Author Archives: Reg Charney abusing your privacy

Yesterday, Wednesday, October 23 in their Marketing column the Globe and Mail reported the horrifying news that on November 16, 2013, Bell plans to start using your private data as the basis of their “targeted ads” campaign in the interests of “serving you better”. Michael Geist puts the lie to Bell’s “customers want this” claim, stating that if it were so, the campaign would have been “opt in” and not “opt out” (

According to the report, Bell will use your personal information such as your television viewing habits, what you search for on the web, who you call on your phone or mobile, your on-line purchases, and any other information they can glean from your use of any communications you make using their network to target ads at you. I don’t know about you, but I did not sign any contract with them which allowed them to invade my private life and space!

I can see it now: ads aimed at you that promote porn sites if you were ever unfortunate enough to end up on such a site. That way, you can also share all the ads you receive with anyone who also shares you computer, like your kids, your wife, your mother, or your significant other. How about the person you are living with starting to receive ads for dating sites when they were not the one looking? This also reminds me of the marketing campaigns by some hotels years ago who sent former guests thank you letters for the recent stay by you and your wife. However, when reading the mail, your wife did not remember going to that hotel. There are hundreds of other scenarios that I believe can illustrate how bad this idea is. As someone else commented: “The fact that they are going to be tracking my 13 year old daughter is just plain creepy.”

I can also imagine the class action law suits that Bell can deal with from various groups complaining about the misuse of “targeted ads”.

BTW, their “anonymizing” of your data is nonsense. There already exist techniques for analyzing data to uniquely identify users, even without information like names and addresses. For example, if the same IP address is used to send emails to a number of people, then the originating source can be identified by being the one person in common amongst all the people contacted.

There is also misleading statement in the article about opting out of this “service.” I immediately went to the URL and tried to opt out of all such “targeted ads,” However, the only thing that they let me enter was my mobile phone number. This implies that this opt-out facility was only good for my mobile phone use. However, the article in the Globe stated that the use of targeted ads applied to all my devices, including my TV, my phone, my Internet connection, and who I call on my land-line. Given that their reporter was told by Bell that the use of “targeted ads” covered their whole range of products, the reporter was mislead, if not lied to, about being able to opt-out of everything. Bell Canada should be called on their misleading statement and reprehensible behaviour.

Please write to newspapers, blog about this invasion of your privacy, tweet about it to your friends, family and acquaintances, and contact you MPP and MP. Let Bell know in no uncertain terms that what they plan is totally unacceptable!

Finally, this posting uses some strong language, but here at http://WizOf.Biz we take privacy very seriously. I believe notifying others about this issue is worth writing about and bending our own rules about “rants” on our blog.

Other good discussions on this subject can be found at: and

Reg Charney, CEO, WizOf.Biz


Ads, Ads, Ads

Canada is a land of immigrants and New Canadians. In Toronto, there are large and growing Indian and Chinese communities. Since these folks belong to groups we feel are ideal candidates for our resume and cover letter review services, we have decided to advertise in two different publications to be able to reach them:

  • Canadian Immigrant monthly is written in English. It is free and distributed throughout Toronto in newspaper boxes. Its primary market is Near Easterners, Europeans, and South American new comers to Canada. Its format is similar to normal English magazines like MacLeans, Time, and Newsweek. (See here for quarter page ad in Canadian Immigrant magazine.)
  • Fame Weekly is a free newspaper aimed at the Chinese and Far Eastern communities. It is entirely written in Chinese and its target audience is Chinese newcomers, especially the professionals. Its format is different from most Canadian newspapers in that it is "portfolio" sized and its layout and use of colour is entirely different from normal US/Canadian newspapers.Also, it is delivered by hand to places like lawyers, doctors. and other professionals. (See here for one-third page ad in Fame Weekly. For those of us who don't read Chinese, it does forewarn readers that we only work in English — at the moment.)

Next month's issue of Canadian Immigrant will have our 1/4 page ad in the Business and Careers section. In this week's Fame Weekly, our ad is 1/3 of a page and is printed in the glossy section of the newspaper.

Print ads only have true impact when they are printed 6-12 times. This is especially true for newcomers.  They are looking for someone that they can trust and consistent, repeated ads help make this impression.

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The printing industry's future?


I have been fascinated with printing ever since I first tried to write a book. At that time, getting proportional spacing, diagrams inserts, and making the material print-ready were time-consuming and difficult. Today, these problems are non-issues. These major changes led me to think about where the printing industry was going.

What business is printing?

To predict the future of the printing industry, we first have to know what that business is, not how it is implemented today. Thus, it is not about printing presses, preprinting, or colour. Because in the near future, printed books will be replaced by e-books, printed cheques are being eliminated altogether, and direct mail is being superseded by targeted emails and electronic ads, such as Google Ads. This begs the question: “Is the printing industry the buggy whip manufacturers of the 21st century?”

Strengths and Weaknesses

What are the current strengths of the printing industry:

    Unlikely to be replaced soon:

  • Large print volumes for inexpensive tangible objects — there will always be a need for things like consumer product labels.
  • Permanence – once printed, books and pamphlets can last a long time.
  • Tangible – people can touch, feel, smell, and see printed products with no special equipment
  • Expertise – allows printers to faithfully reproduce colours and images for all kinds of environments like indoors, outdoors, large, small, etc.
  • No cost to end user — once received, printed material costs nothing to maintain or use.
  • Printed material everywhere — no electricity is needed to display printed material and it can be placed on almost any surface.
    Likely to be replaced soon:

  • Colours and textures – it will not take long for electronics can replace the look or feel of a lot of printed material.
  • Low cost – the cost advantage of volume printing will decrease as faster, better, and smaller printers are developed. Even now, low volume items like letterhead and business cards are produced using laser printers.

Some of the biggest weaknesses of printing are:

  • Static medium – once something is printed, its content can not change.
  • No user interaction – users can not modify content, or see movement on a pages.
  • Mixing media – it is difficult to mix print with augmented reality
  • Adapting to new medium – for example, printing on foil uses different technology than printing on paper
  • Cost — changing technology requires heavy investment in printing equipment

Near-term Changes

Technology is changing everything. The most obvious enabler is the Web. Speeds on the Web are only going to increase. We are already seeing movies being delivered via the Web. Electronic books are being delivered in seconds.

Tailored content is now easily done. Think of the personalized e-mail ads you sometimes receive. The growth of electronic reading material is also driving the growth of e-readers. Noticeable are devices like the iPad®. But more is coming. Soon, we will have printable readers on thin flexible material. Many of these devices will be printed instead of being manufactured as is done now. These devices will require less and less power and be available for longer periods of time without the need to recharge. Recharging will not involve plugging things into a socket, but will be done by being in proximity to power sources.

Long-term Goals

The printing industry is in the business of delivering knowledge in an attractive form. Knowledge can take the form of a product label, ad, electronic magazine, map, painting, etc. Others, such as publishers and movie makers, will produce the content and still others will deal with the distribution of the content. The printing industry will be in the business of delivering this content in volume at a reasonable price. If this looks like a convergence of printing and communications, it is no accident. The difference is that communication enterprises will provide the pipe through which the printing industry will deliver the content in an attractive form. What is an attractive form is for others to decide, such as ad agencies.

For example, delivering a creative ad in an augmented reality for devices with limited capacity would be the job of a printer, just like a printer can help a client deliver a good looking ad today for a magazine that has a limited budget for paper.

Another way of thinking of things is that printers are packagers. They combine creativity, suitable delivery systems, and content into a package which can then be presented to target audiences each having different requirements.

Lastly, printers might become the “manufacturers” of many of the end-user devices. For instance, printers will print paper-thin TVs, road markers, and e-book/e-magazine devices. I can even see printers producing biologically-based devices that can deliver scents and tactile feedback. Remember “scratch-n-sniff”? Well, what about printed wallpaper the can convert sunlight into scents like roses or hyacinths depending on the time of day or season. This implies limited-intelligence devices that can be printed.

Preparing for The Future

Putting these visions into practice is not easy nor is it quick. In many cases, we will need to wait for technology to catch up to the vision. What we can do is take an incremental approach. For example, take a look at what your current customer base is asking for, but which you can not currently deliver; learn how to produce electronic books – not just the books themselves, but techniques for composing them in a better way so that they have extra functionality that is not possible today. Develop expertise in layouts and delivery systems. Use R&D to discover better ways of presenting electronic content that works across many media. (A similar problem faced Adobe before they developed the PDF format and Flash for Web-based animation.) Join consortia that are exploring these future technologies. Look outside the immediate printing industry to see what augmented reality is all about; what video gamers are doing, since they are the leading edge of many technologies; find out how knowledge is being delivered in schools, colleges, and universities.


We started this exploration talking about manufacturers of buggy whips. They could not see past the devices they made. Think where they would be today if they realized that they were in the business of controlling motive power, regardless of vehicle type. Today, they would be the transmission developers of the world. The printers of tomorrow can be the manufacturers of packaged information and their end-user delivery devices.

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Creativity is messy

Creativity is not neat, nor is it usually expressed by your up-tight citizens like myself. It is messy and often expressed by those with "way-out" views. In other words, by people like those G20 protesters driven out of Toronto's Queens Park a year ago today.

I am your usual capitalist who believes in enlightened self-interest. I also believed that the police have a difficult job to do, even at the best of times, and I supported them fully. This belief changed during the G20 meeting in Toronto.

While I was alone and not part of any protest, I was at Queens Park when the police drove peaceful and legally gathered protesters out of the park using riot gear and mounted units. I saw police with hundreds of tie-downs in their belts ready to incapacitate hundreds, even thousands. I did not see any violence on the part of the public gathered to protest the waste of money spent on the G20 meeting and the disruption it caused our city. What I did see was the police acting like armed thugs. Their behaviour was unacceptable then, and now.

Crowd at Queens Park

This week Chief of Police Blair's issued a report on why the police acted as they did. But, it did not acknowledge the complete disregard for the protesters' right of assembly, right of lawful arrest, right of legal representation, human rights, or police brutality. Blair missed the big picture: he and his officers are here to protect the rights of all our citizens and residents who are acting lawfully. His reasoning states that finding 30-40 Black Bloc agitators in a crowd of thousands justified mass arrests and police abuse and brutality. Whatever happened to the concept that permeates our laws that it is better that a thousand guilty go free rather than convict an innocent man? He and his officers and men brought shame on us all.

Canada is not some third-world dictatorship. Violence in Canada is a very rare occurrence. However, the police thuggery showed how thin our line of protection is. Our legal system, our rights, and common decency where not enough to stop the abuses that occurred.

Toronto is one of the ten largest cities in North America. At any given time, there are dozens of violent incidents. Nowhere in the Greater Toronto Area are riot police needed or used. Yet we had 10,000 to 20,000 police armed to the gills in riot gear to handle 10,000-20,000 protesters. By one estimate, there was one policeman for every two people in the crowds. To put this into proportion, our annual Gay Pride parade brings in about one million people. I would be surprised if there were more than five hundred police for the whole parade and events. Therefore, the threat posed by a group of 30+ amateur anarchists is a bogus excuse for what happened.

Police with tie-downs

Last week in Vancouver, thousands of drunks rampaged through the downtown area burning a half-dozen cars and causing several million dollars of damage. In total, just over 100 people were arrested. In the morning, the residents of Vancouver voluntarily put up a "wall of shame" and apologised to those harmed by the rioting. Vancouver police were not in riot gear.

By contrast, in Toronto, over 1000 peaceful people, some not even protesters, were arrested and detained in squalor and suffered abuses for more than 24 hours. This was the largest mass arrest in Canadian history! Subsequently, all charges were dropped against all those arrested, except for half-a-dozen and I expect those will be dropped also.

We believe in the creativity of human beings. It is what drives us at WizOf.Biz. Therefore, we support the right of people to peacefully protest. It keeps our society alive and vibrant. Repression, as shown by Blair and his officers, destroys that essence of democracy and creativity.

As a footnote, the police are not solely to blame for the G20 mess. Premier Dalton McGinty and his provincial cabinet passing regulations at midnight the day before the G20 meeting that helped set the stage for the police overreaction. Lastly, there was no rational excuse for Prime Minister Steven Harper hosting the G20 meeting in downtown Toronto. The core of downtown Toronto is not suited in any fashion for large scale security operations. Prime Minister Harper could have used some creativity in selecting the place for the G20 meeting. Any other location he could have chosen would have cost far less than $1+ billion dollars.

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Choosing the best

Something unexpected happened recently. One of our members was having a problem deciding which of five graphic designs they wanted to use for their new corporate logo. Since we do provide review services for logos, they asked us to help them choose the best one. To do this, our expert reviewer summarized the various designs, chose one that they believed was best based on three criteria: the intended audience for the company's logo; good design principles; and comparison to the other designs. The resultant review also rated the chosen design.

Comparing designs and choosing the best is a new use of WizOf.Biz's review process. However, there is a trade-off. For each type of submission, the reviewer has allocated a certain amount of time doing the review. If the submission involves more than could reasonably be expected, such as asking for comparison of five logos instead of one, then the reviewer needs to divide their time amongst the designs. This is equivalent to the member asking for a number of reviews for the price of one. In this case, the result is that chosen design had less than the normal amount of time that would have been spent on its review.

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Should we invite complaints?

I have been wrestling with the idea of encouraging users to complain about the WizOf.Biz site, its design and/or contents. Here are my reasons for encouraging complaints: 

  1. I learn much more from complaints than I do compliments.
  2. This is a new site and we want to be as open as possible. (also see my previous blog on gaining credibility.)

Then, there is the downside of doing this:

  1. There might be too much information to take in, which I hope is my biggest problem ;-).
  2. We will receive a lot of rants with little useful information.
  3. We might be spammed — a lot.
  4. Others may use this as an opportunity to generate "link love" (where a seemingly meaningful comment's sole purpose is to contain a link to another site).
  5. Security may be compromised by allowing unrestricted comments.

And, the technical issues include: 

  1. Does the commenter have to be logged in?
  2. Why not just use the comment form?
  3. What types of controls can we impose?

For our site, which charges for professional reviews of users' submitted material, there needs to be a measure of trust that we can deliver what we promise and do it for a reasonable price. Openness helps gain this trust. Then there is the "elephant in the room" — "Did you get your money's worth?". I know that most other sites don't ask this question. I feel that we have to and making complaining easy is one way of keeping us informed if we are failing to deliver.

At this time, I do not believe we will be overwhelmed by complaints. We will have plenty, but our staff should be able to handle them. When the load increases, besides us being in trouble,  we can use a more structured complaint form that has predefined category of complain, including "other". For example, types of complaints might be site look and feel, site omissions, pricing, the complaint form itself, etc. You get the idea. Of course, if we get too many complaints, we have done something really wrong and we may need to consider how to proceed next.

Spamming we can handle to a certain extent by asking users to complete a CAPTCHA before sending in the complaint. Those trying to gain "link love" dishonestly will have their complaint deleted, have their site placed on our blacklist, and be reported to spam lists. To top that off, all lnks can be sanitized so links will be readable, but not live. We can also limit the size and type of content for a complaint. Doing all this should also add to our security and to the security of the information our users provide. These measures can be taken by any site. 

In encouraging complaints, we need to separate the wheat from the chafe. To do this, we may give a weighing factor to complaints so that those coming from registered users have more weight than those that come from anonymous users. This begs the question of why not exclude comments from anonymous users? The answer has to be the threshold that users have to cross in deciding to become members. We need to capture the reason that they decide to go elsewhere. That is, we want to make our site better and reduce our "bounce rate". 

We already have a publicly available comment form. Do we need a complaint form? Only experience will tell us for sure. However, we can foresee the case where the complaint form could ask for more detail or more explicit information than the normal comment form which is pretty free-form.

Lastly, there is the question of using the word “complaint”. We want criticism while we do not want to belittle the writer, which may be the impression that the word complaint gives. Perhaps a word like “critic” would be better.

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Decorating text

I have been exploring ways of making information more visually appealing and more easily accessible.

For example, I wanted to put simple dashed lines under text to indicate that there was a tool tip or definition available. You have probably seen this in word processing programs like OpenOffice, Microsoft Word, or in help files. In HTML, you can underline any piece of text, but it is always a single solid line. This is called a "text decoration" and by convention it is used to indicate that the text is a link to another place in the site or the Internet. However, there is no text decoration for dashed lines in HTML. What I found was that I could use a box border for creating dashed underlines.

The following small sample program shows how to do this using CSS: 

	/* This script tests the use of dotted underlining of text */
	<style type="text/css">
	.du1 { /* class for 1px dotted underline text */
	    border: none;
	    border-bottom: 1px dashed red;
	.du3 { /* class for 3px dotted underline text */
	&   nbsp;border: none;
	    border-bottom: 3px dashed red;
	span { /* color all text within <span>...</span> blue */
	    color: blue;
	<div>This line contains <span class="du1">a 1 pixel-wide red dashed underline with a blue</span> piece of text</div>
	<div>This line contains <span class="du3">a 3 pixel-wide red dashed underline with a blue</span> piece of text</div>

The output of this program is:

This line contains a 1 pixel-wide red dashed underline with a blue piece of text

This line contains a 3 pixel-wide red dashed underline with a blue piece of text

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Gaining credibility for a new web site

by Reg Charney, March 20, 2011

I know that WizOF.Biz is a new web site. It will live and die based on its credibility. We need to convince new users that we will deliver on the promises we make.

The normal way to do this is to have believable testimonials, references, reputation, buzz, profits and high Google rankings. Well, we may have the Google rankings nailed in at least one way: using our simple tag line, “Expert feedback and advice”, puts us at the top of the first page of any search by Google, Bing, and Yahoo. However, we need help broadening our SEO terms so that we can be found with more than just these four words. That is the reason we have contracted with Rapport for assistance.

As for the rest of it, to gain and keep credibility, we have done the following:

  • Our site is only accessible using secure communications and we have a certificate posted on the site.
  • What we do and how we do it are open to review, excuse the pun. We have extensive FAQs, guidelines and videos to explain what happens on the site.
  • Everything on the site is free with the exception of the reviews. Since these reviews are done by professionals, they earn the right to be paid.
  • Before any reviewer can see a client's material, the reviewer needs to agree to a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). A client can supply their own NDA or use one of ours.
  • While the site has all its necessary components in place, we need to “re-skin” our site to look more professional.
  • There are no ads on the site. In this way, we avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Depending on when you read this, we will/have already published our pricing list for professional reviews of all the types of submissions we accept.
  • We have tried to keep the language we use as simple and clear as possible.
    During our initial launch, we will be gathering testimonials.

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