Google Nexus Phone Joins the List of Technologies Not Available in Canada

I know, I know, I shouldn’t even be sur­prised, but once again, Google tells Cana­da to wait. Just like they did with the Street-lev­el view in maps and Google Voice (which still isn’t here).  The Kin­dle is now avail­able in Cana­da, but with­out the key fea­ture (for me, at least) of a built-in brows­er. The TiVo is dying because the CRTC is block­ing adop­tion of Cable­Card. Pan­do­ra, Hulu, and Mint aren’t here either. So, Google’s new phone joins the grow­ing list of tech­nolo­gies that are start­ing to pile up due to a com­bi­na­tion of the CRTC and oth­er road­blocks, keep­ing Cana­di­ans back in the pre­vi­ous decade. I hope the Apple Tablet makes it up here, but now I’m begin­ning to won­der. I had to hack my 1st gen. iPhone just to get it work­ing up here.

All the same, it looked pret­ty sad when I saw, the first day it was released, this screen:
The Nexus phone is not available in your country. Suck on it.

Is it just me, or does that phone bear a resem­blance here to a mid­dle fin­ger?

A Glimpse of a Future Transit Option (for a short time, at least)

The Olympic Streetcar During Testing

The Olympic Street­car Dur­ing Test­ing

While walk­ing back from gro­cery shop­ping at Granville Island today, we saw the new Olympic Street­car, which they are test­ing on the tracks near­by. I did get a fuzzy pic­ture of it a cou­ple of weeks ago. It’s sim­ply beau­ti­ful. We went a lit­tle clos­er and thanks to a friend­ly Bom­bardier employ­ee, we got a look inside. I wish I had my cam­era in hand, and I inad­ver­tent­ly left my iPhone in its cra­dle back at home. That also wouldn’t cap­ture the fact that the train smells new inside. It’s a 5-car mod­el with 2 artic­u­la­tions, which are the ‘hinges’ between cars (if you ride the B-Line Bus, you know well what I’m talk­ing about), accord­ing to the engi­neer. It’s oper­at­ed man­u­al­ly, and to open the doors, you press a but­ton on either the inside or out­side while stopped (the door stays open for about 20 sec­onds after that). There are info screens at var­i­ous points on the ceil­ing, and the engi­neer said that they are linked back to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem back in Bruges, Bel­gium, where this train was built.
The street­car, which is real­ly much more like a train, will begin oper­a­tion on Jan­u­ary 21, and will then run back and forth between Granville Island and the Olympic Vil­lage at Cam­bie street for 60 days, where it will be free. We were sur­prised to find out that it won’t con­tin­ue past the Olympic Vil­lage and con­nect up with Main Street/Science World, which would have cre­at­ed a per­fect cir­cle around 1/2 of the down­town area plus False Creek (See map below. Anno­ta­tion and dashed line for the con­tin­u­a­tion of the route are mine. Click to see a larg­er ver­sion):

Olympic Transit Map - From Translink - With Annotation

The Translink Olympic Tran­sit Map (from a PDF on their site).

While I was a big fan of this new addi­tion to our tran­sit sys­tem, if it only goes from Granville Island to Cam­bie, it’s not as big a deal as if it had gone to Sci­ence World. If it had gone that far (as we had always assumed — since the orig­i­nal tracks that are orig­i­nal­ly there go that far) it would have pro­vid­ed a real­ly easy way to get to Chi­na­town and oth­er parts of down­town from our neigh­bor­hood. Tran­sit lines always open up new neigh­bor­hoods to explore, but get­ting to Cam­bie and 6th from our area is already reach­able by a pret­ty fast bus. Still, I’m look­ing for­ward to rid­ing this new tram. What is per­plex­ing, is that in addi­tion to the abbre­vi­at­ed route, is why it isn’t a per­ma­nent addi­tion to down­town Mass tran­sit.

Good-bye to the Oughts

While the past year has been good, I must admit that I’m in com­plete agree­ment with those like Time Mag­a­zine, who dubbed the first 10 years of 2000 as The Decade from Hell. It was a decade that belonged to Bush, whose ascen­dan­cy to the White House I have often said was the worst sin­gle event in US His­to­ry. It was for us, a great leap into the unknown, leav­ing the city of Boston and the coun­try of our births. It was def­i­nite­ly scary in the begin­ning, but we’ve slow­ly climbed back, at least in terms of our finances, to where we were when we left, more or less. We dodged much of the hous­ing bub­ble, and although Pam and I both saw time out of the work force, I sus­pect that would have been just as bad (or worse) if we had stayed.

After the elec­tion of Oba­ma, many peo­ple have asked us if we were con­sid­er­ing return­ing to the US. After all, we were ‘Bush Dodgers’, accord­ing to some. Well, the ridicu­lous debate on Health Care reform had us con­stant­ly shak­ing our heads in bewil­der­ment. The fact that the US still fails to acknowl­edge health care as a human right (like the ones of reli­gion and guns that they extoll so often), is some­thing we’ll nev­er under­stand. The lack of acknowl­edge­ment that the pro­lif­er­a­tion of guns is caus­ing more and more vio­lence and death through­out Amer­i­ca is also baf­fling to us. When­ev­er we see peo­ple being inter­viewed on the US evening news con­stant­ly refer to God, their belief in reli­gion and oth­er mag­i­cal think­ing also seems fur­ther and fur­ther from us. Nope, we’re not going back to all of that.

Good-bye to 2009, Then

Look­ing back on just this year, I do have some events that I’ll remem­ber fond­ly. Here’s a brief list:

  1. The Con­cert of works for and by Dutch com­pos­er Louis Andriessen for his 70th birth­day. Back in April, I got to see and hear him (and one of his works), as he rem­i­nisced about per­for­mances by air­port run­ways and mused that the bass line in Bach Chorale Pre­ludes is “like a cow moo­ing, inter­rupt­ing chirp­ing birds”.
  2. Rid­ing the brand spank­ing new Canada­Line all day on my Birth­day, and play­ing Foursquare (and ‘tourist in my own town’) as I went all the way from the south of Rich­mond to North Van­cou­ver with­out burn­ing any gaso­line (not count­ing the fuel on the Seabus).
  3. Actu­al­ly not one but sev­er­al fun and stim­u­lat­ing Mee­tups for blog­gers, graph­ic design­ers and Social Media folks. Sev­er­al were at Caeli’s Pub, which has become one of the most pop­u­lar social water­ing-holes in town.
  4. An after-hours tour of the new­ly-ren­o­vat­ed Arc­tic Ocean exhib­it of the Van­cou­ver Aquar­i­um as part of the local chap­ter of the Inter­ac­tion Design Asso­ci­a­tion (IXDA)
  5. Excel­lent meals at Provence at Mari­na­side, a tea (thanks to Tiny Bites) at the Fish House in Stan­ley Park and this past week, a warm­ing Hot Pot (Shabu Shabu) at a new Kore­an Restau­rant, Dae Bak Bön Ga, on 4th Avenue in Kit­si­lano.
  6. The Inau­gu­ra­tion of Barack Oba­ma (of course)
  7. Bar­Cam­p­Van­cou­ver, which was a blast this year at Dis­cov­ery Parks.
  8. Help­ing to run and par­tic­i­pate in UXCam­p­Van­cou­ver, the first User Expe­ri­ence ‘uncon­fer­ence’ in the Van­cou­ver area. Many thanks to Karen Park­er for pro­vid­ing the lead­er­ship and guid­ance. Next year, it will be even big­ger and bet­ter. This was, per­haps, the big high­light of the year for me.

And a few sad loss­es:

  1. The loss of Work­space, a mar­velous public/private space that host­ed many great techie get-togeth­ers. It was the clos­est thing to a ‘par­lor’ that the Geek Scene in Van­cou­ver had. I’m hop­ing that anoth­er will come, but some­times these things take time to replace.
  2. The clos­ing of a bunch of restau­rants: Chow (which I reviewed in this blog), O Thai (which was replaced by anoth­er Thai restau­rant in the same spot that is decid­ed­ly poor­er), The Fish Café (on 4th Avenue in Kit­si­lano), and a few oth­ers that I for­get at the moment (maybe for that rea­son, they should have closed).

When I look back on 2009, I know that I will sad­ly have to note that it was the year that Bec­ca Ham­mann died (see pre­vi­ous entry), and it will be some time before I am used to that fact.

I also note the birth of many babies by friends and rel­a­tives, and once again, our orchid is bloom­ing.

My next post, will be about next year. Oh look: the clock says that it’s here already. Well, come in, 2010. Make your­self at home.