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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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