Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens
Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens

I’m in the process of selling some camera equipment, and thought I would use Craigslist as one of the resources. I am also trying the local camera club and Ebay.

But I’m not sure I understand what value Craigslist is providing. It seems more like a list of thieves, scammers and the like.

The first person contacted me by email a few hours after the posting went up. I said I wanted to meet in person. He replied that he was out of the country and would be able to send me a cheque for more than the amount I was asking. Yup, a scam. I deleted all the emails and stopped responding.

The second person seemed like a real person. He was negotiating a lower price and wanted to meet to test the lens. Great I thought. I suggested we meet in a Starbucks or something like that. He replied a few hours later that some financial issue came up and would have to back away from the deal.

This concerned me a little. One issue is that I was using my personal email to reply, and I realized that it also had my phone number at the bottom in my signature. I grew concerned that perhaps the reason for contacting me would be to gather personal data. I never gave out where I lived or worked, but the phone number can be used for a reverse address look-up. I also realized that my address is also on the domain ownership for my personal email address.

So I created a new gmail account that has no connection to me, which I will use in the future. It does not have my full name or my phone numbers in the signature either.

I was contacted by another person after that and had the same issue happen – contacted me and then almost immediately bailed on the deal. But this time I was using the new gmail account.

Because of my concerns, I also opened an account at Equifax to allow me to check on my credit information and credit card applications. Rosa and I have discussed this many times in the past. We travel frequently, and both of us have had problems with unauthorized withdrawls on our personal bank accounts and credit cards. After returning from Russia, where my camera was stolen, I also lost $1500 from ATM withdrawls, starting 2 weeks after I returned home. The bank was able to restore my losses.

Which brings me back to Craigslist. If these were the problems I’m facing when using Craigslist, this must also be impacting all the other users. Why would anyone consider Craigslist helpful? I know that I won’t be using it anymore, if the only people who contact me are scammers.


Snow on the Bimmer
Snow on the Bimmer

Snow at the end of April? What the hell? At least there was no accumulation on the roads, since I had already mounted my Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tires. There is minimal tread, just enough to channel out the water on the road, but useless in any amount of snow.

Cancer scare

I had a cancer scare starting last weekend. I had a tenderness for 2 days and self-examined while taking a shower and discovered a pea-sized mass where there shouldn’t be one. I booked an appointment to see the doctor as soon as I could, and was able to see him Monday afternoon.

Today, I went in for an ultra-sound of the area. The examination took about 30 minutes, longer than I expected. The room lights were very low so I just lay there with my eyes closed basically ignoring what was going on, except for when I was asked to breath-in deeply and hold my breath. I asked the ultra-sound technician what which frequency the ultra-sound operates – he replied that it’s about 12. I asked 12Khz? No, he replied, 12Mhz.

The results will be reviewed by a radiologist and sent back to my doctor to give me the diagnosis, but it is possible that it is not cancer but rather just a blood clot. That would seem to fit the evidence, as the tenderness that triggered this adventure only lasted 2 days instead of persisting. I hope that is the case. I am hopeful of a simple explanation. If it is bad news, then at least there is a very high (>98%) survival rate when caught early.


I’ve been feeling really crappy over the last number of days. It might have started on Tuesday with a general lethargy at the end of the day. By Thursday, it had changed to a migraine headache, fever, muscle aches and what seemed like a chest cold. The migraine lasted almost 2 days and was the worst I’ve had in about 15-20 years. I believed that the cause of the migraine was that my back muscles were cramping because I was shivering due to the chills induced by the fever.

Once the migraine was reduced to a reoccurring pounding headache (Tylenol 3), I hoped I would get over the other symptoms. I even started feeling pretty good for a few hours on Friday.

My condition did not improve over the weekend. I had much difficulty sleeping due to my lungs being filled and continued muscle aches. Sometimes the fever would come back.

So this morning, instead of going to the doctor, I went straight to the emergency room. The theory was that if I would need chest x-rays or blood work, then they could all be done at once, instead of seeing a doctor, then going somewhere else for the tests, then back to the doctor.

Once I signed in, I was put into a separate waiting room with a sign outside indicating that it was an isolation room and only people who were asked to sit there should even enter the room. I was given a mask to wear.


I waited about 2.5 hours, catching a nap, and doing some light reading. Around noon, I was finally admitted into one of the examination rooms. There was a sign posted on the outside indicating “droplet warning” and that anyone entering the room had to wear a full face guard. Upon later reflection, this was likely because of the H1H1 flu policies.

The doctor came in and briefly checked me out and then sent me for chest x-rays to confirm the suspicion that it was pneumonia. I was beginning to suspect that might be the diagnosis because a chest cold does usually include a fever.

After the x-ray, the blood work was taken, and I was hooked up to an IV system. I wasn’t expecting the IV, but was interested in how it all worked. I could feel it when it started as my arm started getting cooler – the IV would be room temperature (say 25) but body temperature is about 37. I later heard the doctor outside my room indicating that she ordered the IV because my heart rate was 115 bpm. I didn’t realize it was so high. Adding saline solution will dilute the blood and lower the body temperature and bring down the heart rate (which it did).

The final diagnosis confirmed pneumonia. I was possibly still contagious, so I was told not to go to work for the rest of this week. I finally left the hospital about 7.5 hours after checking-in.

Overheard from the sign-in desk next to the waiting room:

1. “I have an infection on my (elbow/leg) and I am on antibotics. I was told to come to the emergency room if it got worse in case I needed IV antibotics.” I heard this twice in 2.5 hours. Is it really that common?

2. “I just returned from Cuba, where I was raped. Do you have a rape kit? Is a rape kit useful after 24-hours?” The woman left immediately after. It really got me thinking about what a terrible time she must be having. Can you imagine flying home with that on your mind? And I can’t understand why some men are so awful. I just don’t understand people.

3. “My father was in earlier and was sent to go get an MRI. I just wanted to let you know that they found a 5-centimeter growth in his brain. I wasn’t sure if you needed to know that for your records.” Again, another tragic story told in three sentences.

My backup strategy

Because of the problems with loosing my MBP, I am glad I have a solid backup strategy, which is detailed below.
I perform the backups on the first Friday of every month. While my MacBook Pro is running, I will clean out all of the browser caches, as it is not neccessary to backup cached data. As I switch between Google Chrome and Apple Safari, I sometimes need to clean up the caches for both browsers. If there are any temporary downloads that I don’t need to backup, I will delete them, or move them to an external drive. I also do this for any in-progress iMovies, as they can be many many gigabytes in size. I will also delete the Aperture rejected photos; if any photos are deleted, I will also sync the Aperture vault (see more below). All of this will reduce the disk usage, meaning that there is less data that needs to be in the backup.

software icons

Next, I boot to an external WD My Book, using the firewire interface. I have installed a bootable copy of Snow Leopard on the disk. I have also installed TechTool Pro 5, so once I have rebooted to the external hard drive, I will use TechTool to do a hardware and software check of the system, and then perform a file system check or repair of the internal MBP drive.

software icons

Finally, just before going to bed, I will launch Disk Utility and make a disk image of the internal drive. I keep the last 2 images, plus I might keep an image from before any particularly important change (such as upgrading from 10.5 to 10.6 or upgrading the internal hard drive). I create the image as a read-only image. This backup image creation will take a few hours, which is why I start just before I go to bed. Should I require information from that image (such as when I needed to grab files when my machine died), I just double-click the image file to mount the image. I can then just grab any file I need.
Between these monthly images, I will also copy any updated files to two external drives. I keep one drive at work and one drive at home. I also keep a large number of files on these two external drives that I do not need to keep on the laptop. This would include all my race videos, as they take up a lot of space. For these videos, I also burn a DVD copy – meaning I have three copies of all my race videos
The most important files are my photos. I use Apple’s Aperture software to manage my photo library. I use the built-in vault function to keep backups. I have created a vault on both external drives (plus the original on the internal drive). Meaning I keep three copies of my photos, which are stored in two different locations so that a fire will not destroy all the copies.
I also own a PC with Windows XP. There is very little valuable data on that machine. In the past, I have just burned it all to a single DVD. However, with the various external drives I have been collecting, I think I will start doing backups to a small external drive over USB. I will do this once a month too, as I am not regularly doing a backup on the PC now. However, the backup tools I have for Windows XP are far from ideal. I will be moving to Windows 7 x64 Professional in the next month, so perhaps there are better backup tools I can use.
One last backup I do for both machines is to keep the most recent copy of the installers for all the software I use. Should a machine fail, I should have all of the latest installers ready to start restoring the software. This only really impacts me if I need to perform a clean installation of the OS. This has happened three times on my Mac in the last 20 years but I’ve needed it many times on the PC. I keep local copies in case I am not able to connect to the internet when performing the restore.
In summary, for most of the important files, I keep two or three backups in two physically different locations. Once a month, I will also perform a cleanup of the system and then a full-system backup. I will keep multiple backup copies.

Carling Place

There is a new sign at the Carling Campus, which was installed last week. It replaces the old Nortel signage, which is understandable due to the divestiture.

Carling Place
Horrible Carling Place Sign

But the sign is really hideous. The former Nortel Carling Campus is a beautiful location, with interesting architecture, surrounded by forests with wonderful walking paths. I like working at this location because of all of these reasons.

First, I don’t like the name. It’s too similar to “Carleton Place”, the town just outside of Ottawa. It is a non-descript, meaningless name. The name could have been more apt, like “Carling Campus”, which sounds like a place of higher learning. Or perhaps “Technology Park”, which echos places like RTP and includes the nature around the campus, even if the actual name is a little boring.

And finally, the font. I can’t believe the height of design for the sign was an Arial font. Arial is the most boring font in the world. It is completely without character (no pun intended). It is the font of last resort when there are no other fonts available. It is classless and boring to look at. A 6-year old could have designed the sign. I could have designed the sign better than what we got. Instead of spending $100 to hire some Algonquin College Graphic Arts student to do a nice sign (and support the local schools, which is a good news story for the papers), someone decided it was more important to give hundreds of millions of dollars on executive bonuses.

I am so incredibly disappointed in what Nortel will come to represent in the future. It’s a horrible misrepresentation of Nortel that more people will remember the bonuses to executives instead of to pensioners than for the technology that made the company as important as it was a decade ago.

A walk in the woods

Today I took a walk in the woods. It was so peaceful and calming. Work has been going so very badly with a huge stress load. So this was a much needed stress relief.

I went to the NCC green space on Slack Road. This is a mostly evergreen forest, so there is little underbrush, and the paths are carpetted with the needles that deaden the sound of foot steps. It was so quiet. There were only a few people around, less than 10 in the 90 minutes I was in the forest.

In one area is swampy, and the frogs were surprisingly noisy. At first, I thought it was a flock of birds, as I have not heard frog calls that sound like that. It must be a different species of frog than I am used to hearing.

The sun was shining down through the trees in great shafts of light. I stopped at one spot, set down my camera bag and played around taking self portraits with the timer on the camera. A good self-portrait is one of my photography goals.

Self Portrait

Here are two other photos that I took that I felt looked interesting.

One in Every Crowd

Zen Bench
Zen Bench