Thursday, July 24, 2008

Propertycop Closing

Propertycop was a website where you could submit photos of your bicycle along with serial numbers etc. It's being shut down:
Dear Registrant.

We regret the website is to be shut down. We have not been able to find a workable long term business plan that would ensure its success and accordingly have found it necessary to cease operations.

We thank you for your support over the past two years and wish you every success in the future.

In the interests of your privacy, all information you have provided us is being deleted.

Board of Directors

Propertycop Recovery & Registration Society

I never actually got around to registering my bike.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's open season on negligent drivers

Globe and Mail 2008 July 15: Vancouverites urged to release inner vigilante (emphasis added):
An eye-gouging fistfight between a good Samaritan and a purse snatcher has prompted Vancouver police to offer qualified support for vigilante action, suggesting citizens should feel free to indulge their inner Batman if they have the martial and physical skills to prevail against bad guys.


Police don't encourage the average person to act, he said, but "some people have outstanding skills.

"Maybe it's an off-duty police officer. Maybe it's somebody that studies the martial arts that's very used to hand-to-hand combat scenarios, or maybe it's just somebody that's so angry and incensed at seeing somebody victimized that they feel they're just going to do something," Constable Fanning said.

Alrighty. The next time I feel angry and incensed at being victimized by a negligent (or possibly malicious) automobile driver, I'm going to come out swinging (or maybe gouging). The VPD says it's OK.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


An off-hand remark in this CBC article about Air Canada job cuts:
An ACTS spokesperson told Canadian Press that many airlines, including Air Canada, are deferring maintenance work because of the financial pain being caused in the industry by rapidly rising fuel costs.
That's definitely the best way to deal with the financial pain being caused by rapidly rising fuel costs. Cut back on non-essential things like maintenance of your airplanes.

Also, ACTS used to be called Air Canada Technical Services. But now they're officially just called ACTS. Kind of like CN Rail is most certainly not Canadian National Rail. and KFC is simply KFC, not Kentucky Fried Chicken. Makes perfect sense to me.

Google Maps 'Bike There' Option

I think online petitions are kind of funny. But I like this idea: Google Maps 'Bike There' Feature Request.
The feature would take into account actual bicycle lanes from the locality being mapped, and it would automatically plan a route for a bicyclist, possibly even providing the cyclist options for either the most direct route, or the most bicycle-friendly (safest) route.
It would be nice to be able to minimize hills on the route as well. The Cycling in Cities and Translink route planning tool has a maximum slope option.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Just get on the train

Two links from a recent Risks Digest:
  • Oyster and Mifare cracked
  • Researchers at Nijmegen's Radboud University have evidently cracked and cloned London's Oyster travel card, after previously having had similar success with the Dutch MIFARE travel card ...
  • Free Berlin subway rids
    More than 600 of the 700 ticket machines refused to work after they were updated from a central server overnight. ... It took until 1 pm for the error to be fixed on all machines.

    In the meantime, security people walked around encouraging people to just get on the trains. The ticket checkers (who travel undercover and announce ticket controls just after the doors close) were pulled from the subway and put on bus and tram duty.

Kevin Falcon, British Columbia's Minister of Automobile Infrastructure wants turnstiles and smartcards at skytrain stations. I'm confused about whether it is for security or to tackle the ostensibly huge problem of fare evasion. Everybody over-estimates fare evasion; the latest Translink survey confirmed this: fare evasion as measured is less than ten percent, but most people believe it is up around twenty-five percent.

Disregarding the capital costs of these turnstiles and smart-card systems, I wonder how many rush-hour smart-card service outages at Broadway station we'd have to have before all of the supposed re-captured revenue from former fare-evaders would be wiped out by the necessity to allow people to just get on the trains, as during the Berlin malfunction.

Maybe our system would never ever ever ever malfunction, though. Yeah.

Monday, July 07, 2008

More Absolutes

Essential Life Lesson #1: Over is Right, Under is Wrong:
Put simply, there is a right way to hang the toilet paper, and a wrong way. Read on to determine the status of your own roll.

Friday, July 04, 2008

How do they do this in San Francisco, Kevin?

CBC, 2008 July 4: Minister reinforces position on bridge closure
Kevin Falcon said it's unacceptable that the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing was completely shut down for six hours on Canada Day while police tried to talk to an apparently distraught woman.

"I was just in San Francisco recently and I can tell you they have lots of problems with the Golden Gate Bridge but they don't shut down the entire bridge to deal with these incidents," Falcon told CBC News Thursday.

I just want to interject here and point out that they also have streetcars in San Francisco. Street cars that run on tracks, in the city. I'm not talking about the cable cars. These are streetcars, on tracks, in the city. Did KFalc see them?

Falcon was one of thousands of motorists caught in the gridlock on Canada Day.

"He [Falcon] sounded like a frustrated motorist and not a leader, in my point of view," said Darrell Burnham, executive director of Coast Mental Health Foundation.

Also, in the comments to the CBC story describing the incident, I found a comment written by Kevin Falcon himself, under the pseudonym Devoid:
I wonder how many people in those traffic tie ups lost out on something big in their lives because they took a 3-5 hour detour to get to their destination.

Maybe someone was rushing to a hospital because they got the call their dad was dying and they needed to come right away.

Maybe someone was rushing to the family home because their dog had died.

Maybe someone was trying to deliver medication to a sick person.

Maybe someone had an important job interview or business meeting.

Maybe someone had $300 worth of perishables in their car, which perished.

The possibilities are endless when it comes the possible ways that people can have REAL, negaitive impacts on their lives because police choose to shut down a major artery to cow-tow to one disturbed person.

Those shut downs affect tens of thousands of people. Why is the jumper more important than everyone else? Just because the jumper's situation is time-sensitive, doesn't mean that the guy in the VW Jetta waiting patiently isn't losing something dear himself.

I'm tired of the police throwing a blanket over the rest of us to make their jobs easier.

So I wonder what KFalc would think of what I witnessed on the Burrard bridge just now. For at least the last forty-five minutes the bridge has been intermittently blocked by police, who are positioned at each end of the bridge. All six lanes are closed to motor traffic, for several minutes at a time.

Traffic on the downtown side was backed up down Pacific Street/Beach Avenue for as far as I could see. There was a bit of angry honking going on. I don't know how far back up Burrard traffic was backed up. It must have been backed up quite far down Burrard and Cornwall on the south side of the bridge as well.

Why was the Burrard bridge closed this Friday night? Why were all these motorists inconvenienced so? Why were ambulances, people going to visit their dying dogs, and people with $300 of perishables in the trunk all delayed for so long?

To film a car commercial, of course. In order to create the fantasy of unobstructed speed you have to get the Vancouver Police to close the bridge for you. Then you can film your shiny cars zooming back and forth over the bridge. Back and forth. Back and forth. For forty-five minutes or so. Sure, they take a break every once in a while to let some of the traffic through, but the traffic is still backed up for blocks and blocks.

Something else I noticed: the cars being filmed for the commerical have European license plates. I guess we can have a pretend Euro Auto Fantasy on the Burrard Bridge but the possibility of a Euro Bike Fantasy (in the form of trial lane allocations for bicycles) is out of the question.

In summary, for those keeping score: Closing a bridge to help a suicidal woman BAD; closing a bridge to film a car commercial GOOD.

What do you think of the new database?

We thought we had a better database said Sheriff's Department Legal Advisor Sanford Toyen.
How's that database upgrade coming along?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

US Army set to hire internet spies

US Army set to hire internet spies
"The contractor will conduct internet awareness services ... to identify and assess stated and implied threat, antipathy, unrest and other contextual data," said the tender document, which was released by the US Army's German office.

Those applying for the contract must include in their staff a principle cyber investigator, a specialised threat analyst, a 'foreign-speaking' analyst with cyber investigative skills and a 24/7 watch team.

Cyber investigative skills means ability to use Google, I assume.
The UK's armed forces are also upping their surveillance of the internet.


The Royal Air Force is at present facing a critical shortfall of intelligence officers and intelligence analysts: both positions are currently advertised as "urgently needed". An intelligence analyst earns an annual salary of just [GBP] 16,200 and needs just a handful of GCSEs.

Big salaries and high qualification standards like this is the way to attract the best and the brightest.

To give these guys something to do, from now on I'm going to conclude every blog post with the output from a run of emacs M-x spook: S Key embassy 64 Vauxhall Cross MILSATCOM Ermes unclassified Verisign secure Ft. Meade blackjack Marxist Defcon underground Clinton Maple

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


This evening, on the North side of the Burrard Bridge, in front of Bicycle Sports Pacific, there was a motorcycle cop. I thought he was sitting there waiting to pounce on cyclists who were not wearing helmets.

While I was waiting there at the intersection, a big black truck was causing a traffic back-up (lots of horns honking) -- he was in the left lane southbound, trying to turn left onto Pacific. Not Allowed.

The motorcycle cop waited for the driver of the truck to come to his senses and go over the bridge. But as the light changed he floored it and went left.

The cop sprang into action. Siren blaring, he shot out of his hiding place and went after the truck. I assume the truck got a ticket, or at least a nice stern talking-to.

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