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September 10, 2013

out on a limb

catherine @ 9:09 pm

About a month ago, I had my left leg amputated below the knee. How this came about is a long and rather sad story and I do not really feel like getting into the whole thing because some of it is just too personal or complicated and I suspect a fair amount of it is not really all that interesting. My friends already know enough about it, having followed along with me for the last 18 months or so, whether IRL or online (I have dared to indulge in a rant or two on “the Facebook” to friends). And family and close friends, most notably my BFF Alain, have been there with me through a lot of it.

But I think this is a major life event and not something that would go unnoticed. Indeed, judging by the stricken looks of most people I cross on the sidewalk or at the little shopping mall up the street from the rehab centre when I venture out for a stroll, I guess it is quite a sight to see this seemingly youngish woman, zipping about in a motorized wheelchair, sporting a tibial prosthesis on her right leg and a freshly bandaged tibial amputation on her left leg, not to mention a great new hairstyle. So I just felt I should say a little something about the experience.

Continue reading out on a limb

August 23, 2013


catherine @ 9:02 pm

Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there was
A time when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.

- Emily Dickinson (source)

After having major surgery, the above perfectly describes the last 10 days.

Filed under: uncategorized
June 13, 2013

Internet Governance Caucus supports EFF concerns regarding DRM in HTML5

catherine @ 3:01 pm

For Immediate Release

The Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation concerns regarding DRM in HTML5

BERN & SUVA, June 14 2013 – The Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus adopted a statement this week supporting the formal objection lodged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) regarding the HTML Working Group’s charter.

As explained in the EFF’s objection (see link:, the W3C’s Working Group responsible for developing the next version of HTML, a core technology for the World Wide Web, has published a draft specification regarding Digital Rights Management (DRM), the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification. The EFF objection seeks to invalidate the HTML Working Group’s mandate to develop DRM enabling technologies, as specified in the working group’s charter - “supporting playback of protected content”.

Much has been said about EME, especially since its advancement to First Public Working Draft status in May, 2013. Many worry about its impact on digital rights, access, fair use, privacy and innovation. Many have signified their concerns to the W3C, whether through letters, petitions and discussions, most notably on the various W3C mailing lists supporting communications of this work. Most recently, the EFF has filed a formal objection to tell the W3C that DRM has no place in HTML. The Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus (IGC) wishes to lend its voice to this movement of protest. The IGC believes that the inclusion of digital rights management (DRM) in HTML5 has the potential to stifle innovation and seriously compromise the rights of end users (see statement:

The IGC therefore calls on the W3C to stop work on the Encrypted Media Extensions specification and revise its decision to include this work in the HTML Working Group charter.

About the Internet Governance Caucus

The policies that shape the Internet impact not only the development of the technologies themselves, but also the realization of internationally agreed human rights, social equity and interdependence, cultural concerns, and both social and economic development. Our vision is that Internet governance should be inclusive, people centered and development oriented. Our contributions to the various forums relevant to Internet governance, will strive to ensure an information society which better enables equal opportunity and freedom for all.


Source : Norbert Bollow & Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro
Internet Governance Caucus

Original press release (PDF)

May 20, 2013

flickr redesign

catherine @ 10:35 pm

Dear Flickr,

What. The. Fuck.

What the fuck were you thinking ????!!!

I do not care how much storage space you give me. It can NEVER make up for how you totally fucked up.


A PAYING customer since 2004

Filed under: flickr, not happy, wtf
February 25, 2013

the law of raspberry jam*

catherine @ 12:10 am

A rare and very honest perspective by Shanley Kane on the fucked-up culture increasingly promoted in tech orgs and startups: What Your Culture Really Says (via @terrahawkes).

“Culture is not about the furniture in your office. It is not about how much time you have to spend on feel-good projects. It is not about catered food, expensive social outings, internal chat tools, your ability to travel all over the world, or your never-ending self-congratulation.

Culture is about power dynamics, unspoken priorities and beliefs, mythologies, conflicts, enforcement of social norms, creation of in/out groups and distribution of wealth and control inside companies. Culture is usually ugly. It is as much about the inevitable brokenness and dysfunction of teams as it is about their accomplishments. Culture is exceedingly difficult to talk about honestly. (…)”

I really do not think this person’s perspective is an exaggerated one. I have seen this culture at work in many tech orgs (who shall remain nameless) and have seen it start to rear its head in some not-for-profit orgs in the last couple of years. I have tried to have meaningful discussions regarding my feelings about this culture, what I have seen of it specifically in Montreal or elsewhere. But, as usual, I am made to understand that I bring up an uncomfortable subject and that this is the way the game is played, the way it has to be played in order to stay competitive and relevant.

I also worry about what this culture is doing for democracy and democratic institutions. I mean, I am all for enabling citizens to take control through technology and access to information (among other things). I have even modestly contributed to that objective, namely via accessibility and open data initiatives. But to be honest, I increasingly get the feeling that the “citizens” are secondary. That the industry is feeding on itself and the goal, whatever it may be, is a pretext to maintain this culture. Yes, yes, there is the question of making more and more money but that is another discussion.

And then I read stuff like politicians wanting to turn cities into startups or other politicians (who have no idea what they are talking about) practically suggesting we throw the policing of government corruption into the lap of developers. And those are just two examples but there is so much more stuff out there to give us pause. And I have to wonder. Is it a good idea handing over the development of our democracy to people who are subject to and/or promoting this type of culture? And is it even fair? I am certainly not suggesting we should leave it strictly up to politicians, gawd no, we have enough evidence of how, euh, unreliable governments are at governance. But frankly, part of me finds the idea of the tech industry (or industries) leading the way rather scary. But I guess that is a whole other subject.

Anyway, there are aspects of the tech and/or startup “culture” that are fun and promising and challenging (in a good way). But there are aspects that are alarming and perverse. And I am relieved I am not alone with my questions. I am glad that someone has the guts to bring up their questions too, and quite brilliantly I might add. It happens all too rarely. And when it does, people do not listen enough. I hope that changes.

* “The Law of Raspberry Jam: the wider any culture is spread, the thinner it gets.”, Alvin Toffler (In this case, lets fucking hope so.)

February 7, 2013


catherine @ 12:55 am

Voilà comment on fait pour ne pas répondre à une question légitime et sérieuse.

L’office de consultation publique de Montréal a tenu récemment des audiences dans le cadre de la campagne “Faire du neuf avec le Vieux“, qui vise à recueillir mémoires et commentaires des montréalaises et montréalais sur l’avenir du Vieux-Montréal. Les audiences ont été filmées et les vidéos ont été mises en ligne ce qui m’a donné la chance de prendre connaissance, de chez moi, des préoccupations apportées lors de cette opération de consultation.

Lors de la dernière audience, le 29 janvier dernier, un représentant de l’organisation Moelle épinière et motricité Québec (MEMO-Qc) a mis de l’avant la question complexe de l’accessibilité architecturale. Quiconque a des limitations motrices, même mineures, peut témoigner du peu d’accessibilité de cet arrondissement à caractère historique.

Or, en visionnant l’extrait où le réprésentant de MEMO-Qc est intervenu (05:47m-16:05m approx), on constate que les gens interpellées ont maîtrisé l’art de la tergiversation. En effet, on a déployé des efforts considérables pour ne pas répondre aux préoccupations clairement exprimées au sujet des entraves que la protection du patrimoine historique représente souvent en matière d’accès et d’utilisation d’un arrondissement complet ou presque pour une partie importante de la population. Grosso modo :

  1. Le gars de la ville a esquivé la question en parlant des ascenseurs dans le métro Champ-de-mars;
  2. L’architecte du ministère a esquivé la question en expliquant que si on lui présentait des projets avec l’accessibilité, ce serait sûrement une bonne idée et elle est ensuite allée jusqu’à suggérer que c’est au promoteur de le proposer afin de voir au respect de ce droit civil. C’est une architecte ministérielle ou une patenteuse de petits villages légo?;
  3. Le promoteur a esquivé la question en affirmant sans vergogne que ça fait juste 10 ans que l’accessibilité architecturale est une préoccupation en architecture et s’est ensuite plaint qu’on n’était pas gentil avec lui et qu’on le traînait pratiquement en justice au lieu de proposer des solutions (alors que des solutions sont proposées et des compromis sont acceptés depuis presque 40 ans dans divers endroits au monde).

On peut comprendre que ce n’est pas une question facile. Mais on est quand-même en 2013. Il faudrait arrêter de nous prendre pour des cons et de nous répondre n’importe quoi.

#vieux-mtl #handicap #a11y #complaisance

February 4, 2013

let there be spaces in your togetherness*

catherine @ 12:16 am

Dear everybody, I am taking a break from Facebook for a while for the following reasons:

Firstly, I HATE the new ticker functionality; IT CREEPS ME OUT. I do not need to know every single thing my friends do on Facebook but, more importantly, I do not care to have my friends know every single thing I like or comment on. I actually sometimes feel spied on by some people even though I understand (or in some cases hope) that it is not intentional on their part. But it is just too much information and until Facebook offers a way to opt-out of having my every move broadcast not only to my friends but to people I do not even know, I will not be commenting or liking anyone’s posts, photos or comments or if so, very rarely. This will probably make me a very boring friend but c’est la vie. Please do not take it personally.

Secondly, a few recent articles (here and here) have also motivated the aforementioned measures I have decided to implement. I knew Facebook could use “corporate” likes to use us as unsuspecting promoters of brands or other content so I was extremely careful about the things I liked outside of personal posts, photos or comments from friends. In fact, I purposely made sure not to like anything corporate or for-profit, except for a couple of friends’ business pages as a show of encouragement. But according to the Forbes article, “Facebook is now recycling users Likes and using them to promote ‘Related Posts’ in the news feeds of the user’s friends. And one more thing, the users themselves have possibly never seen the story, liked the story or even know that it is being promoted in their name.” It is worth reading the whole Forbes article as it also mentions something I have noticed while reviewing my Activity Log recently, that I do on a regular basis, i.e. the phenomenon of “false likes”. I have found a few things in my log that I supposedly liked but that I know for a fact I never did and never would. Facebook conveniently attributes this to user error but I just do not buy it.

I realize I have a fairly public life on the Web but to a certain extent, I think I have done a reasonably adequate job of controlling it (or at least I like to think I have). And when I joined Facebook last February, I knew I was giving up some privacy and I knew that Facebook is evil (although obviously, I did not know to what extent). But I hoped that the rules and conditions would remain somewhat consistent and clear. This has undeniably not been the case. And to be honest, since I became very sick, Facebook has really helped me stay connected to friends and family especially. But I believe that these latest changes and what I consider to be violations to my privacy and my rights as a user are just too much for me. I hope things will get better but Facebook has received numerous questions and complaints regarding the first matter I mentioned and so far, they have completely ignored the issue. This brief statement is the only information that I was able to find from Facebook that almost addresses the concerns I have. Clearly, that is insufficient as far as I am concerned.

Anyway, I can easily be found in less intrusive places on the Internet and for those who still remember how, there is always email.


This post is a slightly edited version of the latest status update I posted to Facebook yesterday.

* The quote is from Kahlil Gibran

September 28, 2012

never again the same

catherine @ 2:42 pm

Speaking of sunsets,
last night’s was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren’t supposed to frighten you, are
Well, this one was terrifying.
People were screaming in the streets.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn’t natural.
One climax followed another and then another
until your knees went weak
and you couldn’t breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world,
peaches dripping opium,
pandemonium of tangerines,
inferno of irises,
Plutonian emeralds,
all swirling and churning, swabbing,
like it was playing with us,
like we were nothing,
as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
this for which nothing could have prepared us
and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over
we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always
and we looked into one another’s eyes–
ancient caves with still pools
and those little transparent fish
who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us
was not even our own.

James Tate, The Eternal Ones of the Dream

Filed under: poetry, poésie, stuff
July 15, 2012


catherine @ 8:27 pm

Il la lui versa dans l’oreille, cette idée

de lui sur le dessus, ralentissant le temps
pour la pénêtrer, la convaincant
que tout allait rester entre eux,
avec son dos à lui à l’air
et ses fesses à elle sur le matelas,
leurs mouvements enveloppés par
l’odeur d’amour et d’assouplissant.

Elle le voulait derrière elle, une position
de confiance, repoussant les soupçons
de ce qu’il pourrait faire derrière son dos
et avec quelle facilité il pourrait cacher
à qui d’autre il pouvait penser.

Mais il ne voulait pas regarder au-delà de son épaule,

il voulait habiter son regard,
bougeant ses hanches lentement
dans le sens
des aiguilles d’une montre,

pour faire tomber en ruines
l’expression froide, comme de la pierre, de ce visage.
Elle s’était donnée cette contenance

depuis le premier jour qu’ils s’étaient rencontrés,
après qu’un amant ait refusé de rester à l’intérieur d’elle
et qu’un autre ait été si indécis, qu’elle avait été forcée
de surmonter le problème et de dominer.

Mais plus jamais.

Et elle pleura parce qu’il avait fait tout
ce qu’il avait dit qu’il lui ferait
mais quand il eut fini, il resta.

Traduction du poème « Deeper » de Quentin Huff.

Filed under: poetry, poésie
July 8, 2012


catherine @ 6:32 pm


« Et ce qu’il a pris pour une douleur n’est que la nostalgie d’un cœur lavé de la peur, nostalgie des espaces déserts où la liberté a élu domicile et qu’il n’a pas su aimer aussi longtemps que la peur l’habita. »

Vassili Golovanov, L’éloge des voyages insensés

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