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News > Per­son­al

The Sea-Change at YouTube

It’s time we had a con­ver­sa­tion about cen­sor­ship.

Recent­ly a mass exo­dus of major adver­tis­ers occurred at YouTube, which has since caused the ecosys­tem of that plat­form to fall into dis­ar­ray. As not­ed by both YouTu­bers and main­stream media out­lets alike, the pre­cip­i­tat­ing event seems to have been a small num­ber of gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate ads appear­ing along­side racist hate videos on a very small num­ber of chan­nels. The issue was brought to the atten­tion of gov­ern­ments and cor­po­ra­tions in a high pro­file man­ner, and from there, indus­try brass decid­ed to pull all adver­tis­ing off the YouTube plat­form, cit­ing the desire to not be asso­ci­at­ed with harm­ful con­tent.

As var­i­ous media out­lets have report­ed, it’s an odd nar­ra­tive to fol­low giv­en the fact this prob­lem has exist­ed for many, many years. Until the mid­dle of 2016, it’s been an issue that’s rarely made the news. Fur­ther­more, despite the his­tor­i­cal efforts made by media com­pa­nies (espe­cial­ly Google) to stamp out racist and oth­er extrem­ist con­tent, the issue remains dif­fi­cult to address owing to the sheer vol­ume of data being uploaded at any giv­en time.

In Youtube’s case, at least 300 hours of video is uploaded each minute (though some put that num­ber as high as 400 hrs/min). If we go with the low­est esti­mate, that’s still 18,000 hours of video in an hour, 432,000 hours of video in a day, or 12.96 mil­lion hours in a 30-day month. These num­bers are def­i­nite­ly not in Google’s favour, and despite valiant efforts to screen user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent, Inter­net media com­pa­nies as a rule tend to be faced with a nev­er-end­ing, uphill bat­tle when it comes to man­ag­ing these enor­mous vol­umes of user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent.

Sim­i­lar to the ongo­ing sit­u­a­tion at Face­book (and its impli­ca­tions for that network’s 1.2 bil­lion dai­ly users), the logis­tics are impos­si­ble when it comes to set­ting up a pure­ly human inter­ven­tion as a solu­tion to harm­ful con­tent. There’s no prac­ti­cal way for Google, or any ultra high vol­ume media com­pa­ny for that mat­ter, to retain suf­fi­cient human staffing in order to indi­vid­u­al­ly review each piece of user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent that comes in the door. As a result, indus­try stan­dard prac­tices include the use of soft­ware algo­rithms as gate­keep­ers and the automa­tion of most issues relat­ed to pol­i­cy enforce­ment and con­tent man­age­ment.

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First Photo Trip of 2016

I’m not sure how the rest of my read­ers have been far­ing, but here in my city we’re ful­ly into spring, and there are lots of beau­ti­ful places to vis­it as the lands (and their inhab­i­tants) wake from sea­son­al slum­ber.

This Tues­day I went for an after­noon bike ride around the city, even­tu­al­ly mak­ing my way through Ross Bay Ceme­tery and Bea­con Hill Park. I fig­ured I’d post a few of the high­lights here. Please excuse the crap­tas­tic mobile phone image qual­i­ty, I’ll have to make it a point some­time this year to get a prop­er cam­era and do these right.  ;)

More to come as the weath­er warms up!

Spring blossoms! Also, the back end of a bee. Spring blossoms. Of endless seas, and boundless skies ... Shoreline view taken from the Beacon Hill waterfront trail. A long abandoned, undisturbed gave in Ross Bay Cemetery.

Also, I updat­ed the lay­out con­fig­u­ra­tion files for this site ear­li­er in the week. I don’t think there will be any glitch­es as a result of this, but in the off chance my read­ers see any­thing weird hap­pen, I’d wel­come a bug report via the con­tact page.

Build­ing a web­site is a learn­ing expe­ri­ence, and an ever-expand­ing con­struc­tion project, and I’m plan­ning to become much more involved with it this year.

Reading 2.0 and the Ultimate E-Book Toolkit (Calibre)

As a child of the orig­i­nal ‘Inter­net gen­er­a­tion,’ I’ve long felt blessed and grate­ful for the trans­for­ma­tions that have come about in the wake of the per­son­al com­put­ing rev­o­lu­tion. It’s changed the way we com­mu­ni­cate, the way we share infor­ma­tion, the way we store our things, and the way we think.

There’s always been some­thing very beau­ti­ful about the inti­mate enmesh­ment of phys­i­cal essence and tech­nol­o­gy. The tighter that bond becomes, the more we become able to tran­scend our own nat­ur­al lim­its. If not also in name and appear­ance by this time, I’d argue we are at least the first cyborgs in spir­it, aug­ment­ing our liv­ing bod­ies with tire­less elec­tron­ics and high-pow­ered micro­proces­sors, hold­ing a uni­verse-with­in-a-uni­verse between our quiv­er­ing fin­ger­tips.

Back in the day, a lot of peo­ple used to talk about device con­ver­gence, a point at which all (or most) user needs could be met by the capa­bil­i­ties of a sin­gle mul­ti-pur­pose plat­form. There were numer­ous exper­i­ments tried and failed over the years to find that ide­al­ized, com­fort­able sense of mass appeal, rang­ing from the launch of WebTV to installing hard disks into game con­soles, but despite all of this, the true killer app came only when the com­put­ing indus­try final­ly set its sights on the ordi­nary mobile cel­lu­lar phone and said, “Let’s make this bet­ter.”

Ka-boom.

And so the sec­ond rev­o­lu­tion of our gen­er­a­tion began.

Nowa­days, it’s almost abnor­mal to meet any­one on the streets who isn’t cart­ing around a three-by-sev­en-inch smart­phone (or tablet) with pow­er and endurance rival­ing that of many net­books and low­er-end lap­tops. With boosts in porta­bil­i­ty and bat­tery life, more stor­age, mul­ti-core pro­cess­ing, wide­spread open-source devel­op­ment, and easy cloud inte­gra­tion, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. Much like the change in our own des­tiny, aug­men­ta­tion of our phones has hit a point where it’s trans­formed them into some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent, and made them part of a greater force in the realm of cul­tur­al design and social func­tion.

And while we use these devices for a mul­ti­tude of every­day tasks, one of the more sub­tle ones that’s tak­en hold is read­ing for busi­ness and plea­sure. It’s long been obvi­ous, ever since cyber­space gained mass appeal, that one of the more hot­ly debat­ed issues would remain the divide between read­ing from phys­i­cal media ver­sus read­ing from dig­i­tal. The e-book trend is in an upward swing, a lot of read­ers have trad­ed in their cum­ber­some dead-tree-for­mat for some­thing that slips more eas­i­ly into a data card, and these changes have many more ques­tion­ing the direc­tion in which these changes might take us.

First off, I don’t care much for the pol­i­tics, and I’m not here to preach. The views on elec­tron­ic read­ing are as var­ied and numer­ous as there are peo­ple who read. Some like to keep their dis­tance and feel that e-read­ers are infe­ri­or and a betray­al of a whole­some pas­time. Oth­ers strike vary­ing shades of bal­ance between the use of dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal for­mats. Still oth­ers are at a point where they’ve either swung firm­ly toward car­ry­ing out an even­tu­al migra­tion to dig­i­tal or have already arrived there.

Per­son­al­ly, I’m flex­i­ble when it comes to my books. I have a lot of paper, in spite of every­thing else in my life being almost entire­ly dig­i­tal. I also have a lot of books in dig­i­tal for­mat. So, when­ev­er I want to indulge in a sto­ry, I go with what’s con­ve­nient and feels good that day.

The take-home les­son here is, “you do you.” Work with what makes you hap­py. Work with what you feel works best for the cir­cum­stances. The ONLY thing you need to care about at the end of the day is that what you’re doing keeps you read­ing and keeps you feel­ing joy from your pas­time.

Books are a price­less tool to hone the intel­lect and give wings to our imag­i­na­tions. There’s a lot we could do that’s far worse than con­sum­ing them reg­u­lar­ly (and eager­ly) in dig­i­tal form.

On that note, I’m going to share one more tool that might be of inter­est to any­one who’s dip­ping their toes into the e-read­ing pool. Cal­i­bre is an e-book sys­tem that’s total­ly free, has no ads or spy­ware, and pret­ty much does every­thing you could ever ask for in an e-book soft­ware pack­age. I’ve been using mine to con­vert between EPUB and PDF for­mats; as long as a user under­stands basic typog­ra­phy, this pro­gram is a dream to work with. Cal­i­bre makes it ridicu­lous­ly easy to cre­ate out­put files that are re-flowed and set for the screen size of one’s read­er.

Also, huge kudos go to Mor­ri for gift­ing me with the old Black­ber­ry Play­book that became my mobile library. I love so much of what we share, inter­est-wise and oth­er­wise … and this BB made for such an awe­some DIY hack, and even more fun after the fact. I can slip this thing into a purse or coat pock­et and just run out the door, and not have to wor­ry about cart­ing around 50 pounds of books. (I know I’ve already thanked you pro­fuse­ly IRL, but cred­it is due in cyber­space too!)

So long sto­ry short … if you’re an avid read­er, check out Cal­i­bre, it’s one of the few appli­ca­tions I’ve encoun­tered that’s prob­a­bly worth your time.

Now … pick up a book and read, dammit!  :)

<3

(NSFW) Followup: SWAT Standoff at East Burnside & Carroll on 2014-08-09

Short­ly after one o’clock on Sat­ur­day morn­ing, offi­cers from the Vic­to­ria and Saanich police depart­ments attend­ed reports of a naked and pos­si­bly armed man scream­ing at res­i­dents and run­ning the across rooftops of sev­er­al busi­ness­es near the inter­sec­tion at East Burn­side and Car­roll. The man was first spot­ted hold­ing what two bystanders believed was a large kitchen knife, lat­er revealed in video footage to be noth­ing more than a rolled-up T-shirt.

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On the death of Robin Williams (and celebrity deaths in general)

I wasn’t plan­ning to post any­thing today, at least, until I real­ized I prob­a­bly owe my friends and read­ers an expla­na­tion about why I don’t tend to mark the occa­sions of celebri­ty deaths. It’s some­thing I’ve most­ly tak­en for grant­ed, but on the flip side, I’m not sure if it’s some­thing those around me under­stand that well since I haven’t opened up too much about it.

So, here’s my expla­na­tion in a (very large) nut­shell:

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Raccoon Rumble

Ear­li­er this week, I came home from work late one night only to bear wit­ness to one of the most amaz­ing spec­ta­cles I’ve seen in a long time: a fam­i­ly of rac­coons out on the town for a night of fun and may­hem.

At first I noticed a noise in one of the bush­es out­side my house, and when this prompt­ed me to take a look, I quick­ly dis­cov­ered a pair of adult rac­coons wrestling one anoth­er in the midst of a large mud pud­dle in a near­by vacant lot. Hav­ing real­ized they were being watched, they quick­ly broke it up and went back to scav­eng­ing for food.

It wasn’t long before they were at it again, this time in a tree! A round of loud chit­ter­ing and squeal­ing broke the silence, this time going on for quite some time, so I grabbed my cam­era and flash­light and head­ed for the source of the noise. What fol­lowed are two of the most fas­ci­nat­ing videos I’ve cap­tured in ages.

I should also add that despite my first impres­sions, the rac­coons’ actions seem to con­vey some­thing more along the lines of horse­play, play-fight­ing, or at most, estab­lish­ing the peck­ing order. These lit­tle guys don’t seem to be caus­ing each oth­er any harm, but damn can they crank up the vol­ume!

This has been one of the many rea­sons I love Vic­to­ria: the wildlife is extreme­ly abun­dant here, and if you look hard enough, there’s always some­thing cool going on.

No.

(Lyrics for this song can be found here.)

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Moar kitteh.

For any­one who’s ever won­dered what kind of cat I live with, here are a cou­ple of moments in a typ­i­cal day:

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She loves to curl up in bed at night …

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Oth­er times, Clover sur­pris­es me when I get home after work. These are the new hair­ball elim­i­na­tion treats we’ve been test­ing. As you can see, THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS … so much so that she can’t wait for me to bring out the bag, so she tried to open it her­self!

Foamy’s Return

Spring is here … and with that, so is my squir­rel! Today I final­ly caught some good snap­shots of her eat­ing the food that the birds left on the ground. She’s also grown quite a bit since last autumn.

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There are also some tell-tale signs that she may not be alone any longer, but may in fact be nurs­ing a lit­ter of babies (look at the third pic­ture and note the dis­tend­ed nip­ples). With that in mind I’ll be keep­ing an eye out for the lit­tle ones, too, once they arrive.

I’m going to have an over­load of cute­ness in my back yard this sum­mer!

Opening Week at Beacon Hill Park

Now here’s some­thing to cel­e­brate … as of Fri­day, the pet­ting zoo opened its gates to the pub­lic for this sea­son. Yes­ter­day, I was in the area and so was able to catch the tail end of the day’s events (sans goats since as I was too busy explor­ing at the time to keep snap­ping pic­tures). Then, all of a sud­den, I found myself at the fringes of the lines for the goat stam­pede as clos­ing time hit. So while it was a bit of a short day, I had a great time out there and can’t wait to see more as the year goes on. The new baby goats should be out soon, too — as of yes­ter­day, they were still hud­dled in heaps under their heat lamps in the barn.

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Geology Tour of lower Victoria and Sooke

For some years now, I’d been long­ing to go on a fresh adven­ture and take a geol­o­gy tour in an inter­est­ing place. Last week­end I was final­ly able to go, thanks to a friend who invit­ed me along on one of theirs. We end­ed up explor­ing a swath of land across the low­er Vic­to­ria region, which encom­pass­es an unusu­al vari­ety of meta­mor­phic rock that’s been through not one but three sep­a­rate sub­duc­tion cycles over the course of its life­time. Besides this we also looked at var­i­ous basaltic pil­low lavas and stra­ta along the coast­line, some con­glom­er­ates, and some bare­ly devel­oped sand­stones.

The views were stun­ning, and the mer­ci­less lash­ings of the wind and rain left us with an after­noon to remem­ber — I went home wet, as did quite a few of the oth­ers. Over­all, the day was a good expe­ri­ence, for despite the rain leav­ing us wet the wel­come enlight­en­ment by our sur­round­ings cre­at­ed its own kind of sub­tle joy with­in the psy­che.

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My kitteh says BLEEEEEEEH!

Clover sticking out her tongue

Clover stick­ing out her tongue

In oth­er words, it’s time to test out the CMS, get things going, and start get­ting some con­tent uploaded!

So it begins.

Firedance!

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I was using sparklers for this shot, some­thing that was beau­ti­ful­ly cap­tured by the cam­era as the time lapse went on. In the future, I’d like to end up doing some trick shots using steel wool, fire poi, and oth­er mate­ri­als for bet­ter effect. There is also a back­lit beach fire scene I have in mind that would be fun to assem­ble some­day (but it’s total­ly going to take sev­er­al peo­ple to cre­ate it).

On the sub­ject of steel wool time lapse pho­tos, this video by anoth­er YouTu­ber explains the process in depth (along with the oblig­a­tory fiery eye can­dy):

State of the Domain

First off, to any­one that sent me an e-mail over the past month, it seems that a few were eat­en by the serv­er between main­te­nance cycles. Appar­ent­ly there was a spool­ing error which has since been sort­ed out, so if you didn’t receive a response, please re-send as need­ed!

And now for some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent … pho­tos of the ongo­ing jour­ney, and some thoughts on the future of this domain.

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New Horizons

I’ve final­ly moved to the coast!

I’ll give the long ver­sion of things in a moment, but first, here’s a roundup of some of the high­lights on the road to my new home:

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And now, my tale in a nut­shell …

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