New Year

Well folks here we are into another year and here’s hoping you all have a healthy, happy and virus, phishing and spam-free year!

Off course this is too much to hope for, especially on the security side of things. It seems people have a better chance of keeping healthy than their PCs do!

Check out my tech wish-list for 2009 in my Edmonton Journal Column at:


I am heading down to the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week to mix it up with the movers and shakers in technology and will be reporting from the site. Sure there’s parties and receptions but I am just as excited walking the far edges of the exhibit halls looking for the small vendours with cool ideas. 

Needless to say the tough economy has also affected technology companies and it will be interesting to see how CES play out this year. I know fewer reporters are going this year and that is no surprise.

This time last year it was impossible to find a decent hotel room…even now, less than a week away, there are lot’s of rooms available with new discounts. The best gage of how things are going in Vegas are the cabbies…they have an amazing network of tracking the city that never sleeps economy. 



What surprised me more than Microsoft’s original Zune player skipping a beat over a leap year fixable programming bug, was the fact that a portable player can last three years! I use Zunes and frankly, I like them…they are solidly made and have a faster interface than iPods.

My biggest Zune beef, as a Canadian, is not being able to buy music online directly from the Zune Marketplace, open only to U.S. Zune users. Microsoft Canada officials have explained to me the complicated politics of getting agreements with artists and music publishers for a Canadian Zune Marketplace, not to mention the fact that the local iTune and all the other Windows compatible music download sites have most of the market share.

Microsoft Canada goes to great lengths explaining to me that unlike the U.S., more Canadians buy albums than digitally downloaded music. That may be strangely true, but according to the last Nielsen Co.’s year-end figures, more than 70% of  U.S. music transactions were track downloads, outselling albums by a ratio of 2.5 to 1. The report says total album sales dropped to 428.4 million, 14% fewer than in 2007, 45% down since 2000.

There’s even more benefits for U.S. Zune Marketplace members. A Zune Pass subscription which gives Zune owners access to millions of tracks for $14.99 a month now allows them to keep 10 tracks a month for free. Unlike the unlimited plan which restricts transferring music to a PC or burning CDs, the free songs let you do that and more. Unlike the unlimited plan where you lose all songs once you stop the subscription, these song give-aways are yours to keep.

Sorry folks, I have to go analog and buy myself another album for my Zune…


One Response to “New Year”

  1. Shauna Says:

    Your article highlighting your tech wish-list for 2009 included a reference to
    “optional special phones” for travel. Can you elaborate on this, we have had cellphones serviced by Telus and Rogers and we travel throughout the US in the summer and have never been given any alternatives to our “roaming chargers”. I have tried to find a phone that we can use short term when we are in the states, but no luck.

    Thanx for your help

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