About the CRTC’s Campaign Trail Fodder for Northern Conservative Candidates

The CRTC did this morning what federal bureaucracies will do when they’re feeling their oats and issued a stern-sounding press release with a grand title (CRTC lowering rates for Internet services in northern Canada) but little real substance.

Instead, the government regulator outlined some half measures that will have very limited impact beyond handing northern Conservative candidates a pitch-perfect campaign trail boast: “Harper’s Conservatives lowered internet rates in the North!” Decide for yourself where that statement manifests within a politician’s fifty shades of brown.

Really, the CRTC just swung a Nerf bat in the general direction of northern Canada’s monopoly telecommunications utility, then shook its fist in the air menacingly… and walked away. Continue reading

About Yukon’s fine tradition of driving drunk

Yukon doesn’t lead in a lot of areas, but there’s one where we excel: Yukoners proudly consume alcohol at almost double the average rate of our country, which is itself a global vanguard in boozing it up.

And considering how essential the automobile is for getting around up here, this morning’s CBC article confirmed some feelings I already had about impaired driving in Canada. Continue reading

About Transferring Files Between Cloud Storage Services

If you store a lot of files in the cloud using services like Dropbox and OneDrive, then you know what a hassle it can be to move your stuff between them, especially when it’s en masse. You have to download it all from Dropbox, say, to your PC or Mac, then upload it all to OneDrive. This is not only a time-wasting hassle, but it can be expensive if you have limited bandwidth available to you and get penalized for over use, as I do.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it that way. There are services available that offer direct transfers of files between cloud storage services. And, oddly, some are free.

I’ve found two companies that enable you to move full directories, or “folders,” of files between service providers: Mover and MultCloud. Of the two, Mover is more robust and better designed. It offers a free tier of service with some limitations for personal use, and paid tiers for businesses with multiple users or lots of data. MultCloud is totally free and, as far as I can tell, unlimited for any type of use. The only drawback to MultCloud is that the user interface isn’t quite as well designed.

Both companies basically let you set up large file transfers between cloud services, then close your browser and walk away. None of your bandwidth is used and the transfer takes places directly between the cloud services without your involvement. You just get an email when it’s all done.

If you want to transfer individual files back and forth between service providers on the fly, JoliCloud offers that service for a fee of about $7 a month. JoliCloud doesn’t permit full directory transfers, though, just files.

It’s worth mentioning that JoliCloud has a free tier of service that’s pretty useful, too. It lets you “manage your digital life” by consolidating all your social media and cloud accounts in one browser window. That way you can browse and manage them all simultaneously.

Many of us have been hesitant about storing too much stuff in the cloud for fear of being trapped with one service provider. It’s expensive and time consuming to move files back and forth from your devices to the cloud. So it’s nice to see this “cloud migration” industry mature, enabling us to simply move stuff around up there.

Essential Functionality in OS X Photos: Data Throttling

I’ll state this one plainly: the single most essential feature of the new Photos app in Apple’s Mac OS X is data throttling. That is, Apple absolutely must give us the ability to control how heavily our internet connections are used – and abused – by the app as it transfers photos and videos between our devices and the cloud.

Apple’s current standard photo app, iPhoto, is a data brute. Immediately after photos are imported into its library, it consumes all available internet bandwidth in a gross, clumsy effort to upload those photos into the iCloud Photo Stream. It’s ugly. More importantly, though, it can be very expensive. Continue reading

Samsung SmartTV an ‘absurd’ privacy intruder, Ann Cavoukian says

Samsung SmartTV an ‘absurd’ privacy intruder, Ann Cavoukian says

I was speaking to a group of seniors a little while back about just this issue. The “Internet of Things” is a growing industrial movement with limited practical utility and an undefined demand from consumers. More and more devices that we bring into our lives can track, watch, listen to and monitor us, yet we don’t know why and we don’t know what happens to the information they collect. Intended to seem intelligent by being responsive to our most natural methods of communication, it turns out that their “smart” qualities are really about surveillance (case in point: Amazon’s Echo). More often that not, they’re so badly designed (I’m looking at the Microsoft Kinect perched atop my TV as I write this) that they really offer us no usefulness at all and are instead just great data harvesters. The “Internet of Things” is a classic example of the tech industry putting the cart before the horse. We’d all do well to exercise caution with these so-called “smart” devices that are a thread in the “Internet of Things” mesh before that horse drives that cart over us in its blindness.

On Getting Satellite TV

Last week I ordered satellite TV from Shaw Direct. My household has been without either cable or satellite service for at least 5 years. I thought I’d left those old media platforms behind.

So what gives? I’ve always ranted against time-based, force-fed, commercial-ridden entertainment programming. But that’s not why I ordered satellite TV.

I’m actually trying to maximize my financial expenditures, by shifting my household’s on-demand media consumption away from internet. Continue reading

5 Reasons Not to Store iPhoto Libraries on Dropbox

It’s been quite an annoying experience, these last few weeks with Dropbox. The ubiquitous desktop app literally brought my shiny new MacBook Pro to its knees. Like some evil slave driver, it forced the device to run its noisy fan endlessly. It sucked the battery dry in a mere hour or two. Yes, Dropbox, that angelic little menu bar item that sits there so innocently, seemingly so idle, was actually a succubus, draining my Mac of all its vitality.

Before I knew that Dropbox was to blame, though, I was quite put out with Apple. Here I had just bought this glorious new top-of-the-line MacBook Pro, this powerhouse, this Goliath, with the promised longevity of Ron Jeremy and the might of Arnie himself. Instead, what I seemed to have bought into was a washed-up old windbag that tired at the sight of my fingers approaching its keyboard, its underside searing hot with the exhaustion of its CPU.

But all was not as it seemed… Continue reading