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Saturday, March 28 2015 @ 11:45 AM PDT
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ACTA Will Change Internet Forever

The Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty negotiations continue in secret - but the word is leaking out and commentary continues to pile up as people (finally) start to understand what it is that the United States is trying to push on the world in the form of a trade agreement. The intrusion into sovereign law by this "treaty" is incredible. itWorldCanada says:

A secret international copyright treaty will impact IT managers just as much as the music and movie industry. Find out what ACTA will do if passed, why it’s even being discussed, and how it might be stopped"


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CRTC Wants Your Feedback on Cable vs. Local Broadcast TV

Our Masters (government)

Michael Geist - one of my favourite bloggers on Copyright, ACTA and other governmental communications crap initiatives points out that there is an online consultation web site put up by the

"Among the different options under consideration, we are studying whether local television stations should be able to charge cable and satellite companies for distributing their programs."

No matter what I personally think - you should put your oar in the water and tell them what you think. Read on for what I think...

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Virus Incubators in the Fraser Valley

Our Masters (government)

My good friend David Hancock, a well known biologist and conservationist specializing in birds, almost lost his entire flock of birds back in 2004. We're not talking budgies or parrots (although many of those were on the chopping block at other places not far from David's home on Zero Avenue in South Surrey) but instead are talking some fairly exotic and in some cases endangered birds that David and his staff and researchers raise on his property. These are birds like sandhill cranes, grouse, pheasants, quail and even more exotic, turocos.

So why did he almost lose his flock? Bird Flu - not in his flock of course - but in the flocks of chickens and turkeys that are housed all over the Fraser Valley.

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing David talk to David Ingram on the Around the World video show. I think you'd be interested in hearing what Hancock has to say about the, in his words, "Virus Incubators".

There really is no excuse for why these bird factories are in the Fraser Valley. They could just as easily be anywhere in British Columbia. Why are they in the Fraser Vally? Why are they where millions of migratory birds pass by? Why do the chicken-farmers dump the guano and dead carcasses out on fields where scavengers like seagulls and bald eagles can get them and distribute the potentially lethal viruses to all points of the compass?

Only the government really knows - and so far there has been no response to David's questions in this vein.

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Home Based Business Finally Getting Recognition

General News

I've been working from home for most of the past 40 years. Some of the businesses I've worked with have had "real" offices - and sometimes I've spent much of my time for months on end going to those offices, but I've always maintained a home office where I've done work.

I've hired people without meeting them face-to-face - and worked with some of them without ever meeting them. Some of my customers do much of their business from their home - and there are major benefits to them because of this; not the least of which is some tax advantages as my good friend, David Ingram, will tell you.

The business world is finally getting to understand that this is a viable way of running businesses. A study recently done by Emergent Research shows just how much impact we home-based businesses(Business Week) have on the economy.

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Britain is Off My List of Holiday Destinations - Internet Insanity!


I have relatives in Great Britain and I'd love to visit them - but after the recent complete insanity of their "Digital Economy Bill" there is no way I will ever again go there - at least until they repeal any such insane laws. It's bad enough them having so many closed circuit cameras all over the place - but this is too much!

And I vow never to purchase anything that is published by a british media publisher either (I'll purchase directly from an artist though). They've successfully lobbied the British Government to install what I can only call the worst law ever for British consumers. It subverts the courts and gives an appointed commissioner powers that some Kings and Queens have wished for. I wonder if Queen Elizabeth understands that she now has a rival?

The law, currently before parliament, would put in place a regime that completely ignores many of the precepts of a "free and democratic society," like that of being able to address your accuser and defend yourself against allegations before being punished. A whole internet connection, used by a family for example, might be cut off due to the actions of one individual - and that individual may not even be in the house if the typical unsecured wireless access point is available to someone parked out on the street. No warning and no recourse.

The presumption of guilt that this law portrays is meant to keep the buggy-whip manufacturers of the 21st century completely in control over their wares - even though their business model is so severely broken that even some of their artists who were their staunchest supporters early in the game are now leaving them as fast as they can.

I thought the US government was bad with their work to get their ACTA treaty passed - and maybe they are. At least the British are only going after their own people, not the rest of the world (yet).

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BING! You're It! - And You Pay For It Too - Even With Cashback

General News

The facilities now available to web retailers that track how you got to their site allow all manner of "interesting" things to be done once you get there.

A case in point is this article noting that at least one online seller actually charges a premium if you find their site via the Bing "Cashback" facility. Now I personally have not used this facility, in fact I do very little of my purchasing online for a variety of reasons but that's another matter, however the article presents the case very well. If you read the article you'll find that the author used the Bing Cahsback facility to find a reseller for a camera - then went to the site following the link. The price quoted in the Bing listing is the one that was shown on the web site when he pulled up the link. He then opened up the same page (presumably by copying and pasting the URL in the address bar) using a DIFFERENT web browser and the price shown was lower by almost $50 (US$43.84 to be exact but we're in Canada and the difference would have been close to CDN$50)


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ACTA again "in the news" or It Should Be


Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s I worked for the local telephone company, BC Tel. At that time (and now too) it was designated a "common carrier" which amongst other things meant that if someone used its facilities to perform an illegal act, the telephone company could not be held liable or chaged as an accessory. I, as a technician, was told that only if I "in the course of my normal duties" witnessed an illegal act was I to report it. I was NOT allowed or encouraged to go looking for them.

In 1991 through 1996 I was co-owner of Wimsey.COM - Canada's first commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Internet Access Provider (IAP) (started in 1986 by my partner, Stuart Lynne). At that time, and to this day, ISPs have worked toward the goal of also being a "common carrier" - in this case of information, not just telephone conversations (and faxes) - a fairly trivial distinction in today's wired age.


Common carriers are subject to special laws and regulations which differ depending on the means of transport used, e.g. sea carriers are often governed by quite different rules than road carriers or railway carriers. In common law jurisdictions as well as under international law, a common carrier is absolutely liable[3] for goods carried by it, with four exceptions:[4]

  • An act of nature

  • An act of the public enemies

  • Fault or fraud by the shipper

  • An inherent defect in the goods

It is the concept of non-liability for "Fault or fraud by the shipper" that concerns us here.

The recently leaked wording of the ACTA - the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - that is in secret negotiations between the USA and many other countries of the world including my home, Canada, will put a 100% kibosh on that if the US has its way.

Included in the wording of the treaty is the concept of 3rd party liability for ISPs whose systems are used by anyone who breaks copyright rules. The application of this treaty would follow that of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the US where "notice and takedown" provisions have been used to assault free-speech and competition - but unlike the US where there are legal fall-backs, the treaty would not provide things like fair use (Us Copyright law) or fair dealing (Canada's Copyright law) which partially offset this draconian measure.

In fact, the wording seems to make the ACTA more of a copyright act rather than an anti-counterfeiting act and imposes US (lobbyists') rules on other countries using the trade might of the US to shove them down the throats of otherwise non-US citizens.

Everyone should write their MP (or local federal representative in other countries) and express their complete dismay that the Canadian foreign Affairs negotiators are even thinking about signing a treaty that so affects our copyright regime - recently expressed by Minister Tony Clement, the Industry Minister, as "...fully consistent with its international obligations" (Michael Geist)

The USA should not be allowed to foist its broken concepts of copyright and intellectual property rights on other countries disguised as some sort of trade agreement. Don't get me wrong - the concept of tracking and bringing to justice wholesale counterfeiters (those who make and sell fake copies of everything from dollar bills to purses, prescription drugs and yes, even music and video recordings) is well worth while and should be done via trade agreement. Just don't use this "nose of the camel" to introduce radical changes to legislation that affects otherwise law-abiding citizens of other countries where the legislative checks and balances that the US has in its constitution provide at least some mitigation for their otherwise wacky DMCA. Canada does not have fair use for example, and the fair dealing we do have does not help us as individuals against a DMCA-like act!



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Spying on You - With Impunity - Not on My Computer!


I'm writing this for two reasons:

  1. I'm (almost violently) against unwarranted (literally meaning without judicial warrant) intrusions into my and other citizens' private affairs by government or anyone - especially by self-serving media moguls eager to advance their own sales of what I can only consider "buggy-whip" products in the 21st Century's air-car marketplace.
  2. I want to note that this particular topic again points up the incredible dominance of Microsoft over the public's computer facility options and how I simply don't play that game; at all!

Russell McOrmond's Digital Copyright mail list points up several articles (BoingBoing, Michael Geist) and the fact that Canadian legislators are again being lobbied heavily by the copyright and telecommunications industries to add ammendments to the proposed C-27 Copyright anti-spam bill to include un-known and unauthorized surveilance of personal computers by those self-same lobbyists - NOT THE POLICE!!! but BUSINESS!!!

Without judicial review or oversight!

This is just one more slip down the slippery slope toward a police state (and in fact this is worse) the likes of which we've seen in Soviet Russia and in China. Do you really want to live under such a microscope?




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Blackberry and Linux

Computers in Use

I'm hard on cell phones it seems. I've drowned one and broken two and given one away in the past 6 months - so I'm now going to try a Blackberry flip - one with a cover over the screen and major components so I don't crack the display like my Sony/Errickson (and I'll try not to drown it in the pond) and one that will do a few more things at once than the iPhone I gave to my daughter-in-law (I hate single-tasking computers!)

So - now I have a Blackberry - have put 4 Gigs of flash into it, have successfully linked it as a USB disk to my Linux box and seen video - now I want to sync it with my contacts and e-mail and such.

Looking around with Google I see all manner of stuff from a couple of years ago - and one relatively recent article about using Ubuntu Linux but I run Fedora and things have changed quite a bit since the Ubuntu article was written.

So I guess we'll start with a grep through the stuff I have available to me in Yum

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Don't Let Them Stop Sending Real Invoices

Computers in Use

I pride myself on being one of the pioneers in doing electronic invoicing. Our ISP, Wimsey, sent out electronic invoices from the late 1980s. We hit our stride in 1994 when the internet took off and we were sending over 5000 at once - sometimes more than once due to processing problems, but that's another story.

Today I note an article that T-Mobile, a cell company in the US, has backed off from charging $1.50 for the priviledge of getting a paper invoice each month. Lots of companies, especially those in the communications industry, are trying to get you to go all electronic - but there are some problems and caveats that you should be aware of.

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