Saturday, August 31, 2013

My son the photographer

Laval, QC
September 2012
Thematic. Muted Colors. Here.
Our little man took this photo during our grey-afternoon walkabout last autumn. Here's a pic of Noah getting down to business. I enjoy going on photo walks with him because, like me, he seeks the details in the otherwise mundane. It's a really sweet thing as a dad to just watch him do his thing, and to chat with him about the possibilities as he figures out what jazzes his eye.

He's a thoughtful kid on so many levels, and it's a kick to watch him channel himself through a lens.

This pic reminds me it's been a while since we grabbed our cameras and headed out. I think I need to correct that soon. Where should we go?

On living a life that matters

"When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. When it is over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument. I don't want to end up simply having visited this world."
Mary Oliver
This reminds me of Steve Jobs's wish to leave a ding in the universe. It isn't about passing through. It's about leaving a mark. So what's your mark going to be?

Friday, August 30, 2013

On creativity

"Creativity is intelligence having fun."
Albert Einstein
I could myself pretty darn blessed to have been struck by the creativity lightning bolt when I was initially formed. Closing my eyes and feeling the words swirl around my head is a pretty powerful thing, and not a day goes by that I don't remind myself how lucky I am. First, to have the ability in the first place. Second, to keep it.

Whatever your creative capability is, I hope you cherish it, too.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Carving the landscape something beautiful

Foothills of the Rockies, Alberta, Canada
February 2013
For more Thematic muted colors, please click here.
Long before I came along, flying was a glamorous, ritzy event that attracted the creme-de-la-creme of society. You dressed up for the occasion, and you were rewarded with the kind of service and attention worthy of a high-end restaurant or hotel.

Today? Not so much. Flying has gone mainstream. Despite moanings over high fuel costs, it's a relatively cheap way to travel long distances. The great unwashed, often wearing little more than flip flops and ripped t-shirts, have replaced formal-attired passengers. Getting to the plane is now a tension-filled nightmare of inhuman security gauntlets and surly "customer service". And once you get on-board, you run into doofs like this. Or this. Or worse.

But once you get past all the modern-day messiness of commercial aviation, it isn't that hard to get back to basics. Just you, a window, and a camera. Because the scenery that slips by can be ridiculously lovely. And you wouldn't want to be so ticked off by all it took to get you to this spot in the atmosphere that you couldn't be bothered to take it all in.

On this day, in this place, I was glad I did.

Your turn: Your worst flying story is/was...?

Snippets from my life in a studio...

As you may have noticed, I've ramped up my media activity over the last little while. I've returned to my comfort zone, where I speak with TV, radio, print and online media about the tech space.

I'm going to start posting notable interviews and links here, because I realize if I don't, I'll forget. And I don't want to forget. Anything.

Here's a fun one from yesterday. In addition to the Syrian Electronic Army craziness (see here), I got to sit in on CTV News Channel anchor Todd van der Heyden's weekly Tech with Todd panel. Erin Bury and I covered a number of stories that made news in the tech world this week. The video is here. More to come...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Syrian Electronic Army strikes again. I speak.

As the U.S. spearheads an international military buildup outside Syria in response to the Assad regime's apparent use of chemical weapons against its people, a shadowy group known as the Syrian Electronic Army is taking center stage in a growing proxy war that takes the conflict online and global. The SEA fights not with guns, but with keyboards, hacking major websites like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and even Twitter itself, in a bid to raise awareness and focus world attention.

You may recall the SEA is the group that hacked Twitter in April, falsely tweeted that a White House bombing attack had injured President Obama, and temporarily sent the Dow Jones down by 140 points as panicked investors hit the sell button. They're good at this kind of thing, and their recent pattern of behaviour suggests they're getting better and bolder.

I don't write this to glorify them, or hackers in general. But one of my goals as a technology journalist is to make the difficult-to-understand easier for everyone to understand. And as this murky subtext to a fast-eroding, massive-scale tragedy continues to unfold, I consider myself lucky to be able to share what I know and help put it into something approaching a realistic perspective. Hard to conceive when we're talking about a dirty civil war that's already consumed too many lives, but still, if we can't repair the world in one fell swoop, we can start the process one conversation at a time. And so that's what I'm doing today.

I spoke by phone with Todd Battis on CTV's Canada AM this morning. The audio is here. Full video available here. Alternate video link here.

I also chatted with CTV News Channel's Jacqueline Milczarek and will post a link once it's available online.

Update: If your favourite website has been hacked by a DNS-type attack, here's how you can still get access to it:
  • Load the following website into your browser:
  • Type in the address (e.g. of the website you wish to access.
  • Click the "Check" button.
  • Look over on the right and you'll see the following message: PINGING CTV.CA @
  • Copy the numbers and paste them into your browser. Hit Enter and the website will load.
  • Even if the site is under DNS attack, you can still access it by using its numeric address.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On why, and why not

"The common question that gets asked in business is, 'why?' That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, 'why not?'"
Jeff Bezos
This from a guy who built into an Internet-era powerhouse that's redefining online retail, found and retrieved the F-1 engines that launched the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and is restoring them, and bought the Washington Post as a precursor to trying something new in old media that the old guard simply didn't have the guts to do.

In other words, words to live by not necessarily because of the words themselves, but because of who's sharing them.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thematic Photographic 258 - Muted colors

Back alley light
Montreal, QC
February 2013
Light is a pretty incredible thing. Under the right conditions, it can make an otherwise colorful scene seem either more intense, or it can wash any sense of color out.

While even the most basic photo editing software these days lets you dial down the color of an existing photo, I'm a lot more partial to scenes where Mother Nature does the work on its own.

Like this scene. It's early on a bitterly cold winter morning in Montreal. I'm in a trendy converted industrial loft hotel that's tucked almost invisibly into a back alley off of trendy St. Denis street. The murk seems to have sucked the very spectrum out of the scene, with only the streetlight suggesting anything approaching warmth.

I decide I need to explore low-color scenes a little more. Hence this week's Thematic theme, "muted colors". Read on for more...

Your turn: Take a pic where the color is deliberately subtle - it can rage from full-on black-and-white, to sepia, to simply colors that aren't as vibrant as they might otherwise be. Remember, when interpreting a theme, there are no rights and wrongs: it is whatever you want it to be. Post the results to your blog, website, Facebook page, Twitter stream, or related web resource. Then leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Use the Twitter hashtag #ThematicPhotographic for bonus points. Visit other participants through the week and feel free to repeat the process - we encourage serial participation. For more info on how Thematic works, click here. Enjoy...and thanks!

On the right way to write. Or live.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."Benjamin Franklin
Either way, I think I'll follow his advice.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dahlia's reading corner

Time alone
London, ON
August 2013
Photo by Dahlia Levy
Welcome to the little red table on our back deck. Dahlia has taken quite a shine to this place, and can frequently be found back there with a book.

She's so much like my wife in so many ways that I can't help but smile when I see her curled up in one of the Muskoka chairs, face buried in the pages. At the tender age of 15, she's already learned how to carve out quiet time for herself, a brief time-out from her usually packed schedule.

From the looks of this shot - from her iPhone - she's also got her mom's sense of composition and style. I've spent some lens time out here recently (link), but I think it's fair to say she's more than capable of telling her own story with a camera. Which is exactly as it should be.

I don't know what I did to deserve these ladies in my life (and our sons, and our psychotic dog, comfy home in a remarkable community...) but I'm pretty thankful they're mine.

I'm rather sure she liked the book, too. Smart kid.

(For more Thematic "I didn't shoot this," click here.)

On grief

"Grief is the price we pay for love."
Queen Elizabeth II

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Through my daughter's eyes

Dad on the beach
Deerfield Beach, FL
December 2010
Thematic. I didn't shoot this. Here.
I'm sure I'm not alone in my aversion to being in photos. I know it sounds strange given how much I enjoy taking them, but I just don't like looking back at myself, and I'm guessing most others would rather be looking at something - or someone - else, too.

So one of the reasons I take as many pictures as I do is because it helps me avoid being on the wrong side of the lens. Hiding behind a chunk of plastic, alloys, electronics and glass is a great way to stay out of frame. It also speaks to my introverted self (there, another thing you didn't much know about me.) I love being around people as much as the next person, but when things get crowded and noisy, I'd much rather immerse myself in something technical and controllable. So out comes the camera and off I go.

The net result is there aren't all that many pics out there, and even fewer that I really like.

This one's an exception, because in the few seconds it took our daughter to compose and shoot, she managed to capture the "me" of me. This is where I'd rather be, doing the things I love to do, surrounded by my family, the folks who matter most. And looking back at a moment like this is something I could do forever.

Your turn: A moment you'd love to look back on. Please discuss.

On the power to overcome

"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."
Joshua J. Marine
Challenge = opportunity. Who's with me?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Neil Armstrong was here

Walking on the moon, at the beach
Deerfield Beach, FL
December 2010
About this photo: Thematic's "I didn't shoot this" week continues. To share a photo that someone else took, head here.
Our daughter took this picture as we spent a quiet late afternoon on a windy seashore. Conditions were far too chaotic to swim, so we simply walked along the almost empty beach, cameras in hand, and looked for things that caught our respective eye.

She wasn't even around when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left his iconic footprint on the moon (see here for a photo set) but she somehow managed to channel the feel of the historic vision pretty nicely.

I like how she thinks.

Your turn: Ever take a picture that ended up reminding you of something else, perhaps something from history?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

On sucking it up

"Another year is fast approaching. Go be that starving artist you're afraid to be. Open up that journal and get poetic finally. Volunteer. Suck it up and travel. You were not born here to work and pay taxes. You were put here to be part of a vast organism to explore and create. Stop putting it off. The world has much more to offer than what's on 15 televisions at TGI Fridays. Take pictures. Scare people. Shake up the scene. Be the change you want to see in the world."
Jason Mraz

I've never been a huge fan of his music, but I've got to say his words, right here and right now, are singing to me.

Off I go to take some pics and scare the bejeebers out of people. Because life wasn't meant to fritter away in a TGI Fridays.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Every day I'm shuffling

Game on
Laval, QC
September 2012
Photo by Noah Levy
About this photo: Thematic's theme this week is I didn't shoot this. If you'd like to share a pic that was taken by someone else (I know, it sounds bizarre. Thanks for humoring me) please head this way.
A couple of months ago, I shared a picture of our son, Noah, getting right down on the ground to get the shot. Here's the original posting, Not afraid to get a little dirty.

After rooting around my archives, I found the fileset from the camera he was using that day, and have uploaded it to the left. I guess that makes my original shot a meta picture - photo of a photo. Or is it photo of a photographer?

Whatever we choose to call it, I had a great time that day following my kids around while they recorded the world around them with through their own lenses.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

An early morning with Frasier

I was up early today. Couldn't sleep - typical of me, lately - so I stumbled to the end of the bed, sat on the edge and hung out with Frasier the wonderdog for a while. I'm pretty sure he wanted to sleep, but in the soft, dim light of the new dawn, I needed a moment made up of little more than quiet interaction with a dog who doesn't speak my language yet still seems to understand what I'm feeling - and what I need - at any given moment. I stroked his fur and watched him stare back at me, huge brown eyes barely breaking contact as he lay quietly, one leg hanging over the edge.

It's moments like this that make me glad we have him. Dog ownership is likely the most inconvenient, expensive and annoying process known to humankind. While petless souls are enjoying the aesthetic perfection of their pristine homes, we're slogging ourselves in from walks in the pouring rain or cleaning up after yet another canine romp through the garbage. But when we need an unconditional friend and a fix for a bruised body and soul, I admit to forgetting all about the inconvenience for a while. I'll trade away every last iota of neatness for another moment with him.

He was just what I needed this morning, and while I think I owe him for his lost sleep, I know he'll be right there again tomorrow if I need him.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thematic Photographic 257 - I didn't shoot this

Mooring lines
Grand Bend, ON
July 2013
Life has been twisty-turny around here this month, so I'm going to reflect that in this week's Thematic theme choice, "I didn't shoot this."

The theme is deceptively simple: for the next week, share pictures, any pictures, that you did not take.

In my case, I have our daughter, Dahlia, to thank. We were at the beach last month, and we each took a camera on a great big walk from one end of the beach to the other. As I edited her pictures afterward, it hit me, rather strongly, that she has a great sense of composition. I thought back to the photos I took when I was her age and realized how far ahead she already is.

She captured this texture-rich photo on the jetty at the south end of the beach. We could have wandered for hours, but the waves were beckoning. I can't wait until my next shoot with our kids, as they seem to be particularly adept at finding new ways to wow me. They got that from my wife.

Your turn: Take a pic that was taken by anyone BUT you, and share it on your blog, website, Facebook page, Twitter stream, or related web resource. Leave a comment here letting other folks know where to find it, and drop in on other participants to share the joy. Feel free to repeat the process throughout the week, and if you're tweeting, use the #ThematicPhotographic hashtag to spread the word even further. For more background on how Thematic works, head here. And have fun!

Facebook Shaming - the latest rage

Leave it to art to imitate life. Then leave it to life to return the favor in short order. What the hell am I talking about? Let's explore a bit...

I was privileged last night to be interviewed by Scott Laurie of CTV News Channel on a topic I've been calling "Facebook Shaming".

The video can be found here.

During our discussion, we talked about the recent case of a guy in Reno, Nevada who skipped out on a bill at a The Brewer's Cabinet restaurant, only to have a restaurant employee take his picture as he made his escape. Said photo was then posted to the eatery's Facebook page, and the owners filed a police report.

Long story short, the social media masses easily identified him - one Saul Zelaznog. He was already on probation, and as a result was arrested and charged in fairly short order.

On the plus side, social media tools give us the power to right obvious wrongs in cases where, in the past, the perpetrator would have dissolved back into anonymity. Somewhat more darkly, it opens up the potential for vigilante action before all the facts are properly gathered and investigated. Mob rules may make us feel a little better, but what if the mob picks the wrong guy? Or isn't aware of additional, mitigating or countervailing facts?

Social media, meet grey territory.

Cue Facebook today, where the true story of an anonymous letter left on the doorstep of the family of an autistic child in Newcastle, Ontario has touched off a serious discussion over how far social media users can and should go to find whoever sent the letter and bring her to justice. Here's a quick primer on some related resources:
I feel sick for any family to have received such hatred from a cowardly neighbor, and I fear for that cowardly neighbor if the masses learn who she is and where she lives. It's ugly all around, and social media has opened up the gates to a future where the distribution of justice doesn't always take place within the four walls of a courtroom.

I have no answers, as this is an issue that will continue to evolve as the tools become ever more mature and dig more deeply into our day-to-day lives. But I'd sure like to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

On choosing to see the flowers

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."
Henri Matisse
Key word: want.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

This used to be my playground

Chomedey, at a glance
Laval, QC
February 2013

Click all photos to embiggen
About this photo: Thematic celebrates downward this week, and you can, too. Just head here and all will be explained.
I was flying into Montreal for less than 24 hours, a blink of a stop in a trip that had already seen me skipping across the country, racing winter storms every step of the way.

The wind patterns in the Montreal area on this late February afternoon dictated an approach that looped eastward over Laval, then turned back over eastern Montreal for a westward approach to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (sorry, I'm a Montrealer: it'll always be Dorval Airport to me, but I digress.)

All of which meant I had a bird's eye view of the little burg, Chomedey, where I grew up. This borough of Laval is no longer the center of my world, as virtually my entire generation moved elsewhere as soon as we hit adulthood. But anyone who was raised in Chomedey seems to recognize the strong pull this place continues to have on us no matter where we end up or how many years have passed.

The photo at the top is a wider-angle version of the ones below. Virtually my entire life played out in the relatively small bedroom community pictured here. My childhood home on Canterbury, friends' houses where we spent countless days just being, the roads where I developed my still-raging cycling addiction, the community centre a few blocks away where I learned to swim, became a lifeguard and met a girl who amazingly agreed to be my wife, the building where my parents and in-laws eventually entire world contained within a few pictures.

Years later and high above, I was shooting fast in the fading light and not really paying attention to the significance of the scene slipping below my window. But now that I look back at the resulting photos, I realize I was meant to fly over that place on that day. Sometimes, it's good for the soul to look back and remember where you got your start.

Your turn: Can you share a snippet or two about your own hometown?

Friday, August 16, 2013

When you play with trains...

Waiting for shipment
Toronto, ON

February 2013
For more downward Thematic, click here.
Lots of train-related news lately, most of it unhappy. A runaway train loaded with crude oil slammed into Lac-Megantic, Quebec's downtown core and largely obliterated it - and 47 lives - last month. In Spain, a speeding commuter train derailed and killed 79 people.

It's enough to make me want to walk the next time I need to go somewhere. Oh wait, even that isn't safe.

Wherever you're going and however you plan on getting there, I hope you enjoy this rather peaceful, if industrial, view of a Toronto rail yard from above. Not because I want to make a statement about train safety. But because it reminded me of the building blocks I played with way too many years ago. I rather enjoy when big stuff is rendered small by distance. And, I guess, time.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On being lucky enough to know who you are

"One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else."
K.L. Toth
I'm grateful for so many things, not the least of which is the fact that I've managed to retain my own sense of self, and a family that supports me unconditionally. Call me blessed. I hope everyone who reads this can say the same thing.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Walk this way

Where's my broom?
London, ON
August 2013
Thematic. Downward. Here.
Note to self: take more walks. Invite someone special along. Remember the moment. That is all.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Where the streets have two names

At the corner of Regent and Colborne
Old North, London, ON
July 2013
Please click here for more downward Thematic
I'm pretty sure this particular square of concrete was stamped long after 1934. But given its location - in the middle of a leafy, stately neighborhood known as Old North - it was more than a little comforting that whoever rebuilt this intersection a few short years ago took the time to include a little bit of heritage, as well. It's something that all too often goes missing in our modern life, and it stopped me in my tracks as I strolled on past.

Since I took this picture, I've been paying extra attention to the sidewalks, wherever I may be, because you never know when a message from the past will show itself.

Your turn: do you ever come across glimpses of the past similar to this?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thematic Photographic 256 - Downward

Table for 2
London, ON
July 2013
Photography is a fascinating art in the way it forces you to take a three-dimensional scene and squash it into a two-dimensional framework.

Conventional wisdom would dictate that this is an act of reduction or degradation. Thankfully I'm not conventional. Losing a dimension doesn't necessarily mean losing anything at all. Sometimes, you gain a perspective you wouldn't have had in the first place.

Like here, with the little table we bought for our deck. I rather liked the downward view when we first brought it home, and felt it would be a great launch shot for this week's downward theme.

Your turn: Take a photo that suggests or evokes this week's theme, downward. Post it to your blog, website, Facebook page or related online resource. Leave a comment here letting everyone know where to find it. Visit other participants to share in the photographic fun. To learn more about how Thematic works, just click here. Enjoy the experience, because that's why we do this in the first place.

BlackBerry for sale? Watch this space

Some days you wake up feeling something's in the air. Today was one of them.

Smartphone maker BlackBerry announced it had formed a "special committee" to investigate strategic options (CrackBerry, CBC, TechCrunch). What it really means is the Z10 and Q10 phones it launched earlier this year - both based on the all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system - haven't sold as well as they had hoped. And since they were essentially bet-the-company products, BlackBerry has no choice but to radically restructure itself.

I spent a good chunk of the day explaining what it all meant to a lot of really smart Canadian journalists. I'll run down the list as I have time, so feel free to check this entry again as I fill in the results.

It's crazy and potentially unsettling news for the company, but I admit I love the process by which I get to cover it. Please don't tell anyone how much I enjoy this work.


CTV National News - Richard Madan's report. Included a clip in the show's lead-in (link to newscast, link to Richard's report, link to full page of related video.)

CTV News Channel - Live interview with Jacqueline Milczarek (story link here. Then click on the "3" in the video window - sorry, I couldn't find the direct link.)

CTV News Channel - Live interview with Scott Laurie from last night, just before all this blew up. Video here.

CTV Toronto - BlackBerry Exploring 'strategic alternatives' including possible sale of company
Colin D'Mello

CTV Kitchener - Report on 6 p.m. newscast by Max Wark. (Direct link to video hereReport is also on page 2 of available videos here.)

CTV London - Report on 6 p.m. newscast.

CP24 - Live interview with Stephen LeDrew

CBC Ontario Morning. Chatted live with Wei Chen. Podcast page is here. Podcast for the full hour is here. (And don't look now, but they've booked me back in for another interview Tuesday at 7:10 a.m.)

CBC Syndication Unit - spoke with a series of shows across the country through the afternoon. Hits included Montreal, Cape Breton, Saskatchewan, Toronto, Ottawa. Vancouver, Kelowna, Whitehorse, and Windsor. Coolest. Radio. Ever.

Toronto Star - BlackBerry finally puts up the For Sale sign
Byline: Trish Crawford and Vanessa Lu
Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst, believes BlackBerry has no other choice but to look at a sale, joint venture or alliance or mix of those.
“If BlackBerry could survive in its current form, we wouldn’t be seeing these actions right now,” Levy said. “Radical change is called for.” 
“Doing it now maximizes value and minimizes the potential for further erosion, while the company considers its options.” 
Levy argues BlackBerry could be much more than a handset maker, given its BB10 platform is state-of-the-art technology that has potential application in everything from medicine to industrial automation. 
“It’s not enough to have the best technology. You have to have a way to connect the technology to markets to drive business,” he said.The worst-case scenario would be a breakup of the company for parts, selling off different divisions, he said.But Levy doesn’t believe that’s what anyone wants to see especially CEO Heins, who took over from co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in 2012. 
“Thorsten Heins did not take this job in order to preside over a funeral,” Levy said. 
The best-case scenario is some form of partnership or some form of joint venture that would bring in the resources that BlackBerry needs to expand, or figure out a way to leverage its existing technology, he added. 
More on the way tomorrow...

  • CBC Metro Morning with Matt Galloway. Podcast here.
  • CBC Ontario Morning with Wei Chen. Podcast is here. Podcast page is here.
  • CBC Kitchener (panel) with Craig Norris
  • AM980 London with Devon Peacock
  • 570News Kitchener with Gary Doyle
  • 1290 CJBK London with Mike Stubbs
  • 610 CKTB Niagara with Larry Fedoruk
  • CHQR News Talk 770 Calgary with Angela Kokott
  • The Calgary Herald - The inevitable approaches for BlackBerry - Deborah Yedlin
[Snip]In its heyday, it was all about messaging, but as soon as the iPhone came out, it became apps, apps, apps," said Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst based in London, Ont. And because change within the tech cycles is that much more accelerated, Levy says, it didn't take long for BlackBerry to fall behind. No longer was it enough to be the company that wrote the book on encryption software and produced a hand-held device offering secure messaging.
Just last week, International Data Corporation released data showing Black-Berry in fourth spot - with a 2.9 per cent market share - and continuing to bleed subscribers."That's another reinforcement for BlackBerry to get out of the handset business," said Levy.
Levy points out it's those who were the early adopters of the BlackBerry, which happens to be the boomers on the cusp of retirement, is the demographic that cares about the keyboard.The next generation, he says, doesn't care.
Does all this mean the demise of yet another Canadian company, which once dominated a market but became too arrogant to realize there is no such thing as stasis in the business world - especially in technology? Levy doesn't believe BlackBerry will be sold off in pieces."(CEO) Thorsten Heins didn't take the job to preside over the company's funeral. He doesn't want to be remembered as the guy who killed the company," he said.The good news, perhaps, is that as an outsider, Heins is not inextricably tied to a legacy business - which means he can to look for ways that maximize value that aren't necessarily hinged to the handset world."It can't be about the hardware," says Levy.
In that world right now, there is one name that might make sense - Dell.It might be in the throes of its own challenges regarding a going private transaction - but adding BlackBerry to its corporate infrastructure makes some sense. Levy points out that Dell needs the credibility in the enterprise space - and more than 72 million subscribers - that would come with a BlackBerry deal.[Snip]
[Snip]Cons: Neither company is in a state to be swinging for the fences. And although both companies have a strong presence in enterprise, they have struggled to attract consumers to their brands. “An interesting play would give Dell the mobile capability it has tried repeatedly to create, and failed,” independent technology analyst Carmi Levy said. “But both companies are in need of help, so it’s not a case of a negative times a negative equals a positive.”[Snip]
This isn't just work for me. It all brings back memories of sitting around the kitchen table wondering about the wonder of radio and all media. It was magical then, and it remains even more so today now that I get to be a part of the big show. Coolness.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On Einstein's perpetual motion

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
Albert Einstein

Your turn: how do you keep moving?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

This would make Pooh very happy

Multiplied sweetness
London, ON
August 2013
Thematic. Repetitious. Here.
I have a temporary new toy that I'm reviewing - a BlackBerry Q10 - and I feel compelled to test its ability to take oddball photos in a grocery store.

It isn't that all the other capabilities of the device and its recently released operating system, BlackBerry 10, aren't important. They are. But I'm, ah, not like most other tech writers. Once I've covered off the sober stuff like ease-of-setup, user interface, apps and messaging integration, I'm not above having a little fun to see if the new wonder-device can keep up.

I'll let you judge whether the Q10 is Sobeys photo-worthy, but my first impressions are positive. I had a lot of fun with it, and I hope this inspires y'all to take your camera-equipped devices into places you might not have previously considered. Because you never know what you'll find when you look in a new and interesting place.

On spending your life wisely

"Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are."
Anne Lamott
I'll go for what's behind door #2. You?

Friday, August 09, 2013

Water = Life

Where did the forks go?
London, ON
August 2013
Click here for more repetitious Thematic
I live in the "other" London, the one in Canada, the one without the folks with the neat accent and the one that doesn't have a subway. Or much of a bus system, if we're being brutally honest.

But it DOES have streets with names like Oxford, Queens, King, and Richmond. And it has a Thames River. Not a mighty flowing river with lots of cool bridges and ship traffic, mind you. More like a lazy-flowing, laughably shallow, depressingly filthy exaggerated creek. And don't even ask about the ginormous, London Eye-like ferris wheel, because we don't have one.

For all we lack, it's still a neat place to live. It's small - 360-ish-thousand people - so traffic is barely an issue. If it takes you 20 minutes to get somewhere instead of 15, you've had a bad commute. We don't have to pay congestion fees to drive our cars downtown. And we're never more than 10 minutes away from watching cows graze in bucolic pastures.

We also have this, the Walter J. Blackburn Memorial Fountain. It's been open for four years, yet I hadn't taken the time to take a closer look at it until this past weekend. I know, some Londoner I turned out to be. I once wrote a newspaper column mocking the very idea of a jet d'eau-style fountain, yet on this day 11 years after the piece was published, the long-ago object of my journalistic scorn was the perfect backdrop for an ideal summer afternoon in the middle of town. I'm glad someone* had the vision to see this project through.

The shot you see here isn't any great shakes, but it was the best I could do with a BlackBerry and the five minutes I had before I had to turn for home. Clearly a return trip with a real camera and some time is called for. The fountain may be a small-ish addition to the landscape of our proudly small-ish city, but I'm learning that small-ish things are often worth a closer look or two. Time for me to get busy.

Your turn: A small thing in your neighborhood that's worth a closer look. Please discuss.

* That someone would be Ron Koudys, noted landscape architect. His work defines developments and streetscapes throughout our city and region.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Thematic Photographic 255 - Repetitious

Pipe dreams
London, ON
July 2013
Life continues to be complex, so I'm compensating by selecting a really simple theme, repetitious, this week. As you can see from the photo to the left, any simply repetitive scene will do.

Are you game?

Your turn: Thematic is our weekly photo-sharing-learning-enjoying activity. To participate, simply post a photo to your blog - or website, or Facebook account, or Twitter stream, or any online resource - and leave a comment here letting folks know where to find it. Drop by other participants to share the joy, and don't be shy: dragging friends into it is encouraged. So is repeat-posting: the more the merrier. To learn more about how Thematic works, click here. Otherwise, enjoy the show. We're out of veal, unfortunately.

For the love of God, get an editor

London, ON
July 2013
I thought I'd wrap up this week's Thematic theme, signs of the times*, with a quick look at one particular sign that could have used a little more cooking time.

I realize not everyone is a language maven, so I'm not about to judge folks whose spelling and grammar aren't sharpened to a knife-like edge. Indeed, I recognize that I'm functional in only three languages, which means there are a bajillion other languages that would leave me laughably out of my depth.

But still. Call a friend? Have someone else proofread it before it goes to the sign people? Or hire sign people who also copy edit? Something? Bueller?

Your turn: Got any other sign failures you'd like to share?

* If you'd like to submit a photo in support of the signs theme, feel free to click here. New theme, repetitious, goes live tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

How much is that Slushie in the window?

Marketing fail
London, ON
July 2013
Thematic. Signs. Here.
It was choir night for our daughter, so after dropping her off I did a little math and realized it made little sense to drive back home. So the eco-friendly me took my ever-ready camera and headed into the nearby Old North neighborhood for a walkabout.

Along my 5-ish km journey, I came across a convenience store that sold Slushies. I'm not a fan of them except on blistering hot days when there's nothing else available. They're little more than sugar-filled ice water, mashed to a puree that would make Grandpa Clampett proud. With apologies to the befuddled looking dog - or is it a bear? I can never tell - there are so many better ways to beat the heat. And stay healthy.

Yet I stood still on the sidewalk and stared at this sign for longer that I probably should have. Something was amiss. I kinda liked that they were trying to pull this faded icon of the last century into the present one with a bit of an online twist. Ooh, I thought, new website! But wait, where was the address? I looked high and low - even beside the adjacent lotto sign - and couldn't find any reference to a web address or URL.

I guess they figure folks who drink Slushies can also read the ad copywriter's mind. Maybe there's more than just sugar in the mix.

In the end, I guessed I'd find it at and, sure enough, there it was. But it defaulted to French (go Canada!) I'm figuring by the time the average Slushie-drinker figures this out (assuming he/she gets this far after the 64 ounces of sugar-water gets absorbed into the bloodstream and doesn't succumb to a sugar coma) it'll be time to head back to the convenience store (oops, depanneur) for a free refill.

Where's my juice?

Your turn: What's the Slushie guy thinking?

Saturday, August 03, 2013

On waiting for the creative spark

“I sit in the dark and wait for a little flame to appear at the end of my pencil.”
Billy Collins

Talking tech with Todd

Todd van der Heyden is one of the brightest stars in Canadian media. He made his mark anchoring CTV Montreal's newscast, and then headed off to Toronto to be an anchor for CTV News Channel. He has guest-hosted Canada AM, and more recently has been tapped to fill in on the network's flagship CTV National News.

And because I'm just lucky enough to cross paths with great journalists and great people, I get to talk with him on-air. This time out, I was part of this week's Tech with Todd panel, chatting about Facebook, Apple and LeapMotion with him and Erin Bury. Here's the link:

CTV News Channel: Tech with Todd, July 31, 2013

Friday, August 02, 2013

Solstice on the beach

Grand Bend, ON
August 2013
What does this have to do with signs?* Surprisingly, lots. Signs aren't just stationary. They move. And sometimes they disappear.

Like the Pontiac logo on the fender vent of this lovely Solstice. When General Motors shuttered the brand in 2009, the car died with it. The Solstice's platform-mate Saturn Sky drifted into history, as well.

It wasn't the world's best car. Laughable cargo space, a convertible top that was maddening to live with - and eventually ended up shredding itself - and an overall level of performance that fell far short of the promises made by its decidedly Euro-styled body.

But here's the thing: great cars take time to evolve. And GM never game this car - or past vehicles like it (cough, Fiero, cough) the time and energy required for them to mature into greatness. When the bean counters run the kingdom, the kind of passion that results in world-beating products never seems to reach critical mass.

So when the economy soured and GM was caught with its pants down, some wannabe-great projects died on the vine long before they had a chance to truly shine.

Doesn't mean I can't appreciate one in a parking lot, though. It remains one of the sweetest-looking designs to emerge from a U.S. design studio. That it is still a sort-of-affordable vehicle for regular folks makes it even more worthy of some lens love.

Your turn: If you could buy any car, which one would it be. Why?

* Head here for more Thematic signs of the times

You can Ting, but not in Canada

As you may have noticed from my Twitter and Facebook feeds, I've been doing a lot more media work lately. I was always taught to do what I love, and I love this to no end. I'll be sharing key roundups here on the blog so y'all know what I'm up to. Here's a good first win:

I spoke with CBC Television for a fascinating story about a Canadian company that's having trouble doing business here in Canada. It's called Ting, and it sells wireless phone service. Problem is, they can't get access to the wireless networks owned by the major carriers.

I provided a clip for a report by Aaron Saltzman that ran on The National, CBC's main daily national newscast. Here's the link to the report:

If you're really keen - and you know you are - here's the link to the full July 31st newscast.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Our last teenager

In my mind's eye, he was just born. In my mind's eye, he looks, moves and sounds just a little younger than his bigger brother and sister. In my mind's eye, I can still carry his sleeping form up the stairs when he tuckers out after a particularly busy day.

In my mind's eye, I'm apparently living in the past, because when Noah turned 13 years-old yesterday, it was clear he was well on his way toward growing into those enormous feet of his. As much as we want him to be our baby indefinitely, time has a funny way of turning parental wishes on their ears.

He wasn't home on his big day. He was up at camp, having the time of his life with friends from home, friends from last year, and friends he had already made since his arrival. Policy at this otherwise delightfully unwired camp is to allow birthday kids to call home. He sounded tired, happy and content, a perfect reflection of the sweet little guy we had dropped off earlier this week.

He'll no doubt return home later this month just a little bit taller, a little bit more filled out, a little closer to the man he will become and a little further away from the baby he once was. Soon enough, he'll be taller than Debbie and then, just as likely, me.

My wife and I were both the youngest kids in our respective families, and despite the fact that we're long past our own periods of, ahem, relative lack of age, that sense of "being the baby" persists. Wherever our not-so-little-man tops out, that thinking will apply to him, as well. He'll always be our baby even if he has to bend down to hug us.

The days of carrying him up the stairs and other little-kid stuff are over, and because he's our youngest he marks the closure of yet another chapter in the life of our family. And as much as we'd like to hold onto those vestiges of his childhood, we recognize that we didn't bring him into this world so that he'd be a static totem of eternal little-kid cuteness.

If we're lucky enough to be given the time, we all eventually lose the patina of childhood. We may be a little less cute, and little less cuddly and a little less likely to be propped in the middle of the kitchen floor to entertain the houseguests. But we'll always be our parents' babies. As Noah will always be ours.

Happy birthday, little man. Always know where your home is. No matter how big you get.