Planet Tyler

February 22, 2014

Scott Tyler

Congratulations Morgan and Fred!

Today, February 22, 2014, my sister, Morgan Tyler, and her fiancee, Fred Chu, are getting married!  So on behalf of my wife, Monica, and my son (their nephew) Moses, I want to wish them a wonderful wedding, a long and happy marriage, and many little Chu-Tylers.

Congratulations, you two!

by Scott Tyler ( at February 22, 2014 10:15 AM

February 10, 2014

Scott Tyler

2014: Year of African American Literature

This year, 2014, I plan to read 12 classics of African American Literature:

1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (READ)

2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (READ)

3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (READ)

4. Native Son by Richard Wright

5. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

6. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

7. Roots by Alex Haley

8. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

9. Beloved by Toni Morrison

10. Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

11. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

12. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Scott Tyler ( at February 10, 2014 08:17 AM

December 31, 2013

Scott Tyler

Origins of Cultures

I've been teaching Koreans for awhile now, and have observed a lot about their culture.   They live on a peninsula, surrounded by the ocean on three sides, so as you'd expect, their culture is in many ways a maritime culture.  You can see this in their diet, which is heavily reliant on seafood.  Yet anthropologists believe Koreans originally came from north-central Asia (somewhere north of Mongolia).  There are certain linguistic similarities to Mongolian and other Central Asian languages.  Although they left Central Asia thousands of years ago, there are still traces of their origins in modern Korean culture.  For example, in their diet.  Koreans love to barbeque meat, which is a trait of Central Asian people, and of plains people generally.  Also, in smaller villages, the sport of wrestling is popular, as it is among Mongolian and Turkic people of Central Asia.   Koreans' preference for sitting and lying on mats on the floor may also be a holdover from their nomadic past, when they lived in tents.   Drums are important in traditional Korean music, and they are worn on the chest (like in a marching band).   This also points toward their Central Asian background (many plains cultures use drums).

Some social groups adapt quickly when they migrate into a new environment.   The Cajuns of southern Louisiana, for instance, have developed a culture suited to their bayou environment in a relatively short period of time.   The Cajun/Acadian culture is very different from the culture of France, where their ancestors came from, or even Nova Scotia, where they first settled in North America.

Other groups are slower to adapt, and even after many centuries the original environment in which their culture was born is still evident.   Look at the British, for example.  Living on an island, one would expect to find a maritime culture.   While Scottish and English are famous sailors, seafood has never been a mainstay of the British diet.  Sure, fish and chips may be a famous dish in England-- but the English have to batter and deep fry fish before they consider it palatable.   Japanese and other maritime peoples eat fish raw, or cooked with little seasoning.  Beef, not fish, is the preferred source of protein in Britain, and has been since deer became scarce.  This is because the Celtic, Saxon, Norman and other peoples who migrated to Britain were not maritime people.  They were woodland people, with a woodland diet, from the mainland.

There are 6 geographic cultural groups, by my estimate.

1. Plains Cultures.  People who live on steppe or prairie.   These cultures are nomadic or semi-nomadic originally.  They are hunters, not agriculturalists, so meat is a big part of their diet.  Much of their culture references the most important animal to plains nomads: the horse.

2. Northern Woodland Culture.   The culture of much of Europe.   Agriculture and animal-rearing are important.

3. Tropical. The cultures of Southeast Asia, India, and Central Africa.

4. Arid/Semi-arid.  The cultures of Arabia, North Africa and the American Southwest (Hopi, Navajo, etc.)

5. Maritime.  There are two types of maritime culture: sailors and fisherman.

6. Arctic.  Inuit and other peoples of the Arctic.

by Scott Tyler ( at December 31, 2013 07:47 AM

November 24, 2013

Chris Tyler

New Pidora Package: quick2wire-python-api

I've packaged the quick2wire python3 library for the Raspberry Pi. This provides easy access to the i2c peripheral bus from Python3; I've packaged this up because I need it, and also to test and demo the package review process for Pidora.

Here's a little demo of the quick2wire library in action which I wrote some time back and have been using as a test for the package -- this reads a TCN75A (data sheet) thermal sensor chip:

# test_tcn75a :: Test of reading a TCN75A digital
#                temperature sensor using I2C
# Assumes:
# - TCN75A is powered at 3v3
# - I2C lines connected to Raspi GPIO
# - Pins 5/6/7 are grounded (address = 72)
# Uses:
# - quick2wire Python library
# CTyler 2012-10-03 - GPLv2+

# Using the quick2wire module for I2C access
import quick2wire.i2c as i2c

# Using the time module for sleeping
import time

# Address (unit number) of the TCN75A temperature
# sensor on the I2C bus
address = 72

# Register number within the TCN75A that contains
# the current temperature
temp_register = 0

# Register number within the TCN75A that contains
# the configuration register
conf_register = 1

with i2c.I2CMaster() as bus:

    # Configure the resolution (optional step)
    # The configuration register is used to set the temperature
    # resolution. The higher the resolution, the more
    # accurate the temperature reading, but the lower the
    # sampling rate. Possible values are 0, 32, 64, and 96.
    # Value 96 = 0.01625C steps (highest resolution)
    # Value  0 = 0.5C steps (lowest resolution) (default)
        i2c.writing_bytes(address, conf_register, 96))

    # Loop 100 times
    for i in range(1,100):

        # Select the address (unit on the bus) and desired
        # register, and read 2 bytes
        read_temp = bus.transaction(
            i2c.writing_bytes(address, temp_register),

        # The first byte contains the temperature in degrees
        # Celsius (actually, this is a signed number, so
        # values over 127 are negative, but I'm ignoring
        # that here). The second byte contains 256ths of a
        # degress, but the default resolution of the sensor
        # is 0.5 degrees, so it will always be 0 (.0) or 128 (0.5)
        # unless the resolution is changed.
        # This line converts the two bytes into a single
        # temperature and prints it.
        print("Temperature: %3.3f°C" % (read_temp[0][0]+read_temp[0][1]/256) )

        # Delay half a second before getting next reading

The package is up for review in Pidora (not Fedora, but only because it's not useful on other platforms -- at least at this time). The package review, including links to the specfile and SRPM, is ticket #495.

by Chris Tyler ( at November 24, 2013 02:51 AM

November 15, 2013

Scott Tyler

Lost Pears

Lost Pears

In the valley above the valley
at the end of it all
stands the wild pear tree
where the wild pears fall
unpicked, uneaten, by man or beast
to roll and rot among the rotted leaves.

The waste of it all!
(Though I know the pears are bitter)
I brood on their loss
as fall turns to winter:
the pears soon buried in forgetful snow
that melts in the spring
when the new pears grow.

by Scott Tyler ( at November 15, 2013 12:43 AM

November 05, 2013

Scott Tyler

A Sad Anniversary

This is the one-year anniversary of my student, Janny's,  suicide.  I realized this, when students were preparing for the annual school festival, called 'NAVI'.  It was at the festival, last year, that I saw and talked to Janny for the last time. 

Janny was in grade 10.  She was a wonderful person- smart, kind, with lots of friends.  What I remember most about her was her big, bright eyes.  So I'd like to quote part of a song by Art Garfunkel, here, in her memory:

'Bright eyes, burning like fire.

Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?

How can the light that shined so brightly

Suddenly burn so pale?

Bright eyes.'

-Art Garfunkel/Mike Batt

by Scott Tyler ( at November 05, 2013 05:22 AM

October 31, 2013

Scott Tyler

Reading Schedule until 2020

This year I've been reading 20th Century literature.  My guide has been the Modern Library list of the top 100 novels of the 20th Century.  By the end of this year,  I will have read half.  I'm a slow reader, though, so it would take me about 2 more years to complete the list.

By 2020, I would like to study, tentatively in this order:

2014  African American Literature 12 novels and Canadian Literature 12 novels

2015  20th Century Literature II  25 novels

2016  20th Century Literature III 25 novels

2017  Longer Poems and Books of Poetry (from Ovid to Ezra Pound.  I'm especially looking forward to

             reading Piers Plowman in Middle English)

2018  Russian Literature  (in translation) 12 novels

            French Literature (in translation) 12 novels

2019  17th and 18th Century Literature (1650-1799)  24 novels

2020  19th Century Literature (what I haven't already read)  24 novels


After that, I'll be done with classics.  For now.

by Scott Tyler ( at October 31, 2013 05:18 AM

August 29, 2013

Scott Tyler

all my wounds are self inflicted

All my wounds are self inflicted,

I've been dodging friendly fire,

I'm tired of life,

or am I just tired?

by Scott Tyler ( at August 29, 2013 08:50 AM

August 22, 2013

Scott Tyler

Airports I Have Known

I love to fly, but I've never been fond of airports: I'm either worried about catching a flight, or

 just waiting, bored.  But there are some really great airports, and some not-so-great.  I think my

 favourite, in terms of interior design, is Vancouver's.  Really classy.  The smallest 'international'

 airport I've been to is probably San Jose, Costa Rica, but the least busy is Taiyuan, China, which

only had 3 flights/day when I was there. 

Most visited airport within each region/country is highlighted.


                        CITY               DEPARTURES       ARRIVALS       STOPOVERS


                      Calgary                       2                             1                          0

                      Toronto                     13                          15                         0                  (my 'home airport')

                      Vancouver                  1                             1                          5

                      Winnipeg                    0                             0                          1

United States:

                      Atlanta                        0                             0                          2

                      Buffalo                          2                             1                          0

                      Chicago                        0                             0                          1               

                      Honolulu                     0                              1                          0

                      Los Angeles                 0                              0                          1

                      Miami                          0                              0                           1

                      Newark, N.J.             0                              1                           0

                      Orlando, FL                0                              1                           0

                      San Fransisco         2                              1                           2

                      Tampa Bay                 0                              1                          0

Central America:

                      San Jose, C.R.         1                               1                           0


                      Amsterdam                0                              0                           2

                      Athens                        2                              2                           0

                      Frankfurt                    1                              0                           0

                      Helsinki                       0                              1                           0          

                      London (Gatwick)     0                              1                           0

                      Prague                          0                             0                            1


                      Beijing                          6                              3                          12

                      Dalian                        7                             10                           1

                      Guangzhou                 0                              1                            0

                      Sanya                           1                              1                            0

                      Shanghai                     2                              2                            0

                      Shenyang                    0                             0                             1

                      Taiyuan                       1                              0                           0

                      Qingdao                        1                              0                           0

                      Xiamen                         0                             0                           1

Other Asia:

                      Hong Kong                   0                             0                            1

                      Incheon, S. Korea  5                             6                            0          

                      Kuala Lumpur           1                              1                            0 

                      Osaka                           0                              0                            1

                      Singapore                    1                              1                             0

                      Tokyo (Narita)          0                              0                            1


                      Cairo                            1                               1                            0

by Scott Tyler ( at August 22, 2013 01:53 AM

May 20, 2013

Scott Tyler

2013 Reading Plan

This year, 2013, is the 'Year of Modern Literature', for me.  I plan to read selected works by major authors of the 20th Century. 

I've totally changed my plan, though, so I will just list works, as I've read them:

January and February:  James Joyce:  Ulysses  (continuing)

                    Saul Bellow:                   Henderson the Rain King,

                                                              The Adventures of Augie March

                    Phillip Roth:                  Portnoy's Complaint

                    D.H. Lawrence:            Lady Chatterley's Lover

                    Ford Madox Ford:        The Good Soldier

March:     Joseph Conrad:             Nostromo

                   William Faulkner:      As I Lay Dying

April:       Salman Rushdie:          Midnight's Children

May:        Thomas Pynchon:        The Crying of Lot 49

                  Graham Greene:          The Heart of the Matter

June:       E.M. Forster:                  A Room With a View

                                                            Howard's End

July:       Max Beerbohm:             Zulieka Dobson

                 Sherwood Anderson:    Winesburg, Ohio

August:  Theodore Dreiser:         Sister Carrie

Sept.:      Cormac McCarthy:      Blood Meridian

                 Edith Wharton:             The Age of Innocence

Oct.:        Thornton Wilder:         Our Town

                 Sinclair Lewis:               Main Street

Nov.:      Evelyn Waugh:             Brideshead Revisited

                 E. M. Forster:                 A Passage to India

                V. S. Naipaul:                 A Bend in the River

Dec.:      Ernest Hemingway       To Have and Have Not

by Scott Tyler ( at May 20, 2013 05:54 AM

Books I Have Read

This entry is just for myself, to keep track of what I've read, and have still to read. These are not ALL the books I've read, obviously, just the books I would consider "classics" by my own snobbish definition. I'm not trying to boast here (well, maybe just a little) :-) It's still very thin in some fields- especially international literature.

A college instructor once told me that my generation was "not very well read". I took that as a personal challenge, and began to read some serious classics, starting with the Illiad and Paradise Lost. (If you really want to look pretentious, try carting around the Illiad for a couple of months). A few years later, I started to compile this list:

Books I Have Read

(All foreign language works in translation, except Middle English.

Unabridged, except where noted.)

# Read more than once.

I. Ancient and Classical Literature

Ancient LiteratureanonymousGilgamesh the King
Ancient Greek Literature and DramaAeschylusAgamemnon#
The Libation Bearers
The Eumenides
Prometheus Bound
Seven Against Thebes
Trojan Women
Herodotus of HalicarnasusThe Histories
Works and Days
HomerThe Illiad
The Odyssey
Lucian of SamosataThe True History
Oedipus Rex#
Oedipus at Colonus
ThucydidesHistory of the Peloponnesian War
XenophonThe Anabasis
Latin Literature and DramaAurelius, MarcusThe Meditations
CiceroOn the Gods
Ovid The Metamorphoses
PlautusThe Menaechmi
TerenceThe Girl From Andros
VirgilThe Aeneid

II. Medieval Literature
Old EnglishanonymousBeowulf
Middle EnglishanonymousSir Gawain and the Green Knight#
anonymousSir Orfeo
Early Modern EnglishChaucer, GeoffreyThe Canterbury Tales
Malory, ThomasLe Morte d'Arthur
anonymousThe Second Shepherd's Play
WelshanonymousThe Mabinogion
Frenchde Troyes, ChretienLancelot, or the Knight of the Cart
Ywain, or the Knight with the Lion
de France, MarieThe Lais
anonymousThe Song of Roland
Old NorseanonymousThe Greenland Saga
anonymousThe Saga of Eric the Red
III. Renaissance Literature
English Elizabethan and JacobeanBacon, Sir FrancisThe New Atlantis
Jonson, BenThe Alchemist
Kyd, ThomasThe Spanish Tragedy
Marlowe, ChristopherDr. Faustus
The Jew of Malta
Middleton, ThomasThe Revenger's Tragedy
Shakespeare, WilliamCOMPLETE PLAYS
Shakespeare and FletcherThe Two Noble Kinsmen
Webster, JohnThe Duchess of Malfi
The White Devil
Italian RenaissanceBoccaccio, GiovanniThe Decameron
Dante, AligherriThe Divine Comedy
MachiavelliThe Prince
French RenaissanceCorneille, PierreEl Cid
MoliereThe Misanthrope
Racine, Jean BaptistePhaedre
Spanish Renaissancede la Barca, Pedro CalderonLife is a Dream
anonymousLazarillo of Tormes
Renaissance Literature in LatinErasmusIn Praise of Folly
More, Sir ThomasUtopia
IV. British and Irish Literature

A. 17th and 18th C. British and Irish LiteratureBoswell, JamesThe Life of Samuel Johnson
Bunyan, JohnPilgrim's Progress
Defoe, DanielMoll Flanders
Robinson Crusoe#
Fielding, HenryTom Jones
Goldsmith, OliverThe Vicar of Wakefield
Johnson, SamuelThe History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia
Milton, JohnParadise Lost#
Sheridan, RichardThe Rivals
The School for Scandal
Swift, JonathanGulliver's Travels
A Modest Proposal
Walpole, HoraceThe Castle of Otranto
B. 19th Century British and Irish LiteratureAusten, JaneCOMPLETE NOVELS
Mansfield Park
Northanger Abby
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Bronte, AnneAgnes Grey
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Bronte, CharlotteJane Eyre#
The Professor
Bronte, EmilyWuthering Heights
Collins, WilkieThe Moonstone
The Woman in White
de Quincy, ThomasConfessions of an English Opium Eater
Barnaby Rudge
Bleak House
Christmas Books
David Copperfield
Great Expectations
Hard Times
Little Dorrit
Martin Chuzzlewit
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Nicholas Nickleby
The Old Curiosity Shop
Oliver Twist
Our Mutual Friend
The Pickwick Papers
A Tale of Two Cities#
A House to Let (with other authors)
Doyle, Sir Arthur ConanSherlock Holmes (complete stories)#
The Lost World
Eliot, GeorgeMiddlemarch
Silas Marner#
Haggard, H. RiderKing Solomon's Mines
Hardy, ThomasThe Return of the Native
Tess of the D'Urbervilles#
Hope, AnthonyThe Prisoner of Zenda
Kipling, RudyardThe Jungle Book
Maughan, W.S.The Moon and Sixpence
Scott, Sir WalterIvanhoe
Rob Roy
Shelley, MaryFrankenstein#
Stevenson, R.L.Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde#
Treasure Island
Stroker, BramDracula
Thackeray, William MakepeaceVanity Fair
Trollope, AnthonyThe Warden
Wilde, OscarAn Ideal Husband
The Importance of Being Ernest
Lady Windermere's Fan
The Picture of Dorian Gray
C. 20th Century British and Irish LiteratureBeckett, SamuelWaiting for Godot
Beerbohm, MaxZulieka Dobson
Buchan, JohnGreenmantle
John McNab
The Thirty-Nine Steps
The Three Hostages
Prester John
Chesterton, G.K.Father Brown stories
The Man Who Was Thursday
Conrad, JosephHeart of Darkness#
Lord Jim
The Secret Agent
The Secret Sharer
Ford Madox FordThe Good Soldier
Forster, E. M.Howard's End
A Passage to India
A Room With a View
Golding, WilliamThe Lord of the Flies
Graham GreeneThe Heart of the Matter
The Third Man
Hilton, JamesLost Horizon
Huxley, AldousBrave New World
Joyce, JamesDubliners
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Orczy, Baroness EmmuskaThe Scarlet Pimpernel
Orwell, GeorgeAnimal Farm
Pinter, HaroldThe Dumbwaiter
Shaw, George BernardArms and the Man
Major Barbara
Mrs. Warren's Profession
Synge, J.M.The Playboy of the Western World
Tolkien, J.R.R.The Hobbit#
The Lord of the Rings#
Waugh, EvelynBrideshead Revisited
Wells, H. G.The Invisible Man
The Island of Dr. Moreau
The Time Machine
The War of the Worlds
Woolf, VirginiaTo the Lighthouse

V. American Literature and Drama

A. 18th Century American LiteratureFranklin, BenjaminThe Autobiography
B. 19th Century American LiteratureAlcott, Louisa MayLittle Women
Chopin, KateThe Awakening
Cooper, James FennimoreThe Deerslayer
Crane, StephenThe Red Badge of Courage
Hawthorne, NathanielThe Scarlet Letter#
Longfellow, Henry WadsworthEvangeline
Melville, HermanMoby Dick
Poe, Edgar AllenComplete Stories
Stowe, Harriet B.Uncle Tom's Cabin
Twain, MarkThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn#
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer#
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
The Prince and the Pauper
Puddin'head Wilson
C. 20th Century American Literature and Drama
Anderson, SherwoodWinesburg, Ohio
Bellow, SaulThe Adventures of Augie March
Henderson the Rain King
Bradbury, RayFahrenheit 451
The Martian Chronicles
Burroughs, Edgar RiceTarzan of the Apes
Capote, TrumanBreakfast at Tiffany's
Cather, WillaMy Antonia
Chandler, RaymondThe Big Sleep
Dickey, JamesDeliverance
Faulkner, WilliamAs I Lay Dying
Light in August
Fitzgerald, F. ScottThe Great Gatsby
Tender is the Night
This Side of Paradise
Hammett, DashielThe Maltese Falcon
Heller, JosephCatch 22
Hemingway, ErnestA Farewell to Arms
The Old Man and the Sea
The Sun Also Rises
To Have and Have Not
Henry, O.Short Stories
Irving, JohnThe Cider House Rules
A Prayer for Owen Meaney
The World According to Garp
James, HenryA Turn of the Screw, other stories
Kerouac, JackBig Sur
The Dharma Bums
On the Road
Kesey, KenOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Lee, HarperTo Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, SinclairMain Street
London, JackThe Call of the Wild, other stories
McCarthy, CormacBlood Meridian
McCullers, CarsonThe Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Miller, ArthurAll My Sons
The Crucible
Death of a Salesman#
Miller, HenryTropic of Cancer
Pynchon, ThomasThe Crying of Lot 49
Roth, PhilipPortnoy's Complaint
Salinger, J.D.Catcher in the Rye#
Steinbeck, JohnEast of Eden
The Grapes of Wrath
Of Mice and Men
Updike, JohnRabbit, Run
Vonnegut, KurtSlaughterhouse Five
Wharton, EdithThe Age of Innocence
Ethan Frome
The House of Mirth
Wilder, ThorntonOur Town
Williams, TennesseeThe Glass Menagerie
A Streetcar Named Desire
Wolfe, TomThe Bonfire of the Vanities

VI. Canadian Literature

Atwood, MargaretThe Edible Woman
The Handmaid's Tale
Davies, RobertsonThe Deptford Trilogy
Laurence, MargaretThe Diviners
The Stone Angel
Lowry, MalcolmUnder the Volcano

VII. African-American Literature

A. Slave NarrativesDouglas, FredrickThe Education of Fredrick Douglas
Jacobs, HarrietIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Truth, SojournerThe Narrative of Sojourner Truth
B. 19th Century African American LiteratureDuBois, W.E.B.The Souls of Black Folk
Johnson, James W.Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
Washington, Booker T.Up From Slavery (abridged)
C. 20th Century African American LiteratureAngelou, MayaI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Hurston. Zora NealeTheir Eyes Were Watching God
Walker, AliceThe Color Purple

VIII. International Literature

A. French LiteratureBalzac, Honore deThe Girl with the Golden Eyes
Camus, AlbertThe Stranger
Dumas, Alexander (Pere)The Count of Monte Cristo#
The Man in the Iron Mask
The Three Musketeers
Hugo, VictorLes Miserables#
Notre Dame de Paris
Rostand, EdmondCyrano de Bergerac#
Verne, JulesAround the World in 80 Days
Five Weeks in a Balloon
From the Earth to the Moon
Journey to the Center of the Earth
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
B. German LiteratureGoethe, Johann VonFaust, Part 1
The Sorrows of Young Werther
C. Italian LiteratureEco, UmbertoFoucault's Pendulum
D. Russian LiteratureChekhov, AntonThe Cherry Orchard
The Three Sisters
Uncle Vanya
Dostoyevsky, FyodorCrime and Punishment
Pushkin, AlexanderBoris Godunov
Tolstoy, LeoAnna Karenina
War and Peace
E. Spanish Literature
F. Other European Literature
Czech RepublicKundera, MilanThe Unbearable Lightness of Being
Modern GreeceKazantzakis, NikosZorba the Greek
NorwayIbsen, HendrickA Doll's House
The Master Builder
SwedenStrindberg, AugustThe Father
SwitzerlandWyss, JohannThe Swiss Family Robinson#
G. Non-European Literature
ChinaanonymousLiang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai
ConfuciusThe Analects
IndiaRushdie, SalmanMidnight's Children
IranOmar KhayyamThe Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Trans. Edward Fitzgerald)
NigeriaAchebe, ChinuaThings Fall Apart
MexicoDiaz, BernalThe Conquest of New Spain
ColombiaMarquez, Gabriel GarciaOne Hundred Years of Solitude
TrinidadNaipaul, V.S.A Bend in the River

IX. Philosophy, Politics and Military Theory

A. ClassicalAristotlePoetics
Aurelius, MarcusThe Meditations
CiceroOn the Gods
Plato The Death of Socrates
The Dialogues
The Republic
B. Medieval and RenaissanceBacon, Sir FrancisThe New Atlantis
ErasmusIn Praise of Folly
King John, OthersThe Magna Carta
MachiavelliThe Prince
More, Sir ThomasUtopia
Sun TzuThe Art of War
C.Enlightenment and 19th CenturyDescartes, ReneOn the Origins of Human Understanding
Emerson, Ralph WaldoEssays
Hume, DavidPrinciples of Human Understanding
Mill, John StuartOn Liberty, Other
Nietzsche, FriedrichThus Spake Zarathustra
Paine, ThomasCommon Sense
Rousseau, JacquesThe Social Contract
Thoreau, Henry DavidWalden, essays
Wollstonecraft, VirginiaVindication of the Rights of Women
D. 20th CenturyGuevera, Dr. Ernesto (Che)On Guerrilla Warfare
Diamond, LarryGuns, Germs and Steel
Huntington, Samuel P.The Clash of Civilizations
Mao Ze DongOn Guerrilla Warfare

X. Religious Works

by Scott Tyler ( at May 20, 2013 05:52 AM

February 20, 2013

Chris Tyler

Looking for a Debugging Mentor

I'd love to figure out why my Toshiba Z830's screen-brightness controls work fine after suspend but don't work after hibernate with Fedora 17 (I have two-phase suspend/hibernate set up). I'm comfortable doing debugging but don't even know where to start on this one -- I don't know which subsystems to poke at.

Anyone willing to mentor me through this?

by Chris Tyler ( at February 20, 2013 06:12 PM

February 11, 2013

Chris Tyler

Acessing the armv6hl Koji Buildsystem

The Seneca CDOT OSTEP project has been operating a Koji buildsystem for the Fedora ARM Secondary Architecture project, for the armv5tel and armv7hl architectures. These architectures are going to shift to the Fedora Phoenix datacentre Real Soon Now(tm) now that true enterprise-grade ARM server hardware is available.The armv5tel architecture has hit EOL with Fedora 18, but will be supported with updates until a month after the release of Fedora 20; we (the Fedora ARM group) is working towards Primary Architecture status for armv7hl by the Fedora 20 release.

We (Seneca OSTEP) are now also operating a second Koji buildsystem, for the armv6hl architecture. This architecture is really of interest only for the Pidora project for the Raspberry Pi at this point in time. This buildsystem is accessible on the web at

However, to access the armv6hl buildsystem using the Koji command-line tools, using a Fedora client certificate, a bit of a dance is required. This post outlines the steps...

1. Set up your Fedora packager environment, if you haven't already done so.

2. Add this text to the end of your ~/.fedora-server-ca.cert file:


3. Place this text in /etc/koji/armv6-config:


;configuration for koji cli tool

;url of XMLRPC server
server =

;url of web interface
weburl =

;url of package download site
topurl =

;configuration for SSL athentication

;client certificate
cert = ~/.fedora.cert

;certificate of the CA that issued the client certificate
ca = ~/.fedora-upload-ca.cert

;certificate of the CA that issued the HTTP server certificate
serverca = ~/.fedora-server-ca.cert</code>

4. Execute this command: sudo ln -s /usr/bin/arm-koji /usr/local/bin/armv6-koji

5. Ping someone on the OSTEP team via irc:// to add your FAS2 username to the Koji instance.

6. Profit! -- You should now be able to issue commands to the armv6hl koji system by typing: armv6-koji command

In due course, we'll get this configured as a standard secondary-arch Koji instance, and you can skip the steps above -- but in the meantime, if you want to help with the armv6hl effort, those are the steps required.

by Chris Tyler ( at February 11, 2013 07:24 PM

January 18, 2013

Chris Tyler

Why the Pi is Great for Teaching and Hacking

Today at FUDCon I gave a lightning talk on interfacing devices to the Raspberry Pi, to try and explain why this device is so interesting to both educators and hackers.

Here's a recap of the demo for those who weren't there (or if I missed something); I was using a Pi running the Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix 17, and the point of the demo was to show how simple devices can be controlled (or sensed) directly from the command line (using just four commands: cd, ls, cat, and echo, plus sleep and the bash loop):

1. Output

The Raspberry Pi has a number of General-Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) pins available on a connector on the corner of the board. These can be used as inputs or as outputs, and can be on (binary “1”) or off (binary “0”). The pinout diagram is available on the web.

Connecting up an output can be as simple as taking an LED (from any electronics part store, or snipped out of a dead PC) and a small resistor (I used a 220 ohm one - red/red/brown) and connecting them to one of the GPIO pins and a ground pin. In the demo I used GPIO 11 and ground, with a tiny breadboard and some male-female jumper wires for convenience.

The software side is pretty simple: there's a directory, /sys/class/gpio, that provides access to the GPIO pins. By default, this directory contains just three entries:

# cd /sys/class/gpio
# ls -l
total 0
--w------- 1 root root 4096 Dec 31  1969 export
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root    0 Dec 31  1969 gpiochip0 -> ../../devices/virtual/gpio/gpiochip0
--w------- 1 root root 4096 Dec 31  1969 unexport

Placing a GPIO number in the export file gives us control of that GPIO:

# echo 11 > export

And the kernel responds by creating a directory corresponding to that GPIO pin:

# ls -l
total 0
--w------- 1 root root 4096 Jan 14 18:39 export
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root    0 Jan 14 18:40 gpio11 -> ../../devices/virtual/gpio/gpio11
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root    0 Dec 31  1969 gpiochip0 -> ../../devices/virtual/gpio/gpiochip0
--w------- 1 root root 4096 Dec 31  1969 unexport

The gpio11 directory contains a number of pseudo-files for controlling the pin:

# cd gpio11
# ls -l
total 0
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4096 Jan 14 18:41 active_low
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4096 Jan 14 18:41 direction
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4096 Jan 14 18:41 edge
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    0 Jan 14 18:41 power
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root    0 Jan 14 18:39 subsystem -> ../../../../class/gpio
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4096 Jan 14 18:39 uevent
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4096 Jan 14 18:41 value

The files we care about are direction and value. The direction is initially set to input (“in”), which we can see if we cat the direction file:

# cat direction

We can change the pin to an output by writing “out” into that file:

# echo out > direction

The value file will tell us if that pin is off (“0”) or on (“1”):

# cat value

If you set this value to 1, the LED should turn on:

# echo 1 > value

If it doesn't, you probably have it plugged in backwards. Switch the wires (I'll wait).

Once the LED is on, you should be able to turn it off by setting the value to 0:

# echo 0 > value

From an educational perspective, this is really cool: it makes a concept (bit) tangible.

But turning the light on and off gets boring quickly. The next step is to write a command-line loop to make the LED blink:

# while true; do echo 1 > value; sleep 0.2; echo 0 > value; sleep 0.2; done

What if you want to control something a lot bigger than an LED? Just substitute something like a Powerswitch Tail II for your LED - your Pi connects to an LED inside the tail, and whenever that LED is turned on, the water pump/blender/fan/toaster plugged into the tail starts up.

2. Input

Connecting an input is not any more complicated. In the demo, I hooked up an old “Turbo Mode” switch (remember those?!) to GPIO 24. In one position, it connected GPIO 24 to 3.3 volts, and in the other position, it connected it to ground.

Using this switch as an input was even easier than controlling the LED:

# cd /sys/class/gpio
# echo 24 > export
# cat gpio24/value

... Now toggle the switch! ...

# cat gpio24/value

3. Input & Output

Putting both of these together is pretty straightforward. You can control the flashing of the LED using the switch with a line like this:

# while sleep 0.1; do if [ $(<gpio24/value) = "0" ]; then echo 1 > gpio11/value; sleep 0.2; echo 0 > gpio11/value; sleep 0.2; fi; done

For education, these experiments are simple, quick, and don't require a lot of background knowledge: the student needs only a handful of basic bash commands (cd, ls, cat, echo). Unlike an Arduino, the Pi doesn't need a separate system to host development. You also don't need to deal with files, interpreters, shebang lines, permissions, or compilers. But eventually (and usually pretty quickly), students will want to learn those concepts. In order to save their commands across boots, for example, they will soon want to store them in files: voila, scripts!

It's logical and easy to progress from controlling a single LED and reading a single switch to controlling six LEDs - enough for a two-way traffic light - and then you can add things like pedestrian crossing buttons. Or you can use two infrared LEDs and two infrared phototransistors (which act exactly like switches), mounted in a doorway, to count the number of people that have entered and exited from a room, turning on the lights whenever people are present. These types of projects are fun and engaging ways to teach logic, programming, and circuits.

After a while, students want to do something they can't easily do in bash, like drive a GPIO faster, or poll some complex combination of pins – and they're on to Python (or C, or Perl, or any of a multitude of other languages).

When students/hackers/makers want to connect something more complex than can be easily interfaced through GPIO, the Pi offers serial ports (you can put a message on an LCD display with two bash commands), I2C, and SPI interfaces. And although the ARM processor in the Pi is fairly slow, it is fast enough to do interesting things like speech synthesis and machine vision.

by Chris Tyler ( at January 18, 2013 08:03 PM

December 28, 2012

Scott Tyler

2012 Retrospective

(Thanks to my brother, Chris, for getting my blog up and running again!)

This year, for my wife and I, will be remembered as 'The Year of the Apartment'.  We bought a concrete shell of an apartment in the summer, and since then we have been finishing it: floors, walls, ceilings, then kitchen cabinets, sinks, stove; toilet, hot water heater, sink and shower; window seat, sofa, bunk beds, etc.

My wife has done most of the planning, talking to contractors, overseeing their work, ordering on the Internet, etc.  I've mostly been a spectator.  My job was to work 6 days/week, and several evenings, to pay for everything.

Thanks to Monica's Mom and Dad for loaning us about a quarter of the initial down payment, and another 30,000 RMB, or so, to help with renovations.  Also, thanks to Monica's uncle and cousin for helping carry bags of cement and bricks up to the apartment  on a couple of occasions. 

This decade, for our family, has so far been quite eventful:

2010: Monica and I get married.

2011: Moses is born.  Mom and Dad Tyler, and Andrew and Brenda visit us in China.

2012: We buy an apartment, and finish it.

2013: We visit Canada (first time for Monica and Moses)  Hopefully...  And, possibly, we buy a car (and I get a Chinese driver's license).

On a lesser note, I finished the complete novels of Charles Dickens, the Bronte Sisters, and Jane Austen, this year.

by Scott Tyler ( at December 28, 2012 02:23 AM

December 17, 2012

Chris Tyler

SBR600 - Winter 2013

The SBR600 Software Build & Release course provides a unique opportunity for Seneca CTY students to get involved with an open source community. However, for the Winter 2013 semester, we opened the course late, so not very many students are aware that it's available.

If you're interested in taking SBR600, or know anyone who is: SBR600 is available for the Winter 2013 semester through SIRIS.

by Chris Tyler ( at December 17, 2012 05:19 AM

November 29, 2012

Chris Tyler

The OSTEP Team

The Open Source Technology for Emerging Platforms (OSTEP) team at Seneca consists of four research assistants who work with me on projects related to enabling Linux and related open source technologies on emerging ARM systems - specifically working with the Fedora ARM Secondary Architecture initiative.

Since I haven't had an opportunity to introduce the team recently, I thought I would (very briefly) do so here.

Andrew Green (agreene) is our repo guru and is currently composing and testing the Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix 18. He is working part time with the OSTEP team while completing the CTY program at Seneca.

Dmitry Kozunov (DarthJava) works full-time with OSTEP. His main area of responsibility is the Fedora ARM buildsystem infrastructure, which means he wrestles heroically on a daily basis with unstable dev boards and multi-terabyte backups. He will be continuing his studies in the Seneca IFS program in January.

Jon Chiappetta (fossjon) is working full-time on a zippy armv6hl optimized build for the Raspberry Pi, and simultaneously experimenting with alternate approaches to koji queueing for secondary architectures. Jon is a graduate of our IFS program and our resident Python pro.

Jordan Cwang (frojoe) is a graduate of the Seneca CTY program and works part-time with the OSTEP team on infrastructure issues. He's is our bcfg2 whiz and is currently working on several infrastructure projects including improving security with measures such as two-factor authentication.

by Chris Tyler ( at November 29, 2012 04:34 AM

November 24, 2012

Chris Tyler

When is an SRPM not Architecture-neutral?

Source RPM packages -- SRPMs -- have an architecture of "src". In other words, a source RPM is a source RPM, with no architecture associated with it. There's an assumption that the package is architecture-neutral in source form, and only become architecture-specific when built into a binary RPM (unless it builds into a "noarch" RPM, which is the case with scripts, fonts, graphics, and data files).

An SRPM contains source code (typically a tarball, and sometimes patch files) and a spec file which serves as manifest and build-recipe, plus metadata generated from the spec file when the SRPM is built -- including dependencies (which, unlike binary RPMs, are actually the build dependencies).

However, the build dependencies may vary by platform. If package foo is built against bar and baz, and baz exists on some architectures but not others, then the spec file may be written to build without baz (and the accompanying features that baz enables) on some architectures. The corresponding BuildRequires lines will also be made conditional on the architecture -- and this make total sense. However, querying an SRPM on a given platform may give incorrect build dependency information for that platform if the SRPM was built on another platform -- and only rebuilding the SRPM on the target arch will correct the rpm metadata (and possibly render it incorrect for other platforms). Thus, I've come to realize, SRPMs are not truly architecture-neutral -- and I'm not sure if all our tools take this into consideration.

Edit: I know that not all of our tools take this into consideration.

Continue reading "When is an SRPM not Architecture-neutral?"

by Chris Tyler ( at November 24, 2012 03:13 AM

September 19, 2012

Scott Tyler

Raise the GST!

A few years ago, before the recession, the GST was cut by two percentage points.  According to some economists, this cost the federal government $12 billion in revenue.   Recently, the Green Party has suggested raising the GST back up to the previous level, restoring the $12 billion in revenue, with that money being sent to municipalities.   Nobody likes taxes, but this idea makes sense in many ways, and would solve the perennial problem of underfunding in municipalities.

Canada now has a population of about 35 million people, so $12 billion means $342/person.  If municipalities received transfer payments based solely on population, the City of Toronto (pop: 2.48 million) would receive $848 million.  That would eliminate Toronto's deficit of over $700 million, with funds to spare for long-neglected infrastructure repairs.  (You may have heard of the Gardiner Expressway dropping chunks of concrete on the cars travelling under it?)

The 2% increase in sales tax (call it the 'Municipal Sales Tax' or 'MST') would direct tax dollars to where they are most desperately needed.  Roads will be repaired.  Water treatment plants upgraded.   Community centers, homeless shelters, schools and libraries renovated and expanded.  Thousands of jobs would be created, almost immediately.  This could be the biggest public works project in Canadian history. 

Nobody likes taxes.  But nobody likes roads with giant potholes, or tap water that is unsafe to drink, either.  Everyone wants good community services, but that costs money.   A 2% increasing in the GST/HST is the most logical way to pay for it.

by Scott Tyler ( at September 19, 2012 03:28 AM

September 10, 2012

Chris Tyler

Interested in buying a Raspberry Pi?

I'm trying to gauge interest in being able to buy the Raspberry Pi at the Seneca Bookstores (no promises!). Please take a second and let me know what you think using this poll...

by Chris Tyler ( at September 10, 2012 09:17 PM

August 23, 2012

Scott Tyler

Economic Classes in Urban China

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently published an article on China's largest cities.  In the article, they state that Chinese households with income over 30,000 yuan/year (less than $5,000) are 'middle class'.   I beg to differ.  I believe the authors greatly underestimate the cost of living in urban China.  Rent in most large cities is 1,500 yuan or more for a modest 2-bedroom apartment.  In Shanghai or Beijing, it's over 2,000 yuan.  Utilities are another 400 yuan or more/month.   So rent and utilities, plus food and daily expenses, will be at least 3,000 yuan/month, or 36,000 yuan/year.   Yet the EIU calls Chinese earning only 2,500/month 'middle class'.

The chart below shows, in my opinion, a more realistic view of the economic classes in urban China. 

A family which is 'poor' cannot afford their own apartment, and are sharing with others- relatives or co-workers, usually.  In some cities, this is probably half the population.

A 'working class' family rents an apartment, and has some savings, but has no car and is unlikely to ever save enough to buy an apartment (especially in Shanghai).  At least one third of the urban population is in this income group.

The 'lower middle class' or 'middle class' family will probably, eventually, buy an apartment.  They may have a car, although probably not.

The 'upper middle class' family has both a car and an apartment.  Actually, probably two or three apartments, as Chinese often buy them as investments.  This economic class is wealthy enough to travel internationally, and even send their child to study abroad. 

'Wealthy' Chinese range from those who would be considered middle class in North America to the truly rich.  Chinese millionaires like to flash their money, with over-sized apartments and a Lexus or Audi in the garage (just having a garage in China is a sign of great wealth).

Economic ClassHousehold income per month (in yuan)Household income per year (in yuan)Disposable income (annually, in yuan)Disposable income (annually, in $US)
Working Class3,000-5,00036,000-60,000<20,000<$3,150
Lower Middle Class5,000-7,00060,000-84,00020,000-44,000$3,150-$6,900
Middle Class7,000-10,00084,000-120,00044,000-80,000$6,900-$12,600
Upper Middle Class10,000-20,000120,000-240,00080,000-200,000$12,600-$31,500

by Scott Tyler ( at August 23, 2012 03:34 AM

June 26, 2012

Scott Tyler


This has got to be one of the silliest sports ever.  Speed walking.  Have you seen these guys?  They look like they're gay and constipated.   If I was at one of their 'races', when everyone else was handing out cups of water, or sports drinks, I'd be handing out Metamucil.

"Here, try this.  Clear you right up!"

I have just one question: where do they practice?  You couldn't walk like that around my old hometown, I'd tell you that much.  You'd get beat up.

"Welcome to Huntsville!"  Pow! Bam!

"Wait!  I'm not gay! I'm a speed walker!"

"Yeah... we know."  Bam! Pow!

"Ha!  The force won't save you now, 'Luke' "

"What?  Ow!  I said 'speed walker' not 'Skywalker' !"

by Scott Tyler ( at June 26, 2012 04:33 AM

June 20, 2012

Chris Tyler

Measuring the Raspberry Pi's Current Consumption

The Raspberry Pi has a micro-USB jack for power input. This can be used with any recent mobile phone adapter. If you use a two-part adapter, with a plug-in AC-DC converter and a USB A to micro-USB A cable, it's easy to measure the current drawn by the Pi.

To do this, you'll need a USB A male to USB A female extension cord and an ammeter or multimeter with a 1A or 10A range.

1. Remove the outer insulation in the middle of the USB extension cable. Peel back the shielding (silver braid and/or foil)  to one side.

2. Cut the 5V supply wire (usually coloured red).

3. Connect your ammeter or multimeter to the cut 5V line.

4. Insert this cable between your AC-DC converter and the USB cable going to your Raspberry Pi.

So, how much current does the Raspberry Pi draw?

It looks like the Pi can draw anywhere from 250 to 500 mA in normal operation, though I did see smaller values in the early stages of startup. When idle, my Pi draws 320-380 mA; with a basic Logitech keyboard and mouse attached and in use, and with the CPU and GPU fairly active, it comes close to 500 mA.

Update: Powering the Pi from a Laptop

The fact that the Pi's current consumption is reliably under 500 mA means that it is actually safe to power from the USB port of another system. This is convenient for developers on the go: for example, I'm in an air-conditioned library escaping the current Toronto heatwave, and have my Pi connected to the back of my laptop with a micro-USB cable for power and a crossover ethernet cable for data.

by Chris Tyler ( at June 20, 2012 05:00 PM

June 06, 2012

Scott Tyler

While the mother weeps

the father keeps

tears from his eyes


Oh my son! my son!

by Scott Tyler ( at June 06, 2012 05:10 AM

May 10, 2012

Chris Tyler

New Role: Industrial Research Chair - Open Source Technology for Emerging Platforms

On Tuesday, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) announced a number of grant awards at the Polytechnics 2012 conference, including the new Industrial Research Chairs for Colleges (IRCC) grants. I am honoured to be selected as the chairholder for the NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Open Source Technology for Emerging Platforms in the Centre for Development of Open Technology at Seneca College.

This five-year renewable applied research grant enables me to continue and expand upon the work that I have been doing, along with a talented team of research assistants, with Fedora ARM and related projects. My goal is to bring the wealth of open source software currently available for x86 PCs and servers to emerging ARM based general-purpose computers. Although ARM architecture chips are the most popular CPUs made (more ARM chips shipped last year than there are people on this planet), most of these went into dedicated devices, and ARM chips are just starting to appear in general purpose computers. In order to make the transition to general-purpose ARM systems viable, industry-standard software stacks are needed. Fedora is a perfect fit for this purpose, because it encompasses both a large collection of cutting-edge open source software and a vibrant community, and it feeds many downstream distributions and projects.

My work in this new role will start with an expansion of existing work, including operating the Fedora ARM Koji buildsystem and improving the Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix, but I will additionally be focusing on Fedora on ARM server-class systems. In future phases, this will encompass working with the Fedora ARM project to promote ARM to primary architecture status, extending existing open source system management (and possibly virtualization/cloud management) frameworks to manage high-density ARM clusters, doing field trials of ARM-based data centre solutions, and bringing Fedora to the next generation of ARM technology.

Although the majority of my activity will shift from teaching to applied research, I will continue to teach the SBR600 Software Build and Release course in order to bring the research experience back into the classroom. I'll also continue to participate in the initiative. As an Industrial Research Chair, I will also have a bit more of a public-facing role, representing CDOT and advocating the use of energy-efficient systems to local SMEs.

Many thanks to Red Hat for partnering with Seneca on this initiative, and I look forward to (continuing to!) work closely with Red Hat's incredible technical staff. I also thank the many companies and organization who wrote letters of support for the grant application, and look forward to collaboration and possible future partnerships with those organizations. And I particularly want to thank Seneca for its support of applied research, my colleagues at CDOT for their encouragement and for creating such an awesome environment to do applied research, and for the team that wrote the grant application under intense pressure and tight deadlines last November.

Watch this space for updates!

by Chris Tyler ( at May 10, 2012 03:06 PM

March 13, 2012

Scott Tyler

Reading Update

I just finished reading all of Jane Austen's novels.  She only wrote six, and they are relatively short, compared to, say, Charles Dickens' novels.  Still, I did it. 

Other authors I hope to read the complete works of include:

Charles Dickens (still 1 I haven't read)

Bronte sisters (read)

George Eliot

Thomas Hardy

D. H. Lawrence

Joseph Conrad

John Steinbeck

Ernest Hemingway

F. Scott Fitzgerald

William Faulkner

And the complete plays of:

William Shakespeare (finished!)

Christopher Marlowe

Ben Jonson

Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus


Ibsen, Strindberg

G.B. Shaw

by Scott Tyler ( at March 13, 2012 06:10 AM

March 09, 2012

Chris Tyler

Element 14's Wonderful Forums Considered Harmful

Element 14, the web presence of one of the Raspberry Pi distributors, Farnell,  operates a wonderful forum system. However, there is one significant problem with their system: under their terms of use, a person who is under 13 is prohibited from using the forum (and those between 13 and 18 from using it without their parent's explicit consent).

This understandable requirement, probably a result of US legislation (and perhaps legislation in other jurisdictions?), is at odds with the Raspberry Pi's stated focus on children (hence the "considered harmful" jab).

I'd encourage the Raspberry Pi community to use forum and wiki systems that don't exclude the device's target audience from participating! Perhaps Element 14 would consider a revision to their Terms of Use, or a dedicated forum with special rules that would enable children to participate. In the meantime, the Raspberry Pi Foundation's forums and the E-linux Wiki do not have age restrictions on participants.

by Chris Tyler ( at March 09, 2012 05:41 PM

March 08, 2012

Chris Tyler

Open Source Translation Database

Andrew Smith has released his Open Source Translation Database project, which contains thousands of open source translation files and can populate new translation files based on previous translations. In the released form this in incredibly useful -- and he has ambitious plans for new features and capabilities such as suggesting strings to be used in new projects based on the number of available translations.

Congratulations, Andrew, on this launch!

by Chris Tyler ( at March 08, 2012 05:36 PM

February 29, 2012

Chris Tyler

Raspberry Pi links

The Raspberry Pi hardware went on sale last night, and as with every other event related to the Pi, pandemonium ensued!

The educational, tech, and mainstream media is starting to take note. Here are some links to local coverage of the Pi and our work on the software for it:

Update 2012-03-03 - additional links:

Update 2012-03-10 - additional links:

To clarify Seneca's involvement, because it may not be clear from the press coverage:

Information about the Remix may be found on the Seneca CDOT wiki.

by Chris Tyler ( at February 29, 2012 10:38 PM

February 20, 2012

Chris Tyler

Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix 14 - Release Event this Wednesday!

The computer education, hardware hacking/maker, and open source worlds are all eagerly anticipating the release of the $35 Raspberry Pi computer before the end of the month. In preparation for the hardware release, tthe Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix 14 distribution is being released this Wednesday, February 22.

Full details of the event are on the CDOT wiki. Everyone's invited, and I hope to see you there!

Update: Fixed link above.

by Chris Tyler ( at February 20, 2012 04:04 PM

February 08, 2012

Scott Tyler

Some thoughts on character

My grandmother used to have a fridge magnet that said, "We get too soon old, and too late smart."   In the past decade I have gotten a lot older, and a little wiser.

I've learned something about people: the way they treat others, is the way they will eventually treat you.  If someone you know is lying to other people, don't think, "Oh, but we're friends.  He won't lie to me!"  Of course he will, and probably already is.  Or if a friend is always talking about others behind their backs, count on it that she is talking about you too.

Credibility, once lost, is almost impossible to restore.  Everyone tells a fib or two, now and then.  But there is a line.  A friend of mine posted a resume which is about 80% fictional.  The 20% which is true might as well be fictional too, because no-one who knows him will believe even that.

It's amazing how self-aware most people are not.  Especially those who have really bad characters.  But almost everyone is blind to their own character flaws, minor or major.  (I, of course, am the exception...)  ;-)

by Scott Tyler ( at February 08, 2012 09:00 AM

January 28, 2012

Chris Tyler

Seriously, CBC?

Going to the CBC this morning, I found this:

I have three problems with this:

  1. The CBC is our public broadcaster, funded in large part by tax money. It should support wide access.
  2. I'm not running IE, I'm running Firefox. The ad is lying to me. If they're able to detect I'm not running the latest version of IE, they should also detect that I'm not running IE at all. My browser is not old, either -- I'm running the latest release of Firefox, which contains several features not yet supported by IE.
  3. IE does not run on my platform (Linux). The ad is a waste of time for me and a waste of money for the advertiser. The pages to which the ad links are all specific to Windows, with no consideration for those running Mac OS/X, Linux, or any other platform.

The ad text seems to imply endorsement. Does the CBC actually endorse the position that the only acceptable end-user computing platform is Windows on an x86 computer? Is increasing the monopoly of a foreign corporation a suitable goal for a taxpayer-funded public broadcaster? I trust not.

by Chris Tyler ( at January 28, 2012 05:51 PM

January 15, 2012

Chris Tyler

Raspberry Pi Giveaway at FUDcon Blacksburg

If you received a Raspberry Pi certificate at FUDcon Blacksburg, please send me an e-mail (ctyler@fp.o) with your certificate number and I'll mail you a coupon code that you can redeem at

by Chris Tyler ( at January 15, 2012 03:26 PM

December 30, 2011

Scott Tyler

12 Dickens Books in 2011

The challenge for 2011: Charles Dickens.  So far, I've read 5 of his novels: Great Expectations, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol.  If I read 12 more of his novels (1/month) I will have read ALL of his novels.

So, in 2011 I will try to read:

The Pickwick Papers (Finished)

Martin Chuzzlewit  (Finished)

Nicholas Nickleby  (Finished)

Hard Times  (Finished)

Barnaby Rudge (Finished)

Christmas Books (The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, etc.)  (Finished)

Little Dorrit

The Old Curiousity Shop

Bleak House (Finished, January 4, 2012)

Our Mutual Friend

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Finished)

Dombey and Son



Well, as you can see, I didn't read all 12 of the books on my list, but I did get through 7 of them in 2011, and one more-- Bleak House-- by January, 2012.  Considering most of the novels were 700-900 pages long, I think I did fairly well!

by Scott Tyler ( at December 30, 2011 04:40 AM

November 15, 2011

Scott Tyler

the mundane monday blues

It's a fine day.  One of those days when everyone asks, "How are you?" and you answer, "Fine."

Really... fine.  No problems aside from the problem that it's Monday and Mondays suck.  Life goes on and round and you wonder what's the point and you want to quit everything but its 5 days to the weekend and 2 months to the next holiday and god help me I don't think I can make it that long.

I find myself wishing for a catastrophe.  Just so I'd have something to genuinely complain about.  Just so something would happen that didn't happen yesterday, and won't happen tomorrow.

I find myself wishing I was an alcoholic.  I'm not, and I would never drink at work, but I wish I was and I did.

I hate it when I complain and people offer solutions.  If I wanted advice I'd ask for it.  Complaining is not asking for advice.  I know the effing solutions already anyways.  Who doesn't?  Who ever really got advice that they hadn't already thought of? 

Being bored doesn't mean you have nothing to do.  Boredom and busy-ness are not mutually exclusive.  The most bored I've ever been is when I had a lot to do, but nothing fun to do.

It's just Monday.  It's just work-life.  The slow torturous death by a hundred thousand slivering seconds.  Ennui, nothing more.

by Scott Tyler ( at November 15, 2011 01:20 AM

November 10, 2011

Scott Tyler

The End of Banks?

A recent article in the New York Times described how entrepeneurs who wanted to start their own restaurants, but couldn't get a loan from a bank, turned to the Internet for investors.  The amount they borrowed in each case was tiny:  less than $20,000 in most cases.  But it's a trend with great growth potential.  What online shopping did to music and book stores, online financing may someday do to banks.

Everyone despises banks, and for good reason, especially after the recent financial crisis.  They charge borrowers high interest, and give depositors almost no interest-- just high service charges.  What if they could be circumvented?  What if you could get a mortgage, personal loan or small business loan from the public?  The borrower could pay lower interest, with more flexibility, while the lender could get a much higher return on their investment than if they just stuck the money in a savings account.   Of course, the risk would be higher, especially for the lender.  But the rewards would be greater, too.

The change is coming.  If banks are smart, they'll get ahead of the trend, and start their own direct loan websites.  If they don't... well, let's hope they don't.  I'd love to see the big banks go out of business.

by Scott Tyler ( at November 10, 2011 05:05 AM

October 19, 2011

Chris Tyler

Fedora ARM on the Raspberry Pi at Seneca CDOT

What happens when you combine a $25/$35 computer, a major Linux distro's secondary arch effort, and a college that's deep into open source?

You get Fedora-ARM running on the Raspberry Pi at Seneca CDOT!

Here's a tiny video peek...



There's a lot of optimization still to be done (including X11) but look forward to a Raspberry Pi Fedora image (spin/remix), Fedora 15 for ARM, and the Raspberry Pi device itself all being available next month.

(In or near Toronto? There are three talks related to Fedora ARM and/or the Raspberry Pi at FSOSS next week).

by Chris Tyler ( at October 19, 2011 08:53 PM

September 23, 2011

Scott Tyler

100 Essential Books of Western Literature

The 'Western Canon' (a highly controversial term) as listed by critics like Harold Bloom, runs to thousands  of books.  I don't think even Harold Bloom has had the time to read them all.  So here I will give a list of what I consider the 'essential' works. 

A few notes.  First, not everyone will agree with my list.  No two such lists are the same, and this short list must necessarily exclude many great works.  Second, following Mr. Bloom's example, I have excluded many religious or philosophical books, unless they are also important books of literature.  Third, I have chosen books largely for their cultural and literary influence.  These are books which have changed the way later authors wrote, or had an important impact on western culture.  Finally, I have not included any poems, unless they are book-length, with the exception of the 'Leaves of Grass' collection.

This list is roughly chronological.

1. The Iliad by Homer

2. The Odyssey by Homer

3. Oedipus the King by Sophocles

4. Medea by Euripides

5. The Socratic Dialogues by Plato

6. The Histories by Herodotus

7. The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides

8. Lives by Plutarch

9. The Aeneid by Virgil

10. The Metamorphoses by Ovid

11. The Book of the Thousand and One Nights

12. The Divine Comedy (esp. The Inferno) by Dante

13. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

14. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

15. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

16. Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

17. Utopia by Sir Thomas More

18. Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

By William Shakespeare:

19. Hamlet

20. Othello

21. MacBeth

22. Julius Caesar

23. Romeo and Juliet

24. A Midsummer Night's Dream

25. The Tempest

26. The Merchant of Venice

27. Twelfth Night

28. Henry V


29. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

30. Paradise Lost by John Milton

31. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

32. The Life of Johnson by James Boswell

33. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

34. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

35. Tartuffe by Moliere

36. Candide by Voltaire

37. In Praise of Folly by Erasmus

38. Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

39. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

40. Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo

41. The Red and the Black by Stendhal

42. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

43. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

44. Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincey

45. Frankenstein by  Mary Shelley

46. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

47. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

48. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

49. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

50. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

51. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol

52. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

53. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

54. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

55. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

56. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

57. Middlemarch by George Eliot

58. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

59. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

60. Dracula by Bram Stoker

61. The Barsetshire Chronicles by Anthony Trollope

62. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

63. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

64. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

65. The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov

66. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

67. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

68. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

69. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

70. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

71. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

72. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

73. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

74. The Trial by Franz Kafka

75. Pygmalion by G. B. Shaw

76. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

77. Ulysses by James Joyce

78. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

79. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

80. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

81. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

82. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

83. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

84. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

85. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

86. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

87. 1984 by George Orwell

88. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

89. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

90. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

91. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

92. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

93. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

94. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

95. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

96. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

97. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

98. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

99. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

100. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

by Scott Tyler ( at September 23, 2011 02:00 AM

September 17, 2011

Scott Tyler

Why women have fewer car accidents than men

You've heard the statistics, that women have fewer accidents than men, and are therefore better drivers.  But what that statistic doesn't take into account is that men drive more than women.  74% more, according to one source.  (Think about it: whenever you see a couple in a car, who is usually behind the wheel?)  If we compare number of accidents relative to distance driven, suddenly the statistics look very different.  In fact, women have slightly MORE crashes than men do. 

'Overall, men were involved in 5.1 crashes per million miles driven compared to 5.7 crashes for women'


So, in fact, women are worse drivers than men (if we are going to generalize).  Now, if we can just convince insurance companies to stop discriminating- illegally- against male drivers, as they have for decades.

by Scott Tyler ( at September 17, 2011 02:33 AM

September 16, 2011

Scott Tyler

Lessons from Thucydides

Recently I read The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.  It is one of the first histories, and it is an engrossing tale of a war that involved all the Greek states (and a few non-Greek states as well).

But what I found really interesting about Thucydides' account is the opposing philosophies of Athens and Sparta.  Both cities championed freedom, but of two different kinds.  Athens was an imperialist state that treated her 'allies' as junior partners at best, and often as little more than vassal states.  So Sparta championed the independence of the Greek city states.  Freedom, to the Spartans, meant freedom  of the state from external control, and especially Athenian imperialism.

Athens, unlike Sparta, was a democracy.  That meant that power was in the hands of the common people.   The lower and middle classes in other city states were inspired by Athenian democracy, and the approach of the Athenian fleet was often the cue for the masses to rebel and overthrow the local oligarchy/tyrant.

Today, Athens and Sparta are represented by the West and Russia/China respectively.  That is, western countries (especially the U.S.)  encourage freedom (human rights and democracy) within developing countries.  But Russia and China support the 'freedom' of developing countries from meddling foreign powers.  Intranational freedom vs. international freedom.   While the West is sometimes hypocritical in its support of human rights and democracy- demanding change in one country while ignoring problems in another- Russia and China oppose international intervention in cases of human rights abuse for their own reasons: they are afraid of being criticized for their own poor human rights record.

Greece today is a single nation state, and a democracy, with Athens as its capital.  So even though Sparta won the Peloponnesian War, in the end it was Athens that triumphed.  It is too early to say, yet, whether the modern Athens (U.S. and allies) or modern Sparta (Russia and China) will prevail in the 21st Century.

by Scott Tyler ( at September 16, 2011 04:58 AM

September 02, 2011

Scott Tyler

On Fatherhood and Selfishness

Since I became a father, just 6 months ago, I have noticed a strange transformation.  On the one hand, as I expected, I have become less selfish.  Or less self-centered.  It's not about me and what I want anymore: my wife and son come first.   Instead of saving for my next travel adventure, I'm saving for my son's education.  I go to the mall- not to sit in Starbucks, as I used to, but to buy diapers.  Most of my plans and dreams are now about my son's future, not my own.

On the other hand, I have become more selfish.  When my student or colleague is coughing, instead of sympathizing: "Oh, do you have a cold? I'm so sorry."  I shy away from him or her, thinking I don't want to get a virus that I'll take home to my son.  I don't give as often to homeless people, or loan money to friends, because I want to save that money for my own family.  

Have I become a worse person, or a better one?  I don't want to set a bad example for my son, so for his sake I'll try to be more generous and think of others outside my family.  But my family comes first.

by Scott Tyler ( at September 02, 2011 02:42 AM

August 26, 2011

Scott Tyler

coffee in the morning

Every morning 

she makes for me

a hot and steaming mug.

It tastes like coffee

and it smells like coffee

but it feels like love.

by Scott Tyler ( at August 26, 2011 07:16 AM

April 23, 2011

Chris Tyler

Gnome 3: Not Ready for Prime Time in Fedora 15

I've been intrigued by the Gnome 3 desktop and the design decisions that the Gnome project has decided to test. Hearing some members of the Gnome community explain the design decisions in person was very interesting, and helpful when transitioning to the Gnome shell. And I'm proud that the Fedora Project is continuing to lead by incorporating new technologies and designs First.

But I've been using Gnome 3 in the Fedora 15 alpha and beta releases for a while now, and I'm convinced that Gnome 3 is not ready for prime time yet, at least as implemented in Fedora 15 (and this is completely separate from the issue of whether the Gnome 3 design changes are good or bad, and whether the Gnome community is ignoring the needs and wants of the users and downstreams -- both subjects of much debate). As one example, multi-monitor setups are not working as expected, at least for me. In fact, it's a stretch to say that they're working at all:

  • On my laptop/netbook, logging in with an external monitor connected results in Gnome 3 running in degraded mode, with Gnome 2-style menus. Logging in without an external monitor connected, and connecting it after login, results in a usable configuration - at least all of the real estate is accessible.
  • I run with the external display above my laptop. Maximizing a window on the external display results in it filling the rightmost 1/3 of the screen. Unmaximized windows may be moved, but only to positions where the right edge of the window is within the right-most 1/3 of the screen. You can fill the screen by placing the window all the way to the right and dragging a corner to the left side, though. There are many other behaviours which are just weird.
  • The Activities button is on the laptop screen, but the touch-to-activate-Activities corner is on the external monitor.
  • Rearranging the position of the monitors using the Displays setting tool results in badly torn, messed up images. They resolve to something that looks almost usable a fraction of a second before the Does this look right? dialog gives up and reverts me to the original configuration, with my desktop backgrounds missing.

This is 2011, and multi-monitor configurations are not a novelty any more. In fact, they're the norm where I work, and I use external monitors with my laptops and netbooks all the time

Perhaps some of these issues are video driver problems, and Gnome 3 isn't to blame. But the problems with Gnome 3 are not limited to just multi-display configurations; for example: GDM's list of users does not scroll properly when the list is long (I went to file a bug on that one, but was disheartened searching through the 253 other open Fedora GDM bugs to see if it was already reported). If something goes wrong during the login process, a message appears telling you that something went wrong, but offering no way to find out what went wrong -- not even through a "Details..." button -- and the only action available to the user is to click a button marked "Ok" (I can't login? It's definitely not OK). The icons at the top of the screen respond to left- and right-click in the same way -- except for the iBus icon -- where's the consistency in that?

I don't want to be a gloomy Eeyeore (though I understand the temptation to become one) but I really don't think we're close to release-ready with Gnome 3 in F15.

by Chris Tyler ( at April 23, 2011 04:19 PM

April 03, 2011

Chris Tyler

Let's see some Leadership on Broadband Access

The inclusion of broadband-for-all-Canadians in the Liberal platform is an important step in the right direction. And while reliable rural broadband access is an obvious priority (as David Humphrey notes), the Liberal strategy does not go far enough: even current broadband access in our cities falls well short of what is needed to be globally competitive.

Canada's low average population density makes any broadband rollout a challenge. But there is an opportunity here: it's time for a leader to step up and set a realistic and challenging next-generation broadband goal, in the style of Kennedy's "We choose to go to the moon" speech. Setting a goal of 1 Gbps to every household in the country within three years would show real leadership. It would be a huge challenge, but we have the technology (wired and wireless), and it's where we need to go to stay in the game.

by Chris Tyler ( at April 03, 2011 11:14 PM

March 31, 2011

AndrewArriving (Andrew Tyler)

Four amazing years

Four years ago today, I got on a plane bound for Liberia. I'd signed up with a group of people I barely knew to attempt the impossible.

We had raised a whopping $3500, and with it we hoped to make a huge difference in the war-torn nation of Liberia.

We had no idea. But we saw that seed money multiplied like fish and bread all around us and, in time, we began to notice orphans looking healthier, acting like kids again. Buildings sprang up and became loving homes. Swamps were deserted in favor of shiny new wells with sweet water.

I had the idea that I would teach, serve, and inspire. Turns out that the other side of the world is upside down, and I returned a changed man: healed, devoted to God, married.

Today is my last day full-time with Orphan Relief and Rescue, though I'll continue to work part-time for a few months more. It's hard to put words or even a finger on how to feel about it. My heart is full and grateful. I'm eager and excited to see what's next. Though I don't know, I'm not afraid of the future anymore. I'm interested and experienced in so many things; it's such a big world; there is so much to do.

We'll see!

Soli deo gloria

by Andrew ( at March 31, 2011 10:01 PM

Catching up: 8 months in photos

Brenda meets her new parents over poutine. At the zoo.

Spenser J. Tyler

Our gorgeous 2nd wedding cake @ family reunion/reception

Our noble steed for The Great Western Roadtrip
New home in Seattle

Un-wallpapering and painting our new apartment

World's deadliest croquet players

Rainier -- which I hope to someday summit

Stunning summer sunsets from our new living room

It's been the Year of Pies. Those newlywed pounds never tasted so good!

Trying to get our new puppy to pose for a respectable Christmas card

Libby on Christmas morning, sporting her new adventure pack. (I think that means she likes it!)

New Year's Day atop Mt. Erie, overlooking Puget Sound and the Cascades

My ladies

Snowshoeing with new friends (and Libby's beau, Townsend)

Libby was all spirit for the Superbowl

by Andrew ( at March 31, 2011 09:48 PM

March 19, 2011

Chris Tyler

GNOME 3 Lunchtime Talk

The participants in the GNOME documentation hackfest led a great lunchtime talk on Friday, introducing GNOME 3 to about two dozen Senecans.

GNOME 3 embodies a complete re-design of the desktop. Clutter has been replaced with discoverable behaviours, visual cues, and generally streamlined operation. It's a bold experiment that has already attracted some detractors, but it was fascinating and enlightening to hear the environment explained by members of the community that created it. I'm looking forward to using GNOME 3 in the upcoming release of Fedora 15.

There were many who expressed an interest in attending but were unable to do so. Here are a couple of links:

Many thanks to the GNOME documentation team for the talk.

by Chris Tyler ( at March 19, 2011 04:58 AM

March 17, 2011

Chris Tyler

Gnome Documentation Hackfest

For the next six days, CDOT is hosting some members of the of the GNOME documentation team for a documentation hackfest in preparation for the upcoming GNOME 3.0 release. On Friday we're holding an informal lunchtime talk to introduce the Seneca and Gnome communities -- and if you're in the greater Toronto area and are free, you're welcome to join us!

by Chris Tyler ( at March 17, 2011 01:13 PM

March 12, 2011

Scott Tyler

A World Without (National) Debt

Debt is bad.  Right?  Yet debt is intrinsic to our economic system.  Everyone, it seems, is in debt.  More money is created by commercial banks loaning money or guaranteeing lines of credit than by the central banks which print the currency.  Debt makes the world go 'round.

Still, nobody likes to be in debt.  We spend much of our lives paying off student loans, then the mortgage, the second mortgage, car loans...  From a personal point of view, debt is bad.  Governments, too, struggle to balance their budgets and reduce the national debt.  Yet what is often bad for the individual is good for society, and vice-versa.   For example, if I wreck my car, I have to pay the deductible and subsequent higher insurance premiums.  Which is not good for me.  But it means employment for a tow truck driver, mechanic, insurance adjuster, car salesman (when I buy a new car), autoworkers, etc.   Not to mention paramedics, nurses, doctors and flower sellers if I'm injured.  My car accident might actually be good for the economy!  In the same way, while it will certainly benefit the government and taxpayers to eliminate the national debt, whether the economy will benefit is less certain.

The problem is,  only one side of the equation is being examined.  What about the lenders?  If there were no national debt, where would the investors who put more than $20 trillion into the national debts of the world's 194 countries put their money?   If they put it into the New York Stock Exchange, for example  (current valuation: 14 trillion), stock prices would more than double, creating a massive bubble.   Where else could they invest?  Gold?  There's less than $10 trillion worth of gold in the world, at the current near-record-high price.   The fact is, wherever this bonanza of cash flowed: natural resources, land, F.D.I.- there would be a massive speculative bubble.

How would that affect interest rates?  (lower, I assume) Inflation?  (skyrocketing)  These are questions- theoretical in the foreseeable future- that economists should consider.   I have little sympathy for the billionaire investors or multinational financial institutions who have bought government bonds.   I'm very much in favour of eliminating all government debt (especially in my home country, Canada).   But we should be prepared, if we do so, for the financial tsunami if trillions of dollars, euros, yen and rubles are suddenly shifted out of government bonds and into other markets.   So far, I have heard no discussion among economists on this issue.

by Scott Tyler ( at March 12, 2011 04:21 AM

March 11, 2011

Scott Tyler

Books to Read Before Retirement

In 2035 I will be 65 years old and ready to retire (hopefully).  Before then, I would like my 'Books I Have Read' entry (below) to look like this:

I. Pre-modern Literature and Drama

Ancient Literature: 4 or 5 works.

Greek Literature: 50+ works.  Complete Plays of Athenian Dramatists.  Complete works of Plato and Aristotle.

Latin Literature: 20+ works.  Sample works of major authors (Horace, Seneca, Ovid, etc.).

Medieval Literature: 30+ works.  Especially works in Middle English and a 'cycle' of plays.

Norse Sagas: 5 or 6.  Including Ngal's Saga, Prose Edda and Poetic Edda.

Renaissance Lit: 20+ works, not including Shakespeare.  Esp. Jacobean drama

II. British and Irish Literature and Drama

17th and 18th Century: 20+ works.  Esp. by  Samuel Richardson, Laurence Stern.

19th Century: 150+ works.  Complete novels of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy.  Major works by Sir Walter Scott and Anthony Trollope.

20th Century: 75+ works.  Complete novels of  James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, H. G. Wells, Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad.  Complete plays of G. B. Shaw.

III. American Literature and Drama

18th Century: no additions?

19th Century: 50+ works.  Complete novels of Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edith Wharton.

20th Century: 150+ works.  Complete novels of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Henry James.  Major works by Eugene O'Neil.

IV. Canadian Literature

25+ works. Including major works of W. O. Mitchel, Mordechai Richler, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Timothy Findley

V. African-American Literature

20+ works.  Especially by more recent authors, such as Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

VI. International Literature

French Literature: 30+ works.  Major works by Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Stendhal, Honore de Balzac, etc.

German Literature: 4-5 works.  Esp. by Franz Kafka.

Italian Literature: 4-5 works.

Russian Literature: 30+ works.  Complete novels and plays of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov and Alexander Pushkin. 

Spanish Literature: 15+ works.  Major works by Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca.

Other European Literature: 15+ works.  At least one author/work from every major European country.

Chinese Literature: 15+ works.  The 'Four Classic Novels'.

Other International Literature: 15+ works from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

VII. Philosophy, Politics and Military Theory

50+ works.  Especially economic theory (Adam Smith, John Meynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, etc.)

VIII.  Religious Works

20+ works.  Especially the Koran, Talmud, Book of Mormon and works of St. Augustine.

IX. Biography and History

20+ works.  Long histories, such as Edward Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire',  Livy's 'History of Rome' and Winston Churchill's 'The Second World War'.

X. Classics of Science

4-5 works.  Especially by Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud.

by Scott Tyler ( at March 11, 2011 02:08 AM

March 09, 2011

Chris Tyler

Fedora ARM PandaStack

The PandaStack I mentioned previously - a stack of PandaBoards mounted on threaded rods, powered by a modular ATX power supply - is now a fully-functional part of the Fedora ARM project koji buildsystem.

For anyone interested in building a similar stack, here's the parts list and assembly instructions:

Cut the threaded rods to size with the hacksaw. Stack the boards on the rods, reversing the orientation of every second board so that it is upside down with the ethernet jack facing the opposite side of the stack; this will result in ethernet and power jacks down two opposite sides of the stack, with serial ports on another side and no connectors on the remaining side (which is the "bottom" of the stack). Use the 1.25" spacers between adjacent boards in a right-side-up/upside-down pair, and the 0.25" spacers between pairs. The grounding strips on the top of each ethernet/USB connector tower will just touch the plastic cases of the LED drive transistors on the adjacent board in each pair. Fasten the stack with the acorn nuts.

Gather the barrel connectors in groups of five. Connect each group to the +5 volt (pin 1) and ground (pin 2/3) leads of a molex connector from the ATX power supply (cutting off the cable connected to the molex connector, and ensuring that the barrel connectors are wired center-positive). Solder, then insulate with shrink-wrap tubing. Take the motherboard connector of the power supply, pull off all of the leads except pins 8 (PWR_OK)  and 16 (PS_ON), solder those leads together, and insulate with shrink-wrap tubing. Plug the molex and motherboard connectors into the ATX supply.

Place the stack on its side on a wire shelf for convection cooling. Test the power supply leads to ensure you're getting a solid +5 volts, burn and insert your SD cards, connect your ethernet cables, and connect the boards one at a time to the power supply unit with the barrel connectors.

Enjoy your silent tower of computing power!

by Chris Tyler ( at March 09, 2011 06:19 PM

February 28, 2011

Chris Tyler

Running Fedora ARM without ARM Hardware, Made Easy

The Fedora ARM secondary architecture project reached a significant milestone last week with Paul's announcement of the beta 1 release.

Interested in ARM but lacking ARM hardware? Not a problem! Fedora includes support for ARM virtual machines, and I'm packaged up a preconfigured ARM VM for your convenience:

The armvm package will install a preconfigured ARM virtual machine named "f13-arm-beta1" with a 2GB image and a 128MB memory footprint. Since x86_64 processors don't provide hardware support for ARM processor virtualization, the ARM VM will run slowly compared to i386/x86_64 VMs, but the performance should be tolerable on most machines (Atom netbooks excepted). You can manage the VM with virsh or virt-manager. I've tested these packages on F13 and F14, but not on F15 Alpha yet. (By the way: the root password on the VM is "fedoraarm").


(Please don't forget that both the Fedora ARM beta release and the armvm package are very definitely at the pre-release/beta stage of maturity. In particular, updating the armvm package will REPLACE your arm VM with a new image - beware!).

by Chris Tyler ( at February 28, 2011 09:41 PM

February 23, 2011

Chris Tyler

Temperamental Power Supply

Today, the ATX power supply for the PandaStack I described in my last post is working happily. I have no idea what changed... which is a bit worrisome.

by Chris Tyler ( at February 23, 2011 05:25 AM

February 22, 2011

Chris Tyler


Our "PandaStack" of PandaBoard builders (shown here with 9 of the 15 builders installed) is now ready to run as part of the Fedora ARM build farm. However, I've run into a weird problem -- the ATX power supply I bought to power the boards works fine with 1-3 boards, but Something Bad happens when a fourth board is connected. It's not a capacity issue as far as I can see; it seems to be related to noise. Time to borrow a scope and take a close look at waveforms ... in the meantime, we'll power some of the boards with the ATX supply and some with stand-alone power bricks.

by Chris Tyler ( at February 22, 2011 02:43 PM

February 12, 2011


Poems: My Top 4

My top 4 favourite poems that I've written and posted to this blog over the years:

4: Sheer Beauty.

This poem describes in a generalized summary, a place that I had the privilege of experiencing this summer. A place that I have many fond memories of, particularly of being able to enjoy silence to the full extent of the word.

3: My Place.

One of the first poems I wrote, this poem describes another fond place in my heart, again with great memories.

2: The View from Up Here.

This poem mashes together a bunch of ideas and experiences. I had taught high ropes this summer at a camp I volunteered at, this is partly referenced to with the idea of being high up. Additionally, this summer God opened my eyes to see things in a different light, so again that plays into the reference of height.

1: In this moment.

I wrote this poem when I was going through a bump in my road of life, it basicly expresses my wish to do something different with my life.

by grace ( at February 12, 2011 05:41 PM

February 08, 2011

Chris Tyler

PandaBoard Building Fedora-ARM

We're adding a group of dual-core, 1GHz, 1GB PanadaBoards to the Fedora-ARM build farm.  Paul Whalen and I hacked up the PandaBoard builder filesystem at FUDCon and I tested it with the farm on Thursday -- so far, it appears to build about twice as fast as the older GuruPlug builders. The PandaBoard's randomly-assigned-at-boot MAC addresses did force us to take a new approach to builder identity, though, because our previous approach of serving the identity via DHCP was no longer practical.

We ordered a total of 15 PandaBoards; 12 have arrived, and the others should be shipped shortly.Two are being set aside for testing, and we'll get the other ten building as soon as possible.

Our plan is to stack the boards on threaded rods, powered by an ATX power supply; the stack will be run on its side (with the boards oriented vertically) to aid in convection cooling. More photos to follow as we get this running! (Yes, that is a Powered by Fedora badge on there :-) )

by Chris Tyler ( at February 08, 2011 04:48 AM

January 29, 2011

Chris Tyler

Coyotes on the Runway

So I've safely arrived at FUDCon. Oddly, our plane was delayed for two reasons: the inbound flight was late due to a storm in Winnipeg (not so odd), and there was a "Coyote Strike" by a plane that landed just before we took off -- so they had to check that the runway area was animal-free before we were cleared for takeoff.

Coyotes in Arizona, yes. But Toronto?!

Looking forward to a great day of talks tomorrow! Hope I have two brain cells awake to rub together -- doubly so for the students, who are now on the prowl for food...

by Chris Tyler ( at January 29, 2011 08:34 AM

January 28, 2011

Chris Tyler

Changing the Open Web

My colleagues in the Centre for Development of Open Technology have been doing some amazing work enhancing the open web. One of their libraries, Popcorn.js, enables web video to move beyond being a box on the page to become a part of the hyperlinked, dynamic web. With a ton of frantic hacking by the Popcorn team which began on Tuesday morning (!), PBS launched an interesting web page that night showing analyst's comments synchronized to a video of the US President's State of the Union speech. PBS comments about the effort are posted on The Rundown.

You should check out what these folks are doing with 3D on the web -- the Javascript port of the Processing data visualization language, Processing.js -- point cloud data -- and web audio!

Update: Dave Humphrey has blogged about the work that he and his team did on the SOTU page with PBS.

by Chris Tyler ( at January 28, 2011 01:57 PM

January 27, 2011

Chris Tyler

Fedora, Seneca, and FUDCon Tempe

This semester is the fourth time that I've run the Software Build and Release (SBR600) course at Seneca College, and we have record enrollment – a full house! This course is one of a number of open source courses connected with the Centre for Development of Open Technology; it is a professional option in our Computer Systems Technology program, which focuses on network and system administration, and it has two goals:
  • Teach software build and release (aka Release Engineering/Build Team) principles, technology, and skills
  • Teach how to contribute effectively in an open source community
In this course, I use the Fedora build and release process as a illustration of how large-scale build and release works, something which is only possible because of the transparent nature of open source processes. I also use Fedora as a community which is open to worthwhile contributions from any interested participants. In these first three weeks of the course, we've examined building from source, RPM packaging, the use of mock for build dependency testing, the use of koji for multi-platform testing, signing packages, and creating package repositories. The remainder of the semester is largely project-based.

The students are currently researching and selecting projects from a short list of potential projects which have been screened for manageable size and practical real-world value. This semester, many of these projects are focused on the Fedora ARM secondary architecture, since the ARM buildsystem is physically located at Seneca, but some projects are related to different areas within Fedora (or, in one case, Fedora+Mozilla). In all cases, the students are expected to work with the community, use community communication tools and practices, and ultimately, advance the state of the respective area to which their project contributes. That means that if new software is packaged, it will be put through package review and end up in Fedora; if scripts or programs are written, they will be reviewed and committed upstream; and if documentation is written, it will end up in an appropriate and accessible place such as the wiki.

On Friday, ten SBR600 students will be traveling with Paul Whalen and me to FUDCon Tempe – eight students from the current semester and two from the previous semester. They're looking forward to making connections with other Fedorans, hearing about the latest and greatest technology, hacking, and generally starting down the road to becoming active contributors.

Please join us! -- I invite you to check out what we're doing, either in the usual Fedora places or in the #seneca channel on Freenode, on the Seneca wiki, or on Planet CDOT.

by Chris Tyler ( at January 27, 2011 06:13 AM

January 01, 2011


Sheer Beauty.

Lights flicker,
sparkling across the water
Laughter is heard,
echoing off the shores,
The moon illuminates everything in sight,
it guides me to my resting place
I sit upon the rock,
the cool misty breeze blowing gently across my face
I stare into the night,
amazed at all that surrounds me,
sheer beauty.

by grace ( at January 01, 2011 06:40 PM