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I decided a couple of days ago that I needed to get away from the facebook. Hence I have declared November my no-facebook month. I abstain from drinking for one month every year, why not also cut out another of my damaging addictions?

Its interesting to notice that there are photos on my camera that I took specifically to put on facebook, to elicit a response. The whole thing is very much a system of levers, and we’re the mice desperately seeking those tasty food pellets. Or perhaps that’s a simplistic view. Indeed I think much of the 24/7, always connected, soundbyte, animated GIF, hashtag world is about reducing everything to binary simplicity. You either like something or you don’t, there’s not much room for real discussion or nuance.

My hope is that this month will be one of more art and more learning than the usual facebook month. As soon as I feel “bored” I tend to open a new tab and type “F” – that’s all that’s required. My browser knows that “F” means facebook, not fastidious, friendly or fun. Maybe these four weeks will change that.

For starters I haven’t written here for a long time so perhaps some summarizing of things going on is in order.

I’m cat sitting Carmella’s cutiecat Niblet for the month while she’s off in Europe. He’s delightful, even when he tries to sleep on my face and lick my eyeballs with his sandpaper tongue. The cuddling and playfulness is great as are the refresher lessons in non-linguistic communications with another living being. I can’t tell Niblet what I want, anymore than he can tell me, but we can communicate. Its pretty cool.

I’m feeling better financially. I felt a bit flush last month due to some good photo/video gigs as well as a refund from an employer who made some payment errors last year. I used some of that to wipe out what I owed Revenue Quebec as well as a much of my credit card debt. I’ve also started squirreling some away in a rainy day fund which is prudent but boy would I rather spend it! I am spending some money on myself though, or rather on my career. I’m buying a little bit of photography gear, but mostly I’m buying stuff to work on some experimental light painting techniques I’ve decided to play with.

I’m taking my photography and videography business a lot more seriously, as well as my art. I can thank my course at CCSF for that, but also just the realization that I need to get on course to the rest of my life in my chosen fields. Life at the photography store is okay, but its not going to last, and even if it did I have a lot more potential than this.

Speaking of which I’m at work right now so I should probably get off of here and do something “productive.”

Agent K., signing off.

Not quite sure what’s going on here. The Internet is being freaky, becoming unstable and bizare. What would happen if this whole digital thing is alive? This creature into which we have vested so much of our information, so much of ourselves? What if this animal becomes fevered, begins to hallucinate? What happens to our information, to our representations of self? Its really nothing more than thoughts, ideas, memories, all of which is rather easy to miscontruct, dismantle, mangle and rearrange. And if that happens and we rely on it so… does our reality change?

I was trying to write about something else but first I appeared to be typing white on white. Digital invisible ink as it were, trying to trust and remember each keystroke, knowing that the only way to go back would be to count characters. What did I just write? Did I sp[ell it correctly? Did I miskey anything? Then it turned to lagging behind, words appearing seconds after they were completed, an invisible gestation period before an explosion of symantic life.

And now all is normal. Which is to say, things are operating as they do most of the time. That apparently is normal, so I don’t know that we should attach much value to it. Normal is just what happens most often.

What a distraction. I wanted to talk about how ear hair and thick toenails were indicators for the aging process. I also wanted a better word for indicator. What do they call it when environmental changes are first noticed in the biology of smaller critters? <sigh> The brain slows and the connections faulter as well. Though on the up side all is less frantic and concerned with being “right” – age at least brings with it some relaxation. The further into the journey the less concern exists over the destination.

And still an hour before anything happens at work…

Les castors du Bell

Remember yesterday’s seemingly successful removal of my email address from whatever dumbass automated system Bell uses to assault its current and former customers? Well good news. I’m no longer getting the pointless emails I was getting before. Now I’m getting pointless emails in French.

Bell, you’re all a bunch of fucking morons.

Stabbing from the grave

Oh this is rich. A brilliant shining example of everything that’s back assward and fucked up about modern capitalism. Namely that two REAL beavers could probably manage a company better than the virtual rodents that represent Bell here in Canada. Soft and cuddly my ass.

The following is a transcript of my vain attempt to get Bell to stop spamming me a month after I cancelled my subscription to their service. I must note that the customer service agent was slow as fuck, indicating either she was eating a rice noodle bowl or she had ten chat windows open at once.

(Incidentally chat based customer service is none the less faster than trying to find a human voice on the phone, even if they end the conversation with silly macros.)

System
Welcome Nathan Taylor.
System
Connecting to server. Please wait…
System
Connection with server established.
System
Ganesa (SCI-274225) has joined this session!
System
Connected with Ganesa (SCI-274225)
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Hi Nathan Taylor, welcome to Bell Sympatico Services, my name is Ganesa (SCI-274225), how may I help you today?
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Good evening, Nathan.
You
I’d just like my ap.films@gmail.com address removed from whatever system is sending me “Information from our discussion” messages.” on a daily basis.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Do you wish to stop receiving spam messages for ap.films@gmail.com
You
yes
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
I am really sorry, we have no access with gmail account, since it is sympatico Internet service help desk, however, I suggest you to contact google for further information about your gmail account.
You
No, YOU’re sending me emails.
You
I’ve recieved over 100 emails from bell tech support in two months.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Are you sympatico Internet service subscriber?
You
I was, I cancelled my service a month ago. Now i get even more emails.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
May I know, your b1 number and complete address with postal code, so that I can pull your account and check with that.
You
My original was B1NAQK62, however there were problems with that account and it may have been changed to a second B1 temporarily. Area code is h4c 3g7
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Thank you.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
I really appreciate your patience.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Nathan, I have remove the gmail address from our records, hence you will not receive any more mails to your ap.films@gmail.com from sympatico.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Is there anything else I can assist you with?
You
That’s all. Thank you very much!
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
You are most welcome.
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Thank you for choosing Bell and have yourself a great day.

Don’t forget to visit our new Sympatico Internet Forums website by following this link: http://www.bell.ca/internetforum

and also our Customer Service web site at this link: http://service.sympatico.ca

Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Have a great week ahead!
Ganesa (SCI-2742 25)
Thank you for your business.
System
Ganesa (SCI-274225) has left this session!
System
The session has ended!
Here’s hoping the emails actually stop. More than 100 in less than two months…
P.S.: Its with great pleasure that I know the agent is to in revulsion at her job that she probably dreams of skewering her eyes out, if only they’d let her have a pencil…

The Wild Wild Web

I don’t think I understood all the hullabaloo over net neutrality until I had to get an Internet connection at my new apartment. Now granted its an unusual space. Hundred year old factories turned loft apartments aren’t your everyday install, but its led me to some interesting places…

First Bell tells me I can’t get DSL here. Initially I accepted that and took their second option which turns out to be wireless transmission from their central office over on Atwater. Well the signal is crappy and inconsistent, move the receiver a millimetre and it loses the signal, not to mention I have to put it in the window upstairs which is incredibly inconvenient. Even without touching it the bandwidth wobbles around wildly and I’ve had two outtages within the first week. Great job Bell.

Enter Videotron. The installer showed up today then couldn’t find the cable box. Now in all fairness I understand that this building is kind of hodge podge, but, you’d think that after the first half dozen installs that Videotron might set things up properly, or at least have comments on file attached to the address explaining what’s going on. After wandering around with the installer for an hour he finally left without having done anything.

Then I start the research, and this is where I really start to see the shady undertones of the whole thing, that is on top of the total incompetence of the major players.

I can’t get Limewire or SoulSeek to work on my Internet connection, because Bell/Sympatico blocks them. A bit of research reveals that pretty much all the major players are “shaping” or “throttling” Internet traffic with impunity deciding what you can and can’t do and how much you can do it. Self imposed data police. Great.

Of course it gets even better. In the spirit of competition Bell and Rogers and their ilk are obligated to let independents play on their systems as well. Unfortunately they’re continuing to shape and throttle the accounts of users under their competitors – which kind of eliminates the point of competition and creates a… dare I say it… a duopoly cartel that can use its muscle to keep anyone else from getting a foot in the door.

And it gets better. People switching from say Bell to an independent ISP frequently find their speed drastically reduced, even though their Internet is coming from the exact same infrastructure. That’s right Bell “accidentally” changes your circuit to a slower setting. Oops.

The more I read the more disgusted I get.

So I’m cancelling both Bell and Videotron and going with Teksavy. Sure its coming from Bell copper, but at least they only get part of the money.

Oh, did I mention that it took Bell over two weeks to get my Internet to me in the first place? Bra-fucking-vo.

The great thing about the 30 day trial

Most of us hate that software that disables itself after thirty days, urging us to throw money at the developer for something we’ve been using for free for a full month. I’ve been like that. Heck, who likes paying for stuff? Who likes being teased with something only to have it snatched away mercilessly after you’ve just started to get used to it? Well, there is a bright side.

The thirty day trial is the perfect opportunity to impose a concrete deadline on yourself. Smashing down like a castle gate.

I downloaded some web design applications yesterday because I really, really need a website for my photo and video services. The software has the dreaded 30 day trial, after which it will just become hard drive pollution. So, I guess I’m going to have my website finished and CSS learned by February 23rd. Looks like…

Hey!

When the hell did flowers get added to this WordPress theme?! Jesus pulling up his pants in an alley what is going on here?! Do not go fucking with a man’s CSS when he isn’t looking and add frilly little flowers to his blog! Gads. Someone’s going to think I put them there. Use come common sense and tact…

I’m too tired to go hunting for a new theme right now, but I’ll get you. I’ll get you…

Frame by Frame

Well I finally started working on my film review blog Frame by Frame. Unfortunately I discovered that part of my “marketing” plan isn’t going to work. See every time I review or critique a film on YouTube or similar services I was going to include a link in the comments to the review. Helpful, polite and it would probably generate quite a bit of traffic. The problem? In order to defeat spambots YouTube doesn’t allow the posting of URLs or email addresses. Fuckers.

On a related note I think the new Internet 2.0 is actually dumbing down its user base. All you have to do is check out the crap that finds its way to YouTube, read someone’s wall on facebook or look at the comments on the end of a news story and you’ll see a disturbing trend. A combination of low brow humour, illiteracy and petty squabbling. What a bunch of losers our species is.

The signal to noise ratio on this planet is going off the chart.

The Power of their Force…

I must say I was pretty stoked today when I did a search of Jim Henson films on the Internet and discovered that they’re making a sequel to The Dark Crystal. Power of the Dark Crystal looks and sounds pretty impressive, and its great to see another addition to this wonderful fantasy revival that’s been going on in movies over the past few years.

The first time I saw The Dark Crystal was at the Macquarie University Film Society in Sydney. Everyone poured into one of the lecture halls with drinks and snacks and pillows and we watched an original 35mm print. It was pretty amazing. I’ll be eagerly following the production diary. I hope its fairly detailed so that I can experience the set vicariously.

Would You?

I just finished listening to a Xeni Jardin podcast on the Virginia Tech shooter and the digital manifesto he sent to NBC. The emphasis was on the manifesto itself, but Xeni mentioned something that I find perhaps more interesting. As the event unfolded there were lots of online accounts and communications, between students, witnesses, and… victims.

How many of the victims left behind MySpace or facebook profiles? Flickr galleries? Blogs? YouTube videos? In a strange way most of these people persisted on the Internet after their deaths in a very personal, intimate way. So my question – Would you look at the blog/profile/etc of one of the victims?

It wouldn’t be difficult. Names are available, you know what school they went to and where. What happens to these virtual segments of identity after the person is gone? Particularly when they leave in such an abrupt, tragic and public way? Who has control over them after they’re gone? Should they be preserved? Passed on – and to who? Destroyed?

Perhaps the creepiest possibility is derived from the field of artificial intelligence and work on automated personal representatives, digital clones that people can interact with when you’re away from the computer. Imagine yourself talking to a digital ghost.

In some sense I can see these “artifacts” as memorials and a reflection of the retribalization of human society. Though you may have no direct knowledge or connection to any of the victims, witnesses or the perpetrator himself, you can come to an understanding of them through their virtual imprints. Perhaps this offers an opportunity for empathy and understanding that hasn’t existed before. On the other hand perhaps its just gross.

However, whenever you create an online presence for yourself, you are making yourself into a public object to be viewed and interpreted. Privacy is at least partially a choice. Is it really that much different to have your profile lurked when you’re alive? Though then again, there may be some perverse celebrity attached to a spectacular death – something nobody could have predicted.

As the virtual world and the world of the flesh grow more and more intertwined, perhaps we need to begin to wonder, does death over here mean the same thing as death over there?