Copyright for Canadians

Hey, Canadians! This needs your attention. From Copyright for Canadians:

Forward-thinking reform to copyright is possible: laws that recognise the growth and importance of the Internet, open source software, and new business models for creators. Canada could take the initiative, and lead the world.

Instead, new legislation proposed by this government will be a complete sell-out to the United States’ government and media’s demands. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act — a law that the U.S. passed in 1997 and has been widely seen as a damaging failure — will be imported wholesale. Instead of inviting a new era, Canada will repeat all the mistakes of the last decade.

This will not be a copyright law for Canadians. It looks like it will be a copyright law from entrenched U.S. lobbyists and politicians. Join us, and fight back! [continue]

Grandfather builds web browser for autistic boy

From Grandfather builds web browser for autistic boy.

John LeSieur is in the software business, so he took particular interest when computers seemed mostly useless to his 6-year-old grandson, Zackary. The boy has autism, and the whirlwind of options presented by PCs so confounded him that he threw the mouse in frustration.

LeSieur tried to find online tools that could guide autistic children around the Web, but he couldn’t find anything satisfactory. So he had one built, named it the Zac Browser For Autistic Children in honor of his grandson, and is making it available to anyone for free. [continue]

Web-based personal organizers

I used to use a Palm Pilot to organize my life, and that worked perfectly for years. But the new Palm Pilots aren’t for me, so that’s out. Now I’m looking for a replacement system.

There are a number of interesting web-based personal organizers, and I’m thinking of trying one of those. I like David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, so I’d prefer a site that supports the GTD approach. Here are some possibilities I’m considering:

Do any of you use these sites, or something similar? If so, I’d love to hear what you think of them. Which do you think is the best of the lot?

On Mirabilis visitors and their web browsers

I don’t look at my web stats very often. Or perhaps it’s better to say I go through phases: forgetting to look at stats for many months at a time, then checking every few days or so, then back to months of ignoring it all. It is interesting to see what the stats software tells me, though — things like how many visitors gets (What a lot of you! Where on earth did you come from?) and what sort of search terms at Google send the highest number of people to this site. (Sorry, we only have so many Roman orgies; not nearly enough to go around.)

One statsy thing that makes me happy is that only a quarter of you still use Internet Explorer; the rest have already found a better browser, like Firefox, say. Excellent.

Now listen, Internet Explorer users. There is a better world just waiting for you! Go try Firefox or Opera, and I bet you’ll never go back. I don’t know how you can bear the web in Internet Explorer.

I am fond of the Opera browser, but I prefer Firefox, because it lets me install add-ons that customize the program in delightful ways.

Anyway. You’re probably wondering what brought this on. It was one stats program, one very fine Zinfandel from the Sonoma Valley, and one New York Times article, namely An Upstart Challenges the Big Web Browsers.

The browser, that porthole onto the broad horizon of the Web, is about to get some fancy new window dressing.

Next month, after three years of development and six months of public testing, Mozilla, the insurgent browser developer that rose from the ashes of Netscape, will release Firefox 3.0. It will feature a few tricks that could change the way people organize and find the sites they visit most frequently. [continue]

Nice to see Firefox is still grabbing headlines.

Look who’s been editing Wikipedia!

From the International Herald Tribune: Corporate editing of Wikipedia revealed.

Last year, someone edited the Wikipedia entry for the Sea World theme parks to change all mentions of "orcas" to "killer whales," insisting that this was a more accurate name for the species.

There was another, unexplained edit: A paragraph about criticism of Sea World’s "lack of respect toward its orcas" disappeared.

Both changes, it turns out, originated at a computer at Anheuser-Busch, Sea World’s owner.

Dozens of similar examples of insider editing came to light last week through WikiScanner, a new Web site that traces the source of millions of changes to Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

The site,, created by a computer science graduate student, Virgil Griffith, cross-references an edited entry on Wikipedia with the owner of the computer network where the change originated, using the Internet protocol address of the editor’s network.

The address information was already available on Wikipedia, but the new site makes it much easier to connect those numbers with the names of network owners.

Since Wired News first wrote about WikiScanner last week, Internet users have spotted plenty of interesting changes to Wikipedia by people at nonprofit groups and government entities like the CIA. Many of the most obviously self-interested edits have come from company networks.

Last year, someone at PepsiCo deleted several paragraphs of the Pepsi entry that focused on its detrimental health effects. In 2005, someone using a computer at Diebold deleted paragraphs that criticized the company’s electronic voting machines.

And that same year, someone from inside Wal-Mart Stores changed an entry about employee compensation. [continue]

WikiScanner results are fascinating.

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