Canadian court forces Google to remove search results worldwide, as fears of “memory hole” grow

25-Jul-14 03:09 pm EDT Leave a comment

This smacks of “common sense” approaches to the problems endemic to a “right to be forgotten” going totally unheard. Did lawyers really have to be the ones settling this issue? Perhaps this is a good referendum question in local elections coming up over the next few years in nations globally. God forbid we should leave something like this entirely up to the courts to decide.

Gigaom

A Canadian court took the unprecedented step this week of declaring global jurisdiction over Google(s goog) and forcing it to delete search results not just for “google.ca” but for “google.com” as well. The move comes as lawmakers in Europe pressure Google to censor more pages under a controversial “right-to-be-forgotten” law, and could accelerate a recent trend of disappearing online information.

In the Canadian case, Google had urged a judge in Vancouver to suspend an earlier ruling that required it to remove any search links related to an e-commerce vendor accused of selling knock-off internet equipment. That ruling, which came out in June and gave Google 14 days to remove the results, is now in force after the judge concluded that applying the worldwide ruling would not create “irreparable harm.”

The ruling already appears to be rippling beyond Canada’s borders. For instance, when I searched in the U.S. for a product called “GW-1000,” Google shows that it has censored at least four webpages:

search results missing

The “we have removed results” notice…

View original post 998 more words

Categories: Uncategorized

Canadian Federal Budget 2014: Legacy of a Finance Minister?

11-Feb-14 10:21 am EST Leave a comment
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hey’re saying this could be the final budget delivered by Canada’s Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty.  And CBC News is reporting that we should be looking for 6 key items to appear in this years’ budget.

But I’m reflecting on the budgets of years gone by under the Conservative government and where it’s left Canada in the past decade.   My comment on the story makes it clear what Flaherty’s real legacy will be:

mcshane
James in Kanata @mcshane: Bottom line, the average Canadian’s wealth has increased by 25% wince NAFTA.
~~~~~~
Bull and I will speak for the American people as well…Employers that did relocate to Mexico from the U.S. and Canada have now begun moving to even lower-wage areas such as China and Vietnam. NAFTA was supposed to “grow the economy,” all it did was increasingly benefit a smaller and smaller segment of society.

Ross Holder
@mcshane Well that doesn’t mean it didn’t grow the economy. 😉 It just means that the economy grew and served to simply widen the gap between rich and poor (i.e. profit went into the pockets of the top 5% of income earners instead of seeing every Canadian benefit). And maybe that was inevitable too; but I’d like this budget to spend more attention on managing that widening gap I mentioned between rich and poor — because this country is plenty rich enough for everyone to feel the benefit of our good fortune a lot more!

Time Magazine Person of 2013: Pope Francis I

17-Dec-13 06:18 pm EST Leave a comment

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ime Magazine couldn’t have chosen better, IMHO, for person of the year for 2013.  The pontiffs that have ascended the clergy to fulfill the tradition of being humanity’s direct channel to #God seem to have all been good men in my lifetime.  But Francis seems to stand out as one who can really bring God into the lives of the masses in a meaningful way and for a goodly number doing so with an air of humility and service that few of his fellow clergy (whatever their faith) seem able to match.  I was particularly impressed this year with his affinity for personal poverty and welcoming homosexuals into the Church he represents in a public way (and seemingly absent the theological distractions that have at least appeared to bar his predecessors from doing in like kind – and therein bringing into question their true discipleship of #Christ, in my view).

Well done, #Time!  And long-live #Pope #Francis!

Butthole(s) of the Year for 2013: The Conservative Party of Canada

17-Dec-13 05:12 am EST Leave a comment
MooreJ(Conservative)

James Moore (cutaway from Commons video), MP (Conservative), Ministry of Industry and Trade, Government of Canada.

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hether it was covering up the expenditures of its Senate appointees, hurting Canada’s standing in the international community with mid-east policy (being America’s “yes” man), glossing over cases of dirty campaigning (being found guilty of causing election irregularities through committing election fraud), to record-setting spending on personal attacks of opposition leaders, bankrupting environmental activists with legal fees over legitimate public concerns, or imposing a tyrannical regime of anti-drug paranoia in response to a legitimate, medically-prescribed treatment of mental illness, or (late, this past week) telling a reporter it was neither “the [Government of Canada]’s job” nor “[his] job to feed [his] neighbour’s child.”

Is it just me or is it starting to look like maybe — in the eyes of our nation’s leaders — that nothing is really their job until it comes time to pay themselves and their buddies with bottomless expense accounts and other rewards that prop-up their morally bankrupt ideology?

These dickheads make the spectre of Marie Antoinette look like the sugar plumb fairy!

Yes, it’s been quite a year and one I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.  My only hope is that October 2015 rolls around, my fellow citizens don’t suffer another lapse in memory and stick this truly undesirable element back into power when the time comes.  Though I’m not what you’d call a traditional supporter of rightist politics, I’ve never in my life been so filled with dread and deep-seated resentment about a Canadian political party.  It actually feels like the Republicans crossed north across the 49th and picked up where George W. Bush left off.

On his apology…were it just he and were it just this one thing, I could readily accept it.  But Moore is a part of a club that demands a #MooreChristmas doctrine – and, fundamentally, a heart that’s three sizes too small.  Nothing short of resignations to accompany apology will do now.  Would that it were a world wherein such Christmas miracles happen…

The Birds Strike Back….

11-Dec-13 08:41 pm EST Leave a comment
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r perhaps “The Pork Strikes Back” would be a better title.  But whatever you call it, what self-(dis)respecting parody to Star Wars could you have without a sequel even more hilarious than the one before it?  In that spirit, here’s hoping the following brings a bit of Christmas cheer thanks to folks at Rovio:

 

Source: Angry Birds: Star Wars II–Boba’s Delivery trailer; Copyright © Rovio Entertainment Ltd., all rights reserved.

On Joining the “Pork Side”…

01-Dec-13 04:31 pm EST Leave a comment
Source: Angry Birds: Star Wars II–Join the Pork Side trailer; Copyright © Rovio Entertainment Ltd., all rights reserved.
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n celebration of the Christmas shopping season, might I share with you fine folks something I found especially entertaining this year under the heading of “game software” for the Android, iPhone and PC (which still seems to have some of the gaming audience despite devices taking over everything last year): Angry Birds.

Reminds one of the forthcoming epic movies finishing off the 9-movie Star Wars saga, now projected to open in last 2015.  But next year promises to be another blockbuster for the Star Wars franchise leading up to this next watershed event (simply titled “Episode VII” at the moment.  Stay tuned for more info about all that and more here!

Political Meddling at its Very Worst!

29-Nov-13 09:08 am EST Leave a comment
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utrage doesn’t begin to describe what I felt after hearing about the plight of this RCMP officer this morning (see below).  I hate the way the RCMP gets so easily turned into a political football — especially in cases like this.  The force was dealing with the case of this one Mountie just fine….but when he decided (with the nod from his union) to demonstrate his use of medicinally-prescribed marijuana while in-uniform, the force suddenly reacted as if mental illness wasn’t worthy of “the optics” involved!

And, of course, the Conservatives are once again turning what should be a common-sense issue into political football by seizing upon the opportunity to make some kind of ridiculous statement about their anti-drug policy (another holdover from a long, by-gone era) and making an example of this decorated officer.

 

Pot-smoking Mountie has uniform seized by RCMP (Source: CBC.ca, 28-Nov-2013)

 

Shame on Tony Clement, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives for being more eager to change the channel away from the Senate scandal (just one among several) and punish a loyal public servant in the most crass and medieval manner imaginable!

More Planets Anyone?

27-Nov-13 12:34 pm EST Leave a comment

Infographic showing how the Kepler space telescope could continue searching for planets despite two busted reaction wheels. Credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel (Read more…)

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epler may be getting set for a resurrection of its planet-finding mission in other star systems, according to Universe Today. The space telescope whose primary mission to was catalogue planets around stars in our galaxy, visible in a particular part of the night sky was abruptly cut short this past summer when two of the wheels responsible for orienting the satellite failed, leaving its attitude control system crippled along with its primary mission.  These technical issues have also left Kepler vulnerable to budget cuts in the forthcoming 2014 budget debate which has already been the subject of a high-stakes game of political brinksmanship between U.S. lawmakers who decide how much money NASA and, ultimately, Kepler get.

A view of Kepler's search area as seen from Earth. Credit: Carter Roberts / Eastbay Astronomical Society

A view of Kepler’s search area as seen from Earth. Credit: Carter Roberts / Eastbay Astronomical Society

Of course, while Kepler and other planet-finding missions continue with their discoveries (even if hobbled by issues of one kind or another), one question often asked about them is “where are they?”  I use a program called “Celestia” to get my answer to that question and over the past couple of years have acquired quite a bit of data pertaining to these “exoplanets” (as they’re called) and other astronomical phenomena whose coordinates and other data can be input into the application to generate a celestial map.

If you’re interested in using the data I’ve got , you can download the library from one of two sources:

SouthPark S17E04 will not be seen tonight so we can bring you…

17-Oct-13 06:57 pm EDT Leave a comment
F

rom user “piccilo72” at thepiratebay.se:

 

 

"Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers" was set to air October 16, 2013.[1] South Park episodes are usually produced in only six days and delivered to Comedy Central just hours before airing. However, on October 15, 2013, South Park Studios suffered a power outage, causing the staff’s computers to go down during post-production and leaving the episode incomplete, missing its deadline for the first time in 17 seasons.[2] Series co-creator Trey Parker wrote that "it sucks to miss an air date but after all these years of tempting fate by delivering the show last minute, I guess it was bound to happen."[3] A rerun of the fifth season episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die" was shown in its place, with live tweets accompanying the broadcast.[4]

— quoted from South Park production blog; extra night-vision images of
production studio, taken the night of the outage included.

I guess the producers of South Park have never heard of backup power (a.k.a. “UPS”)?

Unbelievable!

Microsoft Buys Nokia

03-Sep-13 12:24 pm EDT 1 comment

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ust last week, following a discussion with a potential business partner, I’d found myself doing something I’ve done a few times over the course of my career — wondering whether I was making the right choice sticking with being “a Microsoft technology expert”.  Typically, such ennui occurs during downtimes for the software giant….and there have definitely been downs with the ups in the 30-year-long Microsoft saga.  But with the announcement late yesterday about the Nokia buyout, I think I may have learned to recognize such feelings as moments the really herald the coming of a big announcement or some influential development; as once more, my momentary doubts about sticking with Microsoft were immediately laid to rest.

Nokia, for its part, hasn’t been doing well in the smartphone market — not even as well as Microsoft’s own Windows Phone operating system — in an industry dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.  During its now outgoing CEO’s (Stephen Elop) reign, Nokia shares dropped an extremely disappointing 85% giving pause to any notions one might have toward thinking of him a replacement for Steve Ballmer (who’s also in the midst of his own departure from Microsoft).  Nokia was already licensing Windows Phone from Microsoft so some have said not much else is likely to change at the former Finnish cellphone giant.

In the end, Elop (a Canadian) may have been partly behind an engineering of optics in league with Ballmer to succeed the latter at Microsoft.  But along with those optics will be those of a renewed momentum for the Windows Phone OS, which can only be a good thing for those of us believers in the Microsoft brand.


Story supporting links:

Harper vs. Trudeau: Pot High-perbole

31-Aug-13 05:08 pm EDT Leave a comment
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anadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper got a few more shots in on Liberal Party Leader and upstart threat to the nation’s highest political office Justin Trudeau late last week by complaining that Trudeau’s position on drug de-criminalization amounted to trying to force the nation’s children onto drugs.  When will the Conservatives finally realize that such nonsense is out-of-touch with average Canadians (if not average Canadian voters)?  I suppose the message might have to await the next federal election – but it’s really difficult to listen to this guy without wondering if his Machiavellian treatments of Canada’s democratic process aren’t ever going to stimulate the electorate out of its apathy just once in my lifetime to bring a sense of reason back into our political process!

Source: CBC News / CBC Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, August 29, 2013; Copyright ©MMXIII (2013) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, all rights reserved. YouTube.com edition reproduced here under “fair use” provisions of Copyright.

How A UFO Story Is “Killed” by Politicians

17-Aug-13 01:13 am EDT 1 comment
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o you ever get the feeling that the Government (either of Canada or the United States) might not be totally forthcoming on the question “has Earth been visited by an alien civilization yet?”  Well a recent event off Canada’s Atlantic coast (Newfoundland) gives some cause for you being suspicious, if it makes any difference to you.

After reading this, I checked some statistics and learned that a full 93% of respondents to one CBC poll indicated that they were sure aliens existed elsewhere in the universe and, of those, another 70%+ were confident Earth had already been visited.  (Interestingly, Stanton Friedman; a Canadian nuclear physicist who’s been on something of a UFO information crusade for the past 40+ years also made the point in a recent interview that most people believe they are in the minority believing in the existence of aliens and encounters here on Earth.)

With the recent acknowledgement of the U.S. concerning the existence of Area 51 and the discovery of planets smaller than Earth in star systems less than 500 light years away from this world — I’m starting to think a larger announcement might not be too far off in the future.  At least now there’s some reason to feel confident governments will come clean with what they know; not because of any sudden resurgence of faith in democracy by politicians or bureaucrats previously hell-bent on secrecy…but simply because they’ll have no choice.

UPDATE: Oppose the Russian Parliament’s Facist Anti-LGBT Stand!

07-Aug-13 08:51 pm EDT Leave a comment
E

arlier today I posted on the subject of the Russian Parliament’s recent anti-LGBT laws, making being gay in Russia a crime.  Although I said a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics was inappropriate, I do support making statements to the Russian Federation by other means.  To that end:

Stand Against Russia’s Brutal Crackdown on Gay Rights: Urge Winter Olympics 2014 Sponsors to Condemn Anti-Gay Laws

A boycott of products will hopefully have the effect of getting the IOC to use some of its diplomatic clout by hitting ‘em where it hurts: the pocket book! 

Register your support of this measure here.

The AppRefactory Inc. Declines to Boycott Sochi Olympics

07-Aug-13 02:44 pm EDT 2 comments

DanCardFBSochiBoycott

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eceived this above invitation to support an issue on Facebook…

At issue: The Russian Parliament (Duma) voted overwhelmingly to install a series of laws which render being gay and/or gay acts illegal within Russia.  Critics argue these laws essentially violate the UN charter on human rights and take Russia back into the worst of the dark ages with respect to homosexuality generally while tolerance and acceptance are the norms now adopted by the bulk of humanity.  Some say that as a just response to these draconian measures, the 2014 Winter Olympics should be boycotted so that Russian legislators get the message that the rest of the world won’t accept their position – especially when many of the athletes attending are themselves going to be part of the LGBT community.

The Response: While I, of course, agree with the premise that homosexuality is not an area where government control is appropriate and that, as a social issue, tolerance and acceptance are the correct norms to be defended, the Olympic Games are really supposed to be about sports.  With the considerable investment of time and money to begin the lengthy list of commitments an Olympic athlete makes in preparing for the games, a boycott (however effective at communicating a message) isn’t an appropriate response to what is really a matter for Russians to resolve within their own society.  Consequently, I will not support this boycott invitation nor any others coming my way in the months ahead, regardless of how the Russians proceed on this issue between now and the opening ceremony.

On Mentoring

20-Jul-13 03:49 pm EDT Leave a comment
Source: Dilbert.com

 

God bless Dilbert!

Categories: Entertainment Tags: , ,

Analysis of the Analysis of the…

14-Jul-13 08:26 pm EDT Leave a comment
W

arren Kinsella, Sun Newspaper columnist and professional thorn in the side of whoever sits in the PMO has offered a strangely shallow analysis of the Ottawa punditry spending so much time writing about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s imminent cabinet shuffle.  Purported to be the shuffle that will “make or break” a tired, listless government with all but the likes of a rookie Leader of the Opposition (from a party rookie at being Official Opposition) and a rookie Liberal Party leader with Obama-esque expectations riding on his shoulders to restore his party to Government in the next election somehow — Kinsella complains expectations writ of this shuffle are pure fantasy, saying, “And in the specific case of the Harper government, [the shuffle] isn’t important at all,” for five big reasons:

1. Cabinet shuffles don’t change government fortunes. When a regime is drifting (as the Harper government is) or looking tired and old and near the end of their usefulness (ditto), prime ministers will shuffle their cabinets.

They do it all the time, in the faint hope that it will make them more popular, or at least less unpopular. It’s a strategy that doesn’t work.

Can you picture the aforementioned Joe Frontporch at the kitchen table, hollering: “Jane, we’re going to vote Conservative again, because there’s a new minister of Veteran’s Affairs! Hallelujah!” Sounds crazy, no? That’s because it is.

Harper & cabinet sworn in at Rideau Hall, May 18, 2011.  (Image source: Sun News, July 14, 2013.)

Well, not to defend our misguided PM — but, frankly, I have trouble thinking of him as that stupid.

He’s trying to do what CEOs and managers in business find themselves doing when fortunes begin to sag for no apparent reason.  Re-ignite past success by (perhaps) having capable people take on new challenges in a different role.   Does it work?  It can, though Kinsella might find himself mistakenly thinking he accurately diagnosed the reason because the outcome happens to be what he expected.

2. Stephen Harper is the Control-Freak-in-Chief. Never in our history has there been a prime minister so preoccupied with micromanagement and centralization. Never has there been so little delegation as there has been under Harper, who makes Orwell’s Big Brother look like a dope-smoking slacker.

For Harper and his minions in the PMO, ministers are to be controlled, not given control. With the Control-Freak-in-Chief, who is in cabinet – and who isn’t really doesn’t matter.

It may not be original, but there’s a world of insight to be had in these words.  The PMO has never been so large in all of Canadian History — as a software consultant who’s done more than his share of federal government contract work, I can tell you you need only look of the percentage of RFPs that have come out for the PMO in recent years to have a sense of this.  It’s as if the whole government had moved into the PMO, and the ministries were only used for PR!  (And this, I think, is very, very dangerous.)

But Canadians have been content to let this slide too along with everything else it seems.  The mantra “Who else can you vote for?” has become the Conservative’s sure ticket to power and since it’s that kind of slogan that can inspire the electorate, why not the political high-stakes play of a cabinet shuffle too?  Optics über alles!

3. L’etat, c’est lui. Harper isn’t just the head of the federal government, he IS the federal government. For the Conservatives, that’s been the good news: A smart, strategic leader ran the show, and helped them win power in 2006.

But, paradoxically, it’s the bad news, too. There are no viable successors waiting in the wings. And there is no minister strong enough to give cover to Harper when he stumbles, as he has indisputably in l’affaire Duffy. If you can name a dozen of his ministers and their portfolios off the top of your head, you deserve the Order of Canada.

He’s right about it being bad news — even withstanding the horrifying picture of Duffy stumbling on the minds of voters.  But amid this latest shakeup, even Harper has had trouble maintaining his balance in the corridors of power.  And the aftershocks are far from done with the RCMP investigation of the absentee PEI Senator just getting into full swing.  And a cabinet shuffle, no matter how cynical one gets about the electorate, will not erase the memory of Duffy’s fall from grace or corpulent expense spending from mind.

One also can remember recent Liberal success with “Team Chrétien”…which might well be something the country can get behind as a distinctive style difference with Harper, should Trudeau take up that approach during a forthcoming campaign.

4. A shuffle won’t change the fundamental problem. And Harper’s problem is well known and not even disputed by smart Conservatives: The governing party has lost its way. There’s no raison d’etre anymore.

There’s no mission statement. Nobody in the Conservative caucus remembers why he or she was sent to Ottawa in the first place.

A cabinet shuffle won’t change that problem, it’ll draw it into sharper focus. None of the many youngsters with “P.C.” appended to their surnames will feel powerful enough, or independent enough, to challenge the boss.

So get ready for same old, same old.

5. Nobody will notice. Forests will be felled to print opinion columns about the cosmic significance of the fashion sense of the newly minted minister of Public Safety. But Joe and Jane Frontporch won’t actually read any of those columns (which is one of the reasons broadsheet newspapers are in a spot of trouble, but that’s a lament for another day).

—— Warren Kinsella, Sun News, Jul 14, 2013

Points #4 and #5 seem to contradict each other somewhat.  But on the whole, it all relates back to point #1: cabinet shuffles don’t change election results — but that’s not what this was ever about.  It’s more internal management of PR for the Conservatives than anything.  And, yes, that’s all that this government has ever really been about.  Meaningless Law and Order measures, changing armed forces rankings, and lukewarm gun control rollbacks are the hallmark of Herper’s time in office.

In the end, that’s how history will record this period in Canadian history.  No cabinet shuffle will change that one iota.

NextEra vs. “The Little Lady”

23-Jun-13 12:06 am EDT Leave a comment
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am not usually one to find myself agreeing with Conservative mouthpieces; but Ezra Levant has done a story that really hits on a big issue in Canadian Justice.  Why is it the entity with the most money should win in our legal system?

To summarize:

“A $32 billion energy corporation has filed a massive lawsuit against an Ontario environmentalist named Esther Wrightman. It’s a SLAPP suit: Strategic litigation against public participation. It’s not really about legal arguments. It’s about crushing Wrightman with legal bills and burning up her time, so she can’t spend time campaigning against them.”

The specific issue cited in the lawsuit is apparently one of her “being in competition” somehow with NextEra as a result of her protest, which to me seems immediately frivolous.  I’d have to guess that, in the purest legal terminology this a “torte” action (but, since I’m not a lawyer, I couldn’t say for certain) and so whether one needs to bother establishing a prima facie case isn’t clear either.  But it seems there ought to be a mechanism to prevent any corporation capitalized in the tens of billions of dollars from suing a homemaker and plant nursery caretaker who’s just trying to make sure her kids are safe and imposing insurmountably high legal costs she really can’t afford even with generous, repeat donations from the public.

I wish her best of luck – but maybe this is the kind of thing that needs more scrutiny by our hard-working politicians to correct.

Senate Reform (Canada) 2013: Constitutional Crisis in the Making?

04-Jun-13 09:19 pm EDT Leave a comment
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aving one’s cake & eating it too seems to be the primary fixation of every politician ever borne these days — and in more ways than one.  From the office of Senator Mike Duffy, former CTV political affairs journalist, who’d swore he’d help Prime Minister Stephen Harper reform the Senate when he was first appointed to Justin Trudeau who see reform as absolutely essential whilst simultaneously promising, if elected, to leave constitutional reform of any kind on the back burner.  Yet both men, along with every other politician in the country appear to want what every Canadian wants: either a Senate that works or no Senate at all.

Duffy’s appointment was part of a greater plan by Stephen Harper to build what he called a “critical mass”, of like-minded Canadians who would agree to vote through the necessary legislation for a peaceful transition within the Senate at some (then) future date.  This would negate the need for another round of constitutional discord since senators would be voting within the system to either abolish or reform the upper house, depending on whatever deal could be made at that time (and whatever deal Canadians would ultimately approve of).  Harper seemed to be favouring an elected Senate; but didn’t say in the interview whether he supported the vision espoused by some of his fellow senators (eg. Sharron Carstairs of Manitoba) who’d favour a ‘Triple-E’ Senate model (elected, effective, and equal).

Whatever Harper’s ambitions, they seem to have come crashing down around his ears in the first half of 2013 with Duffy’s own behaviour triggering a near total collapse of public confidence in the Senate, which wasn’t at its highest pinnacle to begin with.  Already there are calls for constitutional-based reform which, as anyone even loosely familiar with Canadian politics can plainly see, is a minefield.  Not to mention Québec is under a separatist government at present (led by Pauline Marois); which doesn’t exactly aide the cause of reformed federalism in Canada historically.

Source: “The National”, May 16, 2003 (http://www.cbc.ca/video)

With not just apathy, but anti-Senate sentiment at such a feverish pitch, Harpers plans for the Senate are likely on the backburner for the foreseeable future.  And although Mike Duffy has survived in his Senate seat (so far), it’s doubtful he’ll be able to lead any great charge of the reformists therein anytime soon.  And so, down the drain are the hopes of Harper and by some strange coincidence those of the Canadian people where the Senate is concerned…at least until the political mood in Québec and the rest of the country become a little more certain about what course change in Canada’s upper house of sober second thought should take.

DuffyBuck

Notwithstanding a worsening of the crisis which could well lead us down the path into another hand-wringing round of constitutional frustration.

Vials of Apollo 11 moon dust found in storage – MSNBC

25-May-13 11:04 am EDT Leave a comment
"

H

oney, where did you put that jar of lunar orthoclase I was saving?"

This is definitely not the kind of thing one would expect to get lost.  While the article claims all the vials are accounted for – I wonder whether someone might not have recorded a volume of rock "consumed" by testing and simply skimmed a little for themselves….

UPDATE: Stargate Universe Petition Needs More Support

17-May-13 11:16 pm EDT 1 comment

SG_U Petition Support.gsheet

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n May 7th, I published an article asking for your support with a petition to resurrect the Stargate Universe television series.  Support has been escalating, but too gradually.  As of tonight, the series will not get the 100,000 signatures necessary before production deadlines necessary for next season (the goal will not be achieved until March 12, 2014).

So get your signatures in ASAP!!!

Help Bring Stargate: Universe Back!

07-May-13 01:36 pm EDT 2 comments

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ring back SG:U to the Internet by signing this Netflix petition (see link). Unlike many Internet-based petitions, this one looks like it’s being taken seriously….so if you (like me) want Stargate back – access the SG:U petition on change.org and let your voice be heard!  (Do it anyway for me – ‘cuz there’s a huuuuge vacuum in sci-fi entertainment these days and it will make life suck a lot less for me and a pile of other people! )

“Austerity Measures” Philosophy Flawed, Says Political Economy Student

07-May-13 12:48 pm EDT 1 comment
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he measures that have forced people into bankruptcy all over the world have turned out to be the product of a pair of academics screwing up a spreadsheet.  No peer review – and the graduate student that brought forward the evidence proving  the premise for the changes in public policy we’ve seen are so flawed hasn’t been taken seriously.

But maybe that part of the story is still to come… Here’s hoping!

New Space Race: Pros & Cons

02-May-13 02:48 pm EDT Leave a comment
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have to disagree with myself it looks like. (Maybe that doesn’t happen often enough!) But only recently has the “big picture” being pursued by the Obama administration started to become evident. And, I hate to admit it; it might not have gone so well if details of what must surely have been a deliberate strategy been announced at the beginning: let the private sector pave the way to space exploration.

The Ross Report

What this "spurning" by NASA entailed, we’ll probably never know.  But it’s not hard to speculate that NASA might find another space race with its old cold-war adversary useful.  What’s not useful is the inevitable adversarial attitude that occurs politically being exacerbated by a new space race.  So – is a space race good or bad?

Overall, I think we should probably be spending appreciably on extraterrestrial research because, overall, there appears to be plenty of evidence that the technological advances which result invariably imrpove the condition of humanity, and our understanding of the universe.  Too often, politicians come along and dogged by those who think the world’s problems will be solved organically by kind-hearted human beings spending on feeding the poor and healing the world’s sick with the…

View original post 231 more words

Elections Canada drops plan for online voting due to cuts – Politics – CBC News

02-May-13 04:56 am EDT Leave a comment
A

midst all this talk of a budget surplus of $3.1 billion (among other criticisms of a multitude of spending faux pas by Canada’s Conservative administration), somehow a pretty high-profile item can’t even earn $0.0073 billion ($7.3 million) worth of attention from the Government of Canada: online voting.

It might not sound like a big deal; but, according to Elections Canada (the regulatory authority responsible for running elections in the country), the $7.3 million shortfall means no online voting will be available to citizens sooner than the general election of 2023.  Notwithstanding the several elections irregularity issues that have erupted around the Conservatives in the past few elections, or the (arguably) excessive spending on the F-35 contract, not subject to a competitive bidding process for some reason, two Auditors General (one of whom used to be a Conservative cabinet minister herself) have found this government heavy on spending and taxing the middle and lower classes – light on audits to measure results on various programmes under Conservative stewardship.  Admittedly, I’m a bit partisan toward the Liberals (no big shock there) – but on my most objective day with the wind at my back playing the most pro-Conservative apologist I can – I couldn’t find the straws to grasp ahead of the arguments needed to explain this emerging tale of fiscal incompetence.

What ever happened to that great Canadian mythology about Conservatives being better stewards of the nation’s purse strings?  Who’d have thought I’d ever be pining for the return of the old Progressive Conservative party (the one before Preston Manning and his entourage of displaced Texans moved into 24 Sussex Dr.)?

Ontario Government Introduces Legislation to Protect Consumers from High Cellphone Bills

29-Apr-13 05:49 pm EDT Leave a comment
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rotecting consumers from outrageously high cancellation fees (to now be limited to a maximum of $50) and compulsorily requiring customer consent to change cell phone contracts are just two of the measures drafted into long-awaited legislation aimed tabled in the Ontario Legislature today.  While consumers and the industry still await a code of conduct for vendors to be brought forward by the CRTC, the minority governing Liberals argue these measures are already overdue.

More details are available here.

Dr. Dobbs: Software Development Trending to be More Complex, Not Less

28-Apr-13 01:14 pm EDT Leave a comment
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here aren’t many advantages to being on disability for the past several months – but as I’ve recovered, looking for work and taking on the challenges with possibly getting my own software projects closer to completion has caused me to reflect on how software development has changed over the course of my career.  Imagine my shock at finding out I wasn’t alone in this realization this weekend, when I ran into a Dr. Dobbs article that articulated more clearly than I ever could (available free time notwithstanding) exactly what this revolution in app development is all about.

Chart above: “Fraction of programmers (y-axis) who spend x amount of time coding in a given language in 2012.  Note the big spike on the left and the mostly sub-2% numbers for programmers coding more than 50% of the time in one language.” (Source: Dr. Dobbs Journal, 03-Apr-2013)

My lead project is actually an upgraded version of a strategy game that’s been in the public domain for quite a while; but has the simplicity necessary to effectively permit interfaces to a number of different platforms – and with them, the necessity of leveraging a number of different technologies to make building and maintenance practical.  What will this mean software development as we close on 2015 or even 2020?  Likely what’s happened before – amalgamation to facilitate the creation of single-vendor solutions so that the process is re-simplified.

But until that happens, coders like me are gonna be left to absorb multiple platforms and become jacks-of-all-trades (and hopefully not lose the mastery of some in the process).

Pick-Pocket 2.0?

28-Apr-13 12:46 pm EDT Leave a comment

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redit card fraud is about to reach new heights, according to this report by CBC.ca.  Can you say “holy crap!”?  What we need is for the phone companies to start allowing charges through to your phone bill as if the phone itself was a credit card, instead of apps like this appearing making credit fraud easier.  Card readers on smart phones are definitely not the right way to go….

Conservative Crime & Punishment Agenda Trumps Free Speech

22-Apr-13 02:26 pm EDT Leave a comment

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ews from Mexico of a Canadian woman’s 18-month (formerly indefinite) incarceration without representation by her Canadian government was only one of two items this week illustrating a long-standing pet peeve I have with the Conservatives’ crime & punishment agenda.  Now, the Conservative house-leader (in the Canadian House of Commons) has cancelled debate on a resolution that would have seen more power granted the back benches to speak on behalf of Canadians, and represent their constituents in favour of rushing through debate on a hastily-drafted anti-terrorism bill that seems little more than taking political advantage of the tragedy in Boston.

    Hopefully, my country(wo)men are getting as tired of this as I am!  (That, and the latest attack ads which put the new Liberal Party Leader, Justin Trudeau in the cross-hairs of Conservative pre-election spending.)

Mission Improbable: Analyzing Conservative Justice

22-Apr-13 01:53 pm EDT Leave a comment

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anadians seem to be having a tough time getting their consular representatives to help with problems abroad again….re-enforcing words spoken by (Canada’s) Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau at the convention last weekend.  Once again, the governing Conservatives seem to be abandoning those detained abroad to whatever injustices prevail instead of taking an interest in the outcome of cases where Canadians are detained without having the benefit of a government that will see them returned safely home; whether it be to serve time in a Canadian prison or simply to be exonerated of charges that have no merit.

In this episode of the CBC’s Fifth Estate, a woman who’d committed no crime was charged and held in a Mexican maximum security prison.  Was it her government that came to her aid?  Not bloody likely – it was the Mexican Supreme Court which finally agreed that based on numerous human rights violations during her incarceration her case should be thrown out!

Still, it was a hellish 18-month ordeal involving a heart-attack amongst other health problems resulting from a confinement that was absent a crime.  And nowhere to be seen were Canadian consular officials, perhaps presuming her guilt without so much as a review of the case (or none on record).  Or perhaps there was a review….one that had the stamp of RCMP approval on the word of a convicted felon and known liar.  Political scandal being swept under the carpet?

At least she’s home now – but the questions will, if there still is justice to be found in Canada, continue…

2 dead, 90+ injured in Boston Marathon Terror Attack

15-Apr-13 06:44 pm EDT 1 comment
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ll of Canada stands with our US brethren, once more, at this time of crisis…

Christian Science Monitor

Moon + Saturn = Awesome Pic!!!

08-Apr-13 12:43 am EDT Leave a comment
Categories: Space Exploration

Spectacular!!!

12-Feb-13 01:09 pm EST Leave a comment
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his is the kind of thing I like to see from NASA!  The caption reads ” Hollywood couldn’t have done it any better”… and I for one couldn’t agree more.

Categories: Space Exploration

CNN Embeds Overly-Harsh Critique in Unfortunate Image Caption

24-Aug-11 11:08 am EDT Leave a comment

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bviously, nobody’s perfect — and perhaps nobody is better aware of this than the editorial team with CNN.com, as an article concerning an off-course ISS resupply freighter illustrates this morning:

FunnyTypeO-NASAResupplyShipAnnotated

Naturally, comments subsequently have been less than flattering to CNN, which well into an hour following the article’s initial publication still has failed to correct the apparent mis-print…

Guess that tells us not only how carefully CNN edits its content — but how much they bother to consult their readers’ comments on the articles they publish!

Ten Years After 9/11 Bush Says “Blank Stare” Meant to “Project Calm”

29-Jul-11 03:06 am EDT 5 comments
On September 11, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush absorbs news of the attacks in New York for the first time.  Many have suggested he was overwhelmed into a state of indecision at the news and should have immediately excused himself from the childrens’ classroom to deal with the emerging crisis.
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s the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks approaches, former U.S. President, George W. Bush gives an interview to the National Geographic Channel wherein he maintains his apparent “blank stare” captured on video immediately after being told of the attack on the World Trade Center was actually a deliberate effort to “project calm” amid a developing crisis.  The report of the hour-long interview by Reuters also says Bush will outline his thoughts during those first few minutes following his being told the news, and also discusses his approach toward dealing with the aftermath of the attacks in a very candid way.

According to the report, Bush brought no notes to the interview and responded to questions without apparent preparation.

If true, this piece might actually be worth watching; since one of the main issues many have had with hearing Bush in these kinds of interviews is the very scripted way he has historically responded — ever wary of the political cost of saying the wrong thing.  (And in this, of course, Bush is far from alone.)  But with the length of time that’s now past, there could be a fresh perspective on his mindset and perhaps even an answer to the question about whether he was really “frozen with indecision” immediately after being told of the first attacks in New York.

Winnipeg Jets unveil new logo

22-Jul-11 10:51 pm EDT 2 comments
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eah, I can’t claim I’m too thrilled with the new logo either.  And, as someone rightly observed, the CF-18 silhouette isn’t all that appropriate since they’re on the verge of retirement, to be replaced it seems quite certain by shiny new squadrons of expensive F-35’s (that we probably could’ve got a lot cheaper).

But it goes almost without saying that it’s a real thrill to see Winnipeg with an NHL team again.  The city didn’t feel like a real Canadian city without one.  (No denegration intended toward Québec City, which should also see the Nordiques resurrected.  And hopefully that will happen soon too!)

End of Final Shuttle Mission Yields Bitter Commentary

21-Jul-11 09:47 pm EDT 2 comments
This unprecedented view of the space shuttle Atlantis, appearing like a bean sprout against clouds and city lights, on its way home, was photographed by the Expedition 28 crew of the International Space Station. Airglow over Earth can be seen in the background. (Courtesy: http://www.nasa.gov)
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ox News has gained plenty of notoriety for injecting inflammatory rhetoric into its news coverage in recent years, but after seeing this recent video on the heels of watching coverage of Atlantis’ return to Earth at the end of the final shuttle mission, it seems the aim here is to turn the event into yet another political football.  The claim being that, unlike Kennedy, Obama is ending manned spaceflight in the U.S. to save money.  But, as is almost always the case where Fox commentary is concerned, there’s really more to the story.

What the authors of hundreds of Twitter messages that seem to be absorbing Fox’s take have missed is that the move is part of a larger plan to share the glory of (and hopes of profit in) with commercial entities.  Already it’s hoped that by the end of 2011 and certainly during 2012, unmanned commercial flights will take on resupply missions to the space station, with manned flights by the end of 2013.  An 18-24 month pause in manned spaceflight doesn’t seem like “an end” of any sort to me…

Still, one needs to concede that were the U.S. not sinking into a financial abyss at the moment, there’d likely not be any particular will to end shuttle flights during the hand-off to commercial enterprise; regardless of the arguments about how NASA’s presence in the open market would have made commercial manned spaceflight much less viable.  But SpaceX has already demonstrated that, flying an unmanned empty capsule aboard its Falcon 9 rocket, it and other companies are today much closer to having the capability to take over from NASA because of the decision to take it to the private sector.  NASA provided funding for some of SpaceX’s efforts as it is doing for 4 other companies which stand close to getting their own spacecraft off the ground.

In fact, I’ve seen a similar move before by government agencies with respect to privatization of previous government monopolies.  At the dawn of the Internet era, there was only a single ISP in Winnipeg, Manitoba (my home city).  A fellow named Bill Reid who directed the University of Manitoba’s (U of M) Computer Services department made a decision to take the Internet private.  Why wasn’t business doing this on its own?  Well MBNet (the ISP’s name) was offering dial-up access for free to students of the U of M and for an extremely low rate (base annual fee of $25 per account¹) which made private ISP service all but unviable.  But when MBNet kicked all its users off (or almost all) one fateful day, companies like Magic Online Services (later purchased by TotalNet of Montreal) stood ready that very day to offer service to the public.

At the time, there were those that saw MBNet’s move as being unfair – many were forced to make significant changes to their networking services in a very short period of time.  But at some point, stepping back was surely the right thing to do lest Winnipeg and even the province of Manitoba more generally make competition in the Internet services market a game played strictly by very large companies.  (Indeed, the market’ has largely gone that way in any event, but it’s quite possible the current situation would have been much worse.)  And I see the same being true for a much broader set of reasons where NASA is concerned.

Time will tell, of course — but at the very least Obama and the NASA administration shouldn’t be faulted for this effort.  The U.S. is experiencing a serious financial crisis and there’s little doubt even from the decision’s detractors that the private sector can ultimately do spaceflight more cost-effectively.  And at this point in history, surely that’s enough reason to make it a private concern…particularly when there exists a real possibility the U.S. won’t be able to afford manned missions on its own if steps aren’t taken to redress the crippling U.S. deficit.  Steps exactly like this one.  Indeed, one could well argue that this move will preserve manned spaceflight in the years ahead; and that not privatizing manned missions to space would threaten the continued ability of the U.S. to undertake such challenges.  Perhaps even threaten the existence of NASA as an agency of manned exploration anywhere but in historical texts.

Hopefully in the long run, those on Twitter who’ve thus far spared the time to barely read the lead into neocon-authored editorials will eventually find time to hear the full story.  Of course, there are a few other obstacles that stand in the way of that: the realization that a previous Republican administration deregulated the financial services sector and started a war with 2 countries creating a situation where decisions like this were inevitable.  And I’m not sure that message will ever get the kind of reception necessary for Twitter-bound hecklers to cease their de facto campaign of complaints re #nasa.

But the taste of the last shuttle’s return to Earth would sure be less bitter for it if they did.


¹ An original document containing MBNet’s fee structure was located while doing research from this story.  Based on my memory of extensive prior MBNet usage, I can testify its authenticity.

UPDATE: Freak Storm Smashes Tree 200m Away From Front Door!

19-Jul-11 09:31 am EDT Leave a comment
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o in the aftermath of Sunday night’s freak storm, it appears there was 1 man seriously injured after all, unfortunately.  Even so, many eye witnesses have commented it’s a miracle there weren’t more casualties.  An investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour continues; but I’m not sure there’s much one can do to avoid this type of event.  A temporary stage can’t be blamed for what Environment Canada has characterized as a "downburst" — a kind of reverse tornado.

Will monitor for news on investigation in weeks ahead a report findings here.  As always, stay tuned!

“Google-“?

18-Jul-11 11:57 am EDT Leave a comment

Warning: Low Patience

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t seems even starship captains are having difficulty with the freshly-minted “Google+” these days.  And I hope Bill forgives my schadenfreude here in saying that it reassures me to know I’m not alone at least.  (I call him “Bill” ‘cuz we’re “friends” on You Tube.)

Of course, his problem is a little different from mine; whereas he was having trouble staying on Google+, despite invitation I can’t even get access in the first place.  There are two reasons for this:

  • during the “beta” phase (which with Google, as we all know, can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years as it did with GMail), there are a fixed number of users being allowed — regardless of whether you were invited, and
  • my primary account (the one that got the invite) is actually registered with Google Apps; a service for businesses which only have access to a fraction of Google’s full service offerings.

In my view, things are starting to slip a bit at Google.  It was never huge on customer service (and why should it be since the vast majority of its services are free, after all), but I can only bet the farm that the company is shooting itself in the foot handling things this way.  I keep reading reports in tech journals about how cool Google+ is, but I can’t really find out — a turn off not only for me, but the tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of others sharing my experience.

And, as for Google Apps, I actually upgraded to one of the paid business accounts and decided to terminate within the 30-day full refund period because the number of restrictions and silly rules in the service that made integration with anyone but Google virtually impossible left me wondering if their intent was to hand over the whole notion of Internet-based profit to Facebook on a gold platter.  And, again, even as a paid subscriber to Google services under Google Apps, you still don’t have full access to everything.

And now you can add Google+ to that list.

Not to say “a pox on your house”, but the rest of you who have access to Google+ can revel in your Circles, Hangouts, etc. and Spark away until your whole life’s a big, blazing inferno of Google innovation while those of us concerned with getting stuff done continue to be awestruck for a different reason watching it all on the sidelines…wondering how on Google Earth anyone could believe this company will ever be anything more than Internet ads.

In my view, Google+ isn’t a real threat to Facebook — not by a long shot.

Freak Storm Smashes Tree 200m Away From Front Door!

17-Jul-11 11:08 pm EDT 3 comments
Smartphone video shot shortly after a freak storm caused damage to Ottawa; this video was taken just outside and around my apartment where a tree in a neighbour’s front yard was splintered by heavy winds! Below, the position of the felled tree is projected on a map of the neighborhood.
Bluesfest site location (above, courtesy Google Earth); where the main stage hosting the "big name" artists was severely damaged by winds exceeding 90 km/h, according to Environment Canada (Source: CBC News)
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uite a night, here in Ottawa — and here I am again writing another blog article about what can only be described as “unusual” weather (for this city anyway). Earlier this evening I was at my usual spot, seated in front of my computer coding away when a loud “crack” could be heard outside. Unsure at first where the noise came from, smartphone cam in-hand, I walked around outside a very short distance and found myself confronted with a felled, 50+ year-old elm strewn across the road.

As is evident from the relative calm depicted in the attached video (above/right), the storm wasn’t a very lengthy event….reports elsewhere indicate that while incidents of damage were spread over a wide area, there were intense winds and lightning for only about 15 minutes. Long enough, however, to cause the main stage at Bluesfest (an annual summer music festival hosted in the city’s downtown) to be blown apart; and to cause numerous other instances of felled trees, 1 fire and numerous power outages in the suburbs.

No injuries associated with the storm have been reported as yet.

In the ensuing hours immediately following, there are reports of another system heading for the city. Additional coverage to follow as events warrant.

C# or VB.NET?

14-Jul-11 08:24 pm EDT 4 comments
Poll hosting courtesy: Polldaddy.com.
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o matter how much time passes it seems, the question is always being asked on one project or another: is Java better than Visual Basic?  Is C# better than VB.NET?

Linked-In has been playing host to a lengthy, but at times interesting discussion on this question which seems to have an obvious, short answer.  Yet in the discussion are useful lessons for less experienced programmers that should be taken to heart…

Some highlight replies I selected from the whole thread:

Read more…

They’re at it again: Canadian Government Bending to Calls for More Expensive Internet

12-Jul-11 02:53 pm EDT Leave a comment
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in Volk!  Ein Internet!  Ein Bill: Expensive!”

A “live blog” of the hearings is displayed below:
CRTCLiveBlogSample_110712

Yes, CRTC hearings prompted by a public outcry over proposed rate hikes are being held here in Ottawa today, but it remains to be seen whether the effort will prove to be anything more than a valve to vent angst in the electorate over making Internet in Canada far more expensive than it already is. (Canada already is host to some of the highest charges for access and bandwidth anywhere in the G7!)

More to follow on this story in the days ahead….stay tuned!

South-Eastern Ontario Beset by April Tornadoes — No April Fool’s!

11-Apr-11 12:17 am EDT 4 comments

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erhaps it’s just my being a Manitoba ex-patriot; but I was shock-stricken by what I’d initially thought a belated Twitter message from Canada’s “The Weather Network” concerning tornado watches and warnings being released by Environment Canada (the Canadian government department responsible for acting as the official weather forecaster) being issued for this very night.  So to verify, I visited the Ministry’s website and, sure enough, there’s severe risk of tornadoes turning the still frozen topsoil up into the high heavens along with anything else fixed at or near ground zero within the twister’s dreaded path:

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The region coloured in bright red in the map of southern Ontario above denotes a region called “Barrie-Orillia-Midland”; and is so coloured to indicate a weather warning.  (Amber indicates a weather watch, while green indicates watch/warning ended.)  Source: Environment Canada, 11-Apr-2011.

So far, no reports of twisters reaching the ground or causing damage/fatality have been reported.  Should such events follow this extraordinary event, I’ll be sure to post updates to this article for reference.

It bears mentioning too that southern Ontario isn’t exactly Canada’s “tornado alley”….that would be more the case on the Canadian prairies (which I still call “home”, despite having lived in Ottawa, Ontario since summer of 2000).  Tornadoes in the summer months are a very real danger pretty much anywhere near Winnipeg — indeed the city itself if struck by tornadoes of sufficient intensity to do serious damage or pose a risk to personal safety every second or third season. (But never in April, particularly given that Winnipeg’s climate is lightly cooler than Ottawa’s or Barrie-Orillia-Midland’s

Anti-Microsoft Bigotry Finds New Ammunition in Search Results Scandal

02-Feb-11 10:03 pm EST Leave a comment
At left, Google searched for the correct spelling of "tarsorrhaphy" even though "torsoraphy" was entered. Bing manages to list the same Wikipedia entry at the top of its results.
Google searched for the correct spelling of "tarsorrhaphy" even though "torsoraphy" was entered. Bing manages to list the same Wikipedia entry at the top of its results.” (Source: FoxNews.com; associated article here.)
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oogle and other players in the information technology (IT) industry say Microsoft is guilty of “industrial espionage” in the wake of catching the software giant displaying results originating from Google itself on the Bing search engine’s results page (which is operated by Microsoft).  The charge itself is surprising; but perhaps almost as surprising is that a company with the name-brand recognition, market share and raw success of Google would float charges as ridiculous as “espionage” is in this case – in public.

It’s all a product of an ongoing and, really, tired theme in the IT sector: techno-bigotry.  It’s existed for years between the two mainstream, competing platforms for Internet-based application delivery: on one side you have Microsoft Corporation which used to be criticized (rightfully) for offering a heavily proprietary solution architecture; and on the other, what I term “the Java alliance” – which is really an architecture that at key points conforms with a loose agreement on industry standards and technologies that are based upon “open-source” development principles (though there are many elements which can be proprietary in nature).

There are those who’d dismiss the Google announcement concerning the alleged Bing results replication as merely the product of the fiercely competitive web search sub-industry – that it’s all about optics and trying to make Google appear more innovative than Microsoft (yet again).  But this is a hugely simplistic view of Google’s real motives.  After all, the information being contested in this complaint is either “out there” – visible to the public; or at least any member of the public equipped with an application capable of reading the web protocol "HTTP” (a web browser), or voluntarily shared with Microsoft by individual users (i.e. data shared though the Bing toolbar or other available “clickstream” data, acquired by legitimate means.  Normally when one conducts espionage, one is surreptitiously (and unlawfully) getting information which has value both as intellectual property and as information that offers competitive advantage (which, in the IT sector would typically be technology that nobody else has).  Typically, such technology is the product of innovation by the company holding it.  So did Microsoft – which admits it did present results in a fashion very similar to Google – commit espionage or, as one analyst claimed, “cheat” doing what it did?  The answer is yes, certainly; if your definition of espionage and cheating includes using information that was broadcast without encryptions or other protections of any kind into the public domain.

JavaDissDotNet
Technology bigotry is so ingrained in the IT industry’s culture; there are very real parallels with college sports, complete with slogans, mascots and meaningless, ad hominem arguments as to which team is better.

My definition of both espionage and cheating differs from that conclusion (as does virtually every published lexical reference I could find online).

Beyond all of this, were Microsoft really guilty of espionage, Google would not be making claims so publicly about their “sting”, as they call it.  Microsoft would be dragged up on criminal charges and Google would be very tight-lipped about what claims it was making in public, notwithstanding the usual statement in such circumstances, “We cannot comment because the matter is before the courts.”  (Particularly in the litigation-prone United States of America.)  So why is Google trying its would-be espionage case in the court of public opinion? In fact, there are many reasons.  For one thing, Google wants to highlight its position as the leader of search technology, because Bing (Microsoft’s search product) has been gaining ground.  And, lets face it, search is Google’s “crown jewels” – just as Microsoft Office products are its “crown jewels” (alongside the Windows operating system).  Google will do anything and everything (within the scope of lawful conduct) to defend its web search property.  In charging Microsoft with “cheating” like this, particularly to the largely non-technical advertising and marketing business audience, Google is attempting to make Microsoft out to be a company that just can’t figure out how to beat Google by innovating on its own.  The trouble is, everyone already recognizes Google as the undisputed leader of web search.  So is there something else Google gains in all this?  You bet!  There’s another audience of note: software developers (like me!).

Web developers and software developers are often overlooked as a relevant crowd in such stories by the mainstream media; but don’t think for a second both Google and Microsoft  don’t spend a lot of time, effort and cold, hard cash wooing developers to use their products.  Why?  Because when software-based solutions are created, the size of the pool of resources available to maintain and upgrade the resulting products are a key consideration for IT managers – which translates into determining how much those solutions end up costing in the end.  In general, the more developers there are whose expertise gravitate to one particular toolset, the less costly that toolset is.  And at the moment, Microsoft is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of software developers (mostly due to the de facto capitulation of Java through IBM’s acquisition of it, via the Sun Microsystems transaction, back in 2009).  In this developer’s opinion, Java has lost much of its momentum throughout the industry as a direct result of IBM taking control of the technology.  And software professionals are aligning their careers accordingly.  But Java’s legacy can’t be underestimated – it is still to be found in many spaces and the Java language will remain a relevant, sought-after skill for several years into the future at least.  And Google can be thanked for this, in part.  As a third-party company, Google is at liberty to offer integration to any partners it prefers…and it is obvious that while it is possible to integrate with many Google service offerings with Microsoft technology – it is not rolling out the red carpet to Microsoft’s .NET platform, nor the Windows operating system by any means.  Indeed there are service offerings which are exclusively available only to the Linux operating system, which is one of the top three competitors to Microsoft Windows.

From a business perspective, this lukewarm reception to Microsoft integration makes some sense, since increasingly Google and Microsoft contest the same service paradigms.  Search is only one example.  Google Docs is a direct competitor to Microsoft Office, Google Desktop is a direct assault on both Microsoft Live Essentials and Microsoft Search technologies.  If Google is to gain mind-share amongst the developer population and someday be able to threaten Microsoft’s dominance in the server room (which is its ultimate goal, I believe, since that’s where the big money is), it really needs to do what it can to discourage adoption of the .NET Framework.

So expect more spectacles of one sort or another with this core theme exhibited as part of a long-term strategy to beat Microsoft.  And I say long-term in the full sense of the word.  Not only is Google not yet directly challenging Microsoft in the operating systems space (which it needs to do in order to get through the server room doorway), but Microsoft has played this game before…and always won.  It beat Java with .NET.  It beat Netscape with IE.  It even beat Sony and its PlayStation with the XBox.  But Microsoft’s never taken on a company quite like Google before…a company as innovative and fast-paced as Google.  Google won an early battle stifling Microsoft’s foray into online services with its Microsoft Live web properties; but Microsoft countered by making a huge consent-based investment in Facebook and continues to increase that investment while partnering more and more closely with the near-monopoly it holds on social networking.  The game is too close to call at this point.

And expect the techno-bigotry to continue….with all is parallels to college sports; slogans, cheers, mascots and meaningless ad hominem arguments as to which team is better.

Canada’s net.Gestapo: The CRTC?

01-Feb-11 07:23 pm EST Leave a comment
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The Canadian Radio-Television and Communications Commission (CRTC) has recently been criticized for making rulings which overtly favour the larger Internet service providers and owners of service infrastructure (which in Canada are one and the same); leaving smaller Internet companies at a competitive disadvantage.
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ow did Canada’s Radio-Television and Communications Commission (CRTC) get the job of regulating virtually every aspect of Internet connectivity in the country?  It’s a question a growing number of people are finding themselves asking in light of a recent CRTC ruling concerning mandatory bandwidth caps being imposed on consumers.  The plan would also impose a billing system of usage-based billing where the amount of network bandwidth used — or the amount of data downloaded within a fixed period of time — would become the lone basis for which Internet access could be sold. (Meaning no more “unlimited bandwidth” accounts.)

Proponents argue that other services, such as conventional utilities, offer such metered service in the same way and that Internet access should be no different since the amount of network traffic is really what drives infrastructure costs for service carriers.  But consumer advocates and smaller Internet companies, including smaller Internet access providers who are already forced to pay larger carriers like Bell Canada and Rogers Communications for the bandwidth they effectively resell to their customers argue that mandating metered or usage-based access inevitably makes access more expensive, and thus limiting their options in terms of the service bundles smaller service providers can offer.  The small Internet companies say that this is actually the real aim of of the new rules being advocated by the larger carriers: to eliminate them from the market altogether creating a near-monopoly.

But it does seem to fit the pattern of decision-making exhibited by the CRTC.  I can’t think of a single ruling in the past 10 years that has favoured either the consumer or the ideal of improved competition.  To answer the lead question of my article superficially; the CRTC regulates not only radio-frequency and wireless technology (who can transmit on what frequency), but also who can have access to property to install infrastructure such as cable or phone lines and under what terms.  And it’s precisely because they regulate the infrastructure, they also get to regulate the rates consumers pay for those services.  But small Internet companies are distantly removed from any of this, yet their business models are directly impacted when the CRTC and extends its mandate into the world of how much data transmitted over the infrastructure should cost.

But it’s been decades since that infrastructure was laid down and while it is still maintained today and rights of access and other practical concerns need regulation, it’s really hard to see what business the CRTC has in dictating what pricing model a small Internet service can offer its customers.

Yet that’s precisely what it’s doing today.

And so the time has come perhaps to review the CRTC’s role and, in fact, limit its ability to regulate in the area of data and Internet.  These newer technologies simply don’t need a regulatory body to involve itself the way the CRTC does and it should be explicitly prohibited from having any say in how the industry is run.  It should enforce the right of access to subsidiary carriers to all services which are part of its mandate – for those services exist by virtue of government regulation.  But beyond that, there’s simply no need that I can see for them to be involved.

Here’s hoping the upcoming review uncovers this obvious truth and that the Conservative government decides to take a common-sense approach to ensuring consumers are protected and the market remains healthy and competitive.

CBCsports.ca | 2011 NHL All-Star Game | What Canadian city most deserves a team?

28-Jan-11 03:17 pm EST Leave a comment
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o you don’t see many posts from me under the heading “Sports” (actually there’s not enough content here at the moment to justify having a sports category); but as a tenacious Winnipeg ex-patriot, I thought I should make my viewing audience aware of a little poll on CBC Sports’ web site asking Canadians to vote on what city should win the next NHL franchise.  Of course, the only competent argument that can be made in answering this question would favour the resurrection of the Winnipeg Jets — yes long, long before we get around to redressing any plans for the Québec Nordiques.  And since I want to return to Winnipeg at some point in the future and would rather have a city that’s happy and prosperous to live in ahead of one that feels as if the life  had been sucked out of it by a wraith or some other paranormal entity, there’s an element of selfishness in my wanting Winnipeg to once again have attractions (like the Jets) which offer both spectacle and excitement.

So cast your vote without delay!

AddThis Chrome Extension Displays Empty Service List: Solution Found!

25-Jan-11 08:12 pm EST 4 comments
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make it a point to try and share solutions I find to any computer issues that are particularly disruptive – or those which prompt me to post to support forums seeking assistance.  This is partly to ensure others who experience the same trouble as I can find the solution themselves somewhere at the very least (particularly if I encounter a problem that seems to have no solutions posted since I make it a point to do research before asking questions — RTFM, right?), and to expose my approach to public scrutiny in case there’s a more efficient method I’ve overlooked.  And, by all means, please add your comment(s) in this blog if you’ve got something to contribute.  More comments on a given topic increases the likelihood of matching searches on that problem topic.

AddThisServicesDisplayed

There should be a list of services which would allow the user to select their favourite sharing mechanism for any web page displayed, as in the view above.

Synopsis

And so, what problem got solved?  Well a rather mysterious behaviour was being reported by several using the latest update of Google Chrome: the extension installs successfully, the orange “plus-sign” that serves as the AddThis icon appears in the Chrome toolbar – you click it, and the bubble containing the list of services you could link the currently displayed web page to appears….containing no services whatsoever.  Puzzled, you then right-click the toolbar AddThis button which yields the typical pop-up with “Options” menu item only to find a similarly empty service list customization screen.  Where’d all the services go?

Well after theorizing that it was a problem with Microsoft Windows 7 or Vista (since the XP machines I’d tested it on seemed to have no trouble loading it properly), but then discovering this wasn’t the issue, I finally tracked down where Google Chrome stores all the extensions logic on client workstations and started examining the JavaScript.  Eventually I realized one of the key JavaScript files which was not stored locally on the client workstations wasn’t being loaded…thus causing the locally-stored JavaScript to fail at exactly the point where the service lists are displayed.

Was it a networking problem?  Sort of.  In Windows it’s possible to store a text file in a key Windows system subfolder to override the network (IP) address of a given URL or web address  (or to be more technically accurate to override the IP address of any specific DNS entry).  It’s called a “HOSTS” file – and it’s typically stored in a folder matching the path “C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\”.  Now, by default, this file contains only some commented-out information when Windows is first installed.  It’s expected that if you choose to edit the HOSTS file, you are aware that entries made therein will override network addresses for websites as far as your machine is concerned.  (Obviously changing a file on your own system isn’t going to alter network addresses for everyone else on the Internet.)

One popular use of the HOSTS file is to take a phishing site or perhaps sites featuring adult content or other spamming web sites and assign their URLs to a special IP network address which refers to the machine the HOSTS file itself is on: 127.0.0.1.  (This address referred to as “localhost” or “loopback”.)  Why would anyone want to do that?  Well if the hostile website you’ve been forwarded to by accidentally opening a link in an email that appeared legitimate or perhaps a virus wants to send sensitive info from your machine to a known hostile URL – adding the address to the HOSTS file and overriding its destination back to your own machine nicely prevents the harmful or undesirable network access from occurring.

Beyond this, there are a lot of advertisements online which can slow down performance and you might not want to have to deal with pop-ups and display ads all the time.  (I’m in that group!)  So I periodically obtain updates to my HOSTS file from a Microsoft MVPs website at http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2000.  There are a number of helpful tools offered at this site; but I am interested in the HOSTS file because it eliminates a lot of the annoying and threatening content online.  Unfortunately, despite its utility, there are some URLs which are actually useful but which, for whatever reason (they vary), the HOSTS file author(s) have determined are a threat or otherwise undesirable.  Among these addresses were:

# 127.0.0.1  s3.addthis.com
# 127.0.0.1  s7.addthis.com
# 127.0.0.1  s9.addthis.com

Conclusion

So what this article discussed was the cause and solution for one possible scenario that could cause the absence of services being displayed from all elements of the AddThis interface in the Google Chrome web browser platform (all versions which support extensions so far).  It was discovered that specific network settings (located in a text file with a default Windows 7 pathname of “C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS”) blocked a network address upon which the AddThis application is entirely dependent was blocked, causing the aforementioned absent services behaviour.  While the HOSTS file was the cause of this particular issue, it stands to reason that any network management tools or software (eg. anti-virus/spam, Windows firewall or other firewall management hardware/software, etc.) could potentially cause the same behaviour.  If you are experiencing the behaviour described above, your troubleshooting efforts should include checking your network settings – especially those which could block IP network addresses.

As always; comments and questions are welcome.

We’ve Moved!!!

19-Jan-11 09:38 am EST Leave a comment
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icrosoft shut down its Live Spaces social networking site as of January 1, 2011 — resulting in all the blogs being hosted there (including that of yours truly) to be migrated to WordPress.com per a deal inked back in 2010.  Consequently, you’ll notice a number of changes to the presentation; though I’m inclined to try to preserve the original layout to a certain extent….because I don’t want to confuse those who visit regularly any more than is going to be necessary.  Watch for refinements and customizations to this effect in the days ahead.

So why did Microsoft dump Live Spaces? Simply put: Spaces was totally eclipsed by other facilities that did it better.  And Microsoft isn’t shy about asking for help from 3rd parties when it can’t go it alone.  That’s exactly the story behind the partnership with Gatineau-based Cactus Commerce for the development of Microsoft Commerce Server (a project I had the rare privilege to participate on for the better part of two years).  And it isn’t without precedent for such agreements to evolve into takeovers; though any suggestion that such a development is imminent where either Cactus or WordPress are concerned would be premature.

So welcome to my blog’s new home!  And here’s hoping we’ll see you return again and again in the months and years to come.

Smoldering Ramblings & Rhetoric: Origins of a Congressional Assassination

08-Jan-11 09:46 pm EST Leave a comment

From: Ross Holder
Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2011 9:13 PM
Subject: Smoldering Ramblings & Rhetoric: Origins of a Congressional Assassination

http://m.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&warned=True&client=mv-google&hl=en&v=PnNx0WThoF0 

Why is it every time a multiple homicide story comes out, the suspects fit into one of a certain set of profiles and/or have a creepy website the that linked above – but everyone is so surprised? Perhaps even more puzzling are the furious denials by America’s right-wing political demographic. Within minutes of the story breaking on CNN, the “blame the left” punditry that is oh so unavoidable to the point of distraction in the US was washing its hands in unison of any culpability for provoking such an act. Some bloggers of this same ilk took to joking about the irony behind Gifford (a Democrat) arguing against tighter security measures in the “war on terror” suffering due to a lack of security.

Clearly, there’s no accounting for taste amongst the neocons.

But if you find yourself worrying about growing political unrest in the United States thanks to the acrimonious tone of political discourse originating from media personalities sympathetic to the Tea Party or the Republicans (such as Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh), you are in good company. Particularly if, like me, you’re a Canadian whose fortunes are dependant on a strong, stable America. (Or if you’re an American citizen rightfully fearful of ending up in some kind of civil unrest or perhaps even another civil war.)

The only silver lining to this story I can imagine is that there is now a spotlight on the inflammatory rhetoric and those who’re peddling it. Perhaps now we’ll see a few more public figures outside the Democratic Party line up next to John Stewart (who really did all anyone could do to sound the alarm about something like this happening last year and prior) in denouncing the nonsense being rebroadcast by Fox News and returning a long-overdue dose of sanity to the national political theatre.

Perhaps we’ll see fewer rallies with tea partiers being invited to bring their guns and more rallies where the greatest drama is the satire of someone like Stephen Colbert offered as comic relief.

Sent from my Windows 7 Phone

Categories: News and politics

Tories Trash Canadian Citizenship

08-Nov-10 07:03 pm EST Leave a comment
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great article in the National Post today echoes earlier complaints I’ve made about the Conservatives’ practice of virtually ignoring Canadians incarcerated or detained for whatever reason abroad.   This goes quite beyond the story of Omar Kadr who has been left to languish in Gitmo (the highly controversial detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where captured combatants from the Afghan theatre of conflict are detained); quite understandably feeling betrayed by his nation and its people (who for reasons I’m starting to have difficulty understanding still seem to prefer the government of Stephen Harper over the candidacy of Michael Igntieff, Leader of the Liberal Party, Her Majesty’s Loyal Official Opposition).

The Tories continue to argue — in some cases just plain wrongfully — that Canadians being detained abroad are terrorists, criminals, or what have you and that they must answer for their crimes in whatever country has detained them.  Of course, the detention facilities in places like the Sudan or Thailand are less comfortable to be sure and initially one might think “too bad”; ya do the crime, ya do the time…wherever you did the crime.  But in most cases, extradition treaties have been put in place precisely to ensure that Canadians have the option to serve sentences in Canada to facilitate re-integration as citizens in this country.  And to not grant Canadians access to the benefits of these treaties is to deny them the opportunity for rehabilitation into our society — the stated mission of our penal system.

Peter Van Loan (left), the Canadian minister for international trade, meets with Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation for military affairs, in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA) (Image Source: ArabNews.com)

Beyond this, there are several cases where Canadians are convicted of severe crimes, eliciting in punishments that violate our Constituion; and every Canadian is supposed to be protected by our Constitution regardless of where they are.  A recent case of two young Canadians (one a teenager at the time of the alleged incident and thus a minor in our system) were convicted of a capital crime in Saudi Arabia and faced the death penalty by means of public decapitation.  Most in Canada would consider such a penalty not just cruel and unusual (particularly for the boys’ parents and family), but barbaric and unacceptable.  Yet the Conservatives had done precious little on this file until just this year (they were arrested in 2007) and their lives still remain in jeopardy, though the sentence has been delayed while the Saudi justice system deals with the numerous irregularities cited in their trial.

What might really be behind the Tories’ seeming reluctance to protect Canadians travelling abroad is simply good ‘ol right-wing ideology.  It’s long been suspected that Stephen Harper has secretly favoured the death penalty, despite publicly commenting otherwise; yet it’s pretty obvious that a philosophy of non-intervention in capital cases will increase the likelihood of executions.  And in the non-capital cases; part of that inconsistent desire to be a “law and order” party, except when it’s politically inconvenient.

Ironically, what might eventually put an end to this practice isn’t an unprecedented upwelling of Canadian angst about fellow citizens being executed for crimes they didn’t commit, nor will it be any great philosophical or spiritual epiphany being had by Stephen Harper.  It seems that the other nations of the world — even those whose legal systems are more reminiscent of well-organized drumheads than courts of justice — are getting tired of the Canadian government “dumping” criminals on them.  In particular the United States has lodged a formal diplomatic protest concerning an unprecedented backlog of unprocessed requests for transfers of prisoners to Canadian jails and prisons.

And all the stars would have to disappear both from the sky and the American flag before a Tory Canadian PM would dare to defy the American government, you can be sure!

Categories: Law and Public Policy

Coyne vs. Mulcair: Debating Maclean’s Magazine Story on Corruption in Québec

08-Nov-10 05:26 pm EST Leave a comment

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ndrew Coyne, Maclean’s Magazine’s right-of-centre lead political columnist and National Editor, found himself facing off with Thomas Mulcair, MP for the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) first and only elected seat in the province of Québec (who is starting look like he might not be holding on to his seat for long); won in a huge political upset for the Liberals who traditionally hold it.  The subject of the debate was the Maclean’s article concerning corruption in Québec’s political establishment and – as has been widely reported – the article spurred a huge controversy over whether the article (coming from a leading English language Canadian journal) affirmed widespread disdain for Québec throughout the rest of Canada, which would further the cause of Québec separatism.

Unfortunately, Mulcair came off as being unfair and opportunistic.  I find myself disagreeing with Coyne frequently, but Mulcair’s approach in debating Coyne was simply the product of single-minded ad hominem attacks blended with statements extracted from Coyne’s article meant to make him seem bigoted and intolerant that were demonstrably taken out of context.  (Indeed there were several such remarks which Coyne stated were merely a list of possible views that could be taken by would be proponents of corruption being a problem in Québec – but not necessarily his own views.)

“What explains Quebec’s unusual susceptibility to money politics? Deeply entrenched deference to authority? A worldly Catholic tolerance of official vice? There is no grand unified theory: at different times and in different situations, different forces have come into play.”

                       — Andrew Coyne, Maclean’s Magazine;

Perhaps what annoyed me most about this interview was that it was yet another symptom of the political discourse in Canada taking on some of the negative characteristics of American political discourse; and I can’t think of anything Canada needs less right now.  And consistent with the experience the Americans are having, it seems to me that extremists on either side of the political spectrum are leading this charge away from reason.

If it gets much worse….perhaps we should invite Jon Stewart to hold a rally on Parliament Hill (similar to the mall rally held a week ago this past weekend).

Categories: News and politics
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