Load Average Fun

<TECHNICAL>Only those of you who manage UNIX servers will appreciate this: our Boston-based server hit a one-minute load average of 196 this afternoon and lived to tell the tale. This has gotta be some sort of record, doesn’t it?</TECHNICAL>

Lies my numbers told me...

CBC is reporting that “Software pirates abound in P.E.I.” according to a study [warning: insane Flash-based website] by the Business Software Alliance.

I did an interview with Island Morning the last time these folks released their crazy study (which also showed the Island as “software piracy capital of Canada), and everything thing I said that time applies again.

Basically their study is not based on empirical research, it is based entirely on extrapolation.

To calculate the demand numbers, the study says they do the following:

PC shipments by province were estimated from a detailed review of the employment and population of each province, and the application of U.S. market research to estimate the PC penetration rate variation among provinces. From this basis, estimates of PC shipments could be made for each province.

On the supply side, they went through a similar guessing process:

To estimate the supply of legal software by province, IPR relied on detailed industry sales data. This data was compiled only for those software applications that were studied in the BSA global software piracy study. For that study, only business software applications that correspond to the three Software Application Tiers were used.

So, basically, they guessed at the number of computers they think Islanders should be buying, guessed at the amount of software that Islanders should be buying, and thus declared that our ratio was the worst in Canada, and thus we are a province of software pirates.

My main point the last time this issue came up was that if you are going to disparage the reputation of my province, you’d better have more than guessing to back you up. And it applies this time as well.

There is no doubt that some Islanders have and use pirated software. As a software developer myself, I am against the use of pirated software. But these goons do not represent me or my interests and they should stop releasing these grossly over-generalized studies.

For whom the Bell tolls...

I’m attending the Access 2002 conference next week in lovely Windsor, Ontario. The conference is being held in the Cleary International Centre, a hall that has no Internet access of any kind.

The conference organizers contacted Bell Canada to see about getting ADSL access installed. They were told that this would take many weeks, that the cost for 3 days would be billed at their minimum 30 days, and that the total cost, with installation, would be about $10,000.

The solution for a while was to simply use dial-up modem access into the University modem pool; this struck me as being basically insane in 2002, and so I offered to help find other solutions.

I was fortunate to find a very nice woman named Sarah at COGECO, the cable provider in Windsor, and their company agreed to provide Internet access to the conference for free.

Obviously the “hey, we’re a monopoly and we can charge whatever the hell we want” ethic has not left Bell’s Windsor offices.

Homeless Killers?

The CBC is reporting that “Charlottetown City Council has voted to keep homeless shelters 100 metres away from elementary schools.” Isn’t this simply silly?

If there is any proof that people without homes are more likely to be a harm to children — and I seriously wonder if there is any at all — then surely 100 metres means absolutely nothing in terms of protection.

Otherwise it seems to me that we’re trying to “protect” our children from something that we should be helping them confront — and that they, in turn, should be helping us confront.

If we truly think that homeless people are a menace to society, we should lock them up in armed camps on remote islands; otherwise, they deserve the right to live where they please, just like everyone else.

No IKEA for you

I sent a request to IKEA asking them to open a store in Atlantic Canada. This is their response:

At this time, there are no plans to open IKEA stores in any new Canadian markets. As you may know, IKEA is a private company so our rate of growth and expansion is perhaps less aggressive than what may be traditional in the retail industry. As a self-financing company, our current plans are to remodel and expand our existing Canadian stores and to open other locations within the same market. Many of our Canadian stores are at capacity so we will be working to improve our service in these areas to accommodate current and potential growth There is a well thought out list of criteria that needs to be met around the world for any new store to be considered (including market shares, population density, furniture spending, and household demographics etc.). IKEA International currently looks for new markets that have well over 1 million in population. The most recent store opening in North America was in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and Russia’s first store opened last summer in Moscow.
So you can now get oddly-named cheap furniture in Moscow, but not anywhere in Canada east of Montreal.