BC Hydro: Just Give Me My Fucking Bill, OK?

Every month, I receive an email from BC Hydro. Here it is.

I can:

  • Make a payment (from your bank account by entering transit number, instituion number, and account number — essentially paying by cheque, in 2022 … but, okay)
  • See my payment options (Online banking, direct withdrawal, pre-authorized payments, equal payment plan, credit card, by mail, at a Service BC location (outside the Lower Mainland), Electronic Funds Transfer — fair enough, but I have never used any of these; I just want to see the bill, get the amount, and pay via my bank’s site)
  • View your detailed bill — yes, please! I mean, can’t you just attach it to the email? Thanks.
  • View your electricity use — this would, presumably, be on my bill
  • Join Team Power Smart. Um, what?
  • Set up pre-authorized payments — fair enough
  • Phone scam info. Okay, but you sent me an email
  • Payment options for my bill (again?)
  • Move or cancel account
  • How to read my detailed bill — well, if I had the bill I’d be able to follow along, right?
  • Get help. I feel I need it at this point. But probably not the kind of help they have in mind

I want to view my bill — I don’t care so much how “detailed” it is, and wish they’d just attached it to the email, but I click or tap the button. This is what I see, after signing in:

Keep in mind that I clicked/tapped a button in the email that said “View your detailed bill”. I kind of expect that I might, you know, see my bill. But no. I won’t bother to inventory the absolute mess of information that is irrelevant to my task here. Here is what I have to scan to find, every month:

Question: How is “View my bill” distinct from the original “View your detailed bill”? Where along the way did I lose the detail? What detail? Is it important? Okay, well, I guess I’ll settle for my dumbed-down bill: remember, all I really want is the amount so I can … oh yeah, pay the bill.

So I click/tap the teensy little button that BC Hydro apparently does not want me to see — for reasons I can’t guess. Don’t they want my money? Why is “Starting a Challenge” or “Joining the Team” (is this the Electricity Olympics?), or contests, or consumption — only the last 7 days, mind you; is this a teaser for the “detail” initially mentioned … why are any of these things and more, more important than what I was initially promised? Wait, what was that? Oh yeah, my bill. So, the microscopic button leads here:

This is only the content that fits on my 5K display. But once again, I’ve been sold a false promise: “View my bill” actually should read “Display yet another messy page of crap that really has nothing to do with your bill or anything else you might be interested in” — but maybe that (a) didn’t fit in the button; and (b) would have been too large a target, distracting from the truly important information on the page, like kWh and the projected cost of my next bill.

It seems that a once-a-month task provides just enough time to forget exactly where the thing I was looking might be located on the page (as far as I recall, this mess hasn’t changed in years; the incompetent consultants who put this together may have long-since retired to a tropical isle). But oh yeah, there it is!

Recall: I have been offered:

  1. “View your detailed bill” (email)
  2. “View my bill” (after authentication … also, why has “your” changed to “my”?)
  3. “View PDF bill”

So clicking/tapping the link, will I see my/your detailed/not-detailed/summary bill? It’s a mystery but at last I have reached my destination.

Dear BC Hydro: Just Attach My (Your?) Fucking Bill To The Email, OK?

CBC, HomePod, and Siri

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information available on how to access CBC content using Siri on HomePod and HomePod mini, so I decided to put together a guide based on my experience and research. Last updated July 2024.

All results below are from tests on my 2018 HomePod stereo pair running HomePod Software Version 17.5 with the new Home architecture on July 2, 2024.

I bought my first HomePod in June 2018. I listen mostly to Apple Music, along with some podcasts — and CBC news and radio. More than half of my interaction with HomePod is via voice.

CBC has several pages addressing HomePod support:

  1. How can I use Siri to play CBC? (last updated circa mid- 2020)
  2. Do I have to enable anything on my Apple HomePod? (last updated circa 2019)
  3. How to play CBC Radio on your new smart speaker (December 2018)

Someone, somewhere — CBC, TuneIn, and/or Apple — seems regularly to be tweaking many of these commands, as there are changes every month. But there tend to be as many regressions as improvements.

Here’s a review of the commands provided on those pages, and their current status.

Page (above)“Hey Siri …”Result
1“… play CBC Radio.”Failure, after a few months where it played CBC The World This Hour. “Okay The Word This Hour coming up. Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Podcasts.”
1“… play the latest news from CBC.”Failure: “Here’s the latest news. Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Podcasts.”
2, 3“… play CBC Radio news.”Failure. Plays “classic rock station” and, in July 2024, “70s Hit Station.”
2, 3“… play CBC Radio 1.”Success, May 2024, for the first tine in a while. Plays CBC Radio 1 Vancouver for me (my location).
2“… play CBC Radio Music.”Failure. Tries playing The World This Hour, then says “Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Podcasts.”

On the 2018 page (3), there is a video with Piya Chattopadhyay demonstrating the “play CBC Radio One” command. The video ends by promoting a url, cbc.ca/smart, which as of this writing only has instructions for Amazon Alexa.

Page (2) states “We will continue to work on our Apple implementation of the voice experience and will announce late in 2019 when it’s ready to go. Stay tuned!” Page (3) says “New experiences are coming in 2019.”

Communications with CBC

I wrote to CBC in June 2019, and received the following from CBC Audience Services:

“CBC Radio One is limited to the Ottawa feed on HomePod.  CBC Music is not officially supported on HomePod either. All a work in progress and changing constantly. We are continually working on improvements and upgrades on all digital platforms.”

There is a lot more CBC content Siri on HomePod can access besides Ottawa Radio One (see below). But since that message, CBC had stopped responding to emails or tweets on the subject until, quite unexpectedly, an email arrived July 11, 2022, which stated in part:

“This is a known issue which we are currently investigating. Please read the following CBC Help Centre article referring to this issue: NEW Issues connection to CBC Radio networks on internet devices [apparently updated in early 2023, though it doesn’t appear there were changes]. We do apologize for any inconvenience.”

It’s also unclear who has responsibility for ensuring that Siri can be used to access CBC content. The page sent to me above says to “reach out to the software support team for your device or service and ask them to contact CBC directly.” But is this TuneIn (the service that provides radio to Apple Music and hence via HomePod)? Apple? I replied with all of these questions, but in a response sent July 19, 2022, only got back “As the article link from our help centre says:” with the first and third paragraphs of the above page quoted, and “That’s all I can give you for the moment.”

It’s not clear whether by “this” they were referring to issues with HomePod in general — every time I email or tweet CBC I include a link to this page, but have no way of knowing whether they’ve looked at it — or some specific issue, perhaps the recent problem with CBC Music Vancouver.

Siri Command Reference

Particularly with the introduction of the HomePod mini, not to mention the second-generation full-size HomePod, these issues would seem to be a significant oversight on the part of CBC. But in the meantime, I’ve discovered through trial and error that there are other commands that work, over and above the few documented on the original web pages from 2018-20. I also looked at the TuneIn pages for CBC stations and music. The following is my analysis of what plays based on various commands. It’s worth noting that some results may be affected by my location, Vancouver; thanks to ThiefClashRoyale for doing some tests from Ottawa in March 2023. (I have omitted podcasts, since they can be asked for directly; some generic commands like “play the CBC news” happen to redirect to podcasts.)

“Siri…” or “Hey Siri…”ResultNotes
“… switch to CBC news.”Failure“Sorry, I can’t play that right now.” Worked when tested in both September and November 2023, but not in October. September 2023 was the first time it had worked in months or years of being broken, but this is a new error as of February 2024.

Making this request i supposed to play The World This Hour when you ask “…what’s my update?”
“… play the CBC news.”Failure“Here’s the latest news. Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Podcasts.” Had been fixed as of September 2023 — played The World This Hour. It had played The World at Six podcast for a couple of months until the November 2022 update, when it started playing Quirks and Quarks, then switched to Front Burner in June 2023.
“… play CBC Music.”FailureTries playing The World This Hour, and again “Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Podcasts.”
“… play CBC Music Vancouver.”SuccessAppears to have been fixed as of August 8, 2022.

As of July-August 2022, I was getting Barbara Peatland: Canadian Composers Portraits. Starting around July 2022, resulted in “Now play CBC Music Vancouver, Provided by TuneIn. … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”

For a few weeks in May 2021, this no longer worked as CBC Music Vancouver disappeared from TuneIn. I tweeted at CBC and TuneIn and only TuneIn responded. They wrote, “CBC Music Vancouver have decided to restrict their stream within mobile device users only. This means CBC Music Vancouver can’t be accessed through smart speakers or receiver such as HomePod.” However, a week or so later the station had been restored to TuneIn. But this makes me wonder whether there might be a movement at CBC to try to force people to use their Listen app.
“… play CBC Music Halifax.”SuccessFixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Halifax … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”
“… play CBC Music Edmonton.”SuccessFixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Edmonton … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”
“… play CBC Music Winnipeg.”SuccessFixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Winnipeg … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”
“… play CBC Music Toronto.”FailureAs of June 2024, plays the Tragically Hip, starting with a random song (!).

For a few months before that, played CBC Radio One Toronto, with the 1974–1992 CBC logo. For a couple of years this played Norma Beecroft: Improvvisazioni Concertanti No. 1, From Dreams of Brass, Collage ’76, Jeu II, Accordion Play (Canadian Composers Portraits) [link].
“… play CBC Radio One.”SuccessWorking in May 2024 for the first time in a while. Plays CBC Radio One Vancouver, my location.
“… play CBC Radio One Vancouver.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One St. John’s.”SuccessSt. John’s, Newfoundland
“… play CBC Radio One Saint John.”FailureSaint John, New Brunswick. In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still worked. As of May 2024 it is again listed, but plays St. John’s regardless of how carefully I enunciate.
“… play CBC Radio One Kelowna.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Toronto.”SuccessStation artwork is, for some reason, the 1974–1992 CBC logo rather than the CBC Radio One logo that all the other stations use.

“… play CBC Radio One London.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Kitchener-Waterloo.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Halifax.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Moncton.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Edmonton.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Prince George.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Ottawa.”
Success
“… play CBC Radio One Winnipeg.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Sudbury.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Montreal.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Victoria.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Charlottetown.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Regina.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Fredericton.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Thunder Bay.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Goose Bay”SuccessIn September 2022, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page for the first time in a few months, and discovered this station had been added. Bonus! As of October 2023 it’s no longer listed, but still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Barrie”SuccessAdded to TuneIn circa September 2022, but Siri wasn’t able to find it until the February 2023 update. As of October 2023 it’s no longer listed, but still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Kingston”FailureAs of July 2024, Plays “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. As of May 2024, was playing Apple Music One. As of October 2023 it was no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page.
“… play CBC Radio One Peterborough”SuccessIn October 2022, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added — it resulted in an error until the November 2022 update. As of October 2023 it’s no longer listed, but still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Saskatoon”SuccessAdded some time in September 2022. As of October 2023 it was no longer listed, but was added back by May 2024. It worked the whole time. Odd.
“… play CBC Radio One Sydney.”SuccessIn April 2023, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added.
“… play CBC Radio One Windsor.”SuccessIn April 2023, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added. As of October 2023 it’s no longer listed, but still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Calgary.”SuccessIn April 2023, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added. Interestingly, in June 2023 I was testing all the channels and my HomePods were playing Windsor above; I asked for Calgary and on the first try it said it couldn’t find CBC Radio One Windsor-Calgary. Same happened in March 2024.
“… play CBC North Iqaluit”SuccessIn July 2023, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added. But as of December of that year it had been removed, even though the command still worked.

Interestingly, “… play CBC Radio One North Iqaluit” doesn’t seem to work.

There’s clearly some room for improvement here. CBC should at least fix the incorrect mappings. It’s unclear to me what the relationship is between an entity like CBC and Apple, but there’s a blurb and link on Apple’s Siri for Developers page for integration of a streaming service with HomePod (I don’t currently have an Apple Developer account, so I can’t view the page).

Please let me know if you have any updates or other information, and I will try to keep this page current.