Vol 1, #24, August 25, 2009
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August 25, 2009


Mobile app connects with new home buyers
Nerds On Site cut through the tech talk
Cheapflights positions for global leadership in flight search
Black Star Rising celebrates 600 posts
Novus internet service now even faster
MySpace adds new music sharing service
Facebook to boost staff by 50 per cent
FUSE launches pro bono campaign
Back-to-school tips keep kids safe online
Canadian site named to Time.com's 'Top 50 Websites 2009'

Mobile app connects with new home buyers

The Canadian real estate market experienced a sales boost of 17.9 per cent in June, as new home sales rose at the fastest rate in more than eight years. With a rebound in sales, savvy real estate agents are implementing new mobile marketing tools into their sales process. Agents using Homes on Mobile Phones, a multi-faceted mobile tool, are announcing homes sales in record time. New buyers looking for an easier home buying process are responding to Homes on Mobile Phones' convenience, immediacy and its accessibility of information, while agents are provided with a competitive edge in catering to technologically-fluent home buyers.

Though Homes on Mobile Phones is a relatively new mobile product, it has recently announced partnerships with Sutton Canada, Christie's Great Estates affiliate Profusion Realty Inc., and Lloyd Cooper of Cushman & Wakefield LePage. By partnering with both residential and commercial brokerages, Homes on Mobile Phones has established its versatility in both real estate sectors.

For agents currently using this mobile tool, the average time between listing a property and receiving an offer has been less than a week. The social networking, personal branding, instant information and visibility that Homes on Mobile Phones offers plays a strong role in these quick sales.

"I sold a home within two days and my upcoming listings are asking to have this service available to them as well,” says Kate Peterson of Royal LePage.

Analysts expect more listings to come onto the market later this year, and Homes on Mobile Phones will continue to cater to agents and home buyers searching for a modern, seamless and straightforward home buying process. Top of Page

Nerds On Site cuts through the tech talk

John and David, the founders of Nerds On Site, know that communication and relationship-building skills are fundamental to a successful business. They've demonstrated their commitment to Nerds and their customers by making customer-friendly communication training a part of TheUniversity of Nerdology - an internal education program offered to all Nerds.

Information Technology - the very words can strike fear into the hearts of many. "IT-speak" may as well be an entirely different language to most of us, and trying to follow along as an IT professional explains what a computer system has, does, and needs is enough to cause some to break out in hives.

However, the reality is that businesses and individuals have constant IT needs - from eliminating down time to optimizing networks and systems to maintenance and protection. Therefore we all need an IT expert, sometimes a team of experts that we can turn to for fulfillment of all our technology needs.

Enter Nerds On Site, with an entire team of Nerds who not only bring 250+ technology competencies to the table, but also a communication style and approach that is a novelty in the technology services industry - "NormalSpeak" rather than "NerdSpeak". Nerds are friendly, highly trained professionals who take the time to talk with their customers, understand their needs, fully explain solutions and recommendations, and follow up to make sure each customer is completely comfortable and satisfied. Nerds will never, ever talk in terms that are tech-y or confusing, and they don't sound like they are reading from an IT manual. Not only that, they are available 24/7 365 days a year, and offer numerous services to make your tech life easier and less costly.

How does a computer Nerd learn to communicate effectively? Through the University of Nerdology - a progressive series of classes. Focused on relationship-building, effective communication and sales skills is offered to all Nerds, in addition to a complete array of technical courses via the University of Nerdology. Top of Page

Cheapflights positions for global leadership in flight search

Cheapflights Ltd. Has announced changes to its leadership team designed to strengthen and support the company's international expansion. 
Francesca Ecsery, formerly Cheapflights' UK General Manager, has been promoted to Global Sales Director. Francesca joined Cheapflights in 2007 and successfully guided the growth of Cheapflights.co.uk as a market leader.  Francesca will be responsible for Cheapflights' global revenue and will lead teams internationally in sales, sales operations and advertiser relations. Francesca builds on her 20 years experience in the travel industry that includes leadership roles at STA Travel, IfYouTravel.com, AirTours, and Thomas Cook.  

“We are thrilled to have Francesca's considerable talents fully engaged in supporting Cheapflights global growth,” says Chris Cuddy, Cheapflights CEO. “Francesca has built effective relationships with many of the world's best known travel brands and will be instrumental in providing consistently effective ROI for Cheapflights travel partners.  Our new globally aligned structure will enable Cheapflights to more rapidly deploy our proven model and increase our speed of decision making and innovation.”

Meredith Hanrahan has joined Cheapflights in the newly created role of Chief Marketing Officer.  Meredith joins Cheapflights from Salary.com, where she served as CMO for the publically traded consumer website.  She brings over 20 years experience in leading on-line and off-line marketing teams at companies including Terra Lycos, General Mills, and Lindt Chocolates.  Meredith will be responsible for Cheapflights users world-wide and will lead teams internationally in traffic, branding, content and public relations.    

“We are very excited to welcome Meredith to Cheapflights.  Meredith's experience of attracting and engaging users on a global scale will be invaluable in extending Cheapflights' 'consumer champion' mission to travelers world-wide,” says Cuddy. Top of Page

Black Star Rising celebrates 600 posts

With dozens of photographer contributors and thousands of RSS subscribers and Twitter followers, Black Star Rising, the group photography blog of the Black Star photographic agency, has emerged as one of the most-respected sources of news and commentary in the photographic industry. The blog recently celebrated its 600th published article.

To Black Star president Benjamin J. Chapnick, these accomplishments represent a continuation of the agency’s commitment to photographers and photography clients, which have driven the company throughout its nearly 75-year history.

“Black Star Rising is a group blog where we give our bloggers the freedom to write about issues of interest to them,” said Chapnick. “It’s so difficult to establish a blog readership these days, and Black Star Rising’s photographer contributors are gratified to tap into a large audience of their peers with every post. From the feedback we’re received from contributors, we believe we are successfully advancing the Black Star tradition of mentoring and aiding photographers in their careers.”

Photographer Tony Blei, a former newspaper staffer turned freelancer, says contributing to Black Star Rising has provided a boost to his business. “Since I started writing for Black Star Rising, I have been interviewed in magazines and asked to speak at industry events,” says Blei. “It’s been great exposure that has significantly increased the profile of my business.”

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Novus internet service now even faster

Novus Entertainment Inc. has increased base Internet speeds by 10 Mbps on all residential and business Internet packages. Effective immediately, all Novus customers can now enjoy download speeds from 20 Mbps to 60 Mbps - the fastest in Metro Vancouver.

“Speed is the most important factor for customers when choosing an Internet Service Provider," said Doug Holman, Co-President & Chief Financial Officer of Novus Entertainment Inc. “Our fully-switched Ethernet network sets the gold standard for both speed and reliability, and we are delighted to be able to make our service even faster without increasing cost for our customers.”

Because cable modem Internet channels can be shared between hundreds of users and DSL networks are distance-sensitive, transfer speeds and signal quality can be significantly impaired depending on where a user lives. Unlike its competitors, Novus' state-of-the art fibre optic network is wired directly to each customer's building, meaning that the customer doesn't need a modem and will receive consistent transfer speeds on Novus' dedicated, unshared connection.

“While other companies boast new, faster cable and ADSL service, our customers are wired directly into the Novus' state-of-the-art network," said Holman. “It's the ideal setup to support heavy two-way use such as gaming, peer-to-peer and server applications."

Novus Entertainment Inc. has been providing first-rate high-speed Internet, cable and digital TV, and digital telephone services to residents in Metro Vancouver since 1996. With the vision of being a major service provider in the Metro Vancouver market, the company developed a strategic plan to ensure that the network they built would allow them to provide potential customers with a superior Internet experience, while setting them apart from the incumbents.

Benefits of Novus high speed internet include:

  • Consistent speeds, even during peak hours
  • No modem required (the service is wired directly into the customer's home)
  • Faster downloads and uploads than cable modem or DSL services
  • Get the speed you want, when you want it
  • Does not require power boost or other add-ons to help temporarily boost speeds
  • Novus' low latency Ethernet provides optimal connectivity for gaming and voice applications
  • Reliable and secure
  • All Internet packages can be bundled with Novus TV for further savings

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MySpace adds new music sharing service

Social networking hub MySpace is spending $20 million to acquire iLike, a popular music application on rival Facebook, in the first move by new management to expand after a series of drastic cuts and writedowns.

ILike, which has 55 million users, will remain headquartered in Seattle, and its management team will stay intact, with brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi in the top two slots. They founded the service in 2006 with $16.5 million in venture capital, mostly from Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc.

Owen Van Natta , who replaced co-founder Chris DeWolfe as MySpace chief executive in April, said iLike technology will help MySpace users share songs, videos and games away from their MySpace home pages.

For instance, iLike already has 10 million users on Facebook. It attaches itself to Apple Inc.’s iTunes music store with song recommendations, notifies fans of upcoming concerts and Twitter posts by their favourite artists and allows people to see what their friends are listening to. It began selling songs in the MP3 format last Friday and is the No. 1 referrer of customers to Ticketmaster.com.

“We believe what iLike has created isn’t limited to just music and should extend to all the areas important to MySpace users, such as entertainment, video, and games,” he said.

Facebook, which ranked iLike among its top eight applications and the third most popular in its entertainment segment, said it did not expect the acquisition to affect its users.

Van Natta said the iLike technology would complement its MySpace Music joint venture, a free music streaming and discovery platform it launched with major recording companies in September. The two services, however, will not be integrated right away.

According to Van Natta, MySpace Music was “doing extremely well,” with monthly visitors having nearly tripled since launch to 12.1 million in June. Top of Page

Facebook to boost staff by 50 per cent

Online social networking site Facebook is looking to expand its staff by as much as 50 percent this year, its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told Bloomberg news agency in an interview dated August 20.

Facebook's website says it has more than 900 employees.

The company, which counts venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Accel Partners, Microsoft Corp and Russian Internet investment firm Digital Sky Technologies among its investors, has more than 250 million registered users.

In June, rival MySpace, owned by News Corp, said it would cut 30 percent of its U.S. staff and two-thirds of its international workforce. Top of Page

FUSE launches pro bono campaign

True Patriot Love Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by corporate and community leaders, dedicated to raising funds for programs for members of the Canadian military and their families, recently named FUSE Marketing Group Inc. its marketing agency of record.  FUSE, a Toronto-based, privately held brand activation agency that offers a full range of marketing, direct, promotion, experiential and interactive services, is proud to unveil its new pro bono campaign in support of the inaugural fundraising Tribute Dinner to be held in Toronto on November 10, 2009.  The event benefits the Military Families Fund established by General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier, which provides assistance to military families.

Entitled the Artists for Families program, True Patriot Love is seeking 100 Canadian artists to transform military helmets resembling those worn in combat, into works of art.  The helmets, designed and donated by the artists, will be part of a silent auction at the Tribute Dinner. 

FUSE was responsible for developing the creative platform and the execution of a bilingual campaign called Defining Moments, consisting of logo design, print fundraising materials and advertising including print, online and broadcast elements.

“We were asked to be a part of this extraordinary project because of our not-for-profit experience and more importantly, our personal affinity toward the important cause,” explains Garo Keresteci, president, FUSE Marketing Group Inc. and member of the True Patriot Love Committee.   “With our creative platform of Defining Moments we hope to unite Canada, its people and its artistic talent to support and honour the military families of those that serve our great country,” he adds.

“We are confident in FUSE’s ability to communicate the goal for our first-ever fundraising project in a wholly unique and compelling manner,” says Shaun Francis, True Patriot Love Chair.  “ Canada has had many defining moments in history and our future is being written by the proud men and women of our military.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play a vital role in our next defining moment on the world stage.  We want Canadians to answer the call,” Francis adds. Top of Page

Back-to-school tips keep kids safe online

Kids are spending more time online both in and out of school. Likewise, cybercriminals are online targeting them through e-mail, IM and phishing scams, and even trying to make contact on social networking sites, blogs and chat rooms. What’s a parent to do?

Experts at computer security company McAfee have some simple ways to keep kids safe online this Fall so parents can have peace of mind.

There's no free lunch:  Avoid online “freebies”: Watch out for free downloads, which can include hidden spyware and adware programs.

Lock your Valuables:   Protect against viruses and malware. Both anti-virus software and a firewall will protect you from inadvertently accepting unwanted files attached to e mails.

Hall monitors needed: Be aware of all online activities. McAfee Family Protection software can act as a "cheat sheet" for parents to monitor their kids online and can block inappropriate content, prevent cyber bullying and stop risky interactions on social networking sites.

Show and tell: Educate kids on proper online behaviour. Keep a continuous dialogue with children regarding their activities online and help prevent a risky situation.

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Canadian site named to Time.com's '50 Best Websites 2009'

Fonolo , the Canadian-based company that makes it easier and less frustrating to call large companies, announced today that it has been named to Time.com's list of "50 Best Websites 2009".

"We are thrilled to be recognized by Time.com, one of the most recognizable names in news", said Fonolo CTO Jason Bigue. "Time's 50 Best Websites is an important ranking and being included on this list alongside some of the most recognizable and prestigious sites on the Internet is truly an honor.”

Fonolo offers several innovative services to help consumers manage the frustrations of dealing with large companies over the phone. For anyone tired of navigating lengthy phone menus -- "Press 1 for this, press 2 for that" -- Fonolo's "Deep Dialing" feature will be a welcome relief. "Deep Dialing" allows users to visually navigate a company's phone menu on a computer or mobile device and reach any point in that menu with a simple click. Fonolo then navigates the phone menu, rings the user's phone and connects the two parties.

Fonolo's free consumer service also includes features like call recording, "Quick Tones" -- a feature that ends the annoyance of having to "please enter your 10-digit ID number" and a comprehensive directory of more than 500 North American companies. In addition to its consumer service, Fonolo is now making its technology available to companies that want to improve their customer service experience. Top of Page