Sunday, May 25, 2008

Commission of Government in Newfoundland

The Commission of Government in Newfoundland was established in response to an extraordinary set of circumstances. The collapse of world trade during the GREAT DEPRESSION of the 1930s was particularly damaging to Newfoundland's economy, which depended on exporting large quantities of fish and forest products. In 1933, following several turbulent years of severe budget deficits and heavy foreign borrowing, the government of Prime Minister Frederick Alderdice asked the British government to establish a royal commission to investigate Newfoundland's financial difficulties. The commission's report blamed both political corruption and international conditions for Newfoundland's predicament, and advocated replacing RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT with a "Commission of Government" that would rule until Newfoundland was self-supporting again.

Alderdice, Frederick Charles b. Nov. 10, 1872, Belfast, Ireland [now in Northern Ireland] - d. Feb. 28, 1936, St. John's, Newfoundland [now in Canada]), prime minister of Newfoundland (1928, 1932-34). In 1924 he was appointed to the Legislative Council. In the summer of 1928 he assumed the office of prime minister following the resignation of his cousin, Walter S. Monroe, from that post. After the defeat of his United Newfoundland Party in the general election of October 1928, Alderdice led the opposition in the House of Assembly until 1932 when he and his United Newfoundland Party were elected to office. Alderdice was to be the last prime minister of Newfoundland before Confederation. Following the election he also took on the portfolios of Minister of Education and Minister of Finance and Customs, holding the latter office only until August 1932. In 1934 responsible government was officially replaced by commission government (no national referendum was ever held on this constitutional change). Alderdice served as Commissioner for Home Affairs and Education in the new Commission of Government until his death.The commission government took office in February 1934 and remained in power until Newfoundland became a Canadian province in 1949. It was presided over by a governor who acted on the advice of 6 commissioners appointed by the British government. During its tenure the commission government introduced a number of reforms, including a land resettlement scheme, the reorganization of the civil service and the creation of the Newfoundland Fisheries Board. With the outbreak of WWII in 1939, however, large-scale reconstruction was postponed in favour of a total war effort.Gradually much of the original goodwill toward the commission government dissipated, and after the war there was increasing agitation for the return of self-government. Consequently, in the first of 2 referendums held in 1948 to decide the island's future, commission government placed a distant third (behind the restoration of responsible government and Confederation), and when Newfoundland entered Confederation on 31 March 1949, few Newfoundlanders mourned the passing of the commission government.Fred Alderdice on the other hand was rumoured to have been caught with his hand in the gouvernment purse more than a few times.Probably a good friend to Sir Richard Squires and Frank Moores no doubt.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Disable AutoRun on Windows!

Disable AutoRun on Windows!

posted May 3 2008 at 7:00AM

autorun Last week we went off to buy a CD—something we, like a lot of people, do on a regular basis. We wanted to check out "Contraband" by Velvet Revolver, the group formed by ex-members of Guns N' Roses, and the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots. We figured with that much drugs in those boys, there's bound to be a good tune or two in there.

As with all our CDs, we unwrapped 8 layers of plastic on the way to the van and popped it in the CD player for the ride home, so far, so good—not a bad CD at all. After arriving home, we put the CD in our Xbox (as we always do with our CDs) to copy the songs over to the hard drive for use with games or as a jukebox.

Next up, inserted the disc in to our Mic (short for microsoft), started iTunes and then iTunes put the newly created MP3s on our iPod. Also, the Linux box in our kitchen (Xandros) was able to read and make MP3s just fine too.

Lastly, we popped the CD in our PC (Win XP) and also ran iTunes to add the songs to our library.

Was this all a dream? Did it really happen? It did. But it shouldn't have if it were up to the people who made that CD.

After looking around on the web it seems the folks from RCA Records actually don't want anyone to make MP3s of the songs on that disc, they don't want you to listen to the music you just purchased on your iPod or even your Xbox.

The disc has "Copy Protection" from SunnComm called MediaMax, which on some Windows systems will force the user to install software in order to listen to their music, and restrict what they do with the audio (for example you cannot make MP3s). If SunnComm sounds familiar, they should.  These are the folks who were going to sue a Princeton student for 10 million dollars for writing a paper that showed by pressing the shift key while inserting the CD (and of course, pressing the shift key still worked on this CD, according to all reports you can bypass their copy protection.

Sadly, the way RCA and SunnComm want you to listen to music is pretty complicated. You'd need to insert the CD on your PC, wait up to one minute for it to load, click an end user agreement, then only "listen" to the music.  Oh, wait there's more.  It installs software which blocks making MP3s and it requires a web connection to exchange "data" and keys. On the disc there were music files in WMA format, but they don't seem to play on any device we have which plays WMAs—the site says they play only on "approved" devices.  Yikes!

Well, for us, it wasn't an issue.  Why? Well, we have always disabled "Auto-Run" on our Windows based system, since, like, Windows 95. The "feature" will, by default, automatically look for a file called Autorun.inf on any CD you pop in to your system—if it finds it, it will execute whatever programs it is instructed.  This is a big security issue, as there are a lot of spywares and viruses distributed on CDs—so much so, in fact, Microsoft is disabling it in their next security-focused Windows XP Service Pack.  SunnComn and everyone else who is trying to "copy protect" music CDs have really only one option, and this is it: using the autorun file on their music CDs to install their proprietary DRM software.  But many people are becoming more vigilant about securing their systems.

Disabling Auto-Run is something we think everyone should do, not only for security from viruses and spyware, but so you'll never need to deal being unable able to listen to your music on your devices. Here's how to do it in Windows XP.

In Windows Click Start, then Click Run
Type regedit
Click OK
Click >
Double click "Autorun" the value is set to 1 by default, change it to zero.
Click OK
Now restart, that's it!

See ya now!