Young & Free Texas-style.

Young & Free TexasI’m a big fan of Currency Marketing‘s Young & Free Alberta campaign. I think it’s one of the smartest uses of social media to drive direct business results that I’ve ever seen.

When I speak to people about it, they have just one criticism. That Larissa Walkiw, the spokesperson of the Alberta program and an amazingly talented young woman, makes the whole campaign and you’ll never find another like her.

So a few months back when Tim McAlpine, the pioneer of Young & Free Alberta, announced that he was opening it up to allow for one credit union in each State or Province to replicate the program, I was very intrigued.

Now I see that he’s partnered with TDECU in Texas, the home of the amazing Trey Reeme, to launch Young & Free Texas.

You can also check out their Facebook fan page.

It will be fascinating to see how this new program progresses. I believe there are lots of talented and passionate young people who will take this program in new directions. That there is more than one Larissa, so to speak, and that there are amazing nooks and crannies that other people will take the program as spokesperson. But ultimately the proof will be in the pudding.

Congrats Tim, and good luck Trey and TDECU!

Come on down to BarCampBank BC.

BarCampBank BCI’m excited to announce that on September 20, 2008 BarCampBank is coming to Vancouver.

Gene Blishen, Tim McAlpine and I are putting a stake in the ground, after talking about doing it for some time.

Now, some of you may be asking, what the hell is a BarCampBank. From the main BarCampBank page:

What if we changed banking and finance?
The aim of BarCampBank is to foster innovations and the creation of new business models in the world of banking and finance.

The first one in North America was in Seattle last July, and it was a truly transformative experience. For me, the ideas, relationships and bonds formed in those two days are invaluable, and the memories of it are strong and very good.

Lots of details to be worked out, like an exact location, but it will take place on September 20, 2008. The cost is always break-even (think $25 CAD), so its worth the travel expense for my East Coast readers.

Go to the wiki page to add your name to the list. It will not disappoint!

PS: Thanks to Morriss Partee, whom I credit for keeping BarCampBank alive and kicking in North America. Thanks Morriss, looking forward to seeing you here! Also, I believe it was his idea to create something with the acronym BCBBC. Who couldn’t love that!

NOTE: My original post accidentally said that this was on July 20th. It is, in fact on September 20th!

I’m in love with drop.io

drop.io
It’s not often that I come across a new online service that meets a need and adds value to my life. But when my friend Tim McAlpine told me about drop.io I was immediately hooked.

Working at a credit union, we have understandable security features in our system which prevents me from transferring files in the way I was accustomed to doing at the digital agencies at which I once worked. In the CU world I’m a bit of an anomaly – not many other people need to transfer large files across the interwebs. But as my year of conferences gets underway, I need to get 30-50MB presentations to the conference organizers, and don’t have an ftp site to use at work. (I had been using my own website, but that becomes cumbersome, because not everyone on the other end can retrieve from an ftp site.)

Enter drop.io. A simply web 2.0 utility, which is basically an online flash drive that anyone can create, anytime, as many times as they want. For free you can get 100MB and for $10 a year you can get 1GB.

You can create as many as you want, and upload whatever kind of files you want. You can put a password on it, or leave it open. You can email to a special drop.io address that you get with each drop, so you can drop attached files directly via email. You get a special phone number to leave messages and record them as a file in your drop. You can fax to your drop. You can even get widgets to so you can drop from your website, blog or social network. Oh, and with the RSS feed, you can be alerted when someone else drops something to you.

It’s a really streamlined concept, no accounts to manage, just start as many drops as you need. Did I mention that it’s friggin brilliant?

I have two little quibbles. It would have been nice to have a little question mark icon next to the password field, as I was confused between a drop password and an admin password until I got all the way through the set up, at which point I realized I had done it wrong, and had to delete my drop and start again.

The only problem with a non-account model (users start drops, they don’t set up accounts) is that if you forget your admin password, you can’t retrieve a lost password. You just have to abandon the whole drop and start again. I was annoyed by this until I saw it written explicitly in their FAQ:

I lost the drop’s admin password, help!

This is basically the equivalent of losing the drop address – sadly, no dice. Part of the ease and simplicity of drop.io comes from the fact that we do not require usernames or passwords. The downside to this is that if you lose your admin password we have absolutely no way to verify that you made a drop, and therefore that we should grant you access as an admin.

The good news is that if this happens in the absolute worst case scenario your drop will evaporate in less than one year. Again, just consider that drop.io is really more about flash online storage –make sure you have your stuff backed up elsewhere!

Somehow seeing that they knew about this issue and saw it as a feature and not a bug made me feel better, but still, this functionality would be very useful. Perhaps this will be introduced with the upgraded $10 service.

The amazing thing is that drop.io is smart. I added a video file that a conference organizer wanted of me speaking about my topic. I uploaded the .mov file to drop.io and it automatically treated it as a media file. Users can view the movie directly in my drop (like in the above screenshot), get an embed tag from the site or download it. Nothing to configure, it just does this automatically. Same with other types of media files. Brilliant.

So I just upgraded my drop (had to do this via paypal, as I don’t have a US address), so I can have more storage and to show my appreciation for this terrific service.

I’ve now used drop.io to get files from and to several different people, some of whom are not what I would call web-savvy. No issues, no problems, just a smooth transfer of files, and some questions about this cool, useful service.

So I’m in love. Drop.io solved a real need that I had, is easy to use, and is simply delightful. Thanks Tim!

ChangeEverything.ca is nominated for a Webby Award.

Webby Awards
I am so pleased and excited to announce that ChangeEverything.ca was nominated for a Webby Award.

This is such an incredible honour, and follows on the heels of being an Official Honoree last year. Please vote for ChangeEverything.ca for the Webby People’s Voice Award.

It is worth noting that the four other sites nominated in the category of Social Networking are:

Perhaps you’ve heard of some of them. It is mind-boggling to be nominated against some of the biggest developments in social networking of the last year or two. Amazing also to be the only company-created social network, up against a bevy of startups.

Equally impressive is the lineup of judges who selected the nominees and will select an ultimate winner.

The Academy is an intellectually diverse organization that includes members such as musicians Beck and David Bowie, Internet inventor Vint Cerf, political columnist Arianna Huffington, Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser, “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening, R/GA Founder and Chairman Robert Greenberg, Virgin Atlantic Chairman and Founder Richard Branson, Crispin Porter + Bogusky Partner and Chief Creative Officer Alex Bogusky, and The Weinstein Company Co-Founder Harvey Weinstein. Members also include writers and editors from publications such as The New York Times, Wired, Details, Fast Company, Elle, The Los Angeles Times, Vibe, and WallPaper. The 11th Annual Webby Awards received over 8,000 entries from over 60 countries and all 50 states and generated over 750 million media impressions worldwide.

It is pretty much exactly two years since we started developing the site from a concept, and so rewarding to see where Kate has nurtured and engaged the community of over 3,000 registered users. I am also heartened that we are the only socially responsible community in the running. Proves you can do well by doing good.

UPDATE: I added a link to where you can vote for ChangeEverything.ca for the People’s Voice Award.

Can you help me with nicer graphs?

I don’t like Microsoft products. There I said it, and hopefully you’re not offended.

For an upcoming presentation I want to create some charts and graphs nicer than anything Excel can spit out. And I don’t have Keynote, which is probably the solution I should be looking at. In the meantime though, are there any good web 2.0 offerings that allow you to input data and create nice looking charts and graphs?

If you do, please comment here with the URLs or email me at william [at] azaroff [dot] com.

Many thanks in advance…