Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday fun for Dec 29, 2006

By now, I'm sure you've realized that I like to find funny and interesting videos on the Web. But there are a lot of videos out there, and you can end up burning a lot of time trying to find the good ones. So this week, I'm going to point you to a cool application I "stumbled" upon recently.

It's called, appropriately, StumbleUpon.

It works in a couple of ways. First, it's yet another online social network, which lets you register a profile and search for like-minded friends. But the site uses a unique way of presenting interesting sites, videos, etc. to you that it thinks you will like, based on the preferences you've put in.

Note that if you don't want to give the site a lot of your personal info, it still works just fine. You can either open the site's webpage, or for real convenience, you can download a toolbar for your browser that makes stumbling as easy as one click.

And while you stumble through the choices offered, you can tell the site whether you like the selections or not, so it learns what kind of content you like.

To be honest, I haven't used that part of the site very much, although it seems to work just fine.

But its the second option, called Stumble Video, that I've been using and really enjoying.

You just sign up and start clicking. Once you've entered a list of topics you're interested in, the site will start serving up video clips from all over the Web that it thinks you might like. Again, you rate them while you watch and if you don't like it, just click again to serve up a new one.

It's very addictive and a lot of fun.

For example, here are three sites that I Stumbled Upon in one sitting:

-- How to Reach 100,000 People for $1 - Highway Blogger

-- Internet from the old days -- This is a fascinating report by the CBC's Bill Cameron about the Internet phenomenon, from the 1980's, I'd guess.

-- Pumpcast News -- People pumping gas at a self-serve suddenly realize the video monitor they're watching is talking directly to them.

And, of course, no collection of video clips would be complete without at least one cool guitar video...

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rick Mercer is a funny guy and well worth reading

Rick Mercer has a blog. And while he doesn't post that often, it's usually worth reading.

During the Christmas season, he's been in Afghanistan and his most recent post has quite a bit of detail about his visit.

If you're not signed up to get his blog feed, consider doing so. I recommend it.

Mercer has been one of my favourite comics for years, thanks to such great stunts as his on-line petition to have Stockwell Day change his name to Doris and his hilarious "Talking to Americans" segments for the This Hour has 22 Minutes comedy show on CBC TV.

More Best of 2006 lists

Courtesy of PC World, here's a couple of 2006 best of's to add to our list:

The 20 Most Innovative Products of the Year

The 13 Most Embarrassing Web Moments

And from

Best mobile products of 2006

And for something different, check out for:

Best of 2006 in videos

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The top 10 Google searches for 2006

Here's a real end-of-year list. The top 10 Google searches for 2006, put together by the Google Zeitgeist.

The #1 search? bebo...what the ...?

The Globe and Mail has some analysis of the list.

12 steps to the Perfect Human

OK. This isn't exactly an end-of-year list. But I couldn't resist letting you know about this article in Wired Magazine.

I first read about Dean Karnazes a while ago, when he was in the middle of running 50 marathons in 50 days!

He's got quite a story to tell, as you might expect.

In this Wired Magazine profile, they outline 12 tips on what you need to do to become an ultramarathon junkie as well. (OK, they're not really practical, but they're interesting.)

Interesting reading the day after that giant Christmas dinner and just before the New Year's resolutions to lose weight!


Let the list season continue

Since I've started down this road before Christmas, we'll just keep going now that the big day is past. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, doing whatever it is you like to do on that day. Me? I ate too much, played a bunch of new board games with my kids and enjoyed myself immensely.

So, as we continue digesting, here's today's year-end list:

Link to Wired's 2006 Foot in Mouth Awards.

What are your favourite lists? Send them in via the comments and I'll make sure that everyone sees them.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday fun for Dec 23, 2006

Political Gaffes are always fun
It's almost Christmas and that means that we'll be seeing plenty of lists of best of's, worst of's, most liked, most disliked, etc.

While I'm a big fan of technology, there is a flip side. With the growth of hand-held tech toys that take photos and videos, and the explosive growth of places like YouTube, where anyone can post a video for the world, there are plenty of privacy issues that have yet to be worked out.

But there is one group that has already had to adjust to this new reality -- politicians. And if they haven't, they'd better watch out.

CNET has posted an interesting list of the Top 10 political gaffes of the past year, captured for all the world to see.

Check out CNET's "2006's worst political mishaps"

And for your enjoyment, a few links to some quirky videos and sites.

- Amateur. This guy's got serious rhythm. You'll see what I mean.

- A guitar video. I love guitar videos

- Special effects. A link to a website that shows how the special effects for Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Men's Chest, were created.

- Expanding tables. Ever wanted to make your 6-seater become a 12-seater? If you're rich, you'll love this idea.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Team N2i Antarctic Expedition

If Christmas is starting to feel a bit stale already (and there's still 5 days to go before the BIG DAY!) you might want to check out this tale about Team N2i (Novo to Inaccessibility) Antarctic Expedition. It's a fascinating story from way, way, down under.

These guys are on an amazing adventure, and it's going to be fun to follow their progress, via web postings, in real time, thanks to the wonders of the Internet.

Here's a quote from their home page, which gives a sense of what they're up to:
Our Mission

This coming November, Rory Sweet, Henry Cookson and Rupert Longsdon will be attempting an ambitious and unique expedition. The team will depart from Cape Town on a 2600mile flight south to the Russian scientific base, Novolazarevskaya, situated at the edge of the coldest, windiest, highest, most inhospitable continent on earth – Antarctica. From here the expedition will spend the next 50 days dragging 19stone(120kg) pulks over 1100 miles(1800km) across the Antarctic wasteland in temperatures as low as -50°C (it never gets warmer than -30°C at their destination and thats during high summer!!).

The team is in the Antarctic right now, and there are a number of posts already. It's a fascinating expedition and who knows how it will turn out.

You can sign up for regular emails that will let you know every time there's a new post. And you can send them a note of encouragement as well, right from their website.

I'm always fascinated by these tales of exploration.

Last year, Dee Caffari became the first woman to complete a solo circumnavigation of the world the "wrong way." It was a remarkable achievement and she shared her trials and tribulations with us all every step of the way.

This most recent trek looks to be every bit as riveting.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday fun

Before we start the weekend fun edition, a personal update.

I'm in Regina this week to visit with my Mom, who's getting ready for another one of those major life transitions that we all have to deal with at some point.

She's been living in Qu'Appelle House for several years now. The people there are wonderful and it's like being part of a wonderful, caring family. Unfortunately, to live there, you have to be able to get up on your own and get down to the dining room for meals.

My Mom has suffered a series of small strokes, called TIA's over the years and while she's been able to come back from each of them, this last one seems to have hurt her ability to control her legs. So now, at unexpected moments, her legs just give out on her. And it's not getting better.

So, I'm here to help get her organized for a move to another home where she can get the level of care she needs now. But it will be sad for her to leave her "family" and start over again at a new facility.

My story is certainly not unique. Since I've arrived here, I've run into several people who are either going through or have gone through or are expecting to go through something similar. I guess it's all a part of living, isn't it? Something else for my kids to look forward to.

OK, this is supposed to be fun, right?


So as you know, I've been busy the last couple of days, so I've only got one video for you this week. But it's a good one.

Here's a very clever look back at the year 2006, through the eyes of some kids in a school holiday concert. It was put together by the comedy site JibJab. It's funny, but be warned -- you need a sense of humour to enjoy it!

Thanks to TechCrunch for pointing me here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

How to act in an airport

First of all, don't be that person who insists that while everyone in the line is dealing with the fact our flight has been cancelled, his (or her) situation is unique.

"I can't wait. I have to be in Calgary this morning!"

What a tool.

Fortunately, I was far enough away from that guy that I could just ignore him. But I felt for the staff that had to deal with him.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the departure lounge at the airport, twiddling my thumbs (virtually) and waiting for another flight. The early-morning flight I had booked was cancelled when some wimpy pilots couldn't land their plane during the hurricane we have happening here right now. The announcement said something about wind gusts and the fact that they had tried to land twice and been blown off the runway, or something like that. Sounds like a feeble excuse to me -- and the obnoxious guy who just has to get to Calgary agreed with me.

Anway, kudos to the Westjet staff, who handled the cancellation with their usual good humour and whisked us through a fairly complicated rescheduling fiasco with a lot of class. I don't know who's in charge of their crisis training but it certainly paid off today. Oh, did I mention that while all this was happening, the power was completely out here in the terminal?

At any rate, I've got the better part of day to kill out here. I'm supposed to be on a later flight but so far, the wind is still playing havoc with the schedule here. The smaller planes seem to be able to land, but the larger Boeing 737's, like Westjet uses, are still not able to make it in.

Oh, I almost forgot -- today's incident gave me the perfect chance to practice my new best thing. It's just two words that go a long way to keeping us sane in situations just like this one -- "Hmmmm...that's interesting."

To see what I'm talking about, read Kathy Sierra's great post on Creating Passionate Users.

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"Spread your tiny wings and fly away...

...And make your way back home again...

For some reason, the song Snowbird is rattling around in my mind today. But I'm certainly not heading off to the deep South!

I'm flying back to Regina (my hometown) for a few days, so blogging may be light for a few days. (That's what all the A-list bloggers say when they travel.)

Of course, despite the title of this publication, blogging is often light around here, as regular readers will have noticed. But since I have an excuse this time, I thought I'd let you know.

Now, if I can just find my long underwear and mittens, I'll be on my way...

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More ways to use Google Search

Now that we've worked our way through Tod Maffin's video series on how to get more our of Google, I thought I'd point you to a few more tips.

Exploring Google's Hidden Features, over at, lists 15 things that Google knows how to do.

Some of the 15 things were covered by Tod, but there's a few new ones here as well.

Plus, it's nice to have a list of things that Google does, so that you can print it out and keep it handy by your keyboard.

Thanks to Lifehacker, where I found this pointer.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Handy way to create and edit lists (and check them twice)

It's Christmas time again and that means lots of list-making is happening all over the place. So I thought it would be a good time to point you to one of my favourite little on-line apps,

This little gem is exactly what it says it is.

You just sign up, and presto! You'll be creating lists, checking things off and feeling very up-to-date and plugged in, to boot!

It's easy, fast and free. And you can print out your lists, send them to other people and even share the list with others, including letting them add to it. Want to see my list?

It's a handy little utility. I use it all the time.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Friday fun

Since the weekend is almost here, I've got some fun things for today, which I really need, after the tragic news about CNET editor James Kim. There's a wonderful video tribute to him posted on the CNET site. What a sad story.

I wasn't sure whether a Friday fun post was appropriate this week, given the preceding paragraph. But then I figured that laughter really is the best medicine. So here's hoping we'll all feel better soon.

Weird Al Yankovich - White & Nerdy

First up -- a music video. Over the years, you've always been able to count on Weird Al Yankovich to make you smile. This clever rap is sheer genius. A master at work.

What if Microsoft acquired Firefox?

We've seen marketing spoofs like this before (remember the Microsoft Ipod packaging video?) but rarely have I seen a gag taken to this extreme level of detail. Check out the website, all the links and especially some of the videos. I've no idea who is behind it, but they've gone to a lot of effort to make it very, very funny. Almost makes me want to order it!

Here's the link.

Chris Prillo compares video sites

Chris Prillo is the driving force behind Lockergnome. And if you don't know what that is, don't worry about it. Today, he's an experimental video blogger who's trying to figure out which of the three top video services -- YouTube, Google or Revver -- offer the best features.

The way this works is you need to scroll until you can see all three screens in your browser. Then hit the play button on all of them one after the other, so all three feeds are playing at once. You'll see what I mean as soon as it starts. I'm not sure it proves anything, but it is kind of fun. And it is Friday, after all.

(If this doesn't work properly from this page, here's the link to Chris's blog, where you can try it too.)


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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Series on books from Forbes well worth reading

If you like reading and especially if you like reading about reading, and writing and books and booksellers, then you're going to love this series. has published a special report on books. And what a treat it is.

But a word of warning. You could end up spending a lot of time working your way through this, so make sure you've carved some time out of your hectic schedule first. I've only begun to work my way through the many articles in this great series, but it's something worth bookmarking and returning to at your leisure.

Here's a snippet from the introduction:
Are books in danger?

The conventional wisdom would say yes. After all, more and more media--the Internet, cable television, satellite radio, videogames--compete for our time. And the Web in particular, with its emphasis on textual snippets, skimming and collaborative creation, seems ill-suited to nurture the sustained, authoritative transmission of complex ideas that has been the historical purview of the printed page.

But surprise--the conventional wisdom is wrong. Our special report on books and the future of publishing is brim-full of reasons to be optimistic. People are reading more, not less. The Internet is fueling literacy. Giving books away online increases off-line readership. New forms of expression--wikis, networked books--are blossoming in a digital hothouse.

People still burn books. But that only means that books are still dangerous enough to destroy. And if people want to destroy them, they are valuable enough that they will endure.

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Get more out of Google

If you use Google for research (and who doesn't?) you should check out Secret Google Tips for Researchers.

It's a series of 10-minute videos that CBC Technology reporter Tod Maffin is running this week on, the CBC's official blog.

The videos are full of great tips about how to use Google more effectively. I guarantee you'll find something that you'll start using right away.

The series started on Dec 3, and continues for the rest of this week.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday fun

It's the weekend again...and time for something to make us smile.

This week, I've got a couple of video clips that should get you in the right mood for the holidays.

First up is a video, and a website, dedicated to "That Phone Guy," that annoying person we've all run into in a restaurant, or on the train or in a movie house. They just can't believe that everyone isn't as interested in hearing their voice as they are.

(Just for fun, take a close look at what kind of a phone he's using.)

That Phone Guy

If you like that one, check out the rest on his website. It gets better when you watch more than one.

And for those of you who aren't GTD geeks, and might not recognize him, the phone guy is really Merlin Mann, who runs the 43 Folders website.

Friday Fun #2

For our second smile of the week, check out this demonstration of what happens when you mix a popular candy with a soft drink. These guys have come up with a winning formula for viral marketing. They apparently shopped around this video to get the best deal. I apologize for the quality. (Video is something that Google just can't seem to get right, isn't it?)

Also, there's a commercial at the end, which you can skip. But it's worth it, in my mind, to see the video.

The Mentos guys are back

Have a great weekend!

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