Thursday, January 27, 2011

NovaFamous: Google’s Counsel

We’ve decided to dedicate a section of the blog to Nova Scotian born or raised individuals who are leaving there marks in this big wide world. I bet you thought we’d start off with the Golden Boy, aka Sidney Crosby. Well, we’re not....but we still love Crosby (Go Pens!).

We actually decided to begin with an individual we didn’t even know existed until we came across an event for Digital Nova Scotia in which he will be speaking at here in Halifax. We discovered that one of Google’s own VPs (the people who make this blog possible) is a Nova Scotian.

Don Harrison is his name. His official title is something like Deputy General Counsel at Google (assuming this has something to do with law) and he does something with Google Venture (whatever that is). His profile states he’s one of Google’s lead negotiators. Other than he has graduated from Dalhousie, worked in a Toronto Law firm and looks kind of pasty in his photo to be living in California, we don’t really know that much about him. A Google search didn’t bring up much about him other than he writes for their Public Policy Blog and that’s about it. Hopefully the papers will cover more of his life story the closer we get to the Digital Nova Scotia event because I for one am intrigued and excited to learn that someone in Google is a Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Scotland’s Favorite Son, The Bard!

Happy Robbie Burns Day! Today those of us from Scottish Heritage will be having a toast to Scotland’s favorite son for on this day in 1759 was born on to us the famous poet and lyricist. It’s also a day for Nova Scotians to raise a glass and celebrate Scottish traditions.

Haggis anyone? No, I’ll pass but I’ll take a shot of that single malt whisky!

Though you might not know it, you probably know one of his songs by heart and sing it to ring in each new year. That’s right, his most famous work is Auld Lang Syne. In Halifax, he is immortalized in a statue in Victoria Park that sits directly across the Public Garden. There is also a Robbie Burns Club and various establishments around the province hold celebrations around Robbie Burns Day. The Hart & Thistle’s is this coming Saturday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


If you've noticed the hashtag #podcamphfx on twitter trending today in Canada and you have absolutely no idea why, it’s because there was a convention-type gathering of the social media nerds here in Halifax today for the third annual Podcamp Halifax . It’s held at Alderney Landing with the help of the library and its goal is to bring together ALL types of social media users in the city of Halifax to participate in what they like to call “Unconference style” sessions. Literally, podcamp is for anyone who has any interest in social media. It’s a great way to network and connect in physical form with the individuals you connect with online every day, and share your knowledge base while also building your community base. So being relatively new to this blogging world and wanting to learn more on how to better our blog, we decided to sign up.

Now, I am going to make a confession here: I’m cynical by nature and my worst feature is that not only do I expect a lot from myself, but I expect a lot from others. I had a high expectation for Podcamp because I heard so much about it from others via my friends and my twitter pals and I am happy to say that it surpassed every expectation that I had. It was PHE-NOM-E-NAL!! It was just awesome to be around so many people who were addicted to twitter just like me, it was sooo....Liberating!! It was a space were you could check your Blackberry or iPhone every 2 minutes and no one gave you the stink eye.

However, I do believe I was somewhat unprepared for the event and its sessions. Since the podcamp is for all users, they have sessions that range from a broad spectrum of...hmm... how would I say this?... of connoisseurs of social media. Some from the basic level of “I have a facebook account” to the “I can recite html code off the top of my head and I do it for fun”.  I loved all the sessions that I attended but... I loved some more than others. It really didn’t have anything to do with the presenters themselves because they were all awesome, interesting and entertaining. It has more to do with content and the audience they were geared for. I didn’t find the descriptions of the sessions on the website particularly helpful since it just made me want to attend all of them. I kind of wish they were rated by skill level; it would have made it a tad bit easier to decide since I’m not a beginner or an intermediate when it comes to social media. A good rule of thumb I discovered is that any session was held at the Alderney Landing Theatre was probably a more advanced level session.

Just for fun, I’m going to rate the sessions I attended today based on the Star Wars Analogy rating systems tend to I use in real life.

1st Session: Augmented Reality – The New Social Media by John Leahy.              
My Rating: Jedi Council. Blew my mind! I almost wanted to go home right there and then and research all the augmented reality products he showed. I believe he was the Yoda, Jedi Master of podcamp. You really had to be up with all the latest technology to really comprehend the extent of the amazingness of the products he’s way talking about. He also let us know that outside of Silicon Valley, Halifax has the largest number of Augmented Reality code writers in the World.

2nd Session: Using Coffee and Oatmeal to build an audience on Twitter – Chris Campbell.
My Rating: Jedi Training. He was a great presenter, funny and interesting
but he didn’t go into great technological details. In all fairness, building an audience on twitter isn’t really rocket science. His message, just be yourself and share your personality with others online.

3rd Session: Social Media Usage in Atlantic Canada – Giles Crouch.                                       
My Rating: The Senate. Yet another incredible presentation. This was an information session on trends of social media in Atlantic Canada with lots of great and interesting eye opening statistics. It was an information sessions on who and what is dominating the social media sphere and where the trends are headed. Pretty incredible stats including that of the 2.8 million Atlantic Canadians, 1.7 of us frequent users of social media.

4th Session: Panel Discussion guided by twitter questions from live stream of #podcamphalifax.
My Rating: The Republic. This was a hashing out sessions of all things social media and the questions that arise from its unchartered world. It was the meeting of the minds of the Empire.

5th Session: Oops We Started a Blog – 3 local Halifamous and beyond Bloggers.            
My Rating: Jedi Training. These local bloggers were hilarious and entertaining which shouldn’t surprise you hence the success of their blogs. This was the only session in which I thought it would go into detail about bigger problems that people who already have a blog face but it was more geared towards people who were flirting with the idea of starting a blog. Good information about the mistakes they made while starting their blog but just not what I was looking for.

Wow! This post is longer that I thought it was going to be. All in all, I had an awesome day at podcamp even though I feel like a bit of a nerd telling people I went to Podcamp. If you get a chance to check it out next year, you should jump at the opportunity. It’s free and the people who attend are genuinely interested in social media. I wish there were more sessions on building a blog but hey, it’s all volunteer based and you can tell they put in a lot of time preparing for this event. My hat is off to the organizers of Podcamp Halifax.  They did an incredible job! Can’t wait for next year!!!

Here’s a video demo of Augmented Reality that Yoda.. aka.. John Leaky used in his presentation.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

East Coast Music Awards Nominations!

Yes. It’s that time of year folks, award season! Though we may be far away from the city of angels, here in Halifax, aka Haliwood, we have our own set of nominations that have just been released. That’s right- nominations for the East Coast Music Awards are OUT! I’m not sure WHY since the ECMAs are only in April. They haven’t even announced the Oscar nominations for Feb yet but hey, I guess they need time... to... to... Le sigh! Yeah I got nothing. It perplexes me to why they announce the nominees so freaking early. None the less, I am super excited that The Trews are nominated for four awards this year including Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the Year ...even though they didn’t release an album. AND who could forget Haliwood favourites The Stanfields who are up for four nominations too, as well as Wintersleep and Slowcoaster! Nova Scotia’s music FTW! We’re all proud of ya! Click here for the complete list. We’ll have more to come on some of the artists. Congrats and good luck to all the nominees.

In case you missed it, Wintersleep were on Letterman on Jan 14th and preformed their single “Weighty Ghost” so here it is below...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nova Scotia at The Golden Globes!

If you didn’t know already, five, that’s right FIVE businesses from Nova Scotia were representing at The Golden Globes gifting suite this past week. From Yarmouth to Sydney, Nova Scotians seem to be hitting the big time in LA. Yay! We’re super pumped for them! If you don’t know who these fab five are then I suggest you become familiar because I have a feeling you’re going to be hearing a lot more about them in the near future. Here’s our very basic rundown on the five businesses that have had their MADE IN NOVA SCOTIA products on display.
Turbine is a fashion label established in 1997 by designer and owner Lisa Drager-Murphy in Calgary. She moved to Nova Scotia to change her pace of life.  She now works out of her studio/ CafĂ© in Falmouth, Nova Scotia and has also opened a boutique in Bishop’s Landing in Downtown Halifax by the same name. Her collection consists of a ready-to-wear clothing, hand bags, jewellery and cosmetics. She specializes in using vintage fabrics in her designs and has attracted much attention from various media outlets. Turbine has an active tumblr  account on which they keep their diehard fans up-to-date on the happenings in LA. Their biggest hit so far seems to be a dress she calls an Upside-Down dress which celebrities such as Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Lorraine Bracco from The Sopranos and Cosmo Magazine have all picked up at the gifting suites. She is the only Canadian Designer invited to attend the gifting suites at the Golden Globes. They’ve also been featured on Nova Scotia Comes to Life Video in which she describes why she chose Nova Scotia over Calgary

I call them the handbag twins from Cape Breton. Michelle Newcombe and Monique Delisle are twin sisters from Sydney, Cape Breton whose handbags are making a huge splash with their distinctive patterns and style. I must admit... I’m in love and I want one. If you’re a handbag lover then you need to check them out online. They also have been vloging from the Golden Globes and you can see them all on their youtube channel (their latest vlog is super cute!). There is also a photo of Jennifer Love-Hewitt holding one of their clutches in the Halifax Metro which I can’t find the link for, but wish I had it...
Glass Harp Studios
This lady works with fire... literally. Oh, and she works at the Yarmouth Library, just hopefully she doesn’t work with the fire while at the library. Susan Hood designs and creates incredible unique glass beads. The incredibly complex process that I didn’t bother to read is explained on her website. She also teaches workshops that attract students from all over the world. Believe it or not, Susan was actually creating beads and necklaces while she was at the gifting suites in L.A. and you can get a look at a strawberry themed necklace she created in The Chronicle Herald.
Lou Lou Bell is an online retailer of handmade bridal party accessories and baby clothes that is sold on the website. It’s run by designer Lyndsay Hubley who works in her home studio in Tantallon, Nova Scotia. Her handmade clutches are adorable and I’d love to get my hands on one of her custom hair pieces. The direct link to the etsy page to check them out or to purchase, click here! or check out her blog
Galloping Cows Fine Foods
First things first... that’s a brilliant name. BRILLIANT, I say!  Galloping Cows comes from humble beginnings in Port Hood, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Joanne and Ron Schmidt created these fine sauces and jellies made with new flavor and spice combinations the old fashion way in 1994. If you live in Nova Scotia, more than likely you’ve seen their products around. The product that sticks out in my mind is their Blueberry Sauce in the fiddle jar. I know, fiddles, lame but I guess that’s what sells ... and now I want pancakes... I see on their website that they make wine jelly, yeah like jelly made out of WINE, red and white, Merlot and Riesling... as a jelly.  I’m intrigued and still want pancakes....

Sports, You’ll be good at them!

In case you haven’t heard, Halifax is the host city for the 2011 Canada Winter Games. That’s right, from Feb 11th-27th, Nova Scotia will be overflowing with sporting events and you can get in on the action to possibly see the NEXT SIDNEY CROSBY! Because SIDNEY CROSBY played in the Canada Winter Games once! You could possibly see the NEXT SIDNEY CROSBY! You don’t want to miss that!


We get it. Sidney Crosby is a big deal here in Nova Scotia; we love him and he once played in the Canada Games for Nova Scotia but he’s not the only reason why you should check out the Games. People tend to enjoy watching sports because they find them inspiring. Athletic competitions have come to represent the basic human social condition and it’s need for fulfillment. The protagonist looking deep inside of him/herself, overcoming obstacles and barriers; and winning against all odds. Our society is built on competition, both individual and collective, and it is what propels us forward. Blah Blah Blah.. in the end, it’s fun to watch sports because unless you’re a severely depressed or morbid person, everyone loves to watch a success story and there is always a success story in sports. 

The Canada Games have already contributed a lot to Halifax and Nova Scotia in terms of infrastructure and facilities (i.e. The Oval on the Commons). I’m excited to see Nova Scotia host this event and I cannot wait to catch some of the games. We’ll try to keep up to date on all 2011 Canada Winter Games news. 
Tickets are available on a first come first serve basis at the door unless it is for one of the select events that listed on the 2011 Canada Games website. You can purchase tickets here.
So I guess that means that if you wanted tickets to the curling finals and don’t have them already, you’re pretty much SOL. You could try Kijiji. 

The official merchandise shop is in Barrington Place Shops called 02.2011 Boutique. I haven’t officially checked it out, but it’s in the same building complex as the Delta Barrington and The Plaid Shop. Or you could shop online 

Just for fun, here’s a youtube link to Halifax's own Picnicface crew commercial for Powerthirst, an energy drink that makes you good at sports from which the blog post title tag line comes from...


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ice Ice Baby ....

It’s Icewine Festival time again in Nova Scotia, happening from Feb 3rd-13th, 2011. It hasn’t been a long-standing festival in Nova Scotia (4 years), since icewine is relatively new to the province (compared to our beers) but is increasing in popularity. I’m not going to try to pull your leg and come off as if I’m some sort of expert on icewines because I’m not. In fact, I don’t really know that much about wines at all except that I like to drink them. Well, some more than others and others more than I should. 

The wine industry is growing here in Nova Scotia, and each year our wines win more and more gold medals at the, uhh, the... Wine Olympics. Okay, so I don’t really know where these gold medals are coming from, but they are advertised as gold medal winners on their bottles and they’re all listed on the Wines of Nova Scotia website. In fact, the industry has grown so much that we actually HAVE a wine association such as Wines of Nova Scotia  that has developed a set standard of quality wines must meet to be part of the association and, in my opinion, is working tirelessly at promoting wines in this province. I will say that the standards have greatly improved the quality of our wine. (I would tell you the tale of the first time I tasted a Nova Scotia wine but I’ll save that for a later post.)

Now back to the icewine! Icewine is labeled as a dessert wine, meaning it’s sweeter in taste than “regular” wines. It is made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine, which allows the water to freeze inside the grape and sugar to be more concentrated -  hence the sweetness. The rest of the process I’m not too sure about but I do intend to find out this year at the Nova Scotia Icewine Festival. Here’s a brief clip on last years festival. 

Have you tried the icewines here in Nova Scotia? Which ones would you suggest are a must and which ones are a bust? Let us know by leaving a comment or send us an email.