Thursday, December 4, 2008

Banana Canada Republic

True, North, Strong & Bananas.

That's right, my homeland appears to be acting like a banana republic with abuses of democracy running rampant. Well technically it is not a republic, rather being loyal to the parliamentary system of government, which is (part of the) why chaos runs rampant through the land to our north.

Let me attempt to break down the issues at hand:
  1. Canada elected a minority Conservative government in October.
  2. The opposition parties, consisting of the Liberals (Moderates), New Democratic Party / NDP (Socialists) and Bloc Quebecois (Separatists) objected to the perceived lack of economic stimulus in a statement made by the Conservatives. (Apparently the Canadian economy is not immune to the toilet bowl swirl of the US market, although there are some differences: a viable banking sector, no real estate market collapse, record airline transportation rates, low government deficits . . . but I digress).
  3. Many claim the real reason, in addition to pure politics, is that the Conservatives are planning to eliminate public funding of political parties (which is something I'm against - despite what Obama was able to accomplish here without public financing).
  4. The unholy alliance of Liberals, Socialists and Separatists . . . oh my. . . (where's a good Green Party Member of Parliament when you could use one?) have signed a pact to vote down the government and asked the Governor General (my friend Bucky claims "she's hot" but he drank a lot of beer in his youth) to allow them to form the next government. Yes, in Canada they still have to ask a figurehead representative of the Queen (of England that is) permission to rule the land (and use the potty).
  5. In response the Conservatives have asked the Governor General to delay the opening of parliament until late January. As of today, it appears she has decided that not allowing anyone to legislate or debate in a legitimate forum is the right course of action for Canada.
So what have we learned from this quick look into the Canadian political landscape?
Canada suffering from erectile dysfunction

See John Stewart's now prophetic summary of the lamo cast of Canadian politicians who are playing out this drama . . . . ironically not available in Canada, pity.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I'm Drinking on Thanksgiving.

Here is my guest blog post on The Savvy Sommelier . . . . 

"It's time for the obligatory blog post about wine to pair with your Thanksgiving feast. But alas it is Thanksgiving eve, the short week has slipped away, you've probably bought your wine already and the real Savvy Sommelier has gone out with the girls.

So now that this lowly spouse has grabbed the reigns of this blog, what could I possibly add to the conversation?"  Read on . . . . 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Veoh Dumping Veoh TV

After recently launching a new web-based video player, Veoh is abandoning support for VeohTV.  The Veoh Web Player allows you to watch videos of any length in your browser.  Previously, on Veoh, any video of more than 30 minutes had to be viewed in VeohTV (which was a hassle for many users).  

The Veoh Web Player still involves a download but offers benefits such as being able to view download videos at a time when you are not connected to the Internet.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cable 2.0 Is (Finally) Upon Us

Interesting coverage out the SJ Mercury News today about web video developing into a viable alternative to cable tv.    This is very much in line with my post early last month "Why I'll leave cable t.v. behind . . . ."

With the entry of Sling, joining other sites such as Hulu, Joost, Veoh and others, most of what is available on cable is now available on the web.  Now I can watch my favorite shows:  The Office, Prison Break, Law & Order, Brothers & Sisters, ER, House, The Daily Show and Colbert Report . . . when I want.  

The only major hurdle is that I can't easily watch them on my TV.  And watching on the 13" screen of my MacBook after I've been on it all day is not joyful.  Worse is attempting to watch on my iPhone.  That will change and when it does I won't miss cable.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Prediction: Obama Wins (364)

Obama/Biden 364
McCain/Palin 174

As of 8:30am PDT, my prediction is that Barack Obama will win the election this evening to make U.S. Presidential history.

I have been following the ups and downs of both candidates in the polls for months via Slate's Poll Tracker '08 application on my iPhone. Rather than looking at polls that calculate popularity of the candidates on a national level, Poll Tracker takes the latest poll in each state and makes a estimate of electoral college votes. This, in the end, is how the President is elected after all.

Each state and their electoral college votes are placed into one of three categories: safe, lean and tossup.

Here's how the numbers breakdown and how I ended up with the prediction that Obama will win:
  • Obama has 273 electoral college votes that are considered "safe" and another 18 (Virginia and Nevada) that are "leaning" his way. This totals 291. Only 270 are needed to win.
  • Conversely McCain has 129 "safe" votes and "12" lean (Arizona and South Dakota); giving him 142 votes.
  • 105 electoral college votes are considered "tossups"
Of the 105 "tossup" states, using the latest poll numbers in each state, I predict the following:
  • Obama wins: Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Missouri (adding an additional 73 electoral college votes to Obama)
  • McCain wins: North Dakota, Montana, Georgia and Indiana (adding an additional 32 electoral college votes to McCain)
So if the "tossup" states fall as predicted above the final election tally will be:
  • Obama/Biden 364
  • McCain/Palin 174
Obama will win handily. Let the voting begin and (all) votes be counted!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Look Important With FakeCalls

I first traveled to Brazil some 13 years ago on a business study trip. At that time the Brazilian cellular industry was taking off. We observed a couple of the interesting dynamics that contrasted the Brazilian experience with that of North America. One was that people were bypassing landlines altogether, rather investing in a cellular phone as their only and exclusive phone number. Two, for people who couldn't afford an actual cellular phone, they could purchase a "virtual" number which provided them a phone number and voice mail. The voice mail could be accessed via a pay phone and presumably any message could be returned via this manner as well. In effect, this represented a low-cost, virtual answering service. (I don't expect this type of service exists much anymore).

The most interesting service we learned about at this time was a service that would call you on your cell phone at a pre-arranged time. It was a way for Brazilians who could afford a cell phone back then to look important in front of friends, business colleagues and dates. Nothing like having to interrupt an in-person conversation to take a very important call. Of course there was no one on the other line.

With the prevalence of cellular phones in much of the world today, the last thing most people need is their cell phone to ring in order to impress. (Often, it has the opposite effect). However there are times when you'd like to extract yourself from an awkward situation. That's were FakeCalls app for the iPhone comes in. It mimics the phone call receiving process on the iPhone. Load up the app, set the time you'd like to receive a call and after that amount of time passes . . . voila, your phone starts ringing and vibrating indicating an incoming call. See VentureBeat's coverage of FakeCalls.

Best way to get out of mind-numbing business meetings, family dinners or blind dates that have gone awry!