The End of an Era

NewZealand-road-IMG_2461Back in 2011, I wrote a post on the Viddler Blog (post removed; see Wayback Machine or Flickr) about our change in focus away from Personal (free) users to business/corporate/education customers. That was a hard transition for me. It was even harder for the users. We occasionally still get messages from that old user base asking us where their videos went. I sent out so many emails, tweets, etc. I think we (I led the interactions with the old user base) handled it exceptionally well. When other companies decide it’s time to focus on revenue, they usually don’t go to such lengths to look after longtime free users.

Now, it’s time for my era1 with Viddler to end.

I’ve been with this lovely company longer than most. Seven years. In the technology and startup space, it’s rather remarkable for employees to stay with a company for longer than a few years. This was my first job experience outside of the entertainment (acting, producing, directing) industry and the retail space. I suppose I’m really loyal to products and people I’m passionate about. It has been so exciting and challenging to be a part of a company which has transitioned through some very different industries — albeit centred around interactive video.

For years, I’ve spent brief moments pondering about this day. What will happen with my videos? What will happen to the extensive rapports I have with customers and coworkers? Will another company tempt me away? Will I continue living in the USA (or move to Japan, Iceland, Spain, or New Zealand)? When I was told I’m no longer needed at the company, my initial reaction was peace and opportunity. (I didn’t think about any of the aforementioned questions until hours or days later.) I owe that to God. His plan for me is more than Viddler; more than sitting on my talents in one place; more than anything I can fathom.

So what is next? You tell me. I’ll be with Viddler until October 31st, 2015. After that, I’m all yours. Here’s my LinkedIn.

1I recognise ‘era’ means a humanly incomprehensible amount of time. Its use here is a little tongue-in-cheek; it has been a rewarding, loving, and great length of time. In my life so far, it has certainly spanned a large portion of it.

Who’s heading to SXSW 2012?

I originally posted this on Google+ and Facebook last week. No traction in those places, so here it is on my bloggy blog. If you’d prefer to comment on either of the aforementioned posts, or @djsteen on Twitter, then go nuts. 🙂

Who’s heading to SXSW 2012?SXSW Interactive 2012 logo

In short, I’m looking for:

  • Accommodation. (Wanna share a room?)
  • Fun activities (not pointless, noisy parties).
  • Events for the Interactive and Film portions.

More details:
I’ve been to SXSW every year since 2009. It’s a great event with great people in a great city. For every one of those years I’ve had a buddy (read: girlfriend) to organise accommodation, plans, etc. Last year, that relationship changed from “girlfriend” to “good friend”. So, we’ll be hanging out while we’re there, but she has her own accommodation.

It seems all the tech “gurus” book their SXSW travel and accommodation as soon as SXSW opens registration (around October the year before). Most others seem to plan around this time (a month in advance; when there’s very little accommodation availability at most places). Last year (2011) was crowded because SXSW Music dates overlapped Interactive more than in previous years.

I guess I’m really just looking for someone to share a room with. Whether we split a hotel, or you live in Austin and wouldn’t mind me making a nice crevasse in your couch. Let me know. I have candy.

I typically go to SXSW for the Interactive (March 9-13) portion, but this year I’d like to see a film or two at the Film portion (March 9-17). They’re $10 at the door, and on par with the likes of Sundance entrants.

In past years, we’ve completed several Gowalla (sadly, Gowalla is now closed) trips in Austin, but I’d still like to see more of the town (away from the conference centre) because it is such a lovely city. I may be riding a Razor scooter again this year. They’re VERY handy (and quick!) for traveling around the different SXSW hubs in the city. One year, we did bikes. Those were handy, but the rental fees are more costly, and they are more complex in tight situations (crowds, buses, getting back to the hotel, etc.).

Lastly, there’s no more Diggnation, so no live show this year. I wonder if Revision3 will still have a big event at Stubb’s anyway. Either way, I’m not particularly keen on the event, so I might just skip it to get ice cream the Ice Cream Man.

Let me know your thoughts and plans. (Even if we’re not friends yet; we should meetup and hangout.)

Oh, and I go badgeless. Like a boss.

Serious Winter Gear required

I’ve been meaning to get some winter gear for around six months — ever since I moved to Buffalo, New York. The fact that it was summer didn’t motivate me much even though I know such clothing would have been on sale back in April.

It’s now getting chilly up here in Buffalo and I’m darn excited about it. My weather app is forecasting snow for Saturday. I do need some warm clothing though. Right now, I only have a couple pairs of pants, many JC t-shirts, five dress shirts, a thin jacket, several hoodies, a thuggie, 3 suits, and 1 orange tuxedo.

Here’s what (I think) I need:

  • Winter/Snow Jacket
  • Winter/Snow Pants
  • Dress pants
  • Adventure pants
  • Jeans (I don’t do skinny)
  • Scarf
  • Beanie
  • Socks
  • Winter/Snow gloves

Here’s the ideas I have so far:

Winter Jackets

Rafter (Woman’s) by Foursquare (yeah, it was a clothing company before a geolocation app)

Foursquare Women's Rafter

Winter Pants

Studio (Men’s) by Foursquare

Foursquare Men's Studio

Dress pants

Pants by H&M

Suit pants (grey) by H&M

Adventure pants

Chinos by H&M

Chinos (beige) by H&MChinos (brown) by H&M

Jeans

I don’t have any ideas on these yet. I would prefer a regular pair of blue jeans and a pair in a crazy colour (blue, orange, etc.). I went in to H&M the other day and noticed they have jeans for reasonable prices, but I don’t see any good examples on their website. Here’s a photo of a style I like:

Jeans on H&M

Scarf, beanie, and socks

I have a couple of keffiyehs (middle eastern scarves), but I’m also looking for a regular scarf. I have one brown/orange beanie (photo) already, but another would be handy. I’m looking for socks that will keep me warm and last a long time. I’ve seen a scarves, beanies, and socks at H&M that could be suitable, but I’m definitely open to ideas from sites like Etsy, etc.

Winter gloves

I have a pair of Johnny Cupcakes gloves, and I just bought a pair of iTap Gloves, so I’m fine for regular/soft gloves. I haven’t found a pair of fierce winter gloves yet. Here’s an example of the style and colour I’m looking for:

Columbia Men’s Whirlibird™ II Glove

Summary

I’m open to any and all recommendations. Please leave them (with links) on this post or the Google+ post referencing this blog. I prefer clothing that’s colourful (no blacks, if possible). The less expensive, the better — though I’d prefer to pay a little more to have something well-made and will last for decades. I’m not willing to spend much more than $150 for a winter jacket, $100 for winter pants, and $40 for winter gloves. Everything else should be much cheaper than that.

This is time-sensitive because I’m traveling to Ithaca, NY,  on Friday (28th Oct.); followed by Viddler HQ (Bethlehem, PA) in the first week of November for the opening of our new office. Hence, I would like to have most of these items before I head down.

Thank you!

 

 

Johnny Cupcakes TinyChat

A few nights ago Johnny tweeted that he was on Tinychat again. After being unable to join the first couple of times he and Pasquale had tweeted about it, I decided to pop in. I made a whole bunch of new JC friends and we all ended up brushing our teeth together. Lots of fun!

You should join us next time and become a JC fan!

Flushing Tampons down the toilet

I recently encountered something I honestly didn’t expect: a tampon in the toilet.

Several years ago a friend of mine told me a story of how foreign exchange students had been flushing tampons down the toilet and her school. The pipes eventually got clogged, they burst, and the teachers’ lounge was soaked. That story has always stuck in my mind.

Note: The fact that foreign exchange students were to blame isn’t relevant. Perhaps in their country the pipes can handle such things flushed down them. In most countries — especially older ones — this isn’t the case. Also, just as many Australian students could have been held accountable; it’s hard to prove.

Have you ever wondered what those ‘sanitary bins’ are next to the toilet in a public restroom? Those are for used tampons and/or ‘sanitary napkins’. This alleviates the drains and allows them to just accept human excrement and small amounts of toilet paper. These things can break down and are biodegradable.

Sure, most tampons are probably biodegradable these days, but that doesn’t make it okay to put them down the toilet. Toilet paper really shouldn’t be put down the toilet, but at least it’s far less absorbent than a tampon. The entire job of a tampon is to absorb liquids — you’ve seen the TV commercials with the blue liquid, right?

I doubt this will further emphasise the seriousness of this issue, but another story I remember from my high school days is when a science teacher explained to the class of what can be seen at a sewage treatment facility. Deceased dogs, cats, and other animals, batteries, paper, gloves, and many more strange items. Those are the things people put down the drain. The toilet is the largest water hole/pipe in most households, so that’s the drain people use for larger items. That’s pretty inconsiderate of the planet.

Listen. Water is the most precious commodity on Earth. There’s a lot of it, but there’s not always enough to go around. Hence, we have to preserve it and treat it like one of our most prized possessions. Placing tampons and another foreign objects down the toilet shouldn’t happen. We have waste receptacles for those items.

You don’t have to take my opinion about this though. Read others’ experiences with tampons and toilets on Yahoo! Answers and Ask Me Help Desk.

Australian Adventures with Rachel

As many of you know, I flew back to Australia at the end of June in 2009. My return flight was only valid for a year, so it was my plan to spend some quality time with my family before uprooting my Australian life and moving to the USA.

Unbeknownst to me, Rachel flew down to Australia not much more than a month after I returned. Well, I had a hinkering something was going on because her best friend tweeted (proof of tweet no longer available) confusion when Rachel said/tweeted that they were going camping together. Nevertheless, Rachel surprised me at Pancakes on the Rocks (one of my favourite places to eat) after my mom and sister picked her up from the airport.

Since it was Rachel’s first time to Sydney (and Australia) I aimed to show her all the glorious places (some touristy, and some hidden gems) my home city has to offer. First, I took her on a walk down a bush trail called the Cascades Track. At the bottom a couple of rivers/streams converge in to one. It’s great for photography, and on a sunny day you’d be lucky to see more than ten people during the whole walk.

Shrubbery HDR by Rachel Mayo on FlickrCreek HDR by Rachel Mayo on Flickr

The Royal Botanic Gardens is situated right next to the Sydney Opera House (and the hustle and bustle of the city) and yet the gardens are very tranquil — another great place for photography. At sunset you’ll see thousands of bats flying around and hanging in the tall trees here.

Bats by Rachel Mayo on FlickrFurther Entrance by Rachel Mayo on Flickr

Watching the sunset while standing on the edge of a cliff is quite romantic. Please excuse the powerlines, hun. 😛

An Australian visit isn’t complete unless you do some acting on Home & Away. In winter. In a bikini. On the beach. At 6am. Trust me, these memories are great! (And you make some descent mulah to spend at POTR; full circle.)

That’s all the content I have online from Rachel’s adventure to Sydney. If I find some other sweet pieces of media, then I’ll update this post. 🙂

Katy Perry’s Firework inspired this

Katy Perry recently launched the music video for her single “Firework”. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Katy Perry, but Rachel sure is. I don’t know Katy Perry; I don’t know much about her; I don’t know how much of her music is her work; or how much is the work of the music label(s) and other money-making producers. What I do know is that the message behind/in this video is powerful.

“Firework” is probably one of the most important songs compared to Katy’s other music/videos. I mean, “I Kissed A Girl” is a fairly pointless song. Albeit, popular because it was catchy in 2008. When it was popular, I remember hearing girls as young as 5 singing along to it. That appalled me. Not because it was about two girls kissing (children should learn about as much of the world and various cultures as soon as they can), but because they had listened to the song enough times to know the lyrics — at least the chorus, anyway. Exposing children to top 40 music is a story for another day though…

I’ve always been considered ‘different’. Throughout all levels of education I’ve had little quirks which made me different:

  • In primary school I tried to convince my classmates I was from a different planet. I also enjoyed exploring the school grounds rather than playing sports or other games kids play.
  • In high school I carried around a camera to parties rather than a case of beer. I have far too much footage of intoxicated teens.
  • In college I fit in pretty great because everyone in my course enjoyed what they were doing — Digital Media. However, most of them chose to hang out at bars or clubs (places I had lost interest in) on the weekends.

I’m not gay; I don’t have any physical or mental ailments; I’m not a nudist. But I am different. I don’t drink alcoholic beverages and I don’t take non-prescription drugs. (Heck, I don’t take prescription drugs unless it’s absolutely vital to my well-being.) Also, a lot of my beliefs and actions in life are fundamentally different to those of my peers.

I like to make a fool of myself. I like to go on adventures. I like to play in childrens’ playgrounds.

My differences are extremely minor compared to the differences that many other people (like those portrayed in “Firework”) in the world deal with on a daily basis, but I still feel I know how those people feel (to some extent). It’s hard. It’s a constant struggle to not conform with mainstream actions and beliefs. Even with such struggles, I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

It’s easy to live under mainstream principles. It’s easy to pick on those that are different. It’s easy to hurt someone’s feelings and make them feel all alone.

I know I picked on people in primary school and high school. I was nothing like the traditional “bully” you see portrayed on television, but I know I’ve directly bullied one or two people in my life. It wasn’t through violence, but it was bullying.

I’ve been bullied too. Far more than I realised — now that I think about it. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I guess I’ve purged most of it from my mind, but I’m sure such experiences helped me grow as a person. Though, I wouldn’t wish some of the experiences on anyone.

In addition to Katy’s “Firework”, another example of mainstream media displaying young people with immense courage is “Glee”. In Season 2 the character Shannon/Coach Beiste (a.k.a. “Beast”) was introduced. To explain this in the best way possible, I’m going to hand you over to Wikipedia for a moment:

In “Never Been Kissed“, the boys (and Tina) from the glee club use mental images of Beiste in a compromising position to “cool themselves off” when it gets too hot and heavy with their girlfriends. Beiste finds out and decides to quit. Will talks to her and learns that Beiste has never been kissed, which leads to him giving her a first kiss.

Bullying of a teacher has occurred in front of my eyes, yet I didn’t do anything to stop it. That’s not the kind of situation anyone (teacher or student) should be, but I hope a human being in 2010 would  have the willpower to put it to a stop. If we want to advance the world to a future of greatness, then we need to put our petty differences aside and work together.

I’ve embedded Katy Perry’s “Firework” music video below, as well as a 6-minute ‘making of’ video, followed by a 20-minute ‘making of’ video.

Katy Perry – Firework / 3:54

The making of Firework / 6:18

The making of Firework / 21:02
Mostly different footage than what’s in the shorter version.

Are you inspired now? Are you going to stand up for yourself and be proud to be different? Tell me your stories in the comments.