Tall, Snarky Canadian

Python core developer. Works at Microsoft (Azure Data Science Tools).

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What security precautions my family should use

UPDATED on 2014-03-13

Every few months you read a news story about how another website has suffered a data breach and all of their login information has been stolen (i.e. email addresses and passwords). There are plenty of more data breaches that don’t get reported because the affected companies either don’t know the theft has occurred or choose not to report it in fear of the bad publicity. But it data theft does happen and it happens frequently.

This affects you as it leads to people breaking into your other accounts. When your email address and password are stolen from one site the thieves then go to other popular website and try to login as you using the same email address and password. Since people don’t change their email addresses very often there is a good chance you used the same one all over the internet. And since few people bother to change their passwords, if they have...

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What computers my family should use

TL;DR: Family should buy Chrome OS devices (e.g. Chromebooks) unless they have special needs which aren’t supported on that platform, in which case they should get a single Mac and Chrome OS devices for everything else.

[last updated: 2014-02-02]

Chrome OS/Chromebooks for cheap and simple

Chrome OS is Google’s operating system for the web. You can think of Chrome OS devices (e.g. Chromebooks and Chromeboxes) as computers that have nothing more than a Chrome browser on it. If you think about it quickly this might sound rather limiting and a silly idea, but if you stop to think about the idea of a computer that is nothing more than Chrome you will come to realize that it’s a great idea when it can meet your needs.

First off, Chrome OS devices are simple. Think about what you currently use your computer for. Do you ever do anything that doesn’t involve your browser (or couldn’t be done...

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Some ideas on cleaning up the Senate

When Justin Trudeau announced liberal senators were removed from the caucus, I thought it was a good idea. The Canadian Senate is meant to act as a check against Parliament to make sure that things that are too partisan don’t make into law. They also have committees that look into things, etc. Once again, should be non-partisan.

But with a majority of the senators being Conservative (and appointed within the last decade) and being members of a party that really expects people to tow the party line, the Senate has become partisan. Now there is talk of reforms, up to and including rewriting the Constitution to abolish the thing.

Now I don’t think abolishment is necessary, but some changes could be useful.

Non-partisan membership

Mr. Trudeau’s eviction of all Liberal senators from the caucus was a good one. When senators join the Senate, they should leave the caucus of their respective...

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What will it take for physical media to go away?

While writing my blog post on 4K UHD TVs I started to go off on a tangent about what it would take for physical media to become obsolete and lose any benefit to using it to watch movies over streaming (music has already lost its physical media appeal thanks to the dropping of DRM). So here is my take on what will need to happen to lead to the downfall of movies on physical media and cause regular people to consume the majority of films through online streaming.

Free, seamless upgrades

Depending on how old you are, you remember going from VHS to DVD and/or DVD to Blu-Ray. You remember having to go out and buy a new player to support the new format. You also had to deal with waiting for films to come out in the new format. Then you waited for films to come out that actually took advantage of the new format (remember early Blu-Ray films which were poorly upscaled to HD?). And all the...

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What UHD TVs means (maybe)

Now that CES 2014 is over, one of the obvious themes of the show was 4K UHD televisions. Being somewhat of an AV nut (as demonstrated by my blog post about choosing a soundbar), I began to think about what 4K means to me and whether I think the technology is at all worth it or is it just some gimmick to get people to replace their HD TVs.

A better picture, but not the way you might expect

The “4K” of 4K UHD represents the number of vertical lines of the TVs resolution: 3840x2160. Now an HD TV has a resolution of 1920×1080, which makes UHD have 4x the pixels (8,294,400 vs. 2,073,600, respectively). Obviously an improvement.

But is it an improvement you can see? The whole point of higher resolution is to allow you to sit closer to your television without seeing the pixels. By sitting closer your TV screen takes up more of your view and thus is supposedly more immersive.

As an example...

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My impressions of Scala


Scala is fine and I would definitely use it over vanilla Java, but I still prefer Go if I’m not able to use Python.

My Impressions

Why did I even look at Scala?

Being on the development team for Python accurately suggests it’s my favourite programming language. But that doesn’t mean I don’t realize there are other programming languages out there which are in actual use. So I try to learn other languages which might have some interesting aspect to them which I might be able to crib from in order to enhance Python.

I also realize not every company out there uses Python. So if I ever find myself needing a new job it would be good to have my repetoire of languages expanded beyond just Python to make me more employable. And with the JVM thoroughly entrenched in the world of computing it never hurts to know a language that runs on the JVM which isn’t Java.

And lastly, learning a...

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How can I fight climate change in my day-to-day life?

The idea of making the planet harder to live on because I and my fellow human beings can’t keep their fossil fuel burning under control feels like children who are addicted to candy: you have been told it will eventually rot out your teeth but you, in the moment, simply do not care enough to stop.

Well, I care. I might not have any children, but I do have nieces and a nephew. Friends of mine have kids. I don’t want to be part of the cause for the environment to be crappy because I didn’t take the time to at least try to tackle the low-hanging fruit of helping fight climate change. So this blog post is me thinking out loud about what I can do to fight climate change without significantly changing my habits, i.e. stuff I can do which if I don’t act on I’m basically an environment jerk. My hope is that I can come up with things which I can implement today and that won’t require something...

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