Life is What Happens When Other Things Get in the Way

Already it’s the end of the month, and despite being able to keep a tenuous hold on the *Picture a Day* project, the blogging a day project has quietly slid to the sidelines….

Perhaps it’s because January has been a quiet month on the technology front? CES was a bit of a bummer? Apple and RIM haven’t done anything exciting?

The CRTC took a vacation?

No - it’s more like life and work have seriously begun to encroach on each other. Morning time has shrunk to a state where there’s only time for news, two coffees and FB before the work day begins.

This is going to be a crazy year. It’s finally the year of VoIP, and i’m not talking about your sketchy Vonage type of VoIP… It’s the year when TDM and IP collide. It’s the year of outsourcing everying. It’s the year of the data centre. It’s the year of dragging toll free into the 21st century.

It’s a wonder I still have time t sleep!

:-D

Rogers Increases Broadband Pricing, and I'm OK with That...

Hrm… I just got a notification in the mail. My internet pricing is going up by $2.00/month…

I’m actually not sure how I feel about that. Sure, the price is going up, but some of the features are improving, as are the speeds and data transfer limits….That being said, I’ve been happy with my *Express* package, which gave me 60 GB of data transfer and speeds of up to 24 Mbps/ 1Mbps…. I’ve had a Rogers discount, so my totaly price, all in was $57/month (including the cable modem)…..

I don’t have Netflix (yet), but I’m wondering what streaming TV would do to my data transfers… I work from home 90% of the time, so reliable and speedy internet is important to me. 

The one thing that Rogers has done that I’ve been waiting almost 10 years for someone to do is offer a dashboard where you can jack up your bandwidth requirements on demand….Is that wirth $2.00? That’s hard to say as well. I guess time will tell….

Do I begrudge Rogers a $2.00 price increase? No. Rogers employs about 30,000 Canadians, and has 11 Canadian Call Centres.

That’s 30,000 people who are (generally) making a very good wage and make up a very good tax base for Canada. I want those people to keep happily chugging along. 

Without a large tax base of people with good jobs, Canada would quite quickly and easily slide into the problems that the US is facing with debt and social services. A huge component of the US middle class —- you know, those people who actually paid a lot of taxes, disappeared over the past few years. It’s doubtful that they’re ever going to come back (which is why the US is now eyeballing the uber-wealthy). 

I want to keep all the Canadian companies healthy, and if $2 is the cost of that, that’s OK with me.

If This Then That

Another wicked little tool hit my radar this morning…compliments of Robert Scoble.

If This Then That is almost beyond description, but I’ll give it a try. It’s all about creating automated tasks, based on different inputs and having different triggers. There are endless combinations of activities that you can create tasks for, that have a different result.

For example, if you want to get an email if the temperature in your neighbourhood gets to a certain high, you can do that!

If you want to slurp a copy of a picture that you’ve posted to Facebook to your DropBox account, you can! How about getting a phone call based on a text message with a specific codeword in it for the times when you need to be rescued from a trying situation?

I’ve made five recipes already based on interesting little bits of activities. I think I’m in love. Now I’m going to experiment more on wider internet inputs. Who knows what you can make? The options are endless! Who knew the internet could be so handy? Automate, automate, automate!!!

 

I'm Not Good in Public

A wise friend once said “It’s not that I’m not good  being in public, it’s that the public isn’t good at being in public”

People today have absolutely no concept of the world around them, they aren’t paying attention, and they aren’t thinking about what they’re doing.

People stop their cars, their carts, their walking —— right in the middle of their actitivity, lose their train of thought with no awareness whatsoever of the people and activities going on around them.

There’s no common sense, there’s no consideration, there’s no forethought.

Maybe we *have* been around too long, and the Mayans were right. We need a good cleansing of the earth.

Netflix First Month Free - Crack for Moviephiles?

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It came in the mail today. That little red envelope. So innocuous…. so deadly.  I’m afraid. There’s an addictive personality inside me, wanting to test out Netflix. Despite the rational side of me having the largest voice (and control of the credit card), the little me wants to try Netflix for 30 Days…

I know it’s going to be crack. Maybe even worse than that.

30 Days is just long enough to get hooked. Before I know it, I will be upgrading my internet package, and I’ll be ignoring my PVR. I’ll be wanting to stream to the iPad and then God knows where else.

And why? After all this time? After turning my nose up at others who have fallen prey to the ‘Flix before me? I was smugly warming my hands on the heat of my superiority fire. How slippery the slope.

It’s because Blockbuster is gone. No more trip to the video store for a little *something special*. Sure, I’ve got 3800 channels, but when you want something specific, and you want it n-o-w, there’s no good alternative. (No, downloading something off the torrents is not a good alternative)

So…… I’m thinking — what’s the harm? I can cancel whenever I want. Lot’s of other people are doing it. I’m just going to give it a try. 

Path --> The Way Facebook Should Have Been

My heart soared today.

I stumbled across Path. Some have touted it as the anti-social network, and I can tend to agree. 150 friend limit makes sure you choose your friends wisely. It’s been described as an intimate bbq with your closest buddies… and indeed, that’s exactly what it is.

You won’t find arduous privacy settings, games or advertising. It’s not a web app, it’s a mobile app only —- iOS and Android. Pundits are loving it. Amber MacArthur likes it. Gizmodo has a wickedly delightful review, and that’s what tweaked my interest.

I’m the sort of person who has a dozen different friend lists on Facebook. On Path —- that’s irrelevant. It’s just your friends. Your *close* friends. Not the obscure people you haven’t seen in 20 years but thought it would be a kick to add them to your Facebook. Real friends… full stop.

The biggest question will be whether or not the people I actually like keeping in contract with regularly have room for another app in their social world.

I hope so.

 

Oil of Oregano: Placebo or Panacea

As of Jan 16th, 2012 it will have been a year since my last *illness*. No colds, no flu, nothing worse than a headache has darkened my door in a year. Sure, I can have a evening of pre-cold - you know the feeling, throat scratchy, eyes not up to par, body is cold; but the next morning, I’m right as rain again.

The source to this health: Oil of Oregano. Religious and liberal usage. 

When in doubt, OoO.

 

Numerous university studies have shown that Oil of Oregano is a highly potent purifier that provides many benefits for human health. It is a natural substance that is extracted from wild oregano plants, and two key compounds found in it are carvacrol and thymol. Studies have shown that both of these compounds have significant effects on harmful micro-organisms that cause many illnesses in humans. 

The ancient Greeks were one of the first people to recognize this oil for its health benefits and medicinal qualities. It is known to be a potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic oil that can reduce pain and inflammation and effectively fight off infections. 

Some of the specific benefits of Oil of Oregano are:

  • Destroying organisms that contribute to skin infections and digestive problems.
  • Strengthening the immune system.
  • Increasing joint and muscle flexibility.
  • Improving respiratory health.

—- Excerpt from Home Remedies Web

 

Or course, there are various sites scattered throughout the internet espousing both criticism and praise for the oil, and neither camp really seems to have a definitive answer as to the medicinal effects. Science Based Pharmacy is a fairly right-wing site with a bend towards anything anti-homeopathy.

Unfortunately there are many more sites that praise the effects of Oil of Oregano, and suggest it can cure everything from colitis to warts. I’m not even going to suggest that it’s the magical cure-all for everything, but I *have* been cold free for a year now, and I *have* been taking OoO regularly. Maybe there’s a relationship, maybe there’s not. Maybe it *is* a placebo for me. And if that’s the case, I’m still thrilled. It’s tricky to find scientific, non-biased research on the actual effectiveness of the oil, but there are a few citations below:

The Toronto Star has a fairly non-biased account, but it’s from 2007.

Positive *trials* have been documented by Science Daily, but those published results were from 2001.

Livestrong.com has reasonable research citations of both positive and negative, with an emphasis on more research being required.

Reading through the swathes of internet documentation, with an eye towards critical thought, one thought ocurred to me. Oil of Oregano (or some sites that are praising the properties) has be heralded as a cure for virtually anything, and improves your overall health, well being, weight and happiness. Huh, that sort of sounds like something else. All that for only $25 a bottle, and no multi-level marketing pyramid scheme attached.

Are you an Oil of Oregano convert? I am :-D

2012 ---- Bucket List

Agreed, it’s not a very creative title, but considering the date, it’s fairly apropos. One of my best mentors suggested “people don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan”. Writing things down seems to be the catalyst for action.

  • travel at least once to someplace interesting
  • repaint a room
  • grow something complicated
  • exercise every day
  • blog every day
  • paint a large canvas
  • upcycle a piece of furniture
  • take a photo every day
  • do monthly *anonymous niceties*
  • read the ingredients on packaging more often

 

It may not be a *stretch*, but it certainly should be attainable. I’ve got 12 months, after all.

:-D

Foursquare: My *Most Used* iPhone App

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With regularity, I am asked which app is my fave on the iPhone. Without hesitation, I respond with *Foursquare*.

I’m a Check-In freak. Restaurants, gas stations, people’s houses, towns…. you name it. It’s better than Facebook Places, and already retailers are getting on board with providing discounts for people who check into their establishments. It’s quite possibly the best location-based social app.

I love that I can check out the specials near me, and that even drives me to stop in at places I wasn’t expecting to stop at.

Sure, it’s handy for social planning, but its niche will be in retailer advertising, not in helping you meet up with peeps.

I love that I can control the privacy features with better granularity than FB Places. Because, really, some things just aren’t for all eyes :-D

Foursquare: not just for iPhone users, it’s available on all platforms. You need it. The more people checking in, the faster retailers will launch service discounts for Foursquare users. Giddy up!!

Now if only it had better camera controls ;-)

It's Almost the End of 2011...

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… and what do I have to show for it? 

It’s that time of the year when you curl up over a coffee to think of what’s been accomplished, and what is still to be done.

2011 was a year of big learning for me. Wide learning, some might say.

  • You will never guess how much long distance fraud there can be in one weekend, from one hacked PBX.
  • AIN and hybrid networks are alive and well for toll free.
  • When you do traffic forecasting, make sure the customer is accurate.
  • There really are nice people at Verizon.
  • IP Trunking is always going to launch later than you expect it to. But now I’m ready.
  • Despite all I thought I knew about data cetres, electricity still screws with my mind.
  • Cloud networking is just a buzz word.
  • Cucumbers need 6 times the amount of space than you would expect.

And that’s just the tip of the ice berg. :-D

My biggest goal for 2012 is to pick up pen again and get this blog rocking. I know, I’ve said that before. But the more times I say it, it’s bound to take hold.

pontificating on net neutrality options...

… i was able to have an outstanding conversation yesterday about net neutrality, with “one of the canadian biggies”… and i actually took the stance that net neutrality and the whole sordid debate was a little premature. That instead of arguing over it, and trying to force all bits to be the same, why not embrace the difference in the bits. Let’s go one step further, and let end users embrace their special bits, and give them portal power to change how the network should treat their bits.


The network provider who can harness the power of the dynamic classes of service, and present it to their customers in a way that is easy to manipulate and understand will be able to easily differentiate itself in the market. Not to mention the option of being able to get out of the commodity bandwidth business, if only briefly.

How thrilled would you be, if on monday you could prioritize your voice traffic, because you were working from home, and thursday you could prioritize your video traffic, because you were downloading movies for the weekend…. or if on saturday you wanted to prioritize music, so you could fill your iPod for a party that night?

Indeed - carriers and content providers alike could have “priority VPN” services… you could get iTunes Pro or MySpace Pro or NetFlicks Pro…

Back in the ’90s, when i worked for one of the first ISPs in Canada, i swore i’d never pay for internet access - why would i - dialup was all i ever needed, and i could always swing a dialup account somewhere…. silly me. I am thrilled to be paying for what is now an essential service. I have a feeling i’d be even more thrilled to pay for being able to differentiate my essential bits.

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How a *Free* BWM is Going to Ruin Your Life.

Over the past year, my FaceBook news feed has been inundated with people shilling for Visalus. Coincidentally, my FB friend count has decreased proportionately to the number of people joining the 90 Day Challenge. I have one simple rule, if you push BBV in your news feed, you must go. Full stop. If you don’t use FB as your marketing method, then that’s fine, you can stay.

This morning a new BBVer popped up, excited about her new BMW, and I had to finally dig into the BMW angle of Visalus. 

If you happen to join Visalus, and you attain the level of Regional Director, this means your *team* is selling over $12,500 of Visalus products every month. You can now take advantage of the *Great BMW Rip Off Offer.

Essentially, as long as your team continues to perform at $12,500/month or greater, you will get $600/month towards the purchase or lease of a new or used BMW. Oh, and the BMW HAS to be black. (shoulder shrug)

It’s up to you to go to a BMW dealership and make the purchase or lease arrangements. This means you’re locking yourself into a LARGE financial commitment, based on the uncommitted volumes of sales your team is responsible for over the next 3 years. It’s also up to you to make sure that you’ve got a credit rating that can support the purchase or lease of said BMW. It’s also up to you to purchase the insurance.

If your team doesn’t perform consistently, you lose your Regional Director status, and the $600 bonus for the BMW. Unfortunately, you, yourself are still on the hook for the lease or purchase of the car that’s now an albatross around your neck. Some stats illustrate that most MLM sales people only stay in the program for 90 to 120 days. The turnover and attrition of your team is going to be HUGE. Relying on the efforts of your downstream to ensure that you don’t default on a car that you can’t really afford by yourself is something that should be keeping you awake at night.

Provided that you’re not getting a used BMW with over 60,000 kms, you’re looking at about $35,000 + taxes for a pre-owned vehicle. (I picked a 2008 328I with 43,000 kms for the financial sampling)

 Let’s do some math here. Let’s also just consider the Lease option for a $35,000 BMW. You’ve got to put down $3800 in order to get the monthly lease rate to $600/month. 

Now you’ve got a 3 year lease to contend with. 

Sure, if your downstream tanks, you can leasebust your lease, but that’s going to cost you a few thousand dollars as well. On Leasebusters right now, there are 108 BMWs available for lease take over in Ontario. Get in line. You’re going to have to offer a pretty sweet incentive in order to catch someone’s attention and get out of the financial mess you’re now in.

You never know…. perhaps you are going to be part of the 5% of Multi-Level Marketing people who are going to be successful at this. 

On the other hand, that BMW is going to end up costing you:

$3800 for the down payment

Responsibility for the lease for 36 months

$2500 to break the lease

$1500 cash incentive for someone to take your lease

That’s almost $8000 in costs for a free car, and I’m not even going to consider the insurance portion of the expense. If you’re selling MLM, the odds are that you don’t have $8000 in your savings account to cover this. No offence.

 Sweet dreams.

 

I Cancelled Halloween...

In 2009 I turned out all the lights and watched scary movies and ignored the hordes of children racing through the neighbourhood.


Last night, I decided to do the same. No Halloween at my house. I moved the artful pumpkins to a secure location, and darkend my doorstep once more. 

It was a little slice of heaven. 

It’s not that I hate Halloween; I find that, at least in my neighbourhood, people aren’t good at it. 

Childhood obesity, greed, gluttony and overpriced store-bought costumes.

Watching kids race from house to house, with a parent behind them carry their *spoils* has turned me off the holiday. I think this is one of those occasions where it’s safe to say “it was better when I was a kid”…. Now Halloween has been twisted into a gross, malevolent version of itself. Sort of like Christmas….

Usage Based Billing Complaints aka: "I want to have my cake and eat it too"

It’s been two weeks of incessant blathering about “unlimited” broadband as a basic human right. Two weeks of grassroots attemps to scare the people, scare the governement and make the little baby Jesus cry.

I don’t want unlimited broadband. I want Amazing Quality broadband. I want network innovation. I want Universal Broadband. Why aren’t people rallying around those concepts?

Two weeks ago, the CRTC made a relatively reasonable decision as to what and how wholesale service providers sell internet service to their downstream customers. “The CRTC ruled in January that internet service providers such as Bell could charge wholesale customers based on the same usage-based caps that they charge retail customers. (Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2011/02/01/internet-usage-based-billing-clement.html#ixzz1DC5IBgoh)

The CRTC, despite its slow and deterministic processes, decided that what was good for the goose was good for the gander when it comes to internet usage. Blame the CRTC for doing the right thing. The right thing is not always the popular thing.

Usage based billing means paying for what you use. Not a new concept, really. Water, heat, gas, groceries are all usage based services. Why should internet access be treated any differently? If my neighbour waters his lawn 7 days a week, and washes his car on Sunday, and I only water my lawn twice a week and forgo the weekend carwash, why should our bills be the same? The shouldn’t. Full stop. Provided that the pricing per Gb is fair and equitable (and transparent), this should be a no-brainer.

“Consumer and internet advocates have been lobbying hard against the decision, which they said was leading to higher prices and snuffing out competition among ISPs. They also argued it would prevent consumers from taking advantage of new services such as Netflix, which allows users to stream high-definition movies and TV episodes over the internet to their television for a monthly flat rate.”

Are monthly prices going to increase? Only if you’re a heavy user (+75GB/month of data transfer). According to the CRTC, your pricing still isn’t going to increase until every last grandfathered Bell residential customer who still has unlimited service is migrated off that plan and onto a usage based plan. Teksavvy (and other smaller ISPs) jumped the gun and increased their rates prematurely to further whip their customers into a UBB frenzy.

I think that the biggest scare tactic is that the general population and Canadian Politicans have NO IDEA about how much bandwidth they use. That fact has allowed various grass roots movements to take advantage of *popular opinion* and scare the bejesus out of Canadians with phrases like “higher pricers”, “stifling innovation”, and “limiting usage”.

How much can you do with 60 GB of monthly usage?

  • 400 hours of surfing
  • 4000 emails
  • 2000 pictures shared
  • 600 songs downloaded
  • 26 movies downloaded (standard definition)

ALL of this activity will net you 60 GB of bandwidth usage. 60 GB is about $50/month, depending on your service provider. That $50 monthly charge is broken up into Customer Service, network infrastructure capital, carrier payouts and marketing and advertising….

125 GB is going to cost you more ($70), but here’s what you can do:

  • download 40 HD movies
  • Watch over 300 hours of YouTube
  • download over 26000 songs.

 Supporters of *unlimited” or *flat rate* internet services are folks who have been using 150 GB of download capacity, and only getting charged $50/month for the pleasure of that. It looks like the free ride may soon be over. Even Mandarin has limits on their all-you-can-eat buffet :-D

Open Media is the biggest driver of the fear, yet their website is simply rhetoric with NO meat. Not even a tool is provided to support their arguements, so that Canadians can actually gauge how much internet they use. I’ve found a very effective litle bandwidth calculator - and it’s independant of ANY Canadian providers. Go ahead and see what your bandwidth appetite is like. Over 200,000 Canadians have signed their petitiion, and I’l bet that only 20% of them know what their bandwidth usage is, and these are the folks who are 150 GB+ users. 

Why do I want usage based billing? It’s simple, really…..

  1. I want there to be financial resources available for network technology improvements.
  2. I want to eventually get to a place where we can manage our own bandwidth on demand, and be able to control that via a dashboard. Those services can only be provided by service providers who have a network that allows for this kind of functionality.
  3. I want to have a fantastic internet experience that’s not impacted by Joe Schmoe downloading 500 Gigs of anime cartoons off of his torrent stream, (unless he’s paying for it).
  4. I want UNIVERSAL broadband, and no service provider is going to be able to do that effectively and successfully if they have to offer an unlimited service.

Usage based billing doesn’t stifle creativity, it channels creativity into projects that are going to be productive and profitable.

During a hearing with Commons industry committee of February 4th, Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), defended his agency’s new UBB rules.

“I would like to reiterate the Commission’s view that usage-based billing is a legitimate principle for pricing Internet services,” he said. “We are convinced that Internet services are no different than other public utilities, and the vast majority of Internet users should not be asked to subsidize a small minority of heavy users,” he said. “For us, it is a question of fundamental fairness. Let me restate: ordinary users should not be forced to subsidize heavy users.”

In times of CRTC confusion, the Voice of Reason, Mark Goldberg can always be counted on to add clarity to the situation….

 Tony Clement, in an effort to appear less-like-a-loser and more like a cool kid jumped into the UBB conversation via Twitter, simply to stir the pot and garner more public support for the next election. I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve got a feeling that good ole’ Tony wouldn’t know a tweet if it bit him in the toot! He’s got people for that.

The next time you hear someone chirp about UBB, ask them how much internet capacity they use on a monthly basis…. and then ask them if they want to pay for my water usage next summer. I’m thinking of making a bigger garden ;-)

You're Never Fully Dressed Without Your Tigits

 

 

 

 

Out for a big night on the town. Keys? Wallet? Phone? Tigits?

Check. Check. Check. Check.

It’s a brave new world out there, and the savvy single needs more than a wing and prayer when meeting other like-minded souls. This isn’t your parents’ dating scene, where there was one phone in the house and it never rang after 10:00 pm. Now is the time of on-line dating, speed dating and even Twitter dating. You want to be able to connect later, but not at the expense of giving out your real cell phone number.

Enter Tigits.

Tigits are temporary digits for your phone - a vanity number, if you will, that protects the safety and security of your real cell or home phone number. You meet someone who *seems* nice at a bar, but one nice conversation does not guarantee sanity. Offer up your tigits so that you can connect again, for futher discovery. If the budding relationship goes sideways, you haven’t relinquished your cherished cell number.

The singles scene may be the primo application for Tigits, but I can also think of quite a few additional scenarios where having a second phone number for your cell makes sense.

  • Teachers can’t give out personal phone numbers to parents or students, but with a Tigit, they can still be reached for questions and discussion.
  • Your 10 year old entrepreneur wants to start a weed pulling business, what better number to add to the flier?
  • Want to cut down on the telemarketing, use a Tigit for all of your retail shopping requirements.

I spoke with a few savvy singles, and their initial scoff that they didn’t need a Tigit quickly dissolved into quiet agreement when I reminded them of the time when a jilted date continuously rang their cell one night. Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman or man ;-D

You have a vanity address for your email, it makes sense to have a vanity number for your cell now too.

The upside:

  • Your number is active as soon as you register on-line for the service.
  • You can screen callers and choose to answer or send them off to voice mail.
  • You can protect your number on out-bound calls as well.

The downside:

  • At some point, you may need to divulge the fact that someone has passed the *Tigits test* and give them your real cell number. This is likely a good problem to have :-D

Any way you cut it, it’s a neat service with real-life applications. Be safe, be secure and don’t forget your Tigits…

 

Shopping in a Swarm

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Are you getting your Groupon? Are you a Wagjagger? How about Living Social? Maybe you prefer something a little more highbrow like HauteLook, Beyond The Rack or Homesav?

2010 saw the launch of a myriad of group shopping services, offering customers significant discounts from bulk volumes, and this phenomenon is likely just the tip of the iceberg. Once these *retail facilitators* manage to tie in friend recommendations, the sky is the limit.Social media will become the spearhead in driving retail sales.

Shwowp is already starting to marry shopping history with social media in its ability to share your shopping history with your friends. Now it just needs to integrate a bit better with established social media networks, allow for a bit more interaction and offer an easy transition right to vendors, so you too can pick up the jeans your bff is raving about.

Amazon led the way with customer feedback. Now shopping commentary and product references, coupled with friend recommendations, are tablestakes for the majority of on-line retail sites. Nothing kills a product faster than 20 bad product reviews. :-( Reviews will soon drive the product catalog of on-line retailers. Last month I was in the market for a new coffee maker. I checked the feedback on every maker on the Canadian Tire website, and there wasn’t a single product that had glowing customer reviews. Skipping over to Amazon, they carried coffee makers with positive customer feedback. Goodbye Canadian Tire, hello Amazon.

I’m ready to take the retail world by storm, with my friend swarm. Hello 2011!

I heart Wikileaks

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never paid all that much attention to what Wikileaks has been publishing over the past few years. Sure, some bits and pieces I will scan; obviously more people than I have been taking it very seriously.

This week I’ve never been more *proud* to be a customer. I’ve had my DNS with EasyDNS since 2006. They’ve been put in a very precarious position and have done marvelously in the face of uncertainty.

Paypal, Mastercard and Visa haven’t done marvelously in the face of uncertainty. They’ve just pandered to a government who is pulling an infantile temper tantrum.

 

 

“Given that no one has proved that Assange is guilty of the offences he is accused of and that Wikileaks is not implicated in any of those,” the website also urged that credit card giants Visa and Mastercard rescind their decisions to cut off payments from the whistleblowing website’s supporters.

- The Raw Story

 

How is it possible that the US, using the UK as a defacto puppet, can get away with this sort of shenanigans in this day and age? Of course, grassroots movements are protesting, hackers are hacking, and the digitial world is divided on legal definitions, transparency, freedom and security….

I’m thrilled that Wikileaks is still publishing, and I’ve got a feeling that now that they are indeed front page news, more and more of the *average population* will take notice and read what Wikileaks has been trying to tell us for years now.

Pay attention, don’t fall into complacency, don’t blame the messenger.

Will Google Kill Telecom?

Thanks Mashable!

This is Part 1 of a two part series on Google Voice in Canada. Part 2 will theorize on what the impacts will be on Canadian Telecom when Google offers Canadian phone numbers.

 

 

This week’s announcement of Google Voice integration with Gmail, with free calling and free long distance is perhaps one of the most controversial moves yet by an Internet company to change the telecom industry. Free computer to computer calling (a la Skype) isn’t problematic, it’s when free extends to long distance and calls to to the PSTN (public switched telephone network) that the Google service gets spooky.

Telecommunications companies around the world continue to invest billions of dollars into *the last mile*, that’s the distance from your house back to their closest switching office. Folks with a regular telephone (as opposed to a VoIP phone) rely on that last mile to make and receive telephone calls. Despite pushes to move everything to the Internet, that last mile is going to be important for a long time to come. 

If Google is offering free calls to the last mile (this is called call termination), you know they aren’t paying [hardly] anything to the carrier who is actually providing that last mile call termination. They’ve managed to strong arm someone into offering it at no charge, perhaps in exchange for some other service.  Where it gets very spooky is with Long Distance Termination. Again - free over Google, but there is a real and true cost to terminate a call to a standard telephone in Canada and the United States.  If no one is paying for that call, then the local carrier is losing money, and has less revenue to be able to maintain their local telephone network.

:-(

Let’s look at an example:  I called my PRIMUS phone from Gmail. The call routed from Google, through Verizon, up to Allstream, and then down to Primus. All for free to me. Perhaps Google did indeed pay Verizon something, who had to then pay Allstream, and lastly Primus. And this is the call flow for a VoIP call, where most of the routing bypasses the local mile of infrastructure, since my Primus phone is layered on top of my Rogers Broadband connection. Confused yet?

If I call my Bell phone line from Gmail [yup, 2 carriers in this house - diversity and redundancy is important with 2 teleworkers under the same roof], the call still starts in the US, at Google’s data centre, heads off to Verizon, up to Bell Canada, and then down my little copper wires from the Richmond Hill Bell wire centre. If there’s no costs to the user [me], then there are no revenues flowing to Verizon to maintain their interconnection with Bell, and no revenues to make sure my little copper wires from the Bell wire centre stay nice and healthy, or get upgrades when needed. At some point, in the not-too-distant future, there won’t be any money left to manage, maintain and upgrade the public telephone network.  That’s all well and good if EVERYONE in the world has migrated to VoIP service over Broadband Internet, but not so good if you are a carrier who has to maintain 2 networks, one for VoIP and one for the public telephone network. It’s certainly bad news if you have to rely on the public telephone network for your phone services.

At some point, carriers will realize that getting into bed with Google is going to destroy the telecom industry. Everything will be free, for a while. Then everything will be bad, very bad.  Right now, Google can only offer outbound free dialling from Gmail. Just wait until Google gets its hands on Canadian phone numbers. I can only hope that it won’t be a free service too.

Why Unlimited is Bad

Unlimited is bad. For everyone. Full stop.
In 1997, unlimited dial-up internet was the marketing trend du jour. It took less than 2 months for the dregs of society to ruin it for the rest of us. Dregs, you say? That’s a terribly harsh description. No - folks figured out that if you could keep your modem connected 24 by 7, you could run a web server, share your unlimited internet connection with all your friends (rent your internet connection, even), and generally take advantage of unlimited usage. The whole purpose of *unlimited* is to reduce the customer’s fear that they might exceed their maximum static plan in the course of reasonable and normal usage. It’s “not” to give someone carte blanche to take advantage and exploit the service and the service provider. There’s a reason why unlimited dial-up service was $19.95/month, but dedicated, nailed up, always on service was over $500/month ;-)

It seems that marketing folks never learn from their mistakes. Unlimited is bad. Dregs will always try and exploit unlimited offerings with the argument of “unlimited is unlimited - I want to use it all!!!”

It’s hit the cable internet folks, the wireless folks… heck, even the food industry. We are, on average, a species that is unable to control ourselves when it comes to unlimited :-)
Someday, marketing departments will realize we aren’t wired to be reasonable.