Time to retire the “Kiss Cam”

Speaking of football game day traditions – retiring the Kiss Cam is long overdue.
If you haven’t seen it – this is a stunt found during timeouts at lots of sporting events where the cameras pan the crowd, looking for couples, finding a man and a woman and encouraging them to kiss, all up on the Jumbotron for everyone to see and cheer.

It’s awkward enough assuming that camera operators have some magic ability to spot people in the crowd who might be a couple.
We don’t know anything about their situation.
We, the people, demand that they kiss!
Kiss for us! Now!

But …

Maybe they’re coworkers, maybe they’re neighbours, maybe they’re brother and sister – maybe they’re strangers. Or maybe they really are a couple and they’re having a bad day, or are embarrassed, or who just don’t want to be on the screen doing something intimate.

Why are we putting randomly selected people on the screen and pressuring them to do something pretty personal like this?
You can see the reluctance a lot of the time.

As if that’s not bad enough, it used to be that after four or five rounds of finding couples to kiss, the cameras would then finish off by cutting to two players on the opposing team.
Ha ha!, the theory apparently went, isn’t that hilarious, the idea that two men would kiss!

Well, no, it’s not. Come on.

At least they don’t usually end with that shot of two players any more, but it is still cringe-inducing watching the cameras pan the stands, always on the lookout for a man and a woman sitting together because a) obviously they must be romantically involved if they’re sitting beside each other, and b) a man and a woman is apparently the only “safe” combination to select.

It’s time to retire this gimmick – it was never funny in the first place and now it’s just awkward and becoming offensive, especially in light of the great work teams are doing with projects like “You Can Play” that encourage everyone of all types to take part in sports.

Lose the Kiss Cam. Please.

On football crowd noise

“People with a real love for the symphony, when other people react and clap after a first movement, they should be saying “Wonderful – there are new people in the audience tonight!”

— Former Toronto Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Oundjian, asked in The Whole Note about audience members clapping between movements of a piece, something long thought by sophisticated concertgoers to be a major etiquette violation.

Yesterday I was at the Argos game at BMO Field, a thrilling 24-23 victory over the BC Lions, and the outcome was in doubt until the final second. It was the largest crowd in a while – 18,000 people and the fans were loud, and engaged, and everybody had a great time.

And, unfortunately, the TV cameras were pointed at the east stands. At the moment, the team doesn’t sell seats in the upper deck, so it looked terrible –

BMO Field east stands

The crowd on the west side, where I sat, was much better. Not full, but a big improvement.

This is the west side’s reaction after the go-ahead touchdown. Isn’t this fun?

And it was great to see lots of new fans at the game! I hope they come back. It seems like it’s easy to get people to come to one argos game, but harder to get them to come to two.
An exciting victory on a beautiful day with a loud crowd should definitely help.

Here’s the thing though.
The tradition in football is that the home crowd should be quiet when our team has the ball – so that they can hear signals from the quarterback and execute plays to perfection.
(Make all the noise you want after the ball is snapped but be quiet while they’re getting ready.)

Conversely, you should be loud, stomp your feet, and scream when the visiting team has the ball.
Try to throw them off.
Sometimes it works, sometimes the crowd is so loud that the other team will line up in an illegal formation, or make a false start – and they’ll get an “illegal procedure” penalty.

(sidebar: here’s the difference between ‘offside’ (on the defense) and ‘illegal procedure’ (on the offense).)

I have to admit, I never really understood this shushing business.
Your natural reaction – as in most other team sports – is to cheer madly on offense to help your team score.
And, aren’t they professional athletes?
Aren’t you getting paid?
What’s the problem with a little noise?
What is this, Golf? You can only perform in silence?

Well, whatever.
That’s the tradition.
They need to hear the signals.
Quiet on offense, loud on defense.
The players want it that way.

What bugs me more, though, is when fans criticize other fans for making noise on offense.
Yesterday there were some “Let’s Go Argos!” cheers and foot stomping when the Argos had the ball.
I saw a few tweets from fans complaining about this.
You’re not supposed to do that, then!
The nerve, that people would cheer at the wrong time!

But …
We should be happy about that.
It shows that there are new fans at the game.
We want that!
We need them!
We want them to return!

Peter Oundjian has the right attitude.
“Inappropriate” crowd reactions really just mean you have new people at the event, and you should celebrate that and welcome them if you want your event to survive and thrive in the modern era.

It’s the same at football.
Let people cheer “wrong”.
Let’s hope they had fun, and will come back, and will figure out our traditions and become as suave and sophisticated as the rest of us.

Basic Questions for Ontario Politicians

We have a provincial election coming up in Ontario and I am worried that some politicians do not know enough basic facts about Ontario.

If you want to be part of the government, I think you should know some Basic Information about Ontario.
Accordingly, I hope any politician I meet can answer some of these basic questions about Ontario. (I’ve printed out this map and have it ready by the door in case anybody comes by.)

  1. Please indicate our current location on the map below.
  2. What city is marked by the red dot?
  3. What’s the blue island?
  4. Identify Ontario’s largest provincial park, shown in green here.
  5. Approximately where is North Bay?
  6. Explain the difference between a University and a Community College.
  7. Who is the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario?
  8. Who is the premier of our neighbour to the west, Manitoba?
  9. Which of the three flags below is the flag of Ontario? What are the other two?
  10. If you were driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls, what cities would you pass through or by?
  11. What is the Chi-Cheemaun?

    For bonus points, recite any verse of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, or “Ontari-ari-ari-o”.



Ernest Cosmos Quigley

Bruce Arthur’s great Toronto Star article on Steve Nash’s induction in the Basketball Hall of Fame got me digging around to see how many other Canadians are in there. Nash joins fellow Canadian members Dr. James Naismith, Pete Newell, Bobby Houbregs, and the pride of Newcastle, New Brunswick, Ernest Cosmos Quigley.

You don’t know Basketball Hall of Fame member Ernest Cosmos Quigley of Newcastle, New Brunswick? Once upon a time he was “the most famous man in the field of sports.”

Quigley was born in New Brunswick in 1880, played (for James Naismith) and later became AD at Kansas, umpired six World Series, officiated three Rose Bowls – one of the all time great officials. Enshrined in the Basketball Hall in 1961.

Here’s a great story about legendary tri-sport official Ernest Cosmos Quigley, born in New Brunswick but who moved to Kansas at an early age. I admit I’d never heard of the guy before digging around today.

To the sportswriters of today – when you mention Steve Nash and Canadians in the Basketball Hall of Fame, why not throw in a quick mention of Ernest Cosmos Quigley.


Using your Mac as a HomeKit Camera

Want to try using your Mac as a HomeKit camera? Got access to Apple’s developer tools?

  1. Go to Apple’s developer tools download site and download “Additional Tools for Xcode”

  2. In the resulting disk image there’s a Hardware folder. Launch the HomeKit Accessory Simulator app. Maybe drag it to your Applications folder, add it to your dock, set it to open at login, etc.

  3. Lower left corner of HomeKit Accessory Simulator, click “+” and then “New IP Camera”
    New IP Camera menu item

  4. In the “Configure your new IP Camera” section, fill in a name, manufacturer and model. Make up something interesting. Click “Finish”.

  5. Scroll down in bottom half of window, click “Start”. Camera image should appear.

You now have a HomeKit Camera running. See that “Setup code” at the top of the window? To add it on your iPhone…

  1. Launch Home app

  2. Touch “+” button

  3. Touch “Add Accessory”.

  4. Point camera at the Setup Code in HomeKit Accessory Simulator on your Mac.

  5. It’ll say it’s an uncertified accessory. Click “Add anyway.”

Tada, a HomeKit camera.

Hayman’s Laws of Air Travel

Hayman’s First Law of Air Travel
All problems in air travel stem from information being communicated poorly.

Hayman’s Second Law of Air Travel
For all combinations of airlines X and Y, there will be somebody who says “Why would you ever fly with X? They’re the worst. I only fly with Y.”

Hayman’s Third Law of Air Travel Which is Actually More of a Guideline, Really
If you don’t miss at least one flight a year, you’re getting to the airport too early.

Hayman’s Fourth Law of Air Travel
When you’re travelling solo, you zoom through the airport like a pro.
When you’re travelling with your family, you somehow forget how things work, drop stuff, get in the wrong line, and make rookie mistakes.

Hayman’s Fifth Law of Air Travel

Get to the airport at least 45 minutes earlier than you normally would if you’re flying an airline you don’t usually fly, since you won’t be able to zip through all your usual shortcuts.

Also why are you flying on THAT airline?

Email from famous people

You might be wondering, “Why did you, Steve, send Jeff Bezos some jumper cables for his birthday in 2001?”

Amazon has a wish-list feature where you can list things you wanted other people to buy for you. And in 2001, Jeff Bezos had one, with jumper cables on it.

I figured, hey, I like Amazon, I’ll send the guy – who was not at the time the world’s richest man – some jumper cables, with a nice note saying “Happy Birthday, and I hope you never need these.”

(Meanwhile I created my own amazon wish list with some fancy stuff on it – I forget what exactly, some binoculars or something – because hey, you never know.)

And I actually got a gracious thank-you note from Jeff Bezos, thanking me for the jumper cables and agreeing that he too hoped he’d never need them.
(He did not wind up buying me anything off of my own wish list, however.)

But somewhere in my email, I have a thank-you note from Jeff Bezos, which I will cherish forever, assuming I can ever find it

I have another email saying “Great idea – thanks.”

From Steve Jobs.

I really should find THAT one and frame it.

Top 10 Argonotes at Skydome Memories

This is an experiment to see if I can convert this Storify article to a blog post.

Originally posted 2 years ago.

Top 10 Argonotes at Skydome Memories

Tonight’s the last ever Argos game at Skydome. The band’s been there for 21 years. I’m feeling just a little nostalgic.

A better way to do year-end Mileage Runs

Mileage runs – end of the year travel to get enough points to hit some fancy airline status level for the following year – are common amongst frequent flyers, and a complete waste of resources as people who don’t really need to go somewhere, go somewhere.

Cathy and I just got back from one of these trips; we flew overnight to Dallas for basically no reason other than achieving Air Canada status.

I have a better idea.
A way to avoid the waste, and help people who truly need help.
Let me donate a flight to someone who really needs help.

About mileage runs

Now, I’ve done mileage runs several times before – mad scrambles to find a cheap flight or three in December just to hit status for the following year.
(Here’s the tale of my 2012 attempt.)

Lots of people do this. Here’s a whole forum on Flyertalk devoted to finding cheap mileage run deals.

Why bother?
Airline frequent flyer programs, including Air Canada Altitude, give you various perks depending on some combination of how many miles you flew, flight segments you took, and/or dollars you spent – and at the end of the year (once you’ve achieved status for the following year), the clock resets to 0.

Altitude is different than Aeroplan – Air Canada is weird in having two totally different programs – Air Canada Altitude (for status) and Aeroplan (for miles you can redeem for flights or other prizes.) And, Air Canada and Aeroplan are splitting up next year so it’ll probably all change again.

Air Canada calls their highest Altitude level “Super Elite“, and to get there, you have to fly 100,000 miles (on Air Canada or its Star Alliance partners), or take 95 individual segments, and spend at least $20,000. (There are also different tiers at 25,000, 35,000, 50,000 and 75,000 miles.)

Perks might include the occasional upgrade to business class, a free checked bag or two, access to the Maple Leaf Lounge, or – my favourite – personalized help when something goes wrong.
(You might think this is all pointless but once or twice a year, that help makes it all worthwhile.
I’ve had the Air Canada concierge meet me at the door of the plane with new boarding passes when there’s been a problem. I wish they helped everybody that way, but they don’t.)

My 2017 pointless mileage run to Dallas

I’ve been lucky enough to be at the Super Elite level the past few years but by mid-December when my business trips for the year were done, I was only at 96,039 miles.
So I started looking for a cheap flight before the end of the year that would get me at least 3,961 miles.

A little digging uncovered a relatively cheap trip to Dallas – which isn’t quite enough miles, but if you arrange that your return trip comes through Montreal instead of direct, it was just enough to put me over the top. So off we went. I thought about going down and immediately back, not even leaving the airport, but instead we had a fun overnight visit, and really enjoyed our visit to the Sixth Floor Museum, a tremendous interactive display about the Kennedy assassination. And we got back home New Year’s Eve night, and I think I have enough miles now to be Super Elite again next year.

So what’s the problem?

I didn’t need to go to Dallas. I spent money on a plane ride I didn’t need, taking up space, wasting fuel, all to hit this top tier status. All around the world, other frequent flyers are making stupid, wasteful year-end trips just to accumulate enough miles or segments to hit the various status levels.

Meanwhile, there are people who truly do need to travel – to visit sick relatives, for instance – who might not be able to do so.

Air Canada knows this, and to their credit, has set up the Air Canada Foundation to provide free tickets to children’s hospitals across Canada.

Here’s my idea.

Next time I want to do a pointless mileage run, let me donate the cost of the ticket to the Air Canada Foundation, and they can fly somebody else who really needs to travel. Let me have the status I crave, but let somebody else who needs to travel, actually do the travelling.

It could work like this:

  1. You have to be 95% of the way to your goal.
  2. You search Air Canada and find an itinerary costing $X that will put you over the top.
  3. You donate $X to the Air Canada Foundation.
  4. Air Canada provides $X of travel to a needy family. They fly, not you.
  5. You get the status points.

Seems like a win-win-win situation to me.

Come on, Air Canada, what do you say?