Saturday, May 29, 2010

Actor Dennis Hopper dead at 74


Actor Dennis Hopper died today from prostate cancer. He was 74.

Here he is in a video taken two months ago on March 26, 2010, when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Is Quit Facebook Day worthwhile?

Quit Facebook Day: As you may of heard, a group of Toronto men has started a movement to make May 31, 2010, "Quit Facebook Day". This is being done to protest Facebook's reported lack of respect for their users' privacy.

I'm certainly no fan of every change that Facebook has implemented, but overall I've benefited tremendously from joining the social networking site. Quite frankly, it would take a lot for me to leave -- and I do mean a lot. In fact, Facebook has become so ingrained in my online life that I cannot imagine ever leaving... ever. Of course, I said the same thing about MSN a few years ago and I now barely log in, however Facebook isn't the same thing as MSN at all.

Not being on Facebook these days is like not having a telephone, or electricity. I've noticed a few people mention online that they would be quitting Facebook on May 31.

My initial reaction was one of incredulity. How could they even contemplate it? If you're serious about networking, Facebook offers an extra level of sharing and information that you just can't get with Twitter and certainly not with MSN.

While it's true that the constant (and sometimes seemingly trivial) tweaking of Facebook can be maddening at times, it just means you have to be extra vigilant at ensuring your privacy settings are properly maintained in order to ensure that the information you don't want shared with others is protected.

My advice: Stick with Facebook, but ensure your privacy settings are monitored regularly to ensure you're comfortable with them. As well, do a Google news search from time to time to keep up with what's new. You'll also notice that your Facebook friends will post helpful hints from time to time to help you maintain your optimal settings at the right level. Just check out the advice first to ensure it's not based on rumours or hoaxes. There are also Facebook groups you can join to ensure you stay on top of privacy issues.

Squealing to parents: I had a dilemma earlier last week when the teenage child of some close friends started clicking "like" on some questionable Facebook content. If you took the questionable content to the extreme, you could consider it hate speech. Now, I didn't think the child meant it as hate speech.

They just thought it was funny and clicked "like" without thinking. Unfortunately, the page they "liked" ended up on their newsfeed that got broadcast out to all their Facebook friends.

To the child's Facebook friends of the same age, the page was likely humorous and harmless to them. To the adult Facebook friends (mostly older relatives or friends of the family), I can pretty much guarantee that some eyes popped out of heads. Mine did.

My dilemma, quite frankly, was whether or not to squeal to the parents. Was I being overly sensitive? Overly protective? Too nosy? I sent a note to parents of similarly aged children and asked them what they'd do. I included a screen shot of the questionable posting and asked, "If this was one of your kids, would you want to know?"

I honestly didn't know what the response would be. I thought they would, but I also didn't want to overstep my bounds. The response that came back was a firm "yes".

So, I ratted out the kid. I'm not sure how it was handled at home, but at least the parents know. (I also asked them if they wanted to know if I noticed something fishy going on and they said yes, so I did check first.)

If you're an adult and have teenagers (family members, children of close friends) as Facebook friends, it's a good idea to check with the parents of the kids to see what the boundaries are. Do they want to know? Not want to know? Only want to know if something is clearly illegal? It's a matter of judgment, however it's your duty as an adult to ensure that minors on your Facebook friends list aren't getting themselves into trouble.

With that said, you also have to accept the fact that the kids may get angry at you for tattling. Fair enough. Better to be mad at me than get suspended from school -- or worse -- for posting questionable content.

How-to videos on YouTube: This may sound like an obvious thing to most people familiar with the Internet, however it begs reminding sometimes when we use an excuse like, "I don't know how to (fill in the blank)." Whether it's how to properly cook lobster, how to paint a wall, how to put on makeup or how to tie a tie, remember that YouTube is an amazing repository of free content. Just type in "how to" and then what you want to do, and a bunch of videos should come up.

Now, like I said, this may sound excessively simple to some, however I've often forgotten this myself. With millions upon millions of free videos, YouTube is an excellent source of advice on cooking, home renovations, personal care and nearly any other issue you need help with -- even homework! (Google "how to do long division" and you'll get a quick tutorial.)

Free Twitter backgrounds: Although most serious Twitter users use a program such as HootSuite or TweetDeck for their Twitter experience, there are still those who only use the Twitter homepage.

Even if you don't use it, it's good to ensure that it looks decent and isn't too generic.

There are a few free Twitter background services available out there, including twitrounds.com, twitrbackgrounds.com and twitbacks.com. Some are more customizable than others, so check around to see what suits you best. If you're serious about Twitter, put some work into your Twitter.com homepage.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Breaking: Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman dead at 42


Troubled Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman has died at the age of 42 from an intracranial hemorrhage resulting from a fall at his home earlier in the week.

This week's Social Media Matters column

This week's Social Media Matters column touches on the following subjects:

- Quit Facebook Day
- Squealing to parents
- How-to videos on YouTube
- Free Twitter backgrounds

Social Media Matters appears in the Metro section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will be posted here tomorrow or -- if you'd rather read it right away -- click here to read it now on the newspaper's website.

Charlieissocoollike: Fish custard

Thursday, May 27, 2010

American Idol: Recap of season nine finale!

Last night's season nine finale of American Idol was a star-studded affair that brought out the likes of the Bee Gees, Alice Cooper, Janet Jackson, Christine Aguilera, Michael McDonald, a horribly out-of-tune Chicago, comedian Dane Cook and a bevy of past American Idol winners and finalists.

This was also judge Simon Cowell's final show. He rides off into the sunset after nine years to launch the American version of X Factor, a singing competition with a slightly different format, but not entirely different from American Idol.

It was a close call this season, with Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox separated by less than two per cent in the final vote tally. In the end, Lee took the crown and will release a cover of U2's "Beautiful Day" as his first single. Lots of confetti and tears -- a typical American Idol finale!

Click here to read this season's last Idol Chatter column in the Moncton Times & Transcript or click here to read the column in today's Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Thanks to the readers who checked out the column in the newspaper and online. Thanks again to the Moncton Times & Transcript for running the column this year -- and thanks, as well, to the Fredericton Daily Gleaner for opting to run the column, too! That was a nice surprise that I wasn't expecting.

The dreaded babysitting call was a close thing

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

The telephone rang innocently enough. Little did I know the horror that awaited me on the other end of the line when I answered. It was my sister.

"What are you doing tomorrow between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.?" she asked. Internally, I screamed the scream that told the audience watching a horror movie that the pretty girl who'd just entered the basement was being murdered.

I knew what she was about to ask. Uncle Brian was being coaxed into babysitting my four-year-old nephew. I've spent time with him, of course, but always in the company of my sister or my mother, who babysits him often. I babysat him for an hour once when my sister had to get groceries and he was sick, but that was about it. I remember spending the entire hour praying, "Dear God, please don't let him need to go to the bathroom."

Luckily, God was in a good mood on that particular one-hour gig and my nephew was contented to watch television and play with his toys while I sat there doing a 36-piece puzzle and then looking all over the living room for the last piece, only to find out afterwards that it had been lost ages ago. I invested three minutes of my life into making that 36-piece puzzle! Where's the justice? When would I get those minutes back, huh?

Anyway -- back to my story. So, come to hear that my sister had been called in to work on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and my mother was going out of town. Now, I should be honoured that I'm thought of highly enough by my sister for her to entrust the life of her only offspring over to me, right?

Had you witnessed some of the knock-down-drag-'em-out fights my sister and I had when we were kids, you probably wouldn't have guessed that she'd actually want me to babysit her child for fear that I would get revenge for some argument from 1975 by sending him out to play in traffic. But we were kids, then. Now, we're adults and things have changed. She wanted me -- her beloved (cough!) and trusted (cough!) big brother -- to babysit her little man.

Now, I love kids. I think they're fun and cute. I'm not intimidated by them at all. I'm a good uncle and godfather, and I don't forget birthdays or Christmas. But... when they need the bathroom, my eyes glaze over and I pray for an aneurysm to take me swiftly and silently into the waiting arms of the Lord. I don't do bathrooms or diapers.

I stood in the middle of my living room that Friday night, sweating bullets, trying to come up with some sort of excuse. I couldn't tell her my grandmother had died. After all, we have the same grandmothers and I'm pretty sure she knows they've been dead for 27 and 31 years respectively. Maybe she had a bad memory and I could try the excuse? No, that wouldn't work. I think she'd remember something like that.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my nephew. He's cute -- like his Uncle Brian. He's smart -- like his Uncle Brian. He's chatty -- like his Uncle Brian. He's fully toilet trained -- like his Uncle Brian, too. (Thankfully, my parents wouldn't let me go to university without being toilet trained first.)

But the full toilet training situation (for him, not me) is only a more-or-less recent thing. In my mind, he still hasn't fully graduated into the kid who can take care of himself in that department. I still think of him as the kid who says, "Mommy, I need da bafroom... now!" followed by him being picked up and run with through the house and thrown on the potty, then singing, stories, being ignored -- or whatever other technique was being used that week. My own Uncle Brian technique would have consisted of holding him out an open window and squeezing, but no one thought that was as hilarious as I did when I brought it up at a family dinner. Party poopers... no pun intended.

Thankfully, his other grandmother was able to babysit, so my babysitting job was cancelled, much to my relief -- and guilt.

I mean, he's only four years old. How much trouble could it have been? But what would have happened had he reverted to those pre-potty-trained days had my babysitting traumatized him into age regression?

Well, had I been forced to babysit him, I would have just distracted him every time he needed to go. That's all there would be to it. As soon as I heard, "Unca Bwyan, I gotta go to da bafroom," I would have used my superior mental ability and attention span to trick the little bugger into another activity. "Hey, how about McDonald's? You can go to the bafroom... I mean the bathroom... after McDonald's. How does that sound?" And, of course, he'd be very happy with that and we'd go to McDonald's. Crisis averted.

But there's only so long you can hold off Mother Nature.

Eventually, I'd run out of tricks or he'd start seeping like a leaky rain barrel. My scheme would only last a few hours, and if his mother was late arriving to pick him up, it could be catastrophic.

After hours of delays, he would pretty much be ready to explode. Then, his mother would thankfully arrive. "Hi, how did you make out?" she would ask. "Great... great... Very busy now! I've got lots to do! Here you go!" I'd say, throwing him in the back seat. "I just heard on the police scanner that your house is burning. Better go home now." In a panic, she would speed down the street to get to her "burning" house.

She'd never be expecting the explosion from the back seat before she'd even get to the end of my street, but my no-bathroom-while-babysitting record would be intact.

I'd owe her a new car, but it would be worth it. Yup, well worth it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lee DeWyze wins American Idol 2010


Lee DeWyze, a 24-year-old paint salesman from Mount Prospect, Illinois, is this year's winner of American Idol. He beat out the perceived frontrunner, 24-year-old Crystal Bowersox, by less than two per cent of the vote.

Lee's debut American Idol single will be a cover of U2's "It's a Beautiful Day". Watch all three of Lee's performances from this week's final competition show here:



And here's the winning moment:

Ellen DeGeneres signs 12-year-old Greyson Chance to her new record label


American Idol judge and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has signed 12-year-old Greyson Chance to her new record label - eleveneleven.

The very generous Ellen also gave Greyson $10,000 and a new piano!











This kid is an amazing singer! Here again -- if you missed it -- is the original YouTube video that got him discovered.



(Photo credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros)

This week's Hump Day column...


... is about being asked to babysit my nephew and then being terrified that he would need to use the bathroom.

Check out Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will also be posted online here tomorrow.

Remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Art Linkletter dead at 97

TV and radio personality Art Linkletter has died at the age of 97.



American Idol: Recap of Top 2 final performance show

After more than five months of shows and after nearly an entire year has passed since the auditions for this season began, it all came down to the final show last night between Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze, both of whom had been touted for the final nearly all season.

Lee had the momentum going in, but he seemed to have choked a bit last night, while Crystal gave it her all!

We've seen the apparent frontrunners lose before -- Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert come to mind -- but was Lee's momentum crushed after only so-so performances last night and a tour de force from Crystal?

We'll find out tonight in the two-hour season finale starting at 9 p.m. Atlantic / 8 p.m. Eastern on Fox!

To read today's Idol Chatter column, click here for the Moncton Times & Transcript or click here for the Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kenneth really needs to learn how to tell off people

From last week's season finale of 30 Rock, Kenneth gets drunk after getting fired and tells everyone what he really thinks of them.

Your Monday morning motivation speech!

This little girl has got it down pat!



We should all be doing this! :)

Happy Victoria Day!

It's a holiday today here in Canada -- Victoria Day. This is the unofficial beginning of summer, when people open up their cottages, go away for their first camping trip of the year, etc.

So to all my Canadian friends and readers, Happy Victoria Day! I hope the long weekend has been a safe and pleasant one for you all.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sam Tsui: Heaven

You've seen him on Oprah... and here's Sam Tsui's newest video: