Monthly Archive for May, 2008

Inter-Corporate Onwership Searching III

The Inter-Corporate Ownership data produced by Statistics Canada contains information on the structures of Canadian enterprises. It provides the names of all holding and held companies (both domestic and foreign) in Canada and their respective ownership percentages.

The information is collected by Statistics Canada under the Corporations and Labour Unions Returns Act (CALURA) and is supplemented with information from international publications. In 1998 the act was amended to remove the labour unions component (Part II), leaving Part I of the Act unchanged. The revised Act, named the Corporations Returns Act, is equivalent to CALURA part I.

All the reporting companies must have gross revenues of at least 15 million dollars or assets exceeding 10 million dollars.

The updated data is reported quarterly. This data is the most accurate, timely, and complete data on inter-corporate ownership in Canada. It also provides detailed information of multi-national enterprises that have some component in Canada.


Monthly Habit List

An associate pointed-out that I seem to do more work than 3 people. This was a shock to me. After the shock wore off, I realised that he might be right — not because I am some kind of superman, but because I have objectives and I am quite organised about accomplishing them. I use three lists to keep track of tasks.

Habits List

The Habits list – for the repetitive tasks I do at work or at home; the things that I should be doing regularly. This allows me to see when I am not doing important repetitive tasks like exercising and studying. An example such as this can be recreated in Excel or used as is.

Of course I keep other lists:

To-Do List

A list of 3 to 5 things to accomplish today and a list for the rest of the week in a police notebook.

Done List

The reverse of your TDL, I write down everything I accomplish in the day, and I check off items in my TDL.

Rollyo

If you need to search up to 25 websites with a specific search statement, then Rollyo may be an alternative to Google Custom Search. Rollyo is powered by Yahoo! so it’s acceptable fare on Google-Free Wednesday.

You can create an unlimited amount of search engines, called Searchrolls, on each topic. Each engine can be kept private or made public if you become a “member”. Each topic is limited to 25 urls.

You name your Searchroll, put in the URL’s, then select the named Searchroll on the search page when you enter your search statement.

Waterproof Fountain Pen Ink

Handwriting with a good fountain pen is my favorite form of written communication. At its best, this type of communication is both tactile and intellectual. It is more involved and personal than typing my thoughts into a computer.

Moleskine Paper & Fountain Pen Ink

A large Moleskine notebook is always at hand and so too is a Lamy 2000 fountain pen, either an extra-fine nib or the stout, reliable, medium nib. Current Moleskine notebooks are renown for paper that dislikes some fountain pen inks and the horrid recycled paper in office pads defies description. For over a decade, I relied on the silky smooth Aurora ink as it makes very fine nibs glide across the page and it doesn’t bleed through or feather on this paper. Unfortunately, the slightest dampness and Aurora ink becomes an unreadable mess.

Sailor Ink

I next discovered Sailor Jentle ink. The yellow is wonderful, but hard to read; the red-brown is a superb colour; and the black is a rich, true black. Alas, these inks are not much better than Aurora when confronted with a small drop of moisture from the bottom of a cold beer glass.

Lamy & Mont Blanc Blue-black Iron Gall Ink

Then I discovered Lamy’s blue-black iron-gall ink. It makes the extra-fine nib scratchy and unpleasant to write with, but in the medium nib it works wonderfully. It goes onto the paper as a very pale blue and darkens on contact with the air. Its colour is not uniform, slow writing is darker as there is more ink on the page. Best of all, it is waterproof. This type of ink is sometimes called registrar’s ink. It also comes in two very convenient bottles from Lamy and Mont Blanc. I think I found an ink to use for the next decade or more.

Inter-Corporate Ownership Searching II

Corporate Affiliations

The Corporate Affiliations database appears on LexisNexis and Dialog. It can also be purchased as directories and on CD. According to the Dialog Bluesheet, it covers about 184,000 U.S. and non-U.S. companies. This includes private and public companies, both parents and their subsidiaries and major divisions. All major U.S. domestic and international stock exchange listed companies are included. U.S. privately held companies must have reported annual sales in excess of $10 million and foreign privately held companies must have reported annual sales in excess of $50 million to be included in the database. Each record includes the executive names, director names, corporate family hierarchy. Net worth, total assets, and total liabilities sometimes appear in the record.

I have never found this resource particularly useful because it has a high threshold for inclusion of companies. It is also US-centric. It shines for researching large enterprises with a large component in the U.S.A..

Get Rid of that Pain in the Neck

The following exercises do not require much energy to do, but a little goes a long way with this.

Strong neck muscles are necessary for later training of the traps, shoulders, and upper back. A strong neck is also a survival attribute. Car accidents, fights, and other events that whip the head about can be fatal if your neck muscles are not strong enough to stabilize the neck and head. These exercises also improve your posture and make working at a computer all day much easier.

While I have included three exercises, treat them as three separate items. Do the first until you can fully accomplish 2 sets of 12 repetitions 3 times a week before adding the next exercise. To do otherwise is inviting headaches and severe stiffness that will affect your balance, driving, and even depth perception.

The 3 Neck Exercises

  1. Neck Flexion- Lay on the floor face-up. Raise the head until the chin touches the chest and slowly lower it to the floor.
  2. Neck Extension – Lay on a bed or bench face-down. Lower you head over the edge. Raise you head until it is level with your back. Do not go beyond level.
  3. Neck Lateral Flexion – Sit on a chair. Head straight and level. Tuck-in your chin so that the back of your neck is straight. Without changing the position of your chin, tilt your head to the left. Put your right hand against your head above the right ear. Push against your hand with even and steady pressure for a three count. Repeat for 12 repetitions. Do the other side.

The neck is a weak structure by it very nature. Training with excessive weights and intensity can be counter-productive. Go easy with these exercises and slowly build-up your ability to do them. You should strive for 2 sets of 12 repetitions for each of the three exercises.

Custom Google Search Engine

Have you ever wondered how you could run the same search against a list of websites? Typically, the search would be something like search_statement site:your_list_of_sites.com. Google has the answer to this problem. (See our article about this search operator.)

Google Custom Search Engine may be set-up to search one website or multiple websites with one search string. Of course you need a Google Account to create the custom search.

Inter-Corporate Ownership Searching I

Finding how your subject company fits into a large enterprise structure may turn into an avocation with some companies, but I’ll tell you how to get started.

Begin by understanding the terminology, then in the case of Canada, realize that you will have difficulty recognising interlocking boards as you may not search corporate filings by director name. This leaves you with the immediate subject company as your starting point.

Typically, I start with Dun & Bradstreet Canadian Market Identifiers (DMI). The advantages of the DMI databases (there are several DMI databases) are the number of companies in the database (over 1.2 million), and no sales or asset threshold for inclusion in the database.

The most useful fields in this database are the Dun’s Numbers for the company and its Parent and Ultimate Domestic Parent. This identifies three levels of the overall enterprise to explore in one record. You will have the information on the subject company, and further searches will identify its immediate parent and the ultimate domestic parent.

I then search the D&B Who Owns Whom database for the Ultimate Domestic Parent to identify the foreign parent if one exists. If I find an Ultimate Global Parent, then I determine what my record cost will be by listing the companies in the family tree. Usually, I end up paying the lowest amount as there will be 25 or fewer companies in the family tree. I have never had to pay the full record cost because I have never come across an enterprise family with over 200 member companies.

Microsoft Forensic Analysis Tool for Police

Microsoft Has Developed Windows Forensic Analysis Tool for Police

The COFEE, which stands for Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor, is a USB “thumb drive” that was quietly distributed to a handful of law-enforcement agencies last June. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith described its use to the 350 law-enforcement experts attending a company conference Monday.

The device contains 150 commands that can dramatically cut the time it takes to gather digital evidence, which is becoming more important in real-world crime, as well as cybercrime. It can decrypt passwords and analyze a computer’s Internet activity, as well as data stored in the computer.

It also eliminates the need to seize a computer itself, which typically involves disconnecting from a network, turning off the power and potentially losing data. Instead, the investigator can scan for evidence on site.

Microsoft did not develop the tools:

COFEE, according to forensic folk who have used it, is simply a suite of 150 bundled off-the-shelf forensic tools that run from a script. None of the tools are new or were created by Microsoft. Microsoft simply combined existing programs into a portable tool that can be used in the field before agents bring a computer back to their forensic lab.Microsoft wouldn’t disclose which tools are in the suite other than that they’re all publicly available, but a forensic expert told me that when he tested the product last year it included standard forensic products like Windows Forensic Toolchest (WFT) and RootkitRevealer.

With COFEE, a forensic agent can select, through the interface, which of the 150 investigative tools he wants to run on a targeted machine. COFEE creates a script and copies it to the USB device which is then plugged into the targeted machine. The advantage is that instead of having to run each tool separately, a forensic investigator can run them all through the script much more quickly and can also grab information (such as data temporarily stored in RAM or network connection information) that might otherwise be lost if he had to disconnect a machine and drag it to a forensics lab before he could examine it.

But given that a U.S. Federal court has ruled that U.S. border guards can search laptop computers without cause, this tool might see wider use than Microsoft anticipated.

Stupid Private Investigator Stereotype

Over at the Daily Caveat, Michael Thomas criticizes the use of worn-out stereotypes of Private Investigators in a Wall Street Journal article that focuses on the use of Private Investigators by Venture Capitalists to conduct due diligence research.

Whopper Scandal

Burger With a Side of Spies

By ERIC SCHLOSSER Published: May 7, 2008

In March, a woman named Cara Schaffer contacted the Student/Farmworker Alliance, saying she was a student at Broward Community College. Her eagerness aroused suspicions, but she was allowed to join two of the group’s planning sessions. Internet searches by the alliance revealed that she was not a college student.

Ms. Schaffer is the 25-year-old owner of a private security firm. Her company, Diplomatic Tactical Services, seems like the kind of security firm you’d find in one of Carl Hiaasen’s crime thrillers. Last year Ms. Schaffer was denied a private investigator’s license; she had failed to supply the Florida licensing division with proof of “lawfully gained, verifiable experience or training.” Even more unsettling, one of her former subcontractors, Guillermo Zarabozo, is now facing murder charges in United States District Court in Miami for his role in allegedly executing four crew members of a charter fishing boat, then dumping their bodies at sea.

Burger King’s use of an unlicensed private investigator to spy on the Student/Farmworker Alliance may have been illegal under Florida law. John Chidsey, the chief executive of Burger King, knew about the use of Diplomatic Tactical Services.

If you ignore the leftist political slant of the article, it still looks like a situation of the incompetent leading the stupid, or the other way around, who can tell. This could have been easily dealt with by some proper research into the activist organisation and the involved people, followed by some discretely conducted interviews. Instead, Burger King now faces a PR disaster.

Intelligence Analysis


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