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Moving Day

Moving Day

Hello fans of the Pondstone Communications blog!

Thank you for years of loyal readership. With nearly 655,000 views at the time of posting, wordpress.com has served us well but it’s time to move our blog to our own site. We will keep this blog live (people who Google “cute animals” and “cool castles” will still find us here) but a more focused blog relating to Pondstone’s business will now be available at http://pondstone.ca/blog/

Thanks again! ‘Hope to see you at the new site!

Blackberries

Image by Ragesoss of Wikipedia

Service outages, slower than expected consumer pick-up of the Playbook, a disappointing showing at the 2011 Consumer Electronics show, a Executive shake-up (sort-of), and countless articles speculating on the viability of the company.

Not good times for Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry line of products.

Last week, Reuters reported that “Oil field services company Halliburton plans to stop issuing BlackBerry smartphones to employees and switch over to Apple’s iPhone, which it said was better suited to its needs, marking another setback for Research In Motion.”

But here’s the interesting thing… “RIM has nevertheless recognized the threat and in November announced it would offer security features for iPhone and Android from within its existing BlackBerry service for corporations.”

SO! New Blackberry hardware may get more critique than critical acclaim but if they sell their much-loved-by-business services and security on devices that employees prefer, they could set themselves up for long-term stability. Selling services in perpetuity (à la Bell, Rogers, utility companies, etc) guarantees income and, on this scale, could potentially make up for any losses on the hardware side of things. That could calm the shareholders, silence the doomsayers, and enable the company to do some serious soul-searching before stepping back into the ring. Or they may opt to get out of the hardware game altogether.

Then again there are those iHaters and Android-o-phobes who refuse to hold anything but a RIM device…

It’s OK. Don’t fear the on-screen keyboard. See, it’s a full QWERTY too. There you go.

Read the full Reuters article on the Vancouver Sun site here.

Canadian Toy Testing Council

Canadian Toy Testing Council's Logo / 3-Star Award Winning Toy Badge

The Canadian Toy Testing Council’s Annual Media Event was held this past Tuesday, November 8th, to release their 2012 Toy Report and a new website built by Pondstone.

The CTTC is a non-profit, volunteer-powered, registered charitable organization. Every year, parents look to the Canadian Toy Testing Council and their annual Toy Report for recommendations on the best toys for children. The Toy Report is released at the beginning of the holiday shopping season and all testing results are posted to the CTTC website. That means that parents in Canada — and around the world — have access to the results. The news media, too, rely on CTTC expertise when they are reporting on stories related to toys.

Pondstone was delighted to work with CTTC’s Chair, Liliane Benoit, and the Board of Directors to redesign and build a new WordPress site for the organization.  CTTC’s web presence now has an updated look and feel, more intuitive navigation and provides CTTC staff with easy content management and updating.

The new site went live Tuesday morning and the 2012 Toy Testing Results were published at exactly 10:30am to coincide with the beginning of the Media Event.

Check out the new site, as well as the latest Reports and Awards at www.toy-testing.org

Pondstone Communications is pleased to announce that Gary Pomerant has joined the team as our newest Web Developer.

Gary is an experienced programmer involved in the WordPress community. He has written a number of WordPress plugins including the popular [GWA] AutoResponder which, as of this writing, counts over 30,000 downloads!

In addition to enhancing Pondstone’s programming and technical expertise, Gary is immediately engaging with the Tiki (Wiki CMS Groupware) community to establish expertise in Pondstone’s platform of choice for large-scale web sites and online communities.

During an interview on Ottawa CBC Radio One with Kathleen Petty and Alistair Steele, the JimWatson.ca, the site for Ottawa mayoral candidate and Pondstone client, Jim Watson, was dubbed the best among all contenders.

Full text of the interview below:

Ottawa CBC Radio One, Kathleen Petty’s show

KP: Alistair Steele’s been looking at the brave new world of online electioneering… So get me back on track here, Alaistair – what did you find out?

AS: Well, Kathleen, I found out that compared to the last election in 2006, there’s been a remarkable upswing in the adoption of new technology, particularly social media sites like the ones that you just mentioned. It’s really quite amazing just how many ways there are now for candidates to reach voters and some of them are making full use of those new tools.

KP: OK, so who gets the most marks for the most impressive site?

AS: Well, I’d say that Jim Watson sets the gold standard here. No surprise, really, given his status, given that he is running for the mayor’s job. His web site is very slick, it’s easy to navigate, it’s uncluttered, it’s topped with a photo that makes him look friendly and approachable, it’s got the simple yet striking grey and red colour scheme. There’s a link to his Flickr page, there’s a slide show where you can see photos of Jim out in the community, there’s a section for campaign news complete with an RSS feed so you can get updates as they come in. You can donate, you can order a sign. And then there are these invitations to follow Jim on Twitter, or you can choose to ‘like’ him on Facebook , and of course there’s a link to YouTube where you can view videos like this one … [clip] … the sound quality’s not great here, which would be about my only complaint about this web site.

For audio of the full interview, go here.

From the BBC, article here.

British e-mail users with Google accounts are now able to change the end of their addresses from @googlemail.com to @gmail.com.

A five year trademark dispute meant that Google was not allowed to use the name Gmail in the UK.

In 2005 a company called Independent International Investment Research claimed it had used “Gmail” first.

Google claimed at the time that the settlement IIR asked for was “exorbitant” and dropped the name.

Within a year of launching the free e-mail service in the UK, Gmail became Google Mail.

While early adopters received a gmail.com address, all subsequent new accounts were given the suffix googlemail.com.

“Since ‘gmail’ is 50% fewer characters than ‘googlemail’ we estimate this name change will save approximately 60 million keystrokes a day,” wrote software engineer Greg Bullock on Google’s Gmail blog.

British users with Googlemail addresses will be asked whether they wish to change their address. It will not affect the settings or functionality of the accounts, Google said.

The firm is not releasing the details of the new settlement but states that the matter is “happily resolved”.

From Mashable, full piece here.

Social media earned a mention in the annual White House Correspondents Dinner tonight, with President Obama quipping, ‘But even though the mainstream press gives me a hard time, I hear that I’m still pretty big on Twitter, Facebook … or as Sarah Palin calls it, the socialized media.’ [1:25 in the second clip]

As in previous years, the decline of the newspaper at the hands of free online alternatives formed part of the narrative in the humorous 20-minute monologue. Obama said of the news industry’s transition, ‘People say to me, “Mr President, you helped revive the banking industry. You’ve saved GM and Chrysler — what about the news business? I have to explain, hey, I’m just the President. I’m not a miracle worker here.”‘

The President’s closing remarks were ultimately optimistic about the state of news, online and off: ‘For all the changes and challenges facing your industry, this country absolutely needs a healthy, vibrant media. Probably needs it more than ever now. Today’s technology has made it possible for us to get our news and information from a growing range of sources; we can pick and choose not only our preferred type of media but also our preferred perspective. And while that exposes us to an unprecedented array of opinions, analysis and points of view, it also makes it that much more important that we’re all operating on a common baseline of facts … every single reporter in this room believes deeply in the enterprise of journalism.”

There’s good news, too, for the online army of Conan O’Brien supporters known as I’m With COCO — Obama was much, much funnier that the official comedy act of the night, Jay Leno.

-Jessie W.

Production to cease as of March 2011, ironic hipsters mourn.

From Electronista, full article here.

Sony this weekend said it would finally put an end to floppy disk production in its home country, marking the effective end to the format’s 41-year run. Having already stopped selling floppies in most areas as of March this year, it now expects to stop sales of 3.5-inch disks in Japan as of March 2011. Developing markets like India continue to sell the disks today, but their fate isn’t known.

The cutoff comes as the result of both changes in design philosophy and technology. Apple was one of the first to aggressively move away from floppies as it dropped all floppies from the iMac in 1998 and the rest of its lineup soon afterwards. The format remained popular for years later but declined rapidly as writable optical discs, USB flash drives and the Internet made the 1.44MB disk obsolete. Virtually no desktops or notebooks now even have the option of a floppy drive.

For a fond farewell to the disks, here.

Oh, the memories.

And finally, ten things to do with your old floppy disks, here.

-Jessie W.

Earth Day is this Thursday, April 22, the annual even to celebrate our shared planet. What began forty years ago by the American Senator Gaylord Nelson as a teaching mechanism on the imoprtance of environmental stewardship.

With Earth Day quickly approaching, we’ve complied a quick guide on where to go and what to do in Ottawa this Thursday (from Apt 613, full post here.)

The EnviroCentre is a non-profit organization that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by delivering energy-efficient goods and services. The Center will host an Sustainable Transportation Fair from 11am to 2pm on April 22. Participants will learn about sustainable transportation options – including car sharing, cycling and even air travel – as well as workplace program. There will also be free refreshments as well as a chance to will $300 in VIA Rail travel, Shell gas for carpooling and a cycling package.

If you like a little shopping with your environmental activism, head on down to one of the two Ten Thousand Villages locations (1174 Bank Street and 371 Richmond Road) for their Earth Day Fundraiser for Ecology Ottawa. On Thursday April 22nd, the store will donate 10% of sales toEcology Ottawa. Volunteers from the City Hall lobby group will be on hand to discuss Ecology Ottawa’s work in making Ottawa the environmental capital of Canada.

On Saturday, April 24, Earth Day Ottawa and the Museum of Nature (240 McLeod St) are wrapping up Earth Week with a mini-Folk Fest. Ankle biters rule from 11am to 1pm with a kids concert featuring Keith Shackleton, Michel-André Vallières and No Name in Sight. From 1:30 to 4:00pm adults will be serenaded by the dulcet tones of local folk musicians Kate and Hollis, John Hanson, Kristine St. Pierre and Missy Burgess. Aside from the music, there will be free cookies, an awards show and an ecological kiosks exhibition.

The Ottawa Eco-Stewardship Fair, a celebration of  green living ideas, products & services, is also taking place this Saturday from 10am to 5pm at the RA Center (2451 Riverside Drive). The fair will feature over 100 local businesses, non-profit organisations and governments, all showcasing environmental and sustainable products and services. In addition, there will be a chance to sample some of the best in local wine and beer, while enjoying the unique and creative pieces by area eco-artists. New this year is a Bicycle Festival with bike safety and repair demonstrations. There’s also food involved:  local chef Jacqueline Jolliffe of the Red Apron will be giving a demonstration, while RA Centre Chef Darcy Ryman will be preparing a 100 Mile Lunch.

The Ottawa Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is organizing a guided hike in the Forêt-la-Blanche Ecological Reserve. The reserve was established in 2003 to protect a great diversity of plant life representative of the Outaouais region.  The hike will last about 2 hours, and will be suitable for all ages and skill levels. Please bring all necessary gear (such as your camera!). There is a discounted admission fee, $4 per person, for all of those attending the CPAWS hike. To learn more about the Forêt-la-Blanche, click here.  If you are interested in carpooling, please email John McDonnell: jmcdonnell@cpaws.org.

As a part of the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival, a discussion on Sustainable Capitalism/The Big Idea: Locavore. The topic is How Canadians Are Changing the Way We Eat with Sarah Elton, hosted at the Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street.  Tickets are $15 General admission or  $10 Students/seniors. (More information here.)

Foodies,100-milers, urbanites, farmers, gardeners and chefs across Canada are creating a new local food order that has the potential to fight climate change and feed us all. Sarah Elton, the food columnist for CBC Radio’s Here & Now, lays out a blueprint for a local food revolution. Join us for an insider’s look at the burgeoning local food movement taking place in Canadian cities, farms and shops that is changing both the way we eat and the way we think about food.

Know of any other Earth Day celebrations around Ottawa that shouldn’t be missed? Leave the details in the  comment or drop me a line (jwillms@pondstone.ca).

Happy Earth Day!

-Jessie W.

And so it begins . . .

A private liberal arts college, Seton Hills, has announced that as a part of their Technology Advantage Program, every student as of September 2010 will receive an iPad … in addition to the 13″ MacBook laptop they already receive.

From the Seton Hill site:

Beginning in the fall of 2010, all first year undergraduate students at Seton Hill will receive a 13″ MacBook laptop and an iPad. You will have complete access to these mobile technologies for classes as well as at all times for personal use. After two years, Seton Hill will replace your laptop with a new one – one that you can take with you when you graduate! With this technology at your fingertips, you can create a just-in-time learning environment, stay in touch with professors, advisors, and classmates, research any topic at any time, engage in hybrid and fully on-line courses, and access a whole host of Seton Hill technology services. In doing so, you will be learning the technological skills you’ll need in the twenty-first century workforce.

In the announcment, the private liberal arts university said, “Students will be able to download their textbooks to their iPads from the iBook Store. In addition, iPads can be used as phones and for air and file sharing, as well as note-taking.”

Anyone else think its time to change schools?

- Jessie W.

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