Hamilton Spectator – now with a paywall

I stumbled across an interesting development this morning. The Hamilton Spectator, my hometown newspaper, recently erected a paywall. A quick google search told me that the paywall was installed a month ago (On or around September 13 2011).
The Spec paywall
This appears to be Torstar’s first experiment with the paywall model. (I could be wrong, so feel free to provide me with additional info in the comments below). Similar to Postmedia’s paywall experiment and the paywall experiments of the NY Times and others, Torstar is now entering the fray to try to monetize it’s content.

I’m curious to know why it took a month for the paywall message to appear for me – I am a regular reader of The Spec online and I should have received a notification on earlier visits to the site as well, no?

One thing that strikes me as a bit odd is the cap on free stories each month: The Spec is offering free access to 35 stories a month, after which visitors will be required to pay $6.95 a month ($2.95 a month if you are already a print subscriber) to read additional content.

35 stories a month? That’s almost double what the New York Times and the Postmedia papers (the Montreal Gazette and the Victoria Times Colonist) are capping. And, Torstar’s flagship paper, The Toronto Star, has no paywall. For years, my dad used to complain that The Hamilton Spectator was “full of yesterday’s news. Why should I read about it again?” And that was 15 years ago! I really enjoy the crime reporting in The Spec (go Susan Clairmont!), but I think I’ll be hard pressed to find 35 stories that can only be found on, and that will thus force me to embrace the paywall.

Might we infer from the 35 story cap that The Spec is inferior to other major papers? If that’s the case, then is this a good test of the Paywall model for Torstar? Alternately, is this a different test of the paywall model with a higher cap? If so, I hope that site visitors will be sufficiently tempted by unique content to want to read 35+ stories on the site per month. And, I also wonder if there’s a way around the paywall, similar to the NY Times’ unfortunate paywall sidestepping issue (is that a bug or a feature?).

One last thing: It would be great to see some metrics from the companies that are testing the paywall model. Similar to the old high school “hypothesis, test, analyze, report” way of doing things, I’d love to see some objective reporting on the true measure of paywall effectiveness. Does such reporting exist yet? If so, can you please provide links to that kind of research in the comments below?

It’ll be interesting to see how this experiment pans out. I’m all for trying to monetize content, and time’ll tell if this model works. Good luck to Torstar and their paywall experiment!



How to Pass the PMP Exam – Part 3 (of 5): study

PM Prepcast4. Obtain 35 contact hours: PM Prepcast ($99!)

You must complete 35 contact hours (formal PM training by a certified PMI training provider) in order to quality for the PMP exam. This is normally the most expensive part of the exam process. In class courses cost anywhere from $2000 to $4000 dollars for the 5 day course. This is a lot of money!

I wasn’t interested in paying that kind of money especially when I have a lot of PM experience already. And, I retain info better when I self study. So, I started asking around to see what lower-cost options were available. And I found exactly what I was looking for:

PM Prepcast

Advertised as, “Pass the PMP Exam the Easy Way”, this exam study package provides podcasts (video and audio content), along with sample questions and additional study aids. And, it even includes a 35 contact hours certificate.

And the best part is the price: $99.

Yep – $99!

Needless to say, I was sold.

I bought the course. I received email links to my personal podcast course download. I downloaded the video and audio content to my computer and then used iTunes to sync it with my ipod. (You can also listen to and watch the content on your computer.)

Two weeks after I purchased the course, I was able to complete an online exam. Passing the exam presented me with my 35 contact hour certificate that I was able to download and print out to submit to PMI. The PM Prepcast product even gave me the exact details I needed to provide to PMI to accept this course for the 35 contact hours requirement.

If you study well on your own, this is a great deal!

Next up: Part 4!


How to Pass the PMP Exam – Part 2 (of 5): prep work

1. Read a good overview book:
I used the book I used PMP Exam Prep, Sixth Edition by Rita Mulcahy.

It is the top rated book on Amazon. I took a close look at a couple of other books and I suspect that any of these three would be a fine choice. The key is to find a good overview book, read it and absorb its contents.

These are also good choices:
The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try, Fourth Edition by Andy Crowe

PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide by Kim Heldman

2. Read the PMBOK:
This is the bible upon which the exam is based. Needless to say, this is a necessity:
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: (Pmbok Guide)

3. Begin application to
You can start your application to at any time, but I recommend you start reading the study material before you get too excited with the application.

That said, do leave yourself plenty of time to complete the application. Keep your resume handy and use this PMP Exam Experience Verification Worksheet (provided free of charge from to catalog your experience.

And, there is a chance that you might be audited – PMI randomly selects applications for audit checks. If you are selected for an audit, you will have to provide additional evidence pertaining to the claims made in your application. So remember to be honest and accurate in your application! And, if you are selected for an audit, this will add a couple of additional weeks to your timeline so be sure to account for this potential time delay should you be audited.

Check back tomorrow for part 3!


How to Pass the PMP Exam

Project Management Institute

I recently wrote PMI’s PMP exam. I was nervous leading up to the exam, but I was well prepared for the exam and I attribute that to careful preparation. Here’s the study and preparation plan that I used (many thanks to Stephen Lee for his helpful advice in formulating this plan).

Here’s the plan in a nutshell:
1. Read a good overview book
2. Read the PMBOK
3. Begin application to
4. Obtain 35 contact hours: (There is a $99 solution!)
5. Complete application and book exam
6. Practice Exams –
7. Pass the exam

And finally, a debrief and some metrics based on my experience.

I’m writing this as a 5 part series. I’ll be adding a new post daily so check back each day. I’ll be providing more details on each of the above points. And feel free to ask questions or provide additional advice as we move through this blog series.

Thanks and talk soon!



Mac Apps for Mac Addicts

From time to time, I stumble across posts that contain a ton of links to useful Mac apps. But, even with bookmark tracking and/or sending the link to my email I still manage to lose track of those links.

Today, I stumbled across a really great list of Mac apps. And, rather than link to it on delicious or something like that, I’m going to do something that goes against my academic training (think plagiarism) but that agrees with my industry (the web) and copy the really great list to my blog, where I know that I’ll never misplace it.
But, before posting the list, I must, at the very least, give credit where credit is due: Thanks a ton to Grace Smith, who spent what appears to be a ton of time to carefully compile this list of links. I’m hoping that linking to her will be sufficient to offer credit where it is due. I’m also going to send her an email to let her know that I’ve borrowed her list and am repurposing it.
Anyways… Without further ado, here’s the list:





Tip & Tricks



Mac Office Set-Ups