A Few Words About ACTA

The time has come Internet, we must stand united once more for our causes. Over the past several years, governments from around the world have been preparing in secrecy a plan for a global copyright and investigation model for the Internet. Behind closed doors they have discussed many things that the citizens of their respective countries won’t read or ever even hear about until it is far too late. ACTA, or the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement will likely not be passed with citizen or possibly even cabinet or senate consent in most countries, and for those that do, they probably won’t even get to see the entirety of the agreement.

This is not only a great infringement on our freedom as citizen of our respective countries, but also if allowed to pass freely a big step in the wrong direction for governmental power. True that the core of the document has been released, however its amendments and unique additions by particular countries are censored for fear of retribution and retaliation. Our inalienable right to free speech in most free countries are at risk, and by doing nothing we only encourage big government, and even government that transcends borders. Which is why I ask you all to do your part, review the facts, and act. Comment back, dispute my claim, prove me right provide evidence, be proactive and send a letter to your member of parliament or congressman. But please don’t do nothing.

I don’t mean to sound like doomsday is coming, but I do want to warn that the first step to losing your freedom is not asking the right questions and demanding answers from government, especially when they work in secrecy.

Is Bing the New Google?

Bing Logo

The New Face of Search?

Bing has now been with us for a little over a month now, and I was excited to hear about Microsoft’s latest offering. Something over the past couple years at Microsoft changed, as I’ve gone from strongly disliking their products to being able to actually use them in my day-to-day life. An example of this is the Windows 7 Release Candidate, which runs fantastically, and so far has been much more stable than my previous Windows XP and Vista experiences. Whatever they are doing culture-wise over at the Redmond campus seems to be working though.

As much as I would like to give Microsoft credit for their Bing offering, I am reminded by the shadows of their previous release: the MSN Network and Windows Live Search. Both of those products left a terrible taste in my mouth and I found them to be incredibly user unfriendly. It has taken years for Microsoft to finally get it right, and it seems that they have in a big way.

The first thing I noticed was the clean interface. I want to say Google-like, but there is a distinctive design use there that separates it from the competition enough to be called unique. But it isn’t the colour scheme that I’m particularly interested in; I’m much more interested in the search results and feature capabilities. On those two topics I was pleasantly surprised by the relevance and clarity of results provided. My measure of usability relies on two things: how simple of a search I can do to retrieve the content and how relevant that content actually is to my needs.

Now, I have been using Google for years, I think I started when I was maybe 14, after I got tired of dealing with the poor returns of the heavyweights of the time: AltaVista and Ask. I used Google once and was hooked. Bing almost did the same thing for me as Google did to the previous reigning champions: it got me interested in my search results again. With their snippets of information beside each search, the cleanliness of the results page and most importantly getting me to my relevant content fast. It perplexed me how much I actually enjoyed using their service, and as of right now I use Bing as my default search provider.

Now I don’t tend to use many of the other services provided on a regular basis, such as image search and news group search, but from the little I use the services, I say that they are at an equal trade off: Google is a little faster, whereas Bing has a few more nice UI features. That being said, I don’t really consider those categories when I am comparing the two engines.

Overall, I have to say yes, Bing must be a real competitor to Google, since it seems to be swaying quite a few users back the Microsoft way, even for a short while. Also based on the fact that Google seems to be alert to this new competitor is interesting, as shortly after Microsoft began to see success with Bing, Google announced their entrance into the desktop operating system market. Now if that isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to Bing, then I don’t know what is. It will be interesting to see how these two giants battle it out over the next year or so, and it will also be interesting to see what people have to say about their experience with this new search competitor.

People and the World of Information

I guess it shouldn’t come as a shock to me that there are still people out there who do not believe that the internet is a great medium for information sharing and gathering, but in some cases I see their points. One of the latest authors to do so is Ray Bradbury, who believes that the internet is not something where tangible work can be done and shared. And while I share in his belief that libraries are a persistent and necessary tool in civilization, I don’t share his belief that the internet is not a powerful medium in his own. So to satisfy myself, I produced the following binary table:

Binary table comparing the internet to libraries.

The MPAA... So Much Hate

There, now I feel much better being in the (1,1) column of this binary table of information love. Either way, share your comments on your beliefs about the internet.

The World is a Smaller Place

Fantastic audio and video mashup of the song ‘Stand by Me,’ which started off as a basic recording of of a street artist, and as the authors collected more samples using just a laptop, camcorder and microphone from different groups around the world, it just became this masterpiece. The world may be smaller today with modern technology, but sometimes it is for the greater good.