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Sunday, October 26, 2003

  10:56 AM
It was a beautiful weekend, but I have been spending it indoors since I'm just getting over a flu. Ah well. Rembember to get your flu shots, kiddies.

Being housebound, I did find the time to add a new feature to SciTE today - a small one, but one that I have been missing for awhile. The line number margin will now grow as needed, instead of having a fixed number of digits. That is, large files will no longer cause the margin to overflow. Hopefully this will make it into the official version of SciTE in time for 1.57. (Please note, this is not enabled in my installer for 1.56, which I released yesterday.)
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Saturday, October 25, 2003

  2:01 PM
SciTE - Scintilla Text Editor is updated to version 1.56.
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Sunday, October 19, 2003

  12:54 PM
In Halifax, there's a no-smoking bylaw. It's a fairly recent change, but it's no longer "brand new".

This has made bars much more pleasant for the majority of the population. Now, I never took offense to smoking in bars when it was legal. I didn't like it, but I didn't take it personally. Waking up the next morning with a sore throat, stinging eyes, and smelly clothes and hair was just part of the price of going out. It did mean that I went out less often, but I didn't hold it against the smoking patrons, who after all had a right to smoke inside, back then.

Now they don't have that right. Whereas I used to go to a bar accepting the risk and unpleasantness of second hand smoke, now I no longer have to accept that risk. But sometimes I still run into second hand smoke. Well, it's illegal to drive drunk, but I occasionally do encounter drunk drivers on the road, risking my safety through their irresponsibility. I feel more or less the same way about smokers in bars, now that bars are supposed to be smoke free.

Some bars, like the Old Triangle, do a really good job of upholding the smoking bylaw. Others, like Cheers, do a lousy job of it.

In fact, last time I was at Cheers, I saw one guy smoking in plain view of several staff, standing not 10 feet from the bar. Painted on the wall, right where he was standing, was a no smoking sign. I don't know whether he chose that spot specifically to make a point, or whether he didn't notice the sign, but either way, he had to know that smoking was not allowed. He was not the only person I saw smoking in the bar that night, either.

I guess the thing to do in a case like this is to hold it against the bar for not being pro-active about enforcing my right to healthy air.

Aside from the bars friendly to non-smokers, like the Old Triangle, and the bars that pay lip service to the bylaw like Cheers, there are also some bars that are taking advantage of a loophole and calling themselves cigar bars. The loophole exists so that the cigar bars around town won't go out of business. That wouldn't be fair. But I'm not sure how I feel about a pub suddenly claiming, "Oh, but we've just changed our business plan and now our core business is smoke. So we must be exempt from the smoking ban or else we'll go out of business." So far, the bars that have done this are a small minority, just as smokers are in the minority. I hope it stays that way.
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Friday, October 10, 2003

  9:09 PM
Based on news coverage, editorials, and personal conversations, I'm getting the sense that the public at large is not as impressed with Nova Scotia Power as I was.

Perhaps the difference is that I got my facts unfiltered, and I had a sense of how reliable or unreliable the information was at any given time, whereas most of the public got their information from Nova Scotia Power's press statements, which appeared to be overly optimistic (particularly in the beginning) and which presented a very confident front even when there were many unknowns. If the goal was to avoid a public backlash, I guess this may not have been the best long term strategy.

None of this changes my high opinion of the people working in the emercency control center, in the call center, and especially the crews working out on the lines.
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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

  7:43 PM
My lights are back on! They came on shortly before 11:00pm, after about 71 hours. Considering the circumstances: way to go NS Power!

When I drove home this evening, I saw them working around the substation which is just a little ways upstream from me. That was when I first realized that I might get my power back before the weekend after all. But I kept myself braced for a few more days of cold showers and groping around in the dark, just in case.

I'm lucky to be so close to a substation, even if the feeder I'm on is almost entirely residential (and therefore of relatively low priority). Some people I have talked to are surrounded by buildings with electricity on all sides, but they still have none themselves. That must be especially frustrating. In many cases, what has happened there may be that they live on a side-street which the repair crews sectionalized while re-energizing the main lines. Crews will eventually come back to inspect and reconnect the side streets, but the main lines would be given priority.
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  6:34 AM
Like much of Atlantic Canada, I got hit by Hurricane Juan. Halifax (where I am) took the brunt of it. I'm fine, though, and so are all of my co-workers. Many residential areas (including mine) are still without power - it will be several more days before all of the residential side-streets are restored - but our office and many other businesses are back up and running.

I am working on on-site at Nova Scotia Power these days. I offered my help if there were any GIS tasks to be done that could benefit from another pair of hands. However, in a situation like this, it is the real-time systems like SCADA and OMS that take over, so it turned out that the best thing I could do for them was to continue working on my own project.

Being on-site in their control center, I got a unique perspective on the impressive round-the-clock efforts of NS Power, first to get a handle on how big an event this really was, and then to get the electricity restored as quickly and as safely as possible. It was quite a different view than you would get walking around the desolated Halifax waterfront, but no less profound (to the extent that you can guage profundity when you've just been dazed by the biggest, most damaging storm you've ever seen).
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