Monthly Archives: August 2011

Social Media Matters: State in Germany makes Facebook “Like” button illegal

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Aug. 26, 2011
Metro section

State in Germany makes Facebook “Like” button illegal

Perhaps their privacy concerns are somewhat legitimate, but this is still rather silly and overblown in my books.

According to an Aug. 19 Associated Press report, Germany’s state of Schleswig-Holstein’s data protection commissioner, Thilo Weichert, has ordered state-run institutions to remove their Facebook pages and remove the “Like” button from their websites. According to the report, liking a Facebook page “leads to profiling that violates German and European law.”

Facebook says it’s in full compliance with European data protection laws, but concedes it can see the IP addresses of those who visit the website or who click on a “Like” button. Weichert, however, claims Facebook is violating “German and European data protection laws by passing content data to the social network’s servers in the U.S.”

Facebook says it deletes any data gathered within 90 days.

Weichert is also going one step further in his concerns regarding privacy by urging Internet users not to set up Facebook accounts and not to click on any “Like” buttons in order to avoid being profiled.

Weichert needs to realize that going online is a bit like walking down the street in broad daylight. Sometimes, people are just going to see you – and recognize you.

Buy your personal domain name

This is advice that I give everyone: If you rely on your name for business-related purposes (writer, entertainer, sales, etc.), it’s always a good idea to get your hands on the domain that matches your name.

For example, I own briancormier.com and briancormier.ca. Those are the natural URLs someone would try if they are looking for me. It also gives me a very easy-to-remember e-mail address – brian@briancormier.com.

Owning your own personal domain name is a necessity in today’s world. You can buy domain names from a number of services, including Namecheap (this is the service I personally use), 1and1 and GoDaddy, to name just a few.

Part of your personal branding should include owning your own domain name. Even if you never use it, you should at least control it.

It’s also very important to reserve your personal name on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter if you can. If you don’t do it, someone else will!

Removing yourself from Facebook group e-mails or multi-recipient messages

Recent changes to Facebook have good and bad news for users.

First, the bad. I despise the fact that others can automatically add you to a group without your permission. I’ve been added to groups by others and it drives me crazy. Sure, you’re alerted and can remove yourself, but people really should ask before adding you to a group without your permission.

It’s likely OK if you’re a member of an organization and that organization starts a group. For instance, I’m joining a local Rotary club and we have a new Facebook group. It would be reasonable for the group’s owner to add me without asking first. I have a natural affinity to the group. However, before adding someone to a political or advocacy group, it’s never a good idea to do so without asking the person’s permission first.

Also, it’s important to know that you can stop receiving endless e-mails and notifications from a group simply by clicking on the “Edit Settings” tab at the top of the group’s page. Choose the e-mail options and alerts that suit you best.

It’s also not a great idea to send out a Facebook message to multiple recipients because the many replies are automatically sent to everyone. There’s e-mail for that. To remove yourself from such a list, click on the “Actions” tab at the top of the message and choose “Leave conversation.” That will ensure you will stop receiving replies to a message you didn’t want or ask for in the first place. The ability to remove yourself from a conversation is a much-welcome new Facebook messaging feature!

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Each week, I feature three YouTube channels that you may want to check out. This week’s videos all deal with nail art – as in art painted (or sculpted) on your fingernails. (Who knew? I didn’t, but it’s very popular, apparently.) Please note that all subscriber numbers are approximate only.

Cute Polish (155,000 subscribers): This popular channel features nail art tutorials on how to paint unique designs on your fingernails. Most-viewed tutorial: Newspaper Nail Art (1.27 million views).

Cosmozoner (13,300 subscribers): Videos feature nail painting and 3D acrylic nail sculpting. DVDs are also available. Most-viewed tutorial: Nail Art by Liliya Sereditskaya (Breath of Spring) (942,000 views).

My Simple Little Pleasures (54,000 subscribers). Tutorials on nail art and water marbling by Colette. Most-viewed tutorial: Valentine’s Day Water Marble Nail Art Tutorial (3.03 million views).

Hump Day: Jack Layton earned respect from the nation

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

It seems like even those who don’t like politicians agree on one thing. If there was one politician they could tolerate – even like and respect – it was Jack Layton, the affable and feisty leader of the federal NDP who led the party to historic election results on May 2 and became leader of Canada’s official opposition.

On July 25, when he announced that he was stepping aside from the party leadership – temporarily, he said – to fight a recurrence of cancer not related to his previous battle with prostate cancer, he appeared gaunt and his voice weak.

An interim leader of the party was selected. Nycole Turmel would lead the party until Jack received treatment and returned in the fall – likely September. Hopefully, by then, he would be back to his old self. Even if you’d never voted for him, Canadian politics without Jack Layton seemed unimaginable.

After going public with his prostate cancer on February 5, Jack didn’t seem to waiver. He still seemed strong. He still appeared virile and energetic. He went through the election campaign like a trooper, all while using a cane after undergoing hip surgery.

Prostate cancer and hip surgery could not keep him down. After leading his party to 103 seats in the election, he seemed unstoppable. This was his chance to shine. Canadians had given him the opportunity he had always dreamed of having.

Then, on July 25, he appeared at that fateful surprise news conference. The Jack Layton of old – physically unstoppable, athletic and strong – appeared weak and terribly thin, his jaw line looking razor sharp due to recent weight loss.

While his spirit was undaunted, the physical toll this new cancer had taken on him was clearly undeniable. He did not announce what kind of cancer this second bout was. Some have speculated it was bone cancer or pancreatic cancer, the latter being infamous for often being brutal, unforgiving… and fatal.

In the weeks after July 25, not many updates were given on his condition. In fact, the first real news anyone heard about how he was doing came on Monday morning in a shocking announcement from his wife, fellow NDP MP Olivia Chow, and his two children.

“We deeply regret to inform you that the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 a.m. today, Monday, August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.”

When the news hit the media, it sent shockwaves throughout the country. News of Jack’s untimely death rocketed around the country through Facebook and Twitter. In fact, at one point on Monday afternoon, the term “RIP Jack Layton” was the second most popular trending topic on Twitter in the world.

It takes something pretty substantial to happen in Canada for it to trend internationally on Twitter. Other than Justin Bieber, the Canadian teen superstar who regularly trends on Twitter, it’s not often that a person or event from this country is mentioned so often on Twitter that the international community takes notice.

It’s a testament to the respect that Jack enjoyed from all Canadians that so many people were deeply touched by his death. Even for those who had not voted for him – and would never vote or him – many couldn’t help but feel a sense of sadness upon hearing that he’d lost his battle with cancer. If cancer could beat him, it could beat anyone.

He represented hope, guts, tenacity. We admired that in him. He was unshakable. He seemed like the type of man who would stand before Godzilla and crack his cane across the monster’s kneecap and tell him to get the heck out of town.

We expected him to take on government, big business, anyone who he perceived to be hurting or doing injustices to Canadians – for whatever reason. He was that type of man – a defender. He exuded hope and optimism. Many Canadians disillusioned with the political process looked up to him as a politician they could admire.

But with all that said, Jack’s latest Godzilla monster would not be deterred by a smack across the kneecap from his well-travelled cane. Cancer came a-callin’ – and this time it meant business. Despite the fact that cancer is a far cry from the death sentence it had been years ago, sometimes it’s just a sad fact that some don’t survive.

That’s the terrible thing about cancer. So many people live long and happy lives after being diagnosed. They are successfully treated and live happily ever after. Others just don’t make it. It’s one of the great mysteries of life.

Jack Layton died too young. He was only 61. At one time that was old. These days, it’s still practically a baby.

I don’t mind admitting that I teared up when I heard he died. I liked him. I admired his courage. I admired the way he stuck to his guns on matters of principle. Many people felt like he had their backs – even those who’d never vote for him.

Canada needed Jack Layton. We weren’t done with him yet. May he rest in peace.

New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association issues warning to pet owners

CaseyNEWS RELEASE

August 22, 2011
For immediate release

New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association issues warning to pet owners

FREDERICTON, N.B. — Permethrin is a common insecticide found in many over-the-counter flea and tick “spot on” products. While dogs generally tolerate it, it is poisonous to cats.

Signs of permethrin intoxication include excessive drooling, weakness, staggering, convulsions and, possibly, death. It is very important to pay attention to warnings on the product labels and packaging. If you accidentally put permethrin on a cat, wash the animal immediately and thoroughly with a mild, non-insecticidal shampoo and contact your veterinarian.

Cats can be accidentally poisoned if they groom a dog on which permethrin has been freshly applied. It is therefore important to separate cats from permethrin-treated dogs in the household.

-30-

Media contacts:

Dr. Mary-Ellen Themens
506-684-4994, 506-684-0723

Dr. Ali Crandlemire
506-261-1475

Social Media Matters: Facebook’s own fan page is tops… on Facebook

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Aug. 19, 2011
Metro section

Facebook’s own fan page is tops… on Facebook

The world now has a new champion when it comes to the most popular Facebook page. Until recently, Texas Hold’em Poker had the most popular page but was recently overtaken by… drum roll… Facebook itself!

As of August 15, here were the top 10 most popular Facebook pages based on “likes:” 1. Facebook (50.4 million); 2) Texas Hold’em Poker (48.4 million); 3) Eminem (45.2 million); 4) YouTube (43.4 million); 5) Rihanna (43.3 million and growing fast!); 6) Lady Gaga (42.3 million); 7) Michael Jackson (39.5 million); 8 ) Shakira (38.9 million); 9) Family Guy (36.2 million); and 10) Justin Bieber (34.7 million).

Top Twitter accounts

As of August 15, the Top 10 Twitter accounts were: 1) Lady Gaga (@ladygaga – 12.6 million followers); 2) Justin Bieber (@justinbieber – 11.9 million); 3) Barack Obama (@BarackObama – 9.7 million); 4) Katy Perry (@katyperry – 9.2 million); 5) Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian – 9 million); 6) Britney Spears (@britneyspears – 9 million); 7) Shakira (@shakira – 7.6 million); 8 ) Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13 – 7.5 million); 9) Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk – 7.4 million); 10) Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow – 7.3 million).

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Each week, I feature three YouTube channels that you may want to check out.

Gary Vaynerchuk (1,250 subscribers): Gary is a wine and social media marketing expert who has also written a famous book on capitalizing on the synergistic nature of the Internet to market yourself – Crush It! While his official YouTube channel may not have tons of subscribers, he has nearly 900,000 followers on Twitter (@garyvee).

The Retro Cafe (1,500 subscribers): This is a great channel that features clips of 1960s and 1970s variety shows such as Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Hee Haw and The Dean Martin Show, among others. Lots of great retro memories to be found here!

EZ Gluten Free (95 subscribers): This is a gluten-free recipe channel run by a lady named Anne. Because of its niche market, I’m surprised it doesn’t have more subscribers. Gluten-free recipes are big hits on YouTube! If you avoid gluten, check out some of the recipe videos here.

Facebook starts posting old updates

Have you noticed that Facebook has started posting updates made on the same date one or two years ago in the top right-corner of your newsfeed? These remind you of some of the updates you made a year or two ago.

While this may bring back good memories for some, it can also remind you of some horrible past experiences if you weren’t in a good place a year ago, were experiencing a relationship breakup or the death of someone close to you. I’m not sure how I feel about using that valuable real estate area on a page to show you updates you made a couple of years ago. I’m not sure I see the point of these “Today in History” type of reminders.

Again, this seems a bit like Facebook’s ongoing infamous tinkering just for the sake of tinkering.

Fake or real celebrity Twitter account?

To tell whether the celebrity Twitter account you’ve landed on is real or not, simply look for the blue checkmark next to the account name on their main Twitter profile page. If you see a blue checkmark, that means they’ve been officially verified and authenticated as the person they profess to be.

If you land on a celebrity’s supposed official Twitter profile page and you don’t see the blue checkmark next to their name, it’s most likely fake, an imposter or a parody account. Don’t give it any credibility by following it unless you understand and accept that it’s not the real celebrity and you simply want to keep track of what’s being said.

For an example of the blue checkmark, go to www.twitter.com/ladygaga You’ll see the checkmark next to her name. That means it’s really her account.

Rapper in trouble over Twitter prank

Rapper The Game (real name Charles Louboutin) is in trouble over a prank he allegedly pulled on his Twitter account. Last Friday, a tweet posted to his official Twitter account announced that an internship opportunity (presumably with him) was available and gave a telephone number to call if a candidate wanted to apply.

However, there was no internship and the number given was to the Compton (California) Sheriff’s Department, resulting in a flood of calls that police officials say compromised public safety because they were sidetracked by taking calls related to the prank instead of calls related to real emergencies.

The Game has more than 586,000 followers on Twitter, so even if a small percentage of them took the tweet seriously, it would easily overload telephone lines.

The Compton Sheriff Department’s Captain Mark Parker told the Associated Press: “Public safety was absolutely compromised. We were delayed in responding to calls.” Charges against The Game are possible. Meanwhile, he’s defending himself by claiming that his account had been hacked.

Hump Day: When it comes to pet care, it doesn’t pay to save

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to try and save some money. In fact, going “cheap” on some things can do more harm than good.

Last week, I bought some flea prevention treatment for my dog Milane at a local pet store. Milane’s a little white dog who’s just as happy being carried in your arms as she is running and playing outside. She’s pretty easy-going – although she’s developed a nasty habit of doing her business on my mother’s kitchen floor. Clean as a whistle at home, but the minute she steps on my mother’s floor, she squats.

I’ll leave that story, however, for another very special episode of The Usually Perfect Little White Dog Diaries.

This week’s episode deals with the aftermath of using a cheap flea treatment that nearly burned her entire head off. OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating a tad – not that I’d ever do that.

Normally, I’m Captain ‘Buy Everything from the Vet.’ I get my pet food there. The dog and two cats get annual checkups. If they need tests or special treatment, I don’t hesitate to spring for them. Better to pay for a bit of precaution rather than the expensive aftermath. Like people, taking care of a medical situation early on for a pet is a lot cheaper and less hassle than waiting for it to get out of control.

Milane doesn’t have fleas, but I decided to treat her as a precautionary measure. She plays outside when we go for walks, so doesn’t hang around outside too long. The risk of exposure is not extreme, but animals get fleas from time to time. It’s just part of being an animal. And with two cats at home, too, having all three being munched on by the pests would be unbearable for everyone.

Anyway, for some reason, I decided that the cheap flea prevention from a pet store would be a suitable treatment for Milane. In fairness, not all dogs would react badly to it, but vet’s product is of higher quality and certainly safer – at least in my experience.

There are many treatments out there, but the one I chose was the packet of gel that is placed on the back of the dog’s neck and rubbed into the skin. Do that for three or four months in a row and fleas don’t stand a chance.

I gave the treatment to Milane at about 5:30 p.m. By 8 p.m., I noticed her scratching the area. Lo and behold, the back of her neck looked like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s famous honker. While perhaps useful for leading Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve, it wasn’t good news for this little white dog. Besides, she can’t fly.

I called the vet and had the emergency service call me back. They told me to give her a bath and wash off the gel. So, I threw (not literally, mind you) Milane in the tub, got out the Palmolive dish soap and gave her a good scrubbing. Finally, when she looked like a white wet rat (try to say that 10 times fast!), it was time to dry her off.

It seemed the crisis was averted and I didn’t think much more about it. The next day, the skin was no longer red. Phew! The day after that, however, the red skin was back and she had scratched it raw and the fur had fallen out. Let’s just say that she wouldn’t be posing for Playboy anytime soon with that big sore on her the back of her neck. I put on some antibiotic cream and made an appointment with the vet.

Finally, a $90 vet visit later and more money spent on various other treatment requirements (bandages, etc.), the “cheap” flea treatment I decided to buy ended up costing me a small fortune in undesirable consequences – not to mention Milane’s nude modeling career being put on hold.

To stop her from scratching the sore, on the advice of some resourceful pet store employees, I bought a small light raincoat for her to wear which would stop her from scratching the area. It works like a charm and everything is healing well, but I’m now ‘that’ person who dresses up his dog for walks. And if there’s something I can’t stand are clothes on dogs. They have fur . . . that’s more than enough, at least for Milane.

So, now I’m walking her around the neighbourhood on a hot sunny day (what few we’ve had) with her wearing a pink raincoat. I look like a nutcase – more than usual, I mean. I end up explaining to everyone, “It’s for a medical condition!” and then show them her sore neck just to make certain they don’t think I’m some eccentric creep who dresses up his dog in the middle of summer.

I don’t know what came over me when I decided to go cheap. I’ve always regretted doing that – especially when it comes to pets. Cheap food doesn’t sit well with them and makes them gain too much weight. Cheap toys fall apart. Cheap treats make them sick. I don’t skip vet appointments. I have everything checked out. I like to think I’m a responsible pet owner.

And then I go and do something like that. Makes me angry, quite frankly! I should have known better.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to go cheap if you can help it. The difference in price between the ‘bad stuff’ and the ‘good stuff’ wasn’t enough to go through all this grief, and I’ve certainly learned my lesson. The moral of the story: when it comes to your pets, rely on a vet’s advice and products if you can. Going cheap doesn’t always pan out.