Bill C-11 Committee Review Concludes: What Happened and What Comes Next

Basically the Harper government has scrapped the gun registry in favour of an iPod registry! It won’t be long before anyone with an MP3 player, a PVR, or other moden electronic device (pretty much everyone) is violating the copyright laws in Canada. We’ll see how aggressively our entertainment industry pursues their new powers over our freedoms. Before this law Canada had the lowest rates of piracy in the western world. This law will make criminals of us all and finally justify the entertainment industry’s demand that we buy more CD’s (and tapes, and eight-track cassettes).

Source: Michael Geist

Cross-posted on 2FatDads

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The cultural divide on data protection – USA vs EU

“The cloud” is in these days, everything has to be “in the cloud” or “come from the cloud.” Apple even has an iCloud so you know that cloud is uber-cool when that happens. But somewhere along the way there’s a few physical servers storing all that data. And they’re physically in a country, maintained and operated by a company, comprised of human beings, and subject the laws of the land. As mundane as it may sound, have you asked yourself “where is my data stored? And am I really okay with that?” For example, a Canadian using Mint.com’s Canadian edition is sending all his financial information the USA – he has absolutely no protection from Canadian privacy or banking laws and is totally exposed to the PATRIOT act and other US laws! Not to mention violating the customer agreement with their bank.

Source: Cloud Ave

Image courtesy of Blame it on the Voices.

Cross-posted on 2FatDads

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE Review

This review was made possible with the generous support of Pop Radiator!

This weekend I had the opportunity to play with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 with LTE. It’s a great Android Honeycomb tablet with connectivity every where you go thanks to the LTE radio.

I only had the tablet for the weekend, and quite a busy weekend, but I managed to try a few things out. Of course my wife and I checked our e-mail (Hotmail and GMail) and browsed the web (including some Flash), of course we played some a lot of Solitaire, did some navigation, and to see how well LTE was working ran Speed Test on a regular basis.

Screen size

The 8.9 inch screen size is a bit smaller than most Android tablets, that typically have a 10.1 inch screens (except the Sony Tablet S with its 9.4 inch screen size). The iPad has a 9.7 inch screen. The screen is big enough for all the things I wanted to do, and there’s about a one-inch bezel around the screen that makes it easy to hold.

In a few instances though I found that holding the screen in portrait mode was preferable because it meant no up-and-down scrolling, but then the size of the text and images was almost too small to be comfortable. Given the choice I think I would prefer a 10.1 inch tablet for that reason.

Flash

There’s a few web sites I use regularly that depend on Flash for their RIA. In general Flash works very well, and every Flash test site I tried said the Flash plug-in I had was 100% compatible. But in reality the few sites where I absolutely require Flash the experience was not impressive. It probably wasn’t Adobe’s fault, more likely the widgets the web sites choose don’t support a touch interface too well (too small a target area, or too many too close together).

Web services need to move beyond Flash and develop either native apps or build better HTML5 mobile web sites.

Phone vs. Tablet apps

Two of the apps I installed were designed for phones with a smaller screen rather than a tablet with a higher resolution. One simply centered itself in the middle of the screen, which was fine but a bit disappointing that the extra real estate wasn’t used to provide more information. The other app stretched itself out to fill the whole screen, but ended up looking pixelated.

In the end I guess each developer decides how they handle different screen sizes. Apple went through the same growing pains when they introduced the iPad. Hopefully Google their developers over this hump quickly.

LTE

Long Term Evolution or LTE is the next standard that mobile operators are moving towards. Most of the networks are still on HSPA or HSPA+. The promise of these standards is high speed internet access anywhere, from 21 Mpbs up to 75 Mbps for LTE. The reality is about one tenth of that!

I ran SpeedTest.net’s app on a few occasions to see what kind of though put I was getting. I check if I was using LTE or HSPA, but the results are still useful to see how prevalent LTE really is.

Test Connection Download Upload Latency Server
9 Lte 7.56 7.38 29 Mount Royal, QC
8 Lte 9.46 0.91 31 Mount Royal, QC
7 Umts 8.06 2.61 33 Mount Royal, QC
6 Umts 6.20 1.50 52 Montreal, QC
5 Umts 4.09 0.28 60 Boucherville
4 Umts 3.51 0.66 71 Mount Royal, QC
3 Umts 3.00 1.35 59 Mount Royal, QC
2 Umts 6.32 2.99 89 Mount Royal, QC
1 Umts 4.90 1.41 58 Washington, DC
Average   5.90 2.12 54  
Average LTE   8.51 4.15 30  
Average UMTS   5.15 1.54 60  

Note: Download and Upload speeds in Mbps, Latency in milliseconds

As you can see I never achieved the 75 Mbps promise of LTE that the device an theoretically handle. I never achieved the maximum speed promised by any of the standards, but I was happy to beat the HSPA expected average of 3.5 Mbps.

Navigation

Just for the heck of it, I pulled up the Navigation app on the tablet on our way to Sugaring Off. I also had the TomTom VIA 1435 going as well as the Navigation app on my Android Gingerbread phone. In terms of directions all three were spot-on and pretty much in sync – although the three-way spoken directions got annoying pretty fast.

The coolest thing about the navigation app on the tablet is how much more on either side of the route you can see. This is especially great when navigating around town and making frequent turns, you can see much more of the upcoming route and prepare yourself for the next few turns.

The biggest problem I had with navigating with the Tab is the glossy screen makes it very reflective. And on a sunny day it can make it almost impossible to see what’s on the screen. The other problem is the interface isn’t designed for the rapid jabbing a driver usually subjects his GPS to with one hand while driving 120 km/h with one hand on the wheel!

Conclusion

The tablet is a great size, much more useful than a 7-inch tablet but not quite as unwieldy as a 10-inch tablet. The rubberized back makes holding it comfortable and secure. The wireless network access means you make full use of it where ever your are, but the promise of LTE speeds falls back on your provider but the tablet is ready as soon as your network is.

See my complete Weekend with a Samsung Tab 8.9 LTE tablet photo gallery.

Cross-posted on 2FatDads

Stuff I read this week, March 5th to 11th 2012

My favourite articles of the week:

Cross-posted on 2FatDads

Balanced Copyright Law in Canada, Bill C-11

Copyright reform is a never ending saga in Canada. Well, saga might be a generous description. The current Conservative government is making another attempt right now with Bill C-11. Currently it is in committee for review, mainly because reviewing it in parliament makes it obvious how contentious the new bill is and the extent to which it divides individual Canadian’s expectations from the demands of a select few industries.

Open Media has run several on-line campaigns opposing the draconian clauses that make most of what we do daily with our PVRs, iPods, and other devices totally illegal and punishable by a $5,000 fine per infringement (if a song costs 99c on iTunes why should have to pay $5,000 if I a rip a copy from a CD I already own?!).

Michael Geist, the pre-eminent law scholar at Ottawa University has also debunked a lot of the industry driven demands. Demands that exist only to prop up two out-dated business models: selling movies, music, books, and other entertainment locked in to one media; and of course lobbying.

Michael’s blog today encourages us all to speak out and contact the committee members so they know exactly how Canadians feel. We may not be filling their campaign war chests or offering them lucrative jobs when they leave politics; but we are the ones who go to the polls every four years (or less these days) and elect them to the jobs they’re currently being over-paid for!

Here’s what I had said to them:

Good morning…

I just want to express my concern about C-11 and the demands of certain industries that would harm Canadians and Canada’s reputation. I am not a criminal, a pervert, or a free-loader. And I resent any law that automatically treats all Canadians as such.

The demands of the entertainment industry to support their outdated business model must be ignored.

The demands of foreign gouvernments at the behest of their own industry lobbyists must be ignored.

Protecting Canadians from being the pawns of in-fighting industries and of draconian censorship demands is paramount.

Removing barriers that prevent Canadians from embracing new technology, innovating, and participating is essential.

Please, do the right thing for all Canadians. Do not do what a few select elite are paid to ask you to do.

Thanks,

The committe members include the following MP’s:

  • Christian.paradis@parl.gc.ca
  • James.moore@parl.gc.ca
  • Dean.delmastro@parl.gc.ca
  • Mike.lake@parl.gc.ca
  • Phil.mccoleman@parl.gc.ca
  • Peter.braid@parl.gc.ca
  • Rob.moore@parl.gc.ca
  • Scott.armstrong@parl.gc.ca
  • Paul.calandra@parl.gc.ca
  • Glenn.thibeault@parl.gc.ca
  • Charlie.angus@parl.gc.ca
  • Tyrone.Benskin@parl.gc.ca
  • Pierre.Nantel@parl.gc.ca
  • Pierre.DionneLabelle@parl.gc.ca
  • Andrew.Cash@parl.gc.ca
  • Geoff.regan@parl.gc.ca

You should also include your local MP in any e-mail to the committee.

Again: click HERE to send an e-mail to all the committee members; and CC your local MP.

Remember: copyright reform is boring, and copyright law is even more boring – until you’re looking down the double-barrelled shot-gun of a lawsuit because you ripped a few episodes of Dora the Explorer to your iPad!

Cross-posted on 2FatDads at Balanced Copyright Law in Canada, Bill C-11

TomTom Via 1435 TM review

This boxing day I headed out for a bit of toy shopping. It has been long time since I’ve been out on Boxing Day, shopping on-line is so much more convenient. I couldn’t believe people still line-up hours before the stores open (well, except at Reno Depot) and the line at Future Shop went around the parking lot.

What surprised me most was the number of people lining up to buy a Playbook! The only thing different was the size of the ads proclaiming the low price that had been in effect since September. And I bet all those people were smacking themselves when the price dropped another $100 a month later!

After wandering around Future Shop and not really seeing what all the fuss was about I stumbled upon the GPS display. There were a few models at 40% to 60% off; and I know from reading the TomTom Go 720 vs Garmin nüvi 255 that the TomTom was the way to go. The first salesperson to show-up simply opened the case and handed me the GPS I was in front of. The second salesperson actually asked a few questions and answered a few of mine.

Ultimately I ended buying a TomTom Via 1435 TM. It features a 4.3″ touch screen, blue tooth, lifetime traffic and maps updates.

Wide Screen

The 4.3″ screen on the VIA 1435 makes a huge difference. The route information is clearly displayed and there’s still lots of space for the other touch controls. It’s easy select the buttons and move around the screen, especially in the menus and when typing on the on-screen keyboard.

Voice Input

This is the only downside to the unit I’ve found so-far. Trying to use voice commands to enter an address is an exercise in frustration. Especially since street names here in Quebec are often a mix of English and French words. So far I haven’t been able to enter a single address properly by voice.

The unit can also connect to your phone via Bluetooth for hands-free calling. The connection and sound quality is pretty good

Lane View

This is the coolest feature, and one that drew me to the TomTom. More than once on a road trip we’ve had a GPS that has give us ambiguous directions at a highway exit or merge. With Lane View the GPS switches to a view of the lanes and puts a red arrow in the lane we’re supposed to be in. It’s not a photographic reproduction of what the road ahead looks like but it’s close enough so you know which direction you’re supposed to be going.

Home Software

The MyTomTom Home software is available for Windows and Mac OS X. There’s not much to say, it gets the job done. But hey TomTom, let’s see a Linux version!

In Conclusion

The VIA 1435 TM is a great GPS, that really takes advantage of the larger screen. The life time maps are going help the GPS keep it’s usefulness over time; and the traffic updates are really handy. The voice input is less useful where the street names are regularly in multiple languages but I’m sure it will be useful on our travels.

Cross-posted on 2FatDads at TomTom Via 1435 TM review