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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
My true love drowned in a dirty old pan / Of oil that did run from the block / Of a falcon sedan 1969 / The paper said '75
— Neko Case, Star Witness
February 27, 2011

Why Protected Bike Lanes are Important


Safety is persistently cited as the biggest concern by people who don’t cycle. They often express concerns about interacting with traffic.

Leaving aside the politics of Critical Mass and any opinions on them, this video is as good a demonstration of why protected bike lanes are important in an urban environment. A single driver seriously injured a group of cyclists, at least one of whom remains in serious condition according to reports.

Cars are dangerous: most of the time they aren’t, but it doesn’t take much and a single driver can kill a cyclist, pedestrians, or even another driver without much risk to themselves.

Support Vancouver’s protected bike lanes. The cost is minimal and the long term benefits are huge.

Posted by skooter at 2:39 PM This entry is filed under Cycling.
Tags: Bikes, Critical Mass, Cycling, Gregor Robertson, Vancouver

February 10, 2011

How Not to Use Social Media in the Music Industry

Joanna Newsom's Facebook Page The music industry’s been fairly quick to embrace social media—perhaps a result of the hard lessons learned in the early days of the Internet—and by now most musicians have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, mySpace pages (even though they should be moving to Bandcamp) and any number of other outlets which help them build a community with their fans. Entire careers have been built on these platforms in the last few years.

The point of social media is to build a conversation with your customers and fans. Joanna Newsom’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated in almost a year at this point—sine her last album was released. Don’t make the same mistake. You’re writing music, recording music, touring, and probably going to other shows. Tell your story.
Joanna Newsom at the Vogue Theatre

Posted by skooter at 9:04 AM This entry is filed under Camera, Marketing, Music.
Tags: Facebook, Harp, Joanna Newsom, Marketing, Social Media, Vogue Theatre

February 8, 2011

Sunset Splash

Sunset from Ambleside Sunset is an angel weeping / holding out a bloody sword They say there are disadvantages to living in West Vancouver: bridges to cross, not being right downtown in the centre of it all—wherever that is.

On nights like tonight, they don’t seem all that much like disadvantages.

Posted by skooter at 11:32 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Vancouver.
Tags: Ambleside Beach, Ships, Water, Waves, West Vancouver

February 5, 2011

When The CRTC Failed Canadian Cell Phone Owners

Well, it’s been an interesting week for the CRTC. For starters, he controversy over usage based billing continues to develop without a firm resolution. The CRTC is facing down the Industry Minister over the issue to see who blinks first.

The courts stepped into another decision on Friday which might actually reinforce the CRTC’s decision on UBB and hurt the government. Late last year Canada’s cell phone market saw its first new entrant in some time after a spectrum auction which saw Globalive pick up a significant swath of spectrum. The problem is that Globalive has a substantial amount of foreign investment. The CRTC ruled that Globalive couldn’t operate, but the federal cabinet overruled the decision and Globalive started up.

Globalive’s arrival has been good for consumers. Though they serve only a few markets, they’ve introduced more competition and some innovative pricing ideas. For the first time in almost 10 years, Canada’s cell phone market is more than just a cabal run by Telus, Bell and Rogers—the big three.

This week’s court ruling is bad news for Canadian cell phone consumers. It sets us back several years. But it shouldn’t surprise anyone: it’s not the first time the CRTC has let us down. A few years ago they made a decision that handed the big three a monopoly, stifled competition and sent cell phone rate spiralling upwards after years of going down.

The CRTC allowed Rogers to buy Fido, and it never should have happened.

Fido was the little company that could, owned by Microcell and doing quite well for some time they launched City Fido which for $40 a month gave you truly unlimited local calling, making a cell phone a viable replacement for a home phone for the first time in Canada. It was great while it lasted. It was also—and I have this on good authority—_making money in Vancouver_, though the Ontario launch was more costly.

Fido was also the first Canadian company to launch a GSM based network. If Fido hadn’t done this, Rogers likely would have maintained their TDMA network thanks to a lack of competition. CDMA? Don’t even get me started. It’s the biggest mistake the industry’s made.

If the CRTC care about consumers they would have never allowed an existing player to absorb Fido. It stifled competition and allowed one company to solidify its market share without having to attract consumers. It effectively eliminated consumer choice, and the end result has been the situation we’re in now: Canada has amongst the highest cell phone rates in the world and a regulatory body that seems to be doing everything it can to reduce competition and make them higher.

Something needs to give here, or Canada’s truly going to be left behind in the new economy. I’m hoping its not too late already.

Posted by skooter at 9:12 AM This entry is filed under Technology.
Tags: Bell, Cellular Phones, CRTC, Fido, Rogers, Telecommunications, Telus, Tony Clement

Jasper Sloan Yip: Jesus, etc. at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival

Posted by skooter at 8:46 AM This entry is filed under Camera, Music.
Tags: Jasper Sloan Yip, Jesus, etc., Vancouver International Fringe Festival, Videos, Wilco

Wilco: Jesus, etc. at the 2010 Solid Sound Festival

Posted by skooter at 8:40 AM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Jesus, etc., Solid Sound, Wilco

February 4, 2011

Urban Cowboy

Urban Cowboy

Posted by skooter at 2:13 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Vancouver.
Tags: East Vancouver, Street Photography, Urban Cowboy

February 2, 2011

Young Galaxy: We Have Everything


Young Galaxy are one of the finest emerging bands in Canada. I caught them at the Biltmore and Toronto’s Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in 2009, and late last year when they were opening for Stars on their national tour. Photos from the latter show are on my site or in a more complete gallery at Guttersnipe News.

The new album comes out on February 8th, 2011. Look forward to it, and buy it. You’re not going to regret it.

Posted by skooter at 2:17 PM This entry is filed under Music.
Tags: Music, Photography, Videos, Young Galaxy

February 1, 2011

Usage Based Billing: How the CRTC Failed Us Once Again

Usage Based Billing is a term that millions of people probably never expected to know anything about, but thanks to a recent ruling on the part of the CRTC the words are entering the consciousness of the general public. Even the acronym UBB is starting to be used, though I suspect that this will end.

Essentially, the CRTC ruled a while ago that Bell Canada was able to impose caps on the bandwidth used by its customers. In a more recent ruling, the CRTC allowed Bell to impose those same caps on its wholesale customers as long as Bell provides a discount of “at least 15%” Bell is free to charge more for users who exceed these amounts.

Remember when the CRTC said they weren’t going to get involved in regulating Internet usage? I do. Oh for a return to those glorious days.

The CRTC operates under a mandate. You can read it online, if you haven’t exceeded your monthly cap. This mandate notes, in part, that “The CRTC regulates and supervises the Canadian broadcasting system to ensure the objectives of the Act are met.” The mandate goes on to note that “declares the broadcasting policy objectives for Canada. Canadian content, its development and availability to Canadians, is the underlying principle of the policy.”

While it’ s not explicitly stated, the CRTC is the public’s agency, and it’s supposed to act in the public’s best interest. There’s certainly nothing in the mandate that says that the CRTC is supposed to protect the commercial interests of the broadcasters.

With this decision, that’s exactly what the CRTC has done. They’ve defended Bell Canada’s interests instead of the public’s. I’ll summarize some of the many ways they’ve neglect the public interest.

Continue reading "Usage Based Billing: How the CRTC Failed Us Once Again"

Christina Maria - Carolina


Don’t let the video fool you: Christina’s not nearly that tough. Photos from her Peak Performance Project show are in my Flickr stream and I shot some stills at the video shoot for Christina.

Posted by skooter at 6:38 AM This entry is filed under Friends, Music.
Tags: Christina Maria, Videos