What’s Your Biggest Resolution for 2013?

Happy New Year, everyone!

It’s that time of year again, of course, for resolutions. The secret to making them happen tends to be gradual, habitual changes that you can sustain, or improve upon, over time, rather than drastic and dramatic changes. You should also have a plan to monitor progress. It’s more in the details than concept, essentially. So with that in mind, I want to know what is your biggest resolution for 2013, and how are you realistically planning to achieve this?

If this is news to you, well, just because it’s January 1st, 2nd or whatever, doesn’t mean it’s too late to reformulate. I’ve given my resolution below, and how I intend to achieve it, as an example to illustrate my points above.

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Are You Disappointed with the Grown Up Corporate YouTube Yet?

Sometime in early 2010, possibly late 2009, YouTube changed its copyright policies for whatever reason… and lost its edge.

The precise time isn’t important. Nor is the exact reasons why. This isn’t a history documentary. Just a commentary on the state of things.

I first noticed it during the Winter Olympics in 2010, in trying to find clips about which I blogged. There was either nothing, or poorly labeled posts that were taken down sometimes just hours after being put up. I thought the Olympics legal machine had threatened YouTube into temporary submission, but those egomaniacs can go smash their egos elsewhere because this was something much bigger happening.

It seemed YouTube changed conditions of what it allowed to be posted to be something like this.

1. If the obvious true copyright owners of the videos did nothing, they would be left on. That is, you’d have to file a claim of some sort to have any action taken. You’d have to prove it somehow, like if it were a legitimate music video, cut from a show, etc. I’m not sure about just the music track used being copyrighted.

2. The copyrighted videos could be left on with (Google word?) ad revenues in return.

3. The copyrighted videos could be left on but embedding had to be disabled.

4. The copyright videos could be left on with one of several targeted commercials at the start… which is REALLY annoying because they’re unexpected since most videos seem NOT to have one.

5. The copyrighted videos could be removed… en masse. This last change was the killer because YouTube seemed to have done it for entire clients, like Bob Dylan’s videos. I was disappointed a lot of Bob Dylan videos, and performances of his songs, disappeared just like that from YouTube. Not only was I disappointed in YouTube in this case, I was disappointed in Bob. I thought he was cooler than that. Really, does the man need any money? But it’s about the only thing Bob’s done that’s ever disappointed me, and that’s more than I can say for pretty much anyone else I know.

It seemed anything that qualified as “fan creation”, meaning it wasn’t just clipped or taken directly as was continuously from some source, was allowed to remain on YouTube, though. It seemed to also have applied to such fan vids using what should be copyrighted sound tracks. Maybe YouTube was being hypocritical to say it was in the video business so music copyright didn’t apply to it. I don’t know.  But that seems to have been the outcome from certain videos I see and don’t see of the same music tracks that remained or were removed from YouTube.

In doing this, YouTube went from rebel teenager to responsible adult overnight. The company that once posted everything and gave the finger at anyone who complained of copyright was now waving another finger to a different beat at those who posted stuff that shouldn’t be on there.

Worse, not long after YouTube first “took down” the videos for copyright, it even removed the message about why the video was being removed. It left a black screen that did nothing, as if the poster screwed up technologically.

Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! You are still an adolescent, YouTube, in behaving like that!

Now, being like many people who got used to YouTube, I still went there to search for videos. However, I kept hitting snags of removed videos that were still searchable. Then YouTube remedied that annoyance and now I just find videos I like, share with friends, only to have some removed just days later. They must have a notification system on because there would be just too many videos to have people actually monitor them for potential copyright infringement.

Recently, however, I hit my breaking point with YouTube. I had had enough of its corporate behaviour. It wasn’t the YouTube that attracted me in the first place. So now I just search for videos on Google, under the “Video” category, and look for alternatives to YouTube first. I admit I still end up going to YouTube half the time, but that’s half the time and a lot less frustration than I used to have because I now have a grasp of what videos I see on YouTube that might not be removed days later.

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So where am I going the other half of the time that I don’t go to YouTube for videos?

No one particular place, really, but I’m finding out a lot of other great video sources.

I like the Chinese youku.com (means excellent and cool) and Tudou.com (literally potato net, thought it sounds like Vietnamese for freedom). Once again, Made in China as trumped Made in the USA. Can you imagine that? I never thought I’d be saying that about Internet services, especially considering the Internet censorship in China. But they only seem to care about Communist propaganda or anti-Communist stuff. They have all kinds of stuff on Youku and Tudou you won’t find on YouTube these days! Furthermore, they don’t have a 20 minute video limit that YouTube had upped from its original 10 minute limit as late as last year. Maybe YouTube did it to compensate for the copyright move. It certainly freed up server space and bandwidth (info flow from loading up videos) with all the videos it removed! Pick your favourite historical massacre and compare the videocide to it!

I mean, really. This is just for sharing and fun. It’s like free preview in poor quality. If the people like it enough, they’ll go buy the real thing from you. You’ll probably sell more copies on that business model. The copyright pundits should really just GET OVER IT! People like me just go elsewhere to find the same things… and then trash them for it.

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But what could YouTube have done?

Well, for one thing, they could have come up here to Canada. Our dollar is still cheaper.

And our copyright laws are so worthless we didn’t even bother copyrighting them!

Anything done politically to try and change them is just a facade. The result would allow a politician to say we’ve got this and that going, but it wouldn’t address the issue and get the money to the right people who own the copyright. Lawyers or organizations fighting on behalf of the people and such would get the revenues. If one does get any revenues, the fees paid to register to get it would cut a lot of it away for most people, or a few would benefit from the lack of gains by the many. Good old capitalism at its best… though without true free market forces. Just greedy bastards out to get you and make themselves look good at the same time.

It’s just a thought. But I’d be stupid to think YouTube would listen. It’s all grown up now and lost all sense of adventure. I just refer to it as BooTube now, even though I know that name’s been copyrighted.

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.4

Nova Scotia Once Again Abysmal for Earth Hour (2010)

Earth Hour 2010 was yesterday, March 27, and just like in 2009, Nova Scotia was abysmal… almost as much as the results reporting from Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI)

As the main energy supplier of Nova Scotia, NSPI was the designated reporter of results, like in 2009. Just like in 2009, all they reported a power drop number, with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) equivalent for “context”. I don’t doubt they chose it because it sounds impressive when the results weren’t, and I know they can’t be judgmental in reporting to be both, objective and not pan their customers. However, frankly, I expect more from a company that pushes smart meters and no doubt keeps statistical performance data up the ying yang river. They also have a communications department. I’m sure they can report in more detail, objectively, without plastering the general public they serve, and I’m going to call them out on that again this year.

[In 2010], Nova Scotia Power’s energy control centre reported an 18-megawatt reduction in power consumption between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on Saturday evening. This represents an equivalent savings of more than 1.4 million 13-watt compact florescent light bulbs.
— NSPI web page on Earth Hour 2010 results

So if NSPI isn’t going to give the proper analysis and context, I’ll do it for you.

First of all, the 18 megawatt (MW) reduction is an improvement from the 15 MW in 2009 [NSPI]. That we Nova Scotians should give ourselves a small hand for so let’s take a few seconds for that. Why I’m plastering the results will come a little later in the article.

I was not well enough this year to get out and take some pictures of HRM during Earth Hour last year. However, the CBC said our bridge lights were out. That, I know to be an improvement from last year.

It was also colder this year than last, by about 10 degrees Celcius. Lights only comprise a small percentage of our energy usage in such cold climates, of course. So the colder it gets, the less lights would matter. However, from what I can tell, the statistics measured a drop from hour to hour so the value could be attributed mostly to lights. For percentage impact, though, to give more context and comparison across Canada, this knowledge of lights’ percentage share of power usage is useful.

The reported percentage reduction for Halifax in 2009 was one percent (1%), based on 15 MW [Toronto Star for %, NSPI for MW]

Given it was much colder this year, meaning the energy usage base would have been larger, 18 MW would still likely be a 1% drop. It’d have been just 1.2% anyway, even if the temperature was the same as last year, insinuating the same energy usage for heating that would be the major source of the usage on an early spring night. Given it was that much colder this year, a 1% drop is a fair number by my books.

So how did Nova Scotia’s 1% drop compare to the rest of the country? That’s where we were abysmal.

Toronto recorded a drop of 10%, also at temperatures 10 degrees Celcius lower than last year, although they dropped from 15.1% last year. [Toronto Star]

Hey, if Toronto can do 10%, and they are a much larger population than our entire province of Nova Scotia, we can count ourselves abysmal in our efforts. To be fair, as environmental awareness increases, their big drop from 15.1% in 2009 earns them a disappointing rating in my books. It’s all about expectations and context, right?

That said, I’m really going dump on St John, New Brunswick, for not participating during Earth Hour.

“We didn’t really see that much for what we put into it [last year],” city spokesperson Leah Fitzgerald told the Telegraph Journal. She said non-essential lights are already turned off on weekends and overnight.
— Toronto Star

Wow! The environmentalists should be burning whoever made that decision at the stake… if only that didn’t increase CO2 emissions unnecessarily. They completely missed the point of awareness, and should take some accountability for the fact the city maybe didn’t do a good enough job. Did they think St John was the only city in which the light bulb came on regarding Earth Hour being ineffective when over 4,000 cities and over 1 billion people in 121 countries participated world wide? What brilliant environmental strategy and vision is St John known for world wide?

For the record, NB did record a noticeable dip in the power grid during Earth Hour last year, 20 MW [CBC] although it is about awareness, of course, not huge power reductions. It begets the follow-up power reduction from the awareness.

There were no reports yet for other cities, but another story cited Edmonton dropping 11% in 2009, while Calgary dropped 4% [CBC]. Edmonton has called out Calgary on that this year in a challenge which’s results should be interesting to see.

Now, I’m writing and taking those values at face value rather than be a cynic and questioning how much spin might be in them. However, there is no way the margin of error and/or spin could be big enough to make our 1% drop in Nova Scotia a worthy example or a good effort. The improvement is nice to see, but if you want to use Toronto’s 10% as the baseline example of a 100% mark, that’d be nice NS getting an improvement in marks from 10% to 12%. How much would you pat your kid on the back if his/her report cards improved that way?

On another note, the CBC story with NB’s power drop last year also stated

Organizers said the point isn’t to tally the amount of power saved over 60 minutes, but rather to involve as many people as possible to let governments know they are still failing to do enough to combat climate change.

Are they sure on that? How many of those people who participated would be happy if governments came in with actions to force them to change their behaviours for the sake of the environment? Whether regulatory actions to force the issue, or taxes or other incentives, I don’t think a lot of it would make people happy. The extent government would have to go to for more people to ride public transit, for example, would be ridiculous if it were to have significant impact. People will only be happy when they make their own decisions to change their behaviour, and they have to take some accountability for that. They should ask themselves how much are they not doing that they could be doing without government intervention, and see the relative difference they can make just in their own lives, like a reduction in gas or power bill. Then imagine that of society, rather than talking about governments doing more.

Sure, there is lots of room for governments to be doing more on climate change, but that is mostly on an industrial scale. There is some work on the societal level, too, of course. However, at that level, people have to step up more and be accountable rather than constantly holding government accountable to that degree. In psychology, they say admitting you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it. I think people, in large, have to admit this first before they’re going to get anywhere. They have to admit they are the problem when it comes to climate change on a societal level. That includes me, of course, but I’ve been working to improve for many years now, and always believe I could be doing more.

Furthermore of psychology, that’s what it’s going to take government to change society’s behaviour. Sure, regulations, tax incentives, information and the like, will have some impact. But I believe if you want to change people’s behaviour, you have to really know how they behave. A lot of social marketing theory is based upon this, being the systematic application of marketing, along with other concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behavioral goals for a social good. So it then comes down to this, people, as a society:

Admit you have a problem and solve it yourselves, or government will scope your mind and “persuade” you to. 🙂

I’m using sinister language for humour, of course, but it ain’t far from the truth that is never easy to swallow.

I’ll be back with more Earth Hour results as they come online.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.3

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