Monday, March 14, 2011

Interesting link for the Japanese Tsunami

I wanted to share everything I interesting link I found about the Japanese Earthquake and following tsunami and Nuclear crisis. I'll keep this list updated as things progress...

Wikipedia Links (for lastest details as well as future reference )

Subsequent Nuclear crisis:

Google's Crisis Response page:

Live Coverage:
Al Jazzera live blog about Japan's quake:

BBC News Special LIVE update page:

NHK World:

Early Warning System Automatic Broadcast:
(with vantage point for this video: )

Al Jazzera Youtube channel (including live stream):
BBC News Videos:

Channel 4 new Videos:


New York times Photo gallery:
New York Times Before/After Satelitte photos:

MSNBC Pictures:'s "the big picture":

The Atlantic:

BBC News Pictures:

US Pacific Fleet official Flickr Page for "Operation Tomodachi" (Operation Friends):

Max Hodges's photo blog:


Others (Articles, maps, etc):

Maps ofJapan quake radioactivity monitoring posts.

MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub

US NRC page about boiling reactors
PDF of exemples of GE MARK I, II and III reactors:

Professor of the University of Nottingham's School of Chemistry explain the nuclears reactors (Very good simple video)

@gakuraman 's "Radiation in perspective" Picture

Paul Nicholl's Japan Quake Map

Q&A about the nuclear crisis:

Finaly, the canadian group "Simple Plan" is selling T-shirt branded "#helpjapan":

And If you ask me which picture has touched me the most, I think this one says everything. It doesn't show any of the devastation, but somehow it still show what has been lost:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Microblogging killed the long form...

I guess Microblogging (Aka Twitter, and Facebook Status) has basicly killed the blog as we knew it 10 or 15 years ago. The platform itself is not dead because it still fill a need that no other platform does.

In my case, it still serves as a public display of various notes. Ideas that i want to put writing form. But since I switched jobs, and my free time shrank, I simply haven't had time to update this blog. I don't want it to die, but I still point my friends to various post I did years ago.

I do have some ideas for future post. I'll try to put in new life into this blog, but I can't promise anything...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mind Map of Job Hunting Links

I am doing spring cleaning this weekend... This, of course, included trowing out a lot of paper, including notes I had from last year, when I was job hunting. I was very big on mind mapping then and I created a visual interpretation of the interesting places I got job offers from on a daily basis. It looked something like this: I had organized all of these sources to kept me up-to-date via either E-mail or RSS feeds and I rarely consulted the map itself. But it helped me keep track of what online presence I had and where. I have found a job since (several in fact) and seeing that paper, I thought that the list might be useful for someone out there. Since I can't seem to be able to embed the Freemind map itself in blogger (in any of the exportable clikable images formats) , I'll try to find somewhere to post the file and link to it. In the mean time, here's the html list from the map itself. Enjoy!

Job Hunting

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On sorting files... part 3, exchange format

In this post I want to talk about the content of the metadata itself and the format in which it is distributed...

Let's take a similar example of metadata exchange: (or now). I have to admit that delicious is the initial idea that got me thinking about this problem of file exchange sorting. What I liked about the delicious example was the API. Like a lot of web application, the API is a simple webpage that you call using arguments in the url. (you can see it here)

I propose either XML or JSON as these format are well understood and easy to implement but really, any sort of inter-exchange format, it could be implemented.
That metadata need to include:
  • Filename
  • Md5 & Sha1 Hash (optionally Sha256 / Sha512)
  • Description
  • List of Tags
  • optional website
A bit like the data stores about each bookmark.

A method of distribution of all that information also needs to be created. Either something like a url on the distribution server (like http://server/file-metadata/name/file.exe or http://server/file-metadata/index.php?&filename=file.exe) that would produce a page with the XML or JSON. Something that looks like:

"Filename": "executable.exe",
"hashsum": {
"md5": "d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e",
"sha1": "da39a3ee5e6b4b0d3255bfef95601890afd80709",
"sha256": "e3b0c44298fc1c149afbf4c8996fb92427ae41e4649b934ca495991b7852b855"
"metadata": {
"Description": "Description",
"tags": "Info, executable",
"Website": ""

Or like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding='UTF-8' ?>
<File Filename="executable.exe" >



<tags>Info, executable</tags>
<Website>Http:// </Website>


Or course the devil is in the details and this should be considered a draft and not a definitive thing. The notion of web API has been done before and I really just wanted to give an idea of how I think things could be done.

Update: I was specifically talking about a RESTful API. I could not remember the name when I wrote this post. Here are a couple of links on the subject:

On sorting files... part 2, the metadata

Continued from my previous post on sorting file, here is my own finding on metadata required.

First of all, not all metadata is made equal. There is a concept know as "metacrap": the fact that metadata is sometimes less useful then no metadata at all. Metadata is a fragile concept: if that part of the system is badly implemented it will crash before it has even left the ground.

Thus the source of metadata is crucial, and it must be verifiable. But I want to kept that part of the system for a future post. I want first to describe the metadata itself.

Let's take an example of existing well know metadata: the ID3 tag of mp3. That containers works great for mp3 files, but it has several downsides. The one relevant to this discussion is the fact that the ID3 is part of the file. So if, for example, you decide to change the genre of a song from "country" to "western", the file itself becomes a different file. The cryptographic hash of the file completly change and a md5sum would be useless. This hash is important because it guaranties that the file you get is the file you want.

Mp3 files are not the only type of file that have inline (inside the file) metadata. The Microsoft win32 binary files also contain some metadata. That information can be seen using "properties" on any executable file. (It's in the "details" tab.) Or by using the GetFileVersionInfo function for any developers. That information, like the id3 tag, is contained inside the file. But that metadata is more buiness data then actual useful 'sorting' information. And Microsoft never designed this information to be user-editable. It's only accessible to the developer of the application. It was never designed as a generic container, It's used to identify binaries.

There is a way to store additional information inside a file without modifying the file itself with either ressources forks or extended attributes but it's not supported on all filesystems. Mac OS X support resource fork in the HFS+ filesystem, as does NTFS with Alternate Data Streams (ADS).Extended Attributes are supported on Mac OSX HFS+, Linux's ext3 and BSD's UFS.

The only problem with storing this informatin in either NTFS ADS, resources forks or Extended attributes is that this information will be deleted if the file is moved to a FAT32 drive (used on thumbdrives).Simply downloading the files might strip the files of ressources fork or extended attributes.

And thus, it need to be distributed alongside the file, as either a single file or bundle of information about several files.

Next post will be about the metadata exchange format.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

On sorting files... part 1

For months now, I've been looking for a way to automaticaly sort my files. There is a lot of software for creating and maintaining some sort of media library for pictures, movies or music, but there is almost nothing else for "the rest". On my home computer, "the rest" is composed of 2600 files that occupies a grand total of 45G (although 23G of that is composed of iso files of Linux and BSD). Almost all of these files were downloaded from a website somewhere, either application from, game add-ons from The Elder Scroll Nexus , Fallout 3 Nexus or Simtropolis or drivers from various hardware manifacturers.

Right now, the way I manage these files is mostly by hand. Everything goes into a "Download" folder (that I have since my BBS days), and it's then sorted by hand into several different folders... and that folder is in a perpetual "TO DO:not completely sorted" state... (since those BBS days...)

I wish I could just simply drop these files in a folder where they would automatically get sorted...

...And I don't think it's impossible to implement. Each of the files I have specifically mentioned comes from websites where the content is already classified. Sourceforge classifies projects among various categories and so does all the gaming communities, with Mods, maps, etc. The only thing required is a method of exchanging metadata.

Seems easy enough, but it's not. When you start to think about that problem you realize quickly that it's not really a technical problem. It's more a problem of getting everyone to work together with the same standard.

I have prepared a series of blog posts for each of part of the problem, a sort of brain dump of what I came up with in the past months. A single post would create the "Wall of Text" or TL;DR (too Long; Didn't Read). (And if I try to write something too big, as the Thinkgeek t-shirt says "I never finish anyth")

Friday, May 29, 2009

Choosing Software

Wikipedia has really changed the way I do things... And I'm not talking about articles, I'm talking about choosing software.

Let me explain with an example. I recently installed Windows 7 on my computer (see previous post) and I wanted to try a new Media player. I've always been running Winamp and wanted something different...

The Wikipedia article on Winamp points to both a List of Media players and a Comparison of Media players. Using these lists, I found out that the best choice for me was Songbird. I also took notes of aTunes (and of course Winamp). I decided to use Songbird but I might change that decision because Songbird some interesting bugs on Windows 7 x64 (unsupported platform).

The same exercise can be done with CD burning Software points to a List of optical disc authoring software, which, in turn points to both CDBurnerXP and ImgBurn, both applications I have used in the past. It also shows that there is a CD Burning Open Source application on Windows called InfraRecorder (which I had never heard about).

I find this little "technique" of using "list of" article in Wikipedia very convenient.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Re-installing Windows

I have a book behind me called "Backup & Recovery" from O'Reilly Publishing. I have learn a very basic yet very important lesson from that book... And If my memory is right it goes something like:
"Your backups are as good as your last restoration attempt."

The whole concept being that even though you have backups, unless your actually tried to restore those backups, they don't mean anything.

  • Microsoft came out with an RC of Windows 7
  • I ran Windows XP which could only see 3.5G out of 8G of physical RAM
  • I'm been making backups of everything on my computer
I decided it was time to test that backup strategy with a fresh install of Windows. Of course, because Windows 7 RC will shutdown in 2010, I will have to re-do this process all over again.

Thus, I am writing here everything that I have to do in case I need to do it again. (This posting will be updated if anything changes during the year)

This Machine is use for: Gaming, Web, E-mail and the occasional programming in C++ / QT.

List of software I need to get online (in alphabetical order):
  • 7zip
  • Adobe Air
  • Allsnap
  • ClipX
  • Boinc
  • Dropbox
  • Firefox
  • Flash player
  • Foxit Reader
  • gnucash
  • Launchy (no 64bit version, but 32bit seems to work)
  • Nokia Qt SDK
  • Pidgin
  • Picasa
  • Process Explorer
  • Putty
  • QDevelop
  • SMplayer
  • Steam
  • Thunderbird
  • VirtualBox
  • Vlc
  • WinDirStat
  • WinSCP
  • Xming
List of Backup procedures:
  • Backed-up "Documents and Settings" Folder from Windows XP
  • Backed-up "My Documents" Folder from Windows XP
  • Backup list of mods in Oblivion Mod Manager and Fallout 3 mod Manager
  • Imaged the C: Partition with CloneZilla (just in case)

List of Restore procedures:
  • Moved the "My Documents", "My Pictures", etc as sub-folders of "D:\My Documents"
  • Show File Extentions. Always. (Control Panel -> Folder options)
  • Add "path=C:\Qt\2009.02\mingw\bin;C:\Qt\2009.02\qt\bin" variable in Control Panel -> System -> Advance -> Environment Variables
  • Re-installed Firefox extentions (including: Xmarks, Noscript, Delicious bookmarks, IE tab ,etc)
  • Restore Thunderbird directories:
  1. Documents and Settings\Ve2dmn\Application Data\Thunderbird to C:\Users\Ve2dmn\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird
  2. Documents and Settings\Ve2dmn\Local Settings\Application Data\Thunderbird to C:\Users\Ve2dmn\AppData\Local\Thunderbird
The rest is mostly tweaking.

I guess I have proven to myself I'm somewhat protected against data loss now... Eventually I will have something like Time Machine, TimeVault or Flyback for Windows, but for now, I guess this will have to do :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bad English to French Translation...

Living in Quebec we sometime get very bad English to French mistranslations... Things like:
"Lamp Oil" translated to "Lamping Petrol"
"Made in Turkey" translated with "Made with turkey meat"
But the best one yet is on the washing instruction for one of my shirt.

Original text:
"See reverse for Care.
-Machine Wash cold with like color only
-Non-Chlorine bleach when needed
-Hang or Tumble dry low, Remove Promply
-Cool Iron when needed
-May be dry cleaned
-Do not Iron Decoration"

Was Translated to(For the French impraired):
"See Contrary for love
-The machine washes the cold with the loved color only
-The decoration not-chlorine when necessary
-Hang or fall dry, the low level removed on time
-Cool down some iron metal when necessary
-Cleaned. The month of May is dry.
-The decoration is not made of Iron"
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I though I had seen it all, but this is just a bit too much in my opinion.
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