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The Northern Spy: no Apple news, but ….


By Rick Sutcliffe

In a reprise of previous comments on the subject, the Spy has resolved his issues with his Synology 4-bay 1815+ NAS, that he purchased for home use (yes, yes, overkill, but one cannot have too many backups, especially when one of them fails).

This unit worked worked well for over a year, but became flakey, started to beep, and when the Spy investigated, he found the volume had crashed. Attempting to turn it off and on again yielded a cold dead brick.

Synology issued an RMA an a promise to replace the unit if it couldn’t be repaired, and kept that promise, delivering a brand new unit. The volume could not be recovered from the drives, so had to be deleted and re-created, the users and apps reinstalled, the Time Machine functionality re-initialized. All now works well again. Synology service gets an A+ for standing behind their product, and a C- for speed of reply to the original ticket, and not replying at all when the Spy asked a question after he received the new unit.

Another tardy practitioner is previously ultra-reliable Enom, now owned by TuCows, and in the process of being integrated. A customer needed to transfer out her domain, but it had an old address on it. However, changing that address triggered a 60-day transfer lock courtesy of a setting in the Spy’s reseller account he did not know existed. Had Enom not taken two weeks(!) to answer his original trouble ticket and instead provided timely service (failed to answer phone queries for over 30 minutes — he only got through after multiple listens to forgettable music), this could have been avoided. Bad for the Spy’s reputation as purveyor of domains and hosting, but a huge knock to Enom’s reputation. What are your doing TuCows?

Supposedly, the backlog in trouble tickets is due to an ongoing integration with TuCows’ system. This explanation is unacceptable. One plans for such eventualities and does not allow them to compromise customer service. In the Internet age, even twenty-four hours failure to answer a ticket is unacceptable. Two weeks might as well be a year.

Supposedly the transfer lock cannot be removed once invoked. This too is unacceptable. What is such a lock but an entry in a database. Perhaps neither the end customer, the Spy as lowly reseller, nor the bottom-end service rep can remove it, but someone certainly can. The Spy has another ticket in to make this point and asking the matter to be bumped up the chain of command. After several days wait–no reply. Figures. Enom had better fix this wretched support problem quickly or they will surely lose customers in droves. Absolutely awful.

The brand new high-tech Subaru
still gets high marks after a 2250Km trip to Calgary and back, with stops along the way. No issues in the mountains, though the machine has yet to be tested in snow. (Just a few flurries at Lake Louise, where the lake was still frozen over, and the 28cm dump at Banff came a couple of days after he and Joyce returned.)

The Spy’s only beef is the too-aggressive adaptive cruise control, which throttles down too much downhill, and up too much uphill, varying the speed to minus and plus 5 kph respectively, instead of keeping it constant. At the 10K km service he’ll ask about software upgrades.

On the plus side, he’s also discovered that the car is very good at recognizing pedestrian or vehicle movement behind and beside, and knows if the driver exits either leaving the shift in gear or with the fob fallen out of his pocket, and informs the driver with appropriate beeps. Nice.

Purpose of the meeting: the annual discussion among representatives of college and university mathematics departments in British Columbia on articulation policies and curriculum issues. Ah, but you say “Calgary is in Alberta”. True, even in the high-tech age that supposedly makes the word smaller but doesn’t, but we had a joint meeting with Alberta this year. Outnumbered our eastern colleagues by a wide margin even on their home turf though.

In his own report for TWU, the Spy noted it was his first time on the UofC campus since flunking out there in 1965 ago due to overly much alcohol consumption and bridge playing. He also noted all that changed May 7, 1967 (also a Sunday that year) which was why he had only two days before the meeting he’d preached a sermon entitled “Fifty years on the Rock” in the very room where his life changed. Got a good chuckle around the room. Let the reader understand.

The Spy continues to work on the new R10 dialect of good old Modula-2. Currently, partner Benjamin Kowarsch and an undergraduate student are building the innards of a C# cross-compiler to build the boot compiler, and the Spy toils on faking up an IO library to run as best as can be under an ISO version of the language and to be as easily transferrable to the new dialect as feasible with a few global search-and-replaces.

So progress is being made on a language we think can revolutionize thinking through and developing software projects to safe, secure, and reliable products–and wouldn’t that be a nice change.

A high-tech election using a ranked preferential ballot on numerous candidates chose a new leader for the Conservative Party of Canada recently. Over 125K ballots were marked with up to 10 choices, with the bottom candidate on first choices having his or her ballot redistributed to the second choice, and so on until someone emerged with 50%+.

It had to go all the way to the last two before the candidate in second place on all previous rounds overtook the one who was ahead on all previous ballots and emerge the new leader by about one percent. Some drama was introduced by announcing results in a staggered manner, though the final result would have been available immediately after the program was run.
The Spy’s thinks this a good way to conduct an election, but fears old interests will revert to the convention floor horsetrading approach for heightened drama, though less democracy. It could easily be adopted for regular elections though–it would more likely produce winners who at least were in one’s top three or four choices, instead of the one with perhaps a 35% plurality whom few would take as second choice. Had the U.S. primaries been conducted this way, their last election could have produced different candidates for both parties. Well worth considering.

Sorry this column’s a little late, BTW. The Spy was working old technology in the form of a rototiller and a weed whacker to get the ranch in shape after 10 days away. Until next time.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns or Rick’s SF? Check out the Arjay blog at

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:

The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net
WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net
nameman : http: //nameman. net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher’s Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

URLs for resources and products mentioned in this column

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