Student apathy and other problems for the editor-in-chiefs of the ‘Other Press’

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A conversation with six leaders of Douglas College’s newspaper

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. July 8, 2016

You are a runner in a relay race. As your teammate approaches you, you see her hand extend, holding the baton. Your feet move to keep pace as she draws nearer. The fingers in your hands blossom out, creating a target, not just for the baton, but also for the responsibility, the confidence, the weight of the entire collective. You are the runner; you are the next editor-in-chief of the Other Press.

 

The Other Job

The sprint is a year long and starts in September. Douglas College gathers for orientation, and the parking-lot-like building that is the New Westminster campus fills up with young minds. Sitting at a foldout table in the concourse is an optimistic individual, driven to make a mark on the long legacy that is the Douglas College newspaper: the Other Press.

With a welcoming smile, the editor-in-chief of the only student newspaper on campus showcases the publication to new students entering the post secondary institution and sometimes to students who have been enrolled in the college for years already.

“When you are talking to people and trying to recruit people to the newspaper,” says Natalie Serafini, editor-in-chief from 2014–15, “they are often surprised that we have a newspaper.”

“It’s also surprising the amount of people that say that they read it,” says Jacey Gibb, editor-in-chief from 2013–14. “It sounds bad to say surprising.”

During the length of the orientation, the editor-in-chief is not only present to increase readership, but also to recruit contributors by introducing the variety of roles that goes into running a publication: writers, designers, illustrators, photographers, distributors, etc. The editor-in-chief is not only the boss, but also the ambassador.

“You only need to get one person for these events to be worthwhile,” says Sharon Miki, editor-in-chief from 2012–13). “You are never going to have an event and get like 20 new writers and 1,000 new readers. It’s Douglas College. It’s such a small community. You only need to get one.”

The Other Press, like a collegial program, is a revolving door for students to collaborate and gain experience in preparation for the real world. Each year, the editor-in-chief position opens up. The incumbent can choose to reapply and serve another term, or choose to leave the shoes for someone else to fill.

While much of it feels like training for the job of the future, being the leader of a student newspaper is a responsibility that weighs heavy, especially when working with a group of unseasoned writers, editors, and contributors. With ego and inexperience colliding, it is the job of the editor-in-chief to both calm the waters and steer the ship.

“I felt like a lot of my time was spent dealing with the personnel,” says Liam Britten, editor-in-chief from 2008–10. “That was challenging: dealing with people who should just not have been there. You just can’t get rid of these people. It took a while.”

“I’m sure everyone else had this experience,” says Gibb, “where I’ve gotten a piece—especially as a section editor—and you are just reading it and you’re like there is no way this person reread what they wrote, because this doesn’t make sense and it’s just total garbage.”

“[The Other Press] equipped me with skills like dealing with problem children and persevering through really challenging experiences where you don’t know what you’re doing and you are just flailing through it,” says Cody Klyne, editor-in-chief from 2011–12. “And you do and you are kind of just given a lot of responsibility and you can take that and really run with it or you can sit on it and not really have any ambition for the newspaper for your term.”

 

The Other News

Hidden away on the first floor is the Other Press headquarters in Room 1020. During the Fall and Winter semesters, the collective gathers weekly in the bowels of the campus to produce a newspaper. The issues will sit on black metal stands at entrances and high traffic areas of the school, but with only 50 per cent pick up—roughly 500 hundred hard copy readers per week—it often seems like a job that is supplying without demand.

Without a need to feed the beast, it’s easy to become apathetic. The editor-in-chief term at the Other Press is indeed a marathon, but the leader is not running alone. Leading a team and keeping them from falling into the grips of apathy is as challenging as keeping up with all the emails that pile up. The job is not just about meeting deadlines; it’s about producing quality work.

“I guess one of the main points is showing that you care,” says Eric Wilkins, the current editor-in-chief of the Other Press. “If you don’t, nobody else is going to follow. First and foremost is making yourself as enthusiastic as possible.”

“I know as editor-in-chief, one thing that was very frustrating was how hard it was to get people to write Douglas College-centered stuff,” says Britten, “or even Lower Mainland-focused stuff can be a challenge. Let’s be honest, nobody reads the Other Press to find out what happened somewhere else in the world last week, right? But that’s what people’s instincts are; that is what’s interesting to them. You have to look for not the most obvious story, I guess. Look for opportunity to localize things.”

“If you are a sports editor, go watch the damn Royals play,” Britten adds. “Or if you are the arts editor, you might have to go see a Douglas College play.”

The Other Press began in 1976 and it has always struggled to find its place within the Douglas College ecosystem. Splintered from the rest of the institution, the Other Press requires the editor-in-chief to bridge the gap between the different societies and communities, while staying true to the publication’s journalistic values.

“It’s so rare that anything noteworthy happens,” says Miki, “that if it ever does happen you have to talk about it. We’re not a PR magazine for Douglas College. But if we were, then yes, we wouldn’t say anything critical. But if something happened—and it’s true—we have to report on it.”

 

The Other Problems

The Other Press is an organization with many moving parts. It’s often hard to keep track of the squeaky wheels. In an effort to produce a newspaper on a weekly basis, there are going to be mistakes. The lesson is in how one recovers. Consider all the errors that take place in a classroom: spelling mistakes, incorrect facts, plagiarisms, etc. All these problems are magnified when it is printed a thousand times and handed out to the general public. The editor-in-chief’s face is on every issue printed. If there is a problem, there is no hiding and there is no blaming; he or she must face the hard light.

“My worst fear was that I was going to do something that would end the newspaper,” says Gibb. “I’m sure everyone had that fear. I actually had the opportunity to end it, in that our contract with the college student levy was up for renewal in my term. It happened to come upon a very funny time.”

It was a funny time indeed. A humour article mistaken as legitimate news got the Other Press in hot water at the tail end of 2013. Gibb was the editor-in-chief at the time and he received the brunt of the backlash as the article involved the New Westminster Police Department.

“If the paper hadn’t been on such strong foundation,” Gibb adds, “who knows what would have happened?”

At the time, it was no laughing matter for the publication. But Gibb laughs it off now, reminding us that the words printed on the paper have impact. Being the leader of a media organization, even one as small as the Other Press, carries a certain responsibility. It’s not just for the people who speak out, but for the people who don’t as well.

“You focus in on the fact that you get surprised when people say ‘I’m surprised that there is a newspaper at the college,’” says Klyne. “Like you are kind of taken aback by that statement. It’s just, you do pour so much of yourself into it, but there are a lot of people who do read and don’t make their voices known or participate, and they are just the readers. And that’s their place in life and they are just happy to do that. And it’s our job to just be there and supply that.”

Each week, the editor-in-chief of the Other Press chases the clock, rallying the collective to produce a high-quality publication for the readers. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first few steps in September or the last leg in August, they know their efforts will be visible in print and digital not just for Douglas College to see, but for the whole world. They also know that their time is fleeting. This learning experience they treated wholeheartedly as a “real job” will soon be over.

“I feel like there was so much I wanted to do that I never got around to doing,” says Serafini. “There would always be a fire—not a literal fire—to put out. I feel like by the end of my first semester I was so exhausted, I was just trying to find the next person to fill a position—put out the next fire.”

You are a runner in a relay race. You receive the baton—but it’s not really a baton, it’s a fire extinguisher. You are the next editor-in-chief of the Other Press. You want to make your mark, but it’s actually an environment to make mistakes. If that’s the case, the best mark is to continue the legacy, improve the organization incrementally for the next generation, and allow room for the leaders of the future to solve the problems that are as ingrained into the institution as student apathy.

“You don’t need to be a born leader for anything,” says Wilkins. “You grow your way into it. You learn things. You figure out how stuff works.”

For over 40 years, the Other Press has been a fixture in the Douglas campus community. While it might be considered fringe, because there are no academic programs linked to it, it a necessary part of the institution. The craft of writing, editing, and communicating is a key to professional success, regardless of the student’s career path.

Why does a school have gym? Not because we want our students to become body builders or professional athletes, it’s because we want them to establish a healthy lifestyle. The same goes with a student newspaper. It’s not about the product; it’s about the work itself, and it’s about getting better and stronger at the craft. For the editor-in-chief, it’s his or her chance to learn what no course in Douglas can teach, and that is a unique opportunity.

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TeamSnap Assists League and Club Organizers With All-Star Communication and Management Tools

For the longest time, team sports have had reputations as being poorly organized.

It was not because the coaches were incompetent or because the players were disorganized; it was because there was a lack of easy-to-use tools. In addition, the market for communication, management, and scheduling apps is as crowded as a defensive zone in the fourth quarter.

TeamSnap, an application designated for teams and clubs management, has a simple philosophy to break away: elite customer service and great user experience.

Team communication is paramount, whether it’s on the field, on the rink, or even on the way to practice. People need to know where to be, when to get there, and what to bring before they can score goals, make saves, and win big.

“We need to let people know about what’s happening in the way they want to be informed,” said Dave DuPont, CEO of TeamSnap. “If they want to use email, fine. We send 40-million emails a month now. If they want a text message, that works too. If they prefer Push, that’s cool. If they just want to use the native mobile app—we were one of the first in the industry to introduce that—then they can use the native mobile app.”

It’s not uncommon for venue and game time to change last minute. There isn’t always time to inform every person individually, and mass messaging on certain platforms will be neglected because the player or participant is already on the road.

Most of us understand the pain and hassle of organizing an event. Most of us also know the headache when a certain aspect falls through. But with TeamSnap, all the organizer or coach has to do is change—for example—the time of the event on the TeamSnap calendar and every member will be informed in the manner they desire.

Another element of a successful team is accountability. Because of the leniency of technology, people have gotten a little flakey or unresponsive when it comes to invitations. One of TeamSnap’s popular features is the “availability.”

“We make it super easy for folks to say if they are coming,” said DuPont. “They can confirm if they are coming, they can confirm if they are bringing the orange slices and beer. And that is all tabulated and everyone can see it, if the organizer wants everyone to see it. And it can be changed automatically. That is just the sort of thing that makes everybody’s life a lot easier.”

With over seven million users and an infrastructure that informs people, TeamSnap is taking it to the next level by broadcasting in-game experiences. Chat, scores, and highlights can all be crowd sourced during the game. Everybody on the sidelines can contribute and offer an experience for those who aren’t there.

Unlike Twitter, TeamSnap is a private social network. Only those accepted by the team’s inner circle will be able to receive updates, stats, and conversations.

While the experience on TeamSnap is familiar across the board, different sports require different approaches for a fine-tuned experience. Every game and every league has little subtleties and TeamSnap accommodates by allowing organizers to modify templates.

“We are most valuable for folks that are particularly sensitive to saving time and having great communications,” said DuPont. “A hockey team in general is going to be more sensitive to that issue than a pick-up baseball or pick-up football team. If you have a certain ice time, you want to make sure everyone is there on time.”

Having hit critical mass in such markets as Vancouver (2,200 teams and the third largest in Canada), TeamSnap is aiming to add more value to the users involved by providing goods and services related to sports. The data stored in TeamSnap, such as experience level, type of sport, and start of season, can all be utilized by brands to offer products and services that fit the players and the teams’ needs. A coach can inform a brand of the team colour, and in return the brand can recommend shoes and jerseys of that colour for the players.

DuPont added: “We take an altruistic view of this. We aren’t trying to maximize pageviews or anything like that—we just want to be the indispensible tool for teams.”

Mosaic Manufacturing Innovates 3D Printing by Combining Multiple Materials

By now we have all seen a commercial 3D printer in action, spitting out filaments layer by layer until it replicates a predetermined design.

The technology is stunning, but conventional usage of 3D printers has been limiting for two specific reasons: technology and design. Sure, we can all use more trinkets, knick-knacks and miniature models, but there must be a way to add value to the printers. Perhaps one day we’ll have 3D printer sets in our home, an appliance placed beside the microwave, blender and television.

Kingston, Ontario-based, Mosaic Manufacturing is not a company that builds 3D printers but a company that is making 3D printers better, more practical and with a greater purpose. By introducing multi-material and multi-colour filaments into the printing process, Mosaic is able to create working products such as a flashlight.

“[The flashlight] is very much a proof of concept,” said Chris Labelle, co-founder and COO of Mosaic Manufacturing. “At the end of the day, it is not that usable. But what it represents is the potential in all those machines.”

For the time being, electric devices require certain parts and assembly. The capacity to add several materials into the 3D printing process will enable the industry to print goods in a cost-saving manner. Imagine a world where we can print a remote control when we lose it.

The old solution, should you want to print a multi-colour or multi-material product, is to have two printer heads performing different tasks (example: one would distribute the colour red and the other one would distribute blue). The problem with this process is that—like a hot glue gun—when you stop using it, the material will ooze and drip.

“The two main things you need for a circuit are an insulator and a conductor, and if you think about all the printers on the market, the vast majority—80-90%­–of them only have one printer head. So they can’t print an insulator and a conductor.” Labelle continues, “If you drip conductor filament and you complete the circuit, you’ll have a short circuit. Your part just doesn’t work.”

The Mosaic Manufacturing solution takes materials with different properties and combines it into a single filament so that it extrudes from a single printer. Using Mosaic’s unique software, the program is able to analyze the design model and determine what material is needed in what order.

“Multi-colour and multi-material is huge when you start thinking about how limited the range of item you can print in this world,” said Labelle. “It’s probably 0.1%. We want that to be one day 100%. Materials with different properties is the first step in a world where we can just download a file and print something, instead of ordering it from Amazon.com.”

The number of use cases for 3D printer will depend on the person using it, but as the technology and design outlets improve, we may find it to be the convenient and feasible solution. A kilogram of filament is currently priced at approximately $35. With a kilogram, you can print a lot of things (example: a phone case may cost you $20-$30, if you print it, it’ll cost you 50 cents).

“You have a hammer, you can hammer nails,” said Labelle. “You have a printer, you can make anything. People will find uses for it.”

Lighthouse Labs Bridges Digital Literacy Gap with HTML500

Coding is a universal language; however, many find it daunting, confusing, or overwhelming. Like learning all new languages, the best way to become skilled is to engage with it socially. That is the environment The HTML500, a free one-day coding event hosted by Lighthouse Labs, has established.

“When you are learning in a room with 499 other people who don’t know how to code and being helped by 100+ mentors,” said Jeremy Shaki, co-founder of Lighthouse Labs, “the energy is fantastic and the room is engulfed by this buzz of people who want to learn and are seeing the instant results of their learning.”

The HTML500 will kick off 2015 in four Canadian cities: Vancouver (January 24), Calgary (January 31), London (February 7) and Toronto (February 22).

The value of coding stems further than getting a well-paying job (Canadian programmers can make over $50,000 annually), it can also give people the confidence to create projects that change the way we live.

Although coding is often recognized as a young person’s game, the best coders are those who are curious about technology and strive for logical solution-oriented thinking. The 2014 The HTML500 welcomed attendees ranging from 13 to 65 years old.

“Fluency in code for a non-developer can empower them to make their own lives and work more efficient,” said Khurram Virani, co-founder of Lighthouse Labs. “Personal and professional websites, macros in Excel, desktop and mobile apps are some common examples. At work, it will help them communicate better with their developers. And lastly, learning to code and coding can also serve as a great creative outlet.”

For many years, those who were interested in coding had to seek educational workshops and tutorials independently through online sources such as YouTube or apply to post secondary programs and private institutions. Few classes in elementary, middle and high school deal with the in-demand skill set in depth. Students will rather stumble into it or take initiative if they want to pursue programming and tech.

“A great, but telling, story from my partner Khurram is that when he was in Grade 10 he ended up essentially teaching his Computer Science class because the teacher was trying to teach something they didn’t understand,” said Shaki. “That’s still a reality in a lot of schools, and the only way to combat that is to bring awareness to the opportunities coding presents both the individual and the classroom and the ease of which it can be taught at basic levels.”

“The tech industry as a whole is rapidly growing,” said Virani, “resulting in higher demand for coders and there aren’t enough of them out there because as a country, we still haven’t placed a priority on digital literacy. If we are to support the growth of our tech industry here in Canada, we need to start teaching code in schools as a basic part of literacy.”

With numerous job opportunities in mind, The HTML500 encourages attendees to bring along their résumés. After the event in 2014, the organizers discovered that many companies were interested in hiring people for non-technical roles. This year, The HTML500 has partnered with Vancouver Economic Commission to host a career fair at all four events.

“If you think about what many tech companies are looking for when hiring for non-technical roles,” said Shaki, “they are seeking self-motivated people who strive to grow and learn, and who show an interest in tech. With all these participants giving up a Saturday to come and learn something on their own, they are checking off some key checkboxes as marketers, operations people, HR staff, etc.”

Companies participating range from startups to corporate companies, including some establish brands such as Techvibes Job Board regulars Hootsuite and Unbounce.

A one-day event is obviously not enough to tech everything about coding, but The HTML500 is hoping to give the attendees some comfort and confidence, in addition to creating a community for developers of all level.

“We strongly feel that everyone should know the fundamentals of software and how computers work, regardless of their profession,” said Virani. “The current education system has yet to consistently and sufficiently teach coding in schools so we decided to create The HTML500 as a great way to have companies and the developer community come together to bridge the digital divide.”

Strongbody Apparel Uses Nanotechnology from Ocean to Make Next Generation of Activewear

Posted by Elliot Chan on Nov 20, 2014

Originally published in Techvibes Media.

 

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From high-intensity training to grocery shopping, Strongbody Apparel is ready to face any challenge.

The Vancouver-based athletic wear manufacturer is changing the way people think and wear their gym clothes. Gone are the days of jogging in a worn out hoodie á la Rocky Balboa: casual and professional athletes alike are seeking the next garment innovation that can endure the strain and sweat of training, as well as the functionality needed in order to reach their athletic pursuits.

“We never found anything that resonated with us,” explains Meghan Conyers, CEO and cofounder of Strongbody Apparel. “It was either not stylish or not functional. A lot of brands tout inspirational messages but don’t really live up to them. That is what we want to change.”

Strongbody Apparel spent almost three years researching and developing fabrics that can satisfy the fitness-driven public of tomorrow. The result is a product that combines enhanced functionality of active wear with sophistication of high-end fashion. Their unmatched innovative fabrics is suited with antibacterial nanotechnology—Chitosan, harnessed from crab and shrimp shells—that enables the garment to stay fresh over time, workout after workout, wash after wash, gym bag after gym bag.

“In Vancouver we wear our gear everywhere,” said Conyers. “We are always walking our dog. We are in coffee shops. We want it to be able to transition easily and be comfy wherever we are.”

There was a time when athletic wear in public was looked upon with the same distaste as those walking down the street in their pajamas. Now with a more active attitude towards fashion, wearing sporty apparel to run errands is the comfortable norm. Strongbody Apparel is reaching out to the market that grew up with athletic clothing and delivering a sense of practicality.

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“It’s like jeans,” says Conyers. “There used to be just Levi’s and now there are tons of higher end, smaller brands that are catering to a more educated consumer.”

Strongbody Apparel wants to be seen in a different light from those over-branded, neon coloured activewear seen on the racks of department stores. It doesn’t want to be another “knock-off” product. While big name brands have worked to build a slogan-spewing culture, Strongbody Apparel focused on innovation: breathable and moisture wicking, wrinkle and pill free fabrics, and zoned ventilation construction to name a few, earning the people’s trust in activewear back.

“We are the crossover of active wear into streetwear,” said Quincy Samycia, co-founder of Strongbody. “It’s one of those things that is happening that people don’t even realize it’s happening. We are on the front end of that and we are driving it home to people.”

Strongbody Apparel’s Kickstarter ends on December 4 and it has earned approximately $20,000, after achieving its goal with 24 days left.

Netra Wants to Save the World from Drowning in Imagery

“The world is drowning in imagery,” says Shashi Kant.

“We’ve generated more information in the last 48 hours than we had in all of human history leading up to 2004,” continues the founder of Netra Systems. “We are generating so much information, and the fact is 90% of that is imagery and most of it lies unexploited and inaccessible. That is a fundamental problem.”

Netra Systems is a visual search and tracking company designed to clean up the way we access our overwhelmingly large quantity of video and image-based content. Not just in our Instagram, Flickr and Facebook, but Netra Systems is hoping to alleviate the strain in numerous other sectors including retail, healthcare and security.

“When you think about it, Google just exploits text,” said Kant, “but imagine if we mine imagery in the same way and make it accessible and searchable.”

Netra Systems apply both machine-vision technology and a search engine style indexing. The algorithm breaks down a video by frames and tracks the blobs, which are the distinct objects within the frames. From there, Netra Systems identify the visual attributes of the blobs—should it be a vehicle, a cat, a human, etc.—it’ll note the colour, contour, texture, shape, etc.

Once the program recognizes the appearance characteristics of each object, it’ll give it a label in accordance to the most similar appearance. The “deep learning” will, for example, identify that within the image there is a blob that appears to be a cat, thus marking it as such. Then like Google, should a user search “cat” in the database, a list of plausible images will be presented in a search engine style result.

The capability of identifying imagery through an artificial neural network has a lot of potential for organization that focuses on little details. In recent scenarios as examples, Kant brought us back to the tragic events of the 2014 shooting at Parliament Hill, as well as the horrific incident involving the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.

“One of our technology is what we call a multi-camera or cross-camera search,” said Kant. “In a retail store or in a surveillance camera, you typically only capture a small portion with a single view and there is no single camera that can cover the entire building. You need multiple cameras to follow the person and track from camera to camera. And that is the part where we really shine. And that is actually how we go and find the person.”

Organizations of all sizes invest a lot in cameras and machine vision, not only for security but also for visual data such as understanding high traffic areas within a store. By having a keen eye on a promotional item, retailers and suppliers can analyze customer’s engagement and propensity. The knowledge acquired will help merchants, managers and executives work together to make the best out of their retail space and the merchandise within.

When the topic of privacy implications arose, Kant responded with a question of his own: “Do you carry a cellphone? Between your cellphone and your credit card, if someone were to analyze that information they will know far more about you than looking at a camera and analyzing it.”

No doubt the visceral reaction to visual data is unlikely to change soon, however, we can clearly say that new technology and governance are being applied to keep us blobs safe when we are on the screen. Netra Systems offer a unique privacy protection that obfuscates images identified as humans in real-time. The original video will be recorded, saved, and retrieved only by those authorized, i.e. law officials.

Seeing the potential, investor, Mark Cuban signed on with Netra Systems in late 2013 after only 48 hours of email negotiation—no phone calls, no in-person meeting. “Machine vision is an area I have a lot of interest in,” Cuban wrote. “Its a big part of Motionloft.com and what we are doing there.”

When inquired about what excited him the most about Netra Systems, Cuban stated: “The ability to identify images with in a video from a connected database and their ability to apply artificial intelligence to video.”

“Plus the fact they are just damn smart,” he added.

Netra Systems is currently piloted and used by a number of major retailers and media and advertising agencies.

How Making, Recording, and Measuring Decisions as a Team Can Change Your Company

Nothing says teamwork better than a group of people aligned in the decision making process. While some workplaces are guided by the “executive decisions” of the boss, that leadership practice might not necessary be the best approach in advocating change, nurturing involvement and learning from prior mistakes (i.e. bad decisions).

Steven Forth, CEO and director of Nugg, an application that enable workplace team members to focus, decide, track and align ideas, believes that decisions should not be made in a vacuum, and that the full decision-making cycle begins and ends with proper communication.

Forth wrote: “Some would say research, and research is sometimes needed, but the best decisions are made as part of conversations.”

Intuitive decisions should not feel random

The decision making cycle includes five key steps: surface, discuss, decide, execute, and review; all of which plays into a long-term goal. It’s true that not all decisions are of equal value; some are undoubtedly more serious than others. With that being said, the process of making decisions should not feel random, even though gut feelings, deadlines and stress may play a role.

“Emotions are critical to making intuitive decisions. ‘It feels right’ is a valid reason to make a decision,” wrote Forth. “But you still need to think through what the outcomes will be. Nugg let’s you mark any update or comment as a decision and then you or another person on your team can unfold that decision in more detail.”

Designate time to perform and review

By establishing a workplace culture that track, measure and review decisions after time have passed, allows team members to stay alert and execute appropriately in the future. Setting deadlines may seem like a stress magnifier, but that is not necessarily true. Implementing deadlines can sharpen intuitive decision-making, dampen procrastination and offer a more focused timeframe for exploration.

“Review date and getting explicit about expected and actual outcomes is so important,” Forth wrote. “And in most cases the first review should be relatively soon, within three months at the very longest. If you expect an outcome and are not getting it you need to review the decision.”

Don’t let good ideas and bad results get lost in the clutter

It’s not surprising that most people would want to quickly dismiss a bad decision from the past, wipe it from their mind and start anew. But that mentality will lead to history repeating itself. Don’t simply brush bad results under the desk, because they’ll likely reemerge in another form to waste time, effort and money.

On the flip side of the coin, good ideas are exchanged on the daily with zero trace. These ideas are often lost in an email thread, scattered amongst the shambles on your desk or simply placed in the back of your mind.

“Recording decisions and measuring the outcomes is critical today,” noted Gord Kukec, Member of the BCFerries Board of Directors, in a conversation with Nugg. “With so much happening it is easy for people to lose track of decisions and fail to check what actually results, but few teams do this in any systematic way. If you don’t record your decisions and measure the outcomes, you will never improve.”

Employ team members to participate in the decision-making process

Making decisions, especially on behalf of a whole company, is a scary venture. Ultimately, most long-term results are unpredictable.

That being the case, an individual may panic, second-guess or be guided by a bias intention. Even the most apt leaders will have trouble making those “executive decisions,” but the pressure shouldn’t fall solely on the boss—the supporting team should have equal responsibility to supply input and review previous cases, thus leading the best possible result, even if the decision was made in haste.

Get Control Of Your Business With the Hootsuite of Mobile Payments

In a global economy where everyone and everything is here and there, Vancouver-based Control places the control back into the hands of the business managers with mobile payment access and upgraded analytic tools.

“We’re seeing all these new types of payment methods in the market,” said Kathryn Loewen, CEO and co-founder of Control, “but one of the commonality amongst all of them is that they are all moving toward open standards.”

Bitcoin, Dwolla, Apply Pay and credit card processors such as Stripe and Paymill have changed the way businesses operate. And as many as 70% of those finance managing companies have chosen an open protocol, which when integrated with Control will offer their users a more diverse payment managing experience.

Loewen added: “People have called us the HootSuite of payments.”

HootSuite capitalized on their success because they were able to build business applications on top of the Twitter API. At one point, Facebook tried to purchase the social media management dashboard and make them the primary dashboard for Facebook, but Hootsuite declined the offer, knowing that the bigger opportunity comes by connecting to every platform.

Control is doing what Hootsuite did for content developers, social media coordinators, etc. and is applying that model to payment stacks for businesses. And like Hootsuite, Control is “platform agnostic,” which is one of the reasons why they have integrated so well with numerous online payment companies such as Stripe.

Stripe’s easy merchant onboarding makes it simple for users to sign up and for businesses to freely access their API. It was Stripe’s push toward this open API model that shifted the momentum of the industry. Even PayPal—a traditionally closed platform—who’ve spent many years enjoying their monopoly are now participating in this open-data economy.

Moreover, the high demand for quality analytic tools adds another valued element to Control. The same way Hootsuite built better analytics than Twitter, Control refined that aspect for payment platforms.

“We’re solving two problems: Online business managers—who start using Stripe or PayPal to manage their business—they are still dealing with the fact that they are using different platforms or different dashboards to manage all those different payment methods,” said Loewen, “and also, no good mobile app exist for those payment platforms.”

Although any merchant or business manager can benefit from Control, the most prevalent users are those that run a SAAS, online or global business, which requires the business managers to be somewhat like “modern nomads.” The ability to manage transaction activities directly from the mobile app, while they are on the go, will ease workflow, improve customer service and be more vigilant against fraud through mobile payment.

“Our target market may have a checkout that’s optimized for mobile, they might not, it doesn’t really matter,” said Loewen. “What we really care about is helping them manage their business better.”

Control’s iOS and Android apps are now integrated with Stripe, in addition to being the first Paymill app in Europe. Currently Control is building the control board for the web-based analytics and preparing to launch beta within the next month. By the end of the 2014 Control will go live anywhere Stripe is available as well as targeting the 9 million PayPal merchants across the globe.

Vancouver’s Unravel Brings Businesses and Customers Together Through Apple’s iBeacon

Vancouver-based Unravel recognizes that in our content-heavy world, consumers are often bombarded with irrelevant content—content that has imminent expiration or is calling to an improbable action. These types of engagement are fruitless for the brands and businesses and are annoying for everyone.

The old paradigm is that it was up to the brand to attract and nurture the consumers by reaching as far and wide as possible, but Unravel is enabling the consumers to meet the content and data halfway.

By using iBeacon technology developed by Estimote, Unravel is creating a new avenue for companies to communicate with the public. People with the Unravel app on their smartphone can one day walk up to a restaurant and instantly see the menu or approach a movie poster and get the nearest theatre location and show time.

Unravel offers three different models of content upon their dashboard: Webpage link that will show up as a browser, image that will tell a story through mobile swipe and a simple message such as “Welcome!”

“A great thing about this is that when you leave a location, you don’t leave all that content behind,” says Amit Aujla, cofounder of Unravel. “All the content gets compiled into the [Unravel] feed, so if there was something that you were interested in that popped up on your phone, you can come back to it later.”

Once the individual “Beacons” are implemented in a given service location, it will be capable of functioning in three different zones: Immediate (one meter), intermediate (five meters) and very far (25 meters).

“The main one that will be used by businesses will be the Immediate Zone,” Daniel Khatkar, cofounder of Unravel, told Techvibes, “because when you start going into the larger range, the radius gets really big. If you are on the other side [of a business] you might not necessarily want to receive information there.”

Unravel is not only using the iBeacon to send messages and entice customers, there is a lot of big data that can come from such a little device. The iBeacon can measure temperature and evaluate the number of occupancies in one area for a length of time. All this data can be instrumental for companies such as transportation, retail and event hosting that are seeking optimal costumer services and internal performance.

Currently Unravel is preparing to host a series of scavenger hunts in collaboration with established businesses. Participants will get to experience the new technology first hand and have a chance to win gift cards and event tickets. The app will be available shortly on the App Store and the scavenger hunt is set to commence in August.

“With the scavenger hunt, we want to show people how the technology works,” said Khatkar. “It’s an opt-in technology, if they don’t want to use it, at least they will know the purpose of the technology and what it is.”

Unravel offers brands and advertisers a broad platform to inform, promote and keep in touch with consumers. The scavenger hunt is the initial step for Unravel to gain traction, but the potential seems promising for this young company as they continue to educate the newfound value of iBeacon.

“I want businesses to contact other businesses and say, ‘I want to advertise on your Beacon in your store,’” said Khatkar. “Or if I’m an advertiser and I want to contact Uber or a cab company and put a Beacon in there—based on the demographic—then I’ll have a target audience.”

Format’s Relaunch And Rebranding Takes Online Portfolios To The Next Level

Earlier this month, the popular online portfolio platform 4ormat underwent a rebranding and relaunch.

Since 2010, Toronto-based 4ormat—now Format—has been the choice for tens of thousands of creative professionals across 125 countries. Showcasing work is a vital part of every creative’s business and life, so the platform becomes an extension of what the person does. Like a suit for a businessman, the webpage needs to look good and feel good.

Many web-building applications have immerged on the scene since then, and users are beginning to identify new demands: mobile flexibility; fluid, clean and speedy presentation and enhanced managing features. Format, of course, is all about accommodating those needs.

“Our goal was always to run a sustainable business,” Lukas Dryja, CEO of Format, told Techvibes, “and by having that goal, we needed to innovate everyday, so that we are building the best product possible.”

Still Format stresses the importance of customizability and simplicity, understanding that most photographers, illustrators, painters and artists aren’t fully capable of designing, building and managing a website without a little handrail to guide them.

“Late last year we reviewed every interface inside our app. Based on our findings we decided the best solution is a fresh start,” said Dryja. “Basically, we looked at the entire system holistically and designed the solution that appealed to users as well as provide a framework for us to use down the road.”

Format prizes itself by having a shallow learning curve and an easy to grasp usability. Users begin by selecting a theme, a style in which the work will be displayed. It could be a slideshow, an album of thumbnails or an interactive scrolling feature. Included in the interface is the theme editor, a feature that enables users to fine-tune detailed elements of the portfolio. Not only is the background and colour customizable, but also the size of images, how visitors interact with the content and what the padding, spacing, etc. looks like when published. And all that is accessed through a simple drag-and-drop design that makes adding and modifying works quick and easy.

“The need was always to create a professional website,” said Dryja, “and the way that someone would have to get there—previously to Format—was a very long and rigorous process. With Format, someone can have a website up in five minutes. And that was the unprecedented jump for people.”

So how does Format balance the demand for more customizable features and the straightforwardness of the application? That is a question the team at Format ask each other, and that is the fine line the design-oriented company walks on a daily bases.

Artists are known to experiment and try new things, and Format is taking some inspiration from their users. The platform’s relaunch, coinciding with the rebranding and redesign, is a wonderful reminder of what artist, entrepreneurs and designers can do when they all work together to present truly moving works and create new standards across all industries.