Not a huge fan of the Blackberry Platform at the moment

Today is the first day of work where I will be without my Windows
Mobile and on my work given Blackberry and already I feel very lost and
stressed. My PDA has always been a source of very rich Personal
Information for me. It's how I manage my life daily. It has long
extended beyond just a storage of just contacts and calendar. I use it
for email, blogging, reading and communicating. While the Blackberry
does all these things, it doesn't seem to do it as well. And my Blackberry crashes just as often as my WinMo when I'm doing the same things on it.

Before I owned a Blackberry, my friends always teased me about the
WinMo crashes and how the built-in software has always been poor. What
they often fail to mention is that you have the option to replace most
of the built-in software with third party options. Most of them for
free. I haven't found this to be as true for the Blackberry. For
instance, there are at least 4 different types of browsers you can
download, at least 2 major calendar replacement and more than a handful
of contact replacements. I am yet to find a decent implementation for Twitter and the
implementation for Newsgator actually really sucks when you don't have
network connectivity.

The one thing that the Blackberry has done exceptionally well is the
idea of consolidating all communications into one big folder. It works
well when you want to respond to people. However, still not so easy if
you want to initiate communication. Pocket Outlook, the Windows Mobile
email is usable and does everything an email should but there is
nothing that stands out. I have to say that I do like Windows Mobile's
implementation of SMS a lot better though. Not only can I respond from
an SMS thread, I can also initiate an SMS from the thread.

Another thing that I like about the Blackberry is some elementd of its
hardware. It is pretty. I am using an older model – the 8820. It's
relatively thin and very slick looking device. And the battery last
forever when you compare it to Windows Mobile even when it is
constantly connecting to the internet. That being said, it's not
running on 3G so it's not necessarily a fair comparison. The negative
things are that I hate the keyboard form factor. It's great for one
handed use but already my hands are feeling "stressed" from blogging on
the keyboard. The landscape keyboard works so much better for my hands.

I am sure that the Blackberry works for some. For me, knowing there are
alternatives to the Blackberry, it has been quite frustrating to use.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Being a Technology Have Not

you've been following me on Twitter, you'd know that I've been
anxiously looking for an HTC Touch Pro. One of the lessons I learned
from buying my Tilt or Tytn II was to wait for the AT & T version
because it would inadvertently be cheaper than to buy a natively
unlocked HTC version. In my case, waiting the extra 2 weeks would have
saved me almost $500.

My favourite source for buying phones is
using Howard Forums but the process is tedious to say the least. First
I have to constantly locate the device that I want. Then starts the
tedious process of communicating back and forth until the right deal
comes about. While I'm not particularly price sensitive, $1000 is a bit
ridiculous to pay for a phone.

One frustrating thing about
mobile technology in Canada is that we don't really have a tonne of
variety in Canada through our provider. So often, a phone is available
only on my provider or another. Very rarely will you find a phone on
all providers at the same time. Sometimes, like my Tytn II, it doesn't
come at all. In it's time, this was considered the King of Windows
Mobile Smartphones. Today it is the Touch Pro. Yet I cannot get it
through a GSM provider. It is actually quite disappointing.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Check out what I do for a living and have a chance to win something

There are a lot of fun things I like about working for Zoocasa and one of them is that it is truly a start up. It has all the challenges of a start up (crazy busy schedules) but also all the perks as well (web 2.0, mashables) and there is never a dull day at work. Also, another cool thing about Zoocasa is that the roles are always loosely defined. While my primary role is to head up technology, I am also involved in most parts of the business. Lately we've been doing a marketing push and it's been very interesting learning how marketing plans are developed and executed. One of the ideas is our Discover Zoocasa contest.

If you haven't checked out Zoocasa yet, here's a chance to check it out and have an opportunity to win an iPod Touch, $100 or $50 gift card from Home Depot. All you have to do is enter your info.
You can increase your chances of winning if you invite other friends and they sign up as well. While you're there, check out the site. Any feedback, thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh yeah – one last thing; check out the contest details and rules too… There are some restrictions that I can't remember off the top of my head.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

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Loving what you do

I've always been fascinated with people stories of courage, tenacity and honour and I came across this video while looking at a profile of someone following a friend of mine. It really blows my mind sometimes. The words that rang out to me were "it's not doing what you love, it's loving what you do." It's so impressive that someone can have made as much as he has just selling a $5 potato peeler for all these years. I hope you are as inspired by this video as I was.

Noise from the network

Long before Facebook or MySpace existed another tool called Six Degrees. It offered some of the same elements that has become the mainstay of what everyone considers what a good social networking site should be. For whatever reason, it never grew into the phenom that is Facebook. Part of the reason why it probably failed was because that the internet environment lacked the maturity it does today. And by maturity, I mean size of population that has fast enough bandwith and understanding of the world wide web.

However, this growth also presents a different problem. All of a sudden there is noise from the networks. Sometimes the noise are echoes (repetitive messages), sometime it's static (unclear messages) and sometimes it's distortion (conflicting messages). Some of this noise stems from the general devolvement of social media communication. Microblogging allows for quick transmission so it tends to be choppy, incomplete but frequent. I like it for the fact that if I follow the right people, I can get information quickly. Right now, I get very updated information on web 2.0 type news as well as mobile platform news.

As much as there is much noise being generated by the network right now, I strongly believe that your network is also going to be the best place to create a filter for the information that is being spewed right now. I believe tools like Google Reader, delicious and Social Median are the start of enabling this. I share all my interests with subsets of my friends. If they were socially active, things that they read or talk about could be of interest to me and enrich my knowledge of those topics. Based on those subsets, they would introduce new information and filter out much of the noise for me and I for them. This is one of the most powerful capabilities of our social network that we are just starting to leverage.

Ironically enough, while writing this blog entry, I came across an article entitled The Social Network is underhyped through Twitter. It's relevant in 2 regards. The medium it came in was Twitter and it highlighted a point that I've been dwelling on for a while. I would have not come across this article through my normal means if all I was reading were just my blog entries. There are so many ideas that can stem from the thoughts surounding networking on the world wide web.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

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Freedom is not free

in Detroit this weekend, one the things we were talking about was
getting a t-shirt that said "Freedom is not free." The boys and I are
random like that. At any rate, I thought it was an appropriate title
for me for Remembrance Day. Being a Canadian, I greatly appreciate the
freedom that I enjoy here. The freedom to practice my faith, the
freedom to choose the governing organization of my country and to do so
without malice or prejudice. It doesn't get any better than that. Many
thanks to those who have given their body and lives to preserve this
freedom for all of us here in Canada, especially on this Rememberance

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Settling in at the Zoo(casa)

Let's just start this by saying that the opinions I'm about to share is not necessarily of my employers. They're simply thoughts about my job and what makes me excited about where I am.

So, for those of you who don't know, I currently work for a company called Zoocasa. It's a start-up that is fully funded by Rogers. While I know I can't share why Rogers has decided to do this, it makes a lot of sense in a positive fashion. So a month ago, I was hired on as Head of Technology/Technology Lead of Zoocasa. I'm responsible for all things technical such as technology operations, development, QA and architecture. The team is a good size – approximately 10 people large with a good range of skillsets and experiences.

The business value in itself is extremely interesting. Zoocasa markets itself as Home Search in Canada with Smarts. When I look at the site, it feels like a natural way of searching for a home. I can search by neighbourhood, try to pick out the nearest LCBO (yes, I've become an alcoholic in the past few years), the nearest restaurants and the nearest shops. It's got things like a gas mile calculator – personally I haven't used it since I'm a big transit person in general. There has been a lot of focus is trying to come up with not only features that users might find useful but also data to support those features. Definitely a lot of cool things that I like about the site.

It's been a while since I last worked for a small company like this. While it's associated with Rogers, we use very little of Rogers infrastructure (i.e. networks, mail servers, etc). It's truly a start up in most sense of the term. Where we can, we rely heavily on open source technologies, web services and web APIs. The results on the front end is a mashup of sorts. The culture here is definitely one of go-go-go. My first day here consisted of starting at 8:30 am and going through all the way to around 6:30 with a 30 minute break in between. And that was an easy day. There are no fiefdoms here – everyone does what they can to help and everyone is usually more than happy to accept the help.

There are definitely opportunities here and it'll be interesting to see how the next few months turn out.

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Bright Kite – Initial Review

I really like Twitter. It's one of my favourite things to do. It's a great way to keep in touch with friends and update them. It's fun to keep in touch with good friends like @camilleking and @michaelnotmike, or with people I haven't met like @digital_jenn. Sometimes it's nice to update friends who rarely respond like @arose12 although I know @arose12 reads my updates. At least that's half the battle.

I signed up with Bright Kite a few months ago with the intention of trying it out but never really got around to it. Bright Kite is a location based microblogging application. I guess the idea of a Bright Kite is the concept of using a "bright kite" to notify others of where you are. It's actually quite interesting and could potentially be useful.

It has the same features as Twitter which really are the ability to post messages, respond to messages, find and follow people. Another really neat thing about it is that you can send all posts automatically to Twitter as well. It's really a pretty smart thing to do given that Twitter is the behemoth in this space and for any other Microblogging service to survice, tbe ability to post to Twitter is a must.

The standout feature for Bright Kite is the ability to also post your location. I like the idea of being able to go to a spot and if my friends are nearby, I can be notified and perhaps meet up. It's also a bit scary because it also permits others to stalk you. Unlike other social networking tools, this is the one social networking tool that I am going to keep with a high security profile to. There are 3 basic levels of privacy in this tool: trusted friends, friends and everyone.

A few major downsides to this tool though. The first major one is that it doesn't seem to fully work through SMS in Canada. I seem to be able to receive notifications but don't seem to have the ability to send messages out. Another downside that I have is that it does not have a windows mobile client yet. I'm hoping that PockeTwit would integrate it with the current application because it actually covers most of the functionality already available in PockeTwit. However, for my use, there is the mobile web version of Bright Kite. Not great but in the mean time it's got to be good enough.

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