The Rants of Issachar

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Digital Cameras can be fixed...

Today I fixed my digital camera. I guess not everything electronic needs to be thrown away rather than fixed. True, it was only a jammed shutter button and one of the screws won't stay in anymore, but it works.


:: posted by issachar, 9:15 PM | Permalink | 5 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Napster

Currently Listening to:
Napster.ca
Whatever I feel like...


Thank you to Caleb for mentioning Napster to me. I signed up last night and so far the service looks good.

There's a few... shall I say "issues" with the service though. I've actually e-mailed them about them, so I might try writing up something a bit longer if I get an answer back. So for now, only a few comments.

Positives:
  1. I like the subscription model for getting music. Far better than buying CD's in my opinion.
  2. $10 per month is a very reasonable price.
  3. It's fast and easy. Legalities aside, Limewire might be cheaper, but it's more of a hassle.
  4. The features of the "Radio" stations are superior to those in iTunes. (User modifiable playlists)
Negatives:
  1. The subscription model breaks down unless they've got virtually everything I'd want to listen to. This means they need to have everything. They're not there yet.
  2. What's with 1 million songs available in the UK and the US, but only 700,000 in Canada? I asked them about it, and they said it was because of different music licensing in different countries. So... Fix it!
  3. Having part of library unavailable for streaming/download and available only for purchase as tracks are sold in iTunes. Lame. If I wanted to buy music a la carte, I'd go with iTunes. Apple sells them for less anyway.
  4. Charging extra for letting you listen to your music on a DRM-enabled mp3 player. This should be basic service.
  5. The searching interface needs improvement. Too much clicking required.
  6. The software should not crash. Which it did when I was listening to my first song. It got messed so badly I had to use System Restore to get it back. No problems since then though. It might have had to do with upgrading to Windows Media Player 10. (I see no reason to do that again and confirm my suspicion.
All in all though I think I'm going to like Napster. We'll see.


:: posted by issachar, 4:08 PM | Permalink | 4 comments | Links to this post

The Rebel Sell

I recently finished reading Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter's book, The Rebel Sell. A very good book that I'd recommend to anyone. They make some very intelligent observations. I've been putting off writing this posting because I won't be able to do the book justice, but I want to write about globalization and The Rebel Sell recently gave me a fresh perspective on the subject.

I'm not going to try to summarize the whole book, but they make a very good criticism of the idea of counter-culture and the global left movement in general. Naomi Klein won't appreciate the book most likely, I think she'd have a hard time showing them to be wrong.

I keep trying to write a summary of the book and they're all lousy. So I'll just link to Harper Canada's summary of the book.

I've said before that I'm not conservative politically because I don't care about social issues. I'm conservative politically because I do care. Being "liberal" politically today seems to me to be a recipe for feeling good about social issues but achieving nothing. Solutions that sound good and make you feel better but don't work are pointless. They're actually worse than nothing because they give the false impression that you're actually doing something worthwhile and thus make it more difficult to do anything constructive...


:: posted by issachar, 2:29 PM | Permalink | 1 comments | Links to this post

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Violating the Employment Standards Act.

Here's another beef I have. Employers who violate the Employment Standards Act. Over the years I hear from friends and acquaintences how their employer has done something to them that constitutes a violation of the Employment Standards Act. Often it's something they've found irritating, but ultimately not worth making waves over. Sometimes the violation of the Act has been "legitimized" by the employee signing their name to a form agreeing to the behaviour.

This really, really ticks me off.

First of all, signing a piece of paper agreeing to accept your employers action does nothing. Violations of the Employment Standards Act are simply illegal. Having an employee to "agree" to it does nothing. You can't sign away minimum employment standards. Period. Full stop.

Secondly, an employer who does this creates a negative pressure for all other companies to follow suit. Say you "agree" to take only 2% vacation pay for the first six months of employment rather than the legally required 4%. The cost savings will give your employer a competetive advantage over other employers who actually follow the law. So an ethical employer may well be faced with a lousy choice. Break the law by giving only 2% and mistreat your employees as well, or lose business and ultimately be forced to declare bankrupcy and lay-off all your employees.

This isn't a problem with the content of the law. It's not that the law isn't strict enough. It's that people break the law.

So a couple of points
Whether it's forcing you to skip legally mandated breaks, an illegal deduction on your paycheque, not paying overtime, or something else, it's crap. Your boss may be a nice guy in other respects, but doing something like this makes him a jerk. And he needs to be punished for it.


:: posted by issachar, 12:15 PM | Permalink | 9 comments | Links to this post

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister...

I've written a letter to the Prime Minister. Hopefully I'll be able to post a response from his office as well. Feel free to comment on how constructive you think my comments are.

To the Right Honourable Prime Minister Paul Martin:

Sir,

I am writing to your office to ask why you chose not to release the Gomery report as soon as you received it from the inquiry. I understand that the Gomery inquiry was created to report to the Prime Minister's office and as part of its mandate was to provide the report to the Prime Minister's office prior to releasing it to the public.

I appreciate that there was no legal requirement for your office to release the report the moment you received it, but I am still concerned that you chose not to exercise your prerogative to provide parliament with a copy immediately. The primary concern many Canadians have about your government is an apparent lack of accountability and transparency. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons why Justice Gomery's conclusions are so important. Given this situation, it seems to me that releasing the Gomery report immediately would send the message that the Martin government is serious about doing things differently.

Having given this some thought, I am unable to think of any legitimate reason why it would be preferable to keep the report secret as long as possible. Why would your office not release a copy to parliament immediately? The only reason I can think of is political spin control. Is there any benefit to the public that I am not seeing? Is there a danger in giving parliament all of the report immediately? In short, how was your decision in the best interests of Canadians?

I do not mean to attack you or your office in writing this. I simply would like to know the reasoning behind your decision.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to receiving an answer from your office as soon as possible. I would also like permission to post your response on my personal website. I would post it on the same entry as my letter. (http://issachar.gorman.cc/2005/11/i-wrote-letter-to-prime-minister.html)


Sincerely,

Andrew Gorman

Update: Thursday, November 3rd

I received a response of sorts from the Prime Minister's office. It appears to be automated. I guess my e-mail was caught by some sort of spam filter. (It must be a very strict filter). I guess I should send in a snail mail letter.

Since it's an automated response, not a personal one, I'm posting it online without explicit permission.


Subject: RE: Spam: A question regarding your office's response to theGomery Report
From: Prime Minister/Premier ministre
Date: 7:14AM


Please know that your e-mail message has been received in the Prime Minister's Office and that your comments have been noted. Our office
always welcomes hearing from correspondents and being made aware of their views.

Thank you for writing.

Sachez que le Cabinet du Premier ministre a bien reçu votre courriel et que nous avons pris bonne note de vos commentaires. Nous aimons être
bien informés de l'opinion des correspondants.

Je vous remercie d'avoir écrit au Premier ministre.


Again, comments are appreciated.


:: posted by issachar, 12:26 PM | Permalink | 13 comments | Links to this post