Monthly Archives: May 2011

Featured YouTube channel #1: Ricky Ficarelli

In my weekly Social Media Matters column, I often suggest YouTube channels for readers to check out. I’ll also be posting videos from these channels to my blog periodically.

The first channel I want to highlight is young Ricky Ficarelli, a 17-year-old drummer from Florida who performs drum covers of pop songs. The quality of the videos is great and he’s a born entertainer. After you subscribe to his YouTube channel, be sure to follow him on Twitter, too!

This week’s Social Media Matters column (originally published May 27, 2011)

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, May 27, 2011
Metro section

Huffington Post arrives in Canada this week

Boasting more than 1.5 million readers from Canada, the Huffington Post news and blog site has decided to expand to Canada and was expected to launch earlier this week.

One of the most popular news websites in the world, it was recently purchased by AOL from founder Ariana Huffington for US$315 million. It recruits bloggers to write for it at no cost, assuming that the prestige of writing for the invitation-only Huffington Post is suitable compensation. While some disagree with this practice, it’s obviously working and provides an extra level of exposure and legitimacy to some of the more unknown bloggers that they may have otherwise not been able to achieve.

Are not exposure and prestige a form of payment? Of course they are. And, of course, you need to have a “day job” to pay the bills. There’s nothing wrong with writing content for exposure. Done correctly, it will lead to bigger and better things – and be a win-win situation for all parties involved.

And, since it’s all entirely voluntary, if writing for non-monetary compensation doesn’t sit well with someone, they simply don’t have to do it.

Notable YouTube channels

Jimmy Kimmel Live! (youtube.com/jimmykimmellive) – Kimmel’s YouTube channel is updated often and carries many of the comedy bits and interviews from his popular and irreverent late-night talk show. What’s even better, they realize the power of social media by allowing embedding of the videos in blogs, news sites, etc. This is often frowned upon by television networks that still haven’t clued in to the fact that there are millions of people out there willing to advertise and promote their shows for free. This is especially easy when using the YouTube platform. Kudos to them! (Subscribers: 200,000 )

The Royal Family (youtube.com/theroyalchannel): Yes, even the Royal Family has a YouTube channel. While the channel’s administrators did not previously allow embedding, they seem to have had a change of heart and realize the benefits of allowing others to post videos to blogs, etc. If you missed the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, you can see many of the highlights there. Also featured are various visits by Queen Elizabeth and other members of the Royal Family. (Subscribers: 120,000 )

Ricky Ficarelli (youtube.com/RickyFicarelli): Ricky is a talented 17-year-old drummer who plays drum covers of popular songs. What’s the big deal, you may ask? Well, watch one of his videos to find out! He knows how to play to the camera and the video quality and editing are excellent. And he’s darn good! There aren’t many young celebrity drummers out there, but Ricky is certainly going to be one. (Subscribers: 62,000 )

Notable tweeps

If you don’t know what a “tweep” is, it’s someone with a Twitter account. Here are a few locals you may want to follow:

@jonnabrewercbc is the new Twitter account for CBC Radio Moncton’s news director Jonna Brewer who reads the news every weekday morning on Information Morning. Also on Twitter is the show’s host, Dave MacDonald (@cbcmacd).

@CapitolMoncton is the new Twitter account for Moncton’s Capitol Theatre. It is updated regularly with news and upcoming events. Casino New Brunswick also has a Twitter account that is updated regularly: @casinonewbruns

@davergallant is the Twitter account for Dave Gallant, a local social media consultant. Dave is always tweeting lots of useful information and statistics regarding social media. If you want to learn more about social media, you should definitely follow Dave’s account! You won’t regret it and you’ll learn a lot!

Finally, were you a fan of The Waltons television series? If so, you’ll be pleased to know that Gramma and Grandpa Walton have their own (tongue-in-cheek) Twitter accounts: @GrandpaWalton and @GrammaWalton. Quite entertaining!

Twitter buys TweetDeck

If you’re a serious Twitter user, you likely rarely use the actual Twitter website, opting to use a third-party application such as TweetDeck or HootSuite. According to a news story posted to PCWorld (www.pcworld.com) earlier this week, Twitter has finalized a deal to purchase TweetDeck for $40 million.

I’ve tried both TweetDeck and HootSuite and can honestly say that I don’t see the attraction to TweetDeck at all. HootSuite seems much more powerful and versatile. However, Twitter’s move is strategic since there are more users on TweetDeck than any other third-party Twitter application and their aim is controlling their users. Makes sense!

If you’re not on Twitter, it’s a bit of a phenomenon that many users don’t actually use the Twitter website. They tend to use other more powerful platforms that allow for scheduled tweets, automatic link shortening and multiple on-screen feeds to manage their Twitter experience. The actual Twitter website is rudimentary, at best. If that’s all you’re using to manage your Twitter account, I can assure you that you’re selling yourself short. I would definitely suggest moving over to HootSuite or TweetDeck.

I hope the purchase of TweetDeck doesn’t mean that HootSuite will be strangled.

Idol Chatter review of American Idol’s May 25, 2011, episode — The finale!

Brian Cormier - Idol ChatterAs we all know by now, 17-year-old Scotty McCreery of North Carolina was crowned American Idol 2011 at a star-studded two-hour event last night that included performances by Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Tony Bennett, Judas Priest, Tom Jones, Tim McGraw, TLC, Lil John, Bono, The Edge, Gladys Knight and more! Read how the night went down by checking out my final Idol Chatter column of the season. Click one of the links below:

– Moncton Times & Transcript: Click here

– Fredericton Daily Gleaner: Click here

Thanks to everyone for the messages, comments, etc., since the column began again in March. This is the fourth consecutive year that the column has run in the Moncton Times & Transcript and the second year for the Fredericton Daily Gleaner. Thanks to the editors for once again inviting me to write the column and to the staff who waited so patiently for it every evening after the show finished. It was a lot of fun!

Hump Day: Dealing with death among your elders is part of growing older

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Editorial section

My father’s brother Gerry died last Friday in Massachusetts at the age of 82 after a long illness. He was the eldest of the family who grew up at 107 Wesley Street in Moncton. The house is now long gone, but every time I drive by, I imagine my grandparents waving to me from the window.

I don’t care if it makes me sound odd. It always makes me smile.

Gerry was the movie-maker in the family. Making good money (from what I’m told) working in the United States, he purchased a Super 8 movie camera and took loads of family movies. The ones I have digital copies of are posted to YouTube and show various family members cavorting on Wesley Street playing and waving to the camera, at the beach in Caissie Cape enjoying a family picnic, and back at home on Wesley Street chowing down on some steamed clams.

I, for one, am really grateful for these movies. So many people in them have passed away. Many of the young children – my cousins – shown in the movies (made before I was born) are now either retired, close to retirement, or grandparents themselves. So far, they are still living, thankfully.

The Super 8 movies were eventually transferred to VHS tapes. I got my hands on a couple and had them digitized for the computer. The music that was embedded with them is melancholy and adds to the emotions of watching so many of these relatives when they were young and healthy.

For some reason, most of my father’s siblings all seemed to suffer greatly for long periods of time before they passed away, including Gerry, who had a prolonged decline in health that lasted several years until his passing last week. Although we are all sad to see him go, one can’t help but think that someone who’s been so sick for so long is in a better place now that the suffering is over.

When someone in your family is sick, the world seems to revolve around their health. There are visits to the hospital, meetings with doctors, telephone updates to friends and family, stress and financial burdens. It’s such a difficult and tension-filled time.

Unless you take matters into your own hands, most of us will not decide how we die. I just have one request (if anyone “upstairs” is listening) – please don’t let me die in terror. I’d rather not arrive in heaven all stressed out, thank you very much. I’ll just be learning how to fly with my angel wings. I don’t need them all tensed up because I died being chased down and eaten by an escaped lion while visiting the zoo.

Hey, it could happen. Years ago, I was obviously annoying a female lion at the zoo when she raised her tail and shot me right between the eyes with an impressive laser beam-like stream of urine from about 20 feet away. That was just a warning shot. After that, I’m her bedtime snack.

Oprah Winfrey’s best friend and talk show host Gayle King mentioned this on her radio show the other day, too. Like me, she doesn’t want to know when she’s going to die and she doesn’t want to die in terror. I hope I die looking at a picture of kittens or puppies. That would be a pretty nice death, don’t you think? At least I’d arrive in heaven relaxed. I can only imagine that it’s difficult to look good in your casket after you spent two hours fighting off a burglar who invaded your home and killed you with a machete.

My father only has one brother left. I still find this so difficult to believe. So does everyone else in the family, I think. Less than 10 years ago, nearly all of them were still alive.

One by one, they went. Heart attack. Lung disease. Prostate cancer. Pneumonia. Diabetes. One by one, taken from us. I still remember them all so well. It’s like they’re still here. And I suppose they are. Through home movies, photos and other memories, it is difficult to forget them.

And that’s a good thing. Forgetting those who have left us is the saddest fate of all. If someone remembers you, you’re still with us.

Whenever it’s your time to go, I hope it’s peaceful and that you’re ready. I hope you’re not scared. I hope you’re loved. I hope it’s pain-free. I hope you see it as a natural transition of life. And I hope you have a big crowd waiting for you on the other side. Family and friends. Co-workers and neighbours. And yes, even beloved pets.

And, well, if you don’t believe in an afterlife or are not spiritual in the least, I suppose the lights just go out and you go to sleep without dreaming. Fade to black. No pain. No drama. No welcoming party. No halo to polish and put away in its velour-lined box every night. No angel wings to brush. I suppose there’s peace in that, too, eh?

It’s been a melancholy week. The older I get, the more this will happen. It’s part of aging, I guess. I miss the good old days, though, when we were all together and taking it for granted. That’s a luxury I wouldn’t mind getting back right at the moment.