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Monday, December 23, 2013

Vivian Maier - Queen of the SELFIE????????????????????

A nanny for the rich has turned out  to be the real deal in street photography.

Vivian was a very secretive person and her life and her death was almost unnoticed if it was not for a an auction of photos.

I ask what would have someone who could shoot a ton of selfies in film back in the day. It was to record the moment that she existed in the world even if forgotten.

What is sensed is the intimacy and gaurded self of it all.

The brilliance of myself captured in a negative, a piece of film, for eternity.
Look at me as I am here for you and look to see me for what I am...a photographer!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Boost Your Sales by Telling a Compelling Story

Boost Your Sales by Telling a Compelling Story

Marketing is all about storytelling, bit many fail as they lack an emotional connection with the audience.

When making a presentation to a customer make sure you include a compelling story that may be in how your solution solves their business problems.

I like to use “A Day in the Life" stories that allows my audience to completely understand how my solution can help their employees dramatically boost their productivity.

Don't forget the last step is a call to action or asking for the next step in the sales process.

The Gold Nikon FA

The black version of the Nikon FA was my first real Nikon camera. It was a joy to behold with the pro motor drive.

Nikon FA, 1983-1989

Nikon has long been portrayed as having leadership in the professional camera market since the introduction of the Nikon F in 1959. When the Nikon FA was introduced in 1983,  it was truly a revolutionary camera. It will be most remembered for it's innovative metering system - an early testbed for the current and much copied 'Matrix Metering' system commonly found in many Nikon AF cameras. It was also the first Nikon camera body that had shutter priority and program automation exposure control.

This was in addition to the traditional favoured aperture priority AE and fully manual exposure control. Furthermore, TTL OTF flash metering enhanced the FA's flash capability and made the FA the most sophisticated multimode manual focus Nikon ever. To supplement the FA's immense capabilities, a host of other changes occured during the early part of the eighties. Firstly, a new line of Nikkor lenses called the AI-S (Automatic Indexing Shutter) and a new dedicated motor drive 

This was in addition to the traditional favoured aperture priority AE and fully manual exposure control. Furthermore, TTL OTF flash metering enhanced the FA's flash capability and made the FA the most sophisticated multimode manual focus Nikon ever. To supplement the FA's immense capabilities, a host of other changes occured during the early part of the eighties. Firstly, a new line of Nikkor lenses called the AI-S (Automatic Indexing Shutter) and a new dedicated motor drive MD-15 were introduced. Depite all these, the FA still retained its backward compatibilitiy with the huge Nikon system. The flash was the SB-16 model.
There is one on ebay for $3000 US

Note that the camera needs either two S-76 or the easier to find LR44 batteries.

Now drool on this..............

"In commemoration of winning the "Camera Grand Prix" prize, Nikon FA Gold was released in Japan (Nippon). This was based on the FA, and its silver color parts such as top and bottom covers are gold-plated and the lizard skin was used for leather cover.
It was a limited edition housed in the box of paulownia wood and priced at 500,000- Japanese Yen, even the coupling ring of the barrel of AI Nikkor 50 mmf/1.4 normal lens attached was gold-plated and Nikon logotype on its lens cap was also gold-plated ......such an elaborate work.
Nippon Kogaku had made so far gold-plated cameras in small quantity which were used for commemorative gifts to dealers, but the FA Gold was the first gold-plated model that was for sale.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weekly Thoughts on Technology and a Better Life! #1

Random tidbits to ponder in making for a better life!

1. Smart Appliances

The Japanese are enjoying the benefits of smart appliances in the Internet of Everything world. A refrigerator that texts your dinner and sends you an inventory. A washing machine that is voice enabled or a wi-fi enabled rice cooker that pings you when its done. Do we need a app based toaster? yes we do

2. Mobilicity is Bankrupt

Enough already. Can the CRTC just let WIND or TELUS buy them so that they can continue with service to its customers and provide jobs. They have almost 200,000 customers and valuable spectrum so at this point in their business plan a buyout is needed. Ottawa should just let it happen.

3. 48 Hours in the Valley

Good luck to the lucky 17 of Canada's most promising startups looking to get VC funding. This just shows how pathetic the VC system is in Canada. I hope the next Canadian  FaceBook gets funding from the USA and makes another American rich. Having gone through this with a startup in 2003 looking for some VC it really speaks to how Canada sucks at being innovative and sparking new activities.

4. Google Corporate Cloud

Google Compute Engine  continues to compete against Amazon's AWS as they compete against Microsoft Azure. This whole cloud thing is getting interesting again. Stay Tuned

5. Music Motivates Shoppers

Reitman's stock is getting creamed and their Smart Set store is resorting to having music playlists create a better in store mood for shoppers to spend money. This never really hit me in the head until I was in several LOFT stores in New York. They had a really structured approach to their background music. It worked as my wife spent money. Now that they are at Yorkdale the mystery isn't that important anymore. Look at Target? who shops there?

6. BlackBerry BES is actually a Great Corporate Tool

I am not surprised that the BES 10 has gained 25% in market share for a software package that allows the corporate IT Manager to manage Blackberry, iOS and Android devices. IT needs to securely manage these smartphones and RIM has the right solution. Does this mean BB should focus on services more than devices? maybe but the BB is still the smartphone of choice in the African market so there is a market segment there worth selling into.

7. Canadian Black Friday or Cyber Monday

The dates meant nothing as there were deals before Friday and after Monday. This is just a big marketing game. I polled many of my friends and the response was the same " I have no interest in losing a finger in the riots to get a 99 cent 32GB USB stick that I really do not need" however  I will risk my life to obtain 99 cent lobster tails, 99 cent a  pound Angus steaks, 29 cents bags of milk, and a nickel for a dozen free range chicken eggs. Feeding my family has become of importance instead of fueling the electronics or disposable fashion industry. What I have noticed is a trend to purchasing local items, of high quality, with a long life cycle that are discounted but not to the 90% off level. You can get these deals on boxing day. North Face had a 70% sale and during the crazy sale week the deals were 50% for the same item. Who wins? not the consumer.

The scary thing is whatever stupid electronic gadget you buy will be discontinued soon anyways. The must have Jambox at $200 has better competition at the $29 level today so why lose a finger over a bluetooth speaker which is now a stocking stuffer and not a must have. Save gas, be green and buy your 72" LCD TV online. If you buy a Kobo remember the case costs more than the device.

Holy Crap Johnny Style

Holy Crap is an innovative Canadian health product that is a breakfast item. I decided one day that I would attempt to create my own version of this product to feed my voracious family that was featured on Dragons Den. This product is a great success story for the show and shows how television can increase brand recognition and sales. They also make a Skinny B version as well.

The base ingredients  of the cereal is pretty straight forward Both cereals contain the same mix of seeds; the organic superfood chia, organic fruit seed buckwheat and organic hulled hemp hearts.

Add organic cranberries, organic raisins, organic apple bits and organic cinnamon and the crap is ready to go.

Skinny B contains 50% more chia seeds in the seed blend than Holy Crap cereal.

My version is just as tasty but is a different blend of their ingredients to suit my tastes but whenever I travel the first stop in any town is to pick up a pack of Holy Crap or Skinny B to give satisfy my breakfast cravings. The CBS or TSA does not take lightly to this crap in your carry on bag.

The Johnny Crap version is as follows:

- 1.5 cup chia seeds
- 1.5 cup buckwheat- 1.5 cup hemp hearts

I blend these into a masonary jar and refrigerate.

then I add depending on the mood I am in and continue to fill the masonary jar with any of the following items:

- 1/3 cup dried cranberries 
- 1/3 cup Goji Berries
- 1/3 cup dried blueberries
- 1/4 cup raisins 
- 1/4 cup dried apples 
- 1 tsp cinnamon 
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- 1/3 cup banana chips or powder
 - 1/4 cup dehydrated pineapples

add some soy or almond or coconut milk and ENJOY!

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Hand's-On approach to R&D Innovations is a Great Strategy

Successful growth organizations are those that are constantly generating new innovations. Involving all staff to participate involves a structure approach, continuous encouragement from the leadership team, and rewarding employees who develop novel business solutions. Many of these innovations can be incremental and some can encompass new lines of business.

It is important that the C-Suite create a culture where staff are free to express their ideas either in ideas for driving new business or in solving customer problems. This culture is what brings increased revenue to the bottom line and improved customer satisfaction scores.

NEW ideas can be encouraged in 3 ways:

1. An annual New Ideas conference or workshop
2. A monthly New Ideas session specific to existing product and services
3. A New Ideas suggestion box right to the Innovations Officer

The key to innovation is to have a process of constantly generating new ideas and a follow up process back to the idea generator. In this way the dialogue remains open and consistent in a healthy manner.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Is Smartphone the King?

Is Smartphone the King?

The smartphone has been a technology disruptor and a company killer. It is the app frenzy but the browser with internet connectivity that became the big enabler of adoption for this technology. Think back 5 years ago and imagine your life then when the smartphone was a BlackBerry, and flip phones ruled the world with 10 key text input.

Nokia and BlackBerry are companies getting killed and Treo was actually killed. Not sure where Googorola fits in yet. Meanwhile Samsung took over the world one free android OS at a time.

Amazon and Facebook are trying to get into the game as well. Why? The smartphone is becoming the King and the preferred method of communications. For Amazon it’s all about the input device into their shopping networks and for Facebook it’s all about grabbing mobile advertising revenue.  Again it is the app driving the consumer.

Maybe BlackBerry should release a Twitter branded version of the Q10, a Kardashian branded version, The Pope version and even the Green bay Packers could do similar. These branded versions could have exclusive design and content features not available anywhere. Sprint did this with their Nascar branded Motorola i736 flip phone.

But John, you are off on a tangent , focus on disruptation. Ok folks here goes:

Kodak and Polaroid got killed by the smartphone. Really?  Sure they did and they did fall asleep at the wheel as the world switched to digital film. Back in the day, everyone had a film camera and the 110 format allowed a small, pocketable camera that could be taken anywhere. With the new Nokia Lumia 102 with its 41MP camera, Apple’s improved camera on the iPhone 5 means photography is now so much better. Why lug a heavy SLR around your neck? Just snap away and let Snapchat and Instagram do its work for you. Use the various apps to edit the photos in device before uploading to Flickr and Facebook. Hmmm the $3000 Nikon D800 cannot do that. Most consumers just need a convenient way of taking photos to print into 4x6 or file away in their hard drive. It is no wonder that point and shoot camera sales are down year over year and DSLR is being affected as well. The smartphone being an internet device can have its software upgraded and the photo app software upgrade very easily. Adding new features or simplifying storage is very difficult on a traditional digital camera. The most important innovations in photography have actually happened on smartphones.

Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation are also getting slowly killed. Consumers have shifted their appetite for free and disposable games from their local app store. No need to have a purpose built portable game console anymore when the smartphone screen size and processing power exceeds the Nintendo DS and Game Boy. Though, like many other nerds really prefer playing Tetris on a GameBoy because that is just the way it is meant to be played, not in colour on a swipe screen device. Take your iPhone and Airplay it to your big screen TV and your PlayStation 2 just got donated to the Salvation Army.  However, the gamers will always run high end Desktops or the new game consoles to play Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto because you can now have wrinkles on the clothes, and other super fine detail. The new consoles are really now unified multimedia machines with Netflix, Blu-ray DVD, chat and VOIP apps embedded. Actually the PC is going to be killed by the new game consoles. Throw Microsoft Office onto the new Xbox and who needs a Desktop PC anymore especially when you have a Surface tablet.

Traditional Wallets are getting killed. The smartphone is becoming the payment device and you can store all your receipts online. Who needs a wallet? Who even wants a wallet for Christmas?  No one
Laptops are getting killed by the smartphone. You can actually do a lot of stuff with a Samsung Note 3 without the need for a laptop. Laptop users that need processing power and lots of memory will always be a market but if Google releases a Motorola Note G with a 6” screen and its cloud apps then road warriors will rejoice.  Please bundle in a HDMI cable and extended battery sleeve with a nice Blue Tooth headset into the Road Warrior Edition. Actually do up a 7” version and a smart watch to the mix.  You now don’t need a mini Tablet anymore.

The smartphone is a mean animal that has devoured the camera industry, the portable game console industry, nibbling away at the Laptop industry, the wallet industry is making more money selling smartphone cases,  and it’s on the lookout for the its next lunch.

My smartphone is my camera, game console, TV, music player, e-book reader, alarm clock, notepad, wallet, flashlight, portable office, tamagotchi, boarding pass and recipe box. I look forward to what the next 18 months brings to the market, who knows it may be able to cook a meal, or replace the home alarm system and my keychain as well.

Yeah the smartphone is the King and with a bejewel case can be the Queen as well. Actually the smartphone has no gender.

The smartphone may also be chewing away on productivity, the sales flyer, newspaper, Sunday mass, and donuts. I do know one thing and that one day the smartphone will protect us from zombies, robots and vampires and there is a teenager in a garage somewhere working on that right now.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch Review (Wearable Technology wish list)

The Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch Review (Wearable Technology wish list)

I was at the mall the other day and there was a pop up retail kiosk set up 100 feet away from the Apple store. The kiosk was staffed with a multi-cultural team of brand ambassadors that piqued shopper interest and created line ups.

What is the buzz? It seems the Galaxy Note 3, being the oversized smartphone (bigger may be better) of choice and the new add on of a watch.  I wonder how many consumers thinking they wanted an Apple product ended up buying a tablet, watch and shiny new phone from Samsung??

Wearable technology is the most anticipated next step for the smartphone manufacturers to gain market share and drive new revenue streams.

Samsung has fired the first salvo in the wearable technology battle and just before Christmas. Not sure what the boys back in Cupertino are doing but for every Samsung watch sold means one less Apple smartphone sale as consumers jump ship to seek a better integrated lifestyle’s platform. Sony is thinking the same thing if they can ever get a real ecosystem going their market share will improve.

The joy of syncing your BlackBerry with your Playbook was a neat trick but Apple killed that idea when you can now sync your MacBook with your iPhone, iPod and iPad tablet. Samsung now adds a watch to the mix and it is a clever device.

Pebble created the wearable technology craze when it kick-started over $10M in funding. Actually, historians will remember the Microsoft  SPOT in 2004 which was great for weather reports and stock prices. Let’s see what the girls in Redmond will create with Nokia and it could add a killer Xbox interface for Call of Duty. Imagine calling in air strikes with your watch.

So what does a $300 watch do for your fashion sensibility and first adopter status?  It does a lot in street credibility and showing off at slumber parties. I am sure the neon orange will outsell the white or black models.

Currently the watch only works with the Note 3 as the Koreans scramble to bring the other Samsung devices into the mix.

What does it do for you? It notifies you of messages and texts and you can make telephone calls by voice activation. This is a brilliant idea as it keeps the big Note 3 secure in your jacket pocket; however, you still need to reach in a check the message details. Remember, it is just notifying you of a message.
Solid construction, clear and sharp LED display, 1.9MP camera (kind of poor) and battery life is short needing a daily charge is the short and sweet.

There are some clever apps that can be a driver to buy the watch with Evernote allowing voice to text memos, Path is the photo sharing program, Pocket reads back stories you saved and Run Keeper and SnapChat fill out the 4GB internal memory. It also includes the favourite PSY app that can add gangnam style to everything you do (JOKES).

Expect more apps to fill up the catalog over the next few months.

I was kind of expecting a WOW moment but after spending time with the watch it is definitely a great start and a move in the right direction. It is a notifier of activity and an input/output device that marries with your smartphone.  It is not a standalone smartphone or micro tablet.

  • You’re driving in your car and you get a call and answer with the watch or you make a voice dial to call someone. That is handy.
  • You get a text during a meeting and you glance at your wrist when it vibrates and take note of it.
  • It wakes you up during your mid afternoon nap.
  • It feeds content into your Evernote world
  • You have one additional device to now charge before you go to bed.
  • Everyone notices that bright neon orange watch and you become the center of attention for several moments. You have proven first adopter status in your circle of influence now that Google Glass has worn off.

I would consider this to be a great add-on to your Samsung world and definitely has some very useful apps and ways to interact with your email, texts and phone calls. I look forward to the next release which promises more capabilities as the consumer demand becomes the watch being more of a standalone device than an add-on but the power of Sync between apps will become stronger. Now your
Consumers will expect an embedded Fitbit device, GPS, a better camera, spy video stealth mode, more memory and a eBay/PayPal app.

Now when you get outbid on the Batman Dark Knight lunch box, you get notified on your watch and you can click to increase your bid. Very useful when you are in a 3 hour sales meeting and can’t get your desk in time to win the auction.

Consider this opportunity for bringing efficiency and happiness to your world:
Your Samsung world is linked to your Amazon account. As you make your way to the bus stop, you fancy a Thai dinner. You open your  Smartdinner app and choose the Thai Shrimp Red Curry on Rice, it  pings your Samsung refrigerator and Smart Pantry  to see what’s in stock, and it reports back that you need coconut milk, red curry paste and red peppers. You also need to buy your girlfriend the new Lady Gaga CD, and buy Nancy Duarte’s new book on presentation skills. No problemo, with a triple flick of your wrist the amazon app opens up and you speak your demands, answer yes as it confirms, and charges your credit card. As you get on your 1 hour bus ride, you feel so happy that when you get home the purchases are in your courier delivery box. You are even happier that your girlfriend got your text and is making dinner while dancing to the new CD you bought her.

Happy, Happy, Happy

Monday, October 14, 2013

What do you do if you are stopped and questioned by the police?

What do you do if you are stopped and questioned by the police?

You have a choice. When you are approached by the police, you can decide whether you will speak with them and/or give them any information, tell them your name, or produce identification. For the most part, you do not have to answer questions asked of you by the police and cannot be arrested for refusing to answer.

If you lie about your name or address, however, you can be charged with obstructing justice or the police.

In Toronto, if you give the police your name and/or produce your identification, it is likely that what you provide to them will be put on what the police call a Form 306, more formally called Community Inquiry Reports. That form will indicate what your name is, where you were when the police spoke to you, the time and date when they spoke to you, what you said you were doing and who you were with and other personal information. All of that information, along with other kinds of police contact (like 911 calls), can go into the Toronto police computer system and remain available to police for many years.

It is also likely that if you tell the police your name, they will run a police computer check on you through the RCMP Central Repository system known as CPIC. CPIC will tell the police officer you are dealing with whether there is a warrant for your arrest and whether you are on bail, or any other information police already have. If you are on bail, CPIC will tell the officer the terms of your bail. If you are violating the terms of your bail, the officer will likely arrest you and charge you for breaching your bail. You will be held for a “show cause” hearing, at which time a decision will be made whether you will be kept in jail pending your trial(s).

In general, the police can ask you any questions they want, but you do not have to talk to them, show them your identification or answer their questions. The main exception to this general rule is that it is probably advisable to identify yourself when you are stopped and questioned by the police as part of an investigative detention, when you are stopped on a bicycle for a traffic offence, when you are stopped while driving a motor vehicle or when you are being investigated for a non-criminal offence such as drinking in a public place.

According to a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in a case called R. v. Mann, the police have no right or power to stop you unless they have reasonable grounds to believe you may have been involved in a criminal offence. If they have such reasonable grounds, they are entitled to briefly stop you for what is called an investigative detention.

If the police approach you and tell you about a specific criminal offence they are looking into and that they believe you are involved in it, in that situation you may decide to co­operate with the police by giving them your name and producing identification. But before you give them any information, ask them why they have stopped you and get specific details of the offence they are investigating.

If you are the driver of a car stopped by the police, under the Highway Traffic Act, you must produce your driver’s licence, car registration and insurance for the vehicle you are driving. But note: passengers do not have to identify themselves or answer any questions asked by the police (unless the police are doing an investigative detention for a criminal offence).

Similarly, police issuing tickets for bylaw offences (e.g. drinking in public, trespassing, Highway Traffic Act offences committed by bicyclists, etc.), can demand identification in order to ensure that they have a correct name and address. Failing to convince the police of your identity in this situation may give them the right to arrest you, even if the offence itself is not a serious one.

Once stopped or detained, the police do not have a general power to search you or to get you to show them what you have in your pockets, or to search your bag or knapsack. We recommend that you politely but firmly decline to be searched. If they have grounds to arrest you, police do have a general power to search you for any items that you might have that could be used to harm the police or provide evidence.
The police in our city have a difficult job to do. We recommend that you deal with them as politely as possible.

Smartphone Users Border on Obsession

Scientists warn that repetitive checking of smartphones for news and emails, and using social networking and other services is becoming an obsessive habit.

Helsinki Institute for Information Technology researchers analyzed the habits of smartphone users in the US and Finland and found that many of the users are engaged in repetitive checking behaviors throughout the waking hours. 

According to the findings, a typical smartphone check lasts less than 30 seconds and involves opening the screen lock and accessing a single application. A considerable proportion of smartphone use consists solely of such checks. 

The checkings do not occur randomly; they are associated with a small set of contexts triggering them, such as reading emails when commuting or checking news while bored. 

Despite the high prevalence of the "checking habit," many of the users did not consider the behavior as an addiction, instead described it in terms of overuse or an annoyance, said the report published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

"What concerns us here is that if your habitual response to, say, boredom, is that you pick up the phone to find interesting stimuli, you will be systematically distracted from the more important things happening around you," said Lead author Antti Oulasvirta. 

"Habits are automatically triggered behaviors and compromise the more conscious control that some situations require and studies are already starting to associate smartphone use to dire consequences like driving accidents and poor work-life balance," he warned. 

"Unfortunately, as decades of work in psychology shows, habits are not easy to change," Oulasvirta added about the new high-tech ground for manifestation of the addictive behavior. 

The joys of a Ravine and how they benefit our lives!

The joys of a Ravine and how they benefit our lives!

Ravines are beautiful and part of our watershed and they offer unique benefits to our lives.

1)      Natural Air Conditioning – All that cement and buildings in our inner cities are always hotter than the outlying green spaces.

2)      HEPA Filter – The green forests in our ravines convert Carbon dioxide into clean oxygen while filtering out other pollutants.

3)      Flood Control – Our ravines are the flood control systems of nature. Erosion control, deep rooted trees, and natural water filtration help control flash floods and torrential rains.

4)      Climate Change – Ravines convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and provide a colling effect with shade.
5)      Therapy – Ravines are full of negative ions that reduce stress and tension. The sound of a babbling brook also has a calming effect on ones soul.

6)      Fitness center – Walking, and jogging and cycling through a ravine is a fresher approach to a treadmill or stationary bicycle.

Ravines are a natural part of our city and need to be preserved and included in new sub division projects in suburbia. Many urban planners are taking these considerations into account as they expand , modify and create new cities.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

M2M WaveGuide Events – Opportunities in a Connected World

Thanks to Helene Joncas for this multi-city cross Canada event and Izabella for the awesome location at University of Toronto's Hart House

I will share some of my notes from this educational conference sponsored by Sierra Wireless, Rogers and T-Mobile

Wavefront's mission is to be the center of excellence for wireless in Canada and they are doing a fantastic job

Machine to machine or M2M is the next big opportunity as we migrate to the Internet of things

The amazon kindle really changed how devices started using the cellular networks beyond voice. Loading up on books on a beach through a 3G network was a new idea. The iPhone changed how consumers used apps and data.

There is a huge market for devices communicating with each other that will use 3G/4G networks to access the internet.

Rogers is the leader on M2M as a connected network provider from SIM cards, device management, and manged service offerings. A basic M2M account starts at $16 a month. They manage things like the Best Buy kiosks, Coca Cola Freestyle pop machines and of course parking meters. They are busy with the Retail Connected Store offering couponing and data analytics. Expect the competition to follow their footsteps.

Sierra Wireless as a great Canadian technology company is the leader with #1 market share in M2M technology. Their Airlink gateways, Airlink modules and Air manager software portfolio will satisfy and M2M project requirements. You can find them in the Chrysler cars and Cisco Routers for example. The automotive market is the biggest area right now with telematics a close second.

T-Mobile or  global giant Deutsche Telekom are global leaders with over 10 million connections worldwide.They are also the biggest systems integrator for M2M in the automotive market.

There is a lot happening in M2M today and it will be a platform of innovation activity for the next ten years. for more info

Savvy Business Travel Tips (Eaton Chelsea Hotel)

I have been getting a lot of requests from my business friends on LinkedIn on where is a good place to stay in downtown Toronto for business or pleasure. My recommendation is the Eaton Chelsea. They have a great room selection from your usual hotel room to a family fun suite which includes DVD and XBox and kids jungle gym and a kitchenette, to larger suites and also rooms with a kitchenette (perfect for those long business stays). You don't find this at most of the other hotels. It is a few blocks away from the Eaton center, close to the subway and a 15 min walk to the financial district. This is a way better time than staying at the airport strip hotels that are an expensive cab ride in and out. Of course the free Wi-Fi, adult only fitness center and a adult only heated pool doesn't hurt. For families they have a crazy 130 foot corkscrew water slide and even a Teen Club Room with video games, pool table and arcade. Repeat stays can earn you access top the club lounge so sign up for their loyalty program and enjoy the 6pm checkout time.

1) After you taken care of business, schedule some downtime to experience the destination on the other side of your hotel room door. This can be several hours or it can be a whole day. Clever flight planning can free up some time to explore and learn about the city your staying in. I always will seek out what local museums, farmers market, cultural centers or unique shopping districts are nearby. Winnipeg has a great train museum, Edmonton has a wonderful plane museum, Calgary is a stone throw from Banff and its a great ride up there and back, Vancouver has Granville island and Stanley Park, Montreal has old churches and great museums, Quebec City has the military history museum and a farmers market,  Austin is well keeping it weird with the bat bridge, etc etc.

2) Skip the hotel restaurant and Subway and try something new and local. This is also a chance to explore new tastes and appreciate the local culture. I was in Saskatoon and we had a business lunch at a Mennonite restaurant and while in California we enjoyed California style pizza ( avocado pizza) and fish tacos. This food represents the influences from the local community.

3) Sign up for loyalty programs that earns you points for free stays, access to club lounges and late check out times. Air Canada rewards its members also with lounge access

4) NEXUS cards...get one and enjoy zipping through the security queues and customs on the way back. However, business travel by car across the border requires everyone in the car to have a NEXUS card so be aware of that if going through the Nexus lane

5) Travel Apps. I use Reward Wallet and Tripit are great and I have just started using Expensify. I don't bother with electronic boarding passes as its easier to just use the paper ones and I can also file it after the trip for expenses. When I travel to japan i will use iStone Travel Translator.

6) Patience and a sense of humour will also go a long way because it will be stressful, there will be delays and there will be miserable hospitality and airline staff to try to ruin your day.

Happy Travelling and don not forget to be nice to the airline hostess, they may just give you an extra packet of pretzel sticks

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

BlackBerry Device vs Share Price History

A comparison of device versus share price

957            April 2000           $21.32
7200          October 2003      $8.71
8700          November 2005   $25.33
Pearl          September 2006   $31.15
Curve         May 2007            $51.00
Bold           May 2008            $142.25
Storm         November 2008   $49.15
Torch         August 2010         $56.77
Playbook   April 2011             $51.96
Z10           January 2013          $13.01
Q10           May 2013             $15.89
Q5             May 2013             $15.53

Today $8

Biggest mistake was to not release the Q10 before the Z10. Every crackberry fan really loved the keyboard, BBM and the data compression schemes (OK security as well). When the Q10 came out it was no different than everything else and what people really wanted was the Q10. If the Q10 came out first then many would have switched from their Bold to the new model and the number of returns would have been less for the Z10.

This is for the 40-55 year old demographic, the under 25 set dumped their BlackBerrys 3 years ago and replaced BBM with Twitter and SMS

So now it will be apparent that no one will release a keyboard based smartphone except for Cricket who will make one for seniors with a larger than normal keyboard.

written on my iPhone 4 iOS6
please excuse any mstakes as it does not have a kyboard

Monday, September 16, 2013

How to create Innovation by Brainsteering and lead to the journey of One Million Acts of Innovation

How to create Innovation by Brainsteering and lead to the journey of One Million Acts of Innovation
In Kevin Coyne's new book titled Brainsteering: A Better Approach To Breakthrough Ideas he explains the process of generating new ideas.

Kevin Coyne respond to that question by providing in this volume an abundance of valuable information, insights, caveats, and recommendations that quickly identify the "what" and then focus intensively on the "why" and "how" of what they characterize as "a better approach to breakthrough ideas." Heaven knows there are dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of books already in print that make the same claim. My own opinion is that the Coynes' approach is comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective...and one of the best I have as yet encountered.
Change the way you think about new ideas by steering your creativity in new and more productive directions.
Ideas. Whether the goal is to create a billion-dollar business, fix a broken process, reduce expenses, or simply find the perfect gift for that special someone, we all need a steady stream of breakthrough ideas--and we've all learned from experience that traditional brainstorming doesn't generate them.
Former McKinsey consultants Kevin P. Coyne and Shawn T. Coyne have spent more than a decade developing a better approach--Brainsteering--that takes brainstorming and other outdated ideation techniques and "steers" them in a more productive direction by better reflecting the way human beings actually think and work in creative problem-solving situations. By introducing just the right amount of structure into the process, and asking just the right questions,
Peppered with thought-provoking and entertaining examples drawn from the workplace and popular culture, Brainsteering can help anyone develop breakthrough ideas, whether working alone on a one-time problem or turning an entire organization into an ongoing "idea factory." And getting started is easy: simply ask the right questions, and good ideas will follow.

Brainsteering has an appendix that shares 104 questions to use when brainstorming a new business idea, including:
What's the biggest (avoidable) hassle that customers have to put up with?
Who doesn't understand how to use our product?
Who has modified our product most extensively after purchasing it?
How would our product change if it were tailored for every customer?
What complexity do we plan for every day that, if eliminated, could change the way we operate?
What would it take to bypass the least efficient part of our supply or distribution chain?
What activities might our customers prefer to do for themselves if only they could?
What entities benefit economically to the greatest extent from our presence, and what could they do to help us succeed?
This is recommended book for the creative and voracious thinker and for those who need a kick start to create innovation.

Retail Applications for Mobility and In-Store Wireless Networks

Retail Applications for Mobility and In-Store Wireless Networks
The Retail Industry has always had an intense focus on technology to accomplish the need to increase revenues and lower costs. Wireless technology has been a great enabler to connect people and devices to resources without any wirers. This has greatly improved and dramatically transformed the business process in supply chain, logistics, and inventory management, point of sale and loss prevention. With over 50% of consumers having a wireless enabled device (tablet, Netbooks, laptop, Smartphone) with them when they visit a store it's imperative that retailers consider the wireless network as an improvement in the customer experience. This will allow the consumer to use their devices for couponing, promotions, price checking and for husbands to pass time while their wife is scouring every aisle for deals. The is generation will be known as the explosion of mobile devices.
Retailers can benefit and dramatically improve their business processes in the following areas:
Mobile Point-of-Sale
The typical POS is a wired device located at the fixed cash register location. However, by using a mobile POS the store can use pop up stores within a store with its own cash desk or provide temporary cash desks during busy times. Large Box stores have a lot more room to locate temporary cash locations.
Inventory Management
Store associates can easily use wireless bar code scanners to do inventory management tasks. Store associates with handheld computer devices can check for stock and inform customers if the product is in the back or if it's at another store location. Easy access to information can boost sales as customers are informed real-time and can decide accordingly.
Customer Service
Price Verification kiosks are a blessing for harried shoppers especially when one cannot find a salesperson in the store. These devices are always bolted on some wall or pillar and by not having to use any wiring makes them easy to set up and install. Another kiosk is the self-help kiosk that has a touch screen display making it super easy to look up products or to even find out where they are locate. "Press for Help" buttons that are wireless driven can also be used and I get a kick out of the device then transmitting onto the paging system "help needed in the wire cutting aisle".
Wireless Voice Communication
Walky Talkys are being replaced by wireless telephones and inventory scanners that are voice enabled. Now price check are quick and easy making for faster checkouts and telephone callers can be transferred to sales agents out on the floor to check stock or to ask questions.
RFID and Location Tracking
RFID is gaining ground and is extremely useful in automating inventory management and in some cases manages loss prevention of big ticket items. Typically the tags are read when leaving the warehouse or returning to the warehouse and assist in tracking of goods, but RFID nametags can now track store personnel. If you sneak outside for a cigarette don't' forget to leave your tag inside the store.

Wireless Video
Video is becoming a huge tool for loss prevention personnel with the proliferation of cameras feeding back to TV screens and digital recorders. Digital signage can now be placed anywhere and simply connected to the central server. Wireless LAN speeds are fast enough to support video streaming easily.
Consumer Guest Internet Access
Retailers need to start offering internet access to its customers. How else can they connect to do price checks, simple in-store research or to obtain coupons. Location tracking has become more precise that I can be walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store and a pop up ad for "Cheerios" could pop up on my iPod Touch or on my iPhone. I don't need to use my data plan bandwidth but can use the wifi network to its advantage. If my wife drags me out to the mall, I could sit with the retirees and enjoy a coffee while keeping busy playing on-line poker and checking out all the silly cat you tube videos. No Wifi,…No Shopping!!!
Naturally, today's networks are safe, secure and are PCI compliant and truly do lower IT costs while helping increase revenues and the customer user experience.

Reaping the Benefits of Unified Communications

The complexity of today's business environment is nothing short of remarkable. Global workforces, deeply intertwined supply chains, e-commerce, pervasive mobility and social media have radically transformed the workplace and served up enormous and growing communication challenges.

Today, many organizations—and their CIOs—are struggling to enable comprehensive and seamless collaboration across platforms, systems and devices. Although voice communication isn't going away, it's increasingly critical to build networks that also accommodate data and merge the two worlds in a transparent way.

Enter unified communications (UC). Although the technology has existed for years and a large number of enterprises have already put it into play, many CIOs are now exploring ways to ratchet up the capabilities to match today's digital workplace. Among other things, they're hoping to enhance collaboration tools, social media, messaging capabilities and mobile interaction across a wide range of applications and situations.

Unified Communications (UC) can help businesses succeed in many ways. It provides a technology platform to integrate, track, and manage phone, email, instant messaging, and more within a single, cohesive and user-friendly technology framework. 

Organizations can use UC to improve their customer service and outreach, track and route ongoing interactions, and make communications brilliantly simple no matter the device or location.

UC becomes a triple WIN for the employees that are reaping the benefits of this technology.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

13 Awesome Things You Didn't Know Were Made in Canada

13 Awesome Things You Didn't Know Were Made in Canada

1. Did You Know Most of the World's French Fries Come from Mcain Food in New Brunswick? 

2. Did You Know The Original Maple Bat Corp at Carlton Place Makes the World's Best Baseball Bats?

3. Did You Know Saskatchewan Makes Most of the World's Lentils?

4. Did You Know Scarborough Makes Most of the World's Halls Cough Drops?

5. Did You Know The Royal Winnipeg Mint Winnipeg makes Coins for Over 60 Countries? 

6. Did You Know Maynards in Hamilton Makes the World's Swedish Fish Candy?

7. Did You Know Cervelo in Toronto Makes the World's Best Racing Bikes?

8. Did you Know Pollard Banknote Winnipeg Makes Most of the World's Scratch Cards? 

9. Did You Know the World's Best Cymbals made by Sabian come from New Brunswick?

10. Did You Know Research Casting International in Trenton Makes Tons of Dinos?

11. Did You Know Whitewater West Industries in Kelowna Makes Most of the World's Water Slides?

12. Did You Know Flying Colours Corp in Peterborough is the Custom Aircraft Capital of Canada?

13. Did you know Atlantis Submarines in B.C. Makes Tons of Submarines?