Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The shape of the evening weather...

A long time ago (over 5 years ago), I got a bee in my bonnet about something I noticed with the weather in relation to when I wanted to go stargazing with my telescope. In short, there was a repeating pattern in the air pressure for Toronto that followed a 7 day cycle, which when graphed would show a "W" sort of shape.  

Speaking to some meteorologists, they would reply with "your data is wrong, how could the weather be following a man-made pattern?", whilst others (especially at universities and research institutions) were corresponding with me and saying "We aren't surprised - go find out more". 

Life keeps getting in the way, but tonight I quickly yanked down the data for Toronto from January this year to today, and I can still see the "W" shape when I average the 10PM kPa readings by day of the week.

Whilst this is not the full years worth of data, and this is not a highly scientific way of doing things, it was satisfying to see that there is still this "W" shape.  However, I have noticed that this "W" is a little lower in the middle than the previous shapes used to be, so (again, this is not very scientific) maybe there is a change in the weather this year from the previous averages? Alternatively, it could just be that I haven't crunched the entire year's worth of data.  Either way, I'm happy to see that something is still there as it means that it can still be observed and hopefully one day understood. 

Inflating the Metropass

Today I saw something in the news indicating that our local transit company (The TTC) wanted to increase the price of it's monthly pass (the "Metropass") again.  

It would seem to me like these numbers are constantly out of whack with inflation each time they are raised, so I punched in a few historical prices and adjusted for inflation to see what they would be in todays money.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Confused? You will be... Or not... Or neither...

I've never been a fan of Canada Post as my experience with them is it takes far too long to mail anything (7 days to mail something starting and ending within Toronto seems to be the norm according to my experience), and far too expensive.

If I can help it, I send everything digitally just to bypass them, but there's a problem with this.  They realised some time ago that people would go digital, so they came up with a half-baked system called ePost, where the basic premise is that instead of having things sent to your email address electronically (like bank statements, bills, etc), banks and utilities and everyone has been corralled to pile stuff into this system like it's a last-ditch attempt to give Canada Post something relevant to do instead of disbanding it.

Yesterday, I got the attached message from the ePost system, which underlines the classic type of nonsense that makes me dislike them in the first place. 

What the message implies is that, first, they made a technology mistake when designing their system.  If their opt-in/opt-out methodology mentioned in the message was a light-switch, it's equivalent would be Light On when up... Light Off when down... and "it might look like it's off, but really there's no lightbulb attached anyway".  

Their understanding of binary states gets even more weird when you look at the instructions they provide to fix their issue.  In short, what it's saying is that "if you don't opt in, or opt out, we're opting you in".  But it doesn't actually state that (it infers it in a way that many people would not comprehend at first glance).  

So, to recap, instead of having two states (true/false) for a record of a binary decision, they put in three (true, false, null), now they're trying to get it back to two (true/false) and are going to assume any null records should be true unless you set it to false before they get there. Clear?

How the instructions tell you to change this is pure comedy:

  • To opt in, check the box. This makes sense.
  • To opt out, check the box (like you're now in), but then uncheck the box (so now it's back how it was before you started) then click Save.
In other words, to opt out, you should just go to your profile and don't click anything, then hit save and the unchecked box should get written back to the database as a false... 

...unless there's another piece of weirdness going on that they're not telling us about, which wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.