Introducing: Home Cents!

My friend and former co-worker Chaya Cooperberg’s new Globe Investor blog, Home Cents has launched! Couldn’t be more excited for her (and to read her stuff — she’s brilliant, funny, and wise beyond most people’s years).

How the woman found time to add blogging to the schedule she keeps, I haven’t the foggiest… 🙂

Technology in infancy

I don’t recall it even occurring to me when Cadence was born, though we were all breaking new ground there (and high as kites on endorphins…), but a few minutes ago I was perusing one of my sister-in-law’s albums on Facebook.

And I realized that within 24 hours of being born, Cassidy, niece #2, had been digitally photographed by camera, video camera, and cell phone. Emailed by smartphone, blogged about, uploaded to Facebook, tweeted, and had participated in her first Skype video chat (with her other grandma in BC).

Hell, had they wanted to (and thankfully they didn’t), her birth could have been streamed live online. I know people who did do that.

When I arrived at their apartment to stay with Cadence while they went to the hospital, I asked if they’d remembered everything they needed to take, and jokingly added, “Did you remember to update your Facebook status?” Both of them said yep. Heh. Within hours, dozens of people in all of our networks not only knew Cassidy had been born, but had seen pictures of her. It would have taken months to eventually see all those people and let them know.

On Thursday morning, Mom asked me where Chad and Patience keep their phone book. She’d already emailed the friends and relatives who are “on email”, but had to find phone numbers to call the others (she hadn’t brought her paper address book with her to Kitchener). Of course, I hadn’t a clue where their phone book might be (haven’t touched one in years), so I pointed to their MacBook. I mean… where else would you look up information?

And then Mom surprised me by saying, “Oh, Canada 411?” Uhh, yeah. She knows about that site… but still asked where the phone book is? 🙂

So then we looked up all the numbers and she wrote them down… in crayon on Cadence’s big book of drawing paper. Heh. Can’t stay high tech all the time…

Neil Gaiman on religions possibly much better than ours…

As with many things, seeing what a cock-up we’ve made of many facets of organized religion, one can only hope that Mr. Gaiman’s suggestion is correct. 🙂

Picked up my copy of New Scientist over breakfast this morning (along with Fortean Times, my favourite publication) and found myself puzzling over an article that began

That a complex mind is required for religion may explain why faith is unique to humans.

Which left me amazed and potentially delighted that journalists at New Scientist had succeeded in interspecies communication to the point of being certain that dolphins and whales have no belief in things deeper than themselves, that ants do not imagine a supreme colony at the centre of everything, and that my cats only believe in what they can see, smell, hunt and rub up against (except for Pod, of course, who when much younger would react in horror, with full fur-up, to invisible things), and that there are no Buddhist Pigs, Monkeys or whatever-the-hell Sandy was.

Imaginary friends

I have been on the internets about half my life now (!) and as a result have met a goodly number of people via that medium. Friends, lovers, co-workers, partners in crime… From assorted countries and continents and backgrounds and futures. This is my normal. (People who still cringe and act all embarrassed about “admitting” they met someone “on the internet” annoy the ever-lovin’ crap outta me.)

I’ve been thinking about these internet people a fair bit the last couple of months, mostly because I’ve been meeting more of them in a shorter span of time than usual. And as of next week, thanks to SXSW, I’ll be meeting more of them in one place than I’ve ever met before (and that includes the year spent in Sydney).

It’s certainly a great deal easier to meet people in person if you already know them via online interactions and shenanigans. As long as you recognize a face you’re off to the races — head over, say hi, and the conversation starts itself. I do not hug “real life” strangers within seconds of meeting them, but I do that with internet people all the time. (Because the internets? That’s real life, too. In many ways to an even starker degree than face to face real life.)

Continue reading “Imaginary friends”

Hmm… what else can I make them do?

So the other day, thanks to Violet, I was unexpectedly made aware of the presence of Tim Tams at the local Sobeys. So I promptly bought many, many, many packages.

I happened to be in Guelph yesterday, and so brought several packages (one of each available – dark chocolate, regular milk chocolate, and chewy caramel) to my charming friends at

Being adventurous types, they educated themselves about the Tim Tam slam, which is, without question, the wonderfulest way to eat the Tim Tam.

This was the result.

For future reference, I did note that it’s a much easier process with a mug that’s as wide as you can get at the top, and if you have the mug sitting on the counter or table, rather than holding it.

Enjoy, Wellians! 🙂

PodCamp ponderings

Yesterday Carol and I headed to Toronto for our first PodCamp. Now, I freely admit I know little about podcasting, but that’s okay since, since its inception, PodCamp has expanded in scope to cover all manner of social media and its assorted uses. That I know something about. 🙂

Having never been to one before, my inclination was to get acclimatized, meet folks, and learn as much as possible, rather than signing up to present this time. (Plus, Ilya was doing a presentation, so the company was represented.)

Met plenty of folks I’d only known online prior, which was cool, and saw a bunch more names I recognized, but didn’t get a chance to say hello to. Attendance yesterday was 507, I am told, which is more than double last year’s numbers. There were times and places it was quite crowded (we were at the Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson), but not nearly as bad as we were told to expect, given signups were over 800 people.

Carol and I headed back to Waterloo in the afternoon, so didn’t stick around for any of the dinners or the Molson-sponsored party, but given how tired and headache-y I was early last evening, I think it was for the best. Plus, I’d seen quite a few of those folks just a few days prior at Third Tuesday when Carol presented.

I get the impression there will be fewer people at PodCamp today, including a lack of us Waterloo folk, since the weather is fairly crappy, and the round-trip drive would take us as long as the amount of time we’d be in Toronto. (It’s only a half-day today.)

It was really interesting to see the differences in the “culture” of the various presentations. Some speakers had PowerPoints, some just walked around with a microphone. Some were very “academic” (e.g. presenter did all the talking; audience did all the listening), and sometimes things were much more interactive. Sometimes the audience would be furiously scribbling notes from beginning to end, and sometimes there was more laughter and the faces were upturned the entire time. I suspect plenty was learned in both scenarios, just in different ways.

We social media types get accused of existing in an echo chamber, and rightly so, to be frank. Usage of many of these sites, applications, and tools still isn’t fully mainstream, and the ranks of those who work with, teach about, and apply them to client work is an even smaller microcosm.

And there was some of that in evidence at PodCamp, too. I heard that a number of the sessions were very 101 level, starter “how to” stuff. Which, obviously, is a bit basic for those who work with social media professionally. You’d hope that they’d already know what the tools are, how to wield them, and how to measure their use. However, maybe more of the audience was folks much newer to social media, and that’s exactly what they signed up for.

I also noticed a dearth of concrete case study-type presentations. (Although Ilya’s was exactly that. Including algorithms!) Perhaps adoption of these tools, particularly at a corporate level, is too new. Or perhaps work that has been or is being done for clients is still ongoing or not for public disclosure.

However, even for those fairly new to social media, I’d think real world choices, use cases, results, and measurements would be among the most useful information they could absorb, for content producers, agency people, corporate citizens, non-profits, startups, you name it. Perhaps as these unconferences grow and age and social media usage becomes just another part of doing business, we’ll see more of those real-world examples and less introductory material.

All in all, glad to have another new experience under my belt, and with Third Tuesday having just passed and StartupCamp Waterloo this Wednesday, it continues to amuse me how much my professional and social spheres have changed in the past year. 🙂

The genius

I thought this was wonderful. Talk is about creativity and historical and modern philosophies around being a creative.

Perimeter Institute Public Lectures

It’s against my own interests to post this, since more people trying to get the same number of tickets makes it potentially harder for me to get tickets. However, I am a humanitarian, and this is an area in which I have some expertise.

Plus I sent this info to the guys at work yesterday, so it’s already written…

Because PI started the lecture season early this year, next one’s not til March 4th. The speaker is Rob Cook, a VP from Pixar, and he’ll be talking about how 3D animation movies get made. w00t! (Public Lectures list)

For future reference, at this week’s lecture, Dr. Turok said Prof. Hawking will be doing a lecture or some sort of event when he gets here, but that won’t be til summer. (He’s not a snow/winter fan, unsurprisingly.)

Lectures start at 7pm and run for an hour(ish). After that there’s a relatively brief Q&A (sometimes boring, sometimes with awesome whackjobs), and you’re usually out of there by 8:15-8:30. Lectures are held at WCI, which is at 300 Hazel Street in Waterloo (map). They also record them and broadcast them on Rogers, Ch. 20, I think. And, of course, they’re available on the internets at the PI website.

Tickets are only honoured until 6:45, then they start letting in the rush line (yes, there is an overflow for these things). I’d recommend getting there by 6:30, earlier if you want to sit in the front half of the auditorium.

When you go into the auditorium, you will be handed a ticket. That’s for the book draw after the lecture. They always give away either the speaker’s book or a book on a related topic. (We never win.)

Do not park in the parking lots across the street. It’s a royal bitch to get out. (Also: dark + winter.) Ideally park along one of the side streets a block away (we like Hickory). Much easier to get out of there and back to a main street.

Now, how to get tickets. BEFORE tickets go on sale, you will need an account. Go here and create an account.

Also, I recommend subscribing to the Public Lectures email list (link is in the sidebar on the right side of this page). You get an email a few days before tickets go on sale for the next lecture, giving details about it and when the tickets go on sale. Tickets always go on sale at 9am on a Monday morning. You need to login and get tickets at 9am on that Monday morning. They will be sold out within minutes. Srsly.

You need to login to the PI site before you can book tickets. Tickets are free, but due to insane demand they’ve limited the number you’re allowed to 2 per account as of this year. So if you have more than one geek friend, he/she will need an account, too.

Once you’ve logged in, click the Order Tickets tab. Find the lecture you want in the list of events displayed (check the date), then click Order Tickets. From there it’s a pretty standard booking process, and once confirmed, it’ll display a ticket page with barcodes on it — print that out. Then don’t lose it, cuz it’ll be several weeks between booking tickets and the date of the lecture.

They scan the barcodes when you arrive at the lecture. If you book tickets but can’t go, login to your account and cancel them by clicking the cancel link under the barcode(s) — there will be a waiting list of folks who’ll appreciate it.

Note that I have no idea what they do on the site to “activate” the ability to book tickets, presumably something to do with jabbing sleeping hamsters, but it usually borks the site around 9am, sometimes for 10 or 15 minutes. So it can take a couple of tries. And sometimes IE tends to work better than FF, too. (Hmm, didn’t test cross-platform, did we…?) Just fyi.

Enjoy. 🙂