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Tuesday, June 4, 2002

  • More townhouses being considered
  • Native churchman speaks next week
  • New hope for stopping spam
  • Just a few other notes
Chris Redmond

Tiananmen Square, 1989: 'the declassified history'

[Back of pickup]

Wires for the wireless: Members of the Waterloo Wireless group got together Saturday to burn solder and fit brass pieces together -- not to mention such low-tech parts as old juice cans. The workshop, held in the Math and Computer building, produced directional and omnidirectional antennas that can increase the range of a laptop computer's wireless card. In tests outdoors afterwards, the homemade antennas worked to a range of 233 meters (764 feet).

More townhouses being considered

A new townhouse complex on the Fischer-Hallman Road side of UW's north campus is among ideas that are being taken seriously for expanding the amount of housing at UW, the board of governors will be told today.

A report from the board's building and properties committee says the university "will issue a request for expressions of interest" from developers. In fact, that request has already appeared, in a fine-print ad published in the Record two weeks ago.

The townhouse complex, with a rough budget of $15 million, is one of several projects that would create a total of 555 new beds for single students, as well as 40 family residence units, says the committee's report as it appears in the agenda for today's meeting:

"Housing and Residences have prepared a preliminary option for expansion which would include the following components:

"This would create an additional 555 single-student spaces (fall term) and 40 family units (including St. Paul's). UW would be able to reinstate 1998 accommodation levels for upper-year students (250 family units and 1100 single-student spaces).

"As next steps, UW will engage a consulting firm to assist with site selection, development of a building concept and preparation of preliminary cost estimates for a new building (300-bed residence combined with space for the new Centre for Business Entrepreneurship and Technology); issue a request for expressions of interest in order to gauge interest in a leasing arrangement for a townhouse complex north and west of the existing Columbia Lake Townhouses."

The report also provides some information about plans for new residence construction at Conrad Grebel University College: "additions/renovations which would add 26 beds to its dormitory and a 32-bed apartment building. A new atrium would be inserted between the two existing buildings and the main parking lot would be expanded. Student services space would be expanded and relocated as would a number of classrooms. The project is slated for completion by August 2003."

Also on the agenda for today's board meeting -- which starts at 2:30 in Needles Hall room 3001:

The meeting will be followed by dinner for governors and guests at Mackenzie King Village.

Native churchman speaks next week

Very Rev. Stan McKay, quite possibly the most prominent figure in the United Church of Canada, will be the guest of honour at a fund-raising dinner while he is in Waterloo next week to receive an honorary degree from UW.

McKay is on the list to be honoured at convocation (at the arts ceremony on Thursday, June 13) for his years of service as Moderator of the United Church and his leadership in Canada's aboriginal community and the World Council of Churches.

He was nominated for the UW degree by St. Paul's United College, UW's United Church affiliate, which is holding a celebratory dinner the night before convocation (Wednesday, June 12) that will honour McKay and permit him to address the community on the role of education in the lives of native peoples. His address is entitled "Learning: A Healing Dialogue".

"We were pleased," says St. Paul's principal Graham Brown, to suggest McKay's name to the UW senate committee that selects honorary degree recipients. "He certainly is worthy of such an honour, and we are very happy that he has accepted. And the timing couldn't be better because St. Paul's is currently doing more to reach out to the on-campus native community."

A news release from the college says next week's dinner will raise funds for "an important new project at St. Paul's that will support native students". Says Brown: "St. Paul's has been teaching in the area of Native Studies for years, but we now wish to address the needs of aboriginal students themselves. An Aboriginal Counsellor will be hired soon to minister to native students -- a position made possible by the Ministry of Education and Training."

Tickets for the May 12 meal, to be served in South Campus Hall, cost $40; a tax receipt will be issued for $15. A reception starts at 6 p.m. and dinner at 6:30. Tickets are available from Arlene Sleno at St. Paul's, phone 885-1465 ext. 201.

[Spam animation]

New hope for stopping spam

"We have some new tools that automatically sort spam for you," says Reg Quinton of UW's information systems and technology department, and of course he's not talking about Hormel's lunch meat. "Spam" is mass e-mail, one of the curses of the connected world.

"The volume of unsolicited bulk email as a proportion of total email traffic is still rising," adds Quinton's colleague Dawn Whiteside. She provided some information about what's being done, and new tactics that will be used soon, when I asked whether UW is "losing the war" against spam.

"At UW," says Whiteside, "we're stopping some spam at the front door by refusing mail from servers which are listed in public blacklists as known open mail relays or spam sources -- but not on all mail servers. For example, about half the spam which hits my mailbox comes through a system on campus running software which doesn't use any blacklists (even though I've not used that particular address for over 4 years)."

She didn't say how many spam messages she gets each day, but the number can be substantial for people whose e-mail addresses are widely publicized on web pages. I find myself deleting 20 or 30 pieces of spam each morning, for example, many of them offering to increase the size of my investment portfolio or my body parts.

What can computer users do to block the stuff? Whiteside has this answer: "Software to filter email and filtering capabilities in mail client software such as Eudora (not just to avoid spam but to help people who receive a lot of mail to have it automatically organized for them) is available on campus, but someone not comfortable with computers in general may not be comfortable setting up filters.

"I think we may need to do a better job of letting people (both regular users and system administrators) know how to filter their mail."

Meanwhile, work is continuing on the "new tools" that Quinton referred to. In particular, he said, "we're testing SpamAssassin and will soon release it to the world."

The nastiest kind of spam doesn't just offer free love or Nigerian investments -- it carries e-viruses too, programs that can infect the recipient's computer and then pass themselves along to others in a long e-mail chain.

The latest viruses are "gleaning data from mailboxes to construct clever hoaxes that convince the recipient to click and infect," says Quinton. "They're impressive. we have anti-virus technology in place ("the procmail sanitizer"), and as soon as admmail is upgraded it will be installed. That will clobber most/all executable content, disarming the virus before it can do any damage."

Whiteside adds that "It slightly alters incoming mail to make most viruses ineffective before they hit the user's mailbox. A recent virus attack hit the administrative staff particularly hard because the filter (which requires extra processing for every incoming mail message) was not active on the overburdened admmail server."

Just a few other notes

Official openings tend to feature ribbon-cuttings by gents in suits, but look for some variety on the theme when William Lyon Mackenzie King Village is officially opened this afternoon. To emphasize the building's link with Canada's tenth prime minister, costumed staff will be on hand from King's boyhood home in Kitchener, Woodside. Even Gail Clarke and Jenny Macintyre of the residence staff are promising to get into the spirit of the thing with 19th-century clothes, and a string quartet is also expected. The King Village ceremonies begin at 12:30 today.

It's the first day of the Commuter Challenge, on which people are supposed to try walking, biking, busing or carpooling to work instead of driving their cars. "This challenge," Patti Cook reminds us from the waste management office, "is a friendly competition between workplaces in Waterloo Region and is part of a greater effort amongst communities across Canada to reduce pollution and traffic congestion."

The "Knowing Your Workplace" series continues this week with the last of four scheduled sessions. An hour on salary administration and salary increases for staff members will be offered at noon today, repeated at 9 a.m. tomorrow, in Davis Centre room 1302. Registration for the session is through the human resources web site.

Indigenous leaders from Chiapas (Mexico) and Guatemala will visit campus today as part of a cross-Canada tour leading up to the "G8" summit meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta, later this month. Invited to town by the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group and other agencies, they will make a presentation at 1:00 in the Student Life Centre and another tonight at 7:30 at Kitchener's Working Centre (43 Queen Street South). The visit, says WPIRG, provides "an opportunity for Canadians to learn of struggles in the global south concerning issues of global impoverishment, discrimination and repression. . . . At the same time, our southern visitors will learn more about the growing resistance in the north to the unjust global order, and about the life and struggles of Native Canadians." Expected are Ramon Penate Diaz, a human rights defender with the Chiapas Community Defenders Network, and Carlos Chen Osorio, co-founder of ADIVIMA, the Association of Association for the Integral Development of the Victims of 'the Violence'.

Peter Goldsworthy writes from the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology: "You are invited to a special colloquium on June 5 between 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon in the FLEX Lab, Dana Porter Library 329. Tim McLeary, director of technology solutions and services, Higher Education Division, Pearson Education Canada, presents "How Technology is Shaping the Way Pearson (the World's Largest Education Publisher) Creates and Delivers Content." He will give us all a close look at how the educational publishing industry is approaching higher education. Tim has recently received an online MBA from Athabasca University in information technology, and collaborates closely in eLearning partnerships with organizations such as Microsoft, Sun, Palm, and others. This may prove to be an excellent opportunity for you to learn where publishers are heading in concert with or in competition with universities." Goldsworthy is accepting RSVPs (phone ext. 7008 or e-mail peter@lt3), and there's more information on the LT3 web site.



June 4, 1991: A picnic -- quickly to become an annual event -- launches the Community Campaign to raise money for UW from staff, faculty and retirees.

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