Archive for June, 2007

What does ICANN know about sex?

ICANN was in the news a while back when they rejected a request to open up a new top-level domain name dedicated to sex. It was an odd and somewhat boring debate about protecting children (some saying it would, some saying it wouldn’t), moral decay and all the usual suspects arrived to promote their particular flavour of cool-aid. Since then, there has been some grumblings that ICANN has allowed lobby groups to influence what should have been a technical discussion.

A new web site for the Keep the Core Neutral campaign has been launched to raise awareness about the growing lobbyist activities at ICANN. I’d encourage everyone to consider the issues and make you own judgment.

A nicer Python string truncation function

It is pretty easy to truncate a string in Python. For example:

>>> ================================ RESTART ================================
>>> s = 'Some simple string. This should be cut off.'
>>> print s[0:28]
Some simple string. This sho

The problem is that it isn’t the nicest looking thing in the world…wouldn’t this be better:

>>> ================================ RESTART ================================
>>> from trunc import *
>>> s = 'Some simple string. This should be cut off.'
>>> print trunc(s,max_pos=25)
Some simple string...

This simple little function attempts to make a better looking, but shorter, string out of your input string. I use it to shorten large text fields from databases into smaller chunks suitable for use in summary tables.

What’s in a BC Vehicle Inspection Report?

You need a Vehicle Inspection Report in order to register an out of province car in British Columbia. Well, if you look on the ICBC web site you can’t find an actual list of the things that are checked. It seems that this list is privileged information. No longer.

Note: Form MV-3199 is now online as a PDF

Here is the list of checkpoints copied verbatim from my Private Vehicle Inspection Report.

Reason for inspection:

  • First time registered in BC
  • Notice and order
  • Motorcycle
  • Rebuilt from salvage
  • Other

Has the customer been notified of airbag status? (Y/N)

The list

The following list can be marked as Failed, Repaired after a fail and Passed.


  • Vehicle identification

Driver’s controls

  • Horn
  • Mirrors
  • Windshield wipers
  • Windshield and windows
  • Windshield defroster
  • Visors
  • Interior heaters
  • Parking brake
  • Power brake operation
  • Brake pedal reserve and leakage test
  • Steering lash and travel
  • Power steering
  • Handle bars
  • Accelerator pedal
  • Transmission/speedo/Odom

Body integrity

  • Driver’s seat
  • Seat belts
  • Motorcycle seat
  • Doors
  • Physically disabled passenger vehicles
  • Reflex reflectors
  • Floors
  • Bumpers
  • Trunk
  • Trailer hitch
  • Body exterior / protruding metal
  • Motorcycle kickstand
  • Frame
  • Frame structural body
  • Unibody
  • Unibody structural integrity
  • Airbag – driver (rebuilt and new to BC – fail)
  • Airbag – passenger (rebuilt and new to BC – fail)


  • Tires
  • Tire construction (mixed)
  • Wheels/nuts/studs
  • Road clearance
  • Steering linkage
  • Steering column and coupier
  • Kingpins
  • Ball joints
  • Springs and attachments
  • Shock absorbers
  • Wheel bearings
  • Fuel system
  • Exhaust system and catalytic converter


  • Drum brakes
  • Disc brakes
  • Proportioning valve
  • Mechanical components
  • Brake lines and hoses
  • Master cylinder

Engine compartment

  • Hood and safety catch
  • Vacuum system
  • Power train
  • Fuel system

Pressure fuel

  • Liquid propane gas
  • Compressed natural gas


  • Battery
  • Switches
  • Visible wiring
  • Indicator lights
  • Lamps
  • Headlight/aim

There are a bunch of check boxes at the bottom of the form:

  • Vehicle has been road tested
  • Altered / modified
  • U-built
  • Replicar
  • Specialty vehicle
  • Amalgamated
  • Replikit

I don’t see why this list is so secret that none of the mechanics I talked with could release it. I talked to ICBC and they said they didn’t have a copy of the list, ignoring the fact that they have thousands of copies of the form being processed each day.