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All Things Internet™ since 1999


Security Priorities

I find it amazing that a US citizen can buy thousands of rounds of ammunition, assault rifles, handguns, camouflage clothing for the purpose of mounting an assault on a movie theatre without raising the suspicions of any law enforcement agency. In light of this I’m even more amazed that anyone would claim that stockpiling weaponry in this manner is a right worthy of protection by the US Constitution. 

At the same time, in the same country, travellers can’t take water bottles through airport security and teenagers are subject to criminal prosecution for downloading music from the Internet.


A Step Towards Change on the CIRA Board

CIRA’s Board of Directors Nominating Committee have published their slate of Candidates for the upcoming election. These candidates will stand alongside member nominated Candidates in a ballot later this year.

Understandably, the Nominating Committee doesn’t publish any details of its deliberations so we don’t know who the committee may have turned away. We only know who they selected. That said, I find it telling that of the four current Directors eligible for re-election – John King, Victoria Withers, Barry Shell and Jim Grey, only John King was selected by the Nominating Committee.

Now, that could be because the other three didn’t apply to the Nominating Committee preferring instead to let their term lapse or pursue a spot on the Member’s ballot. Or it could be that they applied and weren’t selected. We can’t know for sure, however for someone who has serious intent to pursue re-election to the Board, apply through the Nominating Committee gives them two chances to be selected – once by the Nominating Committee, and if they are unsuccessful, they can reapply for a nominating through the Members slate.

My gut says that all four directors applied to the Nominating Committee and only one was selected. Having served with John King during my term on the Board, I think the Nominating Committee made a good choice. Did they give Grey, Withers and Shell the thumbs down? We’ll never know for certain and its definitely a question I intend to explore further if any of them decide to run on the Member’s ballot.

The final selections of the Nominating Committee are;

Ward Chapin
Dave Chiswell
Robert Brouillette
Carole Mackaay
Hank Intven
William Gibson (no, the other one)
John King
Bill Sandiford

Please take the time to click through to their submissions to the Nominating Committee and get familiar with their qualifications, views and ideas – you will be voting for them soon.


Change is needed on the CIRA Board – Part II

I received a lot of feedback on my earlier post advocating for change on the CIRA Board. I thought it might be helpful to followup on a few of them.

First, about my comments on Board diversity. Specifically;

Canada is diverse, vibrant and progressive – CIRA’s Board should reflect this.

Of primary concern to me is the diversity of thought and experience of the people populating CIRA’s Board of Directors. Different people with different backgrounds can bring different thoughts to the table, and collectively these create a tremendous resource the organization can rely on. I’m less concerned with “quotas” as some thought I was advocating for. My point is simply this – CIRA needs a Board of Directors that can add to the discussion and create value for the organization. One of the ways of fostering this is to pay some attention to diversity of thought and experience. That said, I would personally like to see better regional balance on the Board. 6 people from B.C. is too much, especially given that a number of Canadian provinces have *no* presence on the board.

Second, I want to expand my comment about special interest groups.

The outcome of this election should be a Board representative of Canada’s diversity – not a panel of advocates for special interest groups.

I think it is proper for special interest groups to rally around good candidates and push for their election to the Board. What is not right is when these candidates bring their issues to the table and try to push an agenda on the organization. It is easy for inexperienced Board members to forget that they have a primary obligation to the organization that supersedes the interests of the groups that got them elected. During my tenure on the Board I saw many candidates come to the table in exactly this way and the time and energy wasted on pushing back on these conflicts of interest was terrible. The Board should benefit from focus, and that requires each Board member to bring themselves fully to their work and as unencumbered by special interest agenda as possible.

Last, I want to reiterate my remarks about the difference between having a Board seeking to protect and keep versus one focused on growth, innovation and progress.

We need Directors who are hopeful and curious. Any who are motivated by fear of change should be replaced.

The .CA registry and DNS is a national infrastructure asset and its technical operations need be managed conservatively and competently. That does not mean that CIRA’s programs, initiatives and policies cannot be progressive and growth oriented. I would love to see the Board engaged in a strong dialog with Canada’s Internet community about what our possibilities are, how we can grow the pie and create great opportunities for Canadians. This means putting aside the introspection around governance and bylaws and taking up the mantle of engagement, transparency, accountability and real discussion with the Board’s stakeholders. CIRA’s staff is making excellent progress in these areas and I find it amazing that the Board still finds it so difficult.

So again, in this upcoming election – let’s push for real change on the Board. Let’s look for candidates that have a clue about what loving the Internet, serving the public and participating in the work of a Board really means. Let’s add those people to the existing clueful people on the Board and encourage them all to aspire to greater heights.


Change is needed on the CIRA Board: An Open Letter To CIRA’s Membership

Change is needed on the CIRA Board. To be precise, more change.

In the next Board election, I urge you to look beyond the incumbents and reach deep into the community to find and elect as many experienced, interesting and passionate new candidates as we can.

CIRA has the potential to lead change and support Canada’s vibrant Internet community. Year after year, the Board claims to have abided by “best practices” and engages in endless tweaks to its governance model yet it has failed to make any appreciable progress outside of its original formative efforts. The organization itself continues to gain scale and credibility and the staff and CEO would benefit from the skills, experience and mentorship that a strong Board can provide.

Canadians deserve more from CIRA’s Board of Directors. We need energy, enthusiasm and leadership that can create connections with Canada’s Internet community and foster and promote a truly Canadian Internet agenda.

Canadians deserve a Board populated by professionals that are qualified and enthusiastic about the richness of the Internet and what we can achieve with it. Seeking professionals means looking deeper than middle managers from IBM who have a passing knowledge of the ICD. We need Directors who are hopeful and curious. Any who are motivated by fear of change should be replaced. Canada is diverse, vibrant and progressive – CIRA’s Board should reflect this. The outcome of this election should be a Board representative of Canada’s diversity – not a panel of advocates for special interest groups.  

I’m not saying that CIRA’s Directors are all lacking. They are not. Many are making a strong individual contribution and could be an integral part of a well-functioning Board. The key lies with developing a strong Board and eliminating the apathy, inexperience and lack of vision that populates the periphery.

Furthermore, the current process of Board self-assessment doesn’t generate sufficiently unbiased information to allow the Nominating Committee to do its work effectively. The Nominating Committee can and should take a deeper look at the dynamics of the Board and seek to form its own opinion how each individual Board member contributes to the whole. The Nominating Committee should actively seek to unify the Board around the Directors who are demonstrably making a positive contribution to the work of the organization and reinforce their ranks with new faces who can make a similarly strong contribution.

I write this from a position of concern and care. I have always believed that CIRA has the potential to be a truly special organization – more than just a steward of an important public resource, it could be a cornerstone in a progressive national Internet agenda.

I also now believe that more change is required before this can happen.


Quick Bits: A hologram, a manifesto, a new SEO Tool and Microsoft about to get whipped by Apple – again.

Holographic Tupac: Awesome and inevitable. I just don’t understand the criticism. Its just a recording, we’ve been listening to those for years. This isn’t a big step beyond what Cirque did for MJ.

501 Developer Manifesto: A clock puncher is a clock puncher. I’m not impressed. Come and go as you please, and don’t bother coming if you don’t bring any passion for what you do.

Inbound Writer: I love the idea of this. I’m starting to use it, time will quickly tell if it has real SEO value.

Windows 8 taking a run at iPad: I think Apple has been holding out on us and have some surprises in store that will again raise the bar on the industry and leave Dell, HP and Microsoft wondering what the hell just happened. Again.


Did Apple scare Facebook into buying Instagram?

Facebook knows that many, many people use their iPhone to take pictures and share them on Facebook using iPhoto. Or worse, directly from the iPhone (and now Android phone) to twitter.

Bill iphoto09 facebook

That is why Facebook bought Instagram.

Take out a middleman and flank a competitor – in one transaction.

That might be worth a billion dollars to someone who is really worried about Apple. Especially if that someone is still in their twenties, doesn’t have a sense of his own mortality and has built what could become the biggest thing the Internet has ever seen – before most of his peers graduated.

Apple still has a hard time with the Internet. Their DNA predates the modern networked era. Instagram could be a problem for Apple if Facebook plays their cards right.



The Wasting of Layne Staley

10 years ago tomorrow, Layne Staley, lead singer of Alice in Chains – one of the leading bands of the 90′s, finally killed himself.

I’m not writing about this as a fan. I really enjoy Alice in Chains but this isn’t one of those “RIP Rock Star” posts. I’m noting it because of how tragic, lonely and dark the ending was for Layne Staley.

He was truly alone – he’d abandoned himself, forced his friends and family away and even his high had left him. And Staley wasn’t a tortured artist – at least not in the classic sense. He was an addict, bound by the pathetic demands of his disease, slowly circling the drain. There was nothing romantic about Layne’s existence, or his end.

Layne staley11

(paraphrased from Wikipedia…)

On April 19, 2002, Layne Staley’s accountants contacted his mother, Nancy McCallum, and informed her that no money had been withdrawn from Layne’s bank account in two weeks. She called 911, worried that she hadn’t heard from her son and begging them to go with her to Staley’s home.

The police kicked in the door of Staley’s apartment and there, on the couch lit by a flickering TV, next to several spray-paint cans on the floor, not far from a stash of coke and two crack pipes on the coffee table sat the remains of the rock singer. At 6’1″, Layne weighed just 86 pounds, having died on April 5, 2002 from an overdose of heroin and cocaine. At 34, Staley had achieved success that most only dream about, and lost it all to his addiction.

Wake up young man, it’s time to wake up
Your love affair has got to go
For 10 long years, for 10 long years, The leaves to rake up
Slow suicide’s no way to go
Wake up, wake up, wake up

- Mad Season, “Wake Up



Game, set, match. Mind games with the witless.

I got this most recently via Joey deVilla and its made the rounds a few times since last August.

Naheed Nenshi is the mayor of Calgary.

Calgary is looking better and better every day.

If only they had decent skiing.


A Scanner Darkly

I recently upgraded to a new Macbook and didn’t set up Preview.app to sign documents until this morning. As I clicked the “New Signature” button, I realized that I should probably create a signature to scan in. While perfecting my scrawl, I looked up at the screen to see that the software was trying to turn my head into a signature. Rolling with it, I smiled and clicked “Accept Signature”. From there, I created a blank PDF and “signed” it with this pretty cool image of my big head, saved the results and uploaded it into this post.

Kinda neat!


Frequent Flier Programs: Not really rewarding

I just finished reading about someone’s experience with ConciergeKey, American Airlines gold-plated frequent flier reward given to customers that have flown several kazillion miles on their airline. I don’t know exactly what all of the perks are, and I imagine that they are pretty sweet given the number of miles it takes to earn the program.

Here’s one frequent fliers recent experience with the program (“CK” is “ConciergeKey”, you can figure out the rest of the abbreviations, or just insert the names of random cities ;) ) -

My flight was delayed this morning. Got an email (standard from the website, anybody can get that, on any airline I think, and you better be doing it too). Said my SAT-DFW flight was delayed half an hour. No real problem, I had a 2 hour layover at DFW. Cool.

Then my phone rings. Some number I don’t recognize. Check voicemail. It’s CK, telling me, we know about the problem, we’ll track it, you’re fine for now, here’s what’s causing the delay.

Bloody awesome.

An hour goes by. Three more delays. Emails say, you ain’t gonna make it, son.

CK calls again. This time, I answer. Sorry for the trouble, you won’t make your connection, but we have you on another flight, and it’s all good.

So on one hand, this program is a really, really sweet reward for customers that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with the airline.

And at some level, I suppose it is also intended to influence the purchasing decisions of customers that haven’t yet qualified for the program.

The problem is that for 99.9999% of the population, it just isn’t possible to make these levels of miles, so it really isn’t all that influential – at least not in my thinking.

Worse still, in the earlier story, the airline can offer this level of personalized service to each person that flies their airline. Technology makes it completely possible to automatically re-book passengers and even though it might be hard to have a person call everyone on every flight, most people wouldn’t mind getting a ping from a computer outlining the problems and the options available. Hell, some of us might even pay slightly more for a ticket that included these services as an upgrade.

As is, I find these programs insulting and disrespectful. When a restaurant can’t deliver the meal I ordered, they bend over backwards to make it right. Why can’t the airlines? This is just basic customer service. Perhaps in the ancient times before automated dialers and high-tech booking systems were practical, I could understand how the costs might outweigh the benefits, but given the current state of technology it feels more like laziness and a lack of innovation.

Moreover, I think if these frequent fliers thought hard for a second about the pain the airlines inflicted on them while they pursued these luxurious “perks”, they’d probably agree with me.

For what we’re paying for airline tickets, we all deserve a better class of service.