Thursday, September 30, 2004

South Interlake Golf Course

Yesterday was my second outing to the South Interlake Golf Course, located in Warren, Manitoba, which is less than 30 minutes from work. We teed off at 3:15 pm, the latest time I began a round this year. Twilight hours begin at 3 pm. We finished after 6 pm, with lots of daylight left.

In the past few weeks, we played on wet courses, and my scores suffered. Today, the course was dry. I drove the ball long and straight on several holes. My approach shots were mostly excellent, resulting in more pars than normal. As the day dragged on, the bugs came out. After applying some bug spray, they truly and almost magically, disappeared. The greens were the only disappointment with this golf course. They didn't bite well. In fact, we saw very few ball marks. I actually had some good luck with landing the ball short of the green and watching it roll on. My score on the back nine improved by 6 shots. By and large, this course is wide open and friendly to errant shots that hook or slice. You usually end up in an ajacement fairway.

Two of my playing partners had really large metal drivers. One of them had the $600 Taylor Made r7, which is possibly the largest driver that I've ever seen. He swung hard and usually connected well. Most of his drives were very enviable - really long and straight. The other partner drove a King Kobra. He received lessons from a relative on how to hit an oversized club, and often referred to what great fortune it was to have the lessons. He had a slower swing, but simply nailed the ball a long ways.

I'm very tempted to buy an oversized driver now, but $600 is about three times what I would like to spend.

I was very pleased with my round and can't wait to play again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

1 Terabyte Optical Storage Disks the Size of a DVD

Just yesterday, a friend and I were talking about what the replacement for the DVD would be like. I was surprised to read about this possible new replacement in the Winnipeg Free Press. This website outlines the new technology, Multiplexed Optical Data Storage (MODS), in greater detail.

"September 26, 2004
Physicists at Imperial College London are developing a new optical disk with so much storage capacity that every episode of The Simpsons made could fit on just one. Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Data Storage Conference 2004 in Taiwan today, Dr Peter Török, Lecturer in Photonics in the Department of Physics, will describe a new method for potentially encoding and storing up to one Terabyte (1,000 Gigabytes) of data, or 472 hours of film, on one optical disk the size of a CD or DVD. "

"Under magnification the surface of CDs and DVDs appear as tiny grooves filled with pits and land regions. These pits and land regions represent information encoded into a digital format as a series of ones and noughts. When read back, CDs and DVDs carry one bit per pit, but the Imperial researchers have come up with a way to encode and retrieve up to ten times the amount of information from one pit. "

And, here's how it's done.

"Unlike existing optical disks, MODS disks have asymmetric pits, each containing a ‘step’ sunk within at one of 332 different angles, which encode the information. The Imperial researchers developed a method that can be used to make a precise measurement of the pit orientation that reflects the light back. A different physical phenomenon is used to achieve the additional gain."


"Blu-ray discs--currently available only in Japan, with European products expected in 2005--can store up to 25GB per layer and can have two layers. MODS will have 250GB in each of up to four layers. "

From the Winnipeg Free press article, New super disc may replace DVD.

" More than $9 billion US worth of writeable DVD equipment and writeable discs were sold last year worldwide, not including global sales of movies on DVD and read-only DVD players. "

The real question is not how much more data it can store, but can commercial discs be made uncopyable in order to protect copyrights. Or, will some clever kid crack the copy protection just as the recorders are shipping from the factories. My friend predicts the DVD will be history in 8 years as he thinks they cannot store High Definition films at the moment. With most of the big electronics manufacturers (Hitachi Ltd., LG Electronics Inc., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., (Panasonic), Pioneer Corporation, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sharp Corporation, Sony Corporation, and Thomson Multimedia (RCA) ) agreeing on the Blu Ray format for DVDs, which will hold two hours of high definition video recording ability or 27 GB (vs. 1000 GB for MODS), one wonders what the shelf life of Blu Ray technology will be.

One also wonders if these same companies will also "sit" on MODS technology until Blu Ray has run its course. If you can fit about 100 MP3s on a 700 MB CD-R, then you can fit about 142 songs on a 1 GB disc. This translates to 142,000 songs on a 1 TB (terabyte, 1000 GB) disc. This could be 9466 hours of continuous music - plenty for a road trip! Today, the largest iPod holds 40 GB of data, or about 10,000 songs. This is capacity than the largest blank DVD. Will the capacity of hard drives soon be outstripped by the MODS generation of DVDs? It appears so at the moment. More importantly, can anyone possibly legally own 9466 hours of music and still have money for retirement? If you had a player that held that many songs, how long would it take to find that one song you wanted to hear at the moment? Will will need voice-activated search engines for future MP3 players (or their future equivalents)? Will the super portable music players of the future contain no hard drives, but rather just RAM in order to cache streamable audio from satellites or other such broadcasting technologies? Would you be able to stream your digital music collection from your PC to a satellite and then pick up your signal anywhere in the world?

Fascinating CBC Ideas interview: Tariq Ali

I'm really happy that this interview is available in Real Audio format. I had no idea who Tariq Ali was, but I began to listen to the interview by host Paul Kennedy was quite fascinated. He's a superb speaker and thinker. Here's a blurb on him from the CBC Ideas website. To listen to the show, you have to have Real Player installed. It's free. Ideas is one of the best radio shows that I've ever heard.

"Tariq Ali is a pre-eminent example of a ‘public intellectual’. Ever since he burst onto the scene in Britain, in the mid-1960s, his ideas and his arguments have animated political discussion, particularly on the left. He’s written authoritative volumes on world politics and history, as well as novels, and scripts for both stage and screen. He was president of the Oxford Union when that venerable debating club engaged in a live trans-Atlantic television argument about the war in Vietnam with Henry Kissinger; and he was a founding editor of The New Left Review. Although born in Pakistan, Tariq Ali now lives and works in London, England, where he spoke with IDEAS host Paul Kennedy."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

book: IT Ethics Handbook: Right and Wrong for IT Professionals

IT Ethics Handbook: Right and Wrong for IT Professionals by Stephen Northcutt, Cynthia Madden. Syngress Publishing Inc.

IT professionals, be they employees, consultants or management, face ethical dilemmas all the time. Every IT professional will recognize situations in this book that they have found themselves in.

The IT Ethics Handbook: Right and Wrong for IT Professionals, is broken down into chapters such as Systems Administration and Operations, Audit, Vulnerability Disclosure, Information Security Officers, Ethics and Contractors/ Consultants, Management/ Employer Ethics. Within each chapter are several ethical dilemmas, with liberal and conservatives solutions, as well as summaries that detail the best solution.

Here are examples of some of the dilemmas.

From the Audit chapter, “Following the Chain of Command – What do You do with Contradicting Orders?”

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) of an insurance company hires you to perform an audit on their network information systems infrastructure. He provides detailed procedures for you to perform this internal audit. Once you begin the audit, the President of the company gives you contradictory instructions. The President asks you to address the business processes from the point of view of data flow rather than the technical infrastructure procedures the CIO requires of you. Will you follow the instruction of the CIO or the President of the company?

From the chapter on Information Service Providers, “Should an ISP Block Microsoft Ports.”

A small number of ports commonly used for Microsoft file sharing and related services are some of the the most common ports for worms to enter. Should your ISP block traffic to them to further protect service to your network?

The topic of music downloads at work is discussed. Some of your co-workers are downloading huge amounts of MP3 files from legal and illegal sites. You have some MP3s from these sites on your home computer. Would you feel like a hyprocrite turning people in at work?

This book is very up to date, with discussions about growing technologies that pose the potential for ethical concerns. Some examples include “Radio Frequency IDs for Marketing – Is it Okay to Track a Consumer?”,

Managers should add this excellent book to their library and suggest that employees read through the chapters that are applicable to them and then ask questions relating to company policy for some of the more complicated dilemmas.

Author Stephen Northcutt is the Director of Training and Certification for the SANS Institute, has authored several books and had a career in the Navy which culminated in him becoming the Chief for Information Warfare at the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.

Carman & Netley Creek Golf Courses

One of the first things anyone mentions when discussing the Carman Golf Course is what great shape it's in. It was in pretty good shape when we played it on Thursday, September 23. The last hole is a water hole with a dog leg to the hole, if you prefer not to aim for the green on your drive. I took aim and connected really well, but I ended up about thirty feet from the green. Had the ball's flight been straight, I might have greened it. Needless to say, most of my strokes that day were not as memorable. Many of the holes have mature trees without bush that you can lose your balls in. The folks running the proshop were kind enough to give all four of us of the discount from our coupons, although we only had two coupons. While not the most difficult course that we normally play, Carman is well-kept, close to the city (about an hour away) and fun to golf. It's a relief after playing tougher courses like Pinawa and Minnewasta in Morden. The clubhouse is really nice, too.

Today, I played the Netley Creek Golf Course for the third time this year. Located in Petersfield, Manitoba, the golf course is just less than an hour's drive from my home and is a course I really enjoying playing. The front nine is fairly wide open. The back nine is narrower and driving with an iron sometimes makes a lot of sense. Like most of the courses we played this year, Netley was full of standing water. I was quite distracted by the black flies and mosquitoes. This place is black fly heaven. I made a few poor shots and was reminded of the mistake that I was making by my playing partners. I did correct myself but golf is one of those games that you need to play a lot in order to eliminate bad habits.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Canada - Palestine Film Festival

I decided to take in a few films showing at Cinemateque for the Canada - Palestine Film Festival. There was some controversey with B'Nai Brith saying that the festival would promote hatred. They even called on police and the Mayor to provide "...additional security measures to be put in place to ensure the safety of the Jewish community."

The first film, The Lobby, is a 25-minute look at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC.) Interviewed in the film are Steve Grossman - a former president of AIPAC, Malcolm Hoenlein - Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations representative, and J.J. Goldberg - Jewish weekly Forward editor, among others. All provide candid insights to how AIPAC manages to weild its very considerable influence. Someone makes the point that if the NRA (National Rifle Association) wishes to donate money to a political candidate, they are limited by a $5,000 cap. AIPAC cleverly gets around this ceiling, though. They simply get their members associations to each pony up $5,000 and with many, many members, they can truly wield a huge amount of influence. One of the criticisms of AIPAC's strategy, however, is that many of their member associations have names that totally do not mention Israel or Judasism whatsoever. This makes it all the more difficult for constituents to figure out to what extent their representatives are beholden to pro-Israel issues.

In one particularly poignant scene, a group of women from AIPAC are seen getting their photo taken with
Denise Majette, a new Georgia congresswoman. They then proceed to tell her that she needs to be educated in issues, obviously from their point of view. At one point, the camerman asks the congresswoman for her perspective on a report that is critical of Israel but the congresswoman declines to comments since she hadn't read the report. The previous congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, was criticised for being not pro-Israel.

I believe Noam Chomsky spoke about a high-ranking politician who incurred the wrath of AIPAC and was easily defeated by a nobody who was over 40 points behind in the polls, to drive home the point that AIPAC can change politicians on occaision. In the film, Chomsky also spoke about an AIPAC file leaked to him that was to be given to Alan Dershowitz for a debate the two were to have. The purpose of the file was to give his opponent information to draw the debate off topic and question Chomsky's character, instead, which is a popular tactic.

Overall, this was a very interesting documentry.

Arna's Children was the main feature. This film showcased an Israeli woman, Arna Mer-Khamis, who helped to nuture a children's theatre in Palestine. She and her son Juliano, the director of the film, became like family to these adolescents. We see scene after scene of children who grew up only to be killed as terrorists or victims of the struggle. As children, it appears as if there is hope that they will grow up to be sensible adults. It was disappointing to see them change their hearts and choose death, instead. In one funny moment, one of the children states that when Julino first showed up in the refuee camp, they thought he was a spy for Israel. Later on, they accepted him as a brother.

There are seeds of hope being spread in that most troubled part of the world, and this is a great thing, even if many of the seeds end up on the wrong side of the tracks.

Finally, Rana's Wedding is the only work of fiction in the festival, and it, too, showed a glimmer of hope.

Motherless, Rana's father is heading to Egypt, and she must either pick a man from a list of admirers to marry, or travel with her father. Frantic, she looks all over for her lover Khalil, to try to marry him before her father leaves. Along the way she encounters problems with finding a registrar who can marry them, her father who is against Khalil and prefers the men on the list who are well-educated and in high-paying jobs. Along the way, Rana has her doubts, too, about Khalil.

While not a comedy, there are many funny moments in this film. Rana struggles agains odds and tries to find some normalcy while facing the inconvenience of the occupation. The ending was very appropriate. Rana's Wedding is definitely a quality film and a welcome one from a most tragic part of the world.

Friday, September 24, 2004

new book and CD

I was downtown today, to attend a CIPS Board meeting. Prior to that I bought a CD in HMV Portage Place. I paid $22.99 for The Delays - Faded Seaside Glamour. This is a CD that I've been looking for ever since hearing the mesmerizing and catchy single "Long Time Coming." Now, normally, I prefer to shop at A & B Sound since their prices are usually, but I took a chance with HMV since this CD is not readily available everywhere. Wouldn't you know it, A & B had it for $7 cheaper! HMV refunded me the difference, but I learned my lesson: always shop at A & B Sound first!

Some of the most interesting praise for the CD from

"Singer/guitarist Greg Gilbert has a very feminine sounding voice--he sounds like Stevie Nicks with a sore throat."

"While listening to Faded Seaside Glamour, you can pull out the Delays' possible influences- picture a perfect mix of the classic 60's pop tunes of the Hollies with an underlying layer of ethereal sound a la Cocteau Twins. But out of this influence, they've managed to bring out an entirely new and refreshing blend of gorgeously-atmospheric-yet-catchy pop melodies.

I also bought the paperback version of Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project) by Noam Chomsky. He calls them like he sees them, regardless of who is offended.
I haven't formed an opinion about this book since I haven't read it, but it appears to be in contrast to some aspects of conventional thinking regarding the "war on terror."

Friday, September 17, 2004

Tuxedo Golf Course

Four of us played the Tuxedo Golf Course today, and for the most part, it's one course that I have avoided playing this year. One of my golfing friends mentioned that the greens were in bad shape. Today, however, the greens were fine. Usually, they don't bite well, but they did today, due to all the rain.

It rained last night and most drives didn't roll very far. Approach shots with the wedge took larger than normal divots. From 150 yards, you had to shoot one or two clubs extra to ensure that you could get to the green.

By and large, this conveniently located course is not kept in superb shape, but when it's dry, you can easily shoot under 100 and stand a good chance of breaking 90.

To book a tee off time, you can use their automated phone system. You pick the time you want and the system tells you what the closet time is that is available.

I'll always play Tuxedo. The best thing that it has going for it is location, across from Assiniboine Park and not too far from where I live.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Pinawa and Assiniboine golf courses

Every fall, we head to Pinawa for what is normally our toughest round of golf of the year. This year was no expection, in fact, it turned out to be my worst round so far.

Billed as "the course nature built", the course is attractive and well-maintained. On one hole, I entered the bush to find my ball and heard some rustling sounds. It turned out to be a deer, just relaxing in the shade, not 20 ft away. On the 9th green, which is beside the clubhouse, I spotted four deer quietly munching on the grass, totally oblivious to the golfers around them. Every time I play this course, I see deer who appear to be very comfortable around people.

I wish I played better, but it's really tough making solid contact with the ball when the fairways are so wet. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! Rounds of golf on dry fairways have been few and far between this year and cold, wet weather has been a big topic for discussion this year. On one par 3, I teed off right of the green, into the a large outcropping of rocks. Anticipating a miracle, I focused my eyes on the green, in the event that my ball my bounce back into play. It did. It landed on the fringe of the green and rolled down in the sandtrap. I scuffed it up something fierce. In fact, we joked a lot about this particular Strata as I shot it into the bush several more times, only to retrieve it again and again. I finally lost it, but it served me well. The green on that par 3 also had something that I hadn't seen before - hoof marks. Soft due to all the rain, the deer left a strong impression on that particular green.

None of us broke 100 today , but we'll be back.

Yesterday, I played the 9-hole Assiniboine golf course. I never play nine-hole courses, but one of the guys from work wanted to entertain one of his friends who was visiting, with a quick round of golf.

I have never been accosted by so many mosquitoes in such a long time! Assiniboine is an attractive, wide open course that I hope to play again, but the round we had was hampered by more mosquitoes than I have seen anywhere in the City. And, the course was quite wet. The end result? A poor round for me again. My friends didn't fare much better.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

lucid dreaming to CBC Radio One

This morning, I listened to CBC Radio One's The Sunday Edition, a three hour "program of conversation, documentaries and music," according their website. Listening as I slept, I began to dream that I was watching one of the documentries as a film. This was a piece on early 60s rock'n'roll bands from Winnipeg, including Chad Allen, The Guess Who and Neil Young. In my dream, I was watching performances about two feet away from the stage. As the program announced names of players, I would see different people performing. It was absolutely amazing how quickly my mind conjured up moving images to keep pace with the radio show. At one point in the dream, believe it or not, I actually said to myself something along the lines of, "Hmm. I'll have to remember to write a review of this film for my web blog." Absolutely surreal. The dreams kept on with the next documentry, as well. It was truly like watching a movie.

Inwood and Oakwood golf courses

On Thursday, we played the 18-hole course at Inwood. It's north west of Teulon. Due to the lack of signage on the highway, we weren't certain if we were actually going in the right direction. My golfing partner doesn't have a highway map.

This has got to be the narrowest course I've ever played. Several of the par 4s are under 300 yards. There's actually a par 5 that's 317 yards. Some of the maps of the hole layouts are backwards! One of the guys in our foursome estimated that he incurred 19 penalty strokes. It's really no fun being in the bush on almost every hole, so I doubt we would play this course again. Still, I went birdie-par-par on three consecutive holes which made my day. I almost greened one of the short par 4s by sneaking right through a dog leg. We actually spend a few minutes in the bush looking for the ball before I dropped another one. Upon walking up to the green, we found my original ball about 15 ft from the hole. The end result was a birdie.

On Friday, two of us played Oakwood, an 18-hole course located in St. Anne, right off of the Trans Canada highway. Like Inwood, this was a 9-hole course that was expanded. Oakwood's front nine are somewhat narrow. This is a not a premier course. On the first hole, I noticed a patch of grass growing in one of the bunkers. The back nine is more wide open. There are some holes where you can definitely cut the corner and safely land in the fairway. I'm always leery of courses that have par 4s under 300 yards and this is another one. I wouldn't go out of my way to play it again, but I would if they offered coupons again at the end of the season. This was our first time playing both courses.

I watched the gripping conclusion to the 100th Canadian Open today. On Friday, Vijay Singh, freshly ranked No. 1 in the world, shot a miraculous 28 on the front nine on the first day. He scored five birdies and one eagle - seven under after 9 holes. Yesterday, he fell apart with four bogeys and one triple bogey for a +1. Mike Weir was the leader going into the final round today. Vijay eventually caught him, and won after three sudden death playoff holes. It's a shame that Weir lost. He made some truly superb shots. Vijay putted poorly but still caught Weir after 72 holes. In the playoff, Weir's putter let him down. Vijay's also putted poorly, but he knew he had the game in hand when Weir's approach shot to the 18th green fell in the water. Vijay had an easy putt for birdie but missed it and parred to beat Weir by one. I think winning the Canadian Open would have boosted Weir's fame in Canada as much or more than his Master's win last year did. With 7 PGA victories and only 34 years old, he'll pass George Knudson's record of 8 wins sooner or later. I hope he wins the Canadian Open, though. It's the thired oldest national golf tournament in the world. It was disappointing to see Phil Mickelson, ranked #4 in the world, finish 57th. He recently split from sponsor Titleist after requesting to renegotiate his contract, and just signed up with Callaway (who also own the Top-Flite and Strata brands after buying them from Spalding last year.) Maybe he needs a bit of time to become used to his new driver and ball, both Callaway prototypes.

Friday, September 10, 2004

film: Cellular

Cellular 3/5

Thugs break into an upscale-looking home, shoot the housekeeper and kidnap the wife (Jessica Martin - Kim Basinger.) They steal the family’s Porsche SUV and stash her away in the attic of a safehouse as a prisoner. One of the thugs, played by Jason Statham (The Transporter), smashes the attic telephone with a sledgehammer, narrowly missing Jessica Martin’s head. The scene is meant to intimidate her.

Left alone, she manages to mend the phone enough to allow her to “dial” random numbers by touching a couple of wires together. She ends up connecting to the cell phone of Ryan, a seemingly unremarkable college-aged dude with a totally hot girlfriend who he’s trying to stay with despite her disinterest in his juvenile ways. While running an errand to impress his girlfriend, Ryan receives a phone call from the captive Jessica Martin, a total stranger who he at first disbelieves. Ryan soon takes up Jessica’s cause and stumbles through a series of misadventures in order to save her life.

The supporting cast saves this film from being a dud. Rick Hoffman is absolutely hilarious as the slick, wanna-be woman-magnet lawyer who has his new Porsche carjacked by our hero. This guy needs to be in more films! William H. Macy plays a cop who is nearing retirement and dreams about opening up a day spa – a most unlikely career for a man to go into. As usual, Macy is superb, even in this lightweight film. Jason Statham is menacing, mean and intense as one of the key bad guys. He’s not as charismatic as he was in the Guy Ritchie films, but he is a talent in need of a suitable film to launch his career to greater heights. Kim Basinger and her film family won’t win any awards her, but she truly does look frazzled and worried.

Sure, there are holes in the plot and scenes that are too contrived to be really believable, but this is not a dreadful film. Still, compared to superior movies like Collateral and Spartan, Cellular is formulaic and mostly forgettable. Not a film I would see again.

Monday, September 06, 2004

September Long Weekend

There were really slim pickens at the theatre this week, so I decided not to review any new films.

I golfed the Portage Golf Course on Thursday. The folks there are really friendly, and the course was in good shape. The golf course in located on an island. On Sunday, I played the River Oaks Golf Course, but the course was water logged and I didn't have a great round. We played with this one guy who golfes about twice a year, but plays superbly. It's all in the swing.

My mouse took a turn for the worse and would not track well anymore, despite a good cleaning, on Saturday evening. I went to Future Shop, thinking that they would be the only place open. I decided to get a wireless optical mouse, but with a charging stand. FS were sold out but I made a trip to London Drugs in St Vital and was able to buy the Logitech MX700 model. It's nice not have a cord, but you have to remeber to put it back in its cradle when not in use to keep it fully charged.

This evening, I finished making the list of the changes for the 2nd PDF of the Sept CIPS Winnipeg Professional, our quarterly newsletter.

A few days ago, I received the new Longwave CD EP to review from You sign up to be a critic and then cross post reviews from your blog onto their site. If you join their Yahoo! mailing list, you can see their database of all their free items to review that publishers and record companies send them. The cost to be able to request items to review is only $10 US a year. I also requested and received "The IT Ethics Handbook" by Stephen Northcutt. I'll post the review in a couple of weeks. The book looks interesting as it discusses scenarios with moral dilemmas.

I watched a bit of the Labour Day Classic CFL game between The Bombers and The Saskatchewan Rough Riders. The Bombers won, giving Kevin Glenn a "W", finally. I had more interest watching the Deutsche Bank Championship golf tournament. Vijay Singh won, with playing partner Tiger Woods tying him and then losing by three strokes. Vijay is now ranked number 1 in the world, and deservedly so. I stumbled across what should be just a piece of trash television this past weekend - The Real Sex in the City, on Bravo. It's a weekly look at a a group of real women in New York, dubbed the Barracudas, and their dating exploits. I found it quite interesting, actually.

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