The Longest Bike Trail in the Gatineau

Here’s a great place to ride a bike. It used to be the railway from Ottawa north to Maniwaki, but now it is a ‘linear park’. Kazabazua had the longest bar in the Gatineau, I suppose it should have the longest park too. Start in a little village named Low, which is a bit north of Wakefield. The starting spot in Low was not easy to find, it did not jump out at me. Look for a lumberjack’s boat resting until the end of its days in the park parking lot. (I parked at the hockey arena before seeing the park parking.) Do not attempt to bike on the roads up to here from Ottawa, it would be quite dangerous.

The parking at the start in Low

From Low north, the trail is gently uphill (the railway grade). In places the trail follows a contour through the woods, with the hillside dropping off steeply on one side. Further on, you find it level for miles. Once on the trail, expect some easy riding. Bring a bike with wide tires, because the surface is soft sand in places. My 1.5 inch wide slicks worked fine. If it is too easy for you, you could explore the side roads around Low.

In Low there are many anglophones, but Quebec is mostly francophone. Try your best to speak French, it is a great chance to practice, and in any case it is only decent to try.

It was a railroad many years ago

The trail is restricted to bicycles and hikers in the summer, and snowmobiles in the winter. Horse riding is for some reason prohibited. I for one would not mind sharing the trail with horse riders.

Is it a park .. or a bike trail?

This is a very quiet trail, there was hardly anyone enjoying it on a May 24 weekend. One couple brought a music system with them. Pack some supplies with you, it is a long ride to Maniwaki!

There are lots of birds along the trail, all the common types, bluejays, gold finches, warblers, and also several that I could not name. What is the same size and shape as a Pileated woodpecker but mostly coloured in shades of brown? What has yellow on the back of the head, and a white rump?

Venosta Station!

The railway station at Venosta is a bit run down these days.

Venosta

Venosta also has a government office, a church, and a few houses.

Some natural attractions include the gorge at Kazabazua, and the flatlands with sand ridges left by the ice age glaciers. Happy trails!

Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada

A Spotted Wolffish on the cover of Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada. 
© Candaian Scientific Submersible Facility/DFO, 2014

Coad, Brian W. and Reist, James B. (Edited and authored) with contributions by Peter Rask Møller, Claude B. Renaud, Noel R. Alfonso, Karen Dunmall, Michael Power, Chantelle D. Sawatzky, Fikret Berkes, J. Brian Dempson, Les N. Harris, and Heidi K. Swanson. 2018. Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada. Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa and University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Buffalo, London. xiv + 618 + pp., 521 figures, 219 maps, 182 colour figures.

This large format book will tell you everything you want to know about Arctic fishes. Up until now, information on Arctic fishes was relatively difficult to find because the Arctic is remote and scientific studies on fishes were more likely to be done closer to home. Museum of Nature researchers have been changing that and documenting new species in the north. Here is their announcement of the book

It was awarded the Dartmouth Medal.

A few years ago while the book was being written, a blog post (link to nature.ca) gave us some background.

Now you can read the book at OPL. Their description and summary of the book:
“Because of its wide geographic scope and harsh conditions, Canada’s Arctic presents many challenges for researchers and biologists. In this book, scientists from the Canadian Museum of Nature and Fisheries and Oceans Canada present a guide to the marine fishes found in Arctic Canadian waters and featuring up-to-date research on 222 species. Each of the 58 families is described in a general account followed by species accounts comprising common name, taxonomy, physical description and identification, habitat data, biology, distribution, commercial importance, and traditional knowledge. Many of the species are known only to scientists and come from the deeper waters of the Davis Strait while others have been important food sources for Indigenous peoples for millennia. A wide-ranging general introduction looks at the history of research, fish habitats, climate, fisheries, fish structure, and the collection and preservation of fishes while an essay on traditional ecological knowledge provides an important perspective. Exquisite black-and-white drawings of each species complement colour photos and illustrations. Finally, new range maps showing distributions across Arctic Canada were created for this volume. The book will be a welcome reference work for Northern residents, biologists and ecologists, environmental groups, and resource extraction companies operating in the North, as well as commercial and amateur fishers in Canada and in other circumpolar countries.”

A review by Betty Galbraith, Washington State University:
“Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada is a beautiful book. It is the first encyclopedia dedicated exclusively to the Arctic fishes of Canada and contains 222 species organized by 58 families. Each family of fishes is introduced with an overarching description of the biology, life cycle, behavior, and specific habitat. This family section is followed by accounts of each species within the family, including common name, taxonomy, physical description, biology, life history, distribution, commercial and cultural importance, and a short bibliography of sources. Each species also has a map of its range and beautiful line drawings. An introduction to the subject covers the history of research, fish habitats, climate, environment, and more. The book also contains a glossary of terms and a bibliography. Coad (emer., Canadian Museum of Nature) and Reist (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) both bring considerable expertise to this subject, having written several articles and bibliographies on Arctic fishes. A must-have book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.”

Manager’s Path

The Manager’s Path, Camille Fournier, O’Reilly 2017

This book on management for tech leaders is excellent. It is very readable, well thought out and is supported by the author’s experience as CTO of the start-up RentTheRunway.

Just 200 pages so you could read it quickly, but you will want to read a bit slower and at times follow references to other thought leaders. I particularly liked ch. 9 on improving the culture of the team.

This blog site features books which will become obsolete rapidly, and Fournier’s book is an exception. The book is timeless in my view, apart from a few paragraphs that refer to current technology.

Backyard Wilderness 3d Movie

An image from the Backyard Wilderness 3d movie

The Nature Museum in Ottawa is playing an amazing movie showing wildlife in the north america forests. Backyard Wilderness has a feel-good family oriented theme.

It is amazing how close-up the photography is. The foxes, wood ducks, mice and salamanders are at times just inches from the camera. Clearly the photographer would be using a sensor to trigger the camera, but still, how could she set up the equipment in such a perfect position?

The theatre’s 3d vision is much better than what you see in the Cineplex with their disposable polarised glasses. Nature.ca has non-disposable glasses which give a bright, clear 3d view. The glasses use active shutter technology.  The left lens ‘opens’ for a fraction of a second, and the projector/screen shows the left view. Then the right lens ‘opens’ and the projector/screen shows the right view, and the cycle repeats. You cannot see any flickering or hear any mechanism. The 3D effect is more striking that what you get with polarised glasses, because they do not perfectly block your left eye from seeing the right image and vice versa.

There are some human actors in the movie, but they are upstaged by the wild animals. The human family lives in a rather nice two storey house, which is in a forested setting and harmonious with nature. Any neighbouring house seems to be out of sight. Any vehicles or roads are almost out of sight. This is an ideal living arrangement that would be difficult to attain for most of us!

The cost is $4 in addition to the regular museum entrance fee.

Algorithms Online Book

Jeff Erickson, professor at the University of Illinois, has published an excellent book on algorithms. He will be self-publishing this content as a paper book, but the online copy will remain available.

“I never hear anybody mentioning him but Jeff Erickson’s ‘Algorithms’ textbook [1] has some of the most lucid explanations I’ve come across. CLRS is often times impenetrable and for the times I didn’t like its explanation of something I turned to Jeff Erickson’s book and it hasn’t failed me yet. I’d urge anybody trying to solidify algorithms and data structures to take a look at it.” — stuxnet79

Asset Attack Vectors

by Morey J. Haber, Apress 2018

The author works for a vendor of expensive computer security systems for large companies. In his role, he visits customer sites to install and customize the product. This book talks of the kinds of vulnerabilities these products address. But jump ahead to one of the last chapters, ‘Tales From the Trenches” and read this first to understand his point of view. Then you may want to read the rest of the book, which is strong on project management and customer support.

Apress needs to do more editing. It seems possible that no editing was done on this book, at least the parts that I read.

Java by Comparison

Java by Comparison, Simon Harrer et al, Pragmatic Programmers, 2018

I really wish I had read this book about two weeks after I started working with Java.

The book gets straight to the point, as it works by example, not by dry description. Each two page example shows half a page of Java code, unremarkable, code which would be normal for many programmers in many companies. On the facing page, it shows slightly changed code, and the changes might seem trivial. Now read the description and see that the changes are very important for readability and maintainability. Just common sense, you will say. But more than this, it is a matter of code quality. Maybe you are already writing quality code, but if not then read this book and you will start writing better code automatically without much thought.

This book is for Java, but much of it applies to Python or other languages. For example, p76, Always Catch Most Specific Exception. And the chapter on naming conventions will be different in the details, but the core suggestions ring true.

Read more about the book at the book’s website.