued a press release today saying how they were going to spend more money fighting flooding around Lake Manitoba where the surplus in the Assiniboine River was diverted. Where was Saskatchewan which province feeds the headwaters of the Assiniboine River? Where were the logical thinkers who could connect the dots of putting more water into the river in the same period of time and then fighting the resulting flood? Gone. Absent. Asleep. Instead of doing the right thing, they plan to spend more money diking a huge lake and moving whole communities to higher ground. Nature has been doing the right thing for millions of years here. What has changed is not Nature but government providing taxpayers services they don’t need but make them feel good about their tax dollars being spent locally.

Is there intelligent life on Earth?

Assiniboine River Basin

  • May 25 / 2011
  • 1

Departure of Canada’s Auditor-General

After 10 years of good work, the auditor-general of Canada, Sheila Fraser, is leaving the post. She has done many good deeds like exposing to public scrutiny:

  • waste and mismanagement at the ill-conceived Firearms Registry,
  • corruption and bad management to the highest levels of government,
  • value-for-money was not happening in many programmes including the North, INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), and
  • the serious national deficit in aging infrastructure in all governments, and also in IT, my favourite.

The North and funding for aboriginal people in Canada is scandalous. By treaty Canada has made commitments that are unfulfilled. Aboriginals particularly in the North are living in squalor despite $billions being spent but not wisely. I can vouch for that in education where aboriginal students may be 2 to 4 years below grade level, have poor attendance and be self-destructive and yet nothing can be done about it because of “policies and procedures” or “turf”. The horrors I have seen in the North make it difficult to get good teachers to go there and turnover is astronomical. In this chaotic system, people who actually do their jobs are punished and scoundrels are rewarded for going along with things. Communication is abysmal like announcements of new programmes getting to the front lines after deadlines have passed. IT is abysmal with reasonable funding passing though so many hands almost nothing is left for the schools who must accept hand-outs just to meet the minimal requirements of the curriculum.

IT generally in government is not properly managed. There are many programmes that require that other OS to be used even though alternative software on FLOSS platforms will do the job. Government is providing that other OS for free to students so that they become loyal customers of M$. If FLOSS were used especially with thin clients, schools could have state of the art systems for half the price and if the taps were opened to permit the allocated funds to reach schools they could have one PC per student and better networks. At the same time insufficient bandwidth is delivered to a school with 100 PCs, about the same as one household with one or two PCs.

Where I worked there was “no budget” for IT at all. If a teacher requested something it was sometimes supplied but usually not. These are schools with hundreds of students and dozens of teachers. They should have annual budgets of 1% of cash flow, perhaps tens of $thousands annually. With that kind of money all kinds of digital peripherals, thin clients, servers and a fat pipe to the Internet could be maintained eliminating many barriers to a first-rate education.

I have no idea how the next auditor will function but I hope the ToDo list retains some of these items. The future of Canada depends on it.

  • May 25 / 2011
  • 12

Platforms Used by Visitors

It is always interesting to see what kind of vehicles visitors drive. I have added some stats on the right-hand side down a bit. We seem to have a healthy ecosystem here except Apple is not well represented… :-(

A bit more than half use Linux it seems. I like that stat. ;-)

  • May 25 / 2011
  • 0

French BEA Will Release Some Information From the Data Recorders of AF447 2011-5-27 Friday

“The BEA has decided to publish a note with information on the first facts established, based on analysis of the data from the flight recorders. This note will be put on line on Friday 27 May at the beginning of the afternoon and will be available in English, French, German and Portuguese. There will be no press briefing.”

I think this is good news. They must have learned something important for the fliers, families and humans among us. The longer the wait, the more the suffering, worrying about every flight, and worrying about the destruction of AF447 and its human cargo two years ago. The sooner facts are published, the sooner prevention can be improved.

see BEA – Press releases and briefings

  • May 25 / 2011
  • 0

Teasing Can be Fun or Downright Annoying – What’s ASUS Up To?

It’s a few days before Computex and ASUS is doing a strip-tease about a new product. They are releasing new details each day but leaving the big picture for the show. Is it a tablet or a phone? Will it have Linux or not? Give me patience! Now!
“In relation to this and in the persuit of the right choices for our fans, here’s a question to all our mobile gurus: what do you prefer to use:, pad, notebook or netbook? Also, given that we were first to try Linux with the Eee PC 701 back in 2007 – we’d like to know again: is Windows still a firm requirement for your everday needs?”

see ASUS on FaceBook

It’s a new version of eeePC, I guess, and the drip of information is bait or torture for technophiles. We shall have to wait and see. :-(

  • May 25 / 2011
  • 5

China Has Its Own Debian GNU/Linux Mirror

GNU/Linux marches on in China. “The Debian project is proud to announce the availability of a new primary mirror in mainland China. The new mirror,, will significantly reduce network latency to the Debian software repositories and help to raise Debian’s profile in China, and is accessible via IPv6 as well as via IPv4. Besides Debian’s package archive, the mirror also offers Debian’s CD and DVD images as well as the backports archive, and for users of Debian’s oldstable release (Lenny), the Debian volatile archive.

The Debian mirror team worked with Stephen Zhang and Aron Xu to set up the mirror in China. To quote Aron, this will significantly reduce the lag time when synchronizing with Debian’s ftp-master server. Previously it was common to have a lag time of about two days between ftp-master and China. With the new primary mirror, the mirror team has been able to reduce that time to under six hours for push clients and under twelve hours for passively synchronizing mirrors.”

One of the great things about Debian GNU/Linux is the flexibility of installation. Being able to install over the network saves burning CDs, encountering errors on CDs, and saves bandwidth as one does not need to download all of CDn just to get a few of the packages on it. Debian GNU/Linux now has more than 50 CDs/7 DVDs. USB drive installations are another popular and environmentally friendly route. Then there is the PXE boot… RTFM

see Debian announces Chinese Mirror – May 25th, 2011