How to be convicted of rape in 5 minutes: try and subpoena the victim’s computer records.

I’ve always believed there’s a special place in hell (note: no, not that hell) for anyone who’d mistreat a woman, be it physically or otherwise. You could be all around the nicest person I’ve ever met, but if you’ll raise a hand–or anything else–to the woman you’re with, you and I are gonna have a problem or several. And if you’ll pick someone up off a dating site, spend 5 hours escentially torturing them, then in your defense try and blame them for it, I take out a membership in the “bring back the death penalty” camp.

That was the tactic employed in the rape defense for thomas Bray, who met Jennifer Bennett through an online dating site and spent a good 5 hours ruining her life. At trial, his lawyer tried subpoenaing Jennifer’s Facebook records,, email, search engine history, and god only knows what else. They wanted the information from a month before she was attacked to a month after. Just in case there’s a something, you know, that could be vaguely interpreted to say she pretty much asked for it. It flopped. Instead of unsensored access to Jennifer’s–okay, public–personal life, the judge traded him the subpoena for 25 years in jail–where he’ll very likely spend a lot more than 5 hours on the receiving end of that torment. Consolation prize: it’s still longer than he’d have probably been handed if he’d just pled guilty. Yeah, that doesn’t do much for me either.

The Sun News issue, from a sports fan’s perspective: what gives, #CRTC?

You can be forgiven if you’re only now remotely aware there’s a thing called Sun News, nevermind that it has an axe to grind with the CRTC. Its issue, which is a fair one insofar as there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell the playing field will change in the near future, is it’s not on the list of TV stations that are required carried on basic cable. Other all news stations, however, such as CTV News Channel, have been required on basic cable for years. Sun News would like to have that fixed. Level the playing field, they’ll call it. Which is accurate, if in the wrong direction.

To be completely fair, I’ve never watched Sun News. I don’t even know if the service I’ll be getting next month would entitle me to watch Sun News–although, more than likely not. So I wouldn’t know if its content would or wouldn’t be worthy of being required carried on basic cable–whatever that means these days. but I do know we shouldn’t even need to be having this conversation. because there shouldn’t need to *be* required carry channels.

Let’s look at it through this lense. I don’t watch that much TV–even when I do actually pay for the service. My honest to goodness TV watching consists of Hockey Night in Canada (except for this year) on CBC,, flipping to TSN, or Sportsnet. Occasionally, I’ll swing past CTV–if, as is sometimes the case, they’re airing something I haven’t gotten my hands on yet by way of alternate means. But more often than not, if I’m watching TV, I’m not sitting in front of my TV to do it. Political stuff, when I decide to watch a debate or somesuch live, I can usually get online. Movies, TV shows and the like–well, uh, yeah. Got it covered. If you have to guess how, still, you need you some rereading of older posts. It’s just the live sports content that keeps me glooed to cable. for 3–or 4, if you want to push things–channels, Rogers wants to charge me at least $50. And that’s before you add in anything interesting, like the Gameshow Network–which we’ll need to be adding for the other one what lives with me now. And $50 is probably lowballing, only because I don’t have actual exact numbers staring me in the face. Still, $50. For half a dozen channels. Do explain?

The only reason I stick with cable for live sports is really, if we’re being realistic, even at $50 for half a dozen channels it’s still far cheaper, and far less restrictive, than the halfway offerings by the leagues themselves–which, given I follow both baseball and–maybe again in the future–hockey, would work out to costing me nearly twice as much just for those two. And again, because they like to do this to their fans, you run the risk of not being able to actually tune in the *local* broadcast of the games to boot.

In the entry linked above, I called out the leagues-with help from a writer over at Techdirt for what they’re offering–or rather, what they’re not offering. But when I flip through doing the kind of math that leads me to my cable bill for the month, even that starts to look good. When I also factor in that outside of Hockey Night in Canada, there’s not much on some of the channels I’m forced to accept in order to get the 3 or 4 I do, I really can’t help but have the very wee small suspicion that maybe I’m being just a little teeny tiny bit ripped off.

The incredibly sad part about this mess? If the CRTC was interested, they could stick a fork in debates like this with one decision. Eliminate the entire concept of channels required to be carried on basic cable. Eliminate the entire concept of cable packages–basic, or otherwise. If John Q. Busy only ever has time to flip on CTV Toronto for the news while he has himself a supper, then let John Q. Busy pay for CTV Toronto out of pocket. Does he really need TSN, YTV, Fox and the like to go along with it? It’s not like he watches them, after all. On a more personal front, I had a couple TLC channels on a package I used to have, back when I used to watch more TV. But I never watched them. In fact, I forgot I had them until somebody what had working eyes was scrolling through the channel guide one afternoon. If I’d known a friend of mine who does watch them fairly regularly back then, the outcome would have been different. But as it was, when my company left I called up the cable guys, figured out which package threw those channels at me and very nearly tossed it–until I heard it included Sportsnet. Then I asked the poor sap on the other end of the phone who in their right mind puts a Sportsnet in the same package as a TLC in the first damn place. At least make them vaguely related, guys.

Cable and satelite companies have channels you can purchase individually already. NHL Center Ice is one such. The NHL Network, which I’m pretty sure has a couple of channels, is another. Your favourite sports team probably has one. They’re not part of any package. You make a phone call, you say I want $channel, and on your next bill the $2 or $3 it’ll cost you for $channel for that month says hello. They have the technology. So why are we still paying $50 for half a dozen channels? And why is the CRTC so scared to fix that? I’d be interested in the answer to that million dollar question–preferably, without the political talking points. I’d also be interested in a lower cable bill. So, CRTC, what gives?

Senderbase.org, 5 months later.

So. Here’s a thinggy for long-time readers. Remember the epic server move of August of last year? You know, the one where everything and its asociated user had to be shuffled off a server I no longer had any actual stake in inside of 5 minutes–and where I was met head on by an email blockage issue? Sure you do. But I’ll let you refresh yourself just in case you don’t. In the meantime, I’ll catch things up–because the stats tell me I’m not the only one with the issue.

In August, when I fired up this server, I was slapped with an IP address–well, several IP addresses, actually–that had a poor reputation, according to senderbase.org. Here’s the problem with that. Because they decided my reputation–which they don’t really tell you a whole lot about–was poor, several major ISP’s and a few smaller ones were permanently rejecting email sent to them with the ever so helpful message that if I believed this message was rejected in error, to please contact the recipient using alternate means. Helpful, but not really. I fought with it for a few weeks and got pretty much nowhere. Senderbase doesn’t actually have any way to contact them. No support address, or any real contact page, and the information I was able to piece together on a possible contact got me pretty much no response. A back and forth with the guys running the datacenter this server’s sitting in told me they have just as much luck with these folks. So figuring I’d deal with it later, after I finished ironing out the kinks that came with a move of this variety, I was handed a new IP address from a different block entirely. This one, at least, had a neutral reputation when I got it–and it’s supposedly only improved from there, but again, I have no idea according to what metrics.

So I set email to go out using only that IP address and pretty much forgot about it. Because it worked. so I saw no need to continue aiming guns at heads. ISP’s that used to take one look at the server and laugh their asses off now accepted email from that same server as though there was nothing at all wrong in the world. I was a happy geek. Still am, but largely because the damn thing still does what I told it to. So fast forward to this week. I’m doing a check on other things, just to make sure I don’t need to go behind the scenes and do some sort of wicked nifty cool brand of tweeking. Which, okay, is major amounts of fun–but only after generous amounts of caffeine and nearly as generous amounts of vodka. Or a vodrumoke, if one would prefer (all of 3 people might actually catch that reference, including the one what said it). So it’s during this routine scan for breakage that I decide, hey, let’s take the server’s primary IP address and run it by those bastards at Senderbase. Let’s see if they’ve wised up any. Hint: if you thought for even 2 seconds that they might have, I’m going to have to revoke your license to read this blog.

Not only did they decide the primary IP address of this server still has a “poor” reputation, but they escentially also decided to forget that I used that IP address for pretty much anything. Where before, I could get an idea of how much email has been blocked by Senderbase, so far as it’s concerned now, I’ve got nothing. Senderbase lets me ask it about my server’s IP, then sneers at me and says “Look, bud. I don’t actually know the guy, but I hear he’s no bloody good. Hey–that’s just what I hear, alright? Whatcha want?”. It can’t even tell me what the IP’s DNS reverses too, which is–well, odd and quite doable using the good IP, but hey, whatever. I just find it highly interesting that, 5 months on, it’s forgotten pretty much everything about this server except its reputation–which supposedly improves over time, but I’m still waiting. In the meantime, if you run your own mail server and actually rely on Senderbase to handle even part of your antispam policies, you’re an idiot. And if I can find some way of getting email to folks what use you and not actually have to go through you, consider it done. Now. About that vodrumoke.

Beware corporate spying from China! … Or maybe not.

I’m going to blame the fact everything these days seems to be political when coming out of the US, even if it really doesn’t need to be. Because honestly, that’s about the only reason I can think of for a congressional committee, based on not much other than it wanted something to generate headlines, to go into an investigation having decided two Chinese telecom companies were involved in some high level spying–and improvising a report to say as much at its conclusion. The committee, investigating companies Huawei and ZTE, pretty much said the two companies were allowing the chinese government to use their equipment to hide trojan horses (escentially, software and/or hardware backdoors) that would allow the government to gain access to sensitive information, or to use that hardware to launch a cyber attack–basicly, bring down any service or website they so choose. Rather than coming up with some veriety of proof on their own, it was left to Huawei and ZTE to escentially prove they weren’t.

Leaving alone the fact it’s virtually impossible to prove the nonexistence of something–people have been trying to do that with religion for an age, and leaving alone the fact that not long after the release of this report, the whitehouse came out with its own and cleared the company, the question has to be asked. Did anyone on this committee happen to maybe consider that pretty much everything tech these days has spent at least some time in China before making it to wherever it’s now being used? Did no one maybe bring that up to the committee before they got the idea to hey, let’s go ahead with this investigation and see what sticks?

Of course it may be that, you know, being vaguely technical-minded that explanation comes far more natural to me than it would to, say, a career politician in his 50’s. But you would think that, you know, if China was actually on the lookout for ways to accomplish something like that, there’d be ample opportunity for them to do so without needing to expect that of one or two of their own companies who happen to have a market in the US. And you’d think at least one of these politicians, in their 50’s or no, would have somebody vaguely technical-minded on their staff who’d speak up about it. Of course the fact that they might not may very well be why we have things like this in the first damn place. at which point, look for one of those folks to be made aware in the near future that Apple makes pretty much all their iThings in China–well, until some point this year, anyway. I wonder how long it’d take for that investigation to unfold. Oh, wait–US companies with Chinese interests good. Chinese companies with US interests bad. I forgot that’s how these things work these days. Silly me. Oh well. The thought was fun while it lasted.

Guns, CSI, murder novels good. World of Warcraft bad. got it?

Oh, I wish I could have come up for air long enough to snerk at this when it actually happened. But I was tailspinning all over the place trying to catch up from previous tailspins all over the place. So I completely missed–or rather, set aside and completely forgot about–the ascertion by the Maine republican party that, uh, playing World of Warcraft is evil.

The republicans trotted this one out against democratic senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz, and backed up their attack with comments they pulled off a forum –presumedly for world of Warcraft players–from a few years ago in which she said she liked to poison and stab people. So suddenly, according to the republicans, they were running up against potentially the next psychopathic mass murderer–because, you know, every mass murderer has at some point played a game not too dissimilar to World of Warcraft. And here’s the snerk factor.

The republican party, when they’re not championing all manner of constitutional rights violations (Warrantless wiretapping, anyone?), is only slightly less ridiculous a defender of the second amendment than the NRA. It’s why John Q. Crazy can and has gone to the nearest gun show and come home with a semi-automatic. Couple that with the fact we’ve got shows like CSI. Also add the fact even kids’ shows now are considerably more violent–or, at least, more graphic about that violence–than they were, let’s say, 20 years ago. And, just because it’s there, let’s add one more thing. Murder novels and the like–who’s violence can be as detailed in text as any violence in, say, WoW can be in graphics. If you’re of the right mindset, some of the going reading material out there could serve a dual purpose–an entertaining/interesting novel, and a how-to manual on creatively causing all manner of damage. But World of Warcraft is wicked evil cruel and all manner of generally not recommended. Clear things up any for ya? Even if the NRA would very likely be in agreement? Well, okay then. They tried. And as for that election? Yeah, uh, about that. Clears things up for me, if nothing else. World of Warcraft good. Maine republicans bad. Yeah, that looks much better. Now, I think I’m missing CSI.

Handing a 0 to no 0 policies.

When I started this blog, back when I didn’t know this blog would become, well, this blog, I swore to myself I’d never have a reason to start off an entry with “this might be showing my age”. And then, just like that, I had a reason to start an entry exactly like that. And it’s all the fault of the non-education system.

This indeed might just be showing my age, but when I was in school, the absolute worst thing you could ever have happen to you from an academic viewpoint was to miss a due date. Not because people back then suddenly found themselves incredibly devoted to getting their homework done–far from it. I’m pretty sure there’s always been that cluster of people who had so much better things to do than homework. They were usually the ones seen in the middle of a massive heart attack about 2 days before the exam when they were in danger of having to repeat the class, or worse, the year. They were the ones, most of the time, who insisted they didn’t fail a grade–they were just “held back”, while all the while consistently showing off their definition of “held back”. And then things started happening. Graduation rates fell, dropout rates increased, kids were doing absolutely craptacular in testing. Piled on top of that were, at least in Ontario, several strikes by either the teachers or their support staff–kind of like what’s going on now, except there was no bill 115 for them to be upset with.

When I left highschool, the cariculum at least in Ontario was being turned inside out. Standardised testing was implemented, which didn’t do very many people very many favours. A lot of the courses that were supposed to prepare you for university were either stripped out, or pared down so they weren’t as intimidating for the majority of people. Ontario used to be one of the only, if not the only, province that had a grade 13–the extra year kids could take if they needed additional credits for a college/university course, or if, as was often the case, you needed that university level math, english and whatever else because grades 11 and 12 didn’t have the room for it–and most universities wouldn’t look at you if you didn’t have at least that.

When they killed grade 13, they started softening up on things in general. For instance, around that same time was when I’d first heard of schools getting away from handing out a 0 for incomplete work. Folks who went to the same highschool I spent most of my time at became very familiar with the phrase “I can’t mark air”. Which usually carried with it the pretty straightforward implication that hey, you can put off doing $asignment at your choosing, but don’t look past the end of your nose when it shows up on your report card. Shortly after I was done with highschool in general, that went out the window–around, most likely, the same time as the teacher who invented that phrase was either fired or encouraged to quit or otherwise found herself not working at the school. Then the government changed, attitudes on failure changed, the idea that maybe they were too hard on the kids was taking hold, and we somehow twisted and turned our way to a teacher in Edmonton getting fired for daring to hand out 0’s.

This conversation comes up every so often between myself and quite a few people, usually around the time someone discovers the world outside of highschool is more than a little tiny bit different. It’ll no doubt come up again, after the resignation of the director of toronto’s school board for plagiarrism to the 80 millionth degree–particularly given that the offending director didn’t see anything wrong with it. And indeed, the way things are right now with schools being strongly discouraged from failing kids for not doing their work, or worse–copy/pasting someone else’s work and calling it their own, they’re escentially saying there’s nothing wrong with it. Kids are told to just do the work, or in the case of a plagiarised asignment, to redo it, and often times that’s the end of it. And that’s if the asignment is even investigated for plagiarism at all–which, if we’re being realistic, would have likely meant Toronto would have had a different director for its school board if that actually happened.

governments, at least up here, are big on not being hard on the kids. On making sure the kids are comfortable and not intimidated or stressed or whatever while in school, and on escentially making sure the kids graduate. Which, on its face, is something to be all for. And I’d love to be. But when they do it at the expense of the kids actually learning something, Houston, we have a cluster. In life, especially if you decide to go through university and the like, you’re going to have more than a few scrapes with deadlines. You’re going to have more than a few close calls. You’re probably going to fail, or come close to failing, at least once. It’s not supposed to be easy. Neither is the world outside the university bubble. So why does that not apply to highschool, which is supposed to be prepping you for life in, and after, college/university? Why, instead, are kids shielded from the reality of what happens if they decide to wait until the day of the exam before they go off on a mad dash to hand in the asignments that were due a month ago? If I didn’t know better, I’d be inclined to think the folks who dreamed up this idea were on the business end of a few 0’s in their lifetimes.

Look. No kid at any age *wants* to go to school. I didn’t. Most if not all the people I know didn’t. And we weren’t the biggest fans of homework either. But we did it, even if we bitched about it for an hour and a half afterwards. That’s life. Except now, that part of life is escentially optional. Look, guys. I get it. You want more kids graduating. I can get behind that. I’d love to see more of the younger folks I know graduating. But guess what? Graduating them like this just shoots them in the foot. Sorry, folks. But on this one, I give yall a 0. You can do it over, but now you’re late. Have fun.

Please, by all means, be idle no more.

For anyone not living in Canada, or anyone living in Canada who’s decided now would be a fine time to secure themselves under a rock, it might have gone missed that, for lack of a better way to put it, the natives are getting restless. They’ve started a series of protests, blockades and the like, that they’re calling “Idle No More”, which supposedly is meant to express several things all in one movement. If you ask Theresa Spence, a native chief who’s been on a hunger strike of sorts since before the official birth of this “movement”, it’s to protest the condition of native reservations, one of which has–well–its own problems independant of whatever the government may or may not have decided to do, or not (note: Spence is the chief of the reservation referenced in the linked article). Apparently, same goes if you ask any of the chiefs that support her–yes, still, even though she’s already moved her own goal posts several times in the span of a couple weeks. When they’re not also still smarting over the violation of a treaty their great great grandparents signed with mine (*), they’re insisting on a greater share of any and all resource-based industry that passes anywhere near, on or around what they believe is their lands–industry they aren’t even willing to approve anyway (see: northern gateway, keystone, etc). But, see, here’s the thing that passes me by. They want to be self-sufficient, which is completely and entirely reasonable–and they should be. But they want to do it by relying on their traditional way of life–hunting, fishing, escentially living off the land, as I’ve seen a few folks put it. That’s great too. I’d never presume to deny someone the right to live their life as they please. But I’ve never seen it actually explained how, in 2013, the natives who take up issues like this one plan to go about doing that.

In fact, I’ve seen it spelled out rather nicely exactly how, assuming the government agreed completely with those demands and gave them complete self-governance, complete with allowing them to go back to their traditional ways of life, it would very quickly fall apart. In short, from the day the treaties were signed, the natives’ hunting days were numberd.

It’s important to emphasize that these Treaty commissioners were not anthropologists or do-gooders. Notwithstanding their respect for the Cree, they came with a very specific mission: to set the stage for white commercial development in these territories.

For instance, the commissioners reported a meeting in Fort Hope, on the shore of Lake Eabamet, with a certain well-regarded chief named Moonias. At one point, a local Indian named Yesno (“who received his name from his imperfect knowledge of the English language, which consisted altogether in the use of the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’”) told the commissioners that the terms of the Treaty should ensure that natives in the area receive “cattle and implements, seed-grain and tools.”

This horrified the commissioners, who evidently wished to guard against unfulfilled expectations: “As the undersigned wished to guard carefully against any misconception or against making any promises which were not written in the treaty itself, it was explained that none of these issues were to be made, as the band could not hope to depend upon agriculture as a means of subsistence; that hunting and fishing, in which occupations they were not to be interfered with, should for very many years prove lucrative sources of revenue. The Indians were informed that by signing the treaty they pledged themselves not to interfere with white men who might come into the country surveying, prospecting, hunting, or in other occupations; that they must respect the laws of the land in every particular, and that their reserves were set apart for them in order that they might have a tract in which they could not be molested, and where no white man would have any claims without the consent of their tribe and of the government. After this very full discussion, the treaty was signed, and payment was commenced.”

What I am quoting here is the commissioners’ Nov. 6, 1905 report, not the actual text of the James Bay Treaty (which is brief). But it expresses the real nub of the intended treaty relationship: The natives would continue hunting and fishing for sustenance and trade, and receive annual payments from the government (four dollars, to be exact), while white men would have the right to put down their train tracks, mines, forestry operations and settlements. Some reserve lands were stipulated in a schedule to the treaty (“not to exceed in all one square mile for each family of five”), but the exact location of such lands was not then considered as important as it is now. That’s because the local Cree were semi-nomadic, and came and went with the hunt. (At Lake Abitibi, for instance, the commissioners reported: “We did not expect to find many Indians in attendance, as they usually leave for their hunting grounds about the first week in July.”)

As the article goes on to say, it’s that treaty, and the creation therein of this type of reserve, that’s still today being held over our heads–over a century later. The problem? We tried to bring the natives into what was then modern society. We just, well, only did it about halfway. oh, right–and by “we”, I mean the about, we’ll say, 1930 or so “we”.

Cree men such as Moonias and Yesno, were they still around, would be absolutely appalled by this state of affairs. They apparently believed they were negotiating Treaty terms that would permit them to continue to provide for themselves as rugged hunter-gatherers (and possibly farmers). The notion that the white man eventually would put them up in permanently subsidized year-round housing that allowed them to abandon hunting and fishing — the very heart of their culture — would have seemed alien and unexpected.

That move from semi-nomadic to settled life, which was seen in part as a humane gesture aimed at bringing natives into modern civilization, is the real “cultural genocide” we keep hearing about. It’s not a Stephen Harper plot. It’s something that happened mostly before Harper was born.

So wheres the halfway point? well, that would be right around this part of those self-same treaties.

Yet the altogether worst aspect of the James Bay Treaty is that, like other treaties, it ensured that reserve land “shall be held and administered by His Majesty, for the benefit of the Indians,” and that “in no wise [sic] shall the said Indians, or any of them, be entitled to sell or otherwise alienate any of the lands allotted to them as reserves.” This was basically Soviet-style communism, avant la lettre. To this day, this system of communal land ownership ensures that reserve-resident natives are the only people in Canada who are systematically denied the right to buy, sell, lease and mortgage their land.

This is the single most awful thing we ever did to the Indians: bring them into a settled, capitalist society, and then deny them the basic tools to generate capital. Yet, perversely, it is the one aspect of native policy that is consistently championed by left-wing native-rights advocates, who see in it a sentimental vindication of Marxism despite its European failures.

And this, combined with some one-time assistance to actually see to it the people on those reserves aren’t swept out to sea by the changes, is exactly what the people involved–be they native or not–should be pushing to be changed. At the moment, natives living on reserves have no actual attachment to the property they occupy. Nor are they actually allowed, legally, to have any attachment or place any value on those properties. Which is why, in communities like Attawapiskat, they made headlines when it became clear just how bad the housing situation was actually getting. And when they made headlines, they still had to wait for the government to do something about it–as opposed to anyone else, who can pretty much make any changes they please to their living arangements–including deciding to forget about paying rent and go buy a house across town. And it’s these remote, mostly fly-in communities, that protesters are saying should be allowed to do their own thing, their own way, in compliance with those self-same treaties. It’s those self-same communities that folks like Theresa Spence are saying the government should hand more money to, for presumedly very similar results. But complying with treaties from over a hundred years ago and giving natives their self-sufficience are mutually exclusive.

Ms. Spence and her Idle No More supporters are absolutely correct to say that the James Bay Treaty made provisions for Indians to get land, cash payments, and even some measure of autonomy. But ramping up those perqs won’t do anything to change the fact that the whole basis of the treaty was destroyed as soon as traditional native hunting life came to an end.

This is the fundamental reason that the Idle No More message on treaties is irrelevant: The great challenge of native policy in the 21st century will be to integrate natives into the larger economy that is based in Canadian population centers.

Remote fly-in communities such as Attawapiskat, on the other hand, are doomed: You can’t turn he clock back to 1905, or even to 1930.

And as much as that means folks like Theresa Spence would have to be out of a job, that has to be the simple reality. That should have been the reality years ago, but a combination of the government mucking it up and the natives fighting it lead to, well, the exact opposite. If being idle no more means fixing this system, and giving native people the ability to make themselves sufficient and get them off the government take, then by all means, please do be idle no more. But if, in seaking these changes, the natives can’t accept the fact that some traditions–some aspects of their culture–they want so badly to hold onto simply cannot survive a transition like that? To continue to hold to that expectation, and to insist the rest of Canada work around that expectation, will only continue to end up in situations exactly like this one. And really, honestly? I think we’re all getting a little tiny bit tired of reading headlines that start off with “Native Group Protests”. Just tossing that out there.

*: I can’t be a hundred percent sure how accurate that statement actually is, as I have great great grandparents on both sides of the issue. Pretty sure that puts me in a bit of a conflict of interest when writing a post like this. But, then, I never did give much thought to that kind of deal.

Things to note when taxiing a blind dude, in list format.

I do a fair bit of cabbing from here to there, as does any person who doesn’t quite know how to shuffle the bus system from A to Z. Since I’m hardly the first to do it, and hardly the first blind fool at that, I thought it might be useful to toss together a little reference something that maybe some enterprising cab dude can read while he should be paying attention to the road. I’m even croudsourcing this one, so if someone somewhere thinks a thinggy or three can be added, it will probably be added. And because I know some fool somewhere will read this while driving, and because I’m all for minimising distractions while driving, have it in list format. Also because lists are lazy, and lazy is win, therefore lists are win. So. Without further BS, the taxi guy’s reference guide–what not to do, blind guy edition.

  • Let’s clear one thing up right off the bat. Blind. Kay? Means unable to see. Cannot eyeball. You wave randomly in my general direction, a lot of people are gonna wonder what the hell kinda meth you’re on. And I’m going to ignore your face. Mostly because I can’t see your face–again, blind. Follow so far?
  • Related to number 1, but also critical: Honking. Yeah, just don’t. Especially if you’re in a parking lot with at least half a dozen other vehicles. That happens fairly often in this building–and let’s be honest. Not every car that pulls in here’s a cab. Not every car that pulls in here and honks is a cab. I’m not going to assume you’re a cab if all you’re doing is honking. Especially if I’ve told you before to knock that noise right the hell off.
  • this one’s simple. If you make with the grabby, I get to make with the stabby. I’m capable of navigating from door to vehicle, provided I 1: am familiar with the area from which you’re picking me up and 2: it’s relatively straightforward-ish to locate your vehicle–for instance, if we’re outside this building and your vehicle’s the only one in front of the door running. If I’ve been to an area before, same goes from vehicle to door–provided you haven’t found somewhere completely ass backwards to park us. That I’ve started to move does not mean grab me by the shoulder, the arm, the hand, the wrist, the cane, or any other extremety or implement secured to or belonging to my person. Unless, of course, you don’t mind a cane in the eye. I’m quite obliging when asked.
  • This one might be vaguely obvious, but it still gets missed a lot. Pay the fuck attention, dude. Seriously. You’re asking a blind guy how to get from A, to B, to C. Last I checked, that was kind of what I was paying you for. Yes, okay, I do know my way around at least most of this end of the city. But I don’t know precisely where we are when you ask me, “So it’s just up here and to the right, yeah?”. Know your shit, or use your GPS if you absolutely must–even if those things have a nasty little habbit of occasionally being both dead wrong and all in favour of me paying more. Or be prepared to answer at least 3 questions having to do with exactly where the fuck “just up here and to the right” is. Failure to do either of those gets you this point in lecture format from the back seat. I’ve done it.
  • The answer to the question, “where’s the door?” is not, “Just go straight.”. That particularly is the exact *wrong* answer when one is still sitting in the car, having not yet gotten out because he’s waiting on your slow ass debit machine to get around to approving his transaction. Providing that answer will result in at a minimum an angry stare, and at a maximum a very detailed explanation as to why exactly that is perhaps the most wrong answer you can provide, next to no answer at all. Hint: you just read it.
  • This should be common sense in some places, and simply not breaking the law in others, but it takes on a bit more importance when driving a blind guy. Get the everloving hell off the phone, for the love of pepperoni. Not only does yacking on the phone prove you’re not really paying attention to where the hell you’re going, or what the hell the passenger(s) is/are saying to you, but especially in the context of blind passenger, you will more than likely miss something vaguely important–like, for instance, the afore mentioned request for the location of the door. If you’d put down the phone for at least the duration of the ride, you’d have an increased chance of actually hearing your passenger–be they blind or otherwise–tell you that they’ll be paying via your slow ass debit machine. At which point, that transaction can be slightly less slow as crap, because you’ll–preferably–have taken a couple minutes while finding somewhere to park to get the machine ready to actually process the transaction.
    • Exceptions can be made for things like, for instance, asking for directions. But pull the hell over if you’re gonna. That’s not so much because blind dude. That’s because, well, legal. At least if you’re an Ontario cab driver. I have my own issues with distracted driving laws, but they’re still there. And if you’re gonna get yourself slapped for not following them, I’d prefer to not be in the cab when it happens.
  • Blind guy is not new guy, okay? Odds are, even though I’m cabbing it there, I have a fairly decent idea where there is. I just haven’t yet figured out exactly how to translate directions into useable by blind person on foot information. So when trying to get from A to B, especially if you’ve already started the everloving metre (that’s another rant for another day), let’s not waste us some time by sitting in the driveway arguing about how to get from here to there. Especially if you’re going to throw it in your GPS and have it tell you exactly the same route I just freaking told you. That’s an incredibly quick shortcut to a free trip if I’m feeling particularly challenging that day. And since neither of us knows when that’s going to be, I’d suggest maybe not poking that switch.
  • speaking of slow ass debit machines, they may be incredibly slow at times, but for the love of everything sane, get you one. Believe me, they’re not just for blind folk anymore. This couldn’t have been made more clear when I lived in small town Ontario. The guys over at the Vomit Comet ran into it too, and they’re in bloody Kitchener for crying out loud. If you’re new, or hell, ya just don’t show up in town all that often, you’re not going to know where $place is, nevermind how far away it is from where you’ve been scooped. Leaving aside the fact that it’s bloody 2013 and no one caries cash in bloody 2013, guessing at how far you need to go at the going rate for that city just to reach a rough estimate of how much pocket change you should be carrying with you can be and has been an exercise in migraine. Guys. Even the pizza delivery guy has those wireless debit thinggies, kay? They can’t be too expensive. And with some of the rates municipalities let yall charge us, they can’t be entirely all that unafordable. Get you one. Or two–because hey, sharing is caring. Forget making things convenient for us. You wanna get paid, yes? This guarantees you do. Well, or at least guarantees that if you’re not up and being a tool about the rest of the trip, we’ll be that much more likely to get you paid. make sense?
  • further to points re: pay the fuck attention: your GPS is yelling at you. Meanwhile, you’re panicking because you haven’t the slightest idea where you’re going. Pro tip: even if you haven’t the slightest, your GPS has at least that much. Stop, look, listen. Or at the very least, shut up so I can–and maybe then *I* can figure out where the hell you’re going.
  • I hear about this way too often to be healthy. You’re called to pick up person and guidedog. That does not mean offer to pick up person, then bitch about picking up guidedog. This is one of those situations wherein the law trumps everything except fatal alergies–including your freedom of religion. Don’t approve? Behind the wheel of a cab is not for you. Don’t approve and voice said disapproval loudly? In front of a cab works just fine.
  • that thing I’m holding? Yeah, that thing. It’s a cane. It’s not a magical locator beam. It won’t randomly lift off and shoom its way to your vehicle the second you hit the breaks with me holding the other end. fortunately, if you’re me, as these things aren’t very good independent navigators. Since this thing isn’t programmed to find you, you’re just gonna have to hop your happy ass outa the vehicle and come find me. I’m sorry. But hey, if you do it right, you’ll get paid. Call it corporate motivation. Hey–it worked when I had a thing with a paycheck.
  • Here’s a thing for the thought mines. There are two people standing on the front steps of a house, in front of which you’ve just parked your happy ass. Both are holding those things that are not locator beams. Both are clearly visible, as evidenced by the fact you’re parked pretty much in throwing range of the front door. It’s a very short walk to the front door. It’s also in earshot. Staying in your vehicle and calling the house to let us know you’re here, therefore, is a teeny tiny bit counterproductive. It’s also highly likely to get you mocked in a “how not to taxi a blind guy” entry. Don’t. Just don’t. Because no one will answer, and you’ll be waiting for us, and we’ll be waiting for you, and only one of us will come out looking like an idiot. Also it’s just plain uncool.

There will probably be more added as they’re thought of, or sent to me. In fact I’m pretty sure there will be. But in the meantime, if you know a cab driver who’d find this somewhat useful, by all means slap the link in several dozen places with a strong suggestion to read it. In fact I’m thinking of printing this off for a couple drivers we get around here regularly. In the meantime, happy cabbing. And remember, just because I can’t see doesn’t mean I can’t slap you for being an idiot. Let’s not make me prove it.

Probable cause is so 2000, y’know?

Every couple months, something new and interesting crops up that makes me quite glad I’m not actually a US citizen. A recent example, following the federal trend, comes out of California–who’s governor has vetoed the hell out of a bill that would have required law enforcement to actually, you know, have a reason–and a warrant–to obtain information such as the location information that’s now stored on pretty much any smartphone in existence. What that means, escentially, is that California cops can get a hold of your cell provider, and request a history of everywhere that cell phone has been detected. For no reason other than, uh, they can. Oh yeah, and terrorism. I guess I shoulda listened to the guy who called me at Dell at 4:30 in the morning just to talk to me about how the government’s watching everything he does so he has to be careful who he talks to–he might have just been onto something. Oh, and the next time some lawyer friend of yours starts talking about probable cause, just smile, nod, and walk away. The government don’t need no stinkin’ probable cause.

Documentation is key. so where the hell is yours?

I’ve been known to get my hands dirty with this or that random project. Occasionally, resulting in the consumption of something a bit stronger than the coke I often keep nearby. Sometimes, I do it pretty much by the seat of my pants–this looks like it goes over here, so let’s see what this does. And sometimes, either by choice or by force, I’ll actually have to go hunting for documentation. Occasionally, the hunt points me to the developer’s website, the developer’s twitter, the developer’s blog–but not, in fact, the developer’s documentation. Or any documentation, for that matter. A user manual? A half-page thing on someone’s personal, but publicly accessible, WIKI? Yeah, no.

admitedly, I occasionally have that very same problem with my twitter app of choice, but in this case there’s documentation, it’s just not in English. So it *could*, if it was absolutely needed, be translated. Awesome. Useful. I should get on that, eventually. But in cases where there’s no documentation, as in whatsoever, for this or that program, script, basic language or other such extra utility, it has to be asked–and Slashdot asks it–what the hell are you thinking?

You want your program, script, language, basic little utility to be used, yeah? And not solely by geeks with little else to do between job searches and family things but to try busting things, yeah? Yeah. thought as much. So, uh, how about manualing the hell out of it? Nothing says “oh crap” more than smacking the help option and being directed to a website that tosses me a 404 error instead of something useful, like a FAQ. And, if I don’t feel like playing a guessing game–usually because I’ve got 80 million other things to do as it is–nothing convinces me to toss your program in the maybe later pile faster. And probably increases the likelyhood of me forgetting I have that program, simply by virtue of its presence in the maybe later pile. I’m not averse to doing a little RTFM every now and again. Hell, maybe I’ll catch something obvious that gives me an excuse to redo something and easily waste away an evening I can’t spend watching hockey. But by all means, couldja maybe pretty please try and WTFM–write the fucking manual? It helps, I promise. Or, at least, it makes you immune to entries like this one. Which is always good.

The dog phobia days of apartment living.

I’m a huge dog person. Always have been. I grew up with and around them, raised and trained one of my own from 6 weeks, and now am raising a second with May–who also happens to be a huge dog person. So this apartment building was, in that respect, a perfect fit for us. Very relaxed pet policy, and no shortage of places to take the pups for walks or other reasons. The people? Could use some relaxing.

I took Lacey on one of those afore mentioned walks for other reasons yesterday, and both leaving and coming into the building, I must have ran into at least 6 people who have a decidedly very large issue with my admittedly a little hyper, but ultimately harmless, dog. There’s a family with a rather large dog issue on this floor–actually, pretty much across from the elevators. Which, escentially, means especially in the mornings, we try and time our taking the pups out to avoid them. Because not doing so produces a reaction not entirely dissimilar to one you’d see on, say, Nightmare On Elm Street. If the dog even looks in their direction, they wig out. Backing away, occasionally screaming, and generally proving that not every grown adult is physically capable of actually acting like a grown adult. Also somewhat amusing in that even if I make the dog sit, the very act of whichever dog I’m walking doing exactly that prompts them to hit the cieling. If they and we are destined for the same elevator, I’m expected to hold the dog back until they get on the elevator, and–if they can get away with it–to wait for the next one. I’ve decidedly been doing a significant amount less of that, however, simply because–hey, pet friendly building. Dog who’s most deadly weapon is occasionally her morning breath. Chill.

While that’s the most consistent example, it’s not the most recent–or the most amusing. As I said earlier, I ran into a few while taking Lacey on one of our little walks yesterday. One of them was already on the elevator when it got to my floor, and it was heading for ground level already. We got on, as we normally do, and this lady backs herself into the corner of the elevator opposite where we are. She stands there, sounding like she’s about to burst into tears right there on the spot, while I make sure this particular elevator is, actually, going to drop me off where I need to be dropped off. It was, which only confirmed she was going my way. So logic would dictate since we’re only another 5 floors up that she just stay put, right? Of course if she did that, there wouldn’t be a need for mockery–so we’ll just leave our logic at the door, kay? Kay.

No sooner am I away from the door and getting Lacey into a don’t you dare move because I’m not extracting your nose from the door position, then does this ladey make a run for it. Out the door and across the hall just before the door’s about to close. Pretty sure she didn’t actually go into the apartment across the hall with the rest of the phobia clan, as we were just heading downwards when the elevator next to us opened. So she very likely ended up on the main floor at the same time as me and the dog for about 5 seconds anyway. Objective, failed.

Now, I get that people have their reasons for being afraid of dogs. Even to the point of going out of their way to avoid them. I don’t question that–hell, to each their own, I say. But here’s the thing. You live in a building with over a hundred other people. Quite a few of them, if our occasional nosing around the building is any indication, are dog owners. Said dogs, unless they can fit in the palm of your hand, will likely need to be making regular trips outside. That, unfortunately, means you’re likely going to be sharing some common ground, at least temporarily, with something that goes woof. Knowing this as you likely, hopefully, do, why would you 1: act all surprised/shocked/horified/traumatised every single time a dog gets within 20 feet of you, and 2: put yourself in a situation, in this case a building, that pretty much guarantees 1 is going to happen with some degree of regularity? And why would you, having put yourself in that situation and knowing precisely what that situation is, expect the people with the dogs to go out of their way to make sure you’re not put in that situation?

I can be accomodating. I can, out of respect, minimise the dog’s interaction with you–yes, even if the said interaction would usually be limited to trying to lick you to death anyway. what I cannot do, or rather will not do, is shift my entire routine–and the dog’s with it–so as to avoid you even having to tolerate that minimal or nonexistent interaction between you and dog. I have a problem with 10-year-olds that think it’s funny to send random elevators to just about every floor in the building–especially if one of those elevators happens to be requested to take me somewhere, like to ground level with a dog that needs out–but I’m not going to insist you keep your kid on a short leash until I’m safely on the main floor. to do that would be absolutely ridiculous, and I’d expect no less than half a dozen people to call me on it for that very reason. People’s reactions, in this building at least, to having to breathe the same air as a dog for as long as it takes to drop a few floors are equally ridiculous. You are in a pet friendly building. That means there are pets. Probably lots of them. If you don’t approve of this, then pick a less pet friendly building. Your right not to be traumatised does not trump my right to do as I please freely, with or without something firry attached to my wrist. You do have the right not to be offended, but please, don’t be offended somewhere else. There are things that need doing and you’re kind of in the way.

In which Klout gets to decide how valuable my skills are. Awesome. Now what the hell is Kloute?

this is an older post, but if it’s a trend, it’s a goofy one. Klout, which I so have never used–and will probably never use, is being used as a prerequisit for positions being filled by at least one company. While the ads the article references are filled, the point’s still extremely valid. Ask anyone what Klout is, and you’ll probably get a blank stare. Even Klout’s own website just calls it “the standard of influence”, but doesn’t quite answer the key question–who the hell’s standard of influence?

The company mentioned in that article, Salesforce, was looking for applicants with a Klout score of at least 35. which is awesome. Or, well, not. You see, no one actually knows–beyond how many people are following you and how many people retweet you–how the hell a score like that’s calculated. And yet, at least one company wants to use that as a determination of–and this is a guess, here–how qualified you are to fill a position. I’d explain more, but this paragraph from that article does a better job.

Just so you know, my Klout score is like 80 and I don’t know what it means. The hiring manager at Salesforce in that video above? 64. Does that make me smarter than him? More talented? Should I replace him? Should he be replaced by someone with a higher Klout score? NO! Of course not. Because it’s a worthless number.

But, at least as of the time I was staring at this article, it’s a worthless number that may or may not contribute to someone’s future career. And that’s, well, rather funky. In a thanks but no thanks kinda way.

I do believe college just quit me.

Or if nothing else, their disability department did. I’ve been working at getting myself situated so the geekness that is me can exist on paper with a minimal amount of fuss. Which, in turn, would hopefully result in somebody not paid by the government signing my more generous than present paycheck. All would have been absolutely awesome as well, except somebody somewhere who won’t speak up is dragging their feet.

In September, I started the ball rolling with algonquin College to get me set up with the one and only course I didn’t end up actually taking in highschool. It was math, which on a good day is probably my worst subject–maybe second only to science, and only because it’s not science fiction. Everything was in place. The folks doing that course were about ready to bend over backwards to work with me. There was just one problem. You ever tried doing math on a computer with your eyes closed, listening to something electronic trying to explain fractions to you? Yeah, if you’d like brain damage, I’ll give you an hour or so to give that a shot. Go on. This’ll wait.

I already knew exactly what was going to have to happen–they’d need to get their hands on materials from the course. No problem. Within a week of them knowing for sure I was taking this course, they had those materials. Step 2: get them into a format I could actually use. Huge problem. Still on-going problem. I could write a novel.

As I said, it started in September. Step 1 was get me in for an assessment so they’d know where I placed. Awesome. I can do that. They were thinking I could do the assessment then start on October 15 of this year. Turns out no not quite–they ended up pushing me back to take the assessment on October 29, which meant I’d be starting on November 12. Still, not a huge deal, if the Center for Students with Disabilities was on top of things. So I ran with it. Did the assessment, got the results, knew where I was going, yada yada blah. Then it imploded.

By the time a week passed since I did the assessment, the CSD had at least some of the materials I’d be needing. Not all of them, mind you, but it was a start. Problem. They still didn’t have the foggiest idea who’d be transcribing those materials for me. We’re into the first week of November, and they were still waiting on an answer to that question. So, naturally, they also couldn’t tell me when those same materials, in a format I could do something useful with, would be in my hands. Awesome. So I’m sitting here, occasionally prodding the college, and occasionally getting a “we’re still waiting” back. It’s next Monday. I have no texts. And I’m supposed to be starting this course. To say this is unpretty is a mild understatement. So I get a hold of the ones actually doing the math course, let them know the story. My start date’s officially on hold until the CSD eventually, uh, wakes up a little. I let the CSD know this, and–you guessed it–they still don’t have an ETA I can hand to anyone in charge of actually getting me into this course.

Actually, they still don’t have much. And cruising into December, that remains the case. So after hearing absolutely nothing from the CSD for nearly a month, and the deadline for applying to the program I’m taking this course to try and get me into being in february, and with the CSD spending the next few weeks primarily–and rightly–concerned with aranging people’s end-of-semester exams, I knew there was no way I was getting anywhere near finishing this mess before I’d be able to start the program next year. So, eating the $10 I paid to apply to the upgrade program, I withdrew, citing CSD issues. That’s fine. I could deal with that. It was only $10, anyway. It more annoyed me than anything else–and it wasn’t even the fault of the ones running the course.

So fast forward to the day before yesterday. I get an email from the CSD saying they were told I’d withdrawn, and they would continue to work on the materials for me in the event I changed my mind. Wanna know what they didn’t tell me? If anyone was even working on what I’d asked them to work on yet. Or, if not, then when. And when the materials I needed so I *could* change my mind would be ready. Or, really, much of anything. I responded to that email, escentially saying as much. And, again, telling them at this point, they were the only thing keeping me out of that course–and the delay in that department was largely administrative. Much as I had before, I got nothing back from the CSD. No appology for taking 4 months to pull their crap together, no indication their crap was even together, no ETA on when their crap would be together. I’m in the same boat with the CSD now as I was at the beginning of November, except now it doesn’t much matter.

Granted it’d been a few years, but when I went to the college before, they were dipped in awesome. Even last year, according to sources, they were still pretty much the definition of awesome. This year, for whatever reason, I have no earthly idea what up and sucked out all that awesome. But in the span of 4 months, my college, or at least my college’s disability department, just quit me. And we didn’t even kiss goodbye.

If you use Network Solutions to host your domain names, here’s a very good reason to stop.

Network Solutions hasn’t been in my top 20 places to send people for geek things for a few years–largely because every so often, they break something so significantly that it tries very hard to take out good portions of the internet. But now, the company’s got themselves in my top 10 places to talk people out of running with. And it’s all because somebody over there decided to fail business 101.

In the website hosting business, there’s two things you need to look after. Paying for your hosting, and unless it’s included (which is more common now than it used to be), paying for your domain name–so people can actually get to where you’ve hosted your site. domain names are usually payd for from anywhere from 1 to as many as 10 years at a time, whereas your hosting package is usually monthly. Here’s the thing, though. Let’s say you’ve got yourself 3 or 4 domain names you’ve registered for this or that project you’re working on. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve got people running their websites off your space and don’t want to be bothered maintaining their own domain names–enter the geek with nothing better to do. So you set up the site, you pick out your domain name, you plop down the usually $10-$20 per year depending on the company and type of domain name, and you pretty much forget it exists until the bill for the next 1, 2, 5 or whatever years comes due. But let’s say, just for the sake of keeping with our hypothetical situation here, you’ve finished your project, or you’ve simply decided to move your personal website to a domain that’s, well, more personal. Either way, you no longer have a use for the domain name, even if you can’t really officially lose it until the registration expires. So it sits there, and you go on about your business–it’ll expire and be done with when it’s done with, right? Wrong. Well, if you’re with Network Solutions, anyway.

Most domain name registrars–the people who actually keep a record of your domain name, who it belongs to, and where you’ve told it to point to–will warn you when your domain’s coming due–the registrar I use (find a nifty little plug for them later in the post) starts poking me about 3 months before the domain expires with a little “Hey bud? You’ve got this thing over here.”. In fact, that reminds me–I need to pay for this domain here shortly, but anyway. Even the ones who let you tell them yes, it’s perfectly okay to automatically renew the registration of those domains (my previous web host let me do that) will still shove warnings under your nose, just in case you’re not using the thing anymore, and/or it completely slipped your mind you’ve registered the domain. Network Solutions? They’ll just bill you. There’s no notification of any kind, no warning, and apparently no off switch for automatic renewal. You just wake up one morning, go scroll your creditcard statement to make sure your monthly subscription to Dropbox went through–you *are* on Dropbox, right?–and wham. Oh, hi, Network Solutions. Fancy meeting you here. It’s more than a little dodgey, and sadly they’re not the only company who does things exactly like that–they’re just the first registrar I’ve heard of doing it. And I’m reminded why automatic access to bank accounts, creditcards, what have you for the most part sends me in the other direction–but that’s another entry for another topic on another day.

If you’re using Network Solutions for anything web or other such geek stuff related, give serious thought to maybe not. And if you’re still not entirely sure, rethink it. Then, pack up what you have, and send your domain names in this direction. I separated my domain’s registration from its hosting a bit over a year ago–which worked out, since the hosting I was using fell through, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve been with my current registrar pretty much problem free since. And yes, I’m pretty sure tomorrow, I’ll be staring at another warning from them that a domain I’m holding onto will expire in 2 weeks–and they won’t sneak it on my creditcard bill. But regardless who you have your domain registered through, it might not aughta be Network Solutions. At least not if you don’t like surprises.

Thanks goes to May for pointing me at this. And much thanks goes to Network Solutions, who once again shows any aspiring business person what exactly not to do. Keep that up and I’ll have to make you your very own category, guys.

Rumour has it Network Solutions offeres hosting as well. If you know anyone hosted through them, feel free to have them get in touch. I’ll help them shuffle domain names around–and, hey, maybe even provide them with a little hosting space. It’s not like I don’t have the room.

California takes a shot at legislating common sense, probably breaks it instead.

Employer-employee relations 101’s first rule of engagement, you’d think, should probably be saying something along the lines of asking for the passwords of potential–or current–employees’ various social networking accounts blows stupid clear out of the water. You’d think. But you’d be wrong, as evidenced by, well, just run a google search for “employer asks for Facebook password” or something along that line. So, because it’s the thing to do these days, California goes and makes a law banning the practice. And, because it’s the common–usually justified (hello, SOPA)–reaction these days, folks are wondering if the law, which is supposed to counteract employers’ tendancy to reach well beyond where they should be, doesn’t perhaps go a little bit too far in the opposite direction.

Now, I agree with the second article in that you really shouldn’t need a law for the sole purpose of telling employers to mind their damn own, at least in the space of personal accounts. And yes, the lines can get significantly blurred if the employee’s been using their personal accounts for things related to and dealing with their employment (I’m looking at you, several people I follow or followed on Twitter). But at the same time, most employers that exercise at least some degree of common sense have either set up an official twitter account that specific employees have access to, or they’ve created accounts for their employees on whichever social networking platforms they plan to be using. Personal accounts, namely those ones that don’t deal primarily with the business, *should* reasonably be off limits. But no one ever said the common employer, or the common government employee, was the reasonable sort–a lesson I learned while dealing with ODSP, who while not my employer still tried their hand at looking for dirt on me, and pretty much anyone else they could find it on last year. And from that tangle of crap comes a law that may or may not provide an employer with a foothold to claim someone’s personal account on some social network is actually a business account, and should therefore be handed over either during that person’s employment or after they leave the company–see: LinkedIn as a perfect example.

Background checks are one thing. Monitoring official communications is one thing. Tracking official customer interaction is one thing. But here’s the big thing. My personal twitter is tied, well, to this site for one. But it’s personal–this is me, without the professional filter for the benefit of public relations. I’ll talk about whatever employment I happen to grab, if I happen to grab. Which means I’ll probably tweet some kind of official material related to the company. I’d do it even if I didn’t work for that company–because it’d be something I have an interest in. But if that employer, either during or after the hiring process, came up to me and told me they wanted my twitter password, or access to this site beyond what they’d get as a typical reader, or even access to the Facebook I pretty much rarely use, what they’d get in return is my two weeks’ notice and a special brand of fuck you. And if they did it as part of the interview process, that’s as far as that interview would go. I’d be out the door, on my way home, and composing a post for this thing over here on why it is you should not work for that company. And the awesome thing? None of that would require a law–especially a law that could potentially give that employer a foothold by saying that because I retweeted, or posted, their official press releases, my accounts are now business accounts.

I get what California’s trying to do. Really. And it’s awesome. But in trying to legislate common sense, I’m not entirely sure they didn’t just break it rather nicely. And that’s not going to do anyone very many favours either.

OC Transpo would like to charge you too much for your on-the-way coffee.

On the face of it, city councillor Diane Deans’s idea to drop a few coffee shops at major transit stops in Ottawa is a good one. I have no idea how many times I’m trying to get to x place, that passes right through y transit station, and my only option for coffee is to duck off to the Timmies or Starbucks down the way and miss the bus I’m trying to catch. Or leave half an hour early and flip a coin if I catch the next one. But here’s a question I wish someone talking to her would ask about this. How in the hell is it she expects your local coffee chain, like a Timmies or a Starbucks, to set up shop at one of those major transit stations, split any money that shop makes with the city, and not jack up the price of coffee–at least at that particular shop–to make up for any shavings off that are heading to the city’s wallet?

She mentions Toronto as an example. And it’s a decent one–if only because the rumour is you can stop at a connection point for a coffee, albeit not a very good one. But toronto is also, still, trying to figure out how not to bleed money out its ear–including insofar as the TTC is concerned. And Ottawa isn’t exactly known for doing things to Toronto’s level, nevermind to the best of its admitedly questionable ability. But come on, now. It’s the private sector, we’re talking about. The city, province or country puts a heel on their finances, the company just shifts it to the folks buying the goods. And since OC Transpo, like the TTC, is having a hell of a time breaking even, you can only imagine the kind of sharing the city wants to engage in–and the kind of price increase we’d be seeing for the convenience.

So yeah, good idea, in theory. In theory, I’d vote for it. As a feel-good money-maker, it works. But from the perspective of the guy what buys the coffee? Yeah, not so fast. starbucks already costs too damn much for a coffee pretty much the same size I can buy at timmies–which borders on costing too damn much. Anything that goes to making it cost that much more? Go that way, please and thanks. Unless Diane Deans knows something I don’t–which, okay, is entirely possible. I mean, she’s a city councillor, so she must know of which she speaks. Oh who am I kidding?

Wanted: employer. Must have: good grasp of English language.

Let’s assume you’re in the market for a job. Let’s also assume you have the qualifications to fill pretty much any position you could lay your hands on. Now let’s also assume an ad like this one rolled across your desk.

.Net Devleopers at Zylog Systems Canada (Ottawa, ON)

Given the above assumptions, would you, a clear thinking, educated, presumedly decently written individual, jump head first into a position overseen by the creator of this ad? If you answered yes to that question, please move to Ottawa and call this company immediately. clearly they need you. If you answered no to that very same question, please immediately move to Ottawa and call this company. Clearly, they need a replacement for the creator of this ad. Things to note, in other ads I’ve seen from this and similar companies:

  • It’s “I’m”, not “Im”. You’re a professional employer, not a 16-year-old texting addict. Similarly, “you” is how the educated say it, not “U”.
  • Do not spend the first 3/4 of the ad asking me if I can answer yes to your 50 questions that feel more like a personality survey than a job ad. Who are you, what do you need, and how can the skills I have help you get there? Two of those questions, you should be answering. That third one? that’s my department.
  • And for the love of cheese, I’ve said this before, do not, as in ever, tell me to send my resume to a hotmail address. That is, unless you’d like me to instead send your job ad to /dev/null–which I’ll gladly do, if you really really would like me to.

I may not possess a university level education, but I’m qualified enough for most things–just as soon as I can put most of those things on paper. Still, if I were qualified for a job like the above, you’d have just turned me off of it. But, thanks for trying. Now, let’s talk bilingualism.

the ford brothers are a step closer to ruining toronto. And it isn’t even because of their policies.

Because not everyone gives a royal anything about what goes on in toronto, you probably missed–or likely didn’t notice– that mayor Rob and councillor doug ford have been on a somewhat ridiculous anti-media bent since, oh, about 3 months after the former was elected. It’s largely been the fords versus the toronto Star, but lately they’ve been expanding. Now, if you ask Doug ford, pretty much anyone in media is a prick. Which, yes, okay, most of them probably can be–especially if they work for the toronto Star and your name happens to be Rob Ford. But, uh, guys? You’re supposed to be, you know, preventing the city of toronto from running full tilt off a fiscal cliff. That does not mean take the wheel instead and run it off a PR cliff. especially if you, oh I dunno, want that self same media to actually cut you a break when you do run something unpopular but still decently inteligent up the flag pole. Oh, and just for reference, if you didn’t mean to offend the self same media you’re eventually going to actually need to find a use for, maybe give not offending them a try. See how that works for ya. In the meantime, nix the public speaking, boys. Or hell, borrow Obama’s teleprompter if resistance is futile. You’ll thank yourselves. Well, okay, maybe not. But I will.

And Canada’s government ups the creap factor. thanks, gov.

email is awesome. I practically live on email. that and RSS–which is where I find most of the mockery. So if someone from the government of canada wanted to give me an idea what their department was up to, and decided to do it through email, I wouldn’t complain. In fact, I’d be pleasantly surprised–mostly because most government officials who happen across this thing tend to rethink communicating with me, lest they wind up part of my collection. However, if they decided to talk to me through email about something because a thinggy in a database I don’t recall adding myself to says I’m interested, I’d get a little tiny bit concerned. Most especially if the person in question is immigration minister Jason Kenny and he’s sending me an email about what they’re doing to help gays and lesbians in another country and I just so happen to actually be gay. I have a lot of respect for what Jason Kenny’s doing. Hell, he’s done more with the immigration file than anyone has in the last several governments–both liberal and conservative–before him. But, um, what? How the hell is this anything but absolutely creapy and crawly and yarf inducing and just WTFOMG no. Seriously, who told anyone remotely close to Jason Kenny that this was a brilliant idea? Better yet, why was that person not promptly fired for such a blatantly not so brilliant idea? Really, you guys. You’re doing a lot of decent things with this country and most of it, for a change, at least doesn’t smell like fluff. Then you go and pull something like this and just… what? I have no idea. I seriously cannot brain on this subject. Guys, you ended up with a majority for at least sounding less crazed than the opposition. Not that it’s stopped the opposition from branding you a bunch of crazed rednecks hell bent on setting Canada on fire or some other damn thing anyway. this upping of the creap factor for no real good reason? Not helping. Knock it off already. We’re kind of running out of somewhat credible alternatives, and with that much nationalist support in Quebec I’d really rather the next election not default to the NDP. Can ya help with that by maybe dropping the creapy? That’d be awesome. Thanks, gov. Appreciated.

Hey Apple? Stop shrinking the SIM already.

Apple has this thing about not playing well with others. It started with the software, then slowly graduated to the hardware. Now, they’ve gone and shrunk the SIM. Again. They invented the micro-SIM. that thing made aranging to make use of phone service, you know, outside of my carrier, a little fun. and now with the iPhone 5–yet another reason not to upgrade to the iPhone 5 just yet, they’ve gone nano-SIM. which means, you guessed it, if you want to even keep the SIM from your old iPhone, you’ll need to do some trimming. And grabbing a SIM from another carrier if you’re, oh we’ll say, hiding out in the states for a few weeks? Yeah, no. Some carriers may not even get the nano-SIM for a few months–especially if they don’t actually sell the iPhone. I get it, Apple–you don’t like to play nice. But really. Enough with the SIM shrinkage. Damn thing’s hard enough not to lose when half awake at half past dark.

Why I don’t miss the NHL this year (Hint: it’s not the players’ fault).

I’m not taking sides in the NHL lockout. As in, at all. As in, ever. As in, I may not even notice if the season actually returns in January. Well, okay, at least until I try to get somewhere in Ottawa and half the damn city shuts down for the evening. But even still, you kind of have to wonder what the hell goes through some owners’ heads during situations like this.

This is the second lockout in a decade. The last one ate the 2004-05 season. During that lockout, it was the fans who pretty much got the shaft. The players still got off pretty damn nicely if you ask me, even after you factor in they didn’t actually get their way. But the sequel? Oh, now the gloves are off. You kind of tend to think that way when you’ve got ownership personnel pretty much admitting they’re out to screw the players.

“The owners can basically be viewed as the ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle,” Devellano, 69, told the Island Sports News.

“The owners own the ranch and allow the players to eat there. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren’t going to let a union push them around. It’s not going to happen.”

And this after the union didn’t exactly push them around in 2004-05. But, hey, at least we know the screws are in for this round. Ah, but the 6 of you who’ll still actually watch the games don’t need to worry. They’re not aiming to screw you. Just the players. Feel better yet? Yeah, me either. Hey, Bettman? How’s about taking that $250000 fine you just yanked and putting it towards a tiny little decrease in the price of tickets? Yeah, was worth a shot. When’s baseball come back, again?

texting while driving goes from illegal, to confusing and illegal, in California.

Texting while driving is one of those things I’ve ranted on here about before. Namely, yes you’re probably stupid for doing it, but not as stupid as the ones making it illegal. Mostly, because you can’t actually legislate common sense. but, also, because really, the idiots more likely to not pay attention to the road because they’re texting or talking on the phone are the same idiots who won’t pay attention to the road because they’re talking to the guy or girl beside them, or flipping stations on the radio, or, hell, just being an outright tool–and we’ve yet to outlaw those things. But now, in California, they’ve decided just making it illegal isn’t good enough. So they’ve made it confusing as hell instead.

Now, it’s legal to text while driving–if, and only if, the texting while driving is done completely hands free. Meaning dictation software is perfectly okay. Which, yeah, okay, makes sense. So you could use, for example, Siri to send a text to your girlfriend to have her meet you outside because you’re a block away, right? Well, uh, rather, um, no not really.

On Friday, after much head-scratching and acknowledging nobody in Miller’s office owns a Siri-equipped iPhone 4S, the assemblyman’s aides concluded it will still be illegal to use your actual phone to text behind the wheel — even by speaking the message directly into Siri.

The California Highway Patrol confirms that just the act of turning on the phone or selecting the phone’s hands-free text app, like pushing the Siri button or Google apps on Android phones, is enough to warrant flashing lights in your rearview mirror and a $100-plus ticket. The same thing goes for using your phone to read texts.

“The phone can’t be in your hands,” said CHP spokeswoman Jaime Coffee. “Hands-free is the key.”

So it’s now legal to text someone as long as you do it hands free in California. But the act of slapping the phone in hands free mode (activating Siri) so you can actually send that hands free text? Yeah, pull over. There really aughta be a law against tools in the legislature.

Guest Post: Ottawa vs. Petawawa SPCA

The following is a cross-post from the Awesome Wonky Lynx. Click over to her site for more, and potentially related. Or not. whichever.

Looking to adopt an animal? Want to add a new four legged friend to your household and thinking the SPCA is the best way to go?

Well, do not go through the SPCA in Ottawa they are more for talking you out of adopting than working with you to find that best match. They have a questionnaire you must fill out and they claim it’s only to get to know you and make sure you know what you’re looking for in a pet.

James and I have been trying to adopt a dog through the SPCA in Ottawa since the end of August and we’ve had nothing but fights with them. Any time we found a dog that would match us and call them about each dog they argued with us about how the dog wouldn’t fit in. For example, this dog loves to bark and wouldn’t be good for apartments, bu hey we told them time and time again that our apartment is cool with dogs and there’s loads of them around and they all bark including the one we already have.Example 2, this dog doesn’t do that well with kids, but hey, that’s ok too since right now we don’t have kids so it’s something that we can work on. That way in the future and the dog is a little older being around kids won’t matter. How about this one, this dog hasn’t been trained at all and you guys said you don’t want to do training. No no you nits, we said we are quite flexible when it comes to training depending on the dog.

So that questionnaire that is suppose to be just a guide line for the Ottawa SPCA, yeah, they lie. They use it to keep telling you no no no that won’t work. We’ll call you when a dog comes up or keep looking on the site and let us know when you see another one.

After doing that 6 times and getting the same results the Ottawa SPCA can go fly a kite.

Now, here’s the awesome thing. James and I are in Petawawa this weekend to do the whole Thanksgiving thing with the parents. We walked into the SPCA here this morning and found a very beautiful girl named Nova. We had a look at her, played with her a bit in the yard, got to know what she’s like and how she may act at first and that was that. On Sunday we take Noah to meet Nova and since I’m pretty sure all will go well there our new girl comes home with us then.

So once again if you’re looking to adopt a pet go anywhere but the SPCA in Ottawa.

Cat

In which Ottawa’s taxi system takes a page from the obscure.

Because of, uh, the nature of me, occasionally taking cabs is kind of a fact of life. Particularly when talking about not knowing exactly where you’re going after you, for instance, get yourself off the bus and pick a random direction. So to avoid a migraine, it’s taxi time. May and I took that route when we decided an evening for dinner would be the thing to do. Getting to the restaurant, no problem whatsoever. Getting back, though? If ever there was a set perfectly fit for a taxi related soap opera, we were sitting in it.

We called for Blueline Taxi, as the usual routine goes. Made the arangements to get us home, and all was well. A car showed up, dropped someone off. We hopped in, fully intending on taking that car back to our place. And we very well would have, but then that would completely and totally have ruined our cab opera and well, we can’t have that.

We just started pulling out of the parking lot, and didn’t get more than maybe 5 feet into it, when another cab pulled in beside us. He rolled down his window, and that’s about when the drama started. A little background, for clarity’s sake. Apparently, there’s a law on the books–an actual, honest to goodness city bylaw–that allows a driver to charge another with stealing his fare. It comes complete with a $25 fine and has apparently been on the books for damn near on 50 years. Also note this is the first I’ve heard of it and, well, I’ve been around the city a few dozen times.

So both cars are now sitting in the parking lot, windows rolled down. The other driver, we’ll call him Tool, is just having a gay old time calling our driver, we’ll call him Clue, out for stealing his fare. He must have spent a good 5 minutes going on about how he was asigned our call and we had to go with him. We argued. Clue argued. Repeatedly. The vehicle we were sitting in showed up first, and that’s the one we were fine with taking. But Tool wouldn’t hear it. He kept repeating how Clue was stealing his fare and he’d be calling to complain about it, yada yada blah. Eventually, we ended up switching vehicles. Partly because it was just getting ridiculous and we were really hoping to be well on our way home by now, and partly because, hey, it’d shut Tool up. Or so we thought. This is why I’m not allowed to think, you see.

Most of the way home was taken up with much of the same argument. Him explaining, yet again, that he couldn’t let Clue take his fare, and how that was his call and we were supposed to have waited for him. We, again, explained that we didn’t give a rat’s ass which vehicle took us home. Clue showed up first, so that’s who got our money. Had Tool, you know, not been a tool and showed up first, he’d of gotten our money and there’d have been no issue whatsoever. And the circle repeats. Eventually, we decide this is just getting absolutely headache inducing. We drop it, pay the tool, get ourselves inside. I called and started things rolling in the complaints department, which eventually lead to me finding out about that obscure Ottawa bylaw.

According to this bylaw, if you call a cab, you are actually supposed to wait for the vehicle specificly asigned to you to come and collect you, whether it takes 15 minutes or half an hour. Anyone else who collects you, whether they offer or you ask (for the record, we asked), opens them up to a charge of stealing the asigned driver’s fare. That charge can hit a driver for $25. Or, in simpler terms, more than what either driver was going to get paid for taking us home in the first damn place. I’d say I’m switching companies effective, uh, immediately, but since this is apparently an Ottawa thing, that won’t make much difference. But the way Tool handled himself, let’s just say switching companies still crossed my mind. And all because of a very obscure, little known and apparently little enforced city bylaw from 50 years ago. Okay, that, and a highly unprofessional tool.

Conservatives don’t actually get the tech they’re regulating. But you knew this already, right?

I’ll be the first to say there’s a few things the conservatives have done that I openly agree with–immigration reform, anyone? But there’s an equal number, at least, that make me wanna scratch my head. Or beat someone else’s. The copyright bill up here has pretty much already been dealt with, but I still find it interesting that not very many people picked up on parliamentary secretary Dean Del Mastro’s complete and utter technostupidity. According to him, and presumedly most of the rest of the party (Tony Clement used to be against it, as did James Moore–probably why they suddenly don’t have a whole lot to do with this bill now), buying a CD with the intention of putting it on your iPod or other such technothinggy is the equivalent of buying socks and intending to steal shoes.

It’s like going to a clothing store and buying a pair of socks, and going back and saying ‘By the way, it wasn’t socks I needed, what I really wanted was shoes, so I’m just going to take these — I’m going to ‘format shift’ from socks to shoes — and I’m not going to pay anything because it was all for my feet.'”

I can’t even wrap my head around where a comparison like that even comes into play. That would be like going into a store, buying a Celine Dion CD (I know, I know, but bare with me), then going back and saying “I actually wanted the titanic movie, so excuse me. I’ll just walk off with it.”. Except, uh, no one’s saying that either. It’s like I’ve been saying for ever, and ever, and ever, and ever. You buy a thing once. It’s yours to do with as you please, or so the rule’s supposed to go. That can and should include backing it up on your computer. Or putting it on your iThing so you’re not hauling the CD with you to and from work. Or, hell, copying it to another CD for those people who still insist on hauling the CD back and forth to work–so you don’t, you know, go and lose the original. In dean del Mastroland, that’s exactly like walking out with the titanic movie for the price of a Celine CD. Which is exactly what no one, legally or otherwise, is trying to do here. Ah, but you don’t get to play spokesman for a bill like this if you can actually, you know, use your head.

Related: I wonder how many songs dean Del Mastro’s iPod or equivalent has that maybe he aught not to, by his own logic. Just sayin’.