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The Georgia Straight's "Geek Gift Guide" written by yours truly is up online now [tgs].  It's a pretty good collection of some of the coolest gadget gifts that you can get this Christmas.  I was pretty happy that the Kindle was able to make an appearance, since I was going to go with the Sony eReader instead since Amazon's device was not available in Canada until a few days before the article was due.  There was also a really cool set of Sony Ericsson headphones that I ended up leaving off the list because I could not find them for sale anywhere in Vancouver and Sony Ericsson would not get back to me with where one would buy them in Canada.

The Canon PowerShot S90 is especially tasty looking.

Also for the record the Teddy Ruxpin reference was in there before 30 Rock made a Teddy Ruxpin joke in their last episode.

I'm doing some writing for Techvibes, a technology blog that's based in Vancouver but covers most of the continent and a few places beyond.  My first post is about a new iPhone application that helps users pick out outfits to wear based on what they have in the closet, and it's online now [tv].

Leaning_on_Outliers

It seems like since I've gotten back from my honeymoon I've been kind of on the ropes and running behind on everything.  I picked up swine flu somewhere in Maine on our trip and was incredibly sick when we returned.  However having missed two weeks of work already for the trip I headed back, only to pass the flu onto at least one of my co-workers and possibly two.  After a few days, and a definitive doctor's diagnosis of H1N1 [wp] I ended up back at home for nearly another week.

I was just over that and back to work when I got the news about David [jks], and so blogging has certainly not been my top priority.  Add to that two articles that I've finished off for The Georgia Straight, and I actually don't feel bad about ignoring this blog.  Besides apart from an accounting of the honeymoon I've not had much to write about up until recently.  Ironically when I have blogged it's been for the Straight and that has been about the new Kindle I got for my birthday [tgs].

Well actually I combined a few of my gifts into the Kindle, using the money my parents and my brother gave me to order it from Amazon.  Since the Kindle was only available in America when I bought it I had to get it sent to a business in Sumas that specializes in receiving packages for Canadians.  Since then the Kindle has begun shipping to Canada [tgs], though I've heard that it does not have the web browser.

I've also blogged about Indigo/Chapters' moves into the ebook market [tgs] for the Straight. While I was on my honeymoon my article on Facebook games for The Georgia Straight as well [tgs].

I'm also likely going to be speaking at the 72nd annual Canadian University Press (CUP) National Conference in Edmonton this January.  It's being hosted by the University of Alberta student paper The Gateway, where a number of my closest CUP friends worked at, and though it's been awhile since I've been to a CUP conference it should be fun.  I've not gotten all the details nailed down, but I appear to be listed as a speaker [cup] so that's always a good sign.  The last CUP conference I spoke at ended up with me writing for the Straight, so hopefully this will also be a good networking opportunity.

One of the things I told students at the Canadian University Press conference

that I spoke at was to always take any assignment offered [jks].  The life of a freelance writer is such that we really never know what will be our last job, and saying no to work is always a risk especially when you're trying to build a relationship with a publication.  While I've been writing for The Georgia Straightfor over a year the spacing between each article is long enough that I'm always a little concerned that maybe they'll forget about me.  The technology section only really has one regular writer (Blaine Kyllo) and having heard enough stories about freelancers who said no to one job and had publications just assume that they were no longer interested in writing, I pretty much say yes to anything and everything. 

Boris Mann & Maura Rodgers. Taken by Stephen Hui for The Georgia StraightLooking back on it I probably should have said no to an article being due just over a week after my wedding.  However I had been pitching the story since I first started writing for the Straightand it was the fall technology issue so it was hard to say no.  I also completely underestimated how much work a wedding was, and moving my wife into my apartment would be.  Which is a long way of being honest and saying that tech editor Stephen Hui had to do a lot more on this one than normal and so while I think the interviews went well the structure of the article is mostly thanks to Stephen, in however good it is.  Anything wrong with it is my fault.

The article is in the Straighttoday and on-line [tgs].  It turned out well in the end though I think if I ever do my song and dance for mold-able minds, I'll ad weddings as an exception of a time when begging off an assignment is probably a good idea. 

A last note about the article that

I feel I should mention is that I did a lot of interviews with people that did not make it into the finished article.  It turned out that I just had too much material and given that it takes at least 100-300 words to introduce and give details about a start-up company, some of the ones I spoke with had to be left out in order to keep in the assigned space.  Those interviews however aren't going to be lost, and I'll be turning them into short pieces for The Georgia Straight's website's tech section [tgs] over the next week or two. 

Zak Greant taken by Stephen Hui

My latest article is in this week's The Georgia Straight in all the finest newspaper boxes around Vancouver and on-line [tgs].  This one was a bit trickier to get my head around, because while I know what "open" means when it comes to having social networks like Twitter, Facebook and the like be more open not everyone agrees what that means.  For some people it's part of a larger view that all information should be open, while to others it's a call for users to actually have more control over their data and privacy than they do now.

So some people are for more privacy, others are for less, and yet they're all on the same side.

The other issue was that it's hard to get the other side of the argument.  Facebook never got back to me, and nobody is going to really stand up for less openness and user control over data but yet there may be legitimate reasons that it's necessary sometimes.  These might not be the strongest reasons, but it's a bit hard to look at an issue objectively when one side really won't talk.

I'm happy with how the article ended up though, and it's a case where it was nice to have an edit on it to help focus it a bit and make sure that I was making sense to anyone aside from myself.