Canadian Companies Bell and Shaw Strike Partnerships with Twitter

Last week, Shaw Media broke the news that they will be joining up with Twitter to co-sell advertising. Twitter is developing their new Amplify program for clients and users who want a unified process for advertising on television and on mobile devices also known as the “second screen.”

One day later, Bell Media also joined up with Twitter to focus on researching analytics initiatives relating to social media and television. Both Canadian broadcasters and the social media giant are trying to understand the social media habits of Canadian television viewers. The facts gathered will go the distance in helping to develop the all-new product known as social TV.

“We are committed to measuring, sharing and applying knowledge from passionate social conversations to help our advertisers’ brand campaigns become even more effective,” said Bell Media president Kevin Crull. “Our content drives engagement, and Twitter amplifies the conversation.”

The Twitter Amplify program allows media companies to offer video clips embedded in tweets, such as instant replays or behind the scene footages. These features are currently done along side sporting events and reality television such as Big Brother Canada.

“We’re tapping into a revenue stream that we currently don’t offer,” said Paul Burns, vice president of digital media at Shaw Communications. “We’re going to create this kind of social TV love child.”

The days of sitting on a couch and watching our favorite shows have changed. Neilsen reports confirm that 85% of mobile users watch TV on their tablet or smartphone once a week and 40% watch it daily.

“The way social and traditional TV media is bought and sold is fragmented,” said Burns. “The advertisers are looking for the connective tissue that makes delivering a brand message more connected.”

Twitter’s own analytics firm Bluefin Labs says that 95% of television conversations on social media occur on Twitter. After learning about actors and learning about shows and movies, shopping is the most popular activity on second screens according to last month’s research by NPD Group.

“Twitter is TV’s social soundtrack,” said Kirstine Stewart, who transitioned from CBC to the country director of Twitter Canada “Working closely with Bell Media, we will be able to accelerate the development of analytic tools mentioned and we look forward to sharing the findings with clients and industry.”

Social media, television and advertising are all changing and Twitter Amplified is embracing the evolution of entertainment and marketing. The concept is still in its primitive form and will continue its metamorphosis over months and years. For now the second screen experience is mostly only available for mobile and Web applications built by broadcasters. Only time will tell what this new concept can do with Twitter’s assistance.

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Summer sports you should do

Formerly published in The Other Press. May 8 2013.

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

As the snow on the mountains melts away, sporty individuals will now turn their sights on all summer has to offer. For those of us who have spent the winter months hibernating, it is time to shake off the rust and put the rest and training into effect. Now that the city has thawed, grab that bucket list and get to work.

Hiking: British Columbia is home to some of the best hiking trails in the world. From mountain ranges to seascape, we often forget how vast this province really is. Take a drive to the island and embark on the West Coast Trail, a 75-km backpacking route that takes you along the edge of the Pacific. Or challenge the Stawamus Chief, a short two-hour commitment that will lead you up to the peak of Squamish. If nothing more, then try to beat or set your best time on the Grouse Grind.

Whitewater rafting: A roller coaster ride that you can control. If you’re not yet ready to kayak down Hell’s Gate, but are sick of canoeing at Trout Lake then it’s time to see whether you’re made to sink or swim in the world of extreme water sports. All whitewater rafting sites offer different levels of rafting intensity, choosing between a motor-powered raft to a paddle one. If you need a reason to gather a group of friends and head on a road trip up to Whistler or Kumsheen Resort where the Fraser and Thompson rivers fork, let whitewater rafting be one of them.

Bungee jumping: If falling can be considered a sport, then I’m in pretty good shape. I took the dive at Whistler Bungee last year and never regretted it. If given the chance, I would be back on that bridge saying my prayers again. There’s something about taking a leap of faith that is simply unforgettable.

Mountain biking: Biking in any form is a great way to exercise. But why not bombard down a mountain, feeling each stone and root that juts from the earth? Navigating through nature and seeing the world pass you by from the handle bar is one of the most exhilarating things to do. BC is full of trails for all skill levels from beginners to championship-winning professionals. A quick search on the Internet can yield a hundred different paths to bike through.

From spur-of-the-moment adrenaline rushes to weeklong experiences, find opportunities to get outside this summer and try something new.

Vancouver Startup Medeo.ca Offers Virtual House Calls

Visiting the doctor is often a hassle. Since the days of house calls, patients are forced to find time in their busy schedule, travel down to the physician’s office and wait in a crowded waiting room. Vancouver-based company Medeo.ca might just be the cure to that great inconvenience. The new online platform offers patients the ability to consult with their doctors through most computers and mobile devices.

British Columbians with valid Medical Services Plan coverage can use their computers, smartphones or tablets to speak face to face with their doctors. The secure video conferencing works the same way as a webcam and accessing the website only takes minutes. Once the user signs up with Medeo they will then speak with a coordinator who will assist them with appointment bookings and preparation, as well as connecting them with their current physician if they offer Medeo-based care.

After using Medeo.ca doctors can prescribe medication, refer a specialist and upload care plan information all from the website. New telehealth solutions have proven beneficial to all patients around the world. In 2012 a study done by the Canadian Institute for Health showed that one in three Canadians have problems when getting to a doctor appointment. Putting off a visit to the doctor can lead to dangerous results, but with Medeo.ca patients can have easier follow-up visits, disease management and access to specialists. All the while freeing up some space in the waiting room.

“Medeo.ca is helping British Columbians enjoy improved access to healthcare,” said Ryan Wilson, CEO of Medeo Corporation. “We have created a unique made-in-BC app that allows patients to connect with doctors throughout British Columbia through secure, online video conferencing.”

Currently Medeo has over 60 physicians taking part on the website. Medeo.ca might be an online service, but it still functions like any other clinic. Physicians are charged an overhead for using the virtual office space on Medeo. The website itself is not proving the health care; they are merely providing a safe, secure and convenient place for health care.

Doctors seeking improvement in health care accessibility founded Medeo. The online option will have many positive outcomes for the Canadian health care. As more and more people adapt this new way of seeing the doctor, emergency-room wait times will drop significantly as only those who need to be there will be there. While a visit to the emergency room can cost MSP anywhere around $700, an online visit will cost $40 at most. Virtual checkups will also greatly benefit those with chronic diseases who would need to see their doctors more frequently than others.

Security is a vital part of any patient and physician relationship, so Medeo makes certain that all confidential health data, patient records and medical information are safe in what they describe to be a “world class, military-grade, bank-level secure data centres.”

“Our information is housed in the same facility as the BC provincial government,” said Wilson.

Even though Medeo only had its launch on Monday June 3, it is already planning to expand to other provinces in Canada.

For now it doesn’t matter whether you live in rural British Columbia or in downtown Vancouver, convenience and efficiently are things we all appreciate. Although none of us want to see the doctor that often, sooner or later we are bound to get sick. A visit should not have to be a grand spectacle, we shouldn’t have to book days off or cancel plans—visiting the doctor should be as simple as chatting online with a friend.

 

Twitter ‘Amplifies All Technology,’ Wants to be Social Soundtrack for Television: Dick Costolo

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo needed more than 140 characters on May 29 to discuss his coming of age product at the D11 conference. Since October 2010, Costolo had been at the helm for the online social networking service.

The University of Michigan graduate and improvisational comedian was only supposed to be a temporary CEO for Twitter, while his predecessor Evan Williams was on paternity leave, but the position soon became permanent.

Technology columnist Kara Swisher conducted the interview, approaching Costolo with a broad spectrum of questions most he happily answered. But he resisted the urge to discuss revenue with a little chuckle. “We don’t talk about it,” the humouring CEO smiled and when probed further he simply stated, “We don’t have to.”

Despite Costolo’s coy attitude, Twitter’s advertising profit is experiencing growth. From brand advertisers to director response advertisers, marketers are finding greater success promoting their products on Twitter than many other formats.

“Bonobos, the online men’s sportswear company, they saw 13x more effective ads deals with us than any other marketing span they had online,” Costolo said. “It’s called a flock to unlock, which is ‘a here’s a tweet about a particular clothing item we are launching, if you retweet this you get x-dollars off and you use this coupon to go redeem it.'”

“The beauty of promoted tweets,” added Costolo, “is that they go out originally as contents. They are just a tweet that goes out organically to company followers. And those things can be promoted to people who don’t follow them, either based on their interest or things they are following about.”

Over the years Twitter has been carefully constructing its niche in the large social media ecosystem. Sometimes hunter and sometimes prey, Twitter is in a constant battle to be the predominate alpha service against such competitors as Google and Facebook.

“The landscape of these relationships between companies always ebbs and flows,” the Twitter CEO noted. “There is going to be areas where we compete, obviously we compete for things like ad spend and large global marketers and a bunch of those companies. And there are areas where we cooperate.”

Although Costolo reiterated the importance of communicating with competitors, he remained diplomatic and steered clear of specific details. But for Twitter, there were many other complimentary companies they prefer discussing, such as Apple.

“We are integrated into iOS,” said Costolo. “We love working with those guys. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, I kind of think of Apple as a mentor company for us. We like the way they think of simplicity of design and the way they think of product elegance. Those are the things we try to drive into our own organization.”

When asked about the future of Twitter, Costolo described his experience by using a sport metaphor (something he wasn’t really good at as a kid). “I feel like I’m this wide receiver,” he said, “I’m trying to manage this business and I’m trying to create separation from the quarterback and the quarterback is trying to throw the pass. And I got to figure out how to catch the ball—and this person on the sideline is like, ‘Hey! What are you doing after the game?’” Costolo rolled his eyes, “and lets assume I stop and say, ‘I’m not thinking about that right now.’ They’ll go, ‘Pfft, sure!’”

IPO, banking and stocks are not what Costolo thinks about when he thinks about Twitter. Instead he is focused on connecting his product with other forms of media such as television.

Instant replays and tv show integrations are the next big things for Twitter and their CEO believes it.

“Over the past few years we’ve recognized that Twitter is the second screen for TV,” he said, “and TV is more fun with Twitter. Deb Roy, one of the founder of Blue Fin Labs and now our Chief Media Scientist likes to say, ‘Twitter is the social soundtrack for TV.'”

A lost cause: the proper post-traumatic reaction

 Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy

Formerly published in The Other Press. May 8 2013

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

Tragedies affect people on many different levels. If we’re lucky, we observe crisis from the outside, as a third person. We see horrific footage and hear about disasters through newsfeeds, computer screens, and word of mouth. We might call ourselves lucky to live in a world where we can keep misfortune at arm’s length, but just because we’re fortunate for a moment, we mustn’t forget that tragedies of all sizes can affect the best of us at any time.

On April 15, the world-famous Boston Marathon was interrupted by an alleged terrorist strike. An explosion rattled the fences separating spectators from marathon runners. Horrified screams echoed across the city of Boston and were heard across the continent. While some sent condolences and sympathy for those affected, others coped with the event by minimizing its repercussions. Hours after the tragedy, social networking sites were flooded with appalled and appalling statuses. Sure, the explosion was not on the same scale as 9/11 or a day in the life in Somalia, but if we are to reduce human life to the number lost and gained, humanity will be as cold as the stock market.

Natural disasters, shootings, and terrorist attacks are all terrifying scenarios. To be caught in any of them would be an absolute nightmare for any person, no matter their nationality, ethnicity, or wealth. A death toll is not a competition. A loss is a loss, regardless of the trigger, and we shouldn’t belittle the experience of the victim. You don’t blame the innocent victim for a traffic accident; you blame the irresponsible driver. The drunk ones who swerve from lane to lane are at fault, and it would be wrong to put the onus on the victims. We all make snap decisions, and hindsight won’t save us. You too could be caught on the other end, staring down at a pair of headlights, and have it be too late. The same goes for the victims of any tragedy.

When an incident like the Boston Bombing happens again—and, by the looks of the current political tension, the intervals between conflicts may become shorter—we must remember that the innocent must stand together. Tragedy should create unity, instead of division through blame. Finger pointing is not the solution; it is the initial problem.

A perfect world is not a place without problems, but one where everyone works to solve the immediate issues.

Toronto’s Wimoto Seeks Funding for Multi-sensory iOS and Android Device Called Motes

In mid-May, Toronto-based startup Wimoto launched a new tiny sensory device that can measure just about anything from climate to light levels. Motes are about the size of five quarters stacked on each other. They have a weatherproof shield and their clever construction allows them to be placed just about anywhere.

The wireless sensor works cohesively with iPhone, iPad, Android, Linux or Raspberry Pi devices to help you stay connected with your world. Rather you are trying to find the perfect soil temperature to grow your garden in or if you want to monitor your new born daughter, Mote just about does it all with a battery life that last about a year and without the need of any Internet connection.

In order to sense and measure certain locations with accuracy, Motes must be extremely durable. Coated in a silicone gasket on the enclosure, a one-way membrane for the humidity sensor and the same electronics coating used on oilrigs, Motes are state of the art tough.

“I originally got the idea due to my interest in gardening,” said Marc Nicholas, Chief Technology Officer and creator of Motes. “But when my son was born, I wanted to monitor the temperature and humidity in his bedroom overnight for health reasons, and I was surprised to find no low-cost, simple iPhone solution existed.”

Data from the Motes can be uploaded through the cloud service simply by accessing the free app or by using the optional mote.cloud bridge for real-time information via Wifi.

Wimoto is currently campaigning for the Motes on Indiegogo. They have doubled their goal of $22,000 and there is still 36 days left on the fixed funding campaign. With $43,000 already in the back pocket, the possibilities are endless, just like the Motes themselves.

There are currently four different breeds of Motes. The Climote was the first, built for its precise measurement in ambient temperature, humidity and light level.

Next came the Growmote, which alerts the user’s iPhone or Android when it is the ideal time to water plants and also send warning about harmful growing conditions such as frost or wind chill.

Then there is the Thermote, which works great for measuring pool temperature, food, animal habitats and anything else, but unlike traditional thermometers, the Thermote does not require probing. Simply point it at the object and you will get its temperature.

After exceeding their original funding, Wimoto was able to introduce the Securimote. An infrared motoion sensor that is able to detect human movement up to a 16-foot radius. An onboard accelerometer will notify users whenever the Securimote moves, perfect for alerting when someone approaches a door or if a toddler climbs out of bed at night.

Wimoto have been developing Motes for many years and now as funding is reaching the next level, they are preparing for pre-production. Indiegogo funding will go to several major task, plastic enclosure moulding, regulatory testing, and electronics assembly and fulfillment.

Prototypes for additional Motes are also in the works, if funding continues to go as well as it has, Wimoto wouldn’t mind adding them to the existing campaign.

As POF Eliminates Intimate Encounters, Ashley Madison Makes Them Easier Than Ever

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“Two hundred years ago someone uniquely stepped up and said ‘Hey, we shouldn’t put people in prison or put scarlet letters on someone that is being unfaithful,’ and that person would have seemed like a radical,” says Avid Life Media CEO Noel Biderman, who hails from Toronto. “But in the end that is where the rest of society went to. That is what innovation is all about.”

After 19 million members in 26 countries, Ashley Madison is now the world’s largest extramarital dating website; in other words, a website for married people seeking additional affairs. While other online dating companies like Plenty of Fish and Match.com focus more on building relationships, Ashley Madison steers in the opposite direction by connecting people who want to hook-up in a discreet fashion.

Since the launch in 2001, Ashley Madison has received criticism and accusation for profiting off of ruined marriages and broken families. But affairs have been around way before the website’s existence. While some might frown at the prospect of adultery, Biderman believes he is creating a community for a large group of people who are in dire need for his service.

“Accountability lies in human decisions making,” Biderman told Techvibes. “We sometimes want to point fingers, but I can’t convince anyone to have an affair; not one on one, not on a TV commercial, and not if they read this article. People have affairs because their lives are complicated.”

Unlike other dating websites, Ashley Madison—which was just ranked 29th in the Profit 500—offers a secure platform for users. By separating their infidelity from social settings such as bars, Facebook and workplace, people can quietly go about their business without the constant fear of being discovered.

“The perfect affair means meeting someone and not getting caught,” explains Biderman, who was nominated for the 2013 Ernest and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. “I’m trying my best to give you the technologies to do so. When you sign up I’ll put your photo under lock and key. I have a panic button. I have discreet billing. And ultimately when you are finished with Ashley Madison, I don’t just delete your profile like other social networks do. I’ll go back and take back every message you have ever sent to anyone historically and yank them off the site.”

Canadian dating website Plenty of Fish recently eliminated their Intimate Encounters feature. POF founder Markus Frind explained the reasoning behind it as such: “Intimate Encounters on POF can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.”

Meanwhile, Ashley Madison is making intimate encounters easier than ever with the launch of BlackBook, a new app for iOS and Android that allows members to call each other using disposable phone numbers in a secure manner to keep their affairs secret. And although Ashley Madison may seem like the dark side of Internet dating, Biderman assures the public that it is in fact a far more honest and robust platform than the alternatives.

Online dating is still in its infancy and has a lot of stigma to overcome. But Ashley Madison is taking a different route to earn respect. A full-time romance and a short-term intimacy is of equal value and that is exclaimed in Ashley Madison’s slogan, “Life’s short, have an affair.”

Dating is not just about holding hands and walking in the park, nor should it be chatting about sex with a mysterious avatar. People are as complicated as their relationships and Ashley Madison and Avid Life Media have created platforms for people of all types to make life’s engagements a little bit easier.

Metafor Software: Detecting Unexpected Changes in Your Computers

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Downtime for any website can be devastating. It doesn’t matter if the occurrence last for 10 minutes or 10 days, the result is always chaos.

But with the way the Internet is programmed, such anomalies are unavoidable. Even the largest websites in the world can suffer downtimes and that includes Google. Recently, the heart of the Internet skipped a beat and caused Gmail and many other Google features to go down for 18 grueling minutes—a lifetime for many users.

The solution for such a crisis is often time-consuming troubleshooting. Technicians will spend minutes upon hours of trial and error, attempting to locate the problematic server among a hundred other servers.

But now Vancouver-based Metafor Software have developed advanced algorithms that will quickly distinguish server drifts, shorten troubleshooting time and prevent red herrings.

Metafor Software is the industry’s first provider of environment anomaly detection and solution for the web and data centre applications. By quickly locating inconsistencies, Metafor can replace manual troubleshooting with automated diagnostics and prevent environment anomalies before they impact the quality of service.

Metafor is a cloud-based tool that is able to check servers for anomalies hourly, daily or only on certain days. The program would automatically send an email alerting that a server has drifted from a desired state. This feature would mitigate downtime from occurring and highlight areas within the servers that need addressing.

Problematic changes in servers are unexpected and that is what makes them so hard to detect. Even the smallest change that may have slipped into the system can bring down a Goliath like Google. And without software like Metafor, programmers wouldn’t notice the problem until they apply new configurations into the system.

“Metafor provides instant actionable insight,” said Toufic Boubez, CTO, Metafor Software. “It’s a standalone solution that fills a critical gap in the DevOps troubleshooting kit by preventing drift in environments where change is continuous and constant.”

Boubez was previously the cofounder of Layer 7, which was acquired in April by CA Technologies for $155 million.

Metafor Software was named to 2013 ICT Emerging Rockets list as part of the Ready to Rocket recognition program, which showcases British Columbia’s growth leaders of tomorrow in the technical sector.

“All of us at Metafor are honored to be a part of such a prestigious list of companies,” says Jenny Yang, CEO, Metafor Software. “If the talks today at Monitorama are any indication, anomaly detection will become a critical component in the DevOps tool chain. The coming year is going to be exciting!”

Metafor offers its anomaly detection solution free of charge to anyone who joins its Beta program. A task that was once tedious can now be routine, with a single command Metafor Software will perform troubleshooting, release validation and alert problematic anomalies before your morning coffee is ready.

Google Launches Partners Pilot Exclusively in Canada

This week Google Canada launched a new partnership program in hopes of helping organizations all across the country. Web presence and online marketing is a big factor in today’s business world, and Google wants to make it easier for businesses to connect with the right agencies and digital experts.

Google Partners, a pilot launching exclusively in Canada, allows agencies and web professionals to access Google resources, training and support with ease all in one place. The program is also hoping to create a community that fosters knowledge sharing within the industry, as well as providing more opportunities for dialogue with Google specialists.

By joining up with Google Partners, agencies and web professionals will be able to earn a Google Partner badge, which indicates to your current and future clients that you are a trusted Google Partner. You will also be able to join an exclusive Google+ community and receive support from specialists and speak with industry experts.

Another perk is that Google will assist your business with potential clients through the Google Partner Search, a unique system that assesses your requirements and targets to match you with appropriate customers. And lastly, Google will also give all partners access to exclusive content, including the latest Google-created trainings, case studies and expertise-enhancing pitch materials.

A successful online business is more than getting links and retweets, and Google Partners knows that. That is why the program will only connect businesses with agencies and certified professionals they trust. All professionals partnered with Google will have the latest and best practices, as well as first-class knowledge of the online medium.

For the time being, Google Partners will only be a pilot project available in Canada. But with an estimated 6,000 organizations and web experts active across the country, Google is aiming to broaden the horizon in the months to come.