privacy

Stop the Meter and Stop the Spying bill

Open Media has petitions on at the moment to Stop the Metering of our internet.  The companies that own the cable networks that we have previously been watching are worried that they are going to lose that revenue stream as more and more people watch content on their computers.  With movies online, YouTube and music, more and more people aren’t even subscribing to cable any longer.

Here is a video that explains it better than I can.

 

 

 

Another contentious bill that will be debated and voted on when Parliament goes back in session (after their long summer holiday) is

an invasive, anti-Internet set of “Lawful Access” electronic surveillance laws within the first 100 days of Parliament. If passed, these laws will turn Internet service providers (ISPs) against their own customers by making them collect our personal information without court oversight.

go to rabble.ca to read more

Not only is this scary for our privacy and civil liberties, this will force a lot of smaller Internet Providers out of business because of the cost of putting the software in place to collect the information needed.

Open Media is asking us to sign their petition about this as well.  Both of these initiatives have long reaching implications for all of us.  We already have one of the most expensive internet systems in the world, and these two initiatives will make us even more expensive and our use of it even more limited.

 

Compare between 350 indie ISPs at CanadianISP.com, and show Big Telecom that you’re not buying!

 

Email Etiquette

Millions of emails are sent every day, and sometimes it feels like we are getting all of them!  If you want to annoy your friends less, here are a few ways to make sending emails to your friends a less stressful event for both them and yourself!

 

  1. File sizes.  If you are sending images to people of your dog, cat or your latest artwork, don’t forget that some people are still on dial up and it takes a long time to download each attachment they receive.  Photos or other files shouldn’t be any larger than 500kb if you can help it, and if you reduce an image to 72dpi (dots per inch) and 6 x 8″ in size, it will often be under 100KB.  Most camera programs will allow you to resize your images.  If they are only for your friends to look at and not print, then 72dpi is fine to look at on your screen. And if you are in the position that one email seems to be blocking the rest from coming through, you can go to www.mail2web.com and type in your email address and password and see all of your emails that are still on your ISP’s server and look at and delete the offending email.  Nothing worse than spending half an hour downloading something only to find out it was a silly movie that you didn’t want anyway!
  2. Sending to groups of people.  Do you get emails from your friends that include 300 email addresses that you have to scroll through to get to the point of the message?  Isn’t it annoying?  It can also be dangerous if you or your friends get a virus, it can spread to all those people as well, not to mention that your email address is now broadcast to all and sundry.  It is always best when sending an email to lots of people to put your own email address in the To: section, and all of the other emails in the BCC (Blind carbon copy) section.  You can get to the BCC by clicking on the CC in your emails if you use Outlook Express.  In a lot of mail programs you can also organize your friends and families into groups so you can click on a group and it sends to all in the group at once.  But still send them as a blind carbon copy.
  3. Dire warnings!  I have to say that the Neiman Marcus store never billed any woman $500 for a cookie recipe, the police won’t come if you put your pin number in backwards (you’ll just get shot for your trouble) and Bill Gates is definitely not going to give any of us money by sending on a message.  If you get an email about some virus warning or other, the best thing to do is to google the main idea of it.  For example put in pin number + reverse and you will get up pages with the helpful names like urbanlegends.about.com and snopes.com.  These two websites have information that debunk all of these emails that seem to last for years!  It’s an easy way to see if the email warning is for real and save thousands of emails being sent out as a result of you blindly sending it to all of your friends. Plus, some of those sites are pretty funny reading!
  4. Finally, the jokes, and those emails that are the equivalent of the chain letter.  You know, the one that if you don’t send it on to six more people you will have bad luck/you won’t get good luck/you may die etc.  They are just annoying.  If you get one just delete it.  I’m pretty sure your friends will thank you for not sending it on to them, I know I will!

Attaching the attachments

Do you ever do this? You write a long email to someone explaining something and then say that you are going to attach something and totally forget to do it? Yep, me all the time. I’m sure I have hundreds of emails that say “oops” in the title.

Today I was emailing someone via Gmail and said I’m attaching a spreadsheet to show you my figures and clicked on send, and instead of me just sending it and getting a message from someone later saying “Where was the attachment?” instead, I got a message saying “your message mentioned that you were sending an attachment, but you haven’t, do you still want to send the message?” I was amazed!

I didn’t know whether to be thrilled that things are so smart that they are reminding me of things I should do, or that they have put phrases into their coding to search for things that you may write in your emails. I know when I use Gmail that the sponsored ads at the right of the mail always sort of correspond to the subject (sometimes with hilarious result) but I didn’t really think about how much they are reading. What they say is true, nothing on the internet is truly private, so we need to always keep that in mind.

Good thing my email wasn’t something more sinister, the message may have said “we think you are a lunatic, we are calling the police now, are you sure you want to send that message?”

Be afraid, be very afraid

I have noticed that there is a lot of interest in the sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and it grows even bigger. I find it funny that even though I am computer savvy and enjoy my work, I can’t drum up any interest it these social networking sites. It’s hard to get excited with the idea that people you left behind in high school can now look you up and revisit your past. I have friends that are addicted to their Facebook pages to the detriment of the relationships in the here and now.

But the other thing I worry about is privacy. Especially since I appear to have a stalker. It’s a bit sad, but this person seems to search the web looking for items about me. I’m not particularly interesting, nor am I famous, but it is scary to know that someone can find out information about you that you have thought was fairly private and safe.

And I am glad that I don’t subscribe to Facebook, or Twitter to people about the boring details of my day. And if I want to find out what my friends are doing, I call them up and ask them!

That doesn’t mean I don’t like the technology that we have to keep in touch. Far from it. We are able to talk often to our relatives in Scotland and London easily and it is just like the cartoon family the Jetsons portrayed that we can view them smiling at the same time!

Just remember that everything you write on Facebook and sites that are similar are read by more people than you think. Students going for jobs have their sites looked at by more than their friends; a young man who was about to be sentenced and was portrayed as full of remorse for his drunk driving was pictured on his page, drunk and partying with his friends just prior to being sentenced! No remorse shown there, but who would have thought that a prosecutor would have been looking at that page!

Two weeks after Joshua Lipton was charged in a drunk driving case, the college junior attended a Halloween party dressed as a prisoner, with the words ‘jail bird’ on his costume. Not surprisingly, his prosecutor was able to obtain photos of him at the party that were posted on Facebook, and claimed he was an ‘unrepentant partier who lived it up while his victim recovered in the hospital.’ The photos were presented in a slideshow, with one of them showing Lipton holding a can of Red Bull in one hand, and an arm draped around a girl bearing sorority letters. The judge agreed with the prosecutor, and changed Lipton’s sentence to two years in prison. The article also cites other instances of people getting harsher sentences from pictures of them posted online.

So apart from behaving yourself, which is always a good idea, it is best not to leave a trail of things you would rather people not know about you. It takes a long time for that information to disappear even after you have deleted it.

It is also likely a good idea to change your passwords on accounts you have such as email, banking etc. as well as being careful what you write in blogs such as this, and the social networking pages. You never know who is reading or looking over your shoulder.

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