Crowdsourced Proofreading

In spite of armies of editors and proof readers, main stream publishing has a long history of published typos.  And as a writer I can tell you, it’s really easy to miss something, especially in something as substantial as an article or a book.  Even if you know how to spell.

Even when a mistakes were caught, it wasn’t reasonable to assume publishers would recall books and reissue them with corrections.  Errors wouldn’t be fixed until the second edition.  If there was a second edition.

One of the most earth shattering things to happen to the world of proof readers was our move into the digital age with the invention of the spell checker.  Suddenly proof readers became obsolete.

But all spell checkers are not equal.  When the typo is a real word, no spell checker is going to flag it.  The thing we often forget about technology is that it is no more perfect than any other tool; human supervision is still required.

Wikipedia is the poster child for self publishing.  Not only does it rely on the good will of the public to add articles and factual information, if errors are made, Wikipedia is self-correcting: the public has the power to correct errors and ommissions, whether of fact or spelling.

All those mainstream publishers who no longer employ enough staff to adequately proof read their content are publishing online in digital formats.  Instead of hiring proofreaders, they often have a “report typo” option on their webspage so readers can catch their mistakes for them.  Just as CBC does.

This way, when a reader gets hit between the eyes by an annoying typo, we can report it, so others won’t have to suffer as we have.

When I found a typo in the CBC article Chippewas of the Thames vow to continue pipeline fight good neighbor that I am, I decided to let CBC know so the error could be fixed.

"You gave us hope and when it came down to the process that you pit in place for us, and we reached that pinnacle, it was not what you said."

So I clicked on the link— it should be easy, right?   But it seems CBC isn’t as interested in being told about typos as it is interested in getting personal information about anyone who wants to correct a typo.

"process that you pit in place" presumably should be "put" NOTE: Presumably you want to crowd source your proofreading. That means you seek help from people like me who are willing to take the time to notify you when CBC publishes an error. That's reasonable. What is NOT reasonable is that CBC *requires* people who are willing to HELP CBC (gratis) to turn over personal information. Name: [Required] Email address: [Required] City, Province and Country: [Required] In other words, we are not only doing work you really ought to be paying professional proof readers to do for free, and are required to pay for the privilege with our personal data. Which is why I'm not doing this again.

This isn’t a news issue, or even a matter of opinion.  If I point out the author probably didn’t mean the word “pit,”  it doesn’t matter who I am or where I live.  I could be living in Iceland and it would still be a typo.  Either I’m right or I’m wrong.

Something that ought to take a minute and cost me nothing but a bit of time I was willing to spend, ended up costing me privacy.

There is no need for it, but this has become a prevalent practice online.  Our personal information has become a valuable commodity that companies want for themselves, and very often to sell.

If you’ve ever wondered why you get spam, this is why.   (I know someone who gave up an email account because he got so much spam.)

We need to stop giving our personal details to companies who have no legitimate need of them.

If you’re buying something that needs to be delivered, sure, you have to give your address.  But if you’re making a donation to a political party and they want to be able to connect with you, they will need an address, a phone number, or an email address— but not all three.  If you’re leaving a comment or signing a petition, they want to make sure you’re a real person, not a bot.

Companies want it all; whether they need it or not.  If you give it to them, when you tell them to stop phoning you, they can send you junkmail or spam.  If CBC or any person or company tells you information they have no right to is “required” the correct answer is “none of your business.”

Privacy is an important part of personal security; don’t give up any more than you have to.



cloudsFor some time now, people have been raving about how wonderful “the Cloud” will be/is. In the real world, clouds are made of water vapour, and they are usually positioned far above our heads in the sky.

In computer terms, a “cloud” is a place to store your digital stuff so you can access it anywhere with any device. Commercial clouds are not made of vapour, they are computer servers that somebody else owns. We can pay for the privilege of storing our stuff on somebody else’s servers. Such Clouds have never appealed to me because of my concerns about privacy and freedom.

But that was before it became possible to have a private cloud– a cloud that you control yourself.
kwlug logo
Monday’s KWLUG presentation will introduce personal clouds to anyone interested in learning about or having their own cloud — a free software DRM free cloud, there will be a KWLUG presentation at Bob Jonkman and Jeff Smith will be hosting an introduction and demonstration of OwnCloud and Jeff will be showing off a “Synology NAS device running the DS Cloud service”.
owncloud logo
I don’t know anything about DS Cloud service, but I have been using Owncloud for a while– it makes it easy to share, either with password protection, or in the clear. If I were to use Flickr to share password protected photos, the person I’m sharing them with has to have a Flickr account. If they don’t have an account, they’ll have to sign up for one (and give Flickr personal information) before they can see the images.

With Owncloud, there is no registration wall, and I can share access with anyone, even anonymous anyones. And, of course, the beauty part is that my data remains in my control. This is still pretty new software, and I understand there have been a lot of enhancements now… I’ll find out more tonight.

The presentation will be at St John’s Kitchen at 97 Victoria Street North in Kitchener, 7pm Monday October 6th, 2014.

Facebook, schoolFeed, and Privacy, oh my

Yearbook mock-up page

I don’t use Facebook Apps because they all require ridiculous permissions. I am not willing to allow anyone else to speak for me, so I’m certainly not likely to allow some software run by total strangers to post in my name.


Even if I was willing to give permission for myself, I am certainly not prepared to give up my family and friends’ privacy.

Because I understand that I have abdicated any privacy control over anything I post on Facebook when I post anything there. No matter what “privacy setting” I choose, everything I put there is no longer private. (The same is true for most of the Internet, actually.) The problem is most people don’t understand this.


I recently got a message saying I had been “tagged” in my “high school yearbook” by a Facebook friend. This is a Facebook app called “schoolFeed” which is a “Classmates” site that exists to suck up all of our personal information.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t actually tagged by my friend, but by the schoolFeed app posting in her name. Once she signed up, the schoolFeed app would have sucked up all the information about all of her Facebook friends. Then it would send all of us these messages as it added our Facebook avatars to the appropriate schoolFeed yearbook page.

Some of us, in turn, would go to schoolFeed to see what was what, but in order to do so, we in turn would have to give the schoolFeed app all the ridiculous permissions which allows it to suck up all of *our* Facebook friends and dump *them* into the schoolFeed yearbook pages. And so on.

It is the price you pay to be on Facebook.

I looked online to see what other people were saying about SchoolFeed… Oh… SchoolFeed: The Facebook app everyone needs to avoid [Updated with SchoolFeed’s response]

But it gets worse.

Apparently the schoolFeed isn’t happy with what it can suck down from Facebook, and is now actively asking people to:

Mail us your Yearbook!
Have your yearbook professionally scanned into schoolFeed
Your yearbook will be non-destructively scanned and returned!

Oh no… schoolFeed Now Has 160,000 Yearbooks to Browse Online

SchoolFeed will now be able to access personal information about people who may not even be on the Internet. People who have never used a computer. People whose only mistake was to be pictured in the school yearbook.

I don’t know about you, but I know people who have made a conscious decision not to use computers. And some who use computers, but don’t use the Internet. And others who won’t use Facebook, Twitter, or Google, instead choosing Friendica, Identica, duckduckgo or ixQuick, not because they are Luddites, but because they value their privacy.

Every yearbook sent to schoolFeed will give it more personal information that it can use and/or sell to third parties… which may be spammers, scammers or identity thieves.

If we send our yearbooks to schoolFeed, we will be giving it personal information about our old friends and classmates without their permission.

Don’t do it.

Uncomplicated: free speech, privacy and law

[In response to TechDirt: Reddit, Trolling, Doxxing, Free Speech & Anonymity: Whoo Boy, Is This Stuff Complicated I posted a comment; which I think this is important enough to repeat a slightly modified version here.]

Free speech is *only* legally protected from government censorship.

Individuals and corporations are legally allowed to censor speech in their own premises, forums, workplaces, homes, or anywhere else.

But what constitutes Free Speech?

The Crime?

The written description of what was posted online:

“…surreptitiously shot photos of others, usually women, usually focused on sexually objectifying the subjects of the shot.”

Photographing private individuals without their consent?
Then publishing the illicit photos on the internet?
I’m sorry, how is this free speech?
If you climb a tree and photograph your neighbor through their window, is that free speech too?

The article goes on to explain that the photographs were “often very young women.”
How young?
The comments mention the existence of a Reddit forum called /r/jailbait ?

And then there is the teacher posting photographs of students. When an authority figure abuses the power they have over over other people, it is an unconscionable breach of trust, possibly liable for criminal charges, certainly and most deservedly, to job loss. This is not free speech.

The Criminals

There have been emphatic arguments in the TechDirt comments about how important it is to protect the privacy of people who take such surrepetious photographs, and moderators who were aware of such content being published on the Internet without the subjects’ knowledge or permission.

You are concerned about the protection of the perpetrator’s anonymity.

Yet precious little thought has been given to the people whose anonymity has been stripped away through the publication of illicit photographs.  What about the victim’s anonymity?

The contention has been made that publishing such photographs is “free speech.”  Poppycock.


Professional photographers only publish photographs of subjects when they have signed release forms, because otherwise they can be held legally liable. Even models that have been paid to pose must sign releases; if they don’t, the photographs are published at the photographer’s peril.

Because one’s image is part of the individual’s private domain.


Although public figures may be “fair game” because they have put themselves in the public eye, private individuals are accorded legal protection of personal privacy.

The face, the likeness, the identifiability of individuals is protected. Any such invasion of the personal privacy of an individual must trump any arguments of free speech.

You can think what you want. You can say what you want. You can troll all the live long day. But taking surreptitious photographs of people and publishing them without express permission is a no-no.

If you post a photo of my daughter without her permission, or mine if she is a minor, you’ll find yourself in a world of trouble.  Because you will have invaded my daughter’s privacy.  You made this decision, you took these actions, and the logical consequence is that you answer for it.

There *should* be laws to address this creepy crap on Reddit. But maybe there aren’t. Or even if there are, the forces of law enforcement may not have a clue how to tackle a Reddit. Or maybe they *nudge*nudge*wink*wink simply don’t do a damn thing about it.

If the law does not answer, the best way to achieve social justice is to shine a light on injustice. If the law can’t or won’t deal with something this reprehensible, doxxing seems to be a perfectly acceptable, moral and ethical recourse.

And as the TechDirt article suggests, this wasn’t even doxxing, it was a case of media reporting.

logical consequences

Personal privacy is a natural right. We all need personal privacy. Our own space.

The creep perpetrators invaded that space.  They chose to commit bad acts.

People who are photographed secretly, and then had the photographs published, have chosen nothing. They have been victimized by the acts of the perpetrators.  Whether or not the law has defined this specific behaviour as assault, that is exactly what it is: an invasion of a human being’s personal space, and an assault on privacy.

Facebook PhoneNumbers & Security

Since I’m finishing my novel and committed to uploading it to CreateSpace Sunday night, I’m *not* supposed to be blogging!

But this is a pretty serious FaceBook privacy breach passed on my by friend Mary, and the sooner people know the sooner they can pull their numbers.

If you’ve ever given Facebook your phone number, it is now published.

ALL PHONE NUMBERS are now on Facebook! No joke …

facebook logo

  • Go top right of your screen –
  • click on ACCOUNT then
  • click Edit Friends.
  • Go to the left of the screen and
  • click the phone book.

Everyone’s phone number has now been published.
Please share this with your friends so they can remove their numbers when changing their personal settings.

Of course, the phone book is only published to *your* Facebook Friends…

AND every app that you’ve allowed to access your friend list now has all of their phone numbers.

This one doesn’t hit me because I never gave Facebook my phone number because I follow:

Internet Privacy Rule #1

Never Give Out Unnecessary Personal Information online.

The ONLY time you need to give out your home address or phone number is if you want someone to call you or mail something or visit.

Just because some website insists on accessing your private information does not obligate you to give it to them. If they insist, you are perfectly within your rights to lie. Give them a phony address (not the address of anyone you know). Change your birthdate, lie about your age. Yesterday I advised one of my my brothers to set up a disposable email address before divulging his real email address to someone he thought may be up to no good. And for years I’ve been telling every one I know — including my child — to lie about everything online. (Even just a postal code narrows your location down right quick.)

Think about it. I don’t have to give my identification to walk into a Canadian Tire Store, so why is it necessary online?

My computer guy advises that the best policy for Facebook is to assume that EVERY bit of information you put there will be written on a billboard for every one to see. Facebook may have privacy settings but no real privacy. Facebook lays claim to everything you put there – it belongs to them. See the movie. And realize that the movie is the sanitized glammed up version.

Online Security is spelled https

FYI: While on Facebook, look at your URL address;
if you see http: instead of https:
then you don’t have a secure session and you can be hacked.

  • Go to Account|Account Settings|Account Security and
  • click Change.
  • Check the first setting (secure browsing)
  • Re-Post for your Friends

FB defaults to the non-secure setting.

Only https offers you a secure internet connection. Which is still not encryption. I’ve been told that the reason https is secure is because it is encrypted.

(If you don’t want Bell using DPI to read your mail or peek in your packets with DPI, you want to go further & use encryption… which I have yet to figure out myself. I’m looking into a thing called Truecrypt.)

[Thanks Mary and Paul!]

A Funeral is a Private Thing

There are a whole lot of things to be talked about arising from the tragic events of last weekend. But the thing that cut me most to the quick is the death of that little nine year old child. Probably because I’m a mother. Not so long ago my precious child was nine.

The thought of losing a child is the most terrible fear a parent has. My heart breaks for Christina Taylor Green, and I grieve with her family.

So the whole business of the funeral protest– the very idea of protesting at a funeral is incredible to me. I’ve not heard of any such thing in Canada, although it may happen here, too, for all I know.

Needless to say I was surprised and pleased when I heard Arizona passed a special law outlawing protest near funerals. That helped a little.

Yet the controversy rages still.

Many people are upset because they think it is censorship.

But it’s not. This is a private matter. Privately, parents have the right to decide what their children see, hear and read. Because it is private.

Publicly, parents do not have the power to decide this for others. That would be censorship.

world changing

Now, I do think it’s important for people to participate in society. I think it’s important for people to try and effect the changes we think will improve the world. Which is a very powerful reason why I support WikiLeaks. But WikiLeaks has a storm or protest swirling around it too, and for similar reasons.

It all boils down to one thing.

the difference between public and private

Many people say WikiLeaks is bad because it makes private things public. But I disagree.

WikiLeaks has not sought to make private things public. In fact, over and over again, WikiLeaks has indicated that they support individual privacy.

What politicians say and do in their line of work may be concealed, or secret, but they are public employees engaged in work for their government.

Governments are not human beings, they are public institutions. There can be no privacy there, because privacy is a human right.

Politicians are public servants. That makes them accountable to the public. What they do on their own time is private— as long as it does not impact on their work.

When anyone takes any job, they are accountable to their employer. If sales clerk steals from her employer, she can’t claim privacy as a shield. If a minister absconds with the church bank account, he can’t claim privacy as a shield either.

why peaceful protest?

The point of peaceful protest is to effect public change.

It is appropriate to protest bad government decisions on the steps of the government buildings, because it draws the attention of both the government and the public. Public pressure can then be applied to the issue and government (in a democracy, anyway) will listen to the citizens and act in the public good. Or in a non-democratic nation the government will arrest and carry the peaceful protesters off to jail to suppress dissent, and then perhaps the neighboring democratic countries will protest, and thus effect change.

It is appropriate to protest bad corporate policy in the street outside the business, making it difficult for employees and customers to get in or out to do business with the corporation. Since corporations are artificial constructs incapable of human ethics, they can only be influenced solely by the bottom line.

Corporations and government both operate in the public sphere, and the greater public does indeed have a stake and should have a voice in what they do. Change can sometimes be effected this way.

But a funeral is not a public thing.

Funerals may appear to be public because they occur in public venues and can travel on public thoroughfares.

But a funeral is a private thing.

A funeral is part of a private human practice that has grown up out of the universal human grief process.

Funerals exist to allow people an opportunity to cope with and live through their personal grief. The proceedings and ceremony often spread into the wider community to allow other human beings to provide their personal support. People share their personal feelings and support each other. So although a funeral may have the appearance of a public event, in reality it is a private part of the healing of the survivors.

sisters playing dress-up
With my sister, Lynda
I have attended many funerals in my life. Some for aged relatives whose passing was expected, others not.

I’ve supported people I care about and attended funerals for people I didn’t know well.

Last year I attended the most difficult funeral I’ve yet had to attend. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was devastating nonetheless. I still can barely think about the loss of my older sister, Lynda, who had such a great influence on me.

This loss has scarred my soul and will never entirely heal. But the funeral helped me to wrap the personal loss in a special place in my heart, and to take comfort from friends and family and the extended community. Inclusion of the human community in the grieving process does not negate the fact that it is a private thing. The human privacy of a funeral expands to include all the humans so affected.

The only appropriate demonstration for a funeral is the demonstration of grief as part of the human healing process.

When you protest near a government, you do so to tell the government to hear your idea, and hopefully change. When you protest near a corporation you tell the people who set its policy it is on notice. But what are you protesting at a funeral?

The people attending a funeral are too enmeshed in grief to be able to hear ideas. Protest will interfere with their grieving process, and thus inflict harm on them. Which is wholly inappropriate.

The most that will be accomplished would be to make the funeral attendees forever an enemy of the ideas of the cause the protest espouses. Which is wholly ineffective. Exploiting the grief of the mourners at a funeral is, at best, in bad taste. It is certainly not a place for public protest.

Sometimes, there are important points that need to be made in public about death. Sometimes we need to publicly talk about issues and ideas surrounding a death. But still, the funeral is not the place.

No nine year old child should ever die like this.

Christina Taylor Green’s life has been ripped away from her. Her family and community will be devastated by the loss of this beautiful nine year old child. They need the opportunity to grieve in peace.

There is nothing stopping protesters from holding their own public memorial service, or rally. Then it would be an appropriate public thing.

Protesting at a private funeral can only further harm the people who are already harmed, exploiting the tragedy.  Some people seek to do that. Even though it harms the public good.

Human society allows government the facility to enact laws so that it can support the public good.   And sometimes it happens that governments do just that.

This is one of those times.  Bravo Arizona.