Thursday, May 31, 2007


I just read that Jaanus Kase is moving on from Skype and going to do his master degree in the States. Congrats! Skype is loosing a valuable resource, someone who has contributed a lot to the development of their community but he's been around a long time and it's natural to move on. I'll remember shortly after I started at Skype Jaanus and Tarmo took me out to lunch at some theme restaurant in Mustamae and helped me get an idea of how the company culture works and what I should be aiming to do, it helped a lot.

Now that he'll be in the US in the fall maybe he can make a trip up to Canada to visit. I know how much he enjoys long cross country drives. :)


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Priidu would be proud

I took the plunge and bought myself a MacBook. Should arrive in a week or two, looking forward to it. :)


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

eBay vs. eBay

Recently I had two very different experiences with eBay, one good and one not so good. First off, I'm not an eBay newbie (in fact I've even sort of work for eBay at one point and know a lot of eBayers) and I generally have an excellent idea of what goes on on it's online marketplace. The two experiences, however, show that even a fairly knowledgeable person can have problems. The first auction was for a low priced item which I bought directly (no auction) and paid for quickly and easily through Paypal without thought, the item arrived in less than a week from Texas, perfect. The second auction was for a high priced item which I bid on, the bidding went smoothly enough except near the end someone placed a higher bid which they quickly retracted, interesting. After winning the auction, the seller promptly contacted me and ask that I send payment via a different method than originally advertised to a name and address that didn't look right. Needless to say I didn't feel comfortable doing this and after a number of emails with the seller and eBay I decided to not pay for the item and drop out. :(

eBay is based on trust, without it nothing would get sold since there is no fool proof method of online payments that is quick and easy to protect users. For small value items I'm willing to extend more trust to a seller (or buyer) and the transaction will likely get done , with higher priced options that level of trust doesn't always exist. eBay has done a great job creating trust (feedback, Paypal payments, etc) but there must be more that could be done, I can only imagine how many users have fallen into the same situation as me but are more trusting and less knowledgeable about what goes on online. I'd love to know what the stats are on auctions that never get finished because of scams or lack of trust? Based on what I know about online fraud I'm sure it's huge.

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Friday, May 18, 2007


My grandfather (vanaisa) Edgar celebrated his 87th birthday last night. He's still as busy and active as always and is getting ready for a month long trip to Eesti this summer that he's planned. This isn't just any regular trip as he's taking 40+ students from Toronto to sing at the Noorte Laulupidu song festival in Tallinn followed by a 2 week bus tour of Eesti. I can only hope that I half the energy he does at that age. Palju õnne sünnipäevaks vanaisa!

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Had coffee this afternoon with David Friedberg who runs (another Index Venture), we did a bit of brainstorming on ideas to grow OANDA and I was very impressed with what he came up with.

I was also impressed with his own company which stands to solve the problem of rained out vacations or snowless ski trips. Who wouldn't want to spend $20-30 extra on a vacation knowing that if the weather sucks you'll get a refund? Once gets added to travel sites I think it has huge potential, very cool.

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Hey, tax matters.

I'm still shopping for a new laptop, haven't had an urgent need to buy one but as Liisa is returning to Europe in a couple of months and I'll be without computer at home. I've been seriously looking at a Mac laptop, especially since they've just released new versions which means some of the current versions are being sold off cheap.

So I went to the website and checked out some prices, found a model that I liked and started going through the purchase process. I confirmed the purchase and was happy with the price I paid but a couple of minutes later I received a confirmation email with a different price on it! The difference, tax. The site doesn't calculate or show tax when you place your order which confused me a bit since every other Canadian online retailer shows tax properly, does show shipping when you order however. Not showing tax up front is either a mistake that could be easily fixed or a sleazy way of making it look like their products are cheaper than they are.

Tax added 14% to the order and I figured I could get a cheaper price elsewhere so I canceled my order before they processed it which was a bit disappointing.

On top of this problem I repeatedly had to log into the apple site in order to navigate around and when I canceled my order I got a cancellation confirmation email in French while all the other emails I got from them were in English? Nice products, but could use a little improvement on the e-commerce side.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Arcade Fire - Toronto Concert Review

Last night I attended the Arcade Fire concert at Massey Hall. I thoroughly enjoyed the show even though a lot of critics seemed to feel it lacked something special. I stood less than a meter from the stage and didn't think it lacked anything but what do I know, I guess I just didn't have expectations and went to enjoy myself.

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Where's Skype?

I was looking at bidding on an item on eBay and decided to use the "Watch this item" feature as the end date is a couple of days away and I wasn't interested in bidding yet. I noticed that you could be notified by IM so I thought that getting a Skype update would be cool. Unfortunately as I went forward I see that Skype isn't one of the options for notification, surprising considering eBay purchased Skype for $2.4 billion awhile back. :(

Any chance of getting Skype updates on eBay anytime soon?

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook added a new feature to their site today - Marketplace. It works as a online classifieds similar to Craigslist. It has a couple of unique features: items are listed as part of your Network making listings more local to you, you can view items that are being sold by just your contacts and it adds "6 degrees of separation" to any listing telling you if the seller is a friend of a friend, etc.

This is definitely a departure from Facebook's normal operations. I find that a lot of people are already starting to worry about the creeping commercialism and lack of privacy with Facebook and wonder if this new feature will continue to foster those fears. This could however, be a decent niche player in classifieds, in particular with student products such as used textbooks and student services.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Vacation booked

I'm taking a couple of weeks vacation in August to come back to Eesti. I'll be flying into Kuresaare on the 12th of August and spending a couple of days there decompressing before making my way to Tallinn and then Stockholm where I'll fly out of on the 26th.

Looking forward to being back, even just for a short time.

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SkypeIn and the CRTC

Skype announced a cool little feature whereby your SkypeIn number will be displayed when you call via SkypeOut. I know that this has been requested since the first day SkypeIn was launched and it's nice to see it finally arrive. There are ton's of legal and regulation issues in each country regarding this type of service.

Unfortunately in Canada we still don't even have SkypeIn numbers. This is thanks to the wonderful CRTC which controls our airwaves. They are here to "protect" the consumers which is funny considering Canada has some of the highest mobile/phone rates in the world. We have 3 companies that control most of the phone, tv and internet in the country, one of which will probably go private in the next little while. If the CRTC was serious about protecting the consumer then they'd open up the market and allow some additional competition in from the US and Europe. Then maybe we could finally get SkypeIn numbers. :)

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Sticker shock

Last Friday night Liisa and I went for dinner at "Lee", a restaurant run by the world famous chef Susur Lee. It's a tapas style menu where you order 5-6 dished and share them. Overall the food was very good although 1 or 2 of the dishes were slightly disappointingly (the braized pork which is cooked for 2 days was a bit bland). What really annoyed me, however, was the exorbitant rate they charge for alcohol. I ordered a 2004 Bogle Merlot which cost $65. The wine itself was good and we very well with what we ordered but considering that this bottle of wine retails for $16.95 at the LCBO is crazy. I could have saved $15 had I bought the bottle myself and paid the $30 corkage fee at the restaurant. I know that restaurants make a lot of their money of booze but to charge over 300% profit is a bit insane. Especially in Ontario where you can easily know the exact price of the wine from the LCBO's website.

(Thankfully I had a gift certificate for dinner which helped absorb the cost. Thanks Paul, Eric and Triina!)

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Friday, May 04, 2007

St. Patrick

You know things are bad when Pat Buchanan is writing about Estonia.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

New solar technology

This article is cool, it explains a new power generation plant in Spain that harnesses the Sun energy to create steam and generate energy. More technologies like this need to be developed to help solve climate change. Very cool.

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Stolen remains

I wonder if anyone is going to protest about this? Probably not.

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