Unions were originally created to protect workers from being exploited by unscrupulous employers and improve working conditions. They work by allowing the workers to withhold labour en masse if they feel that they are being treated unfairly. This works because every day that a business’ employees are off the job, it costs the business money. Long strikes could cause the business to go under so there is tremendous pressure on the employer to settle a strike quickly.
This, perhaps, is the reason why many public sector strikes have been prolonged and largely unsuccessful. Every day that the workers are off the job, the employer saves money. Not alot of pressure to settle on the employer side. On the workiers’ side, there is still pressure in the form of lost wages. The only possible pressure that the employer might feel in a public sector strike comes from its constituents. And this is where a strike essentially breaks down into a public relations campaign. The employer tries to convince the public that they are being reasonable so as to paint the union greedy, while the union tries to convince the public that they deserve their raises.
Unfortunately in a world where union workers are perceived by many as being overpaid, the battle of public opinion sways in the direction of the employer. Hence the employer has NO urgency to settle, and we end up with long strikes where the union cannot win.
So where does this leave the working man in the 21st century? Is he doomed to descend to minimum wage? Of course not. We will certainly see a shift in the distribution of jobs towards the private sector, but this is not all bad. In fact this is where workers should look for help from unions, and where the union will truly have teeth. One of key points of contention in recent years has been in the employers’ rights to contract out services to the private sector. The unions see this as a threat, and indeed any changes are sure to disrupt the steady flow of things for some workers, but in the long run the unions will still have a prominent role in ensuring fair wages for the working man in the private sector.
I was recently in the market for a new car, and I found myself constantly switching back and forth between Craigslist and fueleconomy.gov because I wasnted to see what the gas mileage was like on the cars that were for sale. Suffice to say, this was tedious. So I developed a tool that allows me to see both the Craigslist ads and the fuel economy ratings of the advertised cars in one place. The tool is available for free at http://fueleconomy.weblite.ca.
See the press release here.
I discovered Digg and Reddit a few months ago and was immediately impressed by the quality and relevance of content contained therein. So I subscribed to their RSS feeds so that I could keep up to date with the latest internet news in my RSS reader.
For those unfamiliar with Digg and Reddit, they are web sites that allow users to rate other web sites and articles that are found on the internet. Users essentially vote for web sites and articles that they like and popular sites show up in the top 100 list.
This presents a problem for RSS feeds, however, since every time a ranking of an article is changed (e.g. it is ranked 21 instead of 22) the timestamp is updated, so it appears at the top of the RSS feed again. Needless to say it is quite annoying to finding 30 or 40 Digg and Reddit articles at the top of my news list every time I refresh my subscriptions.
How should it work?
Preferably when an article breaks into the top 25 or top 50, it will show up in the RSS feed – and will never show up again. Even if it rises to the top. I want my news feed to contain news – not “olds”.
I created a feed filter that takes RSS feeds and filters out duplicates. Even if the timestamp has changed, an item that has been loaded once, will never be loaded again.
You can find the tool at http://feedfilter.weblite.ca.
Now I can subscribe to Digg and Reddit without being bombarded by old news every time I refresh.
Here is another riduculous law-suit over a patent that should never have been granted.
It involves a company named Polaris IP suing a collection of companies (including Google and Yahoo) for using software to automatically respond to email using a sort of artificial intelligence. Polaris IP did not create the software to do this, they merely patented the idea of using computers to automatically respond to email.
Ran across this article talking about some of the recent sites that claimed to know the top paying search words on Google. In this article, the author claims that these figures are a hoax – which makes sense because there are some pretty ridiculously high payouts listed for legal search terms. My guess is that the person who originally released this list made some good money off the page because lots of people are looking for this information…. and if the information that people want isn’t available, why not fabricate it, right?
My company, Web Lite Solutions, has launched a new web site translation service to translate data-driven websites into multiple languages.
The service uses Dataface as a foundation to convert existing PHP/MySQL web sites into multilingual sites without having to change the site’s structure very much. Theoretically any web site developed using PHP and MySQL could be converted with minimal changes. The technology is currently being used to convert Science.ca into French, and it is used to power the http://translate.weblite.ca site itself also.
In the case of Science.ca, attempts had been made to port the site into multilingual frameworks such as Plone or Typo-3 without success. The site had over 5 years of development invested in the current framework and changing frameworks would have been a lot of work ( = time and money).
Web Lite Translate, on the other hand, was able to cooperate with the existing architecture to seamlessly convert it into a multilingual site.
Check out Web Lite Translate at http://translate.weblite.ca .
I have decided, after much thought, to take a break from school for the summer. I have one class remaining to graduate and was leaning towards Introduction to marketing. My decision was based on the fact that I haven’t taken a break from School since 2003 and am feeling a little bit exhausted. I think that a summer away from studies will help recharge my batteries and allow me to return for the right reasons. As it stands, if I were to take a course in the summer, I would be counting down the days before the end of the semester. If I wait, on the other hand, I may find some new motivation and even take more than one course. Who knows?
Barry Shell wrote an article about me and Dataface for the FAS newsletter and it showed up on the SFU homepage (http://www.sfu.ca) as one of the stories on random rotation. That was really cool. It seems like everyone I know saw it because a lot of people have made comments.
On a side note, I have been very happy with the response for Dataface since releasing it to the public on February 28th. I have received a number of comments from developers around the world saying that they really like the software. It is exciting to be able to contribute something useful to the developer community and I hope that I can continue to contribute. I would love to turn Dataface into a household name, but for now I’ll setting for the slow and steady increase in awareness that seems to be happening right now.
Also, I have to express my amazement at the power of freshmeat.net. Every time I release a new version and post it on freshmeat.net, I get an influx of 300 hits or so, and a large amount of downloads. In addition, it seems to pop up all over the internet on other websites that show freshmeat’s new releases. Freshmeat is an awsome solution for open-source software promotion.