Saturday, June 05, 2010

Did "Quit Facebook Day" have an impact?

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, June 4, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Metro section

Quit Facebook Day: My own observations have determined that it has had zero effect on the world's most popular social media network. I know of only one Facebook friend who left on a matter of principle in protest of Facebook's privacy policies.

One thing that should not be inferred regarding those who remained on Facebook: this does not mean everyone agrees with Facebook's privacy policies. Even since I joined a few years ago, I've been forced to have more and more junk in my newsfeed. This is "junk" that one could previously opt out of.

Facebook now forces you to post various things to your wall that you could previously opt out of, including new friendships and the fact that you commented on others' posts. Thankfully, they still give you the option of deleting these from your wall, but it must be done manually. Personally, I delete all my personally activity from my wall every day. Frankly, it's no one's business but my own. Anyone who checks my Facebook wall will see that I've deleted everything but my own links and status updates — and what others have commented on, of course.

With all that said, if you want to limit what activities you publicize on Facebook, it bears repeating to regularly check your privacy settings and manually erase items from your wall that you don't feel are the business of others. Just because Facebook dictates that this is "sharing" and "enhances" the experience, I can assure you that all it has done (in my opinion) is add clutter and make more work for me (as a user).

Regardless of these little annoyances, I certainly won't be leaving Facebook any time soon. It has become an essential tool in my everyday life and I hyperventilate just at the thought of leaving. Trust me, the connectivity is addictive.

And the bottom line is if you're serious about being in business or consulting today and you're not active on Facebook, then you have to accept that your effectiveness may be called into question. I'm not saying it's a valid concern, but if you're ignoring the most popular social network in the world, one has to wonder how else you plan to effectively communicate with a population who has pretty much embraced Facebook as a part of their daily life. Just sayin'.

Video tools: I wrote a few weeks ago about the importance of using video on your blog and that there were inexpensive ways of recording video.

With that said, I've been struggling with my personal video content of late. I haven't recorded a vlog in three months. Honestly, I just haven't been happy with the low-light video quality of the Sony Mobile HD Snap camcorder I bought after Christmas, and I've since sold my used Flip Ultra (non-HD) camcorder to a relative.

The Flip had excellent sound and video quality for the price, but vlogging with it was nearly impossible since you couldn't flip the screen around to see what you were recording. Its performance in low-light situations (which I define as indoors at night with normal household lights on) was excellent. The videos were crisp and clear. It was incredibly easy to use, as well.

But with all that said and done, it was too difficult to vlog with because you couldn't see yourself while speaking so positioning yourself in the shot was awkward and difficult. I did some research and came up with the Sony as a replacement. I just haven't been happy with it and have decided that perhaps the time has come to invest in a mid-range high-definition (HD) camcorder and leave the world of pocket camcorders behind. If you want a pocket camcorder, however, get a Flip Ultra HD. Video quality is amazing.

After much research, I've pretty much decided on the Canon Vixia High-Definition (HD) SD/SDHC Camcorder (HF M30). One of the great selling points is a remote control, which is very useful for vloggers. As well, its low-light recording capability and touch-screen face-tracking feature would be great for ensuring your videos are crisp and clean. What do you use for vlogging? I'd love to hear what others are using.

Twitter has a new star: Troubled pop princess Britney Spears is the first Twitter user to reach five million follows. In the past few days, she eclipsed the previous record holder, actor Ashton Kutcher. Although Kutcher reached five million followers shortly after, he still lags about 40,000 followers behind at the time this column is being written.

Monitoring social media: You've probably heard of Radian6, the social media monitoring company. Well, there's a new player on the block this week, with launching Heartbeat, a service that — according to a company news release — will allow users to: 1) monitor social media conversations; 2) measure key metrics including buzz and sentiment; 3) identify and engage with key influencers and opinion leaders; 4) gauge share of voice with respect to competitors; 5) conduct industry analysis; 6) join in conversations directly from the FPinfomart Heartbeat platform; 7) produce clear and concise reports — saving users' time on data gathering and analysis.

Facebook faux pas: According to a recent CNN report, Ken Altshuler, a divorce lawyer in Maine, recently won a case after he found incriminating photos of a client's spouse on Facebook. The wife said she wanted a divorce because of her husband's drinking. The husband denied he'd been drinking but forgot that he'd posted photos to his Facebook page that clearly showed him boozing it up.

"Facebook is a great source of evidence," Altshuler said in the CNN story. "It's absolutely solid evidence because (the husband is) the author of it. How do you deny that you put that on?"

Friday, June 04, 2010

Sam Tsui: Unwell

Here is Sam Tsui's cover of Unwell. Amazing, as usual. Sam is accompanied by the very talented Kurt Schneider on guitar.

Moncton SPCA needs help placing these three long-term residents

UPDATE - August 11, 2010: All three of these pets are STILL up for adoption. Please post and share this link with your networks to see if we can find them homes ASAP.

These three "future family members" have been waiting for new families at the Moncton SPCA for MORE THAN ONE YEAR.

They are all nice pets and deserve a loving home. Although they're well cared for in the shelter, a shelter isn't equal to a permanent family. Please share the link to this post so that we can find Athena, Danny and Papa new homes as soon as possible!

Athena (below) is looking for an active home and a family who's willing to work with her. Athena doesn't mind meeting new people but can become a bit bossy or stubborn when she wants something or doesn't like what you're doing. Athena's previous owner said they had problems keeping her home. Her new family will have to make sure they build a solid bond with her and earn her respect. She will require daily exercise and play that helps tire her physically and keep her mind stimulated. Athena has lived with another dog previously but is not recommended for a home with cats. Older or teen children are recommended for Athena.

Click on the photo for her official profile on the Moncton SPCA website. There, you will also find information on how to adopt Athena.

Danny (below) was adopted from the shelter as a puppy and returned when his family found him too active and too much to handle. Danny is a large, stubborn fella who likes to have things his own way. He is quite independent and reserved with strangers. His new family will have to make sure they work with him and build up a bond. Although Danny has lost some weight already, for his own health and well-being a good exercise and weight management program will be very important. Danny will be almost an open book for training. He is recommended for a home with older children.

Click on the photo for his official profile on the Moncton SPCA website. There, you will also find information on how to adopt Danny.

Papa (below) is a gentle silver rabbit looking for a new home. He seems to be fairly well-socialized and does not mind being petted or handled. If you are thinking of adopting Papa or another rabbit, please make sure to fully educate yourself with regards to proper rabbit care. With the right family, rabbits can be very social and rewarding pets. Papa is now living with a foster family while he waits for a permanent home. If you are interested in adopting him please contact the shelter to be put in touch with his foster family.

Click on the photo for his official profile on the Moncton SPCA website. There, you will also find information on how to adopt Papa.

For more information on these and the other many wonderful pets up for adoption at the Moncton SPCA, click here to visit their website.

This week's Social Media Matters column...

... touches the following subjects:

- Did "Quit Facebook Day" have an impact?
- Video tools
- Twitter has a new star
- Monitoring social media
- Facebook faux pas

Social Media Matters appears every Friday in the Metro section of the Moncton Times & Transcript. It will be posted online here tomorrow. If you'd like to read it right away, however, click here to read it on the newspaper's website.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Breaking: The Golden Girls' Rue McClanahan dead at 76

Sad news from the entertainment world today. The Golden Girls' Rue McClanahan died early this morning from a massive stroke at the age of 76. This leaves only Betty White as the last surviving Golden Girl.

Guilty pleasures for summer when TV is all re-runs

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I'm not sure what to do with myself now that the regular TV season is over. What am I supposed to do with all this free time? What am I supposed to do with no new episodes of Modern Family, 30 Rock, The Office, American Idol, How I Met Your Mother, Cougar Town or my new favourite show: The Middle?

I've always loved TV — a little too much, actually. If you could earn a PhD in sitcoms and reality TV, I wouldn't even need to study for the final exam. Heck, I've even written several columns on various seasons of American Idol and Canadian Idol and got to interview several of the contestants on Canadian Idol. Talk about a dream come true for a TV buff like myself!

Now that the summer TV season is here, I'm going to have to find new shows to watch. These will no doubt be reality shows, since the networks are rolling those out all the time. Hell's Kitchen is starting again — you know, the show where British chef Gordon Ramsay swears constantly, throws food around and calls everyone who makes a mistake a "donkey." I live vicariously through him, since having temper tantrums at work is not exactly looked upon kindly. When I watch Hell's Kitchen, though, I daydream about the possibilities because, let's face it, once in a while you just want to call someone a donkey.

But there's nothing like my biggest guilty pleasure of the summer: Big Brother. I only started watching it recently and am hooked. It's completely void of any intellectual value. It's ridiculous from start to finish. It's entirely vacuous and without cultural merit of any kind. It brings out the worst in people. To win the grand prize, you need to lie, cheat and bully. You need to throw people under the bus to save yourself. And, of course, I can't stop watching it.

Big Brother is the kind of show you watch while plopped down in front of the TV unshaven, wearing your rattiest time-to-do-a-laundry underwear, with a cold drink in one hand and the remote in the other. Not to mention your jaw hanging open with drool running down your chin. Not exactly a sexy moment. No, this is not the show to watch while you're trying to attract a potential mate. I'm embarrassed to even say I watch it. Don't tell anyone, OK?

During the summer months when routines are turned upside down, it's a good opportunity to indulge a bit in other guilty pleasures, too. When I was a kid, we always went on Sunday drives as a family. We never knew where we were going — well, maybe my parents did, but we kids didn't. We just hopped in the car and went.

For some reason, we always took apples with us. If we were particularly good at nagging, we would manage to talk our parents into stopping for ice cream somewhere. Of the three kids, at least two of us would fall asleep and be cranky when we woke up. Usually I never slept in the car, but that never stopped me from being cranky anyway. (Being a gifted child, I didn't need a nap to make me cranky.)

To this day, I still love to go on drives, especially on Sunday mornings when there's not a lot of traffic. I buy a couple of extra-large coffees (yes, a couple) and head off on an adventure down roads I've never travelled. I either listen to satellite radio or a business audio book — another couple of my guilty pleasures.

There's no use going on a trip in your car if you're not going to learn something along the way. Get yourself in the habit — like I have — of picking up a copy of a good audiobook to listen to along the way. I love doing this. Often, I'll go for a drive just to listen to an audiobook. It's relaxing and educational at the same time.

When I bought my new vehicle last fall, I got a free three-month subscription to satellite radio with the purchase. By the time the free three months were up, I was so addicted to certain specialty channels that I ended up buying a one-year subscription. I can't imagine being without it now.

My literary guilty pleasures are celebrity-centric tabloids and biographies. While I don't advocate criticizing someone just because they're rich and successful, I don't mind partaking in a bit of print voyeurism regarding some of the lewd and crude details of famous people's lives.

I don't necessarily believe it all, but hey — if I'm stuck in front of computer working most of the time, then I can at least fantasize about some of the nasty things those beautiful, young and rich celebrities are doing — right before I look down next to my computer chair for a reality check only to see a furry little feline brat pointing toward its mouth to remind me that feeding time was — oh — 30 seconds ago. Well, excuse me for being late, your majesty! What next? Want me to clean up your droppings? Oh yeah, you already have me well trained in that area, too.

Actually, another guilty pleasure of mine is just walking around the mall. Yeah, you heard me right. Sometimes it's just nice to get out and walk around to see what's new out there. I also love visiting ethnic grocery stores to look at some of the fascinating things people from other cultures eat. That is — if they even want my business. I was in an ethnic grocery store a few days ago that had a sign posted saying, "If you are just looking around, please leave. — The Manager".

Refreshingly honest. Astoundingly rude. Insanely bad entrepreneurship.

Have fun with your guilty pleasures this summer. And remember not to come knocking at my door when Big Brother is on. You might not like what answers the door.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about the guilty pleasures of summer, including reality TV, taking long Sunday drives, and window shopping. Yeah... window shopping.

Check out Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript or come back here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

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

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

And in the "this is SO wrong" department...

Verbatim description from the YouTube video: "The footage shows two-year-old Ardi Rizal reclining with a cigarette in his mouth. He waves it around, and draws back deeply on the cigarette. Ardi's parents claim that the child is addicted to nicotine. His mother Diana 26, told Britain's Sun newspaper she felt powerless to deny the child. "He's totally addicted," she said. "If he doesn't get his cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall. He tells me he feels dizzy and sick." Ardi Rizal smoked his first cigarette when he was 18 months old and now smokes 40 cigarettes a day. The overweight toddler is deft at blowing smoke rings, but is so unfit he cannot play with other children."

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dump truck fire in Dieppe

Black smoke rose above Dieppe just after supper earlier this evening after a dump truck hit a transformer. Power was off to several businesses around Sobeys ("little Sobeys") on Regis Street. Parts of Champlain Place were also affected, including Wal-Mart.

Video courtesy of Newschaser.

Sunday, May 30, 2010