Media Monday Edmonton: Update #137

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for 1/11/2015

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

2015-01-08 Kelly-Ramsey
Kelly Ramsey by Darren Kirby

Upcoming Events

Code Blue
Code Blue by Jeff Wallace

An update on the initiative to end poverty in Edmonton

The task force for the elimination of poverty in Edmonton got underway last March. Mayor Iveson spoke about the initiative in his State of the City address, and a week later City Council formally established the task force. A lot has happened since then, and the year ahead looks to be an important one. Here’s an overview of the work that took place in 2014 and a look at what’s to come.

Mayor’s Symposium on Poverty

Following the establishment of the task force, the Mayor’s Symposium on Poverty was held on March 20, 2014. Roughly 130 Edmontonians came together at the Shaw Conference Centre to discuss the new task force and to “tap into the wisdom of the community to set the foundation” for its work. Mayor Iveson opened the event, and said “this may be the most extraordinary Make Something Edmonton of all time.”

Guest speaker Dr. John Rook spoke about ‘The City that will End Poverty’, sharing insights and stories from his experience leading the plan to end homelessness in Calgary. He praised the mayor for making poverty elimination a priority, and said “I know with your bold leadership that Edmonton will be a city where poverty is not an enigma.” You can read his full remarks in the symposium report.

Mayor's Symposium on Poverty

Afterward, the crowd broke into smaller discussion groups to talk about some of the key themes, like health or transit. The report includes a summary of their discussions, as well as some broader conclusions:

“The overarching goal of ending poverty, however, is an ambitious one. The importance of advocacy and lobbying with all orders of government surfaced throughout the discussion groups, because in many cases a wholesale policy shift will be necessary in creating the kind of change that participants talked about.”

I attended and had some great discussions throughout the day. I left feeling optimistic but also very aware of the incredible amount of work ahead.

Task Force & Round Table Meetings

The Mayor’s Task Force to Eliminate Poverty in Edmonton met eight times in 2014 – you can find the meeting agendas and minutes here. They also established two round tables, one focused on Information & Research and one focused on Aboriginal Edmontonians, which met five and six times, respectively. Finally, a Communications and Engagement Committee was established (which I am a member of) and met a few times.

Task Force Working Groups

Over the summer, the task force established working groups as an approach for involving more Edmontonians in the creation of recommendations for eliminating poverty.

“Working Groups will explore, discuss, develop and ultimately bring forward recommendations and associated implementation strategies connected to its focal area that are needed to address and ultimately eliminate poverty in Edmonton. Each Working Group will identify and propose a variety of recommendations for action.”

An orientation event was held on August 26 where community stakeholders were brought up-to-date on the work of the task force and a discussion was held about the focal areas that would form the basis of the working groups. Six were established:

  • Early Childhood Development
  • Education
  • Community Well Being
  • Housing and Transportation
  • Income Security
  • Health and Wellness

In the fall, a 7th working group was formed, focused on Justice and Democratic Participation.

Each working group consists of roughly one to two dozen participants, and they have all met a few times throughout the final part of the year. Their work will continue throughout the early part of 2015, with the goal of finalizing recommendations for the task force by the end of March.

United Way Poverty Simulations

Ever since they brought the program to Edmonton in 2012, the United Way has hosted poverty simulations to help educate Edmontonians about what it’s like to live in poverty. In May, I co-hosted one of the simulations with Omar Mouallem. A few dozen young professionals joined us at the Shaw Conference Centre for the event.

United Way Poverty Simulation

The program has certainly evolved since I first participated in November 2012, but it’s just as eye-opening as ever. Again I was struck by the importance of transportation and the challenges that people living in poverty face as a result. I was also reminded of how hard it can be to live near the poverty line, where you’re just once unfortunate situation from not making ends meet.

I ran into a couple of young women after the event was over, and they admitted that they were skeptical before attending. How could a simulation do justice to those who live in poverty? Fortunately they found the experience educational and positive, and were glad they attended.

For upcoming poverty simulation dates and to learn more, check out the United Way website.

Live Below the Line

The Global Poverty Project held a five-day challenge in late April called Live Below the Line to live on just $1.75 per day for food and drink. Mayor Iveson, members of his staff, Councillor Knack, and Councillor Walters all took part. Together they raised more than $2200 for Raising the Village. The mayor spoke about the challenge on BT Edmonton:

Mayor Iveson wrote about his experience and said “this first-hand understanding of malnourishment has been extremely revealing.” He was glad at the awareness the challenge raised and said his “resolve both as Mayor of Edmonton and as a global citizen is only further strengthened to take action to eliminate poverty.”

EndPoverty Edmonton

In the fall, the task force adopted a new identity and established a presence on social media. EndPoverty Edmonton is the name that was chosen. You can follow @EndPovertyYEG on Twitter, on Facebook, and you can access the website at edmonton.ca/endpoverty.

endpoverty edmonton

The Twitter and Facebook accounts frequently share poverty-related news and links, so they’re slowly becoming great resources for anyone interested in the initiative.

Working Definition of Poverty

In September, the task force adopted its working definition of poverty:

“Edmontonians experience poverty when they lack or are denied economic, social and cultural resources to have a quality of life that sustains and facilitates full and meaningful participation in the community.”

You can read the full document which includes context, assumptions, a discussion on measurement, and an explanation, on the task force website.

What’s next?

The goal of the task force is to bring a draft poverty elimination plan before City Council in June. There’s a lot to do before that can happen.

The Edmonton Social Planning Council was contracted in the fall to develop a profile of poverty in Edmonton. The document will outline facts on poverty and will examine the pattern of poverty in our city. The profile is “also intended to provide benchmarks to monitor progress” of the poverty elimination plan. A draft was circulated toward the end of the year and it should be posted soon.

The working groups will present their recommendations to the task force in March, after which the task force will have to work to develop goals, outcomes, actions, and an implementation strategy. Throughout the spring, the poverty elimination plan will be drafted and a presentation for Council will be prepared. I understand a series of public engagement opportunities will take place along the way to help with that work.

The Communications and Engagement Committee has begun work on a new website for EndPoverty Edmonton. The goal is to be able to provide regular updates on the work of the task force, to engage Edmontonians who want to get involved, and to create a resource that will live on past the creation of the plan.

end poverty roadmap

The task force will also need to consider what happens after the plan is approved by Council. How will the plan be implemented? How will we engage more Edmontonians to join the cause and to take action? These and other important questions will be tackled in the months ahead.

For now, I would encourage you to follow EndPoverty Edmonton on Twitter and Facebook, so that you can find out about opportunities for engagement, the website launch, and more.

Get your digital house in order for 2015

Maybe you make new year’s resolutions, maybe you don’t. Either way, a new year always brings the feeling of starting fresh! That thing you’ve been putting off? Now’s the time to wipe the slate clean and tackle it. With that in mind, here are some tech-related things you might consider starting 2015 with.

Backup your stuff

It’s always a good idea to backup your stuff regularly, and now’s as good a time as any to set this up if you’ve been putting it off. Any backup strategy is better than no backup strategy, but ideally you’d have multiple copies of important data, stored locally and in a remote location. Have some really important stuff? Put it on a USB drive and stick it in a safe deposit box. For most data though, a combination of a local drive and the cloud is probably the way to go.

Backblaze 2.0 (fisheye)
Photo by ChrisDag

I have been using Backblaze for a couple of years now. For $5 per month or $50 per year, you get worry-free, unlimited backup. You simply install the software on your computer (Windows or Mac) and Backblaze will send everything up to the cloud automatically. You don’t need to worry about choosing specific folders to backup, and everything is encrypted. If you ever need to restore something, there are three options: you can download a zip file for free, you can pay $99 to get up to 128 GB sent on a USB flash drive, or you can pay $189 to get up to 4 TB sent on a hard drive. If you’ve ever lost something important, I think you’ll agree that Backblaze is totally worth the price.

Store stuff in the cloud

Related to the backup task, now’s a great time to take advantage of cloud storage. If you save stuff to the cloud regularly, I think you can worry about backing it up a little less. Saving data to the cloud is like backing it up immediately! You’ve probably been exposed to Dropbox and that’s a fine service but I’m a big fan of OneDrive.

OneDrive

With Dropbox you only get 2 GB of storage for free, but with OneDrive you get 15 GB and it’s really easy to earn more (and as an Office 365 subscriber I get unlimited storage). OneDrive supports Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Xbox. I use it for everything, especially OneNote as I wrote about last year. I can’t recommend it enough!

Another service to keep in mind is Mover. They’re a local company, and their service can help to migrate your data from one cloud storage provider to another. That might be useful if you plan on testing a few out. You could also use Mover’s backup service for $4 per month. Another great addition to your toolkit!

Get organized

Are you a to-do-list person? Maybe you like sticky notes? Spreadsheets? There are countless ways to organize your tasks and ideas, and I have tried my share of them. But over the past year, I’ve found that Trello works best for me.

Trello

Trello is the right combination of simplicity and power. You can create boards, which contain lists, which contain cards. You can then move cards from list to list. A typical setup will have “To Do”, “Doing”, and “Done” lists. And let me tell you, moving a card into that “Done” list is super satisfying! Trello works across devices and platforms, has a great responsive website, and is free!

A local service that you might use in a similar fashion is Stormboard, which provides a shared, real-time sticky note whiteboard. It’s a great tool, focused mainly on collaborating with others (which Trello can do too). Check out the tour to see all that Stormboard can do.

If more traditional task lists are your thing, then I’d recommend Remember the Milk. The service has been around for 9 years already, which feels like an eternity in the web space, but it’s still here because it is excellent. It too works across devices and services, and has a pretty advanced set of features.

Improve your security

Security was a big topic last year and will continue to be in the headlines this year. It can seem incredibly daunting to try to protect yourself in the post-Snowden world, but here are two really important things you can do.

First, stop using the same password for everything. In the security world people often talk about “attack surface”, and a different password for every website you use really decreases your attack surface. Because if one service is hacked and you use the same password everywhere, then all of your other accounts would be vulnerable too!

If you only use one or two websites, it’s easy to remember a different password for each. But more than likely you use dozens of services. That’s where a tool called a password manager comes in. I use LastPass because it works across devices and uses strong encryption to keep my data safe (I have used Passpack in the past too). When I sign up for a new website or app, I add it to LastPass and use a strong password that it generates for me automatically. If I had to remember every password, I’d be much less likely to use a strong password (random combination of characters), so that’s another benefit of using a service like LastPass (I take it a step further and generate random answers to the very insecure password recovery questions too).

So, what happens if LastPass gets hacked? Good question. Certainly their approach to encryption is one level of protection, but two-factor authentication is another. And that’s my second security tip – enable two-factor authentication wherever possible!

2FA

Two-factor authentication (2FA) makes your accounts more secure by requiring additional information when logging in. Typically this is a code sent to you via text message or generated in a specific app, the idea being that even if someone had your password, they’d also need your phone to login. It takes a few extra seconds when logging into a website or app, but it’s worth it. There’s an excellent list of websites that support 2FA here. For services that support software-based 2FA rather than text messages, you’ll need an app like Google Authenticator on Android or iOS, or Authenticator on Windows Phone.

Maybe you don’t want to enable 2FA on every site, but you should enable it on your email account at minimum (and get a new one if yours doesn’t support 2FA). So much of our identity and security online is tied to our email accounts, so it’s a critical area to focus on. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all support 2FA. I also use it on key social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Of course I use it on financial services like PayPal wherever possible too.

Backup your data, start using cloud storage, use an online tool to get organized, and take some simple steps to improve your security. All the best in 2015!

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #136

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Bloggers Week on BT Edmonton!
Here’s me on BT Edmonton with Ryan a few years ago

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for 1/4/2015

Welcome to 2015! Here are my first weekly Edmonton notes of the year:

Headlines

Cold Winter Walk
Sharon and I braved the extreme cold warning and found this on the footbridge!

Upcoming Events

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015!

Alley of Light pocket park takes shape in downtown Edmonton

It was four years ago that Edmonton on the Edge started focusing on the Alley of Light. Led by former councillor Michael Phair, the project aimed to reclaim a lost urban space, in this case the alley behind the former Sobeys between Beaver Hills Park and 103 Street. Since that time the group has organized a number of popular events in the alley and they’ve worked with the City to reimagine what it could look like. Any physical changes in the alley have been temporary (such as the year they painted the pavement with bright colors and designs), until now.

Alley of Light Pocket Park

One component of the Alley of Light is the pocket park immediately adjacent to the Icon residential tower. Funding to reconstruct the park became available as part of the Downtown CRL, and work began on the project over the summer. An update from Michael Phair outlined what would be happening:

“The work to be undertaken includes removal of existing paving stone, concrete curbing and paving, granular surfacing and amenities and will be replaced with new lock stone, concrete verge with standard and LED light up bollards, retaining walls, power distribution box, security lighting to match 104 Street, bistro chairs and tables (seating for 64), garbage receptacles, shrub and tree planting with bark mulch and irrigation.”

The work isn’t completely finished yet, but on December 18, 2014, Customer Appreciation Day on 104 Street, the newly renovated park officially opened!

104 Street Pocket Park

Michael Phair, Councillor Scott McKeen, DECL’s Ian O’Donnell, Jon Hall and Ed Fong of the 104 Street Steering Committee, Duncan Fraser from the City of Edmonton, and even Santa, were on hand to deliver remarks to mark the occasion.

104 Street Pocket Park

All of them spoke about the need for green spaces in the downtown area, and about the positive impact this pocket park will have on the quality of life for nearby residents.

Here’s what the pocket park looked like four years ago:

Alley of Light
Looking west

Alley of Light
Looking west from across the street

Alley of Light
Looking east

And here’s what it looks like today:

Alley of Light Pocket Park
Looking west

Alley of Light Pocket Park
Looking west from across the street

Alley of Light Pocket Park
Looking east

It’s a little hard to tell with all the snow, but much more of the park is actually usable now. Seating and tables need to be added however. I’m hopeful that some additional light will be added too, as the northwest corner is pretty dark at the moment (as you can see below) and already a few of the LED bollards are not working. Still, the work done thus far will definitely make the park more usable and attractive.

104 Street Lights

To my knowledge, the park doesn’t have an official name. But I would second the suggestion to name it after Michael Phair in recognition of all the effort he has put into the project! Michael has demonstrated that you really can get things done if you’re persistent, patient, and collaborative.

104 Street Pocket Park

Come on down to the promenade and check it out! And if you haven’t already done so, take a stroll down 104 Street at night too. The lights make for a pretty magical walk!

104 Street Downtown

104 Street Downtown

Just another reason to <3 YEGDT!

Edmonton in 2014

I think it’s safe to say that 2014 was an exciting year for Edmonton. One measure of that? Look at all the construction cranes! There are about 18 cranes up currently in Edmonton’s core (city-wide there are 39 cranes up), and by the summer of 2015, that’s expected to grow to at least 30. There are projects big and small underway in Edmonton – everywhere you look, things are changing.

Edmonton in a New Light

Of course, cities are about more than buildings, and it’s the people that truly made 2014 a great year for Edmonton. Whether it was coming together to tackle the incredible challenge of ending poverty in a generation, getting engaged in a community initiative or Make Something Edmonton project, or simply moving here and being counted, Edmontonians did some incredible things in 2014.

Below you’ll find monthly recaps from the past year. What I decided to do was read back through my Edmonton Notes for 2014 to pick out the highlights from each month. Below that, you’ll find links to all of the other Edmonton-related lists and reviews that have been popping up around the web. And finally, you’ll find some links to 2015 resolutions and goals for Edmonton. If I have missed a link, let me know!

January

There was a lot of economic news to start the year as we learned that one of every ten jobs created in Canada throughout 2013 was created in Edmonton. Potholes were also being discussed thanks to lots of snow and warm weather. Two other topics seemed to dominate the discussion in January: Premier Redford’s unwillingness to step up to the plate on LRT funding, and the ongoing lack of success for the Oilers. At the end of the month, Northlands President & CEO Richard Andersen announced his resignation.

Sunset over Whyte Avenue

Notes: January 5, January 12, January 19, January 26

February

The big announcements this month were related to the arena: the guaranteed maximum price was met enabling construction to begin, and the City and the Katz Group reached an agreement on a new civic office tower in the arena district. Ground was broken on the new Royal Alberta Museum, the Neon Sign Museum opened, the EPL Makerspace opened, and in anticipation of the High Level Bridge lights, ATB lit its downtown tower whenever Team Canada scored at the Sochi Olympics. The Mayor launched a social media campaign to build support for LRT funding called #yeg4LRT. Controversial topics discussed included the proposed Galleria, including a $40 million pedway, and bike lanes.

Royal Alberta Museum Construction

Notes: February 2, February 9, February 16, February 23

March

After lots of pressure, the Province finally agreed to commit the necessary funding for the Valley Line LRT extension. The Redford government delivered its Throne Speech, but faced increasing scrutiny over the travel expense scandal and later “penthousegate”. Just a couple of weeks later, Premier Redford resigned and Deputy Premier Dave Hancock was sworn in as interim premier. Construction on the downtown arena began on schedule, but the City announced that the opening of the Metro Line LRT to NAIT would be delayed until the end of 2014. Edmonton was named Canada’s Earth Hour Capital City for 2014. University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera announced she would not seek a third term. Mayor Iveson hosted a Symposium on Poverty to kick off his new task force to eliminate poverty in Edmonton. The month closed with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Alberta national event.

TRC Walk of Reconciliation

Notes: March 2, March 9, March 16, March 23, March 30

April

The City announced plans to bid on hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The 2014 municipal census began this month, with online collection for the first time ever. Potholes were again in the news. Ryan Smyth played his final game. City Council reluctantly agreed to support the Galleria project to some extent, and the U of A made its support for the project clear. The Downtown CRL was officially approved by the Province.

Edmonton Wayfinding

Notes: April 6, April 13, April 27

May

Mayor Iveson called on the federal government to develop a national housing plan. Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason announced plans to step down. Work began on the Molson Brewery site, and Walterdale Hill was closed to accommodate construction of the new Walterdale Bridge. Plans to demolish the Paramount Theatre were announced and then shelved. Door-to-door collection for the municipal census took place throughout the month. The Oil Kings won the Memorial Cup. Council pushed ahead with the Blatchford redevelopment, and the U of A announced plans to create a land trust.

What the Truck?! on 104 Street

Notes: May 4, May 11, May 18, May 25

June

The federal government added another $150 million to the Valley Line LRT extension, and the new Kingsway/Royal Alex Transit Centre opened (for bus riders). The Edmonton Public Library was named the 2014 Library of the Year, the first Canadian library to receive the award. TEC Edmonton was named Incubator of the Year by Startup Canada. The City released its four-year Bike Lane Infrastructure Plan and the Blatchford redevelopment plan was approved by Council. The City broke ground on its new office tower in the arena district. Former mayor Stephen Mandel and his wife Lynn were inducted into the City of Edmonton Hall of Fame. The Oilers brought in Bob Nicholson, traded Sam Gagner, and selected Leon Draisaitl in the draft. The world’s first industrial-scale facility to produce biofuels from municipal solid waste opened in Edmonton. At the end of the month, the new Edmonton Insight Community launched.

Edmonton Pride Parade 2014

Notes: June 1, June 8, June 15, June 22, June 29

July

On Canada Day, the High Level Bridge was lit. Alongside the excitement of that project, there was lots of downtown-related news in July! Stantec announced it would stay downtown, Brad Lamb announced the Jasper House and North condo projects, and Earth’s General Store opened on 104 Street. The 102 Avenue Bridge over Groat Road closed, and Walterdale Hill reopened. The City announced plans to move ahead with electronic parking meters, replacing all 3,000 existing ones. The idea of an outer ring road resurfaced. The Province launched new license plate options and encouraged Albertans to vote online. They also announced support for Edmonton’s Commonwealth Games bid. Council approved a pilot project for urban beekeeping.

Canada Day 2014

Notes: July 6, July 13, July 20, July 27

August

The census results were released, revealing Edmonton’s population has grown to 877,926. Stantec unveiled its new 62-storey tower in the heart of the arena district. The Art Gallery of Alberta celebrated its 90th anniversary. Alison Redford resigned as MLA for Calgary-Elbow. United Airlines announced it would end its flight from Edmonton to New York. Mosquitoes attacked Edmontonians. The Oilers got on board the analytics trend hiring blogger and stats guru Tyler Dellow. The 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup took place in our city, and the Fringe Festival celebrated another record-breaking year. Uber met with the City, Smart Bus technology expanded to another four bus routes, and the Province rejected a proposal to fund a regional transit smart card. Council approved a backyard hen pilot project.

Symphony in the City

Notes: August 10, August 17, August 24, August 31

September

Jim Prentice won the leadership of the PC party, and interim premier Dave Hancock announced his retirement. The Alberta Legislature was prorogued after the new lineup of cabinet ministers was unveiled. The license plate redesign was cancelled. Slower speed limits around elementary schools took effect. The upcoming park at 105 Street and 102 Avenue was officially named after Alex Decoteau, Canada’s first aboriginal police officer. The City announced it aims to acquire 40 acres of land from Sturgeon County. We got our first taste of snow this month, but it didn’t last.

At the end of the month, I married my best friend!

Downtown Edmonton

Notes: September 7, September 14, September 21

October

The Oilers hosted a 30th anniversary celebration of the 1984 championship team. Avenue Edmonton unveiled its latest Top 40 Under 40. Three new independent coffee shops opened in the core, including Burrow in the Central LRT Station. Council approved a full smoking ban on Churchill Square. Former mayor Stephen Mandel easily won his seat in the Edmonton-Whitemud by-election. The RFP for the Valley Line LRT was released and ETS launched a brand new Control Centre. The proposed 2015 operating and capital budgets were released. Edmonton Public Library CEO Linda Cook announced she would retire in mid-2015 after 18 years leading the organization.

I was away most of the month in Asia on my honeymoon!

Rough Around the Edges
Photo by Jeff Wallace

Notes: October 26

November

Northlands kicked off its Arena Strategy Committee, tasked with making a recommendation on the future of Rexall Place. The City became the first municipality to receive the Most Admired Corporate Culture award. KLM added a new route between Edmonton and Amsterdam, with service beginning in May 2015. David Turpin was named the new president of the University of Alberta. Mayor Iveson hosted a City Building Summit, to put pressure on the Province to better support Edmonton’s rapid growth. NorQuest launched its largest fundraising initiative ever. Janet Riopel was named incoming President & CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and Johanna Ko became the first ever student trustee on the Edmonton Public School Board. The month closed with our first big snowfall of the season.

Mayor Don Iveson

Notes: November 2, November 9, November 16, November 23, November 30

December

The other big political story of the year took place just a couple of weeks ago: Danielle Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to join the PCs. At the municipal level, Council approved a 5.7% tax increase in approving both the 2015 Operating and 2015-2018 Capital budgets. City of Edmonton CFO Lorna Rosen announced she would be leaving her position to become Alberta’s deputy minister of education. After saying no changes were on the horizon, the Oilers fired head coach Dallas Eakins. The team finished 2014 dead last. The new Meadows recreation centre and public library opened in the south east. Uber launched in Edmonton, and was immediately branded “bandit taxis” by the City.

Alberta Legislature

Notes: December 7, December 14, December 21

Other 2014 Recaps

Here are a collection of other year-in-review articles and posts. I’ll keep adding to the list as I find more:

The Mayor did a series of year-end reviews with the local media. He told the Edmonton Sun he is “pleased” with how the effort to end poverty in Edmonton has come together. He talked about the property tax debate, arena district, transportation, and more with Global Edmonton. He told CBC Edmonton that being called “your worship” is awkward.

Happy New Year 2014!

If you’re looking for lists beyond YEG, check out Gawker’s List of Year-End Lists or BuzzFeed’s Best of 2014.

Looking ahead to 2015

Here are some resolutions and other lists for Edmonton in 2015:

I would like for Edmonton in 2015 to capitalize on the energy and momentum that we all can sense in our city. Maybe it needs a bit of structure, maybe it needs a bit of shepherding, or maybe we simply need to better define what “it” is, but whatever approach we take, we cannot let this opportunity pass us by!

Have I missed anything? Let me know and I’ll add a link! You can take a look at my 2013 recap here.

Top 10 Posts for 2014

It’s that time of year! According to WordPress, I posted 177 times this year. Here are the ten most viewed posts of 2014 on my blog:

  1. Your Guide to Summer Festivals & Events in Edmonton: 2014 Edition!
  2. Your Guide to Winter 2014/2015 Festivals & Events in Edmonton
  3. OneNote + OneDrive = Awesome
  4. Chasing the Northern Lights in Edmonton
  5. Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2014
  6. Edmonton’s High Level Bridge has lights…now what?
  7. Media Monday Edmonton: Update #111
  8. Edmonton Vaporware: The Arena District
  9. Downtown Edmonton’s Sobeys on 104 Street will close its doors on July 31
  10. Edmonton will officially join the skyscraper club with Stantec’s new tower

I didn’t do a version of this post last year for some reason, but you can check out the top ten posts from back in 2012 here.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing over the last year! All the best in 2015!

Hello to the Lumia 735!

Christmas came a little early for me this year! My present to myself, a new phone, arrived yesterday morning. After two years, it was time to replace my HTC 8X. It was a great phone, but with the latest updates to Windows Phone, it had become buggy and slow (I like to have the latest and greatest so run the Developer Preview builds), and the battery life was poor. As I anticipated earlier this year, my new phone is a Nokia Lumia.

Lumia 735

I decided to go with the Lumia 735, also known as the selfie-phone thanks to its full HD 5MP wide angle front-facing camera. The 735 is a mid-range Lumia, not quite as powerful as the 830, 930, or 1520, but with some higher-end features compared to the 535 or 635. I’ll be honest: this phone is meant to last me 12-18 months, until Microsoft launches a new flagship phone with Windows 10. At just $347 from Expansys, that’s less than a dollar a day, even if I replace it next Christmas!

There are some pros and cons with this phone, but it hit the sweet spot for me in terms of features for price.

Design

I really loved the 8X shell, with it’s matte finish, blue color, and velvety feel. I always got compliments on it. The Lumia 735 has a replaceable polycarbonate shell, which is cool. It feels a little more plasticky than the 8X. I went with green, and it sure makes a statement! Even though it’s a little bigger, the Lumia 735 weights just 4 grams more than the 130 g 8X. The Lumia 735 is thinner too, at 8.9mm versus 10.12mm for the 8X. The 8X included dedicated capacitive buttons, while the Lumia 735 foregoes those in favor of on-screen buttons. Not sure how I feel about that yet.

Performance

So far, performance is fantastic, even running latest Developer Preview build. Night and day compared to my 8X. Both phones have 1 GB of RAM, but the Lumia 735 features a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor at 1.2 GHz, compared to a dual-core Snapdragon S4 at 1.5 GHz. Apps load quickly, there are hardly any “loading” or “resuming” dialogs, and everything just feels speedy.

Display

The Lumia 735 has a 4.7″ display, slightly larger than my 4.3″ 8X, but the pixel density is not quite as good, 316 ppi vs. 342 ppi. The screen still looks great though. Both phones have a 1280×720 resolution. The 8X had Gorilla Glass 2, while the Lumia 735 has Gorilla Glass 3 (don’t ask me what the difference is…the screens look and feel the same).

Battery Life

I haven’t run through an entire day yet, and I suspect I won’t get to do a “normal day” test until after the holidays, but so far there’s no comparison. Maybe my 8X was just old, but the Lumia 735 battery life seems amazing. It’s also bigger: the 8X had an 1800 mAh battery while the Lumia 735 ships with a 2220 mAh battery. It’s replaceable too and the Lumia 735 features wireless charging using the Qi standard. I could barely make it through the work day with my 8X, but I think I’ll easily make it through an entire day with the Lumia 735, probably without dipping into Battery Saver territory.

Camera

The rear camera on the Lumia 735 is a 6.7 megapixel camera with an LED flash. The 8X featured an 8 megapixel rear camera. I haven’t done much testing with it yet, but I think the Lumia will likely take better photos. The front cameras are much different – 2.1 megapixel on the 8X versus a full HD, wide angle 5 megapixel camera on the Lumia 735. Hence the nickname “selfie phone”. One compromise is that the Lumia 735 doesn’t feature a dedicated camera button, evidently a feature reserved for the higher end Lumias. I’ll miss that for sure.

Connectivity

The Lumia 735 uses a Nano SIM versus the Micro SIM in the 8X. I’m on Telus and after putting in the SIM, activating online, and restarting the phone, I have the same LTE connectivity as the 8X had (I have the RM-1039 variant). The Lumia 735 also features Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and screen projection. The 8X was NFC-capable and shipped with Bluetooth 3.1.

Storage

The 8X came with 16 GB of storage, while the Lumia 735 only comes with 8 GB of on-board storage. That’s fine with me in the age of cloud storage and cheap removable SD cards, because the Lumia 735 features a microSD slot! I picked up a 32 GB microSD on Amazon and configured Windows to store everything on the card. It’s crazy how much of a premium you pay for online storage.

Lumia 735

Windows Phone made switching to the Lumia 735 super easy. I did a backup of my 8X to the cloud, then when I logged into my Microsoft account on the Lumia 735, chose to restore. After about an hour, all of my apps, settings, messages, and other files were on my new phone, just as I had left them on the 8X. It felt like magic!

Once it became clear that Microsoft was not launching a new flagship phone this season, I decided I couldn’t last another year on my 8X. I began looking around for an interim phone, and so far I’m pretty happy that I settled on the Lumia 735. This review was definitely a factor in my decision, as was the reasonable price at Expansys.

I remain a happy Windows Phone user!