Saturday, March 27, 2010

Learn to notice too-good-to-be-true Facebook offers

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, March 26, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Metro section - pg. F4

Facebook scams abound: I admit, I take great pleasure in pointing out to people that they've been taken in by a hoax, especially when it's so easy to find out the truth about something that sounds too good to be true. When friends started joining a Facebook group that purported to be giving away a $1,000 gift card to Wal-Mart, I immediately became suspicious. A simple Google search showed that it was a scam. And it certainly wasn't Wal-Mart's fault. They had nothing to do with it.

It was a sad statement on society, though, that many of my Facebook friends who joined the group could use more money in their lives right at this moment.

If a Facebook group or fan page pops up that sounds too good to be true, it usually is. And no, Fcebook won't soon be charging $3.99 per month... and no, there's no official "dislike" button... and no, there's no official Facebook webcam... and no, you can't see who just viewed your profile.

Would-be robbers checking your status? I'm not sure if it's an urban legend, but I've always heard that would-be robbers like to check the obituaries to see when certain people will be out of the house. After all, if grandma died, it's probably a reasonable assumption that the people listed as survivors will be at the funeral, leaving their home as easy pickings.

While it's a good idea to only allow personally known Facebook friends to see your status updates -- those who likely won't be breaking in to your house when you're not home -- the way things are done on Twitter are a bit different. Only the most paranoid and secretive Twitter users block their status updates from "non-friends". Since you're only posting updates and links, the same need for privacy espoused on Facebook (and all your family photos, personal information, etc.) isn't as necessary.

I'm not a paranoid person, but just be aware that if you're constantly announcing on Twitter that your house is empty, someone with less-than-honourable motives may see the update and pay you a visit when you're not home. Again, it likely won't happen, but again, Twitter users seem to be a lot less private than Facebook users. And they can usually afford to be because Twitter is pretty much just status updates and links, whereas Facebook can be your entire life story, if that's what you choose to post.

So the next time you tweet that the entire family's out of the house for a week, just be aware that anyone can see that update unless you've blocked your tweets to non-users... and not many serious Twitter users do that.

Be careful what you post: There are many debates happening online now regarding a variety of provincial, federal and international issues. Remember, what you post can be seen by anyone. Some of the amazingly inappropriate, vile, insulting comments being posted by both Facebook and Twitter users cause me to shake my head. Surprisingly, these people don't even try to hide who they are, including links to their company websites, personal homepages, etc.

There's a very short road from being considered passionate and credible on a certain issue to being considered a complete out-of-control fruitcake. Free speech abounds on the Internet. Just remember that free speech also comes with consequences. In the end, say what you want, but try to be respectful of others. Just be prepared to suffer the consequences like big boys and girls when you don't. Potential employers and clients may be determining whether or not they want anything to do with you.

Learn to retweet properly: One of my biggest pet peeves is being retweeted by someone who doesn't know how to do it properly. This can cause a huge headache when someone adds their own personal comment but it looks like you're the one who made it.

Recently, I posted something that was retweeted (or "forwarded") by a Twitter follower of mine. This is usually a good thing and is welcomed, however they added their comment after the "RT" and not before. For example, I may have written: "John is a nice guy." My follower thought it was interesting and would send it to his followers like this: "RT @briancormier: John is a nice guy".

If you have your own thing to add, you could write, "Too bad he's so ugly RT @briancormier: John is a nice guy." Written this way, the "ugly" comment is clearly understood to be the comment of the person retweeting, and not mine. The person who retweeted me, however, thought John was ugly and wrote it this way: "RT @ briancormier: John is a nice guy... too bad he's so ugly," making it look like I'm the one who said he was ugly. I was furious. If you're going to play the game, learn the rules! Making yourself look stupid is one thing, but embarrassing someone else is another thing.

If you're new to social media, sit down with someone who knows what they're doing who can show you the ropes, otherwise you may cause more harm than good. You may alienate your followers if you don't learn how to retweet properly.

Unfriend wisely: If you haven't heard by now, "unfriend" was the New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year for 2009. As you may have guessed, it means to remove someone as a friend on social media sites such as Facebook.

If you're trying to build a reputation online, unfriending should be done with caution. It may be best to be more selective on who you add to your friends list rather than have to deal with rejecting people after you've already interacted with them. Or, if you want to add people you don't know, put them on "limited profile" status on Facebook so they only see certain things, or start a fan page that is more business-like and without all your family photos, personal updates, etc.

Friday, March 26, 2010

This week's Social Media Matters column...

... touches on the following topics:

- Facebook scams
- Being careful about what you post
- Learning how to retweet properly
- Unfriending

Click here to read this week's Social Media Matters column in the Moncton Times & Transcript or return here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

American Idol: Recap of Top 11 results show

Last night, yet another contestant was shown the door in season nine of American Idol. This was a sad week to be eliminated, because it meant just missing being part of the lucrative Top 10 American Idol concert tour this summer.

As predicted by most reviewers and polls, including me, Paige Miles was shown the door this week. Joining her in the bottom three were Tim Urban and another finalist who was a bit of a surprise -- not because I think they're that great, but because they seemed to have a following online. Personally, I was always baffled by this, but perhaps I'm not the only one scratching my head as to why. Are their days numbered?

To find out how it all went down on last night's results show -- and for the name of the "surprise" third member of the bottom three -- click here to read my Idol Chatter column in the Moncton Times & Transcript or click here to read Idol Chatter in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Tune in to American Idol next Tuesday at 9 p.m. Atlantic (8 p.m. Eastern) when singer Usher will be mentoring the Top 10 on R&B and soul!

Nine months to go 'til Ho! Ho! Ho!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BULLETIN: RCMP confirm Donna O'Rielly found alive

The RCMP have confirmed that Donna O'Rielly has been found alive. She was found at about noon today.

Meanwhile, RCMP have confirmed that a 62-year-old man has been arrested for her alleged abduction. She'd apparently been kept in the basement of a home reportedly on Sixth Street in Moncton since her disappearance on February 26.

Click here for a CBC report on the arrest.

Click here to hear my interview with Carol Off on CBC Radio's "As It Happens" that aired earlier this evening. (Click on "Part One".)

American Idol: Top 11 performance show recap and predictions

The Top 11 performed #1 Billboard songs last night -- certainly not one of the best shows in American Idol history. There was one particularly stellar moment, however... Crystal Bowersox's rendition of Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee" just blew everyone away!

Everyone else got so-so comments from the judges. Their real venom, however, was saved primarily for Andrew Garcia, Tim Urban and -- especially -- Paige Miles, who tanked 100% on a horrible rendition of Phil Collins's "Against All Odds". It was surely the #1 worst performance during the Top 12 in the show's entire history. Yes, it was that bad. A complete and utter mess.

Who's going home? I predict that Tim, Andrew and Paige will be in the bottom three. Paige must go after last night. She absolutely must.

To read the recap and review of the judges' comments and my own, click here to read Idol Chatter in the Moncton Times & Transcript or click here to read Idol Chatter in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner. Tune in tonight at 10 p.m. ADT (9 p.m. EDT) on Fox to see who goes home!

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about rumours, lies and other exaggerations that surround us -- especially the case of Donna O'Rielly, a Moncton woman who's been missing since February 26. Since I write for the newspaper, I've had several people contact me asking me to verify stories they've heard... and even received one very detailed e-mail that I sent along to the police for verification. Ended up that the lady who sent it made the entire thing up. Unbelievable.

Read all about it in today's Moncton Times & Transcript or check here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

If you have any tips about the Donna O'Rielly case, call the Codiac RCMP at (506) 857-2400.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden drops the "F" bomb on live TV

Geez... the guy should know that there are live microphones all over the place.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Justin Bieber Fever

Napoleon Hill talks about his meeting with Andrew Carnegie

Napoleon Hill talks about the wisdom the billionaire Andrew Carnegie shared with him some hundred years ago.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

News release: Moncton seminar will help writers become authors

Get ready to get published! Moncton seminar will help writers become authors

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a published author? Then plan to attend the “How to Get Published” seminar on Friday, April 23, in Moncton during the Frye Festival. The seminar will cover everything from getting started to getting an agent, from getting your short pieces published to finding a book publisher, from writing a query letter to writing what the publishers want.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He teachers creative writing at Ryerson University and George Brown College and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo. But his proudest boast is that he’s helped many of his students to get their first book published and to launch their careers as authors.

As a special option, participants are invited to bring a draft of a query letter they might use to interest an agent or publisher in their book.

The seminar will run from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and will be held at the City Grill, 2nd floor, 130 Westmorland Street. The fee is $55 for the general public or $50 for Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) members. Participants are asked to register online for the seminar, and all Frye Festival events, through the Moncton Coliseum box office at

The seminar is a presentation of PWAC’s Moncton Chapter and the Frye Festival. PWAC’s Moncton Chapter is part of a non-profit support network that represents the interests of 600 writers in Canada’s magazine and newspaper industries. To learn more about the Moncton Chapter and its members visit

The Frye Festival brings the best local, national and international authors, poets, playwrights, graphic novelists, spoken word artists and storytellers to Moncton, New Brunswick, for a bilingual celebration of words. This year, the Festival runs April 19 to 25. Visit

Media Contact:
Rayanne Brennan
Vice-President, PWAC Moncton Chapter
(506) 961-3633