The Epic Awesomeness of Podcasters Across Borders 2009 – Part 2

June 24, 2009

For the explanation of the title of this post, go back to “Epic Awesomeness of PAB09 – Part 1“.  And to find out more about Podcasters Across Borders in general, go to the PAB website.

Epic Awesomeness #2

Two of the most awesome things about PAB, in any of the years that K and I have attended (2007, 2008 and now 2009 — we fall short of being “PAB Lifers” by just missing out on the inaugural PAB in 2006 because we found out about it too late 😦 ), have been the organizers of PAB — Bob Goyetche and Mark Blevis.

Bob and Mark do an amazing job of putting together a conference for the podcasting/social media community that just keeps on getting better every year — and if you don’t believe me, ask almost anyone who’s been to PAB.

OK, there may be the odd person or two who went away less than satisfied by the experience, but I doubt that I would need more than the fingers on one hand to count all of them, from all the PABs that have taken place.

I think I can call them pillars of the podcasting/social media community without much fear of contradiction — they collaborate regularly on the most excellent Canadian Podcast Buffet show, they are involved in organizing local meetups and Podcamps in Ottawa and Montréal, and they’re always willing to help out others with advice.

Organizing PAB is a tremendous effort, with myriad details to attend to as well as difficult choices to make in selecting who will present each year.  And they do all this while keeping the cost to attendees amazingly low and without taking any profit from the event — the registration fee is an absolute bargain for what you get: a day and a half crammed full of presentations (actually two full days if you can make it there for Friday afternoon, when there’s generally a workshop/technical session — this year it was presented by Paul Lyzun on video techniques with consumer camcorders; we didn’t arrive in time to catch the whole session, but what we did see was quite interesting), a buffet lunch on Saturday, a boat cruise and the opportunity to connect face-to-face with other members of the community.

And of course, it would be remiss of me to not also thank Mark’s wife Andrea (with whom he does the Just One More Book!! podcast) and Bob’s wife Cat (with whom he does The CatFish Show podcast) who not only lend moral support to them but also put in a lot of behind the scenes efforts to make PAB happen.

Let me just close by saying how glad I am to count them among my friends…  here are pictures of them I took at PAB09:


The Epic Awesomeness of Podcasters Across Borders 2009 – Part 1

June 23, 2009

Got back from Podcasters Across Borders 2009 (hereinafter PAB09) Sunday evening and wanted to go over some of the weekend while it was still fresh in my mind.  This was going to be one long post, but given the speed with which I compose entries, I realized it was going to need to be a multi-post affair.

And the post’s title?  It refers to the closing presentation by Tod Maffin, which was called “Twenty Sixteen Moments of Epic Awesomeness” (in a sequence of events involving mosquitoes, changing hotels, internet connection at said new hotel going down 5 minutes after arriving, Tod had to cut it down from 20 to 16…) and “Epic Awesomeness” seemed appropriate to apply to PAB09 since it was definitely filled with many moments of Epic Awesomeness (now, K tells me “awesome” is used far too often on the web these days and that I should avoid using it, but I don’t want to set a dangerous precedent by doing what she tells me 😉 )

Epic Awesomeness #1

Friday night: keynote speaker Jowi Taylor addressed the PAB09 attendees, telling us about the Six String Nation project he founded.

PAB09 Voyageur closeup

PAB09 Voyageur closeup

The concept is wonderfully simple: create a uniquely Canadian guitar, made from materials with some cultural or historical significance, from all across our nation.  Then tour the guitar across Canada, telling the story of the making of the guitar itself, and the stories that go with the individual pieces that went into it.  Let people hold it, play it, have their picture taken with it — all for free — so that they will all get to know their country a little better and take some pride in its history, our achievements and our multi-cultural roots.

PAB09 Voyageur held by Rob & K

PAB09 Voyageur held by Rob & K

I can’t do the story of Voyageur, as the guitar has been named, or the Six String Nation project, justice — Jowi has released a book on it and I encourage you to support the project by buying it if you can, or if you can’t afford it, go get it from your library (submit a request for them to purchase copies if they haven’t already done so).

I can tell you that there were a whole lot of moist eyes and lump filled throats by the end of his presentation.  Here’s a few reasons why:

  • While Jowi did receive initial funding for the project from Mike Lazaridis of Research In Motion (RIM, the maker of the Blackberry™), Westerkirk Capital and The National Capital Commission, and has some tour specific and on-going sponsors (see the list on the Six String Nation website), but he’s also run up a substantial personal debt to keep the project going and to continue touring Voyageur across the country.  He’s been given the run-around by various government agencies who manage to pass the buck everywhere but where it would do some good — funding the project.
  • He recently asked a Toronto promoter to back the summer tour with $23,000 in funding and was told, because there is no charge for people who come to see Voyageur and get their photo taken, that he “had no business model” and that he should go pitch the project in the US, then come back to Canada when he’d been successful there.  The Canadians in the room were unsurprised but still dismayed at the promoter’s attitude; I’m not sure what the attendees from the US and elsewhere thought but it was probably a bit incomprehensible to them that we seem to place so little value on our heritage, our history and our culture.
  • Jowi told the story of the legendary Golden Spruce, a unique “albino” spruce tree on Haida Gwaii (a.k.a. the Queen Charlotte Islands) that was sacred to the Haida native people.  A paper products company with logging rights in the area had agreed to not cut down the Golden Spruce and to preserve a certain buffer zone of the forest surrounding it; they were still clear-cutting the forest outside that area on Haida Gwaii.  He went on to tell us about how one of the company’s employees, who worked in isolation out in the field marking which trees would be cut, became unhinged and decided that the company was hypocritical in leaving the area around the Golden Spruce protected while clear-cutting everywhere else.  He went told us how the man went out in the middle of the night with a chainsaw and cut the Golden Spruce down.  You could have heard a spruce needle drop in the room — everyone was in shock, reeling at the incomprehensibility of such an act.  The Haida decided that the Golden Spruce would be left where it had fallen, and never be cut up but left to return to the land.  After many meetings with the chief, Jowi was able to convince them to allow a small piece of the Golden Spruce to be harvested and used in the construction of the guitar — the wood from it forms the soundboard, the front face of the body.

There were lots more anecdotes, more than I can recall in detail, but after the presentation there was a “Q & A” session — a lot of the questions were about why the Canadian government wasn’t prepared to provide funding to sustain the project and allow Voyageur to be seen by Canadians all over the country.  And finally, Mark Blaseckie stood up and asked the question that was probably on the minds and in the hearts of most of the people in that room — he just asked “How can we help?”.

So all of us there agreed to use our social media connections to spread the word about the story of the Six String Nation project and the need for financial support to keep the project alive and Voyageur on the road — not in some museum, behind glass.  This is a piece of our history, our culture that exists to be held by everyday Canadians across our land and played by those who can.

There’s a PayPal donation button on the Six String Nation website that you can use to contribute — we certainly will be.

So, that’s Part 1 of The Epic Awesomeness of PAB09.  I will try to get some more of these out quickly while events are still fresh in my mind.

6th Photo Meme – PAB2008 Time for social networking in person between presentations

December 5, 2008

Time for social networking in person between presentations, originally uploaded by Rob_42.

I’ve been tagged by the lovely and talented Bob Goyetche (co-organizer of Podcasters Across Borders a.k.a. PAB, and co-host of the Canadian Podcast Buffet) for the 6th Photo Meme. And since there’s apparently an innocent dolphin’s life at stake, I figured I needed to follow through on it…

The rules of the meme are simple enough, it works like this: if you use Flickr, go to the sixth page of your photostream and pick the sixth picture there, then post it to your blog.

Except I don’t post many photos to Flickr, so it took a bit of juggling with the photstream layout to get it onto 6 pages. And even then, there are not 6 photos on the 6th and last page — so I’ve fudged a bit by using the 3rd photo, which in my pretzled logic I reasoned was halfway to 6.

So the photo that’s posted is actually from PAB 2008 — nice bit of symmetry after being tagged by one of the organizers 🙂

In the photo, you can see the Comfy Sofas that were a new addition to the facilities this year, and by all accounts were very popular so it’s likely they will make an encore appearance at PAB 2009.

And people, you can see people — that’s the great thing about attending PAB is meeting people face-to-face that you’ve know via the internet. This photo was shot in between presentations, when everyone had a chance to mingle and talk.

OK, so the backlighting from the windows was less than ideal for the shot, but you work with what ya got, eh? Still turned out reasonably well, particularly given the age of our camera — it’s a circa 1999 vintage Kodak DC290 digital camera, with a whopping 2.1 megapixels and an appetite for AA batteries like you wouldn’t believe (have completely worn out several sets of rechargeables over the years with it).

Now, to tag 6 new recipients:

John Meadows Damn! Blevis beat me to him…  let’s try tagging Oza Meilleur instead.
Valerie Hunter
Todd Tyrtle
Mark Blaseckie
Nora Young

Forgive me for meming you… but it’s for the dolphin!

PAB2008 – Caution: Podcasting Conferences In The Mirror May Be Closer Than They Appear

June 10, 2008

Yikes! Less than a couple of weeks away now…

PAB2008 will be our second time attending Podcasters Across Borders, a podcasting conference organized by Bob Goyetche and Mark Blevis of the Canadian Podcast Buffet (not to mention several other excellent podcasts — check them out, along with their fine stablemates at the Rogic Podcast Conglomerate), with plenty of help of their better halves, Cat and Andrea.

Now, I’m technically not a podcaster — OK, I do contribute occasionally to podcasts: I’ve turned up on some episodes of K‘s podcasts, I’ve done some voice work for Sage Tyrtle on QN (latterly Quirky Nomads) and have participated in the inspired (and inspiring) ensemblecast The Talking Stick which Todd Tyrtle has recently launched. And I do usually have a hand in the production of K’s podcasts, but really, I’m not a podcaster per se.

I mean, based how sporadic my blog posts are, you’d be listening to one, maybe two podcast episodes a year… if that.

But I do enjoy contributing, I very much enjoy the production side of podcasting but most of all I enjoy the people whom I’ve met and gotten to know through podcasting.

And the relationships, the participation in the community that we’ve become a part of, in large part through attending PAB2007 last year, are sustained between in-person meetups by the vast array of social media tools and internet connectivity — twitter, FaceBook, blogs, email, Skype, webmeetings et al.

Damn, we live in interesting times…

Oops! She did it again…

September 18, 2007

Launched a podcast, that is.

K, my wife, has created another podcast to add to the first two (Cinéfolle, her movie-ish podcast, and Purl Diving, her “knitter’s pillow-book” podcast). The new one is a music podcast, essentially playlists assembled from the podsafe music she’s not found a place for in the other podcasts.

For Cinéfolle and Purl Diving, she takes great pains to select pieces of music that go with the theme of each episode, and in the process listens to and rejects a lot of music before finding Just Exactly The Right Piece Of Music to match. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the ones that don’t get used, but she usually only uses one or two per episode which means they don’t get used up very quickly.

Hence the new podcast. She’s aiming for about 30 minutes of music (mainly, with a little bit of chat as well as the attributions required to comply with the terms of the podsafe music’s license) which will help use up the excess inventory of podsafe music piling up in our iTunes warehouse.

As well, K is doing a lot more of the techie type stuff on this one — for the first episode I largely just guided her through the editing and mixing process in Audacity, rather than doing the post-production myself. I still do most of the gnarly under-the-hood stuff such as getting the ID3 tags all set up on the MP3 file, uploading it to the Internet Archive where the files are hosted and so on.

So, you say, what’s it called? Well, K was struggling to come up with a suitable name for it — everything she even remotely liked was either already being used for a blog or podcast, or the domain name had already been registered. Stumped, she asked me to describe her musical taste in two words, to which I replied “Funky and eclectic!” — so, without further ado I would like to introduce you to the Funky Eclectic podcast.

Funky Eclectic banner

You’ll find an “About” page on the shownotes site which gives a little more background.

There are a few sites worthy of being LinkedOut here in reference to the podcast’s genesis: Bob Goyetche, who produces the Mostly Tunes music podcast (see the podcast’s About page for more about his part in getting this off the ground); Chris Sherry who produces the most excellent, awesomely funny Kaflooey podcast which also features some amazing music; the Podcasters Across Borders 2007 event that we attended — it was an amazing experience and we’re looking forward to attending PAB2008 next June. Another excellent music podcast is Marvin Suicide, which is temporarily on hiatus (although earlier episodes remain available, thankfully) — hurry back, Marvin. Some non-music podcasters deserve kudos as well: Bruce Murray (the nicest guy in podcasting) of The Zedcast and Mark Blevis of Electric Sky (and along with the previously mentioned Bob Goyetche, co-host of The Canadian Podcast Buffet).

Oh, and the title of this post? A musical play on words, as it were, from the Britney Spears song Oops! I Did It Again…

And speaking of Britney: I heard about her latest gaffe the other day from my favourite morning radio personality, Maureen Holloway, who described Britney’s most recent (N0. 5 or so in an apparently unlimited series, no rush to collect these…) panty-less photo taken while exiting from a limo while out on the town after the recent MTV Video Music Awards as “being photographed in full Hello Kitty mode!”

OK, so that was Really Just A Shameless Attempt at getting lots of hits from Google searches to help get Funky Eclectic launched. My bad

Life at warp speed

June 23, 2007

Whooeee…. It’s been a week (maybe two) this, um, week.

First, the new job. In short, it’s been a great week — busy, lots to learn, meeting new people, some fun (the Summer Pot-luck lunch out in the park) and initial confirmation about the quality of the organization.

And at the end of the week, K and I drove to Kingston for Podcasters Across Borders 2007 — which is where I’m writing this from. It’s great meeting people we’ve listened to and communicated with over the ‘net to share our experiences in podcasting.

More on both Real Soon Now.

Unconventional Nexus

April 19, 2007

I had a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” sort of moment tonight.

It started with K and I looking at the Canadian Podcast Buffet website, where we saw a couple of new posts: “We’ve been served” and “Cease and desist letter published“.

Now Mark Blevis and Bob Goyetche, the hosts of the Canadian Podcast Buffet podcast, are a couple of pretty decent guys and it would be hard to imagine them doing anything — intentionally, at least — to attract someone’s legal wrath.

So you could have scraped us off the floor, we were so shocked… then, we clicked through the link to Tod Maffin’s “cease and desist letter” that was given in the second post above.

And that’s when I started rolling on the floor laughing my… well, you get the picture, right? As soon as I saw that the “letter” was from the law firm of “Dewey Cheatem and Howe“, well, I knew that it was all a gag — just a little late for April Fool’s Day.

Oh, and the unconventional nexus? That’s what happened when I clicked on the comments for the first post above and discovered one had been left by a certain Sonia Brock.

And I said “Holy crap!”(or something vaguely like that… 😉 ) and continued on to say to K, “I wonder if that’s the same Sonia Brock that I know from Don’s Sibyl BBS and EMCC ‘New Years’ get-togethers (the explanation of which I will defer to ynoT, er, I mean Tony B.)?”

Sure enough, it’s her. And she’s podcasting. And she’s listed on the podcast directory, where K has her Purl Diving podcast listed too. Cue up the spooky theme music from The Twilight Zone

Now, I haven’t seen Sonia in quite some time — I haven’t attended any of the EMCC get-togethers for a while, due to a variety of circumstances. I wonder, though, if she might decide to attend Podcasters Across Borders in June, which K and I will be attending.

PAB 2007 Logo

Anyway, it was definitely an unconventional nexus.

BTW the Sibyl BBS is again operating (having been recently resurrected by Don, my old friend and classmate from our days at U of T in Engineering Science), although I won’t divulge the details of how to find it unless Don is interested in opening it up to new members… let’s just say that it’s the coal-fired, steam-powered version of Social Networking circa late last millennium.