Santa, Please Bring Canada Tech Stuff

Before go any fur­ther I want to first say that I do appre­ci­ate that there’s a lot that’s got­ten bet­ter in our tech lives since our move to Cana­da. That includes over­all faster Inter­net con­nec­tion speeds,  a great fea­ture from our ISP that for­wards a copy of any tele­phone voice­mail to my email as an attach­ment (and which I can actu­al­ly open and lis­ten to on my iPhone — FTW!), and a fair amount of free Inter­net Wi-fi in cafés near­by.  I also appre­ci­ate that our online bank­ing works very well (with the excep­tion of not being able to pay US cred­it card bal­ances from our US dol­lar account, but inter­na­tion­al rules are rules, I sup­pose), and that pay­ing for pur­chas­es at your aver­age store or even fast-food chain can almost always be done with your ATM card — some­thing that we could nev­er expect with any reg­u­lar­i­ty in the US (Is this still the case, US read­ers? I haven’t checked late­ly.) Now, even the El Gato Eye­TV soft­ware on my Mac final­ly gets list­ings for Cana­di­an TV chan­nels (it only took them 4 years with me bug­ging them at every Mac­world Expo for this). Translink has 2 mobile apps for the iPhone (if you count Google as one of them), and buy­ing movie and con­cert tick­ets online is almost some­thing we now take for granted.

How­ev­er, there are a few things in the tech realm that just plain suck in Cana­da. I’ve already writ­ten ad nau­se­um about cell phone rates being out­ra­geous, but I had got­ten used to that, except for the fact that it keeps mak­ing itself known in all sorts of places, when you least expect it. Like, for instance, Twit­ter, the microblog­ging ser­vice that I some­times post to or use to fol­low the sta­tus of oth­ers. If you live in the US, you’ve prob­a­bly nev­er seen this annoy­ing lit­tle mes­sage in your Twit­ter page:
Twitter Message Gripe

If there were only some way to have that mes­sage go away already… We know, we know, Twit­ter, Cana­di­an data rates are pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive for you to send us mes­sages from Twit­ter. At least you could stop adding insult to injury by con­stant­ly remind­ing us of this fact, and let us turn the stu­pid, ugly thing off.

Oth­er tech things I wish we’d get in Cana­da? Hey, how about being able to see TV reruns online, via the ser­vice called ‘Hulu’. When­ev­er I bring up their screen from a Cana­di­an Inter­net con­nec­tion I see this:

Hulu.com Message

And of course, our Amazon.ca is only a pale shad­ow of Amazon.com, with a frac­tion of the selec­tion, and we can’t use Net­flix, Zap­pos, or Mint. Our non-HD TiVo is all but laughed at in Cana­da (despite the supe­ri­or inter­face) because the HD TiVo will nev­er be sold here. The rea­son is that it requires Cable­Card, the tech­nol­o­gy par­tial­ly adopt­ed in the US that allows you to use a sim­ple mag­net­ic card to con­nect to HD cable rather than the big, ugly box­es they have here (often bun­dled with ugly, hard-to-use PVRs). I’ve heard that the cur­rent ver­sion of Cable­Card, v. 1.0, is imper­fect because it does­n’t sup­port 2‑way com­mu­ni­ca­tion or on-screen guides.

C’mon, San­ta. You final­ly got us the iPhone and an hon­est-to-good­ness Apple store. What about some­thing this year? And Black­ber­ries don’t count, since they come from here (Besides, most folks already know that the Black­ber­ry Storm is an Epic FAIL.) So Mr. Claus, could you see fit to get us v. 2.0 Cable­Card (which fix­es the whole 2‑way com­mu­ni­ca­tions prob­lem) accept­ed here in Cana­da, and that even­tu­al­ly we once again catch-up to the States? Fail­ing that, Zap­pos, Net­flix or Mint work­ing here would­n’t be bad, either. Whad­dayasay, Santa?

9 Replies to “Santa, Please Bring Canada Tech Stuff”

  1. Dear David,

    It scares me some­times how well you under­stand me. If I had writ­ten a let­ter to San­ta, THIS is exact­ly what I would have asked for. Well, that and a Mac­Book Pro 😉

    My best to you and Pam for Christ­mas and the New Year!

  2. Hi Karen -
    Thanks for the com­ment. I had­n’t heard about canada.zappos.com With­out the free returns, I prob­a­bly can’t take the chance (I have a real­ly bizarre shoe size, 11 1/2 Triple A, and almost noth­ing fits). Good to know about them though.

    We took a trip to Point Roberts (and man, it was real­ly creepy) and con­sid­ered the whole mail­box thing there. I guess that might do the trick for the ship­ping issues for both Net­flix and Zap­pos, but in both cas­es it sort of ruins the whole con­ve­nience aspect of them (If I can dri­ve 40 min­utes to Point Roberts, I can dri­ve 15 to the near­est video store or the Oak Ridge Mall for shoes).

  3. Great syn­op­sis of cur­rent con­di­tions, David. Thanks!

    Tell me more about this El Gato Eye­Tv? I see that is the soft­ware ver­sion — what would I need on my Mac­Book to actu­al­ly use the soft­ware? Would it play on my HDTV with prop­er con­nec­tions? Sounds ide­al for the rare occa­sions I would like to view TV content .…

  4. Hi Bob,
    The El Gato Eye­TV is soft­ware but you do need hard­ware, which can be from the same com­pa­ny (elgato.com)or oth­ers, which essen­tial­ly con­nects to your TV cable, with the oth­er end con­nect­ed to your USB Port. Here’s the descrip­tion of the flag­ship prod­uct, the Eye­TV 250 Plus:

    Watch, record, edit and enjoy TV on your Mac and con­vert ana­log source video to dig­i­tal files. Eye­TV 250 Plus receives free over-the-air (OTA) HDTV, Clear QAM, and tra­di­tion­al ana­log TV. And thanks to Eye­TV 250 Plus’ built-in hard­ware encoder, ana­log video is rapid­ly con­vert­ed to high qual­i­ty dig­i­tal video with­out using your Mac’s processor.

    Eye­TV 250 Plus comes with a com­pos­ite video and S‑Video break-out cable. Use it to con­nect a set top box (one that has ana­log out­puts) to watch cable and satel­lite TV on your Mac, con­vert video­tapes to DVD, and con­vert ana­log video to iPod/iPhone/Apple TV for­mats. The includ­ed VHS Assis­tant and iPod Assis­tant will guide you through the setup.

    It also comes with the Eye­TV Soft­ware, essen­tial­ly turn­ing your Mac into a sin­gle-tuner PVR (since you can now sched­ule record­ings, but you can’t watch one pro­gram while record­ing anoth­er.) It’s cur­rent­ly sell­ing for $179.

  5. So true David. My sto­ry is sim­ple. I want­ed to buy a Flip Mino last July. No luck. Even if I had it shipped to a friend in Texas my Mas­ter­Card had to have a US domi­cile. The only way I got it was to send my friend the mon­ey and have him order it, ship it to him and then up to me. Crazy. Espe­cial­ly when you can ship thou­sands of dol­lars back and forth across the line with­out any prob­lem. Just not $179 for a Flip Mino.
    By the way I love this lit­tle device and now see they have the HD version.

  6. Hi Gene -
    I was thrilled when my father gave me a Flip Ultra. I would have had to do the same that you did. It’s a blast, and even works north of the 49th Par­al­lel! Imag­ine that!

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