Saturday, July 03, 2010

New coupon system holds promise for businesses

Tweapsave: With each new social media network and handheld application that's invented, new business opportunities arise. If you love coupons for free stuff and discounts - and who doesn't - and you have a computer or an iPhone, then Tweapsave could be for you!

Tweapsave is a service that provides opportunities for retailers, restaurants and other service providers who use coupons to attract new customers and build customer loyalty using the power of social media. Companies pay for the privilege of providing the coupons (they would pay for printing or distribution through the mail anyway) and this gives them access to an unlimited number of customers for a set period of time. The number of coupons companies can make available (and for how long) depends on the package deal subscribed to.

This is the perfect coupon service for those who'd rather save trees. You don't have to print the coupon to show the retailer, you just show them the coupon on the screen of your iPhone. Of course, terms and conditions apply in order to prevent abuse. Company founder Lana Hansen tells me that bar codes could eventually be incorporated into the coupons for easy scanning and tracking by retailers.

These aren't your mother's coupons! Gone are the days of getting out the scissors and clipping magazines, newspapers and flyers. However, if you want to print the coupon, too, that option exists. Sign up as a user at tweapsave.com, search for coupons, place them in your cart and you're done. You can use the coupons as you see fit. There's also a very cool Tweapsave iPhone application, as well.

Travelling on a budget or looking for special deals in the place you're visiting? Search for Tweapsave coupons in the city you're in and save some cash for other things... like staying an extra night in a hotel... and then search for a coupon for the hotel night itself. Or save money on a meal in a nice restaurant or at your favourite pizza place.

The great thing about these coupons is that they can be shared through Facebook and Twitter. How cool is that? It's a great way to build a customer base and following.

Lana's technical partner on the new venture is local Moncton company Trimedia Atlantic (trimediaatlantic.com). If your company is looking for a cost-efficient and modern way of sharing coupons through social media, then check out Tweapsave. If you're a consumer looking to save a few pennies without having to kill a million trees using printed coupons, then register at tweapsave.com (it's free!).

Are you a lawyer and want an edge on the competition? Then get familiar with social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Why? Because social media is the new "smoking gun" evidence-wise.

Since the advent of the Internet, lawyers have learned that there's lots of evidence out there that can be found if you dig for it. Many smart cyber-criminals know how to hide their sins. These days, however, with everyone having a home computer, work computer and cell phone with Internet access, people are making mistakes that they are being caught for. And the best thing is - if you're a lawyer - they're handing over evidence to you on a silver platter.

While some people may hide their Twitter feed and have their Facebook privacy settings maximized, many don't. This means that anyone can have access.

According to a recent posting on that Mashable (mashable.com) social media blog, this free and open evidence has proven to be a boon to divorce lawyers seeking evidence to help their clients. Here's an excerpt from the posting based on an Associated Press report: "Consider, for example, the mom who lost custody of her kids because she was playing FarmVille or World of Warcraft when she claimed to be spending time with them, or the husband who denied anger management issues but flamed like a true troll, complete with violent threats, on his Facebook profile."

The posting also states some statistics that may surprise you.

"All in all, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that around 81 per cent of its members have had to deal with - or have themselves used - evidence from social media sources, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And a U.K. site reported that the word "Facebook" alone appeared in around 20 per cent of its cases last year."

Fascinating stuff. So, if you're a family law lawyer, make sure you're "up" on social media and know that it can benefit - or harm - your clients, depending on which side you're on. If they're claiming that their soon-to-be-exes are not being honest about their activities, then they just may rat themselves out via their own social media activity. And since this is activity is posted by the users themselves via a username and password, judges seem to be accepting this into evidence without much hesitation.

Deleting sent tweets on HootSuite: I'm a big fan of HootSuite and use it to manage my activity on Twitter. (And by the way, if you're only using the Twitter homepage, stop right now! Use HootSuite or TweetDeck. Your Twitter experience will never be the same and you'll definitely see its power and potential then - but certainly not through the Twitter homepage. Trust me on this one.)

With that said, I learned a hard lesson this week when I went into the "sent tweets" column on HootSuite and deleted a tweet that I'd just sent. Thinking I'd deleted it from Twitter altogether, I didn't worry about it. But deleting it in HootSuite didn't delete it from Twitter. If you want to delete a tweet you've sent - and we all need to do that from time to time - log on to the Twitter homepage and do it directly there.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Moncton SPCA 2010 Dog Jog


The Moncton SPCA's 2010 Dog Jog event will take place on Sunday, September 19, beginning at 11 a.m. at Centennial Park.

Pledge sheets may be picked up at the shelter or click here to download a PDF version.

This year's top prize is an economy-class round trip for four on VIA Rail between any two points (served by VIA Rail) between Moncton and Montreal, a $1,700 value!

For more information, please call the Moncton SPCA during regular hours at 857-8698.

This week's Social Media Matters column...

... touches on the following subjects:

- Tweapsave, a new online coupon service
- How social media is helping lawyers win (or lose) cases
- Deleting "sent" tweets in HootSuite

Check out Social Media Matters in the Metro section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will also be posted online here tomorrow. If you'd rather read it right away, click here to access it on the newspaper's website.

Neighbours and friends celebrating Canada Day in Moncton

I peeked out my window yesterday to find this group of friends celebrating Canada Day at the McGillivary home across the street from me. They get together every year to watch the fireworks from downtown Moncton, which we can see very well from our neighbourhood in Lewisville. From left to right: Shirley Wheaton, Simonne McGillivary, Sienna, Nancy Corey, Melly Gaudet, Patsy Gaudet.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Embracing one's "inner old fogeyness"

A few weeks ago, my cousin Kelley Mooney performed with the Chorale Voce dell' Anima led by Monette Gould at the Monument Lefebvre in Memramcook, not far from Moncton. Kelley had recently been granted an approved gospel lyrical adaptation of Hallelujah by renowned Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen's publishers.

Hallelujah is a beloved song. It's appeared in movies (Shrek), been performed on television (American Idol), and been covered by countless artists. The problem with the song is that its title suggests only spirituality, but its lyrics suggest sex too. So, when Kelley was asked by her parish priest (who never read the lyrics and only really heard the refrain) to sing it at Easter mass, Kelley had to break the news to him that the song was highly inappropriate for church, despite its spiritual overtones.

So, Kelley got to work writing new religious lyrics to the song but performed to the same beloved melody. A couple of years after sending in her proposed version, Cohen's publishers granted her the lyrical adaptation rights, so she now has the official OK to perform the song, which she did in Memramcook a few weeks ago.

A video I posted to my YouTube channel of her performance has reached nearly 4,000 views in two weeks - pretty good for local videos! Its popularity is a wonderful testimonial to Kelley's talent and the amazing accompaniment of Monette's choir. After the song, 400 people - many openly emotional - leapt to their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation. She'll be recording the song for an upcoming CD. If it gets anything close to the adoring response it got in Memramcook, she'll do just fine. And if I was a betting man, you may just be hearing it in church soon enough, now that its lyrics are considered 100-per-cent "churchy."

Like the priest who thought the original version of Hallelujah was appropriate for church, I've also spent many hours during the course of my life getting the wrong ideas about certain songs.

For instance, there are some famous Christmas-related songs that have absolutely zero to do with the yuletide season. Jingle Bells and Winter Wonderland are about winter, not Christmas. Read the lyrics. Not a thing about Christmas.

Song lyrics of many popular songs have always baffled me. They are so nonsensical that you either need to be on drugs to understand them or have a doctorate in philosophy to get their meaning. That doesn't mean they're not good songs. And it doesn't mean they aren't catchy. Here are a few examples.

From The Beatles' I Am the Walrus: "Semolina Pilchard climbing up the Eiffel tower. Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna. Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe." Seriously? Really? Now, if you can tell me what in the world that means without having to resort to visiting a monk sitting atop a mountain in Tibet, I'd love to know.

How about these weird lyrics from OMC's catchy and aptly named ditty, How Bizarre: "Elephants and acrobats, lions, snakes, monkey. Pele speaks righteous. Sister Zina says funky. How bizarre." I love this song. I could sing it all day. I'm sure if you don't remember it from the title or words, you'd likely fall in love with it right away, too. But the lyrics drive me crazy.

I love the twangy stuff from the 1960s. Now, those were lyrics you could understand. "My D-I-V-O-R-C-E becomes final today. Me and little J-O-E will be goin' away." Clever use of spelling in the title and lyrics, but you get what the song is about. You don't have to sit down with a bottle of whisky and an encyclopaedia of ancient history to figure out what in the world poor ol' Tammy Wynette is warbling about.

And you can pretty much figure out what the wife is doing in Charley Pride's Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger: "Did you enjoy yourself last night, dear? How was the show? You know that I don't mind it, when you go. I understand sometimes we all need time alone, but why do you always leave your ring at home?"

I know I'm sounding like an old fogey, but why can't they just write songs that I can understand? It hurts my brain to try and figure out what half the rappers are singing about. They sing so fast that I barely know what they're saying. And Google "Sleepytime Gorilla Museum", an experimental rock band. Watch a couple of videos. Do people actually pay for this stuff? I'm sure they do, but man - it is so not my cup of tea.

Also, if you're looking around YouTube, look up "death metal." You've probably heard of heavy metal rock, but death metal makes heavy metal look like Tiny Tim singing Tiptoe Through the Tulips after inhaling a tank of helium. It's screechy, scary, obnoxious stuff. It's just absolutely ridiculous.

I tell ya, I consider myself to be a reasonably modern person open to new ideas and concepts, but when it comes to music, I tend to be a bit of a traditionalist. Give me the Harry Connick Juniors of the world any day, along with the Michael Bublés, the Sarah McLachlans, the Rufus Wainwrights (even though some of his lyrics are on the bizarre side, too). I like being able to sit back and relax to music . . . or sing along and be happy . . . or sing along and be sad. (Take a look at Billy Gilman's video of his song Oklahoma on YouTube. If you aren't a heaping mess of tears on the floor after that, you have no soul.)

Yup. Gimme a sad country song any day over death metal. I'd rather cry to lyrics I can understand than cry because the music's hurting my ears or because I'm confused by nonsensical and ridiculous lyrics.

I'm embracing my inner old fogeyness!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brilliant new Old Spice TV ad

Isn't this great? Here's Old Spice's newest TV ad. Check out the awesome special effects!

This week's Hump Day column...


... is about weird song lyrics and how I've pretty much decided that I'm an old fogey when it comes to music. I like songs that I can sing along to and actually understand. While I don't get why people like heavy metal, I REALLY (!!) don't get the attraction to the "death metal" brand of music like this:



Pure excrement.

Check out this week's Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transript or return here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

Remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's official: Moncton now has "Northrop Frye School"


The following news release was issued today by the Province of New Brunswick's Department of Education:

June 29, 2010

MONCTON (CNB) - The new school under construction in Moncton north will officially be known as Northrop Frye School - named after the late outstanding Canadian intellectual who was born and educated in the city.

The name was announced at a sign unveiling ceremony at the school site by Education Minister Roland Haché; Aubrey Kirkpatrick, director of finance, administration and communications, School District 2; Harry Doyle, chair, School District 2 Education Council; Tina Landry, school principal; and members of the naming committee.

"I had three good suggestions from which to chose, but I felt that the name of Northrop Frye name has special significance for the people of Moncton," said Hache. "I am sure the students and staff will be very proud to attend the Northrop Frye School."

Construction is underway and is expected to be complete for the second term of the 2010-11 academic year.

"Northrop Frye was a world-renowned literary critic who was raised and educated in Moncton, and he was considered a champion of Canadian writers and their works," said Karen Branscombe, superintendent, School District 2. "As our school district continues to focus on promoting and improving reading and writing skills of our students, it would seem appropriate that the minister of education has chosen such an inspiring scholar after whom to name our new school. The Northrop Frye Festival has become a very important part of our community, and I believe that the students who attend the Northrop Frye School will soon come to appreciate the significance of this choice."

The school is being built on Ryan Street as part of a public-private partnership with Brunswick Learning Centres Inc. It will cover 10,219 sq. m (110,000 sq. ft.) and accommodate 650 students from kindergarten to Grade 8.

The school will include: 27 classrooms; a literacy support room; a resource centre; a technology education room; a cafeteria and kitchen; a science room; two gymnasiums; two music rooms; two visual arts rooms; two resource teaching rooms; and three team teaching rooms.

As part of the provincial government's Green Buildings Program, the school has been designed to achieve a silver rating under the Principles of Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED), a rating system used to measure green building performance in Canada.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Valerie Kilfoil, communications, Department of Education, 506-470-3178; Aubrey Kirkpatrick, director of finance, administration and communications, School District 2, 506-856-3222.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ha! Good dog! She doesn't like vuvuzelas, either!

That'll teach 'em for hurting her ears.