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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘internet

[LINK] “TV subscriber losses increased last year and will keep growing, report says”

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CBC’s Pete Evans reports on the accelerating collapse of traditional television and telephone service, as streaming media and cell phones take over.

The Convergence Consulting Group says about 95,000 fewer households had a cable TV or satellite subscription in 2014. That’s a huge increase in TV subscriber losses from 13,000 the previous year. But it’s less than the 97,000 the consultancy forecasts will cut the cord in 2015.

Between 2007 and 2011, cable subscriptions grew by about 220,000 per year.

But today, more and more Canadian households don’t have a conventional TV subscription. The report says the number of Canadian households that did not have a traditional linear TV subscription grew by 163,000 in 2013, another 240,000 last year and are that figure is poised to increase by 242,000 this year.

Brahm Eiley, president of Toronto-based firm that completed the study, said many of those customers are turning to Netflix. He estimates the streaming service ended last year with 3.9 million Canadian subscribers, up from three million the year before.

[. . .]

Television isn’t the only cord that Canadians are cutting. The report also shows Canadians are ditching their home phone lines at an escalating pace. By the end of 2015, the authors expect 31 per cent of Canadians will have no land-line telephone, and will instead only have one or multiple cellphones for their telecommunications needs.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 10:28 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Anthropology.net notes the discovery of some Neanderthal skeletons showing signs of having had the flesh carved off of them.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the messages carried by the New Horizon probe.
  • Crooked Timber makes the case for the continued relevance of Bob Marley.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at recurrent streams on Mars carved by perchlorate-laced water.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh argues that Spain is still digging out of the long crisis.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the story of a Louisiana trans man fired from his job for not detransitioning.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that China is not really a revisionist power.
  • Justin Petrone looks at ways in which young Estonian children are demonstrating and developing a fear of Russia.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the failure of the Dragon rocket.
  • Towleroad notes that the Russian-language version of Siri is quite homophobic.
  • Understanding Society looks at the criticial realist social theory of Frédéric Vandenberghe.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at trends in violence in the North Caucasus and warns of Central Asian alienation from Russia.

[ISL] “PEI denies breach of contract, conspiracy claims in eGaming lawsuit”

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While Prince Edward Island seems to be doing somewhat better than the other two Maritime provinces, it still faces challenges. This report in The Globe and Mail by Robyn Doolittle and Jane Taber, about the aftermath of a failed effort to launch Prince Edward Island as a site for online gambling, describes one.

PEI has denied it conspired to undermine the economic interests of a U.S.-based technology company that was involved in the province’s ill-fated attempt to become an international online gambling hub.

Capital Markets Technologies filed a $25-million lawsuit last week alleging breach of contract and conspiracy. The lawsuit was filed three days after Premier Wade MacLauchlan launched an election campaign in which the failed eGaming initiative has figured prominently. On Monday, Conservative Leader Rob Lantz called on the province to release all documents related to the venture.

Earlier this year, The Globe and Mail reported on a covert plan to transform Canada’s smallest province into a global eGaming capital. The story revealed lax oversight and weak conflict-of-interest rules that enabled government officials to invest personally in companies that were working on the project.

Only hours after the 55-page claim was filed, the government released its statement of defence denying all the allegations, none of which have been proven in court.

[. . .]

The lawsuit named the province and several current and former government officials, including recently resigned finance minister Wes Sheridan and former premier Robert Ghiz’s one-time chief of staff Chris LeClair.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 14, 2015 at 10:26 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • At Acts of Minor Treason, Andrew Barton is very unhappy with the misuse of the Hugo Award.
  • Anthropology.net notes that DNA has been retrieved from an ancient and mostly fossilized Neanderthal fossil.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the early history of the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the controversies over religious liberty.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze considers how extraterrestrial life can be detected through disequilibria in exoplanet atmosphere and notes the recent Alpha Centauri B study.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that by 2018 a laser will be deployed on a drone.
  • Geocurrents shares slides from a recent lecture on Yemen.
  • Language Hat examines the Yiddish word “khnyok”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the Republican race.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the unpopularity of political jobs among young Americans.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes SpaceX’s problem with retrieving the first stages of its rockets.
  • Torontoist looks at beekeeping in Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes a Kickstarter fundraiser for Emil Cohen’s photos of queer life in Providence.
  • Transit Toronto notes the expansion of free WiFi throughout the subway system.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that divorce papers can be served via Facebook if it is the most practical alternative.
  • Window on Eurasia fears a summertime Russian attack on Ukraine, notes Russian fears of rebellion at home, and looks at Russian Internet censorship.
  • The World’s Gideon Rachman wonders if the Greek demand for Second World War reparations will bring the Eurozone crisis to a head.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the essential lack of difference on government spending between Labour and the Tories and looks at flawed computer databases.

[LINK] “A Beginner’s Guide to More Mindful Media Consumption”

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On Medium, Steve Rubel makes recommendations as to how consumers of online media can best find useful things.

In a digital environment there are arguably only three pathways to news: direct engagement, referrals via search engines and serendipitous discovery through social media.

In the case of direct engagement, you are in 100% control of where you focus your attention. You decide what news apps to download, what sites to bookmark and what email newsletters and podcasts are worth subscribing to. And it’s relatively easy to opt out.

In the case of search, you are partially in control. Once you enter your keywords, a highly tuned algorithm that is backed by 20 years of data and a relentless focus on quality strips out most of the junk and delivers relevant results. (Garbage in, can result in garbage out however.)

With social media, it can be a different story. You only have two choices — who to friend/follow and what to click. Then content finds you through the lens of your friends. This human aspect can greatly influence what news makes it into your feed. Quality can vary based on the social network, the device, the time of day, your friends, your previous clicks and more.

All three have merits but what they deliver can differ vastly. (Our research reveals that search trumps all when it comes to the public’s trust.)

Much more at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 6, 2015 at 9:54 pm

[OBSCURA] One photo and some links on the cherry blossoms of Japan

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The above photo by Reuters’ Thomas Peter fronted a CBC feature article that reminded me the cherry blossoms are blooming in Japan.

Japan International has a nice page up including a map featuring predictions for the first cherry blossoms in different cities. In Niigata, on the Sea of Japan shore of northern Honshu, the first cherry blossoms were predicted to bloom yesterday. Subtropical Okinawa saw its flowers bloom in January, while Sapporo with its Canadian-like climate will see its cherry blossoms at the end of the month.

PRI featured an article (<u<"The 99,000 cherry trees Japan planted to salve the sorrow of a tsunami") an article describing how one Japanese town hit by the 2011 community has embarked on a campaign to plant cherry trees as a sign of hope and healing.

Cherry blossom season has once again returned to Japan. While the arrival of the delicate pink flowers means social media is filling up with some incredibly beautiful photos, the bloom also represents a chance to reflect, hope, dream, and come to terms with loss.

In Iwaki, the project, called Iwaki Manbon Sakura (which roughly translates as “10,000 Cherry Tress of Iwaki”) represents just this.

Iwaki is a little more than 30 miles south of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex. The community was stricken not only by the massive tsunami that struck Japan’s Pacific coast following a massive earthquake in March 2011, but also by the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant, about 30 miles away.

As part of the Iwaki Manbon Sakura Project, to mark the fourth anniversary of the massive disaster, 99,000 cherry trees have been planted on a hill overlooking the city. Tadashige Shiga, whose company helps sponsor the project explains:

“The effects of the March 2011 disaster have left a pall of sadness here. So let’s do something to fix that! Every year the cherry trees blossom. So let’s give kids 20 years from now, 30 years from now something to look upon when they gaze up at the mountain slopes above Iwaki. Even if for some reason no one can live in Iwaki, we can still express the love we all feel for our city for all time, and we can do that by planting cherry trees.”

The idea is that cherry trees and their spring blossoms will be able to soothe some of the memories of terror and sadness caused by the 2011 tragedy.

There are many wonderful photos there, too.

PC World notes the many apps created to support cherry blossom visits.

uch is the country’s passion for cherry blossoms, known as “sakura,” that the state-run Japan Meteorological Agency once deployed a supercomputer that crunched temperature, elevation and other data to predict when and where they begin and peak. Articles still discuss the agency’s mathematical equations to predict the pink explosions.

The agency provided cherry blossom forecasts for over half a century, based on sample trees and historical records, but stopped in 2009 to focus on other services. Since then, companies have stepped in with forecasts of their own and now compete to produce the best smartphone apps for timing hanami.

One of the latest is a crowdsourced feature called Sakura Channel, part of the popular Weathernews Touch app for iOS and Android, which has been downloaded 13 million times. It provides forecasts, based on user reports, for when cherry blossoms will bloom at 700 famous viewing locations across Japan. Users can see hanami calendars and get alerts about when their favorite groves of cherry trees will burst into pink-white flowers.

They can also choose from preferences such as public parks, cherry-lined roads and spots known for nighttime revelry under the boughs. A “sakura simulator” shows a low-res view of pink petals gradually taking over cities such as Tokyo as users click through the calendar from late March through early April, the usual season for sakura.

The Telegraph warns that aging trees and the effects of climate change and pollution are threatening the future of Tokyo’s cherry blossoms.

Already threatened by rising temperatures and pollution in cities that have combined to reduce the number of flowers, the iconic cherry blossoms are also falling victim to time.

Planted in huge numbers in the decades after air raids devastated large parts of Tokyo and other cities, cherry trees usually live about 60 years before they fall prey to disease or they become too large for their roots.

A survey conducted in 2013 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government showed that 44,000 cherry trees dot the city. But an increasing number are ailing and need to be cut down, meaning that entire groves of trees that add a dash of pink to the unrelenting grey of Japan’s cities may disappear.

“Cherry trees usually live about 60 years so the ones we have in Tokyo are getting too big, are contracting diseases and are shedding branches,” Kiroyuki Wada, a spokesman for the Japan Tree Doctors’ Association, told The Telegraph.

The Wall Street Journal has a video report on the growing number of tourists visiting Japan to see the blossoms.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 3, 2015 at 8:14 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams examines different ways in which starships can decelerate.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the potential habitability of exomoons orbiting bright white main-sequence stars, between F5 and F9.5. Ultraviolet radiation is key.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a Chinese ASAT weapons test.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the Swedish language now has officially added the gender-neutral pronoun hen to its vocabulary.
  • Language Hat notes an ambitious new project to digitize ancient Irish-language documents.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is critical of the Democratic Party’s stance on abortion when it gets in the way of necessary policy, likening it to the Republican Party’s ongoing satisfaction of its base.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the final interesting weeks of Messenger‘s survey of Mercury, with photos.
  • Peter Rukavina remembers when in 1995 he was commissioned by the government of Prince Edward Island to set up a provincial website.
  • Torontoist reacts with humour to the impending merger of Postmedia and Sun Media.
  • Towleroad notes a lawsuit brought by a Michigan women against her former gym for being too trans-friendly.
  • Understanding Society examines the mechanisms connecting experiments with policies.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues against mandatory voting and mandatory jury service.
  • Window on Eurasia observes a controversial election among Moldova’s Gagauz and looks at the extent to which Islam in Russia is not under the government’s control.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell goes on at length about the ridiculous Biryani project, a failed dirty tricks effort to sabotage the English Defense League and radical Muslims. Wow.
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