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How To Look Good and Impress People

Remember that big job interview you just went to? You know, the one you didn’t get. Do you want to know why you didn’t get that job? It’s most likely because you spent 75% of it, scratching the itchy mess that you call a beard. If, like me, you suffer from Itchy Beard Syndrome, I have a solution that is going to change your life! The best part? It only takes five minutes to implement. That’s right, folks. In just five simple minutes, you can go from an itchy bearded mess that no one wants to hang out with, to a smooth operator that can’t be stopped!

This is a secret that could go for $199.00 elsewhere, but not here! No, here you won’t pay $199.00, $99.00, $49.95 or even $5.00! Today only, as a special gift to my readers, I am sharing the secret to a happy life for FREE! All you have to do to have a more fulfilling existence is follow these two simple steps:

Step 1: Grab a bottle of Edge(R) Sensitive Pro Relief shave gel and lather up those whiskers!

Edge Gel Creamed

Step 2: Shave off the peach fuzz and enjoy the benefits of a smooth living!

Edge Gel Finished Look

That’s all there is to it! Edge® Sensitive Pro Relief shave gel has helped me go from itchy faced to silky smooth and it can do the same for you!

Disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this campaign. I also sent out 25 bottles of Edge® Sensitive Pro Relief shave to some of my readers and will be sharing their thoughts very soon.

Disney Infinity ~ Review

As someone who has played video games for his entire life, I have been salivating over the release of Disney Infinity since it was first announced. We finally got our hands on a copy and, not to ruin the suspense, my son loved it!

I’m not going to lie, we were so excited to open it up and start playing, that I took zero pictures of the experience. Watching my kids’ faces light up as they watched the intro video would have been enough for me to recommend the game to people and we hadn’t even played it yet. They just stared in amazement as all their favourite characters appeared on the screen and it reminded me of the magic that Disney brings into our lives.

My son is only five, so it took him a little longer to figure out the buttons and object of the game but by the second time he played, he was a seasoned pro. The thing I like most about this game compared to most others is that it allows kids to explore lands and teaches them to figure out situations by themselves, without the fear of their character dying before they have a chance to solve a problem.

Obviously the other benefit, and slight detraction as a parent, is that you can purchase all of their favourite characters, which all do different things. The detraction, obviously, is the cost of new characters for the parents. Birthdays and Christmas are an easy way to counteract the hit on your wallet and this game is totally worth the investment, in my opinion.

Oh, and yes, I let my kids play video games, especially when they can play something like this game that opens up their imagination and let’s them create whatever they want. We set specific times and lengths that they can play and it works well for us.

There you have it, Disney Infinity is an excellent alternative to all the good vs evil games out there and will open up your child’s creativity in an amazing way. Now if you’ll excuse me, there are new characters coming out in a week and I need to check the couch for spare change…

Disclosure: A copy of the game was provided to me to facilitate this review.

My Thoughts On The HP Envy X2 Tablet/Laptop Hybrid

HP ENVY x2

I’ve been testing out the HP ENVY x2 tablet/laptop and the HP ENVY 120 e-All-in-One printer and what follows is my very untechnological review of these devices. I say that because I often read reviews that are filled with fancy terminology that I just don’t understand. I figure if I get confused by all that, then there must be others who feel the same way I do. That said, I am going to speak to functionality of these devices as they related to me.

I have never owned a tablet before but after learning how to use Windows 8 on my smart phone, I felt I was up to the challenge of navigating the ENVY x2. The first thing I noticed about the tablet/laptop hybrid, is that it is very comfortable to carry around. I do a lot of my writing in local coffee shops and I immediately noticed the difference between the ENVY x2 and clunky mess that is my regular laptop. It might sound trivial but there is a lot to be said for comfort and personal space, especially when you are writing on small cafe tables.

Although I’ve heard complaints about the Windows 8 functionality, I happen to think it’s great to be able to slide the screen and customize the live tiles any way I want. I especially enjoyed the Netflix tab and the HD touch screen made watching the new season of Arrested Development that much more exciting. I think if you give Windows 8 a chance, you’ll see how cool it really can be.

One of my favourite things about the HP ENVY x2 is the battery life. On my recent road trip, I got almost 11 hours of use out of it before I needed to recharge and as someone who travels to conferences now, I can tell that this is going to become one of my favourite features. Another thing I loved is how easy it is to convert between tablet and laptop, with my only real complaint being that there is no USB port on the tablet portion of the device.

Overall, I loved the sleek design of the HP ENVY x2 and most of the features it offers. I am learning to really like the Windows 8 design as well, but wish there were more apps available for it. As a blogger, this device suits my needs for writing on the go and that’s all I can ask for, so I am incredibly happy with it. The added bonus of the HP ENVY 120 e-All-in-One printer has been amazing for the quick printing my photos and invoices as well.

Disclosure: I received compensation for my participation in the HP Loves Dads program.

And Now A Grown Man Gets Excited About Hasbro’s Iron Man 3 Collection

Hasbro IronMan 3 Tpys

You’d think I accepted the opportunity to review some cool news toys because I knew my son would love them. For the most part that’s why I do it, but this time was a little different. I am a huge superhero geek and the second I saw the full sized Iron Man 3 mask, I immediately went into selfish mode by thinking about all the hilarious places I could bring that mask, for myself to wear…

My evil plan was foiled when the box arrived while I was at work, and my son noticed the Iron Man logo. Without a leg to stand on, I gave in and let him and his daycare friends play with the toys. They obviously had a blast, as I looked on with toy envy. We were fortunate enough to receive three different items, and they are as follows:

MARVEL IRON MAN 3 ARC FX Mission Mask

Hasbro Iron Man 3 Mask

 

 

As previously mentioned, I was most excited about the mask and the plethora of places I could wear it around town. There’s something satisfying about watching people’s brains try to figure out just exactly what it is I am trying to accomplish by wearing this thing to the local grocery store.

 

 

MARVEL IRON MAN 3 Avengers Initiative ARC STRIKE Iron Patriot

Hasbro Iron Man 3 Patriot

 

 

Having already seen Iron Man 3, I was excited to get this Iron Patriot figure, ven if my son had no idea who it was. Don’t get me wrong, I love Iron Man but I also enjoy having a variety of different characters at my disposal. No lie, we had about 6 Iron Man’s after the last movie..

 

 

MARVEL IRON MAN 3 Avengers Initiative Assemblers Battle Vehicle

Hasbro Iron Man 3 Car

 

 

This turned out to be the big ticket item. I know this because my son’s eyes bugged out so much when he saw it that I almost got knocked over. The only thing cooler to a little boy than cars, are cars that shoot rockets out of them and this fits that bill.

 

 

For the most part I am kidding about stealing my son’s toys. He plays with them all the time and loves them more than most of the things I have purchased for him. The mask however…

Daddy Iron Man

Disclosure: I was provided these toys by Hasbro for review purposes. While my son did love the toys, I may underplayed how often I actually wear the Iron Man mask. It is addictive for adults and you should proceed with caution.

Thomas Cook Travel Introduces ‘Kids First’ Travel Program

Thomas Cook Kids First

Remember when you and your spouse went on that all inclusive vacation together right after you got married? Fun, right? I’ll bet it was easy to pick a location, too. Maybe you had a map of the Caribbean and a handful of darts because all that mattered was that you were together on a beach somewhere.

Flash forward nine or so months later and now you have a beautiful bundle of joy in your lives. Suddenly, family vacations are a little more complicated than simply lobbing a sharp pointed object at a map, throwing an overnight bag together and grabbing a couple standby tickets at the airport. Travelling with children takes lots of planning and research. You don’t want to get to a resort that claims to be “kid friendly”, only to get there and realize that what they meant to say was, “We have ice cream”.

Enter the Thomas Cook “Kids First” program. Thomas Cook Travel has created a unique Kid Reviewed, Parent Approved program that promises family vacations perfectly tailored to ensure a fun-filled, hassle free experience for the whole family. The Kids First program allows you to check out video reviews for your destination prior to departing to get tips on maximizing fun, straight from the kids who have experienced the destination themselves.

As part of your Kid Reviewed, Parent Approved vacation, your Thomas Cook Kids First package comes with up to $500 in added value.

• $50 Prepaid VISA Gift Card
• $25 Indigo Gift Card
• $25 Shoppers Drug Mart Gift Card
• FREE Seat Selection
• FREE Airport Lounge Pass
• FREE Kids First activity book
• 1 year subscription to Today’s Parent magazine
• Park ‘n Fly Savings

For a lot of families, a trip to a resort is not a yearly luxury. Take the uncertainty out of your next family vacation by booking your trip with the Thomas Cook Kids First program. While you’re there, don’t forget to shoot your own review video so you can Pay it Forward to the next family looking to book a trip.

For more information on booking a trip with the Thomas Cook Kids First program, you can call one of their travel specialists at 1-888-926-6582 or you can visit the Thomas Cook Kids First website HERE. You can also follow along with all the Thomas Cook Travel news and updates on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Final Thoughts on the Windows Phone 8 {#HolidaySwap}

Microsoft Windows Phone

It’s been just over a month since I traded my iPhone for the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone, in order to participate in Microsoft Canada’s “Holiday Swap” program. I’ve written about my first impressions and covered the social media apps, but now it’s time to break it all down for you.

Over the next 700 or so words, I will take you through all of the ups and downs I have found with the Windows phone and I will let you know if this could be the phone for me. There were so many features to play with, that it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s quickly go over the apps one more time and I’ll add a couple different ones from my original app review.

APPS:

I’m not going to beat a dead horse here. It’s no secret that the Twitter and Facebook apps on the Windows phone are not up to speed with what is expected from even the most casual user. When you add in that I am a heavy abuser of these applications on my phones, I was scrambling to find an alternative. Twitter and Facebook are both built into the O/S but I only found that useful for quick browsing and status updates.

Luckily there are options available for each. I tried a number of options for each and for my money, the best Twitter replacement was the Rowi app and I liked the Facebook Touch Pro app for my Facebooking needs. Both still had pros and cons but they were the most functional for my day to day needs. The option to try out apps before you buy them is a fantastic idea and one that should be implemented across all phone platforms.

Those two social networks are the ones I spend about 80% of my phone time on, so I weighed them more heavily against the rest. Speaking of the rest, here are some of the best I found on the Windows phone:

BaconIt – Excellent Reddit app.
Fhotoroom – Instagram alternative.
Nokia City Lens – This is an augmented reality GPS and was probably my favourite app.
Skype – The best Skype app I’ve seen yet.
Netflix – With the size and quality of the screen for the Nokia Lumia 920, Netflix was amazing for myself and the kids.

You might notice a lack of apps listed and that’s because of two things. First, one month isn’t a very long time to really get into anything too hard core, so I stuck to the ones I knew I would get the most use out of. Second, there is still a lack of developer interest, although it seems to be growing, so there isn’t as much to choose from in the marketplace as there is for some of Microsoft’s competitors. Based on my overall experience with the phone itself, I’m guessing there will be a lot more coming to the marketplace very soon.

KID’S CORNER

kids corner
 

One of my favourite features on the Windows 8 Phone was the addition of “Kid’s Corner”. This feature, which is easy to set up and launch, provides a completely separate area for all your children’s games and apps. The benefit is that it denies them access to everything in your phone except for the things downloaded specifically for them. Anyone who has ever had to replace 15 deleted apps or paid the accidental purchase bill will really appreciate this feature and it is accessed by swiping left or right directly off your lock screen.

A small warning however, that if you use free games or apps, the kids can still click on the ads that appear, so I’d recommend shelling out the $0.99 if it’s a keeper.

 

LIVE TILES

Live Tiles

I have to admit that I was skeptical about the Live Tiles at first. They looked kind of strange and definitely were not what I was used to. It only took about one day for me to warm up to the idea and after the first week, I loved the fact that I could customize my home page exactly how I wanted.

With Live Tiles, you can pin any of your apps to the home page (and even your lock screen) and then size the tiles however you see fit. Because I use Twitter, Facebook and Email the most, I had them as the largest tiles and placed them at the top of my page for easy access. I also enjoyed having all my favourites on one page, as opposed to having to scroll left to right and looking for specific groups of apps.

The other cool thing about the tiles is that they give you live updates of the apps, without your having to click on them. That way I can see who’s messaging me on Twitter, what appointments are in my calendar for that day or even what the weather is in Ottawa. It does tend to drain the battery life a little bit quicker but there are steps you can take to ease the strain on the phone, such as the Battery Saver feature. In the end, the Live Tiles feature is one that will definitely draw you into the phone and is very appealing to the eye.

CAMERA/VIDEO:

We’ve reached my favourite part of the experiment. For all the internet surfing and gaming I do on my phone, the most important quality for me is the ability to take excellent photo and video with it. In that regard, the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone did not let me down! With an 8.7 megapixel rear PureView camera with HD video, Carl Zeiss lens and amazing sound quality, I couldn’t stop taking pictures and video. I even started leaving my real camera at home in favour of using the Nokia 920. I was amazed at how crisp the sound was, from any distance, with the video camera and it was perfect for shooting some of the precious moments between my children.

There are also a number of great camera filters and apps available, such as:

Cinemagraph: This app is all about fun. Cinemagraph gives you the ability to take a still picture and then animating portions of it to create a fun .GIF file. I had hours of fun showing off this app to my friends and even more fun creating tons of them with my kids, who could never figure out why their legs were moving but their arms weren’t.

Smart Shoot: This is one of the most useful camera features on the phone. This app takes 5 quick shots in a row and then allows you to choose your favourite parts from each to create the perfect photo. Tired of losing great moments to a blinking eye or sudden toddler meltdown? Smart Shoot will make sure that never happens again!

Optical Image Stabilization: It’s hard to take video with one hand, which is what most of us are doing with our smart phones half the time. The optical image stabilization offered on the Lumia 920 helps to make your shaky videos easier on the eyes. It’s not perfect but it definitely made me look like a much better videographer than I really am.

Panorama: I love this app because it creates amazing panoramic shots by combining multiple pictures together. It’s very easy to use and I really liked the fact that it guided you from one picture to the next with easy to follow target circles.

My Comic: This one was for me and I had a lot of fun with it. You can choose from a number of different text boxes and turn your ordinary photos into fun comic strips. Yes, I am a nerd.
I have a limited sample size for smart phone cameras, as I have only ever owned as iPhone, but the upgrade in the quality of the pictures and video on the Lumia 920 really blew me away. I would considering switching phones based on those qualities alone.

CONS:

With all the good qualities that came along with the Windows Phone, there were also some things that I wasn’t too keen on. At the top of that list is the poor quality of the social media apps, which I have covered on a number of occasions already and won’t get into again. The bright side is that they can only get better and with more exposure, I’m sure they will.

Although I enjoyed that the phone had a larger screen, the sleek design and size, caused it to be very slippery in my hands and I dropped it on a number of occasions. The weight will also be an issue for some, as it was not the best for carrying in my pant pockets.

The lack of quality third party apps was also an issue for me. While I don’t mind trying out alternatives to my favourites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), they are never really the same to the original creation. My hope would be that developers will start to see the benefit to producing apps for the Windows phone and their Live Tiles and Live App features.

OTHER BITS & BYTES:

Microsoft has designed the Windows 8 Phone with the integrated ability to use its cloud service, SkyDrive. SkyDrive allows users to store their photos, documents and other files from the phone to a safe online storage. Admittedly, I didn’t have enough time with the phone to really dig into the SkyDrive feature but what I did see what definitely impressive.

I really enjoyed the XBOX Music pass and how easy it was to navigate through the store. There was a large selection of music to choose from and the ability to listen to songs before you buy will always be appreciated.

The Windows Phone has an incredible predictive text feature that gives you a list of words that it thinks you are going to type next. I realize that something like this sounds trivial but when you type as much as I do, it was a very welcome feature and shaved a bunch of time off my emails and blog notes. The best part is that it doesn’t auto correct everything to what it thinks you wanted and it’s completely out of the way of the keyboard so there are no accidents.

The Office tile is great for those of us who like to write and create while away from the house but don’t always want to bring a laptop. From here, you can create new MS Word and Excel documents right from your phone and then save them to SkyDrive for later use.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

As a social media addict, it’s not easy to hand over the thing you spend the most time with in your day to day operations. It took me a couple weeks to agree to the program and another week to warm up to the idea after the swap. What I noticed is that as I began to get more comfortable with the Windows 8 Phone’s layout, I stopped worrying about what was missing from my iPhone and focused more on what was available with this phone.

The standouts for me were definitely the camera/video quality and features, along with the Kid’s Corner option and Nokia City Lens app. Taking screen captures are a breeze and I like the position of the camera buttons. There were other features I would look forward to trying out further, such as SkyDrive and the creation of MS Office documents.

I was disappointed with the quality of the social media apps and the overall lack of apps available in the marketplace. If Microsoft wants to compete with the iPhone and Android markets, this is something they are going to have to focus their efforts on.

There were many other cool features that I didn’t get a chance to fully dive into during my stint with the Windows Phone, such as the ability to create private rooms for friends to connect in and the XBOX smart glass, but the items I did get to sample were enough for me to decide that I really like this phone. The biggest knock I have on the phone is the lack of available apps and that is something that can and hopefully will be rectified fairly swiftly.

This was a great experiment and one that took me way out of my comfort zone. If anything, it has taught me that there is never only one option out there and it doesn’t hurt to check out the full range of what is available. I’ll leave you with a sampling of what some of my Holiday Swap teammates had to say about their experiences with the Windows Phone. Thanks for reading!

Emma Waverman – How To Shield Your Kids From Your Potty Mouth Texts

Stacie Vaughan – Blogging With The Windows Phone

Shelagh Cummins – SkyDrive For The Windows Phone – Work On The Fly

Julia & Grace Rosien – Mother and Daughter Take On The Nokia Lumia 920

Ariane Griffiths – Navigate The City Like a Ninja With CityLens

Shannon Mischuk – Top 3 Favourites From The Windows 8 Phone

Cheers!

P.S. – Hey, did you notice I just did a giant review on a smartphone without actually talking about the phone portion of it?? I guess that’s the world we live in today. For the record, the feature that involves physically dialing a number and speaking to someone works just fine and I had absolutely no issues with it.

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.

Max & Ruby Visit Ottawa’s Centrepointe Theatre

M&R_bunnytales_11x17

I’d like to welcome my friend, Erin Blaskie, to the blog today. She kindly agreed to review the Max & Ruby show for me when my family came down with multiple pneumonia’s the day of the show. Here is her review of the show!

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A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending Max & Ruby’s in the Nutcracker Suite event at Centrepointe Theatre after winning a contest that Canadian Dad had on his site. The event was put on by Koba Entertainment and was inspired by Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite – one of the greatest musical scores ever.

My daughter Willow, who is two, absolutely adores Max & Ruby and I knew that she would LOVE to see them live. So, on Wednesday, December 18th, we drove over to Centrepointe and took our seats – one row back from the stage.

Max Ruby 1

Max Ruby 2

Max Ruby 3

The show was absolutely incredible. I went into it expecting to see the fuzzy characters of Max & Ruby as well as Grandma but I had no idea that there would be so much talent onstage. We were delighted with ballerinas and Spanish dancers and other worldly dancers. It was beautiful and went beyond my expectations!

Max Ruby 4

Willow loved the show as well. She danced and waved and shouted to Max and Ruby and every time that one of the two would leave the stage, she’d shout out for them to come back. It was really awesome to see her, and her cousin Taylor, take in the show the way that they did.

I would highly recommend this show, and future presentations by Koba Entertainment, to anyone with children. It was delightful and exceeded our expectations.

Thank you to Chris for giving us the opportunity to enter your contest and win – we had a fantastic time and will be something that is filed away into the memory box for some time to come.

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Erin

 

Erin is a work-at-home mom with a 20-month old daughter named Willow. She and her husband Steve have been married since 2005 and they live in the suburbs of Ottawa. Erin is the co-founder of Ottawa Valley Moms, a CHEO Moms & Dads blogger, a Kellogg’s blogger, a YouTube partner, the founder of a virtual assistance company and the founder of an online marketing firm. When she isn’t working she enjoys reading, couponing, going to the movies and gardening.

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.