A letter to Canadians from the Honourable Jack Layton

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Even at his weakest, Jack could still inspire us to be our strongest. Sir, you will be missed.

Read the full letter | See Jack at his best best: happy | Six ways Jack Layton helped build Toronto

On the failures of Online Banking

It seems to me that with every upgrade or enhancement, online banking (in Canada) get less useful and far more difficult to use. Having had a 4-month co-op stint at a bank (doing QA for the Online Banking team), I know all about the red-tape involved, plus the antiquated mindset, skills, and technologies at play, so I’m not really surprised; just disappointed.

Some highlights:

  • One bank no longer lets me view my statements online but rather forces me to download a PDF.
  • Several banks don’t actually let me download PDF statements.
  • One bank fails to list the actual statement date when viewing a statement.
  • Two banks limit their passwords at 6-8 characters.
  • One bank has two separate systems: one for their credit card and one for regular banking.
  • One bank forces me to indicate the fact that I’m from Canada every time I visit their site (because the domain on their cookie isn’t set correctly).

Banks should spend less time on building peripheral money management webapps, and focus instead on the core experience. They could pick up about a million cues from mint.com.

As skeptical as I was about the idea of BankSimple, I now wait with bated breath.