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    2011 - 01.31

    This weekend I attended a conference “Social Media Marketing Unplugged“, so along with some 300 other people who gave up their Saturday, I too sat in a lecture theatre and listened to 8 speakers talk about various aspects of Social Media Marketing.  It was an interesting conference, and well worth the $95 I spent to attend (thanks SocialShopper).  Being more of a technology guy, and not so much of a marketing guy (although with the years I’ve put in volunteering for non-profits, it’s not a totally unfamiliar hat to wear) I’m not sure to what degree I’m going to try (or be able) to apply what I learned through the sessions.  Still, I came out of the sessions with more knowledge, and a few interesting ideas, we’ll see how they pan out.

    One of the sessions was on Yelp! which I’d heard of previously, but not really used.  Essentially it is a local community based reviews site for restaurants and businesses.  Because it’s a community, you can see how many reviews someone else has written, and through that see how their opinions mesh with your own, and develop a sense of trust of their reviews, allowing you to then base your purchasing or visiting decisions on those recommendations.  This could obviously be a quite powerful tool.  Yelp is also available as an App for various phones, and you can imagine how powerful that could be with a phone with GPS enabled.  Looking for a good nearby Greek restaurant would no longer require any knowledge of the neighbourhood (presuming that you trust your fellow Yelpers (as they’re called)).

    So where am I going with this?  Well, I suppose on some level I’m not sure.  Conceptually I like the idea, and it’s potential power, but personally I have a basic phone and tend to frequent the same establishments.  That said, I have signed up, and am actively reviewing places at the moment, so we’ll see if it has staying power for me personally or not.  Part of the interest was that it is possible for you to enter your own business on Yelp, if it’s not there already, so I was definitely curious to see if any of the Ultimate leagues were listed (didn’t find them), although it does appear that the local Disc Golf courses are, which is where I’ve been spending my review time so far.

    It’s worth checking out, to see if you’d find it useful, and if you’re already on Yelp feel free to add me as a “friend”, if you are a business owner, or even an employee, it’s probably worth checking to see if you’re listed on Yelp, and to see what people think of your service/products, it should either highlight areas of improvement, or allow you to accept a pat on the back.

    I suspect that there will be fewer review type posts appearing here in the future with them instead being put on Yelp (at least as a primary source) where they will be of more benefit to more people, at least in theory.

    Brush with What?!??!?!?

    2011 - 01.27

    I have a long standing complaint against dentistry, essentially it all stems from the Milk-Bone.  The idea that we have the ability to make a tasty treat for dogs which cleans their teeth, and yet we can’t make a chocolate cookie for humans which accomplishes the same thing?  Ok, I’m not married to the chocolate cookie idea, I mean in truth I’m not even that big a fan of chocolate cookies, but the principle holds, why do we have to go through a multi-time daily unpleasant ritual instead of some innovative approach, maybe a tongue ring based laser cleaning system?

    So what brought this annoyance to the top of mind was this article about brushing your teeth with soap.  Interesting article.

    Healthy Resolutions

    2011 - 01.26

    Over the last few years, Dave and I have worked on trying to get healthier. We tend to be undone by drinks…Coke for Dave and wine for me (and diet pop, and juice, and…yeah…). We’ve instigated a new rule at Chez Cowbels. For dinner, you must have a glass of water before drinking anything else. So far, we’ve been pretty good, although today I was home alone and consumed a glass of Chardonnay before I remembered.

    Another thing we’re trying to do is exercise more. In that vein, we dusted off our Wii Dance Dance Revolution mats last night and played a little. It always amazes me exactly how out of shape I get so quickly. Dave plays disc sports twice a week, while I…do not. I’m doing some kinesthetic physio now which works my core and a few other things, but I need some cardio. Thanks to SocialShopper, I picked up some inexpensive BoxerFit passes for three months at a place near home, en route to work. The idea here is that I’ll either work out before school *snicker…* or on the way home (potentially more likely, although I’m resolved to do at least a month of “bootcamp” style workouts [every morning…whimper…]) We both have pedometers and try to walk at least 5000 steps a day, and we’ll sometimes walk to the grocery store or someplace in our neighbourhood, just so we’ve got a place to go (note to self: walking to McDonalds for ice cream is counterproductive.).

    I’m also trying to eat healthier, which seems to be good. Yay!

    So, I’m just saying…

    2011 - 01.26

    Turns out that a large percentage of my recent posts have begun with the word “so”, needed to change things up, so it’s in the Title now, pretty smart, eh?  Yeah, that’s all I’ve got.

    Natalya Ignatova

    2011 - 01.26

    The wife of a former colleague is a photographer and has launched her new website.  On the off chance that anyone is looking for a photographer: http://www.natalyaignatova.com/

    Post War

    2011 - 01.25

    So Karin mentioned that she had started drafting a new post, and I made some inappropriately snide remark, which she rebuffed with: “Random Synapses had more posts than Cowbels last time I checked.”  So the Post War has started… or maybe not.  I suppose it’s just a silly thing, given that she contribute in both locations (although less frequently here).  Still it gives me something to write about, and well, we like to get a little silly at times.  In fact there was a quote from dinner tonight “I needed a little silly”, and it was neither Karin no I who needed it, but we protect our sources here, being the last bastion of something.

    It might be more amusing and unique however to claim to be the penultimate bastion of something…  Something to think about on a sleepless night perhaps.

    Robbie Burns Dinner

    2011 - 01.25

    So we’ve got a Robbie Burns Dinner coming up this Saturday evening.  It’s a fundraiser for the Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band which Karin’s brother is a member of.  This will be my third year in attendance, so I have a good idea what to expect.  Should be a good time, with good food and bagpipes.

    Interestingly there are currently two private members bills in the senate which are somewhat related.  Bill S-226 which would establish the Maple Leaf tartan as Canada’s national tartan (currently there is no national tartan).  Bill s-222 which would establish April 6 as Tartan Day in Canada (have no idea why they picked April 6).

    According to the article there are approximately 4.7 million Canadians of Scottish decent which translates to roughly 14% of the population, which is pretty impressive (1 in 7ish).  Who knew?  Scotland itself currently has a population of roughly 5.2 million.  So they only have 10% on us…  Undoubtedly there are countries out there where the native population is dramatically exceeded by the expat population, but it’s still surprising to see a figure like that.

    Social Media Conference

    2011 - 01.24

    So I signed up to attend Social Media Marketing Unplugged this Saturday.  Some interesting speakers, so hopefully it will be a worthwhile event.  Especially since it starts at 9am on a Saturday, you’d think it was Disc Golf or something.  Saw it on one of those daily deal sites, and figured for the discounted rate offered that it was worth checking out.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    2011 - 01.23

    So Karin and I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tonight, the original Swedish version.  We’ve both already read all three of the novels (The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest being the other two), and really enjoyed them.  The movie itself, well we enjoyed it, but our paperback English translation is 839 pages, and it’s difficult to get all of that into a single movie.  On some level it reminded me of the Lord of the Rings series, where you really enjoyed the series and wanted to see it come to life.  Lisbeth Salander is one of those characters.

    Having read the books (which do start to blur into one after the fact) and the fact that we needed to actually read the subtitles, it’s hard to judge how easy this movie would be to follow for someone unfamiliar with the novels, but if you’ve read them it’s worth watching to see those characters come to life (although the complex interactions at Millenium do not appear in the film at all).

    I personally am really looking forward to the English version which will be directed by David Fincher, who is a personal favourite director.  His body of work includes: The Social Network, Se7en, The Game* and Fight Club, all favourites.  So hopefully he can work his magic with this one as well, which I’ll be able to enjoy more (I suspect) in not having to read subtitles.

    *The Game is definitely one of my favourite movies of all time, and like The Usual Suspects it has the most impact on its first viewing.  Strongly recommended.  If you want something similar but in book form, try The Magus, John Fowles, which I’m trying to get on Karin’s list of 100 Book Challenge 2011.

    How we did: Duck Golf #4

    2011 - 01.22

    So we talked a little earlier about the Disc Golf tournament that we played in Maple Ridge a while back, the scores have now been posted, so you can check out how we did if you’re interested.  Turns out that Karin did much better than she thought she did, and it was actually mostly local players with more experience on the course who beat her, I’m reasonably pleased with my rounds, but as always I left strokes out on the course.  Need to work on that.

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