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  • cqwww 1:36 am on February 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Getting your ham radio licence in Canada 

    If you’re interested in getting your amateur (ham) radio licence in Canada, you can start with Industry Canada’s website. I would start on the radio exam generator page which has two important links. Obviously you should start with Basic, and there are two notable things on this website.

    When you go to write the actual basic exam, the examiner is randomly pulling 100 multiple choice questions from a 500 question bank. The above link gives you direct access to the 500 question bank, as well as a tool to randomly pull 100 questions from that bank, emulating the real exam experience. Once you can confidentially get 80/100 questions correct, contact a local examiner to have them give you the free exam. Once you pass it, you have your callsign for life!

    The other website worth checking out is the Radio Amateurs of Canada ( website.

    If you have any questions about the process, please reach out! It’s a nerdy hobby that few appreciates, unless you’re in a state of emergency or when the phone system breaks. I’ve been in the situation twice in my life (IceStorm ’98 and Eastern Blackout 2003), and when you’re the only person in your network capable of communicating outside your network, they appreciate your ability to do so.

    73 de VE3URL/VE7BNE

    • cqwww 9:27 am on January 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

      Open source self-hosted small business tools 

      I’ll start by listing some of the tools that most if not all of my businesses use:

      Nextcloud — Not only is this a dropbox replacement for file management, it is a platform with many features I recommend like Collabora/ownpad, and Calendar and Contact syncing (I don’t use or endorse any Google products, ever). Use this to replace Dropbox, and Google Drive/Calendar/Contacts/Sheets/Docs.

      Signal – This is for secure video and voice calls, as well as messaging. You might also check out Use this to replace Skype/WhatsApp/Messenger.

      Jitsi – This can be used for group video chats as a replacement for Zoom/

      Postfix+gnupg+Enigmail+Thunderbird (K9-Mail on Android) – This is how we use email. For contractors, I ask them to use Tutanota or Protonmail. Use this to replace Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail. Which tools are your organization using?

      • cqwww 6:49 am on January 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

        Marie Kondo has helped me Spark Joy 

        A dear friend lent me Marie Kondo’s “the life changing magic of tidying up” last year, and I had it sitting around for months until the last few days of the year. I had seen how this friend was folding her socks, in something called the KonMari method from the book, and it was not the roll-one-sock-into-another method I’ve been using all my life.

        Over the last decade, I’ve been downsizing — from a house with an empty basement filled with storage, to now living in an apartment that is less than 500sq ft. In the process, I’ve kept many rubbermaids in storage, and eventually over the years close the storage units and moved them to my house — but have never been motivated, or rather prioritized, to go through them.

        I decided to give the book a try — not only in terms of reading it, but I committed to giving its recommendations and process a try. After the purging process, which is rather innovative and warns against the traditional one-room-at-a-time model most of us use for cleaning, Ms. Kondo’s clothes folding technique is also innovative.

        I found myself weirdly memorized by the cathartic process, that I found myself pro-actively doing laundry over the next few days just to fold more clothes this way.

        It was then that I realized one of the three major benefits of the KonMari method, and that is the introduction of a slowness and formality to the process.

        As we transitioned into 2019, I noticed a social media buzz start to grow regarding Ms. Kondo, as an increased scale that crossed both into meme territory, but it started to generate a lot of love, and haters. As I looked further into it, I discovered that on Jan 1st, a show launched on Netflix providing her process to a new level of audience that could probably use her even more.

        I watched a few of the episodes, to realize why there was so much discussion about her, but also an even larger respect for what she is introducing into North American society when it could use it the most — respect. In each episode after touring a house, she asks to sit quietly in prayer and thanks the house for being a protector to that family, and the opportunity to tidy and organize. She takes this further and will thank each item that gets evaluated, and encourages her clients to do the same.

        As a logical thinker, I found this a challenging as most would, in wondering why on earth would one be sending a virtual thanks to inanimate objects? But then I realized, when you do this, two things happen. One, is by acknowledging a subconscious respect for an object, you immediately subconsciously start treating it differently. The other benefit of this process is if you’re thanking 5 of your t-shirts for being there and covering you and making you feel good — and you have a reaction to one of those t-shirts that doesn’t illicit a “spark of joy” — you’re recommended instead to thank the garment for the time it has spent with you and throw it away.

        While praying to inanimate objects might be a logical leap even after the explanation, consider a more North American lens, gratitude. Science shows this is one of the most important things one can do for internal satisfaction.

        The first episode was one of the most controversial, as it involves a typical patriarchal couple with children where the man is complaining a lot about the kitchen and laundry and his busy work days. Now I don’t know how much of it was staged, but by the end of the episode, it shows the couple folding laundry together using the KonMari method, and even showing their child to fold in the process. This is a very powerful message that Marie Kondo is introducing into North America, and I hope it propagates. They’re not each doing their own thing, like watching tv — as a family they’re taking on the responsibility of the home together, as a process. What would be more fulfilling?

        These are the two things that KonMari introduces, respect, and slowness — two things our society could use more than ever.

        I don’t know if it will work for you, but I recommend the books and the Netflix series, see if either work for you. Two weeks in and I’m still purging and tidying, but it’s entertaining to see new patterns developing. When I get home now, everything I bring into my apartment gets immediately put away into its place in the home, no longer just thrown onto a counter, table, or couch. I’m not sure how long this will last, but it’s also amazing to just sit in the cleanest apartment I’ve ever had and realize how cathartic the experience is. I hope you find it equally rewarding.

        We live in an information addicted society, that encourages a fast paced lifestyle, and busyness until we can allow laziness. Consider instead, introducing a slowness into your life, which involves respect and gratitude for all of the things in your possession. Imagine instead of spending family time ignoring each other and watching tv, or catching up on instagram, you were sharing the experience of tidying and organizing each of these items, together. This might sound silly, but why not? It would make for happier humans, better relationships, and a tidier living space that who knows — might eventually spark joy.



        • Lea 5:48 pm on January 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply

          Great conversation starter, Kris! I like the way you describe your experience and discovery. Seems like a smart way to spend some rainy days, too.

      • cqwww 2:48 pm on January 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

        The police and military aren’t here to protect you 

        I read today that the US Federal Court has ruled that the police have no duty to protect you. This is not intuitive to most citizens who feel their tax dollars are being spent to protect them. I tweeted out this URL, and got a response:

        which caused me to recall many years ago I look up the Canadian military to discover that protecting citizens is not in their mandate, so I looked it up again:

        and then I decided to look up the mandate of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to discover that it’s the same here in Canada. No where in their mandate is a duty to protect citizens.

        An important distinction for anyone who is under the illusion the military or police have a duty to protect us as citizens.

        • cqwww 5:27 pm on January 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

          A few more Facebook groups and pages 

          If you’re still on Facebook, the first thing to keep in mind is that anything you write there — including every profile you click on, every keystroke you type and backspace, and every private message you make there — you should assume will be public within 5 years. It is an American tech company bound by the US CLOUD Act, and already has a long history of giving up access to your data.

          That being said, if you’re still there, about a year and a half ago I posted some Pages and Groups that might be of interest: 

          I’ve started a few more groups since then:

          VANCOUVER, BC:

          VICTORIA, BC:


          • cqwww 1:42 am on January 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

            Time to retire your old American tech company email service 

            Still using gmail, hotmail, or yahoo email? Ready to start focusing a little more on your personal privacy? Last year I wrote about the two most popular alternatives, which still stand today. The process is simple, take the next few minutes and create a Protonmail or Tutanota email account. Then, go into your gmail/hotmail/yahoo and find the forwarding option — then forward all of your emails to your new privacy centric email provider. This way you don’t lose any emails going to your own email address, and over time as you reply, your contacts will learn your new email address.
            I’ve also previously written why you should leave fastmail (Australian) or gmail/hotmail/yahoo (American).
            If you have a custom domain name, like, you can even pay a few dollars and use your own domain name with their services.
            In 5 minutes, you can be well on your way to upgrading to a more privacy centric email email service. One small step in protecting the privacy of your emails moving forward. Even if you feel you have nothing to hide, but using these American or Australian services, you are offering up all of the emails from your friends and family to those governments as well — in a way that they can use them against you for the rest of your life.

            • cqwww 6:34 am on December 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply

              Merry Xmas 

              For years, I’ve said Merry Xmas, to the ire of many Christians in my life.

              This year, I present:
              which explains how Χριστός (X) was used centuries before Christ. So while I often hear how I’m part of a conspiracy to take the Christ out of Christmas, I am more aware and respectful of the original intent.

              In fact, X was initially kris (sounds like ks if you’re Greek), so I propose I’m the leading authority on the matter on this.

              Merry Xmas,

              • cqwww 5:28 pm on December 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

                Removing Australia and Australians from the online world 

                We’re in an era where governments are seeking the ability to overpower privacy laws and circumvent security measures, such as encryption. Any government who legislates that, can no longer be trusted.

                Only a few months after the US CLOUD Act, which forced my companies to stop hiring American developers, as well as forcing us to end using any American tech service such as Google, Gmail, or Amazon AWS, Australia has just passed a law that is also frightening.

                In this new Australian legislation, police can force companies to create a technical backdoor that would give them access to encrypted messages without the user’s knowledge. As a result, you can not only not trust any Australian technology company, such as Atlassian (parent of awesome tools like Trello and Jira), or Fastmail, but you can’t trust any company that has an Australian software developer any more. We’re even discussing if we can trust any company that has an employed Australian any longer.
                I’m furious for my Australian friends over this, as your government has just abandoned your livelihood by making you not trusted any more.

                My companies have immediately stopped using any Australian tech company’s services, as we’re still rolling off American tech services, and we can no longer hire Americans or Australians without some reasonable type of Warrant Canary situation.

                As Asher Wolf noted, this bill also goes against the GDPR, so Europeans can’t trust Australians or their technology companies.

                Even if you’re naive enough to think only law enforcement would use this when appropriate, it’s perhaps worth mentioning as someone with a background in information security, it is not possible to create a backdoor only for the ‘good guys’, but a backdoor is now a vulnerability for bad actors to exploit as well.

                We’re seeing this creeping digital surveillance culture be trialled in the various 5 EYES countries, with the others eyeing the reactions to see the impact that would take place if they passed similar legislation on their respective soil.

                For any Canadian law or policy makers reading this, please consult me if a silly idea like backdooring encryption enters the room of any conversation you’re in. It’s a hard and obvious no, every time, with no exceptions. The economic impact of such a policy can not be ignored, or the impact of making your technical workforce no longer employable — as two obvious impact examples that will impact their livelihoods as noted above.

                I hope the USA and Australia are measuring the chilling affects of these policies, which get larger every passing day.

                Any time you hear a politician who suggests putting backdoors into encryption they should never be trusted again (someone should start a Wikipedia page listing them all, by jurisdiction). They’re either not knowledgeable in the subject matter, or they’re aware and lying to you, and willing to give up your privacy and civil liberties of all of their citizens instantly, in the process.

                • cqwww 4:13 am on November 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

                  Stop relying on other people 

                  One of the things I’m witnessing lately is a lot of people who spend most of their social time complaining. “The government didn’t do …”, “My parents didn’t do …”, “My boss isn’t fair…”, “The weather…”, “Housing prices…”. Avoid these people like the plague they are. Relatives, lovers, employers, regardless, they are toxic. I’m referring to the perpetual complainers, although the anecdotal ones are worth a review as well.

                  We live in the best time ever to be alive. If you’re privileged enough to be reading this, you likely have an internet connection. Which means you can learn anything, for free. You also have full access to the attention economy. No one needs to know your age, or gender, or ethnicity, or name, if you don’t want to share them — yet you can make millions of dollars US, from your keyboard.

                  Spending your time complaining about things you can’t control helps nothing — no one cares. Only the other losers in your life will listen — those who spend their time doing things instead of complaining, are busy doing.

                  What you likely can control is upping your skills, to make yourself more in demand. If you spent 20 minutes less per day watching t.v. or reading social media, and picked one thing to learn, in 3 months you could likely do that thing with a basic proficiency. In a year or two, you could be paid for it.

                  Let’s say for example you’re interested in computers. You could choose a language like elixir, or R, or voice, or solidity, or hacking; if you dove into one solid year of study you could likely be making $50k-100k within a year (at the time of writing this — all of these languages will be popular for at least 5 more years). Unless you’re going to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, I have no idea why anyone would go to post-secondary anymore — unless your parents are paying for it, you won a scholarship, or you want to learn how to learn, as you can’t figure it out on your own.

                  I live in one of the most expensive cities in my country. When I can’t afford to live here any more, I will leave; but you won’t hear me complaining about the housing prices here, even though that seems to be the trendiest things to do conversationally right now, if not complaining about the weather, which is one of the least cold areas in the country. I can’t control the housing prices (or the weather), so I focus on what I can change. I can change my situation to one where I can afford to live here, and/or spend my spare time learning politics and being engaged where I can affect housing price change — if that’s an issue that I’m passionate about.

                  You should not complain about anything that you can’t change, or don’t have a solution for.

                  It’s of course worth noting not everyone has this privilege; the longer you take in life to build discipline in self-reliance, the harder it is to have time to spend on that, as well as the harder it is to form that habit. For example, if you’re a single parent, this is more difficult. Also if you have special needs of some variety, you might not have access elsewhere. Like everything, this is just a generalized suggestion based on the many, grossly privileged people whom spend their time complaining, most notably on social media. If you’re going to spend your privileged time complaining, complain to the source or work towards change based on the solutions you support. You’ll soon see that’s the tribe you’re meant to be with.

                  • cqwww 2:17 pm on November 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

                    Is it time to review the Vancouver business noise complaint process? 

                    I write this on a Sunny Friday afternoon, birds flying by, a peaceful serenity looking out over to the city from my condo — with the blaring of car alarms that the city can’t do anything about.

                    It all started several months ago, when I reached out to Carter Honda of Vancouver, to ask them if they could find an alternate way of finding the cars in their overflow lot. The space they use for overflow, is on the top of multi-level car parking lot. When they want to retrieve a car, they drive top the top of the parkade, trigger the car alarm for the car they’re looking for, and then drive around in loops and figure 8s, until they find the car in question. Often, they’re looking for more than one car, so as soon as one alarm stops, another begins.
                    The starts with sunrise, and goes on throughout the day. As I write this, 14:00 on a Friday months later, there is a black van eagerly doing loops to find an active car alarm.

                    So I reached out to them on Twitter, and asked them if they could find an alternative way to find their cars. Being beside several buildings, anyone in any of those apartments will be barraged by these alarms all day long. Good luck trying to have a nap, any day of the week, if you live in the neighbourhood.

                    So on July 24th, I asked them publicly to fix their process.

                    They responded right away, on July 24th, that they would work towards a resolution.

                    Over the months, I realized this was not going to be resolved by the company, so I called the City of Vancouver, to file a noise complaint. The alarms had continued almost daily for 3 more months, I think I was more than patient. I was given a reference number, and a noise complaint against a business was opened. 3 weeks later, and I still had not heard back from the city — perhaps they could improve this process as well — so I called back looking for an update, and was provided the contact information for a case worker. His voicemail said not to leave him a voicemail, so I sent him an email at the email address provided. I did not get a response from him, just asking for an update, so I followed up with him again. We eventually were able to connect.

                    He told me he’d reached out to Carter Honda, and that they were extremely apologetic, and would work towards a remedy. When I heard that, I told him about my experience, which got me to where we were at that moment. He told me frankly, there’s not much he could do. It turns out the noise complaint process with the City of Vancouver has two steps, and both work against my complaint.

                    The first one, is that the noise by-law officer allocates up to 2 hours, at a random time, during business hours, to investigate. If, during those two hours the officer doesn’t hear a noise, the file can be dropped. This is bizarre, for situations like mine, where the alarms can start and stop at any time, but if the 2 hours of silence I get tomorrow happen to be when the bylaw officer is there, the case can be dropped?

                    The second issue I am told, is that the noise measurement tool has to be used from the ground. This is a bizarre requirement, as there are hundreds to thousands of Vancouverites who are forced to listens to the sounds of Carter Honda’s alarms, but because the sound is travelling upwards, from a rooftop, the noise meters are not likely to have a notable difference to the ambient noise floor from the ground, outside the parkade.

                    So here we are today. four months later — after being directly promised, and after promising the City of Vancouver, we have Carter Honda driving around with car alarms blaring all afternoon with not a care in the world.

                    • cqwww 10:40 pm on October 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

                      “On the Ethics of Planetary Scale Measurement Meta-Structures” – Zack Stein 

                      This was one of my favourite conference talks this year. It was seen at ParTeck, which is an invite only annual conference hosted by the Human Data Commons (I’m in the board of this org) which bridges leaders in tech, and consciousness — two worlds that don’t normally intersect and often find challenging with the other — at least in my experience.

                      I discovered after this talk Dr. Stein is also a member of the neurohacker collective!

                      • cqwww 12:33 pm on October 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

                        It’s time to bring in ride sharing programs already 

                        I’ve been reading the ride sharing debate for some time. The most notable arguments against it, are related to the history of the most popular ride sharing program, Uber. Accusations of improper insurance (we have socialized insurance in B.C, easily solved) and below legal minimum hourly wages. People are opposed to allowing ride sharing companies here based on these two arguments — but if our legislation is so weak we don’t think these companies will have recourse for non-compliance, what does that say about our laws? More relevant, if we don’t have have recourse for companies paying below minimum wage, how many of them are out there right now? This is not a ride sharing issue, and should be considered separately.

                        The reason I say we bring rides sharing into B.C, is because I’m a taxi user. The only people arguing against ride sharing are not regular taxi users. There is no regular taxi user that would make this argument, because the situation is so dire. If you’re going to comment on this post against ride sharing, please confirm you’re at least 3-figures-a-month in a taxi in B.C.

                        The reason I say this is several:

                        • Ask anyone with disabilities what their experience is with taxis, and just listen, don’t argue how you think you know better. Taxi companies here in Vancouver will often just hang up on my handicapped friends. Why? They might only want to go a short distance, such as my blind friend and regular taxi user. She misses many events because taxi companies have hung up on her, or they have taken her call and then never show up. Ride sharing services prevent both of these issues from occurring.
                        • Taxis often just don’t show up. 2 of the last 3 times I’ve called a taxi, they simply didn’t show up. With Uber/Lyft, you know in seconds when you order a ride who’s picking you up, and how far away they are. Taxis have no responsibility here.
                        • It’s a lot better if you’re waving down a taxi instead of calling, and a lot better if you’re mid-upper class, white, and traveling in a suitable direction. I say this, as it’s common for a taxi to pull over and see you, and just drive away; or to just drive by you if they don’t like the look of you. There are also many stories where they pull over, case you, and when they ask where you’re going, they don’t like the response, and just drive away. Ride sharing services have this judgement on racism, travel distance, and socio-economic standing resolved.
                        • No way to follow-up with a driver. This can be simple from forgetting a sweater in a cab, or an ID, to more serious allegations of assault and sexual assault from a driver. Good luck getting your garments back from the taxi company, or knowing who drove you home last night. With Uber/Lyft, you know the identity of the driver and can easily have recourse if any of these situations take place. How many people have contacted a taxi company to follow-up with a violent act from a driver and get the cold shoulder and no way to identify their assailant? Even on the less extreme, knowing that a driver will have a reputation score and can clearly be identified changes driver behaviour. This might be anecdotal, but as someone who travels and uses ride-sharing services, Vancouver is a common joke in the regular traveler community due to its terrible taxi service, specifically the weak use of the word service. We’re a world class province with a laughable ability to transport our visitors around.

                        One of my friends who is a world class expert in his field at Google just got poached by a popular video game company that exists here in Vancouver. On his week long visit to meet his senior team, he had one complaint — ability to travel via Uber/Lyft from his company meetings to downown.

                        So if you’re concerned is that Uber is not going to be following our laws if they come here, work towards ensuring our labour laws are strong enough to discover and remediate companies who are non-compliant. Don’t fight against solutions for the disabled and vulnerable that don’t exist today. Let’s resolve this serious safety problem here in British Columbia as soon as possible.

                        • Rupert 4:04 pm on October 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply

                          It seems ridiculous that Vancouver is the largest North American city without Uber/Lyft, a city known for its unaffordability and lack of infrastructure for people to use what little assets they own to make an income. Only concern I do have with Uber/Lyft is the tree hugger side of me, that NYC has seen an increase in cars/congestion within the city:

                        • Erin 10:15 am on October 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply

                          I hear those concerns, however, have you seen the research that shows ride hailing services like Uber actually INCREASE vehicles on the road, not decrease? Is that a good thing?

                          Is there merit to improve public transit so that the need for these services is lessened?

                          • cqwww 11:34 am on October 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply

                            I have seen some anecdotal evidence in one city (NYC IIRC). Do I prioritize having a reliable transportation option for those who are disabled, vulnerable, drunk/stoned, and/or victims or what we have now over more vehicles on the road? Yes. Do I encourage simultaneously improving transit options for those are not in those categories, such as bike lanes and public transit? Heck yes. At least until the autonomous vehicle options arrive.
                            Again, only those who don’t use taxis regularly argue against Uber, no regular taxi user does, because it’s so bad. Talk to actual taxi users who fit until those categories I listed above, before making a judgement related to other criteria.

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