End of the Season and Kat Kam MIA?

Like many Van­cou­verites, last night I watched one of the most painful and edge-of-your seat hock­ey games in years. Backs against the wall, the Van­cou­ver Canucks, the last Cana­di­an team left in the NHL Stan­ley Cup play­offs, man­aged to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of vic­to­ry (some­thing I tweet­ed a cou­ple of days ago re. the game that brought them to the brink). To quote Char­lie Smith of the Geor­gia Straight:

The only ques­tion left for the Canucks is who won’t be return­ing to the squad next year. After the sign­ing of Mats Sundin ear­li­er this year, there were high hopes that this would be the year that Van­cou­ver would final­ly win its first Stan­ley Cup. But once again, the fans’ hopes have been crushed.

Some things nev­er change.

This morn­ing, on the radio, I heard many say­ing ‘Wait till next year!’. Well, Hope does spring eter­nal, but the Black­hawks (among oth­er teams the Canucks played against this year) were notable for the num­ber of young play­ers in their 20s just begin­ning to come into their prime. Unless Van­cou­ver can get some ris­ing stars of their own, as Buzz Bish­op point­ed out on Twit­ter, the win­dow is clos­ing or per­haps even closed on it being their year in 2010. I felt par­tic­u­lar­ly bad for Rober­to Luon­go, who after a very strong sea­son, picked last night to have an off game. For some­one with the rep­u­ta­tion of being per­haps the best goalie in the NHL, let­ting 7 goals through is just not a way any goalie wants to end a sea­son. In fact, the game felt more like Bas­ket­ball (a sport I’m not very fond of) because of the see-saw of scor­ing for either side.

I remem­ber these feel­ings, that of every oth­er year or so, the home team get­ting close but ulti­mate­ly los­ing, from the 1980s and 90s in Boston for the Red Sox. Anx­ious to blame it on any­thing but the play­ers, Bosto­ni­ans attrib­uted it to ‘The Curse of the Bam­bi­no’, but in the end, it was just a mat­ter of time. So my advice to Van­cou­ver fans might be: Just hang in there for anoth­er 20 years or so, and your time will come.

The Kat Kam, Stuck?

Speak­ing of win­dows clos­ing, is our vir­tu­al win­dow on False Creek also clos­ing? For about 13 years, there has been a cam­era point­ed West South­west on the Bur­rard Bridge and the view beyond it of Eng­lish Bay from the offices of Tele­mark Sys­tems in the West End of Vancouver,  post­ing the live image on the web­site: The Kat Kam. Before I moved here, I used the Kat Kam as a way of accli­ma­tiz­ing myself to the weath­er and gen­er­al look of this city, like a new aquar­i­um fish look­ing out of it’s plas­tic bag­gie into the new aquar­i­um it was about to enter. It turns out that ‘Kat’, the per­son who ran the web­cam left Tele­mark Sys­tems at the end of last month to pur­sue a career in Culi­nary Arts. While I’m thrilled that she is start­ing out a new chap­ter in her career and life, I won­der if per­haps this might spell the end of the view of False Creek on my desk­top. For­tu­nate­ly, there are now sev­er­al oth­er cam­eras on Van­cou­ver on the web, although this was per­haps the best known and cer­tain­ly the old­est con­tin­u­ous view (not to men­tion, it was a pret­ty one, espe­cial­ly lat­er in the day). I sus­pect that sev­er­al peo­ple planned their com­mute based on the traf­fic on the bridge, and I enjoyed see­ing the Sun Run run­ners as they were caught by the Kat Kam. So, here’s the last view we got, 15 min­utes past 9 PM, May 11, 2009. Let’s hope that’s not the image of False Creek I’ll get from my win­dow­less home office:

The Kat Kam on the evening of May 11, 2009

The Kat Kam on the evening of May 11, 2009

I’m hop­ing the view gets ‘unstuck’ soon, but until then, there are oth­er cams:

Gee, maybe this office real­ly is a room with many win­dows. Too bad I don’t get a breeze from any of them.

Update: Well, after about a 16–20 hour break, the Kat Kam start­ed updat­ing again. Hope­ful­ly it will keep going for a while yet to come.

A Life In Motion

One of the rea­sons that I haven’t been post­ing as often this month as last month, is that it seems that I’m always in town, busy attending/watching/participating in some­thing. You’d think that being on the job hunt and not tied down with a 9‑to‑5 com­mit­ment would mean that I have tons of free time to spend on blog­ging, clean­ing up my office, and doing all of those oth­er ‘things I’d do if I had time’. No such luck.  It seems my cal­en­dar’s clut­ter increas­es to fill the allot­ted time. I do want to at least men­tion, and pro­vide a snap­shot or per­haps a snip­pet of video (because I can) of some of what’s been going on for the past 2 1/2 weeks or so:

Sep­tem­ber 13th: To cel­e­brate my (and my broth­er’s) birth­day, we took a week­end trip down to vis­it him and the rest of the fam­i­ly down in Belle­vue, Wash­ing­ton. This includ­ed a trip to the Sculp­ture Park:

At the Seattle Sculpture Park

At the Seat­tle Sculp­ture Park

and a cel­e­bra­to­ry Din­ner out at Wild Gin­ger, a favourite Seat­tle restau­rant of theirs:

OK, so I got a little silly, but a birthday candle is just asking to be played with.

OK, I got a lit­tle sil­ly, but a Birth­day Can­dle is just ask­ing to be played with.

Sep­tem­ber 16th: I had lunch with a friend and attend­ed the Mol­son Brew 2.0 event, which I had writ­ten about a lit­tle earlier.

Sep­tem­ber 17th: Met with sev­er­al peo­ple dur­ing the day and attend­ed Launch Par­ty 5 at UnWined.

Imbibing and meeting Startups at Launch Party 5

Imbib­ing and meet­ing Star­tups at Launch Party

Sep­tem­ber 20th: Attend­ed Bar­Camp­BankBC, a real eye-open­er about the con­cerns of the peo­ple in the Bank­ing and Cred­it Union busi­ness (Ques­tions includ­ed: “If increas­ing­ly, every­body does most of their bank­ing online or at ATMs, what’s the new design/experience of a Bank branch sup­posed to be?” ):

A session at BarCampBankBC

A ses­sion at BarCampBankBC

Sep­tem­ber 21: Made it to the first Annu­al Canary Der­by in Gas­town, a fundrais­ing race of soap­box-style rac­ers, main­ly to cheer on the team of Web­names, who regard­less if they won or not (they did­n’t), still had the classi­est look­ing race car of the day. Here’s one of the ear­li­er tri­als that they won:

Since that was mov­ing pret­ty fast, here’s what the car looked like stand­ing still:

The Webnames.ca entry in the 2008 Canary Soapbox Derby in Gastown

The Webnames.ca entry in the 2008 Canary Soap­box Der­by in Gastown

(Note: The child at the wheel in this shot is not the dri­ver in the race)
Sep­tem­ber 23: Thanks to the gen­eros­i­ty of a dear friend, Pam and I were able to get to one of the Pre-Sea­son games of the Can­nucks. They were play­ing Edmunton, and despite that team’s (appar­ent­ly well-known) speed, the Can­nucks won! Here’s a snippet:

Sep­tem­ber 26: The Par­ty for Bar­Cam­p­Van­cou­ver 2008, the year­ly uncon­fer­ence, took place at Work­space. This year I helped out in the plan­ning as well as the food prep (and even played bar­tender a bit).

Sep­tem­ber 27:We lucked out, and the weath­er was gor­geous, which helped since Bar­Camp was held on Granville Island, at 3 sep­a­rate loca­tions includ­ing the Revue Stage, Emi­ly Carr Uni­ver­si­ty, and the Play­wright’s The­atre. I had pre­pared a talk on Ubiq­ui­ty, the fas­ci­nat­ing Fire­fox plu­g­in that extends some of the ideas about inter­act­ing with infor­ma­tion on the Inter­net. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I was bumped because the con­tract for the room had us there until 5PM, not 5:30 as we had been led to believe. Moral of the sto­ry: Nev­er resched­ule your ses­sion to what you think is a bet­ter time (orig­i­nal­ly I was ear­ly in the morn­ing and oppo­site sev­er­al oth­er ses­sions that I want­ed to attend myself!) I am work­ing on refor­mat­ting the pre­sen­ta­tion and slides so that I can put them online on my oth­er blog and will try and let folks know when it’s done. Here’s me pitch­ing my ill-fat­ed presentation:

Making my pitch for a presentation on Ubiquity at BarCamp Vancouver 2008

Mak­ing my pitch for a pre­sen­ta­tion on Ubiq­ui­ty at Bar­Camp Van­cou­ver 2008

Sep­tem­ber 28: Word on the Street, the Annu­al fes­ti­val of books, writ­ers and oth­er things lit­er­ary took place down­town, around the library. Pam and I man­aged to make a talk by the enter­tain­ing and inspir­ing Col­in Moor­house, a free­lance speech­writer that Pam had man­aged to hear at a BC Edi­tors Meet­ing last year while she was free­lanc­ing for them after she had come back from a break and got the idea of free­lanc­ing from a web­site she vis­it­ed. If you want to know the best free­lanc­ing jobs, then vis­it web­site.

That brings me to today. I near­ly feel out of breath just recount­ing this. And it does­n’t include a cou­ple of job inter­views, meet­ings with friends and col­leagues, and the usu­al day-to-day stuff. It has been a busy month, to say the least.

I think that what’s been going on is a grad­ual accru­al of year­ly events. We noticed a cou­ple of years ago that there seems to be a tac­it agree­ment that in Van­cou­ver, any­thing worth doing is worth doing annu­al­ly. Our year is get­ting busier, which is prob­a­bly OK, but soon we’ll have to pick and choose what we can or can­not make and say instead that we’ll catch what­ev­er we miss ‘next year’.

A Long Walk, and iJerks(?)

With Pam home, and with me not work­ing this week­end (which won’t be the case next week­end), we man­aged to do some shop­ping and oth­er errands on Sat­ur­day. Today, bet­ter late than nev­er, we decid­ed to start train­ing for the Sun Run next month (or, for us, I think more of a ‘Sun Walk’). Yes, we are plan­ning on doing a com­bi­na­tion of walk­ing and run­ning in that event. I have no expec­ta­tions about beat­ing any time; just want to fin­ish it in one piece.

At any rate, I sug­gest­ed that we walk around the sea­wall of Stan­ley Park. We’d start around the Yacht Club near the Lost Lagoon, and walk around the park, end­ing up around Eng­lish Bay. After all, with the sea­wall now open again, and a sun­ny day expect­ed, it would be a great way to sight­see and get some much-need­ed exer­cise. We start­ed walk­ing around noon, and were doing pret­ty well until around the 2 1/2 hour mark, when we both real­ized the extent to which we both were out of shape. I’m not sure how far we actu­al­ly went in mileage (or kilo­me­ter­age — is there such a word? Hon­est­ly, since we’ve gone met­ric I still don’t know how to say some things…), but we were plen­ty tired, aching, and hun­gry by the time we got to Den­man Street for a late lunch. I hope I don’t regret this with too much of aching legs tomor­row, but obvi­ous­ly we need a lot of work to get in shape by the time the Sun Run takes place.

Wait Wait, Don’t Trash Me
While we were doing the afore­men­tioned walk around the park, I lis­tened to pod­casts on my iPhone. Yes, that’s right, I got the iPhone ful­ly func­tion­al, and like so many oth­er Cana­di­ans, I’m using it unlocked, and await­ing the day when I can offi­cial­ly ‘go legal’, and not have to waive off the attempts by iTunes to upgrade the phone (which would turn it into an iPa­per­weight as quick­ly as you can say ‘Rogers Wireless’. )

So here I am, feel­ing pret­ty good about my cool new touch-screen iPod/Phone/Wireless brows­er and lis­ten­ing to NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the news quiz show, when the fol­low­ing bit comes up:


For those who can’t hear the audio, the gist of it is that a US mar­ket­ing com­pa­ny called Mind­Set Media claims that Mac­in­tosh users are 60% more like­ly to be “self-cen­tered” and “arro­gant” and regard users of oth­er oper­at­ing sys­tems with con­tempt and con­de­scen­sion. They are also more like­ly to see them­selves as “artis­tic” and “hip”, “excep­tion­al” and even “extra­or­di­nary.” Clear­ly, the report asserts, they have high stan­dards and are not very modest.

To which I say: “And your point is?”

But seri­ous­ly, this cracks me up, par­tic­u­lar­ly after I learned this from an arti­cle about the report on Ars Technica:

It’s dif­fi­cult to deter­mine if any of this is real…We tried to get details of the study from the com­pa­ny’s press con­tact (who is also its COO and cofounder), but were unable to learn much about the process. They could not pro­vide us with enough details to sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly exam­ine the study.

Approx­i­mate­ly 7,500 peo­ple were sur­veyed at Nielsen Online and grouped accord­ing to their choice of com­put­ing plat­forms. The sur­vey results were then fed into Mind­set’s per­son­al­i­ty pro­fil­ing process, which is undoc­u­ment­ed. The com­pa­ny claims that it can cor­re­late per­son­al­i­ty pro­files with with brand choic­es: “a Mind­set­Pro­file will iden­ti­fy the psy­cho­graph­ics that dri­ve your brand, your cat­e­go­ry, and even your competitors.”

Giv­en that there is no data on the sur­vey ques­tions or the eval­u­a­tion of the answers, it’s dif­fi­cult to ana­lyze the results. A com­pa­ny-sup­plied image, how­ev­er, pro­vides some indi­ca­tion of the per­son­al­i­ty cat­e­gories, which are arranged to evoke a peri­od­ic table, and hence hint at sci­en­tif­ic cred­i­bil­i­ty (Mind­set appar­ent­ly does under­stand mar­ket­ing). There are prob­a­bly few­er effec­tive cat­e­gories than are list­ed there, since a num­ber seem inter­re­lat­ed. After all, it’s hard to imag­ine that some­one with a strong sense of supe­ri­or­i­ty could pos­si­bly score low in the self-esteem, or be easy to iden­ti­fy if they were high­ly mod­est. Like­wise, it’s hard to imag­ine that timid­i­ty and brava­do are com­pat­i­ble traits.

Still, this infor­ma­tion isn’t suf­fi­cient to eval­u­ate the claims, leav­ing us to rely on the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the com­pa­ny itself. Judg­ing by the fact that the com­pa­ny’s COO is its press con­tact and its “In the Press” page still says “Com­ing Soon,” it’s like­ly to be a new ven­ture with a small staff. It’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that Mind­set is in a posi­tion to design Inter­net sur­veys, ana­lyze the result­ing data, and gen­er­ate accu­rate per­son­al­i­ty pro­files, but I’m some­what skep­ti­cal. My sense is that the press release was large­ly an attempt to tie its com­pa­ny name to the Mac on the week of the Mac­world Expo as a way of gain­ing a high­er pro­file and some free publicity.

So their game is to pick a group who often reacts with great (and vocal) hos­til­i­ty when there is an attempt to sul­ly their name and come out with an unflat­ter­ing report on them. With this in mind, I’m expect­ing Mind­set Media to come out with their next report: Mar­ket­ing to the Over­grown Ado­les­cent, AKA Heavy Users of Digg… No, wait, bet­ter yet: The Typ­i­cal Per­son­al­i­ty of Those Sci­en­tol­o­gist Clowns.

Still, it tick­led me that I (and my imme­di­ate fam­i­ly back in the US) pret­ty much fall into every sin­gle pigeon­hole that the NPR pan­el could come up with : Mac­in­tosh-using, Oba­ma-sup­port­ing, Prius-driving…

In the words of Woody Allen’s char­ac­ter played by Car­ol Kane in Annie Hall, Alli­son Portchnik:

Alli­son Portch­nick: I’m in the midst of doing my thesis.
Alvy Singer: On what?
Alli­son: Polit­i­cal com­mit­ment in twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry literature.
Alvy: You, you, you’re like New York, Jew­ish, left-wing, lib­er­al, intel­lec­tu­al, Cen­tral Park West, Bran­deis Uni­ver­si­ty, the social­ist sum­mer camps and the, the father with the Ben Shahn draw­ings, right, and the real­ly, y’know, strike-ori­ent­ed kind of, red dia­per, stop me before I make a com­plete imbe­cile of myself.
Alli­son: No, that was won­der­ful. I love being reduced to a cul­tur­al stereotype.
Alvy: Right, I’m a big­ot, I know, but for the left.

Am I Really a Sports Jinx?

Back when I was work­ing at RIPE, I used to joke to my co-work­ers that I’m bad luck to any team that I root for. When the BC Lions were in the Grey Cup, some of them either dis­cour­aged me (or encour­aged me, depend­ing on their pref­er­ence) from watch­ing the game on TV, because some­how they would always win when I missed the game and lose when­ev­er I watched. It was almost uncan­ny how the act of observ­ing the game, like some sort of twist­ed Heisen­berg Prin­ci­ple, made the team lose.

This year, I did­n’t watch a sin­gle game that the New Eng­land Patri­ots played in, except for one: The SuperBowl.

After win­ning every oth­er game they played dur­ing the whole year, they lost this one game I watched in the last 35 sec­onds. It was prob­a­bly one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets in his­to­ry. In fact, ESPN.com is now hav­ing peo­ple rank and vote what they think are the biggest upsets in his­to­ry, and tonight’s Super Bowl XLII (42) is list­ed among the can­di­dates: (here’s a screen cap­ture for posterity:)

Sports Upsets

Oh, and by the way, after miss­ing their reg­u­lar sea­son, I also saw that ball go through Bill Buck­n­er’s legs in the 1986 World Series, when the Boston Red Sox lost to the New York Yan­kees, which is, nat­u­ral­ly, in the list.

Note to self: If your team is play­ing, and you’ve not seen them play in any oth­er game, and they’ve won every oth­er game, be sure to watch them, and bet against them, big time, par­tic­u­lar­ly if it’s any team from New Eng­land vs. New York. At least you can prof­it from the mis­for­tune you seem to emanate.

You Can Take the Boy out of Fenway…

The Red Sox, Victorious in Game 1…but you can’t take Fen­way out of the boy.

This evening, Pam and I ate hot dogs, drank beer and watched the Boston Red Sox utter­ly dom­i­nate the Col­orado Rock­ies in a wicked first game of the 2007 World Series. It was curi­ous to see the Sox not only do so well, but do so well in so many ways. They fin­ished off with a score of 13 to 1, tying the record of 13 dou­bles in a world series game. But it was­n’t only the hit­ting. They pulled off a beau­ti­ful dou­ble play, and pitch­er Josh Beck­ett only allowed 6 hits. The Rock­ies, on the oth­er hand, went through 5 pitchers.

Old habits do die hard, though. All the way up to a score of 7 to 1, Pam kept say­ing ‘They could still screw it up! Don’t let your­self be fooled!” It’s also hard to get used to see­ing our old Boston team as the favourite, and clear­ly not the under­dog. That said, it is fun to see them win hand­i­ly, even if we aren’t with­in a stone’s throw of the Green Mon­ster any more.

Go Sox!