Inquiry minds want to know

John
John Gushue
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I've heard it on the open-line shows, I've heard it in the mall, I've heard it from the cashier at the store down the street: the cancer inquiry.

I've also, of course, heard it at work, but I'm one of many journalists trying to keep up with a large number of daily developments at the Cameron inquiry.

I've heard it on the open-line shows, I've heard it in the mall, I've heard it from the cashier at the store down the street: the cancer inquiry.

I've also, of course, heard it at work, but I'm one of many journalists trying to keep up with a large number of daily developments at the Cameron inquiry.

The Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing, as it's formally known, may go on for months yet. I've been waiting for the testimony to become as dry and technical as my colleagues and I suspected months ago, when it was called.

That hasn't happened too much yet, and it's been difficult not to get wrapped up in the drama of the storylines that have emerged so far.

Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing

www.cihrt.nl.ca

I haven't been attending the inquiry in person, but have been able to keep close tabs on things because of two key online services. One, the commission is webcasting its proceedings, with reasonably good quality - at least for the web.

The picture is a bit grainy, and the sound is inconsistent, but I've had no difficulty following anything.

Two, the commission has posted its exhibits and transcripts online. The former is of more professional interest to me (the transcripts are presented in court reporter style, which may throw off lay folks), and have been helpful in providing details in an issue that is wrapped around strokes both large and small.

Other material, such as the commission's mandate (no small matter, especially for those who mistakenly believe the purpose of the inquiry is to root out wrongdoers), can be read in different sections.

I wonder how many people like myself are using their computers to keep up to date with this critical public issue.

Elsewhere this week

Dark Copy

http://darkcopy.com

Here's an intriguing thought. You know what's keeping you from getting more done on your computer? Your computer.

Dark Copy sets itself up as a plain-Jane word processor, with no bells, no whistles. You can make it cover all of your screen, if you like.

The idea is that without the distractions (hmmm ... let me check my Scrabulous games before I finish this sentence ... ), you'll get more writing done.

You can save your work as a simple text file. You can, of course, do this with practically any word-processing package you have, but Dark Copy sets the bar high for a low-tech feel.

Today in Rotten History

www.rotten.com/today

Some days are diamond, some days are stone ... actually, many days are like rocks. For a daily dose of foul history, and one that will likely actually make you feel better, try this today-in-history service with a twist.

Explode Mail

www.explodemail.com

Need to register but don't need the potential hassle that can come with sending your real e-mail address into uncharted territory? Get a new address; the "explode" part refers to what happens to your address after 45 minutes. Boom.

Frogger

www.boomj.com/games/frogger

Remember Frogger? The mainstay of many a video arcade, not all that many years ago? (Well, then again, Frogger was the focus of a retro-flavoured episode on Seinfeld, 10 years ago this month.) With this scaled-down version, the object remains the same: get the frog across a busy highway, and to safety in the wild. Good luck with that: my arrow-pushing skills were pretty woeful, and froggy went a-thwartin' repeatedly.

Ascii Convert

http://asciiconvert.com

Is this a useful tool? Nah, but it sure is fun. Import an image - of yourself, a loved one, anything you like - and see it transformed into Ascii text.

If you're not sure what that means, imagine seeing just ordinary letters and other keyboard characters forming a picture ... or at least a decent semblance of one.

Years ago, when "computing" was a curiosity, some people spent hours upon hours painstakingly doing this sort of thing, and maybe that's why my eyebrows raised when I saw this program's instantaneous results.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing

Geographic location: St. John's

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