Canadian Internet Forum sponsored by CIRA February 2013

Canadian Internet Forum – Save the date and Report of Findings

ciraThe Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) will be holding the third annual Canadian Internet Forum (CIF) national event in Ottawa on February 28, 2013. You will receive a more detailed invitation within the few weeks which will provide you with all the information you need to attend the national event, whether in person or via webcast. Until then, make sure you save the date!

2012 CIF White Paper
CIRA recently released the results of the findings from the 2012 CIF in a white paper titled Challenges and Opportunities for the Internet in Canada. Key findings highlighted in the paper include the challenges that Canadians face when it comes to successful use of the Internet, in particular regarding Internet security, accessibility, costs, Canadian digital sovereignty and digital literacy. The paper provides a synthesis of the conversations Canadians were having about the challenges facing Internet in Canada in 2012 through the online forum culminated with the CIF national event in Ottawa.

As Canada’s voice in the international Internet community, the paper was presented by Byron Holland, CIRA’s President and CEO at the International Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku, Azerbaijan in November. The IGF is a multi-stakeholder forum that serves to bring individuals together from various stakeholder groups to share views and exchange ideas on public policy issues relating to the Internet.

As a .CA Member with a vested interest in build a strong Canadian presence on the Internet, we encourage you to read the paper with the complete findings and participate in the upcoming event in February.

About CIRA
CIRA was incorporated in December 1998 and became the official .CA registry on December 1, 2000. We have a 12-person Board of Directors and three Board Advisors. The 12 Board of Directors are elected by .CA Members and three are Board Advisors with non-voting positions. The Board Advisors include CIRA’s President and CEO, a representative of the Government of Canada, and John Demco, who helped establish the .CA domain and CIRA.

Who was responsible for registering a .CA domain before CIRA?
From 1987 to November 2000, .CA domain names were assigned and registered by a .CA volunteer organization headed by John Demco, former Computing Facilities Manager for the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia (UBC). UBC provided the technical and administrative resources to house and operate the registry.

The Framework for the administration of the .CA domain name system laid the foundation for the transition of the .CA registry from UBC and the creation of CIRA.

On November 22, 2012, CIRA reached two million registered .CA domain names.

More information on CIRA

Products Behaving Badly: Acronis True Image 2012

I recently bought and installed Acronis True Image 2012.

I realized within a couple of days that this would not do what I wanted on my laptop so I uninstalled it, thinking perhaps I might use it on my desktop. When I did so, Windows 7 warned me that Windows Backup was not running. Now during installation, Acronis had by default checked an option called “Integrate True Image into Windows” – an innocuous sounding option which seemed like a good idea. What is NOT made clear is that this disables and replaces Windows built-in Backup and Restore utility. Bad enough – but okay… not too difficult to turn Windows Backup on in Control Panel.

But now comes the horror story:

A few days later I had an issue with my Windows laptop and wanted to do a quick System Restore to an earlier checkpoint. To my utter astonishment, I discovered that Acronis had disabled this feature in Windows 7: There were no Restore points available at all!

In time, I was able to fix the issue manually, turn System Restore back on, and create a restore point.

But I am still outraged. At no point during the installation was I given a choice or warned by Acronis that their installation would turn off System Restore.

This is in my opinion totally and completely unacceptable behavior on the part of ANY product installer.

A huge THUMBS DOWN to Acronis. I would issue a strong warning to everyone to stay away from any and all Acronis products. Ever.

Update:

It actually gets worse: I’ve now discovered that since installing and uninstalling this product none of my USB thumbnail drives are accessible. I still don’t have a fix for this.

This product should not be purchased or installed by anyone.

Update 2:

Fixed the USB thumbnail drive problem finally,

See ATIH 2012 uninstalled – now cannot access any USB thumbnail drives | Knowledge Base

The uninstaller left behind a LOT of garbage including drivers. The cleanup utility referenced in that support thread also left behind a lot of registry entries.

Once I tracked down and deleted ALL of them, I rebooted, plugged in my USB thumbnail drive, it indicated that it was installing required drivers, and this time – finally – it succeeded.

After years in a coma, DMOZ/ODP finally pronounced dead

Final Nail In The Google Directory Coffin
by Barry  Schwartz, Search Engine Land
Jul 20, 2011

In 2008, Google removed directory links from Webmaster Tools and in December 2010, Google dropped the search box from the Google directory.

Today, Google has completely removed the Google Directory as a Google service. Going to directory.google.com will show you a notice that reads the “Google Directory is no longer available”. Yesterday the directory was live but today, Google quietly and without warning removed it.

In  truth, DMOZ/ODP has been of historical interest only to anyone but the  increasingly shrinking in-group that constitutes DMOZ editors for years. Their  claim to importance in recent years has been the desperate claim that Google still thought they had value – despite the fact that Google had pretty much stopped updating the listings in their cloned version a long time ago. Now clearly, DMOZ exists only to continue to feed the pathetic egos of its
editors.

R.I.P. DMOZ. We hardly knew ye.

More from Barry Schwartz…

Google accuses Bing; Bing deflects accusations; Google strangely silent

In a move that seemed more like college dorm intrigue than research or detective work, Google set up a rather silly sting in search terms for rare or nonexistent words and then claimed that for these infrequent search terms about 9% showed up in Bing’s search results. Based on this rather flimsy “evidence”, they accused Bing of copying their search results.

Danny Sullivan has an excellent article laying out what actually happened, why Google’s accusations were wrong, and how this has created an embarrassing situation for Google:

Bing: Why Google’s Wrong In Its Accusations

The scheme backfired because in the course of defending themselves against Google’s accusation, Bing has disclosed how they use the “clickstream” generated by their Bing Toolbar as part of the data they feed their algorithms.

Now the pressure is on for Google to do the same. Google at first denied they use such data at all but then had to retreat and admit they do use it to determine page load speeds. How else do they use the data? So far, Google is being notably quiet on the subject.

See also Danny Sullivan’s followup post, Turning The Tables On The Google Toolbar & Disclosure Claims

Update
Google Finally Admits Toolbar Data is a Ranking Signal
by Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land
February 16, 2011

Many SEOs have long believed that Google uses data it collects from the Google Toolbar to influence search results. Now Google has finally confirmed it.

Celebrating 20 Years of AOL Annoyances and Foul-Ups

Perhaps more of interest to those who lived through it than those who arrived on the tail end, this is a fascinating and sometimes frustrating look back on infamous moments in AOL history.

The one thing not mentioned in the article is AOL’s link to the ironically self-titled Open Directory Project aka DMOZ, an once noble if hopelessly overoptimistic project whose recent history is as infamous as that of its owners.

20 Years of AOL Annoyances and Foul-Ups
by Harry McCracken, Technologizer, PCWorld
Apr 28, 2009

AOL floppies and CDs. Sharon Stone’s fling with the Running Man icon. The death of Netscape. It’s all part of AOL history we’d like to forget.

Read the PCWorld article here.

Discussion continues here.

Raising Awareness vs. Promoting and Normalizing Pathology

Newsweek recently published an article titled Out of the Shadows regarding the proliferation of so-called “pro-ana” web sites:

A Web page labeled “Ana Boot Camp” recently offered its members a seemingly irresistible proposition: a 30-day regimen designed to help them drop some serious pounds, no exercise needed. The catch was that the group’s members were to vary their daily caloric intake from 500 (less than half the daily minimum requirement for women recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine) to zero. They were supposed to track their progress, fast to make up for the days they accidentally “overate” and support each other as they worked toward their common goal of radical weight loss.

Pro-anorexia, or “pro-ana,” Web sites (with more than one using the “Ana Boot Camp” name) have for years been a controversial Internet fixture, with users sharing extreme diet tips and posting pictures of emaciated girls under headlines such as “thinspiration.” But what was unusual about the site mentioned above (which is no longer available) was where it was hosted: the ubiquitous social networking site Facebook.com. The (largely female) users who frequent pro-ana sites have typically done so anonymously, posting under pseudonyms and using pictures of fashion models to represent themselves. Now, as the groups increasingly launch pages on Facebook, linking users’ real-life profiles to their eating disorders, the heated conversation around anorexia has become more public. Many pro-ana Facebookers say the groups provide an invaluable support system to help them cope with their disease, but psychologists worry that the growth of such groups could encourage eating disorders in others.

More recently, I came across an article by John Grohol in which he seems to argue that there is a positive side to such groups:

These groups are a little disturbing, especially as you read through the postings. But no more so than the dozens of self-harm sites online, or the sites devoted to helping people be more successful in suicide. Or a dozen other topics that if you learned you could join a group that was “pro” that, you’d be saying to yourself, “Really? Wow.”

That is, after all, the nature of the Internet. It allows for people with very diverse wants and needs to find one another and hook up with one another far more easily than has ever been possible previously in human culture. The fact that some of these wants and needs are outside of the mainstream norm is not at all surprising.

So what does all of this do for people? Isn’t allowing people to discuss their pro-ana needs just plain harmful and potentially dangerous? Not necessarily:

Marcia Herrin, a Dartmouth professor who has written several books on eating disorders, finds the public nature of the discussions of anorexia on Facebook encouraging, because it shows that teens are less afraid of confronting eating disorders.

The more “out in the open” these kinds of concerns become, the more society learns and can answer the kinds of information (or mis-information) they promote. If more teens feel comfortable talking about eating disorders, then perhaps more will also feel comfortable asking for help when they notice themselves or a close friend who might be going down that road. And while in an ideal world, we’d prefer a teen or child not have to go down that road to learn for themselves, sometimes experience is the only teacher that can make a difference.

I think Grohol is confusing two very different things here.

I would argue that the answer to Grohol’s question, “Isn’t allowing people to discuss their pro-ana needs just plain harmful and potentially dangerous?”, is an emphatic “Yes!”.

There is an enormous difference hetween raising awareness about anorexia and other eating disorders and pro-ana sites, just as there is between raising awareness about suicide and pro-suicide sites.

Raising awareness draws attention to, and potentially political and financial support for research into causes and treatment of, the disorder.

Pro-ana sites not only strive to normalize the behavior but encourage their members to ignore the risks in the pursuit of extreme “thinness”, aka “thinspiration”. How is this any different from the typical antipsychiatry site that promotes the view that illnesses such as schizophrenia do not exist beyond social rejection of the symptoms that characterize the illness?

For those caught up in (or formerly caught up in) the internet pro-ana scene, I would recommend having a look at We Bite Back, a forum community for support in recovery from this sinister online virtual cult world:

This is the site that comes after the madness. Before we came along, there was no place for people to go who found support on pro-ana forums, communities and email lists who didn’t want to do the ana thing anymore. Welcome to the first web site designed specifically for post-pro-anorexics.

We represent a worldwide virtual network of people proactively seeking recovery and happiness with the same dedication that proanas apply to seeking lower goal weights.

pro-ana sites, anorexia, bulimia, recovery, awareness, pathology, normalization