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Yeah, um, Apple Music is way too complicated. I’m sticking with Rdio

July 1 2015 |

I’ve been a happy Rdio user for years now, and it has been the primary way I listen to music, old and new. But danged if I didn’t get excited for Apple Music, which promised to offer all the streaming convenience of Rdio, only with a wider catalogue, exclusives, Beats 1 Radio, and the ability to merge your personal collections with the cloud. I fully expected to make the switch.

One day in and I’ve completely changed my mind.

While Rdio feels like a seamless merger between the collection and the cloud, Apple Music is a confusing mix of streaming, store, online and offline, different playlists, radio, Match and I don’t even know what else. I mean, full disclosure, I haven’t used iTunes much for years, but this thing is a mess.

Let me use just one example: favouriting songs.

OK, so here’s Rdio. I log in.

rdio open screen

There’s all my stuff. The music I’ve most recently been listening to is front and center. Over on the left-hand side I can navigate through a few things, including my personal playlists and friends’ profiles. Today I’m going to check out the new releases.


I like Miguel. I’m going to listen to that. Click on it, it starts playling.

rdio hover


I like this song. Click on it, and a list of options come up, including adding it to one of my playlists, sharing (on Facebook, Twitter, Rdio, links, or embeds), and favouriting. I’m going to favourite it.

rdio favourite

I know I succeeded because there’s a red heart beside it.

rdio fav'd

OK, now I want to go back and hear some songs that I know I liked. No matter where I am on rdio.com, that “Favourites” tab is there. Here’s what happens when I click on it.

rdio favourited


All the songs and albums I’ve favourited, in reverse chronological order! I can access this from any computer, as well as from the app on my phone.

OK, so now let’s do the same thing with Apple Music. I open iTunes, and go to the “New” tab. Hey, look, it’s Miguel again!

itunes new


Alright, so so far it’s about the same. Click, it starts playing, hover on the song I like and I get some options.
add to


Here’s where it starts to fall apart. I hover over “add to” and nothing happens. I have playlists, but they are for my personal iTunes so maybe I can’t add streaming songs? OK, I’ll favourite it instead.

itunes loved

I clicked on the heart, so I think I succeeded? But for some reason Apple’s decided that different shades of grey are the best way to indicate whether a song has been favourited or not.

Let’s find out. I’ll head over to “my music” to find my favourite songs.

itunes my music

It’s not here. Maybe there’s a favourites tab in my playlists?



And here’s where I have to spend ten minutes trying to Google an answer, and eventually piece together that I have to make a new “smart playlist”. How do I do this? Way over in the bottom left hand corner.

new smart playlist

Now I need to manually make a playlist that will add any song or album that I “love” to it. Make sure it matches “any”, not “all”!

new smart playlist 2


Here’s my new playlist of “loved” tracks. That Miguel song will be here, right?


itunes loved playlist

Nope, just a classic Weezer tune that I guess I loved a while ago. Incidentally, I tried to remove it from my “loved” tracks for the purposes of this demonstration, but had no success. I love it forever.

Alright, so back to Google. It turns out that before you can have a track you “love” in Apple Music streaming appear in your Apple Music collection, you need to first add it “My Music”. So go back to the artist tab.

apple add to my music

This is insane. Why would you give people the ability to “love” tracks without those tracks automatically being added to the “my music”? What is the point? I guess something to do with the algorithm, but now I spent time listening to new music and hitting “heart” only to have it disappear into the ether. I have no idea if there’s anywhere I can see those tracks. I also can’t figure out if I have the ability to share playlists, browse other people’s playlists, or even share this information between iTunes on my Mac and the phone apps. Yesterday when I tried to add tracks to my collection from a phone, I kept winding up on a purchase screen.

This is, I think, the problem with Apple Music: it’s a streaming service built on top of a store with radio stations on the side. Or a radio station in a store with streaming options. I don’t know. Regardless, it’s confusing as heck. While listening to Zane Lowe yesterday I tried multiple times to favourite or collect or whatever a song he was playing, only to give up and add it to my playlist on Rdio.


Here’s how it works on Rdio’s $9.99/month plan:

Here’s how it works on Apple Music’s $9.99/month plan:

There’s all these weird tiers and getting between them is not at all intuitive. On top of that, I can use Rdio on any computer with a web browser, because it’s entirely browser based. So if I’m working on the road, my collection is completely accessible to me from remote computers, and I’ve done this.

Apple Music, on the other hand, lives in iTunes. So you need iTunes. And once you have it, you need to authorize the computer or whatever junk that is to get into your stuff. And you can only authorize so many computers. And if you want to access your collection from someone else’s device, well, that’s a problem because you can only authorize a new account every 90 days or whatever. I don’t know. Just like the music itself, it’s this weird hybrid of something that lives online and something that actually takes up space on your computer that really feels archaic at this point.

And that’s just the start of it. I enjoy being able to browse other people’s collections and playlists on Rdio. Like this one. Rdio even lets you add your own cover art and descriptions, making it a lot more like sharing mixtapes. I mean, maybe that’s not a killer feature for everyone, but it is for me and I really thought Apple, with it’s history of iPods and playlists and this new focus on “curation” would have that baked in but as best I can tell you get the “recommended playlists” made by various Apple folks, and that’s it. And those playlists are pretty good, actually, but I can’t even seem to explore them, instead being limited to the few they choose to show me.

I mean, hey, it’s like day two of this thing, so it’s bound to be rough. Apple is a big company and has the resources to change. But I really hope Rdio manages to hang in there, because it has a far better product and I’d hate to be forced into switching for this.

Filed under: music, reviews | Discussion

My name is only real enough to work at Facebook, not to use on the site → 

June 29 2015 |

@zip on Medium:

“I always knew this day would come. The day that Facebook decided my name was not real enough and summarily cut me off from my friends, family and peers and left me with the stark choice between using my legal name or using a name people would know me by.”

The reason? Zip is a a pseudonym, adopted during a gender transition, and Facebook wants real names only. In the wake of all those rainbow profiles, this does feel hypocritical:

“I chose my Facebook name six years ago, as I began my transition. Every person I’ve met since then has generally known me by that name, and in part this is precisely because I use it on Facebook. I so strongly identify with and am identified by that name that when I took a job at Facebook I put it on my badge.

“Worse still, they allow people to report each other for using “fake” names. People know this, and they use it as a mechanism to kick each other off the site. If you’re a marginalised person, such as a trans person, you may be left with no way to get back on. Facebook have handed an enormous hammer to those who would like to silence us, and time after time I see that hammer coming down on trans women who have just stepped out of line by suggesting that perhaps we’re being mistreated. In fact, it happened to me shortly after commenting on a Facebooker’s post that Facebook needs to step up on this issue.

By forcing us to change our names on the site, Facebook changes the names we are known by in real life — whether we like it or not.

Carly Rae Sremmurd – I Really Got No Type (Almost Mainstream Really Terrible Mix)

June 24 2015 |

i really got no type cover


My two favourite artists so far this year have been a couple of Rae’s – British Columbia’s very own pop chanteuse Carly Rae Jepsen, and Mississippi hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd. Given the shared letters in their names, and the fact they have a couple of massive hits, I figured it would only be a matter of time before someone made a mashup- and I wasn’t alone.




But as weeks and months went by it became increasingly apparent it wasn’t happening, at least not as quickly as I’d like. So I decided to do something I’ve been wanting to try for a while: I made my own mashup.

This is a first go, so it’s not great and there’s a few things that I’d like to do better (for example, find an acapella of “No Type” or do a better job of removing the bass), but hey, it works, and maybe someone will take my idea and do a better job of it, which would make me extremely happy. Meanwhile, here’s my own version. Enjoy, or don’t, it’s your life.

download | alt download | buy Sremm Life | pre-orderer E•MO•TION

Filed under: music

Ranking the songs from the Space Jam soundtrack based entirely on memory

June 23 2015 |

Space Jam, the 1996 team-up between Michael Jordan and the Loony Tunes came out when I was eleven years old, so of course I loved it, as I loved the movie’s soundtrack, one of the first CDs I remember owning, possibly the first. Apropos of nothing, here are those ranked based on the opinions I formed of them when I was eleven.

14. “The Winner” by Coolio

13.  “I Found My Smile Again” by D’angelo

12. “Givin’ U All That I’ve Got” by Robin S.

11. “All of My Days” by R. Kelly feat. Changing Faces and Jay-Z

Despite listening to this album countless times, I cannot for the life of me remember what these songs sound like. They get ranked by the order they appear on the album, because presumably I would have heard the earlier songs more, so forgetting them is even worse. “The Winner” is the second track and I could not tell you a thing about it.

10. “I Turn To You” by All-4-One

9. “For You I Will” by Monica

I do remember these songs. But I was also eleven years old and they were slow jams, so… eh. One of the advantages of CD players over records and cassettes was the skip track button, and I made use of them here.

8. “Upside Down (Round-N-Round)” by Salt-N-Pepa

I vaguely remember this being funky. Probably not a skip.

7. “That’s the Way (I Like It)” by Spin Doctors feat. Biz Markie (KC and the Sunshine Band cover/remix)

6. “Fly Like An Eagle” by Seal (Steve Miller Band cover)

5.  “Basketball Jones” by Barry White and Chris Rock (Cheech and Chong cover)

I didn’t know at the time any of these were covers. They were just cool new songs I’d never heard before. I distinctly remember buying a Steve Miller Band compilation from a gas station on a road trip, and being blown away that “Fly Like An Eagle” was on there.

4. “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly

A simpler time when I knew nothing of R. Kelly except he believed he could fly.

3. “Buggin'” by Bugs Bunny

I’m super curious about this one, because I loved it, but then I also loved a movie about the Loony Tunes kidnapping Michael Jordan to play in a game of basketball against aliens. So was it good? Or was my taste just that bad?

2. “Hit ‘Em High (The Monstars’ Anthem) by B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Method Man

OK, I’ve heard this song since and it still holds up, so I am entirely confident with its high ranking here.

1. “Space Jam” by Quad City DJ’s

Today, I’d probably put this in the number two or even lower slot but as a kid this was my jaaaaaaam. This was track three, but track one in my heart. It acted as a self-commentary on the album itself: “Y’all ready for this? You know it! And you wanna know why? Cause this is the Space Jam!

Why all those headlines about Aboriginal women knowing their killer are a little misleading

June 20 2015 |

Aboriginal women and girls are more likely to be killed, but spouses or family members are less likely to be involved than in the homicides of other Canadian females. But that’s not in the headlines.


(Note: I’ve updated and clarified the rate of family involvement in the section labelled “asterisk two”)

On Friday afternoon, the RCMP delivered an update on their work on missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.

Afterwards, here’s what the headlines said.




(CTV, CBC, and the Globe and Mail)

I want to talk about why these headlines can be misleading.



The context


There are a number of Canadians calling for a national inquiry into the number of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada (#MMIW is the hashtag on Twitter), and the Harper government isn’t interested, preferring to treat these cases the same as as any other crimes. Last year, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt told the Ottawa Citizen that Aboriginal communities have to take a greater responsibility for MMIW:

“Obviously, there’s a lack of respect for women and girls on reserves,” he said. “So, you know, if the guys grow up believing that women have no rights, that’s how they are treated.”

So there’s a backdrop to this – a debate over whether MMIW are a national issue to be tackled by a federal initiative, or something more domestic. The media plays a role in shaping the public understanding and conversation around these issues.



Asterisk one: this only applies to cases that have been solved


I’m going to start with the headline from the Globe and Mail proclaiming that “All native women killed in past 2 years knew their killer” because that one is unknowable, and very possibly out-and-out false. The exact statistic is that Aboriginal women knew their killer in 100% of the cases that have been solved in the last two years. With 32 new homicides in 2013-14, there are still 6 unsolved cases where the victims may or may not have known their killer. To say “all native women knew their killer” misrepresents the information. Update: the Globe has now changed their headline to read “Native violence starts at home“).



Asterisk two: Aboriginal women homicides are less likely to involve spouses or family than non-Aboriginal homicides


While other headlines didn’t focus on the “knew their killer” angle, there is a focus on the “family violence” and “someone they knew” angle. While these angles are true, they are still worth examining.

Of the 26 solved homicides involving Aboriginal women in 2013-14, family members or past or current spouses were involved in 73 per cent of the cases.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the numbers for non-Aboriginal women for the same years, but the report does outline the rates from 1980-2012, which you can see in the graph below:

Offender-to-victim relationship, female homicides, 1980-2012


In that time period, past/present spouses, family members, or “other intimates” were involved in 62 percent of the homicides of Aboriginal women so, yes, it is fair to say there is a link. But those numbers are even higher for non-Aboriginal women, where spouses/family/intimates are involved in a full 74 percent of the cases.

So while it is accurate to say there is a link between the deaths of Aboriginal women and their families/home life, it is inaccurate to imply that that linkage is higher amongst Aboriginals than it is in mainstream society, or that the higher homicide rate among Aboriginal women is entirely attributable to family violence.

Note: In an earlier version of this, the language I used in this section was Aboriginal women and girls are less likely to be killed by spouses/family. However, given that Aboriginal females are homicide victims at 4x the rate of other females in Canada, it means that even though a lower percentage of those homicides involve spouse/family/intimate, there are still more Aboriginal women who are victims of those forms of death than other women – basically, Aboriginal women are more likely to be homicide victims by any means, simply because they are more likely to be homicide victims. However, the likelihood that spouse/family/intimates are involved in any given homicide increases if the victim isn’t Aboriginal.


Asterisk three: “acquaintance”


The category where Aboriginal women are represented at levels of more than one percent higher than non-Aboriginal women is in deaths associated with “acquaintances”. And once again, let’s read the fine-print, in this case a literal footnote from the report:

“The acquaintance category can be broken down further to include close friends, neighbours, authority figures, business relationships, criminal relationships and casual acquaintances. (i.e. a person known to the victim that does not fit in the other acquaintance categories).”

That’s a pretty broad category that includes people that you see taking out the trash, a grocery store clerk you see on a semi-regular basis and, as was pointed out in the news conferences, sex workers who “know” their johns:

Reporter: Is a john considered an acquaintance? RCMP: Yes. I’m paraphrasing here.

— Connie Walker (@connie_walker) June 19, 2015

Under that definition, here’s a few examples of Aboriginal women who knew their killer:

When Loretta Saunders went to collect rent from her subletters, she knew her killers:

“When Saunders, who had moved in with her boyfriend, arrived at the apartment to collect the rent on Feb. 13, 2014, Leggette decided to kill her, according to his journal.

Leggette wrote that Saunders, a 26-year-old student at Saint Mary’s University, was “getting annoyed” and asking whether the rent money was available. As Saunders sat on the couch, Leggette said he went into the room he shared with Henneberry and asked, “Should I do it?”

Henneberry told him he didn’t “have the balls,” which made him angry, Leggette wrote. He walked over to the couch, grabbed Saunders by the throat and began choking her. He wrote that he tried to suffocate her with plastic bags, but Saunders tore through them.

He then hit Saunders’ head on the floor twice and she stopped moving.”

When Natasha Montgomery and Cynthia Maas, respectively, encountered Cody Legebokoff for the last time, they knew their killer:

“Cynthia Maas, 35, was last seen September 10, 2010 and her body was found in a Prince George park the following month. Maas, died of blunt-force trauma to the head and penetrating wounds. She had a hole in her shoulder blade, a broken jaw and cheekbone, and injuries to her neck consistent with someone stomping on it.

“Natasha Montgomery, 23, was last seen August 31 or early September 1, 2010. Her body has never been found but her DNA was later found in samples taken in Legebokoff’s apartment.

“The Crown has said Stuchenko, Maas, and Montgomery had worked in the sex trade and that Legebokoff was addicted to cocaine and used sex workers to get him the drug.”

And when sex worker Cindy Gladue met Bradley Barton a second time, she knew him:

“Gladue, a 36-year-old mother of two, bled to death from an 11-centimetre wound in her vaginal wall. Arguing that the wound was caused by a sharp object, the prosecutors made a controversial decision to submit Gladue’s preserved vagina as evidence in the courtroom.

The defence argued that Gladue’s wound was caused by rough, consensual sex and that Barton had no intention to harm her. He was found not guilty of first-degree murder.”

So when the headline says “Aboriginal women most frequently killed by someone they knew”, it’s true, but it’s also important to understand just how broad that definition is.



Why this matters


Many people get their news from headlines, even if they don’t read the articles. Want proof this happens? Last year, NPR posted an article asking “why don’t people read anymore?” only to have many, many people on Facebook and Twitter tell them that this isn’t true, they read all the time. The trick? The article itself was actually an April Fool’s prank testing to find out how many people would respond to the headline without reading the text.

I myself have had the experience (many times) of writing or posting a piece online only to have people respond or ask questions in a way that makes it abundantly clear they didn’t actually read the article, they were making assumptions about the world based on the headlines.

And even in cases where people read the articles, headlines shape the way those articles are read. Studies have found that even when the information in an article contradicts the articles headline, the headline plays a major role in what people remember after reading the article.

As I said at the outset, these stories are being written against the backdrop of a very public debate about Canada’s relationship with indigenous communities. We just had the Truth and Reconciliation report that, among other things, called on media to more accurately reflect the experience of Aboriginal people. We have calls for an inquiry into MMIW in Canada. And we have these statistics:

fig04-eng fig05-eng

Using the most recent statistics, Aboriginal women and girls are more than four times more likely to be killed than non-Aboriginals. As a proportion of female homicides overall, the number is climbing. When Aboriginal women are killed, it is less likely to be by a spouse, family member, or other intimate than it is for non-Aboriginal women.

Ask yourself: is that story being told in the headlines?

Filed under: Aboriginal, media | Discussion

The night a park was renamed → 

June 16 2015 |


So, it happened. I put together a timeline of how it all went down.

Filed under: Aboriginal, Prince George

Hello, let’s talk about a park → 

June 14 2015 |

Why giving civic space its indigenous name is everything and nothing

Over on Medium, I wrote a about 2500 words on the possible renaming of Fort George Park to Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park. I hope you’ll read it.

Filed under: Best Of, Prince George

13 Times the Canadian Version of Buzzfeed Was *SO* the Canadian Version of Buzzfeed → 

June 11 2015 |

So Buzzfeed just launched a Canadian version of its website. I think Buzzfeed is an interesting model, and have high expectations for the site to cover serious Canadian topics in unique and interesting ways.

But I also expect it to come up with a lot of lists, quizzes, and clickbait that is pretty much what you would expect if you heard someone was making a Canadian version of a site with a reputation for lists, quizzes, and clickbait. And so far I’m right! So without further ado, I present:

13 Times the Canadian Version of Buzzfeed Was *SO* the Canadian Version of Buzzfeed

This is how easy it is to change a park name in Prince George

June 11 2015 |

Amongst the response to Murry Krause’s proposal (that, I’m told, comes through the Lheidli T’enneh) to change the name of Fort George Park are people upset about money being wasted/worried about the cost.

Fortunately, Prince George just went through this two weeks ago, when the Prince George Naturalists asked for “Hudsons Bay Slough” to be renamed “Hudson’s Bay Wetland” for a combination of grammatical and PR purposes. The question of cost was raised and the answer… it’s virtually nothing. So it was done, and just over a week later a new sign was up, and basically no one noticed.

Listen to the exchange below:

listen to ‘This is how easy it is to change the name of a park’ on audioBoom

By the way, the cost of letting the taxpayer vote on this, as some people have suggested, would be far, far higher.

Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park → 

June 10 2015 |

Councillour Murry Krause suggests Fort George Park be renamed:

“The renaming of Fort George Park to Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park commemorates, in a respectful way, a troubling time in our City’s history when Lheidli T’enneh people were forcibly removed from their land. The inclusion of the word memorial in the proposed name change acknowledges the presence of the Lheidli T’enneh Burial Grounds in the park. The cemetery is all that remains of the village that was destroyed in 1913. The permanent presence of their flag appropriately recognizes the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation as a level of government and is a reminder that this is the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh people.”

The proposal has the support of Lheidli T’enneh chief Dominic Frederick, and would include permanently raising the Lheidli T’enneh flag in front of city hall. If council supports it, the renaming would happen June 21 (National Aboriginal Day).

Seems like a nice middle ground in the debate over the wholesale renaming of Prince George that still finds a way to draw attention to the actual history of this place. And for more on that history and just how troubled it is, see “Even the churches of the Indians will be burned” and “Burn Your Village to the Ground (100 Years Since Lheidli)“.


Dzuhoonhdi Whuzadel (Let’s stop ignoring where we are)

Lheidli T’enneh (Where I Live)


#ReadTheTRCReport – azw and epub formats for Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Google Books

June 10 2015 |


Two writers I respect, Wab Kinew and  âpihtawikosisân, have made a fairly simple suggestion: if you’re going to have an opinion on the Truth and Reconciliation Project of Canada’s report on residential schools, you should probably read at least part of it at some point. I, personally, am making it my summer reading project.

The problem is, the thing is available for free online, but it’s in pdf format. That’s fine for a computer, but on other devices it’s a bit of a mess.

So I’ve converted it to Kindle’s .azw format, as well as the .epub format used for iBooks on Apple devices, Google Books, Kobo, and others.

Some of the formatting is a bit off, and the images aren’t as nice, but overall it works. You can read the report wherever, and take notes and highlight passages of text.

Here are the links:

Kindle format: cloudapp | dropbox

ePub (Apple, Android, Kobo): cloudapp | dropbox

Also, if you hate reading there is a project to present the whole report as a YouTube playlist. You can get involved here, or just watch the videos here.

Is 2015 a bad year for music, or am I just getting old?

June 8 2015 |

At the risk of sounding like an old man, why is 2015 such a rough year for music? Compared to previous years, I find myself putting very little in the way of new tunes on repeat listening.

Looking at my favourite songs of 2013, at least three quarters were released by June . About half of my favourites of 2014 came out during the first five months. In 2015, there are maybe three songs so far that I can say, unequivocally, will make my year-end list1. More damning, they are the only three that would have a chance of making my top 20 had they been released any other year in the past decade.

The way I see it, there are a few possible reasons behind this:

Option one: There isn’t that much good music in 2015.

This seems unlikely, but it is possible. In Vulture’s “Song of the Summer”contenders list they note that nothing so far major “oomph” this year in terms of being a clear summer jam. So maybe it is just a weak field.

Option two: There is good music, but I haven’t heard it

More likely. Compared to past years, I haven’t been all that diligent in keeping up with new releases. I used to have CBC Music and the Hype Machine on constant streams to catch not just the big hits, but the little gems that would often wind up being my favourites that never appeared on anyone else’s list. I’m going back and listening to their charts from the year to see if I’m just missing out, but so far there’s not all that much promise.

Option three: Streaming music is destroying my ability to love songs that don’t immediately grab me

Also more likely. Once upon a time, I would listen to the radio and the songs they played would slowly grow on me. And I would buy CDs, and the songs on them would slowly grow on me. With on-demand, if a song doesn’t immediately give me a reason to come back, I can hit skip and never hear it again. Although I would have thought the effects of this would have reared their head earlier (I’ve been streaming music for years now), maybe I’ve hit a point of music saturation that’s finally affecting my ability to let new songs grow on me over time.

Option four: I’m getting old, yo

According to a new study, people stop listening to music at age 33. I’m not quite there, but maybe my inability to get into new stuff is just part of the irreversible passage of time. I’ve spent a decade and a half as a voracious music lover, building up a collection of tunes that it would takes months of continuous listening to even get through. Maybe I’m hitting a point of diminishing returns where it’s harder for new stuff to grab my attention because it sounds less new, less original, and less fresh then it did when I was an impressionable fifteen-year-old.  Eventually I’ll just sit around listening to Beyoncé and Kanye West and the White Stripes, wondering why teenagers these days don’t “get” real music. My Rdio playlists will never change, except things like alternate mixes on the 30th anniversary edition of Long.Live.A$AP.

In the scheme of things, not getting into new music isn’t a big deal and I certainly have no problem with getting old. But music discovery has been a big part of my life for years now, and listening to playlists from the past are great little memory markers for me, taking me back to the years I made them, or even into the moments when I first heard a new favourite song. So I will be playing with how I listen, giving more repeats to tracks that seem to be a little subtler, and making sure to keep casting a wide net for listening. And if you have thoughts/music discovery suggestions/favourite tracks/whatever, leave a comment below.

  1. I Really Like You“,  “Uptown Funk” and “FourFive Seconds“. And yes, I’m aware these are all Big. Pop. Songs. which I’ve always liked, but it is odd to me that there isn’t anything outside of there on here 

Filed under: music, personal | Discuss

“How to make your podcast sound like every other podcast” → 

June 7 2015 |

Dave Shumka:

“You don’t want to sound like a reporter, you want to sound like a regular person. So use the word ‘like’, like… like a lot.”

Lots of nuggets of gold in this three-and-a-half minutes, including overlong pauses, only uses people’s first names, and sponsors who deliver “baskets full of websites to your front door.” Honestly, I feel like there are a few This American Life/Radiolab/Serial-style crutches such as these that are getting overused- and parody is a good way to draw more attention to them.



June 4 2015 |

“We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations.”

– Call To Action #86, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
(p. 345)

Of all the courses I took during my undergraduate degree, the ones I’m most grateful for those are those focused on indigenous and Aboriginal issues (for lack of a better word) both in Canada and around the world. It’s given me a valuable understanding of the historical, legal, social and political contexts surrounding so many stories in modern Canada, from energy and land rights to the recently-released Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. I’m no expert, but at least I have a base to build on.

Whether or not it’s required, I heartily recommend anyone interested in working in Canadian journalism give themselves decent base understanding of the Aboriginal experience. It’s been extremely useful in my job, and I would put it up there with an understanding of Parliamentary democracy and the basics of the legal system as “things you hope journalists sort of know”. It is our job to reflect what is happening in Canada to Canadians, and if we only have a hazy understanding of “First Nations” as some sort of homogenous group of protesters, I’d argue we’re failing to do the best we can do.

To this end, let me direct your attention to the website Reporting in Indigenous Communities, a project from UBC journalism professor and CBC reporter Duncan McCue. It explores some of the common mistakes and clichés made by journalists covering indigenous issues in Canada. For a sample, here’s part of the site’s “Reporter’s Checklist“:

“Are you looking beyond pow-wows, cultural gatherings, and National Aboriginal Day for story ideas?

“Do you have a database of Aboriginal contacts, and a banking system to catalog research and ideas for future stories?

“Is there a way to include Aboriginal people in your “non-Aboriginal” stories?”

It’s humbling to take a look at the news cycle to see how often this checklist is overlooked.  The end game here is an understanding of the diversity of indigenous people in Canada, both as political entities and as individuals whose identity goes beyond “token Aboriginal”. Like all that is worthwhile we may not always succeed, but the least we can do is try.

CBC Radio Number One → 

May 29 2015 |

cbc number one

A message from CBC Daybreak North:

“This morning, a big THANK YOU to our listeners. Once again, Daybreak North is the NUMBER ONE radio show in Prince George northern British Columbia, and CBC is the most-listened to radio station all day and all week. On any given morning nearly 1/3 of radios in cars, homes, offices are tuned in to us, and we’re honoured to wake up with you. We love the north, and we’re glad the north likes us back. Thanks for listening.”

In Spring 2014, CBC Radio as whole has a 23.8% share of listeners in Prince George- that’s seven days a week, all day. And when Daybreak North is on we have an unbelievable 31.8% audience share. We’ve been sitting at number one for a while now, but this is the first time we’ve increased our share three years in a row, and the first time I’ve ever seen a station crack the thirties. It’s humbling.

Street Sounds

May 28 2015 |

Over the past couple of days I’ve been reminded of the joys of simply wandering around with a microphone and seeing who wants to talk to you. Here’s two little snippets I’ve gathered – they’re nothing earth-shattering, but they sure are fun to make.

listen to ‘”Come get some lemonade”’ on audioBoom

listen to ‘Station ID: Civic Centre’ on audioBoom

Hire local → 

May 28 2015 |

Bill Phillips on the latest hire at city hall, Rob van Adrichem from UNBC:

“Give them credit for hiring locally. That’s two in a row, as city manager Kathleen Soltis was named Beth James’ successor earlier this year.

“Mayor Lyn Hall and the new council elected last fall, wasted no time in getting rid of former city manager Beth James and erasing James’ fingerprints on the city. Communications manager Todd Corrigal left the city at the same time as James, although reasons for his departure were never disclosed. Several key staff members shown the door by James, have found their way back to the city.”

Given that six out of nine of the current city council was on the previous iteration (Hall included), I’m not sure how much sense it makes to be talking about a “new” council. But this doesn’t certainly seem to be a new era for the reasons Phillips lays out – more interest in using local talent at city hall, including some names who were previously taken off the organizational charts.

I’m also told that one of van Adrichem’s first jobs will be to help organize community meetings. One of Hall’s election promises was to bring city call out to the neighbourhoods, with meetings in College Heights, the Hart, and other places outside the core, in order to make things more accessible. It will be interesting to see how far this goes towards erasing the perceived disconnect between city hall and the city, and how it plays out at the next election.

As an aside, with the loss of Ben Meisner’s views on city hall at 250 News and Bill Phillips’ editorial space at the Prince George Free Press, it certainly is nice that Phillips has found a space at 250 News.


So a magazine called you a name: a survival guide from Canada’s Most Dangerous City™

May 27 2015 |

boring vancouver

Dear Vancouver,

I understand you’re going through a bit of a phase. It seems the Economist magazine described you as “mind-numbingly boring” recently and, well, you didn’t take it well. Not just the mayor, but the premier, have had to comfort you, and commentators have penned pieces firing back, even at the magazine itself.

First of all, let me just observe that this feels like the scene where the straight-A student has a minor meltdown because they get a C in gym class or something. I mean, you’re consistently ranked one of the best places in the world to live and here you are freaking out because of literally two sentences in a minor masthead. Speaking as someone where this


was prominently printed in a national magazine, I’ll admit it’s hard to take your concerns all that seriously. But let me be the John Bender to your Claire Standish and teach you how to handle it when a magazine calls you a bad name.

Step one: don’t lash out

We might be a little late on this one, but it’s worth remembering: you’ll never get better if you don’t think there’s anywhere to improve. When Maclean’s called Prince George the most dangerous city in Canada, people got upset. We tried things like changing the parameters. Sure, we might have more crime per capita than anywhere else said the mayor (paraphrasing), but the important thing is how many volunteers we have!

I’m not arguing, having volunteers is great, but if crime is an issue it doesn’t really solve things. Likewise, just because you think the Economist is boring, it doesn’t mean you have more places for garage bands to practice their new songs. Look inward. Is there something you could be doing better? If not, great. But if there is, try and improve it.

Prince George being most dangerous had to do with a number of other factors (including overflow from gang jostling down in Vancouver), but the RCMP and city started looking at what they could do better and through a variety of outreach and strategic programs, things turned around and there has been a decline in serious crimes. And we still have lots of volunteers.

The point is this: you’re a big city. You’re going to receive some criticism. That matters less than how you handle it.

Step two: recognize you probably care about this waaaay more than anyone else does

Honestly, I’m not sure I would have even heard about this thing if it weren’t for Vancouverites collectively freaking out about it. Do you really think that people are going to stop coming to the seawall based on this thing? It’s the same deal with Prince George. The first year we were called most dangerous, there was a big news conference and days of press. Second time, similar reaction, but more muted. By the time the third year came around, the city basically shrugged its shoulders. Now the ranking has gone away. Last year, Initiatives Prince George asked people across Canada what comes to mind when they hear “Prince George” and, yeah, “crime” was on there but so was “friendly” and “community”. It’ll be OK.

Step three: haters gonna hate

It’s time to make like Taylor Swift and shake if off. Over the last few years, various community organizations have embarked on campaigns showcasing the benefits of coming here. And rather than target people who are thinking to themselves “geez, Prince George is so dangerous” they’re looking for people who are interested in the lifestyle Prince George has to offer.

Put it this way: ever go to a party where everyone’s having a good time except that one dude going on about what a terrible party it is? Why try and change his mind? Whenever someone comes at me about how they would never want to live in Prince George it’s like great! I won’t have to deal with you! If “Gulliver” doesn’t want to come to Vancouver, who’s really losing out?

Step four: make your own headlines

Prince George got national media coverage again this year when it hosted the 2015 Canada Winter Games. People from all across the country came to the city to discover that not only did they not get stabbed, they had a pretty OK time, too! Already, more major events are showing interest in the city because of what was pulled off earlier this year, and national press showcased a side of Prince George most of the rest of Canada had never seen.

So get at it Vancouver! Show the world you know how to party. Is there maybe some sort of major international sporting event you could hold next winter? Something like maybe the- oh, you did that already?


Well, maybe you can get the royal family to name a baby after you or something.



Filed under: British Columbia

Why wasn’t I consulted? (a working theory)

May 26 2015 |

Last night, about a dozen people took two-and-half hours to tell city council they are adamantly opposed to an RV sales lot being built on the site of a former golf course. They were worried about traffic, light, and the overall character of the neighbourhood being ruined. They were also upset that they hadn’t been consulted on this earlier.

Councillour Garth Frizzell asked staff what sort of consultation had actually taken place.

“There are several points in the process where there’s consultation sought from the neighborhood,” replied Walter Babicz, general manager of administrative services. They were:

  1. It was on the agenda at the February 2 council meeting
  2. There were ads in the Prince George Citizen
  3.  Nearby properties got a letter a hearing notice about the proposed change
  4. A sign went up on the property

And yet person after person after person said they hadn’t heard about this proposed change until the last minute.

NOW. Let me be clear: I am not saying city staff didn’t do their job (in fact, it sounds like they went beyond what was required). I am also not 100% positive that what I am about to say is true. This is just my working theory as to why there might be this disconnect where the city does all these consultations with citizens, and citizens say they weren’t consulted:

There’s a difference between consultation and engagement.

Here’s a look at some of the steps that were taken to consult people. Here’s one of the ads in the Citizen:

zoning bylaw




Here’s the letter that was sent out:




I’m not positive what the sign looked like, but here’s an example of your average bylaw change notification sign (here’s one for a liquor store):




Upon reading these things you can, I think, parse what’s going on. But the question worth asking is whether they want to be read. How much effort is being made in attracting attention as people sort through their mailboxes, scan the newspaper, and drive to work? Do these jump out, or do they fade into the background?

I write for a living, and I can tell you it isn’t always easy to stick to plain language. I sympathize with the challenge it presents. But I can also tell you that if I’m wanting to get someone’s attention I don’t lead with words like “amendment”, “facilitate” and bylaw codes. Those are the things that make people’s eyes glaze over and ears turn off.

I’ve cited before and I’ll cite again Dave Meslin’s TedX talk “The Antidote to Apathy,” about precisely this topic. Meslin says expecting people to get engaged in civic politics by posting notifications like these is akin to Nike trying sell shoes with ads like this:

meslin shoes

He proposes a better public notification from city planning departments would look something like this:


This new sign clearly illustrates what’s happening, and what you can do to voice your opinion.

“But wait!” I hear you say. “People did show up! The process works!”

Well, yes, although a number of residents said they didn’t know about the process at all until they saw this sign (photo by Brent Braaten):

stop bylaw

Compare that sign to the ads posted by the city. There’s a clear call to action (stop bylaw-8642).  There is a map that actually shows the geography of the place, rather than abstract squares with lot numbers on them. There is a picture of RVs, indicating what is being proposed visually, not just in form of small text. There are clear labels pointing to how the traffic patterns would be affected. Somebody is making an effort to get people to understand what is going on here.

Was the proposal a good idea? I’m not commenting on that. I’m simply suggesting that if the city of Prince George would like to avoid future meetings where staff tells them the community was consulted and then the community tells them they weren’t, they may want to look into why that gap exists.

Further viewing: Dave Meslin – The antidote to apathy

Filed under: cities, Prince George

City council takes the bus → 

May 23 2015 |

From 250 News, an interview with councillour Jillian Merrick on her experiencing taking her fellow city leaders for a trip of Prince George’s transit system:

“I think it was especially telling for me, the number 11 from out of downtown at quarter to five, and on the bus it was mostly working women.  The bus was full and a lot of women and a lot of people who were wearing uniforms and clearly had come out of fast food-type jobs.  A lot of ethnic diversity too, so some of them perhaps were Indo-Canadians so I think it’s just good for people to see exactly what the ridership was on the bus and how important it is to those groups.”

Also telling is the fact that most of the other councillours had never taken a bus before. This is why it’s worth at least talking about diversity in leadership – what sort of priority is a transit system going to get if all the decision makers drive cars? And where does that leave the people who can’t afford them?

As the saying goes, “An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation.” Getting some of them to see it in action, at least, is a step.

By the way, the whole interview is worth reading for some insight in the direction transit could be going (less routes, more frequent departures, yessssssssss).

Filed under: cities, Prince George


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It seems the Cookie Monster's been to Moran ParkDaybreak behind the scenes: here's how I mapped out a documentary I just made#cityofPG! Head down to  Lheidli park. It's less hot and crowded in the evening, and @coldsnapfest is putting on a concert!Found some clay in the Salmon ValleyFirst visit to Goodsir Nature Park north of #cityofPG. #CanadaDay148Yarn bomb at city hall @tworiversart #cityofPGMud River day