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home :: miscSat, 20 Jul 2019
First blog entry of 2019: it's been a while, but I cannot not blog on this 50th anniversary of mankind's first steps on the moon.
I was 7 years old when that happened, and that feat created an incredible interest for science in my whole generation. One of the first programs I had on my programmable calculator was a lunar lander program where you had to determine how much fuel to burn so that you could land safely at Tranquility Base.
These days, it's nice to see SpaceX and others rekindling the interest for space. I hope I stick around long enough to see us try to land on Mars.
I wish successive generations can both take care of this planet and still continue trying to reach beyond: to explore and advance our knowledge of science and the universe.
So tonight, I look up to the sky and remember the little boy who was fascinated with what we could do with technology -- and ended up studying computer science, which brought its own set of amazing discoveries, inventions, and evolutions.
Congratulations to NASA and all of the space pioneers who helped make this possible.
(Image credit to NASA)Sun, 11 Nov 2018
Today is the 100th anniversary of the signature of the armistice which ended World War One.
I had the opportunity to visit the beaches of Normady in 2011, including the Canadian monument at Vimy and the cemetaries where many of our fellow countrymen are buried having given their life in service to their country to fight for liberty.
On 11/11, we like to remember them and all of the brave soldiers who have given (and are still giving) time and effort to help protect us in war and peace alike.
War is always horrible and politics on a global scale is always complicated. But on this Remembrance Day, let's all find a moment to remember all of those who have fought and are fighting for us.
LEST WE FORGET.
And on this special day, let's all remember John McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Field":
Peace to all.Sat, 13 Jan 2018
OK, so a few days ago, I complained that it was really cold in Montreal over the Christmas holidays. It was regularly around -21 degrees Celcius (or below zero for our Fahrenheit-using friends), and when you add the windchill factor, it actually felt like -40.
Now, for the past couple of days, the temperature has shot up to above the freezing point. Way above. And it's been raining. But winter is coming back and it's freezing today. I don't relish the thought of going outside later on this morning and seeing how all the streets with be covered in ice :-(
I like winter, but I don't like rain in winter.
Tssss.Mon, 01 Jan 2018
...and suddenly 2018 is here. Lots of expectations for that new year.
It started oddly: Sylvie has a big cold, so she stayed under the covers and we stayed at home together. I think it was our first New Year's celebration with just the two of us.
At midnight, I got an SMS from Olivier, and when I tried to reply: poof! Message failed. Tried sending messages for about 45 minutes, and the vast majority just failed.
I am not sure if it's the local base station in my part of downtown Montreal that too busy, or if its the Rogers cellular network that was overwhelmed, or whether it's the whole cellular infrastructure that is knackered, but it is quite annoying.
Of course, in the meantime, Apple's iMessage service worked fine, as did e-mail, Twitter, and a lot of other TCP/IP-based services I'm sure.
I'm quite disappointed at the Rogers' cellular infrastructure, though.
Oh well, let's not be overly critical on this new year's day.
Happy New Year! May 2018 bring health, happiness, and success to you and your loved ones all year long.
Best wishes!Sun, 31 Dec 2017
So, it's the final day of 2017.
Quite a year!
Lots of things have happened this year in our family:
And that's without talking of other news like new nephews, new old colleagues, crazy markets, and the election of Donald Trump in the US!
Quite a year, but a wonderful year.
On the personal technology side, I am back in the 4K club with a vengence: my new PC has a 32-inch 4K screen, and I have a new 60-inch 4K TV in the living room. If you remember well, I got a 4K TV in 2014 for my birthday in Paris, but as we moved back to Canada at the end of May 2014, I could not bring it with me as electricity and TV broadcasting are incompatible between France and Canada. So I am back in the 4K world, and I am quite pleased with it so far. Thanks to NetFlix for offering 4K content, as my local cable company offers very limited content at 4K (they do have a 4K Christmas Fireplace Video :-)
Oh, I guess I also ought to mention that I bought a new camera this year (is that still a thing?). Just before our trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon last August, Sylvie and I bought a Nikon D7500 20.9 megapixel APS-C digital camera. I admit that nowadays we take most of our pictures with our cellphones and that our Samsung Galaxy S6 and S8 phones take very decent pictures, but with a grandson on the way, we felt that it was important to get a real camera that would let us take even more beautiful pictures than just our phones.
One day, I should make a list of all the cameras I've owned. Just in the Digital Camera age, my main cameras have been the Nikon Coolpix 950 (bought in San Francisco in 1999), the Olympus E10, the Nikon D70, the Nikon D90, and now the Nikon D7500. Of course, that doesn't count the smaller Minolta cameras we've had like the Dimage X50 (we've had 3 or 4 over the years that Sylvie carried in her purse in our travels).
So in closing, I hope you all had as good and eventful a year in 2017 as we've had in our family. I'm looking forward to writing more here in 2018 than I've taken the time to this year.
See you soon and best wishes!
Oh boy, is it cold outside in Montreal.
I've enjoyed a full week of vacation to close 2017, and it has been great and quite relaxing... But it has been bitterly cold all week in Montreal, and it looks like it's going to continue into the first week (or weeks?) of the new year.
Temperatures in Montreal are below -20 degrees Celcius (that's sub-zero for those still using Fahrenheit), and with the wind chill factor, it feels like -40 or so.
Now mind you, I like the cold, so I'm not overly displeased with this. But that is because we've got good insulation in our walls and solid heating in our home, as these types of brutal temperatures will kill you in no time at all if you stay put.
Brrrr!Wed, 09 Nov 2016
Hmmmm. At this late time of night (or early time of the morning), media outlets have called the election for Donald Trump.
Apparently, Hilary Clinton has phoned him to concede the election, even though she will not give a speech tonight.
Throughout the primaries and the election, pollsters have underestimated support for Donald Trump. Seems to me like the biggest losers in this election are pollsters and people who try to interpret polls: they just seem to be consistently wrong these days. Actually, this has also been true regarding #Brexit (and the last Canadian election also).
Seems like pundits consistently underestimate the degree to which voters are upset these days.
Listening to Donald Trump's victory speech... and then off to sleep. Tomorrow will be crazy in the markets.
Good night to all.Thu, 31 Dec 2015
As 2015 comes to a close, we're once again heading to Henri's for our usual end of year revelries.
It has been quite a year, with lots of changes. Let's hope 2016 proves to be positive for us all.
So once again, I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and successful new year.
CheersWed, 21 Oct 2015
In the Back to the Future II movie, way back in the '80s, Marty McFly travels to the future... he travels to the 21st of October 2015.
It's amusing to be living tthat day "for real".
So we don't have hoverboards yet (not quite), but we have lots of technology that the '80s would find truly amazing... I often say that in IT we reinvent the impossible every 5 years.
Nothing really exceptional happened today in my segment of the universe, except for the fact that I've finally obtained a Bat.-Chat. 25t Tier X medium tank in the World of Tanks on-line game after many months of playing. It should be a fun tank to play.
Anyway, happy Back to the Future Day to all.
(p.s. it's still 2015-10-21 in Montreal as I write this :-)Mon, 18 May 2015
Saw Mad Max: Fury Road over the weekend.
I can't say that I liked the movie.
I will say that I was really impressed with Charlize Theron's rendition of the Furiosa character. That was truly world class acting!
But the rest of the movie? Meh! I know it's supposed to be over the top, an exagerated view of a harsh futuristic world, but I have to admit that some elements (like the guitar guy on the rig) just ended up making me laugh out loud, and a couple of times I just turned over to my wife and sighed deeply.
So, in conclusion, I think it's worth it to see Charlize Theron's really strong acting performance, but the rest of the movie is just... so disappointing!
6/10Wed, 31 Dec 2014
The books are rapidly closing on 2014, and what a year it's been.
All in all, it's felt like an exciting and fascinating year... I feel 2015 is coming in in a big Whoosh.
And as technology is concerned, it's only going to continue getting more interesting! My big wish for 2015 is that we continue to push for open standards, protocols, and connectivity.
So I wish you all a very happy 2015... take care and enjoy life.
Cheers!Sat, 25 Oct 2014
Back in the olden days (we're talking late 1970's to early 90's here), my friend Francis (who's sadly no longer with us) got a bunch of us together and we got season's tickets to the Alouettes (*).
Just for memory's sake, I thought I post the quirky cheers that our little group used.
It went something like:
and we didn't need a special code for "Put in Gerry"... somehow the coaches always seemed reluctant to make Gerry Dattilio the starting quarterback, but whenever he was brought in, magic occured (from Wikipedia: "Among Canadian quarterbacks Dattilio is second all-time in statistics with 9952 passing yards").
Good times were had by all, even though we lost more than our share of games in those early '80s.
I'm just sorry I missed the 2000-era Alouettes... somehow Canadian Football did not get much airtime in Paris and Zurich ;-)
(*) actually, it started off as the Alouettes, then became the Concordes, and then the Machine. That was before football disappeared in Montreal. So I left for Europe for 18 years, and the Alouettes came back and did great. So perhaps I should get season's tickets again, now that I'm back. We'll see next year.
(**) memory blank here... if Jacques, Marc-Andre, Alain, Nicole, or any of the guys remembers what 10-11-12 was, let me know.Tue, 30 Sep 2014
More and more items available in the stores these days, are connected. Light switches, fridges, bathroom scales, and more, are internet connected and share information with the rest of the world.
I don't mind having my devices making data available, but I would rather have this data be available to me and my servers, and not shared within the cloud and/or the company that makes the device. I actually resent and, I guess, actively resist, having my devices participating in the cloud and sharing information about me, my family, and my environment with the outside world.
I am, however, quite interested in having devices that make their data available to me.
A new interesting project for the coming weeks :-)Sat, 02 Aug 2014
As I've posted earlier on May 25th, we have moved back to Montreal after 18 years in Europe (Paris, then Zurich, then Paris again).
It's been a busy few weeks since landing back here, with a new job and a big search for a new place to live.
I'm happy to say that we've now found a new appartment in the beautiful Altitude project in downtown Montreal. You can find a view from our office window above!
There are presently many very nice condos available in Montreal with many more projects to come, but the Altitude was the one that really caught our eye as the most interesting and attractive in town.
It's been fun being back in Montreal: not only have we been able to enjoy seeing many friends and family members a lot more than before, but also we've been able to enjoy some of the Montreal summer festivals (the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Festival Juste pour rire, and more). Of course, we have good friends that we miss in Europe, but being back here feels like home.
Now, if we can just empty those 200+ boxes that the movers have left in our appartment :-)Mon, 12 May 2014
OK, so I will not do the whole Internet meme thing about "oh my god, double rainbow what does it all mean", but...
On our way to our friend Caroline's yesterday night, it rained pretty suddenly... and just as suddenly, wham, the sun came out. We looked around for a rainbow and then suddenly there was this neat double rainbow over Paris.
My wife didn't have time to take the picture with the double rainbow with the Eiffel tower, but she did get the great "double rainbow above the Place d'Iena" picture that you can see above.
Must have something to do with the fact that in couple of weeks, we're going back to Canada after 18 years in Europe :-DWed, 02 Apr 2014
Have you noticed that people start blogging, then they do it semi-regularly for a while, then they get busy, then they post a "oh, I haven't blogged for a while but I will start doing it again soon" and then their blog goes quiet forever?
Well, I hope this is not just another occurence of this regular ailment :-)
So, it's been a while since I've taken the time to write on here. Lots happening of course, writing up and launching the implementation of a major Digital strategy at work has been keeping me quite busy. Old team members leaving, new team members joining, it's a very active and intense period over at the olde office.
Some madness in the industry (come on, whatsapp for $19 billion US ?!?), some buzzwords as always (big data - which according to some doesn't even have to be big), but also some fundamental changes and as always some fun new technologies (really happy with my nice 4K TV).
Anyway, as I've said, lots happening... hence the cartoon picture from Gotlib above... inspector Bougret and his faithful sidekick Charolles saying essentially "onwards!".
The world is quite exciting and is fast changing... I need to take some time to attend TED one of these years!
En avant vers de nouvelles aventures!Sun, 27 Oct 2013
My wife and I saw Gravity at a cinema on the Champs Elysées this morning. We had heard mixed comments about the movie, but had heard that most critics quite liked the movie.
After seeing it, my best comment is wow. I think it's clearly a must-see movie. Not necessarily for the story, but it is a remarkable movie: the visuals are great, the action is gripping, and Sandra Bullock's acting is just stellar.
Of course, the science isn't perfect and the story is a bit predictable, but they do keep you on the edge of your seat and succeed well in making the viewers suspend disbelief.
Overall a great movie. Try to see it on a large screen in 3D if you can.Sun, 30 Jun 2013
Hey, it's July 1st. So happy Canada Day to all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast... I hope the weather's nice where you are :-)Wed, 01 May 2013
May 1st is International Workers' Day in most countries (over 80 according to Wikipedia), therefore it's time for a day off.
So, happy Labour Day... in France, it's traditional to offer a sprig of lily of the valley ("un brin de muguet") to people on May 1st for good luck, so here's for you all:
Saw Ironman 3 at the cinema on the Champs Elysées last Saunday with my wife... we both enjoyed the movie a lot. Also enjoyed teasing my friends in North America a bit since we got the see the movie first over here in Europe... not sure why that happened, but I certainly appreciated it :-)
Anyway, Robert Downey Jr. makes a great Tony Stark.Mon, 29 Apr 2013
The Stanley Cup playoffs are just getting underway in North America. The pairings for the first round of the playoffs in the NHL Easter conference ended up being decided on the last day of the season... the 4-2 win of the Otawa Senators against the Boston Bruins last Sunday means that the Montreal Canadiens finished 2nd in the Eastern Conference, and will now play those same Senators in the first playoff round for the first time since the return of the Senators in the NHL in 1992.
Hockey is an exciting game -- I will try to catch a few games on Internet radio over the coming days.Tue, 01 Jan 2013
It's now 2013 in Canada too. We had a great time at Henri's with the usual gang.
I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and successful 2013... it sure promises to be very active in our neck of the woods.
Cheers from snowy Montreal!Wed, 12 Dec 2012
Blogging on the 12th of December 2012. On the 12/12/12. Last time we have a triple repeating number until 01/01/01 (in 2101). It's a silly pattern, as you could say that 2012-12-12 is not really a repeating number, but it's amusing to see how many places have reported this as news today.
Anyway, as I didn't pay particular attention what I did on 11/11/11 (or 10/10/10 (or ...)), let's talk about something special that we did today: we saw the early premiere of the movie "The Hobbit" at midnight at the Gaumont Marignan theater on the Champs Elysees.
As this is a long movie, we weren't home until 3 AM, so actually it will soon be time to hit the sack, but before I go, here are some thoughts about The Hobbit:
Still, the dwarves' quest for Erebor is enjoyable: I definitely had fun and will certainly see the movie again.
So enjoy 12/12/12 while it lasts and get all of your last minute shopping done before it's too late :-)
PS. Oh, The Hobbit is definitely not a kids' movie: any young one seeing it will probably be scared of the wargs and the orcs.Wed, 25 Jul 2012
Hunger Games: my rating 7/10
I liked Hunger Games. To the extend that I got the 3 books of the trilogy from Amazon on my iPad and read them during my vacation last May. First books I bought for the Kindle application, and first books I read on the iPad. Solid acting in the movie by the young lady playing Katniss... in the end, it's still somewhat of a teen movie, but quite enjoyable. I will be watching for the next 2 movies.
Man on a Ledge: my rating 8/10
Good thriller, good cop movie. Actually better than I would have expected from the movie poster. Recommended.
Sur la route du Marsupilami: my rating 4/10
Well, I really wanted to like Sur la trace du Marsupilami, as I have known the Marsupilami cartoons since my youth, and Jamel Debouze can be quite funny (I remember fondly his performance in Asterix mission Cleopatre. But in the end, the movie disappoints: the Marsupilami is not really as unforgettable as one would have hoped, and many of the jokes fall flat. It made me chukle a few times, but unfortunately not enough to rate more than 4/10.
Wrath of the Titans: my rating 6/10
An interesting depiction of the age of titans and the story of Perseus. I generally like fanasty/mythological movies, and this one was OK... the special effects were quite good, I loved the cyclops (amazing how far we've come from the movies of the 1970s). I watched it on a plane, but it would be good to see on a large screen.Mon, 23 Jul 2012
Over the past few days, I have travelled from Paris to Cologne, to Brussels, to London, and then back to Paris. All of this in the comfort of a fast TGV train (the Thalys for France-Germany-Belgium, and the Eurostar from Belgium-UK-France).
Fast trains are a very civilized way to travel: they are comfortable, you can eat properly (well better than on regional airplanes), and some (like the Thalys) even provide WiFi access in the cars (mind you, the access is not flawless, but compared to no access, it is much preferable and truly welcome).
Coming from North America, where trains are not in most people's travel habits, I have discovered the pleasure of a well-run rail system, and it is indeed a great way to travel.
(picture from Wikipedia)Tue, 05 Jun 2012
As I am posting pictures today, here is a picture of the ship that we've recently sailed upon: the Ruby Princess... The picture was taken at night in the port of Venice, after coming back from a gondola ride in the late evening around Venice.
Beautiful ship and a great vacation. Lots of rest and relaxation. We will go back on a cruise at some point in the future.
Now, I have about 1256 pictures from that trip, but as a public service to readers of this blog, I am not going to post them all here :-)
I am connected right now to NASA Edge over here to watch the 2012 Venus transit across the Sun... This is similar to a solar eclipse, but since Venus is quite far from us (and not that big), it appears as a dot moving across the face of the sun.
This is a fairly rare event, the next one being in 2117... so that makes the event fairly exciting (the NASA scientists on the webstream have been using words like spectacular and neat to describe it, and are obviously getting quite excited by the event :-)
Now, the fact that I am watching this in my Paris appartment as a webstream live on the internet from Hawaii is most definitely very neat.Sun, 03 Jun 2012
Today is mother's day in France, so this is a quick blog entry to wish my lovely wife a wonderful mother's day for 2012.Sun, 29 Apr 2012
We went to see the movie The Avengers this morning.
A truly fun movie: 143 minutes of high energy entertainment.
Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, brought together by Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. to fight the bad guys. It's over the top comic-book style... a great success! We enjoyed it tremendously.
If you've ever liked superhero comic books, I recommend that you see this movie.
P.S. As ever, my favorite Avenger is Iron Man. The whole gang is fun... reminds me of Saturday morning cartoons in my youth.
P.P.S. It's unusual that an American movie is released in Europe before it is in North America... not sure why the studios (or rather the distributors) chose to do so this time.
I have finished the StarCraft II campaign today. In Normal mode... Yes, I know, I should have done it in Hard mode, but I've been at it for over a year in Hard mode, and was making very little progress (ok, it had mostly to do with the fact that I was stuck, and had stopped trying)... so I tried again in Normal mode, and there I make regular progress and finished it eventually.
StarCraft II is fun, but I haven't tried the competitive games yet: the fact that they're played at Faster speed tells me that I will not do well in ladder games :-( It's a bit too quick for my fingers.
But it's fun to complete the campaign scenarios & play some cooperative games against the A.I.
P.S. So many version 2, version 3, or version 10 games these days... need a few fresh version 1 concepts! (heck, even Diablo 1 was a reheated rogue/moria clone :-)
P.P.S. 2 days off coming up, but lots of work to do regardless. Let's get that schmilblick moving :-)Sat, 14 Apr 2012
Well, it has been almost a month to the day since my last blog entry. Lots of work at the office, with long days (waking up around 03:00 on a occasion) have been keeping me very busy.
Things have been moving forward with my microserver and my ZFS experimentation. I have also dug up Starcraft 2, which is interesting (and somewhat frustrating at Faster speed).
More later.Tue, 28 Feb 2012
So... 2012 is an Olympic year. It is a leap year. 2012 is divisible by 4, but not by 100 -- unless it was divisible by 400 (which explains why Y2k was a leap year). So there you go, I can blog on a February 29th.
Don't forget to check your watches today... all of the ones with simple algorithms for computing the number of days in each month will probably get it wrong. Of course, you should be OK if you are wearing a German Junghans radio-controlled watch that synchronizes nightly with an atomic clock signal in Europe, Japan, or North America (see more here)... or if you are running ntp software on your machine (see more here). Funniest thing about ntp is when Tony and I installed a GPS antenna on top of the building in London to get a time signal for our global ntp servers -- we had some fun explaining why we needed a GPS receiver on a building :-)
Always synchronize your computer clocks with ntp... there's no reason not too.
Update: woah... check this out: a major outage of Azure apparently caused by a leap year calculation problem! This is impressive: as an industry, we've been struggling with date/time problems for 50 years or so, and we're still making leap-year or summer-time-change mistakes in 2012. Sheeeeesh!Mon, 27 Feb 2012
So... it has come to this.Sat, 11 Feb 2012
I listened to the hockey game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs last night on ''internet radio''.
Montreal won 5-0 which gives them a 4-games winning streak (haven't seen too many of these this season!). NHL hockey is fun, but it's always particularly fun when Montreal beats Toronto or Boston :-) (Now, of course, these guys probably feel particularly smug when they beat the Canadiens, but I'm not going to worry about that :-)Sun, 05 Feb 2012
It's nice to be able to watch Superbowl XLVI on TV, right here in Paris. The TNT channel W9 is showing the game direct from Indianapolis. It's a bit late (actually, it was already tomorrow here in Paris, as the game started :-) but it's quite nice to watch!
2nd quarter's almost over, and the NY Giants have been dominating the game from the start... but the score is only 9-3: the Patriots still have a chance if they get their act together.
...it is cold in Paris (-5 Celcius), so it's nice to watch the game under a warm blanket... I may drift to sleep during the halftime show though: my alarm clock is set for 04:40 in the morning.
Update 1: 10-9 for the Patriots at the end of the 2nd quarter. Hey, game's not over! Not the time to fall alseep yet!
I still purchase music CDs and DVDs -- I guess that makes me somewhat of a dinosaur. I do listen to music online (through Spotify) which allows me to listen to a whole bunch of tunes that I do not have at home but fondly remember from the '80s, the '70s, or even earlier. I also rent movies in iTunes to watch on my iMac or my PC... however, on iTunes, I only use prepaid cards: I don't like leaving my credit card number for recurring purchases... especially since I find that Visa and MasterCard will agree to a recurring credit card charge even if the credit card expiry date has passed. It used to be that you would need to submit your credit card info again, once it has expired, but no longer: they'll just charge you anyway. The first time this hit me was with Apple's MobileMe service: I had let my credit card lag beyond expiration, since I did not intend to renew for one more year, but they still charged my card. Annoying to say the least: clearly not a implementation of the Principle of least astonishment. :-(
Anyway, this being said, when watching movie content, I should ideally set up a
Mac Mini or some sort of Apple TV in the living room so that I can watch rented movies
(i.e. downloaded content) in the comfort of the living room. Haven't done that yet.
All native Montrealers have hockey in their blood. When living away from home, you can listen to the games on internet radio, either in French on fm98.5 at http://www.985fm.ca/webradio/ or in English on Team990 at http://www.tsn.ca/Montreal/listen/.
This is a real lifeline when one feels too far from home... of course, having maple syrup in the house also helps ;-)