Category Archives: Opinion

Merry Christmas –Joyeux Noel (2013)

Dear readers and subscribers,

christmas-message

It’s been a worrisome year for many, I know – but the Christmas season is now upon us and perhaps (just maybe), we can put aside the worries of the moment and reflect upon the joy and the beauty, the giving and the sharing, that Christmas brings to so many of us.

Despite the push and shove of various societal elements, Christmas – remains wonderfully inescapable. Its traditions and rituals, established in simpler times, continue to remind us – that those we hold close, (including neighbours   Smile  ) are the greatest gifts of all. The Grinch was on to something when he pondered – “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.”

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The happiness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

Have a wonderful Christmas, however you define it.

Bill

Tech Thoughts is winding down for the Christmas break – so, you might find us fairly quiet the next several weeks. Regular posting will begin again on Thursday, January 2, 2014.

Advertisements

25 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Point of View

Remembrance Day 2013 – Lest We Forget

imageToday is Remembrance Day here in Canada, Australia, the UK, and elsewhere across the globe. Coinciding with Remembrance Day, our American cousins mark this day as Veterans Day.

Remembrance Day brings with it a sober opportunity to reflect on the courage and nobility of those who have served, in the past, or who do so presently, to protect the foundations of our democracies. We know only too well the high price those that we remember today paid in order to protect the freedoms we cherish.

I’m forever grateful for their selflessness, and their generosity of spirit.

Sadly though, as a society we seem to lack the observation and analytical skills necessary to establish a critical perspective on the true horrors, and the real outcome, of war.

Freedom isn’t free.

image

National War Memorial – Ottawa, Canada.

The Veteran – Lest We Forget

It is the VETERAN , not the preacher,

who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the VETERAN , not the reporter,

who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the VETERAN , not the poet,

who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the VETERAN , not the campus organizer,

who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the VETERAN , not the lawyer,

who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the VETERAN , not the politician,

Who has given us the right to vote.

The following poem, penned by Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, while he served in the First World War, has achieved near-mythical status here in Canada, and is one of the country’s most prominent symbols.

As well, this poem is part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in the United Kingdom, and is often recalled in Memorial Day ceremonies, in the United States.

McCrae died of pneumonia January 28, 1918, while on active duty in Boulogne, northern France.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below…
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields…
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields…

Another view:

Paul Keating’s Remembrance Day Address – “The First World War was a war devoid of any virtue. It arose from the quagmire of European tribalism. A complex interplay of nation state destinies overlaid by notions of cultural superiority peppered with racism. The First World War not only destroyed European civilisation and the empires at its heart; its aftermath led to a second conflagration, the Second World War, which divided the continent until the end of the century.”

10 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Personal Perspective

Blogging – How Powerful Is It?

Guest writer Ken Myers, offers some surprising data on blogging.

imageBlogging has become a very influential part of online activity. What was once a simple way of developing an online method for a log of events, has turned into a way of communicating information regarding any aspect of life you may think of.

Since the first bloggers began writing information in the early 2000s, popularity of the activity has inspired millions of people around the globe. How influential has blogging become?

1. Replication – In every one-half of a second, a new blog is put up on the Internet. While this can account for a great deal of how often people blog, you should also consider that a large portion of these blogs usually become inactive or produce very little in terms of information and activity.

2. Early Bird – More blogs are read in the early morning  – twice as many as are read at night. For those who wish to catch an early start to the day, posting information before six in the morning has a greater chance of attracting attention and being read. Most content is read by 10 AM and slowly declines as the day progresses.

3. Since the 1990s… – In 1994, Justin Hall published the first “blog” while he was a college student. As early as 1999, there were only 23 blogs spotted throughout the Internet. In the following five years, that number rose to approximately three million.

4. Freedom of Speech – Currently, the majority of bloggers reside in the United States. Nearly 31 million blogs have been created making up nearly 20-percent of all blogging worldwide. Freedom of speech could be partially accredited to the mass amount of information Americans are able to share.

5. Business Traffic – A business that has a regular blogging schedule can amplify leads and traffic to its website. Simply producing a single post per day can increase traffic by five times more than a blog that has less than four posts during the month.

6. Sales – Companies with more than 51 blog articles can experience a 77-percent increase in monthly leads. If a business could produce a single post per day, sales income could increase greatly after three months. It’s all about patience and quality content.

7. Educated – As of 2009, 75-percent of bloggers have college degrees. Approximately 40-percent have graduate degrees. Does this mean that college students are more inclined to share information, or are they looking for a method to pay student loans?

8. Sharing – Nearly three-quarters of bloggers do so in order to share their expertise and knowledge. However, only 61-percent of bloggers do so in order to supplement an income. As blogging has been deemed as potentially lucrative, it is one of the few ways that one can get paid to share his or her knowledge without subscribing to a full-time job, or keeping corporate hours.

Although there is still room on the Internet for traditional websites and eCommerce, blogging has overpowered previous methods of sharing information online. They can be tied into social networking hubs such as Facebook and Twitter, or use to generate income through the use of paid advertising and affiliate marketing.

How often is the information you’re looking for posted on someone’s blog?

Author Bio:

Ken Myers is the founder of Longhornleads.com and has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging Tips, Business Development, Guest Writers, Opinion

The Suitcase Internet – The Internet Free Of Government Control (Updated)

imageOver the past few years, as I’ve compiled the Daly Net News column here, it became obvious that many of the major tech sites retitle and repost previously published articles. I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing. In fact, it can often be a very good thing.

A particularly good case can be made for the reposting of information designed to educate computer users relative to system and Internet security, for example. So too, with data that addresses issues surrounding the ever evolving threats from governments designed to curb both privacy and freedom of expression, on the Internet.

The threats to twist and bend our civil liberties into unrecognizable shapes, hardly stop there of course. Still, I’m ever hopeful that we (assuming the average person finds the courage), will force governments to park the fascism bus and address the real needs of real people.

At one time, my programed response to the latest and greatest government threat would be to jump up and down like a lunatic (I keep this posture in reserve for those important moments in life). More seriously though, I’ve learned to handle the ever increasing bizarreness that’s coming out of the mouths of politicians, who seem intent on reducing me to a character in Orwell’s, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I simply reaffirmed my view that no matter the technology that’s developed to attempt to “control” us – a techno solution will always be found that will reverse the field. A pipe dream? Maybe – but, I don’t think so.

It may well be that many of you have read the following article, originally posted here early last year – but, a little repetition when it concerns an issue that impacts us all at such a fundamental level, seems appropriate.

The Suitcase Internet – The Internet Free Of Government Control

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself………….. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it.”

H. L. MenckenDecember 1919

Despite the fact that Mencken wrote those words almost 100 years ago – he might well have been describing current views held by “the man who is able to think things out for himself.” – Generally, governments are increasingly being seen as dishonest, and corrupt.

In recent years, particularly through events loosely termed “The Arab Spring”,   we’ve been witness to the inevitable clash between those who’s views run counter to the status quo (the thinking man), who stood in defiance of corrupt governments who’s very existence relied on violating the most basic tenets of human rights. Dishonest, insane and intolerable governments.

The Internet played some role, in broadcasting the desperate voices of those engaged in violent encounters against regimes who were intent on eliminating those who fought for the right to condemn the repugnant conditions of their existence. How much of a role, is the subject of continuing discussion.

At the height of those conflicts, countermeasures taken by these repressive regimes included, cutting off access to the Internet in an attempt to slam the door on the free flow of information. Information which, to some extent, ultimately led to the “the people”overthrowing unsustainable governments in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

There are of course, an accumulation of lessons learned (and, still to be learned), by the successful outcomes of the Arab Spring. One rather obvious lesson it seems to me is – those who cherish the right to freedom of expression, and the right to have those views disseminated, will continue on a collision course with the undercurrent of repression circling the Globe.

Attempts are now underway, in Canada, the US and the UK, to limit, by way of regulatory controls (repression by any other name), the rights and freedoms we’ve come to expect when connected to the Internet.

Controls which effectively reduce, or in some cases, obliterate freedom of choice. Controls which could conceivably be used to slam the door on the free exchange of ideas, and political dissent. In a word – censorship.

It might surprise you to learn just how much Internet censorship is already in place world wide. The following graphic from Wikipedia is illuminating.

image

image

The graphic is based on 2009 data. You can bet that the situation has not improved.

It’s a fantasy, in my view, to believe that governments will learn to self regulate their persistent push to impose restrictions on how users travel the Internet. That, they will take the high road – based on an understanding that there is an undercurrent of hostility to interference with what many Internet users now believe is a basic human right. The right to surf the Internet without obstruction.

Instead, it’s much more likely that we will see a progression toward increased censorship and surveillance. Governments just never seem to “get it” – that there’s always a point beyond which people will push back. And, there are those who are pushing back against government Internet control – in a technical manner.

A recent article in Scientific American Magazine – Internet Freedom Fighters Build a Shadow Web – describes one such “push back”. (I’m sorry to report that this article is now a fee article at Scientific American Magazine. Rats!)

“Governments and corporations have more control over the Internet than ever. Now digital activists want to build an alternative network that can never be blocked, filtered or shut down.”

I’m neither a romantic (as Mencken suggest one might need to be to effect change), nor do I have a Don Quixote complex – but, I’m convinced, that in order to safeguard freedom of though and expression, the  transmission of information without government interference and restriction – then, the creation of a  decentralized mesh network (as described in the Scientific American article), that can’t be blocked, filtered, or silenced, is in our best interest.

3 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Point of View

Weathertainment – The Snowstorm Apocalypse

Who would have thought – a snowstorm in Toronto. In the Winter; no less!

Jumped out of bed this morning at my usual five AM – looked out the living room window, and there it was – SNOW! Not that I was surprised of course, since the Weather Channel, the Toronto Star newspaper, and virtually every form of new media imaginable, has been intent, in the past few days, on cranking up my fear index to new heights.

In Toronto, Twitter is currently abuzz with the likes of this – RosaHwangCTV @RosaHwangCTV – Miserable in #Toronto. Worst snowstorm in years. Anyone who tweets today about sunny weather where they live, I’m unfollowing. #TOstorm – which leads me to conclude, that Rosa needs to get a life.

Perhaps Rosa’s Twitter followers might prompt her to come to grips with the nuts and bolts of a Canadian Winter. And, help her to understand that her views are in sharp contrast to the not so mythical “rugged Canadian” who by all accounts, does not live in Toronto. Toronto, it seems is reserved for pussies.

Not to be outdone – The Star newspaper ramps up the angst  with this – Send us your snowstorm photos, tales of woe – “tales of woe” no less.

How is it, that Torontonians became a pitiful bunch of whiners and complainers over a rather natural event – snow in Winter? Where have the days gone when we embraced winter (as we should) and snow, for what it had to offer?

Where have the days gone when each of us made sensible preparations for snow events? Or, the days when we strapped on a pair of cross- country skis and frolicked through the neighbourhood following a major snow storm. The days when we celebrated the shutting down of life’s intensity for a brief respite.

Roosevelt didn’t have it quite right when he mused “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” No, it’s more than fear that we need to fear. As well, we need to fear the professional fear mongers.

Long gone are the days when we could trust the media (the new fear mongers), to provide us with relatively unbiased concrete data, designed to inform and educate. We now live in an environment in which so called “news”, is coloured and flavoured to meet the needs of the bottom line.

Truth, and accuracy be damned – potential sales, potential readership/viewers, drives the corporate wagon. And fear, is often the man holding the reins.

Rick Mercer – one of Canada’s premier comics – well know for his charming wit and social consciousness – covers the weather fear issue nicely, in his 2007  “Rick Mercer Rant – Canadian Weather.”

It’s worth a watch –even if you’re not Canadian.   Smile

Click on graphic to view on YouTube.

image

13 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Point of View

Cracked.com – Cracked, or not?

imageEvery now and then , I’ll reference a Cracked.com article in the Tech Thoughts Daily Net News column, under the sub-heading – Off Topic (Sort Of).

Today, for example:

Cracked: 5 Reasons You Should Be Scared of Google – You’d be hard-pressed to find a company more beloved than Google. And why not? They make the Internet easier to use, pamper their employees and foot the bill for YouTube even though it loses money like it’s got a gambling problem that’s made of cocaine. Unfortunately, much of what is awesome about Google also makes them increasingly terrifying with each passing day.

I sometimes wonder, if readers might consider me to be a little “cracked”, when I shine a spotlight on a tech article from a site which is noted for both its humor, and entertainment value.

That’s not an idle question. More than once, I’ve gotten a comment along the lines of – Hey, this is a tech blog – so stick to tech – we don’t need humor here. Funny (pun not intended   Smile ), I’ve long held the view, that most people could use a hell of a lot more humor in their lives – a lot more. Why should it matter where it comes from?

Since readers can occasionally find a little humor here – turnabout seems like fair play. Why not then, refer readers to a humor site which often meshes technical expertise (believe it – these writers are good – very good), with  educational value – both of which are bolstered by spicy commentary. Spicy commentary, of course, is not to everyone’s taste – but, if it helps the medicine go down – then, I’m all for it.

Sad to say – virtually none of my non-techie friends subscribe to my blog – “too complicated”, “don’t understand a thing you’re saying” – are some of the more complimentary comments. More often than not, the comments are far less complimentary.   Smile

Still, I feel that I have an obligation to continue to play the role of “tech guru”, for want of a better description. So, how to do that? If they won’t read me – for all the right reasons, I suppose – then how to hammer home the facts concerning, in this case, Google, as an example.

That’s where Cracked.com comes in. Perhaps not as scholarly an approach as main stream tech journals, but often I find – far more readable. If it helps my friends get their heads out of the clouds – if their view of Google goes from “Google is so cool” to a more realistic view, which might include – “Google is not so cool” – then, it’s met my criteria for an educational site – of a sort.

So, has it made a difference in helping me spark an interest, amongst my friends, in things technical – especially Internet security? To quote the unlovable ex-governor of Alaska – you betcha! So, thank you Cracked.com. You often help to get the message across when I can’t.

12 Comments

Filed under Humor, Opinion

Snapdragon: Changing the Mobile World

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

imageSnapdragon is a mobile processor completely built on a single chip that brings you longer battery life and keeps you going in your everyday life. Battery life is great and an important part of any device’s usability, but that alone wasn’t enough for Qualcomm. Snapdragon is next-generation technology that provides all users with some exciting new features sure to change the way mobile devices are used.

Whether you’re a developer, a gamer or just an avid mobile device user, these next-generation technologies are going to impact the applications, games and other features on all mobile devices in the future.

Here are just a few reasons to get excited about Snapdragon:

  • Blink and smile detection: Have you ever been in that situation where you wanted to take a photograph of a group of people and the camera on your mobile device decides to focus in on just one person? It happens all the time. However, with Snapdragon, you get blink and smile detection that helps with facial processing and gives you a much better and higher quality photo of a group of people. Facial processing simply has never been this well done. Your camera will be able to recognize when someone is blinking, smiling or looking away from the camera; which helps you get the best picture possible.
  • Burst camera mode: Sometimes getting that perfect shot is really hard to do, especially when something is moving. Most cameras allow you to turn the shutter off or at least adjust the shutter speed, but this technology hasn’t really translated over to mobile devices – until now. The burst capture feature provided by Snapdragon allows even amateur photographers to capture a series of pictures with no shutter lag between shots.
  • Graphics: Qualcomm built the Snapdragon processor with gamers in mind — they designed it to take gaming to a whole new level with high resolution and realistic 3D graphics and effects. Just because you’re gaming on your mobile device doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice quality. In fact, with Snapdragon, you’ll soon be able to play games that rival any console gaming experience.
  • Surround sound recording: Sometimes, recording a video on your mobile device can leave you wanting something more. Maybe you missed something someone was saying or maybe there’s too much noise to really hear what you want. With Snapdragon technology, you get some amazing audio features that allow you to record in 5.1 surround sound. With Snapdragon, Fluence Surround Sound Recording uses the existing microphones on the device to bring you an HD camcorder sound and experience.
  • Indoor location: Have you ever been using the location feature on your phone only to realize it won’t work when you are inside? With Snapdragon, you don’t have to worry about that. The location feature on Snapdragon technology provides users with amazing experience. Not only does the location feature will allow you to search local points of interest, give you great walking and driving directions and give you object tracking, but it also gives you precise indoor position. You won’t have to worry about finding where you are because you are indoors; your mobile device will do that for you.

Snapdragon by Qualcomm is changing the ways in which users interact with their mobile devices. It pushes the limits on what traditional technology has brought consumers and is opening up a wide world of possibilities for next-generation consumer technology. For Qualcomm, it’s clearly not just about the technology itself. It’s about the way users interact with the technology they build and they want to make that experience the best one possible.

Comments Off on Snapdragon: Changing the Mobile World

Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Opinion, Smart Phone