How to delete extended absence greeting on Virgin Mobile voice mail

I was changing my Virgin Mobile voice mail greeting and pressed the key(2) to record an extended absence greeting.  After pressing the key, it would not let me cancel out so I proceeded to record the greeting.  After recording the greeting, I tried every option, including recording a new regular greeting, but was unable to delete the extended greeting.

I went online and could not find the answer to this question.  I am writing this blog post so that it is available online if somebody else has this same problem.  I even called the Virgin Help Desk and they just told me to re-record the greeting.  I knew that this didn’t work.  So, how did I fix it…I exited my voice mail, then got back in.  Immediately, it told me that I had the extended greeting on and asked me if I wanted to keep it or delete it.  I proceeded to delete it which got rid of the extended absence greeting.

The extended absence greeting was interesting because when you called my number, it gave a greeting and did NOT allow anybody to leave a message.  I could see a use for this to prevent frivolous messages being left on my phone, such as ‘I called you’..obviously I know that you called because I see you as a missed call!!!

To actually get rid of voice mail completely you would have to remove the feature from your calling plan.




Buffer or Hootsuite for scheduling tweets for free

Scheduling Tweets for Free

After you use Twitter for a little while you may decide to take it to the next level.  This usually means building up content and tweeting out the content multiple times and at different times during the day.  When you first get started, you probably want to do it on the cheap!  FREE is good!  Here is my experiences with trying to schedule tweets for free.

Using Buffer to schedule Tweets for free

Buffer ( was recommended to me as the best app to use to schedule tweets.  It was easy to get going, you just need to connect to your Social Media accounts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.).  I found that it didn’t always connect properly and asked me to re-connect a number of times to my Facebook account.  Once connected, it was very easy to schedule tweets and ‘buffer’ them.  It allows you to set up a bunch of specific times to send out tweets on any given day or every day.  For example, if you want to tweet out every hour on the hour you would set up tweet times of 1am, 2am, 3am, … 12am.  I then proceeded to schedule a bunch of tweets.  After scheduling 10 tweets, Buffer would not let me schedule any more tweets until I upgraded to the Awesome plan at $10/month($8.50/month on yearly subscription).  10 tweets is not a lot!

Using Hootsuite to schedule Tweets for free

Hootsuite ( was also recommended to me to schedule tweets.  I found Hootsuite was a little more difficult to understand at first.  Once I figured out the Streams and how to actually schedule a tweet, it was easier.  So, you would go to Streams, then add your Social Networks.  To see your scheduled tweets, you select your particular social network in the ‘Add a Stream’ pane, then a new pane will open which lists the scheduled tweets for that social network.  To schedule a tweet is fairly easy.  You enter your post in the space at the top of the application window, then select the social network(s) to post it to, then you have the option to Automatically Schedule it or manually schedule it.  I found that when you automatically schedule it, it only will schedule about 4 tweets per day out.   I could not find any options for changing the automatic scheduling.  If you manually schedule tweets, you can schedule many per day.  The manual scheduling involved selecting the day, hour, and minute to send the tweet.  I scheduled tweets every 15 minutes for days and it worked fine.  So, it allowed me to schedule 100s of tweets.  There was also an option to schedule tweets from a file, but I didn’t test it out.  So, Hootsuite allowed me to schedule 100s of tweets for free!

So, what free scheduler to use?

This was an easy decision: Hootsuite.  Buffer just doesn’t allow you to schedule many tweets for free.  Buffer was easier than Hootsuite to schedule tweets for specific times.  Hootsuite just allows way more tweets to be scheduled for free!  Once it becomes economically justified to pay $10/month to schedule tweet, I will reconsider using Buffer to schedule tweets, but in the meantime, Hootsuite is my choice!


How to geographically target a specific neighborhood using Social Media

I was in a local food store the other day and the owner’s brother struck up a conversation with me over the logo of my baseball cap which was the same name as their store name, but actually was from another business in another country.  After he realized that he went to school with my cousin and hearing that I worked in the computer industry he said that he was trying to get his brother to use Social Media, but his brother was reluctant.

Specifically, they wanted to get more customers from the neighboring neighborhood which started about 4 blocks away.  It seems that many people from this other neighborhood weren’t shopping at their store, even though they were the closest and had the best prices of any similar store in both neighborhoods.  I told him that I would do a little research and let him know what I thought about it.

The neighborhood was a small area with many high-rise condo and apartment buildings.  I don’t think that there is one single family home in the whole neighborhood.  It is one of the most densely populated areas on the continent.  Also, it is a very affluent area with a very high average condo price and is generally an older crowd.  A further complication is that there is a large number of foreign owners, especially Chinese speaking people.

I did some research and here is what I concluded:

-Based on the demographics of the neighborhood, it isn’t clear that they are huge users of Social Media.  If they are, it isn’t clear which Social Media site(e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) they would use most.

-The store should set themselves up as a local business on Google and also Google Maps so that they will be found in searches.  This is easy and a no-brainer!

-The business could use Google Adwords to target specific Postal/Zip codes with ads. They would have to develop the ads, target the neighborhood geographically, send out the ads and monitor the results. Obviously, this approach would cost money, but could reach a lot of people in a short period of time.  A further complication is that they may need to also run ads in Chinese.

-The business could use hashtags to target specific areas.  They would need to research which hashtags apply to the neighborhood first.  Then, they would need to produce good content while using these hashtags on Twitter and Facebook.  This method would require them to do some research, then create the content, send out the content, and monitor the content.  This approach would take some time to do, but could be done relatively inexpensively.

-Another approach is to seek out the accounts of other businesses and organizations in the other neighborhood to leverage their followers.  For example, you could follow the Twitter followers of a business in the other neighborhood in the hopes that they will follow your business and interact with your business.  You would still need to produce good content for your followers.  This approach would take some time to do, but could be done relatively inexpensively.

-I did give some thought to whether LinkedIn would be appropriate or not.  You can do some very specific targeting using LinkedIn, but I don’t think people on LinkedIn would like to see food ads in their streams!

So, from my research, it is my opinion that  Social Media hasn’t totally evolved yet to do easy geographic targeting of specific neighborhoods.  You still need to spend a lot of time and/or money to geographically target a neighborhood.

I am going to talk to the brother and recommend that they set themselves up as a local business on Google and Google Maps.  However, I’m not sure that for this specific business and the specific neighborhood that they are targeting that they will be willing to spend the time or the money or have the know-how to really benefit from using the Social Media approaches I discussed to target the neighboring neighborhood.  If they want to proceed, they should hire a Social Media expert.


What does it mean when someone tweets my Twitter User id out with #FF hashtag?

As a relatively new Twitter user I am still learning about it.  Lately, people have tweeted out my Twitter User Id with other Twitter User Ids  and with the hashtag #FF, e.g.

#FF Part 2!! @BC_InsuranceGal @byrohlp @CineFixNetwork @hannahorens @KenAMcG @nithiamarimuthu @numbercrunchers @PaultheRockGod @Yamo_chan

So, what does it mean when someone tweets out my Twitter User Id with the #FF hashtag?

Looking up #FF, I found that it means “Follow Friday”, and is obviously used on Fridays!  And for etiquette reasons should only be used on Fridays.  So, the tweet is a Twitter user acknowledging the ids (i.e. people) that are in the list.  So, it is a good thing!

Also, it can be that Twitter user recommending other people similar to you.   I usually click on the other Twitter User Ids and see if I am following them already or not.  If not, I follow them.

Another interesting thing that I see people do is say “Part 2” which obviously means that this is the 2nd tweet of #FF that they did.

I’ve also noticed that successful Twitter users do this regularly.  I am going to start doing it soon!


PHP code to create an online tour of website pages

I felt like doing some programming today.  So, I decided to add an online tour to one of my websites,, which is a geo-domain about Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.  I wanted to have links on every .html page that the user can click on to view all the pages of the web site in a particular order.

I decided to do this task using PHP so I didn’t have to duplicate code in every .html file and it would be easier to maintain having one file with the order of all the .html files.  Also,  I had already enabled PHP for my websites on my web host so it was available to use.

First, I created a PHP file called: PHP_StanleyParkTourBottom.php

First, to make it generic, I needed to determine what .html page the user was on:

//get the webpage name, e.g. index.html

//strip off the first backslash
$url = trim(str_replace(“/”,””,$url));
//make it uppercase
$url = strtoupper($url);
//echo $url;

This involved a call to the server.  I also stripped off the leading “/” and made it uppercase.

Next, I needed to handle the main webpage to start the tuturial:

//main page may be index.html or blank
if ($url == “INDEX.HTML” or $url == “”)
//create the table for the main web page
echo “<!–NAVIGATION–>”;
echo “<p id=\”StanleyParkTourBottomHeading\”>”;
echo “Stanley Park Tour”;
echo “</p>”;
echo “<table id=\”tblStanleyParkTourBottom\”>”;
echo “<tr>”;
echo “<td class=\”tdStanleyParkTourBottom\”><a href=\”XwayXway_Stanley_Park_Tours.html\”>Click Here to Start Free Online Tour of Stanley Park</a></td>”;
echo “</tr>”;
echo “</table>”;
echo “<!–NAVIGATION-END–>”;

I decided to use a table.  What you don’t see here is the CSS to make a thick border around the “Click here…” part to make it stand out.  I used “echo” statements to produce the HTML code.  It was a little tricky getting the double-quotes correct.  Remember you have to use \” to do a literal double-quote.

Then, I needed to handle the other .html webpages:

//first get the previous and next page urls
switch ($url)
$urlPrevious = “index.html”;
$urlNext = “XwayXway_Stanley_Park_Horse_Drawn_Tours.html”;
$urlPrevious = “XwayXway_Stanley_Park_Tours.html”;
$urlNext = “XwayXway_Stanley_Park_Aerodynamic_Forms_In_Space_Art.html”;

…   about 100 more cases …

$urlPrevious = “”;
$urlNext = “”;

I decided to use a switch statement within the PHP.  I could have created a MySql database and table, but decided that would be overkill.  The switch statement contained the html pages that are on the website.  For each one, the previous and next html pages were defined.  There were some pages that I didn’t want in the tour.  These pages will default to no previous and next page.

Then, I needed to create the tables with the specific previous and next values:

if (!($urlPrevious == “” and $urlNext == “”))
//create the table for the current web page
echo “<!–NAVIGATION–>”;
echo “<p id=\”StanleyParkTourBottomHeading\”>”;
echo “Stanley Park Tour”;
echo “</p>”;
echo “<table id=\”tblStanleyParkTourBottom\”>”;
echo “<tr>”;
echo “<td class=\”tdStanleyParkTourBottom\”><a href=\”” . $urlPrevious . “\”>Previous</a></td>”;
echo “<td class=\”tdStanleyParkTourBottom\”><a href=\”” . $urlNext . “\”>Next</a></td>”;
echo “</tr>”;
echo “</table>”;
echo “<!–NAVIGATION-END–>”;

Later, I decided to add in a section for the pages that I didn’t include in the tour.  They would just have a link to start the tour similar to the main web page.
//create the table for the tour start for pages not in the tour
echo “<!–NAVIGATION–>”;
echo “<p id=\”StanleyParkTourBottomHeading\”>”;
echo “Stanley Park Tour”;
echo “</p>”;
echo “<table id=\”tblStanleyParkTourBottom\”>”;
echo “<tr>”;
echo “<td class=\”tdStanleyParkTourBottom\”><a href=\”XwayXway_Stanley_Park_Tours.html\”>Click Here to Start Free Online Tour of Stanley Park</a></td>”;
echo “</tr>”;
echo “</table>”;
echo “<!–NAVIGATION-END–>”;

Then, I needed to add the following PHP include statement to each of the 100+ html files on my website:

<?php include(‘PHP_StanleyParkTourBottom.php’); ?>

So, that completes  It was a little tedious adding in all the cases and adding the 1 line to over 100 files, but I am happy with the result.  I’m hoping that the tour will increase the page views and clicks on ads on

Who knew?… I am an All-Star… well according to my LinkedIn Profile Strength!

I was out for coffee with a colleague doing some networking.  I was telling her how I was spending an hour a day on my LinkedIn Profile to see if it would generate some business leads.  Another colleague of ours had told us that he got all his work the last few years from LinkedIn.  So, I thought that I would put in the effort to have a great LinkedIn profile.

My colleague was new to LinkedIn so I thought that I was an ‘expert’ compared to her.  Then, she says, what is your LinkedIn Profile Strength?  I was stunned!  She knew something that I didn’t about LinkedIn.  I didn’t know what a LinkedIn Profile Strength was.  She said that it showed on the right-hand side of your profile page in LinkedIn.  When I went home, I signed into LinkedIn, clicked the Profile tab, and there it was on the right-hand side….I was an All-Star!  Yeah baby!

Your Profile Strength shows within a circle.  If you aren’t yet an All-Star then the circle is not filled up.  If you move your mouse over the circle it tells you the next level that you can attain.  Supposedly, it also gives you a link to suggest improvements to your profile.  The profile strength levels you can have are: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert, and All Star.

How did I become an All-Star?  I did a little research and being an All-Star relates to how complete your profile is.  You need to have a photo, title, industry, a summary, some experience, some skills, and education entered.  You also have to 50 connections.  There are probably some other requirements also, but these are the main ones.

What does it mean to be an All-Star?  Now, below the circle a link to ‘Share your profile’.  Clicking on this link opens a window that allows you to share your LinkedIn Profile on Facebook and Twitter.  There is a generic message followed by a link to your profile, e.g. ‘Check out my professional profile and connect with me on LinkedIn’.  You can change the message to say whatever you want.  In addition to be allowed to share your profile, you also will rank higher in searches in LinkedIn.  One job seeker wrote in a blog post that after achieving All-Star status, he was contacted much more from Fortune 500 companies.

So, it is good to be an ‘All-Star‘!



Tips for Building Social Media Communities

I’ve been trying to learn more about Social Media lately.  One of the ways that I have been doing this is by participating in a Social Media Podcast.  This podcast is called the Bunker Project and takes place bi-weekly in the back storage room (aka. the Bunker) of a bar in the Barclay Hotel on Robson Street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Many of the regular participants have huge Social Media Communities.  One person has over 100,000 Twitter followers and is one of the top Social Media influencers in the world.   Another participant, has a huge LinkedIn following and a noted LinkedIn Expert.  The hosts have done hundreds of Podcasts and are frequent social media contributers.  Other participants include SEO experts and Games developers.   So, these are obviously people with lots of social media experience!

A recent podcast was about building communities in Social Media.  Each participant was asked to give a tip about building social media communities.  These tips were so good, I thought I would write this blog post to share them.

Tips for building Social Media communities:

1. Don’t Spam.  If all you do is bother people and try to sell something you won’t build a good community.

2. Don’t Put a hashtag (#) in front of every word in your Tweets in Twitter.  This is just bad etiquette and makes your Tweet hard to read.

3. Don’t post the same thing to multiple social media sites (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, etc.) in a short period of time.  Your community will probably be following you on multiple social media sites and they don’t want to get the exact same post within a few minutes.

4. Give more than you take.  Contribute to your community and you will build your community!

5. Don’t post too many items in a row in a short period of time.  There are tools, e.g. Buffer, that can space out your postings.

6. Like your community.  If you don’t really like your community, what is the point in building a large community?

7. Meet people in your community.  Personal contact with people in your community will raise your standing in the community and help to build your community.  This is easier if your community is local, but if it isn’t you can always go to a convention or meet people in your community when travelling!

These are some of the tips that I have picked up by participating in a community.




How to clear autofill entries in Chrome

I just started using Google’s Chrome as a browser.  I have enabled the ‘autofill’ option to save time.  Autofill remembers what you entered into specific text entry fields.  The next time you go to the same field, the last value that you entered shows in a drop-down list.  You can select the value from the drop-down list and hence save time.

Once in a while I have entered an incorrect text values.  These values will continue to show in the drop-down list when you go back to the particular text field.  To clear the incorrect values from the drop-down list, just go to the value and press the Shift+Delete keys, i.e. hold down the Shift key and while holding it down press the Delete key.  This will clear your entry.

Can’t get Windows Live Mail to go Online

I had a weird Microsoft software issue today.  I was using Windows Live Mail on my Windows 7 PC.  I accidentally clicked on the ‘Work offline’ button in the top toolbar.  This button is right next to the ‘Send/Receive’ button which I had intended to click.  So, after I went ‘offline’ after clicking the wrong button.  After realizing this, I decided to click the button, which now was ‘Work online’ to work online again.  This didn’t get me online.  I had errors and it popped up a message box asking me if I wanted to work online.  I tried many times and it did not work.  I thought I had it figured out when I clicked on the ‘world’ icon at the bottom of the screen.  It said ‘Working Online’ after I clicked it, but it didn’t work.  When I clicked on the Send/Receive it still asked me if I wanted to work online and then I started getting the same errors again.

I then started to get anxious about how to get my mail!  I logged onto webmail and was able to get my mail.  Wheew, what a relief!  So, it is definitely a problem with Windows Live Mail.

So, then I did a quick Google Search and there were some posts saying that it was related to the Internet Explorer 10 upgrade.  Many posts said that you had to go back to a previous restore point.  Ouch, the other day I installed a large program which took hours!  I definitely did not want to do that.  Reading further, the posts said to start Internet Explorer 10 then try to ‘Work Online’ in Windows Mail.  I tried this and it did not work.  Some of the posts said to reboot.  I rebooted and then was finally able to ‘Work online’ in Windows Mail.  So, I think that you had to start Internet Explorer 10, then reboot your computer to be able to work online!

So, if you have this same problem just start Internet Explorer 10, then reboot your PC and you should be able to get online again!


PST Re-Implementation for Independent Computer Consultants / Systems Developers Services

On April 1, 2013, the PST will be re-implemented in British Columbia.  As an Independent Computer Consultant / Systems Analyst who has a corporation, I need to know whether I will need to charge my customer PST or not.  Having had my corporation for many years, i.e. prior to the implementation of the HST, I remember that I did not have to charge PST to my clients, only GST!  After the HST implementation, I had to charge the HST which was basically the GST plus the PST!  So, now that the province is switching back to the PST, I wanted to confirm what I should be charging.

I contacted the new Provincial PST department.  The response referred me to 2 documents:

1)  Bulletin SST 040, Computer Software and Hardware  -for information prior to the HST implemention, i.e. how is was implemented the last time we had PST.  The key part of this document for me, who provides software services is:
“Services to Software
Effective February 22, 2006, you do not charge PST on services to software, such as modifying, installing, configuring, repairing, restoring or providing corrective action to software. Installation services related to the purchase of software
You charge PST on the purchase price of taxable software. You do not charge PST on
services to software, including installation services. With most goods, the purchase
price includes any charges for installation that are incurred at, or before, the time when
title passes to the customer. However, since services to software are specifically exempt
from PST, installation charges are not included in the purchase price of software. As
long as the charge for the installation of software is listed separately on the invoice, you
charge PST only on the price of the software, and not on the price for the installation.”

So, this verifies that I was correctly not collecting PST prior to the HST implementation.

2)  Notice 2012-024,
-for information about the re-implementation of the PST.  The key part of this document for me, who provides software services is:
“Services provided to software, including installation and modification services, will not be subject to PST.”

So, according to this bulletin, I will not need to collect PST from my clients.  So, I will be only collecting HST from my clients after April 1, 2013.

So, I would recommend to all Independent Computer Consultants / Systems Developers to read the above 2 bulletins to see how the PST re-implementation will affect them.

Paul Juzkow

President, Luna Systems Corporation

Here is the entire reply that I received from the Provincial PST department:

Thank you for your enquiry.

British Columbia’s provincial sales tax (PST) will be re-implemented effective April 1, 2013, at a general tax rate of seven percent.  The draft proposed consolidation of the Provincial Sales Tax Act (PSTA) is available at  The draft proposed consolidation of the PSTA provides a preview of what the re-implemented PST might generally look like as of April 1, 2013 if the proposed amendments are introduced into the Legislative Assembly and approved without further amendment.  The Ministry of Finance continues to work on developing the regulations and consequential amendments that complete the legislative package required to re-implement the PST substantially as it was before harmonization, including the permanent exemptions.

Please note that we cannot provide a ruling on how the PSTA or its regulations will apply until such time that the legislation and regulations are finalized.

You are required to register and collect PST if you make sales/leases of tangible personal property, taxable software or provide taxable services.  Prior to harmonization, sales of custom software and stand-alone IT consulting services were not subject to PST.  For additional information on how the PST applied to computer sales and service prior to harmonization, please see ministry Bulletin SST 040, Computer Software and Hardware and recent Notice 2012-024, Software.

To receive updates about the re-implementation of the PST, please visit the following web page and click the button to “Subscribe To Receive Updates” which is located near the top right of the page:

More information on British Columbia’s return to the PST can be found in a new series of PST bulletins and notices, available on the Ministry’s website at

This correspondence describes how the Ministry interprets the relevant tax provisions for information purposes only.  This response may be impacted by variations in circumstance, subsequent changes to legislation or subsequent court decisions.  The Ministry is not responsible for updating this response if there are any subsequent changes to the law.  This response is provided as an aid to understanding the legislation and is not intended to replace the legislation.

Tax Inquiries Ministry of Finance