September 15th, 2014
According to the experts driverless cars will arrive in Canada by 2020. As Paul Godsmark, co-founder of the Canadian Automated Vehicle Centre of Excellence recently put it: “The technology is not just accelerating, the acceleration is accelerating”.
Meanwhile digital technology-driven changes are also coming to cable TV in Canada. Bell Media has announced it will cut 91 employees from its music channel production staff. The popularity of YouTube, Netflix and other online services has sucked viewers from music channels such as MTV and Much.
With easy online access to the music, videos, shows and movies (not to mention cat videos) a growing number of Canadians are “cutting the cable”.
Full disclosure – Mack cut the cable this summer.
September 8th, 2014
Mack’s back from a lazy summer of afternoon naps in a hammock with a sad tale from the dog days of summer.
The dog doo doo hit the fan for Centerplate CEO Desmond Hague in late August when footage of him kicking a puppy in a Vancouver hotel elevator went public via social media. He initially apologized, offering to donate $100,000 toward the protection of animals. But the Connecticut-based CEO had to resign when faced with the outrage over him putting the boot to his puppy.
A recent study found that dogs and humans, who have lived together for at least 15,000 years, often build a bond of trust and understanding which has a positive impact on the mental health of the dog owner.
Something one ex-CEO should think about now he has more time to walk his dog.
July 2nd, 2014
Just when Mack, a former journalist, thought the mostly middle-aged guys who run the world’s legacy media were aware it was the 21st century a variation of this headline appeared online, on air and in print:
Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer oversleeps and
Is late for dinner with ad executives
That’s right. The woman who heads up one of the largest technology companies in the world slept in and it made international news.
Now ask yourself, is this news? Would it be news if the Yahoo CEO was male? Since when has ANY CEO sleeping in and missing a meeting been news?
Mack plans to sleep in many times as he takes some time off this summer. He will return after Labour Day.
Until then let’s hope the wise old media men find some real news to cover.
June 17th, 2014
The taxi industry is getting kicked to the curb in more than 110 cities worldwide by the latest disruptive mobile technology — smartphone apps such as Uber and Lyft which provide low-cost online ride-sharing services that ignore the heavily-regulated and taxed taxi monopoly.
Worldwide reaction from shaken taxi companies and city governments has been swift and angry, but largely inconsequential. The online ride-sharing movement is moving faster than a New York taxi meter. Uber, the San Francisco-based leader in this disruptive new field, is currently valued at $18.2 billion US.
The Uber app allows people to arrange a ride with a few taps on their smartphone. The rider’s smartphone GPS locates the nearest ride and even tracks the ordered ride’s progress on the app’s real-time map.
Imagine, a world without yellow cabs.
June 9th, 2014
Summer is almost here, marking the official kick off of the conference season. Mack is heading to a conference in Halifax where he plans to learn new stuff, connect with interesting colleagues and eat too much lobster.
But all conferences carry a risk of getting stuck in a session with a mind-numbingly dull PowerPoint presentation.
This is a guarantee at the Boring Conference – a one-day celebration of the mundane, the ordinary and the overlooked, held in London last week.
According to founder James Ward, this year’s 4th annual Boring Conference featured 20 speakers giving 10 minute talks on everything from inkjet printers of 1999 and German film titles to cooking meals with equipment found in hotel bedrooms and a comparison of 198 national anthems.
James knows of which he speaks. Later this year he’s publishing a book called Adventures in Stationery.
May 26th, 2014
Mack spent the May long weekend working on projects at his cabin in the mountains. One such job, replacing rotted stairs, required some careful measuring.
“Measure twice and cut once” is the old carpenter’s adage. Something the French National Railway, SNCF, should have heeded.
SNCF has ordered 2,000 new high-speed trains that are too big for 1,300 station platforms. The company’s failure to measure twice will cost more than $74 million: they need to modify 1/6 of all platforms across the country. At some stations, two new trains can’t pass each other on adjacent rails.
The rail operator failed to verify all platform measurements before it ordered the new trains. They checked the dimensions of platforms built in the last 30 years, but not built more than 50 years ago.
In the digital age, a simple tape measure still has its uses.
May 12th, 2014
Doing business in the age of the Internet has created many opportunities. At the same time, it has shaken many legacy industries—from music to movies, publishing to photography, newspapers to real estate—to their cores.
The latest digital casualty is the office supplies sector. In Canada, Grand & Toy, recently bought out by OfficeMax, is to shut all 19 of its stores. In the U.S., Office Depot, which has merged with OfficeMax, has announced it will shut at least 400 of its stores by the end of 2016.
The closures are a response to a rapid shift in the purchasing habits of customers, most of whom do their buying online, rarely stepping inside a retail outlet.
April 28th, 2014
Twitter currently has 241 million users worldwide, and 77 per cent of the company’s users access the social media platform via its mobile app.
So, with such a huge mobile audience, it must have made sense to some at the New York Police Department (NYPD) to launch #myNYPD, a Twitter PR campaign that asked citizens to tweet photos of friendly interactions with NYPD.
Instead, many New Yorkers posted an angry stream of photos depicting police brutality, including violent take-downs and images of police shooting victims.
The NYPD, responding to media questions about the department’s social media outreach effort, declared the #myNYPD campaign successful.
Mack begs to differ. Social media can do wonders for brands, social causes, charities and communities. But it can also turn around and bite you as fast as an out-of-control police dog.
April 22nd, 2014
Mack’s daughter is looking at life after high school. Mack wants her to keep her options open and get a good job.
He, as a former journalist and journalism school grad, had one piece of advice: Steer clear of any traditional journalism post-secondary programs.
Why would anyone go into old-school print, radio and TV journalism? Earlier this month, the CBC announced more than 650 layoffs over the next two years, many of them in news rooms. Last week the Toronto Star laid off all 11 full-time page editors, outsourcing the work to a third-party company.
Legacy journalism has been gutted by the Internet. Online ads have decimated traditional revenue and online news sources render old-school journalists irrelevant.
But the technology-pounding legacy journalism is creating a new media and digital journalism. Learning new media skills and becoming more entrepreneurial, digital journalists are finding jobs. Seems the Toronto Star is hiring eight new digital journalists.
April 7th, 2014
One of Canada’s spring rituals is that high school and university students across the country learn how to write a cover letter, a resume and how to prepare for job interviews.
The other day, Mack’s daughter, clutching her much-revised resume, cover letter and wearing one of her mother’s navy blue outfits, headed to class for her mock job interview. Apparently it went well.
But after years of interviewing applicants for jobs and training programs Mack has sat through some very bad interviews. Here’s how to make a good first impression:
• Be on time – a basic time management skill.
• Be prepared – it says you care.
• Be interested – it’s not all about you; ask questions.
• Be focused – keep to the point and fill in details if asked.
• Be clean – shower, shave, clean, shine, press and brush.