The subjectivity of safety.

From a National Post story:

Andrew Miller feels safe in his home. A Mississauga native, he recently returned to the area with his infant daughter and wife after finishing his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The historian and university lecturer said the Toronto suburbs feel far less dangerous than U.S. cities.

Down there, we locked our doors. We were always looking out in the parking lot to make sure no one was breaking into our car, Mr. Miller said. But here, I dont feel anything but safe. We leave our doors unlocked. Certainly, Mississauga seems a lot safer than where Ive lived before.

Mr. Miller apparently feels safer in the Toronto suburbs than he does in all U.S. cities. That seems like a bit of a generalization. It could be generally assumed that the suburbs anywhere are much safer than the downtown core of a large city, but that wouldn’t be anywhere near as convincing, now would it.

Mr. Miller obviously never lived where we lived outside of Boston, where we could literally leave our doors unlocked without a thought. Of course he never says if he was a victim of crime, only that he didn’t “feel” as safe. I wonder if any statistics would bear that out, though I’ve yet to see a head to head comparison between Canada and the U.S. Yet I often read about how much safer it is in Canada.

Musing has a much more comprehensive take on the issue.

By invitation only.

So much of the internet is becoming “by invitation only” these days. I wasn’t invited to join Yahoo! 360°. After all, I’ve only been a customer for 10 years, and why would you want to invite a customer? Luckily there are lots of other services out there.

Jeff Jarvis did get invited, but he recounts his difficulty in attempting to use the service.

Did I hear Om Malik say that Yahoo! was on its way back? Didn’t anyone tell them that it costs ten times as much to get a new customer as to keep an existing customer?

The U.N. wants control.

The U.N. wants to control the internet:

The ITU, a United Nations agency, would like to change that. “The whole world is looking for a better solution for Internet governance, unwilling to maintain the current situation,” Houlin Zhao, director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said last year. Zhao, a former government official in China’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, has been in his current job since 1999.

[...]

In a series of speeches over the last year, Zhao has suggested that the ITU could become involved in everything from security and spam to managing how Internet Protocol addresses are assigned. The ITU also is looking into some aspects of voice over Internet Protocol–VoIP–communications, another potential area for expansion.

[...]

People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service? If there are any Internet governance structure changes in the future, I think government rules will be more important and more respected.

They can’t articulate the perceived problems, but the answer is obviously more government control of everything.

Where is Yahoo 360?

I thought I’d take a look at Yahoo! 360°. All I found was this:

Sorry, the page you requested was not found.

Please check the URL for proper spelling and capitalization. If you’re having trouble locating a destination on Yahoo!, try visiting the Yahoo! home page or look through a list of Yahoo!’s online services. Also, you may find what you’re looking for if you try searching below.

What’s next?

This week the Supreme Court, in MGM vs. Grokster, will decide the future of technology as we know it. If the media companies win, there will simply be no technology created in the future that they do not approve of. No VCRs, no TiVo, no iPods, not even computers, unless the media industry have complete control over what the devices do. Customers will have no control whatsoever.

The basis of the case is the fact that file sharing costs the companies hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

What’s next?

Will newspapers sue Yahoo! News and Google News? Availability of news on the internet costs newspapers millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Will oil companies sue the makers of hybrid vehicles? Those vehicles have the potential to cost oil companies millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Media companies have consistently fought the introduction of new technology, even though the eventual acceptance have created new markets worth billions of dollars. Yet once again they appear unable to accept a new technology and a potential new market. Only this time they want to make sure it dies.

Media companies are like dinosaurs. They can’t adapt so they will die. And smart people like musicians and filmmakers are realizing that they don’t need the media companies to deliver their message anymore.

In the old days the media companies acted as a pipe for content, from creator to customer, with a lot of flow control. They decided what you would get to see and hear.

Welcome to the internet. A new pipe, and you control your own flow, 24 hours a day.

Coming to a town near you.

The United Nations is coming to Waterloo, Canada, where I currently reside:

About 90 top diplomats, politicians and other international experts from around the world are expected to attend a three-day conference in this southern Ontario city to discuss United Nations reform.

[...]

It will be the first major international conference on UN reform since Secretary-General Kofi Annan released his reform proposals about one week ago.

[...]

“The question for this conference is … if you have a Darfur on your hands, what are you going to do about it?” Mr. Heinbecker said.
“What can the UN do to make itself more useful?”

Hmmm. The first major international conference since last week. Will three days be enough to solve the UN’s problems?

A phishing attempt?

I received this email on one of my accounts, purportedly from Barclays Bank, but I am not a customer:

D?ae?r Ba?cr?lays Memb?re?,

Th?si? em?lia? was s?ne?t by the Barc?al?ys ser?rev? to v?ire?fy yo?ru? ema?li? a?rdd?ess. You mu?ts? c?elpmo?te t?sih? pr?seco?s by cli?kc?ing on the l?ni?k bel?wo? and ente?ir?ng in the s?lam?l wi?dn?ow y?ruo? B?alcra?ys Memb?hsre?ip numb?re?, p?docssa?e and memo?bar?le w?dro?. Th?si? is d?eno? for y?uo?r p?noitcetor? – b?esuace? s?emo? of our m?ebme?rs no l?gno?er h?va?e acc?se?s to t?eh?ir e?am?il addr?se?ses and we m?tsu? v?re?ify it. To ver?fi?y yo?ru? em?lia? add?er?ss and a?ecc?ss y?ruo? b?na?k acc?tnuo? , cl?ci?k on the l?kni? be?wol?:

Below was what appeared to be a link to Barclays, but was actually a button.

Does anyone actually fall for these scams?

Technology’s greatest failure.

This New York Times article discusses the difficulty of remembering telephone numbers, now that numbers have in many places grown to 10 digits, and we have come to depend on myriad electronic devices like cell phones and PDAs to remember them for us. Losing such a device can mean being unable to call someone, or losing a number forever. Even switching to a newer device poses the problem of moving the information to the new device.

In half a century of using computers, where personal contact information is probably the most used form of data, we are in most cases still forced to enter information manually each time into each device. Technology’s greatest failure is its inability to find a single common agreed-upon way of storing personal contact information. I have entered information into several systems over the years, and in virtually every case it was completely incompatible with anything else.

Some email systems make a valiant attempt at importing from other systems. Cellphones on the other hand generally require the user to enter the information one number at a time, using as many interfaces as there are different cell phones. At least PDAs provide some sort of desktop synchronization.

I would like to ask a favor of the entire hardware and software industry. Before you solve any more of the world’s as yet unknown problems, could you:

  • Please define a standard for the entry, storage, editing, and management of personal contact information.
  • If you need contact information, please use that standard.

Please keep in mind that everyone has multiple phone numbers, real addresses, email addresses, and web addresses. Please let me store as many as I want and then select a default for each type.

I’m sure that the lost productivity from re-entering contact information into new cell phones alone could run into the billions of dollars.

Balance.

Techdirt, commenting on an interview with Sony Music chief Andrew Lack on the subject of music downloading, makes the most salient comment I’ve seen on the subject:

…Lack claims that all he’s seeking for in this case is “balance.” There’s no “balance.” The makers of buggies didn’t get “balance” when automobiles came along — and they didn’t get to have the Supreme Court cripple automobiles to make the buggies remain competitive either. That is what this case is about. The entertainment industry wants to cripple the internet to make it more like radio or TV. That’s “balance” to them.