Category Archives: technology

Norway will shut off FM radio in 2017

Norway’s Minister of Culture announced this week that a national FM-radio switch off will commence in 2017, allowing the country to complete its transition over to digital radio.

As Radio.no notes, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will provide Norwegian listeners more diverse radio channel content than ever before. Indeed, DAB already hosts 22 national channels in Norway, as opposed to FM radio’s five, and a TNS Gallup survey shows that 56% of Norwegian listeners use digital radio every day. While Norway is the first country in the world to set a date for an FM switch-off, other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also in the process of transitioning to DAB.

Frequency modulation, or FM, radio was patented in 1933 and has been recording and sharing the human story for nearly a century. But its days are clearly waning. According to a 2012 Pew Study, while over 90% of Americans still listen to AM/FM radio at least weekly, more people are choosing to forgo analog radio for Internet-only services each year. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before many countries follow Norway’s example, although I’m not so sure I’m ready to part with my 80’s-era Grundig. Thing still sounds like a dream.

He who shall not be mentioned

As some of you know, I have this weird project where I want to photograph and document all of the important buildings in Saskatoon.  Over the years I have made some significant process in doing that and today with the weather nicer and it being a Sunday, Wendy and I went into Mount Royal.

Sunday’s work well for photographing schools because it seems weird to photograph them when kids are there.  We took some shots of Mount Royal Collegiate, Howard Coad and St. Maria Giametti Schools.  We also took some of the Mount Royal Mall, Mount Royal Lutheran Church, and explored St. Paul Place.

I was editing them and some others when I stumbled across an old building that I knew nothing of and started to Google to see what I could find.  I found a City of Saskatoon report that was presented to council a couple of years ago.  As I was reading through it looking for the information that I needed, it had almost 20 photos that I recognized as being mine.  Some of them were used more than once but you get the point.  

I have had a conversation with city administration about their constant stealing of my images going back years.  The agreement was that they can use them with credit.  No money was needed to change hands, only that I was given credit for the images used.

I think this worked once or twice.  On one of the downtown reports, the photo was credited to Flickr.  I refuse to believe that it was because the report writer thought a website was the author or that you just credit, “the internet” for things you take from there, they didn’t want my name to appear on it.  That’s fine but either a) buy the rights to the image from me or b) don’t use my images.

As I was looking at this report, my initial thought was that the person writing an internal report never realized he or she had to credit anyone but then as I went through it, they credited other sources, including the City, which they really wouldn’t need to give credit to, since you know, they are the city.

My response normally would be “whatever” but I know a lot of photographers in this city that are way better than I am and need the money to pursue their craft and run their business.  In using my stuff from Flickr and Bridge City, it undermines their livelihoods.  I know it is a lot easier to “right click” and “save as” but in what other field of work is stealing someone’s work okay?

It’s not like I am that difficult to deal with.  My stuff has been published in books and magazines, is on a magazine (ok it’s a journal), was on the front page of The StarPhoenix (Barry Hotel being demolished), is on a CD of a band in Japan who does thrash metal, and yes, has been given permission to be used in city publications.  I have even had a photo used without permission by The Toronto Star (that was awkward) and I have never demanded payment.  Only that I am given credit.

Sometimes credit can’t be given and then I will take some form of renumeration.  A hotel gave Wendy and I a free weekend at their hotel.  For one report where they did not want my name to appear, I was bought off with a burger and drinks (and the great story of why they didn’t want to use my name).

I know the city administration is a big bureaucracy and for many of these reports, there is no expectation that they are read by anyone (including council) but how hard is it is to email someone and credit them correctly?  Apparently too hard for city staff.

Update: Some of you have asked why I don’t complain to City Council.  Some have brought up my frequent complaints to admin but others have also thought it isn’t a big deal that the city takes my work.  I am never that sure if they are okay with theft or they just don’t understand intellectual property.  Either way, it keeps happening and I guess it always will.

Visions Electronics

Mark lost his cell phone on the weekend.  He is pretty careful with it but he was out with Wendy running some errands and it went missing.  He was devastated.  I wasn’t convinced the dog didn’t eat it and hid it somewhere but whatever the case, he needs a new phone.

He is with Virgin Mobile and we are pretty happy with it.  I have always bought his phone outright and then we only pay $25/prepaid for texting and minutes.  That was my plan for this time.

I looked at The Source and Best Buy and was unimpressed with what they had for $100 – $150.  Really unimpressed.  We then went to Visions and they came out with a Motorola Moto G for $150.  I went to buy that but then Visions only charged me $98 for the phone which made it an even better deal.  They did that a couple of years ago as well.  I appreciated it then and I appreciated it now.

As they were ringing me in, the salesman told me about a special low rate they can get me signed up for.  I was like, “Go on…”.  I am only paying $25 now but he had a $19/month rate that was still month to month.  It was actually $18 a month but I pay $1 a month to lock out data.   It’s only $6/month cheaper but that’s $72 for the year.   It all ads up I guess.

The only hitch was as he was signing us up, we had to phone in to get the internet lock put on it.  No problem or so I thought.

Wendy heads home and phones Virgin while I set up Mark’s phone.  It takes her almost an hour to get the data lock put on it.  The women on the other end wouldn’t let Wendy speak.  She first tried to activate the phone (it had been activated at Visions), then she went on this other lecture to Wendy for like  20 minutes about something totally different.  Then it was something else.  It was hilarious.  Finally we got the data lock put on his phone and we were good.

If you are looking for a Bell or Virgin cell phone in Saskatoon, go to Visions.  I have shopped around and for whatever reason, they are the best at cellular sales, even on prepaid phones.

Welcome to your new police state

I can’t tell you what we are doing because I signed a non-disclosure agreement

The issue led to a public dispute three weeks ago in Silicon Valley, where a sheriff asked county officials to spend $502,000 on the technology. The Santa Clara County sheriff, Laurie Smith, said the technology allowed for locating cellphones — belonging to, say, terrorists or a missing person. But when asked for details, she offered no technical specifications and acknowledged she had not seen a product demonstration.
Buying the technology, she said, required the signing of a nondisclosure agreement.
“So, just to be clear,” Joe Simitian, a county supervisor, said, “we are being asked to spend $500,000 of taxpayers’ money and $42,000 a year thereafter for a product for the name brand which we are not sure of, a product we have not seen, a demonstration we don’t have, and we have a nondisclosure requirement as a precondition. You want us to vote and spend money,” he continued, but “you can’t tell us more about it.”
The technology goes by various names, including StingRay, KingFish or, generically, cell site simulator. It is a rectangular device, small enough to fit into a suitcase, that intercepts a cellphone signal by acting like a cellphone tower.
The technology can also capture texts, calls, emails and other data, and prosecutors have received court approval to use it for such purposes.
Cell site simulators are catching on while law enforcement officials are adding other digital tools, like video cameras, license-plate readers, drones, programs that scan billions of phone records and gunshot detection sensors. Some of those tools have invited resistance from municipalities and legislators on privacy grounds.
The nondisclosure agreements for the cell site simulators are overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and typically involve the Harris Corporation, a multibillion-dollar defense contractor and a maker of the technology. What has opponents particularly concerned about StingRay is that the technology, unlike other phone surveillance methods, can also scan all the cellphones in the area where it is being used, not just the target phone.

Wired Magazine named Harris Corporation the number 2 most dangerous thing on the internet right now.

The Harris Corporation and the U.S. Marshals Service are tied for going above and beyond to conceal information from the public, courts and defendants about law enforcement’s use of so-called stingray technology. Harris is the leading maker of stingrays for law enforcement, which simulate a cell tower to trick mobile phones and other devices into connecting to them and revealing their location. Federal and local law enforcement agencies around the county have been using the devices for years—in some cases bypassing courts altogether to use them without a warrant or deceiving judges about what they’re using to collect the location information. Why? They say it’s because Harris’s contract includes an NDA that prohibits customers from telling anyone, including judges, about their use of the technology. It’s hard to know who’s really initiating the secrecy, though—Harris, because it wants to protect its proprietary secrets from competitors, or law enforcement agencies, because they’re worried suspects will find ways to counteract the devices. The secrecy reached an extreme level this year when agents with the U.S. Marshals Service in Florida swooped in to seize public records about the use of stingrays to keep them out of the hands of the ACLU.