Tag Archives: text messaging

It’s all about the Bordens: Cough ’em up for Haiti

So Haiti’s in trouble. Like, a crapload of trouble. And the world is coming together to do whatever they can. Food and supplies aren’t particularly useful because of the high cost of transporting and distributing them. Instead, the thing charities and relief organizations need is money.

In a perfect world, a massive international relief organization would simply respond, making use of a hefty budget to set up some emergency shelters while everyone’s homes are rebuilt using insurance money. Of course, that’s not the case (partially because international aid tends not to win many elections), so regular people are being asked to open their wallets and help out.

While the most obvious thing to do would be to give to the Red Cross, various groups are organizing fundraisers or other schemes to try to squeeze even more money out of us.

After a few minutes of searching, here’s what I’ve found is happening in Montreal over the next week and a half:

Feel free to suggest others in the comments below. Agenda Public has a list of similar events across Quebec.

Text it and forget it

For those of you who are too fucking lazy to punch your credit card number securely into a website and prefer to have your cellphone company bill you based on a fee for a text message you’ve sent to some unverified five-digit number you heard about through your friend’s Twitter, there are plenty of options for that, though few work in Canada (that “90999” thing you heard about on the Colbert report doesn’t work here – something CTV didn’t relay to its viewers when it rebroadcasted the show on two of its networks). The cellphone companies accept $5 to 45678, and Plan Canada at 30333 (in both cases text “HAITI”). But maybe I just made that up, or copied the number down wrong.

Really, just give it to the Red Cross. Don’t trust your friends, don’t trust people on the street, don’t trust celebrities, don’t trust businesses and don’t trust anyone saying your money goes toward Haiti relief.

Journalists: Donate your overtime

The earthquake in Haiti, ironically, had a positive impact on my bottom line. The paper was expanded in size to fit all the extra news coverage, and I was called in for an unscheduled shift on Thursday night. Rather than profit off the misery, I’m donating my salary for that shift to the Red Cross.

I know there are plenty of journalists and other media types who read this blog, and plenty of them are working more than they usually do because of this craziness. I’d encourage you to do the same – you’re not losing money, you’re working harder doing what you love, and it’s for a good cause.

STM offers bus schedules by text message

There’s been no press release yet, but the STM has quietly launched two new systems to get bus schedules on mobile devices, and recently unveiled it to employees, Fagstein has learned.

UPDATE (July 14): The STM launched both services today as a six-month pilot project.


The first is by text message. Send a message to 52786 (which works out to “LA-STM”) with the bus route number followed by the stop code and you’ll get one back with the next three departure times for that bus. So, for example, to find out the times for the next 80 bus northbound at the Place des Arts metro station (stop #52552), text “8052552”, and you’ll get a message like this:

Stop 52552 (07/03/09) Line 80: 21:52, 21:59, 22:06.

The first time you use the service, it will ask you whether you want it in English or French by texting “E” or “F”.




The second method is through a new mobile website at m.stm.info. A simply-designed page asks you to input a stop code and route number (or just the route number so you can search for the code), and spits out the time of the next three arrivals. There are also bare-bones pages with fare information and metro closing times.

This isn’t the first time that someone thought to make it easier for mobile users to get bus times (outside of the AUTOBUS voice-menu system). There’s the STM Mobile iPhone application, busmob.com mobile-friendly site and this site which mashes up with Google Maps. There’s also, of course, Google Maps itself, which has had Montreal-area bus schedule information since October. The STM told The Gazette’s Roberto Rocha in August that it was planning something similar “in the fall”, but it seems they’ve been a bit behind schedule.

UPDATE (July 5): Some linklove from Rue Frontenac and a citation from Agence QMI. Amusingly, both invent new examples to use, QMI’s in the more francophone area of the Joliette metro. The QMI piece is also on Page 3 of 24 Heures of July 6:

24 Heures, July 6, 2009, Page 3

24 Heures, July 6, 2009, Page 3

UPDATE (July 14): More coverage from The Gazette, Metro, Technaute and Canoe (again) after the system was officially announced.

Rogers follows the leaders

Hey, remember last year when Bell and Telus said they were going to start charging for incoming text messages (in addition to outgoing text messages), and Rogers countered that they had “no plans” to do the same, especially because that move encouraged people to switch to Rogers?

Apparently plans take less than a year. Rogers now says it’s going to go ahead and start charging for incoming text messages.

Uncoincidentally, this news comes on the same day Rogers announces that it’s going to integrate with Twitter, allowing the microblogging service to send updates to users’ phones.

Of course, like Bell and Telus, Rogers says this won’t change anything for most customers who have text messaging included in their plans, and they assure us that charges will be cancelled on spam messages (customers just have to fill out Form 18459-B in quadruplicate and have it signed by a notary, waiting 6-8 months for a credit on their bill).

Isn’t it great that our telecom universe is a three-player oligopoly where each company sets policies to mimic the others, for good or bad?

Insert brand here

Oh, and a side note to that Twitter thing: Rogers released separate press releases for Rogers Wireless and Fido saying just about the same thing. A quote from Twitter changes only the name of the brand:


“We’re thrilled to be working with Canada’s largest wireless provider,” said Kevin Thau, Twitter’s Director of Mobile Business Development. “Twitter is a real-time messaging service for sharing and discovering what’s happening – right now. By partnering with Rogers Wireless, customers using Twitter can now view, post and reply to messages, ensuring the application stays affordable and true to its real-time nature.”


“We’re thrilled to be working with Fido,” said Kevin Thau, Twitter’s Director of Mobile Business Development. “Twitter is a real-time messaging service for sharing and discovering what’s happening – right now. By partnering with Fido, customers using Twitter can now view, post and reply to messages within their text messaging plans, ensuring the application stays affordable and true to its real-time nature.”

I’m not up on press-release ethics, but I can only conclude two things here: Either the release is lying to us, or Rogers made Kevin Thau say the exact same text twice, changing only the name of the brand.