Saturday, July 21, 2007

Facebook ignores the Vancouver Island

The Vancouver Island (shown in the map on the right side -click to enlarge-) has a land area of 32,134 square kilometers (roughly the size of Belgium). It is the 42nd largest island in the world, 11th largest island in Canada and Canada's second most populous island (after the Island of Montreal). It is home for 723,000 people, who live distributed all across the island. The city of Victoria, which is the official capital of the Province of British Columbia, lies in the southeastern tip of the Vancouver Island. However, there are other cities across it, such as Nanaimo, Tofino, Campbell River and Port Alberni.

All the facts above would make anyone think that the Vancouver Island has some relevance in Canada, enough to avoid being ignored. But it looks that not everybody thinks the same way. At least, the staff at Facebook doesn't.

Facebook is a popular networking site that allows users to create lists of friends to keep in touch with; it is also intended to allow users to make new friends who share similar interests and who live in the same city or region by joining what they call networks. For example, if a person lives in San Diego, they can join the "San Diego Network" to look for old friends or new people who also live in San Diego. However, Facebook doesn't seem to know about the existence of any place in the world called "Vancouver Island".

It is sad but true. People who live in the Vancouver Island don't have any Facebook network to join. They are forced to join other nearby cities' networks, such as Vancouver (city that, although it shares the name with the Vancouver Island, is located in Mainland Canada), Seattle (USA) or Bellingham (USA). Not even the area of Greater Victoria, which contains almost half of the population of the entire island and is the second largest metro area in the Province of British Columbia (after Greater Vancouver), has its own network.

This issue wouldn't be a big deal if Facebook wouldn't have become the most popular networking site on the internet, with over 27 million people around the globe using it. But the users of such web site in the Vancouver Island are a bit upset about Facebook ignoring the island and their petitions, as a fair amount of islanders have already requested Facebook to create a Vancouver Island network.

What upsets them most, is the fact that some other cities and regions in the world, much smaller in terms of land area, population, and internet users, were considered by Facebook to have their own networks. For example, the area of Akrotiri, in Cyprus, serves as a military base for British troops, and has a population of 14,000 people, most of which are British military personnel (and most likely, not Facebook users). And yes, Akrotiri has its own Facebook network.

Another interesting case is the town of Chicoutimi, in Québec, Canada. It is a place with a population of about 65,000 inhabitants, and 734 of them are Facebook users. They also have their own network in such service.

To increase pressure on Facebook to create a network for the Vancouver Island, a group of islanders created a group named "I don't live in Vancouver -- Petition for 'Vancouver Island' network" (mocking the fact that many islanders join the Vancouver network as they don't have any other network to join). The idea of the group is to show Facebook the general feeling of islanders about the lack of a "Victoria network" or a "Vancouver Island" network. To date, 15,075 members have joined this pressure group. Interestingly, the amount of people in the group demanding a specific Facebook network for the Vancouver Island outnumbers the amount of users of some of the current Facebook networks.

Facebook, in the meanwhile, hasn't expressed any opinion about creating or not this kind of network. Will the islanders be successful in getting their own network? It looks that they won't get any answer to that question in the short run, but in the meanwhile, the "I don't live in Vancouver -- Petition for 'Vancouver Island' network" group continues to grow day by day.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Apprentice: Humiliations are back, and improved!

Donald Trump will have a spectacular return to the TV with the new season of his master humiliation show "The Apprentice".

Trump's show was canceled due to low ratings, but NBC has been recently working with him and Mark Burnett, executive producer, to bring the show back. This time, they came with a big idea: What is the point on humiliating unknown rookies on TV, if it's easier to get celebrities in the show?

However, under this new condition, the winners will not work for Trump or any of his organizations, but they will win cash prizes, which will be (supposedly) donated to charity.

One of the first names that came to Trump's mind as a potential guest to his redesigned show is Rosie O'Donnell. But she quickly declined his invitation. Other names that have been allegedly rounding Donald Trump's mind are Jerry Seinfeld and Uri Geller, but it looks that none of them has made any official announcement yet. Will they volunteer to be humiliated on TV to donate money to charity?

Those are the facts thus far. If you were missing "The Apprentice", you'll probably be excited about this news. If you weren't... you'll have the show again on TV anyway. Or, at least, that's what appears to be coming.

With some information from AP

Monday, July 16, 2007

Big Cross

Maybe the naming of the Christ redeemer as a "wonder of the world" was a bit too early.

A group of people in the city of Nazareth are thinking of building the largest cross in the world. It is expected to be 60 meters high and it the project contemplates having a church in the place as well. Also, a museum and a centre for studies would complete the project.

It is said that the project has been planned and developed in a very secluded way, as the organizers want to avoid any kind of clashes with the Muslim majority living in the city. However, they keep the plan up and rolling, mainly funded through a non profit organization.

Wouldn't this project be considered to be a new wonder of the world in the future as well? Sounds odd, but so are those so-named "new 7 wonders of the world". We'll see.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New 7 wonders of the world... how wonderful are they?

Finally! They've been announced. The so-called "new 7 wonders of the world" were unveiled in Lisbon, Portugal, today. And although a lot of people must be very excited about that, I am not.

As a bit of a background, the original wonders of the world were structures chosen by Greek wise men as the most impressive things to see in the world as they knew it. From all of them, only the Pyramid of Giza remains.

But about the "new" wonders (Colosseum in Italy, Chichen Itza in Mexico, Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Macchu Picchu in Peru, Petra in Jordan, the Great Wall in China, and the Taj Mahal in India), can somebody tell me what makes them wonderful?

From the very starting point, a questions pops up in my mind: What was the criteria used to select the candidates? I believe that there was no criteria at all. Or, at least, not a logic one, because I remember that the only requisite to propose a "wonder" was that the structure or site should have been discovered or built before the year 2000.

If that's so, under what circumstances can you compare, for example, the Sydney Opera House and the Colosseum in Rome, to determine that one of them is "wonderful" and the other isn't? They don't belong to similar periods of time, and they represent totally different cultures. Simply no way to compare them. Both of them are impressive, and both of them are iconic. But should not be compared in order to get a winner and a loser.

Basically, that was the principle in which the contest of the "new 7 wonders of the world" was developed. And now, a posse of individuals named some structures and archaeological sites as wonders.

What I think is that people who cheer these designations of new wonders don't really understand the difference between "emblematic" and "wonderful". For example, one of the new (so-called) "wonders" is the Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Can you tell me what is wonderful in it? It is, indeed, an emblematic structure, as we couldn't think of Rio de Janeiro without the Christ Redeemer, but frankly speaking, there is no wonder on it. The same goes to other structures, such as the Taj Mahal, and virtually all of the landmarks (because that's all they are) that were once selected as candidates to become a "wonder".

If you ask me, this contest looked to me more like a popularity poll. Why shouldn't we consider, for example, the Nazca lines (Peru) as wonders? Or maybe the Kansai Airport (Japan), which was in fact built in the ocean? And what about the Itaipu Dam (Brazil)? Well, the reason should be very simple: They are less known, they are less popular, and they wouldn't make a good marketing campaign.

How excited are you about the designation of "new wonders" of the world? From my perspective, I see these new wonders of the world as a joke.