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shadowspar: Stamp image: paper airplane with caption "Par Avion" (par avion)
Friday, September 18th, 2015 23:24
Things I've learned: even though we've been "All up" -- everything gets sent by air mail -- for longer than I've been alive, Canada's International Letter-post Items Regulations still mandate that all letters and postcards posted in Canada for delivery outside Canada bear the words AIR MAIL and PAR AVION. (Handwritten in bold capital letters in blue or black, or by affixing an Airmail etiquette, to be specific.)
shadowspar: Picture of Kurama lashing out with a rose whip (kurama - rose whip)
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 23:30

This...just...I don't even know where to start with this. And it's not even something horrible, it's...well...I'll just tell the story.

Anyway, this guy apparently had a buddy blow his mind with a "fucking brilliant" vacation responder. Go check it out, then come back.

Apparently "off the grid" means something radically different to me than it means to them, because here an "I'm off the grid" vacation message would look more like

Hi. I'm currently out of the office for an off-the-grid vacation in Lake Superior Provincial Park. If you have a really, truly urgent matter that needs an immediate response from me, you are out of luck, because there's not a chance in hell that I'm going to have any kind of usable cellphone signal where I am. Knowing this, if you still need to get a hold of me, you are going to have to come up with something damn good -- good enough to convince the park rangers to tramp several dozen kilometers through the wilderness after me and pull me out of the bush. Good luck! Cheers, Rick

To be clear, I don't think that Kopelman or Feld are somehow wrong or outlandish; I'm glad they have their autoresponder and it works for them. They just live in a very, very different world from the one in which I reside.

shadowspar: Picture of Kurama lashing out with a rose whip (kurama - rose whip)
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 01:14

What have we learned tonight, my friends? That you can be the only Government in a Westminster Parliament ever censured for Contempt of Parliament, that you can defend to the death Ministers who lie and present misleading documents to the House, that you can refuse to disclose the costs of your most expensive and controversial programs, that you can run the most secretive Government in memory, prevent Canadians from criticizing their Prime Minister, refuse to answer their questions, scorn our Constitution and Charter, and in return, you will be rewarded not just by being sent back to Ottawa, but returned there with a majority government.

At least there are a few bright spots. The NDP took a record number of seats, forming the Official Opposition for the first time, though they won't have much in the way of leverage faced up against a majority Government. Elizabeth May won her seat in the House, a fact about which I am thrilled. She's extremely intelligent and articulate, and is easily the party leader for whom I have the most respect.

Time to cross our fingers and see what happens in the next four years. Believe me when I say I'll be remembering which of the local pundits were stumping for the Conservatives when we see policy changes coming down the pipes. If worse comes to worse, as I fear it will, I suppose civil disobedience is the silver lining to the cloud of Conservative rule.

shadowspar: Picture of Rick holding a can of blue Jolt soda (jolt!)
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 00:41

What a clusterfuck telecom regulation in this country is. It's more apparent this past week than most.

First, and most noisily, was the blow-up over UBB (usage-based billing). Somehow, the CRTC thought it would be just fine if the Huge Incumbent Telco ISPs could impose data caps and per-gigabyte billing on the small independent ISPs that use the incumbents' last mile to deliver internet access. This lead to an online outcry of epic proportions, which admittedly somewhat mystifies me, given that some 96% of internet-using Canadians are customers of the Huge Incumbent Telcos and so already have data caps and UBB.

This was followed on by the Federal Court ruling that Wind Mobile's ownership structure doesn't meet the Canadian ownership requirements for a telecom company, giving them 45 days to either become adequately Canadian or pull the plug on their upstart mobile network. Wind, the most promising of the wireless startups to come out of the last spectrum auction, has the majority of its debt held by Orascom, an Egyptian multinational. Having bought the requisite spectrum, Wind's application to start offering mobile phone service was rejected by the CRTC, but the government intervened to "vary" the Commission's ruling, permitting Wind to begin operations. Now, 14 months and better than 140,000 subscribers later, the only mobile phone company that poses a credible threat to the usurious cellphone rates of the incumbents has had the rug yanked out from under them.

Canada's telecom sector closely resembles its banking industry -- dominated by several huge, well-heeled incumbents which form a de-facto cartel. None of them are interested in disturbing the status quo, much preferring to enjoy raking in profits through extortionate rates that consumers must pay if they are to participate fully in modern society. The notion of substantial foreign ownership of our telecom sector doesn't exactly fill me with glee, but it might be preferable to the stifling lack of competition that currently exists.

Innovation, in both the mobile and internet spaces, depends on having adequately fast and reasonably-priced network access. Until independent ISPs have their own last mile and can bring their services directly to the consumers, and until independent cellphone companies manage to get a toehold and can stand up against the incumbents, the ability of Canadians to use the cutting-edge applications of both technologies will continue to lag. And until we have some real alternatives to the incumbents in our telecom offerings, we'll continue to get screwed.