Interesting Tidbits (interesting to me, anyways) 

2007/3/11: Fascinating statistics on Canadian Universities can be found at the Re$earch Infosource site ( These are data compiled in a similar manner as the MacLean's Annual ratings. Also, there is data on publication intensity by University.

2007/1/15: The mainboard battery in my Thinkpad 600X died. The boot message was Error 161 163 and which refer to dead CMOS battery and date/time not updated. The replacement part on the web costs about $25, but the battery is a simple CR2025 lithium battery which is available at the local dollar store (2 for $1). However, the CMOS battery is encased in a plastic shrinkwrap with black & red wires leading to a special plug. Other people have said that they've replaced it and so I tried. The red and black wires lead to small flat metal plates which are soldered or heat joined (there are small pinkprick bumps on the flat plates) onto the battery. I cut open the shrinkwrap and then carefully yanked off the small plate from the battery. I reattached the plates to the new battery, with the red lead to the + side (flatter). I taped it together with duct tape and replaced it with the black cable toward the center of the laptop and the positive red cable toward the side of the laptop. It worked after 2 reboots.

2006/9/6: For those interested in a very basic student microscope, details can be found here at the Carolina Biological Supplies website. This company also offers some very basic microscopes starting at $100 US.

2006/6/16: The University of Guelph has greatly increased student tuition for the coming year, particularly for foreign graduate students. For example, the tuition & other necessary student fees for a full year (3 semesters) starting fall 2005 were $6,643 for domestic full-time graduate students and $11,150 for foreign full time graduate students. For these continuing students, the tuition increases this fall (2006) to $7,000 and $12,100 respectively. However, the largest increase is for new foreign graduate students at almost $16,000 for a year, an increase of $4,000. A link to tutition fees at the University of Guelph can be found here.

2006/4/23: At a recent Teaching Workshop at the University of Guelph, some information was presented on the relationship between research and teaching:  "There is little evidence of a direct correlation between research productivity and teaching excellence" (Hattie & Marsh 1996;  Marsh & Hattie 2002, Hattie & Marsh 2004).

2006/3/21: The Canadian Association of University Teachers released their "Almanac of Post-Secondary Education, 2006".  It contains an amazing array of statistics on everything from average University Professor salaries, age, ethnicity, citizenship to statistics on students such as age, debt load, average tuitions, etc.

2006/2/26: Average Salaries for Ontario University Professors.  For those of you contemplating a career as an University Professor, here are some statistics regarding average salaries by age.  What it doesn't show is that in the pre-30's age groups, the pre-faculty personnel (grad students or post-docs) generally earn between $17,000 and $35,000 per year, so there are quite a few years of lost earnings compared to contemporaries who might have begun their earning career right after an undergraduate degree. In comparison, here are some statistics from the U.S. showing that the average salaries in U.S. dollars: Professor ($108,404), Assoc prof ($73,562), and Asst prof ($62,730). source: For a good explanation of the academic ranks in North American Universities, see:

2005/4/17: Dual boot Win2k and Linux RH9 when Lilo won't work.
Win2k installed on primary master (hda), and RH9 installed on secondary master (hdb) but not in the first 2 Gb.  Couldn't get Lilo to work, even though I got it working on another Win2k/Linux dual boot.  Resorted to using Loadlin which requires DOS to run.  Created a dual boot with Win2k and DOS7 (part of Win98SE), by booting with a Win98SE boot disk, and using A:SYS C: to transfer the bootup files. wouldn't copy over and had to be copied over to C: manually later.  However the big hitch was that the computer now booted up to C: while looking for the command interpreter (, but not the Win2K c:\winnt\system32\  Used the Win2K setup CD #1 to "repair" the Win2k installation.  The boot.ini was altered in the process to now provide selections for Win2k and for Windows (the DOS7 Win98SE portion) upon bootup.  Booted into Win2k and then copied over the manually from the Win98SE boot diskette (floppy).  Note that is a hidden file.  Then altered the autoexec file so that it contained
c:\linux\loadlin.exe c:\linux\vmlinuz root=/dev/hdb6 ro
Then edited boot.ini so that the other boot item was  C:\ = "Linux RH9 via DOS 7"

2004/1/15: How do you find ATM machines in China that will accept your Bank Card?  In general, the Bank of China branches all over China have machines that will take Foreign Bank Cards (not just credit cards, but also ones you use to withdraw cash from Instabank Machines).  And there are options to view the transactions in English. However, in some provinces, the Bank of China machines don't seem to accept foreign ATM cards (e.g. in Hubei province, in the cities of Wuhan and Yichang where the largest dam in the world is situated).  In Wuhan, the machines at China Merchants Bank accepted the Foreign ATM cards. Another way to attempt to track down which banks might accept your card is to use the Worldwide Visa ATM locator (  If searching with your city does not provide any hits, then try searching using larger cities nearby and it may identify some banks that accept Foreign Cards, and then you can try to find those banks in the city that you're in.  These machines that take Foreign ATM Bank Cards seem to accept cards from both PLUS and CIRRUS systems plus others perhaps. The fees for using foreign ATM machines depends on your bank.  For example, PC Financial charged $3.00 for each withdrawl, while the Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal charged $5.00 per withdrawl (in addition to other service fees depending on your account type). The maximum single withdrawl was 3,000 Chinese Yuan which was around $500 Canadian.  The Exchange rate that you obtain with withdrawls from ATM machines is better than what you can get with Cash or Travellers' Checks (around 1.5% higher than the official exchange rate I think). You can get Cash Advances using your credit cards, but the local banks in China which deal with foreign credit cards (Bank of China only?) charge 3% on the transaction.

2003/6/27: How do you get Netscape 7 to open email attachments in Webmail without having to individually select the application every time?  See: for details.  Essentially, you click on Advanced in theDownloading box and then set it for the proper application.  This problem here is that Netscape 7 does not use the Windows Explorer file associations, so each file type has to be set.  Also, webmail sticks PHP on the end of each attached file, so it's difficult to program this yourself by using Helper Applications in Netscape/Edit/Preferences.

2000/5/7:  Just bought an Intel Play QX3 microscope (cost CDN $120 + tax at Toys R Us). Just tried it out a bit. It is not useful for slide mounts, even though it says magnification is up to 200X, but it can show certain things such as disease symptoms and is more similar to dissecting scope. See a metric ruler with 1 mm divisions at 10x, 60x, and 200x. There is also an image of a Papyrus leaf showing a lesion. Although the optics aren't that clear, I think that it can be using for live demonstrations in class or for workshops. I'm trying to figure out how to use it in a class. More information on this unit can be found here.

2000/4/12:   Bill C-388, an act to prohibit the use of chemical pesticides for non-essential purposes (including home lawns gardens, parks and golf courses) received first reading in the house of commons on December 1, 1999.  The full text of the bill can be found here. To refresh yourself on the Parliamentary process in Canada, see this site.  In brief, this bill was introduced by a backbencher, and has gone through first reading, but third reading is the important one when the MP's vote on it.

2000/4/10:  Purchased a Fujitsu MPE3102AT hard drive (~$200 CDN) which is suppose to give 10.2 Gb.  Three older pentium systems were unable to recognize it as 10.2Gb and only gave 8.5Gb.  A newer pentium and a pentium-II were able to recognize it as a 10.2Gb drive.

2000/4/5:  The Government of Ontario requires that the names of public employees (in the broad sense) who earn over $100,000 per year be published.  Here are the PDF file listings for the current year and past years, and one list is for Ontario University Professors.

2000/11/10: If you have two hard drives and the first one has a partition (e.g. C and D drives), then the second hard drive can put its first partition between the two so that D become E.  To get around this, make the partition on the second drive a logical partion, not a primary DOS partition (in FDISK) and then it will be recognized as E in the setup above

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