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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anti-democratic News Media

It has been reported this morning that the news media barons have decided that you shall not hear from all the political leaders in any upcoming debate, but that Elizabeth May who had the support of over 900,000 voters right across Canada in the last election will be excluded. This is particularly galling when a regional party, the Bloc,with only a slightly higher popular vote and NO representation outside of Quebec is included. Who gave them the right to decide who you can and cannot listen to, who gave them the right to effectively pre-decide who should have the opportunity to put their views before the public, why should we allow a few corporate big wigs to artificially spin the odds in favor of the incumbent partys.
It matters not which party you support this is once again an affront to democracy, not this time by the Harper regime but by the corporate media barons, it is unacceptable to exclude a party who represents the wishes of so many Canadians.
I have no doubt that there will be the same outrage that a similar decision last time brought about, it was eventually changed to include Ms May and any citizen who truly cares about democracy must once again let these media types that pre-filtering the news and political debates is no less a measure of contempt for democracy than the Harper regime has shown of late.

Elizabeth May MUST be included in the debate if it is to have ANY legitimacy in helping us decide who REALLY cares about our parliamentary democracy.

Sign the petition at http://demanddemocraticdebates.ca/

And so it starts, the Victoria Times Colonist reports -

"The consortium's decision was met with disagreement from at least two parties. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff told reporters in Vancouver that May "belongs in the debate.
"Of course she's welcome . she was there last time," he said.
A spokeswoman for the New Democrats' campaign said the party is "fine with her in the debate."
"We believe in open debates that are based on consistent and understood rules," said Kathleen Monk. "If certain leaders are not invited to participate, I think it is reasonable for them to know why."

Also see E Mays piece in the  Globe and Mail  and Andrew Coynes twitter comments as collected here.

The television companies, while admitting they have no rules for who participates in the leader’s debate, have attempted to overrule Canadians by barring Elizabeth May. She learned of the decision from a Canadian Press reporter and not from the TV companies.

“They are trying to silence the voices of one in ten Canadians,” said Elizabeth May.
  The Green Party has retained legal counsel and will be making an application to the court in the next few days should the TV companies continue to deny democracy. Details of the legal application will be provided soon.

“The House was brought down on contempt. This is contempt for democracy,” said Deputy Leader Adriane Carr.

Show your support for democracy and contact the news directors of consortium members CBC, CTV, Global, TVA or email party leaders Stephen Harper, Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff and Gilles Duceppe

The Montreal Gazette reports that - Earlier in the day, Duceppe said he agrees with Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader, that she should also participate.

Meanwhile Mr Harper seem to prefer to debate just the Liberal leader, seems the other partys 'don't matter' in this election!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hub Good, Cost High, Usage Data Bad

As the few readers I have may know I have long whined about being stuck on dial-up at 28K and the unavailability of affordable options out here in the country, recently I stepped up to the Rogers Rocket Hub. Far from ideal, it does free up the phone line and give me up to 200K (must spring for that $150 external antenna to try and improve that some time) even if it does triple my basic Internet costs, there are however a few wrinkles which despite weeks of research and several conversations with Rogers representatives before committing to the two year contract necessary to get the Hub at the reduced price of $150.
As some of you may know both Bell and Rogers hub wireless plans have a threshold of 3GB, 5GB and 10GB which if exceeded takes you the the next level, the cost being about $45 for 3GB (taxes and other costs included) and rising to abt $55 for 5GB and over $70 for up to 10GB (with a per MB charge beyond that). For old folks like us that is hardly the 'affordable' Internet that our government is touting that all Canadians should have but if we are to move on from dial-up it is the best of a very limited choice.

As you may imagine it is our wish to keep our usage as low as possible and monitor it to try and stay below the thresholds. With that in mind I signed in the the Rogers customer pages where I was told we could check our usage – well yes you can, sort off! After checking said pages several times I could not figure out how my usages was increasing in large jumps after minimal or no use, so I call Rogers customer service (nice guys who actually are in Canada by the way) and here is what I learned.

The wireless usage shown on your customer page is up to 48 hours or more out of date!! Rogers will tell you that said data is updated every 4 hours and that may be true but the data posted is from several days before meaning that the usage in the last couple of days is not reflected in those numbers making it all but impossible to know when you are approaching a point where your monthly charges are going to jump.

Now that little wrinkle is bad enough but let us say that despite the lack of accurate information you want to check your usage regularly, this of course will use up a little of your basic usage but that should only be a few hundred K. Wrong!! Simply accessing your usage on the Rogers site (going there directly after a redirect to sign in) is around 2MB (plus the uplink data which is counted in wireless usage) and if you enter via the usual page after signing in around double that. Now to those with unlimited high speed or some of the more generous plans may scoff and say two meg is nothing, but given that my secure banking site takes less than 500K to sign in, view my account synopsis and get a detailed up to date view of my payments and deposits I have to ask is this a deliberate ploy to send our usage over the edge?

The funny thing is that said pages are very simple in appearance, almost all text with a few logo links, no high rez pictures, no marquee's scrolling across the page or stuff like that. It just reinforces my belief that many IT professionals simply have no conception of the limits some viewers are working under, they have the latest and greatest, have T1 connections and it does not even enter into their personal hard drive (the one above their shoulders) that unnecessarily 'heavy' pages not only slow things down for those on less than speedy connections but add to the general congestion that is starting to emerge on the net and penalizes those of us that must pay big bucks for bandwidth.

Nuf said..... Rant OFF.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gardening Time / Seed Swap

With the sun emerging for a few days and despite the snow still on the ground and the minus 10 temperatures us northern gardeners are getting that 'spring itch' to get something growing.
I have recently started 3 or 4 trays of perennials in our heated growing cabinet constructed of two 4lamp florescent fixtures stacked and insulated. The ballasts put off more than enough heat to bring it up to 70f when the lights are on (6am to 9pm) even when the temperature in the cold green house drops to around freezing. When the sun out and temps rise to 65f or so it will overheat if I do not open the door up wide!

Meanwhile my daughter reports that she has 92 variety's of perennials seeded !!! and scores of tomatoes and peppers, most already up. Think I will wait a bit before starting mine!

For those interested she would love to hear from gardeners who have unusual seeds to swap and I have been already asked to gather seeds from our woodland flowers for that project. You can visit her newly formed web site at http://haskinshorticulture.webs.com/

Happy gardening.... is it spring yet?