Archive for Finds

CRTC openly limits competition – that’s what it is for

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

There has been a lot of talk lately about the CRTC and it’s decisions – most notably ones concerning the operation of Wind Mobile in Canada and the allowance of Usage-based Bill by Internet Service Providers.

Most of the discussion has focused on the idea that more competition in Canadian industries is better than less competition.  And of course, every high school economic text-book says exactly that. More competition means that companies will have to provide as much value to the consumer as possible, otherwise consumers will just look somewhere else.

Fine. But here is the problem.  The CRTC was not created to foster competition. Really.

Want proof?  Okay!  On Tuesday (16 Feb) the CRTC denied a request by Shaw Communications to add National Geographic Wild to its list of offerings for satellite services in Canada. Unfortunately, that particular channel is considered foreign content. According to Public Notice 2000-173, the CRTC will not allow any non-Canadian content to be distributed if it will compete with pre-existing Canadian content.

That’s right – the CRTC openly denies competition if it appears to come from outside the country.

So what does that mean for Canadians?  It means that we have to watch Animal Planet or Oasis HD, because they are not associated with National Geographic.  Nevermind the fact that National Geographic has become the defacto standard for reporting on wildlife and the greater world around us – reporting that focuses 90% of its effort on content from outside North America.

In the beginning, the reasoning for creating a body to protect Canadian content seemed like a good idea.  People were afraid that we would become too engrossed in American newspaper, magazine, television and radio industries.  Unfortunately, a major consequence was overlooked: stifling competition from the strongest competitor means that our own industry can relax.  And that is not good for Canadians.

So what is the answer?  We definitely don’t want our own industries to fail.  Afterall, they keep a lot of us working.  But clearly denying Canadians from viewing American content is becoming more and more difficult.  I personally gave up television proper many years ago and have since found all of my content online, where it is CRTC free.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t get Canadian content – not at all – it just means that I only get the Canadian content that is up to the standards that I expect.

And this is where the world is going.  I think that – regardless of content rule – the television industry is going to have some hard times ahead as online content becomes easier to find. We need to stop concerning ourselves with where content comes from, and focus on attracting consumers to cable and satellite providers generally.  They’ve already lost me and most of my friends. If the trend continues, we’ll soon have an awful lot of people looking to switch industries.

Motorola burns Apple, makes me smile

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

If you were watching the Super Bowl from somewhere other than Canada, you probably already saw Motorola’s ad for the new Xoom tablet. But if you haven’t already, you need to watch it:

This has got to be the smartest shot at Apple ever to air on television, and it is just so perfect. Everything, from the reference to Orwell’s 1984, to the hot girl removing her iconic white earbuds, is just absolutely spot on.

Of course, the irony is that most people probably just wont get it.

You can still use Streets View in 3D!!

Posted in Finds with tags , , , on February 6, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

Way back in April 2010 I wrote about an option in Google Streets View that let you switch to an old school Complementary color anaglyph 3D image.  Sadly, that option disappeared not long after I discovered it.

Or so we thought!

Today I noticed an option in the Streets View right-click menu that I haven’t seen before – a 3D Mode option! Take a look (click the image to make it bigger):

To make the magic happen, just go into Streets View and right-click any part of the image. And what happens when you select it 3D Mode On?  This:

Of course, you will still needs some of those crazy coloured glasses to actually take advantage of it, but if you’re like me you have a whole bunch kicking around anyway.

Perceiving Reality is hard

Posted in Finds with tags , , , , on February 1, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

I stumbled on www.perceivingreality.com tonight. It is basically just a place holder for a video in which some guy tells you why you don’t understand reality in its truest form.

I really like philosophy, so I watched the whole thing. I couldn’t embed it so you’ll have to just go there to check it out. But come back after!

Basically, it argues that people are in a sort of box, cut off from reality by our 5 senses.  Since our senses only interpret the universe around us, we don’t actually get a true understanding of reality.

Fine, I’ll accept that.  There must be some sort of transliteration between the universe and my brain.

But then the video goes on to explain that there is a kind of knowledge available that will let you experience the universe directly, as if you were not in the box.  And this is apparently a good thing because while inside the box everything sucks, outside the box is totally sweet.  Sounds great right?

That is when you find out that the whole thing is a sort of advertisement for BNEI Baruch Kabbalah Learning Center.  I can’t really speak to the validity of the center or it’s teaching – honestly, I didn’t even click the link to find out more information about it.  But I do have a question:

If we can only experience the universe through our 5 senses, and these are so limited that it is like we are stuck in a box, then how does this center know that outside the box is so awesome?

Seems fishy to me.

Canadians read, Americans shop, Everyone Googles

Posted in Books, Finds, Random with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

I had a funky issue with my computer last night that made it so I couldn’t access Google.ca – I could access every other Google version, just not Canada. Boo. In any case, once I got everything sorted out, I was switching back and forth between the basic Google home page for the .com version and the .ca version, and I noticed a tiny difference:

The menu options at the top of the Google.com page are: Web, Images, Videos, Maps, News, Shopping, Gmail, and more. Like this:

But the same menu on Google.ca has slightly different options: Web, Images, Videos, Maps, News, Books, Gmail, and more. Like this:

Now, the fact that the US page would have shopping on the main list while Canada doesn’t, isn’t really that big a mystery.  Google is an American company and there are a whole lot of reason’s why they would be less likely to have shopping as a major option for Canadians.  But what I found most interesting is that they chose to replace shopping with books.

Google has so many products and services, I just find it surprising that they wouldn’t have chosen something like YouTube, or Photos. But hey, Google is all about knowing everything about their users, so if they say that Canadians want books, I tend to believe them!

Is ‘Flo’ really enough?

Posted in Finds, Random with tags , , , , , on January 11, 2011 by Mitch Leuraner

So I typed ‘flo’ into Google tonight. That’s it – just three little letters – and the first suggestion for the auto-complete was “florence and the machine“!

That’s all it takes? The band is so big now that typing three letters into Google gets them suggested right away? Of all the other things that I could have been searching for that might start with ‘flo’, Google suggests Florence and the Machine?

That’s a little weird. (Ya, of course I was searching for the band, but I could have been searching for something else… like… Flowmaster Mufflers?)

But do you know what’s even weirder?  If you actually search Google for the letters ‘flo’, Florence and the Machine doesn’t even make it into the first page of results!

That’s right!  So if you type ‘flo’ into Google, it will suggest that you might be looking for the band, but if you actually hit Search for just those letters it doesn’t think you want the band at all.

What’s up with that?

Oh Google, you’re so clever!

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I have been trying to wrap my head around the name for Google‘s recently anounced phone: the Nexus S.

Yes, of course every one knows that the hardware was designed by Samsung, but since the first phone was specifically called the Nexus One, it seemed silly that the new one would directly refer to the manufacturer.  After all, everyone was expecting a Nexus Two.

But then I saw it!  Oh how clever! So very, very clever! The letter ‘S’ is basically a mirror image of the number ‘2’! 

S2

So Google has essentially named the phone ‘Nexus 2’ – just like everyone expected – but without making it obvious.  And at the same time they have a nice little hat-tip to Samsung.

Well played, Google. Well played.