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My Windows 8 Phone – App Review {#HolidaySwap}

Holiday Swap

It’s week 3 of my Microsoft Canada, Holiday Swap adventure! My last post took you through my first impression with the Nokia Lumia 920 and now I’m ready to talk about my experience with some of the apps that I’ve been working with. As a blogger, the social media and camera apps are the ones I use most, so I will stick mostly to those.

TWITTER

Let’s start with my home away from home: Twitter! You don’t send 22,000 tweets in 10 months without a good smartphone app, am I right? Then again, most people don’t do that anyway… Unfortunately for the Windows phones, the standard Twitter application is not very good at all. Low functionality, trouble sending tweets and the inability to link multiple accounts make this app almost unusable.

Luckily for the Windows Phone there are some great third party Twitter apps, with my favourite of the bunch being the Rowi app. I actually like the Rowi product better than the iPhone Twitter app I was used to. It has a fully customizable home screen that lets you check things like trending topics, your retweeted tweets and all the standard options. It also allows you to link to multiple accounts and makes it easy to switch between them. Essentially, Rowi saved the day for Twitter and the Windows Phone.

FACEBOOK

I have mixed feelings about the standard Facebook app. I like the way it looks but the functionality could be a lot better. It’s quite possible that I just haven’t learned all the in’s and out’s yet but just like the Twitter app, I have already found an alternative that I like better, so I’m not too worried about it.

That alternative is the Facebook Touch Pro app. It looks just like the Facebook we know and love, plus it has all the functionality you’d expect. If I have one complaint, it’s that clicking the notifications doesn’t always work, but those instances are few and far between.

CAMERA APPS

It’s funny, 2 weeks ago I was sad that there was no Instagram option for the Windows Phone. Then Instagram lost a good chunk of their subscribers because of their cryptic new terms of service. That’s where Fhotoroom comes in. Fhotoroom is the Windows equivalent to Instagram and even has more editing options for your photos. It also allows you to share the photo with your favourite social media networks, such as Twitter, Facebook & Flickr.

Another app I like is the Smart Shoot feature. This one snaps 5 pictures in succession and then allows you to edit the photos together to create the best one shot. It’s perfect for people with fidgety kids or for those who have blinky eye syndrome!

Just like every other smartphone on the market, there are hundreds of apps for your camera needs but these are just a couple of my favourites.

NOKIA CITY LENS

I’m going to close out my review with my favourite app on the Nokia Lumia 920. It’s called City Lens and I am in love with it’s capabilities. At first it felt like a novelty app but now that I have been using it, I am amazed at how useful it is. You simply go into the app and either choose from one of the options (Food, Lodging, etc) or type in a location and then hold the phone up and it geo-locates the nearest place.

City Lens

From there, you simply click the option you want and it takes you to the GPS directions screen. It’s perfect for when you are in a city or area that you are not familiar with and I highly recommend it.

And that, my friends, are just a few of the apps I am using on a daily basis. As you may have noticed, it’s not all roses but for every downside, there seems to be a great alternative. Overall I am still enjoying the Nokia Lumia 920 and am loving the camera/video quality and features more and more each day.

Cheers!

Disclosure: The Nokia Lumia Windows phone was provided to me by Microsoft Canada in order to facilitate this review as part of the #HolidaySwap challenge. I will also be receiving compensation in exchange for my posts related to the review of this phone, however all opinions on this blog are my own.

Social Media Commerce For Dummies {Review}

9781118297933 cover.indd

I’m taking part in a program featuring the “For Dummies” books and my first book was entitled “Social Media Commerce For Dummies”. In the year that I have been blogging, I have developed a passion for learning about everything social media, so this was a logical next step.

About The Book

Social media commerce is a booming industry. By using social networks in the context of e-commerce transactions, brands large and small are making their products more available and more convenient for customers. This one-of-a-kind guide introduces you to social media commerce and explains how you can use social media to provide better customer service, collect payments online, and build your customer base. Online marketing expert Marsha Collier helps you determine where you have the best opportunity to reach your market, which sites you should integrate with, and much more.

I’ve always been a big fan of the “For Dummies” series, even though they call me a Dummy with each new book I read. Admittedly, I didn’t get through this entire book yet because, well, I just don’t read all that fast and I haven’t received my “Conquering ADD for Dummies” book yet. What I have read, however, is more than enough to make me want to get through to the end of it.

My favourite part of the book so far has been the “Casting and Catching Customers” chapter. It’s not easy to stand out in a crowded social media scene and this chapter teaches you not only how to find people in your demographic but also how to get them coming back for more. It also helps with tips on building your Facebook page, which we all know can be a challenge these days.

With things such as blogging, podcasts, video and social media advice included, this Social Media Commerce book has been an excellent tool for me to use in looking at the next step in my online development. I definitely recommend it for anyone looking to monetize their web space or for businesses looking to take the next step.

For more information on the book and where to get a copy, you can visit the “Social Media Commerce For Dummies” Info page. You can also catch up with the “For Dummies” franchise on Facebook and Twitter.

This is the part where you’d expect me to throw out some cheesy one liner like, “You’d be a dummy not to buy this book!” or “What are you waiting for, Dummy? Go get it!” Don’t worry; I won’t do that to you…

Cheers!

First Impression Of My Windows 8 Phone From @MicrosoftCanada {#HolidaySwap}

I’m excited to have been invited to take part in a new program being put on by Microsoft Canada, called Holiday Swap. The idea behind it is that all the participants would agree to swap their current mobile phones, for the month of December, with a new Windows 8 Phone.

Obviously, as a blogger and more specifically as someone who is rarely without my iPhone, this was not something I agreed to right away. The thought of having to learn something completely new was frightening to say the least. In the end, I had heard really good things about the Windows phone camera, so I decided to give it a shot.

Being a father of young children, it’s very important to me to be able to capture high quality photos and video anytime the mood strikes me. Seeing as how I can’t carry my camera around with me all the time, I rely on my phone to capture those moments for me. Unfortunately, my current model hasn’t been getting it done and after only 4 days with the Nokia Lumia 920, I am in love!

One of my biggest complaints with my current phone is the inability to take photos in darker settings. The Nokia Windows Phone I am playing with, makes night time seem like mid-morning and the quality is amazing. Check out these two photos I took of my son at 6pm (which is very dark here), with flash and without flash.

 

 

 

 

 

There are also some great editing features and lots of apps you can download to play around with the great pictures this phone takes. The only downside for me so far, is that the Windows Phone does not support Instagram yet and I’m hoping that’s something that will come down the pipeline soon.

The video feature is great as well, especially the sound quality. I find with my iPhone, that the sound is always faint whenever I am trying to get shots of my kids. It’s especially frustrating when I am filming them singing a song or catching them playing nicely together.

Excitedly enough, the day after I received the Nokia Lumia 920, I caught my children playing nicely on the stairs and took the opportunity to push the video and sound features a bit. Here is the result of that experiment. I’d say it was a resounding success.

Melted my heart and I’m so glad I had my phone on me. The only downside I have found with the Windows Phone video feature is that there is no way to directly upload your videos to YouTube yet. I have been sending them to my dedicated YouTube email address, which isn’t that big of a pain. Still, it would be nice to be able to direct upload with HD quality to YouTube.

My first impression of the Nokia version of the Microsoft Windows phone is a good one, especially the camera/video functionality. There are some things missing, such as Instagram and YouTube direct upload, but these are things that I am willing to live without in order to get the quality that this phone offers.

Keep checking in with me throughout the month as I will be documenting my journey with the Windows Phone. Next time I’ll talk about some of my favourite apps and how I feel the social media apps measure up between the iPhone and the Windows Phone. I’ll leave you with my favourite shot from my Windows phone so far. I played with some of the editing tools and love the end result.

Cheers!

Disclosure: The Nokia Lumia Windows phone was provided to me by Microsoft Canada in order to facilitate this review as part of the #HolidaySwap challenge. I will also be receiving compensation in exchange for my posts related to the review of this phone, however all opinions on this blog are my own.

Blog Soup – Week of November 5th

Each week, Blog Soup will highlight some of my favourite posts from other bloggers around the interweb.

1. What’s Important To My Kids – My Report Card by Wildsau – Fellow Dad blogger, Tom (@Wildsau), shares a story of a report card he received from his 8 year old daughter. I’m not going to lie, just the thought of this happening to me someday, gave me crazy goosebumps (and maybe a couple tears…)

2. He Never Let Go Of My Thumb… by Andy Herald (HowToBeADad) – How To Be A Dad co-founder, Andy Herald, shares a touching story about his 3 year old son’s first experience with Trick or Treating.

3. The Low Down On My Mo Down! by Zeev @ PTPA Media – This post, from my MoBro Zeev, takes a hilarious look at the Mo-Pro’s and the Moh-No’s to the moustache growing phenomenon known as Movember. The most important thing to note here, is that the PTPA has agreed to match any donations Zeev can get, up to $1000. If you’re going to give, make sure it’s to Zeev so you can double your contribution!

That’s it for this week. I was out of the fictional blogging office for a majority of it and didn’t get to read too many posts. I’m really glad I got to see the ones listed above and I think you will be as well.

Cheers!

Blog Soup – Week of October 29th

Each week, Blog Soup will highlight some of my favourite posts from other bloggers around the interweb.

1. The Title Of This ‘Is Sometimes Other People Know What’s Best For You Even When You Think They Don’t’ or ‘How I Raced In My First Speed Skating Meet’ by Speed Skating Mom – For those of you who don’t know, Sharon DeVellis decided to take up Speed Skating at the age of 41. In her Speed Skating Story, she talks about how she had “only skated 3 times in here adult life”, so you can imagine how tough this task would be. This story is a recap of her very first Speed Skating Meet and is a great reminder that hard work and perserverance absolutely pay off.

2. Help Level the Field for Rwandan Kids: Peace through Play in Africa by Globetrotting Mama – In this post, Heather Greenwood Davis introduces readers to a new initiative she’s a part of, called “Right To Play”. It’s an excellent program that uses sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease in disadvantaged communities. As a big supporter of helping less fortunate children in sport, this one really struck a cord with me.

3. Dear Mommy Blogger by Sharon DeVellis – I know, I know, TWO Sharon DeVellis stories in one week!? What can I say, she caught my eye with this one as well. This one is a little harder for me to read because I’m pretty sure a post of mine is the reason she decided to finally write it. I wasn’t proud of the way I reacted to a bad email pitch and had a great talk with Sharon about it before she put this up. It’s a great take on the blogger/PR relationship and one that I will read and reread as my blogging continues.

4. Are We Experiencing A Rudeness Epidemic by A Little Bit Of Momsense – My new friend, Rebecca, shares her feelings on the growing amount of rudeness we are facing these days. The cool thing about this, other than the fact that I completely agree, is that she wasn’t afraid to share her thoughts about it. Reading stories like this really helps me realize that I don’t have to hide all my feelings, and that it’s okay to share them with my readers from time to time.

5. The Seven Year Itch by Mr. Lady – One of my favourite bloggers, Mr. Lady, talks about her blog’s upcoming 8th anniversary and discusses how rough year 7 was. It’s an excellent look at the struggles of a veteran blogger, trying to decide what to write about and how much of her personal life to share with her readers. I love everything about her blog and hope she decides to keep on typing!

That’s all for this week, I hope you enjoyed my choices. I’ll have a new list next Tuesday and please feel free to share any other great posts you read this week, as I’m always looking for new stuff to read!

Cheers!

Dad Blogs Exposed! – How To Be A Dad

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to this one, especially considering it was the first “Dad Blog” I ever read. This week on Dad Blogs Exposed, I bring you the funny and talented Charlie and Andy from the ever popular, How To Be A Dad.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, How To Be A Dad is a site that aims to bring you the lighter side of parenting, through hilarious videos, info-graphics and amazing photo shop work. Even though their About Us page states, “If you were looking for a website telling you how to be a dad… You didn’t find it, I feel like I have gained from being a regular reader of their site.

In fact, earlier this month, Charlie posted about his son’s 3rd birthday, and had a great idea to ask the readers to leave his son some advice/wisdom/funny stories, that he would turn into a journal to give him some day. It was one of those posts that I got jealous over not thinking of it first because I really liked the idea. Please note, I have a problem with my comments going into people’s spam folders, so if you read the comments on this post, you’ll notice my name pop up a couple times. I willingly accept all mocking and newbie jokes that come from this.

Although they haven’t done too many videos lately, I always enjoyed watching them. I know how much work putting together a video can be, but that doesn’t stop me from reminding them constantly, that some us really enjoyed them, haha. Here is one of my favourites:

I think my favourite thing about Charlie and Andy is that they are visible and personable. They skyrocketed to success very quickly and with 126,000 Twitter followers and counting, it would be easy to just sit back and enjoy the ride. That’s not the case with these guys; they are out there answering questions, making conversation and connecting with their community of followers. I have yet to come across another blogger who doesn’t have great things to say about the two of them, and that’s the highest form of compliment.

The guys have something exciting happening right now as they prepare to launch their very first book! You may have seen their Baby Sleep Positions diagram, if not, here it is:

This diagram has become a huge success, getting stolen and claimed all over the place, by some very big sites. The book, titled “The Guide To Baby Sleep Positions” features some of How To Be A Dad’s best posts and info-graphics and is available right now for Pre-Sale on Amazon and also at Random House.

Bottom line is, although I’ve never met Charlie & Andy, they have never been anything but kind to me; and as a newer Dad blogger (and a Canadian one), it’s nice to not feel like we are all competing against each other. Putting out a book is the top of the blogging Everest and I wish them all the best with it! There will definitely be a copy of it at my place; probably in the bathroom but there’s no insult intended, it’s just where I get my best reading done.

If you want to catch up with Charlie & Andy, you can visit their site, How To Be A Dad. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and pretty much every other social media platform there is. Seriously, these guys are everywhere and active on all of them!

I Am Not Super Dad; Not Even Close

While taking some good natured ribbing from my friends about my new found voice as, “Canadian Dad”, it occurred to me that the perception of what I’m doing might not match up with the goal of why I’m doing it. My goal is not to portray myself as some kind of Super Dad for spending time with my kids. In fact, I hadn’t even really thought about that side of it until recently.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and take absolutely no offence to the, “Just tell them you are Canadian Dad” and “I blocked you so my wife won’t think I’m a terrible Dad” jokes. We have all been trash talking each other for years and it’s just the way we all interact together. Plus, there’s the fact that they don’t even read the blog anyway, so it’s hard to take any kind of literal offence.

I started this blog as a vessel to feed my addiction for writing, as well as a way to keep a form of living record of my journey through fatherhood. The fact that the domain CanadianDad.com was available is a major reason why I decided to stop procrastinating about it and actually start writing. Truthfully, the writing was the major reason for the blogging idea in the first place. I went through many different topic ideas before settling on the fatherhood niche.

This blog could easily have been, FantasyHockeyGuy.com or RealityTVJunkies.com, and I would have been happy at the time, just to be writing. I am, however, eternally grateful to have chosen to write about parenting because something funny happened along the way. The blogging has opened my eyes to a whole new world of fatherhood, where it’s okay to express your feelings and emotions about being a Dad. It doesn’t make me a better father than someone who doesn’t blog or share their inner most feelings on parenthood, it’s just a different avenue and one that I appreciate and can relate to.

There are a million great Dads out there who are better at it than I am, but I find that writing and sharing my experiences is helping me to become a more attentive father. I still spend way too much time on the computer, when I should be outside spending more time helping my son learn to ride his bike. I’m not always excited to go on a family trip that requires over 4 hours of driving, even though it is a “family” trip. One time, I even pretended to take a picture of the kids with my iPhone, even though I was actually checking my twitter feed…

The point is that I am not a perfect father and I am going to make mistakes, just like everyone else. I don’t write about my life as a Dad so you will think I am an amazing father. I do it so I can share my stories and learn from my mistakes, while also being a part of an amazing community of parents, who are always supportive and more than willing to share their suggestions and ideas.

The biggest benefit I have gained from this blog, is that I am much more self aware when it comes to my habitual lazy ways. I spend a lot more quality time with my kids these days, where I may have just popped on a movie in the past. Instead of dreading the thought of my wife leaving me with the kids for the day, I am actually excited when I get to plan some fun time with Daddy; And not because it’ll make for a great story either, but just because they are so much fun to be around.

Writing about fatherhood is helping me to become a better father for my children, and anything else that comes with it is only gravy (unless you hate gravy, then it could be ice cream or whatever). I know so many great fathers out there and I hope that if you take anything from this post, it will be that just because I share my stories of fatherhood, I am not Super Dad. I am just one of the many Dads out there, trying to provide the best possible care for my children. Sometimes I am successful and other times, not so much, but I’m learning more every day and I’m happy with my progress.

I am proud to be a father and I hope that comes through in my writings about my family. I only hope that you will realize that for all the compliments and accolades I have received since I started blogging, I am far from being a perfect parent. I am just a Dad like most other Dads, except that I have chosen to write about it.

I think a fun exercise would be to take a minute out of your day to let a parent know that you think they are doing a great job. Even though I say I am not a Super Dad, I still enjoy hearing the kind words and think other parents would appreciate it just as much. I don’t know, just thinking out loud again.

Cheers!

Dad Blogs Exposed! – Luke, I Am Your Father

Dad Blogs Exposed is back this week with a blog that gets my nerdy side excited just by reading it’s name. James is the blogger behind Luke, I Am Your Father and I can’t help but do the Darth Vader voice every time I see it…which greatly confuses my family.

I’m going to stop explaining where I met the Dad Blogger’s each week and you should just start assuming that I met them on Twitter, which is true for 99% of them, including James.

James has been writing LIAYF since 2008, a fact which makes me incredibly sad that I didn’t find out about blogging until this year. You can tell he’s been at it for a while too because his writing style is one that draws you in and leaves you wanting to read more. Then again, he could be an English major and I’m just blowing smoke…Let’s just go with my reason, okay?

We actually have a few things in common too, which is always a draw. Our sons’ names are both named Luke, him Lukas, mine Lucas. He loves bacon. I love bacon. We are both die hard fans of a sports franchise that hasn’t been any kind of good for the past decade. Me with the Montreal Canadiens and James with the Seattle Mariners. Sorry James, the M’s are terrible but the first step to recovery is admitting it.

One of my favourite things about James, is that he understands the value in leaving comments on posts from other bloggers. It’s such an amazing feeling, as a blogger, to open your email and see the “Moderate Comment” message and it’s something I try to do a lot of.

James finds and creates stories out of life’s everyday moments and it’s fascinating to read his take. For an example of this, you need look no further than his post from just this past week, Yard of the Flies. It’s a mirror image of the street I live on but it’s told in a way that I would have never thought of.

In closing, James is a good guy and a great father, and I encourage you to check out his blog at “Luke, I am Your Father“. You can also connect with him on Twitter, my weapon of choice, @SeattleDad.

That’s it for another week of Dad Blogs Exposed! Have a nice day!

Cheers!

Dad Blogs Exposed! – Manhood V. Dadhood

Welcome to another edition of Dad Blogs Exposed! This week, I would like to introduce you to Joe from the blog Manhood V Dadhood.

As with most of my Dad blogger connections, I first ran into JB on Twitter, where he goes by the handle, @ManvDadhood. I knew we hit it off immediately due to our shared love of all things super hero.

It wasn’t until I saw his Justice League of Dad Bloggers post that I really understood how creative Joe was. I’ve been a follower since and have to say that his writing style is one that draws you in and keeps you coming back for more.

Joe started his own project called DADuary, which will run each January, and which he describes as “I want DADuary to be something that is open to dads, moms, and everyone else who wants to talk about their dads, or the dads they know.” I hadn’t started my blog yet so I didn’t get a chance to be a part of this year’s edition but you can’t bet I’ll be checking in for the 2013 DADuary!

If you’re looking for a Dad Blog that’s going to come at you from all emotional angles, Manhood V Dadhood is the one for you. JB writes from his soul but also gives you laughs and even a touch of geek. His Definitive Collection series is something that needs to be read. If this post hasn’t been enough to convince you to check out his site, maybe this tweet of his will put it over the top!

Yep, that’s what I’m talking about! You can visit Joe on his site Manhood V Dadhood, or check him out on Twitter @ManVDadhood and Facebook.

Cheers!

Please Help A Fellow Dad Blogger To #LiveFightWin

I’m doing a modified version of Dad Blogs Exposed this week because a fellow Dad blogger has received some bad news and I want to try to help any way I can. This week’s feature is about John Taylor, aka The Daddy Yo Dude.

John was recently diagnosed with cancer and will begin treatment this coming week. He is the dad of two amazing, wonderful, beautiful, but also independent, snarky, and opinionated children. They are aged 5 and 3. He is a stay-at-home-dad, part-time blogger, house cleaner, pull up changer, dinner maker, and craft fanatic. All of these things that will get harder as treatment goes on.

Anyone who has gone through any sort of battle with cancer, knows that the medical bills pile up quickly. That’s why today I am asking you all for your help. If you can visit John’s “Live. Fight. Win.” Page and donate anything you have to spare, I’m sure John and his young family would really appreciate it.

Even if all you can afford to do is spread the word, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, feel free to visit John on Twitter @TheDaddyYoDude or on his Tumblr Page. He’s a really nice guy and a great dad and I’m sure he’d appreciate the well wishes.

Thanks for your time and help! It’s times like these that I am greatful to be a part of such an amazing blogging community. Let’s show John what we can do when we band together to support and protect one of our own!

Cheers!