Award Winning Social Media Promotions

Blender was for­tu­nate to be part of an amaz­ing team that was rec­og­nized at the 2014 ICSC Shop­ping Cen­tre Awards for two adver­tis­ing campaigns.

Our cam­paign won gold for Spring Style Find at West­shore Town Cen­tre. Blender, work­ing with social media mar­keter Cre­at­ing Excel­lence, designed a Face­book “inter­ac­tive gam­ing expe­ri­ence.”  Our app was mobile friendly and existed in a social media con­text to encour­age cus­tomers to con­nect with West­shore and share the con­test with each other.

Spring Style Find — West­shore Town Centre

West­shore Town Cen­tre launched Spring Style Find, an in-mall and online inter­ac­tive gam­ing expe­ri­ence. This cross-plat­form con­cept meshed the iconic Price is Right with the idea of hav­ing cus­tomers guess the cor­rect prices of prod­ucts from the Cen­tre. Spring Style Find was a real win­ner with a 6.95% increase in sales, an addi­tional 25,000 shop­ping min­utes and an esti­mated 8,900 store vis­its to search out cor­rect prices and an aver­age store visit per shop­ping trip that increased from 1.5 stores to 4.9!



spam email from friends: hacked or spoofed

Orig­i­nally posted by Rich Pasco

Very often, I receive junk mail (spam) with a “From:” address of one of my con­tacts, for exam­ple a friend or fel­low team mem­ber. The mail might con­tain an adver­tise­ment for Via­gra or replica Rolex watches, a sad story about being robbed while on vaca­tion (and please wire money), or just a link to a web site which could down­load mali­cious soft­ware onto my com­puter. In such cases, I delete that e‑mail with­out click­ing on the poten­tially dan­ger­ous link.

Just as often, a friend or fel­low team mem­ber con­tacts me stat­ing that junk mail is going out in their name and ask­ing what to do about it. Here is what I reply:

Hacked or Spoofed?

It is impor­tant to know whether your mail is hacked or spoofed. Let’s define these terms:

HACKED — Mail is actu­ally being sent from your account by some­one logged in to your server as you.

SPOOFED — Mail is being sent from some­where else with your address being forged onto its “From:” line.

Con­tinue Read­ing at


Facebook App Contest - Westshore Mall


Just launched — Face­book App Con­test for West­shore Town Cen­tre! Designed by Cre­at­ing Excel­lence and pro­grammed by Blender.  This con­test exists in the con­text of Face­book and runs in con­cert with West­shore’s in mall contest.

Note­wor­thy fea­tures include: mobile friendly, Like gate, Face­book login, Face­book shar­ing, Tweet­ing, Pinning.

This project brings together sev­eral technologies:

  • Face­book SDKs to inte­grate into it’s social media network
  • Pin­ter­est + Twit­ter sharing
  • Javascript + jQuery for interactivity
  • PHP for server side coding
  • MySQL for stor­ing con­test entries

Face­book appli­ca­tions are great ways to engage peo­ple with your brand or busi­ness.  Vis­i­tors inter­act with you and can eas­ily share out to their friends.

Face­book App Con­test for West­shore Town Centre

Choosing a Secure Password

Choosing A Secure Password

Cul­ture web­site Boing­Bo­ing has pub­lished a great arti­cle explain­ing how pass­words can get cracked.  Lot’s of easy to under­stand exam­ples and best prac­tices to keep you safe. (more…)

security: breaches remind us to take security seriously

data security and retail

Recently two major cor­po­ra­tions have released infor­ma­tion about secu­rity fail­ures. Retailer Tar­get released infor­ma­tion that it’s point of pur­chase sys­tem had be hacked with esti­mates of up to 70 mil­lion cus­tomers’ per­sonal data stolen by hack­ers.  Star­bucks was dis­cov­ered to have been stor­ing users pass­words and infor­ma­tion unen­crypted in plain text in their iPhone app.  The take­away from both of these instances is your per­sonal data is never secure and you must share it with caution.

Secu­rity breaches seem like every day events in out mod­ern times.  Rather than tune them out let them serve as reminders to take secu­rity seriously.

To be more secure online:

  • never click on links in email unless you are con­fi­dent they are safe, do not trust an email came from the address given
  • wire­less or pub­lic net­work allow for com­mu­ni­ca­tions to be lis­tened in on — check you have a secure SSL con­nec­tion to the web­site you are vis­it­ing before send­ing any infor­ma­tion (for instance log­ging in)
  • assume poor secu­rity, always

One point I can­not stress enough: if you are using your email to log into a ser­vice with a pass­word you com­monly use you are at extreme risk.

improve search ranking with great content

improve search visibilty with great content

One of the best ways to improve search rank­ing is to cre­ate great con­tent.  Great con­tent that other web­sites will want to link to.  It is espe­cially good if the search engines con­sider these web­sites to be author­i­ties on a topic you are targeting.

Recently the Blender web­site expe­ri­enced just such a lift.  Pop­u­lar lifestyle blog Life Hacker linked to a tool hosted in the Blender web­site that cal­cu­lated costs for a cloud stor­age ser­vice.  Of course vis­i­tor traf­fic went through the roof increas­ing by sev­eral orders of mag­ni­tude when their post went live.  More inter­est­ingly, search traf­fic both in the form of impres­sions (searchers see­ing the Blender web­page in their search results) and vis­its nearly dou­bled.  The con­tent of my web­site had­n’t changed, but Blender looks a lit­tle bet­ter now. (more…)

internet security: Adobe hacked

internet security breach

Inter­net secu­rity is a con­tin­u­ing con­cern. This hack­ing attack is of inter­est to peo­ple who have reg­is­tered copies of Adobe Pho­to­shop, Light­room, or other prod­ucts.  Your account at Adobe may have been com­pro­mised.  If the pass­word you used at Adobe is the same as you have used else­where then those accounts are also com­pro­mised. (more…)

more SEO support from Google

Google support for logos and seo

Today on Google’s Web­mas­ter Cen­tral blog they announced more search engine sup­port for busi­ness / orga­ni­za­tion logos.  Specif­i­cally they men­tioned dis­play­ing suit­able logos in search results.  Hav­ing your logo included in a search engine results page (SERP) is a huge com­pet­i­tive advan­tage — or dis­ad­van­tage if you don’t fol­low their suggestion!

You can read more about Rich Snip­pets and as they relate to orga­ni­za­tion addresses in my pre­vi­ous blog post local SEO: first steps to bet­ter Van­cou­ver results.

Read the rest at Google


SEO: image optimization with Shrink-O-Matic

Image opti­miza­tion is an SEO fac­tor. Google has stated in their Web­mas­ter Guide­lines that web­sites should be opti­mized to load quickly:

Mon­i­tor your site’s per­for­mance and opti­mize load times. Google’s goal is to give users with the most rel­e­vant results and a great user expe­ri­ence. Fast sites increase user sat­is­fac­tion and improve the over­all qual­ity of the web (espe­cially for those users with slow Inter­net con­nec­tions), and we hope that as web­mas­ters improve their sites, the over­all speed of the web will improve.

Shrink-O-Matic is a free (dona­tion) tool that can help with image opti­miza­tion. This is a very handy tool for resiz­ing images in bulk.  As part of this process it strips out unnec­es­sary infor­ma­tion result­ing in ‘lighter’ file sizes. The images aren’t as light as pos­si­ble, but gen­er­ally much improved.  The ease of use of this tool makes it ideal for bulk image opti­miz­ing.  Add resiz­ing, renam­ing, and water­mark­ing to the mix and you have a winner.

Shrink-O-Matic as an Adobe Air appli­ca­tion so it should work on all plat­forms, as long as you have Air installed. If you find it use­ful I encour­age you to make a dona­tion to sup­port author Quentin Thi­au­court’s work.

Get Shrink-O-Matic


SEO tips: trouble with Google algorithm updates

Google Panda and Penguin algorithms

Google reg­u­larly updates how they arrive at the search results pro­vided to users.  The process is part of the ever chang­ing search land­scape; SEOs tweak for best Google posi­tion­ing and Google tweaks for best search results.  You can view a list of Google’s algo­rithm updates at SEO­Moz, a SEO tools provider.  Two recent Google algo­rithm updates have had a par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant effect: code named Panda and Pen­guin.

For Google’s search results to be rel­e­vant it has to cor­rectly iden­tify the best answers to user searches.  Google works hard in this regard, some­times with trans­parency and some­times not. To it’s credit Google has pub­lished Google Web­mas­ter Guide­lines for design­ers and SEOs out­lin­ing best prac­tices.  To quote Google (empha­sis mine):

Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rank­ings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel com­fort­able explain­ing what you’ve done to a web­site that com­petes with you, or to a Google employee. Another use­ful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines did­n’t exist?”

Avoid the fol­low­ing tech­niques: Auto­mat­i­cally gen­er­ated con­tent, Par­tic­i­pat­ing in link schemes, Cloak­ing, Sneaky redi­rects, Hid­den text or links, Door­way pages, Scraped con­tent, Par­tic­i­pat­ing in affil­i­ate pro­grams with­out adding suf­fi­cient value, Load­ing pages with irrel­e­vant keywords

All of the tech­niques Google men­tions have at one time or another been com­mon prac­tice to either pro­mote web­sites or cre­ate web­site con­tent. (more…)