Don’t Tweet On Me!

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Ditching email for Twitter?

First, this finally cemented my suspicion that Zen Habits had degenerated into a big publicity stunt, and hence warranted removal from my news feed.

Second, I know I don’t “get” Twitter and have no desire to.  But twitter being easier than email?  They don’t serve the same purpose.  If I want to ask someone a question I sure as hell don’t want everyone else in the world to read it.

Does Canada have a housing crisis coming?

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Scary: CMHC – Canada’s Breaking Point

The author outlines a sequence of events that sounds eerily similar to the cause of the housing crisis in the US such as lowering the standards for mortgage approval (ie: accepting higher risk mortgages) and lengthening mortgage terms.  Lots of data is presented to back up the hypothesis.

While I believe we might see some bad effects from this I don’t believe it would be anywhere as bad as the US.  They seemed to have much more exposure to these high risk mortgages.

Canadians love their health care

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With all the propaganda in the US about Canadians not liking our health care system, here are some actual numbers: Canadians Love Their Health Care and Want it to be Even More Socialized

Further, as someone who has experienced both systems, I can say I’ve had better experiences in the Canadian one.  I still had to wait at hospitals in the US (and there wasn’t even anyone else there!), plus I had to pay several hundred dollars on the way out (even though we had decent insurance).  We were happy with the care we received in Canada when my daughter was born and from what I’ve heard we wouldn’t have been in the US.

As with everything in the US it comes down to: if you’re rich you’ll get great care, otherwise it’s sub-par.  Yet, the propaganda machine is good enough to fool the masses into believing when they really need it they will get great care too.  Well, they don’t.

My worry, for my American friends, is that the current health care proposal isn’t near drastic enough.  There are major fundamental problems that inflate your health care costs yet the proposal seems to simply add another payer option.  The current system is designed charge as much money as possible while delivering the least service possible.  I’m not saying the system should be completely public but there needs to be a break in the chain somewhere to help control costs.

A fair and equitable sick bank: huh?

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This post gave me a bit more detail on the union position.  Primarily, most other city unions had been given the same deal and this one feels it was being given much less.  So, they want to be treated fairly and expect the same deal as everyone else.  I understand that, but that’s not a green light to demand crazy things.  Be the ones to stand up against this ridiculous part of the deal that the other unions have and expect some other concession in return.

While I’m sure this sick bank would represent a large new expense for the city, to me it’s more of a issue of principle.  It seems obvious the union wants more vacation days but they’re trying to sneak it in by labeling it as sick days.  If you want more vacation days at least be willing to come out and say it.

Toronto garbage strike shows why unions have an image problem

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I hadn’t paid much attention to this strike until recently when I stumbled upon this article with some details on the unions demands.

The main sticking point is the unions demand for 18 guaranteed sick days per year that can be banked and taken as salary when you retire.  I dislike use of large fonts or profanity here, but HOLY FREAKING CRAP!  Where does this concept of banking a sick day, then taking pay for it come from?  It’s as if you’re doing your employer a favour by not taking your allotted number of sick days, but then somehow feel more money is owed to you.  It’s a SICK DAY not a freaking VACATION DAY!  If you want more vacation days then demand more of them!

In general I’d classify myself as slightly pro, or at least neutral, to unions but issues like this are really making that difficult.  I just really can’t understand these kinds of demands as it seems to show a power grab for many more benefits than the average person gets simply because the union thinks it’s in a strong bargaining position.  That’s when I feel unions have overstepped their bounds.  The unions job is to work for fair compensation and conditions for the workers, not the most that can possibly be squeezed out of management.  The American car companies are perfect examples of where the unions got more benefits than could be sustained long term, to the point that it drove them into bankruptcy.  And then they protest to have the governments guarantee their inflated pensions!  (Written about previously here and here)

The problem with RIM and BlackBerry

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Great article over at BGR: What happened to Research In Motion and where are they going?

This mirrors exactly how I feel.  I worked at RIM briefly and really want to root for the home-town hero, but I’ve now owned 2 iPhones.

BlackBerries are still the kings of messaging.  That’s their one and only purpose and they’re great at it.  Unfortunately, these days people want much more from their smartphones and the BlackBerry operating system is far too old and cumbersome to keep up.  For me, messaging is only part of what I want from a smartphone, so I can’t see myself going back to BB until there’s a major overhaul.  It’s a shame because RIM is very innovative on the hardware side, but I left with the impression they’re paralyzed by fear on the software side.  They are terrified of changing or breaking anything, which means they haven’t innovated in software for at least the past few years.

As an example, I think of my iPhone almost as a laptop in a small case.  I don’t feel like there’s any limit to what it can really do.  BBs still at their core feel like a souped-up pager with a keyboard, which isn’t surprising because it’s likely still a lot of the same code from back then.

Here’s what RIM should do: scrap the current operating system and start from Android (the open-source mobile OS started by Google).  Add all of their security, push messaging, integration to corporate BES servers, etc.  Done.  Then they’ve got a modern OS with the features that people (and businesses) want from their BBs.  I’d likely buy one of these.

Too bad that won’t happen.