Thursday, October 25

My Little Mark in History

While I might never start a big enough company to get my company name on an arena or become politically powerful enough to get someone to name a park after me, I am happy to officially announce that I have been included in the history of Superman.

In the most recent Superman novel The Lasts Days of Krypton the writer Kevin J. Anderson has included me “No-Ton” as one of the characters. I knew he was writing me in to be the scientist who takes over Jor-El (Superman’s father) scientific work when he was removed from his role in the government, but had no idea what my role would all become.

It was nice to be included in this story and thought I would be just a random character with a couple lines in book. So I was very surprised to read the book and see my character go on to be so important.

Not to spoil too much of this really great book, but my character not only helps prevent part of the war he also becomes one of the 11 counsel members of Krypton. The final act of my character is to build the ship that carries Kal-El (Superman) away from Krypton and on his way to become Superman on earth.

Now won’t be on any of the book tours or anything other then keeping the signed copy from Kevin nicely tucked away and hoping that enough people buy and like the book that they make a movie based on the book. Then maybe I’ll be able to play my character in the movie hahaha ok well maybe Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt can handle that.

Anyways it is along ways away from becoming a movie but to try and get there go to Amazon.com and buy yourself a copy of The Last Days of Krypton.

Saturday, October 13

Thanksgiving in Cuba

Holidays for me often are not so much fun with little to no family it is hard to tag along with friends so I usually try and go on holiday someplace interesting. This year for Thanksgiving I headed off to Cuba, which was great as I’ve never been but always wanted to go and see.

I booked myself at the Hotel National de Cuba in Havana and if you ever heading to Havana I really recommend staying at this hotel. It has so much history and is such a unique hotel it alone is worth the trip to Havana. If you are staying there ask for one of the ocean view tower rooms, as you will get 2 nice large windows with a view of the ocean and a view of the city.

I only spent 4 days in Cuba but I managed to get all over Havana and even got a day trip to the beach in Varadero. It was such an interesting country as they really are unique as without capitalism and without the American influence it has really created a culture unlike anything I’ve seen before. While Cuba is poor it actually maintains a higher level of wealth then countries like China, Thailand or the Philippines as while those other countries all have much more wealth they also have much more visible poverty. Now I not saying that Cubans are rich or not poor, just saying that while they are poor they are not sleeping on the streets, using sheet metal as walls and visually malnourished.

The trip was short but it was just enough time to get a little bit burnt and long enough to forget about some of the issues back here in Guelph and while I didn’t take my laptop with me I did stop off at an internet cafe for a quick eFix.

Next week I’m heading off for to meet with some new corporate prospects and maybe even make a trip back to my hometown to visit with some old friends before I start back into the next big thing.

Tuesday, September 25

Beaverdale Golf Course Guelph

Sometimes working hard means playing hard and this last week a group of us from the office got together and played a nice round of golf at the Beaverdale Golf Course in Guelph. While I am not a big golfer I do love "driving" those golf carts.

Considering its fall and I swear it is going to snow almost any day means when you can still wear a lite jacket and be warm is a good day, so while it rained a little for the most part it was just nice, not to hot and not to cold.

Even though I am not a great golfer I did manage to set some type of team record, as I managed to lose a couple dozen balls, luckily the balls where free and luckily none where lost to windshields on hole #9. Needless to say I've recommended glow in the dark mini golf for our next golf outing, hopefully I won't lose as many balls on a mini golf course.

I recommend the course to others, while none of the holes where really interesting in terms of layouts its still nice, cheap and close to Guelph so great for a afternoon out with friends. Check out their website here: http://www.golfnorth.ca/beaverdale.html

Smart in Guelph

Believe it or not I’m trading in the BMW X5 and getting a 2008 Smart Car. For me I had fallen in love with the Smart Car while I lived in Switzerland over 7 years ago and now finally in Canada I will get my Smart Car.

I do love the X5 but it is really not needed for my lifestyle and after a long research phase I believe that the 2008 Smart Car will be able to handle the Canadian winters, my limited highway driving and still have all the things that the X5 provides.

There isn’t a Smart Car dealership in Guelph, but I found one in Kitchener at Victoria Star Smart Car Dealer http://www.kitchener.thesmart.ca/. So called down and met up with the business manager Sue and after a few phone calls I happily put my down payment on a beautiful 2008 silver on silver passion model Smart Car.

Sadly they don’t have any 2008’s in stock but I’ve ordered mine and it will be coming from Europe shortly to arrive sometime in November. I ordered a silver on silver passion model, with leather and fog lights. All the fancy options available in Europe aren’t making over here to Canada, but that won’t stop me from ordering them in Europe myself and installing them myself.

I had seen the current smart car model, the 2008 version is very different and I hadn’t seen one in person yet. I took the chance and put my down payment before seeing it and am very happy to say that today I saw the 2008 demo unit at Victoria Star Smart Car Dealer in Kitchener. It is really an amazing car, far superior to the previous model, the interior is very polished and professional while the exterior still has that unique fun Smart Car look and feel.

For those who know me from the good old days, yes the smart car does have a lot in common with the neon and while I don’t think I can get racing with this smart car there are many people in Europe who’ve gone as far as putting motorbike engines into smart cars, here a great video of the potential of a lite framed car with a nice sized engine:





I will be documenting the life of my own smart car on the website Smartster.ca (yet to be a live link, but coming soon) and hope that I can upgrade the exterior and interior a little and maybe tinker with the engine (just don’t tell the dealership).

The factory times for the European 2008 Smart Car puts the 0 – 60 times at 9.9 seconds it can beat a Hummer and is inline with a 95 to 98 Honda Civic. Nothing to boast about but remember the Smart Car has only 3 cylinders and the engine is about the size of most cars glove boxes.

Tuesday, September 18

Enjoying the Weekends at Yuk Yuks

While not in Guelph, I do highly recommend heading into Kitchener on a Friday or Saturday evening for some good healthy fun at Yuk Yuk's http://www.yukyuks.com . I’ve managed to get to Yuk Yuk's a couple times this month with friends from work and we’ve all had a great time.

While Guelph is a great city and am loving living downtown, I am very surprised how different Kitchener seems. While maybe its because I don’t spend much time there but the downtown seems very different, a little less clean, little less safe and well for the most part really not like a downtown with a lot of great culture. Maybe some of my readers from the area have different opinions?


Like Kitchener or not Yuk Yuk's is well worth going into Kitchener for and if you get to Yuk Yuk's say hi to the person beside you maybe it will be me :)

Saturday, August 25

Speaking at SES San Jose

So while I almost had a weekend at home, last minute at 4pm on the 17th I received calls from the management of Search Engine Strategies asking if I would fly out to San Jose and speak on the coming Monday about marketing and SEO in China. I accepted and was on a flight the following evening. Was a interesting trip to San Jose as took me via Las Vegas where I was bumped from my flight, given a free night stay in Vegas and for all the “inconvenience” I was given a free flight voucher.

San Jose was great, while SES was amazingly busy and fun the highlights of the trip where going to The Tech museum http://www.thetech.org/ and the 2007 Google Dance. If you get to San Jose you must take some time to go to The Tech museum as it just as so much geeky history and a lot of cool hands on exhibits.

After the week in San Jose and all the other flying around it sure was nice to get back home to Guelph and promise to get a bunch more posts out these coming months talking about all the great restaurants, outings and things keeping me busy in Guelph.

Wednesday, August 15

Wedding in Belgium

What an interesting week I spent in Europe as my really good friend Steven (not me) was getting married. Since I travel around the world a lot this friend and I have something unique in that over the last 5 years we have seen each other and kept in touch regularly which is very rare for him and me. But we both lived in Thailand and ended up working in the same ecommerce company, so even when I moved over to Singapore it was easy enough to get back to Thailand and say hi.

So my friends wedding was on Saturday and I arrived Monday so I got the joy of helping plan and setup for the wedding, makes me rethink doing it for myself. But before I could even arrive in Belgium I had issues and almost didn’t make it to Europe at all.

What happened was I went to check in at the airport as I had booked the flight Toronto to London to Brussels but when I gave my passport to the lady at the counter she looked at it, asked if I had any other passports with me (I said I don’t) and then she walked off. I was like WTF is going on she just took my passport and left. A few minute later she comes back and says due to the condition of my passport I can’t fly to London. My passport had been washed 4 years ago, but over those 4 years I have flown around the world without issue so I was surprised that this lady at Air Canada was telling me I can’t fly because of it.

Now she sent me over to her supervisor who then talked to there supervisor who said no to going to London but yes to going to any place else in Europe. So now all they had to do is find a route to Brussels that didn’t land me in London and still got me there on Monday. They did end up finding me a flight via Germany and while it was still in business class the plane didn’t have the cocoon seats that my other flight had and was something I was really looking forward to trying out. But oh well at this point was just happy to get on a freaking plane.

My friends wedding was small mostly just family and the ceremony was kept just to the city hall event as they didn’t want to have a big event in a church. It was really nice to sit there and see too people make such a big commitment to each other, since I had known them both for a few years I was really happy that they are together and further connected in this way.

During my time in Belgium I didn’t really do much other then some brief shopping trips and sleeping in till 2 everyday. I hope to get back to Europe again and see some other friends in Germany and UK, but will get a new passport before I attempt any travel back to Europe actually will get a new passport this next month as I only have 1 page left for visa’s and I don’t really want to be told by some underpaid over worked Air Canada staff member that I can’t get on a plane because they don’t think its pretty enough.

Sunday, July 29

Back to Seattle for SES Travel

Since one of the projects I am working on involves the travel industry this week I came out to Seattle for SES Travel. The event was good, met with Expedia, the Yahoo! travel team and several other companies that will help this project grow. I will publicly disclose the project shortly, so stay tuned for that.

On this trip to Seattle I managed to get to Boeings factory and did a tour it was really interesting to see how they build 747’s and see the insides of one of these planes without all the airline additions. I would recommend taking the time to check out the Boeing factory if you’re in Seattle. Didn’t really get much else done as I only really had one extra day in Seattle, but there was a parade which I opted to avoid as it sucks doing those types of things by yourself.

I did manage to catch the Simpsons movie, was funny and the crowd in Seattle really got into the movie. I’d recommend seeing it if you are at all a Simpsons fan, but don’t expect too much of anything new in fact they recycle many items from the series.

Life in Guelph is better all the time, just before I left for Seattle my new appliance arrived and where properly setup. So now I can actually do some grocery shopping. Also come September our company will be moving into brand new offices, which will bring further fun into work and life in Guelph.

Next weekend I am off to Europe for a week and this week I’m swapped with project work, so anyone back in Guelph who I’ve not called or met up with in the last few weeks I apologize as haven’t been in Guelph much and when I am it is either working or sleeping. I’m still planning on a party for end of August or sometime in September and I you know when that is happening and hope we can all meet up then.

Saturday, July 21

Guelph Best Place to Live in Canada?

Remember I had never been to Guelph prior to moving back from Asia to take the job here and while I did research a lot about the city my gut feeling and logic told me it was going to be a good place to live. Well it did turn out to be a great place to live from my first hand accounts, but I am happy to find that a 3rd party research firm has also rated it as one of the top places to live in Canada.

Below are the top 50 places to live in Canada according to Canadian Business Online (Canoe.ca) one of the largest news agencies in Canada:

1 Ottawa - Gatineau ON
2 Halifax NS
3 Québec QC
4 Guelph ON ( Guelph's Rating )
5 Fredericton NB
6 Kingston ON
7 Moncton NB
8 London ON
9 Victoria BC
10 Gander NL
11 Collingwood ON
12 Toronto ON
13 Winnipeg MB
14 Leamington ON
15 Vancouver BC
16 Saskatoon SK
17 Cobourg ON
18 Windsor ON
19 Brandon MB
20 Orillia ON
21 Kitchener ON
22 Hamilton ON
23 Montréal QC
24 Oshawa ON
25 Thompson MB
26 Peterborough ON
27 St. John's NL
28 Calgary AB
29 Corner Brook NL
30 Yellowknife NT
31 Edmonton AB
32 Port Hope ON
33 Joliette QC
34 Stratford ON
35 Lloydminster AB
36 Lethbridge AB
37 Kenora ON
38 Tillsonburg ON
39 Regina SK
40 North Bay ON
41 Victoriaville QC
42 Sherbrooke QC
43 St. Catharines - Niagara ON
44 Yorkton SK
45 Saint John NB
46 Rimouski QC
47 Magog QC
48 Whitehorse YK
49 Saint-Georges QC
50 Brantford ON

I have been to 19 of the above cities and have lived in 4 of them. While it is too early for me to say Guelph is the best place I’ve ever lived but it certainly is a nice place to call home.

White Water Rafting on Ottawa River

Last weekend went camping and white water rafting on the Ottawa River. It was great to get back camping and the white water rafting added even more elements of fun. The only thing that was a damper on the weekend was the 8 hour bus ride from Guelph to the camp. Its makes spending 12 hours on a plane seem like heaven as on the bus there is no one feeding you, even less room to walk around and limited in-flight entertainment.

We arrived at the camp Friday night and started up a fire and just took in the night. It is really nice to look up in the sky and see all those stars. The following day we hit the water and had some amazing hits and rapids, we did flip once and went swimming a few times. It was my second time white water rafting and was as enjoyable as the first. The most enjoyable part was dropping down a 15 foot waterfall, we all survived and nobody flips on that one.

That night was great as we where all tired and ready for a nice relaxing time around the fire. We got some marshmallows and hotdogs and chatted about life while watching the flames dance in the fire.

The next day I took the lazy day and ended sleeping half it away as was a little sore and “someone” gave me a red bull the night before and I wasn’t able to sleep till nearly 3am. Most of the group headed back out on the water and had a great day. Then it was back on the bus and another 8 hours back to Guelph.

If you are interested in heading out to the Ottawa River for some white water rafting the company we used was HorizonX and they have a website: http://www.horizonx.ca/

Friday, July 13

The Brick Guelph

Summary: I wouldn’t recommend anyone to buy or order appliances from the Brick in Guelph.

While the sales staff is very friendly and supportive prior to a sale I have a little story to tell you about my personal experience. I ordered a fridge and stove from the Brick store in Guelph and paid for delivery and paid extra for the setup. The salesman explained to me the setup fee was extra as they would setup everything other then plugging it in. So great don’t mind paying $50 for someone to setup this for me.

So the delivery day arrived and the first thing that was off is the delivery driver called and said he would be at my house between 10:30 and 12:00 so I took a couple hours off work and headed home during that time. Well come 12:30 they hadn’t arrived and I called up the Brick to see where they where. The switch board couldn’t reach the driver and they said just for me to wait longer. So I waited and 15 minutes later they arrived, maybe my mistake to think that a delivery would be more important then their lunch.

Anyways so they came in put the fridge in its spot and right away the delivery guy said, “oh going to need to adjust the feet on the fridge” as it was sitting at about a 10 degree angle as the front feet where fully extended while the back feet where not. Not an issue I thought as that’s what the setup was for. Next the stove came in and well it had a lot of tape and other things all over the front and top it was also put in the spot for the stove.

Next thing I expect was for them to remove the packing/shipping material and adjust the fridge so that it was level, put the handle on the fridge so that it could be used. Well this didn’t happen, the next thing they did was ask me to sign approving the delivery. I said but the setup isn’t finished and I can’t even see half the stove as it is still covered in packing/shipping tape and other shipping material. They looked at me and said oh we don’t do any setup services. So we called the Brick here in Geulph and asked the sales person and while I did pay $50 for “setup” it turns out they only call removing the item from the box as a setup service. Removing packing tape, making sure that the item has no scratches, making the fridge into a useable item with door handles and doing anything else has nothing to do with setup in the Bricks eyes.

So the lady on the phone at the Guelph Brick store said that they never actually setup anything for customers that all they do is remove something from a box and no further packaging/shipping material remove. She also said that they refuse to do anything else and she would have the drivers take the items back if I didn’t want to do all the setup and the further unpacking myself.

So of course I said good idea you can have the items back and I will do what I can to ensure that other people in Guelph understand the level of after sales support you provide. Which is why I am adding this entry into my blog, using my knowledge of Google ( http://www.google.com/search?q=the+brick+guelph ), and also why I wouldn’t recommend anyone buying appliances from the Guelph Brick store, unless of course you don’t care about after sales service and if that’s the case might as well save yourself a bunch of money and buy from any of the online retailers who don’t lie about the no service aspect of the products they sell.

Here are some other options for furniture and appliance in Guelph:

Far East Clearance
http://www.fareastclearancecentres.com/
I’ve bought my sofa set from them and had really good service and after sales support as one special screw in the sofa came out and the owner’s son himself came and reinstalled one for me.

Shuh Appliance Center’s
http://www.shuhappliance.com/
While I’ve never bought something from them they do have a very large selection of appliances and will be one of the places I look at as I still need a fridge and stove.

Acker's Furniture
http://www.ackersfurniture.com/
What a homegrown store, this family run business is very personal touch. The owner of the store personally delivered my table and chairs. This place is most defiantly worth a look over as they have a little bit of everything.

Sears Guelph
http://www.sears.ca/
While not something I highly recommend they do have a selection of appliance. The only problem is you won’t be getting any nice before sales service as the sales people within the appliance department are not too friendly and come off as used car salesmen.


I’ll add in more options and if I get any news back from the Brick I’ll post an update here.

Follow up on this story:

Actually this story written above wasn’t put online till today as I wanted to get the response from salesman at the Brick. He wasn’t working till today which is why the delay. I went into the Brick this morning and funnily the manager of the store and the salesman where having a meeting about me and I joined them. The manger of the store said and I quote “nobody setups the appliances for customers” his reference to nobody was in that not only does the Brick never setup things for the customers that nobody in the industry does.

Well I didn’t mention it to him but the day before I went to Shuh Appliance Center’s with my receipt from the Brick and they sold me the same items at the same price and defiantly ensured me that they setup and have everything in working order before they leave the customers house.

The manager never apologized for this he simply went on about how customers seem to misunderstand that when they pay for a setup it only means that they will remove the box. He also made it clear to me how much they lost on this deal and how upset the driver was and at the end he added, I am sure that this was an inconvenience to you also. It sure was, but I did get an apology from the salesman he’s a good guy stuck in a bad situation. He couldn’t say anything with his boss standing in front of him and only when he left did he apologize and I could see he felt bad.

To add salt to an already open wound this next thing is so shocking it even got the fraud department at my bank calling me. Since I returned the good to the Brick they where to refund my credit card. Didn’t think much of this until I got a call from the fraud department at my bank as there was some unusual activity on my card. It turns out the Brick refunded my card and then charged me again for the stove and fridge. Add to this the charge from Shuh (which was authorized) and my personal banker flagged it and had the fraud team investigate. Sure enough the Brick did charge me again for the stove and fridge as when I went in today the lady at the counter had thought that I still had the stove and fridge at my house.

It turns out on the same day that I returned my stove and fridge another customer with the same issue with the “setup” fee/service asked for a refund. This customer got his refunded but the Brick had decided to actually give him the setup service that he request which was to actual setup his appliance. The lady got this person and me mixed up and charged my credit card again rather then the other persons. Good thing my bank watches my credit card charges as more then likely the Brick would have just kept my money.

While this is just my opinion and my experience, I think you all would understand why I give caution to anyone buying appliances from the Brick in Guelph.

Monday, July 2

Canada Day in Halifax

Business took me up to Halifax on the Friday before Canada Day and I decided to stay till the Monday and celebrate Canada Day in Halifax along with some friends from Genie Knows.

I came into Halifax to talk some business with Genie Knows as well as celebrate the launch their vertical search engine for the gaming industry http://www.GenieKnowsGames.com . The business talks went great and the evening of celebrations even better.

Spending a couple days walking around and doing touristy things in Halifax was enough to get a good sense of the city. It has a lot of history and a lot of culture but is small, which is a good thing if you are ok with not much to do other then bars after 10pm.

On Canada Day I went to the home of the founders of Genie Knows and spent it with their family, it was a really amazing time. They are such nice people that you feel like your part of the family and for me it was the best Canada Day I can remember for a long long time, well it also was my first Canada Day in 7 years.

I did enjoy Halifax, recommend staying at the Westin, great location and rates, but you need to get a harbor view room. The Marriott was also nice, closer to things and the casino but the rates jumped and they actually didn’t have room for me and my colleagues. Although I did enjoy Halifax I took an earlier flight back to Toronto/Guelph as after you’ve walked the downtown/harbor area for 3 days straight there isn’t much new to see.

So I am back in Guelph, just getting ready for another blitz of a week, just looking forward to the middle of the month as will be going camping with some colleagues from work and for me camping is always an amazing time.

Saturday, June 30

Niagara Falls - Maid of the Mist

Last weekend my buddy Troy and his Wife, who where on their honeymoon from Thailand stopped by Guelph and we decided to explore the region. So we headed up to Niagara Falls. This was the first time for Troy's wife and me at Niagara Fall, and while Tory had been before he was only a kid so it was a great experience for all.

We went on the Maid of the Mist, which is the boat that takes you into the water within a few feet of the falls, it was really wet and amazing. Really need a waterproof camera to properly recorded it but we did get some good photos and even better memories.

We also went to a haunted house, wasn't much fun but the Tunnel at Ripley's Believe it or Not was a lot of fun. If you've never been in one of these tunnels basically, you are in a dark room in which the walls rotate around you. Because your brain wants to interpret the walls as stationary, you feel like you are rotating the other way, and you are off balance when you walk. Its so weird as really no matter how to try to fight it your brain overpowers your logic and reality and you end up walking funny and often hit the side of the rails.

This Canada Day I am in Halifax, came up for some work and stayed for the holiday, will write about it once I am back to Guelph, but so far so good.

Sunday, June 17

Toppers Pizza Guelph

Well I’ve found a very good pizza place here in Guelph called Toppers Pizza. If you are a local you have probably well aware of this place but for me it took 2 months before I was introduced to its wonderful pizza. Toppers Pizza does pickup and of course home delivery and it cost less then $18 for a large 5 toping pizza delivered.

They have an official website http://www.toppers.ca/ but it’s a pain to use, ok not as bad as Mc Donald’s site in Singapore but bad enough that the only thing worth mentioning is the online booking option http://toppers.orderingonline.ca/. While the online ordering system is a little daunting it does mean if you really are a nerd and do nothing but use the Internet for dating, chatting with friends, playing games, you can now even order you food without any really human interaction.

As for the pizza, it is far better then their website. Nice fresh toppings with nothing overcooked and they give choice of crust. This is something that’s really cool as I love garlic bread and with the garlic crust option I no longer need to order the bread on the side. The pizza is good size and they have a wide range of toppings, even had shrimp added to my pizza.

Other then Toppers I have been eating a lot downstairs at the penny whistle and will give a review of them also in the time to come.

Saturday, June 2

Back from China & Off to Seattle

Well I got back into Guelph yesterday morning and spent the day learning more about the “restructuring” that happened at my work. While I currently have my job I lost 95% of my team due to “cutbacks” and am left wondering what the future will hold for me and the rest of the team.

Anyways on a positive note China was eventful and fun, met up with the Jianfei Zhu, who is the Yao Ming of the search world. Also had some really good meetings with Alibaba/Yahoo! China and maybe will end up sending some of my ex-team members into China to help Alibaba/Yahoo! China succeed on their SEO goals. The trip was a little long and I am glad to be back but sadly I have only 2 days here in Guelph and I have to fly off to Search Marketing Expo in Seattle.

Seattle is a city I haven’t spent much time in but will be good to go up for this event as it’s the first SMX and it should be very educational and full of interesting people. Will have a chance to meet up with Matt Cutts again at the event, it’s been a awhile since we met face to face as being in Asia all I could do was email with him.

As for Guelph it is getting warmer and prettier all the time, I am looking forward to this summer being able to walk around and enjoy some of the outdoor activities. I haven’t fully moved into my home yet, also my stuff from Singapore hasn’t arrived so won’t post any photos of my place just yet. Hopefully this month my stuff will arrive and my home will be ready to have a nice housewarming party as well as take some photos.

To all my ex-staff and to the editors and writers, I will do my best to help you find work within the industry as your knowledge is very valuable and if I had my own company setup in Canada I would be happy to take some of you in myself. The next 2 months you all will have many offers but take your time and don’t rush into the first job your offered. As while change is always difficult this might just be a really great chance to focus and find that dream job. If anyone has interest to work in China, either for copy writing, editing or SEO please drop me an email, but note that while it’s a job it is not going to pay a lot of money but will be a great personal and working experience.

Monday, May 21

Search Engine Strategies China

I am back in China for the next 10 days, will be speaking at SES China on the Advanced SEO track, my presentation will be posted here once its finished. I am really looking forward to meeting up with some old friends at this year’s event. This will mark the 2nd year for SES in China and thanks to Inway and TimeV sure it will have many more years of great success.

Later today will be fun as I will meet up with several executives from the largest Internet company in China for some dinner and talk about the future of that company within the International marketplace. This dinner also happens to include an old friend from Singapore, she happen to leave Singapore to join this company and now landed herself a sweet directors role and an even sweet chance to meet up with me again tonight. I’ll try and post comments back from the dinner, but it should be interesting as a lot of great minds will be at the table.

Right now I am in Hangzhou but will be leaving for Xiamen on Thursday so if any other SES’ers are out there and are in HZ drop me a quick email and maybe we can grab some dinner or just say hi if we pass each other around town. I am staying at the Hyatt on the lake.

Its 6:30am here, which means its 6:30pm back in Guelph and surprisingly my body has been able to shift over to the new time zone relatively easy. Part of the easy of switching time zones came from the flight as it was non-stop from Toronto to Shanghai which meant it didn’t really feel like you where traveling. But sadly the flight was on Air Canada and boy even though I was flying “Executive First Class” it was far far from first class service.

To give you a basic idea of how old and poor the service was our leading stewardess was cerebrating her 40th year flying with Air Canada this week. Makes me almost embarrassed to say that I used to date a leading stewardess, but she was far away from doing anything for 40 years and looked far better then the staff Air Canada pulled out of the retirement home and gave a uniform to.

On a funny note related to domain/company names, the gentlemen sitting beside me on the flight was the CEO of a company which I thought was a really cool name, eSteve (ie electronic steve) or at least that is how I read his company name. Turns out it’s really Esteve and is a pharma company based in Spain. He did laugh when I told him I thought is company was eSteve and he said that it’s very often people don’t know how to pronounce the name. Got me thinking about eStephen.com, but sadly some damn domain parker has registered it so not much chance of getting that one anytime soon.

Ok its off to have some breakfast and then a quick nap so that I can make it though the day as want to make sure I am fresh and alert for tonight’s dinner.

Saturday, May 12

Thomas DVD Movie Rental

This weekend is my first one in my new home and thanks for Thomas Movie Rental it has become a movie weekend. The location of my new home, 2 Quebec Street, not only has a lot of great restaurants it also is less then 5 minutes walk to the video store.

So today I got a membership at Thomas Entertainment CD & Movie Rentals and picked up 6 great movies to get me through the weekend.

While the video store is not easy to find things in yourself, it does have a couple great employee's that know where things are. So ask if you can't find something as movies are not organized alphabetically and there are a couple sections for each type of movie, yes it is as confusing as it sounds.

They also have a websites, while not fully working it does have some tools and information. the website is http://www.thomasvideo.ca/ and the Thomas Video Rentals phone number is (519) 822-1451 and their address is: 60 Baker St. Guelph. Open 10am to 10pm daily.

Thursday, May 3

3 Days in Fort Lauderdale

Well it was really nice to be back in a humid and hot climate, even if it was just for 3 days. This was my first time in Fort Lauderdale but I had been to Florida in the past for a holiday/Disney Land themed trip. This trip was for corporate reasons and I spent most my days and nights working. It wasn’t all bad as it did allow me a chance to meet some really talented people and gives me even more hope for the future. Lets face it is sure will be nice to have the potential to do some remote office work down here in Florida during the winter months.

Fort Lauderdale is surprisingly full of canals and it has the nickname the Venice of the West, but unlike Venice there are huge 150 foot yachts. The city is really flat as there are very few large buildings and it makes it nice as even from the 10th floor of the office you can see for mile and miles around. Also the amount of money and high-end social life around downtown makes for interesting people. To give you an idea we had breakfast at a place that had Dom Perignon on the menu, while I have had some expensive meals in my time a $299 breakfast would have been a first.

The Fort Lauderdale beach was something odd as it had a very steep drop into the water, almost like they pile the sand 2 or 3 feet higher on the beach then the tide can support. But the beach was nice and Dave (my fellow co-worker) and I where able to get a little wet the first evening. The other evening was all work for me as I needed to complete a website review and training seminar for the SEO team here in Florida and now I am at the airport waiting for my flight. Hopefully next trip I will have at least a day to relax but actually at this point I am so happy to be heading home as in just a few days I will have an official place to call home.

In the next couple weeks I will be planning out my trip into China for SES, but it is looking like I will arrive in Asia on the 19th and depart around the 26th depending on the request from management in terms of looking at developing out things in Asia. So I will let you all know when that is confirmed and looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

What Does it Mean to be a Professional SEO?

Many people, including most of my own family, have no idea what I do or how it’s of any benefit. This is common--most people think SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is just a matter of changing some magical code on the page, and that any website can get the benefits of SEO. This general misunderstanding is also why there are so many people able to offer SEO services; the average buyer has no idea what they are buying, and they end up buying the general idea of SEO than an actual SEO product.

SEO, when done properly by professionals, is very complex and involves much more than keywords with fairy dust. I would say that most website owners are not ready for true SEO. When I ran my agency I turned away over 90% of the clients that approached me for SEO services--there is no point in taking a client’s money and giving him or her something that will never work. Yes, they might be very happy to be #1 for their company name. You might be pretty tickled to have them think you are the king of SEO. But does it really drive their business forward?

Within my industry I have held true to the idea of “do it right, do it for long term, and do it for the right reasons.” I add the last one in because I have had offers from companies that have the right process the right long term goals but the methods of monetization go against my better judgment. I am very proud to say that in 10 years I have never promoted a gambling, pornography, or pill website.

Keeping this focus has given me less market share, but I have had some of the bigger companies come knocking on my door asking for my expertise: Alibaba, Dell, eBay, Expedia, Global Sources, Microsoft, Tesco--even the almighty Google has come looking for my services. But keeping a selective nature also means I don’t make the insane amounts that the "fairy dust" SEO sellers do. It’s much more profitable and easy to have a few hundred clients that you are charging $10k a month to simply change some META data once in a while (and advise them what you read on WW the night before) than it is to manage a project that involves dozens of departments and countless employees.

Being in the industry--and working with so many companies--I have seen "fairy dust" go for as high as $150,000/month. If you look around the industry you will see a lot of the SEO world more focused on creating a blog post then doing actual SEO work. This is because skill level in this industry, for some reason, has become based on the number of blog posts you make rather then your technical expertise and experience. If I was hiring a SEO professional I’d rather hire the head of class coming out of applied mathematics of Harvard then any of the SEO bloggers.

In a lot of my public talks I relate search engine optimizers to stock brokers, and search engines to stock markets. This comparison comes from search engine optimizers having millions of people that claim they can bring in returns--like stock brokers—but a lot fail and lose clients money while others simply just live off the natural flux within the markets/search engines. There are also the day traders and the DIY SEO’ers who believe they have the system beat. Then there are the elite who can not only to guarantee returns but are already making enough money themselves that the only reason they take on a client is to be able to make even more money using their personal formula for success. The formula for success in stock markets, like search engines, fundamentally never changes; and, it’s simply based on what the client wants to invest and how much they want to get back out.

The only real difference between a stock broker and an SEO is that, unlike a stock market, a search engine is a 100% mathematical puzzle--ultimately there are no unknowns in the search engines, so a true SEO professional has no reason for failure. While I don’t claim to know everything about the ranking formulas at Google I do know that there is a set formula, and with the right set of people (note to self: hire some ex-WWII code breakers) the formula can be fully understood. But for now I just live off of 10 years experience in dealing with the formula. Although you may never see my name on the Internet if you use Google you have definitely seen my work.

Tuesday, May 1

1 Month Anniversary

April was the first full month for for the website Gwelf.com and the response from friends, family and people around Guelph has been great.

While I am nowhere close to a busy site or anything that is worth bragging about I did manage to get 3,859 readers last month. The interesting part of this number is where everyone came from as 3,070 came from Canada (1,464 from Guelph), 260 from Singapore, 237 from the United States (40 from Google) and the rest from various other countries, a total of 57 different countries make up my readership.

I didn’t think I would get as much local readership but it is nice as a few people within the community in Guelph have referenced me to my blog and even the founder of the company I work for has found my blog thanks to Google.

I promise to eat out more often once I am downtown and do more reviews of businesses and restaurants in Guelph as I think it is nice to share this wonderful city with others and help the community maybe even find something new.

Over the last month a few interesting stories have come from the blog:

The first one that sticks in my mind is the founder of the company I am working for emailing me and commenting on the blog and then during a meeting making a direct reference to me not living on Willow road. While I had and will keep the blog clean this gives me even more reason to do so.

The second one that was interesting was when I was looking for a place to rent I had people on the other end of the phone ask if I was “Stephen the Blogger who ran Gwelf.com” as they had been reading the blog. It was interesting that simply saying my name was Stephen and I was looking for a place to rent immediately they thought of my blog. Wonder if any other “Stephen’s” where getting the same treatment over the last month.

Third thing that referenced my blog was even stranger and actually had a nice result. Seems the Fido store that I reviewed had several bad reports back on its staff and about Paul the person that served me and was really helpful, which I mentioned in the blog. Somehow the management of Fido found my blog and read my post on Paul and Fido and used it to help them validate that Paul is a good employee and while everyone has a bad day Paul does have good days. No idea if my blog had much weight but it did manage to get back to me via 3 other people that Fido was happier with Paul thanks to my blog.

Other things that have happened thanks to the blog is that some of the staff within the company I work where able to learn more about me and have initiated friendships thanks to reading it. I have even had people from outside of Guelph that where just looking to see if they also wanted to move to Guelph read, comment and email me about my blog and Guelph.

I glad that I moved to Guelph, glad to be working with the company I am with and happy that I have taken the plunge into the Blogging world and started this blog.

Sunday, April 29

First Month in Guelph

Very happy to say that life in Guelph has been great and my gut feelings on Guelph where very correct. Sadly on the working in Guelph side of things a combination of confusion, uncertainty and the general stress of the move has made it a little rough. Not all that bad just try and think about doing the following:

- Get less then 30 days to: move to a new city/country, hire movers/pack, say goodbye to friends, manage 5 other unassociated trips, deal with office rentals, apartment rentals and related services.
- Arrive at a new job where you have 13 people reporting to you all of whom are eager to learn everything possible and are in need of that knowledge ASAP, but you also have dozens of other people asking for help. (If anyone wants a genie pig for a cloning experiment I am game.)
- Attend meeting after meeting with different people/departments all asking for the same thing but not being in a logistical position to give it to anyone of them.
- Come home night after night to a hotel room and have random eating habits.

That’s my life over the last couple months and its catching up to me but I do know that in the coming couple months I will have a better time both in Guelph and at work.

May will be an interesting month as I have to be in Florida and China for meetings and more interestingly I will be moving into my new home on the 8th of May. No house warming party planned for May as I won’t be around long enough but in June I hope that I have the place ready for guests.

Going to Florida for 3 days for a quick meeting with the corresponding SEO department within a company we just acquired. Will see what tools and knowledge they can bring back to the Guelph SEO team. I know that some of them SEO team in Guelph like the possibility of having a remote office in Florida to make use of during the winter months, but don’t know if that’s possible.

My trip to China in May will be for the Search Engine Strategies conference and I will be speaking on the Advanced SEO track. This year I will expand out my presentation on the top things a webmaster/SEO can do to rank better in Google. I will post a link within the blog to allow you to download a version for those who are interested. Post more on that later in May.

Wednesday, April 25

Atmosphere Cafe

While I have not gotten a chance to get out for many dinners I have made it to the Atmosphere Cafe in Guelph and have to say the food was really wonderful. For an entree I ordered the Pear Salad which was my first time having a pear salad and I was presently surprised, while it is not a garden salad the pears really add a nice flavor.

For a main course I had the Pacific Salmon and I have to say that this is worth coming to eat at the Atmosphere Cafe. The piece of salmon was large and was atop of a nice array of fresh vegetables and everything was cooked just right, the vegetables where still crisps and the salmon nice and flakey.

If these items don’t interest you the Atmosphere Cafe has a great website ( http://www.atmospherecafe.ca ) that have there menus online so you can get a great idea of the other items they serve and I can say that your are going to enjoy which ever item you select. My friends who joined me for dinner had the pizza and they really enjoyed that but for me I prefer to have a meal over pizza when I am in nice restaurant like this. But the pizza still is very gourmet and just as enjoyable.

If you want some more opinions of the Atmosphere Cafe there is a great website that offers up Guelph restaurant reviews at http://www.restaurantica.com/restaurants/1094/

Swiss Chalet in Guelph

Many of you are asking me what I am eating since I have been back in Canada and while I not getting out for dinners at restaurants I am staying away from Mc Donald’s and opting for Swiss Chalet delivery.

Swiss Chalet has some great chicken and even has porgies. I order the porgies, chicken sandwich and an apple pie for dessert. While kind of costly it is at least a really nice dinner and it defiantly is better then some fast food option.

Amazingly ordering Swiss Chalet is really easy and they have an interesting system. You can visit their website at http://www.swisschalet.com/ and order online or call their 800 number either way they guarantee that you order will arrive in less then 1 hour or its free. I don’t know if even the pizza companies offer this guarantee anymore, so it is nice to see that you can get a great meal and get it rather quickly. For me I try to call while I driving home from work which times everything nicely.

But I am really looking forward to when I am living downtown and have access to a lot of nice restaurants and can further stay away from the fast food diet.

Monday, April 23

First Payday

I have been working in Guelph now for 3 weeks, even had my first payday and so far it has been really eventful and fun. But a lot of changes are happening considering I was hired to be an "advisor" to the team and now I have 13 people reporting into me you can get the general idea of the restructuring within the company. But for you over at GS in Singapore the grass isn’t all that greener as even here I don't get an office, guess that gives me something to work towards.

My new team is not as experienced as some but they are all really eager to learn, plus there are a couple people within the team that do have some experience and hoping they can help in my mentoring of the rest. Also in the coming months, maybe even weeks I hope that I can further grow the team even more. So if anyone reading this blog is interested in doing SEO in Guelph send an email to me and I will put you in touch with HR.

Other then work, life in Guelph is getting better along with the weather. Last weekend I went out to a Stag and Doe (my first) and it was a lot of fun to see a bunch of laid back Canadians having fun. Really looking forward to moving into my place in May and I have found myself a Sofa, dinning room table and some kitchen items just wish I could move in sooner.

As for my plans for heading to SES China I haven’t gotten clearance on things yet, but have my first meeting with the CEO on Thursday so will bring that up then to see what his thoughts are as its getting close and I really like to know when I would be back in Asia. Wish me luck with the meeting with the CEO, don’t think I will need it as he sounds like a good guy, but still thanks for the good thoughts.

Thursday, April 19

Thanks to My Guelph Readers

Want say "thank you" to all my Guelph readers who took the time to email me or leave me a comment on my question on where to live as it really helped me out. Without your feedback I could have easily taken the apartment on Willow Road and while it would have been a home by the sounds of things it wouldn't have been the most suitable place to call home.


So I happy to say that today everything was confirmed and I will be moving into downtown Guelph starting in May. It feels nice to know where I will be calling home and now I get the fun part of designing my apartment. I promise to post some photos of my place when it is finished as well as some of the amazing view from my unit, as I overlook the entire downtown. I will have to talk to Kev over at GuelphCam to see if we can setup a downtown webcamera.

Work has been going great, while busy and complex its nice as things are really coming together. I will post more shortly on work but for now its after midnight and I have an early morning meeting. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Sunday, April 15

I Need Your Help: Downtown or Silvercreek Area?

These are the two locations that I have narrowed down my home search to but I need your help. Since I do not know much about either areas I could use your feedback on downtown and/or Silvercreek (across from Willow West Mall).

UPDATE: I decided on the downtown location, BIG THANKS to all those who gave me their feedback it was really helpful.

Both have pluses and minus on the side of the apartment itself but if someone can give me some feedback on the area maybe that will help me decide. I will make my choice by Wednesday so please take the time to leave me your comments.

Its good news that I have found a couple choices as I gave up on getting a house and living in some acreage, so it is going to be apartment life for me at least until I decide to buy something for myself.

Tuesday, April 10

Stressing Out on Tax in Canada

The other day I was in with HR and we were just going over things like getting OHIP, life insurance and taxes. She pulled up a program that showed the tax deductions from my salary and wow it was shocking.

POST UPDATED: I had to update this post as I have had a few negative comments and some not so nice emails about my comments on tax. So I will explain my logic on my issues, but please note Canada is a great country and I am happy to be back. But in a country that we strive for equality I don't see equality in the tax system, a basic idea of a equal tax system would be: take the average salary of everyone within a province and then assign a cap to the tax paid based on that. So if you make the average salary you pay the normal tax, if you make less you pay less tax but if you make more you are not further tax simply because your paid more. This also brings more money into the communities and back in the the salaries of the workers. To me this is a equal system but in Canada if you happen to make a high salary you are heavily taxed and shockingly instead of paying less tax the more you make it is the opposite the more you make the more you are taxed. Anyways I am very happy to be back in Canada and will happily pay my taxes where required, but I just think the system is a little strange.

Other then stressing on the taxes I am stressing on finding a place to live as I have now contacted about 200 people that had a place for rent and seen a number of them. But there has only been one place that is interesting and there is an offer currently on it so if it is accepted then I am out of luck. But wish me luck as it’s a beautiful 3 story house that has 7 bedrooms, 5 washrooms and even a room for a theater, my only problem will be trying to furnish 7 bedrooms (hehehe anyone want to rent a room).

Saturday, April 7

Apartment/House Hunting in Guelph

This weekend I started seeing places for rent but had no luck so far. I did find a nice place was on 13 acres of land and was a very nice house. Would have loved to call it home but the strangest problem it was a little out of the city and it doesn’t get mobile phone coverage. I guess it was just a little too much into the country area and without cell phone coverage it wasn’t something I could accept.

I am also having a tough time finding a place due to the abundance of student style housing. One place I saw was very run down and I felt bad as the house itself could be such a nice place if the landlord actually kept up the place.

If anyone reading this has/knows of a place in Guelph either a detached house or nice apartment please let me know. I have a few requirements the only one worth mentioning is that it needs to have underground parking or an attached garage. Also ideally I like to have a nice apartment but if there are no executive style apartments then a nice detached house is my backup plan.

Wish me luck on finding a place as it has been a week in the hotel and I am looking forward to moving out into a real home.

Tip Top Tailors, Stone Road Mall

While tailors in Asia are common there are no branded tailor shops so it is nice to see that in Guelph they have the Tip Top Tailors stores. I went in and some great service with some amazing low prices, actually the prices of pants and shirts are cheaper then in Singapore. I think this is due to the volume aspect combined with the lack of greed as the quality is the same if not better.

Tip Top Tailors in the Stone Road Mall is a good sized store and has a lot of options. It even rents tuxes but on my visit I just picked up some new shirts and a nice heavy woven long sleeve top. Cost wise I paid only $20 a shirt and the sales lady was helpful enough that she steamed my shirts and then gave them to me in a shirt bag with hangers. I will be happy to shop there again and recommend to others check them out next time you are looking for a new shirt or pants.

Thursday, April 5

White Sandy Beaches in Guelph

Today I awoke to what for the last few years is normally a good thing, white substance on the round outside of my hotel room. But unlike in Asia this wasn’t nice white sand it was cold, cold snow. So much for my hopes in avoiding snow till this coming winter and they say that the snow might stay around for the next week or so, darn that trip to Florida is looking better.

For all you in Singapore you can play spot the Google with the photo of my X5 and for the rest of you spot the Google was something that my co-workers used to do with my photos as a lot of my photos seem to have a Google logo in them.

To get an idea of how cold it was in Guelph, the door to my X5 once opened didn’t want to close and when I finally did get it closed it refused to open again. This meant me climbing out the passenger side door, but luckily in the afternoon the ice melted enough that I could open and close my doors. But as I type this I can feel the coldness in my fingers, it doesn’t feel good and about now I am really missing the warm lifestyle in Asia.

Tonight I am off to a night out with people from work so should be interesting to meet more of the fellow staff. Will let you know how that all goes later on this weekend.

Wednesday, April 4

Snowing in Guelph

It has been a long time since I have seen snow, in fact I stopped in the middle of a little meeting I was in and pointed out of the window and said look it is snowing. The others looked at me strangely and I think they then remembered that to me this is something new, but to them they’ve probably just spent the last 4 or 5 months looking at snow and where not at all impressed.

So its getting colder here in Guelph and the snow is still falling. If it lasts till morning I will take a photo of it as that would look nice as at the moment there is just little layer of snow on everything.

I have already started to call real estate agents and have a few other locations in mind to live. As that house I mentioned before it great, but it’s a little out of the city and I would like to see if I can get myself a nice condo within the core of the city. The place I am really interested in is called Riverside residence on the Park, so if anyone of my readers knows of anyone selling, leasing or renting a unit out of that building please do let me know. Otherwise if you know of any locations with a great view, underground parking and 3+ bedrooms feel free to let me know as I am defiantly interested.

Work is going good and today I was asked to fly to Florida next week for a couple days to help review some business ventures there, but in a twist of luck the people that I needed to speak with are in New York all next week. So I’ll be staying put for the week, which is good as I think 2 weeks in one location is the longest I’ve stayed still this year.

My trip back to Asia in May is looking to be around the 19th to 27th as we have a public holiday on the 21st and SES is on the 25/26 so it is great timing. So hope that I can get my buddy Gurp to come out with me to Thailand and maybe even get my English pal Mark to take some time off school and head out for a little reunion, we’ll see.

Ok I hoping tonight I get a full night sleep as not feeling overly tired and its 9:30 so it’s a good sign that I might be able to stay awake till 11 and sleep the whole night, wish me luck and hope tomorrow I can post some nice snow photos.

Monday, April 2

First Day Working in Guelph

Very happy to report that I had a great first day and my fellow co-workers turning out to be even more enjoyable then I had hoped. Funny thing was a couple of the staff members are readers of my blog and my cubical buddy Steve is also a blogger, he runs Angry in the Great White North.

Today along with me there where 11 new people joining the company, which even included an ex-NHL player who will be heading the Hockey.com website development. It looks like the company is growing very quickly, so much so that the parking lots can’t handle all the cars and they have to run mini-shuttle buses to the offices from larger parking lots.

I spent some of my day trying to setup my computer and desk, its fun to have a desk and co-workers again. For a computer they gave me an IBM T60, while it is really heavy it does have an amazing 15.4-inch widescreen and it makes my x60 look like a pocket pc. A nice surprise is they’ll be giving a company Blackberry phone for me to use, which is nice as I miss having Internet access on the go.

Still having a tough time with the time change and I didn’t get a good sleep last night but I hoping tonight I get a full nights sleep, wish me luck. This weekend I checked and there aren’t any Club Meds in Cuba so while it is possible to go, I will wait to go to Cuba when I have someone to go with me. So this weekend I will maybe get a chance to see a few apartments and also get some more shopping in as it will be another 6 weeks till the rest of my bags arrive and I released I forgot to pack enough shirts.

fido kiosk, Stone Road Mall

I was really happy to find out that Guelph has GSM service from fido as I really don’t like using CDMA technology. To find a fido I figured my best bet was to head to the Stone Road Mall and sure enough I found a fido kiosk in the mall, but before that I did go into a Rogers store and wow that was painful.

The gentleman at Rogers was very anti pre-paid service and he refused to give me details on the plans and simply said if I wanted that I could go to Wal-Mart or some other location as they only have time to deal with people that are looking for monthly contracts. So I was really glad when I found the fido kiosk as fido is known for good service along with a good pre-paid program.

So thanks to Paul the fido staff member who helped answer my questions and get my new fido phone number setup. He even took the time to ensure that I got a nice vanity type phone number, which is great as I always enjoy having a number that is somewhat unique. If you want me local number best just email me Stephen@Gwelf.com and I’ll send you out my number.

While in Canada they do have GSM service they don’t have 3G service add to that fido doesn’t have unlimited data plans and you will understand that mobile search is really in the early days here. I really hope in the coming years they update to 3G service and get better data plans as I really like being able to access the Internet on demand.

Well if you are looking for a good cell phone provider I highly recommend fido as not only do they have good network coverage they also have great customer service.

Sunday, April 1

Day One in Guelph

I arrived last night and took a quick city tour and was really amazed as the city was so much prettier then I had thought. The city has so many old style buildings in brink and stone, something I haven’t seen for along time. I arrived Saturday night so there where a few people out downtown, but to my delight nothing too crazy happening downtown and the local nightlife seems really interesting.

Today I drove around the city and checked out a couple apartments and the house I was looking at renting, so many options really looking forward to getting a place here. I also got over to the Stone Road Mall, where I checked out the Sony Store, Flight Centre and I setup a local phone number with Fido. The Stone Road Mall is small but a good size that it’s a nice way to spend a couple hours shopping.

Weather wise its cold here and it rained today, but at least there isn’t snow on the ground. It is nice to be driving again, but had to fill up my tank today and wow it was $100 to fill up, so maybe I should stop driving around randomly. I figure the novelty of being able to drive will ware off in a few weeks.

My body right now doesn’t seem to have a big issue with the coldness and a funny thing is my hotel room heater only goes to 25.5 C so even at full heat its cold in my room. The biggest problem my body has right now is trying to stay awake and also trying to stay asleep. Last night woke up at 5am and couldn’t get back to sleep and now it is almost 8pm and I am fighting to keep my eyes open.

Tomorrow is my first day on the job, really looking forward to it. Scoped out the offices today and while not a high profile office/company they sure seem to be big with tons of cubicles/office space. Will do my best to post back on my first day at work and will try to figure out how to post my new phone number to my friends without the whole world knowing my number.

Saturday, March 31

Being Back Home in Canada

I arrived back in Canada yesterday and it is starting to sink in that I am no longer going to be living in Asia. Everywhere I look I see something new but with a sense of familiarity, while at least in Vancouver that is the case.

Landing in Vancouver I thought was going to be stressful and full of issues, but I was pleasantly surprised by the process. Other then waiting in line for about 30 minutes to get through the initial customs screening the rest was a breeze. As after the initial screening a porter was there to grab my bags and then we got taken through a side door that bypassed the second lineup and have to give a big thanks to the customs officer who instead of making me fill out all the paper work just gave me a document and a number to call to have it all handled for me. So what I had budgeted as a 1 to 2 hour nightmare became a 30 minute wait in a line, next time I will get the Can-Am airport pass so I can also bypass the initial customs lineup.

It is really good to be back in an environment where great service is the norm as even the service at VanCity beats the private banking services with CitiBank which is known in Asia as the best. I walked into my old VanCity branch as I always kept an account there. Right away I had a couple people servicing me and while nobody offered me coffee or tea the actual service was amazing. They knew exactly what I needed and had the forms ready in a couple minutes. Really makes me feel comfortable keeping my money with a bank full of people that understand their system and customers at this level. Coming from Asia I could tell you so many horror stories from banks running two charging systems to a great story on what it took to actually get a Visa card in Thailand.

On a personal note I had a reunion of sorts with my guardian, which I haven’t seen in over 8 years. She is one of the closest people to me that can share stories of my late mother and is able to joke about my crazy family. So it was really good to touch base with her and hope now that I am within a reasonable flying distance I will be able to see her more often then every 8 years.

Also was able to meet back up with an old friend that I’ve known for over 14 years. Having that much of a history with someone is rare as traveling around the world and living in so many different places I’ve lost touch with most of my friends. But luckily my buddy Gurp is rooted in Vancouver and is always happy to take a few minutes of his day to hang out and reflect on the good old days. As with some of my best friends Gurp and I also share some great travel stories and I hope that I can get him over to Thailand in May to share in some new ones.

While I was in David’s office at VanCity I was looking at his desk and trying to figure out why there was a bunny rabbit on top of his computer monitor. Then like an old joke you just remember I smiled as it came to me that Easter must be coming. So I asked him when Easter was and it shocked me to hear that it was the following weekend. While I am Catholic I haven’t celebrated an Easter in over 5 years and really haven’t been aware of Easter for those 5 years as in Asia the only Catholic holiday that is noticeable is Christmas. So now while I am sitting on this plane headed to Toronto I am wondering if I should try to get a flight next weekend to Cuba or if I should just take the time to get to know Guelph a little better. I will decide in the next couple days as I don’t even know if we get holiday time with my new company during Easter.

Big moves and big changes in life are something sadly I am somewhat used to but I still have a little bit of that butterfly feeling in my stomach and honestly am a little nervous on what Guelph will bring into my life. I am getting older and like my guardian was saying I have done so much in the past 10 years, I hope that Guelph can be the place that I can experience the next 10 years as a member of a wonderful community.

In about 5 hours I will get my first glance at Guelph and I think tonight I will end up driving around Guelph to get a sense of the city. Can’t promise that I will blog tonight as even now I am really tired (it is 6am Singapore time) and while I been fighting to switch my body over to local time, come nighttime I will be ready for bed.

Friday, March 30

South Korea Marks #48 for Me

Well I just finishing up a 2 day stay in Seoul, South Korea. Seoul is interesting, very costly, along the lines of Japan costs, but minus the Japanese system and cleanness. I for the most part enjoyed the city/county. I managed to get a tour of the DMZ, which was interesting. I’ve seen the boarder between Mexico and the US and while not exactly the same the DMZ shares many characteristics, like long fences, barb wire and a general sense of displaced people.

The most notable thing from this trip was in my hotel room. Now we have all seen mini bars and I had though the most advanced mini bar system was those that as soon as you take the bottle out of the fridge a computer send notice to charge you for the item. Well here in Seoul they’ve gone further, as in Seoul they have installed actual vending machines within the rooms (see the photo). These 4 and half feet by 2 and a half feet machines sit in the rooms just waiting for you to get hungry or need a bottle of wine and the get this when you turn off all the lights they come on and wish you a goodnight sleep. While not something I expect in a 5 star hotel these hotel room vending machines are effective. My only problem was I didn’t have any money small enough to buy a drink and it doesn’t give back change.

If anyone is coming to Seoul and going on the tour of the DMZ, bring along a large marble. You’ll understand when you are walking back out of the tunnel and if possible record the event and let me know how far it goes down.

Got to go, as I am just at the airport waiting to get on the plane and head to Vancouver and within 48 hours I will be in Guelph and hoping to stay put for at least a few weeks. As for why South Korea is #48 for me, well it is the 48th country that I have traveled to. I am hoping that #49 is Cuba as really interested to see that country and understand better about its culture and government. Will keep you posted as to which country becomes #49.

Thursday, March 29

Singapore Airlines New First Class

It has probably been said before but I will say it anyways, the new first class with Singapore Airlines is like having a hotel room at 35,000 feet in the sky. Actually since there are only 8 seats/2 rows on the 777-300ER you also feel like your in some really small jet as the rest of the plane stays oblivious to you. On my flight there where only 6 people in first and with 3 dedicated staff we always had someone close by to help out.

My flight from Singapore to Seoul was 5 and a half hours, so I had a chance to get in a movie and a couple TV programs on the 24 inch LCD TV built into my seating area. While they didn’t have an actually IR remote for the TV it did have a nice controller attached to the seat, that also had a full keyboard. The keyboard is used to create/edit basically any office documents on the Singapore Airlines version of Microsoft Office. Note out to the Google guys that read the blog, should partner up with Singapore Airlines and offer up Google Apps in all their seats.

The seat which is huge, 35 inches wide and tall enough that even I can’t see over/around the side skirts also has a desk in front of you, where the TV and other things go. This monster of a seat at request also gets transformed into a bed, while at first glace I couldn’t figure out how they did it I did end up asking for turn down service to catch a nap. So what they do is the back of the seat folds down and then folds out to cover the area. Now I was told that this was 7 feet long, but I’m 6 foot 2 and my toes could brush the other end while I was sleeping.

Food and drink wise nothing really interesting, they service the typical caviar, champagne and fine meets but I have had better presentation at many restaurants, but I guess none of the staff are trained at that level of dining. Also no they didn’t let you just milk the champagne bottle, but they gladly where there to fill you up when you got low, but for me I was hitting it hard on the apple juice (champagnes little brother).

One thing amazed me the most out of all the things they had up in the first class cabin and its something I’ve never thought of or heard of before. It was that in the first class cabin on the seat belts they have an airbag safety system. This is something now that I’ve seen makes logical sense as the safety warning card with the people crunched up in weird positions for a crash could all be avoided with the installation of airbags on all the seats. We never got the chance to try out the airbags on the plane but I would rather hit an airbag then slam into the desk or TV in front of me. Probably see more Air Bag Belts if someone like Al Gore gets on a tantrum on airline safety.

Another notable item is the view as the seat takes up 4 windows and since you can see perfectly out of 2 of them you really get a sense of the sky around you. Just take a look at the photo, what a great view can be had and I am talking about out of the window. The feeling of space and freedom is always nice to have, too bad they can’t make longer/wider windows in this section as it sure would be nice to have an even wider view of the sky. Maybe in the future Airbuses this will happen as even though the view was great it felt kind of funny having so many windows to one seat.

Well overall I would say that the new Singapore Airlines first class is something really amazing but since it is so darn costly and also maybe at times not available with only 8 seats the business class is just as amazing. As the business class also has 35 inch seats and fully reclining beds, but is just not as finished and glamorous as the first class seats. Would I fly this first class again, well I will say hopefully not as I hope that in the future I can travel with colleagues and friends, which would make flying first class incredibly unfeasible, unless of course I was traveling with some of the Google boys after the vesting period.

Wednesday, March 28

Last Night in Singapore

Well it is all coming to an end and it feels very strange. Today the movers came and took away my boxes and I did my last few local things like closing my phone, power, Internet, and cable accounts. But part of me still thinks that I’ll be in my bed next week, but this will be the last night ever that I sleep in this bed.

Tonight went out with a bunch of my Singapore friends and had a great laugh and some serious talking on SEO, sorry Melissa next time we’ll give you time to study up on the SEO lingo. It was a good night and it will be a great memory to look back on.

I know I should be happy and moving back to Canada will be great for my personal life and family life, but it sure does feel a little strange to be leaving this all behind so quickly. As I really only started to consider this move to Guelph in February and its been only a few weeks since I confirmed that I would actually make the move, so its all a little blurry, but I do have a lot of good feelings on everything.

Have to my old SEO/PPC team in Singapore that our next lunch is on me, as sorry that I didn’t get a chance to meet up with all of you before I left. I will do my best to be back in May and you guys don’t drive Brent too crazy and remember the key to Peter’s happiness is just to add more TP pages. Oh and Liz did I mention how beautiful you look today, great you feeling good ok then can you buy the keyword “blog” for me with some of the monthly spend. Thanks Liz!

My flight leaves in 7 hours, which means I have at best 5 hours of sleep ahead of me, so I say goodbye to Singapore tonight and to all my friends and co-workers in Asia I wish you all the best in this coming year and while I am not here you are always welcome to email me.

Tuesday, March 27

Interesting time for SEO in Asia

Well as I am about to say goodbye to the SEO industry in Asia, I’ve had a few last minute attempts to keep me here but I am really looking forward to life back home in Canada. Also have to give a big “sorry man” to my buddy Ash over at Mc Donald’s as finally after about a year of working from within he’s been able to get the management of Mc Donald’s ready for SEO, but again sorry man, I need to head back.

I have really enjoyed being part of the SEO building blocks within Asia and while I’ve seen many of those blocks falling back down I really hope that with the increasing level of professionally organized events like ad:tech and Search Engine Strategies in the region it will bring the needed professionalism for this area to succeed. If not we’ll have a new acronym referencing in the Asian Internet advertising world as they’ll end up combing SEO and SEM into one large MLM system or maybe it will just earn the nickname PPF, Pay Per Fraud.

But wait, it’s not all that bad, as I do have to give props out to Marc as even though he’s been recruited to manage SEO for a large American company he’s kept true to his routes and is staying in the Philippines to grow and support the SEO/Internet community there. I just wish other SEOs in Asia could follow in his morals and professional conduct, I won’t bad mouth anyone directly but you know who you are. To those people all I say is, think past tomorrow and realize that being able to read SEO for Dummies and blog on topics your read on other peoples websites doesn’t equal education and/or being part of an industry.

Even with this goodbye I will always be a part of the SEO industry in Asia, while no longer day-to-day, whenever possible you will still see at the events and you know I am always there to help, just drop me an email or Skype me.

Monday, March 26

Eventful time in the Philippines

Well after a few eventful days and nights in the Philippines I am on the plane heading back to Singapore for my last couple days there. The Philippines was great and it was made even better by an incredible bunch of people.


My first evening in town Mr. SEO of the Philippines took me out with his group of buddies, which included Abe who is one of the top bloggers in the Philippines and the rest of his close blogging pals, who by the way are the organizers of Philippine Blog Awards. Also out for the evening was Google Philippines new county manager and a couple of her stylish friends. So all in all it was a restaurant full of SEOs, Bloggers and general Internet geeks. It sure was nice to see that the Internet community in the Philippines is very close both in business and in friendships. If they keep it up, I can see the Philippines being the leader in SEO/Internet market for the Asian region. The Philippines already well known for Internet content developers and outsourced customer server centers.

After the night on the town I did what comes naturally, I left my hotel at like 6am to get on another plane. See there was some management of a very large (but unnameable) Internet company out from the United States and Marc scheduled at the last minute a weekend away from Manila for all of us. So my buddy and I with these two managers headed off to Boracay an amazing Island way the heck in the middle of nowhere. It was funny as one of the American managers noted that he had to take a taxicab, bus, plane, van, boat, and finally a motorbike all within 2 hours just to get to our resort. My trip had one addition to that adventure, as my route to the airport included a visit with the local police as it turns out a one way street in Manila really means a one way street.

But it was all worth it as we all had a great time, racing around in dune buggies, parasailing and generally enjoying sitting on a beach doing nothing. My personal favorite was the racing around with the dune buggies, as they let us loose on this small town/village and I more then enjoyed myself while I helped out the civil engineers by clearing some tree’s and other debris from the sides of the roads (you can sure get a dune buggy sideways at 40km/h).

Sadly it all had to come to an end, but a couple of us including myself will be feeling the effects of a little too much sun for the next several days. Its strange to think that this time next week I will be walking into the office of my new job, probably wearing 4 layers of clothes and having no idea when the next time I will be laying on a beach just watching the world go by.

Well to the Philippines and the all the great people supporting the Internet industry there I hope we all meet up again but till then keep up the good work. Ok inside joke time, to our wonderful tour guide, I hope that with our next trip we can complete the James Bond tour, minus the fitness section.