Sunday, January 31, 2010

Movie Review - Pirate Radio

I saw Pirate Radio last week and I liked it so much, I figure that it is worth mentioning here.

The movie is loosely based on the true story of the pirate radio stations that were popular in Britain in the 1960's. The cast is full of great actors including Philip Seymore Hoffman, Bill Nighy and the guy who was Hugh Grant's flatmate in Knotting Hill.

It is hard to say if the movie is a comedy or something closer to a romantic comedy because there are lots of scenes that are both funny and touching at the same time. In the movie, a boat is stationed off the shore of England and inhabited by a crew of radio djs and station personnel. Each of them as crazy and wacky as the next.

Of course the music is also great... you have The Rolling Stones, The Who and just about every other major song of that era included in the soundtrack.

A definite must see.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Marketing is like a blanket

I was just reading over a bunch of stuff about Sales 2.0, Web 2.0 and all that jazz that sounds all fancy and it hit me that marketing is really like a blanket.

I say this because marketers are now trying to get next to and in tight with consumers. Marketers try to make you feel safe and comfortable so that you'll buy into what they are selling.

In 2010, marketing comes at you from everywhere, all the time. Using Twitter to stay connected, marketers are there. Walk to the store? Marketers are there. Surf the web, marketers are there. Talk to a friend, marketers are there. Read a whitepaper... Event marketing, behavioral marketing... all of these are designed to surround you with marketing messages. Some of them are overt and some are more subtle.

It seems to strike me that the heart of the whole social media thing is that it is all about communication, trust and familiarity. And this means that marketers now have the perfect means for making you feel comfortable with their brands. They have the same old tactics they always had but with social media rounding out the tactical tool belt they can now, more than ever get right up against you.

Ask a question about something and you're likely to get a friend request from a brand selling that product or service or a friend with a recommendation. Search for an answer and get to a message board. Need to learn something, find a sponsored Youtube video.

I'm actually pretty excited to see what is going to be the next big rockstar tactic after this one!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Movie Review - The Hurt Locker

I finally got to see "The Hurt Locker" on the weekend.

I read recently that it has only made US$12 million and couldn't believe, after seeing the movie, that is has made that little money. In fact, it has only made US$16 million worldwide. source.

The Hurt Locker is the story of a bomb disposal unit in Iraq, which I think is an interest angle to tell the story of America's war on terror from. It is one of those movies that can be hard to watch because everything is done in a way to make you feel like the actors in the movie and from the first scene to the last, you have no idea what is going to happen next.

The characters in the movie have no idea if a bag is a bomb or just a bag, if a person is a citizen or an insurgent. This means that as a viewer, you are on the edge of your seat for a whole two hours.

There are lots of great performances from some amazing actors. I won't spoil them for you because some of them are really surprising. This movie has lots of Oscar talk around it and deservedly so. I am not sure it would win best picture but I highly recommend this movie. It's not an easy movie to watch but well worth the time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tips for Managing Information

I believe that are fortunate enough to be living at a great time in history. There are many reasons for this one of them is the fact that there is so much quality information floating around, and much of it is completely free.

One of the greatest things about the social media revolution is that smart people have begun to share what they learn with the rest of us. Years ago, they would have written books that we would have to walk or drive to a store to buy. Or we'd have to order them from Amazon and wait for them to be delivered. Now we simply sit back and read RSS feeds or tweets and it's all there for us to learn from.

The problem is that I am finding there is just too much of it for us to consume efficiently. I can't really read every great blog post as it comes up on my feed. I can't digest every landing page included in a tweet when I read that tweet. To handle it, I have developed a system and seeing as I haven't seen too many people talk about how they digest and catalog this information, I am going to share how I do it. It might not work for everyone and I am more than open to hear what other people do.

RSS Feeds
I love RSS feeds because they save me the time of going to a website to see if content is updated. I subscribe to somewhere around 30 feeds but that number rises and falls as I find new ones and ditch old ones. And I don't think that 30 is really all that many as I'm sure people subscribe over 100 of them quite easily. I use Google Reader to manage my feeds and what is great about Google Reader is that you can get lots of great iPhone apps that sync with it. I use MobileRSS on my iPhone.

When I read a great RSS post, I will mark it with a "star" so that I can come back to it for review later.

I can see that in some cases, Twitter is starting to replace RSS feeds in that people create content somewhere and then link to it on Twitter.

When I read an important or interest tweet, I will mark it as a "favorite" and come back it later.

Pulling It All Together
A few times a week, like Sundays after dinner, I will sit down and review my "starred" RSS posts and "favorite" tweets, read them over and visit the content.

I will spend time reading it over (and sometimes wonder why I liked in the first place but that's neither here nor there) and here's the important part: bookmark it.

Bookmarking is important because I need to make sure that I am developing a "library" of sorts that I can come back to. In the future if I ever need to get dirty on mobile marketing, bam - I know I have a file on it in my bookmarks.

What's Next
I am now going to start keeping my bookmarks in the cloud. Like Lando Calrissian's base, my links will be stored out in the interweb yonder so that I can access them from more places. Ultimately, I'd like to then have that sync with my mobile so them I'm really going to be off to the races as I see myself doing more and more on my iPhone.

I'll be sure to update when that happens. Until then, feel free to tell me what you are doing. Suggestions are always welcome.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Things I'm Into These Days

Every so often I like to write a post that shares what I am into these days. I feel obliged to do this because I have titled my blog "Items of Interest(to me)". A bit of history: when I was originally setting up my blog a few years ago, I wasn't really sure what to write about so I decided to what anybody else would do, write about things that interest me.

#1 Videos of Guitars on Youtube
I have been into Youtube for years but I had started to move away from it until I discovered the insane amount of videos about guitars. I used to play guitar and although i don't anymore, I still enjoy going into music stores and looking at guitars. Nice guitars are like cars, except in some cases they are much less expensive. But there are a few cases where this isn't true. Once case is a 1959 sunburst Gibson Les Paul. These guitars are highly sought after and played by some of world's most famous guitarists. I am particularly addicted to watching videos on the Fretted Americana channel on Youtube. Here is a demo of one of these amazing guitars.

#2 United States of Tara
I think everything that I need to say about this show, other than it is awesome, is said in this clip from Showtime.

#3 George Parker's Blog: Adscam/The Horror
George Parker has been in the advertising/creative game just about as long as I have been alive. His blog is one of the best things I read every single day because I thoroughly enjoy his frank, no bullshit angle on the business of advertising/media/marketing which, unless you've been living under a rock, are in the process of becoming more integrated now that ever before. Don't get me wrong, I love the industry but hate it at the same time. Mostly because people get highly self-important and because agencies/marketers often complicate things more than they need to be. George calls it like he sees it and for that I think he deserves all of the attention he gets, and more. (Yes, I tweeted about this blog too).

#4 Tea
That's right, tea. Every once and a while, a good cup of tea is truly something magical.

#5 Coffee
I also love coffee. So much so, that I would never mention something good about tea without mentioning coffee as well. Coffee consumed in mass amounts on a daily basis are bad. But a good cup of coffee (never from Tim Horton's) makes everything else you do better.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Smartphones aren't for everyone

I was thinking about my iPhone the other day and I came to realize that smartphones aren't for everyone. They are for people that:

  1. Are connected and frequently connect with an above average number of people.
  2. Live exciting lives filled with new and interesting activities.
The reason I say point #1 is that if you only have a few people that you talk to often, you should be able to get by with only texting, calling or emailing. Once you become part of a large cluster of connected people, you need tools like Facebook, Twitter and the bevvy of other social networking sites to remain connected to them because chances are, these people are all over these types of communication channels.

I say point #2 because the person who goes to work and goes home every single day isn't really going to need a smartphone. It's not like they don't know where the grocery store is. And if they go out to dinner, which they don't very often, they probably know the restaurants they like to eat at. And they don't take tonnes of pictures because they see the same things and the same people every single day.

Take myself for example. I have a pretty large group of connected people but I haven't broken the 1000 tweet mark yet and I have been on Twitter for almost two years now (March will be two years). I have over 300 friends on Facebook (I read the average person has about 150 or so). I enjoy using my smartphone to access my network of friends and contacts but I could live without it pretty easily, which is what I did for three months earlier this year when my phone broke. I have a cool app on my phone called My Nearest that will show me the nearest of anything I could want but even though I haven't lived in Ottawa since 1995, I know where everything is. Granted I have been saved by the GPS a few times but that's stretching it. Unfortunately, expensive roaming makes using cool apps like My Nearest in distant cities really expensive - which is when you need them most. I think it's funny that the rate plans offered by our mobile companies create a disincentive for us to leverage the full power of the technology.

For some people, smartphones are indispensable and I think that these are the people that generate all of the hype, buzz and whatever else it is about these phones and everyone else buys into it. I just don't think everyone NEEDS a smartphone, yet we are led to believe that we do by this layer of pressure that is put on us by advertising, the media and the people around us.

Smartphones to make lives more convenient and they do come in handy. I just hope that people spend time thinking about why they need one before they jump into one.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Update

It's the new year and I'm really excited for everything that is going to happen in 2010. I am not usually one for resolutions so there isn't much that I am planning for 2010 that wasn't started in 2009.

Professionally, I am going to be working for a company called Roam Mobility. Roam sells unlocked quad band GSM phones and SIM cards that let people save over 90% on roaming charges. Customers can get free incoming calls in 65 countries and free incoming text message anywhere. People are often shocked when I tell them about Roam but I believe that we have been getting juiced by our mobile carriers when it comes to roaming charges for too long. For example, if you are roaming in the USA and you want to call a cellphone in Canada, you're going to pay about $1.45. With Roam, you would pay on $0.40.

Outside of work, I'm really excited to be back in Ottawa. I have been going to the YMCA on what is almost a daily basis so I believe that I am in the best shape I have been in a while. The snow is starting to fall so it looks like the ski season is shaping up to be a good one. I didn't get as much time to get on the slopes as I would have liked when I was living in Vancouver (too busy) so 2010 is going to mark my return to skiing. I picked my skis up from the shop just this morning from Kunstadt Sports. They did an GREAT job considering there were huge gashes in the bottoms of my skis.

From a technology standpoint, as I posted before, I am loving my new iPhone. I am spending a lot of time listening to audiobooks and podcasts on it. It has reinvigorated my love of RSS feeds and so I have subscribed a bunch of new ones. I am also going to be in the market for a new laptop or netbook this year and will also be shopping for a new internet service provider as I am sick of the slow internet at my place.

I have a few goals for 2010. I'd like to get in the best shape of my life, I'd like to buy a car and be well on my way to affording some property. Other than that, it is going to be all about helping people save on roaming charges with Roam.

Happy New Year to Everyone!