Parting Shots from Ottawa Bluesfest 2010

Luckily I got most of the shots I wanted before Bluesfest started enforcing a ban on ‘people with nice cameras‘. At one event I was asked to put away my camera, while the guy behind me continued to videotape the entire show… wha? I will assume that they didn’t discriminate against me because my lens was white.  🙂

That one negative experience aside, I really enjoyed the music at this year’s Bluesfest, and taking pictures of some of my favourite performers!

Here is my last selection of shots, from Matthew Good and Crowded House.

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THIS is ‘Drummer Face’

Security didn’t like me, but I managed to get a bunch of shots of Matthew Good last night at Ottawa Bluesfest. Apparently their camera policy has changed for the second week, probably based on the realization that camera technology has advanced so far that people were taking 1080p HD bootleg video that was of similar quality to the pro’s.

They seemed to be picking on people with big cameras, particularly ones like my trusty ‘Light Bazooka’. Meanwhile, the guy behind me with a tiny camera took video of the entire show.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. Some people don’t know what it is when I say ‘drummer face’; I saw such a good example of this last night that I had to do this post! This is the drummer from Matthew Good’s backing band (name please?).

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RUSH v. The Light Bazooka

I carried my trusty ‘Light Bazooka’ to try and capture one of my favourite –and oft-maligned*– musical acts, RUSH. I arrived over an hour early hoping to snag a reasonable mid-field location for the 100-400L to work its magic, but I forgot two important things about RUSH that could thwart the mighty Light Bazooka:

  1. Rush fans are overwhelmingly male, which means my usual height advantage in a typical Bluesfest crowd is negated for picture taking.
  2. Never underestimate how may RUSH fans there are! Even showing up 1.5 hours early I was relegated to the cheap-seats. I had been to big Bluesfest shows already (Metric, B-52’s, Flaming Lips) but this crowd was HUGE.

Below represent my best efforts to capture the 3-hour marathon (particularly for Neil Peart) that was the highlight of my Bluesfest so far!

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*For anyone who think these guys take themselves seriously, come to one show –especially on this tour– and you will find otherwise.

Adrian & His ‘Light Bazooka’ @ Bluesfest

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P.S. If you are wondering what a ‘Light Bazooka’ is, it is my nickname for THIS.

This is Gonna Be HUGE!

This started off as a comment on Kneale Mann’s blog, but then I realized that a lot of my regular readers are probably expecting me to weigh in on the iPad, and why not! Ironically, Kneale’s post is about all the free publicity that the iPad is getting.  🙂

There are a lot of people griping about what the iPad doesn’t have, and its name:

iTablet was the obvious (good) choice IMHO, but it breaks the ‘two-sylabble rule’ of the Apple naming conventions, and the recent predilection for the use of the letters ‘iP’ at the start (iPod, iPhone).  Complaints about the name are missing the real story here:

All the coverage I have read misses just how much this device is going to revolutionize everything! Apple has created a huge developer community and worked them into a lather over the potential of becoming rich, famous, or rich & famous developing the next multi-million-downloaded iPhone app.  Now they provide those same developers a new platform to innovate on.

Lots of analysts seem to think that this is about Kindle vs. iPad, but that misses the point too.  The Kindle is a very well executed specialized reading device which will continue to do well in the segment of eBook readers.  The iPad provides the opportunity for innovations of much greater scope.

Expect big revolutions in:

  • Medical charting and visualization
  • Marketing
  • Gaming
  • Graphic design
  • eBook technology
  • GPS & mapping
  • Education
  • Human interface design
  • How you enjoy video and music
  • Point of sale enablement
  • Retail displays

Just as an example: imagine you go into the local car dealership, and instead of being handed the usual marketing glossies you are handed a iPad with an interior and exterior visualization of your new car with all the interior and exterior features & colours, exactly to order.  The same could be applied to making all the selections for a new home, where colour and material choices can be visualized in a 3D rendered world navigated by intuitive screen gestures and/or movement of the whole device.

The tablet itself is a nice piece of work at a compelling price point (especially compared to the capabilities offered by netbooks), but the real monster unleashed here is the rabid pool of developers who now have a completely new form-factor to innovate on. In 6-12 months, the folks at Apple will look like geniuses (again).

Thank Goodness for CANCON

Canadian Content laws, the reason why it often seemed Canadian radio stations in the 80’s only had a box of 45’s containing Kim Mitchell, Corey Hart, Rush, Honeymoon Suite & Bryan Adams, to fill the airwaves with music. At times it seemed ludicrous, even painful, but over the years something amazing happened: Canadian music got better.

Basically, Canadian stations were told, if they wanted a license, X% of the music they played had to be Canadian acts. Also written into many of the station approvals were dollar amounts to be used to help Canadian talent (ever wondered why the stations gave away $100K’s for winners of talent contests?).

The ‘capitalists’ amoung us would decry this as socialist intervention, but it seems this is one government initiative with a happy ending.

Canada now has the pool of talent required: musicians, producers, promoters, recording studios, etc., to produce really world-class talent.

While you will undoubtedly have different taste, for me some of these include: The Arcade Fire, Metric, Matthew Good, The Hip, Sam Roberts, Rush (hey I’m a drummer) & The New Pornographers. There are also certainly some (arguably Rush, Leonard Cohen & Neil Young) that would have made it without the help.

I believe CanCon, and some great Canadian radio stations, have created an environment for Canada to develop it’s own unique cultural music heritage that all Canadians can be proud of.

In a 5 Star World ***** Who Wants Second Best?

If you shop online (and if you’re reading this, you probably do) when was the last time that you purchased something that wasn’t 5 stars?

The online shopping world abounds with star rating systems, or their ilk.  If you buy on eBay, you probably wouldn’t even consider buying from someone who had less than a 99% feedback rating. If you look at reviews on CNET, Consume Reports, etc. you hesitate on that purchase if it isn’t an ‘Editors Pick’ or a top rated product in its category.  Considering buying that album from iTunes? Going to see a movie? Finding a contractor…  This list could go on.

The fundamental driver of this is the notion everybody has that they deserve the best.  But when you pick something with 5 stars, is that what you are really getting?

Aside from blue jeans (the one thing the human race has perfected), its hard to imagine that there is one product that satisfies everyone.  5 stars just means the people that take time to rate stuff online, and arguably find this rating valuable, rate that product very highly.  This is a very small percentage of the online population IMHO.  Accuracy here is fighting a large selection bias.

But if you have a product, and you can’t get to first place, is there any benefit to trying to be second?  I don’t think so.

The people that use ratings as their primary decision criteria will not buy your product.  Why would they?  You can offer a lower price than the #1 option, but then you really are just giving away money –and potentially a lot of it– to grab a few people that are willing to take second best because of a lower price.

If you are faced with this situation, you are better off instead selling to the audience that isn’t buying stars.

As usual, Malcolm Gladwell says it best:

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