Category Archives: Reviews

Things I Love About Glasscubes Online Collaboration Software

As some of you may be aware from my last random update post, I decided to head back to school to finish off a Marketing Management Diploma that I left behind ten years ago. Despite being extremely rusty at this whole academic thing, I managed to keep myself within the top five in both my classes this semester and even surprised myself with a top mid-term mark in my ever boring CRM (Customer Relationship Management) class. Not bad for an old fart! Do follow me on Twitter if you want to keep up to date on what sort of mischief I'm causing on campus. I've already been kicked off campus once 😉

Part of my success this time around I think has to do with the fact that I am paying for my own education. Since I'm invested financially, I'm just stupid to waste my own money. Overcoming my propensity to procrastinate has also been quite the challenge and with the importance of group projects, keeping in contact with other people that may not share the strange Dot Com Lifestyle Schedule has been interesting. That prompted me to hunt for an online collaboration tool that would allow me to keep in touch with everyone in my group and to share work and collaborate all without having to physically meet up. That search led me to Glasscubes.

Introducing Glasscubes

glasscubes_intro

Through the power of Twitter, I was approached, or rather, tweeted by Sophie Le Brozec of Glasscubes. I tweeted that I was looking for a web based CRM system that could support my group for collaborating on our term project for Marketing Strategy. She suggested that we try out their new online collaboration software that launched on October 13th of this year.

Glasscubes is an online collaboration tool that incorporates aspects of CRM and Intranet. The software is available exclusively on the web and unlike other more complex CRM solutions, does not require you to install it on a server, or download a client to access it. The clean and inviting interface encourages you to explore and become productive almost immediately.

Glasscubes has created a video that shows off the interface and some of the cool features...

After spending the last couple weeks using with one of my class project teams who is working on some marketing strategy for a winery, I've quickly fallen in love with this very useful and affordable tool. Here are few things that I love most about this online tool for sharing, communicating and collaborating.

Continue reading Things I Love About Glasscubes Online Collaboration Software

Unboxing the Canon HF100 HD Camcorder

The Canon HF100 is one of the best consumer HD camcorders on the market. That's why I recommended it to Derek Semmler and eventually ended up buying one myself just a few days ago. John Chow is also looking at one and I know he'll be biting the bullet once his wife lets him. The HF100 uses flash memory which has no moving parts unlike hard drive units. It's also very compact in size; roughly the same size as the Samsung SC-HMX20C that I reviewed at Futurelooks.

The main difference between the HF100 and the two higher end Canon HD Camcorders, the HF10 and the HF11, is the lack of internal memory. Because SDHC memory cards are so cheap these days, it's definitely not worth the price difference to have either 16GB or 32GB onboard. The HF10 and the HF100 are essentially the same except for the color and the 16GB of onboard memory (HF10), while the HF11 does have the extra ability of recording at 24Mbps recording in HD.

Check out the unboxing video below...

The Canon HF100 is substantially cheaper than the HF10 and HF11 and with those extra dollars, you can buy extra memory cards or take advantage of the advanced hot shoe by adding an external mic or video light, making this into a great camcorder for the amateur videographer. Look for this machine to make an appearance in an upcoming DotComPho Episode.

Samsung and Futurelooks @ Le Crocodile Restaurant

This afternoon, I had a chance to finally meet my Samsung rep face to face as he made a stop in Vancouver during a media tour. Samsung and Futurelooks have been working together since 2001, but it's not often that we get a chance to see eachother face to face. Arun here is one of the newer members of the Samsung Canada team and has been our contact there for the past year. Although we've been very well connected via email and over the phone, there is no substitute for a face to face meeting.

Today, we talked about Samsung and Futurelooks and had a great meal over at one of Vancouver's best French restaurants, Le Crocodile. Here are a few highlights...

After settling in with some fresh bread and a complimentary goat cheese tart (not pictured), I had my favourite comfort food of all: Foie Gras. It was a special they had at lunch that combined a healthy sized pan seared piece of foie gras, topped with a crispy potato wafer and a pan seared scallop. It was drenched in a rich savoury sauce and they even added some extra butter for the full heart attack.

For my main course, I had the Grilled Wild B.C. Salmon, served with a light Saffron Velouté Sauce and a sauté of Calamaris. I don't think there was anything light about this dish, but it was fresh and downright awesome. The even left us with a mess of french fries just in case we weren't having a coronary.

Next, more free stuff came our way. The chef was all about freebies this lunch. First the goat cheese tart, and now we get a scoop of freshly made pear and mint sorbet served on a mint leaf. This was offered to us so we could cleanse our pallets for the real dessert.

Finally, for dessert, I had the frenchest of all French desserts: Creme Brulee. The blowtorch action was good, and the dessert was rich, but it didn't have the gentle sweetness that I've experienced with versions from Feenies or WEST. It was also more uber thick than I'm normally used to. It almost had the consistency of cheesecake. Not bad, but not my favourite. I would have preferred a little bit more sweetness and a little less of a butter like consistency.

Finally, our meal was finished off with little chocolate Le Crocodiles and of course, the bill. Our total came to about $112 plus tip for the two of us which made it the second most expensive lunch that I've had, next to the Feenie Foie Gras Burger. Actually, that's not true since I didn't pay and Samsung Canada picked up the bill. Free is good. Thanks again Arun and Samsung Canada. You're welcome back anytime to take me to lunch 😉

The Elbow Room Cafe - Breakfast for Ladies Only...

On the corner of Davie and Richards, near the trendy Yaletown area of Downtown Vancouver, there's a little breakfast joint hidden away amongst a million coffee shops and boutique stores. Stores that range from places that sell mens only skin care products, to places that only wash and blow dry your hair...no cutting. You'll also find tons of women wearing Lululemon and men that didn't get the memo about dudes being forbidden from wearing it (Hi Tyler!).

The Elbow Room Cafe is a well worn local eatery that specializes in breakfast all day and is home to clientelle ranging from your typical Yuppies to Movie Stars, and of course everyone in between. Strangely, it's the product of an insurance adjuster and an ex-teacher. However, no matter who you are, you are not exempt from their unique style of abuse. Everyone is greeted at the door as a couple of ladies, though I'm pretty sure they mean it more when they are talking about Ed Lau, connoisseur of such things as the said mens skin care products in the previous paragraph. Want coffee? Get it yourself. Need service? They'll be right with you...when they are done talking. If this offends you, Denny's is on the other side of Burrard. I guess after all those years of abuse in insurance and teaching, this is pay back.

After partially recovering from a coma induced by Cleaning and Jerking for four hours, the previous day, I was in need of sustanance and ordered up the comforts of something called "The New Yorker" which consisted of two large poached eggs served over a mixture of mushrooms, onion, tomato, bacon and pepperoni in a spicy tomato-BBQ sauce. All of this is tossed on top of a couple of toasted croissants, with a nice ladel of hollandaise sauce to finish it off. Not only is it messy and sloppy, but it's also a great cure for a hangover and wonderfully delicious in the most non-nutritious way.

Kelly had the "Hillary Swank" Omelet aka the "Don't Make Me Cry". I have no clue why but if you had to finish it, you'd cry because it's absolutely enormous. Made of cream cheese, avocado, sauteed spinach and tomato, it destroys anything health beneficial by being absolutely gargantuan. This is followed by a side of generously buttered toast. If you toss in a few chocolate chip pancakes and three fried egg sandwhiches and they could call this the "Michael Phelps Breakfast". There was enough stuff inside this one omelet to make two regular ones. Stingy on the service but not stingy on the food.

If you don't finish your dish, not only do you get called a lady again and verbally abused, but you'll also get charged a couple of extra dollars on your bill that goes directly to feeding the less fortunate that are afflicted with AIDS. Mean to you. Good to the people that need it.

If you're looking for someone to suck ass for a tip, then turn around and leave. This ain't no IHOP. But if you're looking for a place that's different, that has some great comfort food plus some very charismatic servers, and you don't mind getting your own coffee, then check out the Elbow Room Cafe next time you're in the Vancouver area.

Five Reasons Why It's Hard to Hate Starbucks

Lately, my favourite place to hang out and do work isn't in my office. Despite the fact that it has everything that I need and more, I seem to have found myself gravitating to the busier atmosphere of the local coffee shop. I guess it gives me that bit of nostalgia, like I'm back in the rat race or something. I'll grab my cup of "whatever I'm feeling like today" and spend at least a couple hours (or until the 6 hrs of battery on my ASUS U1F) hanging out and leaching off the WiFi, while listening to other people's conversations like the lunch room gossip. I also tend tp spend money on high margin snacks while I'm there during that time frame since I've gotta eat when my brain is doing stuff.

I guess the evil coffee kingdom of Starbucks clued in on this work habit of hanging out longer and spending a few more dollars. Although I'm not a fan of Starbucks Coffee in general, opting for smaller, much cooler hang outs, the Seattle Java Giant has just made it harder to reject them and their burnt beans (though their light roast has improved lately). Starbucks recently launched a whole series of rewards tied directly to their gift cards. When you register your gift card at their website, you get to take advantage of a whole bunch of freebies which include...

  • Free Beverage Customizations - If you want a flavour shot or a switch to soy in your beverage, it's free when you use your Starbucks Gift Card to purchase the drink. Perfect for taking off the edge off the edge on those burnt beans.
  • Free Refills on Brewed Coffee - When you purchase a brewed coffee with your Starbucks Gift Card, you get free refills on all brewed coffees. This includes iced or hot. This is good if you like their coffee, but when it's cold and slightly watered down, it ain't so bad. You can also go to town on milk and sugar if you have to. Since you're downing that much coffee, you'll need to have more snacks. So evil. I do wonder if the said perpetual fill ups work during your visit, or if you can just come back through out the day with your cup like we used to do in the good old days at MacDonalds.
  • Free Tall Beverage With the Purchase of a Pound of Coffee - When you buy their burnt beans, you get a free tall drink of your choice. Just offer to buy beans for your buddies and cash in on a free drink if you don't use their coffee. I'm sure a Hot Chocolate or something would be nice on a cold day.
  • Two Hours of Free WiFi Every Day - Whether you purchase a drink or not, you'll get free WiFi at any Starbucks with a Hot Spot. You get two hours each day by just by registering that gift card, which you should have done already to be able to get the above three things.

Finally, all of these bribes are available to you whether you are in the US or in Canada. Your gift card gets registered for North America and you'll be able to leach off the WiFi in the US or in Canada. What I should do one day is login for two hours at a Canadian Starbucks, then cross the border and login for two hours in a US Starbucks to see if I can double dip on the Interwebs. The only catch is that your card must have a balance and you need to use it at least once a month. Since Starbucks seem to outnumber cool coffee shops with stable WiFi, it makes the 'bucks, that much harder to ignore. Also, their Internet seems extremely fast at least at the locations that I've been too.

The only hitch that you may run into is that some locations may not be fully aware of these benefits. I went to the busy Pinetree Location in Coquitlam, and they had no clue that it was tied to their gift cards and tried to get me to sign up for their Duetto Credit Card. Also, not all stores have a WiFi HotSpot so make sure you look on the door before you sit down and enjoy that whatever you ordered. This is especially true of new locations. I went to the one beside the new Thrifty Foods in Port Moody near IOCO Road and they were FAIL on the Interwebs. Not to mention, not everyone reads the memos so if you get some part time dude or dudette, they might not know that you get all this free stuff and you might have to jump through a couple hoops initially.

Another thing I found out, for all you K-12 teachers, is that every Monday, you guys can grab a free coffee at any Starbucks in Canada, whether you use the card or not. I'm not sure if that applies to the educators of the young in the US, but I'm sure they get something similar. Though I do wonder if you get the pertual fill ups. Someone try that and let me know 😉

It's hard to reject Starbucks when they bribe you this much. If they're throwing this much stuff out there free, I wonder what else they'll toss at us to get us to not go to the cooler place down the street.