The end is nigh?

'The End is nigh!  A big stakes suit to save us all.' That is the Page Two headline in today's International Herald Tribune.  It is the story of how two men – Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho – are suing the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN), or rather are suing for a court-ordered restraining order that would prevent them from operating their Large Hadron Collider (LHC).  The claim is that the proper due diligence has not been performed, and that CERN '…has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act.' (International Herald Tribune, Monday March 31, 2008, p.2)

The story goes on to explain that the LHC could create a black hole, and that although it is theorized (by Stephen Hawking) that black holes '…evaporate in a poof of radiation and elementary particles,' this phenomenon has never been witnessed, so Wagner and Sancho theorize that black holes might actually be stable, and that a micro-black hole created in the LHC could expand and destroy the Earth and eventually the universe (which I contend would be irrelevant to many of us once the Earth and Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen in Montreal were gone).

I find several points to this suit severely flawed, not the least of which is that they are suing in (sic!) the U.S. District Court in Honolulu.  While I am sure that the scientists and lawyers from CERN (located outside Geneva in Switzerland) would relish the idea of spending time on the beautiful Big Island in Hawaii, I am equally sure that they are not stupid enough as to cede to the U.S. District Court's jurisdiction in order to do so.  These are, after all, the people who actually invented the Internet (yes Dave, shot #2 at Mr. Gore this week!), as well as a Large Hadron Collider capable of creating matter and reproducing conditions not witnessed since the trillionth of a second following the Big Bang!

The same scientists bringing this suit did the same (unsuccessfully) against the Brookhaven National Laboratory when they fired up their Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).  The RHIC at Brookhaven is a similar (somewhat smaller) machine to the LHC, and has been operating without causing any recognizable destruction of the universe since 2000.  What makes the pair think that a slightly (sic!) larger machine would cause destruction unfounded in the smaller version?

For those of you interested in the technical details of the LHC in plain English I suggest you read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.  It is the novel that introduced the main character from his later novel The DaVinci Code, and is for my money a much more interesting read.  Although its writing presumes the opening of the LHC some ten years before actual, most of the science in that work is plausible… though I will not speak to the matter/anti-matter issue of which my knowledge is limited to Star Trek and that novel.

My very limited knowledge of the LHC and CERN did not originate with that novel, but then I am almost as ignorant as any non-scientist on the matter.  The LHC is the largest machine in the world, and if I remember correctly (I am currently 32,000 feet above sea level in a Boeing 737-800 and unable to access the Internet to check my facts) extends beyond the borders of Switzerland into Italy and France.  It is a giant particle accelerator that will smash protons together and allow their scientists to '…sift through the debris for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.' (Ibid)  If you discount the minute possibility that it might destroy the universe, I do not see a downside to it.

If you are keeping up on your reading (and what is more important than reading my blog?) you will know that last week I visited the Nobel Museum in Stockholm and had a lot of opportunity to think about science and discovery.  Although I do not know what new knowledge and discoveries could be made by sifting through this matter, I do understand that most great discoveries were done so by accident, or at least without really knowing what the scientists were looking for.  I am certain though that if penicillin can be discovered by examining mouldy bread, the possibilities of examining this primordial sludge (what a great term!) has infinite possibilities beyond even the comprehension of the geniuses at CERN.

I hope that they do not blow it by showing up in Honolulu.

Anti-American Sentiment

I got to Sweden on Tuesday and it did not take me an hour to be fleeced by a taxi driver (A four minute taxi ride from the Kista subway station to the Microsoft office which was not my intended destination cost me 195SEK, or about USD$33).  Later in the evening I was speaking with one of the clerks at my hotel she told me that it was not uncommon for taxis to take advantage of people they see are tourists, and more specifically American tourists.

I think it's that way!  When i got to Stockholm on Thursday I had to get from the central station to the Swedish Tourism Bureau… no more than a 300m walk.  I kept asking directions and continued to walk around in circles.  I assumed I was looking for some obscure street that nobody knew, but when I arrived at Kungsträdgården I discovered it was this huge historical park with a concert venue, statues, and french gardens that started from the water and extended four blocks with cafés all along one side, and terminating at a major intersection three blocks from the central station.

I thought for most of the time that I was getting my exercise that the people in Sweden just did not speak English very well.

There was a bit of a line-up at the Tourism Bureau so I went into the gift store.  They had lapel pins of the Swedish flag crossed with several others, and I decided to buy and don the one with the Canadian flag; I had heard for years that Americans traveling abroad would wear Canadian flags to be treated better and I didn't know if it would be the case, but I decided it was worth a shot and if nothing else it was a nice pin for 5 SEK (less than a dollar).

It was the last time I got wrong directions in Sweden.

I understand that there is a great deal of animosity towards the United States.  I am not even naïve enough to believe that they would have started with the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan (or even the first Iraq war).  I know that people have an impression of America that is not entirely favourable, to put nicely.  That impression has often extended to Americans abroad; the caricature of the loud, boorish, and ignorant American tourist is in so many movies including American ones.  I have encountered such tourists in Canada, in Israel, and even in America.  It does not mean that all Americans are like that; but we remember those who are because they leave a more lasting impression than the nice and quiet ones.

When I walked into the bar last night I took off my jacket, forgetting that at the same time I was taking off the pin that was on the lapel.  I was not treated poorly.  The bartender and people around me would answer my questions.  One of them finally asked me where in America I was from, at which point I made clear that I was from Canada.  All of a sudden we were all friends and having a great, jovial time.

I asked them about this and they told me that they did not actually dislike Americans, they just did not respect them, their behaviour, and the fact that their country 'felt it necessary to stick their nose in everybody's business.'  (We were sitting in a Boston Irish pub with a baseball-basketball-football motif… but let's leave that aside)  They spent five minutes telling me all of the bad that America has contributed to the world.  I asked them about all of the good that America has done… 'What good?  What has America ever taught us?'

How to not have to speak German.

It is easy to focus on the bad… and frankly I am as turned off by the loud and obnoxious tourists as anyone, but I also know that the majority of Americans are not like that, and that there are people like that everywhere.  I also understand (and have often joked about) the fact that so many Americans are woefully unaware of the world and cultures outside of their borders.  Is it that America has become an insular society closed off from the rest of the world?  Probably not… a hundred years ago it was unlikely that anyone anywhere would have traveled more than fifty miles from their home.  I know countless Americans who have never left their own country, but have traveled extensively within it.

In the United States should one wish to there are dozens of specialty channels that concentrate exclusively on foreign cultures, travel, and lands.  However if people are not interested there is little you can do to force them.

There is good and bad in every group of people.  Roger Waters sings a (VERY anti-war song) called Leaving Berlin.  It is about an encounter that he had with an old Lebanese couple in 1961… about how kind, gentle, and loving they are.  I have met those Lebanese, and I have met the ones carrying guns and planting bombs… launching missiles and carrying out terrorist attacks. 

Many Americans that I have met are equally guilty of the same offences.  That does not make the entire country racist, only the individuals who are unwilling to open their minds.  'The ability to think differently today from yesterday distinguishes the wise man from the stubborn.'  It is a quote on the wall of the Nobel Museum attributed to Sir Isaac Newton (or John Steinbeck depending on the source).  Hopefully we can all get over the stubbornness and open our minds.

You should not hate all people in a group based on the actions of a few, but neither can you love them either.  People are people, and should not be judged based on anything other than their actions and deeds.

Because I am going there next I asked another clerk at the hotel about the differences between Norway and Sweden.  She told me that the people in Norway are nicer.  I asked why and she told me that the Swedish people are xenophobic (her term was racist, but the explanation clarified her position).  I have not found that to be true, but then again I do not know what is being said behind my back, or in front of me in Swedish.  I guess I am trying to see the best in people… and hope that they are truly living up to it.

Sweden!

I arrived in Sweden on Tuesday on a Lufthanza plane filled with a Canadian hockey team coming to play a tournament here.  Good luck Canada!

Getting to my hotel was a little tricky.  Fortunately there is a great tourist information counter at Stockholm/Arlanda airport which pointed me in the right direction, starting with the fact that Kista is pronounced Shista.  That is the area where I am staying – about thirty minutes by subway outside of Stockholm Centre.  The train from Arlanda to Stockholm was reminiscent of the train from Hong Kong International into that city – very fast, clean, and quiet.  From there the subway got me to Kista… where my troubles started.  Fast-forward past the troubles.IMG_0205

The Microsoft office in Kista is very nice, and looks like most of the offices I have  been to… of course everything is in Swedish, but aside from that…  I walked in and saw what seems like the requisite wall mural from the Ready for a New Day tour from last year.  The local people were as helpful as could be, and after a little small-talk they showed me the MPR room, then gave me directions back to the hotel.  I had already discovered what getting into a taxi costs here, and for the kilometre I IMG_0215decided to walk.

Originally I was supposed to present in four cities over two weeks.  Either fortunately or unfortunately two of them were cancelled, so rather than having to spend a day in  transit every couple of days I have several days off here, followed by several days off in Oslo… effectively a ten day European vacation. 

Following my presentation (which went rather well) I took IMG_0220the rest of Wednesday to recover from the jet lag (or at least as well as I could) I ventured out into Stockholm on Thursday.  I did a lot of walking (primarily because everyone kept giving me wrong directions to where I wanted to go) until I finally arrived at the Swedish Tourism  Bureau and bought my Stockholm Card.

I began my slightly more organized tour at the Tre Kronar Museum, one of three IMG_0238 museums in the Royal Palace.  I have to admit I have always been ignorant about Sweden.  I should have realized that the three crowns work on the jersey of the Swedish hockey team was not just their team logo, but has indeed been the coat of arms of the country since King Gustaf III in the 16th century.  The museum showed a lot of the ruins of parts of the palace, including fortifications (the walls were 7m high on the inside, 11m high on the outside), tools and utensils, weapons, and IMG_0235 even clothes.

From the Tre Kronar Museum there is a door into the Royal Apartments, another of the museums.  Unlike the TKM the apartments are actually part of the castle of today, and the royal family graciously allows the public access when they are not in use.  Unfortunately many parts of the museum were off-limits (they say due to renovations… I suspect the king went off for a bit of a kip in the middle of the day) but that did not diminish what I was able to IMG_0257 see.

This was my first visit to a royal castle, and it was spectacular.  The artwork is outstanding – and much of it is shall we say not too Victorian.  Looking around is one thing, but the most magnificent achievements have to be the ceilings which in every room was more incredible to behold than the last.IMG_0255

Every year a dinner is held for the new Nobel Laureates in a grand dining room here, and I got to walk through it.  I am not impressed by 'who was here'… I have seen, met, and spoken with too many for that.  However the room, the artwork, the grandeur, and the detail were fabulous.  I recommend winning the prize just for that ;)  (Hey, Al Gore proved that it doesn't take much!)

Following the Royal Apartments I headed for the Nobel Museum.  I was hoping to gain some insight into Alfred Nobel and the origins of the prize more than into the IMG_0248 most recent winners… and I did, though I was surprised by something.  The 2007 Nobel Prize for physics was shared by Albert Fert (Université Paris-Sud) and Peter Grunberg (Forschungszentrum Jülich) for their discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance. 

If Giant Magnetoresistance doesn't mean anything to you then let me give you the very simple rundown:  Like many people I work on a laptop which has a very large and fast (capacity) tiny (size) hard drive, at least compared to what was available only a couple of years ago.  Thinking back to my first hard drive, which was 10 Megabytes, 8" by 6" by 3", this is much smaller with a much higher capacity.  To dwarf that my friend Lawrence Young once told me about a hard drive that was either one or two megabytes, and required a forklift to move.  Giant Magnetoresistance is the technology that allows us to have tiny hard drives with huge capacities… in other words something that really does affect each and every one of us on a daily basis.

It was a very interesting day, and today should prove equally so.  I'm off to Stockholm… don't wait up!

IT Pro Toronto – Event #1

Tuesday evening was the inaugural meeting of the IT Professionals Community of Greater Toronto (www.itprotoronto.ca).  The event was hosted at Nexient in Mississauga.

The evening's presentation was entitled 'Virtualization Fever… Catch It!'  Although the main focus of the evening was on the advantages offered in Microsoft Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V, I decided to present the past, present, and future of virtualization.  I was able to demonstrate the advantages of virtualization using Hyper-V over both Virtual Server 2005 R2 and Virtual PC.  There was even some mention of competing technologies such as VMWare, a respectable product to be sure.

Of course so much focus of late has been on Windows Server 2008, what with the recent Heroes Happen {Here} launch event so most of our audience knew at least something about Hyper-V, but this was an opportunity for someone who is not a Microsoft representative to show the advantages while still discussing the downsides and the competition. 

Because there were so many questions about consolidation planning I decided to delve into another Microsoft product called System Center Virtual Machine Manager, a product which I really consider to be the bees knees for planning, consolidating, and managing your virtual environment.  Unfortunately it is not yet compatible with Hyper-V, chiefly because one released in November and one went into beta in February.  We are waiting with bated breath for either a patch to the current or the next release of SCVMM which should be Hyper-V compatible… stay tuned!

Speaking of Hyper-V (as we were on Tuesday!) the Release Candidate 0 for same was released on Tuesday.  If you are running Windows Server 2008 you can download it at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=DDD94DDA-9D31-4E6D-88A0-1939DE3E9898&displaylang=en.  Hopefully a few of the issues with the old will have been repaired in the new :)

One of the attendees (cloaked in secrecy) wrote a couple of great blog posts about the meeting… One had me laughing out loud (even though it depicted me as the great and powerful wizard pulling the strings :))  Check out his two posts at:

http://ye110beard.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!952F95CB5DE3F349!653.entry

http://ye110beard.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!952F95CB5DE3F349!652.entry

True to YellowBeard's word ITProToronto does indeed meet at Nexient Learning (30 Eglinton Ave. W, 2nd floor, Mississauga) the third Tuesday of every month.  We are trying to not be cloaked in secrecy though, so you can leave your invisibility cloak at home :)  We hope to see you there on April 15th, 2008, when the topic will be Unified Communications!

Mobile Device Advice – once bitten…

So I have raved to anyone who will listen about my HTC Tilt PDA… I bought it in November, and although it was pricey I have not regretted it for a minute.  If there is a function that a phone or device an do, it does it.  It has a great CPU that really shows how smooth the Mobile 6 operating system runs.  With built in features such as GPS, Push E-Mail, a very comfortable slide keyboard and both 3G and wifi networks I have never found myself wanting.

Unfortunately there are some things that not even this device can do, and when I accidentally smashed (and cracked) the screen a couple of weeks ago it became useless… and as sick as the cost of replacing (the screen) made me, it was still significantly cheaper than replacing the entire device.  For the most part the people at HTC have been very helpful and understanding, although I still maintain that the repair should have been covered under warranty.

The lesson from all this:  I have two bits of advice:

  1. Invest a couple of dollars in a screen protector, and more importantly a protective case (hopefully a hard shell case if available for your device; and
  2. Don't smash the phone and crack your screen in half inadvertently.

Expensive lessons learned… sigh.

There was supposed to be one bright side to this, as HTC promised to install their original Mobile 6 OS, rather than the AT&T modified version.  They did not.  As well, I cannot figure out why they insisted I ship the phone in the original packaging, but sent it back to me in a plain brown box.  I guess Theresa must have told them I like to keep these things and to try to help her out.

Another addition to the family!

Jacob, our Boston Terrier/Beagle cross (often called a Boggle) has been with us for nearly five months now.  As any of you who have spoken with me will know he is the absolute love of my life, and will always hold a very special place in my heart, along with Theresa's.  He has grown from a five pound ball of (short) fur into the very respectably sized thirty pounds he is today.  From the very first day we brought him home he has been daddy's little boy, and always will be.  He has also been decidedly jealous of anyone or anything that may seem to get any attention that could otherwise go to him.  (This was extremely cute and harmless at 6lbs… at 30 it is a challenge :))

Yesterday evening Theresa and I, quite on the spur of 001pupthe moment and without  discussing it with Aaron, saw a puppy on-line that we fell in love with.  After Theresa's dentist appointment she and I were sitting with our respective laptops across one another at our favourite café when I saw her face change… she e-mailed me a link from Kijiji and asked what I thought.  I saw in her eyes that I would make her a very happy woman if I would take her to at least meet the five-pound Basset Hound/Pug cross.

I called the number in Hamilton and after a few minutes talking realized an amazing coincidence… I was speaking to the same woman who we adopted Jacob from!  I did not know if it was a sign from above that we should have another puppy, but I did know it meant that the dog would likely be healthy and well-treated as Jacob had been.  I made an appointment to drive down there that evening.

Because of Jacob's jealousy I suggested that if we were going to consider bringing IMG_0027another puppy home that we should bring Jacob with us to meet her.  Bailey (our nine year old Wheaton Terrier) is extremely friendly and much calmer, and unless you are a squirrel would do no worse than lick you to death.  Jacob on the other hand could be an issue, so we picked him up before setting out for the drive to Hamilton.  As Theresa spoke to Aaron about his room I quietly asked our babysitter Margi to help us out… after Aaron was in bed if she could set up Jacob's old kennel which he outgrew next to the other two, just in case.  Then the three of us were off, Jacob comfortably in Theresa's lap in the passenger seat.

Amazingly Jacob seemed to sense where we were shortly after we got off the QEW in Hamilton… from about two kilometres out he was anxious, and seemed to know where we were.  Don't forget heIMG_0039 spent the first few weeks of his life here!

When Leanne and Barry opened the door they were thrilled… they have been reselling puppies from home since August, and Jacob was the first one who ever came back for a visit.  They had decided to keep a Boggle from the next litter, and Buster and Jacob got along from the first.  But when the star of the show made her appearance it was magical.

Theresa absolutely melted.  I did not have a word to say about it because that was what happened to me when I met Jacob, and it was in the exact same place.  When Theresa picked her up I knew that the story was over, we IMG_0054were bringing her home with us.  Jacob – a rambunctious boy to be be sure – also has a delicate side, and whenever the puppy was not in Theresa's arms he was very good with her.  It was hilarious to see her at one point take Jacob's leash in her teeth and try to take him for a walk!  He didn't mind… they were fast friends.

Unlike with Jacob Theresa had already chosen a name for her.  She took a minute to go through a few names including Molly and more, but then realized that they had nearly the same colour hair… and picked for the puppy the name that I had given her as a nickname: Gingit.  She couldn't have known that I learned the word when it was another puppy's name many years ago. 

I was a little jealous of Theresa… I remembered getting into the passenger seat with Mitch & Gingit 1a five pound Jacob – he didn't have a name yet – in my arms, and now it was her turn.  Once they were settled in I opened the back door and Jacob jumped right in.  He figures the back door is just another way to get into the front seat, and with mommy's  lap occupied by his new sister, there was only one place to go.

Have you ever tried to drive with a thirty pound dog in your lap?  I am glad I was not stopped by the O.P.P. because he does not have his license.  I have been critical of people who drive like that before, and decided that if he did not just lie down and sleep I would put him in the backseat again.  He didn't move a muscle for the entire drive, and when we got home he was just as excited as he could be to introduce Bailey to their new baby sister!

Of course there are jealousy issues… when Theresa brought them into bed in the middle of the night Jacob was a little confused by how anyone could cuddle up into HIS daddy's arms and fall asleep; it took a few minutes for him to settle down, but IMG_0005 he eventually lay down along my leg (his favourite place to sleep) and let Gingit sleep on my hand between Theresa and I.  By this time though Gingit was sopping wet from Jacob's attention, not a rare phenomenon.  But this morning when it was time to eat Gingit poo-pooed her puppy food in lieu of sharing big brother Jacob's kibbles; Jacob made room for her at the trough like a big brother should.

Jacob will always hold a special place in my heart… but there is always plenty of room for a new puppy… especially one who curls up at my feet as I write about her and her brothers… and one who makes my Theresa so happy!

Adult Crimes

I have a confession to make: I was a bad kid.  I was rebellious, I was anti-authority, I did or tried to do what I thought was cool without much concern for what was right.  Up until my eighteenth birthday and probably a bit beyond that I was more than a handful, nearly getting expelled from school on a number of occasions and spending more time in one form or other of punishment than anyone should.  I was mouthy, arrogant and obnoxious, a know-it-all, and to make matters worse I may not have been too book-smart but I figured out early on how to manipulate those I needed to when it was to my benefit.

For all the trouble I got into I only had one opportunity to find myself in trouble with actual authorities – not the principal of my school but with the police, and frankly it was a stupid issue in which I was charged for carrying a Swiss Army knife in a downtown arcade.  The knife in question was never used nor intended to threaten anyone, but that summer there was a rash of knife attacks in Montreal and the police were cracking down, and I found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I went before the judge, served ten hours of community service at a soup kitchen, and the judge gave me back my Swiss Army knife.

Of course you would never know any of this because I was fourteen or fifteen at the time, and those records would have been sealed when I became am adult, by which time I was well on my way to being a model citizen.  For all my tough talk and bad attitude to my recollection nobody ever got hurt beyond the occasional black eye or bruised rib… and more often than not I came out as bad if not worse than the other guy.  I thank providence and to some extent my parents that I never hurt anyone else (I hurt myself plenty) bad enough that they would remember it.

This week in the Greater Toronto Area there were a number of attacks perpetrated by youths that are despicable.  To name one, a fourteen year old (who was apparently out on parole for another offence) carjacked an elderly woman at gunpoint.  He stole her car and ran over her arm as he drove away.  Recently three youths were beaten within an inch of their lives by a mob of forty at a local high school.

I believe that the Young Offenders Act is a good idea… it gives kids a second chance after doing something stupid.  Unfortunately it also says that kids who commit truly despicable crimes – murder, sexual assault, brutal assaults – cannot be punished with anything more than a slap on the wrist.

There has to be an alternative.  Punishments are not only a way of trying to reduce crime by warning potential offenders, it is also a way of protecting society from danger.  Crime must be punished if we as a society are going to have any hope of protecting the innocent.

Of course as a civilized society we have altered over time the way in which we can punish offenders.  Gone are such punishments as the rack and chaining prisoners to the wall in a dungeon.  We have made corporal punishment – physical assault or torture of any kind – a crime, and Canada eliminated the Death Penalty in the 1970s, after not having executed a criminal since December, 1962.  Prisoners have cable television and the Internet, and though I do not claim that prisoners have a good life, they probably are not meant to, and the life they do have is better than some free men.

It would be folly to argue that the majority of youth offenders do not know right from wrong; you can argue that with violence in the media and in video games kids are desensitized to it.  I grew up watching violent movies where people carried guns – both for good and for bad – and people who were shot with them were either hurt or killed (with the possible exception of the A-Team, which to this day holds the record for the TV show with the highest number of people with bad aim firing assault rifles every week that never hit anyone, but by the mere threat of more bad shooting caused the greatest number of bad guys to surrender).  When I walked into the arcade in the summer of nineteen eighty-something with my utility knife I knew full well that were I to take it out and stab someone with it they would bleed and it would be wrong.  I suspect that had my parents not taught me that I would have gotten it from any number of war, ninja, or James Bond movies that my friends and I watched constantly. 

The youth committing these heinous crimes – rape, assault, murder – in which real people are hurt and killed know what they are doing, and do it anyway.  So would it be so wrong to apply the same standards of punishment to them as we would to an adult offender?  If nineteen-year-old John commits Crime A and is sentenced to five years in prison, why would sixteen-year-old Mark who commits the same Crime A go to a youth home until his eighteenth birthday? 

It doesn't seem fair, does it?  Well crime and punishment isn't always about fair.  We really should protect our youths and give them another chance.  If Crime A is simple vandalism – graffiti, broken windows, keyed-car, or the like, then I think sixteen-year-old Mark does deserve consideration under the law.  Things were damaged, but nobody was hurt.  If Crime A is a carjacking or any crime at knife- or gun-point then the punishment should fit the crime, not the age of the criminal.

I would even be willing to discuss a compromise: Currently the records of young offenders are sealed when they turn eighteen.  What if we were to seal the records for any under-age criminal at the completion of their sentence, whether they be twenty or thirty or forty, and let them try to live a normal life, after having paid their debt to society?  That way a fifteen year old gang member who is sentenced to ten years in prison can get out of prison at the age of twenty-five, with no criminal record.

I'll admit that I do not know what the answer is but I know this: what we are doing now is a joke to kids.  They (not all kids you understand, only the truly bad ones) walk into school, into their local arcades not with Swiss Army knives but with handguns and are not afraid to use them because in the scheme of things there are no consequences for using them.  When I got into a fight in school we went at it until one guy was down, then the two of them were hauled off to the principal's office, we both got punishments but one of us also got bragging rights. 

Today these fights end with deaths, and the authorities are going to remain powerless to stop them until we as a society admit that the Youth Protection Act needs to be changed and yes, we sometimes need to have the option of punishing fourteen-year-olds very severely because until we do old ladies in parking lots are going to be attacked by fourteen-year-olds brandishing weapons who are not only not afraid to hurt but look for an excuse to do so.

There has to be a clear distinction: I was a bit of delinquent; the kids using guns and carjacking and murdering are criminals.  I don't know what delinquents need, but criminals need to be punished.  Thus endeth the lesson.

Heroes Happen {Here}

On Wednesday I got together with five thousand of my closest friends at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto for the launch of, among other products, Windows Server 2008.  It was one of those events that you had to be at to believe!

Most of you know that I wear many hats wherever I go, and this event was no exception…

  • I was there as an attendee of course; I am as interested in the technologies released as anyone, and was excited to see what Microsoft had to show.
  • As an MVP I was invited to participate in the Ask the Experts area, answering the questions of my peers when possible, and guiding them to fellow experts when I could not.
  • For no extra credit but to help out I (along with Jeff Loucks and Calvin McLennan) offered to help the Windows Essential Server booth.  Cal and I spent days designing and building the network which included one Small Business Server 2008 (formerly code named 'Cougar') server, three Essential Business Server (formerly code named 'Centro') machines, two client workstations, a network switch, and a router.  The three of us alternated answering questions for passers-by and demonstrating the technologies.  During the lunch break Jeff presented the Chalk Talk, which was well presented and well received.  You will be hearing more from me in the coming months on Essential Business Server; it is Microsoft's new solution for businesses who are too big for SBS, but still do not need the Enterprise solutions.
  • The IT Professionals Community of Greater Toronto had its coming out in the Community Zone, signing up more than five hundred new members, discussing our upcoming events, and in general telling people about ourselves.  Several people have been working very hard to make the group a reality, and many of them took turns manning the booth; Russell Onizuka, Simone Richard, Domenic Macchione, and Jacqueline Hutchinson did a spectacular job of representing the group.  Cal and I popped in and out, but the booth's success was thanks to them… not only the Mom's Best biscotti that we handed out :)

If you are not local to Toronto then keep your eyes peeled… the Heroes tour should be coming to a city near you soon, though it will be scaled down.  Nevertheless the information they are disseminating is worth hearing.