Brexit

09-Nov-19 11:14 am EST Leave a comment

Feeling compelled, as a friend of the United Kingdom (UK, including of Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England), I’ve repeatedly found myself at odds with those from the nation with whom I’d had discourse (typically via the app ‘Discord’) concerning its fate as regards its membership within the European Union (EU). I’m often told that, as a Canadian, I am unable to appreciate the particulars of life in the UK or somehow fail to appreciate its culture and history. At home, I’ve heard these same criticism from Québec separatists although I can speak french and certainly understand life here, living just a kilometer or so from the Québec border and routinely visit the province while on business or to visit friends there. I was even given the same argument by a recent movement the appeared here in the wake of the Liberal Party Justin Trudeau’s 2nd term election victory over the Conservative Party candidate Andrew Scheer called ‘Wexit’ wherein disaffected Alberta voters founded a serious movement (perhaps the first of its kind) to break away from Canada because anyone living east of Winnipeg, Manitoba paid attention to the western part of the country. Yet I spent the first 21 years of my life living in Manitoba (especially Winnipeg) and feel ‘from’ there far more than my current city ‘Ottawa’ where I now live and work. So the latter two charges from Canadian separatists seem out-of-touch with the facts of my life. And yet I’m certainly not from the UK, so could I be so far off on the subject of a break-away from the EU?

When I first looked into the rationale behind the vote to leave, I’d dismissed it as something of an anomaly in UK politics that would clear itself up quickly. To my astonishment, that didn’t happen and the extraction process merilly rolled on ahead without apparent reason. I’d heard the complaints; the EU was “dominated” by France and Germany who’d routinely “gang up” on England in votes. Money to support the EU left the UK without return or recompense of any kind. And UK sovereignty was being systematically eroded to the point where the island would end up ruled from either Paris or Berlin in short order. Yet my research kept hitting dead ends. I examined a TED Talk done in the city of Vancouver, Canada to get some additional insights from a very British person who, herself, seemed very knowledgeable on the subject — to no avail.

Caption: Carole Cadwalladr presenting Brexit research findings at TED Vancouver in June 2019

Her rational analysis seemed to lay to rest any doubt that the UK received a great deal from the EU; contributing significantly to the recovery of the Welsh economy in recent years (the region she happened to be from). She also presented credible evidence that pointed to a careful campaign of manipulation by social media agents, foreign to the UK, of UK public view citing Facebook doing all but a dry run in the UK to prepare for a similar attempt at manipulating the forthcoming electorate in the United States (US). This effort, she claimed, culminated in the election of Donald Trump and gave rise to the theory two of the world’s most powerful democracies were being attacked by totalitarian movements bent on curbing the very idea of one person, one vote.

So if it wasn’t my being a foreigner to the UK, nor did the facts seem to do much to back up the claims of the pro-Brexit camp, perhaps its departure from the EU wasn’t such a good idea after all. And then with the withdrawal of John Bercow from the speaker’s chair of the UK’s House of Commons, it starts to look as if the dispassionate review of the material I thought I’d done might have some merit. After all, wasn’t that the job of the Speaker of the House of Commons?

Caption: Days after bowing out as Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow has described Brexit as Britain’s biggest mistake since the second world war. He said: ‘I think we will suffer in trade terms and suffer in terms of global standing and influence, and that seems to me to be so obvious’

Bercow (in my view one of the greatest Commons Speakers in the last 200 years!) echoes many of my views on this subject, so naturally, I think his comments above are worthy of attention before the UK makes a final decision on the subject of whether to leave the EU. Perhaps as importantly is the considered gains that will be made by the enemies of the UK and its allies should this idea actually proceed. Russia under Vladimir Putin, the US under Donald Trump and Facebook under Mark Zuckerberg all stand to gain from a UK withdrawal from the EU. And I say to my friends in the UK once more — look at yourselves not only provincially; but rather as member of the world community and understand how badly we need the UK’s contributions as a partner and ally instead of being as one relatively small, distant island nation of years gone by!

43rd Canadian Parliamentary Election: Last-Minute Considerations

17-Oct-19 12:38 pm EDT Leave a comment

I wasn’t going to comment directly on the election, fearing people drawing conclusions about my public endorsement of a political party. Those who live here in Canada are aware: we have a secret ballot.

Yet comments today from Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer forced me to make a few remarks in full public view. Andrew Sheer said this morning:

  • “The Party that wins the largest number of seats is [typically] asked to form the government.”
  • “Our strategy is to [deal with the recent trend of illicit drugs being poisoned with other substances] by encouraging…people getting off drugs.”

This brings up two important issues for me which I addess below, headed separately.

(Drug) Addictions Treatment

As seems typical for right-wing governments all over the world lately; starting with the climate change approach debate and carrying on through a variety of issues involving the observations and conclusions of professionals and experts (often involving science themselves), there seems to be a collective state of denial.

Conservatives seem to delight in dredging up some minority report or singular study in the climate change debate to contest the conclusions of scientists and environmentalists studying and observing ongoing changes to our environment. This same phenomenon has now inserted itself into the Canadian election when it comes to using addictions-fighting tools like harm reduction or monitored safe-injection sites. On the subject of legalization, most experts seem to agree that the whole issue of drugs is better handled by healthcare professionals instead of police; which the Chief of Police of Winnipeg (and possibly other cities) have come out and said they’d like to just left out of.

So what we seem to have here is governance by ideology instead of practical considerations. And the trouble with that approach is, in general, you end up governing the country you wish existed instead of the one that does!

The Election Game Show

What really bugs me is such broad-spectrum fundamental ignorance about how Canada’s government is designed to work. Is Canada’s education system to fudnamentally damaged that nobody realizes that Parliament decides who the government is – as the people have voted for each member sent there to do so? There’s this absurd idea that somehow a Canadian federal election is somehow analogous o a game show where the party that wins the largest seat count automatically forms the government — effectively ignoring who everyone voted for! The party with the largest seat count certainly can form the government, if it holds the confidence of more than 50% of the elected MPs. However, Andrew Sheer would somehow have us believe that all he has to do is get the largest seat count and that’s good enough…and presumably what Canadians have had to say about the matter matters not. Only a party, in Andrew Sheer’s Canada deserves to pick the government.

Fortunately, the laws of our country don’t agree and I’d really like Canadians to try to remember that instead of waiting to find out if the big blue bar on the screen is slightly larger than the big red one on October 21st (the date selected for election day this time around).

Straw Poll: Pro-Cancel Culture?

26-Apr-19 11:52 am EDT Leave a comment

On Net.Etiquette

26-Apr-19 11:25 am EDT Leave a comment

Recently, I had another discord.gg altercation which has seen me withdraw completely from the chat service for the foreseeable future. Admittedly, I’m growing weary of the “clique” mentality that pervades the system, and in particular with the emotions of those involved somehow growing so completely out of control (from my perspective) that, initially at least, there’s little sense to be made of it. It’s not that the complaints people may have are totally without merit (although invariably they are coming from a what seems a narrowly-defined group). It’s that I can’t understand how something like an inadvertent breach of etiquette could lead to someone becoming so angry as to label another person as ‘evil’ or ‘irredeemable’ — particularly when the consequences of doing so may simply lead to others who don’t share their own extreme reaction as feeling uncomfortable or out of place. Another consequence to this are those who react this way becoming stressed out themselves, which is the last thing I want to contribute to.

I’m writing about this issue with a degree of historical perspective and as someone who finds human beings conflicted, irrational and difficult to understand in most cases. This can lead to intolerance, belligerence and worse behaviours in some; although I must make the point that this isn’t a defense of my own behaviour nor intended to characterize me as “the victim”. But a recent straw poll of those in my own life (and on social media) leads me to conclude the people generally feel that when there’s evidence someone has violated a convention or social norm they should be spoken to instead of ostracized. So why has the discord service proven to be so different for me?

Once upon a time, many years back, there was a form of what’s now considered “social media” called NNTP or network news. At the time, it was unbeknownst to myself and my first business partner posting advertisements or discourse related to one’s own business ventures was considered “poor etiquette”. So when we decided to announce our new consulting business opening up online, we were somewhat shocked at the response being almost universally negative. Here we were trying to make a valued contribution and getting effectively black-listed for going about it the wrong way. Of course nowadays, the NNTP-like service called Reddit is host to ads aplenty and the etiquette changed radically — not necessarily because people started clamouring for ads to appear at some point. Regardless of how it came to be, what once yielded hate e-mail spamming ones mailbox changed to “acceptable” behaviour.

This isn’t to say that at some future date streaming a discord server won’t go the same way. (It probably won’t, in fact.) But auto-streaming to twitch, YouTube or Mixer (or any of 50 other services) is growing in popularity and contributes value by donating content. It might not be the most popular content, but it is a form of content contributed for the general consumption of all. Add to this the streaming brokers like OBS or Mixer (I think they have a utility that streams to their online site as well as YouTube) or others providing a means of controlling how and what content is presented and you have a recipe for updates to influence what gets published; all potentially without the direct knowledge of the presenter. Or perhaps one of the hundreds of discord updates that occur every year impacts presentation in an unfamiliar or unexpected way.

And then if this scenario prevails and people’s voices were heard from a discord server in a stream without advance permission: we have an apparent breach of etiquette with evidence. It might seem perfectly legitimate to consider me guilty of surreptitiously trying to broadcast content behind the backs of those on a private server, right?

Ignoring for a moment that “secretly” trying to do anything in public online is at best contradictory and at worst outright stupid, the question persists does such a breach of etiquette warrant labelling as “irredeemable” or even being kicked out of a social group (even one online)? And without being given the opportunity to try to explain what might have happened or examine the evidence particularly when the offending party had thought he’d been given permission at one point to continue a stream with parties on the server in question present (although I’d taken such permission to apply only to one specific stream — not a carte blanche permission to stream all the content that would ever be posted)? Evidence alone as it appeared was enough all without context.

For these reasons, it is my view that discord generally needs to be taken down a notch. It simply isn’t right that people are targeted in this fashion. And I did speak with a number of others who’d either themselves experienced the “clique” mentality I’m speaking of or who had been banned from servers (thus separating them from social groups) on the basis of what may seem dubious circumstances involving many different social dynamics. But to summarize, I posit that a violation of etiquette is not just cause to start slandering or hating your fellow human beings.

Discord, for its part, may not be to blame here in any way. There are those who want to “burn the whole world down” and do nothing but cause trouble and mayhem. That’s why discord lets you ban people, fundamentally, I think. Another chat service several years ago called “IRC” seemed to not have these same problems. But if people react in a rational fashion to social challenges and use the technology in a constructive way I think discord could be a very useful and powerful tool indeed.

Right now, it just seems to promote cliques and clique behaviour. And I question who, if anyone, that’s helping.

I should at this juncture for my growing English audience (or so the analytics say) make a few quick points to address potential interest:

  • if I did a stream on the discord Elite server in question, it was more out of habit and typically with a mind to disable channel dialogue from making to the broadcast (although in 1 case I believe it was deliberate)
  • if a deliberate streaming happened, it was done under the following circumstances:
    • I thought I had permission to do so, and/or
    • I didn’t think it a serious breach of etiquette at the time for some mindless reason; and
    • I have streamed on other servers before, including my own without issue.
    • NO EFFORT was made to sneak it by without the group’s awareness (as should be evidenced by it being public, unless you truly think me THAT stupid)
  • it may also be relevant to keep in mind that discord visualizations (which until tonight I wasn’t even aware were activated) DO NOT transmit into the V/R environment without the involvement of 3rd party software, which I do not use; those who think the profile icons of users on the server should somehow have clued me into what was going on are incorrect
  • I’ve counted 3 cases total during my own investigation, thus far, where streaming occurred and these are, at the admin’s “cease and desist” request, removed. If there are still others unaccounted for, you should:
    • send a message to me using discord or, if you have it, my commander’s email address with the URL included
    • notwithstanding the above deletions, there were a total of 9 sessions auto-cast to YouTube from the date I first stated using the server, to my best recollection; most of which seemed free of offending traffic
  • I will continue investigating all content and re-post sessions thought to be free of dialogue from the discord server in question.

On my YouTube channel, there was one case where I’d mistakenly cited the availability of this server as part of a larger service offering. I’ve posted a comment to the video (with highlighted reference on the video itself using YouTube’s rather broken tools for text editing overlays) citing the reference and this correction, but I do so again here to come completely clean on the subject.

I believe it is important for all to keep in mind that each of us is human and quite fallible. Pointing out errors tactfully isn’t the problem, however. We’re all capable of mistakes and errors in judgement, both on and off discord. And as Facebook scandals continue to erupt (something that’s likely to persist for the foreseeable future), chat services like discord are likely to only increase in popularity. Hopefully, as this type of social media grows we can all adopt standards of behaviour and etiquette that will serve to keep people growing their communities instead of limiting ourselves to serving baser instincts.

Let’s try to end “cancel culture”.

Fly safe, commanders!

Lord(Marcus)British Reacts to Trium Withdrawal

04-Mar-19 04:50 pm EST Leave a comment

LordBritish can get very, very angry it seems. Far angrier than even I (and I had quite a temper growing up many years ago). And now it seems to be taking the form of trolling, lies and insults on discord.gg (and elsewhere):

And with that, LordBritish contacted CMDR Alpha Station and had me thrown out of that squadron too. CMDR Alpha apparently wasn’t interested in hearing anything from me on the subject of what got LordBritish so riled since it was he and CMDR Farmere who, last night, had apparently become telepathic and started suddenly dictating what I was thinking about them and myself. Add to this suddenly revamping what I said and perverting it into something I hadn’t said at all – when I asked permission to record the conversation for later playback, they both refused without saying why. I was only interested in a record to ensure accuracy for the 3 of us to go back to. Perhaps they thought I had other motives?

Seeing I wasn’t welcome any longer and finding no way to resolve their apparent deep-seated issues with me (which had been festering for a while I’m now told) they came onto my discord.gg channel and posted the above. When I left the LordBritish server, I had not intented to return and was on to minding my own business desiring neither further discourse with Farmere or Marcus (LordBritish). So why the fresh campaign of slander, lies and insults? Because I’d blocked both of them to concentrate on my own business I didn’t see the above text right away and it was left there probably too long.

To those who caught it, this is apparently what it was all about — my decision to depart without accepting their re-imagined view of the conversation (and it was completely re-imagined). What had started as a silly argument about the facts of my education from a pair of game players who take themselves a little too seriously ended up perverted into something it never was in the real version. Apparently, they felt because there were two of them agreeing to some new version of what I’d said somehow that made it true.

Excusing the hypocrisy at their accusations of “pretentiousness” is one thing. But clearly, they’re not leaving this alone so I offer the above explanation in hopes it (and they) will all just go away. I know what I said and how I said it. Just because there are 2 of you doesn’t mean you can edit the conversation to your preferred version and stick it on me. Tell the whole world your version if you like — mine is still the correct one and if it wasn’t you wouldn’t have been afraid of recording further conversation for the sake of reference.

I will add here I can’t stand people who talk behind each others’ backs maliciously and this coupled with the trolling mentality I’ve started to endure is surely a clue even to these people — enough’s enough! Obviously, I erred here: I shouldn’t ever have wasted the time getting to know you 2. I can’t get that time back, but I can ask you not to waste any more of my time with your lack of ability to cope with this disagreement. Let’s just go our separate ways. OK?

Frontier Dev (FDev) Discloses Elite Refinement Schedule Through 2020

01-Mar-19 09:35 pm EST 1 comment

Frontier (the software design company behind “Elite Dangerous”) released the schedule of its forthcoming development of the Elite universe this morning (EST) with the revelation there are no plans to enhance the current edition of the Milky Way galaxy further. Instead, the company reports it will be sticking to a strategy of player retention while it completes some major upgrades to the simulated environment through to the midpoint of 2020. Through 2019 there will be a gradual replacement of “Community Goals” to player missions. Though the parameters given in the release from Frontier were quite vague, there is the possibility that some of the original storylines around Raxxla (a long sought-after planet within the gameplay) might be used to aid player retention.

Initial CMDR (player) response was extraordinarily negative with one initial reaction reading as follows:


Wow. Pretty weak Frontier. The promised Premium Content delayed again. After being delayed again and again. 
Just another announcement of another coming announcement. This one in 18 months. You have really outdone yourselves this time. 

— User “Cmdr Ultra

Another writes:


The white knights are going bananas trying to explain away this. 5 years between horizons and whatever the next dlc is. There’s slow…then there’s FDev development slow.

— User “Rambojambo

But CMDR reaction wasn’t universally negative — a number lept to FDev’s defense with comments like the following:


Whilst I’m sure late-2020 will disappoint many, I’m actually very pleased that FDev have learned from the LEP-fiasco of 2018 and are being up-front with us. We may not like the news, but at least we know.

— User “PiLhEaD

Another writes:


I think you missed the part where he said that [life account] owners get the whole new content for free…

Also I got news for you: Making content, especially as big as advertised, takes time.

And it’s not like they stop making any updates until 2020.

— User “Hellfire85

It is this journalist’s own view (as a professional software developer) that really given what we’ve seen in-game so far there should be no great surprise at the time being invested toward developing new features into the game in a manner consistent with its vision. When the Elite Dangerous project first began, they could add landing on planets without atmospheres, change mission structures and make other relatively superficial changes without too much effort. Also, they were working (at least in part) on a crowd-funded budget. The gameplay that resulted from this effort was a hair’s width short of miraculous.

But now CMDRs want to land on atmosphere-ready planets with the ability to fly through gas giants if need be. That means taking into account physics and graphics the initial engine just could not provide. And the gaming universe continues to change too — we’ve got StarCitizen (very-well funded by Hollywood corporate money) and now not just cinematics but full feature-length movies to contend with. Elite Dangerous 1.0 (if I can call it that here) just wasn’t built to deal with such niggling business realities. At the very least the players will need to see Earth-type planets from orbit with 20,000 inhabitants not already inlaid with apparent civilizations on the ground. They’ll need to see at most a scant few dim lights around a stronger-lit central hub. And that kind of dynamic means getting a software architecture into place that can meet such a demand.

Not to mention all of this needs to run seamlessly on 4 or 5 major gaming platforms, including the PC and virtual reality. That’s a tall order and after all the debugs and testing (I’m told they have it, despite the obvious bugs that have recently hampered gameplay) 18 months isn’t hard to see. You can likely get a shorter deadline, but Frontier still has ownership that expects to turn a profit over the long-term. Addressing these problems with a new software architecture in itself could easily add up to the proposed timeline. And I don’t even work at Frontier and am unaware of all the technical challenges and realities the teams there need to face.

Hopefully, the existing user-base will be tolerant over this intervening period as a new platform for future growth of the environment is developed. But keep an eye on Star Citizen and Squadron 42 — they won’t be out-of-the-market forever!

AppRefactory Website Down Temporarily

31-Jan-19 11:12 am EST Leave a comment
T

he AppRefactory Inc. website is down temporarily, while some of the hosting arrangements and Microsoft Azure cloud account changes related to our recent updated service agreement (as a Microsoft Solutions Provider) are being processed.  This will likely take another week or so, but another update message will appear here when the site is back up.  And, at that time, we will also be able to act as a Microsoft Cloud Services Provider (CSP) which will be of value to existing and future customers.

Please bear with us during this outage period.

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