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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,200 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Advances in Storm Chasing

ScienceLive will be hosting an online chat today at 3 pm on advances in storm chasing.

Participants will have the chance to send questions to experts on the topic: Bradley Smull of the NSF and Sonia Lasher-Trapp of Purdue.

For more, please see

ORION Summit 2011: Selected Takeaways

In no specific order, or attempt to be comprehensive, the following are my selected takeaways from the ORION Summit 2011:

  • 100G network boasts a series of firsts for ORION – ORION is the first R&E network anywhere in the world, and the first network of any kind in Canada, to provide a bandwidth of 100 Gb/s. At the moment, a 100G segment stretches from St. Catharines to London. However, by the end of June 2011, it is projected that the bulk of ORION will be enabled for the 100G capacity. Membership has its privileges.
  • IP is not a businessCFI CEO Gilles Patry stated (and I’m paraphrasing here) that an idea is not an invention, an invention is not a product, and a product is not a business. (I didn’t capture his source, sorry.) Patry’s remarks resonated well with author Peter Nowak‘s suggestion of tracking innovation by the licensing of patents – as opposed to tracking the patents themselves. In other words, both presenters effectively made the point that Intellectual Property (IP) does not a product or business make. For a strikingly compelling illustration, see “Biomedical research has a Long Tail … and it ain’t pretty!” below.
  • Purdue is filling in the gaps – Purdue is enabling teaching and learning via mobile technologies. Their sensible approach is to leverage apps students are already using on their mobile devices, and then focus their attention on better enabling teachers and learners for creating, locating, communicating and connecting via handhelds. Their impressive and growing Studio is worth exploring.
  • The five differentiators of GenY – 10-30 year olds comprise GenY. According to author Daneal Charney, this generation is characterized by the following five differentiators: GenYs are digitally savvy; GenYs are non-hierarchical; GenYs are super-collaborative; GenYs are 24/7; and finally, GenYs are highly educated. Based on teaching over 200 GenYs for the past academic year at York, living with a few GenYs, and working with a few GenYs, I believe I can state numerous examples to substantiate Charney’s characterization.
  • Pencasts deserve attention – Teacher Zoe Branigan-Pipe illustrated just how powerful a pencast could be. Her example was based on use of a smartpen from LiveScribe. I can easily see ways I can leverage this simple technology in powerful ways in many contexts.
  • CANARIE is DAIRing to drive innovation – In their words: “DAIR is an advanced R & D environment — a `digital sandbox’ — where high-tech innovators can design, validate, prototype and demonstrate new technologies.” DAIR targets tech-oriented SMEs.
  • Is a Top 40 billing of any value? – CFI CEO Gilles Patry stated that UofT, McGill, UBC and UWaterloo made a global Top 40 ranking of the best undergraduate programs in computer science. Later in the day, Queens Ph.D. student Rob Horgan reminded us that such rankings may comprise hollow praise. For example, if your programme produces excellent graduates, does it really matter what its ranking against some contrived set of metrics actually is? I tend to agree.
  • P2PU – The acronym is self-expressive. In about a week’s time, OISE Ph.D. student Stian Haklev will start an introductory course on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning. Both the course, and the teaching/learning model, are worth investigating.
  • Biomedical research has a Long Tail … and it ain’t pretty! – Dr. Aled Edwards described the systemic realities of biomedical research as it stands today: Biomedical researchers are driven towards extremely conservative investigations that focus on known targets that are most likely to produce results – extremely incremental results. (Reminder from tompeters!: Incrementalism spells death for innovation.) Considering that the Human Genome Project mapped some 20,000 genes, this emphasis on a relatively small subset of the same (i.e., the meaty part of the Long Tail) is especially concerning – especially concerning to anyone who cares about research that should ultimately lead to drug discovery. So, what’s Edwards’ solution: Share results, as soon as they become available, in public – without restriction! That means that academics, behemoth pharmas and other partners, start together on a level playing field. In other words, use coopetition to drive innovation. (IP is not a business!) And that’s precisely what his Structural Genomics Consortium does. By placing attention on the 17K genes that would be otherwise neglected, perhaps SGC will help to make that tail of biomedical research a little less long … a little less meaty at its base … and therefore a little less ugly.

If you attended the Summit and have your own takeaways to share, or have comments on this post, please feel free to add your $0.02 via a comment.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 38,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.


In 2010, there were 2 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 206 posts.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 195 views. The most popular post that day was sync blackberry contacts with gmail: Problem Solved!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for blackberry contacts to gmail, import blackberry contacts to gmail, import contacts from blackberry to gmail, sync blackberry contacts with gmail, and how to import blackberry contacts to gmail.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


sync blackberry contacts with gmail: Problem Solved! March 2008


sync blackberry contacts with gmail January 2007


Microsoft Word: A Tool for Annotation August 2006


GMail on Your BlackBerry: Latest Client Offers Significant Featur March 2008


Teens: A Surprising Market Segment for the iPhone April 2007

Stainless Improving By Leaps and Bounds!

When I first wrote about Stainless, I indicated that it provided impressive features/functionalities for a version 0.1 release. In a subsequent post, I elaborated on Stainless’ strengths and weaknesses. 

Stainless is now at version 0.2.5. And in the space of a few weeks, Mesa Dynamics has addressed a number of the weaknesses I previously noted. Specifically:

  • Download capability – It just works now! Thanks!
  • Offline mode – Via Google Gears. Interestingly, I predicted this might take some time. I am so happy to be wrong!!
The release notes for Stainless provide the details on these and numerous other improvements.
So, what’s left? In order for me to shift to Stainless as my ‘production browser’, I really need:
  • Interaction with Google Notebook – Even via the bookmarklet is fine! 
  • URL Caching/Auto-Completion – As noted previously … 
Even with these production must-haves, Stainless is well worth a look today.

Juniper Seminar: Key Takeaways

Yesterday, I attended the Toronto session of a Juniper seminar focused on security and datacenter solutions.

The following are the key takeaways I extracted:

  • Juniper is standards-oriented. In the area of NAC, e.g., they are co-chairing with Symantec the Trusted Computing Group‘s Trusted Network Connect (TNC) effort. It’s not (yet) clear to me how the TCG interplays with the IETF … And speaking of IETF, Juniper’s Network and Security Manager (NSM) makes use of IETF’s NetConf standard in, e.g., simplifying the provisioning of new devices on the network.
  • Juniper has a comprehensive portfolio of offerings at the intersection of security and networking. Interestingly, Juniper’s Security Threat Response Manager (STRM) OEMs technology from Q1Labs.
  • 802.1x is a solid bet. Based on a number of trends, and a variety of requirements, Juniper promotes use of 802.1x. Even though this is a path we’ve already identified, it’s good to have it independently validated …
  • Security, and other services, can be offloaded to purpose-built devices in the core. Instead of inserting, e.g., a FWSM into a device (e.g., a Cisco 65xx) that is primarily providing routing and switching services, Juniper has recently introduced a new paradigm with its SRX series. Touted as a services gateway for the core, the purpose of the SRX is to offload from the routing/switching devices various services – e.g., firewall, VPN, etc. As I understand it, the SRX runs JUNOS with various enhancements from ScreenOS (their O/S from their firewall devices). Even if you don’t make use of Juniper solutions, it may make sense to understand and potentially apply the offloading-of-services concept/paradigm in your core.
  • Juniper allows for the virtualization of switches. Juniper Virtual Chassis (VC) is currently only available for their EX 4200 platform. With VC, it’s possible to virtualize up to 10 physically distinct EX 4200s into one. Within the next year, Juniper plans to provide VC on, e.g., their EX 8200 platform. Because vmWare’s vMotion requires layer-2 adjacency, server virtualization may prove to be a significant driver for switch virtualization. I expect that this will prove, e.g., to be particularly relevant in providing failover services (at the networking layer) between multiple, physically distinct, and geographically separated locations.

Even though the event appeared to be more of the sales-y/marketing-y variety, there was substantial technical content in evidence.