Top 10 Posts for 2014

It’s that time of year! According to WordPress, I posted 177 times this year. Here are the ten most viewed posts of 2014 on my blog:

  1. Your Guide to Summer Festivals & Events in Edmonton: 2014 Edition!
  2. Your Guide to Winter 2014/2015 Festivals & Events in Edmonton
  3. OneNote + OneDrive = Awesome
  4. Chasing the Northern Lights in Edmonton
  5. Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2014
  6. Edmonton’s High Level Bridge has lights…now what?
  7. Media Monday Edmonton: Update #111
  8. Edmonton Vaporware: The Arena District
  9. Downtown Edmonton’s Sobeys on 104 Street will close its doors on July 31
  10. Edmonton will officially join the skyscraper club with Stantec’s new tower

I didn’t do a version of this post last year for some reason, but you can check out the top ten posts from back in 2012 here.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing over the last year! All the best in 2015!

Ten Years of Blogging

I have now been writing at this address in some form or another for over ten years1. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that I started tinkering with blog engines. Other times it feels like I’ve been a blogger forever!

I like to say that I blog first for myself and second for everyone else, and that’s still true. Ten years doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it’s fascinating to read the crazy things that 20-year-old-me wrote. I really have changed quite a lot in that time! That said, it certainly is nice to have readers. Not only do you keep me motivated (and correct me when I get things wrong) you have also taught me an awful lot over the years. I have met so many people and learned so many things that I just don’t think I would have without this blog. I really appreciate all of the relationships and opportunities that writing here has afforded me!

Surface Pro & HTC Windows Phone 8X

Technology and the web have also changed quite dramatically in the time I have been writing here. There are lots of reasons that my posts have gotten longer over the years, but one big factor was Twitter. Before Twitter launched, I would occasionally write really short “status” entries here, like this one. Increasingly I have been producing content elsewhere, whether it is Tumblr, YouTube, or Instagram. Still, this blog has remained the glue that ties it all together.

I have mentioned this before, but it was around 2008 that my blog started to focus very heavily on local topics. It was September 2008 that I launched my Edmonton Notes series2, which is now one of the most popular features on the blog. If you’re looking through the archives, don’t be surprised if you find the first five years of this blog to be much more random than it is now!

Whether you’ve been reading for years or are new, thank you. Here’s to another ten years!

New Design

You may notice that I refreshed the look of the blog this week. I’ve been meaning to do so for a while now, and the anniversary was as good an excuse as any! My blog is now a fully responsive site, which should make for a better reading experience on your mobile devices. There’s a bit more room for content, and I’ve made the text bigger by default.

Curious to see what this blog looked like in the past? Thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can:

I’ll continue tweaking it, so please let me know if you have any feedback.

  1. I generally treat November 6, 2003 as the start of my blog because that’s the oldest post I was able to save when I moved to WordPress in 2008. I actually started blogging prior to that, but unfortunately all of those posts were lost. 

  2. Five years of Edmonton Notes, can you believe that?! My blog has been Edmonton-focused for about half of its existence. 

Top 10 Posts for 2012

Happy New Year! Here are the ten most viewed posts of 2012 on my blog:

  1. Your Guide to Summer Festivals & Events in Edmonton!
  2. The Past, Present, and Future of Food Truck Bylaws & Guidelines in Edmonton
  3. Edmonton’s City Market Downtown needs community representation
  4. Food, agriculture and the battle over Edmonton’s future growth
  5. Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2012
  6. Startup Edmonton announces a new home for creative innovation in the Mercer Warehouse
  7. Urban/Suburban Marketing in Edmonton: The suburbs are winning
  8. Media Monday Edmonton: Update #29
  9. It’s time to stop investing in Edmonton Stories
  10. 2012 Alberta Election: Social Media Highlights

Check out the lists for previous years too: 2011, 2010, and 2009.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing over the last year!

Odds & Ends

No rhyme or reason to this post, I just felt like writing some of this stuff down!

Winter Tires
On the weekend I had my first ever set of winter tires installed. My all-seasons were getting pretty bald, so I needed new tires anyway. I figured I might as well give the winter ones a shot! Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that the two main distinguishing features of winter tires are the rubber composition (greater percentage of soft rubber) and increased siping (slits in the rubber). We live just a block away from Fountain Tire downtown, so I haven’t gone very far with them yet.

Windows 8
I had been running the release candidate for a while (in a VHD) so I more or less knew what to expect when I upgraded to Windows 8 on launch day (October 26). The upgrade from 7 to 8 was really straightforward, and you can’t beat the price ($41.99 with tax). The process took longer than I though it would, but I just left it for an hour or so and came back and it was ready to go. I know people like to hate on the new UI, but I actually really like it. And even as a mouse and keyboard user primarily, I find myself navigating around much more quickly than with Windows 7 (it really helps if you know the shortcuts, this primer is a good start).

Logitech Touchpad T650
I switched from a mouse to a touchpad last year and haven’t looked back (I find the touchpad less stressful on my wrist). Now that Windows 8 is out a bunch of new accessories have launched such as Logitech’s Touchpad T650. I ordered one from Staples and am very happy with it. It’s wireless, rechargeable via USB, and supports up to thirteen touch gestures. Swipe three fingers up and you get the Start screen, swipe three fingers down and you’re back at the desktop. It also supports the edge gestures, so flipping through open apps is a breeze. Definitely worth considering if you’re using Windows 8 on a desktop.

Windows Phone 8
Even though the official launch was more than two weeks ago, there’s still no sign of Windows Phone 8 in Canada. I really need to replace my current phone (which I dropped causing the screen to crack pretty badly) but if I have to wait around for Telus to get something in stock it may be a while. Maybe an unlocked phone from Expansys is the way to go, anyone have any experience with them?

Nate Silver
I’m very happy that Barack Obama won another term, though after paying attention to Nate Silver’s stuff I can’t say I’m surprised. He nailed it. Let’s hope this means we’ll see better journalism for 2016. I haven’t read his book yet, but it is sitting on my Kindle ready for me to finish the other dozen or so books I have yet to read!

Upcoming Events
There’s lots of good stuff to look forward to in the next week or so. I’ll be at the Startup City Luncheon tomorrow, and I’m hoping to spend some time at Launch Party 3 on Thursday. Friday and Saturday are WordCamp, and though I’m not speaking this year I am moderating the panel on Saturday morning.

Upcoming Travel
I’m going to be in London, UK during the week of the 26th and in Miami during the week of December 3rd. Have been to London a few times but have never been to Miami. I’m looking forward to both trips! If you have any must-see suggestions for either, let me know.

Thank You!

I just wanted to take a minute to say thanks!

Vue Weekly’s Best of Edmonton 2012 awards were published the week of September 20:

We asked your thoughts on over 150 categories—Yeah, we know, it was a little much. But we had over 1000 responses and upwards of 15 000 individual vote, so thanks for coming out, Edmonton.

This blog was named “Best Local Blog” and I was also named “Best Local Twitterer”. Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled when I found out! I am also really happy that What the Truck?! was named “Best Local Pop-up Event”. What’s great about these awards is that Edmontonians decided who won, not a jury or other committee. That makes the recognition even more meaningful.

Best of Edmonton 2012

I want to give props to Sharon, Rev, Kikki, and Brittney who were all recognized alongside me in the Blog & Twitter categories. Check them out! Hopefully in future years we’ll see even broader recognition of the Edmontonians who are doing amazing things for our community through technology and the web.

As always, thanks for reading!

Off the grid for the weekend

Tomorrow evening Sharon and I are heading up to Goose Lake for the weekend. My family has property there and my parents are currently on vacation “at the lake” as we say, so it’ll be nice to spend some time with them.

It’s somewhat amazing to me that despite being just a two and half hour drive from Edmonton, the area still has very limited cellular or Internet service. On the other hand, according to the 2011 census just 4300 people live in the entire Woodlands County, so it’s not like there’s a huge customer base. It appears that CCI Wireless recently extended coverage to the area, but it’s somewhat expensive. Just a reminder of how big Canada really is, I guess!

For me it’s an opportunity to go “off the grid”. I don’t think I’d ever attempt Paul Miller’s year without Internet, but a couple of days certainly seems doable. I’ll probably bring my Kindle and maybe even my laptop in case the urge to write strikes as it often does, but I intend to spend most of my time on the water or around the fire pit, beer in hand.

Mack & Sharon
Sharon and I at the Goose Lake sign back in 2008

Have a great weekend!

Where you’ll find me over the next week!

Tonight is the first Truck Stop of the year and our first event in Old Strathcona! We’re actually holding a Truck Stop every Thursday night this month at McIntyre Park (8303 104 Street, aka Gazebo Park). The lineup and menu will change each week, so there’s definitely a reason to attend more than one! Here are the details for tonight’s event.

To keep up-to-date on What the Truck?! and Truck Stop events, check out our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter! We’ll be posting each week’s lineup and menu details as we get closer to the date.

On Saturday at the Fantasyland Hotel you’ll find iMedia 2012: Edmonton’s Social Media Conference. Vancouver’s Darren Barefoot and Rebecca Bollwitt are both in town to deliver keynotes. At lunch time I’m on the iMedia-lite Panel along with Kathleen Smith, Kendall Barber, and Ryan Jespersen. We’ll be talking about personal branding on the web – should be fun!

Later that afternoon I’ll be back downtown to participate in the Edmonton Public Library’s Downtown Stories event. The idea is to celebrate “the diverse stories of people who live downtown.” I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the changing face of downtown. Other speakers include Poet Laureate Anna Marie Sewell and EPL’s Writer in Residence Jocelyn Brown.

In addition to Truck Stop next Thursday, you don’t want to miss the Grand Opening Party for Startup Edmonton’s new space in the Mercer Warehouse! There will be drinks, DJs, and tours all evening long, so stop in and check it out. I can’t wait to see the space full of people.

On Friday, May 11 you’ll want to join me at the Art Gallery of Alberta to celebrate Guru’s tenth birthday at Gala Guru TEN. They’ve accomplished so much in that time! “We hang out on the corner of technology and the arts. If you like freaky mashups of technology and music/dance/theatre/visual media, this is the event for you.”

So that’s a few of the events I’ll be at over the next week or so. For more upcoming events, check out ShareEdmonton!

Top 10 Posts for 2011

As I have done for the last couple of years, I thought I’d post a list of the ten most viewed posts of the year on my blog. You can see the 2010 list here, and the 2009 list here.

Here are the top ten individual posts from 2011 by views:

  1. Daily Deals in Edmonton
  2. What the Truck?! Edmonton’s Food Truck Extravaganza
  3. Edmonton’s Homicide Rate: How much has changed in 30 years?
  4. Homicide Rates in Canada: Statistics & Trends
  5. Your Guide to Summer Festivals & Events in Edmonton!
  6. More than just email: Google Apps goes live at the University of Alberta
  7. Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011
  8. Edmonton Transit (ETS) now offers schedule information via SMS text messaging
  9. Timeraiser Edmonton 3 and WestJet Giveaway!
  10. The City of Edmonton is failing at public involvement

Thanks for reading and commenting over the last year!

Five Years with Twitter

It was five years ago today that Twitter officially launched to the public (the very first ever tweet was sent on March 21, 2006). It was also five years ago today that I signed up for the service. It has become my claim to Twitter fame (such as it is) – I was the 985th person in the world to join! More than 600,000 people joined Twitter yesterday, which is pretty amazing when you consider that it took more than 16 months for the first 600,000 people to join!

When it launched, Twitter was actually Twttr (no vowels). At the time I was busy working on Podcast Spot. We were always paying attention to what our competitors were doing, and one of the biggest names in podcasting at the time was Odeo. I remember reading that they had launched a side-project named Twttr, and I remember thinking “this is dumb” after I checked it out. I mean the idea was neat, without a doubt, but I couldn’t fathom why they would be putting resources into Twttr rather than into Odeo. Anyway, as you know Odeo died and Twitter took off, so obviously they made the right decision!

I’ve written over a hundred Twitter-related blog posts over the last five years. My early entries seemed to be all about Twitter’s infamous fail whale and how the service struggled to stay operational, though I did immediately pick up on the ability to track topics. It was well into 2008 that they were still experiencing issues with reliability. That was also the year that I organized our first ever tweetup here in Edmonton (with help from Melanie and others). In June of 2008, I was down in Calgary for BarCamp and did a presentation on Twitter. After chatting with Wil at the bar afterward, I decided we should borrow the city hashtag idea from Calgary (they were using #yyc). The first #yeg tweet went out on June 20, 2008 (I wrote a bit more about that here). Exactly two years after Twitter launched, it purchased Summize, the search engine that now powers Twitter Search. That was a big deal, as it made the service much more useful. It also made it possible for me to start tracking the Edmonton Twittersphere, and I posted my first look at those statistics in February 2009. That seemed to give the local scene some momentum, and a month later I was at CTV talking to their newsroom about Twitter. That was the turning point in Edmonton, in my opinion. A lot of people joined after they ran the Twitter story, and I think the fact that CTV embraced the service gave it some legitimacy. The local Twittersphere has been growing in size and influence ever since.

I have always been a web user of Twitter. Over the years I have used apps on my mobile phones, text messaging, and I’ve dabbled with apps like TweetDeck and HootSuite, but my primary interface remains the Twitter website. I was particularly happy about #newtwitter, though I know a lot of you didn’t like the redesign (at least initially). It’s kind of incredible to think back to the time when Twitter didn’t have retweets, mentions were just replies, and hashtags were rare. The addition of lists was another thing that changed the way I use Twitter. I’m often asked how I can possibly follow nearly 6000 people and the answer is always “I don’t.” I use a combination of lists and search to pay attention to certain people and/or topics! I rarely, if ever, look at the timeline. It look me a long time to get over that – early on I definitely felt like I didn’t want to miss anything! Twitter is still largely the same as it was in 2006 (at least conceptually), but the changes that have been made have really had an impact.

I don’t know what Twitter will look like five years from now, but it certainly shows no signs of going away. I look forward to its continued evolution, and I hope Twitter continues to have a positive impact here in Edmonton!

Special thanks to Jeff and Sally for the Twitter birthday post today! And yes, I need to get on with updating stats!

Social Media Milestones

Over the last couple of months I have achieved a few nice-round-numbers with my online activities. I’m not sure why they all happened around the same time, but they have. Some recent milestones include:

  • 3000 blog posts
  • 9000 comments on my blog posts
  • 30,000 tweets
  • 10,000 followers on Twitter
  • 500 lists on Twitter
  • 1000 friends on Facebook
  • 13,000 photos on Flickr
  • 1,000,000 views on Flickr
  • 7500 posts on Tumblr (~2000 are as Edmonton Etc.)

What do these numbers mean? That I spend a lot of time online, I guess! I think they also reflect the length of time I have been blogging (2003), tweeting (2006), and posting photos (2005). A few of these numbers mean a lot to me, not because of the number itself but because of what it represents. I can’t even imagine how much time and energy those 3000 blog posts represent, but I’ve absolutely loved writing them! And I’m honored to be on more than 500 lists on Twitter.

Mostly though, when I think about these numbers, I think about the journey they represent and all of the amazing people I’ve met and things I’ve learned along the way. Roll your eyes if you must, but that’s the truth.

I wonder what this list will look like five years from now!