Monday, October 29, 2007

My Take On Online Video Sharing Sites

Recently, I was very distressed to find out that my favourite website, TV Links, was shut down and its owner arrested by British authorities because his website consisted of links to other websites hosting illegal video of films and popular TV shows. See the Guardian article here.

I am not going to deny that, based on current laws, what he was doing is wrong, even if not definitely illegal. However, I do not like that the authorities seem to have a double standard for the ordinary guy versus big corporations. I think that if they are going to arrest people for sharing videos, they should spend more time arresting the real perpetrators instead of the middle men. Major sites like contain video clips that violate copyright laws but their owners are not persecuted like ordinary owners of websites such as TV Links. In fact, TV Links linked to illegal content hosted on sites like

Even stronger than my belief that the middle men should not be hunted is my feeling that broadcasting and film distribution companies all over the world should work together with content copyright owners and whosoever else they need to work with to make these types of sites available to all users legally. This is because no matter how often they shut down sites like TV Links, another site just like it will appear soon afterwards and users will flock to the new site in the same large numbers. From what I understand, TV Links had millions of users monthly so this means that millions of users worldwide are looking for their own on demand access to TV shows and films.

Currently, different sites such as and provide legal access to shows and other video content. However, often, this content is limited by the users’ geographic location. This leads to a large number of users from other locations resorting to websites like TV Links or illegal downloading sites to get the content they desire. Corporations often give the excuse that they are limited to whom they can show their content because of copyright restrictions in different countries. They are also reluctant to provide full streams of their shows online as they claim that they will be losing out on advertising revenue. I disagree with their reasoning. While some users would rather watch illegal content online owing to no advertisements, many users prefer the convenience of being able to watch whatever they want WHEN they want. Therefore, I believe that if all the major players involved were to work together, it would be possible to provide video streams of TV shows, films or other content with location-specific advertisements. In fact, I am certain that many users would not mind watching their shows online with advertisements as long as the advertisements are of the same length or less than the ones currently on TV.

Today, a service called began its beta testing. seems to have the right idea in terms of content. However, unless they make this service available worldwide like almost everything else on the web, then I for one will not be a supporter. Actually, if has no plans to make their content available to non-US users as soon as possible (not years down the road), then I’m calling on all other like-minded Computer Science grads or computer-savvy individuals to come up with a site that I can support. Heck, if you need help on developing this site, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oh Mummy

On Saturday I took my mother, father and little sister to the bank so that my sister could open a bank account. We reached about 10 minutes before the bank closed. However, shortly after they went in, my father ran back out and told me they forgot all the documents (id, SIN number, etc) they needed to open the account for my little sister. He had apparently left my mother and little sister in one of the bank person's offices. We only live 5 minutes from the bank so he jumped in the van for me to take him home.

On our way home, my mother called and my father kept telling her to stay inside the bank so that when he gets back he can just pass the documents to her through the front door as she would already be inside even if the bank is closed. At our bank, like most banks, there is a 24-hr ATM section which is always open, then past those doors is the main bank area which has the lobby and offices. We were trying to tell her to stay in the lobby area. I don't think she was understanding what he was saying so he passed the phone to my other sister. I heard my sister's side of the conversation. According to her, this was the general gist of it:

Liana: Mummy stay in the bank OK?
Mommy: How I must stay in the bank with the bank person? I going to sit and look in his face not doing anything?
Liana: No Mummy, you can come out of his office and stay in the main area and wait.
Mummy: But the bank going to close
Liana: We know Mummy. That is why we say that you must only just come out of the man's office and stay in the main area, the lobby. This way when we come back with the documents we can just ask to pass them inside to you.
Mummy: Of course I come out of his office. I couldn't stay in there and not do anything.
Liana: Good
Mummy: It's a good thing I come out of his office a little bit too because the bank is closed.
Liana: Mummy, what do you mean by a little bit? Where are you now?
Mummy: I am outside his office.
Liana: Mummy are you outside? In the lobby or the 24-hour access ATM area?
Mummy: No I'm not in the bank.
Liana: Mummy, are you where the ATMS are?
Mummy: Yes

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Here Comes The Cold Again

Nature has decided that it is time for the season to really change here in Toronto. It is getting cold and I am getting more miserable. The funny thing was that a few nights ago I slept only in my underwear because I was so dang hot. The very next night, I had to go dig up my thick blanket because I was freezing. Just like that it went from being hot and sticky (lovely weather in my opinion) to cold and dreary (at least to me).

Although I am the only one in my family not born in a tropical climate, I think I love the heat more than the rest of them. Well....maybe not more than my mother. At the first whiff of cool weather, turtleneck sweaters make a comeback to our daily wardrobe, our winter clothes are placed in the most easily accessible parts of our closets and drawers, and our thick blankets return to our beds. Our thoughts naturally turn to Christmas time because in Jamaica when you start to feel the cool breeze during the day, aka the Christmas breeze, this is a sign that Christmastime is near.

Nonetheless, the cold temperature is the single most thing that I dislike about Canada. When I just arrived, I thought Toronto was bad but then I went to Montreal during the summer....I thought Montreal was bad until I stayed in Quebec City this past summer. I have to say, to me, Quebec City was entirely too cold during the summer. The locals tried to make it seem better by saying it was the coldest summer ever but I had stayed in Montreal 2 years ago and they didn't fool me. During the summer in Montreal and Quebec City it was barely ever warm all day. In the mornings and nights it was ALWAYS sweater weather. Man, if it wasn't for good company and a little alcohol on some of those nights to warm my stomach, I would have been miserable.

Granted, I'll admit that I am a bit extreme in my definition of cold weather. Once I cannot feel the sun's caress on my skin and the temperature goes below 22C then that is cold.

Anyways, here's to fall and all that it brings.

By the way, I cannot wait for Christmas - my favourite time of year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I HATE Commuting

I live in the north east end of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the commute is a killer. I leave my house at 6:50am in the mornings to get to work for 8:30am. My usual journey to work involves me trotting to the bus stop (sometimes I even go at a full sprint - heels and all) as I am always late - to catch the 7 o' clock bus. It is a 20-minute bus ride to the Scarborough Route Train (aka RT) which is an above-ground subway - i.e. the blue line on the pic below. When I hop off the bus I have to walk at a quick pace, with all the other passengers trying to be first up the stairs, to get the first available RT. Sometimes I have to wait a minute, sometimes five. This morning it was a frigging 20 minute wait before a train came.

Anyways, when I finally get on the RT, without stopping delays, it is a 10-15 minute 5-stop ride to the end of the RT line. Then I have to again jostle with the crowds coming out of the RT and trying to get down the two flights of stairs or escalators to get the subway level to take the subway train. At the subway level, again if there are no delays, there is usually a train waiting that is fairly packed. People coming down the stairs always make a mad rush for it and if one is not careful one WILL bump into others or get bumped by others. I usually wait for the second train to arrive so that I can get a seat. However, if there is a delay, then that means that when a subway train finally arrives, I have to try and get on regardless of the number of passengers that will be on it.

If there are no delays on the subway then I can get to the yellow line (the one going North-South) in 25 - 30 minutes. Lately, it seems there is always some delay and us passengers are left wondering why the train has stopped in between stops for 5 - 10 minutes often with no explanation from the drivers...but I digress...

Once I reach the intersection of the yellow and the green line (Yonge/Bloor station) then I am at the busiest subway stop. By the time the train reaches this stop people are packed in as tightly as possible - this is why at the beginning of my ride on the green line I try to wait for a fairly empty train so that I can get a seat. Okay back to my arrival at the Yonge/Bloor station...

Making my way to the stairs to get the southbound train takes me at least 7 minutes, although with no traffic it would have been a 1 minute walk. However, waiting on the train is the problem. Waiting on the southbound train almost always causes problems. It seems that it is never on time. Because this is the busiest subway stop, when the trains are late the platform fills up quickly. If one train is even 5 minutes behind schedule then this creates a domino effect for the trains behind it and in a matter of minutes, the Southbound platform at Yonge & Bloor station is full. When I finally get a train, and I usually have to wait for one or two trains to pass me by because they are usually at capacity, I am squashed in with the other passengers like sardines - forget about me even thinking of getting a seat. I then take this southbound train to the second to last south most stop on the line. Without much delays, this is usually a 10 minute ride. However, it can take up to 25 minutes. The last part is a 5-minute walk to my workplace.

Because of all the variables involved with me taking 1 bus and 3 different trains then I can get to work anywhere from 8:10am to 9am. The most reliable part is the bus but even that has its problems. The bus is supposed to come at 7am. Often it comes at 6:55am. Thus, although I only live 5 minutes away from the bus stop, I aim to make it to the stop at 6:50am. I have had far too many incidents of watching the bus blaze right past me as I am running to the stop, 5 minutes or more earlier than it should, all in -30C weather. Also, when the bus is late then this has an adverse domino effect on all the other parts of my journey. Added to this is the fact that if I miss the bus then I have to wait 20 minutes for the next one.

One would think that coming home would be easier but that would be an incorrect assumption. It might be a little less stressful because of not having to get home at a certain time. However, I can never time my return journey perfectly enough to reach the bus station in time to quickly catch a bus. Often, I arrive just as it is pulling out of the station and so have to resign myself to an extra 20 minute wait. It is heartbreaking when one arrives at the bus station and knows that one just missed the bus because the stop is empty but it is even more heartbreaking when one sees the bus just pulling out of the station. As this often happens to me, my journey home usually takes 2 hours. If there is any slight delay, it is oh so much longer.

On the way home today, I had the misfortune of sitting beside a lady who was noisily chewing gum with her mouth open and who kept popping the gum at regular intervals. I swear, while I was there trying hard to distract myself by reading the paper, all I could think about was grabbing her by the throat and telling her to stop chewing so loudly and to STOP POPPING THAT GUM!

Of Candles and Determination

Below is something I wrote down last week Tuesday...

Yesterday I came home from work to a blackout on my street. This was at around 7pm. For lack of anything better to do in the dark, my sisters and I passed the time by singing for our supper – literally – and chatting until around 10pm when we went to bed with the blackout still in effect. I’d like to think that baby Shanae enjoyed our singing as she was wide awake during our singing session and seemed to be listening to everything. However, this is not the point of my story. The main thing I’d like to share is that…my father had cooked the meat portion of our dinner, chicken with cauliflower, before the lights went out but he didn’t get a chance to reheat the rice & peas that we had in the fridge. Rice and peas taste great with the chicken that my father makes but there was no light so we knew that we would probably have to eat dry food, such as sandwiches, for dinner. My mother, on the other hand, was determined to have us eat rice and peas. She decided to heat the rice using candles and set about doing so. Yes I wrote CANDLES. My mother was reheating the rice using the flames from 7 tealight candles.

So if anyone had come by our house last night at around 7:30pm they would have heard 3 horribly out of tune voices singing and seen my mother stirring with all her might the contents of a pot which she held hovered over 7 candles that she had put in a baking pan to rest on the dining table. Later on that night, had anyone passed by the back of my house at around 8:30pm they would have seen another funny sight if they looked through our open screen door. After my mother finished reheating the rice - yes she was successful and it tasted great – she threw water on the candles to put out the flames. This had the adverse effect of making a HUGE flame of fire which got worse when she threw a wet cloth on it. The smoke alarms were going mad and there was a frantic rush to get the baby out of the house and to try to put out the fire. The fire only subsided after my sisters found a can of baking powder and threw it all on the blaze of burning candles.

Oh what a night!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

This is me

My friends have often encouraged me to write a book or at least short stories about the things that happen in my life as I'm always telling them about some dramatic event that happened to me or my family. The stories that they've heard have included having my house surrounded by a SWAT team, being that girl at the office Christmas party, praying that our car will not explode after catching on fire with the whole family in it, having our roof blown off during a hurricane, bathing in the rain when there was no water in my house, getting lost driving to school even after 2 years practice, climbing up a steep grassy hill (cliff really) at the Plaines D'Abraham in Quebec IN HEELS, having a sketchy French guy really come on to me while staying in Montreal, and complaining about my family's love of going everywhere together even to get milk at the supermarket (we're 5 now 6 of us in the family AND one of my sisters and I are both over 21).

Truthfully, I don't think that my stories are all that different from many other people's but maybe if I tell you a bit about my life you will understand the background to the stories and thoughts that I will be posting...

I was born in Belgium to a Haitian mother and a Chinese-Jamaican father. I lived in an inner-city neighbourhood in Jamaica until I was eleven then we moved to a very different residential neighborhood. My move to the upper middle class area also coincided with my beginning high school, a high school filled with students from the upper echelons of Jamaican society. During high school, with my father's encouragement I decided to go to the USA for college. I left Jamaica at 18 years old to go to a top liberal arts college in the the middle-of-nowhere Iowa in the States. I did two years there before my parents success in getting approved to immigrate to Canada, prompted my transferring to a university here in Toronto. I transferred because I wanted to save them some money and also to live in a city and be closer to my family. It turns out that not much money was saved because I was getting a nice grant from my old school and I had failed to factor in other costs besides tuition into the picture when looking at Canadian universities. Anyways, I just graduated with a degree in Computer Science this past June. Yes I was one of very few females in the graduating class. I did a 16 months co-op as part of my degree. All in all with the transfer from the States and co-op it took me 6 years to graduate. I'm currently working on contract with the hope of going to France next year. Oh, another thing about me, I am constantly striving to become fluent in French and so I always try to do things that will bring me closer to this goal.

Today I decided to start my own blog and share my personal reflections and (sometimes) outrageous stories with the world. I may even tell you, in entirety, some of the stories I mentioned earlier.

Many people have big dreams and hopes for their blogs.

I just hope you like it.