Throwback Thursday – #tbt – This One Time, In Scotland…

I know I just posted some old pictures in a post about the Scottish referendum but since the actual referendum is today AND it’s Throwback Thursday, I realise I should’ve held off on that post until today.

So , even though you just saw them, here they are again along with a bit more of the back story on how I ended up visiting Scotland.

I’m not sure if they still do but back in the 1990’s, the U of R Faculty of Arts would pick a handful of students to send on a one semester exchange to York, England.

A couple people I know had gone in previous years so and it sounded like a great experience so I applied and was accepted as one of five students who would go in the fall of 1995.  (I have a number in my head that there were 50 applicants they chose from but that could also be a made up number to make my application feel more kick-ass than it was!)

Once I was accepted in the spring of that year, fortune smiled on me again as I hooked up with a summer job where I ended up making as much per hour as I made now as a professional librarian, 20 years and two degrees later!  (It was a door-to-door sales job with a *very* generous, escalating commission structure on top of a decent hourly wage AND per diem payments for hotels and meals that meant even extra money in my pocket.)

So anyhow, fast forward a bit – I travel to Paris with one of the other people on the exchange where we spend a week, Chunnel to London for another week then up to York a few days before the semester starts.

In those pre-Internet days, research was *totally* different and I was completely clueless about pretty much everything – what the school would be like to how to get around to what things cost.  I did get lots of info from the students I knew who’d gone before, other English people I met (you’d be surprised how many are in rural Saskatchewan and when you’re doing door-to-door sales, you get a chance to meet most of them!) and good old fashioned books from the library.

One thing I didn’t realise until I got there was this small liberal arts & teacher’s college had exchanges with other colleges and universities all around the world – mostly the US but also Germany, Japan and the University of Regina which was the only Canadian partner.

It was a cool deal too – instead of paying crazy foreign student fees or having to arrange accommodation, we basically paid for this stuff in Canada, our five counter-parts from England arranged for room and tuition there and we swapped places.

(Oh crap – I just realised I’ve basically told the whole story of my England Exchange in a different post about a year ago - oops!  Oh well – this version has some details the other doesn’t so that’s good.)

Well, let’s skip to the point of the thing – since the college had so many exchange students, they had a dedicated office for us which included planning a variety of excursions for us throughout England as well as to Scotland, Ireland and Holland.

Myself and the American friends I mentioned in that last blog post plus a bunch of others went on a weekend trip to Edinburgh.

Here’s a photo of our group at Deacon Brodie’s Pub on the Royal Mile…

Seven Americans, A Canadian and a Brit Walk Into A Bar

Here’s me the next day re-creating the spot where some of our group members ended up hanging out after our pub crawl.

This photo is a re-enactment of a vaguely remembered situation. It also has no bearing on my feelings on Scottish independence.

The next day, a few of us returned to the scene of the crime to (try to) re-construct what had happened the night before.  Weird visions of nearly getting into bar fights with locals (why I would remember that this happened in a bar on Rose Street, I’ll never know), doing celtic/square dancing in the middle of the road with another group of revelers on the Royal Mile, a long black period of velvet darkness, and our night ending with all of playing pool with a wild-eyed Algerian round out the blurry memories.

So however the Referendum goes tonight, I’m just glad to have had a chance to visit once and hopefully again at some point in the future!

The “Boring” Trait Google Looks For In All Its Leaders

Not sure if it’s a predictable answer but it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. ;-)

A White Paper for Scotland (Guest Blog Post)

So I haven’t paid too much attention to the Scottish Independence referendum (I think my first real glimmer of awareness is when Ryan Meili picked “Better Together” as a campaign slogan a couple years ago and a team member pointed out we’d be working with the “No” side in the Scottish referendum in the world of Twitter hashtags since they were using that slogan too.)

So other than a wee bit of reading, a tenuous connection via a grandmother born in Campbelton, Scotland, and a long ago visit to Edinburgh which provided one of the single most insane nights of my life, I have to admit that my instinct is that I hope to see Scotland vote “Yes”.

Slight tangent: This photo is a re-enactment of a vaguely remembered situation. It also has no bearing on my feelings on Scottish independence.

I admit that I struggle to reconcile this in light of my equally desperate hope to see Quebec *stay* a part of Canada during their own referendum in 1995 (coincidentally, the Quebec referendum happened while I was on that same England exchange where I visited Edinburgh and also had the surreal experience of waking up in a York college dorm room, unsure of whether I would be returning to the same country I left.)

Seven Americans, A Canadian and a Brit Walk Into A Bar

An English bloke who married one of my high school friends and tends to post all kinds of hilarious, astute, insightful stuff on Facebook posted the following essay which I’ll share as perspective from someone closer to the issue than myself and who’s also neither a pundit nor a politician. (And for fairness’ sake, I’ll also link to an essay from the Globe & Mail appealing to Scotland to stay but try to follow the Canadian experiment.)

My White Paper for Scotland

The facts as I see them

Jason Bransfield

When the decision to allow Scotland to decide its own destiny in a referendum was announced my initial thought was that this was a bad idea. I couldn’t understand why a union that had created an empire that the sun never set on, that had created a nation of such wealth, had inspired inventors and entrepreneurs that propelled the world into the modern age could be dismantled. I was fervently against the break up of this marriage.

A year later and I have changed my opinion and done what lady T never did a U turn and here are my reasons why

Much debate has raged across Scotland with the No campaign making much of the financial insecurity of a Scotland going its own way. They claim that services will have to be cut, that business will leave and prices will rise. The oil wealth in Scotland is about to run out a week on Thursday if we are to believe the No campaign. This is all pretty strong and compelling stuff that any rational person would be concerned about. Maybe the comfortable blanket of union with shared responsibility for debt and prosperity alike would be better for if we fall on hard times we know we have the support of the UK government to fall back on.

But is this the case?

A recent EU study found that the UK was found to have nine of the ten poorest regions in Europe.

Parts of Britain are now poorer than Poland, Lithuania and Hungary, official figures reveal. People in the Welsh Valleys and Cornwall, Britain’s two poorest areas scrape by on less than £14,300 a year on average. Because Britain is so expensive, this leaves families in these areas worse off than those vast swathes of Eastern Europe, according to the EU study.

So if the UK outside of the prosperous south east of England has now fallen behind the recently enrolled members of the EU what is really happening? Well the debate has centered on projected figures with both sides of the debate misleading and embellishing in equal amounts. So the only way to establish an answer as to what may happen in the future is to look at the recent published figures of the recent past to gain some insight into the economics at work.

The first claim of the no camp is that Scotland is too small a nation to hold its own in the new world, that it will not have a voice and will enter into terminal decline. I found this a curious claim as there are an abundance of smaller countries in the EU that in my mind seem to be doing just fine. So I decided to look at the population comparisons for Scotland against other EU countries and found that Scotland has a population that is 5.295 million (2011) which would put it at 20th in the European table of countries by population. Indeed not very high up the table but comparable with Denmark, Finland, Slovakia and slightly more populous than Ireland.

Each of the countries listed have functioning institutions with Denmark and Finland enjoying some of the highest quality of life in the developed world so it appears to me that a country with a population of 5 million people can exist and exist prosperously.

Another claim of the No campaign is that Scotland would struggle to develop an economy in the new world post independence. Again I have gone back to figures previously published on this to establish what the economy of a new independent Scotland may be. I discovered that Scotland’s estimated economic output in 2013 was $245.267 billion (including revenues from
North Sea oil and gas) and that the list of exports included Aerospace & Naval Systems, Barley, Buses, Business & Financial Services, Chemical Products, Computers, Computer Software, Electricity, Electronics, Fish, Pharmaceuticals, Potatoes, Renewable Energy, Scotch Whisky, Ships, Shortbread, Textiles, Timber, Water & best of all Irn Bru.

But the economic figures that talk of billions do not best explain a countries wealth as the have no meaning in relation to other countries, which is why for comparison nations are rated on GDP per person. This is where things really started to get interesting; the income of a country divided by its population give the GDP figure that best describes a countries wealth. If you look at the European union we find the following figures:-

Italy – $33,111
France – $36,104
Germany – $40,901
Denmark – $42,086
UK – $36,901

Scotland – 45,904

So the myth that Scotland cannot afford to become independent is clearly not true when we analyse the figures from the most recent reported years figures.

I must state that I am not a fan of Alex Salmond, my first hope for a newly independent Scotland is that they vote in a new leader as he is not the man to carry a young nation forward. And I am not going to pretend that a newly independent Scotland hasn’t got some big challenges ahead, things like obesity, an ageing population and high levels of drug use will pose challenges to the new government but at least these will be Scotland’s problems for Scotland to solve. For too long now the proceeds of Scotland’s mineral wealth and Human wealth have been exported out of the country. The education system in Scotland continually produces generation after generation of highly skilled gifted, motivated young people that upon qualification head to London and elsewhere as there are no opportunities for them in Scotland.

What if a fairer society emerges, where the wealth of the nation is divided up in a fairer way, a nation with a social conscience that regards fairness above getting ahead at the expense of your neighbour is the norm not the exception? A nation that after independence develops a social contract between citizen and government that looks after the sick, educates the young, leaves the aged in comfort, and provides a minimum standard of living for all not just the connected.

This is the dream that can be achieved if the nation believes and when asked say YES!! It certainly wont be achieved if you carry on with the same system you have got.

The definition of madness is doing the same thing day in day out and expecting a different result. Change what you are doing and the result will change too.

Music Monday – “I watch the ripples change their size/But never leave the stream/Of warm impermanence ” @rdio #rdio

Changes” – David Bowie

Rdio, a streaming music service similar to Spotify and Pandora but which is available in Canada (at least without requiring you to use a VPN or other sorcery to appear to be an American), recently released a major upgrade to their user interface.

This was the second major change since I’d joined a few years ago and as with that one, there was a lot of pushback and outrage within the community about the changes (which probably could’ve been diffused somewhat if they’d done a few things different – warn users about the changes ahead of time instead of releasing them without any advance notice, do a better job of explaining *why* the changes on an Rdio blog – they have blogs including News and New Features but didn’t really talk about the changes beyond general, positive promotion.  Their user forums are also rarely helpful as Rdio staff replies are most often “Thanks for the feedback – we’ll pass it along to engineering” instead of true engagement.)

These changes also always bring home one of the biggest problems with a license model over a buy model for things like music (and books via Amazon and movies via NetFlix) is that you give up the control you have as an owner.

To put it another way, when I bought CD’s, I could basically do whatever I wanted with them – sometimes I wasn’t even beyond re-burning a CD so the songs were in an order I preferred or certain songs were cut out completely.  When I moved my collection to digital MP3s starting with Napster and growing since then, again I had total control of which artists I added, cataloguing information about each track, album art, etc.

With licensed music via a service like Rdio, I’m pretty much at their mercy when they change the interface or offerings.  (To be fair, getting access to millions of CDs in every kind of genre for the cost of what I used to pay for a single used CD – $9.99/month – even if there are artists I like missing and/or I can’t upload my own music that isn’t part of their service – is worth the trade-off…for the most part.)

Another problem is that any interface change often takes away existing elements.  With a subscriber base of 100,000 people (as of January 2013) there are always people who are going to miss something you move or eliminate.

So here’s my take on the good and not-so-good things about their redesign…

GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE NEW RDIO DESIGN

  • They added a “Home” section which mimics every other current web service which is moving to some sort of a News Feed feature.  This blends various things such as what you’ve listened to recently, what your friends have listened to, changed playlists, trending music within your friend network and more.
  • They added a “Trending” section which is a combination of what’s popular generally on the site and with your friends (at least I think that’s how it works.)
  • They’ve added an option to add any category of the site’s offerings as a Favourite – albums, artists, individual songs, stations.
  • I didn’t use them much before but apparently they’ve greatly expanded their stations,  are adding human curation AND also allowing non-subscribers to listen to the stations for free as an enticement to join Rdio.

NOT-SO-GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE NEW RDIO DESIGN

  • Playlists previously lived along the left side in the navigation section which made it super-easy to drag and drop songs onto a playlist.  They buried playlists in the re-design but must’ve had a lot of pushback about this change specifically because it’s already been returned.  What’s frustrating about things like this is this is “Web Design 101″ stuff I learned back in 1997, namely “try to minimize how many clicks people have to do to get to the info they want.”  I know burying the playlists made the site look cleaner but a better solution would be to have a way to expand/collapse them on the navigation menu so those who didn’t want them cluttering their page wouldn’t have to and those who wanted quick access to playlists could have that too.
  • They also removed a constantly updating list of what your friends are listening to from the right side of the site, similar to Facebook’s mini-Newsfeed.  Again, it makes for a cleaner look and you can still dig to find your Friend’s activity (now labeled “Recent Activity” rather than “Currently Listening”) but again, it’s lost that random discovery utility it had before (although if I see an Rdio friend is listening to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”, are we crossing in to TMI territory?)
  • They’ve changed “Collection” which is where you could add albums you liked to “Favourites” and now allow you add anything to this section – albums, artists, individual songs, stations.  That’s actually kinda cool except it confuses what most people think of as “Favourites”.  To put it another way, I may or may not put a Justin Bieber album in my Collection but I’d never call him a Favourite. This is another change that seemed to have an easy solution – add the option to have Favourites but leave Collections as it was.
  • In the old Rdio, after you finished listening to a playlist or album, it would continue auto-playing similar songs to what you’d already been listening to.  That was usually quite good and didn’t break the mood.  Now, I think auto-play goes to playing random tracks from your entire favourites collection so you might hear a rock song followed by a comedy bit followed by an outlaw country song, one after the other.
  • And since I’m kvetching, I’ll add that I *still* miss a feature that disappeared during the *last* UI update.  It used to be that you could click on any song and see what playlists it had been included on.  This could lead to other similar songs.  So if I wanted a song like “Shiny Happy People” by REM, I could click on it, see that it was included in a playlist called “Songs That Make Me Dance” then find a song by Bruno Mars I didn’t listen to then click on that song to find it on a playlist called “Great Wedding Tunes” and so on and so forth.  Such a cool feature – I still miss it!
  • They still haven’t added “Shelves”.  I’d love to be able to categorize the albums I’ve added to my Collection into sub-groups – “Celtic”, “80s Rock”, “Mellow” – or whatever.

One unhappy customer summed up the problems very well in the Rdio forums

The thing that really irks me about this update, though, isn’t so much what they’ve added as it is what they’ve taken away. If they had kept Rdio the way it was but just ADDED stations, the Home page, etc. as options, without taking away the social sidebar, the playlists in the other sidebar, the Recent Activity page, etc., I don’t think most people would be that upset. I mean, they’ve even taken away the ability to sort your playlists and collection (excuse me, “Favorites” – I realize it’s mostly semantics but I don’t like that change either) in the order you want them – who thought that was a good idea??? What music software, in 2014, doesn’t give you the option of sorting things a few different ways? Spotify lets you sort in at least four different ways. Even before the update I thought Rdio’s sorting options were insufficient (putting songs in a playlist in alphabetical order manually is a huge PITA), and then they release an update that gives you even fewer ways to sort things. Geez.

Some Thoughts on the Movie “Boyhood”

Every year, Shea and I go to a movie for my birthday, a tradition that probably stretches back well over a decade now.

Since my birthday is in mid-July, most years, we go to some big summer blockbuster – the latest Marvel or Batman or Jurassic Park movie (told you we go back a ways!)

But this year, I was hopeful I’d get to see something very different – probably the most highly anticipated independent film in a long time.

I’m already a *huge* Richard Linklater fan and love the “Before Midnight” trilogy, “Dazed and Confused” and so much of his other work.  So when I heard that, like with the “Before Midnight” trilogy which followed a couple over a long span of time with the second and third films being made with the same cast but a decade apart, he’d made a new film which also played with traditional movie conventions around the passage of time.

For this one, instead of casting a different actor at different ages or using make-up tricks, he cast a six year old boy then did a small amount of filming each year for 12 years so you would see the boy (and all other characters including Linklater mainstay, Ethan Hawke and personal favourite, Patricia Arquette) age in real time throughout the film as well.

“Boyhood” was due to be released the same weekend as my birthday but because it’s a small independent film, it turned out that it was only released in Toronto to start.  Then in other big Canadian cities after that. That means it’s only finally reached Regina now, two months after my birthday.

As soon as Shea noticed that it was here (and I should mention, it’s also at RPL’s Art House Film Theatre in October but I couldn’t wait – although there’s a good chance I might go again!) we booked the babysitter and were able to go yesterday.

I’d read some reviews saying it was maybe the best movie ever made and others saying that once you got past the real-life time travel gimmick, it was a pretty standard drama film.  So I wasn’t sure what to expect.

We went and both things turned out to be true – it was a standard family drama film in many ways and also one of the most amazing films I’ve ever seen!  As I watched, I realised it could be both things simultaneously – while it was about the mundanity of everyday life on one level, the fact that you also watched the characters grow, change and age in real time took this film to a whole different level in a way I’ve never seen before (the closest would be the “Up” documentary series from the UK but that’s much different than what Linklater’s done here in a fictional world and over a single (long) film.)

Beyond that, Pace is basically the same age as the main character at the start of the film so that made it even more resonant for Shea and I.  When we discussed the film on the drive home, we both admitted that we spent a lot of time while watching the movie thinking about Pace and his own growth and development over the next 12 years or so until, like the boy in the film, he leaves the nest and goes out on his own.

I’d have to read some interviews with Linklater or others involved with the film but one thing I wondered was whether the boy was playing a “scripted” character or if Linklater integrated elements of the boy as he grew right into the script – his interest in photography or whatever?

I don’t know what else to say – I feel like I’m still processing the film in many ways (which is something that doesn’t really happen when I go to the latest summer blockbuster!)

So why not just watch the trailer then make a point to go see this film?  Whether you like the actual story itself, I don’t think you’ll regret having seen it (if that makes sense.)

 

Saturday Snap – Breastfeeding May Prevent Viruses (But Can Still Go Viral)

Shea recently entered a contest on Facebook run by a group who are trying to raise funds to create a breast milk depot in Regina (similar services exist in larger cities such as Calgary and Vancouver.)

For the contest, a bunch of local breastfeeding advocates submitted photos of themselves and their babies into one of three categories – Breastfeeding, Skin on Skin, or Maternity.  The contest encouraged them to promote their photo using social media and whichever one got the most Likes would win the contest (“Winning” is a relative term as there were maybe 30 entries total and the top 12 of them would win a free photoshoot which, in turn, would lead to them being featured in a calendar to further promote breastfeeding awareness and raise funds for the Regina Breast Milk Depot.)

The contest opened but we got started late and before we had a single Like, some of the others had 50, 60 or even 70 Likes on their Submitted photos!  Shea, always the optimist of the family, thought we’d never catch-up let alone get more than that level of Likes.

I thought differently.

Beyond being someone with experience in direct marketing as well as being very interested in social media including a recent stint as the “Social Media Director” for the Ryan Meili campaign for the leadership of the Sask NDP, I was mainly confident because I had a not-so-secret weapon – Sasha!

Very recently, I’d posted a picture of her visiting in the Children’s section of my library and without any promotion, push or other incentive, it had garnered 86 Likes.  So I was fairly confident I could at least get to that many for the contest and there was a good chance with some extra prodding, I could do a lot better than that.

I came up with a loose strategy to build momentum and keep the Likes coming in constantly during the contest’s duration rather than as one burst.

It began with an initial post that explained the contest, provided a link to the photo (one tricky thing was I had to explain to potential voters was any Likes on my News Feed didn’t count, they *had* to click through to the contest page and vote on Shea’s picture there.)  Beyond that, I also promised that I would post another cute photo of Sasha for every 25 Likes Shea’s contest photo got.

During the first day, we quickly reached 25 Likes from what I call the “early adopters” – friends and family we know “like to Like” and often click on everything we post anyhow, contest or not.

I monitored the responses and although I didn’t do it in any formal way, if I happened to notice someone who liked the post on my News Feed but didn’t click through and Like the contest photo, I’d tag them in a reminder comment.  (If I’d been really aggressive, I might’ve tagged likely Likers right on the contest page where they’d be less likely to Like the wrong thing.  Er, that’s a lot of “Likes” in that sentence!)

For my first “Cute Sasha” incentive photo, I posted a fresh one of her smiling in a sandbox (not sure if her face, dirtied with chocolate, would make the photo cuter or not).  One worry I had is I tend to be pretty verbose at the best of times and many of my posts were so long, I worried potential voters wouldn’t even get to the point of the entire thing.  I did try inserting a link to the contest photo early but was never brave enough to post something like: “Vote Here: <link to contest photo>” although in hindsight, I wish I had.

At 50 Likes, I posted a less cute one of Sasha and Pace playing with a hose in our backyard.  This was less about winning contests and more about preserving family harmony in case Pace realised we were giving his sister a lot of attention on Facebook with this contest and he started to feel left out.

Next, it was a picture of Sasha in a Riders shirt which tied into the timely news that the Riders QB had been injured and his back-up would be called in.  (I didn’t do it too for every picture but at least for that one, I tried to think of warm, fuzzy associations that would get people to click Like – the Riders being pretty much universally liked in Saskatchewan.)

By this point, we’d passed the 75 Like plateau but we now seemed to stall out around 90 Likes which was surprising since I’d promised to post an extra cute, extra funny video of Sasha when we got to 100 Likes.

So, as a way to “re-prime the pump”, I posted this photo with a joke that it was Sasha’s face when she heard that she was stuck at 90 Likes…

That helped us blast past 100 Likes and we were at 110 by the time I posted a really funny video of Sasha playing her current favourite game – “Scare Mommy” – which is basically her growling at us and us acting scared…

After that, I completely forgot to post any more incentive photos but Shea’s total Likes continued to climb, passing 125 and eventually stopping at 139 when the contest closed tonight at 9pm.

The results aren’t finalized yet but from a quick scan through the entries, it looks like Shea’s likely going to win with the overall most Likes on her entry across all three categories (though it was nip and tuck with one other entry which ended up with 132 Likes to Shea’s final total of 139.  There were also a couple other submissions that finished just a shade below those totals who could’ve done a last minute surge.)

With it right down the wire, I posted one final incentive photo tonight although this one was a picture of Sasha from a few weeks after she was born with the words “Thank You” spelled out in fridge magnets and I didn’t even remember to include a link to the contest photo except as a comment on the post.

In that post, I clarified that although my frequent and insistent posts probably made it seem like winning was my main goal, it was also about supporting a good cause, promoting breastfeeding and trying to learn more about social media strategies.

On that note, here are some other random thoughts about the process…

  • If I’d been really trying to wrack up the votes, I’d have pushed people to share my posts out more rather than just having individuals Liking Shea’s contest photo (a strategy that worked well in the Meili campaign)
  • I also didn’t use any paid Facebook ads like we had to great effect in the Meili campaign
  • We did a bit of promotion away from Facebook – Shea on mommy boards and me on a site I visit regularly which I thought might be sympathetic (they weren’t – I think we got one vote from there!)
  • If I’d have been even more desperate for votes, I could’ve used various off-shore services that for a very small fee, will basically buy you votes (or tweets or Likes or page views or whatever you want) for very low cost. But I thought a bunch of Likes from people in India might get Shea disqualified so didn’t go down that route!
  • I didn’t think to tag Shea in all of my incentive posts which might’ve garnered a few extra votes from her circle of friends.
  • I happen to have a relatively large number of progressively-minded Facebook friends including librarians, writers and people involved with the NDP aka people who would most likely look favourably on breastfeeding and/or a breast milk bank which I think really helped.  In the end, I’d say I had roughly a 10-15% response rate from my entire friend list.
  • On that note, I didn’t do a formal count but it did feel like there was a definite gender split in the respondents.  Even though I’d guess that my Friend list is roughly evenly split between men and women (although it might be 60-40 or even 65-35), the votes seemed to come overwhelmingly from women (75-25?) which I found interesting.  But again, I didn’t do a formal count so this could be confirmation bias of some kind.
  • The “Scare Mommy” video has 77 Views as I type this though I have no way to correlate people who voted for Shea’s contest photo and people who watched the video.  But presumably, there’s a fairly big overlap since I made a pretty big deal about that being the “reward” for reaching 100 Likes.
  • I think there were some very basic principles for social media at work here – people Like pictures of cute babies, people Like videos more than they like photos.
  • There was also an oppositional thing that might’ve happened – my take is that people don’t tend to like too many posts from one person, especially on one topic, and people are also reluctant to be too indiscriminate with their Likes, especially for things that don’t directly affect/impact/reach them eg. things like “Other People’s Contest Requests” (perhaps one step above “Invites To Play Candy Crush” on the Facebook Like hierarchy.)  It’s not that we “lost” votes from people who were bugged by my bugging them and/or not likely to vote anyway.  But a different approach might have convinced them to vote in a way that a frequent stream of cute baby photos and appeals to their kind nature didn’t. (I even addressed this directly in one of my later posts aimed at the “late adopters/non-adopters” saying how I don’t like to be indiscriminate with my Likes either and rarely vote for contest appeals like this. But since I was essentially calling you out, would you mind doing it just this once?)
  • Like I said earlier, it’s not official but it’s looking like Shea might have ended up with the most Likes on her entry of anyone in the contest.  But win or lose, the main thing is that it’s been a fun, learning experience!

Friday Fun Link – The “Scare Mommy” Game

Sasha’s current favourite game evolved out of the unfortunate fact that she currently thinks the noise all animals make is “roar”.  “What does a kitty say?”  Roar!  “What does a horsie say?”  Roar!  “What does a froggie say?”  Roar!  And so on…

Since she liked roaring so much, I started acting scared when she did it and it turned into this…

The Falling Man: The Most Famous Image Most People Haven’t Seen

Originally published in 2011, an article about an infamous photo of a man in mid-flight after jumping from the World Trade Centre also raises some interesting points n how much our world has changed since 2001 and raises some questions on how it might have been different had a similar disaster occurred in 2014?  Would the man have tweeted his intention before jumping?  Would he have been “checked in” on FourSquare?  Could he have quickly video taped a farewell video for his family?  Would the photo itself have gone viral instead of being immediately quashed a day after being printed in newspapers across the country and still, to this day, scrubbed from popular consciousness for the most part?

Random Thoughts on #Apple’s Big Event Yesterday

Shea was home and planning to watch the livestream of the event but it was so crappy, we ended up having a nice family evening of watching the archive of the event after the kids went to bed.  Here’s some random thoughts (or if you want a more humourous take)…

  • The reason she’s so pumped is she has an iPhone 4 that’s slowed to a crawl after I upgraded to iOS7, not realising how much it would degrade performance on an older phone.
  • As expected/leaked, the first big announcement was two larger sized phones – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6Plus.  Shea will likely get the Plus as her phone has basically replaced her laptop for almost all computing needs and she doesn’t carry it in her pocket anyhow.
  • The option to get 128GB models is nice too and as a general rule, I always go with “Buy the highest storage option available” whether it’s for a desktop, laptop or mobile device so that’s likely what I’ll do when I replace my own iPhone 4S (though I might just get an iPhone 6 as the plus isn’t as practical for me.)
  • The iWatch announcement was again, something that had been predicted/leaked but still interesting to see Apple once again jump late into a new product category but with an eye to perfecting what has come before.  At the same time, I don’t think this marks the end of other smart watches including the Pebble I have on my wrist.  They’re almost completely different products – the iWatch is like a Ferrari and the Pebble is like a Pinto.  Interesting to read the reaction over at /r/pebble
  • U2 giving away their newest album for free to 500 million iTunes customers (although it wasn’t quite as easy as “It’s in your iTunes right now!” that they announced.  I had to go to my account, find the Purchased tab then click on “Download Albums Not on This Device” or something – possibly because I downloaded to my iPad first) was either a really disruptive move or a final nail in the coffin of the traditional music industry.  (The biggest band in the world giving their album away for free – or at least via a nice payment from Apple rather than $10 per disc/digital album from the end user – makes me think the latter is closer to the truth.)
  • The announcement of Apple Pay is getting perhaps the least attention of all that was announced but may actually be the single most important factor in taking Apple to another level as a company.
  • Glad I bought the kids some Apple stock earlier this year!
      I hope I’m proven to be right with my decision to buy the kids some Apple stock earlier this year!

Help My Wife Win A Contest While Promoting Breastfeeding Awareness for #yqr

Shea’s currently involved in a contest on Facebook where the top vote getters will receive free photo shoots and then be featured in a calendar promoting breastfeeding awareness and raising funds for a badly needed breast milk depot for Regina.

If you want to help her out, click on this link and Like the photo of Shea and Sasha.

To help her out, I’ve been posting a cute picture of Sasha on my Facebook page for every 25 Likes the photo gets.  She’s currently at 90 Likes and I’ve said that if we reach 100, I’ll even post a really cute and funny video of Shea and Sasha playing so if you haven’t already, go vote!