Iceland Airwaves – A Music Festival on Volcanoes

A cheering crowd in front of a stage at a music event
A cheering crowd in front of a stage at a music event

Iceland Airwaves took place 4th – 8th of November 2014. Since the first one was held in 1999, Iceland Airwaves has become an annual celebration for local and foreign music lovers.

When you think of Iceland, images of fiery volcanoes, imposing mountains, craggy peaks and vast glaciers come to mind. Iceland also has rich green land, vibrant cities, and farms, but more importantly, it has a rich creative culture that has bound its society together from ancient history to modern times.

Icelandic culture and lifestyle is unique in that it is deeply rooted in ancient heritage. It’s a close-knit, relatively small population with an enterprising spirit, especially when it comes to honing its creative crafts. From writing to painting, to composing and designing, Iceland has a definite creative edge. Iceland is well known for its ancient sagas, such as Egil’s Saga, which go back as far as the 1200s. These days, it is known for its award-winning films and music.

The most recent of these creative waves to hit Iceland was the Airwaves music festival, a yearly event that rocks for five days with a variety of music. This year’s festival was graced by a huge range of sound, from the delicate and rich work of Icelandic Symphony Orchestra to the screaming poetry of Kaelan Mikla. Five days of music in Iceland can barely scratch the surface of what the country has to offer, but it’s certainly a great time.

In fact, the Airwaves line-up held more than just Icelanders. If you found yourself there on the right day, you’d also be able to listen to the cathartic music of the U.S. group Future Islands, the wistful melodies of Norway’s Farao, or the “sound bombs” of Poland’s BNNT.

For five days, this spectacular festival invites artists to perform both on venue and off, rollicking in musical creativity and freedom. 219 bands and their fans from various countries around the world came to Iceland to celebrate. The island may have been a bit crowded for a week, but that’s really what Iceland loves to do: share creative endeavours.

How Much Can a Whistleblower Get Paid?

An image of businessman looking at document through magnifying glass.
An image of businessman looking at document through magnifying glass.

Whistleblowers are making a big difference to many defrauding cases involving corporations and governments globally.

Being whistleblower has never been easy and is certainly at high risk situation. If you are willing to step up and put an end to any illegal or unethical practices, it is also possible that you are committing to the amount of career suicide. Whistleblowers are not usually promoted and they may lose their jobs completely. Whenever they try to get a different job in the same field they might find that they have been blacklisted as a result of doing the right thing.

It’s true that whistleblowers are entitled to a percentage of the settlement in any cases they are involved. The problem is even though there may be large sum of money involved, it can take years and sometimes decade for these cases to be completely settled. In the meantime, the whistleblower has to deal with some related negative consequences while waiting for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

How much Whistleblowers Get Paid?

In the United States for instance, according to the False Claims Act (a government effort to recover damages from fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid charges, defence and construction contracting, and importing), in a normal case they are entitled to 25-30 percent of the proceeds from the suit. In cases where the government steps in and takes primary responsibility for the suit, a whistleblower is only entitled to 15-25 percent of the proceeds. Of course, the penalty for defrauding the government may vary from $5,500 to $11,000 per charge, so the charges can stack up quickly.

When do Whistleblowers Get Paid?

Whistleblowers don’t get paid until the suit has been brought to a close and the full amount of money is paid to the government. While that might sound simple, truly complex cases of fraud can take many years and countless hours of courtroom session before decision is rendered or settlement is reached. During that time they are often blacklisted in their field, which can lead to a significantly reduced standard of living (assuming that the whistleblower can get another job) to them and any dependents.

Money is just one of many factors that whistleblowers have to consider, but it is important. On one hand, it is quite possible that whistleblower might receive hundreds of thousands of dollars or more for reporting the fraud. It is also possible that they’ll have to wait years before seeing any of that money.

At the end of the day, being a whistleblower is a very risky endeavour. Contact us, in case you have any questions regarding our services or your privacy on the internet.

Understanding the Right for Privacy on the Internet

An image of young girl working on laptop at home covering man's face with hand.
An image of young girl working on laptop at home covering man's face with hand.

Limiting the amount of personal information on the internet can help to minimize the possible risks.

It seems like every time you check your newsfeed, there’s another story about someone’s privacy being violated online. Whether it was the GamerGate movement handing out Felicia Day’s personal information, the NSA collecting aggregate data from people online, or the hacktivist group Anonymous handing out information users thought was secure, it seems that online privacy is an easily-breached fence.

Just because privacy is regularly breached however doesn’t answer the bigger, more important question, do you have a right to privacy on the Internet?

What is Right to Privacy?

For those looking for the right to privacy in the American Constitution, stop searching because it’s not in print. The idea of the right to privacy is something that the U.S. Supreme Court has said is implied by other amendments in it, including the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th. The court argues that people have a right to keep their private lives private from the government. They have a right to not consent to unreasonable, warrantless searches, and to remain silent when they’re being asked questions without a representative.

What does It Mean on the Internet?

Most western governments have some sort of privacy law – but whether they’ve caught up with modern technology is another matter. The main issue when it comes to privacy on the internet isn’t only about government spying – by large, people’s information is not even being stolen from them, rather most people’s personal information is already out there for anyone who knows how to find it.

Let’s take an obvious example, Facebook. When you join the social network you agreed to its terms of service. This includes collecting your information, keeping records of everything that you post and keeping things you’ve deleted on file for 90 days or more in many cases. It also means that your information as a user – what you like, what you follow, your age, gender, pretty much of everything including your name and other personal details – can be sold to the highest bidder. This is called data mining and advertisers are typically use it to figure out what target audience likes, so they can create the best possible ads to entice those groups. Anyone who has ever seen an ad in their feed obviously targeted to them has probably figured this out by now.

That’s not all that is going on in a social network. For instance, you may have your privacy settings so that only friends can see your contents. But if just one of your friends likes or shared a post, then the control is out of your hand and now anyone in that friend’s network can see what happened. This was a major issue of a teacher whose pictures of herself at a brewery cost her job, even though she was certain none of her students could access her Facebook page or photos because of her privacy settings. They couldn’t, but it was a parent who found her page.

One Great Big Modern Mess

Just as British children today might not see why Brave New World is a terrifying book – since there are cameras everywhere and invasion of privacy is commonplace. It is often difficult for people to understand what they’re giving up in the age of the Internet. As soon as a picture, status or piece of personal information is put up somewhere on the web, it is actually been logged, archived and stored. If someone can legitimately find that information without violating any user agreements, that is not a violation of your privacy on the internet because you are the one who put it out there in the first place – it is also why law enforcement can use your Facebook feed to track you down and apprehend you. Same goes for corporate data mining – nothing you put up on a social network hosted by someone else is truly belongs to you anymore.

No Data Online is 100% Secure

An important thing for internet users is to understand that no data that is connected to world-wide-web is 100% secure. No matter if the service where the information is submitted, is using the latest security software and patches, hackers may still have their way to break in – and it has happened before numerous times with well-known internet services. If you have highly classified data, including pictures or documents you don’t want ANYONE to see, keeping those on offline storage is the only completely secure solution.

So What Can I Do?

For starters what you can do is limiting or stop putting your information out there if you don’t want the world to see it. Most of us are not willing to do that, so at the very least you should know how your information is being used and make sure you know what you’re actually agreeing to.

Finally, there are examples where invasion of privacy on the internet contributes a real crime. For instance, finding someone’s home address by checking public records is not illegal. Indiscriminately dispersing that information along with associated threat had constituted several crimes, like the rape and death threats faced by many online feminist activists. At a minimum level, threats like this should get the user banned and the individual may also be brought on charges like reckless endangerment, libel, or defamation of character, depending on the circumstances.

So even if you don’t always have a right to privacy on the internet, you do still have a right to safety. Many believed that is just not enough and numerous questions remain about digital law enforcement, at least it’s a good awareness to start with.

Find out more information about improving your privacy on the internet, please contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions and help you any way we can with this process.

Human Body: Source of Energy Like Never Before

An image of a woman with lightbulb.
An image of a woman with lightbulb.

Human body could be the next renewable energy resource if the world experienced a steep decline in global energy crisis.

We may live in a high-tech world but majority of us still rely on a rapidly diminishing supply of coals and fossil fuels – the questions of sustainability are becoming extremely urgent. How deep are we willing to mine and what sacrifices are we willing to make in the continuing quest for energy?

Israeli industrial designer Naomi Kizhner was intentionally to provoke some opinions and discussions through her project as part of her graduation at college and the answer she’d created is slightly disturbing, to say the least. Her regard sentiments and concerns are however at the right place.

How Close To The Matrix Are We?

For those who haven’t seen The Matrix, it is a science fiction movie back in those days which pictured and filmed humanity being enslaved by a race of sentient machines that are harvesting natural electricity produced by human bodies as an energy resource. It is exactly the sort of question that Kizhner wanted people around the world to seriously looking at.

Kizhner’s Energy Addicts takes a post-humanistic perspective, viewing the human body not only as a person but instead as a renewable energy resource too. These pieces would be inserted into wearer’s skin to catch involuntary movements like the flow of blood in veins, pulses and eyes blinking to produce kinetic energy then later be converted to electricity to power the light and wheel in the devices themselves. On one hand, it is a terrifying prospects like something right out of a cyberpunk dystopia where bodies are little more than cogs in the system. On the other hand to the logic side, there’s no denying that the human body is a renewable energy resource.

“There are lots of developments of renewable energy resources, but the human body is a natural resource for energy that is constantly renewed, as long as we are alive. Technologically we are not too far away from these ideas becoming a reality, but practically speaking, will we be willing to sacrifice our body in order to produce more energy? My intention is to provoke a discussion. I hope that the project will make people think about the possibility that this could be their future, and make them think about whether it is the future they want or whether we can do something different today to avoid it.” – Kizhner

Her decorative jewelleries are made of gold and 3D-printed biopolymer, each design in the collection would be worn on different parts of the body to harvest energy from specific physiological functions. Nevertheless her innovative designs are slightly seen as bizarre in some cases and are certainly not for the faint hearted.

Where Do We Draw The Line?

When pursuing the idea of renewable energy resources, it is easy to lose sight of the real issue. Instead of asking how we can produce the most energy at some possibilities, it might be more important question to ask how we can live within our means to electricity consumptions. Kizhner’s idea may not be the ultimate solution for resolving the energy crisis, but it reminds us that if we don’t take the energy situation seriously from now, we just might become the next renewable energy resource. Are we willing to wait another decade to materialize or shall we initially practice go green lifestyle from now on before it’s too late?

A Major Breakthrough on Carbon Cuts Announced by USA and China

Carbon Cuts Announced by USA and China

Deal between USA and China positively surprised people around the world.

China and the United States have made surprising announcement on cutting their greenhouse gas output. USA agreeing to reduce their emission levels 26-28% below 2005 levels by year 2025. While China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, is committed to cap their carbon emissions 20% by year 2030.

The deal made secretly between US. president Barock Obama and president of China, Xi Jinping, was announced in public earlier today. “As the world’s two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change,” Obama stated in a joint news conference with president Xi.

The announcement has been taken positively around the world. People seem overall excited that USA has finally taken a step towards renewable energy alternatives and admitted their responsibility in reducing the emission levels. Whereas the country did not participate in Kyoto Protocol back in 2008.

We are all hoping that their plan is working as people now expect and we will see positive results within next years.