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In lieu of a real sunset, Fairview improvises

A Fairview alley by the light of a setting Subaru.

A Fairview alley by the light of a setting Subaru.

It had to happen and heaven knows that the living things in Vancouver needed it but it’s a shock all the same. The rain has come and sadly and inevitably, extinguished our summer of fiery sunsets.

Has the wet stuff settled in for the season? Oh, I sure hope not. It’s too sudden.

We need the curtains of cloud to pull back at least long enough to allow the sun one last blazing encore; a final bow,as it were, before the gray gloom of fall and winter finally closes around the city like a cold wet blanket.

Please! Click the image to enlarge it.

A little rain can’t make up for two months of drought

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One of two “fountains” again running 24-7 on West Broadway.

On my way westward on Monday morning (August 31), as the rain was pouring down, I noticed that two water fountains flanking the entrance to the office building at 1177 West Broadway Avenue were back up and running. And 12 hours later, on my way eastward at 11 p.m. both fountains were still running (some six hours after the building had closed for the night).

Some people in Vancouver, such as the managers of the aforementioned Clairmont Building (namely Broadway Properties Ltd.), may think that Monday’s heavy rain (and the prospect of a few days more) marks the end of water conservation but it doesn’t.

Rain or no rain, Stage 3 lawn sprinkling restrictions are still in effect across Metro Vancouver and Stage 3 clearly calls for all public and commercial fountains and water features to be shut off! Read more…

Does Big Brother really know where I am?

Where Google thinks I am: Queen Mary Road, Montréal, Quebec.

Where Google places me right now: Queen Mary Road in Montréal, Quebec.

At this very moment, as I sit in a McDonald’s in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Google thinks that I’m sitting somewhere in Quebec.

In fact, Google Maps tells me that the exact address of my Wi-Fi connection is 5265 Chemin Queen Mary, Montréal, QC H3W 1Y3, Canada — latitude: 45.4841, longitude: -73.62889999999999.

Which is to say that just because Google can see everything that we do, doesn’t actually mean that it has very good eyesight.

Read more…

Oh говно! Semalt is back

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Well I see that the spamming Russian website Semalt has managed to sneak back into my blog traffic statistics under “Referrers” — not using its actual name, of course, but the generic alias: “video–production.com”.

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Oh yes, this one is certainly spam!

Clicking on the harmless-looking referrer link takes you to the latest incarnation of Semalt — not flogging search engine optimization this time, but rather offering cheap video production.

Money up front, of course!

How it works: first they take your money. -- Semalt

How it works: first they take your money. — Semalt

But new business model aside, it’s still the same old Semalt referrer link spam — a trick that became so much of a problem for bloggers over a year and a half ago that WordPress.com was forced to create a new feature just to block it. Read more…

Something the Virginia shootings taught me — turn off autoplay in Twitter

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Adam Ward and Alison Parker, who’s murders Wednesday, in Roanake, Virginia, USA, were unwittingly seen by millions on social media. — WDBJ7

The murders of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward yesterday (August 26, 2015) in Roanoke, Virginia, while they were broadcasting an interview on the southwest Virginia CBS TV affiliate WDBJ7, were made all the more shocking by the way that the alleged killer, a disgruntled ex-TV station employee, co-opted social media in order to trick the world into watching his hateful act.

It was too easy; all he had to do was take the first-person video that he recorded as he committed the killings and upload it to his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Then he was free to go off and reportedly commit suicide, leaving who knows how many other social media users to do his dirty work for him.

Within minutes of the alleged killer posting his first-person shooter-style video to Facebook and Twitter, both services had disabled his accounts — Twitter reportedly did so in only eight minutes. But minutes are hours on social media and an untold number of Facebook and Twitter users — many of them media outlets — had time to reblog and retweet the video into their accounts and thus into the feeds of all their followers.

Twitter and Facebook both set all videos to play automatically — if they turn up in your feed, you can hardly help but watch them — so potentially millions of social media users were forced to watch the video, either because they followed one of the many people and media outlets which reblogged the video, or (in my case) they clicked on the #VirginiaShooting search hashtag in a tweet.

Read more…

Google thinks globally but a B.C. court orders it to act locally

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Lawyers for Google were in a Vancouver courtroom two months ago, on June 11, 2015, to hear a B.C. Court of Appeal uphold a sweeping 2014 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that ordered Google to block all search results relating to the illegal commercial activities of a former B.C. tech company.

While Google had voluntarily agreed to block results from certain page URLs on the Google Canada web domain (.ca), the 2014 court order called for search results to be blocked on a long list of websites across all of Google’s search domains (including .com).

Google’s lawyers sought to overturn the 2014 court order on jurisdictional grounds, arguing that the B.C. Supreme Court had exceeded its territorial reach and anyway, British Columbia law didn’t apply to Google because it was a U.S. company with no physical presence in the province.

But the three Justices of the B.C. Court of Appeal unanimously agreed with the B.C. Supreme court and upheld the 2014 global site-blocking order against Google.

What influence it may have in other jurisdictions is questionable but there’s no doubt that the British Columbia ruling strikes directly at one of Google’s greatest fears — that it’s global cloud-based advertising business could be brought down, like the giant Gulliver was by the Lilliputians, and tied up in innumerable local legal squabbles. Read more…

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