Tagged: TSN.ca

What I’ve learned so far

I went through a really tough time about a year ago.  My buddy Ryan thought at the time I was having a mid life crisis.  He was probably right, but the problem was just as likely that I was moving out of my comfort zone of “doing” and into an area I was less comfortable with of “managing”.

At the time I had tons of experience the “how’s”, but not nearly as much experience with the “why’s”.

As I roll towards the big milestone of 40, I’m looking back and reflecting on my life.  This isn’t where I thought I’d be when I was 20, I thought I’d be either Michael Bay or Kevin Smith by now, but fate moved me in a different direction.

Now I’m a web guy, I’m in IT (I NEVER thought I’d be in an IT department).  I’m a Manager (capital M), telling rather than doing.  I’m a leader (lower case “l”), who rallies and motivates people.  I’m an entrepreneur, I started Canada’s Online Comics Superstore All New Comics (plug), opened and closed HeadsDown Internet Design, and I’m a partner in New Ninjas Inc..

Over the last year or two I’ve been compiling a massive post of what I like to call “What I’ve Learned So Far”.  This is a list of things that I’ve taken away from each job I’ve had, and stuff that has shaped me into the person I am today.

Netstar / TSN / TSN.ca (January 1997 – January 2000)

Pressure is good for the soul

I always hear people upset that dates are arbitrarily made.  I believe in deadlines and dates.  Trade Deadline is March 3rd.  The Draft is July 6th.  The Olympics are February 12th.  You cannot miss those deadlines.  That kind of pressure inspires you to work your hardest.

Get things done

We just did stuff.  We said we’d do it.  We worked together.  We got it done.  One of my favourite memories is of a micro-site that the sales guys had sold for Honda Power Tools.  Two of us built a 12 page site in 6 hours one night, from design and concept through populating content.

Get things right

Bloggers think that it’s most important to get it first, at TSN it was hammered into my head a billion times that it’s most important to get it right first.  In three years nobody will remember who broke that trade story, but they will remember when you got it wrong.

Be able to scale

When I arrived at TSN we had one single web box, it was even called Webbox.  It was an old Sun server, pretty tiny really, and it just served up our website…out of our building (right behind the security guys).  By the time I left (the first time), we had 14 custom Dell Opteron servers and we were serving up about five times the traffic we had in 1997.

Learn something new

I came into TSN knowing CSS and HTML,and that was it.  I learned how to program a batch job, how to create shell scripts, how to use UNIX.  I taught myself how video encoding worked, and became our best encoder of video, constantly tweaking and improving our video encoding and our ability to stream.  Meanwhile I spent time in the video editing booth, doing SportsDesk and Soccer Saturday shows, and some time in the graphics department learning how to use their sweet $50k O2 machines that built the graphics packages. I learned about business plans and business cases. In those three years at TSN I did a masters’ degree worth of learning, and got paid for the privilege.

Don’t be afraid of change

As we were rebuilding our website, going from an all flat HTML site to one that included things like “Server Side Includes”, and a “content management system”, Joe, our Tech Guy decided we should move to this funky new “ASP” platform by Microsoft.  I got on board and started building pages as quickly as I could.

Activate (January 2000- January 2001)

Work Hard

I only worked at Activate for a year, but I put in about two year’s worth of time there.  I did so much stuff that was cutting edge and at the far limits of what I was capable of.  I templated most of my work so that I could do more custom development, and took on anything they threw at me.  Sure I was crusty as all hell most days because of the never-ending torrent of work…but I was doing a LOT of good stuff.

Don’t be an idiot with your money

When I arrived at Activate, its parent company had a $4billion war chest.  I watched as they squandered millions of dollars on the most ridiculous of things.  Saw them burn through cash at an alarming rate, and witnessed stupidity like company events for twelve people that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.  All while we weren’t making enough money to cover our base costs.

A good network is the most important thing you will ever build

When I was laid off at Activate, I sent out an email to all of my contacts.  Five minutes later I got a call asking if I wanted to meet for lunch.  Over lunch I had a job offer.  The next day I started my new job at Alliance Atlantis.

Up Next: Alliance Atlantis, Centennial College, Bell Globe Media, All New Comics, Info-Tech, and New Ninjas Inc.

Why the Olympics finally mattered to me

The Olympic Flame in Vancouver

The Olympic Flame shot by my TSN buddy Danny Celia

I worked for the Sports Network for just over a decade (with a little 18 month sojourn to other places thrown in there), in that time I worked through four Olympics.  I arrived at TSN just in time for Nagano Japan, and I was away for Sydney Australia, but there for Salt Lake City USA, Athens Greece, and Turin Italy.

We made some cool apps, and always had great traffic around the time of the games.  TSN was a broadcast partner for Australia through Turin, so we had a lot of really great access.

However, in all that time, I was never as into an Olympics as this year. Continue Reading

TSN.ca Silver

The TSN.ca Silver interface - NBAThis week the TSN.ca crew launched the latest version of the site, dubbed internally “Silver”, I saw the first preview of it a couple of months ago, and had some real good looks at it about a month ago. I think the design is fantastic, and the new HTML and CSS are clean.

It’s a little bitter-sweet for me as this is the first design since 1997 that I haven’t participated in any way on. Even when I was gone for 18 months the first time (from 2000-2001), I had helped during the major redesign, and when I got back we were just freshening up the site due to the new logo. Continue Reading

TSN.ca/Wrestling announces changes

I guess I should address this since a few people have e-mailed me privately asking what’s going on. Late last week, after a lot of debate, the guys on the row and I decided that it was time for me to stop writing for TSN.ca/wrestling. There wasn’t any “hidden agenda” or anything like that. I just grew bored with wrestling, I needed a break, and I don’t know right now if I’ll be interested in writing for the site again.

Watching wrestling was 6 hours of my week. Writing about it was another 2. Giving that habit up, means that I get 8 hours of my week back, or a full work day. That’s enough to get a ton of stuff related to the class I’m teaching, or the business I’m running done.

Maybe in the future I’ll come back, but for now I’m happy to sit at home on a Saturday morning doing non-wrestling related work.

The collapse of BGMi

If you are reading this, then the move was successful, and I’ve figured out how to get my site up and running again. If you’re not reading this, then you think HeadsDown is still moving.

Today is the start of a whole new building period. Yesterday we lost 13 employees at TSN.ca, reducing our overall number from 25 down to a mere 12. Oddly, I couldn’t sleep last night, I think I got about four hours of fitful, non-relaxing sleep before I just decided to call it a night and start working on the crap that’s going through my brain. There is so much to do in the next few days.

We lost the entire team that creates new and original content. Josh Shiaman, Jeff Heatherington, Reed Holmes, Scott Cullen and Gavin McDougald. Gone is the heart of the wrestling site, all of our unique Fantasy Content, the entire magazine section, and the entire couchmaster section. Now we have to pick up the pieces, and as hard as it was when Joe left, this will be infinately harder.

Not only did I lose a member of my team in Neil, but I have also lost access to two key members of my downtown cronies in Evan and Eric. I hope to move Loc up to Agincourt by next week so we can start working closer together, which to be honest has been happening slowly for the last two months as he has been my eyes and ears at Agincourt.

On one hand this sucks so bad that I can’t even begin to say, we’ve lost a ton of good people, we’ve lost an entire stream of revenue in Syndication, and we’ve lost a few guys that I personally will miss like hell. On another hand it’s exciting in that “we’re falling off the cliff and we’d better catch on to something real damn quick” sort of way. A lot of us have been saying we could run the company better than our old management had, well now’s time to put up, or shut up.

The only real bright spot in the entire series of events is that I don’t need to play the stupid damn political game any more with those in the downtown office. Some of them foolishly believed that because I said I hated it, meant that I didn’t know how to play. Oh, I know how to play all right, I just hate the person I become to have to play their stupid little game.

It’s finally happened

Just over a year and a half after Bell Globe Media Interactive was fully realized, it’s been dissolved back into it’s core properties, mirroring a cycle in the “convergance” industry that was completed about a year and a half ago in the United States. While all of the ramifications are still unknown, I think it’s a really good decision, and it is incredibly “convergant” decision, despite the fact that the word has been all but banned in Bell’s literature.

We’re still not positive what it means for us, but it’s very nice to finally get this out of the way. Many of us were expecting this annoucement to be six months to a year off. The speed at which it was announced seems to be a positive step.

The operations of Bell Globemedia’s other on-line products, which represent some of the strongest Web properties in Canada including globeandmail.com, globeinvestor.com, and tsn.ca, will be aligned with the specific media businesses that they support. In addition, a technical support function for all Bell Globemedia on-line and interactive media will be located within The Globe and Mail division. Bell Globemedia will continue to supply content to Sympatico through commercial agreements.

On-line and interactive media remain an important component of Bell Globemedia’s multi-media strategy, particularly where they offer natural complements to our marquee media properties such as The Globe and Mail, CTV and TSN.

The responsibility for managing on-line and interactive products will no longer reside in a separate division of Bell Globemedia, but will be aligned with various divisions of the company. This means that the advertising sales and content management functions for each on-line property will move to within the appropriate media organizations. For example, sales and content for tsn.ca will be managed within TSN.

Pocket PC User Agent Strings

Pocket PC User Agent Strings

Here is a Pocket PC User Agent String for PHP which will allow a user to be redirected to the PPC version of a site: Just needs to be modified to .asp (and of course the PPC website needs to be created).

<?
$ua=$_SERVER[“HTTP_USER_AGENT”];

$location=’pocket/index.php’;

if (stristr($ua, “Windows CE”) or stristr($ua, “AvantGo”) or stristr($ua, “Mazingo”) or stristr($ua, “Mobile”) or stristr($ua, “T68”) or stristr($ua, “Syncalot”))
{
header (“Location: $location”);

exit;
}
?>

Gettin’ Geeky With It

What I am about to write here is really meant for me, and just for me…see that’s one of the cool things about this whole “Tales From The Darkside” thing is that a lot of this stuff is really just for me, but others sometimes find it useful, enlightening, or just plain fun.

These are a few links for stuff that I’m working on at TSN.ca right now. I’m totally re-vamping our HELP section, and these are things that I want to remember.

The Web Standards Project has a terrific piece on why someone should upgrade to a newer browser. It’s not condascending at all, and it really makes some decent sense.

Windows Media Players links to all of the various players for various browsers/Operating systems. Also there is a good section on Why we use Windows Media Player

WMP and Netscape 6 a good article on why Netscape 6 sometimes doesn’t work with WMP.

Just for me

Of course I’m in the process of re-vamping HeadsDown and I’m doing a little online research for that too…

Greymatter Forum more stuff about GreyMatter, the basis for HeadLines.

Digital Web Online Magazine an online magazine devoted to web designers.

CSS Layout Techniques for Fun and Profit has some very cool stuff on fluid web design.

Worst…day…ever

What a totally shitty day. Not only was it crappy, rainy, and utterly grey, but my mood matched the weather perfectly. First off, I stayed up way too late last night playing Kingdom Hearts because I got done doing actual work work around midnight…so I played games until 4:30 in the morning…not good.

Then I get in to work, and am told that my good friend, and human resource book, Joe Taiabjee (A.K.A. Joe Tek) was among the latest round of cuts at BGMi. I honestly couldn’t have been more upset if they had told me that I was laid off…I mean at least if it was me, I’d know that TSN wasn’t my problem anymore. All of a sudden I felt like the weight of the world was really on my shoulders, and it’s a weight that I’m tired of carrying.

I went through the rest of the day in a daze of some sort, and left to go home early around 3. At home I did a little work, and decided that I needed to go out and see The Transporter after all.

Worst…Movie…Ever…

How to even start? The first half hour was good, it had an awesome car chase that took 15-20 minutes, some great dialogue, and an awesome premise…the next hour and ten minutes were sheer hell. The car got blowed up, the fighting was just stupid-dumb looking (can anybody tell me why nobody can do an old fashioned Sean Connery punch to the guts anymore? Remember those? They sounded like a head of lettuce being smashed on a wooden box? What’s with all the frigging wires???), and the acting was just ATROCIOUS! Jason Statham was good, but the girl Shu Qi was one of the worst actresses ever! The eurotrash villian played by Matt Schulze was atrocious, and the faceless badguys kept coming at the good guy like baddies from the old Double Dragon arcade game, I was all like “Didn’t he just kill that guy?”, and my buddy Larry was all like “Oh no he didn’t!”, and my other buddy Curtis was all like “Tee Hee Hee Hee”, doubled over in his chair laughing from the sheer stupidity of the “plot” (a plot which makes a Joe Esterhaus movie look like fucking Casablanca!).

Ahhh well, the trip home was enjoyable (if uneventful), I just gunned my car all the way home, driving like a stupid person, albeit a safe stupid person, and let out a lot of frustrations. I really need to install a CD player in my car though…radio just ain’t doin’ it for me anymore.

Well, tomorrow is the first of my days off. I need to just relax and not think about TSN for a few days, and that’s just what I’m gonna do.

Aughhhh!

I’m so freakin’ busy right now it ain’t even funny.

My number one thing that I’m doing right now is working on the TSN.ca re-design. I’m trying to apply some logic to some of the styles etc, that our design firm has created. It’s really hard though because they’ve got 200 styles, and most of them are doing the same thing.

Hopefully I’ll be done the lion’s share of the hardest work this week.

I’m taking tomorrow off, and Char and I will be going to Canada’s Wonderland. That just means that I need to do way more work tonight, and get a whole ton of stuff done before Monday. I may even work from home Sunday night/Monday morning, and just do what I can as quickly as possible (utilizing my productive 2:00am-10:00am hours).

Still working on The Stinky Monkeys website. I’ll be taking a ton of pictures on Monday and adding them to the Player Bios. I need to order the T-shirts at some point as well. I still need to get the darned message board working before the halfway mark of the season.

This is defianately the best movie going summer in a long time. Spider-man, Star Wars, and even The Scorpion King were awesome, and there is still The Minority Report, Men In Black II, Austin Powers 3, and the Bourne Identity to go! Char and I are thinking about going to a drive in this weekend if anything good is playing, so we’ll see what the movie of the week is then.