Toronto’s EDM Ban. My Take On It.

July 3, 2014 Leave a comment

The 2014 Toronto “EDM Ban” was unexpected.

Electronic Dance Music events were banned on City of Toronto property at Exhibition Grounds. This was effective immediately.

This meant that shows which were already planned and contracts which the city had already signed with private businesses were null and void on the whim of the “Board of Governors of Exhibition Place,” a committee of 9 people made up of a “Mayor’s Designate,” 4 City of Toronto Council Members, and 4 “Public Appointments.” Even a show which was planned for less than 2 weeks after the meeting which made this ban happened was victim to it. The show had to be moved and it was.

Eventually, the City of Toronto City Council got together and checked if they could legally overturn this ban (they could) and vote on if they should overturn the ban (and they did). Tonight, there was another discussion about the ban because the Board of Governors decided to have a “public consultation” about it. Only one thing, they didn’t really invite the public.

I found out about this taking place at about 3:30pm today, less than 3 hours before it happened.

exhibition board of governers public consultation meeting June 2014

When I was asked why I didn’t attend to make my voice heard I informed them that I had no knowledge of this event occurring until it was way too late and if the City Councilor who is involved in this discussion truly wanted to bring the community of people who listen to dance music and attend these events in they could have done a lot better job of making this meeting known. Someone else replied that the councilor’s local newsletter email and the councilor tweeting about it was sufficient. I said how about going to the venues where the events take place weekly and handing out flyers or putting up signs? Most efficient and direct way to reach the community I’d say.

According to the Councilor he sent out a “ton of emails”  about it:

Strangely enough, none of those emails seemed to have reached the Toronto Star (link goes to search results for Exhibition Place), the National Post, the Toronto Sun, CP24, 680news, or DJ Mag Canada. I could continue looking to see if anyone actually received these emails who reported on the issue in the first place back in April-May but it seems that no one did until it became a story this morning when a City Councilor called the residents of Parkdale pedophiles on Twitter. (Yes, I am serious.)

When I voiced this displeasure with regard to attempting to let the community know I was asked if I would write to City Council my thoughts on the matter. At first I said no because from what I can tell it would be a waste of my time, energy, and breath but the conversations continue to happen so fine, I will write down my thoughts.

In terms of the “EDM Ban” on City of Toronto property at Exhibitions Place I think a couple of things:

– 1 – The ban itself contradicted a recommendation by Toronto Public Health from more than a decade ago that the city lease property for large dance parties, specifically to prevent “problem conditions” at underground raves after the death of a university student. They researched this specific thing years ago and found out people in their late teens and early twenties were making bad decisions at these parties – as we do at that agee – and when the parties were held “underground” there was no support staff on hand to help prevent loss of life.

– 2 – The ban came into existence immediately with no regard for pre-existing contracts to hold events on the Ex grounds. An event had to be moved with little more than a week to re-plan everything, offer refunds, make new plans, etc all because some sub-council of the city council changed the law effective immediately.

This is a way larger issue than just banning concerts, that is the city negotiating contracts in bad faith. What business would ever want to enter into a contract with the city if they can’t trust that the city will change its mind on a whim and screw over months of negotiations and planning? Why would Hollywood continue to film up here in Toronto if they have to worry that one day some council member or sub-council will decide to make filming downtown illegal and all the contracts they’ve signed, permits they’ve filmed out, and talent/accommodation bookings they’ve made are for naught? If I were planning a major event or movie shoot or something of the like I would want to steer clear of Toronto…because I clearly can’t trust anything anyone in the Toronto government signs. (I am not a lawyer but I am pretty sure the city also opens itself to lawsuits for breach of contract when they pull a stunt like this.)

– 3 – I don’t care about the ban. I really don’t. I think the city is stupid for banning a genre of music from their venues because, quite frankly, there are enough other private venues in the city for these events to happen. The city is just losing out on money to be had from permits and rentals for these events and in a cash strapped city like Toronto that is something we cannot afford to do.

– 4 – This ban made international news at a time when the city of Toronto is already an international laughingstock for its crack smoking mayor. You’d think Toronto’s City Council would want to hang its head low and not kick up any more attention to itself but apparently that isn’t the case. Good job, elected officials of Toronto!

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Enjoy “Vaping” On Toronto’s TTC While You Can, It’s About To Be Banned

May 7, 2014 5 comments

Toronto TTC banning vaping on transit

Since the dawn of the e-cigarette and e-hookah, “vaping” – as they call imbibing in them instead of smoking – has occupied this gray area in terms of whether or not you are allowed to do it in enclosed public places. All that is about to change for those in Toronto who use the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). Minutes ago, the Head of Communications for the  TTC, Brad Ross, told me on Twitter that  “Bylaw No. 1 will be amended later this year to prohibit it officially.

In case you’re wondering what this “Bylaw No. 1” that Brad Ross is referring to says here’s a link. The relevant portion which will (I am guessing) be amended is:

“3.32 No person shall smoke in or on TTC property or carry a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, other tobacco product, or any other lighted smoking equipment or material while in or on TTC property.”

I wonder if Toronto is the first to ban it but I am trying to get this post out so I don’t have the time to research at all. Do you know of any other transit systems or public places that have banned vaping? Let me know in the comments!

Also, do you agree with this move? Or do you think that vaping should be allowed in public places? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Tasting The Macallan 1824 Series Scotch at #RaiseTheMacallan

March 19, 2014 1 comment
#RaiseTheMacallan Toronto Marc Laverdiere, Carly-Anne Fairlie, Dan Levy

Carly-Anne Fairlie & I saying goodbye to a man who educated us in the ways of The Macallan 1824, Marc Laverdiere.

On Wednesday, February 5 I was given the opportunity to taste the new creations from the brilliant minds over at The Macallan distillery in Scotland, their brand new 1824 Series. The series was named after the founding year of The Macallan distillery.

Wristband RaiseTheMacallan Toronto

When I got to #RaiseTheMacallan which was at the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto I was given a wristband to prove I was legit and, because I had run a bit late, I went straight into the tasting room as opposed to the cocktail time which had preceded the tasting session. (Wish I had made it for that! That’ll teach me to leave really super early when there’s a snowstorm!) I was riding solo because of the snowstorm so I was lucky that my friend Carly-Anne aka @carlyannedotcom was there to hang out with…because no one wants to drink, er taste, alone!

The Macallan Scotch Whisky Tasting was hosted by Marc Laverdiere, a Scotch Ambassador for The Macallan and a man who knows his whisky…interestingly enough though, he has a French accent!

Macallan 1824 Series Toronto Tasting #RaiseTheMacallan

When we sat down it was a very similar setup to the previous time at an event hosted by The Macallan, #MacallanTO. There are 4 new types of The Macallan in the 1824 Series. Going from lowest to highest price point they are: Gold, Amber, Sienna, and Ruby. They were, as expected, each delicious in their own ways but my favorite was the Sienna. It was also interesting how the folks over at The Macallan are now moving away from telling us ages of the single malt scotches and instead are referring to them by color.

1824 Series The Macallan in glasses

Because I am a helpful guy, I have included links to all of the 1824 Series listings on the LCBO’s website below along with the price as of March 19, 2014.

Happy “tasting”!

Have you tried the 1824 Series yet? If so, which was your favorite?

How To Save Your Facebook “A Look Back” Video

February 4, 2014 33 comments

Look Back Facebook

Today, Facebook celebrated 10 years of its existence and because of this august occasion they have decided to set up a program which compiles a personalized video which they call “A Look Back” and what others have been simply calling a “Lookback.” The Lookback shows you a highlight reel of your Facebook life. If you’d like to check it out you can go to Facebook.com/lookback. (Sidenote: In 4 days I will be celebrating 8 years on Facebook. Woah!)

The only problem with the video is, cool as it is, I don’t necessarily want to drive everyone to my Facebook page in order to see the video and I would like to be able to keep a copy for myself. Luckily, someone on the interwebs figured it out so I thought I would share it you, my readers. Below you’ll find my video uploaded onto YouTube and instructions for downloading your own video using Google Chrome.

(Note: The video it downloads is NOT the HD version just the 480p. If you know how to force it to grab the HD one let me know and I can add the info in here.)

And now, the instructions for how to do it for yourself!

  1. Open the link http://www.facebook.com/lookback
  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+J to open the Console.
  3. Copy the whole code at http://textuploader.com/14qr and paste into the Console then press Enter.
  4. The Console dialog will gives you a link to the video for download.
  5. Right click the link and select “Save Link As” to download and save it.
  6. Do whatever you’d like with it! Upload it anywhere!
  7. Enjoy 🙂

In case you’re wondering, according to TIME Magazine Tech I have wasted this much of my life on Facebook assuming I have spent an average of 37 minutes per day on it since I joined. (An average person spends 17 minutes per day so I just increased it a lot.)

TIME How much time wasted on Facebook with 37min per day

Google+ Rolling Out Custom URLs To Users But Doing It Horribly

November 7, 2013 70 comments

Google Plus Logo

A few weeks back it was announced that Google+ was finally going to allow regular users to adopt Vanity URLs for their profiles and rid themselves of URLs like https://plus.google.com/105175761337711150993/posts (yes, that’s my real Google+ URL). Sounds great, right? Finally the common folk would be given on Google+ what most other modern social networks had from the outset, the ability to pick our own screen names and have a URL to link to which isn’t ridiculously unwieldy and next to impossible to remember.

All sounded fantastic until you went to the Google+ Help page and read their “Getting Started with Google+ Custom URLs” file. The second one reads:

“You’ll see the URL(s) you’ve been approved for. If you see more than one option, select the one you like best. You may also be asked to add a few numbers or letters to make the custom URL unique to you.”

So wait, I have to use the one Google approves for me? I can’t be Google.com/+TheDanLevy which is  my screenname on darn near every other social network I use? OK, well maybe they’ll lighten up some day and I’ll be able to change it, right? NOPE! Check out the sixth rule in the red box below

Google Plus Vanity URL Rules

“Once approved, this URL will be linked to your Google+ page or Profile, so be sure everything is exactly the way you want it. Once your URL has been approved, you can’t request to change it.”

I was feeling a bit pessimistic when I read that but friends who are way bigger Google+ users assured me, “You can request a different one if you have a valid reason” and “There is flexibility… You just have to request it…” so I decided to see what Google did when they finally got around to offering me a custom URL. Well, today that finally happened!

Google Plus Vanity URL  Notification

The notification appeared at the top of my Google+ profile page and I clicked the blue button excitedly. That excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I saw what Google was offering me as my Custom URL. Read more…

Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 & My #RogersSI Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

November 4, 2013 3 comments

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 in Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2

Since I got the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 as part of the Rogers Social Ambassadors group, aka #RogersSI, I’ve been wondering what is the best way for me to get some actual work done on this tablet. After I read Rannie’s review of the Microsoft keyboard I decided to dig out the Kensington Bluetooth keyboard, tablet case, and tablet stand to do just that.

Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 Keyboard on Lap

This post is actually this first thing I am writing on the keyboard while I lie on a bed and type up a storm with my keyboard detached from the case (it connects with magnets) and lying on my lap as the screen sits in front of me. The only downside I can see thus far is that the built-in virtual Samsung on-screen keyboard doesn’t know to automatically close when the external Bluetooth keyboard is connected. Luckily, I figured out that if I tell the Note 8.0 that I am going to use the Google Voice input it will give me the full screen with no keyboard.

Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 Magnets With Keyboard Removed

Using this external Bluetooth keyboard for the tablet increases my productivity a whole bunch. I still have to get used to the size of the keyboard as it is way smaller of a physical keyboard than I am used to. The portability of it is awesome though. If you have a tablet and plan on actually doing any writing on your tablet I highly recommend you grab a physical keyboard because it is an absolute game changer.

Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 Clips With Samsung Note 8.0 Plugged in

The only mild complaint I have with this keyboard is something which can also be seen as a huge plus: the tablet “clips” are 4 pieces of rubber which velcro onto the top of the stand. They do a great job holding the device – any device of a variety of sizes – but it is somewhat of a pain taking your tablet in and out of the clips. As I said, this isn’t a real complaint because this is one of the only ways they could have made this case into a universal case and keep the accessory useful for multiple devices as you continue to switch and upgrade from tablet to tablet over the long haul. One great thing about the clips, though, is that they leave plenty of room for the Galaxy Note 8.0’s S Pen to come in and out of the device, it mostly frees up the space for the speakers on the device, and every other port and button is fully and easily accessible.

 

One Simple Way The TTC Can Fix Signage: Visually Separating Yonge From University-Spadina

October 23, 2013 3 comments

TTC Map via TTC.ca

There is a whole bunch of news today about how the TTC has unveiled a pilot program of new signage which is supposed to make everything clearer and easier to understand because they’ll be using numbers as well as names for each of the subway and streetcar lines. What the folks at the TTC don’t seem to get is that people – especially those who aren’t from the city – is that the U shaped Yonge-University-Spadina Line is in of itself confusing to people. As I mentioned in a post in March of 2011 “Spotted: TTC Referring To Subway Lines By Color!” I think that this would end up making navigating the system way easier. Read more…

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