Monthly Archives: September 2012

Social Media Matters: Website helps you find the best airplane seat

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Sept. 28, 2012
Metro section

Website helps you find the best airplane seat

Do you travel often? If so, you may have figured out how and why to choose certain airplane seats. If you don’t travel that often, though, or are a frequent flyer travelling on an unfamiliar plane or airline, SeatGuru could save you a lot of discomfort.

SeatGuru goes through each plane in the fleets of most of the world’s major airlines and analyzes the best and worst seating options. Graphs of each plane’s seating are shown using colour codes denoting the best, average and bad seats. Scrolling over each seat gives you a rundown of its benefits or downfalls, including the reasons why it’s a good or bad choice.

The moral of the story: if you’re able to choose the seat on your flight, get the model of aircraft on which you’ll be travelling and look it up on SeatGuru! This gives you a leg up on the getting best seat possible and can mean the difference between a comfortable or miserable flight experience.

Need some self-imposed nagging?

HassleMe is a British website that allows users to set up alerts to remind themselves to do certain things, such as going to the gym, visiting their mother, feeding the fish or practising the piano.

When you arrive on the website’s home page, you find a message that says, “Hassle me roughly every (fill in the blank with a number) days, reminding me to (fill in the blank with what you want to be reminded about).” You can also add co-workers or children to the “hassle” to remind them of things, too .

For extra motivation, you can even make the hassles public. To read what kind of alerts users are setting up for themselves and others, click here. The service is free.

Looking for specialty kitchen tools?

If you’re like me and love shopping for kitchen gadgets, you’ve surely spent just as much time as I have driving all over town looking for specialty items that are nearly impossible to find. Often the Internet isn’t an option because the need is too urgent, for a recipe that is being made right then and there, so buying something locally is the preferred option.

If you have time to wait for items to be shipped to you, though, I’ve used a couple of Canadian specialty kitchen products websites and can vouch for them – at least in my experience: Golda’s Kitchen – Kitchenware for Canadians and Williams Food Equipment. Both websites are based in Canada and offer prices in Canadian dollars. Shipping is extra. You can also contact them toll-free by telephone.

Bad translations

There’s a hilarious Facebook page in French called Traductions de merde, which – roughly translated – means “really bad translations.” If you’re bilingual and are familiar enough with both English and French to know a bad translation when you see it, do yourself a favour and visit the page for a good laugh.

Basically, these are gut-bustingly funny (and sometimes scary!) examples of people who have obviously used an online translation service such as Google, which is OK for giving you the basic gist of what something means, but is certainly not meant to be professional and certainly not meant to be printed on packaging or anything official.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to Sept. 25.

1) TechCrunch (14,236 subscribers): According to its channel description, “TechCrunch is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.” This popular channel just hit the 10-million view mark this week. You can also check out their official website. (Most popular video: Swype Versus iPhone – 998,030 views.)

2) Samsung Mobile (95,727 subscribers): While a lot has been said in the past week about Apple’s release of its new iPhone 5, the new Samsung S III is nothing to sneeze at either. (This is the smartphone I use.) You may have seen the viral Samsung video commercial making the rounds online poking fun at Apple users who are standing in line to buy the new iPhone. It’s pretty funny, actually.Samsung’s official mobile channel is where “you can find the latest videos about our company and products,” according to its channel description. The channel features a number of playlists that feature product commercials and tutorials with a total of nearly 120 million views. (Most popular video: [GALAXY Note] Introducing Samsung GALAXY Note – 12,505,285 views.)

3) WIGS (88,036 subscribers): According to its channel description, WIGS’ is “the #1 channel for scripted drama on YouTube, brings you high-end, original series, short films, and documentaries, all starring female leads. Catch new episodes of WIGS series every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6 a.m. PT / 9 a.m. ET!” There doesn’t seem to be much professionally produced drama developed solely for YouTube, but someone’s certainly watching WIGS since it has more than 16.4 million total views! (Most popular video: WIGS ’90s Commercial V1 | Feat. Stephen Moyer, Jennifer Garner & Virginia Madsen | WIGS- 1,456,350 views.)

Hump Day: Brave immigrants make their home in Canada

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I recently met with someone from China who’s in the process of going through the immigration system in the hopes of moving to Moncton to start a business that will strengthen business ties between Canadian and Chinese companies.

We talked for more than hour. Truth be told, I could have stayed there all night chatting.

It was fascinating! I learned a lot in our conversation. We talked about many things: the almost unimaginable heavy traffic in Beijing, the weather there (very warm and humid in the summer!) and how daily life isn’t so dissimilar from Canada (people get up and go to work, pay mortgages, send their children to school, etc.).

We also chatted about how Christmas is becoming more and more popular as a social holiday. (Just search for ‘Beijing’ and ‘Christmas’ in Google and you’ll see what I mean.) The Chinese may not have midnight mass on Christmas Eve, but they sure have the holiday shopping tradition down pat!

This person’s goal is to help Chinese companies do business in Canada and vice versa. Certainly, it’s a noble cause that will benefit both economies and opens up new business opportunities for both countries. After all, to many of us regular folks, just the mere thought of doing business in China is one big complicated and very intimidating puzzle that causes our eyes to glaze over in confusion. The vastness of the country, the completely different traditions and the language barriers are certainly nothing to be downplayed. I can’t help but think they feel the same way about us, too.

And then there’s the time difference. We had coffee at 4:30 p.m. and my Chinese friend’s internal clock was on Beijing time – 11 hours ahead – or 3:30 a.m. the next morning. That’s rough. But I have to give it to them! They looked as fresh as a daisy and certainly didn’t look tired. They didn’t yawn once and I would have never known that, at least internally, they were probably yearning to be curled up in bed snoozing. That’s commitment! That’s determination! I was impressed.

If it were me, and I was the one in Beijing, I’d be walking through the hotel lobby carrying the bags under my eyes in two separate wheelbarrows while simultaneously bursting into crying jags and yawning so hard that my jaw would snap in half and the top of my head would fall backwards just hanging off my neck.

Yeah, I admit it. I’m a doughy, spoiled rotten guy. I like being comfortable. In fact, my idea of roughing it is not to sleep outdoors with just a sleeping bag between me and the stars, but to stay in a fivestar hotel with outdated curtains.Oh the humanity! Oh the horrors! Peel me a grape!

Bring me a Perrier! I think what my Chinese friend is doing so is amazingly brave. I’d never be able to do it. Pull up stakes and move half-way around the world? Move to a culture that is so fundamentally different from mine? Boy, that takes guts. I admire that. I really do.

Thank goodness for the courageous pioneers over history who left their homelands to settle elsewhere in search of better lives. I’m telling ya, had I lived way back in the 1600s when my ancestors sailed to Canada from La Rochelle, France, I would have taken a pass.

“Nope, I’m perfectly fine right where I am eating my baguette and drinking red wine! Thanks for the offer, though. You have fun in the snow and dying from scurvy on that lovely trip over!” I know one thing, I hope there’s no one in the world waiting for me to land there and start from scratch. They’ll be waiting a long time, because I’m not as adventurous and brave as all those wonderful people willing to start over in other countries.

I’ve always been truly impressed and in awe of immigrants. To leave everything – and everyone – you know takes a lot of courage and a tremendous amount of guts.

Immigrants work long hours doing what it takes to become successful. In fact, I think they put many of us to shame. We don’t know how good we have it – me included.

There aren’t just people moving from other countries to Canada, of course. We do our fair share of moving to foreign countries, too, in order to live and work. It’s not an urge I’ve ever had, so I really can’t relate, but I know a few people who’ve left Canada to build their lives elsewhere and have been very happy doing it.

Many of us have relatives in New England. I know I do! Massachusetts, especially, has a significant Acadian population that is working diligently to preserve its heritage. I run a Facebook group for lovers of that Acadian delicacy poutine râpée (in reality, a hand-me-down from German settlers), and you’d be surprised by the number of Americans in the group who are looking to buy poutines or wanting to learn how to make them so that the old tradition is not lost.

These days in the Moncton area, there’s no problem finding poutine at farmers’ market, in restaurants and in grocery store delis year-round. I can tell you one thing, there are many people who would love to have them available where they live. One lady from Texas (of Goguen heritage) even posted photos of her family’s poutine-making adventure. And they turned out pretty good!

I’m so impressed with the drive of my new Chinese friend who’s made up their mind to relocate here. I know they’ll be a huge success – and I’m sure that both Canada and China will benefit mutually from their new adventure. They’re braver than I am!

Are you a man who likes to sing? The Gentlemen of Harmony are seeking new members!

The Gentlemen of Harmony are seeking men in the Greater Moncton area of all ages who like to sing. The group sings various popular songs arranged in four-part “a cappella” harmony. If you sing in the shower or along with the radio, you’ll enjoy the Gentlemen of Harmony’s brand of music even more – and you’ll probably find out that you can sing even better than you thought!

The ability to read music is not required. If you can carry a tune, they’ll do the rest through a unique and simple learning system. After learning your part, you can sing with a quartet or in a larger chorus if you feel shy about your talent in the beginning.

The Gentlemen of Harmony will be holding an open house on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, as well as on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at 7 p.m. at the First United Baptist Church, 157 Queen Street, Moncton. No obligation to join! Come and find out what the group is all about. For more information, call Gerry Cormier at 858-5677.

Social Media Matters: Twitter gets badly needed redesign

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Sept. 21, 2012
Metro section

Twitter gets badly needed redesign

Twitter has finally received a badly needed redesign that makes it a lot easier for users to have a better-looking online presence using the popular microblogging service.

With 140 million users tweeting a total of 400 million times per day, Twitter is making its new profile pages look more like Facebook with a prominent cover photo. Twitter is also launching a new photo stream and new mobile apps. And there’s bad news if you post photos to Twitter using, TwitPic, yFrog or any other third-party service: they’ll eventually be useless. As the updates to Twitter take effect, you’ll no longer have that option and will have to use Twitter itself to upload photos.

Facebook hoaxes

If you’re active at all on Facebook, there’s no doubt you’ve seen this ongoing useless message pop up in your friends’ newsfeeds dozens of times. This is copied word for word from the most common version of this maddening hoax:

“To all my FB friends, may I request you to please do something for me: I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. However, with the recent changes in FB, the public can now see activities in any wall. This happens when our friends hit ‘like’ or ‘comment’, automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way. So I need your help. Only you can do this for me. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (do not click), a window will appear, now move the mouse on ‘FRIENDS’ (also without clicking), then down to ‘Settings’, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on ‘COMMENTS & LIKE’ by clicking on it. By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and my family will no longer become public. Many thanks! Paste this on your wall so your contacts would follow suit too, that is, if you care about your privacy.”

According to the excellent Facecrooks.com website, “First off, the message contains inaccurate information. There have not been recent changes to Facebook that allows the public to see activities on any wall. The privacy and sharing controls of the person sharing the item on Facebook determines the audience.”

The website goes on to warn readers that following the message’s instructions does nothing to protect anyone’s privacy – yours or your Facebook friend’s. “The only thing you’ll be doing is unsubscribing from any of their Facebook comments and likes. This kind of defeats the purpose of being friends with them in the first place.” Facecrooks.com’s advice: set your privacy and sharing settings to “friends only.”

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature three YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to Sept. 18.

1) Casino NB YouTube Channel (13 subscribers): Casino New Brunswick based in Moncton has its very own YouTube channel where it posts testimonials, television commercials and promotional videos. The channel’s 10 videos have a total of just more than 2,500 views. (Most popular video: Johnny Casino makes his Great Escape at Casino NB! – 707 views.)

2) Motor Trend (381,568 subscribers): If you’re a lover of cars, this is the channel for you. This is the YouTube companion to the popular magazine. The very active channel boasts literally hundreds of videos that have amassed an amazing 235 million views. Playlists include Epic Drives, Ignition, On Two Wheels, Wide Open Throttle, and 2012 Best Driver’s Car Week, among others.

The channel description is as follows: “Get your automotive adrenaline charge right here on the Motor Trend channel. From first drives and tests of the hottest new supercars, muscle cars and motorcycles, to the latest automotive news from around the world, to the incredible machinery and personalities from beyond the automotive mainstream, the Motor Trend channel has it all, delivered daily. The Motor Trend channel. We drive it. We ride it. We live it.”

For more information on Motor Trend, visit their website, Facebook page or Twitter at @MotorTrend. (Most popular video: Rat Rod vs Lamborghini Aventador! Roadkill Episode 5 – 11,532,599 views.)

3) Autobytel (7,523 subscribers): In a news release issued on Sept.18, the company boasted that its YouTube channel had recently surpassed the six million views mark. “In less than a year, the video channel which features vehicle first looks, in-depth vehicle walk-arounds, new car reviews, auto show coverage and industry insights, has become a dominant consumer-oriented automotive video channel,” the news release said.

The channel was founded on December 12, 2011. In the nine months since the channel was set up, Autobytel has already posted more than 330 videos that have been watched more than 6.3 million times. Very impressive for such a young channel! Playlists include Alternative Fuel, Sports Cars, Luxury Cars, Pickup Trucks, Convertibles, Luxury SUVs and 2012 Long Beach Grand Prix, among others.

For more information on Autobytel, check out their website or their Facebook page. (Most popular video: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Test Drive & Car Review – 218,965 views.)

Hump Day: Cancelled hunting shows send confusing message to viewers

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

When I read a Facebook update on Monday about how Global TV had just cancelled all its hunting shows, I was more than a bit shocked. I’m not a hunter, nor will I ever be a hunter, but I respect the right to hunt.

According to a report carried in the Atikokan Progress, a weekly newspaper published in the Northwestern Ontario community of (surprise!) Atikokan, the three shows being cancelled are the popular Canada in the Rough, The Canadian Tradition, and Angler & Hunter Television.

The report goes on to say, “By Global’s own admission, over one million viewers tune into the great Canadian block of outdoor shows including Angler & Hunter TV,” according to Angelo Lombardo of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), which produces Angler & Hunter TV.

Apparently, Global was under some pressure to cancel the shows from anti-hunting groups. The Vancouver Humane Society’s 2011 petition aimed at Global is mentioned in the article. “In its fall, 2011 newsletter, the Vancouver Human Society urged supporters to contact Global TV about the shows.”

Here’s what it said: “Global national television seems to think Canadians want to watch animals being killed for sport. Why else would it be running three different hunting shows?” No one could accuse me of not being an animal lover. I have two cats adopted from an animal shelter and a dog. I even sat on the board of directors of a local animal shelter for five years. I can’t read stories about abused animals. I can’t look at photos of abused animals. If anyone shares a photo of an abused animal on Facebook, I immediately unsubscribe from that person. I do it to preserve my emotional sanity. When someone starts to tell me a story about an abused animal, I tell them to stop. It’s too upsetting.

Those commercials with Sarah McLachlan’s mournful song Will You Remember Me playing as dogs and cats peer through cages waiting for a new home? Can anyone watch that without their heart breaking? I know I can’t. The channel gets changed the minute it starts.

When it comes to animals, I can’t stand any sort of sadness or abuse going their way. But hunting for food or conservation efforts? Well, now, that’s another story.

My late father was a life-long hunter, as were many of his brothers and friends. I have strong (and fond!) memories of my father returning from the woods after a week. He smelled bad. He was happy to be back with his family in a comfortable home. He’d rub his whiskers against our cheeks to tickle us and make us laugh.

Many times, he returned home empty-handed, but he and his buddies would often arrive at the house with a moose or deer in the back of a truck to show us. Depending on who got the kill, we’d enjoy moose or deer meat for several months afterwards. The meat would also make its way into traditional Acadian meat pies at Christmastime.

One thing always struck me about my father and hunting, though. To my recollection, he always talked about being fair to the animal. There was no such thing (at least in his later years – not sure what happened in he and his buddies’ younger and more foolish days) as jacking deer or moose with headlights. He always talked about being a fair hunter. And he also did his very best to find an animal that he wounded in order to finish the job. They didn’t leave a wounded animal to suffer just because it was inconvenient for them to look.

Good hunters, at least in my experience, believe in conservation. They care about the state of our forests and rivers. They care about the environment. They pick up their garbage after they’re done. To censor them in this way is baffling.

Now, I’m not sure if the Vancouver Human Society’s petition was the only reason Global cancelled these shows. It appears the ratings were strong, though. A million viewers for this block of shows during the weekend? That seems like very healthy ratings to me, especially for the relatively small audience that would be watching television at that time of the day and week.

But what gets me most is the fallacy that somehow cancelling these shows will reduce hunting. I’m not so sure. What I’m sure of, though, is that the absence of these shows or moving them to a more remote part of the dial will make exposing younger generations to examples of good hunting practices that much more difficult.

I’ve seen hunting shows in the past. They explain how to properly use equipment. They talk about safety. They talk about fair and ethical hunting practices. They talk about conservation and the environment. These are not drunken idiots who unfairly stalk deer in the middle of the night by shining bright lights in their faces so as to paralyze them in their tracks, making them easy targets for their bullets.

Let’s make sure we get rid of all those responsible examples of good hunting, shall we? Let’s just pretend hunting doesn’t happen. Let’s just pretend meat grows on trees and that herds cull themselves.

You think hunting is cruel? Try watching entire herds starve to death. That isn’t pretty by any means!

I’m all for political correctness, but actively working to rid the airwaves of examples of responsible and ethical hunting practices is short-sighted and naive.