Archive for September, 2007

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Canadian Dollar = US Dollar… Now What???

September 30, 2007

What does this mean for the US/Canadian economy?

Well, at the end of the day, the answer is complicated. Depending on who you talk to and what school of thought you believe in, answers can vary. However, I believe that parity will hurt the Canadian Economy for a couple of reasons:

1) Canada’s Goods are now Expensive:

The US is Canada’s biggest trade partner. Now that both dollars are equivalent in value, Canadian goods aren’t as cheap as they used to be for Americans. The US buys more from Canada than any other country does. Now that Canadian goods are more expensive, US buying patterns may change to the dismay of Canadians.

2) Canadian Labor is now Expensive:

What about all the American factories that currently exist in Canada? Now that Canadian Labor is more expensive, it may not be as logical for the factories to keep their doors open in Canada.

3) American Goods are now Cheaper:

You mean I can cross the border and buy an IPhone for $400 CAD? Sign me up 🙂 Now that Canadians have more purchase power in the US, cross border shopping will become even more attractive to them.

4) Vacation in Canada is now Expensive:

Americans used to love coming to Canada for vacation as they could get the same quality vacation for a 30% discount. Now that the discount is not there, the incentive for traveling to Canada is also gone.

Ok, so that was one way to look at it…

What about Supply and Demand?

Well, according to classical supply and demand theory, there was more demand for the Canadian Dollar in comparison to the US Dollar in the last little while and that is why the price of the Canadian Dollar has increased. This basically means that the Canadian Dollar is strong and interest in Canadian products is plenty. In order to buy Canadian products/services, one must use the Canadian Dollar. Hence, the more Canada exports in comparison to its imports, the more the demand for its currency should rise. So, it could also be argued that the Canadian Economy is in good shape and that is why the value of the Loonie has gone up… But, to be honest, I think that traditional economics forgets about its adversary: politics. Yes, there is a lot more involved than I think the public will ever come to know about.

Any thoughts?

Aydin.

Posted By: Aydin Mirzaee
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Finally Got a Replacement BlackBerry…

September 30, 2007

So, the long journey is finally over.

Telus finally gave me a replacement BlackBerry. The first one I received was defective and so they graciously replaced it. The new phone works just fine. I’m finally happy 🙂

Aydin.

Posted By: Aydin Mirzaee 
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Facebook is worth $10 Billion???

September 27, 2007

I love Facebook… no doubt about it… I was (and I show this off at every chance I get…hehehe) the first person in Ottawa to sign up for Facebook. But, let’s be realistic here… $10 Billion??? If this isn’t indication enough that the internet bubble is back then I don’t know what is…

So, where is this huge number coming from? Well, rumors are that Microsoft and some other guys want to put in up to $500 Million for a 5% stake in the company…

Just to put into perspective how huge this number is…

>> Facebook has about 300 employees… so, this means that each employee generates about $33 Million dollars of value???

>> If Mark Zuckerberg counted $1 per second, it would take him about 317 years to count to $10 Billion Dollars. Wow!

Aydin.

Posted By: Aydin Mirzaee
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Why do people like text messages?

September 23, 2007

This is a very interesting question… why do people text message instead of just calling? To those that use text messaging all the time, the answer is obvious. It is obvious to a point that they don’t even think about it. So, what are some of the common reasons for it?

1) Cheaper than calling.

2) Short and to the point.

3) Does not require real time attention.

4) Conversations/Messages can be stored and looked up later.

There are probably a few other good reasons that can be brought up in support of using text messaging vs calling. But, in terms of classification, I think it would make sense to group chatting, text messaging and emailing into one category. If both parties in a conversation own a BlackBerry/Smart-Phone, is there a real big difference between a text message and email? Well, sure a text message has a maximum length… but, at the end of the day, they are pretty much the same thing. In terms of chatting, if both parties in a conversation have the same messenger on their mobile phones (for example: BlackBerry Messenger or Yahoo/MSN or AIM), is there a big advantage to using text messages or even email to chatting? The answer is that while there are probably small advantages/disadvantages to each approach, at the end of the day, they are all pretty much the same thing…

Why am I even attempting to compare these options?

Well, recently I learned about a company called 3JAm… you can check them out here: http://www.3jam.com/

3Jam takes SMS from a two way conversation and can turn it into a multi-way conversation (like group chat, or group email). Interesting concept… Obviously, if everyone had a smart phone, this wouldn’t be all that interesting… because everyone doesn’t, it does sound like a very interesting idea and could work out very well… So, essentially, 3Jam is trying to add to SMS features that it lacked (i.e. a reply to all function). So if SMS, Email, and Chat all end up having the same features, why would one use one over the other? At the end of the day, is there a difference? not really. I think the most important thing is to have a means by which to communicate with as many people as possible. Currently, SMS is the means of communications that works on all mobile phones. Congratulations to 3Jam for intelligently identifying this 🙂

Aydin.

Posted By: Aydin Mirzaee
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I had a defective BlackBerry :(

September 22, 2007

About a couple of days into life with a BlackBerry I realized that the mobile internet features don’t always work. This was slightly disappointing; but, being the nice guy that I am, I brushed it off. Then there was the massive outage. I learned that a lot of people were affected by this and so I remained on the sidelines once again. But even for the nicest of guys, there is a threshold that if crossed will force action. I called Telus (my provider) and demanded an explanation. After about 2 minutes on the phone (and 18 minutes of being on hold: yes, Telus customer support seems to be horrible – thumbs down to them – although, thanks to the headset that came with the phone, I was able to stay productive) I was told my handset was defective.

Learning that I had a defective handset, I went to two different Telus stores that just referred me to other places. Finally, the Telus store at the Rideau Center (in Ottawa, Canada) went ahead and ordered a handset for me. My handset arrived after two days. I went to pick it up but they wouldn’t give it to me since I had my phone for under 30 days. They said that if the phone was under 30 days old they would not replace the handset and would have to replace everything (i.e. everything that came in the box and not just the handset). This was fine by me; but of course this would only work with an original receipt. After finding the receipt and taking it back to them, they said that since I bought the handset from a reseller of Telus and not the company directly, I would have to go back and deal with the place through which I made the purchase. Off to the Billings Bridge Mall…

Now, Michael Hutchinson who is the store manager at the Telus location here is a nice guy and ordered another handset for me. It’ll be here next week. Looking forward to it. I am hoping that I can finally use the phone without interruption…

Conclusions

– I had a defective Blackberry (has RIM ever heard of Six Sigma???).

– Telus customer support is aweful (why is it so hard to talk to a customer representative???).

BTW,

I will call Telus and complain as I’m not paying this month’s bill with the type of service they offered me.

Aydin.

Posted By: Aydin Mirzaee
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TechCrunch 40 Conference & Facebook

September 18, 2007

A few people I know were at the TechCrunch 40 conference these last 2 days. I wish I was there too! Oh well… hopefully next year 🙂

A lot of interesting products/services were announced at the conference. Some of the more notable ones were Flock and Cubic Telecom (founded by Pat Phelan). Come to think of it, though, Cake Financial had a pretty good product out there too.

What did catch my attention the most at the conference was Facebook’s major announcement that they will be partnering with Accel and the Founders Fund to provide up to $10 million dollars in grants to individuals/companies that want to create Facebook apps. The grants will range from $25,000 to $250,000. Very interesting proposition and very smart move by the three companies.

Bravo!

Aydin.

Posted By: Aydin Mirzaee
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A True Engineer – Steve Wozniak

September 17, 2007

Over the years I can say that I’ve met many people in the field of engineering. I graduated from Electrical Engineering at the university of Ottawa and I met a lot fellow engineers at school and even in the work field. The truth is that you rarely come across someone who is truly passionate about engineering to a point that they will spend every second of every day thinking about and working on projects. Most people will have an affinity for engineering and will even work in engineering but not truly immerse themselves in it. Of course there are always exceptions to this rule and I can name a few people in this category. Steve Wozniak is one of these people who is a legend due to his role in the computer revolution and the founding of Apple Computer. The following is an amazing video that shows the true passion of Steve for computers and engineering. I’ve never met Steve Wozniak but it would be a true pleasure to do so one day. He is definitely someone I admire and respect. Check out the video. Definitely worth your time 🙂

From a business perspective though,

it was very interesting to find out that Apple Computer had 3 original shareholders: Steve Jobs (45%), Steve Wozniak (45%) and their third partner who had 10%. For reasons described in the video, the third partner sold his shares back to the two Steves for “a couple hundred dollars.”

After Apple Computer got its first investment from Mark Markkula ($250,000), each of the then partners kept 1/3 of the company.

Aydin.

Posted By: Aydin Mirzaee