Double your money for a good cause – and watch me grow a 'stash

Make a child’s wish come true

Over the next five weeks, you’ll have a chance to see me grow (or attempt to) a radiant, bushy, geeky moustache. Yep, I’m going hirsute.

I’m growing my ‘stash as part of the Ottawa Mustaches for Kids campaign that some of the fine fellows in my community have organized.

Clean Shave Day

Clean shaven - one last time

Between now and December 5, my fellow mustache-growers will go razorless (at least on our upper lips). And as we do this, we’ll raise money from family, friends and even strangers on the street for a most worthshile cause – the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Make-a-Wish grants wishes to create hope and happiness for children with life-threatening illnesses around the world. It has granted more than 210,000 wishes since it was founded.

Mustaches for Kids was first organized in 1999 in Los Angeles. Since then, it has spread to cities throughout North America. Participants have raised over $150,000 for worthwhile causes like Make-a-Wish through the annual mustache-growing campaign.

Last year, our local Mustaches for Kids campaign granted wishes for Victoria, Jakob and Michael. I don’t think I need to say more. This is worth doing.

Every dollar you contribute will turn into 2 dollars

This year, I will match every contribution that is pledged through me up to $1,000.

If you’d like to pledge a contribution of $25 or more, simply contribute directly on the Mustaches for Kids site and email me at joseph.thornley[a-t]gmail[d.o.t.]com. I’ll match your contribution.

So, please consider making a contribution to help a child’s wish come true. I know you’ll feel good that you did.

I just want to celebrate

Today is an important anniversary for me.

Eight years ago today I had surgery for prostate cancer. And eight years later I’m still here to write about it. That’s something to celebrate.

My cancer was detected early through a blood test for PSA – prostate specific antigens. A simple test that my doctor included as part of my annual physical routine. And because he did that, he saved my life. My cancer was detected early enough that surgery could remove it before it spread.

So, I’ve had eight more years. Eight summers. Eight winters – lots of snow (I’m Canadian, so I see lots of snow.) Time with my wife and family. Time with friends. Time to discover and become fascinated by social media. Time. Lots of time.

Today is an important anniversary for me. A day to celebrate.

One man in six will get prostate cancer during his life time.

If you’re a man who’s made it this far in this post, make sure that your Doctor includes the PSA test in your annual physical routine. Early detection could save your life. And then you too will just want to celebrate.

Dell and Me

100 computers later

I’ve just received my 100th Dell computer. That’s 100 Dell computers that I’ve ordered for Thornley Fallis and 76design since 1997.

And what a difference there is between the first computer I ordered and the most recent one.

Dell's Website in 1996The first Dell that I ordered on April 1, 1997 was a Dimension XPS Pro 200n. It had a 200 MHz Pentium Pro processor, a 4.3GB hard drive, a 15″ CRT monitor and cost $5,525.

I thought it was blazing fast.

The most recent Dell I received is a Precision T5400 workstation. It’s powered by two 3GHz Xeon processors, has twin 750GB hard drives configured in RAID 0, a 30″ LCD monitor and cost $5,249.

A lot more machine for the same money.

Why Dell?

100 computers ordered from the same supplier over 11 years. Why have I been so loyal to Dell?

Dell wasn’t the first computer I purchased when I set up Thornley Fallis. In fact, I bought another brand name notebook computer from my local CompuSmart computer superstore. And it was a nice machine – until it stopped working. That was the point at which I found myself lined up at the door of CompuSmart at opening time on a Friday morning in the hope that the repair department could fix my machine in time for me to deliver on an end of day commitment to a client. I sat in the service department for virtually the entire day until the tech told me that he was going off shift and I would have to return on Saturday.

No computer. Disappointed client. Big lesson about the importance of service.

So, I ordered my next computer from Dell. Not only was I able to configure the computer to meet my exact needs, but it also came with 24 hours 7 days a week telephone support. Support from trained support people who would stay on the phone with me until I fixed the problem. And if new hardware was required, next day onsite replacement.

At 2AM in the morning, it really matters that someone will answer the phone and fix your problem.

I was hooked. You might say that Dell had me the second the service tech said, “Hello.”

Dell be true to me. I’ll be true to Dell.

Now, I won’t pretend that the relationship has been without bumps. There are times when I really wish that Dell would ensure that all the device drivers on its machines would work well with Vista. (Darn you, Embassy Security Suite.) And over the years, telephone support has not always been a perfect experience. (In fact, I’ve noticed some backsliding in the Dell’s push to improve its telephone support since it cut some of its North American operations.) (Disclosure: Thornley Fallis provided PR support to Dell’s Ottawa call centre until it was closed.) And sometimes, hardware breaks. (nVidia video chips anyone?)

But overall, the bumps have been exceptions in our relationship. Dell has delivered a good experience with machines that met my needs and support that keeps us running. And as long as Dell continues to deliver this, I’ll stick with Dell.

So, thanks Dell.

Now, I wonder what the 200th machine will look like…

Heading home to Canada

Gargoyles and detail of north side of Notre DameParis has been unbelievably beautiful. Five days of glorious weather. Didn’t get hit by any cars. (How do they manage to drive that way?!?) Tired, tired feet. Many happy memories.

But, vacation’s over. I’m starting the trek home to Canada. Should be there sometime tonight.

See you on the other side.

19 years later…

Near the Louvre, before the arch commemorating AusterlitzI’m writing this in Paris, France.

19 years ago, my wife and I looked at one another as we sat in a cafe in London and said, “Well, with us starting a family, we may skip a year in our annual European vacations.”

That was 1989. Nineteen years later, we’re taking our next trip. And in the meantime, we’ve had three great children, who are growing up to be wonderful people.

Would I change a single decision we made in the past 19 years? None that I can think of.

Kids. They’re the gift that just keeps taking – and giving.

No answer at the Canadian Do Not Call Registry

Today is the first day of the new Canadian Do Not Call list. Our chance to get back at the obnoxious, persistent, call-at-any-time telemarketers by signalling that they do NOT have our permission to call us ever again.

Obviously, I’m not the only person trying to register on the Do Not Call list. On several successive attempts, I was greeted with this message.

No answer at the Do Not call registry

Clearly, the registry’s operators underestimated just how many of us really, really want to stop being interrupted by telemarketers.

But, if like me, you want to reduce the number of unwanted interruptions on your residential or cellular telephone line, you can try your luck to register online with the national Do Not Call list. Hopefully, by the time you try, you’ll be able to get through.

Oh. Of course, the registry does offer the old fashioned way to register by calling 1-866-580-DNCL (1-866-580-3625) or 1-888-DNCL-TTY (1-888-362-5889). But when I called, I received only a busy signal.

Oh well. I guess the Do Not Call registry doesn’t really want us to call after all.

UPDATE

Hurrah. Success. Finally, on day 2 of the registry, I was able to register my home and cell numbers on the Do Not Call list. Now, telemarketers have until November 1 to remove me from the list. I’m looking forward to the sound of silence.

Terry Fallis' "Best Laid Plans" ships to bookstores

Terry Fallis tells us that the McClelland and Stewart edition of his Leacock Award-winning novel, The Best Laid Plans, has now shipped to bookstores.

The Best Laid PlansI read Best Laid Plans in the original self-published edition. Here’s what I had to say about it on the Chapters site:

I read Terry Fallis’ Best Laid Plans in the original self-published edition. And it left me with a smile at every sitting, from beginning to end.

Terry’s protagonist is the noble idealist that we all wish actually would populate the halls of power. Come to think of it, as a long time friend of Terry, there was a lot of Terry in his hero. Terry for PM?

Terry has written about something he knows well. As a one time political aide, he writes about the political machinations with an insiders eye. And he brings out the humour and fun for us all to share.

The only problem with the book? It ended. So, time for Terry to write a sequel. Maybe our hero should find himself in the Canadian Embassy in Washington as a representtive of the newly elected government?

The Best Laid Plans. A great, entertaining read.

The Best Laid Plans was a thoroughly entertaining, laugh out loud read. And thanks to McClelland and Stewart publishing it, you can share in that fun. Order your copy from Chapters or Amazon.

Other posts about Terry Fallis’ journey into Canadian publishing fame

Terry Fallis won the Leacock Medal!

Terry Fallis talks about what it meant to be shortlisted for the Leacock Medal

The Best Laid Plans joins some impressive company

Google Chrome Day Officially Declared

Google ChromeNetwork television may have to counter program against blockbusters like the Olympics, the election of a U.S. President or the Super Bowl.

But blogs are not like network television. There’s no need to fill a complete schedule. So I’m not even going to try to compete with the wave of coverage of Google Chrome that’s coming across the blogs I read.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some more posts about the first round of Third Tuesday social media meetups for this autumn plus my views on other lower profile, but equally deserving social apps like BackType.  But in the face of all the attention that’s being focused on Chrome, why waste good topics by posting today?

I concede. It’s officially Google Chrome Day.

Technorati and Me

Sometimes it’s hard to admit that a longstanding relationship with a friend has withered to the point that it’s really just a memory. We cling to those memories of better time even though we don’t see one another day to day. TechnoratiAnd when we do, it’s just not the same.

That’s the way it is with Technorati and me.

There was a time when I would visit Technorati several times a day. I would regularly refer to Technorati to learn about a new blog I’d discovered. What author had registered ownership of the blog? How many inbound links came to it and from whom?

A blog’s Technorati Authority would provide a quick indicator of whether a blog was being paid attention to and by whom.

The Technorati search engine provided me with a unique view of content. Not only could I find the most recent posts on any topic, but I could also filter them by the Technorati Authority – selecting posts from all blogs, those with a little authority, some authority or a lot of authority.

And Technorati first introduced me to the concept of persistent search. It was the first search engine I found that enabled me to define a search and then subscribe to the results in my feedreader – telling me right away about new content that satisfied my search criteria without having to regenerate the search terms.

I registered ProPR on Technorati and followed the increase of my own authority (Yes, I visited daily just to watch the number increase.) I even registered my Twitter stream with Technorati and was delighted to see its authority climb as others linked back to my Twitter ID.

I could even rely on Technorati’s then-CEO, David Sifry, to post a quarterly analysis of the state of the blogosphere/ live web.

So, Technorati meant a lot to me. It was a search engine, a reference point to assess the relative weight of blogs and a source of analysis and insight into the growth of social media.

But….

A relationship is only strong so long as both parties are committed to it. And over time, I began to feel abandoned by Technorati. Management changes, money problems, a loss of focus, failed partnerships, service outages – all took their toll. I began to rely less and less on Technorati.

Google Blog SearchAnd just when my faith in Technorati was being challenged, Google enticed with its own social media search engine. I began to hang out more often with my new Google friend.

As I divided my loyalties, I noticed that the results from Google Blog Search was finding posts and content that Technorati was missing.

But my emotional attachment with my old friend Technorati kept me coming back. I’d continue to routinely set up persistent searches on both Google Blog Search and Technorati.

On top of this, Technorati was failing to maintain its innovation leadership. Technorati authority was the bluntest of instruments. But it had its own authority, being widely cited and incorporate in indexes like the AdAge Power150. But despite the fact that its many users criticized the basic methodology, Technorati failed to improve. It left the field wide open to startup AideRSS to make the big advance with its PostRank algorithm.

And so it ends…

Finally, I am throwing in the towel on Technorati. I no longer receive benefits that justify the time to go to the site and conduct a search. Google blog search reliably provides me with more complete results. So, why spend the time setting up and reviewing search results from a second service that has proven itself so unreliable?

And as I have come to doubt the completeness of Technorati’s search results, I’ve grown ever more reluctant to place any reliance on Technorati Authority.

So, at the end of the day, I find myself rarely going to Technorati.

The only time I use it now is when I am doing social media monitoring for a client. Why? Because as superior as it is, Google isn’t perfect. And Technorati is still better than the field of also-rans (Ice Rocket anyone?). And when I’m doing work for a client, i need a “second dip” to be sure that I haven’t missed anything. So, for now, I turn to Technorati as backup. A far humbler fate for Technorati than I had once expected for it.

How about you?

Are there social media tools and apps for which you once had high hopes that you now find yourself using and visiting less often? Tell us about it.

To get the ball rolling, I’m asked Dave Fleet, Bob LeDrew, Mitch Joel, Colin McKay and Shel Israel to tell us about a social media tools with which they once had a warm and deep relationship with that has now lapsed.

Credit where credit’s due

This post was inspired by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson‘s discussion of Technorati’s unreliability on the FIR podcast 373.

How I spent my summer vacation – in Charlottetown with PlanetEye

St. Dunstan's Basilica

I just spent four days in Charlottetown , Prince Edward Island. A beautiful place that is famous for its ocean vistas, rolling red farmland (yep, the oxidizing iron turns the soil red), Confederation Centre of the Arts (the stage production of Anne of Green Gables is in its 40th year), endless red sand beaches and historic sites (Canada was born here when the Fathers of Confederation met in 1864 at Province House.)

North Rustico Harbour

So, what did I do when I was relaxing there? I created user generated content. Not the kind that I usually create here (words followed by more words.) While I was in Charlottetown, I put PlanetEye ‘s picture uploader and geotag features through their paces.

I uploaded about 100 pictures of the attractions and historic areas of Charlottetown, North Rustico Harbour (the epitome of a Canadian east coast village), the beaches and cliffs of Prince Edward Island Park (look for the picture of the fox that trotted right up to our car while holding a rabbit in its mouth) and, of course, Green Gables (if you’re the parent of a girl, you’ll know what that is.)

I uploaded photos from my flickr page directly to PlanetEye. It was simple. Took about 2 minutes for each batch of 20 to 25 pictures. And then the geotagging worked perfectly. I simply dragged and dropped my photos onto a map in the location where I’d taken them.

If you’re interested in an unspoiled place for a summer vacation, take a look at Charlottetown on PlanetEye or at my Charlottetown photo set on Flickr .

Enjoy.

Fox by the roadside in Prince Edward Island National Park

EndlessRedSandBeaches