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Vancouver’s belated brush with fog

Fog descending on the 1400 block of West Broadway Ave. at 7:56 p.m., Wednesday, December 6.

Thick and persistent fog, of the sort commonly experienced in October, belatedly arrived in Vancouver late on the evening of December 6.

In keeping with my hazy notion that colliding warm and cold air is somehow responsible for the phenomenon, the fog initially brought with it pleasantly milder October temperatures.

The view west from the 1200 block of West Broadway Ave. on Thursday, December 7, at 8:19 a.m.

While fog can simply (and not wrongly) be seen as a grounded cloud of water vapour, the exact mechanics of fog are more than I actually understand.

I read that it involves the surrounding air becoming saturated with as much water as is possible at a given temperature (so-called 100 percent relative humidity) and that cold air can reach this saturation point faster and with less water than warm air. However, what additional factors determine when this saturation results in fog, as opposed to rain, remains a mystery to me. Read more…

Widening one’s horizons on a cold early morning in late fall

Contrary to the shock I felt as I unzipped my sleeping bag in the concrete parkade that is my home as a homeless person, it wasn’t really that cold in Vancouver this morning (December 5). It could not have been much below 3° Celsius. There was certainly no ice or snow anywhere that I could see.

It wasn’t until I finally made it to Alder Street, between 8th Avenue and West Broadway at 8:17 a.m. that I saw where all the snow was—on the distant North Shore Mountains!

Results aside, it was worth the risk of chilled fingers to try capturing the sight of those snow-covered peaks, rising behind the twinkling lights of the downtown skyline. Read more…

TransLink Christmas bus sees the light of day

Just after Noon today (December 4) a TransLink bus flashed through the intersection of West Broadway Avenue and South Granville Street—literally.

The bus was decked out in what could only be Christmas lights but in the daylight, with all the electrical wiring visible, the strongest impression was of windows covered with a mesh, dotted with white lights.

From the side at least, it looked—declared a friend—like a prison bus. Read more…

Websites in Vancouver and Canada among 1000s cryptocurrency mining through users’ computers

Screenshot of uBlock disabling the coinhive cryptocurrency mining JavaScript on the Boxing Canada website.

With the value of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Monero and Ethereum, going through the roof, a new report by Pixalate (a player in programmatic marketing and online advertising) finds that 5,442 websites have installed a Coinhive JavaScript.

Coinhive secretly uses visiting computer CPUs to mine for the cryptocurrency Monero, which was worth CAD$191.16, as of December 1.

Cryptocurrency mining involves using your computer to help perform the computationally-intensive task of maintaining the global blockchain “ledger” that records all cryptocurrency transactions—in return for very small rewards of cryptocoin.

This is not the first time that websites have incorporated the Coinhive code to mine Monero cryptocurrency using visitor’s processing power—both the Pirate Bay torrent tracking site and the Showtime streaming site were caught doing it in September.

But now we’re talking over 5,000 websites, not just two.

Pixalate says that the list of “cryptojacking” websites that are using the Coinhive code includes 13 of the top 1000 websites and 25 of the top 5,000 sites, as ranked by Alexa.

My own examination of the complete list shows that in general terms, a lot of the sites offer streaming multimedia content.

Fully 37.65 percent (2,049) are websites using the .com domain. Second place goes to 312 .net websites (5.73 percent). Third place goes to 209 .ru websites—the same number as have a .co domain, which is assigned to Colombia. Read more…

No telling which Pepsi Generation this belongs to

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A retired friend of mine believes that the old, unopened, 170 ml glass Pepsi bottle that I dug out of the garbage Tuesday evening (November 28) was a promotional giveaway in the early 1960s.

But it really can’t be older than the metrication of Canadian food labels, which took place in 1976.

Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the bottle is 20 years more recent and dates from the 1980s, or even the early 1990s. But the exact year appears to be anyone’s guess.

I found this puzzling pop bottle while I was looking for returnable beverage containers and other things of value. It was in a bag of kitchen stuff buried deep in a garbage dumpster in a Fairview neighbourhood alley. Read more…

Thinking like a hungry crow and other intelligence tests

What did the crow imagine it would find on my trailer?

This morning (November 22) found me at a restaurant in the 1400 block of West Broadway enjoying breakfast. At least I was enjoying breakfast until it was brought to my attention that a crow was orbiting my parked bike trailer, locked to a pole a few metres away.

Crows bring a level of intelligence and inquisitiveness (not to mention acquisitiveness) to the business of foraging that I find almost unnerving, particularly when it is my business they are poking their beaks into.

I well remember a spring day in 2014 when I was sitting in the same restaurant seat and watched a person place a wrapped, store-bought sandwich on my bike trailer, locked to the same pole.

Before I could even stand up, four crows swooped in like flashes of black lightning and, between them, unwrapped and consumed the sandwich in not much more time than it takes to say “Hey! What the f—.”

The three pigeons that then appeared were not backward in cleaning up the remaining crumbs.

It was as if the sandwich had never existed. The flocking air pirates even made off with the plastic sandwich wrapper!

So this morning, the most important meal of the day suddenly became less important to me than finding out what the curious corvid thought was so interesting about my trailer. Read more…