Monthly Archives: January 2012

Social Media Matters: Local news junkies take to social media to talk about Metro

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Jan. 27, 2012
Metro section

Local news junkies take to social media to talk about Metro

If you’ve ever wondered what a virtual neighbourhood watch group looks like, look no further than Ray Richard’s group on Facebook called Newschaser.

This is a companion site to his popular YouTube channel that hosts videos mostly made up of local accident and crime footage.

If you hear sirens around town, it’s a good bet that people will be discussing it on Ray’s Facebook group, now up to about 3,500 members – with more joining every day.

Local crime, accidents, events, lost pets… it’s one of the most active Facebook groups in New Brunswick, I would say. Several members listen to police scanners on a regular basis and are up to date with anything and everything happening around.

It’s the place to be if you want to chat about what’s going on ‘on the street’ in Metro Moncton – and some of it ain’t pretty, folks.

The bad: There often seems to be rumour and speculation posted by members. As well, the sheer amount of constant information and updates can be staggering.

The good: Members seem very dedicated to accuracy and will ensure that rumour and speculation are corrected immediately. Also, it’s a crazily addictive group. Members are posting new information all the time.

I always thought people who listened to police scanners all day had a couple of bees missing from their hive, but I have to admit that I do enjoy hearing about every little thing happening in the city.

While some have expressed displeasure at Ray’s videos of accident scenes, I do find that he’s respectful of others and doesn’t show any gore or anything untoward. He keeps it professional.

In this day of everyone having a video camera on their smartphone, it could be a lot worse! To find the group, just search for ‘Newschaser’ in Facebook.

Check out these Twitter tools

TwitterFrom Dave Gallant’s blog this week comes a list of 10 tools that you can use to enhance your Twitter experience, including SocialBro, Tweet Caddy and Compete Tweet, to name a few.

Dave’s blog is a must-read for anyone interested in social media.

Dave writes in an easy-going style and is very accessible. I’ll be featuring his posts here on a regular basis.

To check out the 10 Twitter tools featured by Dave, check out his post entitled 10 Twitter Tools To Improve Your Tweeting Experience.

Football fumble leads to death threats on Twitter

Kyle Williams
Kyle Williams

According to a report by Wayne Freedman of KGO-TV in San Francisco, San Francisco 49ers’ wide receiver Kyle Williams received death threats via Twitter after fumbling the ball in overtime in last Sunday’s NFC championship game.

The 49ers went on to lose that game to the New York Giants and, with it, their chance to play in the NFL Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.

Twitter did not comment on the death threats and said that one of the people making the threats has deleted their account with the social media giant.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Each week, I suggest three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current as of Jan. 23.

davedays
davedays

1) davedays (1,582,827 subscribers): Dave makes videos ranging from vlogs to music videos to comedic videos. He’s from outside Philadelphia and has amassed a loyal following. More than 1.5 million subscribers can’t be wrong, eh? Not to mention his most popular video has more than 50 million views! Crazy! (Most popular video: OMG! This girl is sooo hot! – 50,931,553 views.)

2) The World’s Best Birthday Ideas (1,219 subscribers): This channel features mostly videos of the Happy Birthday song by a number of characters, including a monkey, Darth Vader and an animated goat. My favourite is ‘An Inspirational Birthday Message Especially for You’. This channel is mostly suitable for all ages (except perhaps for one self-described ‘sexy’ video) and is great for posting on your friends’ Facebook profiles on their birthdays. (Most popular video: Happy Birthday To You, have a GREAT Birthday – 1,797,923 views.)

Sleepy Man Banjo Boys
Sleepy Man Banjo Boys

3) Sleepy Man Banjo Boys (7,015 subscribers): This trio is made up of the three young Mizzone brothers who’ve formed their own band – and what a band it is! Oldest brother Tommy, age 14, plays the guitar, while middle brother Robbie, age 13, plays the fiddle. The star of the trio, though is youngest sibling Jonny, a nine-year-old banjo prodigy (yeah, there are even banjo prodigies) who amazes with his incredible talent. You need to see it to believe it. The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, as their group is called, have appeared on television several times, including the Late Show with David Letterman. If you’ve never heard of them, be sure to check them out. Very talented! (Most popular video: 8 Year Old Jonny Mizzone – Flint Hill Special – Sleepy Man Banjo Boys – 2,083,122 views.)

Hump Day: When dinosaurs roamed the earth: ‘best before’ salad days

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

This week, I grabbed a bottle of salad dressing out of my pantry. I wanted to make a salad and thought my old stand-by dressing would do just fine.

Did I say ‘old’? Remember that adjective I used. ‘Old.’ Anyway, as I’m about to drizzle some of its oil-and-vinegary goodness on my salad, I decided to take a quick gander at the bestbefore date on the label.

I thought I’d had this bottle for awhile and wanted to make sure it was still good.

Now, I want to emphasize that I certainly don’t swear by best-before dates.

While there are some that are pretty much guaranteed to be accurate (milk, chicken, fish), others are way off, if you ask me.

Yes, salad dressing is one. And eggs, too.

I’ve had eggs weeks past their best-before date on the carton and they’re still perfectly good.

In fact, I’ve never had a storebought egg go bad on me.

Remember, this is January 2012.

So, I look at the label near the salad dressing bottle’s spout to check the best-before date. ‘April 25, 2008.’ I couldn’t help but laugh.

Obviously, I wasn’t that crazy about this particular kind of dressing because it had sat in my pantry for nearly five years, if you consider it was bought at some point in 2007.

April 2008 – George W. Bush was still President of the United States.

Michael Phelps hadn’t yet set medal records at the Beijing Olympics, which were still months away.

Lady Gaga who? Glee what?

Apple iPad? What the heck is that?

But my trusty bottle of salad dressing was around . . . yup . . . just waiting for me to finish it off.

Apparently, it would wait a long time.

I can just imagine the lonely nearly five years it spent in my house just waiting to fulfil its life mission – to be poured over lettuce.

It managed to do so a few times, but it was still two-thirds full by the time I put it out of its misery by pouring it down the sink.

The screams were horrible. Yup, pretty sure it screamed.

Hmmm . . . maybe I shouldn’t have taken that sip of it to see if it was bad before throwing it out.

The pretty colours and voices I heard in my head afterwards all made it worth it, though!

Not to mention the pink elephants and little green men who visited my house, too.

Yeah, I think I should have definitely thrown that bottle out a few years ago.

It expired in April 2008, which means I likely bought it about nine months before that.

Sheesh! It was like having pet that I had to put to sleep after five years.

‘Fluffy! I loved you so much! You went great with arugula and cherry tomatoes!’ In all seriousness, I was quasihorrified by my complete lack of care in this matter. I mean, it’s not unheard of to find expired stuff in your refrigerator or your pantry.

It happens to everyone. If it just expired recently, you do a smell test . . . maybe a small taste test . . . and if you don’t faint or start seeing dead people, it’s likely good to go.

But having something in your pantry that expired four years ago? Wow, that takes some serious negligence. I hope Martha Stewart never hears about this. She won’t just be a little upset, she’ll probably stab me.

And I won’t even tell you about the bottle of tea tree oil that I had in the house that expired in 2005.

Yeah, I just threw that out last week. I unscrewed the cap and I’m pretty sure I heard it gasp, ‘Please .. . just kill me. I’m so tired.’ Yikes! I just held its little head under water until the bubbles stopped.

To bottles of salad dressing, I’m Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I end up pouring out nearly every one of them. They come home with me to die. I’d like to tell you that it’s the first time I’ve thrown out a bottle of long-expired salad dressing, but I have to be honest and admit that I’ve thrown out bottles in the past so old that the writing on the label was in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

I don’t know why I do it. I’m always trying to find ‘the’ salad dressing. The one that will take me to Nirvana. The one that will cause me to stop and shudder uncontrollably in the supermarket with a lust so powerful that the nastiest pitbull in the world wouldn’t dare hump my leg because it may get more than it bargained for.

But I never find that ‘heavenly’ dressing. I always buy Italian.

French. Oil and vinegar. And there’s a blue cheese and bacon dressing that I like – but as a topping for hamburgers, not for salad. And then there are all those sweet raspberry dressings. I mean, you might as well just pour corn syrup over your salad and top it off with a cup of molasses and then sprinkle it with brown sugar. Ugh.

Overly sweet dressings turn me off.

Maybe I should just enjoy salads plain. But then again, I’m the guy who brings heads of lettuce home to die, too. So who am I kidding?

I’ve thrown out more brown and disintegrating heads of lettuce than you can shake a stick at. (How many would that be, exactly?) Even when I buy bagged lettuce or mixtures of other greens, a week later I find it in the back of the refrigerator looking like chicken gravy – brown, soupy and chunky.

If anyone from the World Lettuce Growers Association wants to report me to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against salad greens, be my guest. Just remember – you’ll have to wait your turn in line behind the North American Salad Dressing Federation.

Social Media Matters: Did online stunt cause deadly cruise mishap?

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Jan. 20, 2012
Metro section

Did online stunt cause deadly cruise mishap?

As reported in British newspaper The Telegraph on Jan. 16, the tragic sinking of the luxury cruise ship the Costa Concordia just off the island of Giglio in Italy looks like it was a stunt gone terribly wrong – a stunt that was foretold on Facebook.

According to the article, the ship’s captain steered the ship too close to rocks immediately off the coast of the island of Giglio in order for the ship’s head waiter, Antonello Tievolli, to wave to his family on shore. Just before the ship hit the rocks, Tievolli’s sister Patrizia posted this to Facebook: ‘In a short period of time the Concordia ship will pass very close. A big greeting to my brother who finally get to have a holiday on landing in Savona.’ According to The Telegraph article written by Nick Squires, Tievolli’s 82-year-old father Giuseppe admitted the ship neared the shore just so family could wave hello to Antonello.

Costa Concordia
Costa Concordia

‘Antonello called me earlier to say the ship would be passing by the island at around 9:30 and they would come and give us a whistle to say hello. It was something they often did. The ship obviously came too close. I don’t know if Antonello asked the captain to come near, but the responsibility is always and only the captain’s.’ The result of the stunt? Captain Francesco Schettino has been arrested and may be charged with shipwreck, abandoning ship and manslaughter. He faces up to 15 years in prison. About 30 people are currently unaccounted for out of the 4,000 passengers and crew on board. Six have been confirmed dead.

Facebook to break barrier: Odds are that you’ve heard Facebook has 750 million users, the most common widely used figure of late. This August, however, the social media behemoth is expected to register its one billionth user.

Yup, that’s ‘billionth,’ folks! If Facebook were a country, it would the third largest in the world behind China and India.

Facebook hoax alert:

Baby heart transplant Facebook hoax
Photo that accompanies one of the "sick baby" hoaxes going around on Facebook

Well, I saw the most ridiculous Facebook hoax ever earlier this week and it was actually shared by people who thought it was true. Apparently, when 10,000 people share a photo of a little girl needing a heart transplant, then the transplant will be free.

Yup, Facebook is holding a little girl’s life hostage and won’t pay for her life-or-death surgery unless 10,000 people share the link. Apparently, there’s a little boy, however, who only needs 100 shares before his surgery is free. Perhaps he’s cuter. And then there’s the baby with cancer who’ll receive three cents from Facebook with every share. Astonishingly, people continue to fall for this foolishness.

Great blog post to check out:

Dave Gallant
Dave Gallant

My good friend Dave Gallant recently posted a great article to his blog called 20 Awesome Resources to Help You Master Social Media. If you’re looking some good reading on social media, then check out Dave’s article by visiting his website.

Some of the articles he points you to are: What Is Social Media; How to Turn Complaints Into Compliments & Compliments Into Brand Advocates; 218 Ways to Make Your Online Marketing Rule in 2012; and The Art of Community Now. For the rest of this valuable list of great resources, you’ll have to visit Dave’s blog. You won’t regret it.

This week’s featured YouTube channels:

Each week, I suggest three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current as of Jan. 16.

Charlie McDonnell
Charlie McDonnell

1) Charlieissoboredlike (265,754 subscribers): This is a companion channel to popular British YouTube star Charlie McDonnell’s Charlieissocoollike channel which has just more than 1.4 million subscribers. The ‘bored’ channel is the new home to shorter and sometimes nonsensical videos that aren’t appropriate for the more substantial and content-rich ‘coollike’ channel. Regardless, Charlie is so likeable that you can’t hold that against him – and his subscribers don’t seem to mind, either! Charlie is a full-time YouTuber and is roommates with Alex Day, another popular YouTube personality. (Most popular video: ‘I am very glad, because I’m finally returning back home (MichaelAranda)’ – 1,143,712 views.)

Alex Day
Alex Day

2) Alex Day (497,823 subscribers): Alex is another British YouTuber and good friend and roommate of the aforementioned Charlie McDonnell. Alex is a singer and posts a lot of his music and various rants. He’s a lot edgier than Charlie, so don’t expect the same pinch-your-cheeks-because-you’re-so-adorable personality. Alex swears, talks about sex and a lot of taboo things, while Charlie is just… so… well… nice. Still, Alex is likeable and entertaining and very sincere in his rants. (Most popular video: ‘LOST In 3 Minutes’ – 1,939,671 views.)

Johnee
Johnee

3) You Cannot Not Dance (25,251 subscribers): Johnee is an affable and prolific Australian vlogger. In likeability and cheerfulness, he definitely rates a 10. His videos are very creative and are focused on positive issues and good vibes. I would say he’s Australia’s version of Charlieissocoollike. Like many vloggers, he’s all over the map topics-wise (that’s not a criticism), and he’s responsive to viewers on Twitter, as well. It’s difficult not to finish one of Johnee’s videos without a smile on your face. (Most popular video: ‘How to successfully do a Tim Tam Slam’ – 123,004 views.)

Hump Day: Shovelling up a snowily poignant, ultra-Canadian moment

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

When my front doorbell rang in the middle of a snowstorm one night last week, I assumed there’d been in accident in front of my house or that something else was wrong. It definitely wasn’t proper weather for door-to-door canvassing for charity or churches.

When I opened the door, I found two teenage boys about 13 or 14 years old. They were both wearing skates. I live across from a city park with an outdoor skating rink that’s being maintained by a very nice neighbour for the winter. The rink has been a beehive of activity since the weather finally turned colder.

I’ve had my door knocked on before by someone in trouble – notably Andrew, a boy who fell and hurt himself badly in the park when playing with his friends a few summers ago. In fact, I wrote a column about it.

By the time I got outside to find out what was going on, Andrew was being cared for by my next-door neighbour who was pouring water over his hands to clean the dirt out of his wounds. After falling off his bicycle in the park, let’s just say that most of the skin on his hands stayed on the pavement and he was in quite a mess. I drove him to his grandmother’s house afterwards so they could take over from there.

Last week, however, I’m happy to report that my door was knocked on for a much happier reason.

‘Could we borrow a shovel to take the snow off the rink? We want to play hockey.’ The kids were polite and clean-cut. During the conversation, I noticed that one of them was clearly in the middle of the ‘voice change’ because his voice seemed to change octaves on every syllable he spoke. I could barely understand him because he was squeaking so much. Ah, the joys of puberty!

Now, when they asked me if they could borrow a shovel, I certainly didn’t hesitate in agreeing to it.

They asked nicely and were polite – and they promised to return the shovel when they were done.

I went out to the garage to get the shovel and passed it to them. They thanked me sincerely and took off excitedly across the street running on their skates (they were wearing blade guards) yelling, ‘We got a shovel! We got a shovel!’ Their friends made various exclamations of happiness and I watched them through the heavy snow as they hopped onto the rink to start the task of clearing it for their game.

I have to say, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside after that. I felt like I was in a Tim Hortons commercial.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I looked around for a film crew perhaps secretly recording the entire exchange. I smiled as I saw them eagerly clear the snow with the borrowed shovel. It was just so . . . so Canadian!

The only thing I didn’t do was put on a heavy hand-knitted wool sweater, get a big cup of coffee and hold it with two hands, stare out the frost-covered window and take a sip with big tears rolling down my sooky-baby face as I contemplated my Canadian identity. I’m telling you, the entire episode could have been a coffee commercial.

And if anyone from Tim Hortons reads this, feel free to steal the idea. Just make sure you add the squeaky-voiced kid, though! He’d be the Peter Brady-type comic foible in the ad. For those who don’t remember, there’s a classic 1972 Brady Bunch episode where middle son Peter’s voice changes as the kids are about to record a song for an album. ‘When it’s time to change, it’s time to rearrange!’ Back to my story. So, despite the kids being polite and tugging at the heartstrings by wanting to borrow a shovel to play hockey, I still somehow thought they might forget to return the shovel and it would buried in the snow until spring.

When I saw them leaving the park, I checked my back door and there it was – my trusty shovel right there where it belonged. The only thing missing was a hot cup of coffee sitting next to it.

I’m pretty sure I looked up at the moon right at that moment and saw the Canadian flag emblazoned on it.

A Canuck miracle during a snowstorm!

Actually, I believe that refusing assistance to kids who want to play hockey on an outdoor rink in Canada in the winter should be a Criminal Code of Canada violation.

What kind of heartless Canadian would ever say ‘No!’ to lending kids a shovel to play hockey in an outdoor rink. I mean, c’mon!

Have you ever seen the TV commercial where the boy asks the store clerk if he has any parttime jobs open? The gruff old clerk admonishes him for wanting to work when he’s so young. He suggests that he should be out playing hockey with his friends.

It’s then that the young boy replies sadly that he’s trying to make money so he can play hockey. In other words, he can’t afford to play.

Well, I’m telling you, you might as well just stab me in the forehead with a fork every time I see that. I get teary-eyed and start throwing money at the TV. ‘He can’t play hockey! What is this world coming to? Give him money to play hockey!’ Then I throw more money at the TV. Then I cry some more because a toonie broke my TV screen.

My illustrious nine-year minor hockey career wasn’t exactly a game-changer, so I’m not sure why I’m so sentimental about it. Must be part of my Canadian DNA. I got three goals in nine years – one of them on my own net. Maybe someone should have paid me to work in that store so that I could pay for that kid in the commercial to play hockey instead of me.

Social Media Matters: Racist remark causes Twitter stir

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Jan. 13, 2012
Metro section

Racist remark causes Twitter stir

When Minhee Cho ordered food at a Papa John’s pizza chain restaurant in New York City, the cashier identified the 24-year-old Korean American with the racist term ‘lady chinky eyes’ on the receipt.

Rightfully offended, Cho took to Twitter and posted a photo of the receipt along with the comment, ‘Hey@PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t ‘lady chinky eyes.” Shockingly, a manager who works at the restaurant tried to defend the incident, telling the New York Post that the teen cashier didn’t mean to offend, and that the term was just ‘a way to identify her and her order.’ The manager – identified only as ‘Jerome’ in the article – then had the gall to complain about Cho’s tweet.

Minhee Cho's Papa John's receipt
Minhee Cho's Papa John's receipt

‘I think the lady put it out there just to get some attention – some people like that type of attention. I truly don’t think it’s fair. It’s been taking up all our time. It’s been very disruptive.’ In the subsequent uproar, Papa John’s received prank orders for Chinese food, the restaurant’s owner apologized profusely to Cho, the cashier was fired, and employees were set to go through sensitivity training. In a related matter, the Huffington Post reported in December that two Asian customers of a Chik-fil-A restaurant were branded as ‘Ching’ and ‘Chong’ on their receipts.

It may be time for restaurants to start assigning numbers to customers instead of allowing insensitive staff to assign their own – sometimes offensive – names.

Clarity.fm launched in Moncton

Clarity.fm launch
Heather Anne Ritchie helped organize Clarity.fm's launch in Moncton on January 5 at the Capitol Theatre. (Photo courtesy Dan Martell / Twitter / CBC New Brunswick)

I was happy to have been part of the audience for Clarity.fm’s (www.clarity.fm) launch in Moncton last week. The service is the brainchild of Dan Martell, a New Brunswick-born entrepreneur who shares his time between San Francisco and Moncton. No stranger to the world of high-tech start-ups, Martell chose Moncton as the springboard for his newest venture.

Hundreds of people showed up for the inauguration of the service held at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Moncton, including many of the mentors who have registered with the website, an ingenious way to bring those seeking advice together with those giving advice.

Mentors (those giving advice) register with the service and then advise when they are available for calls. They also post their hourly fee. When someone wants to talk to them, they are connected through the website via cell phone, a conversation takes place and the caller’s credit card is charged. Clarity.fm gets a five-per-cent fee as a commission, while the mentor keeps 95 per cent.

For example, if you’ve always wanted to get former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna’s advice on something, check the website for his availability and then place the call. If he’s able to take it, he will – and there you go!

With Clarity.fm, there’s no need to navigate a complicated web of assistants to get to someone ‘in the know.’ Other mentors include Arlene Dickinson of CBC’s Dragons’ Den, as well as well-known New Brunswick business personalities such as David Hawkins, Gerry Pond, Paula Morand, George Donovan, Gair Maxwell and Susan Holt, to name a few.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Each week, I suggest three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current as of Jan. 9.

1) Experience Bathurst (36 subscribers): The new Experience Bathurst YouTube channel is an initiative of Destination Bathurst, a local tourism group. Hosted by Monique Boudreau of Destination Bathurst and Meredith Caissie of the City of Bathurst, the channel will feature various tourism attractions and activities around the Bathurst area. While the channel only has one preview video for now, Experience Bathurst plans to upload one per week after the channel’s official launch on Jan. 17. Each video will be approximately four or five minutes long. The initiative also has a companion Facebook page at facebook.com/experiencebathurst. It’s great to see local groups using YouTube for tourism! (Most popular video: ‘Experience Bathurst Teaser’ – 5,541 views.)

Max Schneider
Max Schneider

2) Max Schneider (9,390 subscribers): I discovered this channel after Max was featured on Kurt Hugo Schneider’s (no relation) channel. Max is a 19-year-old actor, singer and songwriter from New York City. He’s got a great voice and presence and will most certainly make a name for himself in the entertainment industry. (Most popular video: “Breakeven” (with KurtHugoSchneider) – 52,998 views.) (Please note: Most popular video has been updated since the column appeared.)

Spandy Andy
Spandy Andy

3) Spandy Andy (1,761 subscribers): Spandy Andy is the entertainer alter ego of Red Deer, Alta., native Andy Rimer. Andy is a street performer who made a name for himself in Vancouver regaling the public with his dancing, propensity for bright and tight Spandex clothing, infectious charm and fearless personality. Most recently, he spent the summer working as an entertainer at MarineLand in Niagara Falls. His older brother Josh Rimer (www.joshrimer.com) is also a well-known Vancouver-based YouTube personality. It’s impossible not to smile while watching Spandy Andy perform. Definitely a happy pick-me-up on a cold winter’s day! Be sure to check out his website, too, at www.spandyandy.com. (Most popular video: ‘SpandyAndy – Tight Bright & Fearless – Documentary’ – 17,612 views.)