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Last night, Shane Foxman and I chatted on CKNW about the Lego Imagine Nation event that’s hitting the Vancouver Convention Centre this weekend. Pick up tickets if you haven’t already.

We also reflected on two Canadian businesses that announced changes this week: BlackBerry and Shomi.

Then there’s the self-lacing shoe coming from Nike in November. Just tell me you don’t want a pair of those.

Listen to the conversation.

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This week, the problem with BlackBerry, Shomi, and Evernote. Plus, a look at self-tying shoes coming from Nike. But first, Lego aficionados need to get to Vancouver this weekend for the Imagine Nation tour stop.

Lego extravaganza brings interactive experiences to Vancouver

If you’ve got any time at all available this weekend, make your way to the Vancouver Convention Centre for the Lego Imagine Nation Tour. It is exactly what you want it to be: dozens of displays of Lego sculpture, as well as plenty of opportunity for you to get your hands on some bricks to do some building of your own.

The event starts this Friday, September 30 and runs through Sunday, October 2. Tickets (you can purchase them in advance but they will also be sold at the door) are $28.50.

Lego is making sure that the exhibits aren’t overrun by staging five different four-hour sessions over the weekend. So you won’t have to worry about standing in line, and you can get to the fun.

Some of Lego’s most popular franchises will be represented, including Elves, Friends, Minecraft, Nexo Knights, Ninjago, and Star Wars. Each pavilion is constructed in the theme of the franchise

You’ll be able to get into a pit of Lego bricks to free-build anything you want, and Canadian Lego Master Builder Christopher Steininger, one of only eight in the world, will be on hand at the Master Builder Lab.

Lego is inherently interactive, but the Imagine Nation Tour is also providing some digital interaction, too.

In the Elves, Friends, and Ninjago pavilions, kids will be able to build their own creations, which are then scanned to create 3-D virtual environments and displayed on massive, 80-inch TVs.

The creator can then interact with their creation through the use of motion-sensing equipment. With the Ninjago interaction, for example, kids build their own dojo out of bricks and then get to protect it from enemies by spinning, punching, and kicking.

Come build, create, and play this weekend.

Evernote becomes even less relevant

I’m dumping Evernote. I used to use it a lot, but I can’t support the company’s decision to further restrict its basic account.

The service has always been “freemium”, so you can get basic functionality for free, and more robust features if you chose to pay a nominal fee.

Evernote was one of those cloud-based apps that made for a productive life. It synced notes and files and shopping lists across multiple platforms, including smartphones and tablets and computers. For a while, a couple of years ago, I was using Evernote daily.

But the functionality that Evernote provided started turning up elsewhere. Apple’s Notes software has always been pretty good for syncing lists, and now it supports files like images and PDFs. Microsoft’s got the same kind of thing going with OneNote, which has got fantastic annotation capabilities.

Not to mention all the Google services that are available.

Evernote has slowly become unnecessary.

And in an attempt to keep afloat, the company recently decided to restrict the basic, free account to only two devices. So with my free account I can sync to my computer and my smartphone, but not my tablet. To do that, I have to upgrade to a premium subscription.

I don’t even care how much it costs. The entire campaign is so anti-user that I’m quitting out of spite.

And because I just don’t need Evernote anymore.

Blackberry getting out of hardware, Shomi shutting down

Speaking of relevancy . . .

Canadian tech company BlackBerry announced today that it will no longer be designing, producing, and selling handsets. The announcement came as the company reported another significant loss.

If there will be BlackBerry handsets in the future, they will be produced by partners under license. Instead, the company will focus on software. Which is, frankly, where it may be able to keep alive. One of the things BlackBerry had going for it was its security features. If they can spin that into other areas, like the “internet of things,” for example, they may be all right. Certainly the company will be in a better position to be acquired.

“BlackBerry is no longer just about the smartphone, but the smart in the phone,” quipped CEO John Chen.

Clever line. Let’s see if it’s too late for that.

As for Shomi, the streaming video service that was being operated by a partnership between Rogers and Shaw, is stopping its service at the end of November, a scant two years after starting up.

The service had fewer than a million customers in Canada (Shomi says subscribers were at 900,000, but analysts put the number closer to 500,000), compared to Netflix’s 5.2 million. And without anything new or original, Shomi could not compete.

Expect CraveTV to follow this pattern before too long. Bell’s streaming service claims to be doing better because it has access to the HBO catalogue, but that does not include new release programming like Game of Thrones.

Nike is going to start selling Marty McFly’s shoes on November 28

You’ll have to plug in these sneakers, but you’re not going to care, because you’ll never have to tie laces again. (My six-year-old is so excited he may never have to perfect shoe-tying.)

After teasing us with the idea that Marty McFly’s self-tying shoes might become a reality, Nike is doing exactly that. These high tops automatically tighten when you step into them based on pressure sensors in the sole. You can manually adjust the fit with two buttons at the top of the shoe.

The battery in the tread that takes care of the auto-fitting will last about two weeks, according to Tiffany Beers, the “senior innovator” at Nike who helped bring these shoes to market.

Nike’s Tinker Hatfield, who has the perfect name to be the vice president for design and special projects, is the one who first imagined bringing the shoe worn by Michael J. Fox’s character in Back to the Future II.

HyperAdapt 1.0 high tops will be available “for experience and purchase” in select U.S. locations. Pricing has not been announced, but you can bet they aren’t going to be cheap. Start saving your pennies.

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Last week on CKNW Tonight, host Shane Foxman and I talked about how you can get Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, to pronounce your name correctly.

We also talked about online comments, and why NPR has chosen to get rid of them, and I provided an update on the Galaxy Note 7 recall and how Canadian Samsung customers can arrange to return their device.

The World Cup of Hockey was another subject, and in particular how NHL17 from EA Sports gives you a chance to play in the tournament. Virtually, of course.

Listen here.

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This week, take to the ice with NHL17 from EA Sports. Plus, why NPR is getting rid of comments on its website, and correcting Siri’s pronunciation without needing to call Tim Cook (I’m looking at you, Barbra Streisand). But first, how Canadians can replace their Note 7 before it melts down.

Update on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall

Everybody’s talking about Samsung. Not for all the right reasons, unfortunately. But I wanted to set the Canadian context for people.

Last week, the U.S. agency responsible for consumer affairs issued a formal recall of the devices which are at risk of catching fire or exploding while charging.

According to Samsung Electronics Canada spokesperson Paul Brannen, there have been no confirmed incidents in Canada with the Galaxy Note 7 handset. The executive vice president of mobile solutions made the claim in a statement posted to the web.

Even so, Samsung Canada is recalling all Galaxy Note 7 handsets, and there is a “special website that has been set up for Canadian Samsung customers: to register for the recall.

This could get complicated as new versions of the Note 7, with batteries that are not problematic, hit the market.

To find out if your Note 7 is potentially dangerous, you can visit the U.S. site, which has a device check.

You can also check the safety of your device with the Samsung+ app.

How Apple users can get Siri to pronounce their name correctly

Barbra Streisand didn’t like how Siri pronounced her name. So she called Apple CEO Tim Cook to complain. Apparently a fix for the problem will be part of iOS 10 when it comes out in September.

The singer told the story to NPR, the publicly-supported radio network in the U.S.

She could have fixed the problem herself, actually.

If Siri pronounces a name incorrectly, simply tap on the microphone button and say, “That’s not how you pronounce that.”

Siri will give you pronunciation options that you can choose from.

The other side of this is when Siri doesn’t understand the names that you are saying. This is why there are different language packages even for different countries that use the same languages.

If the name is particularly tricky – maybe it’s Welsh? – you can go into your contacts app and enter a phonetic name that Siri will hear and match up with the correct contact.

Data on online commenting prompts NPR to remove them

Speaking of NPR

We all know that while the Internet can be a wondrous, amazing place, it can also be a horrible, awful place. Which is why there’s an oft-repeated rule that you should never read the comments.

NPR is becoming the latest in an ever-growing list of media organizations and companies to deal with this by getting rid of comments altogether.

Writes Elizabeth Jensen, the ombudsman for NPR:

NPR’s commenting system — which gets more expensive the more comments that are posted, and in some months has cost NPR twice what was budgeted — is serving a very, very small slice of its overall audience.”

Specifically, 0.06% of all NPR visitors post comments; just 4,300 people post 67% of the comments.

If the comments are mostly vitriol, the reasoning goes, then why give that small number of people a forum? It’s not like the majority of the audience are going to care.

Jensen wrote that she was disappointed that NPR was going to lose the opportunity for listeners to respond, but hopes that “newer engagement options” like using social media.

To be clear, NPR isn’t getting rid of audience engagement altogether. Like the aformentioned others, the discussions are being shifted to social media. Facebook and Twitter in particular. Facebook conversations, it seems, are much more civil.

One reason for that may be that with most Facebook accounts, people are using their real names. I don’t think there’s sound research to prove that using real identities makes people polite, but it’s certainly the reason that many organizations do not permit anonymous commenting.

There are good reasons for allowing anonymous comments, personal security and privacy among them.

Frankly, I don’t know what the solution is. I do think we all need to be nicer to each other.

Play in the World Cup of Hockey with NHL 17

You think EA Sports is going to limit you to NHL teams with the latest edition of its hockey sim? No way.

Sure, you can play as your favourite NHL squad, but you can also pick one of the national teams participating in the World Cup of Hockey, taking place in Toronto this month.

EA Sports always runs a simulation of big tournaments and playoffs, and they are predicting that Team North America, made up of American and Canadian players under the age of 23, will lose the three-game final series to Team Canada, two games to one.

NHL 17 is available now for PS4 and Xbox One/S.

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Last week on my regular segment talking technology, host Shane Foxman and I talked about the two new PlayStation PS4 consoles that were announced by Sony a couple of weeks ago. We also ran down the lineup for this year’s Apple Music Festival in London, England, discussed the movie trailer created by IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence, and marveled at the optical illusion circulating through Facebook feeds.

You can listen to that segment here.

The following night, I was back with Shane to talk about the official U.S. government-issued recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 handset, and rumours that the battery problem is also affecting other Samsung devices.

That conversation is here.

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