COM0011 Blog Post #5 – To Stream or Not to Stream, That is the Question


As a kid I often listened to my favourite AM radio station when I got home from school. That is where I first fell in love with the Bay City Rollers! Their songs were modern day anthems to me. I fell for their unique look, those wide-legged capri pants, with the distinct tartan cuff. It was a fashion trend I have yet to see again.

I probably heard the Bay City Rollers before I knew of them, while listening to a radio DJ’s song rotation. As they grew in popularity, they were played more often. I never thought to question how I heard music then, I was just glad my station seemed to play what I liked!

I could not have imagined a concept like music on demand. Short of buying your own records, tapes or CD’s, to listen to your music when you wanted. That is truly on demand. You could take music with you and share. All you needed was the right device, be that a turntable, casset or CD player. Once you bought your music media, it was yours to use as you wanted. It was so much simpler.

Then I remember iTunes. It was a learning curve for me, but as I moved beyond the iPod, to an iMac and iPhone, I became more comfortable with my digital music library. I download to my computer and transfer music files to my iphone for disconnected use. I don’t need an internet connection to play what I’ve purchased through itunes. That is a perk for me.

Streaming music? Now I am getting confused. I have so many questions. Can you listen to music offline? Do you own the files? Are they removed from your device if you disconnect from the service? I’ve heard some streaming providers curate music based on your listening habits, offering up suggestions. This eliminates the need to know all titles in order to play, which is good for me. The amount of music available would seem limitless with this option – whatever they have in the service. For $10 a month, that may prove a cheaper option, than buying songs regularly through itunes.

There is no shortage of information out there on streaming music services. I found this article published in Time. It offers comparisons between the leading services. It’s important to understand how, when and where you like to listen to music to make a fair assessment. And of course what that is worth to you. Here’s Matt Peckham’s comparison chart.

Image1 MusicImage2Music

I am curious how musicians and bands work with streaming providers. Not too long ago I heard about Taylor Swift removing her recent album from Spotify, something about it cannibalizing CD sales? That led me to question the revenue sharing or royalties for musicians in the streaming world. This article sheds some light on the business model.

Finally, there is Youtube’s recent launch of Music Key. Another alternative in the streaming market. For $10 a month you can listen to what could be the world’s largest music collection. It features the ability to play music selections ad-free, offline and in the background of your phone. If you like discovering unusual, unreleased music, or DJ mixes; Youtube is the better choice. Your invited to try the beta! More about that here:

There are a plethora of options available for music listening today and with any luck I will have this figured out soon. Are you confused by the choices ? How do you like to listen to your music? I’d love to know.

COM0011 Blog Post#6 – Keeping the Magic of Santa Alive Through Social Media

Santa BYShore

On a recent tip to Bayshore mall I passed by Santa’s village only to realize he wasn’t there. I was too late to catch a glimpse of the action. Santa had closed shop for the day. I stopped for a moment to take in all the silver and blue glitter and décor. It made the area leading up to his big chair seem magical. I thought back to when my children believed in Santa, and how much fun it was to watch their reaction to him.

The other day, I saw this picture posted online.
Sleeping Belair Santa

A wonderful moment was captured in Bel-Air Washington, when a mother waited in line with her baby girl. This was her first visit with Santa, but by the time it was her turn the baby was fast asleep. Not to disappoint Mom, the quick thinking Santa sprung to action and posed for the photo by taking a short winters nap himself! What an original picture! I thought…

I googled sleeping Santa and came across a similar story from 2012. This time it was an 8-month-old boy who fell asleep in the line-up to meet Santa. That Santa suggested the mother could get her child’s picture taken, he would simply pose with the sleeping baby. Seems like sleeping Santa’s have been around awhile!SlpSanta2

Somewhere between my Bayshore visit and that general feeling of nostalgia I get for Santa Claus, I got to thinking. How has Santa changed in this age of Social Media?

When my kids were small we had their pictures taken with the mall Santa. As they got older, we explained there was more than one ‘helper’ Santa to help out everywhere he was needed for pictures. They bought that for a while. As they got older, they required more evidence of his existence. So we wrote him letters and they mailed them through Canada Post, being careful to include the HOH OHO postal code! The reply they received helped convince them to believe a little longer.

A few years later, when my brother’s children were still young, he told me about Norad’s website. They tracked Santa’s worldwide progress on Christmas Eve. My brother said it was a great way to get kids to bed early on the 24th.

I went on the hunt for Norad’s site this year. Seems more sophisticated than that early version I remember!  Norad

Naturally I went to google on my mission to explore Santa in 2014. The results of my search led to this nifty Santa Tracker and advent calendar


A rather elaborate Santa’s Village can be found here. It comes complete with Christmas inspired interactive games, to help fill the days leading up to the 24th. Even though the kids at my house no longer believe, I will be sure to follow the Santa tracker Christmas Eve! According to Google, you can tune in to “Santa’s Dashboard – featuring the latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and Sleigh engineering – will allow you to follow his progress around the world, and also learn a little about some of his stops along the way.” How cool is that ?

Social Santa. He must have a Facebook page. He did. Actually there isn’t just one Santa, but Santa Claus- Public Figure, was first up in my search with 302,628 likes. He actually lives in North Pole, Alaska, and his name is Santa Claus! SantaFB

Further searches revealed Santa is savvy enough to have a Twitter handle – “Official Santa” got my attention.

This UK based Santa uses his twitter account to promote his business – “Official Letter from Santa”. Regular posts from this “Official Santa” twitter feed, are used to sell Santa letters. I would be more inclined to engage with this ‘official Santa’ on twitter if they supported children’s charity with some of their proceeds, like the Santa I found on linkedIn.

NSPCC SANTA LinkedinA visit to Santa Claus’ linkedIn profile indicated he was fairly new to the platform. He acknowledges its benefits in finding employees (aka. Elves). I found his profile to be of a more charitable Santa as he clearly works to promote a children’s non-profit organization. . A quick read of his summary revealed this – “Mrs Claus is always encouraging me to embrace technology to ease my workload – last year I installed a satnav on my sleigh, and now I’m trying LinkedIn. I usually advertise for elves in The Lapland Chronicle, but this year I’m embracing snow-cial media. “ He has 500+ connections, so I’m inclined to think his cause is noble!

Wikipedia appears to have the goods on Santa as well. A fairly thorough accounting of the origins of this character, and his aliases can be found here. If you were ever curious around the cultural influences for some of your traditions, it’s a good read.

InstaNot to be left out, there are collections of Santa themed photos on Instagram and Flickr.

It seems the stories we tell and the means we will go to keep Santa’s story alive, know no limits now. The magic and mystery surrounding Santa Claus will be kept alive for this generation of children thanks to social media!

Comm0011- Blog #4 – What’s a Blind Dog to Do?

Molly Lying Down
Aging. It can be tough to watch sometimes.

It’s been gradually happening to my furry best friend. She’s old. And now she’s blind. Lately she’s having trouble hearing anything but a high-pitched sound. It’s sad to watch the gradual decline. It seems unfair, since I am now the young one between the two of us. When did that happen?

MollyPupThirteen years ago we brought her home from the pet store! Just 8 weeks old, a sweet little Yorkie/Chihuahua mix, with a personality all her own. It didn’t take her long to win the hearts of everyone she met. Including my parents, who quickly became doting grandparents. That dog loves her Grammy and Grampy!

Blind Molly has seen a lot in her life. She’s now living in her 3rd house. In all this time she’s watched her teenage sisters grow up, was by my side through a messy divorce, became anxious when her sisters left home chewing through a few doorframes, watched me date a couple men – barked at the wrong ones – then wagged her tail and fell in love with the right one!

That man, my husband, came with a big furry dog of his own, named Woof. He had the heart of a teddy bear, and most daysIMG_0480 let Molly eat out of his dish, while he lifted his head to watch. Patient guy he was. He became a companion pet to my tiny blind dog. Sadly Woof passed away from cancer this past summer. In a way, blind Molly has lived to see a lot.

The spring before I moved in with my husband, I noticed Molly’s right eye was cloudy. Occasionally she missed hitting objects as she walked by them on the right. A visit to the vet confirmed it was cataracts. Prognosis – she would likely become blind. Given her age, he wasn’t sure cataract surgery would have good results. Let alone the cost. He did assure me that many dogs go on to live a comfortable life. They can adapt. Many do.

So I took Molly home. I watched and waited. My hope was she would still have sight in one eye by the time we were in her 3rd home. She needed to get familiar with her surroundings, before everything went dark. The August we moved in, Molly’s left eye was starting to cloud over. But she did see enough to manage the stairs, and generally get the lay of the land. Six months after moving into the new house, she was completely blind.M and W

Most days at home Molly sleeps in one of her 3 beds, spread throughout the house. When she gets up, you hear the familiar thud of a wall or piece of furniture. She seems to be walking more cautiously these days, always the back feet placed slowly down as she hopes to avoid a wall. She is still independent. She wants to move around to wherever the food smells best! Yes, she’s lost a couple senses, but the sense of smell is there.

I’ve learned a lot living with a blind dog.

Respect for Age
Some may say she’s looking a little mangier these days. Her eyes run a lot. It’s hard to clean the staining now. But I still see the cute puppy. And she’s earned my respect, by being my faithful companion. I try to remember that, on the days she is most needy of my attention. Or when she has another one of her accidents on the floor. She deserves to be here – it is clear she still wants to. I can’t help but think that when I watch her wag her tail when we come home. Patience is something she is teaching me, more and more each day.

A Jingly Bell Collar
Make sure they wear one. This can be a lifesaver. Or a dog saver! Especially if they are tiny. That way you are more likely to hear them before you step on them when they’ve wandered underfoot! And when you want to find them, being deaf, she doesn’t always come to the sound of my voice, but I listen for the bell.

Texture Changes on Floor Surface
Use your floor surface and it’s texture as a way to define spaces underfoot. Provide maps to things. Make sure there are mats at doors, mats at food/water dishes, or to mark the entry to a room. Different floors, like hardwood to carpet, mean different rooms and provide a sense of direction. It gives them an idea where they are going or coming from.

IMG_0696Love and a Warm Lap
A warm lap. Show affection and love. Get ready to offer them often. A blind dog gets immense comfort from touch. Feeling the warmth of you under them and around them is very comforting. And yes, some days it can be trying.

Furniture Stays Put
Furniture. It should stay put. Keep things the same. Avoid the urge to re-decorate. Remove objects from the floor. This should be self-explanatory. But my husband had to point that one out to me a couple of times! I’ve brought a suitcase and computer bag and laid them right in the middle of the floor. I’ve left a vacuum in the hall. All are unknown obstacles in the path of a blind dog. She’s lucky her Dad is so perceptive!

Something to Dominate – Critical to Dog Esteem
Your dog needs to feel important, like they haven’t lost all their mojo. Imagine how you would feel as you start to lose control of your body. You cling to independence with every breath. For Molly, the urge to dominate is satisfied through a stuffed moose. Bigger than her, she has taken pleasure from dominating it over the years. And when she became blind, I noticed she seemed more sullen. Till my husband suggested we find the moose. We brought it right under her nose. Then she had at it, just like the old days. She found her mojo! These days the moose stays close by bed #2, so it is just a scent away.

I recently discovered something online, which may provide independence to Molly. I was so excited, that I ordered it right away. I am surprised I never discovered it earlier. It’s called Muffin’s Halo

A woman in Los Angeles developed it for her blind dog. It straps on around the dog’s chest and collar area, while holding up a sturdy halo-like tube. It’s this tube, well in front of the dog’s head, that acts as an early warning system when approaching walls, or things. I have watched video testimonials and this appears to work on little dogs and big ones. It’s made a difference in how confident and freely the dogs will walk. My hope is this new device will give Molly some of the ability she lost due to blindness.

Wouldn’t that be an awesome gift for my furry best friend!

COM0011 – Blog Post #3 – The Moral Behind Using Facebook, to Get Out in Front of a Story …

JianYou know that old saying. About closing the barn doors once the horses are out? It’s hard to put a spin on something, once it’s been released in Social Media. By the same token, Facebook isn’t the media platform I associated with a PR spin. Perhaps I was naïve.

I thought of Facebook as an online diary, where we shared the moments or events in life among friends and family. One thing I still believe, Facebook users are in control of the message, if they choose to deliver it there. Seems like things got out of control for Jian Ghomeshi, this week, the popular host of CBC ‘s Q radio program.

Hindsight is 20/20

In hindsight, he acted quickly to get ahead of unpublished allegations against him, by posting his version through Facebook. Could he have imagined, his post would trigger such feedback? One would think he was hoping for different results. The trend was good, showing legions of Facebook fans that ‘liked’ his post that Sunday night. But that’s the trouble with a measure such as ‘Like” – it doesn’t tell you what people are really thinking, if they’ve even read a post. As a leading indicator, the like trend had some promise, until Monday.

The FB post triggered a Toronto Star article to release, the following day. Reporters had been investigating allegations against Ghomeshi since the summer, but could not get editorial approval to run the story. Once Jian opened up on Facebook with his version of events and allegations, the story got approval to run. It leaves me wondering, if this would have been dealt with privately, outside of the media, had Jian not gone public on Facebook. Not that it matters now.

I Liked His Radio Program 

Last Sunday night I logged onto Facebook as I often do. I came across that post on a friend’s feed, from Jian Ghomeshi. I was amazed to see the number of likes the post had generated so quickly. I liked his radio program Q, but I really didn’t know much about him. It was here, 2 weeks ago; I had read a moving tribute from Jian about his Dad, just after he passed away. And now something personal again – to do with his recent dismissal from CBC.

Admittedly I was curious, having been downsized out of a corporate job myself. I read his post, at first his apparent outrage at losing his job, without cause, after 14 years of loyal service. But as I read further, the story got murkier. In the end, I was left shaking my head. TMI. Why would he post such a lengthy expose, and who were all these people supporting him? If anything, he succeeded in planting more questions in my mind, than I ever had before.

Where There Was Smoke, There Was Fire

He exposed too much of what was by his own admission, unsavory practices to many. Which without certainty of context would be deemed abusive to women. As a woman myself, with daughters, I was shocked at the number of ‘likes’ for his post. In the days that followed, more has come to light. Although no one has been charged, I can say the information I’ve seen, validates the early opinion I had after reading his Facebook post. Where there was smoke, there was fire.

There are so many lessons to be learned in this story. They have been dealt with in many of the articles I refer to below and sparked many good conversations.

The Moral of the Story, as I Saw it on Facebook


The moral to this story as I suggested above, may be too late for Mr. Ghomeshi to heed, but he now understands.

But for those contemplating a similar media strategy – don’t underestimate the power of social media. You can’t control the information that gets out there, even if it is from our beloved Facebook. Yes you could be the first out of the gate. But assess the situation ahead of time. Arm yourself with facts. Otherwise your tactics and allegations, may encourage others to come forward and exchange allegations and opinions of their own – all online! It is too late to retract then.

Blog Post 2- COMM0011 – Social Media – Time Sucker or Time Saver?

It struck me recently, that I would be lost without Pinterest. Almost in the way I would be lost without my husband. ( I meant to say google, but he may read this one day … ) If I need an answer to a nagging question, I simply google it. When I need inspiration, I turn to Pinterest !  Pins

The Lure of Pinterest to Women Like Me

Last weekend, after spending a few hours, scrolling through images, I found my husband’s next project. The laundry room! In our house, I am in charge of research; he is in charge of production, though he may like to think otherwise.

Research underway; I thoughtfully began pinning a collection of laundry room images to share. So many options could work in the space, but above all, it needed to be functional. Dreaming about improvements online took time, and in the end, the opportunity cost of time spent on Pinterest, meant no wasted time on magazine purchases or repeated trips to home depot.

I know this because it is the route I would have taken 10 years ago BP (Before Pinterest). Managing my design choices through Pinterest required fewer inspirational magazine purchases and less time travelling. I am saving money and leaving a smaller carbon footprint!

Inspiration Born Out of Need  

Phase 1: Tearing Down Closet

Phase 1: Tearing Down Closet

The laundry room makeover started because we needed to remove closet doors in the mudroom. These closet doors and a close-by rear entry door made getting in and out of the house tricky. Usually someone was hurt maneuvering past an open closet door, and opening one to go in / out of the house!

IMG_2095 IMG_2097

I am happy to report great progress on weekend 2 of the laundry room, aka- mudroom project. Closet is removed, drywall patching complete, tiles replaced, and trim and bead board are going in. Youtube was a great help for the floor-tiling portion of the project. A ‘How To’ video, ensured broken tiles were removed and replaced properly. Youtube videos are as valuable for learning project techniques as Pinterest is for inspiring project ideas!

Phase 2: Progress 

Progress Weekend #2

Progress Weekend #2

What Does The Future Hold for Pinterest?

With most of these nascent social media successes, I have tried to understand their business model. No sense getting attached to something if it is not here for the long haul. Pinterest has reached critical mass. They have been well funded and have a large user base. Much like Facebook when they began. What revenue model will sustain them long enough to innovate for the next generation?

No surprise, I found out Pinterest future lies in a monetization strategy that will likely rival google’s paid search advertising revenues. Pinterest has a lot more to offer advertisers. Unlike google, you don’t need to know what you are looking for on Pinterest to find something. According to Jillian D’Onfro, of Business Insider (!IZfm5 ) their product and image driven environment accounts for 23% of referral traffic to e-commerce sites. The company is valued at $30 billion US dollars, with a user base of 40 million projected by the end of this year. It is evident a strategy is being tested and put in place to earn revenue through advertising.

Facebook and Twitter have gone public and have a monetization model in place. Pinterest may be the biggest of these social prodigies to go public yet! So much potential for a company that understands its market niche (80% women) and their buying behaviour. Jeff Bercovici’s recent article in Forbes highlights the Pinterest phenomena, that could dwarf twitter and facebook here

That’s All Good for Pinterest, But What Does it Mean For Me?

Likely, that Pinterest is here to stay. They are the largest in their market if consolidation were to occur, so that makes me feel good. It means I can continue to freely pin and be inspired by images, to my hearts content. The advertising? As long as it is tasteful and relevant to my searches and interests, I’m ok with it. On the plus side, it may even point me in the right direction when I decide to make a purchase!

COMM0011- Blog Post #1 – Social Media, The Jury is Still Out

Social Media is not something I grew up with.

Okay, the Internet is not something I grew up with! Highlights IMg

I remember working at a software start-up in 1996 where I first heard of the ‘World Wide Web’ or the ‘Internet.’ This thing was cool! The fact that our company could be discovered online was phenomenal. A website suddenly became a sign your business was legitimate! You needed to have a web presence. Why? Because, anyone with access to this Internet of things would find you and business was sure to follow.

Fast forward to 2014. Social Media has that Jagger Swagger feel about it. It’s the voice of the self-assured. A place where bravado and one’s social media stature, make a novice like me feel inferior.

Social Media. The new silent killer of self-esteem. My inadequacies abound. There is so much to feel inferior about when you engage in a social media world.

I wasn’t raised ‘digital’. Actually my kids weren’t even raised ‘digital’. Instant messaging was new to the world when they were teens. I remember telling them to get off msn and pick up the phone to have a real conversation. Their cell phones weren’t even SMART back then.

My step kids are ‘digital’. The 12 year old especially. He has developed his sense of humour through YouTube videos. He chats with friends on google hangouts. He doesn’t play outside much anymore. I watch him and think; this is normal? Plugged into a YouTube channel, an online game with friends, or just hanging out in a video chat. It’s what all the kids do, right?

When I was young, being social was playing outside with other kids. Joining the street wide ballgame. Anything really, as long as we were with friends. The most social of us kids, tied up the family phone all night (me). And yes, this was before call waiting, so the phone really was tied up !

Sometimes you compared your social status with your peers, by your clothes, interests, hobbies. It happened on a scale defined by your closest friendships. You were never really “out of your league.” Today I compare myself to peers on social media. I really AM out of my league! Social Media has led me to believe there are far more interesting & talented people than I ever knew growing up.

What is my point? To give some context to my attitudes. Provide insight into what feeds my present feelings of inferiority. th

Facebook – you are either actively engaged or not. Do I post? Is it newsworthy or noise? If  you are like me, your everyday habits aren’t worth sharing. Does anyone care what my dinner looked like ? True, my daughter in Australia might like to know …

Then there is Instagram – where do people find the time, and how did they become so creative with their pictures and captions?

Everybody is a digital photographer – fabulous pictures fill my friends facebook albums or their flickr pages. Suddenly my pictures are mediocre at best!

When I discovered Pinterest and Etsy last year, I was hooked .. Now I wallow in self-doubt.  There are so many crafty, organized, creative women out there doing it all. I thought I was creative till last year. Yet, another blow to my esteem !!

At first I shared the good ideas I learned. Like how to tie your shoes the proper way – a TEDtalk no less. Now I want to claim these things as original to me. Décor,  recipes, anything clever. I got some great bachelorette gag gift ideas from Pinterest this summer. They were a hit, until I admitted they weren’t all mine! I’m left with that nagging feeling I could always be better.

Maybe that is part of the human condition? The more we aspire to perfection, the more we feel we don’t make the grade.

Surely this same social media, which has prompted my sense of inadequacy in so many ways, will inspire me to share honestly, in the comfort of community. Starting today. Who knows – some good may come from engaging in social media. Maybe there is a place for the inferior here ?

Does social media ever leave you feeling inferior ? I’d love to know !