A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Friday, January 6, 2017

CRTC Promises the Impossible.

In December the CRTC stipulated that Internet service providers should strive to provide speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download speeds and 10 Mbps upload speeds for fixed broadband Internet access and offer an unlimited data option.
“Access to broadband Internet service is vital and a basic telecommunication service all Canadians are entitled to receive," said CRTC chairman and CEO Jean-Pierre Blais in a news release. "Canadians who participated during our process told us that no matter where they live or work in our vast country — whether in a small town in northern Yukon, a rural area of eastern Quebec or in downtown Calgary — everyone needs access to high-quality fixed Internet and mobile services.”

A lofty goal indeed given that many Canadians currently have NO access to internet services in their homes and those that do have a connection generally are limited to 10Mbps by both technology limits and cost. In SW Ontario governments both municipal and provincial are touting what they are going to do under their SouthWest Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) initiative which promises an “open access network that will provide up to 1 Gbps service for under $100/month” and “ build an ultra high-speed fibre optic regional broadband network for everyone in Western Ontario.”
I have no doubt that SOME Canadians and SOME SW Ontario residents will benefit from the above but what really gets me pissed off is the rhetoric that ALL Canadians are going to get 50 Mbps connections or better at some unforeseeable point in the future. To also say that the cost for such a connection will be below $100 is simply fantasy.
The reality that those who live along major through routes or in a community along those routes, who in all probability already have cable or landline broadband DSL of 10 – 20 Mbps available at under that $100 threshold, may well be able to upgrade due to these initiatives to ultra high speed, and that may well assist businesses along such routes to expand or be more efficient. However if anyone thinks that every rural resident will see a fibre-optic line being installed along their concession road anytime in the next 20 years they are dreaming. Some may, most will not. So the very folk who have difficulty getting a decent connection, or any connection, will without a doubt be largely left wondering what such words such as “all Canadians” and “broadband network for everyone” really mean.

I have no great objection to these initiatives, in fact they will hopefully bring more businesses and the associated jobs to those previously under serviced rural towns and villages fortunate enough to be included in these upgrades BUT perhaps the aim should be to bring affordable average speed connections to those who are left just wishing for something better than a 50k dial up connection, that almost useless connection being their only real choice.
Just for those in the big city who are saying “what the hell is he talking about, everyone can get internet cant they?” here are the comparisons.....
Typical DSL IF within a couple of miles of a major telephone switching station OR have access to cable ......5-25Mbps unlimited $40 - $80, - Available to almost 100% of urban residents!
Typical wireless IF you have line of sight to a providers tower ....... 2- 20Mbps unlimited $50 $250, please note that considerable outlay may be required to get a line of sight location for the wireless receiver such as a 60' tower ($2000 installed) and many providers do not provide unlimited connections and may charge for 'overage' above their set limits.
Satellite .......5Mbps limited 50GB to 10Mbps limited 500GB $60 to $120 , again note that line of sight to the satellite is required if trees or buildings are in the way you are SOL, also the dishes are large and heavy and may require special mounting infrastructure to install.

The preferred choice for rural folks would be that wireless hook up however in many areas the available suppliers and the number of transmitter towers is very limited, and I suspect in some place more isolated than here in SW Ontario, non existent. It is this service that needs expanding NOT providing those with already available 20Mbps service even faster speed. If “High quality and reliable digital connectivity is essential for the quality of life of Canadians and Canada’s economic prosperity.” as these folks keep saying then let us work on that for ALL Canadians not just a few.

My apologies to my one or two regular readers if I seem to be focusing on this subject a little too much, it just annoys me when such things are sold as being all inclusive when in reality we out in the sticks know they are not!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Those Google 'Stats'

For those who do not have their own blog it should be noted that when you have a free blog on Google Blogger they provide a basic overview of visitors to your blog, where they are located and, if following a link, from where that link originated. Many of us like to look at this to see if we are being read and by whom, most bloggers are after all a bit of a self centered lot, myself being no exception.  Trouble is like any statistical information the criteria when assembling the data can be misleading depending upon what and how its being counted.
According to my Google Blogger stats my site here has received a little better than 7,000 "page views" in the last month, if that were accurate I would have a hard time getting my head through the door! I actual fact 99% of these "page views" were unsuccessful  'bots' visits blocked by Google but still counted as 'visits'. Digging deeper, and with the ongoing debate about if or when outside sources stole the U.S. election, I see that 1700 of these visits were from Russia closely followed by 1600 from U.S. addresses, seems both countries have their problems with 'hackers', government sponsored or not.
The visits from those who may have some actual interest in my scribblings, those in Canada, are somewhat more accurate so far as I can tell, that being a total of 10 individuals over the last month. Talk about a deflation of ego!
It bothers me not (much), like most writers I write more for myself than others. If you have stuff on your mind, write it down, start a blog, have a rant, even bend the ear of someone willing to listen..... its so much better that bottling it in and letting it build into something far worse than a minor irritation, hence this rant!

PS. I do note that Google has a 'full service' stats utility which can be installed on any web site but what a hassle to set it up particularly if you want to see the visitors to the various pages on your site.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Labour Force Survey Misleading.

I have had a go at this before.....
Just noticed a piece in the Sun Times titled “Region's unemployment rate drops”, the first line says “Part-time job growth drove November's unemployment rate down to 3 per cent in the economic region consisting of Grey, Bruce, Huron and Perth counties.” This may be true in that its the “Four County Labour Market Planning Board” serving “Grey, Bruce, Huron, Perth” and all the statistics for that area are lumped together. In fact I am told that separate statistics for the various counties and/or economic areas within them are not available, this to me makes this information not only all but useless but highly misleading.
That generally work found is in “the precarious types of employment – i.e. part-time, casual, entry-level, low-pay” jobs. Nor does it “reflect the degree to which people are under-employed” and “they don't reflect how many of those employed part-time would rather work full-time.” further adds to the problem with the “Labour Force Survey”. (A full time job lost is equivalent to a part time job gained in this and most other “employment” statistics.)
The survey goes on to say that 3,200 jobs have been “gained”, however it seems that 90% of these are those “part time precarious employment” positions so across the entire region from Tobermoury to Stratford just 300 full time jobs have been found and no one knows whether these were in Owen Sound, Goderich, Collingwood, Walkerton or Hanover areas.

Then there is this bit “The top two gains were in the services-producing sector in "accommodation and food services" (read waitressing) and "wholesale and retail trade" (read cashier) categories, which gained 1,200 each. Employment in the goods-producing sector saw gains in all categories the highest gains in that sector were in "agriculture" with 1,100 jobs. “ (make me wonder what positions are included in that sector) Losses were all in the services-producing sector, 900 jobs, in "other services," and 800 jobs in "finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing,". Reading between the lines it would seem that blue collar workers are SOL, a quick look at local Grey Bruce job listings would seem to confirm that.

My biggest problem with this whole thing is that it lumps completely disparate areas together and appears to assume that the job market in southern Huron - Perth is the same as that in northern Grey - Bruce. I strongly dispute this, I believe from my own observations of various employment “opportunities” web sites that the situation varies greatly across “the four counties”.
If the Four Counties Labour Force Survey is to be taken seriously and to be of any use in assisting LOCAL employers, the unemployed and organizations in addressing the issue of the LOCAL economy then we need LOCAL statistics.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Is Internet an Essential Service?

I have previously ranted here about the difficulty faced by many rural residents to get any affordable internet connection to their home let alone a 'high speed' one. For those who do not have a 'line of sight' to an internet suppliers transmitter tower they are left with just two options (dial up internet now being all but useless except for email use due to 'heavy' content of almost every site) those being satellite connection or Cell phone connection, both being expensive and with low volume thresholds. In some cases the physical location negates even these options.
For those who take their connections for granted or those who think an internet connection is an unessential frill I offer this clip from a letter to The Owen Sound Hub from one Shane Patey,

The last few years have seen a major shift toward content held exclusively online by outlets that would have previously delivered the same content through both print media and television. The area is enjoying a major increase in new year round residents. Living here should not mean that we can not access the same information as our city based counterparts just a few kilometres away.
This move to online content and other resources for engaging citizens (learning portals, health supports, and more) is not happening alongside similarly robust development in physically situated and accessible by the public resources, and far and wide is replacing many that have previously been physically accessible. Also, recognizing the challenges of engaging many who feel marginalized and vulnerable related to various physical and mental health experiences, publically funded entities like NGOs and community health outlets are being funded specifically to deliver content and education online by both federal and provincial funding bodies including but not limited to Ontario's Ministry of Health and Longterm Care, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Funding arrangements are continuously evaluated for their reach and impact and the last year and a half has seen the addition of evaluation criteria specifically pertaining to an organization's capacity to engage stakeholders via traditional online outlets, and social media.
Shane is of course correct, government is increasingly 'centralizing' services and seems to think that making these services available online make them available to those distant from those urban centers where face to face service is available. Unfortunately many rural residents do not have, and often cannot get, reliable affordable internet connections and given the difficulty of servicing some areas with either cabled service or wireless service this will not change much in the foreseeable future despite all the hype about bringing “high speed internet' to Grey County. Some of those in community's already served by such connections may well get improved service but those away from major arteries will continue to struggle to get any reliable (affordable & unlimited) connection.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Changing the clocks

I hate all this buggering around with the clocks every 6 months, not only does it make me even more out of sync with the rest of the word and mess with everyone elses internal clock but it is totally unnecessary in today’s world.
Brought in 100 years ago to......” minimize the use of artificial lighting in order to save fuel for the war effort during World War I” I think that that war is over! Modern almost 24hr a day work / life habits negate any 'savings' of any kind and may in fact cost us by disrupting folks circadian rhythms. “Clock shifts sometimes complicate timekeeping, and can disrupt travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns.”......and piss off old men!

So as I contemplate waking at the same time as I always do but an hour earlier according to the clock & sit around for hours waiting for for the sun to emerge from behind our forest of trees at 9.30 or so, (or is that now 8.30 or 10.30, I dont know, I get so confused by all this back and forward thing,) I say why dont we just leave the bloody clocks at one setting or the other.

They say old folks dont need as much sleep, I dont know about that I could USE more sleep I just dont GET more sleep. As I struggle to keep my eyes open for a couple of hours after the evening news, a fight not helped by the absolute crap on the box during that period, I contemplate waking up to see the clock saying 4.30 instead of 5.30 and thats if I sleep in for a bit! I think perhaps an afternoon nap may be in order but will that mean I get even less sleep at night, however without one I could be falling asleep right after supper .....or worse do a face plant on my plate!


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Chatsworth Community Forum

A few weeks ago I posted an article promoting a couple of local news letters and floating the idea of an online community forum. Whilst I received very little response to that idea I never the less have spent a little time building such a website on my home computer both as something to keep the old brain busy (as with the old bones its use it or loose it) and to have something to show those who may be interested in such a concept. It is readily transferable to a live website in short order once a site has been established on line.

Below are some screen shots of the “Forum Index” to hopefully grab your interest:- (click to enlarge)

As you can see there are additional pages to get help for those not familiar with forums in general and a page with links to other local resources. The footer has “news" feeds from the County website and hopefully from the Township website once they are established.

Regarding the upgrade of the township website, the Township Web Site and Notice Provision Committee, of which I am a member, will be having its first meeting shortly and news feeds and subscriptions is one of the many items to be considered! There are many other items on the list and the process may take some time so have patience, I can assure you that better access to more information is high on on the agenda.

Meanwhile I will once again invite Chatsworth Township residents to weigh in on the possibility establishing a Chatsworth Chat Forum to enhance communications between local residents, clubs, organizations and to establish a one stop place to tell us all about meetings, events and goings on in the communities that make up our rural area.

Leave a comment here or contact me by email and please share this article with other area residents.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Farce of a Electoral “Consultation”?

Last week I posted the details of out local Mp's (Larry Miller) upcoming Telephone Town Hall re Electoral Reform not to promote him but to promote discussion about this important initiative. Well said teleconference is now history and the reports are in and they are not good. I had said in my previous post that I had little faith in Mr Miller accurately forwarding the broad range of opinion that could well ensue and that the number of folks actually getting to express their view would be limited.
Apparently that will not be a problem in that allegedly those that wished to express a view that did not coincide with Mr Millers FPTP and referendum views did not get a chance to speak and thus 100% of the callers did in fact, as Mr Miller previously alleged did the callers to his office, “support the current first-past-the-post voting system.”

This from our local news blog “The Hub”
Anyone who listened in on Larry Miller's tele-forum Tuesday evening, Sept. 27, was treated to a Miller kiss fest and a merry orgy of misinformation. Larry got what he wanted. Sure enough, one hundred percent of his constituents were opposed to proportional representation. No doubt we'll hear him trumpeting this "fact" soon enough.
Perhaps all the supporters of PR were smarter than I was and just stayed away knowing it would be a farce. Or they were, like me evidently, screened out by Larry's operators, with only clapping seals who wouldn't challenge him being let through.
I was waiting in the queue for 40 minutes. At one point toward the end, we heard him say, "I see another call has come in," and he took the other person. What about the queue? My call was already in. Why wasn't I next? Was it because his operator had earlier asked me what I intend to say and I foolishly blurted out the truth that I wanted to provide some information about proportional representation?
Fortunately the results are so lopsided that they shoot him in his own foot. That not one person was heard to support PR advertises the lack of credibility of the whole vain exercise. Like those third world despots hated by their people who are elected with 99 per cent of the vote every time.............
Read more

Interestingly, it not being a 'live' meeting there is no direct report from any other local media for comparison, we wonder if this was a deliberate move by Mr Miller to avoid such reporting? Mr Miller however continues to defend his 'no change' position and says the 30 or so people who did get to express their views were not 'filtered'!