Thinking About the Internet (TVO Search Engine)

Posted: October 25th, 2011 | Author: | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Search Engine has been one of my favourite podcasts (since back in its CBC days). I like the new videos highlighting their guests. If you’re reading this, you should also have a listen to an episode of the show: here

Mixing politics and art, Canadian style

Posted: October 20th, 2011 | Author: | Tags: , | No Comments »

Rumi ensemble concert
A while ago, I went to a Iranian classical music concert in Toronto. The event was very well organized and the attendance was impressive. After the usual delay in the start of the show we were informed that the Minister of Immigration was going to open the ceremonies and was running late.

Eventually the Minister walks in, hands the artist a couple of memorabilia (which probably ruined the artists planned entrance at the show) and walks right out.

Here’s what I find odd: In Canada, arts is the domain of the Ministry of Heritage and having the head of the department who has nothing to do with arts (but everything with bringing immigrants into this country) smells of political games. Second, if we assume that the minister was genuinely interested his walking out of the concert hall immediately after presenting the award makes me feel even more like they were just playing to get the immigrant vote.

As if to prove my point, the same minister is on a media blitz promoting any art form that has an audience of immigrants.

Note:I wrote the post at the start of September, but never got around to posting it. The timing of the various appearances makes more sense back in September.

My Whereabouts According to iPhone

Posted: April 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Two researchers recently unveiled something interesting regarding Apple’s iPhones. It turns out that at around the same time as iOS 4 was released, iPhones started to collect users’ location data. There’s been a lot of talk about what this means to the average user and I definitely recommend reading them.

I couldn’t pass up a chance to see what my own location data looked like and I used the tool developed by the researchers to do so. Below is all my activity on the island of MontrĂ©al and vicinity in the past 1 year. One noticeable thing is that it looks like I haven’t ventured east of the island!
iPhone Tracker Map

Comparing that to my Foursquare checkins over the past year there’s an obvious similarity.
Foursquare Heatmap

The interesting thing here is that it’s always fun – and sometimes useful – to look back at where you’ve been in the past year; like Gina Trapani mentions here. The only challenge now is to make this data safe, and only accessible to users who opt-in to have their data recorded and not everyone.

A sign that apple blew it by not supporting flash

Posted: March 30th, 2011 | Author: | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Is when a non-techie person sees the new, fancy ipad and immediately realizes that web browsing on it is crippled because you can’t go to all sites on the net. For a company who focuses on the user experience, I think they missed the mark there. Not having Flash on a phone may not be a big deal but for tablet devices it really means they are not replacements for laptops (or other forms of computers).

Music Copyrights on YouTube

Posted: February 12th, 2011 | Author: | Tags: , , | No Comments »

youtube and copyright

A while ago I made a couple of slideshows along with music using the excellent site animoto, and made the videos available to family and friends. I decided to move these videos to YouTube using their export option, and got a little surprise from YouTube. They had analyzed the audio tracks in my videos using their content id system and found two of them to have copyrighted tracks.

So what did it mean? The first copyright notice kindly informed me that

Your video, FRIENDS , may include content that is owned or administered by these entities:

  • Entity: Sony Music Entertainment Content Type: Sound Recording

As a result, your video is blocked in these locations:

  • Germany

What should I do?

No action is required on your part. Your video is still available everywhere not listed above. In some cases ads may appear next to your video.

No big deal so far, except for the ads that they’d be putting on my personal videos.

The next video had a more serious issue; the audio was blocked on it. Thanks to the folks at WMG, I was unable to share a personal video with family and friends.

About a month and a half later, now the copyright notice says:

No action is required on your part. Your video is still available worldwide. In some cases ads may appear next to your video.

What is wrong with this picture? Copyright has gone so far that I cannot make “mixtapes” for my family anymore. They reach in and block the audio (or the entire video). And in the case of the second video, they suddenly change their minds and allow the audio. So what are my options here as a consumer, someone who has bought these tracks and then decided to use it for personal purposes? I am left with YouTube that automatically decides what I’m doing is copyright infringement without considering the context. There’s no recourse for me. Even their dispute page strongly discourages users from disputing by saying

There are very few valid reasons for disputing a claim. Please review the information below, because submitting an invalid dispute could result in penalties against your account.

It looks like the ideals of internet and business realities are butting heads. YouTube wants to be the medium where people share videos – some commercial, some very private – yet they haven’t been able to find a balance in enforcing the current copyright laws. Of course, the real reason behind this silliness is current copyright laws but legislation is always very slow to catch up to technology. In the meantime I’ll have to look elsewhere for sharing my videos with family and friends.