E-mail your contributions *here*

29 May 2014

How to ruin the Internet - Turkey

I don’t know if the random websites I visit are all experiencing problems due to Turkey’s banning orders but it appears many random non lethal, non pornographic websites are targeted everyday. Official figures found online say over 1100 or more sites have been blocked or outright banned and although porn accounts for many of the banned websites also a main glut of this swathing attack on the Internet and Freedom are websites that are available in every democratic country outside of Turkey.

I really feel sorry for the people of Turkey because as I write slowly the democratic rights people think they are voting for are being eroded day by day. What used to be a hit and run technique by the people in power to block and then unblock has now become a series of block and stay blocked. The original idea was to protect children I am guessing by banning all the porn sites online and any links to these but now the project seems to have moved forward to ban anything and everything that allows free speech or only bring it back if the likes of Google and YouTube (which is still banned for some strange reason) have you logon with your personal details so as to be tracked.

YouTube blocked because of a so called montage of voices explaining some top secret information (for your eyes only) government stuff. This ban is ridiculous, the internet and in fact Facebook is intertwined with YouTube (you can’t go on Facebook without having a link for YouTube appear on your screen at some stage. By blocking anything and everything they (the people in power) think they are stopping people viewing anything that big brother doesn’t want you to see. There are tools online to get around every ban and block and Turkey’s children and young adults know better than any of the more elderly people how to circumvent the bans and blocks. The people in power are playing a cat and mouse game with no chance of winning and social media took down many governments and I am sure after a period of time of treating your own people like children they will vote at the ballot box to change this. The recent vote was an anomaly because people haven’t caught up with the reality that is currently happening. At the present time many people are not aware of the full story of what is happening but with time  people will slowly realize the democracy they think they have is not a democracy at all.

I wish Turkey a bright future but it is for the people to decide this at the ballet box.

How to ruin the Internet?

Keep on blocking and denying websites, DNS relays and other such ploys to stop the flow of information and sooner or later you will have closed so many connections in the matrix of the internet that it will become an intranet (internal only to Turkey). Since we don’t use encyclopedias anymore because the internet has take it’s place, how will the children of Turkey discover the outside world? In future teachings will Thomas Edison still have invented the light bulb? Will Alexander Fleming still have made one of the most important discoveries in the fight against disease – penicillin? It may sound far fetched but this blocking and banning could one day change the information that it true in the world – subverted for their own means.

Free internet with no blocks is required as adults we can censor ourselves and make our own decisions in life. That was what growing up was all about!

3 February 2014

Soundcloud Blocked - What Happened!

The good old days when the Internet was free of people meddling in the free flow of information. In Turkey they have recently banned access to soundcloud.com http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/25657673.asp If English speaking you can translate wıth Google Translate (not a very good translation but good enough)

You may not know of soundcloud.com you may never have used it but this blocking of yet another site is making Turkey's Internet almost as regulated as China's Internet if not more so. Many website's you visit nowadays have a screen that replaces the website's place so instead of the website's page you get a page telling you that big Daddy (büyük baba) says NO! It is of course up to a country's government to regulate their own internet but this is overkill on a grand scale. What possibly could soundcloud have done to piss the censors off.

It may sound trivial "I've lost my soundcloud", which had new indie artists producing and sharing music but this is definitely stifling the sharing of information which is what the Internet was intended for. In fact the original Internet was setup to make sure the flow of Information was always there between many of America's top Universities (in the event of a nuclear strike on the US some of the connections would perhaps still function. However, many governments by proxy through their telecommunications services cancel out website's on a day to day basis. Ask yourself a question! If we want to use soundcloud and there may be something derogatory about Turkey or Turkish people or even about myself shouldn't we be allowed to hear it and then make our own minds up if we should view/listen or browse (if that was indeed the reason it was stopped!) or should an unseen hand acting as our guardian be regulating us. Of course, porn sites should be regulated because if children see what some adults see as unnatural acts they will be affected for life by seeing what is on most sites a natural and not unnatural act for adults (all adults do it or how would the world have new babies) but there should be regulation to make sure children don't see these acts or a series of either login scenes or verify your age screens to stop them from accidentally viewing.

What possibly could a sound sharing site primarily sharing music do to annoy anyone. This alone in a country that loves music may be enough to make people think more about why their personal rights are being eroded on a daily basis.

There is currently a race between the censoring of website's between Turkey and China and let's hope for the free world's sake that Turkey doesn't win this unneeded contest. The internet can be a bad thing at times but you don't need to over regulate to prevent your country's people from seeing what one person (or a select few) deems shouldn't be seen.

Intelligent people regulate themselves!!

20 November 2013

Izmir for a Weekend: Where Do You Take Visitors?

Izmir for a Weekend: Where Do You Take Visitors?

Izmir is the sort of city that takes some time to get to know properly, so when you are expecting a visit from a friend or family member who only has a short time to spend with you in the city, you probably want to plan how you will spend your time very carefully, to make the most of the attractions that are available to entertain them. The city itself seems to attract large numbers of tourists, but they often fail to see the real city, stopping here only for a short while on a cruise along the Aegean coast. Having someone with local knowledge as a guide should at least give your guests the advantage over these visitors, even if they are only here for a weekend.

Izmir and the Aegean

Izmir is one of the links in the chain of coastal cities at which many cruises and tours around the Turkish coast choose to stop, and its location on the beautiful Aegean coast is one of its main attractions. It is possible to combine a visit to Izmir with tours of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, or even to travel on, via Istanbul, to the Black Sea. Many visitors come into Izmir on one of these ships, and have only a short time in the city, but joining a short cruise or sailing around the local coast on a traditional gulet can also be a good way to explore the local area when you have a visitor, or even to see more of the country from your base in Izmir when you take a vacation. The coast is full of hidden coves and secluded islands where you can swim and relax, as well as historic sites and cities to visit as you travel, but there are also some interesting places to take your visitors to see in the city itself.

Top Places to Take Visitors in Izmir

Any visitor to Izmir is going to want to see some of the most historic and important attractions in the city:

1. Izmir Clock Tower: one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city, this white marble tower was built in 1901 to mark the 25th year of Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II's reign. Make sure that you point out the North African style patterns on the columns, and remember that it makes a great meeting point for visitors who are unfamiliar with the city.

2. International Izmir Festival: the annual festival, beginning in June, is a great time to have visitors since there is so much to see and do, although you should warn them to expect the city to be particularly busy and you will need to plan ahead if you want to get tickets for the most popular events. Many venues in the city hold events, but if you can make it out to the ancient theater at Ephesus, you can give your visitors a truly spectacular experience.

3. Kadifekale: Alexander the Great's Velvet Castle on the hill of the same name is the place to go for views across the city, and for a historic site that requires less of the imagination than Smyrna, but you should make sure that your visitors are happy to take a long walk uphill if you intend to travel by foot, particularly when the weather is warm. You can find a taxi to take you if you prefer.

4. Smyrna: remnants of the Roman city of Smyrna can still be seen at the Agora. If you have been here before, you can act as a guide for your visitors, but it can be worthwhile finding a guide who knows the history if you are unfamiliar with the site. History lovers will enjoy themselves, but the ruins can simply seem like piles of rocks when you don't know how they all fit together. The statues in the site's museum may be more impressive to visitors who aren't so keen on the ruins.

5. Ethnography Museum: the best place to see some of the local historical treasures is the Archaeological Museum, but the nearby Ethnography Museum can be the best place to take visitors as it has more varied exhibits, relating to all sorts of local crafts and customs. If you can time your visit to coincide with some of the demonstrations, you can even see how different types of ornaments and materials are made.

Alongside these popular attractions, there are plenty of less well known places and activities in Izmir that most tourists miss, but which it can be fun to take visitors to discover. A meal at the top of the Asansör, shopping for souvenirs in the bazaar at Kemeraltı, or spending a day on the beach can be fun, but it is the secret spots, known only to locals that will give your visitors the best experience of Izmir. Among the experiences that are not to be missed are having a mid morning snack on a kumru or two, sipping traditionally brewed coffee in a favourite cafe, like Gümüş Tabak, and taking a peaceful stroll along the Kordon.

Traveling on from Izmir

If you and your visitor have enough time, you can also plan a few excursions outside Izmir, or join your visitor on a longer cruise or tour of Turkey. You might want to travel inland to the capital, Ankara, although it is not as attractive or historic as Istanbul, or take a tour around the caves and sculpted rock spires of Cappadocia. Many of the other coastal towns along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts are also worth a visit, but you can also travel into the Black Sea, or take a ferry across to one of the Greek islands.

Written by Guest Writer: Imogen Reed