Fragile Conservative

Politics and social media are a terrible mix. I wonder if it doesn’t at least partly explain why politics is increasingly polarized. Let me give you an example.

This morning I visited a Facebook group called the National Conservative News Network Canada. Despite its name, it’s not a news network in any sense. It’s merely a group inhabited by a bunch of people who hold strong opinions and don’t want to hear any others. I visited because of a particular graphic that forcefully told the reader that all flags in the country should immediately be flown at half-mast for sixteen days, one day for each of the Humbolt Broncos hockey team members killed on Friday in Saskatchewan.

As you might imagine, the suggestion created quite a discussion. One group felt that lowering the flag is best limited to when members of the Canadian Forces are killed on active duty. The group owner, who favours the flag-lowering for the hockey team members, tried to invalidate that position by pointing out that Prime Minister used his executive privilege to have the flag lowered for his “good pal” Gord Downing.

Until this point in the discussion, I had no real skin in the game. However, when a person championing an action for the respect of the dead, makes a mockery of the name of another person who has passed on, I had no choice but to jump in. That feeling only increased as there were three other instances of the group owner making reference to Gord Downing.

I replied, pointing out that given his respect for the dead, the least he could do is spell Gord Downie’s name correctly. He came back with a graphic of the Peace Tower flag schedule indicating it was lowered in honour of Gord Downie. I looked up and saw he had corrected his mistake, trying to pass of my comment as an error on my part. Facebook labeled his post as having been edited, and clicking the “Edited” indicator, he correct the spelling three minutes after I pointed out the error. In reply, I suggested that it was a simple error, and he should simply own it, rather than correcting it and pretending he made no mistake. Hell, it was likely an autocorrection error he missed. Be an adult and admit it!

Hours later I checked back and found that the group owner had banned me from the National Conservative News Network Canada. This banning also deleted all my comments and any replies.

So rather than a discussion area, the group owner has gathered around him people who think just as he does and parrot the same opinions. Anyone who raises a dissenting voice is summarily silenced. It’s a fragile ego indeed who can’t accept a spelling correction! Is it any wonder people can’t discuss politics or religion any more without things getting out of hand? These jokers have fashioned echo chambers where everyone allowed in agrees with them. How can they ever learn reasoned discourse?

But the real kicker? The image you see to the right is the profile image attached to the National Conservative News Network Canada Facebook page. They seemed to have missed the warning against having one’s own opinions, voicing them, or even having <gasp!> an original idea … never mind something as minor as pointing out a spelling error of significance.

The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one.

Politician: FAIL

Here is a tweet from my Member of Parliament:

What’s worse is that this post is typical of his tweets and Facebook posts. Does he tell his constituents what he’s doing for them? No. He’d rather take shots at the party in power. So he’s giving us what he thinks are reasons to not vote for them the next time an election rolls around. What he seems not to realize is he’s not giving us any reason to vote for him.

He’s simply perpetuating how voters typically vote against candidates and parties rather than vote for them.

I’ve tried to spur conversation by adding comments like, “So what have you been working on for us lately, Rob? Anything?” and I’ve never received a reply. In fact, I’ve never seen him reply to anyone. This all despite his claiming he set himself up in social media to stay connected with his constituents.

He’s utterly clueless about how social media works. He also seems unclear about the ‘representative’ part of representative democracy. Getting replies out of him, regardless of the medium, is not easy. Even then, it’s usually of no substance whatsoever.

Rob Nicholson acts as if he represents his party first, and his constituents last. So disappointing.

Web Hosting Canada

We had a good run. I signed up with Enginehosting about a week short of twelve years ago. Things went well for the most part, and I was happy with their service. Until now.

About a month ago, I couldn’t log into the server via SFTP. I contacted support, and with their guidance I found that while I could not log in using MacOS 10.13 High Sierra, I could get in with a virtualized copy of 10.8 Mountain Lion. With Christmas rapidly approaching, I downloaded my backup files with 10.8 and enjoyed the holidays.

Afterward, before I could get back to the SFTP problem, I found that I was unable to update the WordPress plugins or WordPress itself. When I tried, I was prompted for my FTPS hostname, username, and password. That’s never happened before, but I entered the required information and my credentials were not accepted. When I submitted a ticket regarding this latest problem, the answer came as quite a surprise.

Most likely your WordPress install needs to be running on new technology than what is on your Enginehosting account to successfully upgrade. We recommend moving the account to one of our Arcustech plans, as Enginehosting is a dead product line.

I know they started a new ‘brand’ more tailored to enterprise customers. It was difficult to not notice the prices were higher. I thought they’d continue to support their Enginehosting customers indefinitely, but it seems I was wrong. If they wanted to shut down Enginehosting, I expected they would act in a business-like manner and let their remaining customers know with enough notice to make alternate arrangements. They didn’t do this. Rather, they stopped updating the support software on the servers until their clients’ software broke. Not cool.

Given that my renewal date is later this week, I set out examining web hosting services based in Canada. Privacy laws are significantly different in the U.S. so I want to bring things back into the country. I finally settled on Web Hosting Canada. Not only is it significantly cheaper, but my SSL certificate is included. The price I used to pay yearly is now my price for three years. Score!

Now we’ll see how well their service and support performs.

Company logo ©2018 Web Hosting Canada

Class act, Sync!

I like Dropbox and all that it does. Even without sharing folders with others, it’s a ridiculously handy application. My only issues with it is the ongoing cost up upgrading to a paid plan, and the fact that the company holds the decryption keys so they can easily look at your data. I’m sure they do as I’ve heard of file sharing groups being busted. I have used encrypted containers for some information, but that increases the complexity of sharing files immensely.

I signed up with Sync because they promise significant security that Dropbox does not. In a nutshell:

Sync’s unique, zero-knowledge storage platform guarantees your privacy by providing end-to-end encryption, and only you have access to the keys.

They offer 5 GB for free, which is the most common free amount among these services. I made almost no use of the service however as inertia kept me using Dropbox and I have more space available on Dropbox earned through referrals. I happened to read the Sync blog and noted that they started allowing upgrade payments using bitcoin. It just so happens that I had 0.71084043 BTC and I had no idea what to do with it. Sync fixed that problem nicely. So for 0.096292 BTC, I have 500 GB for the next year. In regular money, that’s $49.

So far it’s as trouble-free and solid as Dropbox ever way, and it suffers from the same curse that all utilities do: you hardly notice it until something goes wrong! Suffice to say that it’s been entirely trouble-free so far and I haven’t given it a thought until today when I received an envelope in the mail from Sync. I was curious what they might want as I thought our transaction was complete. I opened the envelope and found this surprise:

How’s that for nice? A thank you card signed by the staff! This is about as personal a thank you as one can get from a company, and it’s by far the nicest one I’ve received. Given how customer service works at most companies, this gesture is tremendously noteworthy and makes me very well disposed toward the company.

If you’d like to give Sync a try, click here to go to their page and choose “Free signup” in the upper right corner. Using this link, you and I both will get an extra gigabyte added to our free space allotment. We both win!

While this is not a real review, consider it my recommendation of Sync because of my trouble-free experience and their obvious pro-customer attitude.

Life imitates art with error 451

You’ve seen it many times times in your travels around the World Wide Web: error 404, file not found. This is but one of many HTTP errors.

There’s a new one that I hope we don’t see very often but it’s a win for transparency. I’m talking about error 451: Unavailable For Legal Reasons1. The idea was hatched when ISPs in the UK were ordered to block the Pirate Bay website in 20122. When users attempted to visit the site, their ISP offered up error 403: forbidden. This seems appropriate, but the reasons for the restriction are not a part of the error. Also, a 403 is typically the result of a lack of privileges, resulting in the server denying the request. In the case of a government ordered block, the client request never makes it to the server.

Granted many oppressive governments will never allow the 451 error because they don’t want the transparency it provides. Still, even the possibility of having censorship be labeled as such, and not as a technical problem, is a win.

And in case you recognize the error number itself, it was indeed taken from the title of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found.3

  1. Tim Bray, “An HTTP Status Code to Report Legal Obstacles,” IETF Datatracker, November 10, 2015.
  2. Michael Byrne, “The HTTP 451 Error Code for Censorship Is Now an Internet Standard,” Motherboard, December 21, 2015.
  3. Fahrenheit 451,” Wikipedia, retrieved December 21, 2015.