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Conversation pieces & links – Wednesday 28 September 2005

Very good article on how to be great at networking.

Useful information on Google search techniques.

Very nice, tried it, voice still cut off sometimes.

Don’t try this at work folks )
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Time to apply for the job

For the last 1.5 years, starting with my acceptance into the Ontario Internship Program up till I exit that program and entered into a short term agreement where I am right now, I’ve been under contracts. The position I am in right now is actually a tester position, and not my natural spot. But I’ve been told that I should apply for it because there might only this plus another lower position coming up for me to try get a full time job.

So right now, I’m trying to make a cover letter and learn more about testing, before submitting my application and hopefully get an interview for it.

Fantasy NBA Top Players

A group of friends including the 3 of us who write here play in an annual NBA fantasy game at Yahoo Sports. This year is no different, and we’re drafting our players on October 14. Just for discussion’s sake, here’s my top fantasy players (notice the word: fantasy, this is not my real life most valuable player rankings). We’re playing in a 9 category league, which includes PTS, AST, REB, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%, 3PT and TO.

I’m going to divide this into 3 sections, first section being players I would actually consider taking should I have the first pick overall, second section would be players I would select should the players in section 1 not be available with my first pick, and the third section are the usual top fantasy performers that I would like to have on my team.

[Edit: Decided to take out the order of players, conflicting rationale as to who should be first. This list is now in no particular order]
Section 1: I would consider any one of these as first pick overall for my fantasy team

LeBron James – PTS, REB, AST, STL, FG%, 3PT
Finally, someone who can compete with KG for top spot. At the beginning of last season, LBJ was even averaging 2 BLKS for awhile. Still a bit too much TO’s, but it should drop a bit now he doesn’t have to play point so much.
Kevin Garnett – PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%
Very versatile and will contribute to lots of categories. Gained some bulk and will play more PF this year. Very versatile and will contribute steals and blocks as well. Also has less TO’s than LeBron.

Dirk Nowitzki – PTS, REB, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%, 3PT
You could argue that Dirk should the top pick based on his stats, especially if he’s center eligible again this year.
Shawn Marion – PTS, REB, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%, 3PT, TO
Marion must be the most underestimated fantasy player of all time. In a 9 category league, he’ll help you in almost everything except for assists. He’s got an impossibly low number of TO’s for such a key guy. People will shun him because he scores only 19 or so PPG, plus the fact that Amare is there to grab all the rebounds, but as usual he’ll prove people wrong.

Section 2: I would pick any of these guys should the guys above not be available with first pick
Kobe Bryant – PTS, REB, AST, STL, 3PT
Kobe must be burning to prove that last year was bad just because of his injuries.

Tracy McGrady – PTS, REB, AST, STL, 3PT
With a stronger supporting cast and an always improving Yao Ming, T-Mac should have a great year this season.

Section 3: Players I’d like to have on my team (in no particular order)
Steve Nash – PTS, AST, FG%, FT%, 3PT
Steve Nash will help in categories that are usually not focused on, such as the percentages and 3PT cats, so he’s a great pickup. The only concern is his health as he ages.
Ben Wallace – REB, STL, BLK, FG%, TO
The reigning defensive player of the year, like Nash, will give you production in hard to get categories such as TO’s plus the STL’s and BLK’s. Tough as nails, and should be a very consistent contributor to your fantasy team.
Tim Duncan – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%, TO
Duncan has such a balanced and good team, that it will probably lower his production in most categories, but his C eligibility is very useful in any fantasy league. If consistency is what you require, this is the guy to take. Oh, and he takes very good care of the ball and has low TO’s.
Dwayne Wade – PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, FG%
Flash is quite a complete player, but Miami has loaded up with players who have a history as ball-hogs. Let’s see if that affects his production at all. Gotta cut down on those TO’s too.
Andrei Kirilenko – PTS, REB, STL, BLK, FG%
Last year’s injuries cost him some games, expect AK47 to come back strong this season, giving contribution to a variety of categories in fantasy leagues.
Allen Iverson – PTS, AST, STL, 3PT, FT%
Nobody can argue that AI is a great player on the court, but can he keep his body together with all the beatings he takes on a regular basis. High TO’s can kill your fantasy team, and that is what AI provides.

Jason Kidd – PTS, REB, AST, STL, 3PT
If his knee holds up, and he returns to form, J-Kidd should be a regular triple-double machine, especially with a healthy RJ and VC running the wing with him.

Shaquille O’Neal – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%
Nothing much to explain here. The most dominant centre out there, even at his age. Yet, can his body hold up for a whole season? Also consider the fact that Shaq doesn’t seem to like regular season games that much anymore. With Zo healthy and Antoine Walker around to help in the front court, expect Diesel’s minutes and numbers to go down.

Yao Ming – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%
Probably less production overall than Shaq, but will probably play more games than Diesel.Yao has a full season playing together with T-Mac under his belt, and has grown stronger this pre-season. Expect his numbers to grow.

Jermaine O’Neal – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%
Without Reggie, JO is the leader of this team. He should take charge and improve on his numbers from last season.

Amare Stoudemire – PTS, REB, BLK, FG%
Frighteningly fast and strong, and yet in fantasy leagues, he’ll only contribute to 4 categories.

I guess I’ll stop there. Of course there are others I’ll still consider for my selections in Section 3 there, but there’s too many of them, and I’m tired of typing right now )

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Showcase Ontario 2005

Last week, I spent 3 years attending Showcase Ontario 2005, an IT learning & education conference targeted at the public sector (read: government) and it’s partners. The format is very similar to Comdex, with a show floor open, showing various IT technologies in use within the Ontario government and also partners that supply these technologies. There were also learning opportunities which I attended.

Overall, it was a very good conference, got lots of freebies ) , and attended some very interesting sessions. The highlights were these 3 sessions:
Speak, present and impress!
A session on advanced presentation skills. The presenter was very knowledgeable about the art of presenting. He touched on the differences between presentation, speech and academia skills. Many people start their presentation with the words “I”, which actually belongs to a speech where the speaker has power over the audience. The presentation should be about the audience, and hence the first word should really be “you”.
The main point that hit me was that many people were “post”-senting instead of “pre”-senting. A good example is myself, I usually use Powerpoint slides to highlight points, and just read them off and explain a bit about it, and in short just read out the slides to the audience.
This apparently came out of the ancient religious tradition, where the clergy could not read, and the priest had to read out for them. Presentation should be about clarity and value, not fancy Powerpoint slides that we read out to people. Very interesting session, and I highly recommend it to anybody who presents regularly to audiences.
Exploiting and defending networks & web applications
These are actually 2 sessions, one specifically on web applications and the other on networks. It’s targeted towards people internal to an organization who have to understand how crackers think and will attack their networks. Very similar in content, with minor differences in between. In hindsight, I could’ve probably just attended one of it and get full understanding of the session.
This hands on lab walked us through the process that an attacker might take to attack a network system. A simulated environment was on hand, and it was surprising how easy it was to execute things like an SQL injection attack, based on small errors that web applications give out to users (ie. exceptions that are not caught). The speaker is a security consultant that has been doing this for a long time, and he explained how vulnerable most systems he goes into are, including some quite large banks and companies.
Main point from these 2 sessions: make life difficult for a cracker to break into your system, for it’s not possible to completely eliminate security threats.
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Being audited

Argh… why does this have to happen? Every year, I fill in my tax forms carefully, and store all documents with my files, just in case I get audited by Canada revenue. This year, I happen to get audited, and I lost an important document !!!. Just has to happen at such a time like this.

I’ve requested a copy from the institution I got it from, as well as some other documents from banks (they charge $15 for each copy of a cheque… ripoff). So hopefully I can get all this done soon.

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Conversation pieces & links – Wednesday 14 September 2005

Beware how loud you type, someone could decipher your password from hearing you type it.

Is there ANY technological area Microsoft isn’t trying to get into?

I think they’re doing the right thing by reviewing what’s causing delays and responding to it.

Trying to take on the Technorati’s of the world?
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Cognos 8 Launch

I went to the Cognos 8 Launch at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this afternoon. It was simulcast to various cities all over the world, with the main event happening at New York City. After the 90 minute launch, there were breakout sessions where we get to see a bit more in-depth demo’s and what’s involved in upgrading/migrating from previous versions of Cognos.
I’ve seen demos of ReportNet previously and really want to try it (still using Impromptu at work), but no money means no new products as yet :). The new framework is quite cool, as it integrates all the various Cognos products into a single framework, and really simplifies the management of the application. The capabilities extended to the end user are really amazing, and will allow so much improved business productivity. All the products seem to integrate quite well with each other, seamless it seems and very intuitive.
Really can’t wait to get my hands on these products, now if only someone had the money to get it at work… :)
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Funny Ebay seller

I was interested in purchasing a book from an Ebay seller, but noticed that he/she only shipped to the US, so I contacted the person asking if they could ship to Canada for extra payment.

The answer was quite simple, but just made me laugh. He/she basically said that they’d never done it before and wasn’t comfortable shipping there. It was just so funny because of the implication that Canada is a far away country and that it posed so much more risk than shipping within the USA.

I know I shouldn’t make fun of people’s preference, but still… just something funny.

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Buffalo Niagara Falls trip

We went to Niagara Falls and Buffalo last weekend, and did some shopping around. Can’t say that I got much out of it; my wife got some clothes for herself and the baby on the way.

I did manage to get a juicy, tasty steak from Tony Roma’s that night though… yumm…

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Thoughts about Apple using Intel

I was just chatting with a friend of mine about Macintosh’s and Apple, and it just hit me like a freight train. I don’t know why this hadn’t clicked in my mind before, probably because I don’t really care about Mac’s that much (personally I don’t buy the argument that working with design is better on the Mac. Why, with enough hardware power and same software on the PC, it should be the same considering price vs performance).

Anyway, with an x86 based Macintosh, wouldn’t this make Mac’s just another kind of glorified Dell or other major brand? What would differentiate Apple PC’s from other kind of brands when they’re all running Windows OS’ and apps? Fine, it would probably have sole ownership of the OS X, but other than that, what would this be besides a chance to jump into the market to try grab some Windows users? I think it’s a rather risky move since it might just turn off hard core Mac users instead, and cause them to lose market share.

This move still baffles me. Anybody care to elaborate the possible reasons for this?

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