June 2004 to March, 2012

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I’m not laughing at Vic Toews

He’s not funny.

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February 18, 2012   1 Comment

Watch these guys… they’re watching you.

The politicians who thought the long form census was too much of an invasion of privacy are going to try putting all internet-using Canadians under warrantless police surveillance. Cellphone users, you’re in, too. Bill C-30.

The fig leaf covering this outrageous attack on civil liberties is fear of child pornographers. Apparently our rights are a nuisance for the police because they have to get a warrant at present.

Squawk here. Write your MP with this form. Freedoms, once surrendered, are very hard to win back.

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February 14, 2012   3 Comments

What does the doctor say?

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Tell us, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, does the marvellous curved building that was the original Bridgepoint Hospital still stand, or was it torn down as part of the massive reconstruction that is going on?

The doctor should know… he is staring right at the answer. Yes, it’s still there, looking as good as ever.

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The great bow-shaped curve of this building was a perfect idea for its location, sitting atop a hill overlooking a vast expanse of the Don Valley. It always reminded me of a ship’s bridge, with a commanding view of the landscape below. It looks just as good from the other direction, impressive when seen from the Bloor Viaduct subway or a car on the Parkway. A rare harmony of architecture and geography.

I’m glad they kept it, even though it won’t look the same, hemmed in by the huge glass box going up beside it. So it goes.

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February 13, 2012   4 Comments

A sweet smile on Jones Avenue

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Todays walk took me under the railway overpass that crosses Jones, north of Gerrard. Bright graphics show more verve and style than typical school kid decorations. Come on, Monarch Park kids, your Coxwell Avenue effort isn’t keeping up!

I believe such adornments are organized and approved by local schools, partly to discourage graffiti and partly to give kids a chance to display their artistic chops.

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February 12, 2012   No Comments

Not So Little Mosque on the Danforth

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Many (most?) Toronto churches have removed their steeples for fear of lightening strikes, collapse and rising insurance premiums. A minaret soars above the Danforth, unconcerned about such worldly matters.

The Danforth is one of the best strips for showing off Toronto’s ethnic [and religious] diversity. Halal grocers thrive in the vicinity of the mosque. Greektown occupies a few blocks. Allen’s Irish Pub is an institution. Ethiopian and Moroccan restaurants thrive, along with Asian restaurants and shops manned by Carribeans and newcomers from Eastern Europe. Don’t forget the Italian men’s clubs. They’ve probably been here as long as anybody.

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February 12, 2012   3 Comments

Take the ACTA and SOPA out of our Bill C-11

I still have my protester toque. We keep telling them, they keep coming back. Michael Geist asks, CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?

Here is an excerpt. Link at the bottom.

Michael Geist sez,

As the public outrage SOPA effectively killed SOPA and tens of thousands of Europeans take to the streets to protest ACTA, Canadians need to do their part to counter the inclusion of SOPA-style reforms into their copyright bill and to demand changes to its restrictive digital lock rules. According to documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, Industry Canada received thousands of letters of concern about Bill C-61, the 2008 copyright reform bill, the overwhelming majority of which focused on digital lock concerns. Just one month after the bill was tabled, the government had tracked over 27,000 letters and emails.

A year later, the government held its national copyright consultation. It generated enormous public interest with over 8,000 submissions. Now officials have received over 50,000 emails of concern on Bill C-11 in the past couple of weeks alone, at times receiving upwards of 400 emails per minute. The public opinion on Bill C-11 is clear. The majority support reform on two key conditions. First, no SOPA-style amendments such as website blocking or expanded liability should be added to Bill C-11. Second, the digital lock rules should be balanced by linking circumvention to actual copyright infringement.

Canadians have been speaking out on copyright reform in general and digital locks in particular for years with widely held views that reflect Canadian sensibilities about balancing protections and consumer property rights. The numbers keep growing and will continue to do so. If you have yet to speak out, write, email or tweet at the ministers and your MP providing your views on Bill C-11, now is the time to do so. If you are following the anti-ACTA rallies this weekend or tracking the C-11 debate in the House of Commons and wondering what you can do, write, email or tweet once more, asking Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, Industry Minister Christian Paradis and your Member of Parliament: can you hear us now?

Can You Hear Us Now?

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February 11, 2012   2 Comments

Help squelch ACTA

If you read the body of the message, you’ll see what’s wrong with a copyright scheme called ACTA. — Bill

Stop ACTA & TPP: Tell your country’s officials: NEVER use secretive trade agreements to meddle with the Internet. Our freedoms depend on it!

For European users, this form will email every MEP with a known email address.
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February 11, 2012   2 Comments

Deinterlacing a wedding video

See those horizontal stripes that are tearing up the image of the minister in the foreground? That’s because he moved quickly on video footage that was shot in the UK and converted so that I could watch it here in North America.

It’s caused by different standards and frame rates (PAL in Europe and NTSC here). Converting leaves these artifacts on the image. Without getting technical, video images are split up into horizontal bands which are “interlaced” to recreate the illusion of a complete image.

So the thing to do, it seems, is to remove that interlacing from the footage. I will be trying to do that with a free app called JES Deinterlacer. Wish me luck.

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February 11, 2012   4 Comments

Good advertising is a rare and wonderful thing.

Click for more in the series.

It is particularly difficult to be clever and speak engagingly across the gulf that separates teen and parent sensibilities. When it happens, it’s worth a nod. Well done, Team Detroit!

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February 9, 2012   No Comments

A fast, funny and insightful TED Talk

No Flash? Use this link. [Thanks, Joni.]

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February 8, 2012   4 Comments