Web Site as a Graphic

This is by far the most fun I’ve had in days. This is a very cool applet that takes any web site url and turns it into a graphic.

Here’s what this blog looks like.

blog as grahic

And the dots represent:

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Scooping the bank, wireless cities and 8 other finds

Poaching the Big Boys…
How big is the mobile phone business ? Big enough to scoop one of the world’s top bankers.

World Follower…
Even though Canada is a world leader in broadband connectivity, it’s wired connectivity. In the US, citywide wi-fi is all the rage. New York is seeing some interesting development, and here for Philly and New Orleans.Meanwhile, in Canada, proceed at your own peril. Maybe we should just let Starbucks do it.

Stranger things have happened. The iPod seems to be saving the music industry. Maybe this is what will eventually drive citywide wi-fi.

Breaking story…
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Manitoba discovers a new “high-tech phone”. Wow, who knew ? You can use the Internet to call people.

Speaking of Manitoba…
Someone there should get onto these and make a bundle this summer.

Speaking of Canada…
Here’s what we’ll all be watching on TV next season.

If It Isn’t On Fire It’s a Software Problem…
LA’s most ambitious opera delayed due to computer. I guess it ain’t over until the FAT partition sings.

Broadcasters – Nervous Yet ?
Audio on the Internet grows by 50% from a year ago, and they aren’t listening to traditional radio stations online. Video on the Internet clocks 165% increase in 3 months.

Vinyl Never Dies, It Just Gets More Expensive…
When all we had were vinyl records, we longed for music that wasn’t filled with snap, crackle and pops. It’s been 25 years since the first CD players hit the consumer market. And still we’ve got vinyl envy.

Is this BC’s version of outsourcing ?
Why import 1600 keys of pot into the pot capital of Canada? The RCMP acknowledges that Mexican pot isn’t as potent as BC bud but “some people like domestic wines, and I guess some people like imported wines. There’s a market for this. That’s why it’s here.”

Five Nominations for How I Learned to Drive

Last year Eileen and I produced How I Learned to Drive at Performance Works on Granville Island.

Today, that production received an amazing five nominations for the Jessie Richardson Theatre awards.

The nominations are in the small theatre category and include:
(drum roll)

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role – Alan Morgan
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role – Eileen Barrett
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Kelly Metzger
Outstanding Direction – James Fagan Tait
Outstanding Production – Overdrive Productions

The web site for the production is online here.

This is an interesting example of how passion and people make things happen, not necessarily big budgets or access to cutting edge technology.

Overdrive Productions is the epitome of small theatre – it’s really just Eileen and I.  Our 2 boys ran the concession at the theatre, one of them had to stand on the cash box because he couldn’t see over the counter.  The actors and director and lighting designer all got involved because they were passionate about the script, and felt they could do it on a world-class level. Performance Works made it possible by partnering with us on the venue. Friends helped out on all sorts of levels, including helping put together the opening night goodies.

The production got rave reviews and it was gratifying to see critics acknowledge that good theatre can be done on small budgets. I’d like to personally thank everyone on the Jesse committee who nominated the production.

The awards will be announced June 19th at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver.

How to get into the Wall Street Journal

It would be great to think the Wall Street Journal picked up on some pithy comment or earth-shattering insight made here on bigsnit.com.

Turns out  my post about using a power washer to blast dandelions, and a neighbourhood friend, are my path to WSJ fame.

Here’s what happened.

Last weekend I noticed a ton of hits on the blog coming from the Wall Street Journal.  I don’t subscribe to their pay site, so I wasn’t able to follow the link back to see why I was suddenly getting all this traffic from WSJ.com 

Turns out my friend Keith Gardiner had commented on one of their articles about pesticide free lawn care, and suggested that “anything that gives a guy a chance to use his power-washer can’t be all bad” and tipping them to my post about blasting my front yard dandelions. They ran his comment and a link to my blog entry. 

See mom, this blogging thing isn’t a waste of time.

(actually, that’s a bit unfair.  My mom proudly tells everyone I have a ‘blob’)



New Screensaver – Flowers

I’ve been shooting a lot of flowers this year, mostly because the garden keeps popping up with surprises.

So, here’s a special Flowers Screensaver.  Native resolution is 1920 by 1200 but it will scale to your screen or multiple screens, and it has a number of options you can change.  The the .zip file here – it’s 16 meg.

flowers screen saver

Sorry – windows only.

Killer SMS application

When we worked on the Get Your Vote On campaign last year, one of the applications we developed with Exponentia was instant polling via SMS.

At a live event, we could use our web display on big screens to pose questions, and let those in the audience vote in real time using their cell phone.

Kevin Millsip from Check Your Head had a brilliant idea on how to get people interesting in taking part. He suggested the first poll question: “Should the guy next to you buy you a beer ?”

According to The Register, Virgin Mobile in the UK is on the same page:

inquote Virgin Mobile is offering its gig-going punters free beer and kebabs this summer as part of plans to be nice to its customers.Virgin Mobile punters attending certain youth-oriented events will be invited to text the word “beer” or “kebab” to a short code number. In return, they’ll receive a text containing a voucher for two free beers and a kebab. outquote

So, if we had it to do all over again, maybe the question would be:
“Should the Virgin next to you buy you a beer?”

Vidfest Gets Official Blogger

It’s official.

Despite some serious misadventure last year, the kind of antics that would deflate even the most brazen among us, PJ will not only be back, but will be the official VidFest 2006 blogger. It just goes to show you that this is a serious west coast party AND conference rolled into one.


PJ’s Vidfest blog is here.

Vidfest is here.


Pimped out iPod

This isn’t some cheezy accessory – this is a full-on hardware mod for the iPod from the fine folks at Red Wine Audio.

inquote We are very pleased to announce the first audiophile hardware modification to be offered for the Apple iPod… take the sound quality of the iPod to a level that is very competitive with high-end CD Players costing many times the price and lacking the features and benefits associated with a battery-powered, hard-drive based music source

Only available for the 4th gen iPod – mod cost is 199.00 USD plus shipping.

Wild Parties in Museums

There’s an joke you can adapt to fit just about any profession, but for some reason it works perfectly for jobs in radio.

It goes like this.

A guy runs into another guy at a party.

They do the usual introductions and chit-chat.

After about 10 minutes guy #1 says, “Hey, did you hear the one about the radio announcer at the pool party?”.

Guy #2 says, “hey, watch it, I am a radio announcer”.

Guy #1 says, “ok, I’ll go slow then”.

I was reminded of this gem after reading Scientific American’s story about a promotional event at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Not quite the WKRP Turkeys from a Helicopter bit, but equally stupid; a Martini party…

inquote When the event is dubbed Martini­fest–unlimited martinis for $30–the idea becomes even more questionable. Next, add a suspicious martini recipe, which included vodka and “drink mix”… the event was run by Clear Channel, the radio / billboard / concert-promoter giant, also working outside its area of expertise in an art museum. Finally, cram about 1,900 people into a space meant for about 1,400.. people threw up, passed out, were injured, got into altercations and climbed onto sculptures outquote

SA’s analysis of the dangers posed to artwork from the chemicals spewed by Martini and appy filled party-goers is sadly hilarious.

Maps, Wired Potato, A cure for a Shopping Jones, and more.

Just when I thought I had kicked my Google Earth habit, out comes Atlas.

atlas interface 

They’ve got a way cool interface and the ‘birds’ eye view’ feature is totally addictive interesting.

 atlas bird's eye view
Hopefully they’ll get more aerial detail of Canada up soon, but in the meantime, get a bird’s eye view of your favourite spots in the good ole USA.  Atlas.


You’ll need some music to go with your new Atlas addiction.  Check out Hype Machine, an audio blog aggregator that makes finding music super convenient.  These new services are starting to really make a difference in both finding new content and ease of use.

Plus Que Ça Change…

If sitting around watching tv makes you a couch potato, what does sitting around watching tv on the computer make you? Apparently, it makes you an animated potato…

inquote Time Warner Inc.’s AOL and Warner Bros. units are running their first campaign to promote In2TV, a broadband television network offering free on-demand TV shows over the Internet.An animated potato is the main creative hero. The point is simple: The regular “couch potato” watches TV from the sofa, while this animated potato sees In2TV through a wireless notebook computer…      

Read more and see a pic of the spud at dmnews


Shop Until You Drop

If you’ve got a taste for online shopping and just can’t get enough, here’s something for you.
The Scripp’s “Shop at Home Network” is selling its cable and online shopping network.

inquote …internet side of the business was growing, but not the cable side; the unit had e-commerce revenue of $57.1 million in 2005, up 30 percent from Internet Retailer-estimated sales of $44 million in 2004.         

Read the full story at Internet Retailer



Shaw Digital Phone lasts less than a week, Vonage stays.

Vonage gets to stay.

Less than a week ago I mentioned that I was going to try out Shaw’s new digital phone.

The verdict is in. And this service just isn’t ready for prime time.

Here’s why.

One of the key features of a telephone is that when people call you, they get through.

However, this hasn’t been the case.

My beta tester (my business partner) has grown weary of trying to call me on my ‘new’ phone only to get a message saying that there are no circuits available.

Now, if she was on the other side of the world, that might be ok, but she lives about 15 miles away as the crow flies. And this isn’t just one or two occurances. It’s been every day.

When calling out, people have complained about poor quality – certainly this happens with my Vonage phone as well – but Shaw has made a big deal about saying their Quality of Service is better.

Sorry Shaw.

Canadian Culture Non-Breaking News

Not one, but two days after Broadcaster magazine reported it in their online edition, CBC’s online arts site finally does a story on the cancellation of CBC TV’s ZeD.

It’s too bad they didn’t take the time to celebrate some of ZeD’s accomplishments.

Instead, they simply repeated the Canadian Media Guild’s take on the whole thing and grabbed whole chunks out of the union’s press release.

Here’s an example of the depth of the reporting:

From the Broadcaster story:

“This is another blow to the concept of public television,” says Lise Lareau, national president of the CMG. “In its quest for high ratings and commercial success, CBC management is abandoning the things that make public television special, like its ability to take risks, chart new courses for TV and other media, and reach audiences who are not well served on the rest of the 500-channel dial.”

From the CBC.CA’s story:

“This is another blow to the concept of public television,” Lise Lareau, national president of the CMG, said in a statement. On April 20, the CBC announced it would lay off 79 people involved in in-house production in Toronto. “In its quest for high ratings and commercial success, CBC management is abandoning the things that make public television special, like its ability to take risks, chart new courses for TV and other media, and reach audiences who are not well served on the rest of the 500-channel dial,” she said.

Meanwhile, the very same CBC arts web site has a huge piece on Mission Impossible III (including a Tom Cruise Quiz), and is all over this important Canadian cultural story:

The owners of New York hip-hop station “Hot 97” have filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against its landlords over an eviction notice.

Surely one of the self-proclaimed stewards of Canadian culture can do better.

Sexy and Fast Electric Car

While camping out with Cubs and Scouts at Camp Byng on the Sunshine Coast this weekend, some of us adults got engaged in a discussion about gas prices and our own personal choices about dealing with our gas guzzlers.

We didn’t come up with any brilliant solutions, other than (almost) universal agreement that what we’re doing now, driving internal combustion vehicles, has got to change to something better. The discussion centred around what.  We certainly didn’t come up with any insights.

Home now and back online, one of the first things I came across (thanks to Engadget) was this baby from Wrightspeed.

write speed

It’s an all-electric car that will blow the doors off anything on the road.  No hyperbole here – this thing will do zero to 60 in under 3 seconds. It covers a standing quarter mile in 11.5 seconds. If you know nothing about cars, all you need to know is this:  that is faster than just about any car made anywhere in the world.  All the speed comes with no noise & no shifting gears. Wrightspeed X-1 is good for 120 miles before it needs a recharge.

The point is, alternative vehicles don’t have to be boring. 

I can’t think of anything better for cruising the streets of the Lower Mainland. Well, ok, it might be a bit of a challenge bringing home that big bag of groceries from Capers, but I’ll be home FAST.

There are more great picsture of the Wrightspeed car at Flickr

Shaw Digital Phone vs. Vonage

[note: make sure you read the follow up article here

I’ve had a Vonage VoIP line for a year now in my home/office. I’ve been really pleased with it much of the time and quite annoyed with it some of the time.

The biggest issue is quality of service and 1-800 numbers. The latter is totally annoying – Vonage simply can’t seem to connect to many 1-800 numbers which means I have to use my home Telus line to make those calls.

Quality of service issues generally involve those nasty half-second delays, even on local calls, which really makes business conversations difficult. And frankly, sometimes the line just sounds like crap even when I’m calling across town.

On the other hand, Vonage has a great web interface to the phone features, being able to change call forwarding and other functions from the web site is vastly superior to doing it through a phone menu.

So, with some new options available, I figured it was time to give try something new.

Today Shaw installed my digital phone. I’ll use both services for a while and see if Shaw’s QOS is as good as they claim.

If my first call out is any indication, they may be coming back to pick up the gear real soon. When I asked my client if the phone quality sounded any better, he said ‘no’ and that in fact the line sounded like I was on a bad cell phone that was cutting out. Interestingly, he sounded fine to me – so we’ll see.

No web interface to the phone features from Shaw, so that sucks.

Also, be warned. The digital phone installer attaches a very big Motorola modem right to the wall where your phone jack lives. Shaw’s promotions for the digital phone make a big deal about not having to run wires, but they sure don’t say anything about the HUGE black box they attached to the wall near my phone jack. Dudes, this is progress ?

The big (and ugly) black box does come with it’s own built-in UPS, so if the AC power fails, it will keep running on its internal battery for up to 8 hours.

I’ll keep you posted on my comparison of the two services. Seems like the perfect opportunity for one of my famous pie charts.