Posts Tagged ‘calgary’

Screenshot of Brownie Points from the App Store

Screenshot of Brownie Points from the App Store

As much as I love my local coffee shops, it’s beyond me to ever remember to bring my loyalty cards along. Or if I do, either myself or the cashier forgets to ask to get it punched or stamped.

Today, I popped into Caffe Rosso on 11th in Calgary to find a new screen sitting in front of the register. It said “Brownie Points” at the top. Turns out they’ve just launched their Brownie Points program today. You can either grab a card or download the app. Either gives you your own QR code (finally a useful use of QR codes!). You scan the QR code through the little camera on the screen, it brings up your account and records your purchase.

Easy peazy!

And… I was their first Brownie Points customer :). That should earn me some extra brownie points!

The app is free to download and available in the app store. Currently, it looks like it’s only available for iPhone and iPad. Good thing you can still grab a card with your own QR code if you’re not an Apple user!

As of today, Caffe Rosso is the only Calgary business using the app.

Brownie Points is a Canadian company located out of St John’s, NL. Check them out at

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Brownie Points other than having just downloaded the app and used it in my favourite coffee shop. I also have no affiliation with my favourite coffee shop other than the fact that I love their coffee (and breakfast sandwiches and gigantic chocolate oatmeal cookies) and can often be seen in the window typing away at my laptop.

Original iPhone + iPhone 3G + iPhone 4

Original iPhone + iPhone 3G + iPhone 4 (Photo credit: Yutaka Tsutano)

Apple picking. It’s not just with that tree in your backyard anymore.

I was at the gym last night peddling away on one of the recumbents when a news story about a new trend in iPhone stealing popped on the screen. It’s one that’s gaining traction in the US. Has it happened here yet? Not sure, but it could.

Apple Picking. As in, mugging you for your phone while you’re on it. The report said women were often the target. The older, the better. We’re often unaware of our surroundings when we’re lost in conversation or in text. Stolen iPhones can be sold for as much as $300 according to a nameless and faceless source during the story.

A few tips for keeping your phone in your hands:

  1.  Put it away. We’ve survived plenty fine in the world before cell phones. Save your texting and you’re talking for a time when you’re out of that big open public space.
  2. Get yourself a hands free, wireless set. Then you can continue on your merry way with smart phone in a zipped up pocket somewhere and still have your conversation.
  3. Don’t keep your phone on the table at a restaurant. Another easy walk-n-snatch opportunity. Take that photo of your food and then… put it away. Your dining companion is sure to thank you too. If you’re on call, set it to vibrate and keep it in your lap.
  4. Have a backup and don’t store important information or access to it on your primary phone.

Taking photos from your iPhone or iPad, talking, texting… what are other day-to-day behaviours that would make it easy for a thief to make off with our gadgets?


There’s a common misconception that social media is a cheap or free way to get your message out there. Many of us thought that at first. After all, there aren’t many barriers to its use, most platforms and apps at least have a free version available. When you come from a land where the monetary bottom line counts the most, sure, the use of online social tools might look like your free ticket to even more eyeballs. Except… they’re not.

When I lived in corporate Calgary land as the Electronic Communications Advisor at ATCO, we ran a contest for the 2010 Olympics. It was also our first opportunity to play around with social media. We had a Facebook page, I got the Twitter account up and running and we signed up for some listening tools with Radian6. We didn’t have much lead up time to building our audience before we launched the contest. And guess what? The social media bits were a flop. Sure, it felt warm and fuzzy to be able to post about all of the kids we were sending to Vancouver for a day, but what did it really do in terms of contest submissions and at connecting with a larger audience? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

In a larger context, it was a huge success. It was the first toe dip in the online social water for a major Calgary company. And overall, the response from those we did connect with was positive. Having Radian6 in place during the campaign helped me garner a lot of the data I needed to show our management team the types of conversations that were happening online directly related to our brand. Not our competitors, not some other company, but US. Yes, in this context, big success. But… do you know the hours and the fight I put in over the years to get that in place? And during the campaign, all of the time setting up the profiles and condensing the information into something they’d understand? I’d look at tag clouds, rivers of information, growing keywords and I could see the trends and get a decent picture of what was going on. But then again, I lived it, ate it and breathed it. If it’s going to be of any use at all, you have to.

Social media is NOT cheap. And it’s not low-budget either. It works in two scenarios. You either need the dollars to buy someone’s time to invest in listening or you need your own time to invest. And depending on who you are or what your organization is, it might not be the right fit for you. Do the evaluation. Make the smart choice on whether your time is better spent navigating this world and ensuring all of your current processes are running as efficiently as possible, or if it’s time to amplify your message. You might have bigger fish to fry first.

Remember. You first. Your health and well-being. Then that of your company/nonprofit/organization, this includes the employees, volunteers, customers and so on. If you’re all good in the offline world, move forward into the online world. But never, ever, ever to the detriment of your day-to-day operations. The internet amplifies. And if you’ve got problems, it makes them worse (Note: There are scenarios where we’re forced into online conversations in a time of crisis, but that’s the exception to this post). Or if things are coming along swimmingly, more will come your way. That’s just how it works. And you’ll still need a plan and a team and resources in place. Real resources. Time and money to ensure things continue to go well and you’ve got the support you require to handle the growth.

So, not free. Not low-budget. And definitely not to be taken with a grain of salt.

So… did you read my last rant post? Yeah, a mere two minutes after publishing, what should I check? Facebook. And what should I find? A tag pointing me toward my friend Reg’s post about his first ever podcast that has no name yet with Lonnie Taylor. And… it’s really interesting.

*foot in mouth*

At least I’ll admit it. :p

Now… go listen to it (and not just because they talk about me in it.)

Friday, 4:24pm. All day the only thing on my mind was how much I didn’t want to go anywhere on a rainy day like this one. Then, as if by magic, the clouds parted as I saw a tweet from Mark Hopkins about Audio Mob YYC 2. What’s a girl to do? Follow the signs. Audio Mob it was!

You don’t find me participating in many flash mobs in Calgary. Honestly, I find most of them to be a little cheesy… or promotey. Either way, most of them miss the point of the flash mob in the first place – random, silly fun with no ulterior motive. Well, unless the ulterior motive is learning a bit more about the city you live in.

Audio Mob YYC does just this. Exactly one week before the event opened, an mp3 file was made available on the website. If you can figure out how to download a link and load it onto your iPod or mp3 player, those are the only tech skills you need to participate. I just happened to download mine at 4:25pm. It took a few minutes, but a quick sync of my iPhone and I was on my way!

We met in the Courthouse Park at the intersection of 4th St SW and 6th Ave SW. Recognizable by our blue, red or yellow shirts and a smattering of balloons, we waited for our clocks to strike 5:00pm and for the mob to begin. Described as “one part flash mob, one part decentralized dance party, and one part Simon Says,” it ends up being a hilarious way to spend the better part of an hour.

Audio Mob YYC 2 – The headphones strike back!

This year, we made a human bullseye, argued loudly like lawyers about whose colour shirt was superior, danced down Stephen Avenue, stared at patio patrons like they were zoo animals (because “patios are for people watching, right?”), chased cookie monster and his two friendly cookies and even had a Mexican standoff. We even learned a few points about the businesses and buildings along the way. Like:

  • There are 6 different natural land forms found in the Calgary Courthouse Park that are native to Alberta.
  • The first original courthouse was built in 1888.
  • Stephen Ave is named after the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, George Stephen.
  • Most of the original wood buildings along Stephen Ave burnt down in the Calgary fire of 1886. They were built from sandstone after that to stop them from burning down again.
  • Flames Central is the last surviving example of a palace-style cinema in Western Canada.
  • And, a fact you should all be well aware of by now, that Calgary is the 2012 Cultural Capital of Canada.

See you next year at Audio Mob YYC 3! Or if y’all come up with an interesting mob idea of your own… let me know!