Canadian Cancer Society urges smokers to “Break It Off”

Everyone knows someone who’s a smoker, has tried to quit, or who has successfully kicked the habit.

I’m not a smoker, and outside of my parents (who quit smoking a few years ago) I don’t preach to others that they should quit – it’s ultimately a personal choice. For those looking to quit though, Break It Off with Smokingthe “Break It Off” campaign recently launched by the Canadian Cancer Society looks like a great resource. It offers help for people at each stage of the quitting process, including a a combination of 13 different methods to quit, because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

They’ve also included a cool initiative to help make the whole break up a bit more social. Called the “World’s Biggest Breakup“, it allows anybody to upload a video of themselves breaking it off with smoking; even non-smokers can show support. I’m not big on making videos, but I can see how this may help people share in the experience together. As of publication there are four journal postings – I expect that number will grow quite a bit as people find out more about the initiative.World's Biggest Breakup

Available on both iPhone and Android devices, the app seems friendly enough to use. Similar to the site, it offers tips on quitting but also lets users track his or her progress and share milestones on Facebook. My favourite feature is the ability to see how much money can be saved from quitting. I’m sure other than health reasons, the ridiculous cost is probably why many decide to quit in the first place – I know it’s one of the big reasons I never started.

As with quitting anything, the willpower must be there. If a person isn’t really willing to give it up, no number of websites, Youtube videos or apps will help them get there. For those who are willing, this looks worth checking out.

Tim Thomas sits out team visit to White House

Boston Bruins visit President ObamaI like Tim Thomas. He’s a passionate hockey player and has proven that he can lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship. I also like that we North Americans live in a society where we can (generally) have control of our own life and have the opportunity to choose whether we want to participate in an event or not.

When I read the article on Thomas choosing to not attend the photo op with the President due to his personal “opinions and political beliefs” according to team president Cam Neely, I first thought he was being petty. Why wouldn’t he show up to a non-partisan photo op? Each winning team in the major sports leagues does it, and on a smaller scale he’s creating a distraction that I’m sure his team could do without.

Looking online, fans on Thomas’s and the Boston Bruins‘ Facebook pages passionately share congrats with him or anger at his actions. Based on those updates, the boycott has polarized his fan base to the extreme. One such fan, an American living in Finland, wrote an open letter to Thomas about his actions. Here’s a paragraph that stood out:

“Today, i lost respect for you as a person. It’s not because we have different political views, because you have a right to your opinion, but because you couldn’t find it in yourself to be the bigger man and say “thank you” to someone you disagree with when all theyw ere tyring to do was a nice thing. It makes me question how you’d treat a fan, like me, if I wanted you’re autograph and I was wearing an Obama t-shirt.” [SIC]

As people formed their opinions about him, Thomas remained mum on the reason why he declined the offer. That is until about 6pm when he chose to explain himself via his Facebook page, well after the word started spreading. Here’s what he had to say:

Tim Thomas Facebook

As you can see, Thomas noted the boycott wasn’t based on politics or party, but as a criticism of the way government operates and treats Americans, as a whole. I have to admit I didn’t expect that, and was conflicted.

The vibe I get from his update is reminiscent of the ‘Occupy movement’, which I fully stand behind. Like many others, I was going on the angle that he was opposed to Obama’s administration, which he’s entitled to, but it also seemed like a petty reason to not attend the simple event. Even though I now understand why, I still feel he could have made the effort to show up for his team. There’s more he could do to protest government, with the platform he has.

One of the reasons I waited to post this is that I wanted to see what he had to say. I think he should have come out with his reasoning immediately because the speculative comments have tarnished the day for his teammates and himself. There were many terrible comments directed his way, but TSN’s Dave Hodge tweeted this libelous gem stood out the most because he basically calls Thomas a racist:

Twitter Dave HodgeIt’s a clear example of why you should hold off on your commentary until you have the facts, and in this case, Hodge should know better and not have tweeted that garbage at any time. A search for @TSNDaveHodge name on Twitter at least shows many are giving it to him good; let’s hope he apologizes to Thomas and his family.

As for Thomas, since it wasn’t a mandatory team event, he likely won’t be suspended for his actions, but I wonder if this will impact the way his teammates think of him? How did you feel about Tim Thomas’s decision to not show up at the White House, and once you knew why, did your opinion change?

Say hello to the new Facebook Timeline

Facebook Timeline

Yesterday at f8, Facebook announced its newest feature: the Timeline, which along with other features will come out on September 30. Through a workaround posted on Business Insider I became a “developer”and therefore can now have access to said Timeline. I’ve only had it for a short time but here are my early thoughts on the big changes:

Cover Photo: Kind of like many of my blog posts, Facebook now features a large photo at the top of each profile. The focus is no longer on your profile picture, but on whatever image you choose to post at the top. I like this a lot because it lets you showcase some personality, which had mostly been left to your status updates/posts.

Timeline: Ah yes, the Timeline itself. The first thing I did when I activated the new profile was head to the bottom of my profile. In the timeline I can see when I was born, graduated high school, joined Facebook (November 29, 2006) and all the major events/albums from then until now.

One of the presenters yesterday made a great analogy to a scrapbook. He was selling us on the emotional connection with Facebook and it made sense. We’ve “collected” all of these events over the years, but unless we’re scrolling down or getting lost in past photo albums, we’d probably never interact with them again. Over the past while, Facebook has been conditioning us to hop on board by showing photos or status updates from years past to the right of our newsfeeds and now I understand where they were going with it.

My one issue right now is when I post something new I want it to be the most visible thing on my page. So, if I click the option to “feature it on my timeline” and make it bigger, would it then be considered an important piece of my life in three years, when all I wanted to do was get more eyes on an interesting news story? Or, will Facebook be able to determine what’s important and what’s not, based on something I’m not yet aware of?

Ticker and Chat: With the new update, ticker and chat (far right) look a lot cleaner and useable. I can conceivably see myself spending time on my own profile just looking at the ticker for updates if I so chose to do so. Chat isn’t as clunky and can also be adjusted in size with the ticker so it doesn’t take up the entire right side of the screen.

One early con: The thing I can see people complaining about is the over-crowded feel of the new profile. Sure you get a lot more personality, but there’s just so much going on, which is the opposite of the Facebook we all know.

What are your early thoughts on the new profile?

iOS 5 is nearly here

iOS 5

Today Apple announced the launch of iOS 5, the new operating system for its devices, at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Many Apple fanboys and girls are going crazy over the iCloud announcement that lets you basically do everything over the air (OTA); for me it’s not that mind blowing, but I may come around. What I did like was many of the new functions that the OS offers me, the regular iPhone user. Here are the ones that stand out to me the most:

iMessage: This addition is clearly competing with BBM and the many apps out there on iTunes already. Without using your valuable text messages, you can now text, send phones/videos, locations and contact info to anyone using iOS 5. I’d like to see how many more people make the switch to the iPhone after this because the majority of people I know are with Blackberry only for BBM or the keyboard.

Notification Centre: Making great use of the lock screen, you can now view all pending notifications just with a quick glance. To access an individual one, like a text for example, just swipe it and you can compose a message. This also solves an annoyance of mine by sending you non-intrusive notification when someone messages (and calls, I presume) and you’re playing a game – I hate being interrupted.

New Camera functionality: There have been many times where I wanted to take a picture, but have missed the opportunity because I had to wait for the camera to load. Another way Apple is taking advantage of the lock screen is by letting you take photos with the volume + button. Also eliminating the need for many apps, you can now edit the photos as you take them, and…

Twitter everywhere: You can send those photos links, videos and maps direct from your phone. As a heavy Twitter user this is great!

That’s the majority of the updates, but you can also watch the video below (for those without Quicktime) or visit Apple to see the rest of the specs.

Thanks to pspfano for posting the video to Youtube.

Intern gone wild @MarcJacobsIntl

The latest corporate Twitter account to suffer from an employee not using their brain is Marc Jacobs (@MarcJacobsIntl). It appears an intern with the company (I’m sure the name will soon be revealed) took over the account – presumably it was his or her responsibility to update it – and posted a few not-so-positive tweets about the company:

This situation breeds the question, should an intern be responsible for managing a corporate social media account or should it be the responsibility of a permanent employee? In this case I am of the opinion that anyone – intern, employee or agency – can do harm to an account. Having a blanket policy like that would not solve a potential PR disaster like this one. These issues, while public when they happen, don’t happen that often in the grand scheme of things. What is most important for organizations, is to learn how to manage the after effect and repair the brand’s image, when they do happen.

I’m interested to see how the Marc Jacobs handles this, because unlike the mistakes that happened with Red Cross and Chrysler, this example is a blatant hijacking of the Twitter account. Either way I’m sure this is going to be a fun Friday for the communications team.

Thanks to @ChrissyChrzan for the title inspiration.
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