Category Archives: Internet

Hump Day: Media should ban anonymous comments on their websites

Hump Day 2 cropped

(Editor’s note: This is a slightly edited version of what appeared in the newspaper, so I’ve removed reference to the newspaper in this post since it’s not exactly how it was published.)

I heard a great saying recently which I’ve found myself repeating over and over: ‘Not my circus. Not my monkeys.’ Whenever I get the urge to ride in on my trusty white steed and get involved in an argument (usually online) which I find to be unfair to someone, I usually regret it. No; correction. I always regret it. Always.

Through the years, I’ve had to learn to mind my own business. Unless the so-called victim is in a position of weakness (physically or mentally), they can usually take care of themselves. They don’t need me showing up like some blowhard willing to take over the battle for them. I hate it when people do that to me because they usually make things 10 times worse. After being reminded a number of times over the years, I’ve come to realize that most people don’t need me meddling. I usually make things 10 times worse, too. Actually, being the perfectionist that I am, I usually make them 20 times worse.

Online battles are the worst because of the frequent anonymity of those taking part. I’ve been sorely tempted a number of times to start acting like a meddlesome old aunt in a soap opera in trying to defend people, protect them or help them win an argument. Over the years, I’ve sometimes given in to temptation and butted in, but it has always been to my profound and astronomical regret.

What usually happens is that this meddlesome old aunt here gets yelled at and thrown in a nursing home called Shady Acres Home for the Incurably Nosey and Frequently Confused. We pretty much just spend our days with our hands tied down to the arms of our rocking chairs so that we’re not tempted to go online, and with extra-sticky duct tape over our mouths so that we’re not even able to talk.

People can get into heated debates anywhere, but online battles tend to be the most volatile. Websites which still allow anonymous comments are sad places, indeed. If a news story is about a tragedy, someone is bound to chime in that the victims deserved it. If someone young dies in an accident, someone is bound to comment that they were probably drunk and should have known better.

trollAnd God help any good news from government. I swear that the government (of any political stripe) could announce the happiest news on the planet – people could be cheering in the streets, editorials could be universally positive, Jesus himself could high-five every politician on shore after a leisurely stroll on the water – yet some anonymous twit will rain on everyone’s parade and criticize, insult, attack and demean. I’ve kind of grown immune to it, but it still gets to me sometimes.

Earlier this week, an agreement was reached between a local municipality and a citizen to remove a roundabout at an intersection due to a human rights complaint. The individual, who is visually impaired, stated that she found it difficult to cross the intersection because the way it was designed meant that she could not determine from which direction traffic was coming. Fair enough. I’m certain there was no malice on the part of the municipality or those who designed the intersection. They simply wanted to alter traffic flow for a number of legitimate reasons, probably to slow down traffic in a busy area of town.

I should not be surprised anymore, but online discussion among the anonymous twits swiftly went anti-government, anti-French, anti-this and anti-that. Some wondered whether the majority should have to pander to one person. Compassion and understanding are certainly not alive and well in online comments sections.

Are we that pathetic as a society that a visually impaired person who wins a human rights complaint is attacked for their disability and for the language they speak? Municipalities can’t just alter infrastructure on the whim of one person unless there’s very good reason. In this case, it was determined that the reason was indeed very good. Live and learn. Move on. It won’t be the first time and it certainly won’t be the last time.

‍Trolls can be the stereotypical knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who live in their parents’ basement and wear sweatpants all day, or they can look like harmless average Joe Blows just going about their daily business. That’s the scary part.

Either way, we must declare war on ‍trolls. The grasslands on which they feed – the comments sections of media websites which still allow anonymity – must be torched. Media that change or completely close their anonymous online comments sections will have my eternal admiration. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Social Media Matters: Babies, coffee mugs make for new trend

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, May 3, 2013
Metro section

Babies, coffee mugs make for new trend

The newest craze to take the online world by storm has parents everywhere reaching for their coffee mugs.

Baby mugging
Baby mugging sample photo courtesy of the Mommy Shorts blog.

“Baby mugging” is a new fad that involves taking a photo of your baby while holding a coffee mug between the camera lens and the child, thus giving the illusion that the baby is actually inside the mug. You wouldn’t think that something so simple would go viral, but it has.

According to an article published on Mashable.com on April 25, the craze has taken over on Instagram after being recently kickstarted “by blogger Illana Wiles of Mommy Shorts who snapped a pic of her baby, Harlow, in a black mug and posted it to her Instagram (@mommyshorts).”

Most popular media Facebook pages for Canadians

According to socialbakers.com, the five most popular Facebook pages in the media category for Canadians this week are: 1) YouTube (1,571,643 Canadian likes); 2) Facebook (1,490,331); 3) MuchMusic (590,983); 4) MTV (547,319); 5) TSN (403,291). And lest you think Canadians are a conservative bunch, coming up in sixth place is Playboy’s Facebook page with 305,277 Canadian likes among its 8,358,850 total likes. (Statistics current to April 30.)

Top environment-related websites

forestsThis week’s top 10 websites courtesy of Alexa.com focus on the environment. Rankings are current to April 30.

1) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA warns of dangerous weather, charts U.S. seas and skies, guides Americans’ use and protection of ocean and coastal resources, etc.); 2) Care2 (Largest social action network making a difference in healthy and green living, human rights, animal welfare and other important causes); 3) National Park Service: Parknet (Official website of U.S. national parks); 4) Mother Nature Network (Environmental news site); 5) Environmental Protection Agency (Current issues information for the U.S., reports on 17 key environmental topics from air to water, kids page, laws/regulations, etc.); 6) Guardian.co.uk — Environment (News and features from the U.K. about the global environment with sections on climate change, conservation, travel, energy, ethical living, etc.); 7) Environmental Working Group (Non-profit environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C.); 8) Environmental Graffiti (Website dedicated to providing the most useful environmental knowledge and debate); 9) Grist Magazine (Environmental news topics with humour); 10) The Daily Green (According to its description, offers “real green for real people”).

This week’s featured YouTube channels

This week’s featured channels touch on entertainment and gaming, pranks and dentistry — quite a diverse set of subjects! Statistics are current to April 30.

1) Machinima (7,394,737 subscribers): According to its channel description, “Machinima is the number one video entertainment network for gamers around the world, featuring gameplay videos, trailers, original series, livestreams, and the most up-to-date news for the gamer generation.” They’re not exaggerating they say they’re the most popular gaming channel — nearly 7.4 million subscribers and an incredible 4.2 billion (yes, billion) total video views. If you’re into online gaming and haven’t discovered this channel yet, consider yourself in heaven. (Most popular video: Avatar Trailer The Movie (New Extended HD Trailer) — 23,558,872 views.)

2) PrankvsPrank (2,616,471 subscribers): I don’t know how this couple stays together. Their channel is all about pranks — pranks on each other (and then getting revenge) and pranks on other people. I’m not sure why they don’t see the pranks on each other coming, but when you’re getting pranked, even the most mundane daily task can go awry! With nearly 400 million video views and 2.6 million subscribers, their antics are obviously quite popular. (Most popular video: Girlfriend caught cheating prank — PrankvsPrank — 14,317,141 views.)

3) madisonwidentist (8 subscribers): Madison, Wisconsin, dentists Dr. Laura Tills and Dr. Matthew Kutz of Riverplace Dental recently launched a new YouTube channel where they share answers to common dental questions. This is not only an excellent marketing tool for their practice, but also a good educational tool for dentistry in general. They even paid to distribute a news release on PR Web, so they’re definitely taking the project seriously! Uploaded videos so far touch on topics that include distraction for kids visiting the dentist, pain, and the causes of tooth decay. The channel was launched late last summer. I love seeing medical professionals use social media like this. (Most popular video: Dentist Madison WI (608) 222-9142 — 576 views.)

The end of Social Media Matters

This is the final Social Media Matters column for the Times & Transcript. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the approximately 150 columns that have appeared over the past three years as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them! I know I’ve learned a lot in my weekly searches for content. I hope the column has been of value to you, as well.

Many thanks to you, the readers, and also to the editorial staff at the newspaper for making Social Media Matters possible. Please refer to my website and free weekly e-newsletter for some of the same features I covered here every Friday. To subscribe to my e-newsletter, visit my website. (Editor’s note: See subscription area in upper right-hand corner of the website.) See you online!

Social Media Matters: Number of Canadian seniors online jumps

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, April 26, 2013
Metro section

Number of Canadian seniors online jumps

According to a report published by the CBC on April 18, Statistics Canada says that Internet usage among seniors increased dramatically from 2000 to 2012.

Bertha Kronenberg is one of many Canadian seniors taking to the Internet to keep in touch with friends and family. (Photo courtesy of Revera Inc.)
Bertha Kronenberg is one of many Canadian seniors taking to the Internet to keep in touch with friends and family. (Photo courtesy of Revera Inc.)

The number of online Canadians aged 75 and older increased from five per cent to 27 per cent between 2000 and 2012. As well, according to the article, “A report last year by seniors’ services provider Revera Inc. in partnership with Leger Marketing found that more than half of online seniors older than 75 belong to a social networking site such as Facebook, and more than one-third of them go to those sites daily.”

Seniors who keep in touch with the outside world via social media tend to be healthier, as well, according to a researcher interviewed for the article. “We know from other research that keeping socially active can be very beneficial for wellness,” said Katherine Sellen, a post-doctoral researcher at the Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab. “Keeping active physically is important but social activity also helps to elevate mood and to help to actually impact healing and it can keep cognitive function ongoing as well as one ages. So what we wanted to do was see if we could actually facilitate that social activity.”

According to Ms. Sellen, researchers have even tried out tablets (the computer kind, not the medication kind) with chronic pain patients, and “it’s had a lot of success,” she says.

YouTube facts and figures

YouTube1) More than one billion unique users visit YouTube each month; 2) More than four billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube; 3) 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute; 4) 70 per cent of YouTube traffic comes from outside the United States; 5) YouTube is localized in 53 countries and across 61 languages. Source: YouTube.

Most popular Facebook check-in locations in Canada

FacebookAccording to socialbakers.com, here are the top five locations that Facebook users have check into in Canada over the past year:

1) Toronto Pearson International Airport (506,456 check-ins); 2) Vancouver International Airport (383,507); 3) Aéroport Montréal-Trudeau Airport (245,663); 4) Centre Bell (133,389); 5) Air Canada Centre (90,935).

Top quotations-related websites

Bombings, foiled terrorist attacks, devastating explosions. It’s been a very difficult couple of weeks for many people. The news has been filled with much negativity. While not forgetting those killed and injured who should (and must!) remain in our thoughts, it’s also important to remain positive and hope for the best despite the bad things happening. This week’s top 10 websites courtesy of Alexa.com focus on places where we can find inspirational quotations.

brainyquote1) BrainyQuote (World’s largest quotation site.); 2) Wikiquote (Quote database built collaboratively using Wiki software.); 3) ThinkExist.com Quotations (Thousands of searchable quotes by author, topic and contributor.); 4) Quote Garden (Inspirational, thought-provoking, humorous and literary.); 5) The Quotations Page (Nine different collections of quotes.); 6) Board of Wisdom (Share and debate famous quotes, sayings and witticisms.); 7) The Phrase Finder (Large archive of phrases, sayings, quotations and proverbs, along with their meanings and origins.); 8) Bartleby.com (Classics and general reference works.); 9) About.com — Quotations (Clichés, euphemisms, quotes from famous people, etc.); 10) Inspirational Quotes (Range of inspiring quotations on select topics.)

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Have a favourite YouTube channel? Let me know and I may feature it here. Statistics are current to April 23.

tokyo1) Life in Tokyo (31,683 subscribers): Ever wonder what it’s like to live in Japan? Kevin Cooney is an American who blogs and posts video about his life in Tokyo for the past 11 years “and counting.” You can also follow him on Twitter at @TokyoCooney. “Though I whine a lot, I love this city and Japanese culture,” he writes in his YouTube channel description. Kevin’s channel is immensely popular with nearly 6.5 million total video views to his credit. (Most popular video: Racism in Tokyo — 402,949 views.)

Josh Sundquist2) Motivational Speaker Josh Sundquist (147,150 subscribers): When Josh Sundquist was nine years old, he lost his leg to cancer. As he grew, he decided to devote his life to inspiring others as a motivational speaker and author. When watching his videos, it doesn’t take long to realize that he has an infectious personality and great sense of humour. (Most popular video: Would you want your leg back? Do you have abs? (ask Josh) — 954,196 views.)

slowmo-guys3) The Slow Mo Guys (1,823,860 subscribers): Because everything looks way cooler in slow motion, you don’t want to miss this channel. Gav and Dan shoot their videos in HD using high-speed movie cameras. If you like to watch things blow up in slow motion, this is the channel for you. Apparently, you’d be in pretty good company with nearly two million subscribers who have propelled this channel to more than 200 million total video views. (Most popular video: Giant 6ft Water Balloon – The Slow Mo Guys — 32,328,970 views.)

Social Media Matters: Boston bombings bring out best, worst in social media

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, April 19, 2013
Metro section

Boston bombings bring out best, worst in social media

The Boston Marathon bombings earlier this week brought out the best and worst in the social media world. From heroes to zeros:

It was clear that social media has made significant progress since the last time a major terrorist attack (domestic or foreign-led) was perpetrated on U.S. soil. On September 11, 2001, in the days before social media, finding loved ones online was virtually impossible.

Boston Marathon 2013 logoIn stark contrast, today, with high-speed Internet, texting and smartphones, relatives and friends worried about those at the site of the bombing were able to find their loved ones quickly. The Boston Marathon’s website also kept running tallies on who’d already finished the race, so those who finished a few hours prior to the attack were likely long gone from the site and safe.

The bad? Hoax photos of children reportedly killed posted to Twitter and Facebook and being shared willy-nilly. Charity scams telling Twitter users that $1 per retweet would be donated to victims. Companies for not understanding that business-related social media posts during tragedies is dumb. And the winner: Epicurious.com’s Twitter team for suggesting post-bombing recipes for you to try. I kid you not.

Top running-related websites

In honour of the runners out there — whether you just jog or participate in marathons — here’s a list of the top running-related websites online according to rankings by Alexa.com. The runners I know are resolute in their goals and dedicated to pushing themselves beyond their limits. It is by using these skills that I hope you continue running in marathons free of the fear of terrorism — or perhaps even despite the fear of terrorism.

Runner's World magazine
Runner’s World magazine

1) Runner’s World Online (Daily running news, tips for beginners and advanced, injury prevention, equipment reviews. U.S. race listings.); 2) Map My Run (Provides running enthusiasts with the tools and community they need to improve their training and become better runners through interactive maps, workout logs, fitness calculators, community groups, etc.); 3) Active.com — Running (Running, training information, racing tips, and race registration); 4) LetsRun.com (Links to news items covering running topics, nutrition and health information.); 5) About.com — Running and Jogging (Regular features, forums and chat as well as nearly 500 tested links to training tips, running gear, hashing, trail running, youth, masters, etc.); 6) Cool Running (News, fitness information, race event calendar, message board, online running log and training tips.); 7) Marathon de Paris (Race standings, merchandise, etc.); 8) New York Road Runners (Running, yoga, health-walking, deep-water running, stretching clinics and training.); 9) The Sports Coach (Brian MacKenzie, senior U.K. athletic coach who provides coaching and training information to improve performance.); 10) MarathonGuide.com (Complete marathon race directory, results, athlete and race news, results, history, etc.)

Top 10 mobile apps for running

CardioTrainer
CardioTrainer

According to an article entitled The Best Mobile Apps for Running written by Kissairis Munoz for HuffPost Healthy Living Canada on November 9, 2012 — so it should still be current — here are the top 10 apps available for runners to use when practising the sport they love. Unless otherwise noted, the apps are available for both Apple and Android versions.

1) CardioTrainer (free — Android only); 2) Couch to 5k ($1.99); 3) Fooducate (free); 4) Ghost Race (free version with fewer features or $0.99, Apple only); 5) iSmoothRun ($4.99, Apple only); 6) MapMyRun + GPS Running (free version with fewer features or $2.99, also available for Blackberry); 7) Nike + Running (free); 8) RunKeeper (free); 9) runtastic (free version with fewer features or $5.99, also available for Blackberry and Windows Phone); 10) Upbeat Workouts for Runners ($2.99, Apple only.)

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Keeping with this week’s theme, the featured channels this week focus on running. Statistics are current to April 16. Have a favourite channel? Let me know and I may feature it here.

1) Natural Running Center (2,323 subscribers): This is the companion YouTube channel for the website www.naturalrunningcenter.com. According to its channel description, its mission is “educating all runners on form, footwear, and running naturally.” In total, the channel’s videos have nearly 350,000 views. (Most popular video: Principles of Natural Running with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella — 293,799 views.)

2) insidenikerunning (14,172 subscribers): This is Nike’s official running-related channel that features a number of videos aimed at enhancing your running experience. The channel is very popular with nearly 11.3 million total video views. Playlists include Nike Running Race Coach, Nike Cross Nationals, and Inspiration. (Most popular video: Join the Nike+ Revolution — 3,934,430 views.)

3) The B.A.A. Boston Marathon (751 subscribers): This is the official YouTube channel for the Boston Marathon. Current total channel views are slightly less than 300,000. (Most popular video: 2012 Boston Marathon — 37,667 views.)

Social Media Matters: N.Y. first responders issue social media guidelines

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, April 12, 2013
Metro section

N.Y. first responders issue social media guidelines

In the past few weeks, both the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) have issued new social media guidelines.

FDNYAccording to an article by John Surico published in The Village Voice on April 8, the FDNY issued social media guidelines last weekend following controversy last month over EMTs who were found to using social media in less-than-desirable ways.

“Last month, the EMT son of FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano was caught by the New York Post tweetin’ up a racist storm,” the article stated. “He jeered at minority groups from his computer/phone keyboard, not keeping in mind that, hey, his dad is the head of the FDNY. Also, it was later found that other EMTs were posting pictures of (and then berating) their patients online.”

The NYPD, meanwhile, is asking its officers not to post photos of uniformed officers (either themselves or others) online unless the photos are from official police ceremonies.

Top recipe websites

A few weeks ago, I featured the top brand-related recipe websites based on Alexa.com’s rankings. This week, I’m featuring the overall most popular recipe websites. This week’s statistics are current to April 9.

allrecipes logo1) Allrecipes (Thousands of recipes submitted by home cooks. Searchable database, menu ideas. Recipe reviews and ratings.); 2) Cooks.com (Recipe search, diet and nutrition, cooking articles and community forum.); 3) Epicurious (Recipes, menus, cooking articles, food guides, etc. Search 100,000 recipes from Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Self, cookbooks, chefs, and home cooks.); 4) Food.com (Thousands of rated recipes, each with nutritional information. Post a recipe and get its free nutritional analysis.); 5) Simply Recipes (Family food and cooking blog with more than 1,000 tested recipes. Also: photographs and instructions.); 6) BBC Online Recipes (Searchable recipe finder.); 7) Smitten Kitchen (Home cooking blog with an emphasis on simplifying challenging recipes.); 8) What’s Cooking America (Recipes, culinary dictionary, history and legends of some foods, as well as dinner party menu ideas.); 9) Recipe4Living (Large index of user-submitted recipes.); 10) CDKitchen (More than 100,000 searchable recipes that allow users to change serving sizes, print in various formats, share on social media and more.)

Top 10 Android apps

androidThe top 10 Android apps according to the Google Play store as of April 9. The cost of the app (in Canadian dollars) is also provided. 1) SwiftKey Keyboard ($3.99); 2) Titanium Backup Pro Key Root ($6.49); 3) Nova Launcher Prime ($4); 4) HD Widgets ($1.99); 5) Minecraft – Pocket Edition ($6.99); 6) Poweramp Full Version Unlocker ($3.99); 7) Beautiful widgets ($2.69); 8) TuneIn Radio Pro ($5.14); 9) Tasker ($2.49); 10) OfficeSuite Pro 7 (PDF & HD) ($15.29).

YouTube Top 10

YouTubeThese are the current top 10 channels (based on subscribers) on YouTube. Statistics are as of April 9 and are courtesy of socialbakers.com:

1) Smosh (8,936,517 subscribers); 2) New Video Every Tuesday (8,226,845 subscribers); 3) Jenna Marbles (8,157,792 subscribers); 4) nigahiga (7,747,669 subscribers); 5) Rihanna (7,515,294); 6) Machinima (7,103,128); 7) Become a Bro Today! (6,446,088); 8) OneDirectionVEVO (5,824,077); 9) Hola Soy German (video todos los viernes) (5,578,955 views); 10) freddiew / BrandonJLa (5,193,149).

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature YouTube channels for you to check out. Statistics are current to April 9. Have a favourite channel? Let me know and I may feature it here.

1) Howard Pinsky — Online educator (214,494 subscribers): If you’re a professional graphic designer or just someone who dabbles in it using Photoshop, this channel’s tutorials will definitely interest you. Focusing on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom tutorials, the channel “provides free photoshop training, courses, and support videos for the design community to learn from,” according to its description. With a couple of hundred thousand subscribers and nearly 66 million total video views, the online community is certainly showing their vote of confidence in these tutorials. (Most popular video: Lose Weight FAST In Photoshop! Extreme Makeover! (Photoshop CS4) — 8,668,813 views.)

2) Tutvid Photoshop & Dreamweaver Tutorials (138,608 subscribers): This is another how-to video tutorial channel focusing on graphic design, specifically Photoshop and Dreamweaver software. The channel has been around forever — at least in YouTube terms — having been founded in 2006, and has accumulated nearly 38 million total views. (Most popular video: Dreamweaver Tutorial – Create a basic Webpage Insert Content — 1,395,375 views.)

3) C.G.P. Grey (605,077 subscribers): This channel features a series of fast-paced informative documentary-style videos that aim to answer “complicated” questions such as how one becomes pope, as well as the difference between Great Britain, England and the United Kingdom. The channel has more than 50 million total views. (Most popular video: The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained — 3,924,219 views.)