2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Hurricane Sandy affecting Etobicoke

Lake Shore Blvd WestA street typically bustling with pedestrians is quiet amidst weather warnings of Hurricane Sandy “Well, I usually walk to the grocery store after work, but today, I called my dad for a drive.”  Tells an Etobicoke local.

And she’s not the only one changing her plans.  With threats of 100 kph wind gusts and hundreds of flights cancelled, thousands are left stranded away from home.
“Yeah, my wife was supposed to come home this morning, but her flight was cancelled and I’m thinking she’s gonna be stuck in Cuba for another day at least.” Says a neighbour.

And rolling up to the local supermarket, you can see that everyone seems to be taking this storm seriously.  The No Frills on Mimico Avenue at Royal York and Lake Shore Blvd West  is inundated with locals filling their shopping carts with bottled water and no-cook foods “Well, if the power goes out, I need to just be able to make sandwiches and stuff.”

But still, there are always those that are willing to take the chance.   One shopper reasons “I drive and live around the corner, I’ll come back later.”


Canadians back in the game after reigning champions disqualified



Canadian coach Ram Nayyar he receives a phone call today informing him the team could be reinstated.

“I didn’t tell the girls, I just made sure to keep them some place where I knew where they were,” he told reporters. “At 1 p.m., I asked them to meet me as the possibility of play had increased. I said ‘how would you like to play tonight?’ And at 4 p.m., I was telling them to pack their bags.”

Alex Bruce and Michele Li received a second life in the Badminton doubles tournament when four pairs were officially disqualified. Two of the offending teams had been in their group so the Canadians were suddenly in the quarter-finals.

“We had been waiting in the hotel, trying to relax, but the call didn’t come till 3:30 for a match at 5 p.m.,” Bruce told reporters. “We were surprised, but ready to go.”

And ready they were.  They beat team Australia, Leanne Choo and Renuga Veeran in three sets (21-9, 18-21, 21-18) to advance to the semifinals against Japan on Thursday.

Controversy swirled around team China, South Korea and Indonesia when players made a series unusually poor plays on the final day of round-robin action Tuesday. Paying customers booed several players off the court after repeatedly putting serves into the net and hitting the shuttlecock over the court’s lines. The longest rally in one set lasted just four shots.

The referee even issued a warning that they may be disqualified.  But the bad plays continued.

Lord Coe, head of London 2012, described the players’ actions as ‘depressing and unacceptable’.

The Badminton World Federation ruling was based on the obvious.  The teams were trying to lose to manipulate their position in the knockout phase.


China’s Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, the reigning world doubles champions, were found to have been purposely trying to lose their match against South Korea’s Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na to avoid playing another Chinese team before the championship final.

Officially, the players were found in breech of the international badminton federation’s code of conduct section that punishes players for “not using one’s best efforts to win a match.

“The Chinese started this,” South Korean coach Sung Han-kook said, according to the BBC. “They did it first.”

South Korea was denied in an appeal. Indonesia withdrew its own appeal. South Korea’s Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung were also expelled, as was the Indonesian pair of Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari.

“Something had to be done,” Charoen Wattanasin, president of the Badminton Federation of Thailand, told the news service. “I feel sorry for what happened but believe the disciplinary committee made the right decision.”

“The Chinese started this,” South Korean coach Sung Han-kook said, according to the BBC. “They did it first.”


The Year of the Dragon may lead to baby boom

You may have heard by now, today is Chinese New Year.  What you many not know, is that this is the Year of the Water Dragon, which only comes around every 60 years.

The Dragon has always been a mythical symbol of tremendous power and strength.  But for the Chinese, the Dragon symbolizes much more.

Approximately 5000 years ago, tribes were fighting against one another.  When the tribe of the Yellow Emperor succeeded, he combined the totems of other tribes.  This included the phoenix, the lion, the snake, the scorpion and the tiger, to form the dragon totem.

By combining these totems, the Dragon represents many powerful animals.  That is why he has a head like a lion, and a tail like the scorpion.  He can fly like the phoenix , has a flexible body like the snake and claws like the tiger.

It is because if these traditional views that we may see a baby boom.

In prosperous or rapidly developing societies  such as Japan, China, Korea or Hong Kong, birth rates have been very low as people are putting career and quality of life ahead of child-bearing.

But because being born in the Year of the Dragon is seen as very auspicious, many young couples are rushing to have a baby by the end of this year.

A poll in Hong Kong showed that 70 per cent of couples there wanted children born under the dragon sign, while South Korea, Vietnam and China all report similar enthusiasm about dragon-year childbearing.

The last Dragon year was in 2000 and the birth rate increased from 1.5 to 1.7 children per Taiwanese woman of childbearing age.

Anyone feeling frisky? 😉


blogging for non-bloggers

I recently went to a writing workshop, and realized how many writers don’t blog.  Many claim to write everyday, but just can’t seem to grasp the concept of writing on the web.  The main problem?  “I don’t know what to write about.”

So, I figured that I would share some of the things I was telling my fellow writers to do.

#1 Write about what you know

This can be ANYTHING!  Whether you consider yourself a wordsmith or not, if you know what you are talking about–it doesn’t matter.  Just talk about it like you were telling an acquaintance what you do for a job/hobby/school.  That’s the beauty of the blog–it’s not about academia.  It’s about knowing something because you are actually doing (or learning how to do) it!

#2  Break it down

Break up what you are talking about into sections, so that you can write it down in about 500 words or less.  The other great thing about the blog is that it’s short and to-the-point.  People are used to logging in and reading short status updates or quickly skimming the headlines to figure out what is happening in their closest friends’ lives or the nation.  Keeping things short will make sure that your audience is getting the most amount of information, in the shortest period of time.  Plus, this will give you something to write about in your next entry and keep your audience coming back.

#3 Embrace multi-media

Pictures speak a thousand words, and a good video can make all the difference.  This is especially useful if you are doing a “How-to” blog.  Breaking up big chunks of writing with a great picture of you doing what you are talking about is a great way to keep a reader interested.  If there are heavy instructions, sometimes its best to add a video so it doesn’t seem so intimidating.  This is also great if you post pictures/videos of yourself.  People love to feel like they know the person they are taking advice from.  It builds loyalty and trust.  If you don’t have your own photos, it is totally acceptable to add one you found on Google.  Most blogging sites will allow you to post pictures and videos for free, or for a small fee.

#4 Share the blog with your friends

The days of getting people to sign up for newsletters are over.  Don’t get me wrong, you can and still want to get subscribers, but now you can let people know about your blog by posting it on your favourite social network site.  Blogs like WordPress allow for automatic posting on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  That way, all you have to do is hit a button and all your friends and followers know they are welcome to take a gander at your latest blog entry.

#5 Keep it up!

This is by far the most difficult thing for me–posting consistently.  But this is how you will truly gain and keep your readers.  Most experts suggest that once a week is a good rate, but if you are just starting out, you can try for once a month.  The best thing to do, is to actually plan ahead.  Write down interesting ideas before you start on your first post.   So for instance, if you are blogging about photography, week one can be on choosing equipment, and the next could be aperture, then shutter speed, lighting etc. etc.  By planning it out, you won’t run into repeating yourself by accidentally talking about too many things in one post.
I hope this helps you get started on your first blog.


Features that give Google+ a one up on Facebook

For those die-hard Facebookers who see no need to join yet another social media site–here are just a few highlights that might change your mind.

First things is how easily your profile can be managed.  Gone are the days you are trying to censor your social life by creating multiple profile pages.  With the “Circle” feature in Google+, you simply section off which circles see what comments, photos, and any articles you may post.  This can be particularly useful for businesses to separate the information for existing clients, potential clients, and the general public.  Conversely, you can also click on your circles to see specific streams from that group of people.

If you are still nervous about what information is available to whom, you can input your boss’s name in the View profile as… field to see how he/she views your profile.

I also love the features that pertain directly to photo security.  You can decide whether to include certain photos on your profile, there is a photo tag approval setting to control what photos others post of you, and there is also an option to display the Geo data of the photo.  If you have Google+ installed on an android phone, any new photos you take will show up instantly with the option of including Geo data.  The Geo setting is something that you can activate to show your friends exactly where a photo is taken.  This feature is disabled by default, but should be considered as a wonderful feature when loading new photos.  You can save yourself a lot of time from having to tag each individual picture on a vacation album.

Another important element is the control you have over stream updates.  How many times have you made just one little comment on a post, and then received 20 other comments that have nothing to do with you.  With Google+, you can “mute” the chattier posts you don’t necessarily need an update on for every new comment.  This can be done right in the notification window, where you can actually make comments as well.  Though it’s a subtle feature, it saves having to load another window to reply to a post.  You can read the whole comment stream, and inject a reply if you wish.

If you realize you’ve made a mistake after you’ve published a comment, you can simply hit the ‘edit’ button included beside the ‘delete’ button.  Again, another small attribute, but we have all made that spelling or grammatical error and felt a torn between having to delete the post all together, or posting another comment directly under it to correct it.

And as a bonus for those of us who are extra expressive–bold, italics, strike throughs, are all possible in Google+ simply by adding an asterisks, underscore, or dashes on either side of the word.

These are just a few of the elements that give Google+ a leg up on Facebook.  But since Mark Zuckerberg was one of the first members checking out the competition–he might just come up with some improvements to level out the playing field.





Google and Facebook–no friend to Groupon

Since 2008, aggregate coupon company Groupon has made a big name for itself.  According to Knowledge@Warton, this Chicago-based company is set to bring in $3-$4 billion in revenue this year alone.  That’s about $2 billion more than Facebook pulled in for 2010.

But success doesn’t come without imitators.  There’s Wagjag, and Living Social to name a few, but none have really interfered with the popularity if the original Groupon.  But now that Google and Facebook want and piece of the pie, Groupon might find itself getting a smaller slice.

Since Google’s reported $6 billion bid to buy Groupon fell through in December, Google has apparently been plotting to figure out a way to rival the coupon provider’s services.  Google Offers is testing it’s own version of an aggregate coupon option in NYC, Oakland, San Francisco, and Portland, Ore. While Facebook Deals has made it’s debut in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and SanFranciso. Wider distribution for each could arrive before the end of the year.

Each service is targeting the masses’ love for social media.  Google Offers is like a combination of Groupon and Foursquare. Once you sign up, you’ll get localized offers sent direct to your inbox.  Check in with Google Places, and any available offer will be revealed to you.  Google wants to be not just a service, but to be seen as a shopping companion.

Facebook Deals is planning on adding insignia to users’ home screens.  When you click on them, it will show all currently available offers.  If you “Like” or purchase a deal, it’ll show up in you news feed.  You’ll also be able to share deals directly with your Facebook friends.

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