Problem with Eclipse using make

Eclipse NSDEE build works the first time after a clean then fails with error ‘target pattern contains no ‘%’

Cause: The installed version of make does not support file names of the form C:\… in a dependency file (.d)

Effect: the build fails with the above error

Recovery: Check the version of cygwin make by opening the cygwin terminal and enter the command ‘make —version’ , if the version is between 3.8.1 and 4.0 Install version 3.8.0 of make.exe in cygwin/bin directory from

Not all browsers will let you download an executable.


When Availiability Meets Legislation

Well, it looks like Canada is about to get an interesting kick in the business behind from government when it comes to business continuity. What? How could that be, Randall? What does legislation have to do with my ability to continue operations? Good question. You may not like the answer.

The new legislation is considered the most aggressive in any jurisdiction and has some provisions different from any other country on the planet. In the “Fast Facts” section of the new law, coming into effect in July 2014, it will generally prohibit:

sending of commercial electronic messages without the recipient’s consent (permission), including messages to email addresses and social networking accounts, and text messages sent to a cell phone;

Now, this looks really good on paper, until you dig deeper into the legislation. Suppose you have a customer that has installed your amazing banking software in production. Unless you have specific permission to contact your own customer by email, and you have to get it periodically because it expires, you may not be able to send them information about critical updates (fortunately not including mandated PCI security fixes and product safety notices). Out of warranty operational issues are not covered. I’m sure they won’t mind hearing about it, but you still have to get their permission. No problem, right? Well, suppose that you have done a great job and there have been no fixes or bugs or any other communication for two years. Their permission is out of date. You can’t tell them that something is wrong. Not by email anyway. What are you going to do? More importantly, what are they going to do? They get hit by the bug you fixed, but you couldn’t tell them. They are down and you might get sued, or not, depending on where province/state/country your license agreement is governed. Oops.

You cannot even send an email to a prospect asking them for permission to get in touch with them in most cases. If you had doubts about email being dead in Canada, doubt no longer.

The way this could work is to have a mechanism similar to Add Friend buttons in social media. If the legislators had worked with technology companies, this might have worked. It was discussed more than a decade ago. However, this was not done, so we now have gaps between legislation and technology that will result is a fair amount of chaos and damage to the economy.

On the other hand, the entire email spam situation can simply be implemented, without any legislation, if people use White Lists as the only allowable means of email receipt. Using that choice, no one would get spam or any communications whatsoever from anyone new, which appears to be the point of that part of the legislation.

There are a few things you can do, as a customer, to help your supplier operationally:

  • Consider “out of warranty warranties”. This would be a provision in your license agreement to have you be notified of all changes as warranty items, even if you are not paying for (or entitled to) warranty service.
  • More importantly, if there is any doubt, make sure you contact your vendor periodically to keep implied consent active. Or make your consent explicit.

As a vendor, make sure you have consent on record. Regardless of what may have been said in the press, and there are exceptions, implied consent essentially expires every two years without any other communications. So what you can do:

  • Keep in touch with all of your customers. This will keep implied consent alive.
  • Get explicit consent.

We’re still researching the proper procedure in dealing with this rather painful situation. Needless to say, we may have to send out some bulk mailings to obtain your permission so that we can let you know the answer, at least if we don’t have one before this law goes into effect.

Unfortunately for the pain and effort that we legitimate companies will have to go to, the legislation is unlikely to make any difference to the nasty spammers out there, who will simply move to a different country and send us spam anyway.

All I can say here is, please keep in touch. Unless you are a spammer, we are not going to have a problem with you sending us email communications or contact requests. You are our valued customers, and will we treat you with the respect you deserve.

Surviving a Lengthy Electrical Power Outage

Winter brings an interesting set of challenges to business continuity. Temperatures drop and infrastructure gets covered in ice and snow. Maintenance crews have a much harder time gaining access to things in need of repair, including wires, underground transformers, and conduits. Power and drainage problems happen almost predictably every year. It’s not about if, it’s about when and how often.

If your business has been interrupted due to lengthy blackout this winter, or if you are justifiably worried about it, one of things you might consider is installing a backup generator.  These generators can be powered by either bottled gas (propane) or natural gas.  While diesel and gasoline powered generates are available, and usually slightly less expensive, you might want to avoid those due to the fact that the local gas station will be impacted by the same blackout unless you are prepared to store sufficient quantities of the fuel – and that means you may need permits to store more than a few minutes worth. There is value in those, don’t get me wrong. They’ll let you do a clean shut-down of your operation, but you should not depend on them for running your business during a lengthy outage.

Don’t be tempted to hook up a standby generator to your electrical system during an outage, if the power comes back on you can be electrocuted, destroy the generator or burn out any equipment that is hooked up. If you use a standby generator run it outside due to carbon monoxide and run a sufficient size extension cord directly to any equipment you need powered.

The next step is to determine the size of the generator you need. In a home you would take into account things like refrigerators and freezers, heating / cooling, sump or well pumps, internet, television / radio / phones, lighting and anything else you would like powered during a lengthy outage. At your office, think about what systems need to stay running – if you are running a factory, remember to include not only the power tools, but health and safety equipment.

These standby generators can be hooked up to the electrical system with an automatic transfer switch to turn off the utility power while the generator is running.  They have battery start and can have automatic testing on a weekly basis – a crucial feature in our opinion otherwise you might find you have just a very expensive decoration.  Natural gas and propane generators are manufactured by companies like GE, Generac, Cummins, Kohler, and Winco. The smallest units start around $2000 without installation for a 7000 watt unit. Some propane generators may be installed inside your well ventilated factory, but always check the manuals and regulations in your area first.

Stand-by generators generally will start running within minutes of the power going out – they take time to get going and stabilize – so you may still need UPS power for critical items, like servers and phone systems, that need continuous power. There will also be a short interruption when the utility power returns, which UPS devices will also handle.

Assess your needs and know how much power you need and when. Don’t get caught wishing that you were the one who bought that last generator instead of the person in line ahead of you who did.


Where Hockey Meets Continuity

After watching the Canada/USA women’s hockey gold medal match, I was struck by a rather strange thought. Business and Government had come to a temporary stand-still, while the whole country watched an incredible comeback. We cheered, we roared, we swore at the TV a lot, but other than looking down at email, what was going on? Nothing. The government even postponed scheduled press conferences until overtime was done. How Canadian, eh?

What does this have to do with anything? In Canada, hockey comes first, doesn’t it? Well, no. Electronic commerce comes all the time, whether you are looking at it or not. And that means that you have to be aware of what’s going on. So how do we manage continuity when the entire country is culturally predisposed to putting Hockey first? That’s a good question, but it is part of a larger problem.

How do we handle situations where people’s emotions and desires come before business? We adapt, that’s how. As managers, we have to be aware of what influences our staff. If we don’t or won’t, then we are going to have unexpected situations, like everyone disappearing to go downstairs to the local pub to watch the game. You simply cannot force people to act against their nature. You have to plan for it. So, when there is a gold medal hockey game scheduled, don’t plan on doing a massive benchmark or critical installation or code activation requiring everyone’s attention. Plan around it, because you know it’s going to happen. And ignoring what you know will happen will bring forth the biggest risk to your company: you.

When The Big Thaw Hits

As we watch the sun disappear behind the clouds today, we have to consider emergency preparedness and what happens when a rapid thaw occurs after there is a lot of snow.

There are two big questions:

  • What does this mean to me; I mean, I’m in an office, right?
  • What do I have to do to prepare, since, ok, I get it now?

So what does it mean? Rapid rises in temperature, in the winter anyway, result from weather systems. If you are a weather geek, you’ll know terms like frontal boundaries, occluded fronts, moisture pumps, omega blocks, and this years favourite scary term, “The polar vortex”. Huh? Ok, sudden warm weather means rain and melting. Usually a lot of it. We are currently forecast to get 30mm of rain, but we’re also going to get almost that in melt. So, Randall, that’s only 6cm of water. Who cares? Well, there are a few big problems for you. Let’s start at home.

The most important thing to do when you get home tonight (or now if you are home) is to clear your storm drains. If you don’t, water will simply flood the streets. But 60mm translates to a whole lot more because all that water in your yard has to go somewhere. We’re now up to triple that on the road, and that’s probably above your front-end air dam on your car. But wait, there’s more. The water is also going to flood into the buried power transformers, which do not like getting wet. Oh, and their drains are probably all frozen too. Worse, the salt on your street is going to mix with the water to make a really good conductor, so you need to make sure to avoid going near ground transformers during the storms and until the water drains off.

So the impact at work is, expect power failures and surges. There will be flooding on the roads, so you might want to consider public transit. Do you park in an underground garage? Did you remember to test your UPS batteries?

At home, clean those drains, have candles, and stay away from transformers. Monitor the situation and if you see water pooling up against the side of the house, get out the shovels. In fact, go out now and look for low spots in the snow. And if you’re me, check the UPS batteries at home also. They’ve had quite the workout this season.

You should also monitor the situation as it happens. The Weather Network has published a severe warning here:

You can also read my interview with The Richmond Hill Liberal by Kim Zarzour here:

Noah’s Flood

What will make things really nasty is the potential for the following: The high snow banks can temporarily keep some of the water in large pools. Eventually, the snow/ice mix will melt and have a catastrophic failure. This means a rapid break, rather like a dam bursting is possible in places. It is absolutely crucial that you and your children stay away from flowing water and avoid being below these dams. Safety first. For example, avoid the Upper Mill Pond park area during and immediately after this event.

For Geeks Only

If you are really interested in doing the math (If your name is Sheldon, for instance, and are reading this), take the ground topography of the area for your volume calculation. Assume a 1:3 road to property ratio, and that the weeping tiles are frozen solid so have no absorption at this time of year so do not factor into capacity. If you want to make things deeper, assume that all snow/ice on roofs, roughly 1:1 with the roads, are going to completely melt off and not pool on the properly, and that these will translate from 15cm snow/ice mix to 5cm of water (it would roughly be 1.5cm of water if it was just snow).  As a SWAG, this results in roughly 200-300cm of water that could pool without proper road drainage. But don’t hold me to these numbers. They are for planning guidance only. The number could be vary by a magnitude either way.

Anti-Spam Policy

At Nexbridge, we have a strict anti-spam policy. It is very simple:

  1. We will never spam you. Our email messages are clear and from a real person or exactly once by our web server in response to a direct inquiry. You can request removal from our contact lists at anytime and we will honour it as fast as we are able.
  2. Never spam us. If you spam us, we will not do business with you. It is as simple as that. Marketing information is ok, as long as it is ethical and we are able to remove our addresses from your lists immediately. Please don’t claim that it will take 7 days to process our request. We will not believe you.

To quote William Shakespeare from The Merchant of Venice:

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”. – (Act III, scene I).”

We will report all spam as widely as possible. We will report hack attempts to your ISP and to the authorities.

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