Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Music Pirates in Canada


Found this online a while ago -- forgot where -- but I thought it was interesting so I saved it. It's interesting to see that the piracy battle has been going on so long and yet the industry still lives and there are still many, many millionaires who continue to profit from it.

Hrmmm... interesting.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Packet

There's a month left before the wedding and we're scrambling to get everything up and running and ready.

Invitations have finally gone out and the RSVPs are trickling back.

I love the concept of technology making something tedious much easier for everyone involved - especially adding the ability to send out animated invitations. However, that said, I'm not really a fan of junk mail protocols right now.

Several times, while testing to make sure that our email would be received, I found that no matter what I tried, I had about a 30% 'Junk' failure rate. I'm not sure why this happened only that - for some reason or another - the exact same email would end up being shuffled off to Junk mail where it was perfectly fine the time before.

Now, I tried all sorts of investigations into this, I thought I was sending them too fast so I stopped and gave larger breaks in between sends, no dice. Didn't matter, whatever criteria it was using, it would randomly decide that 3 of every 10 emails would be junk mail.

As the night wore on, and our burning desire to get the invites out the door raged, we finally decided to say 'screw it' and send them anyway.

Which, of course, means that the very first person I ask about it says "What invite?".

Yes folks, not only did the invite not make it to their Inbox - it didn't make it to their junk box either.

You know, just to be funny.

I go over their email addy with them - yep, I spelled it right. They re-check their junk mail. Nope, nothing.

Hrmm... that's not good.

Of course now I find myself looking at the RSVP list and wondering 'who else didn't get theirs'?

I'm sure this is probably the same sort of feeling that one might get when a snail-mail invite goes awry. And maybe that's just how technology works that -- no matter how advanced we get-- we have to make allowances for the fact that there just might be some cracks in them there intertube thingies.

We have to accept that things happen.

And that, sometimes, that perky li'l Packet you just sent out -- satchel full of pies and school books and Grandma's kisses -- just takes that Left turn.

You know the one. The Creepy Left turn.

Sometimes it's jaunting away (as packets are wont to do) and it's humming the ghostly echo of a long-deleted MP3 when it trips over a the remnants of an ancient firewall; sent careening downward into the gaping maw of oblivion.

Maybe it reboots to find itself far from the streaming hum of the router's fiber-optic switcher.

Far from home, far from The Sender.

Maybe it sits there, sad, scared -- lost in the DarkNet below as veridian and crimson eyes twinkle just out of range. Maybe it shies away from the long slender talon that beckons, maybe it cringes, terrified of the the massive digital Wyrm that writhes upon itself in the blackness; The empty husks of battered code sloughing off and tinkling to the floor of its lair.

And maybe it is there, in that nothingness, that our young friend - our Packet - finds the strength to run from the powerful beast; Clutching pies and streaming data behind it, Packet surges forward into the binary erebus ahead, the creature's hungry roar echoing behind.

Steam (or Battle.net) billows from its tendril-like lungs, pushing its encrypted scales forward. Our hero leaps to the side as the behemoth snaps at its back - just missing the satchel, causing our little friend to cry out - panting now, tiring fast.

Off in the distance a flicker of hope for the breathless one: an errant Ping request -- a streak of light, trapped, bouncing along the darkened sky, searching for its escape.

The monstrosity's tail slams home, demolishing the crumbling towers of Web 1.0 and grazing the top of Packet's glowing 'head'. Yet it is undeterred -- and with hope lying only pixels away Packet digs deep, calling on subroutines it never knew it had, begging The Sender above for any help.

But it trips.

Skidding and sliding and flipping across the broken wasteland of Javascript and Perl and Python, our Packet lies, dazed. The Wyrm arches over its prone body, Torrents of hungry drool raining down, waiting, savouring the moment - the feast to come.

And yet a soft white glow blinks off to the side - tired, panting, it struggles to resolve the connection, threatening to time out.

The iridescent light flickers, fading - and as the massive dragon slams home the packet reaches out, grabbing hold of the simmering glow.

"01000011011011110110110101100101001000000110111101101110
0010000100100000010010010010000001101011011011100110111
10111011100100000011101000110100001100101001000000111011
1011000010111100100100001".
(Translate)

The ground below blisters by, dithering away as Ping gathers height and speed. Clutching tight to its streaking mane, Packet points the way back. Points the way home.

Screeching as flaming Bits streak past them, that familiar roar now tinged fury instead of hunger. Its massive wings flap as its undulating body soars behind, gaining fast. Ping quivers, flipping and barrel-rolling away from the assault.

The crevasse looms ahead, approaching fast -- the streaking blue light of the network above beckoning them onward.

Spiraling up, Packet ducks, clinging to Ping as they squeeze through the opening, bursting into the heavy traffic lane as the monster slams into the barrier - unable to penetrate its reinforced SSL shell.

Tearing off, away from the anguished crimson and veridian eyes, Ping deftly joins the stream as Packet whoops with triumph. Together they weave into the flow, gaining speed until streaks of cirulean blur and fade behind them.

Soon they come to a stop at a massive arch, Packet has made it. Landing at its base, Packet dismounts from Ping - clutching its satchel, peeking inside, afraid of what it will find.

Eye widening, incredulous, pies are produced and held aloft. Ping glimmers and takes to the sky, the rush and whir of traffic beckoning...

Waving as Ping soars ever higher, Packet smiles, turns and walks through the Archway.

And somewhere, in a place much larger than we can imagine, in a land of synapse and sinew - a message arrives.

Junk (1)

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Black and Blue

Warning: Personal stuff ahead.

Well, more personal than usual. It's kind of dark, actually. So if you're looking to read something of a lighter sort of fare, you might want to wait for another post.

Just figured I'd put that out there.

----------------------

I received a phone call today.

She had been beaten, severely.

By someone who told her he loved her.

Who told her he'd never do it again.

Until he did.

And this time he outdid himself.

She can't see out of her Right eye, it's swollen shut.

She says the stitches -- the ones holding the gashes in her face shut -- are itching.

The cops took him away, he's up on two felony assault charges.

And all those dreams that he would talk with such bravado about? They're toast. That plan of going back to school and finally doing something with his life? Done. Any hope of having a stable, loving family of his own? Gone. At least with her.

And she.

She didn't see the attack coming. She doesn't know what 'she did' to spark it.

She's utterly shattered. She still loves him.

And it breaks my heart.

One of the strongest women I've ever known. This boisterous, beautiful, brilliant woman... whispers to me over the line, her voice still in shock. Yet her first thoughts are not for her, or the safety of their 3 month old child. It's her stating that she has to get him out; Has to protect him and his dreams so he doesn't rot away in jail. So that he's not swallowed up by the system.

Her thoughts are disjointed, scattered -- and then, like that, she's aware. And echoes of that familiar strength peek through, her voice stiffens, she tries to play it off. She says that everything's okay now.

And it's so obviously not.

I hear those tiny cracks of anguish in her voice and I weep. At work. On my cellphone, hiding my face from my co-workers.

I try to remind her that his actions do not speak of a man who deserves her loyalty or her mercy. That people who love one another do not beat on each other. They don't tear each other down with words.

They don't isolate and insulate and crush underfoot.

Biting back my rage, I work to stay calm and remind this amazing woman of those who love her, who will make sure she and her child are safe. I pledge my support, whatever she needs.

She's embarrassed. She says she has to go.

And one by one the emails come. And then the phone calls.

We all know.

One by one we fall into step, all concepts of lost time or distance fall away. We're a team on a mission. A singular voice of love and support.

And we get to work.

Yet as I'm making calls I have to stop my hands from shaking, my voice from breaking. Fury courses through my finger-tips as keys clack and crunch. I find myself thinking of the times I've been truly enraged. Of the moments where I could've snapped. Where I could have lashed out.

I remember that tense, tingling sensation in my throat; That tunnel-vision, so keen and focused; That sizzling hiss in my ears as my baser emotions beg and plead to be let free. To have release. Or retribution.

And I think of all the times that I walked away. Or ran when I could not walk. Sometimes I was biting my tongue or cursing their name or clenching my fists -- muscles taut with urge to strike... but every time -- Every. Time. -- I walked.

And I poured that energy into something constructive. I made art. I wrote. I drew. I sang - badly. But I got it out of me. I let my pulse slow, my head clear. And no one was harmed. Ever.

Well, maybe those who heard me sing.

I remember that -- spun or justified or excused in whatever way one likes to try and make it right in their head:

It is a choice to harm others like this. Every time. To let down our guard, to let those emotions take control; To let our hands or our words lash out.

To allow ourselves to stay in a situation where we know we are tempted; where we know we are weak; where we feel our will slipping.

To allow another to face the wrath brought on by our own insecurities or embarrassments or fears.

It is a choice.

And strong people -- men or women -- choose to walk away.

Every time.

Brandon

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thanks Felix!

Hey!  Looks like I could be coming into some money soon!! :P
_________________________________________________
From: Felix Dickson
Private Email: f.dickson33@hotmail.com
Subject: Inheritance Fund
Date: July. 18th, 2009.

Hello,

I apologize if the contents hereunder are contrary to your moral
ethics, but please treat it with absolute secrecy and personal
courtesy.

I am Felix Dickson. an Auditor in a commercial Bank here in London UK,
in the process of auditing our bank accounts for the first quarter of
the year, I recently discovered that there was a dormant account valued
at the sum ЎМ7,394,890.00 (Seven Million, three hundred and ninety four
thousand, eight hundred and ninety British Pounds Sterling) and after
due verification of this account I discovered that the account owner is
late. That is why the account has been dormant and as such the funds are
lying unclaimed in the bank.

The idea of presenting a foreigner to act as his next of kin came into
my mind so as to have the total sum of ЎМ7,394,890.00 being transferred
and willed to you and we can both disburse the fund according to the
percentage we will agree upon.

In view of this, I am seeking for your co-operation and understanding
to stand as the next of kin to our deceased customer, to enable us claim
the fund from my bank. Hence, if this proposal is OK by you and you do
not wish to take undue advantage of my trust. Please kindly get back to
me immediately, strictly via my private email address only:
f.dickson33@hotmail.com to enable me enlighten you on how we are
to proceed.

On getting your response, we shall agree on the percentage ratio on how
the funds shall be splitted between ourselves, as I intend to invest part
of our own share in real estate or any lucrative business in your country,
and I would appreciate if you can put me in the right part where I can
invest my own share.

Be rest assured that this business is 100% risk free.

I await for your prompt response.

Best Regards,
Felix Dickson.

NB: PLEASE NOTE THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU ARE NOT
RELATED TO MY LATE CLIENT OR NOT; THE FUND WILL STILL BE
PAID TO YOU, SINCE I AM PRESENTING YOU AS HIS NEXT OF KIN.
_______________________________________

See! Just when things start to look grim, the universe comes along
and hands me 7 Million pounds.

It's good to know that even in this rough economic time, a guy can
still catch a break.

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Well... gosh...!

I went to bed last night feeling a bit battered from the day's event... and woke up to a brimming inbox.

Wow.

Thank you, everyone, for all the letters of support and encouragement. You're so full of wisdom and insight, honestly, I do feel a lot better.

I think the hardest thing about it all is not the rejection -- hell, I used to be a door-to-door salesman... and once you've had an old lady pull a shotgun on you for stepping on her lawn... well, there's not much left to fear in life -- it's the sense of 'Uh, yeah... so what the hell do I do now?'

Simply put: What I do now is keep on working my ass off. Keep on writing. Keep on being a voice for writers - newbie or otherwise. Keep putting every bit of my heart into every action and keep fighting to get to do what I love.

That said, I'd like to say that a good friend mentioned to me that I shouldn't take it personally; that the selection process is entirely subjective, that it's no reflection of the writer's ability.

And while I welcome the words of comfort -- believe me, a part of me would love to accept that thought in it's entirety -- I think, in a way, I do have to take it personally.

Not personally in a 'cry-myself-to-sleep-hugging-my-Teddy-Ruxpin' kind of way.

But personally in that I've been challenged to up my game even more. Challenged to find my own weak points and make them stronger... to endeavour to be better.

And to find another door.

You see, like door-to-door sales, writing is all about the numbers. We used to say that for every 100 knocks you get 1 yes. And of those 100 yes's you get 1 sale.

It can be a bleak picture when you try and paint with that brush -- but it also speaks to the fact that, like so many things in life, it's about perseverance.

In writing circles they say that getting a show made is a "Journey of a 100 (or... gulp... thousand) Yes's"; that any one 'No', at any part of the process, sends the tower crumbling down and everyone back to the drawing board.

And yet shows still get made. And door-to-door salesmen still make money.

So, that's what I'm going to do - pick myself up, dust myself off, and move on.

That said, I think it's time I take a page from my childhood friend Scrooge McDuck:

"Work smarter, not harder".

I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to do that just yet... (hell, maybe I'll try working 'smarter AND harder') but it's a mantra worth dedicating a few brain cycles to while I figure out my next moves.

Thank you to every one of you who voiced your support and took the time to write in, I really appreciate it.

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Well, I guess that makes things interesting...

Just found out I didn't get into the CFC this year.

Not even an interview this time.

I'm not entirely sure why -- I know I submitted two scripts that were far stronger than last year's works. I pushed myself all year to improve my craft and my understanding of the industry -- busted my hump to put all that I'd learned into my stories and continued my ongoing efforts to be a positive (though, granted, sometimes naive) voice for writers and the industry that I care about.

Guess that didn't really matter in the end -- I somehow managed to move backward after it was all said and done.

Right then, time to move forward.

Looks like I'm doing this the infinitely harder way now.

Cheers all,
Brandon

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Incidentally...

I was out shopping for some veggies at a local market in Chinatown.

And I feel compelled to ask:

Are these the fish that end up in my fish sticks?

Because, if so...

EW.

Cheers (uhh... ewww),
Brandon

Back and/or Forth

Okay, seriously: life, you need to chill the ef out, okay??

Right, so when I last got around to posting I was set to go take copious amounts of wedding photos and generally expect to get doused by rain water.

The good news is that the rain never came - though it flirted with us pretty heavily (let's just say we almost made it to second base...).

We ended up running around Toronto in some sort of pre-wedding Triathlon, jumping from the car to snap a few at a park here or a U of T there. Generally managing to be pointed at, snickered at and/or 'AWWWWW'ed at for a good 5 hours or so. On the bright side, it was totally, insanely worth it (my fiancée wore her dresses like a champ... seriously, yeah, wow).

Once it seemed like we couldn't POSSIBLY get any more shots in, we ended up back at the studio proper where we went through even more costume changes and photos. All-in-all we ended up with almost 200 pictures... from which we got to pick 24. On another day - which was just this past Sunday.

More on that in a moment.

The week that followed was, well, frustration and work. I've been slaving away on this great lil' flash animation for my wedding invite (to make it original and cool) only to end up at a crossroads. I love what it became but my fiancée, not so much. So it's been back to the drawing board. That said, fingers crossed, I'm going to have the final, final, final version done tonight and then we can have it out and gone.

This last Sunday we managed to head back up Richmond-Hill-way to select the cream of the crop for our photos... which'll be put together in a nifty lil' book. Of course, selecting just the 24 that we were allowed was insanely hard - luckily for us, they were more than willing to let us take another 30 (minimum)... at 10 bucks a piece. Now, those extra 30 wouldn't receive professional retouching or anything... but hey, what's an extra $300 on top of what you've already paid, right?

Wow.

Personally, I have to admire that kind of thinking. It's really a rather brilliant sort of business sense. Get the client to pay a reasonable (tho' still moderately exorbitant) amount of money to get their pictures taken -- knowing that selecting only the top 20-ish pics would be a massive/heartbreaking task -- and then offer them the ability to get MORE pictures at a somewhat ludicrous price.

Remember that the $10 per picture gets you the digital files on a CD. No extra work on behalf of the photographer -- no prints, no cropping or editing of any sort. The product is already there. If you want more of it, it's gonna cost you. If not, there's the door.

Also, by adding a minimum to the photos you can buy, you're guaranteed to get at least an extra $300 off the back-end of your client. When we were going through the photos we most likely would've been happy with about another 15 of our 'must-haves'. But because we still had another 15 pics to the minimum we ended up picking a few of the 'sortas' to round out the number... and then re-fell in love with a few of the left-over 'meh-sortas' that ended up bringing the total to 33 - or an extra $330.

What can I say? Brilliant.

I wonder how this kind of thinking could be translated into the Canadian Film and Television industry? (I mean, if it hasn't already).

I was originally thinking that the analogue of this might be Fee For Carriage... but then I realized it's not very apt. I mean, at least as clients we got the actual choice of whether or not we wanted to spend that extra $300. If Fee For Carriage passed, well - short of canceling one's cable service - there wouldn't be much choice for consumers.

Then again... maybe I'm reaching in my need for a segue...?

See, I've been attempting to play catch-up with the CRTC - on both the CMF details and the Net Neutrality hearings. Twitter has been my friend throughout the whole thing but it's still damn hard to glean any sort of insight (or subtext) out of 140 characters.

Things are slowly starting to normalize but so far it's a bit of a mess on both sides - at least from what I can figure. Right now Michael Geist is my Canadian Media News deity and I'm clinging on to there while trying not to drown in the data stream.

I'll be diving more into it later this week (I still have an article brewing on the history of the CRTC, who they are and why we need them -- yes, I haven't forgotten) but for now it's a matter of getting those damned invitations out the door... er... inbox.

More to come!

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, July 06, 2009

Smile for the Birdie!

Well, technically I'm supposed to be in bed right now (it's Midnight).

I'm getting up at 6am tomorrow to start prepping for our professional wedding shots -- the actual wedding is still a month and a half away, but we wanted to get our shots in the nice summer weather (as opposed to the crummy fall weather...?).

Incidentally, it's supposed to be Thunderstorms tomorrow.

Nice for the rest of the week.

Just not tomorrow.

Guess mother nature found out the CRTC was getting together and decided they needed the effect more than I did. 'Cause, really, gloomy castles are just gloomy castles without the lightning crashing in the background.

Yes, I know, a low blow perhaps, but I've been reading the Canadian Broadcasting Act and it's got my nose all out of joint. (more on this soon enough - or read here for my more specific thoughts).

Anyways, I digress.

I'm sitting here with toothpaste on my face - an old 'trick' that's supposed to work to help with blemishes (thank you, internet! :S) but so far is really only burning like crazy.

Incidentally, yeah, going for dim sum -- while tasty -- was probably not the best course of action the day before a thousand dollar 'Professional' photography session. Oil + Salt + Noonday Sun = "Brandon's face is a bacteria factory". (On a side note: can I just say how much more insane that number seems as time ticks on and the world continues to crumble...?! Right... these had better be good.)

On the bright side, my fiancée is going to be getting the royal treatment - approximately 3-4 hours of make-up plus several dress changes (all of said dresses are gorgeous) - along with a page and a half list of "do"s and "don't"s for the night before.

I was told to show up. Oh, and bring white socks, black socks and a decent pair of shoes.

Truthfully, I kinda feel a bit let down by the casual-ness of my side-line-y-ness to the whole thing, but then again, she's going to look like a +5 Awesome of Awesomeness (before stacking in her +1 base modifier) AND I'll get to be photographed beside and/or with her.

So, yeah, it all kind of evens out in the end.

To help balance things I've decided to 'treat' myself to a good ol' fashioned barber's shave. I've never had one before, and I'm not sure if it's a good idea to have a straight-razor that close to my jugular on the morning of a major photo session (bleeding out changes the WHOLE THEME of the darn thing...) but I figure why the hell not? Live a little.

Of course that means I have to get up even earlier. We're supposed to be on the road for 9am and on-site for 10. Which means I need to be at the barbers for 7:30; which means I need to be up for 6 and out the door for 6:45.

Right.

In other (foreshadowed) news, the CRTC is going to get into reviewing it's Broadcasting Policy tomorrow... and it looks like I'm going to miss the big show. Sorry folks - this one's outta my hands. Tho' if you'd all take really kickass notes I'd really appreciate it (and I even promise to read them!).

And now, with a good 5 and a half hours to sleep, I'm heading off to bed. Luckily I generally only require 4-5 hours a night these days.

Anyways, off to bed. Wish me luck.

Good luck to all those venturing up to the CRTC. Let's keep our fingers crossed for good news.

Is it still naive to be optomistic?

Cheers,
Brandon