Joining Hill+Knowlton Strategies

I wanted to formally share some exciting news from my professional life. Effective yesterday, Ascentum Inc has been acquired and will be joining the Hill+Knowlton Strategies family.  I’ve been with Ascentum for 3 years and as you probably know Ascentum specializes in helping businesses, government and not-for-profit organizations facilitate and create dialogue with stakeholders via online, in-person and social media-based strategies and tools.

Move over Google and enter DuckDuckGo…


I think it was around 1998 when I first discovered Google on a trip to San Francisco, and I’ve been using it faithfully since. I tried Bing a few years ago but it didn’t really deliver much improvement. When I originally heard about people using DuckDuckGo, I was skeptical I’d see much improvement… I have to say I’ve been proven wrong, the search is great and includes a lot of little tricks that even one-up Google. One of the big considerations for me was the DuckDuckGo privacy policy and commitment not to track me. Its pretty simple, “DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information.”

Roger’s amazing shrinking value plan…

Since setting up and regretting Rogers One a few months ago my Roger’s value plan has been steadily shrinking.  My original Smartphone Value plan in December 2011 was:

  • Call Display with Name Display
  • Enhanced Voicemail
  • Voicemail to Text
  • Unlimited Sent Text, Picture & Video Msgs
  • Unlimited Rcvd Text Msgs – Unlimited Sent & Received US/International Text Msgs
  • Mobile Backup

The problem is Robocalls…

In Canada we’ve been experiencing a fairly large scandal involving Robocalls to Canadians surrounding the 2011 election.  I’ve been frustrated with Robocalls for several years and the lack of regulation by the CRTC.  A few years ago I kept getting Robocalls from a collection agency ( trying to reach someone named Brandi ) and recently I have been getting a barrage of calls from the NDP leadership campaign.  I think Robocall regulations should include:

Rogers One… Just not the one.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been using the Roger’s One Number service.  I was excited because this seemed to be a lot like the Google Voice service but for Canada.  The service lets you register your Roger’s wireless number and receive communications on your computer.  I’ve only used Roger’s One on my Mac Book Pro and it installs a small applet that launches a Roger’s One icon in your task bar.   This lets you know that the service is running and provides an interface to launch different web based locations to receive calls or text messages.  Roger’s One can also read your email and provide notifications, but I already have this via Gmail/Chrome so I disabled this functionality.

The Great US Paywall

I was recently in Florida for a Vacation and purchased an Amazon Fire device. The device is very similar to the Barnes and Noble Nook I purchased last year but I thought the Amazon content and store would provide a better experience. The first thing I did was sign up for Amazon Prime Trial, with no problems. I purchased some music, no problems and much better prices than iTunes. I also purchased a magazine subscription to 2600, no problems again.

I love Canada Post

Over the past few weeks I’ve ordered a number of things online and received shipments for all major shipping companies. My building has conceige that can sign for all packages that don’t require a payment for duty or COD. Its very interesting to see the process each company uses handle deliveries and collect the duty/COD charges:

The Legality of Groupon?

Groupon has really taken off in Canada.  I think mainly because many popular restaurants have been available as Groupons and that has driven alot of adoption.   One of my favourite restaurants, Utopia Cafe sold almost 1500 Groupons during their promotion.  Today’s Groupon is for the very popular Table 17 Restaurant

If you’re not familar with the concept basically a Groupon is presented for a limited time period, usually 24 hours and a certain number of people have to buy the Groupon for the deal the activate.  In most cases the Groupon offers a 50% discount when you purchase immediately.  Most Groupon’s don’t have alot of restrictions on when they can be used but do have an expiry date.  Groupon also encourages additional Groupons to be purchased as Gifts.  This presents an interesting legal aspect, especially in Ontario, where Gift Cards and Certificates are regulated.

In 2007,  the Consumer Protection Act was amended to ban expiry dates and most fees on gift cards purchased after that date to ensure consumers get their full value, regardless of when they use them. The enhanced consumer

Campaigning with Social Media

I’ve been watching the Mayoral campaign in Toronto with a lot interest this year, mainly because I wanted to see how the candidates used Social Media. In the Obama campaign in 2008 Social Media is often credited with having a great impact.  With my own limited involvement watching the campaign from Canada I was impressed with how much the campaign engaged everyone.  I registered for the Obama campaign, it recognized I was Canadian and asked me if I could contact American’s that I knew that were on the fence.  Brillant…

Now in Toronto I really haven’t seen anything that engaging.  I’m not going to try to compare campaign platforms or policies, I haven’t decided who I’m going vote for myself.  All of the candidates have the Social Media basics, they all have Websites, E-Mail lists, Twitter and Facebook accounts.  These alone are not that value, its really the content of these campaigns and I think right now the best messaging seems to be coming from Rob Ford campaign.  In my opinion he’s doing the best job of engaging citizens, mainly because he’s not marketing to them. He’s just talking to