Tag Archive for 'Ontario'

Photo Finishes from Cobourg Ontario

in Canadian pop culture, niche blogs, Ontario, Photography, Scholar, Teacher, testing, Toronto, Tourism, visual arts and Web Designer

Picks of Canada, picks of images,

Jacques Surveyer is a writer, a web developer, and a very passionate photographer that lives and works in Cobourg Ontario. Years ago he studied photography at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto before getting an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) from the University of Western Ontario. With this background he found that blogging allowed him to ‘indulge his avocations’ while helping with his consulting business. Jacques is a skilled multimedia magician with a good head for business.

Photo Finishes / Picture That along with TheOpenSourcery.com are two very different tips and tutorials blogs that offer tactics and product reviews for graphics and multimedia processing people. These sites are core to Jacques portfolio as a developer, and they demonstrate to potential customers his expertise in many diverse programming and photo finishing subjects.

Jacques SurveyorOver time Jacques’ two original blogging websites have expanded into ten different blogs. He uses free blog web hosting sites to create multiple presences for specialized tasks. For example JavaScriptures is dedicated to some of the more interesting developments in JavaScript, as applied to lean manufacturing which is serious process to which he jokingly describes Java as the ‘gets-no-respect-like-Rodney_Dangerfield’ programming language.

About ten years ago Jacques Surveyer started blogging on a website platform that he made himself. He built his own blog from the ground up, and people did come, but more people came after he switched over to WordPress.

“WordPress with themes, plugins and a WYSIWYG editor was a vast improvement over my own homemade CMS.”

After six or more years, Jacques is still a WordPress devotee, even though he’s used Drupal and Joomla and has built projects for clients using both programming languages. But he’s quick to reason, “WordPress has stayed ahead of the curve with widgets, jQuery support, and automated updates of not just themes and plugins but also the blog engine itself”.  Jacques did all of society a favour when he weighed in on the classic debate, which is the best open source platform, Drupal, Joomla or WordPress? and in that post it becomes real clear that WordPress is this craftsman’s preferred software.

Jacques loves to take pictures and gradually his interest spread out into photography and travel destination review blogs. He created PixofDetroit, PixofToronto, and PixofCanada to host the photos and stories of his adventures abroad. Later he added commentary blogs like Takethe5th.com and Bookraft.com (his only active Drupal blog) so he could properly articulate his thoughts on government and society.

Then blogs started appearing all over the place. JavaScriptures and NearlyFreeWebsites are two examples which take advantage of nearly free blog software.  Consulting work and help for friends resulted in two gallery sites – ARTSurveyer.com and NeelsPlace.com which are efforts using Gallery blog software and Joomla respectively.

“As Free blog/CMS software has improved I have switched from doing custom websites over to using free blogs like Joomla and WordPress, Weebly and Wix for my nearly cost free blogging and broader web development work.”

Jacques Surveyer prevented from taking pictures of volleyball game on cobourg beach

Jacques’ popular PhotoFinishes blog dips into the political space too. Last summer the intrepid explorer wrote a terrific piece about how the officials at a beach volleyball tournament in Cobourg successfully prevented him from taking pictures of the participants in action, despite the fact that it was public space, with no photography ban signage posted, and no advertisements or precedents prohibiting photography are known.  According to Jacques in this article, the same thing happened at the Royal Winter Fair to his friend a year earlier.

When asked what he likes most about being a blogger, Jacques Surveyer admits that he covets traffic and feels rewarded when his sites grow popular. He recounts with satisfaction the time when his post on KeepanOpenEye debunked Steve Jobs contentions that Flash was slow and buggy, and received over 30,000 visits in one day – that was very gratifying. Also, the Fall Drizzle story on PixOfCanada which visualized the autumn colors in Ontario took in over 75,000 visits in the last months of 2010. To see a pictoral story getting that much attention was also very satisfying for this webmaster.

Jacques Surveyer, yellow leaf road, pixofcanada

Blogging has been good to Jacques, because he’s a new breed of storyteller, a free thinker with real knowledge to communicate.  When I asked him if he’d  do anything different a second tine, he noted that he wished he’d switched to open source or free blog software sooner, and he wished he had taken the time to improve his JavaScript skills earlier. “Skills in JavaScript and CSS make such a difference in the proper styling of a blog.”

This Cobourg Ontario blogger just loves being creative, inventory management and building platforms that push the envelope of the technology.  “The revenues are enough to pay the freight but not much more. But telling photo tales and being able to add my two cents on Toronto, or World scene is both fun and soothing to the spirit.”

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Lauren O’Nizzle in London Ontario

in Blogging, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, niche blogs, Ontario and Personal Blog

Lauren OutLoud blog is home of Lauren ONizzleLauren O’Neil, aka Lauren O’Nizzle is a 24 year old journalism student at the University of Western Ontario. She’s working on her master’s degree, but she’s already the most sophisticated, web tech-savvy pop culture princess we’ve ever encountered.  This girl makes media, and in less than two years she has become an outstanding example of a new type of entertainer, a socially brilliant one girl band on a noble quest to “spew random hilarity” all over the internet.

LaurenOutLoud is the website that hosts her entire menu which includes Lauren O’Neil web journalism portfolio. In addition to this formal magazine like portal, Lauren O’Nizzle’s content is distributed across numerous social mediums including, her LaurenOutLoud blog which is complimented by her twitter page @LaurenONizzle her LaurenONeal Delicious bookmarks account, her Nizzle .Posterous email blog platform, and of course her Lauren ONizzle on YouTube account.

This isn’t your typical marketing student blog, or any form of high brow intellectual content, although her posts are smarter than you might expect from a 24yr old person; the largest search terms in her blog’s tag cloud are ‘funny, muchmusic, TV, youtube’ in that order, and these are followed by ‘jschool, internship, cute’ and ‘dating’.

lauren ONizzle looks shy sad quiet fragile and its an illusion

Lauren O’Nizzle is very creative, and a little nerdy in how she stretches ideas and goes the distance for her followers. She’s been know to scan and post original drawings, and apply advanced photo shop skills to borrowed images. Also impressive is her ability to infuse comedy into her video interviews.

The name O’Nizzle came about organically as a nickname her friends applied several years ago. When it came time to create her Facebook account etc, she decided to go with that handle to protect her future employers from seeing any scandalous photos that may or may not appear in that space. Now, most friends don’t even call her Lauren anymore, to them she is simply “Nizzle.”

When an digital artist named Cameron Stewart cartooned her, she remarked on how the picture was ‘the sickest thing she’s ever seen’,  and she used it on her menu page layout.  That menu is so compelling. This young journalism student already embodies the future of electronic news media and entertainment. She is a great example of how people will soon make media for other people.

lauren ONizzle in the bathrrom with a toothbrush and phone cameraBorn in Chatham Ontario, Lauren moved to Windsor for her undergraduate degree, and now she lives in London.  As a journalism student, her blog is a place where she doesn’t have to worry about journalistic integrity and reporting on hard news. On her blog, she can have the freedom to take sides and write about what ever she desires even if it’s about creepy old naked ladies.

In a way, Lauren began blogging when she was only twelve years old, after she discovered Angelfire.  In that strange space she created a diary web page called “Spaz Central.” She filled this page with animated gifs and pictures of her awkward, frizzy-haired adolescent girls posing like the young models in Seventeen magazine (pictures that had been taken with a disposable camera and scanned at the library, of course).

As a self-proclaimed soul mate of Tina Fey, Conan O’Brien and Lisa Simpson, Lauren colours her stories funny and smart.

lauren onizzle on the radio

Lauren loves to multitask and is always on the go; she’s a little obsessed with always creating content. When she isn’t being viral, she likes watching comedy TV shows, doing yoga, reading fashion magazines, dancing and eating sugar cereals.  She’s an active blog reader and prolific commenter.  And Lauren is not at all shy about having her picture taken, and her face can be seen mugging all over her media empire. Her openness gives followers a big window into the life of a young blond journalism school student in Canada.

Lauren ONizzle AXE contest promotion banner

She also defines herself as being the opposite of Sarah Palin, Jay Leno and Bart Simpson.

Recently, Lauren was named one of the 10 finalists in the in AXE Canada’s Ridiculously, Ridiculously Good Summer Gig Competition. Voting for the Axe Summer Gig ends on March 31st, which ironically is the very day in which her profile here on Canada Blog Friends was posted.

“Success for me is making people laugh. Every time I get an email from somebody telling me that something I’ve posted has made their day or cheered them up, I’ve succeeded. I don’t do this for the money or the perks or the mad groupie hoes. I do it for the lulz, plain and simple.”

lauren Onizzle cartoon by her friend, i cant remember his name

“I saw an episode of Ghost Writer when I was 9, where ghostwriter goes into a computer modem and fights a hacker. I thought that this was the coolest thing ever so I begged my parents for a modem until they finally got me one.”

Lauren’s considers her blog to have no true central theme. Her posts run the gamut. Funny things, weird things, pop culture, web culture, nerdities, schadenfreude and all things karma related and esp things that she observes while shopping. Half the time, she says it’s just brain vomit. Whatever is on the top of her mind at any given time is effortless transmutated into social capital. Lauren’s followers tend to be people who share her wacky sense of humour and have similar interests to her.

For Lauren (Nizzle) O’Neil, blogging is how she brings her humour, lifestyle, hobbies and career aspirations to one place so she can properly share them with the rest of the world.

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Rebellious Arab Girl in London, Ontario

in Activism, Blogging, niche blogs, Ontario and Personal Blog

Mona, profile picture, Rebellious Arab GirlMona is the living manifestation of her rebellious blog; she’s a strong female personality in the Arab world, and that’s rare.  Although core values are slowly changing, Middle Eastern culture still seems to discourage female participation; Mona’s blog is rebellious, because it exists.

Rebellious Arab Girl is emotional and writes her caustic journal to promote change. It’s a complaints blog from a girl who began blogging because she had built up a lot of anger toward “certain issues with the mentality of certain people within my culture. My message was to tell the world that I am just an ordinary girl who happened to come from a very conservative culture.

Mona will be 29 years old in December. She started blogging on her 25th birthday because that’s when she became a rebel and really felt alienated from familial and cultural expectations. Apparently being a 25year old unmarried Arab girl is not an easy existence, and the blog was an outlet for Mona’s feelings. This girl is single and complicated, and these realities give her blog colour and purpose.  She’s not using her domain to look for love, or at least not overtly, but rather to complain about not finding love, and to comment on the structure, traditions and expectations of Muslim Canadians.  She writes, “I didn’t want to fall into the following category: if you are 25 and not married, then you have to or else you are screwed for life! I rather find myself first and know what I want from life, then feel committed to someone who is not willing to accept my ideologies and beliefs. Hence, my blog is a very big part of me, and many men don’t accept it. So, it is either the blog or them, and obviously I chose the former!”

Mona's amazing digital artComputer Science grad from the University of Western Ontario, Mona now works as a computer programmer in London. “I love my profession since I create web applications that so many professionals out there can make use of. No more using a pen and paper, and everything is just a click away and processed in the background. I love it. I make life simple for so many people with my skills.” Earlier in 2009 Mona was unemployed, and she blogged about job hunting and complained about the process. In that time however she created some terrific digital art. Now that she has a job, I’m sure readers hope she finds time to continue creating her masterpieces.

Mona likes London’s diversity, “It is a very family oriented city with a very diverse population. Moreover, I believe the diversity is the main reason why London is a very unique city.”

Rebellious Arab Girl likes to speak out about issues within her culture that won’t work if you “live in this side of the world”.  She really believes people should keep their core values but try to change the way they perceive life and interact with the rest of the society around them. When she heard about Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign platform she created and published one of her own:

Rebel Arab Girl for change!Vote for the Rebellious Arab Girl today!

1. She promises you peace in the middle east!
2. She promises you democracy in each Arab country with 4 – 6 year election time frames with citizens voting new leaderships!
3. She promises you a separation between religion and the state!
4. She promises you no more visa requirements for Arabs to visit other Arab countries!
5. She promises you Palestine to return to its rightful owners!
6. She promises you government funding for each Arab University to allow and contribute their scientific research to the world!
7. She promises you equality in the work force between the sexes!

Also along these lines, in June 2009 Mona wrote I Think its Time for Change about which she confides, “This is one of my favorite posts actually, because I created promotional fun banners because I love to create digital art. Also, I wrote this post because I always wondered when will there ever be a female leader of the Arab World?”

On Blogging & Writing
“I became a better writer over time since I exercise it almost daily though my blog. Also, last year, I decided for fun to take a couple of advanced writing courses at the University to enhance my writing skills for online publications. I wanted my writing to be convincing since I do enjoy it more than a hobby.”

Surprises?
“My biggest surprise is the size of the audience I have been receiving. It is quite extraordinary to be just another girl with hardly anyone to listen to in real life, to having such numerous amounts of readers who love you for being you, and are willing to take time out of their day to read what you have to say and comment. It is a great indescribable feeling having a blog.”

Two more of Mona’s favourite posts include, The Positives Outweigh the Negatives, of which she says “I really like this post because I wanted to tell the world that Arabs are great positive people, because they have great family values that distinguish them from other cultures.” And another on the subject of Arabs Marrying Non-Arabs, about which she writes, “I wrote this post because I receive several emails a day from people asking me if it is right or wrong for Arabs to marry non-Arabs. So I tried to explain my point of view, and I stirred a very long debate regarding this issue.

Rebellious Arab Girl in her own words,“I don’t believe my site is targeted only to the Muslim community or even to the Arab community. My site is targeted to everyone who is willing to read the life of just another girl who happens to be an Arab and Muslim. I wanted people to realize that I am no different than them.”


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Outdoors in Muskoka Ontario

in News Media, niche blogs, Ontario and Photography

Muskoka Outdoors banner
Bill Anderson was raised in Huntsville Ontario and grew up hunting and fishing alongside his father, and grandfather. He remembers when Muskoka wasn’t such a glamorous holiday destination, and there were more loggers than cottagers in Gravenhurst. Hiking outdoors with a rifle, crossbow, or rod (and sometimes all three) is an Anderson family tradition that hardens the boys into men by subjecting them early to the awesome power of nature.

Bill Anderson with bassMuskoka Outdoors recounts Bill’s experiences with all of the most popular northern Canadian pastimes, and that includes seasonal hunting and fishing, and also hiking, sledding and cross country skiing in the winter. Above and beyond the action components, Bill’s blog gives him an outlet to share personal stories, like the birth of his daughter.  He keeps readers informed with up to date moose tracking reports, recent cougar sightings, wild turkey tag regulations, and blueprints for ice fishing huts.

But Bill Anderson is not as much of a local yokel as I wish he was. He’s not the type to drive into town with fish guts on his pants and a gun rack in his truck, but almost. You’ve seen guys like him filing red gas cans at Petro stations when you pull in for directions. He’s a big fish in a small pond and floats a couple of boats. Do you ever wonder what his life is really like? Is it simply awesome? What’s it like to live out on the lakes all year long? A post like Sweet Spots answers that question, nicely. That entry is also a passionate piece of self reflection on the man behind the blog.

Muskoka Outdoors - fishBill embraces blogging because it gives him the ability to recount his stories. Though he humbly insists he’s not a good writer, his writing is fine, and his photos are great. Put together his photo journalism is winning friends and influencing people as his readership grows. And that’s because he lives the subject, and qualifies as an expert in this popular niche.

Having an aesthetically pleasing website with lots of interesting content is important, but Bill’s advice to new bloggers is to take advantage of technology and join blog indexes and similar social networks, and spend some time everyday reading and leaving smart comments on other people’s blogs.

Muskoka Outdoors is a sexy tackle box stuffed full of sweet bait that’s informative and sometimes provocative. Bill says it’s important to ask questions in your posts, and respond to reader comments. He always replies, even if the comments are bad. Muskoka Sunset“Remember, we live in a country where differences in opinions are valued. Agree to disagree and thank them for their comment.”

Muskoka Outdoors is great reading for everyone – the writing isn’t limited to fishing trips and hunting expeditions but rather its the real accounts of a man who enjoys these sports, and takes pride in his family and being a father. It’s an inside look at life in one of the most beautiful parts of Canada.


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Five Blondes in London

in Fashion Blogger, niche blogs, Ontario, Personal Blog and Photography

Five Blondes header

Erica grew up on a farm in western Ontario with four younger sisters – they are all blondes. Throughout their childhood, they’ve always been ‘the family of five blonde girls’ and that fact defined them. Today things are different. They don’t live together in an old farm house and share one bathroom anymore. Now Erica, Micaela, Kate, Leah and Lauren share their lives online. This is how they stay in touch with each other.

Erica BlondeFive Blondes was born in July 2007 in a Facebook message from Erica asking her sisters if they would like to contribute to a collaborative blog. Over the course of the next two days, the clan picked a project name (that wasn’t hard) and registered the domain. Erica promptly installed a WordPress engine, and in just over one year they’ve all worked together and built a terrific portal that’s both entertaining and informative. The writing is as diversified as the authors, Kate might post about assembling a new barbecue, while Erika describes innovative cell phone marketing strategies. Michaela and Lauren might write about fashion and new social trends in university, and I wish Leah would update us on her life in Calgary more often.  The comment box echoes a chorus of questions and opinions, and evidences a wide readership – sometimes mom and dad chime in to offer insights and support.

I read in Micaela’s First Week of School where she describes her anxiety at the prospect of starting teacher’s college in Windsor, alone.  But she goes on to describe how today that loneliness is mitigated by the popularity of Facebook.  Imagine that – now its easy to hook up with old friends on a new campus. How has Facebook changed Frosh week? The internet keeps all the girls together. Sometimes the group meets in chat rooms to play Cheeky Bingo, or other games of skill, with strangers. There are 12000 winners every week on Mecca bingo in the UK.

The five sisters’ blog contains a wonderful flickr widget that showcases some genuinely proud moments in their lives. Readers will notice engagement rings, fiances, lemon blueberry muffins and hay bale athletics. The Flickr photos contain descriptive text. Each sister has a slightly different writing style, and it takes a while to figure them out and put them into perspective. Flickr helps, and here’s what I get:

Erica is the oldest and the leader of the pack. She has a degree in film theory, and is scheduled for marriage in Spring 2009. She lives in London Ontario and rides a bike to work everyday. You can find her on Twitter.

Five Bloneds familyMicaela just entered teachers college at the University of Windsor.

Kate is the middle child. She went to the University of Guelph and studied agriculture, following in her mom’s footsteps. Kate married her sweetie Scott in October of 2007 and together they bought a farm. Kate is also on Twitter.

Leah moved to Calgary with her boyfriend and relies on the blog for updates on her sisters back in Ontario. She works in the non-profit sector and has a degree in Gerontology.

And Lauren, the youngest of the five is a criminology student in Ottawa.

Five Blondes is a fascinating look at the lives of five farm girls filling a technological conduit with fragments of the Canadian female experience.


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Young Chic and Social in Burlington

in Ontario and Personal Blog

Young Chic and SocialKeely Valentine must type as fast as she thinks, for her writing seems as natural as a seventeen year old girl talks. Each post flows together into a wonderfully feminine, refreshingly amateur blog spectacle.  This girl is supremely confident and that’s manifest in her devil-may-care writing. Its all attitude and Keely’s got it, and she ‘brings it’ with good information rich posts. It really doesn’t matter that her prose is littered with typographical errors, and run on sentences, because that somehow adds to her juvenile authenticity and the presentation of her unique content.

It all started in September 2007 with Keely Valentine’s first post entitled ‘The Evil Skank vs The Good Girl’ which is so full of unique insights into life as a teenager girl it should be considered modern literature.  Ironically, in March of 2008 Keely lamented about her failure to pass Grade 11 English class. Perhaps she could submit her blogspot for extra credits?

Keely Valentine

Young Chic and Social just gets better and better. Over the summer Keely had her 200th post and has since increased her writing frequency; she now uses the platform to tell the world about her quest to get a pop music band together (she’s a singer) and perform her songs, or get photo shoots organized to help clothing designer friends. Its not written like that of course, its crafted in anecdotes and make-up tips, travelogs and semi-confessional diary entries. She mentions meeting boys, and going on dates, and she likes to document creeps, iPhone apps and mobile app developer but its her sincere appreciation of her closest friends that fills the most paragraphs.

Keely’s profile on Blogger says it all:

Young, Chic and Social is run by a fabulous young soicalite who is a singer/songwriter thats had a brush with internet fame and always seems to find herself in the middle of the seasons hottest events and partys that are usually 19+. She’s a makeup pro, fashion guru and has the craziest most dramatic and not typical teenage life out there

And its all true. She is a real Canadian high school girl and her posts are packed with her precocious curiosity.  She writes about everything relevant to her life and her plans, and anything that impacts her existence at her local high school. Its a fascinating peek at a pretty girl with no disconnect blogging about being Young, Chic and Social.


Canada’s ModSuperstar

in Personal Blog, Toronto and Web Designer

ModSuperstarIn Cambridge Ontario, an hour west of Toronto along hwy 401, there lives a modern superstar, a skilled web designer in his early twenties, a music enthusiast and a gadget geek with a good sense of humour named jamEs. This guy is a great writer with a special gift; he has the ability to make something from nothing. ModSuperstar.ca repackages jamEs’ suburban reality into socially relevant content. It’s like a magic wand he waves over his life and makes it funny.

jamEs

ModSuperstar.ca also gets high points for appearances. Its a sexy blog that looks clever and funny at the same time. That’s a big part of its appeal; the WordPress template design is so simple and clean it draws readers into the text, which is equally compelling. Yes in fact I borrowed elements of this design for Canada Blog Friends.ca

ModSuperstar blogs about vintage Canadian pop culture, innovative jokes, old TV commercials and their forgotten actors, camping trips and the bumper stickers seen on the hwy – its a cross section of the minutia that streams past jamEs to enter his consciousness and then his camera’s lens. For example the ‘herpes sign’ beside the MacDonalds in Cambridge is a clever piece of photo journalism.

Canada Blog Friends applauds jamEs for proudly registering the dot ca address and completely ignoring the dot com domain. Or maybe he couldn’t get the dot com? Whatever, Mod Superstar is a great Canadian blog.


Dumpdiggers – Treasure Under Toronto

in niche blogs, Personal Blog and Toronto

Dumpdiggers logo

hands, teapotDumpdiggers chronicles the adventures of low tech treasure hunters Rob Campbell (that’s me) and Tim Braithwaite as we research and recover antiques from forgotten historical sites.

Lately I’ve been blogging about metal detectors and a charismatic antiques dealer at Queen St and Roncesvalles Ave in Toronto named Pickwick (Harold Barrett).  And every now and then I’ll try to sell something online – this summer I’ve experimented with costume jewelry.  For some reason I’m obsessed with finding a workable ‘buy local / sell global’ mercantile strategy; in other words buying relatively rare stuff cheap at yard sales, and then ‘flipping it’ for profit on eBay – its a nice idea, but I’ve yet to succeed.

Each week, Rob Campbell (that’s me) updates the blog’s content and completes another chapter in the compelling quest to find history and grow as wealthy as the Wise Old Man. He has adventures all over Ontario and in the company of a metal roof contractor that works with aluminum shingles. He has a truck and specialized roofing tools which are also excellent dumpdigging apparatus.

Toronto from Cherry St bridge

Each post is built to thrill readers with good information and the possibility of spectacular success; the blog is spiced with local adventures and the sauce of commercial avarice.

Here’s an August 08 vision of the east Lakeshore – this is the Golden Triangle of old Toronto. Buried under this lush vegetation from the Cherry St bridge west to Victory Soy Mills and north to Front Street are thousands of collectible bottles; a museum’s supply of early Canadian glass waits to be found.

In the late 1800’s, early Canadian glasshouses made many different types of specialized vessels to contain medicines, liniments, whiskeys, ginger beers, inks, poisons, and milk – now this ‘gem field’ of beautiful antique glass waits for the next property developers or anyone with intuition and the strength to dig a deep hole.

Dumpdiggers estimates that 80% of the east Toronto lakeshore dump (which dates from the early 1900’s) will be scooped out and hauled away in trucks and then reburied in obscurity somewhere else in the city when this area is developed sometime in the next decade.

Dumpdiggers will be watching from the gate.  We also endorse this portable toilet rentals company in Ontario canada.


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