jules.ca

telecom, technology and the occasional floobergeist

I’ve got an abundance of bits and pieces of canadian telecom and internet experience, and I am thrilled to be in a place in time when all is changing, technology is developing, and the status quo is being disrupted. 

Floobergeist is a word that is beginning to defy definition.  The more I roll that smooth pebble around, the more it becomes to mean. Floobergeist started out as the magic dust that turns dreams into ideas.  And then it began to encompass the zing that happens when you have conversations about those ideas. And now, it’s the whole evolution from dream to conversation, with each step improving the later and the former along the way.

Everyone aspires to good conversations. They can lead you to adventures you’ve never imagined, and to people you can twig with.

Let’s have a good conversation…

welcome.

Current Wireless Pricing in North America

As of August 14, 2013 these are the following two-year wireless plans that various major carriers offer in North America. 

Unless the Canadian Conservatives can woo TMobile, the wireless rates in Canada aren't     going to lessen with Verizon......Don't be misled by the government saying that prices are going to get cheaper..... :-(

12 months ago, Canadian pricing was cheaper than it is now, but the Federal government forced the end of 3 year contracts. Huh.... 

AT&T

  • iPhone 5: $149
  • Nationwide talk (limited to 900 min): $60
  • Unlimited texting: $20
  • 2 Gb data: $20
  • Total Monthly spend: $100

Verizon

  • iPhone 5: $199
  • Unlimited Nationwide talk and text: $40
  • 2 Gb data: $60
  • Total Monthly spend: $100

TMobile

  • iPhone 5: $145
  • Hardware Finance charge monthly: $21
  • Unlimited Nationwide talk and text with 2 Gb data included: $60
  • Total Monthly spend: $81

TELUS

  • iPhone 5: $199
  • Unlimited Nationwide talk and text: $55
  • 2 Gb data: $45
  • Total Monthly spend: $95

Bell

  • iPhone 5: $199
  • Unlimited Nationwide talk and text: $85
  • 2 Gb data: $10
  • Total Monthly spend: $95

Rogers

  • iPhone 5: $249
  • Unlimited Nationwide talk and text: $60
  • 2 Gb data: $40
  • Total Monthly spend: $90

 

 

The Canadian Conservatives: Buying Votes on the Backs of Canadian Middle Class....

As you may have heard, the Prime Minister’s Office is set on seeking another mobile player to add to Canada’s wireless market- Bell, Rogers, TELUS, Eastlink, Videotron, Mobilicity, Public, MTS, SaskTel and Wind (Canada has 10 now, the US is moving to 4). 

The Canadian Wireless Carriers welcome any competitor, of any size- but on a level playing field.

With a market capitalization nearly twice that of BCE, Rogers and TELUS combined and almost four times as many customers, we don't believe Verizon needs any special favours as they look to enter the Canadian market.  I’m still sad that we let Nortel be gobbled up at pennies on the dollar by large government supported entities- China, Sweden and US while we burned tax dollars into GM, Ford and Chrysler.  Giving Verizon special incentives makes no sense- just sends dollars south in an attempt to garner votes.

Here are the facts;

·         Canadians enjoy a very competitive wireless industry, with prices not only comparable to the rest of the developed world but actually lower than in the U.S.

  • Intense competition in telecom has led to lower price growth than other competitive industries- Since 2002;
  • Gasoline- Up 7% on average per year
  • Cable- Up 5% on average per year
  • Energy- Up 5% on average per year
  • Shelter- Up 4% on average per year
  • Food- Up 3% on average per year
  • Communications and Telephone Services- Up 1% on average per year
  • ·         

    Canada’s investment in telecommunications infrastructure is almost double the average of OECD countries and provides world leading coverage, speed and reliability, despite our nation’s challenging and sparsely populated geography.

    ·         BCE, Rogers and TELUS support 370,000 employees and retirees in Canada and contribute over $50 billion each year to our nation’s economy including extensive funding for charities and not-for-profits.

    ·         Industry observers believe a foreign entrant such as Verizon would focus purely on serving major urban markets if they are not required to build out networks to the broader population. This, in turn, could force BCE, Rogers and TELUS to focus our investments in a similar manner in order to effectively compete.

    Please voice your support for fair markets and a level playing fields for Canadian companies.

  • Independent reports show wireless pricing in Canada is average when compared to developed world- impressive achievement given the challenging and sparsely populated geography we serve and world leading network upgrades to latest technology
  • Canadian wireless pricing is favorable compared to G7
  • Canadian wireless pricing is favorable compared to U.S. (based on the CRTC’s- our government’s Wall Report)

Why Going to the Movies Sucks....

"Going to the movie theatre reminds me of all the reasons why I don't go to the movie theatre". 

World War Z

World War Z

The movie World War Z made us leave the relative comfort and safety of our home to brave the chaos and ignorance of the local movie theatre. It's been over a year since the last time we made the same mistake. I guess we forgot how terrible it is. Sort of like forgetting how much childbirth sucks...  

We planned ahead, got to the movieplex in the right amount of time (movie starts at 7:30), got snacks and headed into the theatre 30 minutes before the Zombies. Seating was awesome, and we had the perfect buffer of empty seats around us as the theatre was only about 1/3 full. We thought we were rock stars.

Problems begin when a mother and her irritating teenage son sit down RIGHT BESIDE us. I look at the mother and say "Really, in a theatre this empty, you need to sit RIGHT BESIDE us? The son giggles. The mother looks embarrassed. We move down one seat to restore the buffer.

People continue to trickle into the theatre, but our buffer is preserved. Down to one seat on either side of us. We think we've succeeded. A sad couple ask about seats, we politely say no. They move away to look elsewhere. It's 7:35 - home free.... until another couple roll in. They ask about the seats on either side of us. We say they are free, and they are free to sit in them. And then they ask us to move. I say "You roll in at 7:30 and expect to get awesome seats? We've been here for half an hour. Cheap seats are down at the front".

Needless to say, we ended up having to move, thus rewarding slackers and poor planners (who ended up smelling like they'd just run a half marathon).

:-( 

The movie itself was good, once you got past the people giggling, shuffling, coughing and being generally irritating. Unfortunately, the ignorance and irritation wasn't worth the $60 we spent for the movie and snacks. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the general public should NOT be allowed out in public.

We have discussed the possibility of buying 4 tickets next time, to ensure the buffer is preserved.  Friends have suggested that VIP service is the way to go... unfortunately --- we aren't close to a VIP Theatre, as awesome as it sounds.  And it DOES sound awesome. For an extra $5/seat, we get rid of most of the irritation --- Hmmm......

Lesson learned, at least for another year.

Instacube - My Next Gadget

Sigh, I have been waiting about 8 months now for Instacube.  It's one of those neat-o Kickstarter projects that was a victim of its own success. It's a wireless picture frame that interfaces with all my various photo sharing apps. So, of course I'm going to want it.

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Instacube raised over $600,000 with their fundraising. That's a LOT of hardware to build and ship. Globally. They ran into challenges with volume requirements, and then with how to ship them globally...

The latest update is that I might finally get my hot little hands on an Instacube in the next few months. I'm almost wishing I bought three of them --- since they would make pretty neat Christmas pressies --- but that would be over $300 to bank on something that's already 4 months delayed....

Still --- I'm looking forward to it! Reviews when it finally arrives!!! 

 

Fitbit Flex Review

I was one of those early, pre-release adopters of the Fitbit Flex, and because of that luck, I've been able to enjoy my Fitbit for over a month now. It's been enough time that I feel comfy about a review. 

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First off: I had no idea how much a slug I am as a remote tele-worker. If I'm not paying attention, I can walk less than 2000 steps in a day. That glaring realization in itself is enough to justify the Fitbit. :-D

I chose the Flex because I wanted a device that never had to come off. No clipping, no pocketing, no remembering. As a bracelet, it's always on. It was a no-brainer.

The setup was a piece of cake, and the Fitbit Dashboard is a really neat way to see your stats and the status of your goals on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. 

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My goal is 10,000 steps a day. In a month, I think I've been able to hit that goal about 5 times, so it's not as easy as you think.  I mostly average about 8000 steps. The motivation hits when I realize I'm only at 5000 steps, and I get off the couch to get up to 8000. Soon I will be averaging 10,000 --- but it's hard.

One of the neater features is that the Flex can tell if you are lightly active, moderately active or vigorously active. I don't know how it does it - but it can tell the difference between me walking around the house, and me walking the dog vs cutting the grass with a push mower. I think it's magic. :-D

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The sleep monitor is neat, but I'm not sure how accurate it is. That being said, it *does* give you a good indication of whether you are a restless sleeper, or a nice, deep sleeper... :-D

I don't use the calorie tracker/food input options, and I probably should. I'm just not good at tracking food intake, and I'm not sure that's important for me.

I wish the Flex tracked stairs, but it looks like the Fitbit One is the only device that does that right now. I also wish it had a GPS, since I love seeing my walks on a map. 

Overall --- it IS motivational. I am looking forward to more friends getting the Fitbit, so we can compete against each other --- and I think that's where the real value is going to come in. Fitness mixed with social media is going to be the motivator for me! 

 

Out of Favour with Openmedia.ca

Due to some fairly underhanded activites by the OpenMedia Facebook admins, and their continued allowance of user comments of bullying, intimidation and profanity, I've lost a certain sense of safety and security, and removed my article pointing out their inconsistencies in how they portray data. Unfortunately OpenMedia also deleted all of my commentary on their FB site, and blocked any future interactions.     

Not surprisingly, they've left open all of the visible harassment.

OpenMedia.ca --- Open Media... Closed Discussions.

No One Wants to See Your Face --- The Slow Adoption of Video Conferencing

I remember a million years ago when Skype was released to the masses.

I remember the initial excitement over Rogers video calling via smart phone.

I remember being super keen to try Facetime.

I remember the grand reveal of business video conferencing rooms.

Every device I have has a video camera. Every computer, every smart phone, every tablet. Why is it that video chats, and vide conferences have had such a slow adoption rate? Any google search on slow adoption of video conferencing will point to a myriad of issues. User in-experience with the technology, high cost of set up (in a business environment), discomfort with the camera, the inability to look into someone else's eyes...... Despite the fact that video conferencing has been around (in some form or another) for over 85 years, it's the least adopted technology by far. According to Forbes Magazine, only 20% of the population has used it.

I spend between 4 and 6 hours on the phone a day. I could easily be spending that same amount of time in front of a web cam, having the same discussions. But I'm not. I'd be hard pressed to find a concrete reason for this aside from the following:

  • I generally don't get *gussied up* when I work from home. A mascara-free Julie is not someone you want to spend an hour with on a video chat
  • I walk around a lot.
  • I multitask

Those three little issues are what's holding me back from the video chat.

Do you use video? For work? For fun?

I think it will be the folks who use video tools in their personal lives who will push the business community into using it more. After all, it's likely more engaging, builds better relationships and increases productivity. Still --- in my head, I'm not ready for that next step. :-D

Mocked by Country Outfitters - Cross Border Shopping Fail

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 10.51.41 AM.png

Lucchese Amelia harness boot. Not too country, not too city, perfect with the boot socks that just arrived from Sock Dreams.

I did my diligence, read the reviews, checked the prices and was willing to roll the dice that even though these boots were made in China, as opposed to Texas, Country Outfitters would stand behind their product and all would be fine.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Country Outfitters is still stuck in the 20th Century, despite their fabulous social media campaigns that drive thousands of Canadians to their site. Country Outfitters doesn't ship outside of the US of A. Really. I'm not kidding. You don't kid around when you're talking about boots. I made the silly assumption that because they had a snazzy site, a progressive marketing campaign that included neat social media features, that they would at least have the ability to ship to Canada. 

My night:

  • Find Lucchese boots
  • Click *Add to Cart*
  • Swear a blue streak when it's discovered that there's no shipping to Canada.
  • Swear a purple streak when I confirm via their Customer Service FAQ that they're sorry, they don't ship outside of the United States.
  • Close the Country Outfitters window and try to reduce heart rate.

Screen Shot 2013-02-24 at 10.39.07 AM.png

This morning, what do I get in my inbox, but a reminder from Country Outfitters that I've still got a purchase in my shopping cart, just waiting for completion. REALLY!?!?!? Can you pour more salt on my wounds? Seriously. I'm livid now. 

I'm an old pro at buying boots from the US. From Shepplers, from Amazon, from Boot Barn, even from Piperlime.

Country Outfitters, oh how you disappoint.

Dodocase Extinction --- iPad 3rd Gen DodoCase Review

I'm an uber geek when it comes to cases for my devices. My iPhone has a Mophie Juicepack, which is beyond fantastic. I've had a few different iPad cases, as I've upgraded and changed usage requirements. I've had cheap cases and expensive cases. I was excited about the Dodocase.

IMG_2615.JPG

The constant advertisements and decent reviews for the Dodocase made me take a more in-depth look at this case in November 2012. The marketing got me, I'm guilty. I liked the idea of a case that resembled a book, and the colours were eye catching. The case is constructed of bamboo and book binding fabric and seemed to be a great solution.

It's now the middle of February. I've had the case for about 3 months.

Within the first 4 weeks of purchase, the material started fraying. 

Within the first two months, the book binding started fraying and ripping. I use my iPad predominantly at home, for reading, watching videos and social media activities. I don't travel much with it, or put it into a larger bag to tote around. It doesn't get wet, or have a very challenging life.  I'm disappointed by the quality, but in hindsight, I'm not terribly surprised. I had hoped that the material was of higher quality, and that the manufacturer had done a better job with ensuring that the material didn't fray. I'm saddened that a $70+ case only lasted 3 months. In another month, I expect the front cover to come detached from the body of the case.

IMG_2614.JPG

I'm researching the next case, and I'm leaning towards the Mophie case. It doesn't have a battery extender, (Mophie, please make an iPad case akin to the awesome iPhone battery cases you make!!!!) but I know that their products are high quality, and great value.

If you're looking for an innovative case for your iPad, keep looking, the Dodocase is on the verge of extinction.. :-(

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IMG_2612.JPG

One Number to Rule the World

Transient

Earlier this week it was announced that the Greater Toronto Area would be receiving two new area code overlays this spring, 437 and 375. Mark Goldberg has an interesting discussion on how many numbers that is, and what it really means. The explosion of wireless devices is being blamed for the increased numbering requirements. 

Up until recently, our household had 8 phone numbers associated with it. We regularly have between 16 and 20 IP addresses active on our internal home network. We could easily increase that number by activating some 3G services on various tablets, but we're cutting back ;-D

It seems silly that two people generate that much number waste. In a perfect telecom world, I'd have 1 domain name, and maybe three or four IPV6 addresses, and all of the devices would have a find me follow me feature. I'd connect to the internet and the world would be able to find me, and vice versa. No more phone numbers. Once DNS takes over the PSTN, life will become infinitely easier to manage, certainly from a translations and numbering perspective. Gone will be the day of end offices and toll switches. Hello wireless and wifi and broadband. It's already converging in carrier core backbone networks and international call routing at the carrier level. Now it's just a waiting game until IP makes it way to the great unwashed masses.

Unfortunately, until we push the boundaries of universal broadband or wireless coverage, we're going to have to deal with the copper last mile in Canada, and the use of old school phone numbers. Couple that with the fact that 1 in 6 households doesn't own a computer yet and it becomes dauting to think of a life without the old Public Switched Telephone Network.

It's encouraging that 95% of Canadian households with a computer are connected to the internet. Of that 95%, only 30% have high speed access - another disappointing statistic. Maybe in my lifetime we will be able to switch to a pure IP communications world, but I'm not optimistic. Until then, I suppose I'll just have to deal with my eight phone numbers :-\

Mint.com --- A Window into Your Financial World

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It's that time of the year when you look back, and then look forward to goals, plans and the status on those goals and plans.

I've been using Mint.com for a little over two years now. In that time, I've recommended it to anyone who will listen. I use it daily, and sometimes multiple times a day. It's helped me find over $1000 in misplaced reimbursements, and it acts as a barometer for our spending and savings. Mint saves, tracks, reports and budgets. It's compatible with almost every banking institution, mortgage and credit card company. I've linked different banks, different credit cards and even different bank accounts.

Mint has told me how much I've spent with Rogers over the past two years (too much) and if my plans to cut back on iTunes purchases have been working (yup!). I know how much we've spent on clothes, hair cuts and Christmas. Before Mint, I had a rough idea of the operating expenses of the household, but with Mint, I was pleasantly surprised and sometimes shocked by where our money was going. Mint learns and categorizes expenses on your behalf, so there's nothing arduous about budgeting or tracking. Mint also tracks how much we're saving, and if our net worth is increasing or decreasing on a weekly basis. It's one of my go-to apps, hands down.

Folks have asked me about the security, and it's bang on. You only give Mint read-access to your regular financial portals, and it just reports on your activities. In fact, if you're a little tense, Mint can even notify you of any odd transactions on credit cards or bank accounts, so you can check into them quickly and easily to make sure nothing has been compromised. 

How about tax time? With Mint, I can pull a report of the household expenses that make up part of my expenses. Easy Peasy. It's curious that our cable tv costs are about the same as our electrical costs... Huh....

If you aren't using anything to track and manage your finances, shame on you --- give Mint a try. It is abso fab. And no, Mint isn't endorsing this review --- It's all me. I love Mint - no kidding.

Watching Your Digital Footprints.....

Originally posted dec 2008, but still very relavent and timely. Updated in 2013 for relevancy. 

This is a situation I seem to come back to again and again —- paying attention to what you put on-line for the internets to find.

Twentysomethings, and younger, high school age webbies are just starting to realize the long, so-very-long ramifications of throwing their whole life out there for the internet to see.  I am continuously baffled by folks who think it’s ok to publish drunken party pictures, or other juvenile hi-jinks.

There are so many apps that capture your personal life, you can't limit your exposure to just Facebook any longer. Your Tumblr, your Instagram, your Tweets and your Pinterest are all fodder for the masses.

Um, hello? When I am part of an interview panel, the first thing I do is google people.  I check to find them on facebook and I shake my head at the *limo booze cruize photos* they’ve posted. Every friend is a possible job opportunity.

You want to get into grad school? Know that someone is going to check into your internet life first.  Same wth a job interview, same with even getting a first date.

Yes - be on the internet.

Yes - have a digital personality.

Make it be a positive reflection, though.  No one needs to lose opportunities because of something ridiculous they posted to Facebook.

:-(  Sigh.

globeandmail.com: Where everybody knows your teenaged musings

Blogged with the Flock Browser

I suck at Google+

It's sad to admit, but true. I was asked for my Google+ profile URL, and I had to google what it was and how to find it. Let me tell you, it's a damn ugly string of shite.

And then I started looking through all the updates in my Google + profile. Huh, seems like almost all my friends tend to suck at it as well. Most of the updates are cross posts from Facebook. I guess that's a good sign, I'm in good suckiness company. In a quick scroll through, I've only got 5 friends who are posting anything, and three of them are cross posting.

I used to LOVE Picasa Web Albums, but when they integrated with Google+, I gravitated towards just putting pictures into FB. Now I see that there are all my old Picasa Web Albums in Google+. I've got to think about that more - sigh. I've got digital dandruff all over the place, but that's another blog article entirely.

Is Google+ ever going to take off? It's unlikely. I use Google for virtually everything:

  • tracking stock
  • search
  • math
  • mail
  • Google Drive

But I don't use it for social media. I even use LinkedIn more than Google+.

Am I lame? (don't answer that)

I just don't have a compelling reason to use it. If you're a Google+ user, what's *your* compelling reason?

Feathering My Nest.....

It's been almost six weeks since we installed the Nest Thermostat.

Since then, she has learned our habits, measured our efficiency and created a schedule. Of course she's a she, and her name is Alice.

She tells us how long the furnace has to run to reach the requested temperature. She reports back on daily furnace usage. She even tells us the humidity. If we're good, she will display a leaf, meaning that we're being energy efficient. Unfortunately, in the past few "very cold" weeks, we haven't seen many leaves. Thanks to chats with other Nest owners, it looks like we should be sprucing up our insulation. An insulation upgrade was in our future, and now we have more evidence that it's needed.

The nifty parts:

  • online apps
  • changing the temp (or turning it down) if we're not home, or on our way home
  • changing schedules on the fly
  • easy to install

In the next few weeks, we'll be getting our first post-Nest natural gas bill. Here's hoping that we see a tiny bit of savings, if only to reassure us that the Nest is more than just a nifty gadget :-D

Shopping in the 21st Century

Toronto Eaton Centre - photo taken with iPhone Hipstamatic

Toronto Eaton Centre - photo taken with iPhone Hipstamatic

I venture into a *mall* about every eight or nine months, either due to extreme emergencies, or to validate that i'm not really missing anything in my mall boycott.

Today we headed down to the Toronto Eaton Centre.

I think i was pleasantly surprised to realize i'm not missing out by just shopping on-line. The selection in the stores is disappointing, the lines to pay were horrid, and in general, people aren't fun. No one was smiling in the mall, aside from us. There was a neat shirt in American Eagle, but of course they didn't have my size in the store. Sketchers had the Sketchers Go Walk shoes I've had my eye on, but they're about $30 more expensive than Amazon., and even more expensive than the the Sketchers on-line site. 

All this to say, aside from getting some reasonable exercise by walking the length of the mall three times, the shopping experience was a bust. :-(

*click* and add to cart will be modus operandi for now :-D

You Can't Swing a Dead Cat Without Hitting a $400,000 House

Yes there’s been a fantastic housing boom happening in Canada.
Yes, there’s a housing construction boom in the GTA. Condos are blooming faster than the leaves are falling this autumn. Suburbia stretches it’s spidery fingers beyond what should be the outskirts of Toronto. I get it. Young professional buys condo, marries other young professional who also owns a condo, they sell and move to the ‘burbs and easily snap up a $400k ‘burb villa.

But what if you weren’t one of those urban professionals?  What if you were a normal Joe, who happened to grow up in Aurora, or Unionville, or Newmarket, you liked living there, and you liked working there. You’ve got a reasonable job, doing what you like, and bringing home the average Canadian salary of $43,000/year. How are you going to get a home of your own, when every house requires 2 incomes, and by geeze, those incomes had better be able to get you a $300k mortgage.

In York Region, right now, there isn’t a family home for sale that is under $200,000. Not even a semi, not even a townhouse. Is everyone in York Region making that much over the Canadian average? It it a case of complete and utter debt for folks who *do* manage to buy a house? An MLS Search finds that there are 9 townhouses between $149-$300K in  the southern York Region area.

It’s ironic that someone could work in York Region, yet have to live elsewhere and commute, simply because real estate is out of control?

Canada's Wireless Code of Conduct aka Protect the Sheeple

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission may be ringing in 2013 with one of the most ridiculous plans yet.

The Wireless Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines for wireless carriers to adhere to in providing servics to consumers in Canada.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the complaints and recommendations that make up this code were submitted by Canadian consumers who may not even have the intelligence to dial a cell phone, let alone understand the services that they are buying.

Top of the list: Outlaw 3 Year Contracts

The main reason for even having a 3 year contract is due to the fact that the average Canadian can’t afford to pay the full price for a cell phone. Having a 3 year contract allows for the carrier to subsidize the cost of the hardware and pass that subsidization onto the consumer. If the CRTC reall does force carriers to remove the 3 year contract option, consumers are now going to be on the hook for shelling out more dough up front for their phone. Likely to the tune of $200 or more, depending on the type of phone they want to get.

What’s funny about the whole contract debacle is the fact that people don’t HAVE to get a 3 year contract right now. All carriers offer various contract lenghts, depending on how much you want to pay up front.

Right now, you can get a Windows HTC phone with no contract for $599 from Bell Canada. You can get a Samsung Galaxy S III from TELUS for $650.

A very smart tech chick (hat tip to @followsandi) suggested that if the consumer bought the hardware upfront, there should be a decrease on the monthly service fees, since you don’t need to subsidize the cost of the hardware. I’m all for that — and it makes good sense. The downside of that is that it REALLY exposes the carrier’s margin models, and unless one of the carriers sees this as a great way to improve transparency with its customers, it’s unlikely that this will happen. You never know.

I’d like to see a few more options for pre-payment of hardware —— if I want to put down 50% of the cost of the phone, I’d like to have a different contract length. I expect that I could walk into any wireless store and make this sort of arrangement, and it changes the outstanding commitments I have with that carrier, since commitment is linked to revenue spend.  Maybe that’s the way to go —- have a minimum spend commitment with a carrier, and when you meet/exceed that commitment, your contract is over, and you’re free to change, upgrade or do the hokey-pokey.

Some of the recommendations are reasonable: alerts when you get close to your data limits, or your voice minutes. EASY ways to upgrade or downgrade services on the fly. 

But really, those recommendations have little to do with consumer safeguards and more to do with service development of the carriers. I expect that some of these recommendations have a pretty heavy service development cost associated with them. The big carriers may be able to shoulder the capital costs of the system upgrades, but the new entrants are going to be challenged with providing additional service features on products that they’re already struggling with.

Sigh.

It’s not going to be pretty, and it’s not going to be the right thing, but silly consumers —- you’re going to get what you get.

I'm Not Writing about It...

 

Main Entry:
sensationalism [sen-sey-shuh-nl-iz-uh m]  Show IPA
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: exaggeration
Synonyms: aggrandizement, boasting, excessfabrication,fish story, hypehyperboleoveremphasis,puffery, tabloid journalism, tall story, whopper,yellow journalism

 

I’m not convinced that what the media has been doing in the past three days has been sensationalism. Nothing has been exaggerated. Over reported? Maybe. Repetitive? For sure. Invasion of privacy for the victims and families? Absolutely. But we’re reading about. Searching for more information, looking for answers.

Unfortunately - we’re likely not going to find anything of merit. It’s time to turn off the story.

While news media seems to be focused on only one incident, did you realize:

 

 

I have to admit, it took some doing to come up with five articles that are completely unrelated to the tragedy of December 14th. 

But if all of us look beyond the front page —- the world is still turning, and people are still doing strange and wonderful things.

Increases from Bell Canada

If you live in Ontario and you are a Bell Canada customer for telephone services, chances are you got a lovely letter stating that your monthly service fee is going to increase in the new year.

Huh.

The increase is about 4.5%.

For a service that hasn’t change or improved in over 10 years. No innovation, no feature changes, no nothing. It’s pretty ballsy to foist an increase at this point.

The last time that Bell Canada had a product improvement on standard phone service was the introduction of call waiting and call display. 

I get it - it’s a legacy service. Product enhancements aren’t expected. However —— it’s a legacy service, it should NOT have price increases. If I was an enterprise customer, pricing would be going in the other direction.

I want a phone service that can do a few new things:

  1. I want to be able to block telemarketers
  2. I want to have different ring tones
  3. I want to specify when I want the phone to ring, and when I want it to be mute.
  4. Depending on who calls, I want to play a different voice mail recording.

Funnily enough, I bough a very cool Uniden handset last month, and it can do three of the four tricks I want Bell Canada to do. If I was still with Primus, their Talk Broadband did EVERYTHING I wanted. Unfortunately, with changes in the working arrangements in the house, we found ourselves not needing two phone lines, and Primus had to take it on the chin.

The ONLY reason we have a Bell phone line is for the ridiculous ease of ordering PPV movies. Now that I have Apple TV - we don’t even need to have a phone line for PPV, since I can’t remember the last time I ordered a movie from Bell…..

Good job Bell —- you have now convinced me I don’t have any compelling reason to keep your home phone service. You really should have left *well enough* alone.

 

LASIK Eye Surgery - Two Weeks Later

On my 30th birthday I bought myself diamond earrings. For my 40th birthday, I was too chicken to buy myself new eyes, but on my 41st birthday, that’s exactly what I did. A year late, but well worth the wait.

It’s been two weeks since I brought my new eyes home. Two weeks of playing around, learning, and in some cases re-learning how to see.

I went with LASIK MD, mostly because I’m lazy, and most of my friends had chosen LASIK MD. I was one of those people who had started out just wearing glasses for driving. That gradually grew to wearing glasses for watching TV, going to the movies, hockey games, gardening, to the point that the only time I wasn’t wearing glasses was when I was reading or in front of a computer. I was also the kind of person who hated prescription sunglasses. 

Image from Toronto Metro NewsOnce the decision was made (with more than a little help from my husbandly-type), it was full steam ahead. It turned out I was a great candidate for both procedures, the standard LASIK PRK as well as the advanced LASIK AWS. I went with the LASIK AWS, and had a flap created, and then my cornea sanded down. I know, if you want the technical differences, you’d better read up on them.

It took almost six weeks to get the surgery appointment. This place is BUSY.

The consultants suggest that the whole surgery experience takes between four and 5 hours. Unfortunately, they quote that time duration because of a few factors: overscheduling, resource limitations and simple delays. In reality, if you were able to compress all the waiting around, it should take less than 2 hours - and that includes the 45 minutes you have to wait after the surgery to make sure there aren’t any complications. There are 5 steps on the day of your surgery:

 

  • Document review (all the legal bits)
  • Eye exam
  • Payment and document signing
  • LASIK procedure
  • Eye Exam

 

The procedure lasted about 5 minutes per eye. The only part that was uncomfortable was when a suction-like device was secured to your eyeball, essentially flattening it and making it a nice stable, immobile surface for the cutting and lasering. The *uncomfortable* part only lasted about 10 seconds, and then it was all fine.

I was a little surprised that there wasn’t a forehead strap on the surgery table, just to ensure that people didn’t move their head, but since the laser automatically shuts off at the slightest movement, I guess it’s a moot point.

Once both flaps were watered down and pronounced *good to go*, the 45 minute wait was broken up by specialists adding different types of drops to my eyes. Antibiotics, anti-inflamatories and lubrication. I was able to see the world, albeit a very blurry version. I was given a clean bill of eye health, and sent on my way with a nifty pair of *Matrix-like* sunglasses.

Three hour nap later, I was adding more drops and shuffling around the house. No TV for me for the first 24 hours. I was hoping for a described video movie, but had to settle for the husbandly type explaining interesting scenes that I could only listen to.

The next morning required a quick trip back to the clinic for my first 24 hour check-up. Aside from a higher than average level of inflamation, the flaps were good and the eyes were good! I had three broken blood vessels, but that’s competely normal, and a result of the suction/flattening procedure.

It took about two days for the light sensitivity to kick in, as the swelling decreased, but I could SEE! I could see the definition of tree leaves two kilometres away. I could see chipmunks. I could see how dirty my baseboards really were.

Three days of light sensitivity meant very limited viewing of electronic devices. I knew it was time to rest the eyes every time I felt a searing jolt of pain in my forehead.

Seven days - back to the clinic for my one week checkup. All good! My next checkup is in 3 weeks, and I’m expecting it to be good as well.

Final thoughts:

 

  • You really do want to wear sunglasses to sleep for the first few days. It’s critical the flaps stay down and undisturbed.
  • Eye lubrication is a huge deal. The healing process sucks a lot of juice out of your peepers.
  • Not being able to wear eye makeup for 7 days really IS a big deal.
  • Some days I still look around for my glasses before sitting down for some telly. 
  • Being able to see is absolutely awesome.