As a new season approaches

Hey all,

Tonight, the 2016/17 NHL season will get underway (joining all the other leagues out there that are way ahead of them), and that’s fantastic! After months of arguing with each other about the decisions that are being made off the ice, we can now get back to our true passion, which is arguing with each other about the decisions that are being made on the ice. In seriousness, a new season comes with bright beginnings for young players, graceful endings for veterans, renaissance for some teams, declines for others, highlight goals and hits and saves and all the fun stuff that eventually leads to one of these thirty teams being declared the best of the bunch, at least for now.

But you already know that. If you’re reading this post, you already pay more attention to the game than most people. You probably frequent blogs, social media, listen to podcasts, and all that fun stuff that goes a bit beyond turning on your TV to see how the local sports team is doing. So I don’t need to explain this stuff to you.

If you’re a more-than-recent follower of mine, you’re also probably aware that digital hockey journalism (for lack of a better name) has morphed into my “career” in the past couple of years. Most people kind of saw that coming before I did, and eleven years after jumping into the hockey internet scene with no idea what I was doing, I’d like to think I’m starting to have a general grasp of direction now.

Speaking personally, I plan on going all-in to a degree that I haven’t in previous years. This will be my first full season in a management role at the Nation Network, on top of overseeing The Leafs Nation and writing my usual 2-3 articles a day. To supplement this, I’ve also taken on a behind-the-scenes role that you probably won’t notice because it doesn’t come with bylines or any of that fun stuff. Realistically, I expect to be at my desk for a solid 16-18 hours a day from now until June, only breaking to go to rinks to cover games or to sleep. That sounds dull and soulless, but it’s a way for me to continue doing my hobbies for a living and hopefully, it leads to me continuing to climb up the hierarchy. That is the end goal, after all – to find a way to make being myself for a living a sustainable, safe career decisions. With that in mind, I need something from all of you.

No, this isn’t where I link you to a paypal or a gofundme or a patreon or whatever. No disrespect to those who do the crowdfunding thing, but from my own personal perspective, I do the bulk of my work on a platform that relies on advertising as a revenue generator and earn my pay from the windfall of that. Along with being the content consumer, you are technically also our “product”, so to double dip there would be completely and totally unfair of me to ask. (However, if you’re an editor looking for a freelance or part-time hockey contributor, I’ll gladly take your money in exchange for side work).

What I’m here to ask for is a bit simpler than that. All I ask this year is that if you like the work that I’m doing, help me ensure it gets in the view of as many eyeballs as possible. Whether that means retweeting a link, sharing it on Facebook (I’m going to start actually linking to stuff on my personal page as of today, I promise), or just telling a friend or two that I’m worth following on a social platform or that the sites I write for are good reads, all of that would be greatly appreciated. Obviously, don’t feel forced and don’t exaggerate; I should only get as much attention as the associated work deserves, but it’s something I’d appreciate for you to keep in mind.

In exchange, I’ll continue to take the hockey thoughts that keep me up at night and turn them into work that may or may not be good.

In fact, I’d suggest that you extend that philosophy to others that you enjoy and follow, not just me. If you want to see the sports media ecosystem change, you’re better spending your time endorsing the up-and-comers that you enjoy, rather than tearing down the ones you don’t. The former gives the good people a shot at being noticed; the latter can be interpreted as “any publicity is good publicity”. I’m going to make an effort to practice what I preach here too and focus on sharing lower-profile work that I enjoy throughout the year as well.

I’m rambling at this point, so we’ll cut this off at this paragraph. I aprpeciate all the support that everyone has given me over the years, and hopefully, I won’t let that support down. In the meantime, though, here’s to another exciting hockey season!

A Couple of Apple Thoughts

photo via engadget

photo via engadget

Yesterday, Apple took the attention of the consumer electronics world, as they usually do, to make a grand announcement. Not earth shattering like some of their previous efforts, but it’s still a year of refreshed mobile product from the trendiest tech company on the planet, so it’ll get your attention no matter what.

The three “key” announcements were refreshes to the iPhone and Apple Watch, along with a new accessory tailored towards users of the iPhone. Read more of this post

How LG Lost My Cellular Trust With The G4


When I left my “day job” at Microsoft Retail last year to get back to, for lack of a better phrase, “full-time blogging”, one of the things I knew couldn’t last was my daily driver cell phone. I was using a Lumia 830 as my daily driver; the front camera left a lot to be desired and it wasn’t exactly a speed demon, but at least I could use it in front of non-employees without putting my own job at risk and at it did the basics well enough.

But I needed a good camera for covering games, and relatively up to date social media applications, and a feeling of reliability. Of the flagships available in Summer 2015, the LG G4 seemed like the best bet. They put a lot of effort into the camera, had a then-current Snapdragon 808 running the show on the inside, and it was one of the few phones left on the market with a swappable battery and SD Card slot for expandable memory. Not to mention, it came at a much better value than many of the other flagships.

I thought it would go well, and it did for a while. In fact, my feeling was that it, without a shred of hyperbole, was the best phone I had ever used. The front camera changed the selfie game forever; it was like having one of the best lenses of two years prior on the front rather than the “shrunk-down PC webcam” that everyone else seemed to be rocking, and their method of front-flash, which surrounded your preview with a bright white border at full brightness, was innovative. The one on the back was even better; while I’m admittedly far from a pro, I felt I was getting better pics with the phone in my pocket than the DSLR in my room that began to collect dust as a result. The curved back of the device felt great in the hand, as did having the buttons in the back where your index finger would be while gripping the device. The Android skin was reasonably light, and everything was buttery smooth, at least as far as Android went.

I quickly started recommending the device to friends. Many picked them up, especially after seeing the photos I was able to take with minimal effort. Now, I feel really bad about that.

A few months after release, G4 owners started noticing something peculiar. Out of nowhere, one day, their phone would suddenly restart. It would try to boot up, and then restart again, and again, and again. Never making it to function ever again. It was referred to as a “boot loop”, and while many brushed it off to an odd lemon, reports of these phones suffering the same fate became more and more widespread. The unofficial communities on Reddit and XDA-Developers have huge threads that get posts once or twice a day with new people talking about their phones kicking the dust.

Getting them replaced? Well, you better be under warranty, or you need to hope that the person on the other side of the phone will be nice to you. LG acknowledged the issue in January, and basically gave the response of “yeah, this is a thing, and if something happens to yours we’ll see what we can do“. This, after misdiagnosing a few devices and making improper repairs (a nightmare I had when my Dell desktop computer literally blew up in 2004 and they charged me $160 for a motherboard before admitting it was a power supply problem).

Coincidentally, motherboards are the issue here too; it seems that nearly every unit they’ve shipped out or manufactured has an issue with contacts getting loose, especially if heat is involved. As many know, the Snapdragon 808, while not as power-hungry as the faster 810 of the same year, starts sweating when you do such insane things as having your camera on for 30 seconds or going outside between the months of April and October. Needless to say, a motherboard that buckles under heat and a processor that is seems to have the eternal flame of Charmander’s tail aren’t really a good mix.

LG’s solution is to either fix the contacts or swap the motherboard, but both of these options basically just reset your ticking time bomb. That’s great if you really, really love the G4, and believe me; I did. But if you’re someone who needs their phone for the sake of work at all times, you’re leaving someone hanging without a device, only to pat them on the back and say “We’ll be around to help you again soon. Probably. Maybe.”

Had I known this when I picked the G4, I would’ve picked a different device. But I didn’t, and kept soldiering on; even when the update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow ruined all stability for my Bluetooth headphones, speakers, and soundbar (another known problem). After all, the phone had features that catered to me and buying a new flagship after a year would be ridiculous, right?

Anyway, you all can probably guess how this ends. About a week and a half ago, Chris dropped me off at my building after a journey to scenic Etobicoke for the CWHL draft. I got a phone call while walking towards my the door asking when I’d be home. I said I was 45 seconds away, hung up, and put my G4 in my pocket. I got upstairs, pulled it out to plug it into the charger, and noticed it was off.

Tried to turn it on. It wouldn’t. Waited an hour. Bootloop. Waited another hour. Got to the lock screen and it froze. Since then, I’ve tried it once or twice a day, and I usually get one of those three outcomes. I don’t know if I’m going to bother calling LG here; I’m going to miss some features, but what are they going to do for me? Send me a phone with another faulty motherboard that’s going to collapse on me in the middle of a media scrum in a few months, or when I’m trying to find my way home at 2AM? I could resell the new one or give it to my brother, but then I’d feel guilty when heartbreak happens to the new owner.

Quite honestly, it’s insane that this problem has persisted across so many variants of this device for so long and that LG is playing the “case by case basis” game. You look at a scenario like Samsung’s this week where they recalled every new Galaxy Note 7 on earth because a few of them had potentially explosive batteries; granted, there’s more physical danger to the owner in that scenario, but the point was that Samsung was proactive about their product’s fatal flaw and took no chances, hitting the proverbial panic button with fewer than 50 reports of problems.

As it stands, I’d be hard pressed to recommend an LG device, especially a flagship phone in the foreseeable future. That could change; I swore off Dell after the explosive desktop and a decade of improvements led me back to them for my main laptop (the XPS 13), but until then, the amount of trouble they’ve put others through make it impossible to put in a good word. Especially when “at least it has this cool feature!” leads to me reaching towards a silicon and plastic brick.