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October 31, 2014 -- 2:45 PM
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October 23, 2014 -- 10:46 AM
posted by Par

The events in Ottawa yesterday were frightening and tragic. I can't imagine the chaos in that kind of uncertain situation, the fear when hearing gunshots in a place you consider safe, and the vulnerability in the air afterward. Two people are dead and we have many more questions than answers.

We also have a story that syncs with a prevailing narrative and fits well into our current foreign policy and domestic security policy discussion (by coincidence, the bill being brought forward in parliament yesterday was about expanding CSIS's foreign intelligence powers.) There was already talk after the tragic killing of a soldier in Quebec on Monday about how Canada's role in Syria and Iraq affects our security at home.

But what are we really discussing? We look at the religion of the two people involved this week, but mostly because we're primed to do so. And without a discussion of the real impact that focussing on that has on an already alienated population in our country.

And are we missing the real picture here? These attacks are not 20 ideologically committed men, moving to the country in a slowly building plan over many years and executing a coordinated attack which kills thousands and destroys iconic buildings. These are two individuals carrying out actions on a small scale which cannot be considered to be strategic or coordinated. So what is more likely? That they are part of a global conspiracy, or that they are individuals who lack social and mental health supports? Are we missing the real problem by focussing on the politically present issue?

I don't know. But I'd hate to turn every parliamentary building in the country into a fortress, and further "randomly screen" every "muslim-looking" person in this country because a mentally ill person reached his tipping point, while ignoring the failure of our mental health system to help the people it needs to help. And it's a sickening thought to consider that our foreign policy response may lead to the deaths of hundreds or thousands of people in the middle east because we cannot face up to the real causes of our problems here.

September 27, 2014 -- 10:46 PM
posted by Al

September 19, 2014 -- 11:41 AM
posted by Al

I think something can be arranged, Tony is also in town. If need be we can use my place.

September 18, 2014 -- 7:05 PM
posted by Mary (and Ed)

Hello! So I know this is extremely last minute, but we'll be in Edmonton this weekend. Would anyone be up for hanging out Saturday night after 9:00 p.m.? We miss you guys!

September 16, 2014 -- 10:38 PM
posted by Al

September 11, 2014 -- 6:38 PM
posted by Par

Continuing a theme:

The “Custom Managed Audiences” tool works like this: A campaign or group uses its own list of potential voters (or buys one from a state authority or private vendor) and uploads it to Facebook. The company then matches the names to its user base through databases managed by companies, such as Acxiom, that specialize in collecting information about individuals. This process effectively combines the electoral information it already knows about voters with their Facebook profiles: likes, group memberships, issues or even favorites. The process anonymizes the users’ personal identifiers but retains enough information to enable campaigns to target well-defined groups.

September 05, 2014 -- 11:19 PM
posted by MattL

No kidding Par, technology has come a long way. From their own data policy:

"We also receive other types of information about you:

We receive data about you whenever you use or are running Facebook, such as when you look at another person's timeline, send or receive a message, search for a friend or a Page, click on, view or otherwise interact with things, use a Facebook mobile app, or make purchases through Facebook.
When you post things like photos or videos on Facebook, we may receive additional related data (or metadata), such as the time, date, and place you took the photo or video.
We receive data from or about the computer, mobile phone, or other devices you use to install Facebook apps or to access Facebook, including when multiple users log in from the same device. This may include network and communication information, such as your IP address or mobile phone number, and other information about things like your internet service, operating system, location, the type (including identifiers) of the device or browser you use, or the pages you visit. For example, we may get your GPS or other location information so we can tell you if any of your friends are nearby, or we could request device information to improve how our apps work on your device.
We receive data whenever you visit a game, application, or website that uses Facebook Platform or visit a site with a Facebook feature (such as a social plugin), sometimes through cookies. This may include the date and time you visit the site; the web address, or URL, you're on; technical information about the IP address, browser and the operating system you use; and, if you are logged in to Facebook, your User ID.
Sometimes we get data from our affiliates or our advertising partners, customers and other third parties that helps us (or them) deliver ads, understand online activity, and generally make Facebook better. For example, an advertiser may tell us information about you (like how you responded to an ad on Facebook or on another site) in order to measure the effectiveness of - and improve the quality of - ads."

I don't like to think of them as Big Brother, so much as Friendly Older Brother. And now Facebook knows I checked out damnyouparas.com today. I wonder if I'll get in trouble for Googling "how to topple the social networking oligarchy" while I have Facebook open?

September 04, 2014 -- 3:04 AM
posted by Beck

Holy crap, what happened to the summer? Par, we need to hang out before it ends up being winter already.

August 25, 2014 -- 1:03 PM
posted by Par

(Facebook) News Feed FYI: Click-baiting:

Today we’re announcing some improvements to News Feed to help people find the posts and links from publishers that are most interesting and relevant.

So how do we determine what looks like click-bait?

One way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook.

The best way to share a link after these updates will be to use the link format, so it looks like the one above. In our studies, these posts have received twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions.

Will this affect my Page?

A small set of publishers who are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many people don’t spend time reading after they click through may see their distribution decrease in the next few months. We’re making these changes to ensure that click-bait content does not drown out the things that people really want to see on Facebook.

Translation: we track what you click on and track you when you leave our site and when you come back. We want to sell clicks that maximize the value we can extract from them. We want you to think we're making things better for you, but we have to think about our customers, who are our advertisers, not you.

August 19, 2014 -- 3:22 PM
posted by Al

Thanks Par!

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