Since my last post about YouTube, a lot has changed. YouTube still continues to be a good source of quality shows/vlogs with little influence from mass marketers. However some channels are changing and I don’t think many people have noticed yet. The manufacturing and retail industry are trying to influence channels into advertising for them and it is having a noticable imact on the quality of the content some channels are producing.
YouTube started as a good source of income for original content creators and the creators would get rewarded with advertising revenue if they monetized their videos. Channels with a large enough viewership could earn a living wage.
For many YouTube content creators this was the next step in monetizing their channel. It quickly gained a bad nickname of ebegging. Many Youtubers would use services like gofundme.com to generate revenue. In some cases revenue was being raised for a special “upgrade” item like a new 4K camera, for others it was just to pay for day to day costs like gas and food.
Using patron services like Patrion.com started the next stage of fundraising, by creating a tiered service. Users that donated would get something in return. Sometimes it would be insider videos, early access to videos, and sometimes other social media content/access. This was typically viewed more positively as viewers were getting something in return for their donation
Another way that YouTube channels would generate additional revenue would be to sell T-shirts, Stickers, music, and ebooks on sites like bandcamp.com. YouTubers would use this both for one time fundraising as well as to supplement their revenue with all profits going to their channel.
Another option for YouTube channels is doing referrals. The Amazon Affiliate program is the most common source for this type of revenue generation. The channel will create special links to Amazon for products they use or endorse like a specific GoPro camera. Whenever a viewer follows the link to Amazon and makes a purchase, the channel will receive a few percent of the sale price.
Product reviews/Product Endorsements/Commercials
This is the newest phase in revenues generation and the one having the biggest impact on channel quality. As people become more popular on YouTube, retailers and manufacturers recognize these channels as a good way to improve their product recognition. In exchange for a favourable review Youtubers are being given free stuff. In some cases doing a good review will result in continued additional stuff from the company. This is not a direct source of income, but is more of a form of bribery. The problem is that in more and more cases, the reviews do not appear unbiased as one bad review would end the gravy train. Other reviews are for expensive products that seem to have no relevance to the channel. Finally the most blatant is, special episodes created to be no more than a commercial for the product. This form of revenue generation is just an obvious form of bribery and makes Youtube and its content creators appear no better than the big TV networks that most people escaped from by going to Youtube in the first place.
Here is a list of some of the outdoor adventure related YouTube channels I follow that seem to be uninterested in turning their day to day vlog into the next overproduced version of Survivor or turning their channel into the next NBC.
Nomadic Fanatic: This is one of the biggest RV channels and Eric regularly has mentioned his desire to not be bought. He will fundraise and sell stickers from time to time
Gone with the Wynns: They seem to be adventure purists and do not try to sell their adventure.
RV Geeks: They seem to handle product reviews quite well. They do regular reviews and feature manufacturers, but they portray them in an educational fashion with how to videos and objective reviews involving a decent attempt at scientific method.
Sailing SV Delos: They seem to be enjoying life too much to bother wasting time doing reviews. They do offer shirts and accept donations though.
Some other channels have taken the bait and it has hurt the integrity of their channel. In one case, a very popular female travel vlogger recently did an episode featuring a female hygiene product. The episode featured her dancing on a mountain and talking about the product, it was in reality just a commercial. There is RV channel that features their adventures on the road, but he is constantly trying to find ways to make more money. It sometimes comes off as desperate. Another RV channel that is very popular to Airstream owners had recently done a review on a RV cleaning product while claiming that car wash soap is not safe for RV’s. I was not able to find any science to this claim which made the claim seem like a slimy marketing tactic. They then did a very strange review on a very expensive product that did not seem relevant to their channel at all. There is another RV channel that features a couple who travel to the US south west every winter. They recently admitted that a major reno they did on their RV was funded by a manufacturer. They did a number of episodes covering the upgrade last winter and never once mentioned that it was being funded by a company. There is also an off grid channel that seems to get frequent products for review and all of the reviews are superficial and gushing reviews.
For the longest time we would go to our local big box store and buy the cheap folding chairs. After a while I started to realize that you get what you pay for and maybe paying $15 every year to replace these cheap chairs is not the most cost-effective solution in the long run.
About 5 years ago when another of our cheap chairs broke while camping, we stopped at a Walmart to once again buy a cheap chair. This time we saw some high-end ones on end of season clearance and decided to invest the $40 (sale price) each to see if they were worth the extra money.
We travel with a couple of Zero Gravity chairs and a couple of Strongback chairs. We normally use all four when we camp as a family but always use the Strongback chairs at the beach or anywhere else that we have to carry them more than a few feet.
The Strongback chairs are more expensive than the cheap folding chairs you get at a big box store in a variety of bright colors with a variety of beer company/ football team logos on them. These chairs are priced in the same price range as most other premium chairs ($50-$100 range depending on the model). Unlike most folding chairs we have used, the Strongback is much better designed. They use a heavier tubing and heavier canvass to make the chairs much more durable and able to handle quite a bit more weight than the cheap ones. The seats are wider than normal and they also have padding in the canvass for added comfort, but one of the things that set them aside from others is the lumbar support that is built-in. This is great for someone with a bad back but even if you don’t have back issues, it makes sitting for a long time much more comfortable. The chairs also come in an equally durable bag with backpack style straps so you can carry them to the beach easily.
Ours are now 5 years old and show almost no signs of wear, damage or fading, they look almost new. My next investment in outdoor furniture will be a couple of Strongback beach chairs.
Our first big trip with our trailer was out east. We decided at the last minute to fit in a big trip right after we bought the trailer. Because we bought it in the spring, we had to work fast to get reservations to campgrounds that same summer. We really wanted to take it on a long trip to see how we would do. After a one night shakedown trip at a campground a few hours away from home, we planned our trip for the east coast of Canada and the USA. We had less than 2 weeks to work with. Because of the short timeframe we decided to test our stamina to see if we could do long driving days, most days were around 7 hours of driving (stops not included).
Our itinerary was to start at our home west of Toronto and drive to Lake Placid NY, the next leg was Lake Placid to Bar Harbor ME, then to Cavendish PEI, than to Temiscouata PQ, than Mallorytown ON then home. This was almost a 4000km trip and due to the time constraint we only had a few days at most of the stops, but this was a test for us, to see if we could handle a trip with long drives and short stops like a trip to get out to the west coast would be.
Leg 1 Home to Lake Placid: This drive started off as fairly boring as the trip on the 401 across Ontario was fairly familiar to us and is a flat drive with little scenery we had not already see. We crossed into the USA at Prescott ON to Ogdensburg NY. This put US on secondary roads right in the heart of Mennonite country where we saw horse carriages and road side stands on the way to the Adirondack Park. The drive thru the Adirondacks was quite scenic and started to get quite hilly. This was our first time driving through mountains with a trailer in tow.
Leg 2 Lake Placid to Bar Harbor: This leg was quite a scenic and one of my favorite drives to date. it took us along 9N crossing Lake Champlain into Vermont near Port Henry and heading up to Burlington and Montpelier to get on US2. The drive along 9N was quite scenic and hilly with lots of small towns along the way. US2 was what made this drive worthwhile, as it took us thru Vermont along the edge of the White Mountains, thru New Hampshire and all the way to Bangor Maine. It was very scenic with lots of mountain views and long grades. The small towns along the way had lots of charm.
Leg 3 Bar Harbor To PEI: This was also a scenic drive along US1 to Highway 1 in New Brunswick with lots of ocean views and changing weather. The temp in St John was 17C at mid day that day and a few hours later when we came thru Moncton it was over 30C. The drive across the Confederation Bridge is a sight to see as well. Driving thru PEI was unexpected, as I had not been there in over 30 years and was only a kid the last time. PEI was like a whole different world. As soon as you drive away from the bridge, it is like you have driven back in time 100 years. There are no more billboards, fast food or strip malls, it is all country side, farms and general stores.
Leg 4 PEI to Lake Temiscouata: This drive was a worst case scenario for sure. We started off the morning after Hurricane Arthur had blown thru New Brunswick and PEI. We were lucky to be on the leeward side of the island camping, but after the bridge reopened and we started driving east, we saw the destruction of the storm. Even though it had downgraded to a Tropical Storm by the time it hit PEI, there was no shortage of down trees. The drive thru New Brunswick was also an eye opener along highway 11, but it was not until we got to highway 108 that we saw the real destruction of the storm. The entire route from Miramichi to Plaster Rock is completely isolated, over 100km of forest with not a single building or cell service. It was beautiful but the storm had laid waste to the road and nearly every tree on the north side of 108 had been blown down over the road along the entire 100km stretch. We had to drive almost 100km on the far left shoulder to avoid the trees, pulling over to our side into whatever gap we could find between the trees whenever there was an oncoming car. Driving up the Trans Canada was uneventful and we arrived at Lake Temiscouata around 8pm, however we did not realize that even though we could see the campground across the lake, we still had 45 minutes of driving around the lake to get to the campground which meant after a long drive dodging trees we also had to set up in the dark and rain as well.
Leg 5 Temiscouata to Mallorytown: This was straightforward, basically Autoroute 20 to the 401 with a detour around Montreal rush hour via Autoroute 30. The scenery was nice along the St Lawrence River valley and thru the Laurentian mountains.
Lake Placid: This is one of our all time favorite KOA campgrounds. It feels more like a state/provincial park than a KOA. It is also not to far from the town of Lake Placid which is like a summer tourist town. It is also not far from Whiteface mountain, which is interesting driving to the top of the mountain.
Bar Harbor: The Bar Harbor campground is an unusual place, right on the highway on the way into town. They only accept cash and do not take reservations, but it was not hard to get a site on the first week of July. If you are lucky enough, they have some amazing sites with a view of the harbor. There is also an excellent Lobster Pound/Bar right at the gate to the campground. The town is also a tourist town that is worth seeing.
PEI: PEI National Park is one of the nicest parks and hands down our favourite park period. PEI itself is also one of our favorite places on earth. It is peaceful and like another world, everyone is friendly, it is quiet and relaxing.
Lake Temiscouata: the campground is a well kept campground, but very difficult to find and to get to. I was trying to find a campground as a one night stop over on the way home and it is very close to the TransCanada, but as the bird flies. I was quite disappointed to learn that you had to circle a very large lake to get to a campground you could easily swim to from the edge of the Trans Canada highway.
Mallorytown: the KOA in Mallorytown was just meant as a one night stop over on the way home, and we did not expect much, but it is now one of our favorite KOA campgrounds and we have been back twice since. It is not remarkable and does not have anything nearby to draw you to the area, it is just a really nice, clean, well-kept and quiet campground with the nicest owners we have met so far.
There is a saying I use in IT Security, “Being 99% successful at hiding on the internet is 0% effective”. Internet Trolls seem to have a hard time understanding this concept, as they are easy to find. Unfortunately Internet Trolls are the scourge of the internet and cause real problems for online celebrities. The entire reason they exist is because they think they are anonymous which makes it easy for them to be brave. However I have yet to find an internet troll that can hide successfully.
A very popular RV internet celebrity recently was having issues with a troll. This person was putting in false copyright claims into YouTube. This is a real issue for YouTube stars as their source of revenue is based on YouTube views. When a copyright claim is made, the video is basically locked down for 90 days, and the celebrity cannot make any revenue off the video while YouTube investigates. This is a backwards “guilty until proven innocent” method of dealing with copyright claims. This celebrity described it best as, your boss one day said “I have heard a rumor you have not been working hard enough, I am going to stop paying you for 3 months while I look into the issue” Within 3 months the boss will make a judgement and decide if you were working hard and if you should start getting paid again.
This internet celebrity, was recently hit with several copyright claims based on drone footage in his videos. This celebrity shows himself in all his drone footage, so clearly these were false claims. Once I had the source of the copyright claims from the celebrity I started investigating. The celebrity was pessimistic that the troll could be identified as he was using an alias. After a few hours of research of public information, I had both fake and real online identities, a name, home address, parents and uncles names, an age, 4 neighbors names/addresses, a map to his house. I also had his grade, his highschool, his position on the school football team and his regional ranking. I also was able to find out his country of origin, and many of his likes.
The info I was given by the celebrity (I was told it was likely a fake account):
However the good news is there were some breadcrumbs to follow.
So in order to find more information this is what I did:
The first step was to look at the google profile for email@example.com, note the profile picture in the helmet and the photograph of him in the first post about his Spanish homework.
You will notice the same helmet in his YouTube profile, along with a lot of viewing habits to help determine his likes and dislikes:
Next if you search for him in Facebook, there are 2 results. The first is his active personal account, note the same helmet photo as in the youtube/google account that made the false copyright claim and posted comments admitting to being the source of the claims on the celebrity’s Facebook page. Also note the picture of the little girl (his sister Tiffany). The second fake account used to post the comments, shows that Tiffany is a friend as well and also shows the celebrity as a like.
Next the only Twitter account for this name, was following only one thing, the football team for Sehome Highschool in Bellingham WA, the school listed in his Facebook profile. This also gave his twitter handle “armin196”.
Having all this information, allowed me to mine the publicly posted information on these sites:
address: 1371 Barkstone Ct, Bellingham WA 98229-2583
school: Sehome High School (senior last year)
hometown: Bellingham, Washington
potential aliases: dronezgarden, seniorbanana
facebook: Seniorbanana, arman.yaralian.5
After more research it was also easy to find out about his active career in varsity football along with all his team mates names:
Pubic census and voter records also were able to be used to determine information about his family and neighbors.
In the end the only evidence of this person having any drone footage online was 3 crude clips at DailyMotion none of which were used by the internet celebrity.
Have you ever wondered if Nitrogen filled tires are worth it? Race car drivers, commercial jets and the space shuttle thought it was a good idea, it must be right? So the real question might be does the benefit outweigh the cost? Claims are that it will provide a more constant air pressure in the tire, with less need to top the tires up thus leading to a more comfortable ride and better fuel economy. But again, is it worth $20-30 per tire?
Lets look at some facts. Air on earth at sea level contains about 80% Nitrogen naturally, with close to 20% Oxygen, and a very small fraction made up of other Noble gasses. At sea level this means an unfilled tire has 1 ATM of earth air in it as soon as it gets mounted to the rim (with 80% Nitrogen in it). To fill it the rest of the way with a compressor you are putting in 80% Nitrogen, so in my case (using ST tires), at 3.4ATM (50psi) I am still getting 80% Nitrogen in my tires.
Some common pressures:
- air pressure at sea level = 1 ATM
- air pressure of a typical car tire (32psi) = 2.1 ATM
- air pressure of a typical ST trailer tire (50psi) = 3.4 ATM
- air pressure of a typical class A truck tire (100psi) = 6.8 ATM
So is 100% Nitrogen worth it? Well have you noticed one flaw so far. You may not be getting 100% Nitrogen to begin with. If the shop simply hooks up your tire to a Nitrogen tank and adds Nitrogen up to your required PSI, there is already air in the tire. Remember, an empty tire fresh on the rim already has air in it (1 ATM at sea level), so to get a ST tire up to 3.4 ATM, you have to add an additional 2.4 ATM of pure Nitrogen to the 1 ATM of 80% Nitrogen. This will actually leave you with about 95% Nitrogen, and about 5% Oxygen left over. Now a proper shop should also be bleeding the tire and refilling it, but they cannot get to 0 ATM, as the tire will collapse, so in reality they can never achieve 100% Nitrogen unless the tire is in a vacuum. Also bleeding means they waste Nitrogen that they are paying good money for.
As an RV’r I had always been taught to watch tire pressure like a hawk, Trailer tires are rumored to be poorly made and far more prone to blowouts. So the rule had been, buy a good pressure gauge, check pressure before and during every trip and top up or invest in a TPMS system to watch pressure in real time.
So if you already get 80% Nitrogen for free vs close to 100% for $80-120 for a set of 4 tires is it worth that cost if you are checking tire pressure every trip anyway and your pressure is always at the optimal PSI giving you the best handling, performance and mpg? I think I will risk just 80% Nitrogen.
Lets start this post with a quote from Ben Franklin 1759 “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This is the actual original quote, although it has been requoted inaccurately as well. In this day and age we give up an enormous amount of Liberty to purchase our government a little temporary safety.
It is near impossible to go anywhere without leaving a trail that can be followed. Some people leave less of a trail and in some countries it is easier to not leave a trail. There are a great many things we can do to minimize the trail we leave but it takes significant effort to leave little or no trail behind. The most important thing to remember is 99% success at not leaving a trail is 0% effective. All it takes is leaving one bread crumb and a trail that can be followed is started.
So the real question is why bother trying. There are a number of possible answers. The first, because you resent government watching you. The second is because you just want to get away from the world. And also, you may simply be paranoid of the government and want to protect your privacy. Perhaps the more intelligent answer is that you do not resent government watching, but you resent government not being held accountable for who they watch and why and how they store, share and use the data they do capture.
Take a look at a few examples of ways you can be tracked:
- Your cell phone can be tracked by its IMEI ID via cell towers and can be triangulated.
- Government can use fake cell towers to do a man in the middle attack on your call and data to watch everything as it passes by.
- You can also track header information from calls and texts. Also any app that runs in the background on your phone can be used to track you.
- Every time your email goes out to check for new messages or any app like Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Snapshot, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. check for updates they leave an record that can be traced back to a location.
- The GPS on your phone can be used to betray you by allowing the phone company to retrieve exact, realtime location information directly from your phone as you are moving around.
- Making purchases leaves a paper trail. Every time a credit or debit card is used, there is a record of where and when.
- Every time you walk into or passed a store you are on camera in real time but also recorded. While you walk thru a store, even with hundreds of cameras, they can follow you from camera to camera.
Tracking data is only part of the equation. Building a database with enough data can help turn data that appears to be anonymous into data that can be used to identify you. Once a database of your behavior is established, advertisers, stores, cell companies, government or anyone who has access to this data can also start to analyze the data to determine patterns that can be used to predict your future behavior based on past behavior.
Perhaps the question should not be, should companies and governments have the right to track you or not, but rather if they are going to track you how will they be held accountable to some code of conduct and some level of transparency in their operation? Also if they have a right to collect data, should you not have a right to see that data they collect? Should there also not be a standard practice for how to collect the data, store the data, secure the data, use the data and share the data? Should this also not be legislated in a national way similar to a Constitution, guaranteeing these rights to all citizens similar to the universal right to freedom and the right to not be discriminated against etc? Finally should citizens not have a fair expectation that their government should lead by example?
Last summer I was looking for a roof top bike rack that I could use to carry the kids bikes when we went out East. I discovered the Swagman at MEC (Canada’s equivalent to REI). It was about $100 per bike (sold separately) so I bought 2. The install was quite easy and only took a few minutes. It is actually so easy, I take them off in the winter, just to make it easier to clear the snow off the roof of the car. The description said they were universal mount on most types of cross bars. They fit perfectly on our Hyundai with stock cross bars. Once installed I found that mounting the bikes was quick and easy. The hardest part, as with any roof top bike carrier, was getting the bikes up to the roof. Leaving the back doors open, I could easily step up and lift them to the roof. Securing the bikes was quite easy with 2 straps securing the tires in place and the cross bar to hold them upright. We have used them for two summers and gone camping over 10,000km with the bikes on the roof.
One day I may pickup a Swagman Mighty Rack- Around the Spare Bike Rack so I can put the bikes on the back of the trailer and still carry the Canoe or one day purchase a Standup Paddleboard.