Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant
Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

SlingBox rocks ... the sequel

Prior to the Winter Olympics I reported on my acquisition and setup of the SlingBox such that I could watch the CBC version of the Olympics while traveling in southern California. At the time SlingBox was only available in the U.S.; I had purchased one on my trip to California immediately prior to the start of the Olympics. In addition to the points made in that posting I can also relate the following:

  • During a Skype chat session with an acquaintance in Sweden, I was watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony via my SlingBox as was my correspondent who was watching the Swedish TV network version. All of a sudden we found ourselves diverging to a discussion about various aspects of the ceremony. I guess you could call this coviewing!

  • During our trip we, of course, watched my home cable channels via SlingBox from our various hotel rooms; free broadband did enter into the decision about choice of hotels. One hotel charged for broadband access; however, their free breakfast more than made up for the daily Internet charge.

  • On one of our transit days, we stopped at a Starbucks in Palm Springs, CA and watched the CBC telecast of the Women's Gold Medal Hockey Game. I did record on my digital camera a video of the team singing O Canada via my SlingBox; they definitely should stick to hockey for their livelihood. Congratulations on a great performance!!

  • Rogers, my Internet (and cable TV) provider, has started providing individual Internet usage statistics to its customers. I was away from the home office for 12 days in February of which 10 were days when I had the SlingBox available. Whereas my January usage was 8.7GB download and 1.1GB upload; my February stats showed 5.8GB download and a whopping 11.0 GB upload. Given Alec's experience with Rogers "unlimited" wireless charges, I have a bit of trepidation about hearing from the Rogers usage police, probably suspecting I am running a highly accessed web server (Not!).

  • Last weekend I set up a High Definition (HD) television set; this necessitated moving to the Scientific Atlanta 8300HD cable box from the SA3250. Once I had completed the setup (and moved the appropriate cables to the 8300HD) I found my SlingBox player was still running on the desktop PC in my home office (without so much as touching the PC). The one caveat: the S-video output on the 8300HD only provides a Standard Definition signal -- quite suitable for SlingBox. However, since the TV itself is hooked up to the 8300HD via the HDMI cable, I cannot use the SA8300HD's PVR features on the SlingBox. There is also occasionally an annoying message about a "DVI/HDMI connection blocked" if the main TV is not turned on; however, simply hitting the Exit button on the remote control panel solves this.

  • In two days (Thursday, March 30) SlingBox will be announcing availability for purchase in Canada.

  • And now to install the Mobile player on my Dell Axim..

  • Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Ripped Off: Trying Times I

    Last Thursday evening I returned to my new car (50 km) after a business meeting in a restaurant to find the rear driver's side window smashed .... And my laptop stolen! This has resulted in an experience that has been both frustrating (in terms of working out a recovery plan) and exhilarating (in terms of the many friends who have helped in one way or another over the past few days). It shows the value of long term relationships and how they can come to assist in an emergency in invaluable ways. (Does the word "priceless" come to mind?)

    First my thanks go to my Volvo dealer of the past 32 years, Volvo of Mississauga, (formerly McMillan & Saunders) who ensured that I could have my car available for a close family friend's wedding on Saturday. They bent over backwards to find replacement parts and provide a oeprationally repaired vehicle by 4:30 Friday. All without knowing how we would get this paid for, since the new auto had not been fully entered in the insurance company's computer.

    Secondly, I need to thank my long time colleague and friend (he would call me "brother" as he does his wide range of acquaintances), Victor Shepherd, whom I have assisted with his computing needs over the past several years. As both an academic and author, Victor may not understand the technology but is a classic example of someone who avails himself of the benefits of technology to meet his goals. I had the pleasure of first meeting Victor in 1978 when he began a 21 year tenure as our minister. Victor has loaned me his unopened Dell Inspiron 6000 so that I can have an interim laptop PC while ordering a new one. (And finally I am able to get around to getting his new laptop operational).

    I must also acknowledge the staff at the Courtyard Marriott in Vaughan. Without a question, they provided me with a large bath towel to cover up the window opening for driving home; they also allowed me to park under their entrance arch such that the rain was kept from getting into the car while I had a business meeting. Simon Cooper is a senior manager with Marriott and also a graduate of the same EMBA program as I took. The staff's response is typical of Simon's mantra and biggest fear about running a hospitality operation: the staff most in contact with the public are your lowest paid employees -- make sure they are empowered to act in a responsible manner in resolving customer issues. I have seen this repeatedly in operations run by Simon. (Disclosure -- I am a Marriott Rewards member and also qualify for their Senior's rate where "Senior" is not as old as it used to be.)

    Many other friends have offered help; also my network of business clients and colleagues have been more than patient for the past few days as I worked through a plan not only to recover my data and get operating but also to minimize the exposure to identity theft and access to my Internet-accessible accounts. Fortunately I had most of my data (and almost all my business-critical data) backed up; the largest issue was figuring out how to do this while encountering Microsoft's and Symantec's activation algorithms.

    And a simple message to prevent it happening to you: don't leave anything exposed in your car. Thieves have been know to break in to steal any type of briefcase or suitcase, with contents such as "exercised" gym clothes, estate settlement papers, etc. according to stories that have surfaced over the past few days. Also I have learned that they only want to steal the laptop to sell the hard drive for drug money. Somehow the economics don't work out when you get less than $100 for the effort (you can buy a laptop hard drive for under $150 retail); it only goes to show the degree of desperation and addiction that comes from such a habit. I would blame as much as anything our collective failure to recognize and support the importance of extra-curricular activities at the high school age. Instead of athletics, music and special interest clubs, more kids are susceptible to the short term temptations of a quasi-criminal, chemically-assisted life style in the resulting "spare" time. I often credit participation in these extra-curricular activities, and the teachers who lead them, as major contributors to my own offsprings' successes.

    Ironically, once I got a chance to read the new car's manual Friday evening (yes I did read the manual! ... eventually), I learned there is a way to lock the trunk such that even if someone enters the main vehicle the trunk remains locked.

    In future posts I will be acknowledging the tools that have allowed me to get back up so quickly along with a story of "does the fact Hell rhymes with Bell and Dell have anything to do with pushing their customers around in circles when attempting to reach a human voice"? And, finally I hope to have some suggestions as to how computer and Internet technology can be used to investigate these activities.

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Shel Israel visits Toronto to talk about Naked Conversations

    Shel Israel was the guest of AIMS Canada for two events involving the use of blogs as an element of business marketing, building on the cases discussed in Naked Conversations, the book he recently co-authored with Robert Scoble.

    The Blogger Networking Event, held at Shoeless Joes in Toronto's Entertainment district, presented lots of opportunities for naked verbal conversations.

    Social Marketing, Tapping into the Power of Connected Customers, was the second AIMS event featuring Mark Evans, Amber MacArthur, Jon Husband and Shel. (Note I did not attend the first AIMS event which apparently had the dullest audience Shel has ever encountered.)

    Both were great events and provide even more justification for the first Toronto Web 2.0 conference being organized by Mark Evans, Matthew Ingram and others for May 8 and 9. More information to be available next week.

    In the confusion caused by renovations back home, Shel forgot his passport. Apparently there ensued a very long un-naked conversation as he applied to enter Canada at Pearson Airport. Shel reports that verbal diarrhea works as a successful strategy for such a discussion with a Canadian immigration officer. However, more importantly and ironically, he needed to have his passport Fedexed up to Toronto in order to be able to re-enter the U.S., his home and native land.

    Mar 8 Update: Shel has done an autobiographical report on his trip.

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    1999 Volvo S70 for sale

    Temporary Posting

    This has been my most enjoyable Volvo in 33 years of Volvo experience
    1999 S70 GLT with almost 185,000 km in excellent condition:
  • All factory recommended servicing carried out
  • GLT 2.4L Lite Turbo 190hp engine
  • Forest Green Sedan
  • 4-speed Automatic Transmission; Front Wheel Drive
  • Leather seats
  • Air Conditioning; Power Locks, Steering, Windows and Side Rear View Mirrors
  • Power Drivers Seat with 3 memories
  • Front seat heaters
  • Cruise Control
  • AM/FM Radio with single CD player
  • Includes set of snow tires on wheels

  • Just completed 'Immaculate' detailing at dealer; floor mats are drying out in the house.
    More specs and safety features/ratings
  • Fuel capacity: 70L
  • Was covered under extended warranty to 160,000 km
  • All service records available
  • Recent repairs: timing belt (at recommended 168,000 km); alternator, front brakes, PCV system

  • Click to see kilometrage

    This car still has the smooth ride (especially with the summer tires) and excellent handling referenced in the review linked above. A pleasure to drive. Upgrading to 2006 S60 in order to get steering wheel control of radio/CD player.(And I'm a bit of a digital geek.)

    Price: C$7,995 plus taxes.
    VIN: YV1LS56D3X2613012
    Ontario UVIP available at time of inspection.
    905-812-0202 or
    My status

    Last looks....
    AM/FM Radio with CD player; dual heating controls; dual Tim Hortons Mug holderNote all the reflections in the metallic finish