Brits are Big Time Boozers

First they set outstanding records for SMS use. Now this:

inquote Alcohol-related illness in England has soared over the past 10 years, an analysis of medical data showed on Friday.Hospital admissions for alcoholic liver disease more than doubled to 35,400 in 2004-5 from 14,400 in 1995-6, according to a report from the National Health Service.

Admissions for alcohol poisoning rose to 21,700 cases from 13,600 over the same period. goes here
full story here


And all this even before the World Cup.

One in five has a portable MP3 player

inquote One in five Americans over the age of 12 now own a portable digital music device, and one in 20 of those quizzed said they possessed more than one.
full story here

This new Ipsos Study makes it hard to refute the massive shift in media consumption going on around us.

With that many devices out there and the means of transmitting to those devices available to anyone with an Internet connection, you have to wonder just how many days are left for traditional linear ‘real time’ broadcasters.

The study does give radio some hope though, lots of those polled say they’d like a satellite radio or FM receiver in their MP3 player.

Stay Cool, Save Money

This story about Google and their rejection of high end servers, all the while saving money by making their own servers more energy efficient, is totally fascinating.

inquote Rather than waste the electricity and incur the additional costs for cooling, Google has power supplies specially made that are 90 percent efficient…One-third of the electricity running through a typical power supply leaks out as heat
full story here

This approach reminds me of the work Loc Dao did in our early days of putting CBC programs online. Loc used to always build his own servers, not to save on heat, but mostly because he found the brand names over priced and lacking the kind of goodies he wanted to see in our gear. He was right. His boxes kept us going at half the price of the brand name stuff, until we were forced by the IT folks to use the ‘standard’ stuff.

Clearly you need some smarts and lots of skill to go down this route, but it’s great to get a glimpse of how this can still be done at an enterprise the size of Google.

They Can't All Be Talking about Soccer, Can They?

If you think you’ve got a text-message-jones, you’ve got nothing on the average Brit.

inquote SMS-loving Brits sent a record-breaking 3.3bn text messages in May – representing a daily average of 106m or, by our reckoning, roughly 1.76 missives per day for every man, woman and child in the land.    
full story here

The Register article suggests with all the soccer hoopla, June’s SMS numbers might be even higher. 

Here in Canada, with telco’s collecting a dime on every message, that would translate into 33 million dollars in revenue.  

Cooking Up a Special Muffin

One of our clients has launched a Muffin Contest

If you’re good in the kitchen and you’ve got a fabulous muffin recipe, you could make your muffin famous.

Capers Community Markets is looking for a signature muffin to be part of their new store on Cambie Street.

And there are some great prizes for the winners.

Details here.

Personally, I like a hearty muffin first thing in the morning. When I was working an office job Eileen used to make these ‘meal in a muffin’ muffins that would keep me going all day.  I also like to decapitate them, eat the bottom first, then savour the head.  But that’s just me.


How to Kill the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Here’s a sure-fire way of killing off the CBC.

-Have them stop selling advertising on CBC Television.
Have them stop doing sports.

The recent suggestion that CBC TV do both those things is the quickest way to kill the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. And if CBC Radio thinks this isn’t about them, they’re dead wrong.

If you say “CBC” to most Canadians, their first reaction will be “Hockey Night in Canada”. There’s just no contest – that’s what the network is known for, and that’s what brings in the big numbers, consistently year by year. 4.7 million people watched the last Stanley Cup game on TV.

Hockey Night in Canada also brings in the big bucks. Now, CBC TV doesn’t survive on advertising alone, it’s only part of its budget – the rest comes from the government. And if anyone seriously thinks the government is going to toss the CBC an additional 400 million dollars to make up for lost ad revenue, they’re definitely inhaling.

It’s totally naïve to think that somehow we can create a pristine Public Broadcaster that doesn’t carry ads and doesn’t carry mainstream popular programming, like sports.

This isn’t the 40’s. Viewers have options, hundreds of channels. No one, and I mean no one, is going to watch programming that’s ‘good for them’ because it’s being created by their public broadcaster.

Whether you like sports or not, CBC is renowned for its excellent sports coverage. Hockey Night in Canada attracts the very best live television production crews on the planet.

The irony is that killing advertising on CBC TV equates to killing sports – they won’t be able to afford the rights to any sports without the ad revenue.

And here’s the dilemma for CBC Radio, a network that’s been advertising free for decades, and loves to lord it over their TV counterparts.

The survival of CBC as a whole is entirely dependent upon CBC Television. CBC TV is a mammoth part of the organization, and CBC Radio is totally dependent upon the mammoth infrastructure that surrounds it.

CBC Radio is a relatively small media player in this new converged world, but it leverages its association with the larger TV network to its advantage in many business critical ways:

-Goods and services costs – like research, public relations, technology.
-Brand recognition.
-Talent and talent agreements.
-Physical space – like prime office space and studios.
-International associations.
-Cross promotion – most CBC Radio ads are carried on CBC TV for free.

So while The Friends of Public Broadcasting are busy lambasting CBC TV about bumping The National once a week (in some times zones) for a new US TV show, they should be focusing on the real threat to CBC – relevance in a competitive marketplace.

Of course, CBC doesn’t help itself much. The timing of the announcement regarding the bump to the The National is a classic communications blunder. And bragging in the Toronto Star about how they’ve got new media all figured out doesn’t help their credibility any. Particularly when they whine about never having enough money but in the same breath mention they have 160 staff working on their web site, and take the time to ridicule one of their own, a former Vice President who actually pushed new media to the fore at CBC.

Is CBC TV having trouble? Sure. Every ‘traditional’ media organization in the world is having trouble in this fast paced, technology-volatile world. Have they got new media figured out? Not by a long shot.

But the biggest threat CBC faces by far is the idea of axing one of its main sources of revenue, and killing its most popular programming.

Crazy prices

Ok. This is totally not important.


It pisses me off. 

I was out buying AC extension cords today.  I couldn’t believe the range in prices for the EXACT same 16 gauge electrical cord.  I went to three different stores on the North Shore – the highest was over 18 dollars (Rona) to 12 dollars (Home Depot) and finally, 9 dollars at Sears 

That’s some price range for a few metres of 3 strand wire. You can guess where I won’t be shopping anytime soon.


Two Jessie Awards for How I Learned to Drive

We’re very excited and a lot humbled.

How I Learned to Drive, the play we produced last year at Performance Works on Granville Island picked up two Jessie Richardson awards last night in Vancouver.  Both in the ‘small theatre’ category.

Allan Morgan got the award for outstanding performance by an actor in a lead role, and Eileen Barrett won for outstanding performance by an actress in a lead role.

Four years ago when Eileen read Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize winning play How I Learned to Drive, she couldn’t understand why it had never been done in Vancouver. Our answer was, “lets do it” and so began a wonderful experience with some of the city’s best actors, director, lighting designers and stage managers. 

It’s a real tribute to the acting community in Vancouver that this kind of self-funded theatre can still be done, and done to critical acclaim. 

Everyone's a Broadcaster

New forms of broadcast, and new business models for these new forms, are showing up faster and faster. Steve Rubel spotted this high def show out of Argentina…

inquote It’s recorded, edited, and distributed in the full resolution of the 1080i HD standard. More importantly, because of its size the show is distributed on BitTorrent. The content can be viewed on a PC, HDTV, or a video iPod.
full story here

Even the big record companies are trying their hand by creating their own web broadcast outlets…

inquote the record labels might have a new business model for music videos. Instead of giving them away for free to MTV as promotional vehicles in order to sell CDs, they can now be revenue vehicles as well (through advertising)
full story here

iPodish Friday

My niece is here from North Carolina and she’s sporting an iPod supplied by her university. She’s in a dance program and her and other ‘arty’ types get the iPods free for the year as they integrate music with their art.

There is absolutely no connection between that bit of info and this next bit. Or is there ?

inquote Technology surpassed beer drinking as the most “in” thing among U.S. undergraduate college students. According to USA Today and Student Monitor’s Lifestyle & Media Study, iPods are more “in” than beer across American college campuses.
full story here

This is a very sad state of affairs. And just when I’m thinking things are really going to crap, I see this story…

inquote A US firm has invented a new iPod accessory which combines the portable music player with a toilet roll holder.
full story here.

Clearly, things are well past the ‘gone too far’ stage.

Vistek knows great service

I’m so impressed with these guys.




I’ve bought stuff from a few times. Although I always prefer to buy from local suppliers, these guys have great prices and quick service.

10 days ago I bought a new camera from them.  They pay the shipping and it showed up a few days later as promised.  Fantastic. 

This morning, as I was looking for something online, I discovered that they just put the very same camera on sale, reducing it by 500 dollars. 

Wow, that’s a big difference.  I figured I’d get on the phone and see if I could get them to adjust my price, even though the deals been done.

Unlike a lot of online sales operations I’ve encountered, I was able to reach a sales person right away.  I explained the situation, and without even a pause, he said he was pretty sure he could offer the savings, but had to check with his boss.  A few minutes later, I got an email confirming that indeed they would give me the reduced price, and credit my account.  Just like that.

I’ll say it again.  Wow.

It doesn’t get much better than that, and they’ve got my business locked in, that’s for sure.