My submission re: Canada and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations

Feb 14, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on My submission re: Canada and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations

Yesterday I blogged encouraging you to take action and protect your online rights. One of the steps that I also took yesterday was to make a submission to the Canadian Government in relation to Canada’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Please find below a copy of my submission. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me or leave them below in the comment section.
 
All the best,
Richard
 
“The following is my submission in relation to the Trade Negotiations Consultations.
 
I understand that the Government of Canada (“Government”) has expressed Canada’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations. I further understand the Government has embarked on a public consultation process to allow Canadians an early opportunity to provide comments, input and advice.
 
I am a Canadian citizen, a self-employed Chartered Accountant and photographer who supports the Government’s desire to expand trade and enter into free trade agreements. By way of example, I think NAFTA had a positive impact on Canada, Mexico and the United States of America (“US”). However, before signing future agreements, I think it is critical that the Government carefully weighs the potential benefits against the costs to the Canadian people.
 
In this regard, from the various articles (such as those from Mr. Michael Geist and Mr. Peter Clark) and information and analysis of the TPP that I have read, I respectively suggest that the Government should not be joining the TPP negotiations, but should rather explore other alternatives.
 
I agree with Mr. Peter Clark who states in his article (http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/01/10/peter-clark-is-the-trans-pacific-partnership-a-re-writing-of-nafta/) that the TPP is not a free trade agreement, but a “Preferential Trade Agreement built on discrimination against non-members”. Furthermore, there are numerous reasons why the Government should not become involved with the TPP, including:
 

  • the significant and unacceptable effects the TPP will have on Canadians with respect to intellectual property, access to public domain, digital locks and so forth (see below for additional comments on this point);
  • the fact that the US will not include Maritime Transport in the negotiations;
  • the buy American provisions and various small business and minority set-asides that will negate the effectiveness of the US government’s procurement commitment;
  • the US’ unwillingness to provide open access to its markets for dairy and sugar; and
  • New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser’s suggestion that there will be no re-opening of agreed issues and no delays to accommodate the newcomers (which is completely unacceptable).

 
Notwithstanding the above, if the Government does decide to join the TPP negotiations, I respectively encourage the Government not to agree with any TPP requirements which would take away, or diminish Canadians’ rights, and in particular, in relation to intellectual property, access to public domain, digital locks and other areas I have noted below. As I understand from an article from Michael Geist (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6225/125/), there are significant changes that the Government will be required to agree to before they will be allowed to join the TPP. Therefore, I strongly urge the Government:
 

  • NOT to extend the current term of copyright protection from the current Canadian law of life of the author plus an additional 50 years;
  • NOT to implement the digital lock rules contemplated in Bill C-11, and certainly not increase penalties for circumvention and restrict the ability to create new digital lock exceptions. As an aside, I do not understand why the Government refuses to provide an exemption to the digital lock rules which would allow Canadians to copy material that they have purchased for their own personal use (i.e. for backup purposes);
  • NOT to implement new rights management rules that would lower the standard for violation and extend the scope of prohibited activities;
  • NOT to agree to the disclosure of personal information without strict privacy safeguards;
  • NOT to agree to any copyright criminalization requirements especially in cases that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain;
  • to agree to the requirement to provide copyright owners with an exclusive right to block “parallel trade” of copyrighted works. This is especially relevant considering that these issues were previously considered a number of years ago by the Supreme Court of Canada, which rejected attempts to use copyright to stop such activities;
  • NOT to reverse the changes found in Bill C-11 that distinguishes between commercial and non-commercial infringement;
  • NOT to implement new ISP liability provisions that would require a notice-and-takedown system contrary to the approach established under Bill C-11; and
  • NOT to implement or agree to anything similar to the previously proposed SOPA or PIPA in the US.

 
It would appear that the primary reason for Canada to enter into the TPP is to obtain free trade agreements with other countries, in particular those in the Asia-Pacific area. I would respectively suggest that it would be more beneficial if Canada were not to enter into the TPP negotiations, but rather consider other options, including entering into discussions with the Association of South East Asian Nations or join the talks scheduled to commence shortly between China, Korea and Japan, or entering into free trade negotiations directly with individual countries.
 
If you have any questions, or if I may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
 
Kind regards,
 
Richard D. Hamilton, CA”

Take action and protect your online rights

Feb 13, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Take action and protect your online rights

You may have read or heard that on January 18, 2012 an estimated 7,000 websites from around the world (including this one) blacked out their websites in an effort to raise awareness about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, respectively. As discussed in the Wikipedia article Stop Online Piracy Act “Opponents state the proposed legislation threatens free speech and innovation, and enables law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing content posted on a single blog or webpage.” As a result of the overwhelming response, both the U.S. House and Senate decided to “postpone” drafting of the bills.
 
SOPA and PIPA are just the latest examples of legislation that governments around the world have introduced or are working on in an attempt to stop the admitted problem of pirating. Unfortunately, most of this legislation goes too far and will seriously reduce a free and open Internet. The $64,000 question is why? Unfortunately, it appears that certain businesses and organizations (primarily from the entertainment industry) seem to wield a huge amount of power with governments around the world. Rather than change their business models they find it “easier” to convince governments to change their legislation. Would you like another example? Have a look at the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that was negotiated in secrecy “for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement”. Like SOPA and PIPA, people are thankfully expressing their dislike with this agreement. (See Tens of Thousands Protest ACTA).
 
Canada, unfortunately is no different. The current Canadian Government appears determined to trample on the rights of its citizens in an effort to satisfy the entertainment industry and the U.S. government. How is the Canadian Government putting the entertainment business ahead of its citizens? Bill C-11, which is currently in committee, appears as an honest attempt to create some balance between copyrights and the rights of the Canadian citizen. Unfortunately, the Government has made a decision that digital locks will “trump” all rights and there will be no exemptions. So consumers cannot break any digital lock if they want to back up their DVDs, eBooks, software and so forth. You will also not be able to copy the material to other devices that you own unless the provider allows you to do so, even if it is just for your own personal use. Digital locks and Bill C-11 is discussed in a great article by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
 
One also has to really wonder about the Canadian Government’s desire to truly debate these bills when you have Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews stating “Stand with us or with the child pornographers”. This law is not even introduced and the Government is already using unacceptable methods to convince people that they should be supporting the bill. If the law is so necessary, shouldn’t the government be trying to explain it and educate its citizens rather than telling them that they will stand with child pornographers if they question the law? Unfortunately, I believe that the Government’s actions and the upcoming introduction of the Access to Information Act are really the first steps down a very dangerous slippery slope. I strongly urge you to read the following two articles on this topic:

 
My hope is that I have raised your awareness in relation to rights that you will be losing if we do not stand up and be heard. So please learn more about what the Canadian Government is trying to take away from you, write to your Member of Parliament and tell your MP to stand up for Canadians and finally, please sign the openmedia.ca’s No Internet Lockdown Petition [EDIT – Link no longer working…was www.openmedia.ca/lockdown].

If you would like to read more about this topic, I highly recommend the following:

 
All the best,
Richard

Head First Programming Review

Dec 28, 2010   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Head First Programming Review




Head First Programming is unlike any other programming book that I have read; it is an interesting book that uses lots of humor, graphics and real life exercises that teach the reader how to program using the programming language Python 3.




Head First Programming is not a reference book, but a learning experience.   It moves at a quick pace (but not too fast), provides lots of programming exercises and is presented in a fun and enjoyable way.  For this book to be beneficial, you will have to install Python 3 on your computer (it’s easy and free).  However, the authors stress that this is not Head First Python, but they chose Python because in their opinion it is a great programming language to start and grow with.  Each chapter is packed full of useful information which is immediately used in the exercises, and the exercises build upon themselves, as do the chapters.


My one issue with the book is the number of errors.  While none of these are serious errors, they can be frustrating, especially when they affect the exercises. Thankfully, O’Reilly has an errata page (http://oreilly.com/catalog/errata.csp?isbn=9780596802387) where readers have noted mistakes and the authors have responded accordingly.



I highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning about programming and have little or no experience in programming.  To purchase the book or to obtain additional information click here: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596802370/



Disclosure: A free electronic version of Head First Programming was provided to me as part of the O’Reilly’s Blogger Review Program on the understanding that I would review the book.  It is a great program that I also highly recommend.  Full details of the program can be found by clicking on the following:

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Alternate Style Sheets in WordPress

Aug 16, 2010   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Alternate Style Sheets in WordPress

In designing my website I came across a problem…my wife and I disagreed on the theme color, she liked the black theme and I like the white. Knowing just enough programming to be dangerous, I set out to find a solution, a way that I could offer both options to visitors.


There are a number of sites that provide coding and an explanation of how to install alternative style sheets. While these were all very helpful, none of them seemed to work the way I wanted them to work… I wanted a nice push button option that changed the theme, stored it in a cookie, and worked in IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera. Okay, realistically, I knew that was a tall order as the browsers don’t all work the same. Code that will work in one, will not work in another and vice verse.


Kudos to Opera as it was the first browser to work the way I wanted using code from: http://www.thesitewizard.com/javascripts/change-style-sheets.shtml. Unfortunately, IE8 refused to play at all. Firefox and Chrome would change for the particular page, but developed amnesia as soon as I moved from one page to another. I also tried the code from: http://www.blogohblog.com/integrating-alternative-stylesheets/. This code would not work at all for me.


I quickly realized that I was not alone, the errors that I was receiving and the problems I was experiencing others had the same ones. The solutions offered never quite fixed all of the issues and sometimes created new ones.


This was going on for a number of months as I could never devote enough hours to work through it. That is, until this past Sunday when I decided enough was enough, I wanted to fix this once and for all (or until IE 9 comes out and Microsoft changes the rules again ;-)). Long story short, I found an article from Paul Sowden: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/alternate/ that worked! The kicker…it was published over 8 1/2 years ago on November 2, 2001.


Here is how I finally got it to work…


1. I uploaded Mr. Sowden’s styleswitcher.js into the following directory: /wp-content/themes/picture-perfect/


2. I decided that the black theme would be the default theme and therefore left it as style.css


3. I made a copy of style.css and renamed the copy to white.css (in wp-content/themes/picture-perfect/). I then changed the colors to suit my white theme.


4. I also created a copy of the ImageMenu.css file and renamed the copy to imageMenuWhite.css (in wp-content/themes/picture-perfect/imagemenu/) (changing again to suit your color tastes…but being consistent with white.css)


5. I added the following code to my header.php file:

<link rel=”alternate stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”<?php bloginfo(‘template_directory’); ?>/white.css” media=”screen” title=”white” />

<link rel=”alternative stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”<?php echo $url; ?>/imagemenu/imageMenuWhite.css” title=”white” media=”screen” />

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”<?php bloginfo(‘template_directory’); ?>/styleswitcher.js”></script>

[This last one should be just at the end of the head section, just above the /head line ]


6. I then added a Text Widget called “Black or White?” with the following code:

<form>

<input type=”submit”

onclick=”setActiveStyleSheet(‘style’);return false;”

name=”theme” value=”Black” id=”style”>

<input type=”submit”

onclick=”setActiveStyleSheet(‘white’);return false;”

name=”theme” value=”White” id=”white”>

</form>

It is a rather simple process that has only taken me a few months :-).  Hopefully, the above will save you significant amount of time developing your alternative style sheets.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask in the comment section.


Kind regards,
Richard

Creating Slideshows

Aug 8, 2010   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Creating Slideshows

Recently I was asked how I created the slideshows in my photoblog as the WordPress theme I am using, Reflection-Mod Photoblog, does not have that capability built in.  As I was preparing to reply to the question, it occurred to me that others who are using the theme may find the steps I took to be beneficial…  In a nutshell, I created Pages and embedded into the Pages the slideshow html code generated from my Zenfolio photography site.  The following are the detailed steps I followed:


1. Create a Main Slideshow Page
I created a Page titled Slideshows with no parent and included the following in the html field:

The photos on this site can all be viewed as slideshows.  Clicking on the links below will take you to the respective slideshow.  Once you arrive at the slideshow, roll your mouse over the slideshow.  If you would like to see the slideshow in full screen mode, please click on the bottom right icon and then press the play button to restart the show.  If you have any questions regarding the slideshow, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or email me.  Kind regards, Richard
<a href=”http://www.richardhamiltonphotography.com/slideshows/slideshow-all-photos/”>- All photos</a>
<a href=”http://www.richardhamiltonphotography.com/slideshows/slideshow-fashion-and-modeling/”>- Fashion and Modeling</a>



2. Create Child Pages for each Slideshow
As you will note from above, I have links on the main Slideshow Page pointing to each individual slideshow.  These are actually links to Pages that I have setup to “house” the code for each slideshow. Therefore I suggest you set up Pages for each slideshow you would like to include in your blog.  On the right hand side of the page under Page Attributes, choose Slideshows as the parent.   I left the Template as Default Template and Order as 0.


3. Link to Slideshow
Here is the magic 😉  The actual slideshows were created from my Zenfolio account (http://photos.richardhamiltonphotography.com) and I embedded the code generated from Zenfolio’s excellent slideshow maker into the HTML area on each respective slideshow Page. While I used Zenfolio, this should work with any site where you can create and link to slideshows.


As a side note, I use Zenfolio to show my photos, create slideshows, store my photos online and to sell them. I have been with Zenfolio for a number of years and highly recommend them.  If you are thinking about signing up, you can consider their different plans here: http://www.zenfolio.com/zf/pricing.aspx (I have their Premium plan).  If you use my referral code: FTY-NU2-W5E when you sign up, you will save $5.


That’s all there is to it. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.


Kind regards,
Richard

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