BlackBerry to be reborn?

We've got a new toddler in town. Get ready to show him full respect or he might just feel hopeless and cry. No, no folks, it isn't quiet as dramatic (or painful) as that. I'm talking BlackBerry.

As you may or may not have heard BlackBerry is strongly focusing on BlackBerry 10, its next mobile operating system which will incorporate tablet & smartphone devices. This is a very critical and a quiet frankly responsible update since it will most likely either rise RIM's BlackBerry influence & sales and the otherwise "hanging by a thread" sort of scenario the company is facing, or it will be the end of BlackBerry as we know it. Yes, it is that serious. While the new Research In Motion (RIM) CEO Thorsten Heins did some significant cleaning up (many high-ranked, important individuals were fired) most people feel that for RIM it is simply now or never due to how dramatically and quickly the once immensely popular company has pummeled down.

While RIM still has a very strong hold of the business and the government customer base, the failure to manipulate the general market caused the company to sink to where it is now. Which is not a pretty place. Thus, the company is looking to make a bold move by going with touchscreen portfolio when BlackBerry 10 hits. One of the reasons BlackBerry failed to penetrate the general customer market was due to its continuous outdated software and hardware. This is the vital point that RIM looks to change with BlackBerry 10. The message seems to be clear, tactile keyboard devices will not be the driving force. In order to regain its strength and in hopes to ever compete with the big boys iOS and Android, RIM's focus is now to aggressively shift gears into a modern smartphone design, software, and hardware implementation. To prove this is indeed happening, consider this recently leaked BlackBerry 10 development device below:

Now you have to remember, this is only a purported device that the developers will get their hands on very soon, before the actual BlackBerry 10 premiers in October where we can get a much more ideal, and precise information regarding what's to be in store for us. Although RIM is taking a long time to transition into what we can only hope is its answer for the modern, sophisticated mobile market, let's keep in mind that patience is a virtue, as much as it is truly hurting RIM (yup those quarter & year by year income results don't lie, boys and girls). Personally, I do think and still believe that RIM can recover and re-enter the world stage again, but only if all the right strings are pulled. First of all, RIM has to run-and-gun a true new, refreshing, and a modern handheld lineup, with hardware and OS on par or uniquely better than competition, for instance NFC and cloud, both new, but quickly growing consumer interests. Second of all, RIM absolutely has to keep up with the pace of new innovation and technology, something they have failed to do in the past in turn leading the company into the demise they are in right now. Finally, third of all, while aiming for success in the general market, RIM should never shy away from its one strongest asset: enterprise. This means that completely killing off tactile keyboard devices would be a bad move being that they are heavily favored among government customers and the general business sphere.

The only question that's left is, will the new German-native, Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins lead BlackBerry out of the dark tunnel and into the light? We're waiting Thorsten....the clock is ticking, and it's not friendly.


To all women on a hunt for "the one"

Oh, the beauty of being a writer. I can dish out about my dating life to you, and nobody can stop me. Not even that one crazy ex. Ha!

Jokes aside, I will never use the term "the one" ever again, simply because I don't believe in it. Dating is like getting an entry-level job, you just can't be too picky unless you are a Marilyn Monroe (you have to compromise sometimes). However, I've learned from the worst and the best, and have a few simple tips for you. Now, before you disregard this post and say that my type is most likely different from your type, let me reassure you that this post isn't about types. There are just certain characteristics the man you date should have, because these characteristics determine whether your relationship will be healthy or unhealthy. Now, you don't necessarily need to carry a notebook with check marks or find someone who fulfills all of the below characteristics. Just keep them in mind, because they are obvious.

1. Being with him is easy. This is something you won't determine on the first five dates. But you should have a good sense of whether he is a manipulative and/or insecure idiot, or whether he is an easy-going person who will only compliment the ambitious person in you. When you are with the manipulative and/or insecure idiot, you feel as though he guards you like you are his one and only, probably hating on your girlfriends and asking for your Facebook password because he just won't trust you. Result: you feel like you are in prison. When you are with an easy-going person, your career flourishes, you see your friends as often as you did before you starting dating, and you just feel lighter. Result: heavens.

2. He has a definite hobby. Nothing is worse than a man whose hobby is lying on the couch, sipping a beer and watching TV every night. There is nothing wrong with being a couch potato once in a while, of course. But, you want someone who has a life that doesn't involve you, unless you share the same passion for tennis or something. Someone who plays some sport, or does photography or web design on the side, whatever. If I were to add my own kick to this point, I would say, make sure his hobby isn't video games or that serious computer disease (where he stays up all night staring at the screen). But, who cares, a hobby is a hobby at the end of the day.

3. He is not a mama's boy. If his mama still does his laundry/pays for his rent, if he still asks her about small and big decisions in life, and if he texts her "good night," yup, he is a mama's boy. RUN. Because you will never, ever, ever break that bond and you will never, ever, ever replace his mama. Nuff said.

4. He has a sister. Of course, you can't disqualify a potential partner just because he has no siblings or because he has a brother instead of a sister. However, if your potential SO has a sister, you probably found yourself a good one. When a man grows up with a sister, he is well prepared for all those womanly things men find weird, or at least pretend to find weird. He has seen it all and won't act like a clown when you leave that tampon on the sink counter. A sister is also kind of like his first girlfriend...go ahead and say "ewww." But in reality, she is. From her, he learns how to be around a woman and what to expect from one.

5. He doesn't forget his friends and family. Let's face it, spending every second of your life with your SO seems cute in theory, but not healthy in reality. Basically, you are aiming for that "good with you and good without you" routine. He shouldn't ditch his friends or his family for you, just like he probably shouldn't merge his hobbies with yours. Otherwise, your cute wine conversations will become very boring very fast. Trust me.


Opinion: modern women, sex and opression

I am aware that men serve as “market niches” through video games, car branding and sports attire. Men also suffer from the beauty myth (introduced by Naomi Wolf), which ventures more muscle, cleanliness, manliness and other related bullshit. However, I would like to speak about women (oh, how ironic!).

After reading some Naomi Klein, I am faced with the reality of women’s history and culture. History records that suffragettes fought against prejudices, against the role of women as heir-making machines and flower-like creatures. Women were unable to make any substantial pay or contribute to political opinion for centuries. Noble women had to work hard to give birth to a baby boy in order to deliver a heir to the throne. Working class women also had to work hard to give birth to a baby boy in order to have someone continue a father’s business. Basically, both types of women fought for representation.

But, does the new, free world recreate powerless women?

I think that women are still very much heir-making machines and flower-like creatures. To take the pressure off the gender stereotype of a man as the job holder and the woman as the child bearer, women are now exploited as sexual objects. This means that they are still only good for sexually pleasing purposes.

Women are on the cover of porn magazines and are the fixed frame of any pornography film, women get slimmer and spend more money on looking good, women consume birth control like it is the end of the world. Some women still look at pregnancy as a way to fix a marriage.

Today, it seems that the only body women are fighting with is their own body, their own self (mentally and physically). The Hollywood industry, along with the diet and makeup industry, takes advantage of this and  persuades women to find something wrong with themselves, so that they can spend money. And so we have identity politics.

What women (and men to a certain degree) are currently facing is a mono-culture of beauty and body image, where insecurities are a market share. The culture industry manages to find newer ways to promote beauty and health products. Brands of “all natural” products hit the shelves, still filled with the same wrinkle-reducing or wrinkle-covering chemicals. Appetite suppressants, after causing some heart attacks and other illnesses, are finally doomed ineffective and are re-introduced in the form of at-home yoga training videos and pole-dancing hype. Fat-free dressings and sweeteners, full of aspartame and sucralose (likely found to cause cancer), only re-enforce hunger instead of suppressing it.

Symbols of feminine radicalism aren’t up for sale at DrugMart or Walmart. What will women do without lingerie, revealing dresses, sex toys, contraception and lip botox? Aren’t these symbols only still alienating women as fragile, sexual, pretty objects?

All of these components seem to make a modern woman. A modern woman is funky, she does not need a man to pleasure her, or to compliment her, or to make money for her. The modern woman has a car, a house and education. However, the modern woman doesn't leave her house without make up and jewellery (and a new outfit) and doesn’t spend a day not feeling “fat” or “ugly” at one point or another.

The bottom line is that women are as oppressed as ever and are suffering from some sort of oppression nostalgia. Maybe the world was better for a peasant woman, who used beets for makeup and was too poor to care for a diet when all that was available was bread. Maybe the world was better for a princess with favoured servants and carriages and not much else to do than gossip, drink tea and offer her body to the king whenever he wanted it. Women fit into tight and oppressed spaces then, but don’t they fit into similar spaces now, too?

The difference is that these spaces are now more creative, more imaginary and more expensive. They must utilize the money women now make more efficiently. But, how much different is a life-long fight for votes among our grandmothers and the life-long fight with body image issues and sexual performance insecurities among girls of this generation? A successful woman is still assumed to be sleeping with her boss, a thin girl is assumed to be sexually attractive and living a good sex life, and an unattractive woman is probably deemed a virgin, or at least carries the label of “unwanted”.

Everything ties back to sex and baby-making; the delicacy and fragility of women’s culture.

Furthermore, some women are still put into work spaces and do duties that are labelled feminine, much like the women who sewed uniforms or worked as nurses during the two world wars.

Do lounges hire male servers? No, because they sell sex through short skirts and breast-revealing tops. Do modeling houses hire curvy models? Not often, because clothes don’t sell on bulging fat. And if they do, its a REVELATION! Would a higher-end pornography company hire an overweight or ethnic woman? It surely happens, but it does not happen often, because such women don’t fit the American beauty stereotype and don’t appeal to the standardized fantasy men and women are taught to have. Does being homosexual serve to be as socially acceptable for a woman as being homosexual for a man? Likely, but homosexuality in women is highly glamourized and appeals to some sort of modern polygamous fantasy.

Of course, there are always exceptions to all of the statements made in this blog post. Through evolution, or some other cause, women have grown to be naturally thinner and maybe even taller. There are also many women whose looks have nothing to do with their success.

However, women need to recognize the changes between the old world and the new world. Before, they might have been oppression by men, but now, they are oppressed by more beautiful women.


Why do we drink coffee?

Whether I am yawning or completely awake, I cannot start my day without a cup of coffee. In a way, this addiction is very much like cigarette smoking, because I associate coffee with my morning routine. But could there be some sort of a scientific explanation for this?

Coffee has various addicting characteristics, never mind the caffeine drug. It is physically warm or cold and can either make us feel warmer during the winter, or cool us down during the summer. It also has a crisp, burnt smell, which triggers instantaneous alertness (or at least makes us think that we are alert). Plus, it tastes good and does not necessarily need to be paired with any food.

Some relevant research: 
1) Some researchers say that coffee is a carcinogen, which (translated into normal language) means that it is capable of causing cancer due to disruption of certain metabolic processes. For example, acids and oils in coffee can irritate the stomach lining.

2) High heat is produced during coffee roasting and chemicals like creosote (wood preservative), pymdine (solvent, present in coal tar) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (atmospheric pollutants) are added to coffee. Caffeine consumption also triggers higher levels of adrenaline, causing the brain to go from calm to awake. The jolt happens because caffeine directly impacts the central nervous system and triggers stress hormones in the body (muscle tension, heart rate, breathing etc.).

3)Most doctors say that coffee is a a source of fatigue due to its withdrawal symptoms. So, our coffee consumption kind of ironic, because coffee only provides a temporary boost in energy.

But, this post isn't a quit coffee because it is bad for you campaign. In fact, I won't lose sleep over this research and I will not quit drinking coffee. Sure, coffee might have chemicals, but it was surely found to have health benefits as well. Either way, the real problem (if you consider it that) is that we are addicted to coffee. 

Why? Because we have withdrawal symptoms. Because the more we consume, the more tolerant we become to it. And this could very much be due to coffee's ability to stimulate our neuron activity, making us feel that we are finally ready to start the day. After coffee wears off, we may go for another cup, making us think that we need it in order to continue the day on the same high that we started it. It could all just be mental, because we are pretty good at fooling our brains into thinking whatever we want to think.

So, why do you drink coffee?

Personally, I think that coffee-drinking is a cultural habit. Many cultures down coffee in the morning, before school and before work, at lunch, during business meetings, and etc., because the society says it is necessary/cool/proper to do so. U.S. might be the most notorious for culturally-induced caffeine consumption (25% of its residents consume more than 10 cups a day!). Plus, chains like Starbucks and careful marketing campaigns ensure for a pretty long-lasting, loyal-to-the-brand addiction.


Québec City est magnifique

Before I begin here, I would like to thank all of our new TDJ followers. You guys have inspired us so much! We want to write more and more. So, thank you!

Now, I haven't done a picture or a travel blog in awhile, so here we go. Over the Easter weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting a really beautiful city in CanadaQuébec City. If you live in Canada or at the border of U.S. and Canada, you should visit. But go with your significant other, because the city is very French and romantique! My boyfriend and I definitely had an amazing time and can't wait to go back. It is different from Montreal, where most tourists go. Québec City is quieter and isn`t a party central like Montreal, but it has more historic sites and cuter bakeries for your petit dejeuner.

Here are some pictures I took.

1. Fairmont Le Château Frontenac: is currently a beautiful hotel with 3,000 rooms. It was built in late 19th century. The Quebec Conference of 1943, at which Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt discussed strategy for World War II, was held here. The film I Confess (Alfred Hitchcock) was also filmed here.

2. Université Laval:  is one of the top ten Canadian universities. It is also the oldest centre of education in Canada (founded 1668).

3. Notre-Dame Basilica-Cathedral: is a National Historic Site of Canada. It has been in place since 1647 and was destroyed several times by fire, so it has been renovated and restored throughout the centuries.

And here are some other random pictures:

4. Savini Lounge: has an amazing wine selection, live DJ and a great crowd. One of the best lounges I've been to.

5. Dagobert Club: has really great Euro music (if you are into that) and is one of the top bars among tourists.

6. Café-boulangerie Paillard: is an amazing bakery for breakfast and lunch.

7. Petit Champlain: is a neighborhood with the cutest streets and boutiques! This is also where Quebec City's oldest and famous stairway, Breakneck Stairs, is located.


World At War: Robots vs Apples

Duck down! There's a war being fought out there!

Alright, now that you've looked out of your window and made sure your street was still alive and standing, let's get right to the point: do you own a smartphone? Chances are, you do (or at least someone you know does, heck it's 2012!). Now to the real question, which phone? Today you will almost always get an answer that is either 'Android' or 'iPhone'. Yes, shocking, I know. The immensely fast uprising of the green robots from Mountain View collided with the hugely popular fruit melting people's hearts and emptying wallets from Cupertino.

As Android and iOS skyrocketed in usage , leaving RIM's BlackBerry in dust, a natural, competitive war broke out. As you are perfectly aware, the "fanboy" battles between iOS and Android users only escalate day by day as both continue gradual growth among consumer interest. However, this competitive dislike is found in just about any consumer, whether a geek, average user, or a person that simply uses a smartphone to make phone calls (yeah..there are those).

Of course this is all a natural reaction, and is by no means illogical, just like any two sports franchises that happen to be the biggest rivals. The real problem that ensues in this kind of competitive reaction is false information and stereotypical claims that give new consumers that are looking into jumping on an Android or an iOS boat a sour time. What's more, they are likely to end up on the regretful side of things after plucking down for something that doesn't fit them.

Of course you could say, do your research, it's your own fault. However, you'd be surprised at just how many 'average users' make up the smartphone chart, which are generally individuals that don't have much knowledge/nor care to know about the phone's specs, abilities, strengths, weaknesses and so forth. Just think about how many decisions are being made by the newcomers in terms of which phone to settle down for in credit to the massive flaming wars/ arguments/ accusations etc. between Android and iOS users.

Personally, I enjoy both platforms and I try to encourage to all of my readers to do the same, or at least to try to see a benefit in using each OS. If you are indeed interested in joining either the iOS or the Android party, or perhaps if you're jumping from one to another, my best advice to you of course would be to do a simple research to see just how different these two are because it will show you what kind of a user you really are, thereby defining your needs. More importantly however, my best advice for you would be to actually go in a retail store, for whichever provider you're with or whichever offers the best flagship phone offers, and to get your hands-on with Android and iOS. Folks, nothing beats your own opinion and likability, and while many people out there claim they know what's best for you, they really don't.

Quick tips:


When it comes to choosing Android, make sure to handle devices that are rocking Ice Cream Sandwich OS or ones that are guaranteed to get OTAd (over the air download) to this latest OS, as Android is known to have a very slow upgrading process among its devices, causing fragmentation. Take note, many latest, most powerful Android handsets are equipped with LTE & HSPA+ which are meant to give you very fast browsing/downloading speeds. These will be supported on select carriers only, however in US & Canada the big boys AT&T, Verizon, Bell, Rogers, Telus, Sprint will welcome it. In Europe things get tricky, it's up to you to clear it up with your provider.


When it comes to choosing iOS make sure all the warranties are cleared up upon (i.e AppleCare) since many reception problems have been known to plague even the latest "new" iPad and iPhone 4S, as well as weird, abnormal screen contrast etc. Also do keep in mind, the new iPhone 4S is advertised as having HSPA+ giving you really fast browsing/downloading speeds, however this is only supported with providers that have HSPA+ frequency support, which shouldn't be a problem in Canada and US but gets tricky once you find yourself living in Europe as it will be 3G for the most part on the Euro shores.


Be a better writer: why and how

Here is a quote from The Business Style Handbook (a book with tips from Communication Experts at the Fortune 500): "In today's wired business environment, everyone writes for a living."

What does this mean?

This means that almost every job description involes some sort of writing: emails, memos, reports, letters, proposals, etc. Major companies like Nike, AT&T and Wal-Mart voted for good writing skills. In fact, good writing skills are associated with career growth in such companies. Writing is the art of communication and it is hard to write well.

Guess what happens when you write badly?

Your credibility suffers: "Inaccuracy, error, inconsistency, jargon and carelessness riddle a written document and you put your credibility on the line (BSH)."

Many of the graduating students face this problem. We declare that we can write essays and that "we suck at writing." True, colleges and universities do not teach us punctuation or good sentence structure. They do not teach us how to write conscisely, consistenly and clearly for the business world. We realize that wordiness and improper grammar and punctuation won't do, and yet, we choose not to do anything about it.
I am always amazed by the number of fellow graduates who write horribly messy and embarassing emails to professionals. Then, they put "good communication skills" on their resumes. NO!

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Pick up a grammar book. You need one. Whether you are a professional or a student. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes by Jane Straus is a good choice. You can purchase it from Amazon for $10.

2. Write in the active voice. When you write in the present tense, your writing screams ACTION/get things done. When you write in the past tense, you writing screams I AM BORING. Avoid wordy present tense by incorporating short sentences and active verbs into your writing in order to communicate exactly what you want to communicate. For example, seize vs. grasp vs. catch (all synonymous to grab but mean different things). Use an online Thesaurus for this.

3. Avoid buzzwords. These are sort of like the pick-up lines of the business world. About half of communication professionals at the Fortune 500 confirmed that they "hated" buzzwords.  If you are to use them, here are a few effective ones: value-added, input, impact (as a verb), broadband, synergies, bottom line, robust, leverage, proactive, paradigm shift, incentivize and corporatespeak.

4. Write as you speak. Nobody is impressed with a vocabulary that nobody knows. So, write as you would normally speak—conscisely, consistently and clearly. Simplicity can go a long way and you can incorporate extra creativity and complexity into the actual structure of what you are writing. This could include audience research and/or point of view, paragraphing, sentence structure and choosing the right medium for your writing.

5. Proof words that others often misspell. Although you should proof and double-proof every single piece of writing, pay extra attention to words others tend to misspell. These are words like acknowledgment (not acknowledgement), adviser (not advisor, unless you are British), afterward (not afterwards), dependent (not dependant), etc.

Hope that this helps. Good luck fellow writers!