According to the Globe and Mail’s Hugh Thompson, next month will mark the 10th anniversary of the Personal Video Recorder, or PVR, in Canada.  And what a boring and dull ten-year old our PVR has become.  Almost none of the promise of the PVR’s first released in 1999 has ever been realized here.  Instead, our PVR has become little more than a glorified video cassette recorder.

Yes, the satellite and cable industry trumpets the advent of “whole home” networked PVR’s.  What a yawner.  ReplayTV had this ten years ago.  In fact, the current crop of PVR’s is missing a whole host of features that used to be common place!  How about:

  • In-video content search, pioneered by Ottawa’s own Televitesse.  By scanning the caption stream, Televitesse could find specific spoken words in a program, and jump the viewer to that scene.  It was perfect for news hounds.
  • Search and record by cast member, subject, genre, or review ratings.  All delivered by ReplayTV over a decade ago.   My favorite feature of ReplayTV?  Once you had created the search, it would simply record anything on any channel at any time that matched search.
  • Tivo Season Pass – record an entire series, every week, even if the time or the day or the channel changes.

The tenth anniversary of the PVR in Canada is a legacy of mediocrity.  The television companies – Bell, Rogers, Shaw – apparently don’t have the imagination or the desire to improve the viewing experience for the user.

Is it any wonder that so many people are turning to the web, instead of television, for video?

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It might seem curmudgeonly of me to say this, but I am baffled by the attention generated by Google’s announcement that they will add voice calling to Gmail. Granted, merging the voice mail box and the email box is a very friendly move for users.  Allowing an immediate follow up to an email, via voice, is also a nice usability feature.  Aren’t these staples of modern day unified communications systems?

Google Voice doesn’t often show up on my radar any more.  It’s not available to those of us who live north of the 49th parallel, so I don’t use it.  That’s a shame.  If Google Voice did supply service here, I would surely take advantage of all of its super cool features like call screening, one number, voice transcription and more. For reasons that are unclear to me, though, especially since Google offers unlimited calls to the United States and Canada, Canadians don’t have access.  Maybe it’s payback for the defeat of the US Men’s Hockey Team at the Olympics?  Who knows?!  That’s as good a theory as any, I suppose.

These days, if I want one-click calling from within email, I turn to Skype.  And perhaps that’s the reason Google is adding these features to Gmail now – Skype already has them, and word on the street is that Skype and Google are headed for a showdown.

Skype also has a global international network, that includes Canada.

So how about it, Team Google? Whaddya say?


Ottawa #Earthquake Vividly Demonstrates Value of Cloud Services

June 24, 2010

In the middle of finishing up a conference call yesterday afternoon, I suddenly had a flashback to my days of living in Redmond and the 2001 6.2 magnitude earthquake. The floors started to rumble, windows rattle, and the building creaked and groaned as if it was in pain.  I could tell the Ottawa quake was […]

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Manotick to Barrhaven via Beryl Gaffney Park

June 13, 2010

It’s been a couple of weeks since our last practice hike for our trip to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail this summer.  We didn’t get out last weekend because of the rain, and this weekend has just been two busy.  Nevertheless, we did get out on one of our favorite walking trails this afternoon […]

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Meech to the Western Cabin

May 31, 2010

As part of our continuing effort to get ready for the family trip to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail in BC, we set out yesterday morning on another trek through Gatineau Park.  This time it was from the Meech Lake side of the Eardley Escarpment, over the top along the old McCloskey Road (Trail […]

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Ottawa’s venture industry a shriveled husk of its past.

May 26, 2010

In 2001, when my family and I moved from Seattle to back to Canada, we had a choice between Ottawa, Waterloo, and Toronto.  At the time, Ottawa was booming.  Venture capital was pouring into the city, and it proudly proclaimed itself Canada’s Tech Capital, and Silicon Valley North. So we moved to Ottawa. A decade […]

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Hiking the Wolf Trail

May 23, 2010

Later this summer we’ll be heading to Vancouver Island for a couple of weeks of vacation.  As part of that vacation, the entire family will be hiking the Juan de Fuca Marine trail, exploring the west coast of Vancouver island and camping on the beaches as we go.  To prepare for that, we’ve been donning […]

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$600 savings with Calliflower and Samsung Canada

March 10, 2010

This morning we announced a promotion with Samsung Canada.  Buy a Samsung Laptop or Netbook between now and April 30, and you can have a year of Calliflower service free.  If your business requires you to have the occasional online meeting or conference call, then Calliflower is the tool for you! So how does this […]

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Kerry-Lugar Startup Visa Act may result in exodus of Canadian talent to US

February 25, 2010

Venture Capital in Canada is in a dismal state of disarray.  With activity at a 14 year low, investment companies have evaporated and funds are simply not being raised. Moreover, despite a resurgence of interest among angel investors, the institutional capital markets don’t show any sign of improving soon.  One angel I spoke with last […]

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For my birthday, help people in Haiti

January 27, 2010

Today is my birthday.  And, while I’m not nearly as talented as Wolfgang Mozart and Lewis Carroll, it’s a birthday I hold in common with these two gentleman.  This year I decided to try the Facebook application Causes as a way to celebrate.  Causes lets you tell your friends that you’d rather have a donation […]

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