Monthly Archives: February 2012

Social Media Matters: Twitter account seeks fake prayers

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
Metro section

Twitter account seeks fake prayers

On Facebook earlier this week, one of my online friends who happens to be a United Church minister posted a link to @UnvirtuousAbbey, a Twitter account that posts fake prayers based on song lyrics and those with first world problems.

The account’s biography describes @UnvirtuousAbbey as: ‘Holier than thou, but not by much. Digital monks praying for people with first world problems. From our keyboard to God’s ears.’

Unvirtuous Abbey
@UnvirtuousAbbey

According to UrbanDictionary.com, ‘first world problems’ are: ‘Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.’ A couple of examples: 1) The price of caviar has gone up so high that I can only afford it six nights per week instead of seven; 2) I had to pay $100 to fill up my gold-plated Cadillac Escalade the other day. Isn’t the price of gas crazy?

@UnvirtuousAbbey makes a mockery of these problems and of song lyrics, too, by posting and retweeting sincere-sounding prayers that are actually sarcastic beyond belief, not to mention ridiculous and hilarious.

Earlier this week, the account called for followers to submit fake prayers based on lyrics of 1980s songs under the hashtag #80sPrayer. Here are a few samples: 1) From @KatFrench – ‘For Tommy, who used to work on the dock, whose union’s been on strike & is down on his luck, we pray.’; 2) @TheGreat-Askini – ‘For those who heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another, o Lord, deliver us.’; 3) And here’s the one I submitted from my account, @BrianCormier – ‘For those who live in a land down under and who meet strange ladies who make them nervous, we pray.’

The goal, of course, when posting tweets, was to get @UnvirtuousAbbey to retweet you. The #80sPrayer hashtag was so popular that it ended up trending on Twitter. So many entertaining tweets!

It was a hoot to read.

Some of the ‘first world problem’ non-prayers posted by the account include: 1) For those who quote themselves, Lord have mercy.; 2) Lord, you who turned water into wine, we pray for those who turn their student loans into alcohol. Amen.; 3) For those who put winter coats on their dogs as they walk by and ignore the homeless, we pray to the Lord.

If you’re on Twitter, do yourself a huge favour and start following @UnvirtuousAbbey. It’s quickly become one of my favourite Twitter accounts and I just found out about it a few days ago – ironically, on Facebook! There’s definitely a book to be made out of those tweets, as well. Funny stuff ! Just remember, though, it’s all in fun and sarcasm.

If you can’t joke around about religion, this is definitely not the place for you as you’ll most likely end up being offended.

Facebook users who have passed away

If you have a friend or loved one who has passed away and who also had a Facebook account, did you know that you could let Facebook know about it officially so that the account could be memorialized?

In Facebook’s help section, there’s an online form called Report a Deceased Person’s Profile. If you’re thinking of pulling a prank on someone, though, think twice.

Facebook also requires a link to an official (and needless to say, legitimate) obituary.

According to Facebook, ‘When a user passes away, we memorialize their account to protect their privacy. Memorializing an account sets the account privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile (timeline) or locate it in search. Friends and family can leave posts in remembrance. Memorializing an account also prevents anyone from logging into the account.’

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Each week, I suggest three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current as of Feb. 21.

1) Ilana Cohn of TheFunClub (13,142 subscribers): I love discovering new comedy YouTube channels. This one is the home of Los Angeles-based actress and comedian Ilana Cohn, who’s created 50 videos to tickle your funny bone, including commercial parodies. She can also be followed on Twitter at@ilanainla. (Most popular video: ‘Gina’s House’ – 150,615 views.)

2) Chapters/Indigo (418 subscribers): This channel is chock full of videos (more than 170, to be exact) mostly featuring footage of authors signing books and their talks to those gathered for book-signings. If you’re a fan of the Kobo e-reader, you’ll also find several Kobo-related videos, as well. (Most popular video: ‘Kobotorial: What is an eReader and why should I get one?’ – 105,742 views.)

3) Martell Home Builders (24 subscribers): Martell Home Builders has built up a great reputation as a company that ‘gets’ social media and how it can help them engage with clients and potential clients. The company’s YouTube channel currently has 80 videos ranging from interviews with exhibitors at the Moncton Home Show to a tutorial on how to clean your air exchange filter. If you’re thinking of buying or building a home in the Metro Moncton area, this is a good place to start doing some research. (Most popular video: ‘Martell Home Builders – Our Approach’ – 4,778 views.)

Hump Day: Beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to rare home visits

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

If you’ve never seen it, you should really catch the ABC sitcom The Middle.

The Middle is a sweet show that follows the lives of the hardworking but constantly struggling Heck family. The mom is Frances, who sells cars for a living – and apparently not very well. Then there’s Mike, the typical frustrated sitcom dad who works for a quarry.

The kids are sarcastic Axl, optimistic nerd Sue (who’s an absolute scream) and the extremely quirky Brick who tends to repeat himself in whispers.

There are a number of other minor characters, all of them entertaining, but none so much as Brad, Sue’s first boyfriend who is, uhm, let’s just say, ‘flamboyant.’ Frances and Mike definitely assume he’s gay and are just waiting for him to realize it.

Oh, he’ll figure it out one of these days, but watching Mike turn into an awkward mess around Brad whenever it appears that Brad’s about to come out of the closet to him is just hilarious. Sue and Brad remain oblivious to the (apparent) obvious, and Sue can’t believe her parents trust her when she and Brad are alone in her room. ‘That’s OK, Sue. We trust you,’ Frances says with a knowing look to Mike.

On a recent episode, Sue asked her mother to camp out with her to get Justin Bieber tickets. (Sue is a huge fan).

After hemming and hawing, Frances decides that it will be a good bonding experience and agrees to camp out with Sue to get the tickets. She even looks forward to going to the concert with Sue and reminisces about her days fawning over Shaun Cassidy in the 1970s.

When the night of the concert comes, Frances is all ready to go when Sue’s friend shows up to pick her up to go to the concert. Frances assumed – wrongly – that Sue wanted them to go together as mother and daughter. Sue leaves and Frances is crushed. Despite not wanting to go to the concert at first, she was looking forward to the experience.

In a parallel situation, when my 15-year-old godson showed up at my door the other day, I was thrilled.

He’s coming to visit his Uncle Brian! What a thoughtful godson!

I would probably even give him a big hug, tell him I loved him and give him $20. Ah, memories of my grandparents. All you had to do to my maternal grandparents was smile and you’d soon have a $20 bill shoved in your pocket with the accompanying whispered warning, ‘Don’t tell your mother!’ I did tell my mother once. She made me give it back. Rest assured, I would have had to be tortured by evil ogres ever to admit that I had $20 from my grandparents after that. ‘Nope! I got nothing,’ I’d say, and only admit to it after we got back to Moncton from P.E.I.

Before we were too far from my grandparents’ house on the way back, I’d hope my mother wouldn’t check my nostrils for a cleverly folded and hidden $20 bill. It was only years later that I found out a better way of hiding the money but that was after watching a documentary about how drug smugglers hide their illegal booty. Let’s just say it involved a plastic bag and a plunger and no $20 was worth that.

Back to my story; I was really happy to see my godson since he hadn’t come to visit me in ages. (He just lives five houses away, so it’s not exactly an onerous trip.)

He came in, kicked off his shoes and paid some attention to the dog and cat who ran up to greet him. The other cat just stayed under the covers of my bed sleeping, as usual.

Thinking I was in for a nice unexpected visit, I was about to tell him to sit down when he said, ‘I was across the street playing hockey on the rink in the park. Can I use your bathroom?’ ‘Oh; of course,’ I replied. And off he went, like Sue Heck did to her mother when she assumed she was going to the concert with her. Not that I needed to go to the bathroom with him, of course. That would be a bit creepy. Well, a lot creepy, actually, but that’s a whole other very special episode of Oprah.

So, he finished up and put on his boots and headed back outside to play hockey. He even jokingly apologized for just dropping by to use the bathroom. We had a bit of a laugh over it. ‘All I’m good for is my toilet and two-foot-high stack of magazines in the bathroom, eh?’ Let’s just say that I have a typical man’s bathroom. All intellectual reading, though, I promise; certainly nothing that would corrupt any impressionable young minds.

But, I guess, it wasn’t so bad. A visit is a visit. And besides, he felt comfortable enough just to drop by, I guess, so that’s a good thing. A godfather will take what he can get!

Afterwards, all I had to remember that visit by were the memories and the lingering aroma of a 10-second spray of Febreze. Not exactly Christmas newsletter material, but beggars can’t be choosers.

It’s fun watching kids like my godson and his two brothers grow up. And yeah, I secretly love it when they forget their house keys and have to spend an hour at my house waiting for their parents to get home. (Since I work from home, I’m usually around.) They’re teenagers now and do all the teenager-type stuff – especially bickering among themselves as all siblings do at that age. I know they’ll be great husbands and fathers one day, though. And I hope their kids drop by my house, too, even if it’s only to use the bathroom.

Social Media Matters: Jimmy Kimmel’s YouTube strategy pays off

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Feb. 17, 2012
Metro section

Jimmy Kimmel’s YouTube strategy pays off

If you’re a blogger or Facebook user, there’s nothing more annoying than finding a great video on YouTube and then being prohibited from embedding it on your blog or stream it online on Facebook because of overly restrictive copyright or ownership issues.

Television shows are especially notorious for this. The CBS television network in the U.S., for example, doesn’t allow anyone from Canada to view their video clips on their website or even YouTube.

Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel

They are but one of many. It seems to be standard practice. It’s especially annoying when a media outlet will force you to watch an advertisement before your video starts, only to then get a notice that you aren’t allowed to watch the video because you live outside the U.S. That’s happened to me before.

One refreshing exception to this, however, is late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel wants people to share his show’s video clips and makes it easy to do so by allowing embedding and streaming – even in Canada.

On Feb. 13, Mashable.com reported that Kimmel’s YouTube-friendly video-sharing strategy is paying off for him – big time!

According to the article written by Sam Laird, Kimmel’s channel ‘is YouTube’s 98th-most-viewed part­ner channel of all-time, according to site information. YouTube’s partnership program invites creators of extremely popular videos to monetize their uploads via ad-hosting or rentals while splitting the income with YouTube. For Kimmel, the double-dipping is paying off – his YouTube channel generates between $1 million and $2 million annually, ‘a person close to the show’ tells The Wall Street Journal.’ As a fan and blogger, I’m very happy to see that Kimmel’s efforts to leverage YouTube and his show are paying off. I wish more would figure that out!

Top 20 television shows with social media buzz

Trendrr

According to Trendrr.com, the top social media activity-inducing television shows for the week of February 6-12 were: Cable top 10: 1) America’s Choice 2012: Colorado, Minnesota & Missouri (CNN); 2) Maine Caucus (multiple networks); 3) Jersey Shore (MTV); 4) SpongeBob SquarePants (Nick); 5) WWE Raw (USA); 6) The Walking Dead (AMC); 7) South Park (Comedy Central); 8 ) Teen Mom 2 (MTV); 9) WWE SmackDown! (Syfy); and 10) Tosh.0 (Comedy Central).

Meanwhile, the top 10 buzzworthy shows on traditional networks for the week were: 1) The 54th Annual Grammy Awards (CBS); 2) The Vampire Diaries (The CW); 3) The Simpsons (Fox); 4) The Voice (NBC); 5) The Big Bang Theory (CBS); 6) Family Guy (Fox); 7) How I Met Your Mother (CBS); 8 ) Two and a Half Men (CBS); 9) Gossip Girl (The CW); and 10) NCIS (CBS).

Television ratings are one thing, but the measured buzz on social media sites must also be taken into account when determining viewer engagement. If I were a CBS executive, I’d be feeling pretty good right now with five of the top 10 shows on the list. And you have to give it to The Simpsons! Now in its 23rd season after debuting way back in 1989, it’s on the threshold of airing its 500th episode and still has people talking!

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Each week, I suggest three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current as of Feb. 14.

Austin Mahone
Austin Mahone

1) Austin – 15 year old singer (357,067 subscribers): I’d never heard of Austin until I saw one of his videos pop up in an online search for something else. Austin Mahone is a 15-year-old singer who lives in San Antonio, Tex. He started off making music videos with a friend but then went on his own, making mostly covers of others’ songs. For a brief time in late 2011, his cover of Justin Bieber’s Christmas song Mistletoe was reportedly more popular than Bieber’s original. While Bieber’s original now has 10 times more views than Mahone’s cover, it’s still a pretty big feather in Mahone’s cap! (Most popular video: ‘Mistletoe – Justin Bieber – music video cover by Austin Mahone – with lyrics’ – 9,505,432 views.)

Tanner Patrick
Tanner Patrick

2) Tanner Patrick (64,101 subscribers): Patrick is another talented young singer who regularly posts videos of his covers of other popular songs, including It Will Rain by Bruno Mars, Paradise by Coldplay and – again – Under the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber. His channel is relatively new, only having been started in August 2011, but it is certainly gathering a loyal following with tens of thousands of subscribers so far and – more astonishingly – more than six million total video views! (Most popular video: ‘Foster The People – ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ Cover by Tanner Patrick – with lyrics’ – 2,690,865 views.)

Adele
Adele

3) AdeleVEVO (subscriber statistics not provided): Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll likely know that British singer Adele swept the Grammys with six awards this year. On her official YouTube channel, you’ll find all her greatest hits. Although the number of subscribers is not provided, it’s fair to say there are more than just a few people who follow her on a regular basis since all the videos on her channel have been viewed a total of about 500 million times. After Adele’s spectacular performance of Rolling in the Deep at the Grammys, I’m sure this channel’s popularity has grown exponentially in the past week. (Most popular video: ‘Adele – Rolling In The Deep’ – 233,373,137 views.)

Hump Day: May your entire week be filled with happy surprises

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I attended a banquet where four outstanding members of the local community were honoured. Three of them knew they were getting an award. The fourth did not. Keeping this secret from her was no piece of cake, either.

It’s almost impossible to surprise this person because she’s quite active in social media and someone was bound to slip up and announce the award to her by mistake. Thankfully, the surprise was kept until the very end when her name was announced. She was speechless and admitted that it takes a lot to surprise her.

I’m a lot like that, too. I’m pretty difficult to surprise. The only way I could be surprised with a birthday party would be if it was held in July. (My birthday is in March.) That would definitely surprise me.

I’d also be surprised if I won the lottery. Sure, I buy tickets, but the odds are against me. But, you know, someone has to win and it might as well be me, eh? Oh sure, it could be you, too, but what fun would that be for me? (Did I say that out loud?) YouTube is a great website to watch surprise videos. They’re addictive, too. Kids are surprised when they get that special toy for Christmas. Celebrities surprise fans by showing up at their house.

Soldiers surprise their families by coming home early. Couples surprise their parents by announcing a pregnancy. These are actually a lot of fun to watch. Some of them are hilarious, while some are very touching and bring a tear to the eye. Yeah, I think it would difficult if not impossible to surprise me.

In this context, I mean a happy surprise, of course.

As for nasty surprises, well those are another thing. I’m sure we’ve all received unwelcome surprises; an unexpected layoff, a sudden death of someone close to us, an accident or an unexpected hefty bill. These are the surprises that we can all do without, but they’re part of life. We’ve all had one of those days that starts out like any other perfectly routine day only to end in doing something that we would have never imagined earlier when we woke up – like sitting at the bedside of someone who’s sick in the hospital, planning a funeral or recovering from an injury.

How many have awakened in the morning thinking that today would be just like any other only to end the day lying in a morgue inside a body bag? That would definitely be a surprise, don’t you think? I often wonder if people get premonitions about these things. In the few seconds before you hit another car head on, does a little voice tell you, ‘Didn’t I tell you that buying those green bananas was a bad idea?’ I suppose it’s a question to which I’ll never get an answer, unless of course I’m the one getting the green banana warning. And so help me, if I do, I’ll be slamming on the brakes and getting the heck out of that car before hitting that speeding tanker truck carrying a double load of gasoline. Maybe I should just walk around with pillows tied to me while carrying a couple of fire extinguishers.

Like everyone, I’ve had nasty surprises. That telephone call telling you that someone died unexpectedly. And there’s the supposedly routine meeting with a boss that ends up being the one telling you that you’re being laid off. For married people or those living with their significant other, it could be a breakup that comes completely out of the blue. You thought you were the perfect couple. They cringed whenever they heard your voice.

There are so many people out there who’ve been blindsided by breakups. It must be devastating to have your entire world torn out from under you, especially when you had no inkling that anything was wrong.

What I hate when getting a nasty surprise is the sinking feeling in your stomach, not to mention that jump your heart makes. Perhaps it’s adrenaline to stop you from fainting, I don’t know. I just know it’s a feeling that I’ve felt before and one for which I don’t mind waiting a long time before feeling again.

If you’ve had your share of nasty surprises lately, take it upon yourself to turn that karma around and give a nice surprise to someone else. Buy someone flowers. Send them a nice card. Offer to shovel the snow off their walk. If you give pleasant surprises to someone else, you’re bound to get some in return.

We can’t always control the bad things that happen to us, but we can sure as heck make sure that good things happen to others. That’s one thing over which we definitely have full control. One thing’s for sure… you’ll be surprised at how good you’ll feel by happily surprising someone else.

My wish for you is that this week will only be filled with happy surprises. The kind that bring tears of joy, not tears of sadness.

The kind that make you go ‘Oh yeah!’ instead of ‘Oh no;’ the kind that floor you because you can’t believe your good fortune rather than making you drop to the floor in grief; the kind that make you want to celebrate the anniversary of that day forever rather than dread it every year.’ For this week, at least, let’s hope all our surprises are ones that make these cold winter days make us feel like we’re sitting on a Hawaiian beach at sunset while sipping a drink with a name we can’t pronounce.

Social Media Matters: Parents should be ‘in the know’ online

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
Metro section

Parents should be ‘in the know’ online

AllFacebook.com posted an article on Feb. 2 that every parent should read called 33 Codes Your Kids Use On Facebook.  The post reproduces a chart developed by SocialShield which acts as an easy reference tool for the code words – many of them sexual or bullying in nature – used by teens when chatting with friends online. There were certainly a few of them that raised my eyebrows!

SocialShieldIn a SocialShield news release issued Feb. 2, CEO George Garrick said, ‘Many parents think friending their child on social networks is enough to monitor their activities and protect them, yet time and time again it’s shown that it isn’t. Most parents don’t have the time to keep up with the sheer volume of interactions or have the understanding of the online language to really get what their kids are saying or what people are saying to their kids. This makes it really easy for problems to go unnoticed.’ Some of the code words include POS (parent over shoulder), P911 (parent emergency), AITR (adult in the room), HSWM (have sex with me), BIH (burn in hell), sugarpic (a suggestive or erotic photo of oneself, i.e. ‘She sent me a sugarpic.’) and 5 (wait a few minutes, parent in the room). There are many others that parents should acquaint themselves with, as well. (Click here for a PDF version of the entire list.)

According to the news release, SocialShield is ‘the leading cloudbased social network monitoring service’ and ‘gives parents affordable, easy-to-use, state-of-the-art tools to help them enhance Internet safety for their children in the online environment.’

Twitter threats anger singer

Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue

Popular Australian singer, songwriter and actress Kylie Minogue has called in the police to investigate threats made against her on Twitter. On Tuesday, she tweeted, ‘I love 1,033,861 of you LOVERS, but 1 is not a lover, just a deluded weirdo making threats #andthatdoesnotmakeyouspecial SO..police alerted’. (Minogue’s pet term for her fans is ‘lovers.’) Minogue and her team provided no further details, according to a report published on Feb. 7 in the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.

I’ve always found it astounding how brave people get when they post to ‘anonymous’ Twitter accounts. They’ll say anything, no matter how defamatory or preposterous. These trolls need to remember, though, that the people they’re trying to attack are watching – and printing every single one of their tweets as evidence for court when the inevitable happens and a lawsuit is launched. Anyone who thinks they’re tweeting into a void just because they have very few followers is deluding themselves. Once someone becomes aware that you’re spreading lies about them, the jig is up.

Everything is printed for evidence in court. Trolls can try deleting their Twitter accounts and tweets, but they never truly disappear. The ‘print’ button and screen captures are wonderful things for those being attacked – but not so great for the bullies and trolls who believe they’re protected by the fallacy of online anonymity.

I hope Minogue finds the Twitter user who thinks they’re getting away with it and that authorities throw the book at him or her! This won’t be the first or last time this happens, either. The number of similar cases will explode as court precedents are set and it becomes easier to find out who is spreading lies about you on Twitter.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Each week, I suggest three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current as of Feb. 7.

1) Tetesaclaques.tv (4,108 subscribers): If you haven’t seen the hilarious Têtes à Claques videos produced by Salambo Productions, they’re a real treat. Produced in Quebec, these animations feature a combination of crude animation and real-life facial features (eyes and mouth) that make for a visual that is a combination of creepy and gut-bustingly funny. The videos are in French, but English versions exist, as well. (Personally, I find the French ones a lot funnier.) While earlier animations clocked in at just a few minutes long, recent ones are full-fledged sitcom length of just under 23 minutes long. If you’re a fan, the company’s channel hosts nearly 200 videos. (Most popular video: Le Willi Waller 2006 – 1,231,876 views.)

2) TACtv (778 subscribers): This is the official channel for English Têtes à Claques videos. While the French channel has nearly 200 videos posted, the English version only has 24. Still worth watching, of course, although a bit of the humour is lost. However, if you’ve never seen the French-language originals, you won’t have a reference point and will likely be thoroughly entertained. No new English videos have been posted since June 2009, so it’s a safe bet to assume they never caught on. (A good reason to learn French!) (Most popular video: The Pilot – 83,663 views.)

3) SourceFed (245,426 subscribers): This channel created by YouTube star Phil DeFranco has only been online since Jan. 23 but already has a quarter-million subscribers. Not bad, huh? According to an article about DeFranco published in The Tech Chronicles on Feb. 6, ‘SourceFed includes shows like 20 Minutes or Less, which features rapid-fire takes on the news; Curb Cash, a man-on-the-street quiz show; and One on One, an interview series.’ (Most popular video: Being Gay Makes You Better?! aka How to Alienate your Audience on Day 1 – 466,345 views.)