Archive for the ‘The Internet’ Category

Olympocalypse! The word that rhymes with “Rick”!

– Boardercross is way more exciting than I thought.

– Curling don’t get no TV love in the opening matches.

– The UK press really, really, really wants us to be embarrassed about our Olympics, but it’s pretty apparent it’s mostly collective nervousness they’ll be embarrassed of their own. British pals and pals of pals seem pretty supportive however and have carefully explained the press there is rarely indicative of the people. Fair enough.

– On Monday, ESPN columnist Rick Reilly was backhandedly complimentary of Canada for US readers. Met with huffy, Canadian indignation, Reilly open hand slaps Canada, then half-apologizes, asking, “Baby, why ya make me hit ya like that?”

I realize, slightly patronizing as it is, Reilly’s original blog was intended to be comedy. Cutting, condescending, stereotype-laden comedy, but comedy nonetheless. His response to Canadian offense however… well, to put it in Canadian terms Rick will think he understands; take off, eh?

Let’s take a look inside Rick’s tickle-trunk of loathing and see what’s inside, shall we?

Please don’t take this person-aaaaaaallllllll

Never Not Funny Live

Pardo & Woods - the world's worst Vaudeville team. I didn't realize until later that Scott Adsit from 30 Rock was in the background. Ha!

Photo by Me!.

I’m always impressed with people who can maximize a festival, particularly the ones that go longer than just a day or two – like the Vancouver Film Fest or Global’s growing comedy festival. But, I do what I can and go when I can. Yesterday, Chris from the Speedway Squad podcast invited me along to a taping of Never Not Funny live. LA comedian (warm-up man for the Tonight Show) Jimmy Pardo and company sat down in a conference room at the Westin and yukked it up for well over an hour. Chris got to talk to Pardo et al, as well as get some words in with surprise arrivals like Scott Aukerman, and I got to clunk up the show by taking them serious when they said “What’s Weird Al’s real name – let’s look it up.”

It’s not my fault I have an iPhone. It’s… Fido… no, sorry, it is my fault.

The episode of their podcast that was being taped should be up next week – I’ll make you wait until then to find out what Al’s real name is. You will be disappointed. The rest of the episode, fantastic. And it’ll be just like being there, only you weren’t and that means you didn’t give Jimmy any money, you jerks.

I’m not sure how many people would consider themselves comedy fans, other than everybody insisting that they like to laugh, but if you’re not inclined to hit the Yuk Yuk’s every once and awhile, you should consider the Comedy Festival, seeing as it’s a one week period where a lot of heavy talent from around the world come to Vancouver to play.

The festival wraps up today, with David Cross, Steve Martin, and Carol Burnett – however, there’s a second show added for Carol Burnett this coming Tuesday, where the audience gets to ask her questions. A great evening for anyone over 40 or idiots like me that watched too much TV as a kid.

100.5 The Peak challenges listeners to find their $5

100.5 FM has an interesting idea for promoting their station – take a five dollar bill and then drop it. As people pick it up and spend it, it moves around the city. Now, if someone were aware that there’s a special bill out there and knew what to look far (say, they were to watch The Peak’s YouTube video on the matter) and was diligent in checking their pockets every time they got a new fiver, they might win $5000.

I’m wondering, how likely is it that someone will find the bill – certainly if everyone in the city knew about the contest, someone would find it quick, but I’m betting there’s a very good chance this bill will just wander off.


1 – Banks pull notes all the time. This may only temporarily remove the bill from circulation, but it could freeze it indefinitely, or even move it to another city where The Peak isn’t heard. And the longer this bill is out there, the more likely the maximum audience will be reached and passed before it’s found.

2 – Even more likely is the bill leaves the city on a person, headed on a flight to Toronto, a car-ride to Prince George, or traded in for American South of the Border.

3 – Fire. OK, I admit this is very very unlikely. I just wanted more than two ways the contest could end in nothing (and while I understand the purpose is to get the name of the station out, not for someone to actually win the five grand, it’s more interesting is someone does win.)

Game Developers opt for Conference in Vancouver

Having just returned from the annual whirlwind that is the Game Developer’s Conference (typically held in either San Francisco or San Jose), I’m ready for a nap, even three days later. But, part of me is looking forward to mid-May, when the GDC comes to Canada. Recent years have seen a lot of shuffling in tradeshow circles, particularly video games, as several large, annual gatherings hustle to attract attendees, and GDC is in like a dirty shirt, splitting itself into the usual US show and adding shows in Austin, Europe, China, and Canada.

The shows, in short, are open to anyone and are designed to facilitate the opportunity to learn various tracks. There are seminars and sessions for artists, programmers, designers, sound engineers, management, business devleopment, and so on and so on. Shows are often an eclectic mix of established developers and publishers, along with students looking to make contacts and learn some things their curriculum won’t cover.

Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a basic expo pass, something that just allows people to wander the show floor, talk to companies, and see a few things they’re working on. However, the pricing, particularly the early pricing, for the fuller access passes is quite good. It’s still a ways off, but as mentioned, the pricing is better for early birds than waiting until we get to May.

This is a bit of an experiment – there hasn’t been a GDC Canada before, but it’s long overdue.

Fame, it’s a terrible thing

A totally real photo of me the net celeb

A totally real photo of me Jeffery Simpson the famous blogger.

Link via Beyond Robson [br].

To be filed in the “completely too ironic interview” catagory, is this article on local internet celebrities, including Jennifer Lowther.  I’m not quite sure if Lowther knew how oddly clueless this was going to come off when she was talking to the Vancouver Sun [vs].  I don’t know her, I’ve never met her so it’s hard for me to judge exactly what she was thinking when she agreed to talk about how famous she is because of being on the internet.

I will say however that if you’re going to sit for an interview where you basically complain about the troubles of being “famous” thanks to your blog, Twitter and so forth aren’t you kind of asking for it?  Especially when you let the newspaper, which let’s face it still has a print run that rivals any local blogs, post a picture of you?

It’s a very meta-picture, because you can see the cameraman in reflection, it’s like a comment on how ‘net celebs get cyber.. not stalked.  But you know have people who follow them on Twitter.

And please someone explain to me this from Rob Cottingham talking about being a celebrity within your own circle, “”More interesting than the people who become instant celebrities are the people who become famous in a particular niche or within their own social networks. When you are able to rise to a level of prominence but just among the people you know.”   So when you become so famous that people who already knew you, know you, that’s real fame?

Back to Lowther, “People can know a ton about your life and you have no idea who they are.”

I really wish that emoticons were a respetable manner of conveying yourself in blog posts, rather than something used by tweens on Jonas Brothers’ fan boards.  If they were I’d use one of those smiley faces that shows deadpan blinking.

Is this really the stuff of newspaper articles in 2009?  I mean in 1999 I would have thought that this was all self-evident.  If you write a lot about yourself online then sometimes people are going to read it.  If you write a lot about yourself in the stalls of public toliets, some people are going to read it.

Now I’d blame this on the article’s writer Gillian Shaw, but from the (very few) conversations I’ve ever had with her (on Twitter / shock / horror) she doesn’t seem like she’s completely out to lunch.  Having written for tech for a daily city newspaper myself, not in Vancouver don’t bother guessing which, I have to say that this is probably not her fault.  By the time something filters up (or down) to the people who assign and approve stories often as a tech writer you kind of know that the world has moved onto something else but money is money.  Especially in this economy.

Now excuse me I have to go out wearing dress slacks and a pair of Crocs.  Oh my God, I hope nobody tweets about it.  Don’t worry, I only wrote it on this blog not in a bathroom stall.

Vancouver embraces Twitter

I joined twitter a little over a year ago as part of some school research in emerging technology trends. For several months, I only had three followers: my professor, a classmate and a good friend of mine – not bad considering the huge Facebook craze at the time.

For some reason, I thought, “Hey why not see if good ol’ (or god-awful, depending on your point of view) Gordon Campbell is on Twitter.” Sure enough, he was. What about good ol’ (or god-awful, depending on your point of view) Carole James? She’s there too!

I added Gordon Campbell (@g_campbell) to my list… and within two hours he added me to his. Still waiting for Ms. James (@carolejames) to add me to hers. But considering that she’s not following anyone at the moment, I don’t think she’ll be inviting me to her list anytime soon. Granted, they’re both probably written by party staffers anyway.

Buzz Bishop (@buzzbishop) of 95.3 FM Virigin Radio fame tweets quite a bit, and I find his them to be a great source of what’s going on in Vancouver… and a great source for good eats! Local Vancouver Sun writer Gillian Shaw (@gilliamshaw) is a great read as well… She taught me a lot about how Twitter works on her recent Twitter article. For you Vancouver talk radio junkies, CKNW (@cknw) and News1130 (@news1130) are on it as well.

I’m sure that there are a more Vancouver twitter accounts out there. If you know of any good ones that we can follow, please leave a comment… Bonus points for you if you could find one that covers Vancouver’s food scene. I’m looking for more great places to eat!

Pink Shirt Day – it’s like reliving the 80s for a good cause

I remember when the circumstances that helped create Pink Shirt Day first happened – it was one of the notable stories of the week, September of 2007. It had a John Hughes film quality to it – a new student attends his first day of classes at a rural high-school in Nova Scotia, wearing a pink Polo shirt. Fair enough – Polo is always a solid choice and in 2007, I think pink was supposed to be the new black.

No problem there, not counting the high-school bullies.

Surprising to nobody that’s ever attended high-school, they went to work on the new kid, verbally beating him down with the bluntest instrument in the vocabulary of teenage boys everywhere; homo.

The surprising, almost unbelievable part of the story is that two Grade 12 students took offence on behalf of the younger Grade 9 classmate, and using their own money, a discount clothing store, and online social networking, they bought 50 pink t-shirts and handed them out at the school door the next day. And the 50 was supplemented by even more students that wore their own pink apparel. It seems like an obvious twofer – get an awesome excuse to wear that pink sweater AND stick it to the thuggish common denominator at the same time.

Anyhow, happy ending – the new student’s confidence is restored, two grade 12 students are national heroes (Go Canada!), and the bullies are doing whatever it is bullies do when they don’t get their way. Smoking, carving things into desks, and punching one another in the arm, one would imagine.

But it doesn’t end there – an anecdote this perfect has, inevitably, become the focus of an new, annual campaign to take a stand against school bullying – the literally named Pink Shirt Day [PSD] on February 25th (yeah, I’m not sure why it’s not September either – I’m assuming there’s an awareness calendar and September was full.)

Most of us aren’t in high-school any more, but we were all there once. And at least in some small way, the kids around us aspire to be us – independant and critical thinkers. And to be honest, we’re all better looking people now anyhow. Plus black and pink looks awesome, hipsters. So, why not show a little support on Feb. 25th? Pull on some pink, and wherever possible, pass this along to your friends. The perfect Hollywood ending for this story is if the actions of two clever young men trigger and annual, international event.

Riddle me this…

Ponder this for awhile, and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

[UPDATE] Did I say tomorrow? I meant… tomorrow after tomorrow.

As Ryan [MB] commented, those with a cellphone should take a look at Kaywa QR code reader – QR code is what you see above. There are in fact a number of different code formats, including ones that look like a beehive of hexagons or a series of circles. However, if you’ve ever looked at the labels or packaging for various foods and other sundries, you’ll most likely see a code much like above – a seemingly random collection of black and white pixels. Even the smallest of them can contain a lot more information than a best before date, including URLs. Some can even contain an image (there’s your Gibsonian cyberpunk moment of the day – escort ads that can “show” without getting into trouble. Or, fine. Kittens and puppies. The picture is of rainbows and ducklings.)

There are a handful of decoders for the iPhone, all of them capable of decoding more than just the QR code format, but they tend to be a little finicky. Currently, I’m getting the best results with BeeTagg.

And even if you don’t have a phone, you can still have a lot of fun making and decoding online. Here; go to this link, and then put the following URL in (it’s the address for the image above.)

Cool, right?

It’s possible that we don’t need this, but at the same time, I can’t help but think the uses are vast… up to and including pictures of dolphins covered in glitter. And really, they won’t take hold until people start thinking up some of those uses and acting on them. Got any good ideas?

Vancouver’s new and old media face-off online

The Vancouver Sun [vs] has recently launched a new website, and in the world of city blogs Scout Magazine [sm] has arrived trying to bring the world yet another online magazine.  Is the Sun’s face lift just more rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg?  Is Scout Magazine just a blog with more obtrusive advertisements?  With the economy going the way it’s going, does it matter?


There’s always something left out

Iron Man Mighty Mug

Anytime anyone tries to do a definitive list of whose the best, most important, or drunkest, bloggers in Vancouver it always falls short.  It’s the nature of the beast, if you mention x number of people person x+1 will feel left out, and if you mention everyone then really you’re just doing a roll call.

It’s a trap that I tried to avoid when writing an article on the Vancouver blog scene in this week’s Georgia Straight [tgs].  I’m glad to have gotten a few people who don’t really get the coverage they deserve, at least not locally, involved in the article.  It’s worth a read, though since I wrote it I may be heavily biased.

Those who do read it might notice that I left out any mention of Metroblogging Vancouver.  I might have mentioned it briefly in relation to Beyond Robson [br], who’s Sean Orr I interviewed, but it took up quite a bit of words explaining what it was, what my role in it was and how it related to Beyond Robson and other Vancouver group blogs.

So if you were left out of the article and feel aggrieved, well so was I so suck it up.

Once again I’d like to thank everyone who agreed to be interviewed for the article.

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