Motorcycle Electrical System Rebuild From Scratch

Researched links on re-wiring the 1971 Triumph Bonneville… 

The old Bonnie has an intact loom and many of the original electrical components, but many of these pieces won’t have weathered the decades well and I’d be crazy to try and rebuild a hacked on electrical system in a fifty year old bike, so it’s all coming out.  I’m going to take a page from the custom scene and build a loom from scratch and design and build a complete electrical system from scratch.

This ain’t no modern digital machine so the electrical system in it is prehistorically simple.  Building a dependable replacement with quality modern upgrades (proper copper wiring, modern connectors, new electronic ignition and coils, etc).  The result should be a 1971 Bonneville that is more spritely and dependable than anything that rolled off the line in Meriden in 1971.

Tutorials on creating a motorcycle wiring harness/loom:

BikeExif Tutorial:

Rewiring tutorial:



Resource (costs 20 pounds):

Another good resource ($40):

I’ve purchased and read that last one – it’s a gentle introduction to electrical work but I found it a bit simple and wished it had picked up speed as it went.  If you’ve never done any electrical work then it’s a good place to start, but that’s what I do all day so I was hoping for something with a bit more depth.

Replacement harness:

Prebuilt ’71 Bonneville wiring harness:

Original loom wiring colours:
  • RED (seems to be earth but then battery + so this is a positive earthed bike?)
  • WHITE (headlamp loom)
  • GREEN/WHITE STRIPE (LH handlebar switch & main loom)
  • BROWN/GREEN STRIPE (headlamp loom)
  • BROWN/GREEN STRIPE (headlamp loom)
  • WHITE/YELLOW STRIPE (L/H handlebar switch) + ignition coil
  • BROWN (headlamp switch)
  • GREEN/RED STRIPE (L/H handlebar switch)
  • PURPLE (horn press R/H switch)
  • LIGHT GREEN (L/H handlebar switch)
  • PURPLE/RED (earth?) horn
  • BLACK/WHITE STRIPE (condesner pack/ignition coil split)
  • IGNITION COIL: BLACK/YELLOW STRIPE to coil & condenser pack + WHITE to coil
  • RED (earth frame)
  • BROWN/BLUE: Zenor diode
  • RED to battery positive (that doesn’t make much sense)
  • BROWN/BLUE: battery negative
  • REAR LIGHTS:  BROWN/GREEN STRIPE (rear lamp)+BROWN (stop lamp)+GREEN/WHITE STRIPE (L/H indicator)+GREEN/RED STRIPE (R/H Indicator)+RED (earth)
  • STATOR (GREEN/YELLOW STRIPE+WHITE/GREEN STRIPE) were advertised in the UK’s BIKE Magazine…

The Motogadget is an all-in-one electrical block for all electrical items on a bike – it also provides you with a bluetooth connection so you could start and stop it by your smartphone:

Not really what I’m looking for for the Bonnie project, though I’ll keep it in mind for a future ground up custom build.

A new ignition barrel with keys looks to be about $80.  I’ll see if Britcycle has them.

The existing wiring looks like it was taken apart and left that way – I’m tempted to take it all out and just rewire it rather than trust the old mess.

Electrical Systems Parts List:

  • Ignition barrel & key set
  • wiring to rebuild loom step by step – I’d need correct gauge wiring & connectors
  • fuse box
  • fuses
  • reg/rectifier
  • upgraded/modernized stator

Motorcycle wiring how to:  A commonly found writeup someone has done to walk any interested DIYer in how to rewire your bike.

from Blogger

1971 Triumph Bonneville Project: Photos from the current project and long term design ideas

 Some photos from the ongoing 1971 Triumph Bonneville winter project:

One of the boxes of spares.

Spare cylinder head and engine covers.

Looking into the top of the valves…

Yep, that’s a 1984 plate sticker on it!

Front wheels cleaned up nicely.

Motor cleaned up well too!

Got it out into the minus ten sun to give it another clean up now that it’s stripped.

Strance is back to stock now that the massive chopper front shocks are gone.

The goal is to get it mechanically sorted and ride it rat-bike style next summer to iron out an kinks.  Next winter it’ll all come apart again and this time the frame will get painted and so will the body panels.  I’ve found some year correct Triumph badges but I’m thinking something a bit non-stock for the paint job, like perhaps a Gulf racing livery colour scheme:

I’m also thinking about seats.  A plain stock seat costs the better part of $500US.  For only $100 more I could get a custom coloured Corbin seat!

More research needed, but that looks sharp!  You can customize Corbin vintage seats like their modern bike seats, so I could match it to the Gulf racing colour scheme too.

from Blogger

The DIGITAL LENS: How Education Has Ignored A Third Foundational Fluency During The Information Revolution

I’ve been battling against digital illiteracy in Ontario’s public education system for going on a decade now and I’m frustrated at the slow rate of change.  I’ve applied for multiple positions at the board and ministry levels and watched as future administrators get moved into these positions and fail to move the needle before they evaporate off into management.  Perhaps my mistake is that I want to take on a curriculum enhancement role not to escape the classroom or to get myself into an office but to actually improve system response to an ongoing crisis that everyone else seems to want to sweep under the rug.

Considering Ontario’s current state of affairs, I’ll probably have to wait until after June 2nd for us to get a government interested in doing anything other than torturing our exceptional public education system into submission in order to hand a charter system for their donors.  When Ontario comes to its senses (if it doesn’t, I think we’re moving), I’d really like to see us address digital illiteracy, but not just for the societal benefits it would provide – my actual interest is in developing a cyber-awareness curriculum that improves Canada’s ability to survive in a networked world while also clarifying this hidden pathway for students capable and interested in pursuing it.

Unfortunately, cyber and information security aren’t foundational digital abilities, they are advanced, complex skillsets that are developed on top of more simple fluencies.  An academic comparison would be writing a complex essay of a challenging piece of writing in English class.  In order to tackle the dreaded Hamlet essay, a student would need advanced reading skills with the ability to tackle complex vocabulary and grammar that includes an understanding of both poetic syntax and the chronological difficulties inherent in reading something over four hundred years old.  This contextual challenge alone would stress most people’s language skills.  On top of all that, the writing itself is a complex set of skills developed on top of simpler abilities.  Students would need to understand spelling and grammar, and sentence construction and paragraph construction and argumentative theme development across the entire paper – it’s a staggeringly complex ask that we can only attempt in high school because we’ve placed literacy as a foundational skillset in our education system.

That was in 2010 – over a decade later Schmidt is still
trying to get people to understand the digital
that is happening around them.

With that perspective in mind, I thought I’d try and take a run at infographicking how our
analogue education system has digitized over the past twenty years.  This digitization of education has ramped up dramatically in the past decade – much of what I’ve written in Dusty World has orbited around this sea-change in digital teaching and learning.

The suddenness of this change has left many people behind.  There are administrators and ‘curriculum experts’ in our system who have never used the cloud-based learning systems we’re now required to use in every lesson.  I’m up the pointy end of digitally fluent educators in the province.  I applied for a system IT support role last year and didn’t get it – I suspect mainly because the system is incapable of understanding and appreciating digital fluency on anything but a puerile level; it’s a case of illiterate people failing to value and understand what literacy looks like; I’d really like to change that.

If we consider the education system I grew up in 1980s in Ontario, it was a very analogue place.  Teachers hand wrote notes on the board, which we copied by hand onto paper (which many students promptly lost, assuming they made the notes in the first place).  I can remember vindictive teachers doing a whole 76 minute period of note taking to ‘ready us for university’.  Nothing prepares you for university like claw hand!  These ‘lessons’ weren’t about how to take quality notes, they were about how to copy everything that was on the board as exactly and quickly as possible.  In retrospect they did nothing to prepare me for university, but they were and example of the entrenched lessons we all experienced about creating analogue content; we never had a problem with teaching analogue skills because they hadn’t changed for generations.  In the past two decades we’ve revolutionized information recording and access but we’ve also all but ignored learning best practices in these new mediums for teachers and students.

Analogue learning materials, analogue formative learning note taking leading to analogue communication of learning – and we drilled students on how to do each of these analogue exercises in order to create these skillsets.  We assume the same skills in digital spaces rather than teaching them.

My generation has been described as ‘digital immigrants’ as we arrived at the current state of affairs from a time that would seem completely alien to anyone currently under forty years old.  Along with the framing of us as digital immigrants comes the absurd framing of kids who have grown up in digital abundance as ‘digital natives‘.  If you’re read Dusty World before you know what I think of this concept (it’s absurd – just because I grew up in a time with cars didn’t mean I magically knew how to drive!).  What this lazy observation did was absolve education of the responsibility for teaching digital communications as a foundational skill, even as it became the basis for how we teach and learn.  When I tried to replicate the 20th Century Teaching & Learning above with how 21st Century Teaching & Learning has become digitized, it quickly becomes apparent that digital skills aren’t just needed to communicate your learning (it’s even how we run the literacy test now!), they are also inherent in the learning materials you receive and the formative learning you are documenting.  Many parents struggle with the new digital means of communications from their schools (online reporting and such) because of their own digital illiteracy.  If you aren’t digitally fluent, you aren’t capable of learning in an Ontario classroom in 2022.  You aren’t capable of teaching in one either, though that’s the new expectation in our on again off again emergency remote classrooms.

Learning materials are now almost entirely digital.  Even if a textbook is used it’s often digitized first so that the information in it can be shared more fluidly in digital spaces.  Staff and students need to know how to research and find information online (including curating their own which many can’t or don’t do). Formative learning is documented (when it’s documented at all) on digital notes taken in cloud based documents, though more often than not it doesn’t happen at all because we’ve lost note taking as a skill during the digital devolution revolution.  Communicating learning is now also digital with most students incapable of writing by hand legibly (part of what has killed off formative note taking).  We’ve replaced all those lessons about analogue skills with INFORMATION, because information is so readily available to us (though apparently only a minority can critically assess its value).

That digital lens is now between everything we do in education, including the traditional foundational skills of literacy and numeracy.  If you require digital fluency to teach and learn literacy and numeracy in a 2022 classroom, doesn’t that make digital fluency itself a foundational skill?  Perhaps you’re curious as to how many mandatory digital fluency programs Ontario teachers have to take?  None.  Know how many mandatory digital fluency classes there are in Ontario high schools?  None.  Know how many classes you need digital fluency in to best teach and learn?  All of them.  That is how messed up things are as 2021 ends in an ongoing pandemic that has pushed us into fully digital learning for months at a time.  Fluency is but one part of this equation.  The digital divide also includes equity issues around bandwidth and devices, but we only talk about equity when it doesn’t cost us anything.  Our ignoring of digital fluency has been a socio-economic/equity issue from the start (kids with access to tech and connectivity are obviously going to be more comfortable with it).  You might say that our lack of movement on digital fluency is simply a way to hide inequity behind something complex and difficult to deal with while still spouting about how equitable we have become.
I’m live in hope that our education system is put back on the rails and a we stop our oblivious approach to digital skills development in both teaching and learning.  If we’re going to use networked digital tools like we are, it is incumbent on every teacher to become fluent enough with it to teach best practices to their students.  Our blind leading the blind approach isn’t viable or safe and never should have happened in the first place.  Had we been working on this like we should have in the decade leading up to the pandemic, the desperate lunge into emergency remote learning could have been much more equitable and functional and done a lot to reduce the strain on families being mulched by the pandemic.
When that hope is realized I want to go after the hardest part of this in-the-land-of-the-blind skillset: cybersecurity skills.  This skillset assumes advanced ICT (information & communication technology) hardware and software skills and then, like that Hamlet essay, goes after complex, esoteric skills far beyond where most people will operate.  I want Ontario to develop a cyber-awareness curriculum that brings all users of networked technology (that’s pretty much everyone in the province) up to a point where their digital illiteracy is no longer a detriment to the province.  Illiterate users are still the biggest threat in cybersecurity and I’d like to get everyone to the point where they aren’t oblivious to how the digital world they’re living their lives in works so that they can not only learn and teach more effectively in our digital systems but also better protect their data privacy and online presence.
I’d also like to clear away the obstructions our digitally illiterate education system has placed in front of the most digitally adept students and clear pathways into jobs in critical ICT infrastructure, most especially in cybersecurity.  If we don’t take steps to secure our digital infrastructure, everything else fails (electricity, water & gas all depend on IT).
We should be producing graduates with the digital fluency needed to confidently make their way in our brave new world while also clarifying pathways for those students willing and able to protect everyone else from an increasingly threatening threatscape.


Over the past couple of years I’ve done a fair bit of writing for various provincial and national agencies around cyber-education.  In every case they seemed to be looking for an in-and-out, short duration of work online course they could post that teachers and students would magically flock to.  Having presented on cybersecurity education in the classroom both face to face pre-pandemic and online once it kicked off, I became aware of just how fearful most staff are in engaging with this subject that jumps up and down on their digital doubts while also threatening them with horrible outcomes that they don’t understand.  Throwing up an online course isn’t going to bridge this fear/illiteracy gap.

Having worked with CyberTitan and Field Effect (an Ottawa based cybersecurity provider) on a joint federal government/private enterprise/public education presentation at the NICE K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference this past December, we presented on how with industry expertise, federal vision and provincial public education community outreach we could make cyber-pathways available to all pathways interested students while also offering immersive and meaningful cloud-based simulations that are equitably available to all.

ICTC did an ICT Teacher Champion Day pre-COVID where they provided interested and engaged teachers with resources and support.  I think this approach is how you bypass the fear and get staff and students to engage with scary-cyber on a basic fluency level.  It would also present competition opportunities that clarify pathways for the most cyber-interested.  By finding local champions who are willing/able to engage others in cyber-skills development, we could connect and walk people through some of that dormant online material and actually produce a change in how we’re doing things.  This requires boots on the ground and a longer term commitment than throwing together an online course.
As digital fluency becomes a mandatory part of our public school experience and we begin producing more digitally fluent teachers and students, we can up our game in advanced digital areas like cybersecurity and emerging technologies like machine learning and 3d modelling and create digitally skilled graduates who aren’t self-taught and potentially dangerous young adults who put our economy and communities at risk.
There is much to do.  I’m looking forward to being part of an Ontario that is ready to take on this challenging future even as it hatches around us.

from Blogger

Digital Footprint 2.0


The source(s) of this post (and a good example of the richness of thinking you can get out of an online PLN):

@MzMollyTL’s Digital Footprint discussion from ECOO last year that stirred up the new teachers in my AQ.

@melaniemcbride’s comment on the sweatshop mentality of the always on teacher:

@dougpete’s blog on edublogging:

…which led to some interesting questions about online presence:

Phew!  That is a lot of build up!  Here I go…


I think we’re ready for an evolution in what our expectations are around this.  Diana’s original presentation suggested that teachers need to familiarize themselves with online media, and that is still true.  However, since that presentation there have been political upheavals supported by social media, underground poltical movements powered by social media, and I’m currently watching the  ‘Twitter Olympics’: the first really social media powered Olympic games.  Even the forth estate is grudgingly trying to manage the tidal wave of social media.  Merely familiarizing yourself isn’t going to cut it anymore.  Ignoring it will make you irrelevant to your students with astonishing speed.

Social media is becoming mainstream and there are increasing expectations that people know how to use it.  Only in extremely staid, conservative situations (educational administration) is social media being shunned.  Even the very conservative family reunion I attended recently wanted to start making use of social media to keep in touch, and these were people who play banjos.  Social media is becoming ubiquitous, even unhooking the Ontario government’s ability to manipulate media into justifying its agenda.  This is a powerful force, not something to be trifled with or poked at tentatively.  If you’re going to do it, do it honestly, and be yourself.  You’ll find the ability to expand your interests online empowering if you don’t try and game it.


The social networks we see spring up like mushrooms in the rain are being prompted by the miniaturization of computer hardware.  Smartphones are increasingly common, and since 2010, the vast majority of ‘phone’ use has been in data, not voice.  We use our mobile computers as interconnected computers, not as phones.  Our students do it, we do it, even boomers are doing it.  Like the telegraph, then the telephone after it, this is a revolution in how we communicate with each other, and almost everyone is carrying around the means in their pockets.

Our classrooms have more processing power in the pockets of students than desktop labs did ten years ago.  Their ability to communicate is unparalleled in history, and disregards geography like no other telecommunications system before it.  Just hoping that everyone considers doing something with their online presence is no longer enough, and ignoring or banning the hardware that is causing this is turning a blind eye to a profound shift in social communications.  Schools that ban smartphones should be banning other new inventions, like electricity, telephones, televisions… which very quickly starts to look backward.


Being online offers you an opportunity to be anonymous, but this requires a great deal of work on your part.  The nature of the internet means you’re always leaving digital bread crumbs about how and where you’re communicating from.  Anti-web types will use this as an excuse to harp on privacy issues, but when have we ever been able to communicate privately?  Gossip has always been and always will, and what you say has always followed you, it just follows you in an amplified manner now.  Social media allows you to broadcast gossip.  If you were a gossip before, you’re a digitally enhanced gossip now.  It’s never been more important to be the best person you are in public; there is a record now, and I’ve seen students constantly bitten by this as their Facebook updates land them in the VP’s office.

Trying to be someone else is exhausting!

The genuine self as an online presence offers an opportunity to meet others beyond your geographic situation that share your interests.  You quickly find yourself a part of an online community that reflects your predilections and offers you a sense of collaborative discourse that might be missing in your workplace, or your immediate geography.  If you’re genuine in expressing your interests, you’ll create a genuinely satisfying social media ecosystem.  If you fabricate yourself, or limit yourself to specific identities (your teacher self comes to mind here), you won’t be exploring the actual usefulness of this new medium.

The other advantage of being genuine online is that you attract meaningful dialogue.  If you’re one dimensional, you tend to attract n00bs, marketing interests and bots (who are also one dimensional).  If you’re genuine and human in your presentation of self, you’ll attract a richer class of connection, one that offers powerful insights regardless of where you are in relation to each other on the planet.  You’re harnessing the true potential of social media when you are multi-dimensional and human in your approach to it.

Developing a digital footprint is no longer about simply participating, or creating a cardboard cutout of your professional self, it’s about honestly expressing your own views in a genuine manner.  The myriad of apps and means of communicating in a social network allow you to express yourself in simple (twitter), complex (blog) or focused interests (Google+, Facebook) ways.  Knowing how to use the tools effectively is key.

If you’re fabricating a professional appearance, well, that’s just work, and doing it all summer, 24/7 is not going to do you any real good.  Ultimately, you’re doing an awful lot of work and not exploring this new medium effectively, probably because you’re scared of it.

School Leadership 2.0

Several school administrators made comments in Doug’s blog about the need for restraint.  In a leadership role, you’re not free to fly off the handle whenever you have an opinion.  You always need to consider the working relationship you have to foster.  Having said that, George’s comment about social media being a useful tool in fostering a team based on real knowledge of each other suggests that social media can be a means of allowing people who might not otherwise to know each other better.

The tendency has been for management (union, board, ministry, and any other ed-based management you can suggest) to shy away from social media.  They fear the de-centralization of power, and see it as a threat to their dominance.  It’s nice to know some administrators are fighting this tendency, but I’ve heard of many more who don’t hire the best candidates because their online presence creates unease, and in worst cases not considering hiring a teacher at all because they are familiar with the social web that most students spend their lives in.  Why they think that hiring belligerent, intentionally irrelevant teachers is a good idea is beyond me.

What I love about social media is that it is democratizing information.  No longer do we have to succumb to the broadcast media’s idea of what is true.  Twitter told me about Bin Laden hours before broadcast media would, or could.  As a social media-ist, I’m responsible for vetting my own information feed, and broadcasting my own truth.  As both a leader, and a professional, this means not being a jackass, but being a meaningful social mediaist requires this from the get go.  If you’re going to do social media well, being a gossip, spreading untruths, will eventually turn the crowd on you.  Generating drama and controlling spin doesn’t work very well in a democratized information medium; the truth just bypasses you.

Social media is an opportunity to build a more ideal information medium, one without favoritism or fabrication, one that does not favor the status quo in order to maintain it; the crowdsourced truth is dangerously unmanageable… and free from spin.  

As a member of that tribe I try not to let invective and one-up-man-ship dictate my actions, I try to be collaboratively engaging.  This isn’t contrary to any professional or leadership role I may have; in fact, it should enhance those roles.  When you broadcast your actions, it behooves you to it well.


The social media revolution has harnessed mobile electronics and the internet to produce a democratized media frenzy.  Old-school, forth estate media is floundering, trying to manage their loss of broadcasting monopoly, but still seeing it as an immanent threat.  Other power structures are also frustrated by this decentralization of voice.  Where once a hierarchy could dictate the message, now social media swirls around these old-school broadcasting roadblocks.  

Unions are watching members broadcast their opinions directly, without being able to dictate a unified response.  Governments and corporations are finding that the dictatorial control they once had over traditional media is weakening, because traditional media matters less.  As social media responses bypass traditional censorship, we once again see the many assert their power.

There is no doubt that these changes will force a fundamental shift in how we work with each other.  This kind of radical, data driven transparency gives control freaks a nervous breakdown, but in the end, I can’t believe that freeing the signal from the self-involved interests of the powerful isn’t better for everyone; that it will result in fairer, transparent, more effective organizations.

As educators, we have to try and get a grip on this ourselves, and then be ready to try and (usefully) assist our students in effectively navigating this exciting, historical change.  It’s no longer enough to pay some attention to what your digital footprint is.  It’s no longer enough to do the minimum necessary.  If we’re going to teach future generations how to survive in the rough sea of democratized data we’ve made for them, we need to adapt and master the waves ourselves.

A relevant educator is recognizing the radical nature of these changes and is doing their best to create a genuine online persona, one that accurately reflects the public persona they demonstrate in their physical life.  What’s private isn’t at issue here, but our public selves are changing, and it doesn’t do anyone any good to try and game social media by making cardboard cutouts of themselves online.

Some things to consider:
Dancing in the Datasphere: a philosophical look at where we are going
The Singularity: an inside look at what Silicon Valley believes is coming

Don’t kid yourself, you’re living in the middle of a revolution!

Sense of Satisfaction and some more Concours 3d models

It was a tough week with an empty garage, but the Connie passed safety and it’s now licensed and ready to put on some miles, I just have to wait for the snow to stop.  The ride back from shop was -8°C (minus thirteen with the windchill, minus a million when you’re riding in it).  With any luck we can get some above zero temperatures soon and I can finally take the big ‘un for a long ride.

It was gratifying to have a pro look over the bike and judge it well put together.  Considering all the work I’ve done on it, it feels like a real validation.

Since I’m with-bike again, I took another run at 3d modelling it…

Higher Ground

AMPA: redemocratizing OSSTF

I shouldn’t write about politics. As a field of human endeavor it demonstrates some of our most unflattering qualities, but AMPA approaches and I can’t pass up another opportunity to seek a higher standard of conduct from my union.

We were fooled once in District 18 by what might be described kindly as a disorganized vote, but what I fear was a Machiavellian attempt to withhold information in order to secure the desired ‘yes’ outcome.  In seeking to redress this wrong we tried contacting Provincial Executive only to have our concerns fall on deaf ears.  We attempted to make an AMPA resolution only to have it gutted.  

Since then we’ve begun an OLRB complaint that is now moving into a review phase.  Throughout this process OSSTF has lawyered up (a profoundly satisfying use of our dues), and has been completely unwilling to even talk about the obvious problems around the ratification of our contract.  The fact that we had to go to the OLRB, and the fact that it’s gone this far is both sad and distressing.  Wouldn’t it be nice if our union had internal oversight?  Wouldn’t it be nice if our union actually addressed member’s concerns (and not by the people who caused the concerns in the first place).

It’s cold outside, but it’s warm in bed with the OLP

Many of the Provincial Executive who were the architects of our vote, people who tossed out our own constitutional codes of conduct either through sheer incompetence or malicious intent, are now running for positions at AMPA.  When I read their advertising, how they claim to support the grass roots membership, how they stand for the highest ideals of OSSTF, I wonder when they had the change of heart.  Was it after misleading and withholding information from D18 members prior to our constitutionally invalid vote?  Was it after deciding to donate money to the Ontario Liberal Party even while encouraging members to demonstrate out front of the leadership convention?  Was it after deciding to throw out what little political action we’d been able to muster around extracurriculars based on nothing whatsoever from the new Premier?

I desperately hope AMPA delegates remember these things when considering what direction our union should go from here.  OSSTF is the membership.  Apathy and an overly friendly relationship with this government have resulted in some embarrassing, un-OSSTF like behavior from the very people who are supposed to be the face of our organization.  Here is hoping that AMPA restores some much needed credibility, transparency and humility to our union.

Happiness is: Mastery!

 Sometimes the on-bike cameras in MotoGP capture a magic moment.  In this case it’s Sam Lowes knocking out a fastest lap in free practice before qualifying at the Doha GP in the spring of 2021.

Sam Lowes putting in a fastest lap at the Doha GP in the spring of 2021

Doing something difficult that you love well is one of the foundational ideas behind my own motorcycling.  The glint in Sam’s eye there as he blasts down the straight approaching 300kms/hr is magical.  You don’t get that kind of intensity when you’re being leisurely, it only happens when you’re using all of yourself to do something difficult well.
Wayne Gretzky’s dad replied to a reporter who described Wayne as a natural by saying that
he wasn’t a natural at all – what Wayne Gretzky did was be out every day, stick in hand,
playing hockey more than anyone else: his mastery was hard earned but based on his
love of the game.  You can see that love in the glint in Sam’s eye!

from Blogger

I’m a Hacker!

Every year we get grades 9s who waft into our high school believing they are god’s gift to computing.  In the vast majority of cases I discover that they’ve learned how to do one or two things, but the moment you move them out of their area of ‘expertise’ (which is usually so small you couldn’t really call it an area so much as a corner), things fall apart.

We have such a genius in this year’s grade 9 cohort.  When the class was given CyberPatriot‘s Unity OS security simulation to play, he didn’t know how to open a zipped file and get the game running.  When I queried him about it, the conversation went something like this:

“You told me you’re this great hacker, but you can’t open a zipped archive?”

“Well, this isn’t what I usually do.”

“You told me you’re this great hockey player who can score goals from anywhere on the ice, but when I ask you to show me how you skate, stick handle and shoot you can’t do any of it, which makes me wonder what it is you think you’re good at.”

Taking a script that you found online and running it doesn’t make you a hacker, it makes you an idiot.

The student in question has proudly boasted of swatting people, which I’d describe less as hacking and more as criminal harassment that wastes limited emergency services.  This clarifies the difference between a hacker and a criminal in simple terms anyone can understand.  One is focused on complex skills development, the other is focused on finding shortcuts.

hacker noun

hack·​er | \ ˈha-kər

1: one that hacks
2: a person who is inexperienced or unskilled at a particular activity; a tennis hacker
3: an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer
4: a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system

#2 comes very close to what this guy is in terms of being a hacker, though he’d be popular with actual criminals if he’s thick enough to run scripts that he doesn’t understand; he’d be the perfect trigger man.  If we’re applying the term in computer studies, a hacker is generally someone who is expert at solving problems with a computer or getting into systems.  In either case this skillset has traditionally required years of complex skills development including a challenging apprenticeship of trial and error learning on the wilds of the internet.  Criminals seldom have the kind of patience and intelligence to develop these skills; it’s part of what makes them criminals.

Malware is being sold as a service: the
‘hackers’ running it are plain old criminals

What has happened recently is that cybercriminal activity has become professionalized.  Many of the people doing the ‘hacking’ now have no idea what they’re doing (like this grade 9).  They buy malware as a service software from professional criminal organizations (many of whom have ties to state cyber-warfare actors) and then run a dashboard that provides them with ready-made hacking tools that do the thinking for them.  Some of these MaaS systems even provide IT support!  No genuine hacker would ever want nor need IT support, they’d provide it themselves.

I’m currently re-reading Matt Crawford’s The World Beyond Your Head in which he makes a
strong philosophical argument for developing complex skills rooted in real world experience.  Crawford goes to great length to describe how these hard-earned skills often develop a corresponding moral character in the majority of practitioners; reality is a consistent and demanding teacher and it demands rigour and focus.

I have students who have developed deep, complex digital skillsets in the course of our four year program and I would proudly acknowledge that they are hackers in the correct sense of the word, but what most would-be hackers are is really script kiddies who run other people’s code simply to perform malicious acts.

Script kiddies exist in the first place because we go out of our way not to teach digital literacy and cyberfluency in our schools.  In the absence of any direction, some of the blunter tools wander into this kind of self-identification.  Students have to take 8 years of geography and history in elementary and then have mandatory geography and history courses in high school too, but there are no mandatory digital fluency courses in any Ontario high school – even after we’ve forced everyone into a remote learning stance due to COVID.  Many of the problems that have arisen during emergency remote learning are a result of the terrible digital skills many educators and students possess.  Script kiddies are just another symptom of our digitally illiterate education system – a system that depends increasingly on digital tools and networked information to operate.

This grade 9 may well sort himself out and become a hacker in the real sense, though I find the most boastful ones tend not to have the wherewithal to develop complex skillsets such as those required by a genuine hacker.

At the CyberTitan nationals in 2018, one of our team members (then valedictorian then University of Waterloo Computer Science student), became intrigued with the idea of pentesting as a career.  Penetration testing is something that has evolved quickly as networked cybersecurity best practices have evolved.  The thinking is basically this:  if you want to understand how best to respond to the rapid evolution of cyberattacks, have a skilled pentester come in and probe your network for weaknesses and then assist your defensive team in sealing up any gaps in your system.  Now THAT is a hacker!

White hat hackers used to do this as a kindness, though most recently it has also become a bounty hunting situation, and now a lucrative profession.  Top pentesters are in high demand and make good money.  What they don’t do is download and run scripts they don’t understand and then not know how to perform even simple tasks on a computer – that would be a good way to lose any credibility with their employer.

I’m in the awkward position of seeing this happen in another class.  Were it me, I’d be leaning on this student hard to see what it is they actually think they know.  Being at arm’s length in this scenario, my biggest worry is that this student will use our technology to hurt someone else (I fear this has already happened).  If we had a student come into the school who had been convicted of vehicular manslaughter, I doubt we’d put them in an automotive technology class, yet we don’t think twice about taking a potentially digitally dangerous student and dropping them into computer technology?

This is a tricky situation to navigate.  I’m actually hoping this student has genuine potential and we can get him engaged with doing more than running scripts he has no understanding of.  In learning the rigours of operating in cyberspace, he will also most probably become less of a braggart as he aligns himself with the reality of the situation.

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Concours Oil Cooler Leak

Now that I’ve had a chance to run the Concours a bit and got some fresh oil in it I’ve discovered the first mechanical problem.  Oil is running from the oil cooler at the front of the motor.  It looks localized around the oil lines coming out of the oil cooler.  I’m hoping it’s the gaskets highlighted (GASKET 14X19.5X1.4 11009-1461).  They’re only a couple of bucks each and they might even be a standard size that I don’t have to go all the way down to the dealer for.

With the fairings off I had a look around the rest of the engine now that it’s been run a bit and everything else looks tight and dry.  With luck some cheap gaskets and re-torqued oil lines will mean a mechanically able Concours that’s ready for the road.

You can see the wet oil line connectors at the bottom – fortunately that seems to be the leak.
There is no trace of oil higher up.
Connie with her skirts off again…

A Cold, Sharp Night Sky

Taken between 9-10pm on March 17th using the Canon T6i – ISOs from 6400 and up, F stops from 5-11, 30 second shutter…

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