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:
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:
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?