What Keeps Me Up At Night.

Just back from a short road trip to Toronto and I must say, I’ve got serious trouble sleeping. It is the time zone change you ask ? No. Is high strees from all the work ? No. It is too many ideas cramming my tiny brain ? No. It’s an owl.

Audio proof. Tomorrow, on the BigSnit podCast.

Feline Domain?

ozzie wants his own domain

The pet owners will be lining up in droves for this one. The newest domain to get the go ahead is .cat – this from ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It’s meant for “individuals, organizations and companies that promote the Catalan language” but like the .tv domain, watch it get picked up for all sorts of other uses. I’m betting cool.cat and hep.cat will go fast. Our cat’s already pestering me for his, but Ozzie’s going to have to wait.

At the same time, ICANN deferred again the idea of creating the .xxx domain for porn sites, despite some logical arguments that having their own domain would help clean up other parts of the name space.

Node Thy Neighbour

The Neighbornode gives your home wireless network a job as the local welcome wagon. Its a great idea, particularly for high density areas. Here’s the pitch from the nodesters…

These nodes transmit signal for around 300 feet, so everyone within that range has access to the board and can read and post to it. This means that with a Neighbornode you can broadcast a message to roughly everyone whose apartment window is within 300 feet of yours (and has line of sight), and they can broadcast messages back to you. Boards are only accessible from computers that go through the local node.

Right now the nodes are set up to run off a Linksys wireless router. Can blind-node-dating by far behind ? More info at neighbornode.net/index.html

New Music Site from Vancouver.

Project Opus launches
This has got a lot of promise. A new music site slid onto the scene in the last couple of days. Project Opus looks like it’s going to be hot.

project opus web site

It’s early days yet and they’re working out a few small bugs. Why do you suppose the best music sites come out of Vancouver ?

Would you like a book of those ?
I can see all my Christmas spending going to one place. Qoop‘s got a short but sweet hook – Digital to Print, all from your browser.

qoop web site If you’re using Flickr for your photos (who isn’t ?) with a few quick clicks you’ve got a printed book on the way. Do you think they’ll gift wrap ?

My Dose of International News
It’s a bit addictive. Wi-FiTV.com offers up a few hundred sites from a dozen or so countries. Nothing really new there, but the site works well and even though the odd stream doesn’t show, who cares – there’s tons to select from.

wi fi tv logo

I’m still not watching TV if I’m watching on the Internet, right ?

Cell Phone Number Portability – Gotta Have It.

Richard Branson has taken out a full page ad regarding cell phone number portability in Canada. This one’s in the Globe – not sure where else it ran.

virgin ad, click for a larger version
click for a large version

or grab a pdf version here.

At issue is the ability to keep your cell phone number when you switch carriers. For most of us, keeping a number is important. But, as Branson’s ad points out, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association has recently released a plan that will only see number portability available in Canada in late 2007. Huh? 2007 ?

We’ve had limited number portability for land lines – I moved my Telus landline number to a mobile carrier. But that’s it – do that once and you’re done. And don’t even think about moving a cell number. Not in Canada. The CWTA is also the same group that makes getting a short code (for texting) in Canada some kind of medieval ritual.

In the US, you can get a short code just like registering an URL at http://www.usshortcodes.com/ it’s not cheap – 1,000 USD for a number you pick, 500 USD for a randomly assigned short code. Not so in Canada.

In the full page ad in the Globe, Branson points out that in every other country in which they operate, number portability increases competition. In Canada’s phone business, the ‘c’ word is a dirty word.

Branson’s ad says its not too late to light a fire under these guys. How? Speak up if you want number portability.

Email mynumberismobile@virginmobile.ca .

The mail link will get you started, just add what you want to the message.

And pass this page along to your friends – here’s the permalink to this page: http://blog.bigsnit.com/index.php/2005/09/14/51.

Quick takes on what's hot today.

KK at the podCast hotel.
Kris Krug, one of Vancouver’s web 2.0 advocates has an excellent report on the podCast Hotel in Portland. I’m ticked I couldn’t be there, but look for more of these kinds of events to pop up. If you’ve got one planned, let me know.

Now That’s What I Call a Mobile Community.
Vancouver’s AirG has been quietly making it big in mobile communities. They just hit the 5 million mark – that’s some community. Wait a minute ! That’s some audience.

Nokia Eating Blackberries for Lunch?
Well, it’s worth a try I guess. Nokia wants to put corporate email on every cell phone. Take your pick of reports:
Reuters, InfoWorld, or Yahoo.

Global Turtle Positioning System?
Turtles in the deep sea. Where do they go ? Story Here. Turtle’s location here.

Just a quick note on the heading here. In the news business, a ‘kicker’ is one of those cute, funny stories at the end of the newscast. You know, when the TV anchor, or radio reader, changes his/her voice to all soft and cuddly, with a barely perceptible smile and says…” and finally tonite…” That’s a kicker. Here’s mine:

…And Finally (smile) the food inspection folks at HK Disneyland are scaring the customers. It’s something about those masks they’re wearing. Now I ask you – this is more scary than a person in a giant fluffy cartoon animal outfit ?

Catching up on the CBC Lockout

Those Rotten Managers?
Despite what the locked-out bloggers are saying, CBC management isn’t the evil empire.

They’re doing the right thing in regards to Vancouver R3 contractor Alexis Mazurin. Alexis was at Burning Man last week when he suffered a massive heart attack. Since then, he’s been in a coma in a Reno, Nevada hospital, and his family has been racking up hotel and travel bills while there taking care of him. Today, in an email distribution, R3’s manager Steve Pratt says:

“I wanted to let you all know that Krista Harris [CBC radio director of operations]has talked to both Alexis’ mother and his sister, Nathalie, on the phone. Krista let them know that CBC will be covering all of the family’s travel and accommodation costs.

As far as bringing Alexis back to Vancouver, we have assurances that he will not be moved until the doctors there say he is ready. And all medical expenses will be covered as long as he is there.”

Of course this is the right thing to do, regardless of whether Alexis is permanent staff or not (he’s not).

The Gem Gets Gutted.
The CBC usage police must be squirming. CBCers out on the picket line have been wreaking havoc with the CBC Gem – that’s the official name of the corporation’s logo. It’s also their registered mark, and as such, is protected by copyright. CBC lawyers are usually pretty quick to send cease and desist orders to anyone futzing with it, and under normal circumstances employees aren’t allowed to shave a whisker off the old Gem. Interesting no-one is saying squat about the unholy concoctions being created to adorn picket signs across the country.

Locked out podCasts? Oksurefinebye.
In the old days at CBC, before DNTO was even a glimmer in C. William Smith’s mind, there was a fine Saturday afternoon show called The Radio Show, hosted by Jack Farr. oksurefinebuy was Farr’s way of ending any conversation, no matter whether his guest was at the beginning, middle, or end of his story. A very handy device, for Jack.

In any event, reading the Toronto Star’s summary of the locked-out CBC podCasts brought it all back to me. Says the Star: Oh My Pod. Don’t Give Up Your Day Jobs, then goes on to eviscerate the podCasts posted by out of work CBCers. The review’s bad enough – but it begs the question. If these folks don’t actually have a day job to not give-up, what are they to do ? Oksurefinebye.

Satellite Radio Good to Go.

Despite heavy lobbying from some arts groups, as I had predicted, the federal cabinet will let stand the CRTC’s decision on satellite radio. This is good news for Sirius and XM of the US who now can roll out subscriptions and gear to Canadians. All that publicity around the pros-cons of the licenses put the services back in the mainstream press, which might actually help get them more subscribers out of the box. Get me an mini-dish for my iPod nano and I’m there.

The New Face of the CBC.

5 Things I’ve Been Meaning to Say.

1. At Large Media in Cambridge.
My business partner , Emma Payne, is off to the UK. She’s speaking in Cambridge on Thursday 15 Sept at the Cambridge Entertrise conference. If that isn’t sufficiently nifty, how’s this: she’s staying in a hotel that has a Moat.

2. Sorry, No Truth Today…

ad jobs not today thanks

3. Writers who Blog: New Medium or New Genre.
Meanwhile, also at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, this workshop on October 1st at Harbour Centre. I promised my pals at SFU I’d get the word out.

4. Wrangling the Bird.
More action on the satellite radio front today. A story today in the Globe and Mail about the latest group to jump in. I had a few things of my own to say right here last week.

5. The New Face of CBC.

mr. fournier

This happy guy is Guy Fournier. Guy’s 74 years old and loves to cook. This Guy is now the new chairman of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Maybe this Guy listens to the Radio 3 podCasts while he cooks. Then again, maybe not.

The CBC is embroiled in a labour dispute at the moment, having locked out 5500 of their employees August 15th. Many locked out employees hope this Guy will save the day. Then again, maybe not.

A Half-Baked Ization Theory.

A couple of days ago I was crooning about how much I like the PSP as a platform for, well, everything. The PSP just got released in Europe, and according to this story from BBC, it is the fastest selling game console EVER in the UK.

TV on your phone.

Let me confess. I don’t actually watch much TV. My consumption is usually prompted by a) an inability to sleep or b) some big news story. I actually like the medium, I just rarely find anything on that I want to watch. Despite my lack of excitement, putting media on devices people use and carry with them is just plain smart. Getting video clips on your phone has already rolled out in Canada, but the real play involves a lot more than what we’re getting now. Access to realtime broadcasts and multiple channels is going to put a huge amount of content into play, opening up some interesting niche programming opportunities.

quote from article

The word Mr. Lorbeck is looking for is mashup. This article in e-week is a bit of a promo-fest, but you get the idea of where things are going. Here in Canada, there are some clever companies developing interesting phone/tv mashups, including Exponentia here in Vancouver and Quickplay in Toronto (Mark Hyland, CBC’s former head of Broadband & Digital Services left last spring to join the latter). Even though I’m not likely to use my phone to watch Survivor, I probably would to find out what’s going on when there’s a story breaking. That’s because like most of us, I expect to get the information I want, when I want it, in the form I want it, on the device most handy to me.

This does leads me to wonder just how soon we’ll see the rise of the retro-cell.
“Hey Look what I got. It’s soooo retro. It’s a cell phone, and all it does is, um, PHONE. ”
“Awesome dude. But how does it work, and why would anyone want it ?”

Mashups and Izations…
Success isn’t about pushing TV content to the phones. Success will be some mashup; a sweet-spot that includes new screen technologies, and two important izations. They are: the iPodization of everything, and the googlization of information. Whoever comes up with a phone with a usable interface, that can scour databases for the latest video clips, and then give them to me on a screen I can actually see on the bus (or the street) on the way to work – well, now we’re talking.

Which takes me back to the PSP. Sure it’s a game platform. But check the racks at your local Future Shop. You’ll find more movies for the PSP than you’ll find games. And that’s not just because it’s faster to port a movie to the PSP than it is to port a game (which it is). It’s also because it’s a great screen on a portable device. In that same Future Shop you’ll find a wasteland of portable DVD players going for way cheaper than the PSP; you’ll find them in the bargain bin. That’s because Sony has found the sweet spot, a mashup of DVDization (the movies) and iPodization (portability).

Playstation Portable Browsing

Today’s blog comes with a companion podcast. Get it here

If you love it so much you should marry it !
psp with browser

My love affair with my Play Station Portable made another leap this week. The PSP is an awesome game device, and its screen makes watching movies a treat. The built in wireless to date has been unexciting, since all it did was check for software updates.

That was until this week. All that changed with Sony’s latest software update, which includes control over the desktop theme, support for more types of audio, image and video files, and best of all, a web browser. Oh baby.

Entering URL’s is a bit of a pain, but a few customized link pages will solve that – and it stores favourites just like your desktop browser.

For months now I’ve been raving about the video quality on this device, and being able to load up demo reels for clients is a real asset. Since it will play still images in a slide show mode, I’ve even converted a few of my powerpoint presentations to play on the PSP’s wide screen. Say it with me now, Oh Baby.

This week also marked the release of the PSP in Europe, look for lots of PSP innovation in the months heading into the Christmas rush. Now if Sony would just open up the market on the clamshell disc so we could record movies on them instead of memory sticks – we’d all be screaming Oh Baby.

The news just takes itself too damn seriously.
(with apologies to my friend Anton)

Who needs CBC comedy shows when we’ve got the daily papers. Two stories in today’s Vancouver Sun, apparently completely unrelated. Hmmmm ?

dread work

And taking things a bit too seriously…

The lockout at CBC seems to be frying some brain cells. Quirks and Quarks producer Jim Handman claimed in a letter to the editor that his team created podcasting to CBC. This was in reply to an earlier article quoting a manager who made reference to new technologies, like podcasting, and how they are changing the landscape at CBC, and how it is important for CBC to keep up to these rapid changes. Jim’s rebutal was super cutting, saying how his team of STAFF employees (not contract employees) came up with this [podcasting] innovation. It’s a nice argument, but it’s incorrect.

Back in the mid-nineties, we had gigabytes of audio available for download. This was for our show RealTime, which was live in real time, across Canada and around the world on the Internet. Produced at CBC Vancouver (by a bunch of contract employees, not that it really matters) we had an impressive archive of material available, until CBC got nervous about downloading and told us to remove the files. Joe Lawlor at CBC Toronto was also doing the same. As everyone knows, podcasting is just another form of downloading files; after all it’s an RSS attachment of an mp3 file. So Jim, it’s terrific you guys are doing it, but sorry dude, you didn’t start it, not by a long shot.