Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Too many Voicemails, too much Clickbait (Unwind Media; April 22-29)

Guys, this is serious. Whoever is calling me, please stop. I am getting so many calls since I posted my new voicemail message that it can't be a coincidence. Some fairly big news coming up soon on Unwind Media, so stay tuned.

This week on the podcast, we spoke to Darren Shackleton, President of the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Association of Food Service Professionals. We had...
In this episode, we discuss Google's new mobile network, Google Fi, the possible "cure" for asthma, and decide whether buying a field Roomba (aka a tractor)...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Voicemail, Feedback, Future Chat and Ottawhat? (April 15-21)

Lots going on at Unwind Media this week! I also finally closed down and moved that site over to this blog (which means that I now get a bunch of spam traffic here :(.

I also FINALLY updated my voicemail message, which I also put online for your listening pleasure. In case it wasn't obvious from the message, I don't like voicemail very much.

This month on Feedback, we discuss the good and bad kinds of music hipster, how bands can successfully or unsuccessfully change their sound over time, and...
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In this episode, we sat down with Drew McFadyen from Grimprov Ottawa, a local long-form improvisational comedy troupe. We learned about the various ways i...
This week on Future Chat, we were joined by a special guest, Christopher Johnson! We talked about the Apple Watch try-ons and Apple Pay, NASA and SpaceX, and the intersection of politics and new media.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Future is Back again! (April 7-14)

Future Chat is back with Season 2! This week featured the triumphant return of our science and tech show, as well as a great interview with Ottawa photographer, Justin Van Leeuwen.

We're back with Season 2 of Future Chat. We're well rested and chatted about giant telescopes, the end of Soylent flatulence, and tiny, tiny "computers".

In this episode, we talked to Justin Van Leeuwen, a local photographer who somehow manages to balance spending time with his kids and photographing some of the city's most important people!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How To Get Noticed Online

For those of you wondering, this is how I see myself.
I've conducted experiments before, but the one I'm going to embark on for the next week will potentially be the most difficult I've ever challenged myself with. If you followed me online in December 2014, you'll recall the Instagram Experiment I embarked upon in the last episode of +Attrell Update (at least the last so far). Basically, I wanted to try Instagram, because I had had an account for several years but had never used it. The experiment was what I would consider a success because I still post photos and video there, and I enjoy the tools Instagram provides to edit and share photos to Twitter and Facebook.

So, onto this new experiment I will be undertaking starting with the next 7 days. I am somebody who consumes a LOT of media. Podcasts, video, music, television, movies, books, blogs, long-reads, op-ed's, reviews, etc. There is a lot of stuff on the internet and I take in quite a bit of it.

For the most part, this media is a one-way street. I slurp it up like a vacuum but rarely contribute to the conversation about it unless it is VERY compelling or I think I can make a particularly witty joke or comment. For the next week, I am going to do my very best to leave some kind of comment, observation or thought on every single thing I read. EVERY. Single. thing.

I have a feeling this will help me get to know people on the Internet, help me better understand subject matter and actually contribute to the Internet as one of its citizens, and it might help me reach people with my thoughts and ideas that otherwise might not get to them, and vice versa.

Some simple rules I will try to follow:
  1. I don't HAVE to leave a comment if the content is offensive or overly negative. I will use my own discretion here.
  2. This will mainly apply to blogs, videos, podcast episodes, things with a home on the internet where you can leave a comment or discuss the media.
  3. I will do my very best to use the original source to comment on the material. For instance, if I read a story on a web page, I will leave a comment on the page directly, or on Twitter (like if I found the link there or on other social media).
I don't know that this will be easy, but I'm sure I will find it rewarding. I encourage you to try a less comprehensive version of this, I know that about 99% of people on the Internet soar around 10 feet above what they see, never talking about it or sharing it or liking it no matter how much they enjoyed the content.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

This Week in Podcasts (March 30 - April 6)

One more week and +Future Chat is back with Season 2! To hold you over, +Mike Attrell and I talked a little about some of what we've been thinking about in the tech world in the last year. Wearable tech, cloud storage and advertising were all under scrutiny from us.

This week, I talk to my cousin Mike Attrell once again, catching up on our digital lives and discussing things we'd like to have on our wrists, advertising as TV moves online, and how we approach our lives online, both storing things, and making and keeping friends.
This week, we sat down with Natalie Stewart, an elementary school teacher and Camp Quality volunteer coordinator. She discussed her career as a teacher and some of the differences between teaching various grade levels.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Listening Party Volume #6 - Kal Penn on the Nerdist Podcast

The Nerdist Podcast
For the last year or so, I've had the Nerdist Podcast in my player. They do 2-3 podcasts a week with comedians, entertainers and cool Bills like Bill Nye and Bill Gates. If I know the person they're talking to, I'll listen to the show.

This week, Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar and House M.D. fame) was on the show. He's an incredible guy and he left House in its heyday to go work for the Obama campaign. They talk about a lot of cool stuff and I found the whole thing very interesting, including a conversation about old-school, racist aspects of Hollywood that genuinely shocked me. You should listen!

The episode in question is currently the 3rd newest, from March 27th: Kal Penn on the Nerdist Podcast.

The Nerdist Podcast on iTunes

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Brand Loyalty

Millions of man-hours on the internet are lost every day to petty fights about PC vs. Mac, Android vs. iOS, or Starbucks vs. Tim Hortons (not a coffee drinker, but I assume). Most people I talk to in real life just have what products they have, and if asked might lean slightly towards that side. However, on the Internet, everybody is a dog and people's opinions relating to personal choices in brand seem to be a lot more intense.

I was in the Apple Store yesterday, as I often am, looking at the fancy new MacBook trackpad that clicks without actually physically moving. If you haven't tried it, you really should, but be aware your mind will be blown. This got me thinking once again about brand loyalty, and whether it actually works the way companies think it does.

TL;DR This is about technology, but I also talk about meat. If you don't care about tech, scroll to the picture of meat.

I've written a good many years ago about choosing to spend a little more money on things that are really important to me, and technology happens to be one of those things (but it's not the only thing, as I'll get to). I've had my fair share of terrible laptops and computers that were underpowered, cheap, flimsy and overwhelmingly inadequate. I believe it was about the 2nd laptop I bought that was a $400 clunker from Acer that came with a printer. I was young and in university, and I wasn't willing to invest in a more powerful laptop, thinking that it couldn't possibly make that much of a difference.

When that Acer laptop stopped working about a year after I got it (after having been sent in for repairs once already), I decided that I wasn't going to buy cheap laptops any more. Most people, when met with this kind of issue, might think that I would swear off Acer laptops, but the 4th laptop I bought was also an Acer, it just wasn't cheap. What I learned from my experiences with laptops is that quality is what you are paying for. My current laptop, which if you're playing at home is apparently my 5th laptop, is a MacBook Air, and I absolutely love it. It has been my most expensive laptop to date, but it is easily the one that has given me the most value overall, and is absolutely worth it.

Companies often try to buy your love with incentives, rewards programs and the like designed to keep you coming back, and they are very successful, but those programs don't necessarily mean people like your product or service. It could just mean that it works for them right now, and it's not worth it to go somewhere else for your needs right now. It certainly doesn't mean your company has its customers hooked. People are going to do what works for them, all you can do is try not to screw it up.

When it comes to cell phones (and tablets), I'm the guy who always wants to be on the latest technology. I use every part of the phone to almost its maximum potential, and though some portion of my gadget-lust is marketing-driven, I also do see a lot of the benefits in the year-over-year updates provided, and often wish for features and upgrades well before they show up in the real world. I have tried Android phones, but for me personally, their shortcomings are more numerous than those in the current iteration of the iPhone. I have definitely also tried CHEAP Android phones, and that is an experience that I wouldn't wish on anybody. What I value in this space is having a phone that can keep up with me, and one that will keep getting better, even if it means spending a few hundred dollars a year on a cell phone (barring upcoming major life expenses, obviously).

Mmmmmmm...smoked meat.
Brand loyalty, to me, isn't as important as loyalty to myself and to my needs and desires. If I have a bad experience with a given brand, I can't equate that to never wanting to deal with that company again, I will evolve and learn from specific things wrong with the product, and attempt to not make the same mistakes again.

Before I go, here is a more relate-able example of the reverse brand loyalty I'm talking about in action. Picture a delicious smoked meat/Reuben sandwich for a moment. I have had my share of terrible meat sandwiches, but I have had a few that REALLY stand out as unbelievable experiences in my mind. One of my favourite smoked meat sandwiches came from Montreal (which is not a surprise from people who've been there and tried them), but I find that most pubs/bars in Ottawa simply get much lower quality meat than places known for their smoked meat. This has caused me to not trust smoked meat or Reuben sandwiches in Ottawa, even though I LOVE them so so much. Unless I know a restaurant has a good meat sandwich, I will not order one here. The same can be said of steak at a pub (I'm sure you have had a good experience with a pub steak at one point, but don't kid yourself into thinking it is common). I do not recommend steak at a pub, having eaten $30 steak I can assure you it is worth much more than 3 $10 pub steaks.

And now I've written more about meat than I ever thought I would today.