Kobo: My favourite eReader app just got better

I logged onto iTunes this weekend to discover that my favourite eBook reader app just got better. Kobo introduced version 4.5 of its iPad app.

This version includes something I’ve been eager to see: proper handling of footnotes. With this feature, I can simply click on the number of an end-note to be taken directly to it. Once I read the note, I can click on its number and I’m returned to the main text. Simple. A great timesaver.

This feature adds to an already great application that allows me to:

  • Highlight passages in the text and add my own notes to them;
  • Share passages that catch my attention via both twitter and Facebook; and
  • Download books in ePub format that I can read on virtually any device – a Kobo eReader, my iPad, my Sony reader, an Android device.

Kobo’s slogan is “eReading: anytime. anyplace.” They make good on that promise. Having used iTunes for my music and now realizing that Apple’s strategy is to keep me locked into their products, I’m reluctant to go down that path with eBooks. So that pretty much rules out both iBooks and Amazon for me. I like Kobo’s commitment to openness. It’s good for competition. It’s good for the publishing industry. And it’s good for me, the reader.

Of course, nothing is perfect.

I have had one problem with the Kobo eReading app on my iPad. On three occasions over the past year, the application has frozen. The only way that I could get it to work again was to reset the iPad. Each time, I lost all of my locally stored data. That means my highlights and annotations. For someone like me who writes a lot of notes to refer back to later, that’s a big problem.

I hope that Kobo is looking at making it possible for readers to back up our notes on their server. This could have the added benefit of enabling me to download my notes to any device on which I’m reading – syncing my notes between devices. I think this should be feasible for Kobo. Already, we are able to share our notes with friends via their servers. It should be a relatively easy thing to enable us to save those notes to be download the next time we resync a second or new device.

If they’d do that, they’d make their already great app almost perfect.

A professional development conference for media relations professionals

Is dealing with the news media part of your job? Are you looking for advice and best practices that will enable you to be more effective in your dealings with the media? Then you should may be interested in the Canadian Institute’s Advanced Media and Public Relations Summit in Toronto June 28-29.

I’ll be attending as well. On the second day of the conference, I’ll make a presentation about the tools and methods my company, Thornley Fallis, uses to monitor and manage our relations with both traditional media and new digital influences.

The agenda for the conference is available at the Canadian Institute Website. It’s a great opportunity to spend two days exploring the leading edge of media and public relations.



It happened again: This time a gold award from the CPRS

Last week I wrote about the excitement of watching the Thornley Fallis and 76design team’s creativity and hard work being recognized at the IABC Toronto Ovation Awards.

Well, it happened again. One of the programs we did with Allstate CanadaDriven to Distraction – won a Gold award at the Canadian Public Relations Society’s national awards ceremony. And our work with RBC on the “RBC Student Fall Banking Program Goes Digital” picked up a Bronze award.

Another great night. A night when we celebrate the talented team members who gave their very best to make our clients winners.

Thank you to all the Thornley Fallis team members for your great work. You make me proud to count myself one of you.

It's HOW you play the game that matters

When Terry Fallis and I founded Thornley Fallis, we were two guys working on folding banquet tables in borrowed space. And we set out to create the kind of company that we’d really like to work at. A place that reflected our values.

Well, it’s 16 years later – and I just had one of those “back to the future” moments.

I was part of a team pitching a potential new client. We really wanted the business. But we also saw that there were problems with the way the potential client had spec-ed the Request for Proposal. So we proposed an approach that we thought was right for them. And it didn’t match 100% the things they had said they were looking for in the RFP. The senior officer at the table called us out on this and we had a good discussion about why we had proposed the approach we had. A really good discussion. At the end of it, he said our approach would make demands on his organization that he wasn’t sure they were ready for. He didn’t say that we weren’t going to be selected. But he did give us an honest response to our honest advice.

And then it happened. The other client representative in the room leaned forward and told us that he recalled reading our founding principles many years ago (when he worked for us; yes, it’s a small world.) He remembered that one of our founding principles was: “Give the client the advice they need, not the advice they want to hear.”

Whuff! One of those moments that remind you it’s about walking the talk. Doing what you say you want to do.

I’d love to win the account. I don’t know if we will. But I do know this: You have to really believe that it’s HOW you play the game that matters. Be true to your principles and have faith that you’ll get your fair share of wins in the long run.

Springtime for Government 2.0 in Ottawa?

Now that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been re-elected with a majority government, Canadians can begin to expect him to pursue some longer term objectives.

So, it was a pleasant surprise to read these commitments in the Government’s first post-election Throne Speech:

Canadians rightly expect fairness and accountability in the full range of government institutions that serve them. … Our Government will also support the efforts of the Public Service to modernize the way it works so that it can continue to provide the highest standard of service to Canadians. …. Our Government will also ensure that citizens, the private sector and other partners have improved access to the workings of government through open data, open information and open dialogue.

This is a reaffirmation of the move toward Government 2.0 that was signalled with the launch in March of open.gc.ca and data.gc.ca. At that time, Open.gc.ca described three initiatives the Government of Canada was taking:

  • Open Data, which is about offering Government data in a more useful format to enable citizens, the private sector and non-government organizations to leverage it in innovative and value-added ways.
  • Open Information, which is about proactively releasing information, including on government activities, to Canadians on an ongoing basis. By proactively making government information available it will be easier to find and more accessible for Canadians.
  • Open Dialogue, which is about giving Canadians a stronger say in Government policies and priorities, and expanding engagement through Web 2.0 technologies

Open.gc.ca hasn’t been updated since it’s launch. The front page still features the March 18 initial release and statement from then-Minister Stockwell Day. However, in light of the Throne Speech reference and New Treasury Board President Tony Clement‘s recent interview endorsing the Open Data initiative, we should start to see updates and news of further initiatives.

I’m going to follow this closely and write about it more often. I hope that you’ll follow along with me and join the discussion.

And if you are interested in this area, you also should subscribe to two other bloggers who are reporting on Canada’s open government initiatives:

John F. Moore, Canada Commits to Open Government in “Speech from the Throne”

Richard Akerman, Open Data Statement in Canadian Digital Economy Strategy Update



Ontario Ombudsman André Marin to speak at Third Tuesday Toronto

André Marin

Ontario Ombudsman André Marin

In my experience, a very few Canadian government officials have really succeeded in using digital media to increase public engagement. André Marin, the Ontario Ombudsman is at the top of that short list. Not only is he personally active on Twitter and Facebook, but he has integrated social media into his offices research and reporting.

The best example of this was his investigation into the conduct of the police during last year’s G 20 meeting in Toronto. When announcing that investigation, the Ombudsman invited Ontarians to submit evidence that had been gathered using social media. During the investigation, he provided updates on his progress via Twitter. In fact, his tweet that he had concluded the research stage was broadly reported by traditional media as if he had granted interviews or issued a news release. And when he released the final report, his press conference was posted on YouTube in a shareable format.

So I’m very pleased that Andre Marin has agreed to be the guest speaker at Third Tuesday Toronto on June 21. That’s the day he’s releasing his annual report, in which he will be announcing his newest focus – promoting open government.

I know the Third Tuesday community is savvy to the potential – and the challenges – of open government. So, I’m looking forward to an evening of  intelligent, probing discussion of this initiative.

Register to attend Third Tuesday with André Marin

You can register online at the Third Tuesday Toronto meetup site to attend this event. A great chance to explore the important topic of open government in Ontario.

Acknowledging Third Tuesday’s sponsors

As always, I want to thank the sponsors of Third Tuesday: CNW GroupRogers Communications, the Canadian Internet Registration AuthorityRadian6 and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Thanks to these sponsors, we are able to program great speakers in cities across Canada, including Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa.