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Let there be light!

This /. story, "The End of the Light Bulb?" just reminded me about a program that Toronto Hydro is offering. For all you Toronto residents, head on over to Home Depot before October 30th and get your 2 free CFL bulbs! I think they've also reduced the price for CFL bulbs if you want to buy additional ones. More information can be found here ( or here ( I picked up my two free bulbs a few weeks ago just to test them out. So far so good! My only gripe is that they're a bit bigger than the normal bulbs I had installed, so they tend to stick out of the top of the light fixture I put them in.

Backing up to DVD with Linux

I've been looking for a good backup solution on linux for quite a while now. I've looked at (perhaps too briefly) backup2l, bacula and amanda. While these are all good, well written programs that support full and incremental backups nicely, there's something I feel is missing... I like to backup my stuff onto DVDs (used to be CDs...) I know DVDs aren't the best media for archiving data onto, but it sure is convenient. Everybody has a DVD or CD burner. Most people don't have tape drives, and buying an extra set of hard drives to back stuff onto isn't possible for me, or many other people I expect. The problem is that with all of the programs I've looked at, it wants to do a 'full' backup, or it wants to do an 'incremental' backup. It can't do both. So, as a result, one day I need 10 DVDs for the 'full' backup, and the next day I need 1/10 of a DVD for the incremental. The first is inconvenient and time consuming, the second is wasteful. What I'd really like is a system that filled up one DVD with data. Always. Every time I run it, it fills up exactly one DVD. It should first backup new files, or files that have changed recently. Then it should start backing up files that haven't changed, in order of age since the last time they were backed up. If there is too much new data to fit on one DVD then I should get a warning. If, on average, 95% of a DVD is taken up with new data and it's going to take 10 years to get around to backing up all of the unchanging files, then I should get a warning. Then I can pop in another DVD :) The system should also keep indexes of what files are backed up onto which discs, and make it relatively simple to restore files. It should also be able to do backups over a network. Just for fun you could throw in parity data for the backup archives to make it possible to recover from small media damage. So if anybody out there knows of software that does this, drop me a line :) Otherwise I'm tempted to try writing it myself...

All's fair in news and war

A recent column by Slinger in the Toronto Star has me a bit upset. It's not so much that his column is completely uninformed, it's the open hostility towards the Catholic Church that offends me. Is Mr. Slinger really concerned if Paul Martin is excommunicated? How does it affect him? Does Mr. Slinger know what it means to be refused communion, or to be excommunicated? Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he's concerned for Paul Martin's status within his church. Then we must ask Mr. Slinger, what is wrong with the actions he claims that the Church is considering? What the Church is saying is that a person's actions should be consistent with his beliefs. Sounds reasonable to me; anything less is hypocritical. Members of public office, like Paul Martin, since they are visible members of the community and are in leadership roles, need to strive towards setting a good example. When Paul Martin states that he is a devout Catholic, yet supports legislation that is clearly against the teachings of the Catholic Church, his actions are not consistent with his professed beliefs. And because his actions are much more public than my actions, for example, the consequences of those actions must also be more public. If the Catholic Church decides that public officials should be refused communion if they publically, repeatedly, and persistently support legislation that is contrary to the teachings of the Church, then this is well within the Church's right. Paul Martin's human rights are not being violated. He has the free choice to decide to support unethical legislation and the Church has the free choice to discipline him for that choice. All's fair in news and war now; apparently you don't need to do your research before doing either one.

TurboGears on Debian

I was really impressed with the 20 minute wiki demo using TurboGears , so I spent a little bit of time today trying to get it running on my laptop, which is running Debian (sid). While I really like the motivation behind EasyInstall / setuptools / eggs, the implementation isn't quite there yet... I spent quite a bit of time fighting with it since I didn't want to install these packages into /usr/lib/python2.4/site-packages. My first thought was to install this stuff into my home directory somehow...Well, I never figured out if that was possible...It seems that python doesn't look at .pth files outside of certain directories, resulting in errors like this when trying to run turbogears-admin: Traceback (most recent call last): File "/home/catlee/python2.4/site-packages/", line 4, in ? import pkg_resources ImportError: No module named pkg_resources So, the way I got it working was to give myself write permissions on /usr/local/lib/python2.4/site-packages, create ~/.pydistutils.cfg with this: [easy_install] install-dir=/usr/local/lib/python2.4/site-packages site-dirs=/usr/local/lib/python2.4/site-packages script-dir=/home/catlee/bin and then run the bootstrap script to install TurboGears. Everything seems to work for now....

Europe Trip: Spain

Sagrada Familia Well, it's long past time when I should have had something posted about our trip to Europe. So without further ado, here's a short account of our trip to Europe, starting with our adventures in Spain. We left for our trip on May 18, leaving from Toronto, flying through Munich, and finally landing in Barcelona. Other than arriving slightly late in Munich and worrying if our bags were going to make it with us to Barcelona the flight was great. We caught a nice view of the Alps as we came into Germany. We'll have to make another trip so we can enjoy them properly! We met up with Nat without a problem. She had been travelling already for 2 and a half weeks with Mel's older sister, Pam, and was waiting for us on a corner outside a particular café in Las Ramblas. Barcelona is beautiful; it seems to me (a non-architect) an architectural paradise. There are so many wonderful bulidings by Gaudí to see that I think you'd need a few weeks fully explore them all! We were in Barcelona for 3 days, and in that time we managed to see Las Ramblas, La Pedrera, Casa Batllo, the Palau de Musica Catalan, the harbour, the Olympic Park, Poble Español, Sagrada Familia, Hospital Sant Pau, and Parc Güell. Where to start? Antoni Gaudí. For me, Gaudí was the highlight of our trip to Barcelona. The man was a genius, as demonstrated by his innovative ways of combining artistic and functional elements into his architecture. Again, I know next to nothing about architecture, so some readers may be stifling a laugh right about now, but I don't mind! Gaudí made the functional beautiful. My favourite building was La Sagrada Familia (the Sacred Family, meaning the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph). Apparently the roof is going to be completed within the next 3 years, so they'll be able to celebrate mass there for the first time since construction began in 1882! As a city, Barcelona is quite nice. For the most part we felt quite comfortable getting around, and safe pretty much everywhere. It seems you have to be on the lookout for pickpockets everywhere, and there are many people trying to scam gullible tourists. It also seemed like we met more than our fair share of people who were not willing to go the extra mile (or even a metre...) to help us out. Maybe it's just culture shock, but for myself these experiences really tainted my impression of Spain. After Barcelona, we took an overnight ferry to Mallorca. We rented a little Fiat Punto and did some touring around the island before heading to the beach to relax for the day. Mallorca is beautiful, and the people are very nice. It was great to relax on the beach for a day after walking all over Barcelona for 3 days straight. Too bad we couldn't stay there longer! After Mallorca, we took the high speed ferry back to Barcelona, then got on a train to Madrid. For some reason we didn't have very high expectations for Madrid, and were regretting not spending another day or two in Mallorca and skipping Madrid altogether. How wrong we were! Madrid too has lots of beautiful architecture, history, and is easy to get around on foot in. In Madrid we did a LOT of walking. The first day there we did two of the walking tours suggested in our travel book. The highlights of Madrid were the Basilica de San Francisco el Grande (sorry, no pictures!), and the Prado museum. Next up...Paris!

Shaolin Soccer

I finally got around to watching Shaolin Soccer. It tells the story of an old man, a soccer star in his younger days, and a young kung-fu master who is trying to show people how kung-fu is great for everyday life. They team up together to form a kung-fu soccer team, and take over the world!!!! Ok, so they don't take over the world, but the story is pretty funny. Watch it.

A new home!

Melissa and I bought a house last week! It's in Georgetown, and you can find out more information here: Cachet Hills in Georgetown. We've been interested in this builder for a while now, and when we went to see the location in Georgetown we fell in love with the location and the house. The closing date isn't until September 2006, so we have plenty of time to prepare. I can't wait! Right now 16 months seems like an eternity.