Sunday, November 26, 2017

Grey Cup 2017 - The Canadian Football League "Superbowl"

I don't watch Canadian Football.  Until yesterday, I didn't even realize this was Grey Cup day.  Needless to say, I had no idea who was playing, nor did I really care.
So, when I got home from dinner and saw that the game was in progress, I decided to tune in for a few minutes before watching my pre-recorded programs on DVR.  It was nearly half-time, and Toronto was trailing.  Honestly, I can't even remember what the score was.

I didn't watch the half-time festivities, electing instead to watch some of my recorded programs.  A while later, as I deleted the last-watched program, I caught a glimpse of the game (which had been playing on live TV while I watched recordings).  In quick succession, Toronto, and then Saskatchewan scored touchdowns and the game started to look interesting.

It really got exciting when Saskatchewan, with little time to go in the game and with an 8-point lead, decided to forego the opportunity to kick a "gimme" field goal (which would have given them a 2-possession lead with only four minutes left in the game) and instead tried to advance the ball for a first down near the goal line.  The Saskatchewan receiver caught the ball cleanly, but was stripped of the ball near the six yard line.  Toronto recovered the fumble on the 1-yard line and ran the ball 109 yards back for a touchdown.  Toronto went for a 2-point conversion, and just before the quarterback was about to be tackled, he managed to find a receiver in the end zone.  After that play, the score was tied!

Saskatchewan was unable to score after receiving the kickoff, and on the next possession, Toronto managed to get good enough field possession to kick the go-ahead field goal with only 49 seconds left in the game.  It was the first time Toronto had been in the lead during the entire game.

On the ensuing kickoff, Toronto tried to keep the ball away from Saskatchewan's excellent kick return specialists, opting instead to aim a squib kick at the nearby Saskatchewan players.  This gave Saskatchewan excellent field position with 43 seconds to play.

Saskatchewan's quarterback heaved a 50-yard pass down the field, and hit the receiver right on the numbers, but somehow, the pass was dropped.  On second down, the quarterback tried the same play to the same receiver.  This time, the pass was caught, and Saskatchewan found themselves very close to field goal range.  One play later, they got a first down (I think they were around the 20 yard line) with under 20 seconds to play in the game.

If you were the Saskatchewan coach, what would you do?  Would you kick the field goal, tying the score and leaving 20 seconds to Toronto to score again - and hope that your defense could stop them and that you would get lucky during the overtime frame?  Or would you try to take a bit more time off the clock before kicking a field goal, so there would be almost no chance for Toronto to score again?  The way Saskatchewan had been playing all day, there was no hesitation.  They decided to try one more play before kicking the field goal.  Worst case, they'd have an incomplete pass, and then kick the field goal.

Surprisingly, Saskatchewan caught everyone off guard and threw a beautiful pass into the end zone, knowing that the pass would be caught for the winning touchdown, or dropped - forcing the field goal.  Guess what?  There was a third possible outcome... the ball was intercepted by Toronto (their first interception of the game), and all of a sudden, the improbable last minute comeback was complete.  The underdog Toronto Argonauts beat Saskatchewan.

This was Saskatchewan's second straight improbable loss in the championship game - where they had been the odds-on favourite to win both times.

I have to admit, that game's second half was the most exciting football I've witnessed in a very long time.  Who knows?  Next year, I may actually watch the whole game!


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dazed and Depressed

I just looked through a few of my favourite blog posts. Like the one from July 2004 that showed a happy picture of my dad before he got sick and passed away.

The picture was gone. It was one of the casualties of my ISP's purge of web space accounts. The photo is also on my phone, so I know I have at least one good backup. That's the problem. I do full computer backups every day - and have been doing so for over 20 years.

Because I have so many backups, I sometimes purge files from my computer to make more room - knowing the files have been backed up, somewhere.

I'm not panicking about this particular sentimental file. But there may be others that are harder to find.

It just hit me as I was about to publish this post. My oldest backups were made with old backup programs that are no longer published and/or not compatible with Windows 10. Now I'm starting to panic.

P.S.  It's my wedding anniversary today.

Entertainment Tonight Returns

Within two hours of waking up, I had purchased and installed a new UPS for the Living Room.  'Nuff said.

It's Karma

There's no other explanation.  Within the past 36 hours, two of the material objects I use most have gone kaput.  First, it was my car - which lit the "engine service" indicator while I was driving to an appointment.

It was already Monday evening, so I couldn't bring it to the dealer.  But, I did call for a Tuesday appointment.  After charging me $150.00 to run a diagnostic, they told me the oxygen sensor in my engine was shot.  I could opt for a repair, or I could wait, since that sensor is used to optimize the air/fuel ratio but the car will still run without the repair.  I declined the repair, since I don't really have spare funds at the moment.

Fast forward to a few moments ago.  As I turned on my TV, my entertainment system's UPS decided to die.  The upshot is it caused the currently recording program to be interrupted, rebooted my DVR and there is *no* control on the box that allowed me to shut off the alarm.  So, I had to unplug it - putting all my equipment out of service.

So now, I'm wondering what I did to deserve this punishment.  Nothing really comes to mind.  Am I being paranoid?  The fact that I'm asking should be a clue.

I may be able to live without a fuel-optimized vehicle, but there's no way I can go a day without my entertainment system.  Today will be an expensive day!

UPDATE:

After posting this message, I noticed that my blog page looked like crap.  I thought it was because Google has recently forced the content to be https (secure), and that might be the reason why all the graphics disappeared.  But NO, it's not Google's fault.  Instead, it's my Internet Service Provider, who in their infinite wisdom decided to delete the web hosting space associated with my email accounts.  Tech support says I was sent a notice by (snail) mail.  I didn't get it.  Nor, apparently, did the other people who have been posting on internet forums about the sudden (and IRRETRIEVABLE) disappearance of their files.

Yup.  It's Karma.

My blog has never been popular (unless you can call an average of one visitor a month popular) and was never meant to be.  But, without the humorous pieces of goodness collected over the past 16 years and stored on my web storage, there may not be much point in continuing this project.

UPDATE #2:

There are too many memories here to abandon the project, but my graphics and templates were all erased by my Internet Provider.  So, as of today, August 23, 2017, I'll be trying to find a new theme I like, and over time, maybe I can recover some of the humorous snippets that made this blog unique to me.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I feel taller

I feel taller

I'm experiencing a sensation akin to vertigo, but less severe.  When standing and looking down at the floor, I feel like that distance is greater than it was yesterday.  Sitting behind the wheel of my car, the steering wheel is further away, as is the instrument cluster and the windshield.

For the first time in 35 years, I'm viewing the world without glasses.  Even three weeks ago, when I got my first cataract removed from my non-dominant eye, I still wore my glasses because I needed perfect vision through my dominant eye.  Yesterday, the dominant eye had its cataract removed, and now, I can no longer wear my glasses.

Without the magnification of those lenses, objects seem a bit smaller - a bit further away.  The ground seems further away when I'm standing, giving me the illusion of increased height.

In anticipation of that second surgery, I bought a dollar store pair of reading glasses with a slight magnification, just so I could read small print.  But, once my eyes heal from the surgeries, I will be happy to get a fresh pair of bi-focal glasses - to clear up my astigmatism and give me the ability to see properly at a distance and close up without putting on and taking off glasses.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Virtual Reality SNAFU

Virtual Reality SNAFU


This was so funny, I couldn't resist putting it in the blog.  Some day in the distant future, I'll come across this post, and it will make me laugh all over again.

Have you ever stood in front of your bathroom mirror and then placed another mirror behind you?  What you get is a seemingly endless stream of identical images.

Apparently, a 6-year old girl in Dallas Texas asked her "Alexa" to play dollhouse with her.  Sweet, isn't it?  Well, Alexa ended up ordering an expensive dollhouse and one other weird item from Amazon!

This, of course, was not the intended response, so the child's parents reported this to their local news outlet.  When the news outlet reported the story, several Alexa owners who were tuned into the news broadcast reported that their Alexa units overheard the TV and responded by ordering the same dollhouse!



Friday, January 06, 2017

FUD - the enemy of reason

FUD - the enemy of reason


This entire election cycle, and its aftermath, has been tainted by FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).  The US intelligence apparatus has gone out of its way in attempting to "prove" that Russia was behind the hacks of the the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and have concluded that may have indirectly resulted in a Trump win.

Let me start by saying that I am not privy to the complete information in the hands of the intelligence community.  However, I am involved in computer security as a profession, and some of the claims I've been hearing about the "proof" are laughable.  Some of the "evidence" in their possession has been made public.  No doubt, more will be made public in due course to help shore up their conclusions.

Based on what has been released to the public, here's what can be said:

  1. The software used to "hack" the DNC was written by a hacker in the Ukraine (the Ukraine is *not* Russia).
  2. The software was written several years ago and is an old variant that has been circulating for years in the open market - i.e. you can go online and get this software yourself - it is *not* the product of a spy agency
  3. The IP addresses identified by the intelligence community as being the "attack points" are not Russian
  4. Claims that a Vermont power station was infected by this virus turned out to be untrue, and were reported as being untrue in a recent news release

As further "proof" that the Russians were involved, news reports today reported that the Russians were overheard "celebrating" Trump's victory.  Well, I imagine that people in Israel are also celebrating the victory.  Does that make them responsible for Clinton losing the election?

Let me be clear... since I don't have all the information available to the intelligence community, I cannot say with absolute certainty that Russia did *not* have anything to do with the hacking.  All I can say is that the evidence released thus far does not prove Russia's involvement.

Information for this post came from a series of articles on the WordFence blog.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Winning the battle and losing the war

Winning the battle and losing the war


I rarely watch football games.  And when I do, it's usually the disappointing Detroit Lions that have me perpetually hoping.

Yesterday, I caught the fourth quarter of the Ravens / Steelers game.  The Ravens needed a win to help their playoff chances.  The Steelers, with a win, would guarantee a playoff spot.

With just over a minute to play, the Ravens were trailing the Steelers by three points, had a third down with one yard to go on the Steeler's 10 yard line, and had the momentum required to tie or win the game.

I'm sure the Ravens' strategy was to burn as much of the clock as possible by getting that first down, and running down the clock to the point where they would either score the winning touchdown or at worst, score the tying field goal with no time left to play.

Instead, the Ravens got a "heroic" second and even third effort from Kyle Juszcyzk on that third down play, and somehow, he found his way to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

With that touchdown, the Ravens handed Ben Roethlisberger the ball with 1:38 on the clock, and the rest, as they say, is history.

To be fair, Juszcyzk did what players are supposed to do.  Play hard, strive for the goal line, and put forth that extra effort.  But sometimes, players need to have a better situational awareness of the game, and sacrifice their own personal glory for the overall benefit of the team.  Had Juszcyzk gotten the first down and not scored on that play, odds are the Ravens would have eventually scored and won the game.  But, we'll never know for sure.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

That's fast

That's fast

Computers can work with very big numbers, and large computers (a.k.a. supercomputers) can do things the mind cannot comprehend.

I just took a look at the latest list of the world's fastest supercomputers.  The fastest is from China.  The second is also from China.  Third place goes to the United States.

What makes this list so fascinating is that the fastest is three times quicker than number two.  And number two is twice as fast as number three.  From that point, capabilities of individual computers relative to their nearest competitor is measured in a few percentage points.

So, just how fast is the fastest supercomputer?

Let's see if I can put it into perspective.  The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second!  There are 5,280 feet in a mile, so the speed of light is 982,080,000 feet per second.  Express that in inches, and the speed of light is 11,784,960,000 inches per second!  That's nearly 12 billion inches per second.

How fast is the fastest supercomputer?  Speeds of supercomputers are measured in the number of mathematical computations they can perform in a single second.

The fastest supercomputer is capable of performing  93,014,600,000,000,000 calculations per second.  I'm not sure how to pronounce that number, but it's over 93,000 trillion calculations per second.

That's fast.  Of course, there is no single computer that can run that fast.  Supercomputers are built by combining many individual computers into a cluster that shares computational duties among themselves.  The fastest supercomputer has a cluster of 10,649,600 individual computers working in unison.

Using computers of this speed, is it any wonder that some scientists believe computers can be programmed to mimic human behaviour, or break any password you might be able to come up with?

I wonder if any of the security analysts in the "western world" are concerned that China's fastest computer is six times faster than the "western world's" fastest computer?  Are you?