New Canadian App Encore Helps Concert Fans Relive Memories Of The Epic Nights


The bass drop, the drum beat and the roaring applaud and cheers of the crowd, urging the band back on stage for just one, maybe two more songs: those are the fleeting moments of a concert.

Those moments are what Toronto-based Encore is hoping to save for fans and concert lovers all across the world. The new app will act as a storage bank containing photos, videos, set lists, past and future shows and other sharable content, as well as the convenience and accessibility to purchase tickets and invites friends.

According to Encore’s Summer 2013 Survey of concertgoers between the ages of 18 and 30, 72% will take pictures, 49% will post it to Facebook, 41% will film videos, and 35% will tweet about it. Concerts are spectacles that fans will wait months and years for, and there is little doubt that it is worth remembering.

“We know everyone needs a good concert app,” Nicholas Klimchuk, co-founder at Encore told Techvibes. “We know what a good concert app entails. We don’t think people have designed it well. What makes Encore different from other concert apps is that we don’t just focus on upcoming shows—we focus on the past.”

“Users add every concert that they’ve been to and we suck in all the photos and videos, so you have a time capsule of the experience,” he continued. “And then it’s really cool to see a profile of every concert you’ve been to.”

Nostalgia is an important element of being human. The ability to recall the past and feel the warmth of a memory is something unique to us. But people evolve too and habits change. There was a time when concertgoers would keep their ticket stubs and place them with their collection after the show. They would keep it all in a box, an album or make a collage, frame it and hang it on the wall—some still do that, but most have transitioned into the digital age… and Encore is embracing them.

Yes, gone are the days of raised lighters, sign of the horns and peace signs, instead people are holding up recording mobile devices during the performance. Although the percentage shows that the majority is behaving this way, the act itself is still a little irritating to other attendees.

“It is kind of annoying that you have an iPad in my face and I can’t see the artist,” said Klimchuk. “There are ways to do it where people get used to it or it’s less annoying. But I think it makes a great beginning line for Encore, because people click through things they hate and people hate phones at concerts. Even if you don’t like the product, this will get people to click through.”

Encore puts the photo taking pressure on someone else. We have all tried getting the perfect shot through the crowd and even if we are competent iPhone photographers, the result may be a little disappointing. Sure, we put a higher value on the photos we take, and Encore is not trying eliminating that, what it is doing is sourcing the crowd and collecting the images and videos from the audience as a whole, allowing you just to enjoy the show in the moment, and the pictures after, should you choose.

“If you look at the past seven Beyoncé concerts, all the different angles and photos, they all look the same,” said Klimchuk. “I can a take a photo from the England concert and say it was the Toronto concert and no one would be the wiser. But the interesting thing is that people prescribe a higher value knowing that that is the Toronto concert and I was there.”

We continue to anticipate concerts and reminisce about them long after it’s over. It’s not just about the music, the venue or the artist, but the memories we share with the people we went with. If you live in a big city, odds are there is a concert you would like to attend every other day; this leaves a lot of possibilities. Whether you end up going or not, Encore knows that we all need a moment now and then to recollect our thoughts, think about the good times and prepare ourselves for the next one—whether it is the opener, the headliner or the encore.

The Ugandan “kill the gays” bill should make us ill


Does sickness stand in the way of human rights?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 24, 2014


On February 24, Ugandan government took a definite step backwards in terms of fostering progress in human rights. The African country with a long legacy of inhumane behaviour from child labour to cruel poverty has signed the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, a.k.a. the “kill the gays” bill.

Going forward, any person recognized as performing a homosexual act—such as same sex intercourse or “gross indecency”—will be subjected to a life sentence in prison.

Activists who stood up against the “kill the gays” bill have received violent responses from conservative Ugandans and the authorities. Highly publicized deaths of activists have done little to change the perspective of the majority, and I can’t help but feel a general hopelessness. But perhaps the hopelessness is seen through my rosy North American lens. Although I’m sure the Ugandans can point out all the pros of eliminating the LGBT, I must work a little bit harder to see from their perspective.

Gay men have been the scapegoat as the cause of HIV/AIDS since it reached pandemic levels in the bush countries of Africa many decades ago. The logic may be to isolate the gays, so that they cannot infect the common men, the “quality” hetero men. Such repulsive logic is simply one factor motivating a life-long quarantine solution. If we can’t find the cure, why not eliminate the contagion?

The fact is the country is suffering from clear homophobia. Saying that all gays are responsible for the terminal disease does not help develop a solution. Prejudice is not a cure, discrimination is not a cure, and a life sentence in prison for being the way you were born is definitely not a cure.

I digress; it’s easy to judge developing countries for their rash choices, while we essentially live in a utopia, free to do as we please. We must ask ourselves what we would do if we didn’t have the health care, the education, and the resources we have. If a group of people was causing indirect harm to us, would we not do something as well? If one of our family members was dying because of someone else—someone with different values, different ethics, and different needs—would we not want them to be punished for causing us misery?

We may have judged the Ugandan law too quickly then, if any of the answers to my hypothetical questions is yes. After all, desperate times call for desperate measures. We live in a world where every person is valued, but in a world where every person is another mouth to feed, a liability, and a potential cause of harm, the rules are not the same, and therefore, the human rights also don’t need to be the same, right?

History is full of people who are victims of the time. One can only hope that in the future, Uganda and other African countries can be free of HIV/AIDS and become nations that nurture the needs of all people. One can only hope that those people dying from the disease or from imprisonment now are not doing so in vain. There must be hope in such a hopeless situation, because who knows… one step forward and two steps back might be followed by an opportunistic leap to a better scenario.

Test driving the car ban


Paris’ car ban solution to pollution problem is something we should all try

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 24, 2014

Many metropolitan cities in the world are suffering from the smog of pollution. It’s just something that happens when millions of people start living together. While some places continue to digest the pollutant, others are working hard on the solution. On March 17, Paris implemented the car ban, where only vehicles with a licence plate ending in an odd number were allowed to drive on the roads—the alternative was a fine.

Roughly 4,000 drivers were fined on the first day of the ban, but many drivers played along with the one-day ban—the government chose not to continue with the second day of the ban. French researchers found significant improvement in the air quality. Although I understand the inconvenience it must have caused for the commuting public, I’m also a bit disappointed that it only lasted a day.

We have recognized the harm of pollution for many years now. Greenhouse effect, global warming, and melting ice caps are all warnings harkened by Al Gore and his environmentalist buddies. The evidence is clearly visible, but still we choose to anticipate the consequence before we engage in a solution.

Why should we wait until there is a smog problem before we execute a car ban? Can we not change this human zeitgeist?

Let’s look closer to home. Beautiful British Columbia. We wouldn’t dare compare ourselves to larger cities like Los Angeles, Mexico City, Beijing, and Paris, right? But aren’t we cruising in the same direction? Didn’t we just expand our highways in anticipation of the growth both in population and in drivers? I’m sorry, but if you think our emerald forest, ivory mountains, and sapphire ocean are going to protect us from pollution, you’re wrong. Those are the things we’ll lose should smog happen here, in beautiful British Columbia.

Bike lanes do a little, a new transit line does a little, but what we need is something like the car ban in Paris: something that keeps us from becoming complacent. As we grow as a city, we must also adjust our lifestyle to accommodate traffic congestions—just because populations double, doesn’t mean traffic needs to double as well.

This new way of living may require us to schedule car pools and strategize our way to and from work. It may sound like a hassle to remember when you can and cannot drive. Moreover, this type of initiative will require that law enforcement ensures people are following the new rule. I understand that may lead to a lot of negative reaction, after all, the road already leaves us so vulnerable and traffic police already have so much to look out for. But one day, shit might just hit the fan, and we’ll be asking ourselves what we could have done—well, this is what we could have done: stop being little whiners.

The car ban may seem like a gimmick to many, but it should be something we all consider, not just for metropolitan cities, but also for soon-to-be metropolitan cities, like our own.

Game On In Vancouver: Videogame Industry Finds Comfort In Hollywood North

Posted by Elliot Chan on Mar 14, 2014
Formerly published in Techvibes Media.
For a while there, it seemed as though BC’s insubstantial tax credits and the immergence of the mobile gaming industry were causing many Vancouver-based video game developers to lose their jobs. Big name developers such as Microsoft, Radical Entertainment, Walt Disney Co., Propoganda Games and Rockstar Games were rather laying off employees or relocating.

But now in 2014, the digital industry fostered by “Hollywood North” is ready to win back game creators.

Earning the trust of Japan and Silicon Valley was the key to Vancouver’s come back. The exodus of some big name console developers made room for external developers to move in, namely from the East—no, not Toronto, but Japan. In the past year, more than a handful of the top Japanese game developing companies took up camp in Vancouver, including Namco Bandai, Capcom and DeNa Co. These foreign gaming giants are claiming that Vancouver is a perfect hub to do domestic and international business.

For one thing, Vancouver is in the same time zone as San Francisco, another location teeming with videogame innovation and talents. That made communicating between headquarters more convenient—while a non-stop flight from Japan to Vancouver was only a mere 10 hours—thus establishing a global network of gamers and developers.

The second is the consolidation of console games and the “freemium” model of mobile games had forced many gaming companies to seek assistance from local developers. Japanese developers aren’t exactly coming in and rehashing their successful products to the North American market, no, in fact, the objective is to take what has been working in the East and build upon it here and market it in a different way to an audience that has their own distinctive gaming culture.

The accessible geographical location and the healthy breeding of skilled gaming contractor have made Vancouver a hotbed for an industry constantly adapting to new technology. At the end of 2013, Entertainment Software Association of Canada reported that there were now 67 video game companies in British Columbia, behind Quebec and Ontario by approximately 30. British Columbia has 5,150 employees, in relation to the 16,500 that work in the country. With earnings of $2.4 billion annually, Canada holds the spot for the third largest video game industry, behind, you guessed it, Japan and the United States. Famous game developer Namco Bandai announced, after establishing The Centre of Digital Media in Vancouver, that it will strive to develop new online social games.

With all that being said, videogames in Canada are neither a dying art nor a dying industry. Gamers want more and developers want to create more. Studios, both local and international, are constantly seeking talented people with video game design and development, 3D modeling, animation, computer graphics background to help shape the future of video games.

Yes, that landscape of games is indeed changing. But whether it is on the plasma screen or on the smartphone screen, Vancouver is right in the mix in terms of innovating, developing, and influencing the next phase of gaming.

The good will always win


At least that is what the winners will tell us

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 17, 2014

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, or whomever he originally heard it from, “History is written by the victors.” Regardless of who said it first, the idea is probably as old as history itself—and still the statement is ever so true. We just need to look at contemporary situations to understand that we are in a constant flux for power, and there is no simple, peaceful solution in sight; examples could be found on every continent (omitting Antarctica, of course). But should we, as outside observers, acknowledge that whether the result may be good or bad for us, the winners are still winners and should therefore be respected?

We all want to change history for the better, but what might be better for us may be worse for someone else. Let’s look back to the birth of our nation—the genocide of aboriginals. We are of course now living in a society that is the consequence of that act. For us, it no longer feels like that big of a deal, because we weren’t there suffering or struggling through the backlash of the incident.

The same goes with the Chinese head tax, which was a fee introduced in 1885 to discourage Chinese immigration. Although, I’m of Chinese descent and feel the redress offered in 2006 was a small step in the right direction, it was far from resolution. But I also feel slight passivity to fight for that cause, knowing the struggle it takes to get any recognition from the government, let alone an apology.

The people in power today are ploughing forward without taking a look back at the mess they’ve made. We are not learning from our history, but not only are we not learning from it, we are using the history itself to intimidate. The winners of the past have become bullies of the present and that is evident in the Crimean crisis in Eastern Europe.

With so many diverse groups living together and such rich history on all sides, no one is willing to back down. Will there ever be harmony in that small patch of the world? Perhaps. But if we just glance slightly to the south and a smidgen to the east and see the endless dispute in the Middle East, we can say that resolution may never happen, because a victor is never crowned. Peaceful solution simply doesn’t exist, it cannot exist. I’m not just saying this because I’m pessimistic about the human race, but because history is not built upon handshakes and compromises—it’s built upon winners and losers.

The downfalls of Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Fulgencio Batista, and Saddam Hussein, to name a few, are all examples of how the losers have paved the way for the winners. There were no handshakes—there were only executions and suicides. Ask yourself, is it likely that Kim Jong-Un and the North Korean dictatorship will simply wake up one morning and submit to Western democracy? That’s unlikely. If we want people to behave a certain way, we can rather ask or we can force. One is of course more effective than the other.

We North Americans are lucky to be living in the aftermath, as we clean up our own country and observe the destruction of others. The destruction, as our history has shown, is inevitable. We must also remember that the problems of others are not our fight. We have fought our battle and now they must fight theirs. They must, in a sense, establish their own winners and losers—and it won’t be pretty.

The Report Card: Non-fiction reads


By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 18, 2014

Now and then, I step away from my science fiction, contemporary dramas, and classic coming-of-age novels to enjoy something more factual. Non-fiction books allow me to touch base with the world I’m living in through historical texts, biographies, memoirs, and self-helps. I choose these readings of my own accord; they are not textbooks or instruction manuals—but they can sometimes feel like something assigned by an instructor. Non-fictions are never really the sweets for me, they’re the vegetables, and the nutrients I know I need more of. But, which do I relish in, and which do I spit in disgust?

Pass: Memoirs

Only recently did I start reading memoirs. I used to think the ramblings of a famous actor, politician, athlete, or public figure weren’t worth my time. I would rather spend an afternoon reading about wizards or revisiting my homework than reading about someone else’s success. Hell, if I wanted to know more about the person, I would read their Wikipedia page, right?

Not that I’m wrong, but memoirs offer a subjective lens into the person’s life that is otherwise lost in a biography, or Wikipedia page. Reading the words of someone not known for their writing ability is quite an evocative experience; it’s as if you are hearing their story through their own lips. You can see the way they colour an aspect of their life, while hiding details in another. You can feel what matters to the person in that moment, what they wanted to communicate about themselves to the public. And if the memoir is done well, it can definitely inspire.

We all possess the power of choice, and whether we like the memoirists in the real world or not is up to us. The magic of a memoir is that, even if we dislike the person, we can see through their eyes for a moment and recognize the struggle they went through to achieve what they have. A good memoir highlights the failures along with the successes, and proves to the reader that what they’ve done might not be achievable for everyone, but it was for them—after all, they lived to tell the tale.

Fail: Self-helps

I’m having trouble buying into the billion-dollar industry of self-help books. I’ve read many in my life thinking that it was the solution to my problems. I believe many other people pick them up for that same reason. Whether you’re trying to live in the moment or explore a diet, reading a book is not going to help you do it. Self-help books are temporary distractions by design. They might provide guidelines for achieving goals, but they do little to convince you you’re doing it right or that your efforts are working. The books don’t even get you to put in effort at all—their motivational power is limited.

You cannot read a manual on fixing computers and instantly become an expert. Your brain simply can’t retain all that information; same goes with self-help books. You cannot read a book and ask if you are happy, or if you’re fit, or if you should have children, and find the answer. Self-help books are someone else’s ideals and reality presented to you in the form of a product—you’re just buying it first and then being convinced after. You wouldn’t join a cult just because it tells you that it can make you happy, right?

There is a lot of value in self-help books, but it’s the presentation that ruins it. Success is not a chapter-by-chapter thing; it’s more of a choose-your-own-adventure and learn-from-your-mistakes kind of thing—and that is what self-help books are not.

The boob tube


Television’s bait and switch tactics are working too well

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 19, 2014

Any good salesperson knows that in order to sell a product, they first need to catch the consumer’s attention. Television, for lack of a better word, is a marketplace and you’re the customer who’s passing through. Since you’re just passing through, or channel surfing if I may, you don’t have time to linger and enjoy six seasons of anything, let alone one with multiple character arcs and complicated plot twists. Solution: nudity!

Sex sells. It’s not just a phrase used in advertising, but a legitimate formula for commercial success. But by applying this tactic repeatedly, like so many independent broadcasting networks and entertainment providers are choosing to do, the content itself turns into one of two things: pornography or satire.

Don’t get me wrong, I love nudity. I can appreciate a well-photographed love scene and smut on different levels. But I also believe there is a time and place for it. The audience should be able to control their own intake of controversial images. Once I’m hooked to the storyline, there is no reason to overindulge me with unrelated nude scenes. I care more about the progression of the storyline, the plot, and the characters’ expositions, than some attractive female lusciously draped over the screen—at least for now.

No, I’m not a prude or immature, but we all have a perv-side to us—that’s why sex sells. We have all experienced sitting down as a collective to enjoy a show with explicit nudity peppered throughout. When nipples appear on the screen, a few things could happen: either the room hushes up with slight discomfort, or someone will break the silence with a blatant statement addressing said nipples, and laughter might or might not ensue. Regardless, that little pulse of misplaced horniness is harmful to the storytelling.

Sure, it might be the artistic direction to include sensible nude scenes; there are many reasonable situations to showcase boobs, etc. But it’s clear that certain producers, with the intention of getting the largest viewing audience possible, are jeopardizing the artistic craft of filmmaking by pumping more nudity into the shows, thus turning an adult drama into soft-core porn.

Naked women should not be used as props to engage an audience. They should not be strategically placed in the background, while main characters discuss betrayal. They should not appear randomly to seduce the leading man only to disappear, never to be seen again. They should not be used to arouse or tease an audience without justified reasons. Am I angry that sometimes they are? No, not that angry, but when I see some of my favourite shows subjected to these low level bait-and-switch tactics to garner more viewers, I feel ashamed to like the show—and I know that true fans are not watching to see Lena Dunham naked or the next Westeros femme fatale.

We love the stories, we love the characters, and we love the fact that the show isn’t some homogenized Canadian show about life in the Prairies. Television producers should understand that by using nudity as a lure for viewers, they are only misguiding people, offering them something that is unsustainable on television and that there is already so much of on the Internet.

Advertisement, a reason to sell-abrate


An Opinions article brought to you by the ‘Other Press’

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. March 18, 2014

I’m not an easy sell and I’m not a compulsive buyer. I can’t be—I wouldn’t survive if I was.

I work hard to earn my money and I choose to spend it on the things that I enjoy and with the people who I like. But I’m also reasonable; I budget wisely and do my best to avoid falling into debt. Many may consider it a marketers versus us game of tug-of-war with our paycheques, but I don’t see it that way.

I appreciate advertisements, because they aren’t pick-pocketing me on a busy street. They’re presenting the value of a brand in a way that might or might not attract my attention. Sure, advertisements are biased and appeal on many different levels, but as someone who understands the value of a dollar, you better appeal to me or I’m not buying.

Advertisers are not competing against us, but against other brands. So where some people say there’s too much product placement, I say good. It should be survival of the fittest. After all, advertising is art with a clear purpose.

I know it’s annoying to sit through those five seconds of commercial before your YouTube video, and I know it sucks to listen to the rambling of voices attempting to sell you something on the radio when all you want is some Beyoncé, but the alternative is having to pay for the services. God forbid I cough up my lunch money for a monthly subscription of YouTube, Google, Facebook, or any other free-to-use platforms that sustain themselves on advertisements. If you ask me, I think we are getting a pretty sweet deal.

Companies hate spending money on advertisements, and they hate it as much as we do when those ads are ineffective and annoying. Brands need to know their audience better and thanks to the technology of search engines, they are getting improved results.

I hope one day all marketing strategies will be targeted advertisements. If you show me something I actually want, I’ll appreciate it; if you show me something that is completely useless to me, like a diaper commercial, I’m just going to wait patiently for the baby to finish falling over and acting cute.

It does feel a little bit like Big Brother, knowing everything you do is recorded by a league of marketers. Still, if Big Brother knows that I’m searching “how to fix my plumbing” on YouTube, then Big Brother can rightly assume that I’ll need to find a good hardware store nearby, as well.

Our privacy is compromised regardless. Don’t be fooled, even your dirty Snapchat pictures can be recovered if you tried hard enough. But this is just the world we live in now and we can’t meet every technology and intelligence with paranoia.

Public places used to be train stations, shopping malls, office buildings, and school campuses, but now the Internet is a public setting as well. Advertisements are going to extend from the billboards you see on the streets to the iPhone app you look at before you go to bed. Embrace it. Adapt to it. And celebrate that we live in a time where we have a choice—because we are the ones with the power, not the brands.