Category Archives: Uncategorized

Good writing is like a dirty joke, but…

Here is an interesting collection of tips for how to write well. Some are obvious, and some are rather novel and interesting.

Remember that the model of the drama is the dirty joke. This joke begins: “A traveling salesman stops at a farmer’s door” — it does not begin: “Who would think that the two most disparate occupations of agriculture and salesmanship would one day be indissolubly united in our oral literature? Agriculture, that most solitary of pursuits, engendering the qualities of self-reliance and reflection, and salesmanship, in which…”

Source: This Is How To Improve Your Writing: 7 Easy Expert Secrets

Canadian universities making little from licencing

Michael Geist has an interesting article on the income that Canadian universities are making from licencing intellectual property. He questions whether an open distribution model might be better than the current traditional commercialization model.

The latest report is based on survey data from 2008 which finds that the total IP income (primarily from licencing) at reporting Canadian universities was $53.2 million. The cost of generating this income?  The reporting institutions employed 321 full-time employees in IP management for a cost of $51.1 million.  In other words, after these direct costs, the total surplus for all Canadian universities was $2.1 million.

Keeping broadband competitive in Canada

A site at has opened today to spread the word about the current net neutrality crisis in Canada.

This crisis has started because of moves by Bell and Telus to throttle bandwidth and introduce usage-based billing. These incumbent telcos, long subsidized by Canadian tax payers, are attempting to reduce competition and increase prices for everyone, including customers of alternative Internet providers.

Please have a look at the site, read the background material, and send in your letter to your politicians asking for a review of the recent CRTC decisions.

Warning – Keep Broadband Competitive in Canada

Unless you make your voice heard, a CRTC decision sets the stage for rapid increases in prices for your telecommunications and broadband services. You can reverse this decision, and making your voice heard takes only 30 seconds.

Regulatory hearings on network neutrality in Canada

Here is an interesting article from the CBC summarising the issues discussed during the recent CRTC hearings on network neutrality. The CRTC is being asked to consider a number of related issues, including P2P throttling, network management, and competition between wholesale providers and retail ISPs that depend on them. Apparently, the results are to be announced in November.

CRTC to decide on new rules for internet service providers

Should internet service providers be allowed to selectively slow down certain applications when the internet is congested? If they do, how much should they be required to tell their customers?

Those are two of the questions that Canada’s internet regulator must answer in the coming months.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission held hearings from July 6 to 14 on internet traffic management in an effort to determine whether it should set guidelines specifying how ISPs are allowed to manage internet traffic and congestion and if so, what those guidelines should be.

Technical problems repaired

I think I have fixed the technical problems on this web site. It appears that the MySQL database that drives the WordPress system became corrupted. Once that was repaired, there was also a strange problem with how the permalinks were configured. And of course, this happened when I was thousands of miles away and busy with other things.

Anyway, things should be working now. Let me know if you see any problems.

Off-topic: When NOT to flush — Changing the oil in your car

Hmmmm…. I got my oil changed this week and I, too, was offered an “engine flush” because my oil “looked dirty”. My last service was a routine, major service at the dealer so I refused the flush and just went with a regular oil change. It seems that this was the right decision, all the time.

Could This Damage Your Car?

“After engine flushes, there’s a pretty high incidence of some damage to the interior of the engine,” Chris Martin of Honda tells NBC Los Angeles.

That’s why Honda issued a memo to mechanics advising them not to perform engine flushes. Other major car-makers, including Ford, General Motors, and Nissan have all issued similar advisories against the service.

Why? Over time, gummy deposits can build up inside your engine. The chemicals used for engine flush, are supposed to break up those deposits. But car-makers say, pieces of that broken up sediment can clog up other parts of the engine and ruin it.

CRTC rejects new TV stations because they WOULD compete

I don’t get this. For some reason, the CRTC, our national telecommunications and broadcasting regulator, has rules that prevent applications for new services if they compete with existing services. One would think that we would want the exact opposite — to promote competition in our communication and entertainment services. Check out this article for more…

CRTC slaps down application for new HD stations

Although it is counter-intuitive to most readers, under the CRTC’s competitive policy, new applicants must convince bureaucrats in Ottawa that a new station would NOT compete with an existing analog or pay channel in order to receive approval.

Collateral damage from network throttling and business impacts

Here is an interesting post about how one company, Glance Networks, found that their business service (desktop sharing) was affected by Canadian ISPs’ crude attempts at traffic shaping (throttling).

How Network Non-Neutrality Affects Real Businesses

One day a few years ago, our support line got a spate of calls from customers complaining that our service had suddenly slowed to a crawl. We soon realized the problem was localized to Canada, where nearly everyone gets their Internet service through one of just two ISPs. Sure enough, posts on blogs indicated that both of these ISPs had secretly deployed “traffic shaping” methods to beat back the flow of BitTorrent traffic. But the criteria their methods used to identify the streams were particularly blunt instruments that not only slowed BitTorrent, but many other high-speed data streams sent by their customers’ computers.

This experience illustrates why additional rules need to be imposed on ISPs. While we were working the problem, customers were understandably stuck wondering who was telling them the truth. Their ISP was saying “all is well” and that “nothing has changed”, both of which turned out to be wrong. But how were they to know? Their other Web traffic flowed normally. From their perspective, only our service had slowed.

Net neutrality issue hits close to home

There is a brewing controversy over net neutrality: should all Internet traffic be treated the same, or should some traffic (specific web sites or protocols) be treated better than others?

The issue hit close to home today because my personal ISP, Teksavvy Solutions, has become the focal point of a net neutrality scandal. Teksavvy recently learned that Bell Canada, from whom it rents network access for DSL customers, has decided to throttle certain kinds of network traffic. Bell did this without informing Teksavvy or any of the other independent ISPs who must use Bell for DSL access. So, even though I am not a Bell customer (on purpose), I am being subjected to Bell’s policies regarding what Internet traffic can proceed unimpeded and what will be throttled.

The throttling being done today is on certain protocols used for peer-to-peer file sharing (Bittorrent, Limewire, etc.). Services that use these protocols do consume a lot of bandwidth and, instead of engineering the networks to handle it, Bell (and other providers) act to throttle the traffic. The ironic thing is that Bell is doing this at the same time that CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, is moving to make some of their programming available over Bittorrent. Why Bittorrent? Because it is very efficient and moving large amounts of data, which is what the customers need and Bell can’t seem to handle.

Bell to play traffic cop on Internet bandwidth

But last week, some of Mr. Gaudrault’s 21,000 high-speed Internet clients began to report that their connections were slowing down, and they wanted to know why. That’s when he discovered Bell was restricting the torrent and peer-to-peer traffic of Teksavvy customers.