This week, training has been tough. July DC weather finally decided to come and I have been battling sickness. My runs, rides and swims have been tough. This morning while in the water I wanted to bail the whole time. But I didn’t.
While it would have been easy to get out of the water, I thought of what would happen if I did. Would I be able to compete in Ironman if I did? Would I be able to do well? Or just barely make it? And that’s my topic for today. Doing it well.

So often we go through life with the “bail” thought process. If something is hard, we want to (or do) give up. Or do it with half a heart. No matter what we do we should do it well. Even though we may not feel like it.
As I was trying to swim through the water (which felt like rocks and I felt like I was about to drown) I really wanted to quit my workout. But as I was thinking about it I thought about it again. The reason I am in the water training my butt off is because I have a goal. A race.
If I want to do well in it, then I have to train. And I have to do it. I will have tough days for sure. But if I gave up every time I felt like it I wouldn’t be able to compete. It was with that thought that kept me in the water this morning. I don’t know about you, but I want to do it well. And I think you do as well. And, no I didn’t drown, I am still alive and kickin’ 🙂

I’ve been reading up on new products lately and there are certainly some interesting ones out there. But what’s also interesting is that many vendors still include the great security lie in their product literature. 

Sometimes it’s up front, sometimes it’s buried, but it’s easy to spot because it contains a phrase like, “absolutely secure”, “totally secure”, “completely security”, or “military-grade security”.

If a car salesman told us that a model is “totally safe” wouldn’t we just laugh? Why is software somehow different?

Share your questions, views and concerns – comment below or click on “Ask TLP” at the top of the page!

With our first birthday on the horizon, writers and editors of the TECHLife Post are contemplating where we should steer TLP as we enter our second year.  And we’d like to hear from you, our readers.

Please drop us a line — — and let us know what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’d like to see from TLP in the future!

Eat red!

I recently spent 3 days in Traverse City, MI immersed in the world of cherries. Specifically tart cherries. Did you know tart cherries contain anthocyanins & bioflavonoids and that they help prevent inflammation?

Tart cherries are also an antioxidant! How cool is that? I learned so much about tart cherries and cherries in general and I am very excited to be able to share what I learned with you in the coming weeks ahead. I have a special recipe for you, so be sure to try it very soon, and eat red!

Cherry Vanilla Smoothie

2 cups pitted, tart cherries (unsweeted) frozen
1 cup non-fat or low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup non-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup ice

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth.
Makes 2 (yummy) servings! Enjoy!

Product/service recommendations and support…more than you want to know.



“ He MySpaced me.” – Mary – He’s Just Not That In To You (2009)


Not long ago we read that back in the late 1800s when electricity was first demonstrated people fell to their knees in amazement. The individuals who demonstrated it probably felt omnipotent. No one questioned or challenged them.

Today you’ve got to do something really spectacular to get more than a few lines in someone’s blog. Technology permeates everything today. It is an integral part of almost every movie. Even girlie girl movies (we go to keep peace in the household)!

Tech toys have become integral parts of our homes/offices. They’re indispensible. Our kids feel lost if they don’t have them…all.

Staying Connected

You know:

  • Mobile device that does everything – music, email, text, video, even phone calls
  • Digital still/video camera
  • Broadband access
  • HD TV
  • Game console(s)
  • Notebook computer for TV, music, games, study
  • iPod
  • Home network/NAS

Kids get them first then the adults.

These people are Geoffrey Moore’s Chasm innovators, early adopters. But most adults are what Moore classified as early or late majority (well across the chasm) where the kinks have been worked out.


First in Line – Technology innovators and early adopters help launch major/minor products as well as tech toys. With the right support and enthusiasm they can help drive the products into the hands of the mainstream consumer (early/late majority). The problem is once the excitement of early adopters wears off it can take a long time (years) for majority consumers to understand and commit to the product. Source — Forrester

The problem, challenge is the stuff never seems to be as easy to use as engineers and the kids make it out to be. We’re not certain but when we look at the back of the device, we’re real glad we have a kid in the house!


Universal PnP – Companies, industry trade groups and associations have been working for years to streamline and simplify the installation and use of hardware and software for the consumer. They all have the solution that will meet the consumer’s needs and the specific standards group’s goals. So…things stay complicated.

It used to be you read or heard about a company or product you would go to their web site and learn about the product. Today people expect more from the web sites they visit…lots more.


People Want More – In the early days of the Internet, people would go online, do a search for the product/service they needed and purchased it. Today companies that are tuned into their customer base deliver more. They include not only product information and reviews but also locations and activities that will help keep the site visitor coming back again and again. Source – Forrester

Consumer posting sites such as,, and hundreds of general and specific social net sites have helped customers learn more about the products and company’s customer support activities before they buy. If you have any question whatsoever you’ll find postings – pro and con – with just a few mouse clicks.


Checking Everything – In addition to going online to read up on the product they are considering, consumers also read media outlet reviews as well as consumer reviews. Increasingly people also make certain the company provides complete customer support as well. Source — Forrester

With all your questions answered, you ran to the store or went online to lay down your credit card, bought your new tech toy and bring it home.


Then all you have to do is install it, sit back and enjoy! It didn’t take long for folks to figure out how to gather/share information with just about everyone. That was about the time our kids made email communications look so yesterday. Virtual communities cropped up over night. People were connecting with people.

Communities of Communities

Communities divided into smaller, more specialized communities. People everywhere became connected.


World Connected – Social media sites and outlets have enabled everyone to become instantly and seamlessly connected. General and specific social sites help people exchange information, develop and refine ideas/products in real-time, define applications and solutions and become part of a local/regional/national/global community.

Source — IDC

They were using search engines, favorite sites, homepages, portals, IM conversations, social sites.So cial network sites have become such an increasingly important part of people’s lives because they enable you to work/interact closely with others who have a common interest. They give you power. They enable you to influence others (including manufacturers). They give people a platform to hear and be heard (pro and con).

We found it interesting that over half the people who provided feedback on products/services were positive most of the time. Thirty-six percent were positive every time. Few people jumped online just to complain or be vicious/mean about the company, product or service. They joined to learn, exchange ideas/hints, become involved, even help others.

Guess this online stuff isn’t so bad after all…

For the most part there are business models and community benefits behind most social media. Except Twitter.

Who Said That?

140 characters to use just to say you have a headache, you’re going to the ball game, follow someone’s election, comment on their speech…big deal. However, Danielle Levitas of IDC recently noted that Dell had a Twitter used/refurbished equipment account. Since Dell has had their share of missteps in the social media arena we wondered just how good of an idea that could it be?

Wow !!!!

They’ve sold over $1 million worth of returned/refurbished equipment with those lousy 140 characters. Ok it won’t fund any stimulus program but for gawd sake…$1 M out of 140 characters? Not too shabby!

But, the social network tool that has really come into its own today is the blog. Sure the first you heard about blogs was that they were going to turn everyone with a computer/connection and everyone would become a citizen journalist. Instead people blogged to tell tales out of school…write their (boring) memoirs in real-time…badmouth their company/boss…document fanciful stories of their personal/business exploits. Yes a lot of those still persist but they quickly become web filler because no one views them.

Now though there are gazillions of really good, really informative, really useful business blogs. eMarketer estimates that more than 116.1 million people read them. Some people read blogs multiple times a day, others daily, others weekly but the number of readers and frequency keeps rising. There are horizontal, vertical, niche, niche niche and niche niche niche blogs out there. Some of these blogs have 2,000 – 20,000 plus readers. The number pales compared to news web sites but that kind of readership is nothing to sneeze at!

Is Anyone Out There?

Just as with social sites there are all types of blogs:

  • personal/lifestyle
  • technology
  • news
  • politics
  • entertainment
  • travel
  • business
  • science
  • health
  • sports

…you name it.

They’re of interest to companies because internal and external blogs are talking about your company, your products, applications, service, lack of service, uses your engineers never even dreamed of, ah ha improvements you’ll read and say…YEAH!!!

The challenge is finding blogs that are of most interest to you as a company. Blogs on specific stuff/topics you’re interested in for yourself and your business. Blogs are beginning to play a big role in corporate and individual buying decisions.


Blog Influence – Blogs have become an integral part of many organizations’ internal and external communications activities. Many firms have thousands of people who have a blog that discusses their company, their products, their applications, their problems/solutions and general analysis about their market segment or the state of the economy. Tens of thousands are begun every day and their readership continues to grow. Source — Buzzlogic

Balanced blogs — not rah rah, defensive or negative — are credible to readers even when they are clearly/evenly written by company personnel.

That’s a major reason individuals and firms are spending hundreds of hours to ensure their web sites, placements and blogs are optimized for search engines (that’s how people first begin their global search to find the subject, topic, item they are researching).

Business email still tops the communications hierarchy according to recent Nielsen Co. reports but it is so one-to-one communications.

The overall social media category though is a way to share concepts, ideas, information across a world of individuals interested in the same subject. Firms are even using social media to speed and share information/ideas across the entire organization.

Web-based activities are becoming invaluable to organizations that want to lower their engineering, developing, marketing costs by getting information and ideas directly from existing and potential customers.

At the same time social media enables firms to quickly, economically capture knowledge and leverage the best information inside and outside the organization.

Companies Listen

The power and importance of social media for businesses is growing in leaps and bounds.


Social Media, Marketing – With the growing importance social media to the buying public – manufacturer and individual – companies in every product space has found that social sites and blogs can be invaluable (and economic) in reaching and working with customers. Source – MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group)

There are a lot of reasons for firms and the marketplace:

  • It’s fast – ask the community for inputs BAM!!! you’ve got a ton of ideas, thoughts, recommendations. Most very professional, very thoughtful, maybe even useful
  • Direct communications with the customer base on how they use the products/services so you know how to plan for tomorrow
  • Properly managed, used and interpreted it is remarkably inexpensive to carry out. In today’s business environment that’s vital
  • Fast, accurate, low cost…what more could you ask for?

Well it would be nice … really nice if all of those Chasm Innovators and Early Adopters volunteered to help those Early, Late Majority and yes those **** Laggards jump the Chasm.

The sooner the “majorities” see how good and useful the new innovations are the faster technology will lead the world to recovery. Whatever they can do to open the lines of communications with most of the present and potential customer base will help us all.

After all social media is a ripple in the way businesses do business. Social media finally puts control in the hands of the marketplace. That control also implies a responsibility – not to tear the institution down with misinformation or constant complaints. If there’s a problem or an issue, use your social media locations to influence changes and action.

Some consumers may not believe it but most of people in the technology industries aren’t simply putting in their time. They’re trying to make a contribution…a difference.

They don’t expect you to fall on your knees when they turn the light on. It would be nice though if you didn’t call them every name in the book when the product/service doesn’t work exactly they way you think it should work. And if you opened the user’s manual you probably couldn’t follow the information right?

Remember an engineer or tech wrote the manual and to him/her 80% of what he/she didn’t include in the documentation “everyone” knows. All we have to do is get Chasm left side personnel to translate for people on the right side of the Chasm.


It’s like Gigi said in He’s Just Not That Into You…“Knowing after all the unreturned phone calls and broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment… you never gave up hope.”

While spending time on the trails this weekend, I was thinking about birthdays. Now, if you know me at all, you know I love birthdays. A lot. Why do I love birthdays so much? I’m glad you asked!

Birthdays mean a few things to me. They’re a start of a new chapter. A time to reflect on the last 365 days. A reason to celebrate life.  And of course cake and ice cream (yes, I do eat them).  While most of us celebrate birthdays (or other mile stones) with food, alcohol and other things, I would like to offer another way to celebrate.

Why not celebrate with positive life things? For example, I will be running my 100 mile race on my birthday. While this may be a little on the extreme side (see, I do admit it) you can do something similar. Do something that celebrates, encourages and prolongs life. It may be a 5k or some time enjoying the outdoors with family. Maybe go to the children’s hospital and cheer a few kids up. Or make a healthy meal.

No matter what you what you do, the point is to do something positive for your life and others. Just like I did this weekend celebrating America’s birthday by being on the trails, I encourage you to do some healthy celebrating!

The Internet has been around so long that domain registrations have become a commodity.  The competition is fierce, and margins are small. Registrars compete for your business not only on price, but also on added features like bundled hosting and DNS service. And among the sales tactics is the offer of free domain registrations.

The reality, of course, is that there is no such thing as a free domain registration.  Somebody pays for it.  And while there is nothing wrong with giving a customer a “free” domain when they purchase other services, as one of my colleagues recently found out, ethics among hosting services greatly vary.

My colleague purchased a hosting plan for $5.95 per month with that included a free domain.  According to the terms of service posted on their web site, there shouldn’t have been a problem:

“You have all rights to transfer, sell, or modify your domain name to another person or individual. If you decide to sell or transfer your domain name and HostPapa is the domain name registrar, please request our “domain name transfer instructions” by sending an email to We will send you the specific details and information about transfer of ownership.”

But, when my colleague decided to transfer his domain to another registrar, he found out that it wasn’t that straight-forward.  Host Papa had registered the domain in their own name.  In email, he was told,

“The $100.17 you paid upon sign up with HostPapa was for a hosting account. We included a FREE domain as a thank you for creating an account with us. This domain is only free as long as you are a HostPapa customer, hosting the domain on our servers.

If the domain was not free, you would have been charged $126.37 for hosting and a domain purchase. Now that you wish to cancel your services and take your domain away, the invoice I have created for your domain in the amount of $26.20 covers the cost of HostPapa registering this domain on your behalf when you signed up with us.

This is standard for anyone cancelling their account and wishing to retain their domain.”

During his email discussion with them, at one point a representative of HostPapa wrote chillingly, “Legally, the domain name is ours.”

We contacted HostPapa and inquired, and they explained,

“Yes, you can transfer your domain name to another host at a later date, however, there will be a fee of $24.95 + GST for Canadian clients to release the domain, since it’s only free as long as you are hosted by us.”

Your domain name is key to your Internet presence, and losing it can have a significant impact.  Assuming you maintain a backup of your web site, you can easily move to another hosting company if you control your domain.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

First, keep in mind that virtually anyone can become a ‘registrar’ through a simple reseller agreement. The fact that a company can register a domain for you doesn’t provide any indication of business ethics. Search the web, read their agreements carefully, and do your best to check our their reputation.  Be cautious if transferring your domain requires emailing or telephoning support or the description of the process is vague.

Second, check your domains to ensure that they are registered in your (or your company’s) name, not a provider’s.  If you don’t already have a favourite “whois” tool or web site, try If the domain is not in your name, contact the registrar immediately and ask that it be corrected. If they refuse, indicate that you wish to transfer your domain to another registrar. But keep in mind that as far as the domain registration world is concerned, the owner is the entity listed in the whois database.

Third, consider using a separate registrar from your hosting provider.  If you’re more technically inclined and have a number of domains, you might consider opening your own reseller account with a large registrar like Tucows and becoming your own registrar.  It also might make sense for you to use a third-party DNS provider like  Ideally you want control of your domain information including the contact names, addresses, and DNS servers. Your registrar should allow you to update at least your DNS information through a web-based interface.

If you aren’t one of the 4 million people who have already watched this video, take a quick look. Its a song about how Dave Carroll, a musician, had his guitar broken by my former employer, United Airlines. (The back-story is here if you’re interested.)

Think about it, this video has been viewed on the Internet over 4 MILLION TIMES! That’s a lot of press. Steve Jobs would kill for that type of coverage for his iPhone. It shows us how powerful the medium of video can be when put in the right hands.

Dave’s creative way of making this situation known, and having some fun while doing it, paid off and got him the attention he needed to get United to pay for a new guitar.  Its also pretty obvious that Dave isn’t stupid. He used this video to create exposure for his brand (himself) which was probably his motive in the first place. Another good use of social media. If it worked for a working musician like Dave, think about how you could use this creatively for your own brand?

So, what’s the takeaway? What could have United done to avoid this PR nightmare?

First off, let me state that the general public only has this song and Dave’s side of the story. United has yet to publish a reply or response as to what really went down. This alone is something United PR Department might want to rethink. Transparency is the order of the day and people expect to hear both sides, right or wrong.

If United had hired a Social Media expert or had a SM Department, they might have avoided this mess altogether by catching it earlier. The expert would have been charged with monitoring the airwaves through tools like or (where the video spread fast) and have seen the smoke before the flames blew out of control. That’s the other side of the social media coin, companies can use the same social media tools Dave used to monitor and take action early in the game when there’s trouble, but they have to be watching and aware.

What it all comes down to is: Treat your customers right in the first place. The best time to create a great customer experience for someone and make a lasting impression is when the customer is upset. From Dave’s point of view, he just wanted compensation for his broken guitar. For an airline that charges $12,000 for a round trip ticket to China from Chicago, I think they could have afforded to handle this with a bit more finesse. (Pun intended.) If they had taken care of the customer in the first place, this would have never happened. The best insurance is to put your customers first, especially in this day and age where word can spread quickly online about a bad experience.

I would love to think United could still have a sense of humor about it and have some kind of “musician’s discount” or a funny giveaway with a music theme. That might diffuse the situation a bit and show that they can play the game just like Dave did. I think United might want to think about creating a fun video which explained a little more in depth what really happened. In the end, I don’t think they will lose a massive quantity of customers over this, but this video isn’t going to go away unless they pull out the big guns and call the lawyers in. That wouldn’t look so good either. Let’s face it, this isn’t the first time this has happened to a musician on any airline and it won’t be the last. United just messed with the wrong one. We live in an age where there is no bad publicity. Maybe they should just hire Dave to do their next commercial or to be a regular entertainer in their on-board entertainment package. Wouldn’t hurt.

Personally, I think the guy should take next time. He’d probably get a little more respect and some better customer service. They’ll probably even throw him a bone and scratch behind his ears. After all, isn’t that what most customers are looking for? Just a little more attention…

Dave, if you’re reading this, next time you fly you might want to rethink checking that guitar. Better yet, whip it out during the flight, get a video camera…well, you apparently know the rest…

Recently, in the USA, we celebrated Independence Day. On July 4th many of us remember the people who have given their life for our country or made some sort of sacrifice for us. And that’s the word I want to focus on, sacrifice.

What does the word sacrifice mean to us? We don’t have to be in the service to sacrifice something. Personally speaking, I think that the majority of us think that the “s” word is reserved for those in the service. How sad. Each of us should live our life with other people in mind. What do I sacrifice for someone else? What can I do to impact somebody life for the better?

Yeah, it might be inconvenient. Or out of our way. Or whatever excuse we come up with. However, let’s think back to the people that are in service. They deal with heat, cold, bombs, death, wounds, and life changing events. But they still do it. It makes my sweat fests look easy compared to what they go through on daily basis. The next time I complain about a bad run or a getting in the pool to swim laps, I will just shut up.

Thought: What can you do for someone else? It doesn’t have to be big. It could be a smile, a hello, hold the door open, or a note. The point being that you took the time to stop for a second and bless someone else. We may not be in the “service” but we should be in the service of thinking about others.

So, no matter the celebration, lets thank those who have/are served and make an effort to be a blessing to someone.

I was thinking in the pool for this edition. While trying not to drown. And avoiding 911 from being called.

I have been training my butt off. Seriously, between running and cycling I have been getting in around 200 miles per week plus other cross training. I started thinking about throwing in an ironman, and I was told I was trained for it already. So I’m going for a full ironman in late fall.

Let me give you a little background. While a young teen, I had a few friends drown in the nearby river. It was traumatic, scary, frighting and life changing. I never looked at the water the same way again.

That event left me with a huge fear of water. I always wanted to overcome my fear of water and become a triathlete. In order to do that, I kind of needed to know how to at least float. So by January 2006 I had saved up to hire a swim coach. I went from learning how to float, to 5 feet of water, to jumping into 18 feet, to swimming laps and doing my first sprint triathlon in 8 weeks. While doing a tri was great. I was more thrilled that I overcame one of the my biggest fears.

It was a fear that ruled my life. A fear that was not justified. A fear that didn’t have to be a fear. What did I do to conquer that fear? First, I was determined. Second, I was dedicated to overcoming it. Third, I had a goal. Fourth, I believed in myself. These were my keys to success. What are you fearing?

You may not fear water like me, but whatever it is, you can use the four steps I did. They are practical and useful. You have to believe. You have to be dedicated to overcoming whatever “it” is. We all have fears. I have fears right now. But when I stop and start applying what I did a few years ago, it makes me calm again and I believe that I will overcome it. Fear is natural. Its what you do with it that can either make you stronger or make you weak. Be strong. Overcome. Fight fear!

So, in case you are wondering what happened during my swim workout from last week, I didn’t drown. 911 didn’t need to be called. I will have more swim days. Bring it on. I am ready. I may feel like a drowned whale, but fear is not going to stop me. Don’t let it stop you.

Starfy’s been a hero in Japan for years and recently made his North American debut. In this game for the Nintendo DS series, players must guide Starfy though a variety of environments to the end of each stage by swimming, jumping, bouncing and defeating comical ‘enemies’. In addition to the numerous stages, it also includes several smaller games.


The DSi is the newest member of the Nintendo DS family.  In addition to playing DS games, it includes two 640 x 480 pixel digital cameras (one on the front and one on the back), WiFi capability and a SD card slot.  The latter combination allows one to purchase games online and download them to the DSi.  The current street price is around CDN $200.  (Other DS models available at lower prices can play the same games but lack the WiFi and SD card capability.) The game itself, The Legendary Starfy, retails for approximately CDN $35.

If you’re a parent, you already know that the real test of a handheld game is whether it’ll keep kids occupied during a long drive or a rainy day.  To get an honest evaluation, I assigned our 6-year-old junior editor and handed her a Nintendo DSi with the Starfy game card inserted.  Being used to the Leapster and our Wii, she figured it out pretty quick and soon her fingers were flying across the controls. I didn’t dare get in the way.

Nintendo has a knack for creating games that are attractive to — and playable by — a wide age range. For example, I asked our junior editor how she knew which key to press to go through a door, and she showed me that when the door appeared there was a small ‘x’ beside it.

The DSi measures 137mm (5.4 inches) wide, 74.9mm (2.9 inches) long, and 18.9mm (0.74 inches) tall and weighs 214 grams (7.5 ounces), making it a great size for kids and adults alike.  My daughter and I were both able to hold and play it comfortably. 

Unlike other handheld game platforms, the DSi’s dual screens are protected when the device is folded closed.  While I’d recommend a padded case for a child, I simply put the DSi and charger into my shoulder bag. (The charger is small and folds flat, so no prongs stick into or scratch other contents). Even if the DSi ends up in your jacket pocket with keys, minor scratches on the outside of the device won’t impact usability.

The DSi and Starfy combination will set you back CDN $235, which did cause me to wonder if the less expensive DS Lite (CDN $140) would be a better choice for travel entertainment.  On the other hand, the extra $60 gives you the ability to download games from the Internet, and that in itself might make it worthwhile given the general trend toward less expensive downloadable software. Overall, after two weeks of playing with it, we give the Nintendo DSi and Starfy four thumbs up.

Non-profits, co-ops, and other organizations that depend upon volunteers often have challenges when it comes to protecting corporate information assets against individuals who leave the organization. 

For example, I’ve recently been dealing with a situation involving the use of Yahoo Groups.  While it’s a great way to share information with a group of people, here’s what can happen:

  1. A volunteer sets up a group on behalf of the corporation, bearing the corporate name.
  2. The volunteer runs the group for a while but subsequently decides to leave the role.
  3. The volunteer refuses to turn over control of the group to a board member.
  4. When pressed on the issue, the volunteer claims that the group is inaccessible because it hasn’t been used for a while.
  5. When pressed further, the volunteer deletes the group including all content.

Unethical volunteers (and employees) can create disruptive scenarios. In this case, they have the potential to impact communication with group members and information can be quickly lost. While criminal and civil proceedings can be initiated after the fact, the disruption has already occurred. 

In an ideal world, there would be services available that take these issues into account. For example, one could have multiple administrators and require two of them to approve sensitive transactions.  But until services like that exist, your best defence is to recognize what can happen, ensure that someone other than the group administrator has a copy of all documents and maintains a list of participant’s email addresses so that they can be contacted if an issue arises.

Have another suggestion?  Please comment and let me know!