Design your kitchen

kitchen

After going back and forth with our kitchen designer for almost a month, at last we finalized our kitchen design and placed the order. Direct Buy has a really good deal buying kitchen cabinets. I went to the Kitchen Craft showroom trying to get an estimate for comparison, the sales refuse to give me a quote after hearing my budget, which is my quote at Direct Buy plus the $5000 membership fee. He said I am unrealistic trying to get the high end line with my pity budget. He said my kitchen is pretty big, my budget can only only get me the high end cabinet box without no doors.

Design the kitchen is a long and stressful process, but I learned a lot from it. I know some basic principle of kitchen design. Knows how to partition the kitchen into three zones, the washing zone, preparing zone and cooking zone. I studied the Kitchen Craft catalog cover to cover. Once I figured out how my kitchen should look, picking the right cabinet from the catalog is pretty straight forward. Reading the catalog opens my eyes, I am not even aware of all those different cabinet options just from going to the showrooms. There are more hinge actions then I can ever imagine. Picking the color and door style is Pat’s department, I only give comments on material and costs.

The cabinet is fixed, now I have to worry about counter top and handles. There are over a hundred different kinds of stone surface and over a thousand different kinds of door handles. After that I have to pick the right faucet and sink. I will have to do a lot more research and go to many more showrooms before I can make up my mind. When the kitchen is finished, my next mission is to design the master bedroom closet and it will be another endless quest of style and options. In my opinion, customize all the elements in my house to meet our taste and preference is a lot more work than setting up Linux config files using only text editor.

kitchen2

Another stupid and useless law

Canadian government is proposing a new legislation against internet child porn. The new law requires service provider report offending website. I believe the government make the law out of good intention, but the law itself is plain stupid and totally not enforceable. The law make it a criminal offense if an ISP fail to report child porn sites to the police, if and only if the ISP happen to come across it or someone notify them.

The law does not require the ISP actively scan their hosting website for child porn and they are not responsible for hosting contents. The law only comes in effective if they happen to come across child porn they are hosting. Since no ISP would actively scan their hosting website, first it is against customer’s privacy and second scanning cost a lot computer power hence money, it is almost pretty sure ISP won’t come across any child porn. Even they come across it in regular maintenance, there is not record to prove they really come across it. The first clause in new law is toothless.

The second part of the law require the ISP report to the police if someone notify there are child porn sites in their server. It would be too time consuming for the ISP to verify every complain. The most cost efficient approach is simply forward the report to the police and let the police determine whether the complained site hosts child porn. Since their is no punishment for sending false-positive report the police, there is no harm forward every single complains to the police and let them deal with it. If the ISP acts as a forwarder, why don’t the complainer send email to the police in the first place?

The new law does not cause any harm per se, it only gives us a false sense of security. The government makes lots of noise and the media think they did a good job fighting child porn, but at the end it just a show which won’t have much effect. I rather the government spend their effort wisely else where to protect our children than making a stupid and useless law. I suggest we tighten up the law to give those child molesters the one punishment they truly deserves, castration. For serious offenders, we should castrate them with no pain killer.

News clip From the Vancouver Sun

The federal government plans to introduce new legislation Tuesday forcing Internet providers to alert police if they encounter any host sites linked to child pornography, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The federal government plans to introduce new legislation Tuesday forcing Internet providers to alert police if they encounter any host sites linked to child pornography, The Vancouver Sun has learned.
Photograph by: Nicky Loh, REUTERS

The federal government plans to introduce new legislation Tuesday forcing Internet providers to alert police if they encounter any host sites linked to child pornography, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The Internet companies would also be forced to safeguard evidence if they believe a child-pornography offence has been committed using a server they provide, a senior government official confirmed Sunday.

The new bill also makes it mandatory that any tip received by Internet companies about potential child-porn sites be reported to a designated agency.

The legislation allows for fines to Internet providers who do not comply of up to $100,000 for corporations, and up to $10,000 and six months in jail for companies owned by a sole proprietor.

At present, Internet providers are not obligated by law to pass on information to law enforcement agencies, though many do so voluntarily.

Three provinces — Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia — have made it mandatory under child protection laws for Internet companies to call police if they suspect or have knowledge of online child porn.

The proposed law comes just days after the release of a study that found Canada is one of the leading countries in the world for hosting child-porn sites.

The report, released by Cybertip.ca, examined more than 15,000 child-porn websites worldwide and found Canada ranked second behind the U.S. in terms of the number of commercial porn sites featuring children.

Canada was found to host eight per cent of the sites — far behind the U.S., which hosts 65 per cent of the commercial child-porn sites worldwide.

“As strong as our laws are within Canada, no country is really free from this type of material existing on websites,” Cybertip director Signy Arnason said. “We have 60 countries . . . that were hosting child-sexual abuse content.”

The report also details how child-pornography websites cover their tracks. In one 48-hour period, Cybertip.ca watched a website cycle through 212 unique IP addresses in 16 different countries — making the specific location of the information very difficult for law enforcement to track.

And a recent report by the federal ombudsman for victims titled Every Image, Every Child, said the number of Internet images of “serious child abuse” quadrupled between 2003 and 2007 and that the images are getting more violent and depicting younger and younger children.

The new bill – called “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service” — is considered to be complementary to two other bills. Those bills — C-46 and C-47 — were introduced last June and are still at the committee stage.

Bill C-46 — the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act — provides police with additional tools to obtain information from Internet providers related to any criminal investigation. The tools include preservation orders to freeze data for up to 21 days, production orders compelling a company to provide a customer’s e-mail or IP address, and tracking orders to require a cellphone company to use its network to assist police in finding a particular cellphone or BlackBerry user.

Bill C-47 — the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act — allows police to obtain information about clients from Internet providers and forces those companies to have the technical ability to allow police to intercept information.

Google Wave

Google like to release their new service to the public while it is still in beta. Gmail and Google Talk was in beta for a few years before it finally make an official release. Google Wave is the latest invention from Google. It is aim to revolutionize how people communication. Google is looking forward to make it the next big success after gmail.

The concept of Google Wave is a bit hard to understand at first. I am still a bit confused after watching the introduction on Youtube. After playing with it for a few hours, I think in short it takes the best out of email, MSN, Wiki and merge it into one single service. It comes with a very clean web interface, as expected from Google. The basic function of wave is pretty simple, it allows multiple users edit the same “wave” at the same time and broadcast the change in real time. It saves the complete history, so any user can replay the changes step by step. I think the hidden jem would be the Wave API, it let user embed “wave” in any webpage and insert wave plugins or bot scripts in a “wave”. I am still exploring the Wave API. Google Wave is still in a very early stage, no one knows how can it change the way we communicate. Would it be a run away success like Gmail or just drop flat like Google Talk.

I would like to embed a wave in this post for demonstration. Unfortunately, I would not get the WordPress wave plug-in working after many tries.

BTW, I still have two invitation quota left. Any one interested please let me know.

Moon 月球

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七八十年代是科幻電影的黃金年代﹐很多經典的科幻電影也是在那段時間拍攝。反觀近年的所謂科幻電影﹐大部份徙具外表內裏言之無物﹐不過是藉掛科幻的羊頭﹐賣電腦特技觀感刺激的狗肉。「月亮」沒有喧嘩的電腦特技著重說故事﹐甚至採用復古風格以模型拍攝﹐正好是科幻電影混濁中的一股清流。

這部電影由英國的獨立片商拍攝﹐全片大部份時間只有主角一人在演獨腳戲﹐是那類導演功力稍遜便會悶死人的電影。幸好導演把節奏捉拿得十分準確﹐電影聚湊而感人中帶點幽默﹐還留給觀眾思考回味的空間。電影亦橫掃歐洲多個獎項﹐不過觀眾可以放心﹐這套不是那些拍來拿獎的悶藝電影﹐是一套很傳統的硬派科幻電影。(注意﹕以下內容含有劇情)

電影的故事發生在不久的未來﹐主角是在月球工作的採礦員﹐負責維修保養自動採礦車。他跟採礦公司簽了三年合約﹐在這三年裏他便一個人在月球基地渡過。他的同伴只有照顧他起居生活的人工知能機械人﹐閒時從飯盒中種自己照顧植物﹐砌小時長大的小鎮的模型﹐看看老舊的電視錄影節目解悶。他聽著妻兒寄來的影像﹐倒數著回家的日子。離合約完成還有二個星期﹐他在修理採礦車時發生意外﹐醒來後發現基地多了一個人﹐那個人竟然與自己有同樣容貌和名字。

熟讀科幻小說的朋友﹐應該很容易估到電影所用的橋段。採礦公司為節省成本﹐用複製人取代真人操作月球基地。工作合約只有三年﹐複製人只有三年壽命﹐三年後換一個新的複製人。電腦以為主角意外身亡﹐便從冷藏庫復活替代的複製人。豈料新的複製人擅自行動﹐把被困的主角救回來。新的複製人很快接受自己是複製人的事實﹐並著手開始計劃逃亡回地球。主角擁有過去三年的記憶﹐一時間不能接受自己是複製人的事實。電影不是走驚險路線﹐逃亡計劃也只是輕輕帶過。重點是主角的兩個複製人間情誼﹐如何面對另一個自己﹐幫助另一個自己活出餘下的生命。

電影有幾個感動觀眾的場面﹐但並不是那些浪費紙巾的催淚電影﹐而是借用科幻的設定去刻劃細膩的感情。主角逃出無線電干擾笵圍打電話回家﹐發現妻子離世女兒長大成人﹐還說原版自己對話﹐才警覺自己已不知是第幾個複製人。兩個複製人大難當前﹐交心談論被移殖腦中的共同記憶﹐憧景著逃回地球第一件要做的事情﹐流充男人間的浪漫。原以為基地中的人工智能電影是公司派來監視主角﹐它不惜重新啟動刪去所有記憶捨生幫助主角逃走也很窩心感人。

喜歡科幻電影的朋友﹐這是一套很值得看的電影﹐讓我們重溫黃金年代科幻電影的感覺。

Athlete’s foot

In tracks and fields who will win and who will lose is determine even before athletes is born. That’s why it is not true sport, it is merely a whole bunch of people exercising at the place. On the other hand, the ball is round, you never know who is going to win until the last minute. Only games that require skills and have element of surprise are true sports.

Continue reading Athlete’s foot

Cuckoo clock

IMG_7501

When we went to German a few years ago, we liked the Black Forest cuckoo clock very much. Cuckoo clock is a beautiful time keeping master piece from the marriage of arts and science. Cuckoo clock has almost 300 years of history and it is still using the same basic mechanism from hundreds years ago. Traditional cuckoo is pendulum-driven, using the weight of the iron-cast pine-cone under the clock as winding mechanism. On every hour and half hour, the small door above the clock face will open, a small cuckoo bird comes out and make cuckoo sound. Cuckoo clock is made of wood decorated with crafted birds or flower on the clock front. Some more fancy cuckoo clock have finer decoration, more moving parts in the chime and some even even play music every hour.

Too bad back then we don’t have luggage space to bring it home and it was quite expensive. Recently, we saw a cuckoo clock in a friend’s place and that brings back our memory of cuckoo clock. We think a cuckoo clock would look nice on our new home, so I start searching for one online. There are three types of cuckoo clock, 1 day, 8 days or quartz. The 8 day clock is a lot more expensive due to its size and its movement. A quartz cuckoo clock runs by battery. It is a fake cuckoo clock as it lose the charm of the mechanical cuckoo clock. With our budget constraint, I think we are happy with a 1 day cuckoo clock.

I came across a 2nd hand cuckoo clock on Craigslist. It is a Germany made, 1 day cuckoo clock with the most traditional dove and leaves decoration. The parts are in good condition and there are little doors on the side, so you can open and see the internal movement. The clock is not very accurate properly due to the transportation. I have to adjust distance of the pendulum to make it swings at exactly one second. My only complain is that I have to remember rewinding it everyday or the the clock will stop working.

Career switching move

A colleague just resign today and decide to go to medical school. I only got half of the fact when I heard the news, , I thought he is already accepted by medical school so I went to congratulate him. It turns out he is making a very bold move. He has to study full time for a year to make up some undergrad biology credits before he can even apply for medical schools. He is smart and young, I think he could make the jump from being an engineer to a doctor. However, forgo one year of salary to prepare for application, then spent 5 years studying and many more years further education on specialty practices is a huge investment. I wish him good luck, but I also asked him, touch wood, what if he couldn’t get into a medical school. He said the plan B is come back to PMC and continue to work as an engineer.

Nowadays, no one has life time employment. Switching job is very common, but usually people switch within related industries. Switching career is a lot harder. You have to give up the experience you have accumulate all those years and start from scratch. Unless you really hate your first career or you have great passion for your new career, it is always a though decision to change career. I have friends who tried to move away from engineering but with bad luck end up staying go back to the same place where they starts.

One day, when I am bored being an engineer, I want to back to school to get a philosophy Ph.D. and then be a philosophy professor in university or community college for living. The only problem between me and my dream career is that I can’t afford to let go my salary for a few years to study something that is absolutely useless and does not yield handsome return in the future. Maybe I should be more realistic, study a MBA instead.