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Hi! My name is Cam MacMurchy. I was born and raised in Canada and worked as a radio journalist before moving to China in 2004.

I have been in Hong Kong since 2008 and currently work as the head of global media relations and content at a large Hong Kong-listed technology company.  This blog is simply a place for random thoughts. Contact me anytime.



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Great Journalism from around the internet

Killer app to simplify Zoom calls on a teleprompter

The pandemic lit a fire under people to improve their home work setups, including how they come across on Zoom calls. I remember in the early days of the pandemic finding a video that explained how to make a simple teleprompter for use during video calls, because they enable constant eye contact with the audience while still looking directly at a monitor so you can see everyone else.

Better Display 2 is a free download from the Mac App Store. The Pro version costs US$17.

If you’re interested, I might do a walkthrough of the whole process. I took that initial idea and tweaked it a bit to make it even better. One of those improvements was getting a thinner, but bigger, display that would be reflected off the teleprompter glass. This created a problem, though: the reflected image appears backwards.

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Podcast recommendation: Heavyweight is a sweet, touching, emotional roller-coaster of a show (in a good way)

I’m one of those people who basically leaves AirPods in their ears 24/7 — but in my case, it’s not usually for music. I’ve become a certifiable podcast addict with a wide-range of shows in my queue — everything from discussions about the Vancouver Canucks to productivity software to Saturday Night Live (definitely check out Fly on the Wall if you’re an SNL fan).

Amid that sea of shows, one really stands out: Heavyweight. If you haven’t listened before, do yourself a favor and head over to Spotify right now (yes, unfortunately it’s a Spotify exclusive) and treat yourself.

My description won’t do the show justice, but I’ll try: each episode involves going deep into somebody’s past to “the moment everything changed.” It could be an issue that still nags at a person many years later, or unfinished business, or some mystery from the person’s past that they want resolved. Ultimately, they want peace of mind.

Heavyweight is hosted by This American Life alum Jonathan Goldstein (a fellow Canadian!), who has evolved into an absolute master storyteller. In fact, Goldstein was interviewed earlier this year on the Longform podcast, where the hosts called Heavyweight the best podcast out there.

The show is seasonal, with new episodes coming this fall. In the meantime, dive into the back catalog as the shows aren’t time sensitive. I’ve also included an interview featuring Goldstein below, but don’t watch it yet. Listen to a few episodes first, and then come back. You’ll get much more out of it.

Enough of me pontificating. Just trust me on this one — go have a listen. Now.

Tuk Tuk’n it in Sweaty Bangkok

I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of cameras and audio equipment over the past year, which has led me to establishing a new personal challenge: documenting trips in a more creative and compelling way. I’m officially an ‘old’, so still post still photos to Instagram and think that’s sufficient. And while I have no designs on becoming a full-time Tik Tok’er, I do want to do a better job of documenting these moments for myself to look back on someday.

That’s a long-winded way of saying I recently impulse-purchased my first 360-degree camera, the Insta360 X3. It’s a nifty little device that won’t win any video quality awards, but it does give the user (me) the peace of mind of knowing that it’s shooting footage everywhere. No need to point a 360 camera at anything, because it’s capturing everything.

After picking up some things at the grocery store, I decided to pull out the camera on a tuk tuk ride back to the condo. It’s not a slick video by any means, but I think it captures the moment.

Let me know what you think.

Travel hacks to make post-Covid trips seamless

There are a million lists of ‘travel hacks’ out there and I almost never share them, but for some reason I figured I’d pass this one along. It’s a list of 45 tips, some of which will be new to even the most seasoned traveler.

A few of them I already do, like roll clothes in a suitcase rather than fold and pack them. Another one is to bring food on board, especially if you’re flying economy. I’ve opted for a Subway sandwich from Vancouver airport many times before boarding, and my fellow passengers usually give me longing looks as I unwrap it while they dig into their soggy broccoli.

One of these tips genuinely surprised me, though: frozen items are permitted through security. We’ve all been caught, usually accidentally, with a water bottle in our carry-on luggage while passing through security. People either chug the water like it’s a high school beer, or just pass it to the security agents. However, if that same bottle of water was frozen, you’d get through with no trouble at all. Who knew?

If you’d like to pick up a few more ideas, or just miss traveling and want to pretend like you have a trip coming up, then dig in.

Birds aren’t real

Sometimes I wonder, with political polarization so extreme in the United States and elsewhere, how we’ll be able to work together to solve actual problems. Most days can seem pretty depressing.

Fortunately, though, one guy may have stumbled on the answer: by laughing at the absurdity.

I had not heard of the group “Birds Aren’t Real” before, and I almost didn’t listen to an episode of The Daily that teased the content by describing it as “fighting misinformation with misinformation”. But I’m glad I did.

If we are going to be saved from the mess we’ve made, it will likely be by brainy Gen Zers like Peter McIndoe. If you want a laugh — and a bit of hope — you can read about him in a feature in the New York Times. If audio is your thing, then don’t miss this episode of The Daily.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

It’s time for a re-think on COVID in Hong Kong

When it comes to the battle against COVID-19, things in Hong Kong are falling apart fast.

Most of the developed world is reaching a grudging conclusion that SARS-CoV-2 will be with us for a long, long time, and have begun to slowly lift restrictions where appropriate. It’s too early to say the end of the pandemic is near, but at least there is room for optimism.

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If we can’t ban cold calls outright, this might be the next best thing

I often joke with friends — well, half joke — that phone calls are rude. Not all phone calls, of course, but those that come without any warning.

I’m a person who loved getting phone calls when I was younger, but growing up means getting busier. It means filling up one’s day with responsibilities, meetings, work, exercise, chatting with a loved one, or whatever else. I don’t pretend to be busier than the next person, but we all have things to do.

In this context, phone calls are just plain rude. Think about it — we don’t show up at people’s houses unannounced, because we don’t know if now is convenient for them. Unless it’s a close friend or relative, people would usually schedule a visit in advance. Right?

A cold call is the equivalent of the person showing up and banging on your front door without warning. Now, imagine you just settled into a bath when the doorbell rings. Or maybe you’re reading a story to your kids, watching a movie, or just learned a relative passed away. Or, imagine you are sitting in a formal meeting at work, and a buddy bursts in because he wants to talk to you right now. We would never tolerate these things, because they are disrespectful; at least, I couldn’t imagine doing that to somebody else.

In an age of ubiquitous mobile phones and practically free text messages, why not a quick note first? It’s just a nice thing to do, isn’t it?

Thankfully it seems most people have embraced the pre-call text message, at least in my own small circle. But if you’re still dealing with friends dialing you up without warning, designer Dan Mall might have a solution. He’s created an iPhone mockup that gives users a heads-up about the nature of a call before they answer.

From 9to5Mac:

In his concept, Dan imagines that could be a “new interim screen before the call starts that prompts you to add a subject for the call.” In his case, he’s calling someone about “Visiting Westview this weekend.” Not only is it a pretty cool idea, but would also save us time when someone calls you about “that talk.”

On the receiving end, Dan notes, the person can preview the subject of the call to decide whether or not they want to take the call right now.

It wouldn’t necessarily end unannounced calls, but at least the receiver could determine whether to answer or not. It’s a step in the right direction.

As nice as the idea sounds, though, I give it about zero chance of ever happening. If cold callers can’t be bothered to message first, it’s unlikely they’ll take the time to fill out a subject field.

The ‘brands’ of the US and UK take a hit worldwide

Ed Luce, one of my favorite writers at the Financial Times, looks at how English-speaking democracies have been battling Covid. Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are doing decently well, but the other two aren’t:

The pandemic record of these three English-speaking democracies belies the notion that “Anglo-Saxon cultures” are too individualistic to stick to social distancing. If New Zealanders and Australians can wear masks, so could Americans and British. Ignoring common sense never used to be an anglophone stereotype. What separates the US and the UK from other democracies is extravagant self-belief. Half a millennium of potted history tells Anglo-Americans they are destined always to be on the winning side. It blinds both to how the rest of the world increasingly views them, which is with sadness and growing mockery.

Ed Luce, Financial Times

This is bang on.

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