Jonathan Allard

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How I Like to Solve Dilemmas

Sometimes you have two seemingly equal options, each with its pros and cons, and you can’t choose between.

Applying for College

When I was in my last year of high school, a person from the admissions office of a local college came in to give a conference on applying for college. He told us this story about hesitating when choosing a program:

A student came to me and asked: “I don’t know what to choose between programs X and Y! Which one is better?”

I replied: “Well, just flip head or tails.”

“You’re kidding me, right? My future depends on this, and you’re telling me to flip a coin?”

“It works. Here’s a coin, flip. Heads is X, tails is Y.”

Le péage automatique du pont de l'A25

La semaine dernière, la Cour supérieure a autorisé Union consommateurs à déposer un recours collectif contre Concession A25, dans le cadre de ses opérations du pont à péage qui relie Montréal à Laval.

Le fonctionnement du péage est relativement simple: vous passez sur le pont avec votre véhicule, chaque véhicule a une plaque, et une caméra se charge de noter chaque numéro de plaque pour vous envoyer la facture.  

Mentally Converting Fahrenheit to Celsius (better)

Many people know the trick to convert from F to C mentally:

(F-32) ÷ 2

However, the accurate formula being multiplying by 5/9 instead of 1/2 (or 5/10),

(F-32) × 5/9

we introduce a relative error of 10% (we arrive at 10% below our real figure).  

The Magic Numbered Boards

My second grade teacher used to have a magic trick. She had a series of boards with a bunch of numbers written on it, usually from 1 to 40 or so.

The kids had to choose a number while the teacher wasn’t looking (she waited out in the hallway). She would then come back and show the class each board and ask them if the number was on it. Yes, yes, no, no, yes… After we had gone through all the boards, she would tell us the number. Magic!  

Il y aura un NPD Québec

L'électorat québecois n'est pas satisfait du choix qu'on lui donne. Le paysage politique est loin d'être saturé, et justement, il y a un immense vide. Dans la campagne actuelle [2012], on n'exprime d'enthousiasme pour aucun des chefs, et on va "au moins pire." C'est d'ailleurs pourquoi Legault et la CAQ ont reçu tant de support à leurs débuts, alors qu'on les voyait diriger un gouvernement majoritaire dans les sondages. Le vide avait été comblé avec quelque chose qui parlait au Québécois. Par contre, à mesure qu'on a connu Legault, l'enthousiasme s'est évanoui et nous a ramené au même état d'apathie qu'on était. Un nouveau parti est encore possible et désirable.  

Email Addresses Are Ugly: Email 2.0

I hate email addresses. Even if they are the main way of identifying someone on the internet, they are often so ugly. For most, there will be a or in their email, or worse, an internet provider, like

When trying to establish a personal brand or even professional brand, these providers get in the way of having a streamlined, “clean” brand.

For example, what does having or in your email say about you? Would you write this on a resumé, how would that affect your reputation for an employer? Maybe Gmail users are generally more tech-savvy than Yahoo Mail users. You see how that fragment can taint your image.

Email addresses also suffer from another caveat. Were one to change providers, the email address will have to change. The email address is, by design, tied to a provider.  

Accept-language: Bilingual

I am fluent in two languages: being a Québecois, my mother tongue, French, and the language the internet had me learn, English. However, websites are served to me as if I wasn’t.

I have indicated that to my browser, Firefox. French first, English second. Which in turn it indicates to all web servers when I request their content.

The classic case: I visit a website in native English, that has been translated into French. The translation is adequate, but I prefer the original version, as often translations aren’t perfect. As I’ve encountered many sites of this breed, I switched my locale to English first, French second, to be able to view English websites un-translated. So far so good.

The caveat: translations are rarely pefect. On the reverse, when I visit a website originally in French, that happens to have a translation in English, I don’t want the translation. I’m thinking of the Government of Québec, for instance. I always get the English page, even though it’s a little ridiculous for a francophone to get the Gov. of Québec’s pages in English.

The thing about translation is that it’s just that: translation. Most resources are crafted in a certain language first, and then, translated, which will be adequate, sure, but often isn’t exactly faithful to the original version. In that sense, there is some content degradation.

How do I get rid of translations? How do I get the best content possible I can understand?  

Canada Post v.

It appears Canada Post is suing because it freely disseminates postal codes it has amassed on its own.

No, amazingly, postal codes are not public domain in Canada. They appear to bear some sort of copyright held by Canada Post. If you want, for example, to make a nice API so a website user, for example, has only to type his postal code to have his adress almost all filled in, and in bonus the data being awesomely more consistent and error-free.

To do that, you either have to purchase the DB from Canada Post at an awesome price of $5000, or have to figure out a solution on your own. I learned today provides that kind of API.  


Mon blog. Un refuge pour mes pensées occasionnelles, qui autrefois, plus souvent qu’autrement, finissaient sur une ou deux des milliers de feuilles de papier qui tapissent les racoins mon bureau, ou encore pire, dans un coin isolé de ma pensée.

J’ai choisi Octopress, un module de blog basé sur Jekyll, le tout monté en Ruby. Je voulais initialement arranger (amancher) quelque chose de plus complexe, mais la simplicité a fini par l’emporter. Le gros plus, c’est que je puisse hoster le tout sur Github Pages, ce qui me semble très bien.

Mes activités sur Internet sont bilingues. Anglais, français. Je ne sais pas encore trop comment faire une solution qui plaît à tout le monde. On pourrait devenir condescendent et dire que “ceux qui parlent français parlent anglais, mais pas le contraire”, de quoi j’écrirais en anglais seulement, mais j’ai un amour particulier pour ma langue maternelle. Ce devrait donc être un méli-mélo. Pour les plus importants, je prévois installer un quelconque mécanisme de deux-langues-pour-un- post, que je traduirai moi-même.

Allez, c’est parti! En espérant que vous trouverez le tout intéressant.