Miss604 728X90

The Adventure that is Self-Employment

July 10th, 2008 @ 10:17am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The first few days (okay who am I kidding) years of working for yourself are pretty scary. I say years as this blog has been four years in the making and it’s not slowing down any time soon.

Pink Miss604.com from 2005
Miss604.com circa 2005

John and I formed a partnership called sixty4media to consolidate our website works, podcasting, freelance writing and all out social media consulting gigs to which I have started contributing full time.

Now I’ve worked from home before as most of my professional career over the last eight years has been in the online realm, which leaves these options pretty open. However, many people who work from anywhere often have a hard time getting motivated or finding a good place to get out and be inspired to put their nose to that grindstone and crank out their work.

Having recently made our partnership announcement public, I’ve been getting some excellent advice from all over the blogosphere so here are some tips and tricks for those starting out on adventures like this, in this town.

Pete has a great round up of articles about time management available here, which includes Getting started with “Getting Things Done”:

Everything you keep has a clear reason for being in your life at any given moment—both now and well into the future. This gives you an amazing kind of confidence that a) nothing gets lost and b) you always understand what’s on or off your plate.

Organization is key, in most of the texts I have read and aside from the stack of papers, files, and business cards on the dining room table, everything that is online is in order right down to the shared Google Calendar to which John and I both contribute.

“I used to think those people who sat alone at Starbucks writing on their laptops were pretentious posers.” – Carrie, Sex and the City, The Good Fight

Monday was a little crazy, migrating from coffee shop to coffee shop around town for meetings, but it was actually quite easy to move around town, working on the go.

Raul reminded me of this post he wrote a few months ago:

I think that one of the reasons why we do this is that we feel accompanied but at the same time, we’re all doing our thing. I love doing this with friends… going to a coffee shop and working. Each one of us is doing his/her own thing but at the same time, we have a chance to chat and make small talk.

Earlier this week, a highlight was meeting up with Raul and doing just that – being in each others presence but also getting things done and being productive in our own way, on our own projects (much like the informal NerdCamps John and I have with Duane at our place or his).

John and Me – Photo credit: Raul on Flickr

Aside from getting motivated and having a place in which you can be productive, I think something else that keeps me pushing forward it simply my desire (not to rule the world… not yet anyway) to be good at what I do and help people along the way.

Our ultimate goal is to help others find their online presence because I think John and I can both supply ample advice, tips and tricks in that department. That being said, if you want to know what a blog is, know how to start a blog, have someone write for your blog, have me out to liveblog your event, podcast, or delve into the bulging world of social media, please feel free to drop me a line.

Thursday Morning Link Fest: Up in Smoke

July 10th, 2008 @ 7:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

With a low chance of precipitation in Vancouver for at least the next ten days, things are getting hot in the city so here’s link fest with a theme (who doesn’t like a good theme?)

Photo © CBC

There was a 3 alarm fire in New Westminster yesterday over at the old Woodland’s site [News1130] and apparently smoke from the blaze could cause health concerns [CBC].

That Jackass Mountain fire is pretty much contained, however wildfires continue to plague California so BC has sent down some water bombers to help with Big Sur (although that’s not as fun to say as Jackass).

Dan’s got a quick post up about (what appears to be) a historic farm along Highway 99 that went up in flames the other day.

Photo credit: Dan Lilly on Flickr

Speaking of fiery fury, Rogers decided to appease those are pining after iPhones by announcing a 6gb data plan for $30 until August 31st [Hell Froze Over – John Biehler].

Now this doesn’t have to do with fire but it stinks just as bad as when that one guy at the campsite tosses his styrofoam cup on the open flame for kicks; False Creek’s water quality is pretty much… gross [False Creek Comet].

Fighting fire with fire is pretty bold but fighting cybercrime with a Surrey-based International Cybercrime Research Centre sounds tough too, kinda [Surrey Leader]

And just because it’s very cool and covers so much ground (literally) educate yourself with Derek’s post about East, West and city lines across this region.

Update: There are now reports of a forest fire burning on Bowen Island as well.

A Morning at the Vancouver Aquarium

July 9th, 2008 @ 3:25pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I spent a fun-filled morning with my family as guests of the Vancouver Aquarium where the kids enjoyed interactive displays and learning about marine life around the world.

Vancouver Aquarium

When I was little we spent school field trips perched on the edges of our bleacher seats watching the majestic orcas perform stunts for handycam-toting crowds. Nowadays the orcas are gone, their large pool has been transformed into more of a learning and research zone and the home of four Pacific White-Sided Dolphins.

Dolphin Presentation

Dolphin Presentation

Next to them you’ll find the otters (who are totally internet-famous), sea lions, and the beluga habitat.

Baby Baluga

Since there was a baby beluga born June 10th they are limiting the amount of foot-traffic passing through the underwater viewing area so the line ups are long. They begin at 10:15 so it’s best to show up early if you’d like to catch a glimpse of the little one, however you can still view the tank from above water (and there’s also the beluga cam online).

Inside the aquarium there are several exhibits that showcase everything from exotic frogs to creatures and plant life of the Pacific Coast.



Known to my niece and nephews as, “the stinky area,” the rainforest portion is almost just as I remembered it from childhood, complete with things flying at your head that you hope are simply butterflies.


The gift shop seems to have branched downstairs as well as outside alongside the snack bar leaving stroller navigation to be a somewhat difficult task when the throngs of families, AquaCampers and school groups appear. But whatever the Aquarium lacks in space it makes up for in education.

The kids like the interactive stuff

There is a kids zone with interactive displays and live shows daily, computer screens to touch, puzzles to solve, wheels to crank, and portholes to look through. Each display is accompanied by a photo and a write up featuring information about the animal and its natural habitat.

The dolphin shows are also rather brief, which is nice to see, and they do not simply make them do tricks to entertain (although they do love to show off). In about 10 minutes we learned all about dolphin markings, habits, traits, and the Ocean Wise program for sustainable seafood choices.

A day at the Aquarium for the family may not be on my “cheap things to do” list however if you live in Metro Vancouver the annual family pass is definitely a cost-saver (two adults and three kids for $125/year).


Nothing will compare to the experience John and I had on Salt Spring Island when we spotted a Pacific Dolphin circling the water around us while we were perched on a rock at the opening of a bay. However, when it comes to education and ‘reaching the masses’ the Vancouver Aquarium is doing the best it can to heighten awareness and conservation with regards to our fragile oceans and ecosystems.

iPhone versus Slurpees, the July 11th Showdown

July 9th, 2008 @ 4:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

$2 Squishee CupsA while back I was invited to a Facebook event that would celebrate the (official) arrival of the iPhone in Canada on July 11th. Lately with all the news about plans and the fact that you can only get the iPhone at a Rogers or Fido outlet several people have had enough.

This afternoon on Twitter the iPhoneInCanada blog reminded us all that July 11th is also Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven stores across North America. Granted, the size of the free Slurpee cups are rather diminutive compared to a regular Big Gulp but still, free frozen sugar is always a treat. So here’s my poll for the week – what are you most excited about now on 7-11-08, the iPhone’s arrival at Rogers stores or Free Slurpee Day?

What will you be more excited about on July 11th?

View Results

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NetSquared Liveblogging: Podcasting for Social Change

July 8th, 2008 @ 5:17pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

As announced earlier in the week, I’m here at Workspace to liveblog the NetSquared meetup with tonight’s special theme of Podcasting for Social Change.

My friend and Surrey brother DaveO [of happyfrog and Raincity] is spearheading the next NetTuesday Meetup over at Workspace. He’ll be leading a panel about Podcasting for Change with talent such as Rob Cottingham, Roland Tanglao, and John Bollwitt. Dave’s even put together a promo video to get everyone excited about the event.

We’re just setting up now, waiting for the panelists and of course – the throngs of eager social media do-gooders that will be in attendance tonight.

Robots NO FOLLOWUpdate: David Drucker is now here (arriving with John) and he and Dave are discussing David’s post about how the Hippies Saved Vancouver.

I just heard DaveO instruct John to write something down for the panel presentation, “it’ll be like one of those 1970’s game shows,” this is going to be fun.

Update: Things are underway, “so you’re thinking of podcasting eh? First of all let me tell you you’re INSANE,” states DaveO. “It’s one thing to produce content and it’s another to have it actually do something.” Dave starts by introducing the panelists and handing them each a special hat – no joke.

Dave’s first point is to note that the least important part is buying a bunch of expensive equipment and asks the panelists to express a few points about what people should think about when considering podcasting.

Rob: “I would ask myself – do I really care enough about this subject?”

John: “What will your level of commitment be? Are you going to be able to hear yourself and like what you’re saying?” “Are you going to be able to learn with each episode.” “Are you going to have passion?”

Podcasting for Change PanelistsRoland: “Do it and don’t worry about how it goes – just try because you’ll find something. We’re all creative human beings.”

There’s a difference between making something for fun and making a big production out of something when it doesn’t need to be. “It’s not a bad idea to start on a hobby podcast before you get started on something other people are dependent on,” remarks Dave.

Update: We now get to the part where the panelists wrote key points on memo cards. John says the most important part is voice – and not necessarily the actual sounds but having your opinions and thoughts expressed. “With audio there’s very little distraction,” says Dave.

[Editor’s note: Roland is streaming this live on his Qik account]

Now what about getting to that first episode? Title, point of view (outsider/insider), the aesthetic etc. Dave notes that storytelling is paramount – it doesn’t need to be a 60 minute high-quality production, you can have your own narrative.

Dave points a few questions to John about soundseeing, which is basically walking around with a recorder and capturing sounds, and talking about what’s going on around you. “You’re going to forget stuff, you’re going to go off on tangents,” it’s okay to veer off your show notes or show plan as long as you tell that story.

Funds for Local Non-Profits from The Metropolis Express

July 8th, 2008 @ 2:09pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The last time I was at Metrotown it was to sit on Santa’s knee with Keira that also happened to be when first I noticed the little train carting young ones and their parents around the ground floor of the mall.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that the train provides more than mid-mall amusement (and seated rest) for the retail-weary and pretzel-loaded kiddies.

Registered non-profit organizations can now apply for cash donations made possible by the Metropolis Express, a trackless train that runs through the corridors of Metropolis. The Metropolis Express is entirely funded by Metropolis at Metrotown and rides are offered by donation to charity.

The train has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and they’re looking to expand their donation portfolio, offering to find new places to which they can pass along these funds. Here’s what they’re looking for in a non-profit:

  • Must be Burnaby, New Westminster or East Vancouver based and demonstrate a significant and unique contribution to community life.
  • Must be “grassroots” i.e. the money would make a significant impact on their operations.
  • Must not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, creed, religion and sexual orientation.
  • Must be a registered non-profit organization.
  • Must have defined goals and objectives.
  • If you know of a local charity that could benefit from additional funds from The Metropolis Express, you can find contact information on their website.

    My Appearance on The Lab with Leo

    July 8th, 2008 @ 10:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The Lab with Leo Episode #190My episode of The Lab with Leo was one of the last ones produced before the show ceased to be but I was very lucky and proud to be a small part of it all.

    I admit, I was probably the most nervous I have been in a really long time when we recorded this segment. I’ve done podcasting, blogging, radio, and TV interviews before but it was something about this show and at this time that made me as shakey as a monkey in the middle of January (you know, cause it would be cold n’ stuff).

    It did help though to be in the green room with Derek Miller, who had been on the show many times.

    [Acquired From DownTheLab]

    Five minutes goes by REALLY fast when you’re trying to sound smart with HDTV cameras in your face and I hope I sound somewhat intelligent.

    As a side note, I was also interviewed by Fundfindr at the VIDFEST opening gala party at the Vancouver Art Gallery. You can view the clip which is entitled, “Bloggin from the Noggin” (which is something I’m proud to be doing) on their website.

    Meetup Liveblogging: Vancouver Real Estate Tech and Young Professionals

    July 7th, 2008 @ 6:37pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Tonight I’m at Ceili’s Irish Pub (or SkyBar for those of you who remember this venue from a past life) attending and liveblogging two meetups that have been combined with one special guest speaker – Scott Humphrey, Peak Performance Strategist. The Vancouver Real Estate Tech Meetup Group (you wouldn’t believe how many real estate professionals are blogging and using the power of social media) as well as the Vancouver Young Professionals Meetup Group, which I suppose I could be a part of as well.

    Photo credit: Raul on Flickr

    Raul is here networking and being his usual hummingbird self and I’ve just met Steve Jagger of Ubertor who asked me to come out tonight and has already supplied me with a beer (the man knows how I work). Larry just joined us at the table in the corner as well. More to come with the liveblog as the evening progresses.

    Update: During the mingling session before the formal portion of this evening’s event there’s some talk about Vimeo penalizing and removing real estate content saying that it’s commercial, which is not allowed. This is similar to the issue I had with Blip.tv a while back when they deleted my company’s account due to some product screencasts saying it was too commercial. Thank goodness for Viddler is all I have to say right now.

    Update: Tim Ayres, realtor and blogger from Sooke, BC the said over Twitter (with regards to the Vimeo issue) “All is resolved. I was told to avoid video walkthroughs/tours of properties for sale, but vlogging is OK.”

    Photo credit: Raul on Flickr

    Update: Scott takes the stage and thanks everyone for being here and by being here we’re all stepping up and taking actions in our business (so we get a round of applause). He does over 500 workshops a year and does a quick “hands up” survey about effort, health, passion, drive, results and pay off in our professional lives. “Everyone here wants to make more money… everyone in North America wants to be healthy.” We need to be committed to results and achievements – “how many here are 100% committed to making more money this year? …and how many here want to take their health and energy to the next level?”

    The key word tonight is “participation” – “how many of you here won’t raise your hands no matter what I ask tonight?” [Editor’s note: my hand went up – too busy typing]

    Scott’s first pillar for creating extraordinary quality of life: Clarity. Where am I going, how am I going to get there and WHY? The second pillar is that you have to get the best tools and strategies. The third pillar is integration and action. Don’t have customers – have fans.