Tag - canada

Sorry, Siri: in Canada you kinda suck, eh

Siri is Apple’s new personal assistant on the iPhone 4S. It’s artificial intelligence: fairly good understanding of natural human speech, plus context awareness.

And it’s pretty cool: I’ve used it to send texts, set reminders that activate when I leave or arrive from locations like home or work, and get data like how far away the moon is, or how much the US dollar is worth, or what the atomic weight of uranium is.

But I also want to use Siri for local search: finding a great place to eat, or a nice hotel, or traffic conditions, directions to Rogers Arena, or how far it is to Whistler, BC.

Unfortunately, Siri doesn’t know anything about Canada yet.
That means that Siri is much less useful in Canada than it could otherwise be.

I’m sure the situation is temporary … it will go away as soon as Apple signs up partners in Canada for local data. The more data available, the smarter Siri will get:

  • restaurants
  • hotels
  • venues
  • events
  • hotels
  • flights
  • traffic

In short, all businesses and events. Eventually, perhaps, even local product data: availability, pricing, sales, etc.

Eventually, with partners, you should be able to order tickets to a game, book reservations at a restaurant, and set up a flight to Montreal … all via Siri. More on that in an earlier blog post. And it’s not all dreaming either: this is all part of the early vision behind Siri.

I just want it all, and I want it now. In Canada, too.

Cheap Canadian Domains: Finding a good Canadian Domain Registrar

Finding inexpensive Canadian domain names is hard, but I managed to get them for $8.45/year.

My American friends will be wondering, I’m sure, what the big deal is. The US has had cheap domain names for years. But somehow it’s been incredibly difficult to find a good provider of Canadian .ca domain names that wasn’t going to rape your wallet for the privilege – and then make you say thank-you.

Need a .ca
I needed to register a .ca for a relative who is going into provincial politics. (Don’t ask, I don’t understand why either!) But all the Canadian registrars I checked were unbelievably, ridiculously, outrageously priced.

  • Geta.ca
    The first Canadian registration company I checked was Geta.ca. They have horrible prices: $40/year. Obviously, their domains are gold-plated or something. Or else this is still 1995 and I missed a memo.

  • 1and1.com
    1and1.com advertising on Google for “Canadian domain names,” but doesn’t actually provide them. Or at least there drop-down of name selections does not include .ca. Not smart for their ad budgets; not helpful for those who are looking for .ca domains.

  • Internic.ca
    Internic.ca won’t even tell you how much their domains cost until you start ordering them, and for good reason: they charge the stereotypical arm and a leg, and then ask for a nose thrown into the bargain. If you thought $40/year for a domain was a rip-off … think again. Internic.ca charges $50/year for a Canadian .ca domain. Forget gold, this is platinum coated domain hosting. Maybe you also get a free massage from Helga, their German security guard, because obviously if you buy here you are a masochistic sucker for punishment.

  • CanReg.ca
    After these outrageous prices, CanReg almost starts to seem like a great deal. After all, they’re only $16.95/year. Umm … be sure to read the fine print … that’s if you register for 10 years. At least, I think so – they won’t confirm their prices until you actually sign up for their services! And, since the website says “from $16.95/year,” and they offer domain registration terms of up to 10 years, that’s my guess. Not exactly GoDaddy’s $9/year, is it? Nor is it $4/year, at the chea but seemingly mis-named DomainNamesAreFree.com.

  • PlanetDomain.ca, MyID.ca, Domain.ca
    PlanetDomain is also too high, at $20/year. MyID.ca is also expensive, at $22.50 unless you sign up for multiple years. And Domain.ca continues the wonderful customer-friendly trend of not telling you the pricing until you’ve signed up.

So what’s a Canadian who wants a .ca domain name to do? Simple. After about 30 minutes of googling, I finally found Netfirms, the cheapest Canadian domain name registrar on the planet. (Well, actually the cheapest I could find after 30 minutes of googling. But hey, it’s pretty likely.)

How much?

How about $9.95/year? Not too bad, not too bad at all. I’m used to paying slightly premium prices for domains, because I host at MediaTemple, and they just do 1-year registrations of .com, .net, and .org for $15/year. So to get a Canadian domain for cheaper than Sparkplug9.com or any of my other domains … wow!

One more thing: I got a 30% discount when I purchased the domain name (on January 10th, 2009). I’m not sure how long that will last, but it took the total price for my Canadian domain name down to $8.45. Which is a great deal by any standard.

Forwarding included
The other bonus at NetFirms? Domain registration includes forwarding … so you don’t have to pay extra to forward the domain to your existing web hosting company which unfortunately does not register .ca domain names. (Yes, that would be MediaTemple … but it would also be a LOT of US hosting companies.)

The final word
NetFirms is the cheapest and best .ca domain name registrar I could find. If you’ve found better … let me know!

Canadian cell $$$ petition & the iPhone

Given the astronomical iPhone plans that Rogers is foisting on Canadian consumers, it’s a good time to support David McGuinty’s cell phone costs petition.

(McGuinty is a Liberal member of parliament.)

Here’s the petition:

Get Connected Fairly Act

I’ve signed. 15 people have signed in the last 10 minutes while I’ve been putting this post together.

How about you?

[ update from ruinediphone.com ]

On Wednesday July 9, at 3:00 pm EDT David McGuinty, MP, will be making an official video statement on ruinediphone.com. Please check back then.


The iPhone comes to Canada … well, sorta

Well, I just made my first iPhone call.That’s no biggie to hundreds of thousands of people in the US, of course, but the iPhone has not yet been released in Canada.Mike Skovgaard, a buddy at work, has been buying them in the US and taking them up to Canada to unlock them to work with the Rogers and Fido cell networks. He’s already done it with a few, and showed me his latest. Apparently, Mike was only the third person in Canada to unlock the iPhone.So, review in one paragraph or less? Awesome. Cover flow is great, voice quality is excellent, phone usability is amazing, photos are really cool, Google Maps is incredible, etc. etc. Everything just works, and everything just works the way you think it ought to work.Love it, can’t wait for it to “officially” come to Canada.

Geography in America

Is it any wonder that Americans hardly know where continental Europe is? Check out this excerpt from a AP story on Congress passing a law authorizing Canadian drug imports into the US:

Supporters of the idea say it would save consumers great sums by allowing them to purchase U.S.-made medications from other countries where they often sell for much lower prices than in the U.S. Under current law, consumers are permitted to buy a 90-day supply in Canada. Overseas, drugs can cost two-thirds less than they do in the United States, where prices for brand-name drugs are among the highest in the world. In many industrialized countries, prices are lower because they are either controlled or partially controlled by government regulation.

(Emphasis added.)

When business is evil …

When the business you’re involved in is evil, you know it’s time to get out and start doing something else. Otherwise you will inevitably become evil as well. There are plenty of examples of that in the US health care system, which Sicko is highlighting right now.

Here’s just one of them …

Palmer still owes more than $7,000 for an eight-hour hospital visit that involved, by his estimate, only about 15 minutes of actual care.

That’s after getting more than $4K reduced for the “trauma activation charge,” which is a page to doctors and nurses that are presumably either already at the hospital or on call.

15 minutes of care? $7000?

His room was $2000. His CT scans were $3500. Sucks to be him, obviously … according to the administrator.

“It’s unfortunate that he’s in the situation he’s in,” Nazeeri-Simmons said. “But what is an individual hospital to do? Are we supposed to eat the costs?”

She know’s it’s wrong … but does she take any personal responsibility?

“It’s not us,” she said. “It’s the whole system, and the system is broken. We need to look closely at making changes and at how we can deliver care in a rational way.”

Rational health care? Here’s a couple of clues:

The United States spent an average of $6,102 per person on health care in 2004 (the latest year for which figures are available), according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Canada spent $3,165 per person, France $3,159, Australia $3,120 and Britain a mere $2,508. At the same time, life expectancy in the United States was lower than in each of these other countries and infant mortality was higher.

I live in Canada, and the health care system is not always perfect. You usually have to wait … I guess sort of like Palmer.

But though I’ve had multiple broken bones, several car accidents, and various other incidents requiring stitches etc., I’ve never had to fear that an accident or an illness would wipe me out financially.

Spending an average of $6K/person and only actually covering about half of the people? That’s evil. I’m a pretty conservative guy, but there can be no better argument against the free enterprise system than American health care.

Theft, larceny, and even murder: that’s what it is.