The Things That Matter Part 2

March 7th, 2008 @ 1:27pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

After a tumultuous week in the blogosphere I usually have to pull myself back and discover real life and real love all over again. Don’t get me wrong, I love the blogging and the community that’s embraced me, but sometimes you just need those… tangibles.

Baby!I’ve written a post about The Things that Matter, which holds true today and is ever more convincing after reading posts like this from my friends. I had planned on writing about social media news releases today, the new Eagles in the City and a few more items but after being up all night waiting for my baby nephew to arrive into this world – there’s nothing more important than him right now.

There’s no telling where I would be without my sister, honestly. She’s been a best friend, a mother, and a constant supplier of reality checks for me throughout my life. Last night we sang my niece a lullaby (which was kind of cruel since my sister and I are pretty tone deaf) and went back downstairs where her contractions drew closer together, each one lasting longer than the one before. Her doting man at her side, and me on the other she looked across the room and said, “I forgot it hurts to have babies”.

I wanted to cry for two reasons, one of the people I love most in the world was in so much pain but also I knew she’d be bringing another gorgeous, sweet, innocent child to life.

Proudest. Auntie. Ever.

I’m the proudest auntie ever and have been blessed four times now with such an honor. I am constantly in awe of the love and support this growing family has for each other, and I’m so incredibly lucky to be a part of it all.

Letters to Vancouver: Arriving in Germany

March 6th, 2008 @ 4:52pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The following has been adapted from actual correspondences

I arrived on the 14th, flying from Hamburg to Stuttgart. Hamburg is a very fine city that has a dynamic blend of old buildings and startling modern architecture. They have an immense construction project at the harbour that is similar to the Expo lands development.

People are friendly, as in Canada, but less reserved initially. In Canada people “exchange glances” and look away. In Hamburg a first look is like an extended quiet conversation. It is quite engaging. I asked about this characteristic and people acknowledged it is so.


Photo Credit: PatZ on Flickr from the Miss604.com Flickr Pool

People pour out of the trains in BC furtive and suspicious. In Hamburg you leave the train as if you know many people, though you may have spoken not a word.

The transit system is what Vancouver´s aspires to be – conventional trains from the hinterlands, S-Bahn rapid trains for the suburbs and city, neighbourhood and express buses, and ferries. It is similar to Vancouver´s in having no turnstiles. Yet I saw not one police or fare-checker. This all contributes to a more trusting and confident populace. This is something of a paradox to me, because on another level, the people are highly regulated.

When my father came to Canada he showed up at the Police Station and they asked him what he wanted. He said ‘Here I am.’ They laughed and sent him away. In Germany you have to inform the government when you move, within a few weeks, or you are fined.

You can feel spring is about to arrive, the weather gets cloudy in Hamburg but rarely rains. It was very cold. In Stuttgart it is much warmer and feels like spring. I miss many things, but most of all I miss my family. (… to be continued)

Does Dark Roast Coffee Have More Caffeine?

March 6th, 2008 @ 11:08am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

To me, the most satisfying cup of coffee is served in a diner where the waitress fills it up at least 6 times (without asking) before you get your two eggs over medium with bacon and hashbrowns. Other than that, at any specialty coffee shop on any street corner I’m usually a dark roast girl.


Photo Credit: Cosmo on Flickr

The other morning John overheard someone ask for a dark roast coffee because they needed the extra caffeine in their system. The barista replied that dark roasts actually have less caffeine since they’re toasted longer and that drains it out. Of course when he told me this I had to do some internet-sleuthing to confirm or bust this dark roast caffeine myth.

Generally, dark-roast coffee has less caffeine than lighter roasts because the roasting process reduces the bean’s caffeine content. [Caffeine - Wiki]

Drinking a darker roast will decrease your caffeine intake as the higher roasting temperatures eliminate more of the caffeine in the bean. [Sally's Place]

There are also several forums where others have asked the very same question and the resounding response seems to be that caffeine comes out in the roasting process. However, this lovely Drupal site below suggests the opposite:

It really depends on how you measure the caffeine.
If you measure by weight you actually have more caffeine in dark roast because the water loss is faster than the caffeine loss. If you measure by volume you have less caffeine because the beans expand as they roast. [Coffee and Caffeine FAQ]

It’s also been suggested that if you want a dark roast taste with all the caffeine of a light roast, try ordering an Americano. However, if it’s just the pure caffeine you’re worried about, consult Vancouver Coffee’s post about ingesting specific amounts to increase your hyperactivity.

In the end, I’m not quite sure what the actual answer is without getting into some serious mathematical and scientific molecular breakdown calculations. I’ll just sit back now with my warm beverage of choice until the shakes inevitably arrive by the next coffee run at 3:00pm.

Online Video Sharing Systems

March 6th, 2008 @ 12:02am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The first thing that probably comes to mind when thinking about online video is YouTube. It’s the most popular service and is pretty darn entertaining but for some of my “day job” needs I wanted something that looked a little more professional and that wouldn’t scrape the encoding quality down like sandpaper.

The alternative I chose was Blip.tv, which allows you to upload videos, have “episodes”, and is conducive to video podcasting offering up RSS feeds, enabling comments, and tags. I was pleased with Blip while it lasted until something with the day job turned things upside down and I had to scramble to find another video service. Honestly I could have just embedded the videos using the amazing flv wizard but I like the social networking features and stats tracking of the video services.

I Googled around, passed over Revver (I forget my reason for ignoring it) and came across Viddler. I signed up for an account and was pretty impressed. They have a sleek interface that allows you to enter titles and tags on the fly in a smooth AJAX-y manner (you don’t have to go to another page to enter this information, it’s kind of like editing details of a photo on Flickr). You can also record directly to their site (without uploading a file) using your webcam.

What ultimately sold me was their batch upload feature. Since we no longer had our half-dozen videos up on Blip, I had to toss them all up again. Viddler helped me do that all in one batch operation which included adding tags and titles to every video while I waited. On the flip side, I’ve already noticed that the embedded videos on my work site don’t load in Firefox 2, but they work fine in Safari and FF 3 Beta 3.

Last night I went to my personal Blip.tv profile and encountered some familiar issues. The upload time was dragging, the thumbnail I uploaded for the video player wasn’t working, and the video wasn’t playing on my profile or while embedded on my blog even after about 30 minutes it still said status “pending”. I decided since Viddler was working out so well at the day job that I would sign up for a Miss604 account on there. I made a Twitter update saying I was moving on to Viddler and the response was astounding.

I received a Twitter request from Rob, the co-founder of Viddler, who also added me as a contact on the video site and made a nice comment about the video I had just uploaded. I then had some friends and contacts message me saying they’re also pleased with Viddler.

This morning I got an email from Eric, the Director of Content Development at Blip.tv. I assume he saw my Twitter as well – yes, Twitter is very public – and he was just asking if I would share some reasons why I left. Eric was really nice to inquire and I gladly shared my story. I explained my reasons for moving over to Viddler and he was all ears. I stand by my statement that Blip.tv is excellent for video bloggers (and I haven’t deleted my account or anything), but I think I’ll be giving Viddler a whirl for the next while and we’ll see how it all pans out.

I’d like to thank Rob and Eric for being so responsive and engaging me in conversations about my satisfaction with their respective services. I’m certainly more inclined to work with them and use their products after all of this. Geez, aren’t the internets great?

WTS – What the Surrey #24: Holland Park and Surrey's Spirit Square for BC150

March 5th, 2008 @ 12:36pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

This morning I was reminded on Keira’s post about BC150, the celebration around the Province in honor of its 150th birthday. A big part of the festivities includes the dedication of Spirit Squares.

These squares will celebrate our heritage and achievements – past, present and future – and leave a legacy for current and future generations to enjoy.

Spirit Squares will reflect the unique character, diversity, cultural and First Nations heritage and history of our communities, sharing that richness with residents and visitors alike. [Spirit Squares]

Through Paul’s new CivicSurrey blog, I also found out that the latest Spirit Square will be built in Surrey’s Holland Park.


Photo Credit: Paul Hillsdon on Flickr

Surrey applied last year for Spirit Squares at Holland Park in Whalley, in Newton near the Wave Pool, and in Downtown Cloverdale. Apparently, the City has received the approval of a square in Holland Park. No word on whether the other two will proceed.

Holland Park is currently undergoing a painstakingly slow upgrade to become Surrey’s first “urban park”. It is one of the few “major projects” that the City has actually funded in an effort to revive the City Centre area. [CivicSurrey]

Other Spirit Squares around BC include (but are not limited to): Revelstoke, Maple Ridge, Merritt, Williams Lake, West Vancouver, Langley (Township), Lytton, Quesnel, Castlegar, Coquitlam, Village of Cumberland, Sechelt, Campbell River, and Victoria.

I’m glad Holland Park is getting the rejuvenation it needs after being clearcut over the last few years and I must admit I love going to community events back in Surrey.


Photo Credit: Paul Hillsdon on Flickr

Speaking of such, there will be a Grand Opening celebration for Holland Park taking place May 24th from 11:00am to 4:00pm that will mark the completion of the entire project. This is a free event with activities for the entire family.

Well Behaved Women Never Make History

March 5th, 2008 @ 10:34am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

First off, if you haven’t yet subscribed to the Lipgloss and Laptops podcast, stop being silly and check it out. Second, happy belated birthday to co-host (and my teammate on victorious Team Blogger), Kerry Anne.

She and Airdrie have been podcasting for over two years now and they’re almost at the #100 episode mark (and I really think they should have some type of party to celebrate cause I think that would be fun *cough*). Most recently they were also responsible for all the MAC gift bags and swag at the Northern Voice dinner.

They’ve pretty much perfected the art of intelligent and insightful banter, spiced with product reviews, cosmetic tips and the occasional reference to a burlesque show or the Number 5 Orange (as you’ll see in their latest episode).

Lipgloss and Laptops Podcast

Just walking to work this morning I learned about the application of fake eyelashes, self-tanners, and vibrating pore scrubbers. They also play amusing renditions of “shag, marry, kill,” listing off a couple men of note – all in good fun of course – and in episode #95 they have a geek theme including the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Paul Allen. They close out the podcast with a “reality check” regarding to one of my posts, and I have to say it means a lot to know these women, whom I hold in such high esteem, appreciate my content and share some of my same views.

You can listen online at LipglossAndLaptops.com or subscribe to their feed in iTunes.

Miss604 Ad Space: UsedVancouver.com

March 5th, 2008 @ 9:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

As stated when I first started making my site open for advertisements, I will always disclose when a blog post is a part of a paid advertisement. As I choose my advertisers probably as carefully as they choose me, I make sure to remain above board for my readers.

The latest ad space has been scooped up by UsedVancouver.com, here’s the staple interview and more information about the company provided by Kean:

Moo FTL

March 4th, 2008 @ 2:24pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I’m sorry Moo, I always thought you were cool. I jumped at the chance to order you during your inaugural Flickr/Moo love promotion two years ago and I’ve been pleased to exchange your cards ever since. This time however, I’m not so sure I feel the same glee and excitement as everyone else.

Moo, FTL :-(

First of all, I received confirmation that my cards were in the mail on February 6th, given the estimated arrival time of 5-7 days, the four weeks they’ve taken to get here is somewhat disappointing. I know that sometimes Canada Post is not the most reliable carrier, but some warning about a backlog would have been nice in the least (if such was the case).

You’ve also let me down in the quality department. I decided to use my logo and profile image from Flickr and I have to say, I could print out better cards on my Brother MFC. They’re grainy, spotty, and the colour is even off. It looks as though I have a dusty halo around my head in the profile logo, giving the depiction of myself a “Pigpen” effect and that’s not so hot, Moo.

icky close up (view largest image if possible)

Finally, upon receiving the note in my mailbox to pick up my parcel from the Post Office I arrived this afternoon to be told I had to pay $9.23 in customs charges. The package had already been opened by customs to boot.

Customs for Moo

Not only have I been waiting an extended period of time for these little cards, they look awful, and have cost me close to $50 (fabulous pink case included). I’m sorry Moo, next time I might have to find another option for my mini-card needs.