Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ancient North American Settlement Unearthed

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

The oral history of the Heiltsuk Nation, an Aboriginal group dependent on the Central Coast of British Columbia, informs of a wooded strip of territory which didn’t freeze during the ice age, which makes it a place of sanctuary for ancient inhabitants of the land. As Roshini Nair accounts for the CBC, a new archaeological discovery proves to a historical human existence in the region linked to the tradition. While digging British Columbia’s Triquet Island, archaeologists uncovered a settlement which dates to this period of the previous ice age.

The archaeological team, backed from the Hakai Institute, sifted through meters of land and peat before hitting the charred remains of an ancient hearth. Researchers painstakingly peeled out charcoal flakes that were subsequently carbon dated. In November, evaluations disclosed that the hearth was some 14,000 years old, indicating the region where it was discovered is among the oldest human settlements found in North America. Or as Randy Shore of the Vancouver Sun contextualizes, the village is “twice as old as the fantastic Pyramid in Giza.”  It was recently covered in a documentary on UK Television, which you should be able to watch on the BBC although it can be difficult to access abroad.

Alisha Gauvreau, a PhD student at the University of Victoria as well as also a researcher using the Hakai Institute, presented the team’s findings at the yearly meeting of the Society for American Archeology this week. She tells Shore which archaeologists also discovered lots of artifacts from the region: fish hooks, a hand drill for igniting fires, a wooden apparatus for launching projectiles along with a cache of stone tools near the hearth.

“It looks we had people sitting in 1 place making stone tools beside evidence of a fire pit,” Gauvreau states. “The stuff that we’ve recovered … has actually helped us weave a story for the job of this website.”

These findings could have important implications for our comprehension of early human migration patterns. As Jason Daley accounts for Smithsonian.com, the standard narrative of human birth into the Americas posits that some 13,000 decades back, stone-age folks moved across a land bridge which linked modern-day Siberia into Alaska. But recent studies indicate that route didn’t include enough funds to the first migrants to efficiently create the crossing. Rather, some researchers say, humans entered North America across the shore.

In a radio interview with the CBC, Gauvreau states the early settlement on Triquet Island “actually adds extra evidence” for this theory. “Archaeologists hadn’t believed that … the shore would be fully uncalled and impassible when that’s quite clearly not the situation,” she describes.

The discovery can be significant to the Heiltsuk Nation, lending credence to oral traditions that put their ancestors in the area throughout the days of this ice ” [I]t reaffirms a great deal of the history our folks have been speaking about for thousands of years,” William Housty, a part of Heiltsuk Nation, informs Nair. He added the validation by “Western science and archeology” will aid the Heiltsuk people as they negotiate with the Canadian authorities over name rights into their traditional territory.

John Williams

http://www.changeipaddress.net/

 

New Smart DNS Solution for Netflix

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Smart DNS was one of the newest solutions for accessing  the big media sites when you were deemed to be in the wrong location.  So Hulu subscribers used it on holiday, BBC viewers used it when outside the UK and it opened up the Pandora’s box of Netflix regions.  It had some advantages over proxies and VPNs as well as some drawbacks.  The main plus point for Smart DNS was that it could be used on just about any device as long as you could access the network settings.

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There was no real need for direct authentication, no installation of a VPN client which meant it was perfect for the plethora of media devices we use today to stream our video and audio content.  For example, you can’t use a VPN with an Xbox one simply because there’s no way to install the software directly.  Plus you couldn’t set it up manually as there’s no way to enable the authentication that is used on a proper VPN.

However all that is irrelevant with Smart DNS, as you don’t need any software it’s all configured via a DNS server.   Normally your internet connection is unaffected, name resolution is performed as normal until the request is received for a ‘region locked’ website like Netflix.  See how it works here  in this demonstration – Smart DNS Netflix, which shows you how to configure it which takes about two minutes.

It’s simple to use however you should remember that it provides no security component at all, a VPN encrypts and  protects your data simply using a specially configured DNS server does not.  So if you’re using from abroad over public or insecure wifi connections then be careful, don’t access sites like banking, webmail or other important sites from these connections.

Unfortunately there is one other problem with Smart DNS and that is it’s relatively simple to block.   Which is why in the great Netflix purge that happened a few months ago it also took down every single DNS solution for Netflix.  That’s starting to change now and the link above does contain the first Smart DNS solution which has been fixed, I believe it took a lot of effort and expense though so who knows if Smart DNS has a long term future for bypassing region locking.  Of course the real solution is to stop blocking, filtering and locking the world wide web – let people access what they wish.  Especially with subscription services like Netflix which you actually have to pay for then find you can’t access simply because of your location!!

Getting the Best Digital Deal

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

The internet is by far the biggest marketplace on the planet. Increasingly it is the place that individuals turn to buy all sorts of goods and services. It seems like one big, global market so you would think that everyone would get the same deals and the same access, unfortunately that isn’t quite true. Even for the many global brands which sell online, they offer a variety of goods for sale at different prices depending primarily on your physical location. It seems crazy yet in the digital world your location does matter.

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The reasons are of course rooted in money, one of the particular ways in which companies maximise their profits is by selling at the highest possible margin. Yet this margin alters depending on your location because of a variety of reasons ranging from competition to living standards. You can sell something for more money in some markets than others which is why it’s important that firms build up these artificial boundaries in the digital world. Take for example the online games retailer – Steam, they sell games digitally, you pay and then download. It shouldn’t matter what location you are in, the product and delivery cost is identical. However they know that they can maximise their profits by selling at higher costs in some wealthier countries than others. You’ll pay more to download a game from the UK than you will from South America for example.

So how do the companies manage to charge different costs online? Well they do this by looking at your IP address when you connect to their web site. It will determine your location and then offer you a regionalised price list – it could even be a completely different website. Doesn’t sound fair? Digital Exploitation? Well perhaps but fortunately there is a way of bypassing this and treating the internet as the global marketplace it should be by simply switching the residential IP address that you are using.

It’s actually very easy to do and can be achieved without any technical knowledge using some sort of proxy or VPN service. This hides your real location and if you connect to a website you should receive the same offers and services as those in the country which the VPN server is based in.   So you can buy your online games in South America and save money, or stream to region locked digital service.

Further Reading:

BBC Block VPNs – http://www.iplayerabroad.com/2016/07/20/bbc-vpn-block-real/

 

Groundbreaking Animation Movies – Paranorman

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

It’s now over three years since the film was released yet, although it might look like just another family animation film but the production of ParaNorman used some cutting edge techniques.  The workhorse of this production was a bank of four very powerful 3d printers which were essential to production on the film.  The film was created using a technique called Stop-Motion.  This method was actually developed over a century ago and involves using puppet models that are moved slightly to create the next frame and the illusion of movement.

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The method is very successful but incredibly time consuming mainly down to people’s expressions.  To complete small movements in the facial expressions, traditionally each look would be sculpted from clay by hand.  However for this film the makers – Laika used the printers.  They had stored on computer a bank of nearly nine thousand 3d faces for just the main character.  Playing around with the various combinations could increase the variations to over 1 million.

They are not the first company to use these sophisticated printers, the famous British company Aardman used them aswell.  In fact their latest film – The Pirates used this technology extensively.  Animators would select  the expressions or looks that they needed then use the 3 printers to produce the finished product.

You can see how essential the printers are to these productions by the amount of work they have done.  In all they used nearly 4 tonnes of ink toner between them.  They were used a total of 572 days mainly printing out the thousands of facial impressions that are required in this production.

As for the film, it is excellent and well worth seeing.   There’s a great little show on the Hulu site at the moment with more on ParaNorman.  You ‘ll need to find way to change your address like a safe VPN – such as this to view though.  This is because Hulu has now locked all it’s content down for visitors from outside the US.  Don’t worry though it’s not that hard to use a VPN to hide your real location from the server.

Citation – additional information

A Single Digital Market – EU’s Goal

Friday, May 29th, 2015

One of the core values of the European Union is to eliminate trade barriers of all sorts.  It is now beginning to look at the huge and growing digital market.  The EU has already confronted Google in the courts over it’s alleged restrictive practices and now it’s hoping to produce a model for the digital world.

The plan is simply to create a single digital market which would bring some standardisation of things like copyright, sales and of course taxes.  It is hoped that this will both stimulate and legitimize the digital market and bring benefits to all economies.

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The larger companies are already sensing the changes, this month Amazon announced it was restructuring it’s business in order to operate more fairly.   Currently the vast majority of Amazon’s sales are processed in Luxembourg allowing them to avoid heavy tax costs in the European countries were these sales are actually generated.  It is becoming increasingly unpopular and officials are likely to prepare legislation soon.

One of the biggest areas that hopefully be addressed is that of geo-blocking across the digital market.  This is where companies prevent people buying or using services depending on their location, that is stopping an EU citizen purchase something from other EU member states – which is clearly not in the spirit of the free trade EU.

It’s been apparent for many years and the practice is estimated to cost 415 billion euros as customers are forced to payer higher prices based on their location.  It is even apparent in public broadcasting too where you need a proxy for BBC iPlayer like this – http://iplayerusa.org/index.php/proxy-to-access-bbc-iplayer-abroad/ to watch anything if you’re based outside of the UK.

It’s not just Europe that this happens in, the practice is also common across the US as well.  You can’t access most of the world’s biggest media sites if you’re in the wrong country, as I discovered trying to login to my Hulu account while on holiday in Canada last month.

It’s good to see this status quo challenged, priced discrimination and geo-blocking is becoming endemic across the internet and it doesn’t need to be like this.  Countries wouldn’t accept these restrictive practices in other areas so why should we accept it in the online world.   Break down these barriers and we encourage more trade, more competition and importantly more opportunities within the digital world.

Read more about British TV Abroad – http://www.uktv-online.com/online-british-tv-abroad/

Reprieve for the English Ranch Garden

Monday, February 16th, 2015

A reprieve has been received by the controversial community garden.

City direction was directed by the Fort Collins City Council to delay plans for removing the vegetable garden.

“City council has received a tremendous amount of feedback regarding the garden both pro and con,” said Deputy City Manager Jeff Mihelich within an email statement. “With this in your mind, the city will likely be seeking the services of a mediator using the hopes of creating a compromise between the groups.

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“The garden will stay in place before the mediation process takes place.”

Particulars of the mediation procedure will soon be published in the coming weeks, Mihelich said.

Supporters of the garden southeast of Fort Collins High School mustered after Mihelich last week announced the garden could be removed.

Garden patrons established an on-line petition calling for it to be saved and held a rally at the site. The request had more than 250 assistants as Tuesday.  Gillian Bliss, community gardener and a park neighbor, said the town ‘s decision pleased her.

“I’m truly expecting that we are able to reach a compromise which is satisfactory to all,” Bliss stated in a email to the Coloradoan.

The decision to remove the garden came after adversaries and city officials of the garden can barely reach a compromise on whether to take out it or relocate it elsewhere.

Critics lobbied city officials for months to have it removed, protesting the lack of play space for children and asserting the garden was an eyesore.

In September, garden opponents presented a petition calling for the removal that 220 local residents signed of the garden to city direction.

Garden supporters were not aware discussions about the garden’s fate were going on. Following community meetings last summer, city officials said the garden would stay over the protests of its critics.

The 3,700-square-foot garden in on the east side of English Ranch Park near Kingsley Drive. The garden, which has 13 plots, was installed last spring as part of the city’s community gardening program.

One of the plots is used by Linton Elementary School, which borders the park.

Four city parks have community gardens. The Gardens on Spring Creek, the city-operated botanical center, also has a community garden.

A large community garden is planned for Southeast Community Park, which is expected to open in about three years near the intersection of Kechter and Ziegler roads.

 

Hastings Williams

http://www.bestelectriclawnmower.co.uk/