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I was driving home the other day when I saw a sign by the side of the road. A number of them actually, similar to lawn signs you see around election-time. Spaced about 20 metres apart, they looked identical but they didn’t have a single word on them. They were simply large QR codes.

According to Wikipedia, QR (Quick Response) codes have been around since 1994 when they were invented by a subsidiary of Toyota to track vehicles during the manufacturing process.

More recently, with the rise in popularity of Smartphones equipped with QR code readers, they have been popping up in all sorts of print communications from newspapers and magazine ads to movie posters and Government of Ontario public awareness campaign materials.

This QR code redirects to EDC's 2010 Annual Report website

This QR code redirects to EDC's 2010 Annual Report website

Although QR codes can store a variety of information, they are most commonly used to redirect a user’s Smartphone to a (hopefully) mobile-optimized website or micro-site specific to the topic or campaign. Last year, Best Buy added QRs to their in-store product tags. Earlier this year, Pondstone used QR codes on Export Development Canada’s 2010 Annual Report to direct users to the Annual Report website we created.

Not only do QR codes provide a means of presenting targeted content to an audience already expressing interest in your message, but analytics can provide you with feedback on the level of engagement you are achieving with your campaign.

In Ontario, there is a law that prohibits the use of handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle, so I have no idea what content the creators of the roadside posters wanted to share with me. QR codes, used properly, can be a highly effective way of sharing information but since my query is on a high-speed road with no stopping I’ll have to enlist the help of a passenger if I am to solve the mystery of this message.

Thanks for reading and drive safe.

[Reposted from http://www.mike-g.ca/mgxc/growing-your-business-online/]

How do I make use of the Internet to take my business to the next level and start generating revenue?

Just the fact that you may be asking the question, tells me that you’re on the right track. More often than not, folks jump right into building a website, starting a blog, and sending out Tweets without ever thinking about what specifically they are trying to accomplish in doing so.

“That’s simple, I’m trying to grow my business. I need to be on all the social media because my competitors are, and that generates them business.”

Yeah, but how? Did it really help them, or is that just your assumption? And if it did indeed build them up, what were they doing right? What’s your game plan?

Too many business out there are trying to jump in on the latest trends, and think that just simply having a Facebook fan page, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter feed are going to generate them a whole lot more business. Sorry to say, it doesn’t work like that. If you don’t have clear goals (and the right benchmarks to measure those goals against) in place, you’re wasting time and resources.

There is a lot to know, and it’s important to avoid the pitfalls along the way. From website design, to properly implementing and executing a social media strategy, I will be creating posts that are designed to help answer your questions and guide you down the right path so that your business can grow effectively online from the perspective of someone who has been in the game for over 15 years.

Every week, I will be posting a new article on properly planning your strategy, designing your site, and marketing your business through the Internet. I always welcome your comments and questions, and hope that you all find this helpful.

Peace.

Mike G

Google trends, similar to trends on Twitter, tell you what are the most popular search terms on the internet at any given time.

They can also have the potential to be mildly or massively amusing. Such as the following images; each a screen capture of an actual Google trend. Some are funny, some bizarre, and some make you want to question the future of the human species. Enjoy.

Personal favourites anyone?

-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.

The company announces its WiFi version will hit store on April 3, 3G version in late April when device comes to Canada

iPad Apple release date April 3 2010

iPad Apple release date April 3 2010

From the Globe and Mail, full article here.

Apple Inc. said the first iPads will be in U.S. stores on April 3 and hit nine international markets later in the month, easing concerns that manufacturing constraints could delay launch.

The news sent shares of Apple surging as much as 4.3 per cent to an all-time high of $219.70 (U.S.) on the Nasdaq, as analysts said the speedy international rollout could help build sales momentum.

The 9.7-inch touchscreen iPad, which is designed to surf the Web, play video and games, and read digital books, is the most anticipated product launch from Apple since the iPhone in 2007.

Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the tablet in late January, but the company did not announce any international markets until Friday, when it said the tablet will go on sale in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April. The U.S. launch date for the iPad model with short-range Wi-Fi wireless links, starting at a price tag of $499, is slightly later than the previously expected late March launch.

And of somewhat related interested, check out these iPhone Icon coasters (from Mashable, click here for more geeky decorations for around the office).

iPhone Icon Coasters set Meninos Apple

iPhone Icon Coasters set Meninos Apple

These Meninos coasters are styled after the iPhone’s icons giving Apple fans somewhere cool to stick their cups. Made of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) with a durable vinyl finish and a rubber bottom to stop slips, they can be arrangedon the coffee table as precisely as they appear on the phone’s homescreen.

The coasters are available from Meninos for $59.99 a set, available here.

-Jessie W.

crowdsourcing

Facebook, Twitter and Google join the outreach following the devastating earthquake in Chile

For critics who cast the use of new media and social communication networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as useless or merely a waste of time, the recent devastation in Chile is a great example of using web-based resources for the good.

Twitter been used as a platform for an outpouring of international support for affected Chileans; Google has launched Person Finder to aid Chileans and those abroad located loved ones and nearly every relief agency is connected to the public through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. These resources make information about the devastation readily accessible providing an essential resource both in the ravaged country and for a concerned international community.

Matthew Ingram at GigaOm has compiled a helpful list of resources for individuals to use in responding to the devastation; the full article can be found here.

  • Twitter List: As it did during the Haiti earthquake, The New York Times has collected some Twitter accounts with information about what is going on in Chile.
  • Ben Casnocha: The entrepreneur and author has been tweeting details about the earthquake and its aftermath
  • Twitpic: People have been uploading images of the devastation in and around Concepcion, some of which have been collected by The Huffington Post.
  • Ushahidi: A site designed to act as a central clearinghouse for information about disasters such as the Chilean earthquake.
  • Livestream: A live video feed from Chilean TV via the Livestream service.
  • Person Finder: A Chilean version of a tool that Google originally created to help during the Haiti earthquake.
  • Map Maker: Google has also opened up the use of its mapping database for use by aid organizations, and people can help via the Chile Update Page. Google has a page set up with other resources, including the ability to click and donate to Unicef and other charities from the page.

If you have other suggestions, please feel free to contribute on the original post or email Matthew Ingram (as per the original post, contact mathew@gigaom.com.)

– Jessie W.

In yet another brilliant move by Google, Street View is now on the ski slopes! You can now see the venues for the games and the world’s first snowmobile Street View imagery on Google Maps. http://google.com/games10

From the Google official blog:

“2/09/2010 10:00:00 AM The view from Whistler Mountain is something everyone should see: a range of rugged mountains, trails of snow, fir trees and placid lakes below. It’s changed since I lived there some years back — there are many more houses, and far better chairlifts — but what remains is the rare feeling of being free, in nature, about to tear into peak snow.” (rest here)

Just look at these great shots:

Google Snowmobile Street View Whistler Olympics 2010 Vancouver BC

7th Heaven blackcomb Whistler Google Snowmobile Street View Olympics 2010

Happy Friday and happy exploring everyone!

~Adam M.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook offices in Palo Alto, Calif., Feb. 5, 2007. PAUL SAKUMA/AP FILE PHOTO

January 04, 2010 Lorraine Mallinder

Resistance and disbelief – apparently these are the real reactions of many companies confronted with the seemingly unstoppable rise of social media.

“Many don’t want to believe things are changing as substantially as they are,” says Jeff Quipp, president of Search Engine People in Toronto.

He should know. As someone who advises companies on online strategy, he’s familiar with the fears and doubts that prey on business minds. They worry about not getting it right, about how to manage potential crises and about what might be said of them. It’s as basic as that.

But, as is becoming increasingly clear, social media are not a passing phase. Companies fretting over their online strategy would do well to take a deep breath and project themselves into the not-too-distant future. In truth, the information age is just getting warmed up.

“By 2020, we’ll have a completely connected economy,” says John Sviokla, vice-chairman of Chicago-based Diamond Management & Technology Consultants.

“The big trends will be “persistent social networks and augmented reality, with the Internet connecting more and more things”.

At its most basic level, this means that information will be literally all around us, accessed via increasingly sophisticated mobile devices equipped to recognize tagged objects, places and people. Throw in augmented reality technology and you have that same information – whether from selected social networks or other sources – displayed over a live feed of the real world.

Word of mouth will become more organized. Consumers will be able to point their devices at products or places and access information from friends or like-minded people, with the additional possibility of identifying where they are at that moment. They also will be able to leave geo-tagged reviews wherever they go. “Issues could literally haunt places,” says Quipp.

In turn, consumers will be targeted with tailored advertising based on information they have provided to online networks.

“Right now, you put up a poster for a couple of weeks and it remains static,” says Sylvie Daniel, a researcher at Laval University focusing on augmented reality. “In future, posters viewed through mobile devices could change in real time to take consumer preferences into account.”

Consumers may have lapped up commercials on their flickering TV sets in days gone by, they are unlikely to remain passive before the forthcoming onslaught of laser-sharp advertising. “People give enormous amounts of information to social networks. But, they will always have opinions and these will circulate in raw format at rapid speed,” says Daniel’s colleague, Thierry Badard.

Business needs to start planning for the connected economy now, says Sviokla. A former professor at Harvard Business School, he has long studied the impact of technology on business and describes what is happening now as the development of “an interstate highway system for the mind.”

“You gotta plan for that,” he says.

Overall, experts foresee an unprecedented rise in consumer power, more dramatic than what has been seen so far with the advent of the Internet. Quipp predicts an “integrity revolution. It’ll no longer be about separating clients from as much money as possible. It’ll be making sure you deliver beyond expectation.”

Companies should start building “feedback loops” to ensure customers’ concerns are dealt with systematically.

“It’s possible, even if you have the best intentions, that you haven’t created the processes to keep people happy,” he says.

Quipp advises companies to start by listening to what is being said about themselves and their competitors. The next step would be trying to facilitate two-way conversations with clients to improve relationships. For small companies, this could take a couple of hours a week.

Julien Smith, Montreal-based co-author of Trust Agents, a book advising companies on how to build influence online, says people want interaction to be genuine. In a world of short-attention spans, he thinks it important that companies dedicate some time to their online presence each day – even if not for long.

Canadian Please by Julia Bentley Andrew Gunadie

Canadian Please by Julia Bentley Andrew Gunadie

Found this little dilly at Ted Bett’s Liberal Video Depot (LVD)

Song & video produced by
Julia Bentley & Andrew Gunadie (NOT GUNNAROLLA! Gunnarolla is this YouTube channel!)

MySpace:
http://www.myspace.com/jchbentley
http://www.myspace.com/andrewgunadiem…

Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/gunnarolla
http://www.twitter.com/honeychip

CANADIAN SING-A-LONG!

Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please
Even if in winter things tend to freeze
We’ve got the world monopoly on trees
And our country’s bordered by three different seas

Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please
We invented the zipper, we’ve got expertise
We made insulin to combat disease
Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please

CHORUS
Brits have got the monarchy
The US has the money
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

The French have got the wine and cheese
Koalas chill with the Aussies
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

Et si ce n’était pas assez
On a deux langues officielles:
L’anglais et le français
Ooh la la

Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please
Where else do you find mounted police
Or go to the hospital and not pay fees
Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please

And when freshwater is in high demand
We’ve got the world’s largest supply on hand
So you know that we could make a pretty good friend
But it’s even better if you can be…

CHORUS

So you’re thinking to yourself
“How do I live in this beautiful country?”
Well I’ve got some steps for you to follow…

STEP 1: Lose the gun
STEP 2: Buy a canoe
STEP 3: Live multiculturally
STEP 4: You’re ready, there is no more!

We got beavers, caribou and moose
We got buffalos, bears, and Canadian goose
And we’re sorry about Celine Dion
But she did do that good song for James Cameron…

CHORUS
Brits have got the monarchy
The US has the money
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

The French have got the wine and cheese
Koalas chill with the Aussies
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

The Greek chilled out with Socrates
Can’t build a wall like the Chinese
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

In Kenya they have safaris
We’ve missed lots of other countries
But I know that you wanna be Canadian

And in case you can’t get enough…

Canadian, Please – Behind the Scenes (ft. Rock Remix)

This is tres cool:

TinEye is a reverse image search engine. You can submit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions. TinEye is the first image search engine on the web to use image identification technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks. For some real TinEye search examples, check out ourCool Searches page.

Happy second Monday of the week

-Adam M

Pondstone Communications

Pondstone on Twitter

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