Thunder Bay airport gets wi-fi

Thunder Bay's airport is the third busiest in the province – right after
Toronto and Ottawa. I knew that because I spent two years as a reporter for
the paper there. Met my wife
there, too. That means we're back to Thunder Bay from time to time to visit
family. Nice to know, then, that the Thunder Bay International Airport
just signed a deal to have a Wi-Fi network installed that travellers can
access from inside the main passenger terminal.
The company installing the network is Opti-Fi
Networks LLC
of Annapolis, Md. Opti-Fi says this is fourth Canadian
airport they're about to wire up (albeit with slightly slower 802.11b)
The company says fees for the service are expected to be $2.95 for 15
minutes ($.25/min each additional), $3.95 per hour, or $9.95 per day.

Where in the World

Andrew at This Magazine's blog has a link that you will find addictive: A world geography quiz:

Think you know your countries? Take this quiz. I scored a pathetic 40%, though I think I deserve half marks for getting Haiti/Dominican Republic backward…. [BLOG.THISMAGAZINE.CA]

I scored only slightly better than Andrew the first time I took it, getting 50 per cent. I mistook Sudan for Nigeria and (gulp) Jamaica for San Marino among other dopey mistakes. Knew where Spain was, though!
The quiz lets you represent your country. Canadians taking the quiz were scoring exactly what I was. Apparently New Zealanders are doing the best with a score of about 60 per cent.

Canadian communications policy: Is it in the public interest?

A new book looks at recent developments in Canadian public policy when it comes to information and communications technologies. Here's a promotional blurb being circulated by one of the book's editors:

Seeking Convergence in Policy and Practice: Communications in the Public Interest, Volume 2
Edited by Marita Moll and Leslie Regan Shade. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2004.
It's a post 9-11 communications world. E-mail is polluted with obnoxious spam and data-eating viruses. Governments are nervously trying to bring order to the chaos through regulation — the very instrument that was labelled during the '90's as offensive to progress. The “information wants to be free” rally cry of early Internet libertarians has been replaced by the “information needs to be monitored” cry of the new surveillance society.
In this new collection, noted Canadian academics and activists explore critical communications issues, from meaningful citizen engagement in public policy debate to privacy protection in the emerging health infostructure.
Order form, Table of Contents, Preface, and Introduction

McGill workshops science writers

Here's a good idea:

“….Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge program(SPARK), a writing workshop for students to teach them the skills for communicating scientific research through the media to an intelligent readership.
[It is run by Linda] Cooper [who] believes it's crucial for writers and academics to be able to convey complex ideas to the general public: “Not to oversimplify what people do, but to keep the [research's] meaning intact, to make it as accessible as possible,” she says.
This year, SPARK is expanding to WARM-SPARK (Writing About Research at McGill) to include social sciences and the humanities. …. Under Cooper's enthusiastic guidance, students choose researchers to interview and write about. The stories are then pitched to different media, from McGill's Reporter to the Globe and Mail. The group meets once a week to go over each other's writing and discusses the tangled aspects of scholarly work at McGill. Not only do the students explore different disciplines through the researchers they talk to, they are also exposed to the varied backgrounds of the group members . ..”

How much will it cost to learn why animals don't fall over?

RHex is a robot built at the University of Michigan based on discoveries by UC Berkeley's Robert Full about how cockroaches run. RHex is the center of a new, multidisciplinary effort to understand how we walk without falling over. (Photo: Daniel Koditschek, University of Michigan)

About $5-million U.S. — but it could be more if scientists at UC Berkeley and elsewhere in the U.S. are unable to come up with the answer over the term of the $5-million grant they just received from the U.S. National Science Foundation.
Seriously, though: If they find an answer to that question, scientists believe they will have figured out humans manage to get around without falling down. And if they figure that out, well, presumably it would be nothing at all to figure out how to make a humanoid robot walk around.
“The hallmark of life is movement,” said Robert Full, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley and leader of the team that received the grant. “Yet, no single systems-level model, reaching from neurons to muscles to the skeleton to the whole body, can explain the control that makes movement possible. You have so many nerves and so many muscles, how in the world do you actually move forward?”
The robot pictured here, incidentally, looks an awful lot like ones developed at McGill University in Montreal at that school's Centre for Intelligent Machines. There's a good reason for that since the 'RHex” brand of robots is being developed by researchers at McGill, Berkeley and the University of Michigan.
McGill has a RHex that can walk on its hind legs. Another one (pictured left at the bottom) can swim. It's also a tenacious little bugger that can even right itself after falling over a cliff. (There are many videos of the robots at McGill archived at the lab's Web site and many are sure to make you laugh. RHex on his hind legs is no exception. And you can just hear the scientists start laughing at the end of the RHex on the Cliff video. And please check out Bounder. But after you're done chuckling, think of the engineering wizardry required to get these gadgets to do what they do! Amazing.)

Andrew O'Hagan

America is now offering lessons in what little wisdom it takes to govern the world. Confounded in Iraq, isolated from its traditional allies, shamed over Abu Ghraib, soaked in corporate corruption and the backwash of environmental harm, sustaining an uninherited budget deficit while preparing more tax rewards for the rich, as dismissive of the unhealthy as the foreign, as terrified of the unfolding truth as of mailed anthrax, it is a society made menacing by a notion of God's great plan. America is tolerance-challenged, integrity-poor, frightened to death, and yet, beneath its patriotic hosannahs, a country in delirium before the recognition that it might have spent the last three years not only squandering the sympathy of the world but hot-housing hatreds more ferocious than those it had wished to banish for ever from the clear blue skies.
“The God Squad” in the London Review of Books, Vol. 26 No. 18 dated 23 September 2004

Wanna make money? Forget about blogging

Bloggers Find Clicks Don't Mean Cash
Bloggers at this summer's political conventions brought heightened visibility to blogging, but the money, for most bloggers, is still missing … [Read the rest of this story]

For this blog, I signed up last March with Google's AdSense campaign (). You give up a part of your blog (or Web site, for that matter) to Google and Google will constantly crawl your site and, based on the content there, serve up some ads that Google's ad bots believe would be interesting to your blog's readers. You — the blog publisher, that is — get paid a few pennies for every one of your readers that click through to an advertiser.
Now, I'm not getting a whole lot of traffic but I figured my traffic was still decent enough that this program might make some sense.
It hasn't.
Since I signed up in March, I've racked up all of $25 from Google. Mind you, that's twenty-five dollars American which I figure has got to be worth at least one Canadian two-four.
And last week, I took the back the space I was giving to Google. I'm now ad-free.

Bank of Canada raises interest rates

The Bank of Canada raised its overnight rate by 1/4 of a percentage point to 2.25 per cent. The rate hike was widely expected and likely marks the beginning of a cycle of tightening, in which the key benchmark rate could rise to close to 4 per cent over the next year or so. That's still cheap money, but the generational lows we've seen are likely at an end, according to economists who know a lot about this stuff.

Hey Intel, give me some of that dual-core WiMax magic

Computer chips are plenty fast enough, right? I remember Walt Mossberg writing a couple of years ago in the Wall Street Journal that for most consumers a chip running at 500 Mhz ought to be fast enough for average home use — e-mail, word processing, home accounting, and Web surfing. Of course, no one makes chips that slow anymore. Everything's over 1 Ghz, and clocking sometimes north of 3 Ghz. (I'm talking Wintel-based products, here, of course).
But it's pretty clear that consumers are not going to shell out big bucks for the fastest processor. In fact, among the varoius DIY super-geek sites where people talk about building your own PC, the budget for the processor is always the first to get trimmed in favour of beefing up the budget for video cards, RAM, fast storage, a bigger, better display, optical drives, and so on.
So, it's not surprising then that the world's biggest chipmaker, Intel, is easing itself out of the speed race and focusing on getting its Pentium and Centrino chipsets to do more. As I report in today's Globe and Mail, Intel executives laid out a product road map yesterday that includes dual-core processors and next-generation broadband wireless capability that features WiMax:

Chip maker Intel Corp. has announced plans to improve its flagship products in ways that could redefine the role of a microprocessor in a computer and help the company stay ahead of its competitors.

Now, if you're really into this processor stuff and want to know how many transistors Intel's new chips will have and how much Level 3 cache will be available, you want to read the report from the guys at Tom's:

… The Montecito processor on the stage carried 1.72 billion transistors and 2×12 MByte of L3 cache for a total of 26.5 MByte of cache memory …. The chip will feature parallelism capabilities on a instruction and thread level. Compared to the current 130nm Itanium 2 chip, Montecito will post a performance increase of about 25 percent in enterprise environments, Intel said .. [Read the full report].