two companies that don’t get it

Please, online companies, whatever you do, don’t send users’ usernames and passwords in clear over e-mail. I’ve just ordered from Future Photo and delivery.ca, and both do this. Worse still, delivery.ca (or at least their Pizzaville service) allows you to save credit card information on their site.

As one who is just recovering from more than $8000 of fraudulent transactions on his card, this does not inspire confidence.

It’s gettin’ so you can’t say thank you no more

It’s my birthday today; call me Jean-Baptiste (a fte worse than death) …

Anyway, I wanted to thank my folks for sending me a card and a gift certificate, so I sent this message:

Subject: thank you!
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 2004 06:53
To: Mum & Dad

I got the Amazon certificate and the card — thank you so much!

Best Wishes,
Stewart

What did I get a few minutes later?

Action: failed
Status: 5.1.1
Remote-MTA: dns; mail-in.freeserve.com
Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 550 Error: Message content rejected

That’s right; I triggered a virus filter. So all because of bugs in an expensive operating system that I don’t use, I can’t say thanks to my parents.

Fortran has no STDERR

I suspect it’s comp.lang.fortran‘s second most frequently-asked question, but the language has no concept of stderr, the POSIX error output stream. Or at least, there’s no standard IO unit attached to stderr, if it’s defined at all.

Since writing to stderr is my usual debug message method, this is going to be a slog …

It’s not as cold as you’d think

I use Gnome Weather Report, an applet that shows the local temperature and weather conditions on my desktop. For the last few days, it’s been showing something really weird: celsius.png. It’s nothing like -17°C here; it’s nearer 0°C, according to Environment Canada.

Things become clearer when you change the view to Fahrenheit view: fahrenheit.png. It’s clear that the sensor or protocol is broken, but is being mis-interpreted as a zero signal.

As an avid RISKS reader, I know that confusing zero and null values is pretty much unforgivable. I’ve wired up enough 4-20mA current loop instruments to know that having a zero-value signal being the same as a no signal value is bad.

But there’s no real risk here. I mean, I could always go outside and find that it’s not 17°C. You don’t need a weatherman, as Bob said.

mid summer, 1987

In UK exams, a “No Mention” was basically where you did so badly in an exam that they didn’t bother to mark it, and you weren’t actually listed as ever taking it.

I got a No Mention for my A-Level Special Maths. I got talked into sitting it by my mate Matthew, who is a maths genius. It was on my 18th birthday, my last day at school, and a gorgeous day.

When I opened the exam paper to see proofs of things involving frictionless pulleys and light, inextensible strings, something snapped. I wrote my name, then:

1) I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it is silly.

I sat for a few minutes, watching the dust motes groove about in the light from the library windows, then walked out.

Matthew got a special distinction, by the way.

I would have liked to add that I went home and listened to “A Can of Bees” by The Soft Boys on my brother’s hi-fi. But I think he’d already left home by then, taking his record collection with him.

everyone else is voting, why can’t I?

It’s municipal election day here in Toronto. I’m a Toronto resident, homeowner, and taxpayer. Yet I can’t vote, because I’m not a Canadian citizen.

I can understand not being able to vote in federal or provincial elections, but I’m as much of a citizen as anyone else living in Toronto. Toronto has such a vast immigrant population that many people are disenfranchised. Perhaps that’s why the city is failing to provide for its citizens.