Category Archives: latest

Anatomy of a Perfect Meeting


I spent over an hour getting there, but who’s complaining. That hour was all sailing time, dock to dock, as I popped over to Bowen Island for a quick lunch meeting.

The great thing about sailing Madsu to a meeting ? Madsu is also the conference centre.

Its all room with a view.

There was loads of room at the Bowen government dock where I tied up shortly after noon. A few minutes later I was met by Bowen’s own James Glave, author of Almost Green and owner of the Eco-Shed.

We had a great hour long meeting sitting in the sun in Madsu’s cockpit.


It was impossible to resist the steady breeze ,so the trip back took a bit longer. I just had to spend a bit of time tacking my way towards the Straight, all in the name of processing the topics discussed at the meeting, of course.

I did have to tuck a reef in the main and Madsu did a nice steady 5 knots to weather until the wind started to go lighter around 4, when I eased the sheets and reached my way back to Horseshoe Bay at a comfy 4.5 knots.

If every meeting could be like this one, I’d be booking a whole lot more of them…


biovia Website Launch


It’s been great working with the gang at biovia this spring.

Today we launched their new website…

biovia is a Vancouver-based wholesale distributor specializing in local + organic produce including fruit, vegetables, herbs, micro and leafy field greens and eggs. We deliver to the foodservice industry throughout the Vancouver, sea to sky corridor and Whistler regions. We place the highest priority on purchasing locally.

The idea is for the biovia team to manage the site themselves, so the site is built using WordPress as the CMS, with Slide Show Pro handling the flash banners on the home page.

This is the first phase of an on-going online project with biovia and I’m looking forward to seeing how things unfold. They’re the nicest people.

With any luck they’ll let me ride in the truck one day.

In A Mood


Sitting in Madsu’s cockpit patching a few small dents in the gelcoat on the cockpit lockers, I can’t help notice Howe Sound’s dramatic sky.

The day was a round-robin of sun, rain, thunder, and little squals.

Perfect really.

The patching I’m doing is really fixing old patches that have fallen apart. They aren’t big, maybe half the size of a dime. I can’t quite figure out how they were caused in the first place, a 30 year old boat has a lot of secrets to tell. Probably a dropped wrench or some other heavy tool. One or two of them look like they might have been from the boom, maybe dropping the main without the topping lift (my boom kicker avoids that altogether).

The wind’s howling again.

I’m wishing I was heading out instead of sitting here with a putty knife and sandpaper. I’ve got a couple of new jibs coming from Dave and Marcia at North Sails for this type of weather, and I console myself with the thought that it would be a rough ride today with my bagged out #2.

Patches done, I head up to the foredeck to soak up some of the late afternoon sun, the smell of salt water and sounds of the harbour surround me.

Perfect really.

The Best Thing You Can Do Today


It’s provincial election day in BC, and whether you find it all a big snore or are simply not thrilled with the process, today’s your opportunity to do something.

Get out and vote – it’s fast and easy and it’s actually kind of fun.  You’ll even get a sticker, and you can put it anywhere you like.

If you don’t know where to vote, here’s a where you can find out.  You can also find Elections BC on Facebook.

The polls are open until 8pm.

Mothers Day Sail


EB and I spent a fabulous day sailing Howe Sound – my rather lame mother’s day gift to her.

The sound was picture perfect, with some high thin overcast causing a slight ring around the sun.

There was a sweet inflow that had us humming at 5.5 to 6 knots to weather, with Madsu right in the slot the boat was made for, heeled between 15 and 20 degrees, the 150 genoa driving us to weather with a nice steady motion through the chop.

We beat for about an hour and a half or so, tacking to follow the wind shifts, with hardly any traffic.  Lots of harbour seals were popping up so the feeding must be good.

On the way back I ran dead downwind for quite a long time, my back to the pushpit and my feet up.  I was pretty close to nodding off, as it warmed up considerably as was ran wing on wing.  Great was to spend the day.

Screencast Videos created for BasicGov now on YouTube

I’ve just finished some video work for BasicGov, a really interesting Vancouver based company that’s addressing the needs of small and medium sized local government all over North America.
These folks are clever.

Using an SaaS (Software as a Service) model, they’re providing a package of admin and organizational tools to local governments.

Typically, these tools are only available through expensive enterprise software – and the little guys find themselves making do with patched together solutions for tracking things like building permits , code enforcement, or planning. BasicGov’s approach seems even more relevant given the current economy.

What these guys have done is distill the key services required and created a web-based solution. Their clients have no technology overhead to deal with, they pay on monthly subscription basis, so they can start without spending heaps of cash, and all they need in place is an internet connection and a browser.

The goal of this project was to provide a high-level overview of the suite of products – essentially an introduction to the concept of SaaS without ever using the acronym, and how these products help solve specific challenges faced by small governments.

BasicGov, wisely, is using YouTube as a key platform to distribute these videos.

It’s fitting, considering their own model.

Just like their own service, using YouTube allows them to get all the benefits of a large scale distribution platform, with zero overhead. The idea is to use the videos as an introduction to the services, not as a ‘how to’ per se – though we may do some of those later.

Creating the videos gave me an interesting insight into their product as well. The team sat down with me and walked though each of the 3 key modules. I took notes, but mostly I was just trying to get oriented. I’ve never worked in local government, so a lot of the details were new to me.

Often with this type of software, a casual observer (me) will find it difficult to retrace their way through the various functions. I was surprised when I logged on back at my office, and discovered I was able to work my way through all the pieces with ease. Which of course was one of the goals BasicGov laid out when they started.


We worked through an iterative process, using storyboards to identify key screens and copy.

I often use Final Draft A/V for this kind of thing, but in this case, I opted for Story Board Quick. I like being able to generate HTML and FLASH versions of the boards – I work virtually most of the time and it makes sharing the info with the client quick. I also strip out the copy and provide the client with a clean copy deck – often this is the easiest place for them to identify changes.

For screen capture, I knew I wanted something other than Camtasia. It’s not really a Mac or PC thing, I work with both (I do all my audio on PC). Given that I planned on editing on Final Cut at high resolution, I wanted something clean and lean that made it easy for me to get the screens I wanted, with the zoom factor I wanted, etc.

I opted for I Show U HD. It plays nice with Mac and was rock solid. It was a real bonus being able to select from a variety of resolutions and frame rates – I imported all my clips directly to FCP.

Through the process I created rough cuts for the client to review. These I provided to them in Flash Video – using Adobe’s CS4 media encoder. I was then able to load them up on a server for them to grab and review at their convenience. What this meant was that we were able to move through more iterations faster than would have been the case with ‘in person’ reviews.

Once we finalized the copy of flow, I created a ‘finished’ voice track to replace my working tracks. I record all my audio on a Sound Devices 702T through a 422 field mixer. Then I haul the audio into Adobe Audition for editing, and master with T-Racks 24, then haul the mastered files back into Final Cut.

Because BasicGov wanted to take advantage of YouTube’s HD options, everything was captured at 1280 x 720, and the YouTube versions, both regular and HD, looks great. You can see them here:

The team at BasicGov was a real delight to work with, and I hope we’ll do some more projects together soon.


(cross posted to

Sailing with a Porpoise


The boys and I had an awesome day sailing in Howe Sound.

The overcast sky occasionally spit out of a few drops, but we managed to avoid the real rain until we got back to the dock around 4pm, pure luck that one.

The wind was a steady inflow with some lovely gusts that put Madsu’s rail down a few times – I kept debating whether to reef the main as I’d already gone to a smaller jib, but the puffs didn’t materialize into anything. We kept a steady 5 knots to windward with maybe 3 other sailboats in sight the entire afternoon.

On the way back, while beam reaching, two Dall’s porpoises surfaced twice off the port beam while we were on starboard tack. They were tracking straight towards the beam, and I’m pretty sure they went straight under the boat. They’re always a thrill to see and I headed up hoping they’d come and ride the bow wave, but they went on their way and we didn’t see them again.

Just as we tied Madsu up in her slip at Sewell’s, the rain started, and we managed to pack up and head home before getting too wet (for once).


The Ducks Were Having None of It


I was stealthy, but to no avail.

I thought I’d sneak up and get some photos, and even though I was all silent-running-like, the ducks were on to me.

The day threatened to turn from grey to drizzle, but never did. Madsu hummed along on a steady outflow in Howe Sound.

It’s always a delight to balance the boat – then set the tiller extender into the lock box and head up to the foredeck while Madsu sails herself


Sitting on the foredeck, I’m quickly reminded that it’s April. The wind blowing down from the local mountains, through Howe Sound, is chilly. It’s not surprising considering how much snow is still up there. Even in the height of summer, the catabatic winds in Howe Sound can be cold. I’m in shorts but I wish I’d brought my toque.


The new rope clutches and deck organizers I installed have worked out even better than I’d hope for. The double Spinlock clutches fit the cabin top just right. (Oddly, even though they are doubles, the drill template that came with them was for a single – and useless)

I like their size and mechanism, and Steveston Marine gave me a better than advertised price on them after I did some comparison shopping online.



The line organizers were a bit of a struggle. Almost everything I looked at was much too big to fit just forward of the pop-top. I finally settled on some simple aluminum doubles from Barton. I made a bit of a mess with the sealant when I installed them, but I should be able to clean it up ok.


It may not be warm, but it’s not raining. BC’s got some mighty impressive shades of grey when the sun isn’t shining.

Madsu’s sailing herself nicely on a close reach.


It’s great to be out sailing again.

Even if I didn’t have much luck with the ducks.


Launch Into Spring

It’s a sure sign of spring. Madsu made the move from her off-season storage next to the house, to her salt-water moorage at Sewell’s in Horseshoe Bay.

She’s got an “I can see myself in this shine” buff on her fiberglass – it wasn’t nearly as much work this year as last – proof that buffing up the gelcoat is worth it if you do it every year. Catalina really put these boats together well – that’s 30 year old fiberglass shining like it just came out of the mold.


Before hauling the boat down to the marina, I gave the non-skid on the deck a work-over with our powerwasher, packed in all the interior cushions, loaded sails, safety gear, charts, and the most essential item – a coffee pot.

A rental F-150 truck, a few miles down the road later, MB and I step the mast in the Thunderbird Marina parking loft, and the next thing you know, Madsu’s on the lift. The guys in the yard at Thunderbird are totally awesome – I highly recommend them. Madsu looks rather elegant hanging out on the Travelift!

I gave Madsu’s steel swing keel a fresh coat of rust paint – I’m not using anti-fouling paint at all since the boat comes out yearly. You can see the large sacrificial anode bolted 2/3rds of the way forward on the keel.


With Madsu on the lift, you also get a really good idea of how little surface area is actually in the water – with her keel up like this, Madsu only draws about 2 feet.


We had some other things to do, so MB and I made haste for our moorage at Horseshoe Bay. I couldn’t help but notice the snowline on the North Shore mountains, and smiled knowing that while we were sailing, loads of folks were boarding and skiing just a few miles away.


An hour later and we were back at our dock – set for another season of sailing out of Sewell’s at Horseshoe Bay.


Much Ado About A Grumpy Old Guy


I really wonder what has happened to the world of pop culture when being annoying during a radio interview turns into a big deal.

I watched with amusement this week the absolute outrage over Billy Bob Thornton’s behaviour on a national radio show.

Sure he was childish and uncooperative, the host pissed him off and he made no effort to play nice.

Did he flip the finger ? Did he trash the studio ? Did he throw a chair ? Did he punch anyone out ? No.

He was, everyone seems to think, snarky and rude.


Having produced hundreds of interviews over the years, this is hardly an earth-shattering event. I can’t even begin to count the number of band interviews that were wash-outs, either because the band wasn’t interested in talking, or just thought the host was a dork. Sometimes we aired them just because, but usually, we just tossed them out. I’ve seen fire extinguishers thrown across the room, equipment knocked over, and more than a few worn-out and tired musicians storm out of studio mid-interview.

Petulance ?

That wouldn’t even warm up the tubes.

I don’t think it’s ok to be rude and uncooperative in an interview, but it happens. It’s not a big deal. After all, the music business should be high octane – bristling with echoes of its rebellious heritage. People living on the edge, staying up late, smoking.

Shit happens.

Given the choice between kiss ass, do as your told, smile at the idiot reading his lines across the microphone, and say, being a little snarky – I’ll take the latter any day.

Buffing with Aretha


Being able to trailer our sailboat Madsu is a tremendous advantage.

For one, she spends the stormy winter months parked next to our house, under a full Sumbrella cover.

But the real bonus comes in the spring, when it’s time to get the boat ready for another sailing season.

Now that my seasonal moorage at Horseshoe Bay is available again, spring time prep is just steps out the door.

Today Madsu got buff. With Aretha Franklin on the MP3 player, the hatches open and the sun shining, I spent the day buffing and polishing with a variety of 3M products.

Its such a delight to see the glimmer come back to the hull and cockpit and I find it amazing how 30 year old fiberglass can look brand new with a little elbow grease and rubbing compound.

In the next couple of days I’ll get the mast out of its winter home (hung under the roof overhand in our backyard), put the spreaders back in place, and load Madsu up for the short trip down to the water and a lift back into the salt chuck.

I did loads of work on the boat last spring, so I get a bit of a ‘buy’ this year – not much to do other than clean things up.

I spend a bit of time re-affixing the electrical conduit in the huge port locker, replaced the corroded connectors on the solar panel and attached a new sacrificial anode to the keel. Since all the cabin cushions spend the winter inside, they’re fresh as a daisy. I’ll give the inside of the cabin good cleaning and then we should be good to go. And not one bit of it feels like work.

Especially with Aretha helping out.

Seattle USA

We had a great time in Seattle over the weekend.

The show GB was in, That Night Follows Day was playing On the Boards at the Bennke Centre in Lower Queen Anne district.

I spent a lot of the weekend walking around, since the sun decided to make an appearance, and managed to get a few photos.


More snaps from Seattle in this set on Flickr.

We had lots of outstanding food and superb coffee – so thanks Seattle.

Snow For Days at North Shore Mountains

It was snowing heavily when we got to Cypress Mountain this morning.

EB has decided to join the rest of the family and has cast caution to the wind and decided to take a snowboard lesson.


So we hit the mountain shortly before 9am – she went off with Hamish the instructor (trust EB to find a Scot in the midst of all those Ausies, Kiwis and South Africans working on the mountain) and we hit the bunny hill so we could stay close and offer moral support.

Down low the snow was thick and heavy – and there was absolutely no-one there – just us making tracks and hooting and hollering when we went by EB learning how to side slip.

She seems to have liked it and looks like we might be adding a fourth to our seasons pass holders.

Incredible conditions – if you haven’t been up – you’re missing an incredible amount of snow . Given that its spring break, I was surprised there were so few people there today.


eb on her last trip down the bunny hill with Hamish encouraging her along. By 10:30 there were actually people on the lift (a class I think) !

20 Litres of Water/day ?

Friends of mine first told me about this project when they returned from doing some work with a school in Africa.

Since then, the Queen Victoria Elementary School on the east side has done an amazing job raising money to help dig a well for an African village

If you’re on Facebook you can find out more about their current challenge and join in. Or check the school’s water project web site.

On March 22nd we are challenging ourselves to limit our personal water consumption to ONLY 20 liters for the whole day, as we think about our sister school in Cheku, Tanzania while they dig 120 metres into the earth in hopes of finding water.

Our average daily water use is 330L per day.


Don’t Cry For Me CBC

I vowed, really I did, not to publish any more articles about the CBC.

So, I’m cheating a bit, because this really is about the CBC, but via the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. (Who I also vowed not to write about, again, ever.)

But this is actually quite good.

Part of their campaign to sidetrack adverts on CBC Radio.

In return for breaking my vow, I have one request of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting — please let us know just how many hits on the video file you get from inside the CBC.

Ads on CBC Radio? Mouth of Gold – FCB from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting on Vimeo.

Heritage In Your Backyard


We had a great time tonight at the Handsworth School Heritage Fair in North Vancouver.

Students showed off the displays they created to illustrate dozens of important events and people, all part of Canada’s heritage.


As you might expect, there were displays on historical events like Canada’s role in World War II & the underground railroad. Also, important Canadian personalities like Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas – and – Geddy Lee.

I was thrilled to see a few bits of local history get their due.

One student showcased North Shore boy Bryan Adams, and included a model stage complete with guitars and PA stacks.


Just around the corner was a display that would make Dangerous Dan proud, celebrating world-renowned North Shore trail riding (complete with the student’s own Banshee parked in front of the display).


It’s great to see teachers encouraging this kind of thing, recognizing that history makers don’t have to be ancient, and could just as well be walking up the street in Edgemont Village.

Life Needs Error Reporting

I’m convinced that, like those buttons at the cross-walk, error reporting when your software misbehaves is simply there to make you feel better. Pressing the walk button at the light doesn’t really do anything, other than giving YOU something to do.

And all those error reports you’ve been sending to Redmond ?

Given the placating nature of these devices, I think we could all use something similar in life.

Some benign, easy to maintain error reporting. Bug tracking from birth.

How hard could it be ?

I can think of quite a few times when simply rebooting my day would have been the most productive thing to do. We already have a perfectly fine example of how this would work.

Oh, and if I do decide to restart my day ?

Please, please, make sure to lose the information I was working on.



Flickr Uploads Gone Wild

I wonder what’s going on with Flickr.

Up until a couple of days ago, it was pretty normal to see 4,000 to 5,000 photo uploads a minute, according to the Flickr  Most Recent Uploads page.  In the evenings, Pacific time, these numbers would be a little lower, usually between 2500-3500 per minute.

Last night, I noticed the numbers were in the 24,000 to 30,000 photos per minute range !

And today, they’re in the 45,000 photos per minute range.

Either there’s been some kind of massive (by a factor of 10) sudden increase in usage – or Flickr’s number is  now based on something completely different.

Anyone have any insights ?


Vivaldi Never Lived in BC

Even though I’ve lived in the Lower Mainland since 1987, I’ve just now figured out the seasons.

What was throwing me off is that they aren’t distinct, discreet seasons like elsewhere in the country.

They’re mellow, they over-lap, and there are some wildcards.

Today, in a moment of clarity like I’ve never had before, it all came to me.

The seasons here go like this:

  • Mostly Snowboarding
  • Mostly Gardening
  • Mostly Sailing

Oh, we also have a season called Hawaii.

To help keep it all clear, I’ve put together a little chart – click for a larger version – print it up and stick in on the bulletin board.


cross posted to