Category Archives: Media

Howe Sound Perfection

I’m really liking having Madsu moored at Sewell’s in Horseshoe Bay. The downside is that the slip is tight and there’s ferry wash, but its not really a big deal. An extra spring line seems to be handling the turbulent wash all right, and a tight slip is just good practice.

The great thing is that the docks are buzzing with activity. Sewell’s is famous for its power boat rentals, but they also run Sea Safari Zodiak eco tours and I love seeing the participants waddling down the dock in their red cruiser suits ready for a zoom around the Sound. The dock staff are young and friendly (and cute) and there’s a constant stream of tourists checking out the boats.

I had 2 different couples, also with boats on the finger I’m on, come over and introduce themselves in the short time I spent getting Madsu set for a sail. There’s a scuba boat just up the dock that picks up and drops off on a regular basis. Sewell’s also have a boat launch which is surprisingly busy, both with launches and recoveries, but also is used for small barges hauling all sorts of things.

As much as I love the hubbub dockside, the trip out under power is super short – just a few minutes and I’m under sail is marvelous Howe Sound.

I had a spirited sail over to Bowen – Madsu’s never been so speedy thanks to new sails from North Sails. I popped a reef in part way across and still managed to hit 7 knots in the puffs. It was a classic inflow and with very little chop, it was an awesome sail over. After the outbound Bowen Ferry left Snug Cove, I tacked over and played in the puffs for a few hours.

And those new Andersen self-tailers I installed ? Worth Every Penny.

Go Figure

  • Oil prices had their biggest gains ever on Friday, jumping nearly $11 to a new record above $138 a barrel according to the International Herald Tribune . Here in Vancouver gas is around 1.40 a litre and isn’t planning on going anywhere but up. Meanwhile, GM’s closing a truck plant in Oshawa, despite the fact the plant was the pilot site to build a new hybrid truck for GM . CAW boss Buzz Hargrove, on CBC’s As It Happens, says GM told him they’ll only be able to sell 3 or 4 thousand new hybrid trucks a year, so they’ll built them in Mexico.
  • Syphoning gas, popular when I was a teenager, is back.
  • CBC declines to renew the Hockey Night in Canada theme, launches contest in partnership with Nettwerk to find new theme.
  • Ed McMahon can’t afford to pay his mortgage – he’s behind $ 644,000 in mortgage payments and can’t seem to sell is 6.2 million dollar Beverly Hills mansion. Wife says they could have planned a bit better..
  • A new report says the Writers Guild of America strike pushed California into a recession and cost the state 2.1 billion dollars.
  • I guess the rabbits were right…pine bark is good for you.
  • Personal drug use may be unconstitutional in Argentina.
  • Meanwhile, civic leader in Port Coquitlam off meds and drunk, one way to make headlines.
  • Drivers in Cypress are being asked not to leave their cars while still in motion.

A River Runs Through It

There’s something magic about living in Vancouver, and it’s easy to forget what an amazing place this is.

This morning I got up and took transit from North Vancouver to Richmond. One transfer and an hour later, I was sitting on the deck of Madsu at Skyline Marina on the Fraser River in Richmond.

I spent the next few hours motoring down the North Arm of the Fraser – enjoying a completely different aspect of Vancouver – one you forget is there when sitting in city traffic.

By the time I was off the river and into English Bay the sun decided to show up – and my trip over to Howe Sound and Horseshoe Bay was a delight.

So many different aspects to the city in one short day. From sitting on a bus in rush hour traffic to watching a bald eagle feast on a salmon. Gotta love BC.

Guest blog post at Vidfest

I was asked if I’d do a guest blog post on the Vidfest site – the post is here.

I’m also moderating a session called Crowd Pleasers on crowd sourcing at Vidfest this year. That means I can’t see Eric McLuhan so I hope someone podcasts it. (OMG, our session is competing with MM’s son!)

Really looking forward to it and the rest of the festi-conference. It’s always sunny and hot during VidFest, and I figure that’s at least as accurate a weather forecast as we’ve had all year.

VidFest web site is here.

Madsu’s mast

With the boom primed and ready for topcoat, I’v opted to prep the mast so I can paint both spars together.

With the experience of working on the boom under my belt, things are going much quicker on the mast. Madsu’s stick is 25 feet 2 inches long.

After filling some old screw holes I sanded the entire mast down to bare metal. Tomorrow I’ll etch, condition and prime.

As with the boom, the hardest work was in getting the hardware off the mast. I was pretty luck and got most of the fittings off with little trouble. I did have to drill out 3 of the 9 screws used to fasten a 1 inch T-track on the forward end of the mast. You can see the corrosion on the machine screws in the photo below, as well as the remains of the screws I drilled out.

Madsu’s standing rigging is now taking a break – I guess it’s ‘sitting rigging’ for now.

I’m replacing the rope to wire halyards with all rope low stretch line. I’ve got a bit of work to do on the mast head fitting – there’s a new anchor light and windvane to attach, as well as swapping out the sheaves for the new halyards.

Super Smash March

Nintendo is once again making a huge impact on the game market. Their Wii platform is a huge success and so is their portable DS platform. Both are outselling Sony’s playstation and XBox 360 by more than 2 to 1.

Despite a slow economy in the US, game platform sales are booming. The latest figures from NPD Group show that with Wii and DS, Nintendo owns more than half the total platform sales market:

Nintendo’s riding a huge wave of popularity with the recent release of Super Smash Bros. I wrote about this a while ago – March sales figures show Super Smash Bros. Brawl selling 2.7 million copies in March alone. Ars Technica puts that into perspective:

Nintendo sold a copy of Super Smash Bros. to 31 percent of its US installed base in one month. Just when our expectations are set for what Nintendo can do in sales, the company comes up with a new way to blow away the competition. Nothing in software or hardware came close to touching what Nintendo did this month (full story)

Ars Technica also has a great article on how all the companies spin the numbers.

HSBC and MasterCard Battle Phishing with Phishing Technique

Here’s a little internet security quiz for you.

You’re planning a trip and are using the internet to reserve a lovely B&B in Scotland. You’ve filled out reservation information and now are going to use your credit card to pay.

You fill in your card number, expiry date, the 3 or 4 digit security number on the back/front of the card, your name, home address etc.

You press “SUBMIT”

After pressing submit, a window pops up, taking you to a different site, where you’re asked to fill in some of the same information you’ve just given, plus your date of birth.

You should:

a) cancel the transaction immediately
b) never put in the additional information being requested
c) copy down the address in the window and call your bank immediately
d) all of the above – you’re being phished.

If you answered a,b,c, or D, you’re correct.

Unless of course you have a Mastercard account.

Because, for some bizarre reason, this is exactly the technique Mastercard has begun using to try to bring ‘more security’ to your online transactions.

And it’s bound to fail miserably.

The scenario I described above is exactly what happened today. The popup looked like this:

Now, pop-ups are bad enough and always put me off.

But this one comes from a domain I don’t know (its not my bank or and it uses the same kind of language I always see in those spam emails. You know, “free service”, “get it now” to make things more secure – oh, and guess what – you can’t complete your transaction without doing so…

We immediately bailed on the transaction fearing we’d been phished.

In a way, we had been – except it wasn’t a bad guy – it was Mastercard

OMG. Whoever talked them into this new online security move apparently doesn’t actually use the internet.

To make matters worse, even if you were going to institute such a lame scheme, you’d think Mastercard would tell their customers via their monthly statement that this was coming. You know, a heads up ?

Didn’t happen.

After spending 20 minutes on the phone with our bank, HSBC, we were reassured that this is legit.

I should point out that if you go to you will be redirected to Mastercard. However, if you try the URL that was in the popup – a subdomain – you get a very un-Mastercard looking error screen (click it for a larger version)

This plan is doomed to fail. Mastercard’s new securecode system sends off alarm bells for even the most seasoned internet shopper.

Ironically, Mastercard may in fact reduce internet fraud by reducing internet transactions – their new system will cause people to cancel their transaction for fear they’re being duped.

Boarders Do It On Credit

You really have to wonder how the wheels can fall off to the point where our national athletes are paying their own way to events. It’s not like they’re NHL’ers rolling in money.

CBC today has the story of members of the national snowboarding team and how they’re struggling because of lack of a major sponsor…

Snowboarder Alexa Loo told CBC she racked up a credit card bill of more than $5,000 taking planes to races in Japan, Korea and Lake Placid, N.Y., during the season only to miss the final race in Italy because she couldn’t afford the airfare. full story

Surely some fine Canadian corporation would like to be associated with the coolest (and apparently poorest) athletes at the games.

Estimates Vary

Depending on who you believe, somewhere between 100 and 200 people gathered in Vancouver today to protest the axing of the CBC Radio Orchestra.

According to Colin Miles who posted a comment here

On very short notice about 200 people showed up. They included about 40 people who were either players in the orchestra, soloists who have recorded CDs with the orchestra or composers who have been broadcast and/or recorded bu the CBCR

Tod Maffin from InsidetheCBC blog posted some photos (copyright protected so I can’t post them here) on Flickr, including one of former CBC Vancouver regional manager and one time head of Radio Music Robert Sunter being interveiwed by Paul Grant.

Tod’s article at InsidetheCBC says 100 people were there when he was there about 15 minutes into the demo.

Meanwhile, CBC.CA says 150 people.

Proving once again that there is a reason people go into journalism:  accountancy is out.

(photos are copyright Tod Maffin and used with permission)

Is There (still) No Such Thing as Bad Publicity ?

CBC Radio 2 is swarming in publicity, or so it would seem.

Newspapers are writing stories, bloggers are blogging, readers are commenting, and even the VP of CBC English Media is using the internet to give his side of the story.

If you don’t work at CBC or listen to Radio 2, you probably have NO IDEA what’s going on.

Here’s the skinny.

People are pissed about what’s happening to classical music on the network (that’s Radio 2) and more recently, the axing of the CBC Radio Orchestra.

Apparently there are thousands and thousands of Facebook members who’ve joined groups to show how pissed they are at the changes.

This blog fight over classical music is also getting ugly.

InsidetheCBC, the official blog of the corporation, has pointed out that some of those Facebook members may not be real. The CBC is an organization that prides itself on its journalistic standards, yet in this case, it conveniently leaves the investigative reporting of “phantom posters” up to another blogger…

Justin Beach from the great web site has done a bit of detective work and discovered that some of the most prolific protesters inside CBC groups may not, in fact, exist

OMG – people pretending to be someone they aren’t on the internet ! How can this be ? ( I wonder if he checked out all 10,000 plus members – some of them look pretty hot )

Meanwhile, the arrows are flying back at InsidetheCBC over the corp’s comment policy. Now that CBC is instituting a 7 day window for comments, that shouldn’t continue to be a problem.

All this fuss over classical music ?

I should tell you that I created and produced my share of shows on Radio 2. And you know, all of them were the dreaded pop music shows.

There was a music magazine show called The Beat that we created and produced here in Vancouver that aired on what was then called CBC Stereo.

That was followed by RealTime, another pop music show, live to all time zones, that aired on Saturday nights. We played tons of indy music and recorded all sorts of bands across Canada. Actually, to be accurate, if there was an indy band in Canada that so much as had a recording, we played it.

When we first started Radio 3 in early 2000, we also produced over 30 hours a week of pop music shows on Radio 2. So, this idea that pop music has never been represented on Radio 2 is a bit of revisionist history.

In fact, the people who are making the changes now to Radio 2 are the same people who pulled Radio 3’s pop music shows off the network in the first place. But I digress.

Back in the RealTime days (mid 90’s) and during the advent of Radio 3 (early 2000’s) we would have done anything for this kind of publicity. Goodness knows we tried.

We recorded scores of bands at festivals across the country every year, we said bad words on the air (just ask the bad boy from West Van Grant Lawrence, who used to love to drop the F bomb whenever we would interview him on the road).

We won tons of international awards for our web sites – even CBC’s own PR department refused to tell anyone about them – apparently winning too many awards is not good form (or maybe there’s such a thing as too much good publicity).

We even got our shows canceled. More than once I might point out.

And still, bubkis.

Ok, that’s not true, I think once the Toronto Sun mocked us for thinking we could make CBC ‘cool’. But compared to what’s going on this week, bubkis, bubkis, bubkis.

So, I have to admire the notion that a media storm has developed over the changes to Radio 2, and over the indelicate evisceration of the venerable CBC Radio Orchestra.

It’s a publicity bonanza.

Radio ratings should go through the roof.

But when I look a little deeper, I’m not entirely sure this is exactly the Perfect Storm of a publicist’s wet dreams.

cbc adThe mainstream papers seem to have picked up the orchestra cancellation story, but they aren’t going much deeper than that.

A quick search at the Globe and Mail turns up only a couple of stories (behind a pay wall).

The National Post, a paper that loves to mock the CBC, seems totally disinterested.

And citizen journalism sites like Orato and NowPublic, both based in Vancouver, have no coverage to speak of. So it would appear that citizen journalists could care less.

Maybe the Perfect Publicity Storm is just a little squall.

Maybe the CBC didn’t need to drop a bundle on full page ads in the Globe. It would have saved them the embarrassment of putting non-classical musicians in the unenviable position of trash talking their classical counterparts. Like that’s a good idea. (click the image for a larger version courtesy

More likely, it’s only a Perfect Storm inside the CBC itself. As my former CBC boss and mentor used to say “they do love to drink their own bathwater”. Swell image that.

We’ll see how a planned ‘protest that isn’t a protest‘ goes on Tuesday outside CBC Vancouver.

My guess is that this will all blow over pretty quickly.

By the time Radio 2’s new schedule launches in the fall, the whole thing will have been forgotten. The blogosphere will have discovered something new to be upset about, and he Facebook phantoms will have tired of poking one another (even though some of them are pretty hot).

Jennifer McGuire, the woman who runs radio now, will be well out of the picture, and in her new job running news, so there won’t even be anyone left to blame.

And sleepy old Radio 2 will go back to obscurity.

CBC's Lesson in Spin – How to Kill 70 Years of Tradition – Just Keep Smiling

spin.jpg If you missed the interview on CBC Radio this afternoon about the axing of the CBC Radio Orchestra, you missed a classic example of spin on steroids. 70 years of history is being disbanded, yet hearing the two managers tell it, it’s a good thing, and will mean 3 times more recordings.

How killing an award winning orchestra can be spun as good for the music community in Vancouver could only come from the lips of two CBC executives who live in Toronto.

At one point, apparently forgetting this wasn’t a training exercise, exec Jennifer McGuire fell into spin-training-speak and said “the Radio two story is a good story“. (This from the same people who recently suggested that canceling shows produced in Vancouver was somehow a net gain for British Columbia. Clearly they’re working with different math than rest of us). I’m sure Jennifer’s laughter and in-joke about people not liking change made the musicians feel wonderful.

And Mark Steinmetz pulled the classic “I love classical music” in response to clearly pre-arranged, soft-ball questions about the impact of axing the orchestra and killing various popular CBC Radio 2 shows. It was one of those horribly embarrassing “Gee, some of my best friends are ______” comments.

The reality of this move is that it will cause irrevocable harm to the classical music community in Vancouver.

Here’s why: less money being spent hiring musicians means fewer musicians will be around to play. Here’s the bullet point missing from the CBC powerpoint – professional musicians have to earn a living. When you’re a classical musician, the opportunities for employment are exceedingly limited – last I looked the local pub up the road didn’t have a string section, and there’s no new game coming out for the Wii called CELLO HERO II.

Steinmetz must have missed some of the spin training sessions because at one point he said “ask any orchestra manager in the country how expensive it is” to keep an orchestra going. Hmmm, and how will pulling the money spent on the orchestra help that situation ? In the next breath he went on to say how CBC didn’t need to keep funding the orchestra since the scene is healthy and thriving with over 30 orchestras across the country. Huh ?

If you want to see what people think of some of the recent changes, check out the almost 100 people (96 as of 5:30 pm on 25th March) who’ve commented at on the demise of Sound Advice. All but one express their disappointment as CBC’s latest moves with the radio service.

We’ll see what happens when InsidetheCBC gets around to “breaking” the news of the orchestra’s demise with comments now that has posted the story.

It’s no wonder Moses Znaimer is mowing CBC’s grass in the Toronto radio market – he actually pays attention to his audience.

—- Here’s the CBC coverage on CBC.CA

—— Here’s a guy oozing with charm. CBC PR person in an article in the Globe and Mail:

Basically the orchestra was currently doing like eight concerts a year and for the money that we’re spending, we can’t afford to do that to get just eight concerts a year.


I have no idea where EB got the expression, but she’s been using it for years.

Pig-on-Pork is worse than excess – its excessive excess.

Example: putting whipped cream on ice-cream would be Pig-on-Pork.

This article in Broadcaster Magazine about the recent CRTC hearings in Vancouver has a fine example…

One area that did seem to win consensus from many of the private broadcasters was the controversial nature of the CBC’s presentation. They were seeking the 104.1 FM frequency for use in Nanaimo and wanted the commission to reject all of the other applicants on the grounds that Vancouver didn’t need another music format. They also repeatedly discussed the urgent need for CBU-AM690 to flip to FM despite being the current #2 station in terms A 12+ hours tuned. Moreover some of the evidence presented was highly suspect. In all, the CBC wants to use 3 of the last frequencies in BC, despite the fact that it already has more than 20 transmitters on the air in the region.

The New Rock Stars and the Demise of Civil Society

The lights went on for me while standing in a long line with my two sons a few weeks ago.

Video games are the new rock stars.

We were standing outside a tiny game store in North Vancouver, hours before the mall opened, to pick up the newest Super Smash Bros game for Wii.

The lineup wasn’t for the chance to buy the game – my oldest son had pre-ordered and paid for the game months earlier. The lineup was simply to pick up the game, as early as possible, on March 9th, the day it was released.


For pretty much the same reasons people my age, who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, lined up outside the record store to get the latest LP by a cool band. I could, and did, spend hours in the local record store, flipping through album after album.

How much things have changed in one generation is striking.

Today, even finding a record store is difficult. In the US alone, 2,700 record stores closed between 2003-2006. Some people are starting to speculate that video games could save the music industry.

US video games sales have jumped 34 percent in February to 1.33 billion dollars. In their heyday, US-wide record sales were roughly 14 billion annually, according to RIAA figures.

In less than three months, Harmonix’s video game Rock Band notched 2.5 million song downloads at around two bucks per — twice as much as a regular iTunes song retail. (Yahoo news)

My kids have never been to a record store. They’ve never used a turntable. They have no idea what a double album is. They don’t even have audio CD’s. Their music is on their iPod – music is just files. But they have a lot more music at hand than I did at their age, and they’re aware of far more bands that I ever was.

What I realized standing in line on March 9th is this: my kids’ relationship to video game is almost identical to my relationship to music growing up in the 60’s ad 70’s.

Recent surveys show that two-thirds of parents are worred about their kids use of video games. One of the big fears parents identify with video games is how long their kids spend playing.

But is this any different than it was in my day ?

When Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More first came out in 1970, I was 13. It was a three record set, and I could listen to it from start to finish, two or three times at a sitting. Years later, I recall my cousin Roland travelling from St. Boniface to visit me in Calgary. For the entire two weeks he stayed with me, he never once left my apartment. He never got to the rockies, never witnessed big sky country, or flirted with any big boned gals. Instead, he sat with headphone on, listening to my advance release copy of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, over and over and over.

My parents were convinced that the music I listened to as a teenager was ushering in the demise of society as we know it.

This wasn’t even a radical position.

Rock music was responsible for teen pregnancy, vandalism, the F word, the decline of morals in general, and mine in particular. For a while, I stored a couple of crates of records that one of my friends wasn’t allowed to have in his house. His parents banned them from sight, fearing his imminent moral decay at the site of a big breasted woman on the cover of a Santana album.

Instead of realizing that artists were reflecting the world the saw around them, many parents were convinced that lyrics, album art and ‘subliminal messages’ were leading us all into chaos.

But how about a quick reality check.

What was the lasting impact of all those artists who were intent on leading us on an irrevocable march into depravity ?

This is a list of the top 10 selling artists the year I graduated high-school, 1974.

  1. Barbara Streisand
  2. Terry Jacks
  3. Ray Stevens
  4. Paul Anka
  5. Grand Funk Railroad
  6. Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods
  7. Carl Douglas
  8. MFSB
  9. Billy Swan
  10. John Denver

(source: Joel’s Whitburn’s Pop Annual – data from Billboard magazine)

These are the people my parents and all their friends feared would ruin my generation ?

I suspect that in 35 years, when we look back at the rock stars of the day – the video games – we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

(cross posted to my blog at At Large Media)

Chef Chris Whittaker podcast


I’ve just uploaded a podcast with Chris Whittaker, recorded at the Capers Whole Foods Market ‘Living Naturally Fair‘ last fall.

Chris is the Executive Chef at O’Doul’s Restaurant at The Listel Hotel in Vancouver’s west end.

This was part of a series of chef demonstrations at the outdoor festival – here Chris takes simple fresh ingredients and makes magic: Organic Beet Confit Salad with local Farmhouse Cheddar.

Get the podcast here.


Speaking at Bridging Media

Monique Trottier has kindly invited me to be on a panel at  Bridging Media, a one day conference March 29th in Vancouver.

The idea is to try to bring ‘traditional’ media and ‘new’ media a little closer to one-another:

Bridging media is an event designed to open the channels of communication between the broadcast and digital media communities. We aim to increase an understanding of our respective industries and strengthen our approach to building multi-platform projects.

So far, the attendance list seems to be weighted pretty heavily on the digital media side – so if you’re in the broadcast sector, you might want to check out the list of sessions.

The goals of the conference are:

  • Help to open the communication between the broadcast and digital communities.
  • Find solutions to the misunderstanding between our communities and processes.
  • Work together and strengthen our future projects.

One of the gaps between the two you don’t need to spend a day at a conference to figure out is this one. Weekends.

The conference is on a Saturday, and it’s no surprise there aren’t any broadcasters on the organizing committee.

The digital sector may relish working 24.7 but broadcast’s A-team is strictly a Monday through Friday crowd. Weekends are for Whistler or the Gulf Islands. Chances of them giving up their Saturday for something work-related are super slim.