Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Eesti Toit

The Toronto Star (Canada's largest daily newspaper) had a nice little article about Estonian food in it. Makes me miss all the local food that I could buy in the supermarket in Tallinn but now I only eat on special occasions.

I could go for some rosolje right about now.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Breaking up is easy to do.

Well, it looks like the proposed government that was about to take shape in Eesti is on the verge of falling apart. Reform is saying that IRL wants to much (he claims they want Speaker of the House and first choice of minister) while IRL is saying all they wanted was Foreign Minister (for Laar) and then would negotiate on the other 4 minister positions. There is some speculation that all this may have been planned for awhile and that now Reform and KESK will get back in bed together and form a coalition.

Whether this is all just posturing on both sides and they will make up and work together or whether this is the end of the "right wing" alliance is yet to be seen. I wonder how all those who voted Reform will feel if Ansip decides to cosy up to Savisaar again?

UPDATE: Reform has sent a new offer to IRL that Laar says is better than the first so there is still hope for this coalition.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Global influence!?

The Economist ran an interesting survey to see who has the most positive influence on the world and surprisingly Canada came in first place. It doesn't really explain much about the survey so I'm not totally sure what the questions(s) were or who they asked so it's hard to really comment much on this but I wonder how much people really know about Canada? Often people see Canada as a semi-socialist, cold wilderness paradise but I can't imagine that much is actually known about the country.

No wonder people put Canadian flags on their bags when the travel. :)


Friday, March 16, 2007

Oh Canada

Liisa and I are off to the nations capital, Ottawa, this weekend for a trip. Liisa hasn't been there before and it's been about 5 or 6 years since I last visited. It's about a 5 hour drive depending on the road conditions so hopefully there won't be any snow on the way. Ottawa is a strange capital, similar to Washington D.C., it's a bit of a made up city in the sense that it was selected as the capital rather than organically becoming the capital. If I remember my history correctly Kingston was the original choice for capital but Ottawa was chosen for it's location between Upper and Lower Canada at the time.

There are quite a few good sites to see: museums, parliament, galleries, the market, etc. Depending on the weather there we may get a chance to skate the Rideau canal which is the world's longest skating rink.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Growing up

Statscan released their latest census results yesterday which had some interesting tidbits in it. Canada's population grew 5.4% from 2001 to 2006 which was the highest growth rate in the G8 and now puts our population at 31.6 million. What was interesting was that 2/3 of the growth was fulled by immigrants and it's predicted that by 2030 all the population growth will come from immigrants. Most of the growth is occurring around big cities which isn't much of a surprise, not to many immigrants can afford 400k condos in the city which seems to be the only thing up for sale.

Another interesting stat was that the city of Barrie grew 19.2% to almost 180k people. No wonder the cottage (which is 15kms from Barrie) no longer feels like the great outdoors like it used to.

Canada is often held as an example of a country that is built on immigrants and can successfully absorb so many without a lot of the political and ethnic tensions that others experience. Sure we have our problem, PHD's driving cabs isn't good, but a lot of countries (cough, cough, Estonia) could learn a couple of lessons about growing their countries with immigrants.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Skype 3.1 Beta

Skype launched their Beta 3.1 version recently and there are a couple of cool new features that have been in the works for awhile. First off is Skype Prime, which allows users to setup their own paid content service and charge customers to call them. This is a great way to monetize the user base and get some additional revenue. The one thing I did notice is that any pornographic type of calls aren't allowed. I understand the logic behind this (protecting kids, keeping the community "clean", etc) but wonder if there is a plan to open it up a bit more in the future to tap this potentially large market. Maybe something like "escort" services which are technically legal all over North America but everyone knows it's just prostitution will pop up?

For me the more interesting new feature is Skype Find which is a community built tool to help users find and contact all types of businesses and services. I love this feature, especially the part that shows me what my friends have added and rated recently to be very useful as I can figure out what friends would recommend in various places. Currently there are about 3900 reviews listed by 1500 users, once this version goes gold and more people start using it I can only imagine it being one of the best new features in awhile.

The new version also has the much requested "show when the other person is typing" feature but with a creative twist.

Good job guys.

(Note: For full disclosure I used to work for Skype but now have no affiliation, just great affection for the company and people)


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Time to get to work.

I spent Sunday afternoon watching the entire Estonian elections coverage online. First off, kudos to ETV. Broadcasting live, with a high quality stream was a good move, there were some minor sound and video issues once and awhile but all in all they did a great job. The commentary they provided was decent, maybe not as captivating as U.S. or Canadian election coverage but they had great access to the candidates and some decent analysis, in particular the prediction that any coalition will last 2.5 years at most.

As for the results, a lot of people were happy to see that KESK didn't win, myself included. Sotsdemokraadid and IRL did better than expected and somehow Rahvaliit still managed to get votes which boggles my mind.

Now that this circus is over it's time to move on and address the real issues. How will the next coalition come together and will they address some of the pressing needs in Eesti? Higher wages aren't the only issues, in fact I can't imagine any western politician promising higher wages in an election. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Economist had some critical words about the over heating economy and lack of additional reforms. It will be interesting to see what agenda the government pushes forward with.


Friday, March 02, 2007

One post can make a difference

A while ago I posted a little review about the latest Arcade Fire album Neon Bible. I personally don't think it's a great review since I'm not a great writer but somehow it's generated a huge amount of traffic to my blog. For a most of the past couple of weeks when you search for Neon Bible reviews on Google my blog was coming up 4th or 5th in rank, before the page fold, which has driven huge amount of traffic (I'm dropping but still on the first page).

For me this is the first time I've had this type of traffic and it's an interesting marketing experience. If you can write something that is both unique and on an interesting and topical subject you can drive significant traffic to your site, regardless of a previous reputation or "name". I don't image that much of the traffic will be sustainable unless I significantly improve the quality of my writing but it's been cool to see the traffic spike like this.

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