Author: Michael Kwan

Beyond the Rhetoric getting WordPress’d

Just as the main freelance writing services website received an extreme makeover, enabling it to be more search engine friendly (it did, after all, move up to the number one result when you search for “michael kwan” in Google) and easier to navigate for the humans in the audience, so will Beyond the Rhetoric. I’m saying goodbye to the nut jobs at GoDaddy and their obscure blog software, and jumping onto the bandwagon that has everyone — including dot com mogul John Chow — jumping over backwards. WordPress, here I come! I’ve been tweaking the design somewhat the past few days, ironing out the details of moving my hosting over to Flavour Studios and my domain registration to Gary Jones’ BlueFur. I’m trying to maintain a similar look, but improve upon it. No longer will you can strangely truncated posts on the front page, nor will you have to endure that not-so-pretty GoDaddy ad banner at the top of the page. Instead, you’ll get my pictures on the front page, my advertising, and my personalized sidebar. I’m not 100% positive how long this process will take — the redesign took longer than expected — but it’ll surely be ready to go (at least in beta stage) by the middle of next month. Wish me luck, folks. If you’re interested in the work in progress, take a trip...

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Stop motion animation with Lego

By now, I’m pretty sure you would have encountered that hilarious stop-motion music video to Circle Circle Dot Dot by Jamie Kennedy and Stu Stone. In case you haven’t, I’ve embedded it below for your watching and laughing pleasure. It’s truly a work of art. The music and lyrics belong to Jamie and Stu, of course, but the incredible Lego-powered music video was not. Nope, that was the work of some bloke named Nate Burr, “known online as Blunty3000.” Stop motion animation is seriously difficult work, as I’m sure you seen with some claymation work in the past. Blunty3000 tells us that he films at 15 frames per second, so for that three-minute music video, he had to capture something in the neighbourhood of 3000 frames. And that’s not even taking the post-production and editing stuff into account. After all, he’s got to plan this whole thing out, stitch all those frames together, and edit accordingly using some sort of video editing software. Circle Circle Dot Dot At the time of this post, the above music had been viewed 2,619,238 times, received 4,836 comments, and had been favorited 21,056 times. Needless to say, it’s pretty darn popular. In case you’re wondering how he did it, I also found this video wherein Blunty3000 describes the steps required to do stop-motion animation: Yeah, he’s a bit of a kook. But most...

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Ten Questions with Joseph Planta – Part 2

Here is part two of my ten questions with Joseph Planta, Editor and Senior Columnist of The Commentary. Part one can be read here. 6. As we lead up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, several issues are going to continue to gain prominence. What do you think is the most pressing issue that Mayor Sam Sullivan can and should address on a municipal level? Mayor Sullivan is up for re-election in 2009, so perhaps his agenda isn’t geared towards the Olympics as much as the next election. Doubtless any mayor at this time in history would be saddled with 2010 issues, so if your question is what should he address regarding the forthcoming Winter Games, I think, just how we as Vancouverites can create the kind of city that can first, host the world-class event without going over budget on infrastructure and withstand the people coming in and so on; and second, and most importantly, what kind of city we want after the games. We still see the effects of Expo ’86 throughout the city, and even the province. Will 2010 leave the city better off then it is now, or will it have been a waste of money, and will the Olympic juggernaut merely destroy the Vancouver we know it as today in its wake? 7. You’ve reviewed a number of books over the years, posting your thoughts...

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Ten Questions with Joseph Planta – Part 1

I’ve been good friends with Joseph Planta since the time we first met back in high school. In fact, he was the one that inspired me to start writing in the first place, originally launched my Now That’s Entertainment email column way back in 1999. The Commentary is Joseph’s website wherein he gets to interview a wide range of public figures and write on some interesting subjects. It is with great pleasure that I present to you: Ten Questions with Joseph Planta 1. The Commentary got its start way back in 1999. Tell us how it evolved from a humble email distribution list to the full-fledged website it is today. In terms of content, going from a column of my thoughts and opinions sent out to a bunch of friends and colleagues via email to the website that it is today, has largely evolved out of my own habits and interests. For better or worse, I’ve not been good at seizing on what’s popular on the internet, and providing much the same on The Commentary. If anything, I’ve only really done what I’ve been interested in. That’s a good thing in that one isn’t a slave to what’s fashionable, but at the same time, I’m sure I’ve lost or alienated readers because whatever it is I’m interested isn’t of any interest to anyone else. As for the infrastructure, the...

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LG MG140a Candybar Gets FCC OK

This has got to be one of the stranger FCC approvals, because from what I can gather, the LG MG140a cell phone is a dual-band GSM unit… with the 900 and 1800 bands that we don’t even use here in North America. So, what is it doing at the FCC? Well, it turns out that they didn’t bother changing up the user manual before sending it off. Based on this update (warning: PDF link), it is indeed an 850/1900 dual-band phone. Granted, the MG140a doesn’t have the sexy appeal of the Chocolate or the text-happy keyboard of the enV, but it does appear to be reasonably straightforward to use. For this and several other reasons, I think that the MG140a is an entry-level phone with a rather basic feature set. What we can find on this phone are a camera, FM radio, voice recorder, and Flight mode. Now that the “advanced and compact MG140a mobile phone” has received the go-ahead from the FCC, your guess is as good as mine as to where it’ll end up. T-Mobile,...

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A day in the life

I know it’s a burning question on everyone’s mind. What does Michael Kwan’s day-to-day look like? (Okay, that wasn’t a conceited statement at all, but bear with me.) Inspired by a recent post by the “happily unemployed” Stephen Fung, I have decided to give you an idea of what a typical day is like for me, the budding freelance writer and aspiring entrepreneur. I’m not a morning person. Never have been, and I don’t think I ever will be. As such, I love working from home because I don’t have to wake up bright and early each morning to make my way to the office on time. Instead, I have my alarm clock set for 8:45am. Problem is, I’m no stranger to the snooze button, and most mornings, I don’t find myself out of bed until 10 or 10:30 (today, I got up at 11). I stretch; I yawn; I sit on the end of my bed and try to get my bearings. I eventually make my way to the washroom to the do the whole brush-your-teeth and wash-your-face routine. I stroll down the stairs from my bedroom to my home office, which is conveniently located nary 20 feet away. As I wait for the computer to finish booting up, I take a couple steps over to where Roy is so that I can give him his morning pet...

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Inner Nut Entertainment presents….

Welcome to Disappointmentville, USA. A good friend of mine, Dylan Duarte, teamed up with his artist buddy Jeff Morin to create the new webcomic. It’s still a work in progress, but it gives us a glimpse into what it’s like living in a small town in California where the majority of the residents aren’t exactly experts on technology and newer developments. Dylan describes life in Lake County as a series of disappointments, hence the name of the web comic. I anticipate the same style of small town humour as what we get from programs like Corner Gas, except, you know, American. Dylan is a budding freelance writer, not unlike myself, whereas Jeff Morin is more inclined toward the graphical side of things. The difference between Dylan and me, though, is that I have more of a hankering for non-fiction and web-by kind of things, whereas Dylan wants to get into fiction. He’s already put together a few short films — which can be found on the Inner Nut Entertainment website — at the Disappointmentville web comic is the latest in this endeavour. Look for updates every...

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Ah! I’m all wet!

You know you’re starting to grow up when you start thinking about grown up kind of things (get your mind out of the gutter, you dirty dogs). I’m still saving up to move away from home, but in the meantime, I’ve started to do a lot of thinking about not only where I want to live, but how I want that place to look. I can envision a large LCD or plasma TV, a quaint home office tucked away in the corner, and one of those U-shaped bar-style kitchen get-ups. One room that many people forget to think about, however, is the bathroom. It’s those little details that make a house (or condo) a home. Right down to the nitty gritty of choosing the right faucets, tubs, and other fixtures. One thing that I thought was interesting during my Alaska cruise a couple of years back was that my stateroom didn’t have a conventional bathtub. Instead, it had a walk-in shower that pretty much just let the water dribble out onto the bathroom floor. I don’t think I’d like that for my own home, as I can only imagine it starting to stink and get moldy after awhile (when we first arrived in the stateroom, we could really smell the disinfectant or whatever other cleaner they used). I’d say that I’m still pretty naive when it comes to matters...

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Is Michael Kwan a dot com mogul?

Well, am I? I’ve been in this working-for-myself mode for about a year now, slowly growing my freelance writing business, and I have to say that I’m in a much better position now than I was when I first started. I’ve also started to put a little more focus in Beyond the Rhetoric, as I’m starting to learn how to make an extra couple of bucks from this blog. In fact, I just received my first Google Adsense cheque in the mail this morning. I don’t think of myself as a Dot Com Mogul in the same ilk as John Chow, but according to this checklist, as appended by Stephen Fung, I’m not that far off. Alright, let’s get started. There were seven items on the check list when John Chow did it, but Stephen added numbers eight and nine for good measure. Someone really ought to add one more so that it’s a nice even ten. In any case… Your income must come about as a result of the money you make on the Internet: Well, I’m a freelance writer and pretty much all my work is for websites, so yes, I make my money on the Internet. Check! The minimum internet income level is $10,000 a month (you cannot add income from other sources to hit this $10K level): Um, nowhere close. Working on it. You have...

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BlueFur lets the (hosting) fur fly

I had the chance to dine with Gary Jones of on Saturday, along with 10 other dot com moguls and dot com moguls in the making (I’m looking at you Sally). If you’re interested in that pho (pronounced “fuh”, it is a Vietnamese rice noodle cooked in super hot soup) experience, check out this post, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Today, I’ll be discussing the name that Gary chose for his web hosting and domain registration service: BlueFur. Before it was BlueFur, Gary’s business was called He appeared to be doing perfectly fine for himself when he was suddenly hit with some “legal pressure” from a large American corporation, telling him that he couldn’t use the Monster moniker. As part of the settlement, Gary can’t tell us what company this was, but it wasn’t Monster Cable or, in case you’re wondering. Whatever the case, needed a new name and Gary decided on BlueFur (so that he could keep that whimsical blue mascot). Personally, I like the name change. It is a lot more distinctive than Monster Hosting, and has a very web-like feel to it. Kind of along the same lines as an Amazon, Yahoo, or Google. These are names of companies that probably wouldn’t have made a name for themselves, so to speak, as a standard brick-and-mortar type of...

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Michael Kwan
Hi, I'm Michael. By day, I'm a freelance writer. By night, I'm still a freelance writer. I'm also a proud father, a voracious foodie, an avid traveler, a gadget geek, and a thinker who thinks he might be thinking too much. Beyond the Rhetoric is a reflection of my eclectic entrepreneurial life.

Read more about me and what I can do for you.


Beyond the Margins, by Michael Kwan