Oh, Rogers, I didn’t think I could despise you more

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This was the final straw for me. A few months ago I called into Rogers to cancel my Internet and switch to Teksavvy. We had been passing our 120gb/month limit and their options for more than that were way too expensive. Teksavvy offers 300gb/month for about $45.

My only hesitation was that I was getting 3mbit/sec upload from Rogers and Teksavvy only offers 1. I work from home usually so I was anxious about that. But I called Rogers to cancel anyways.

Their “retention” person asked why I wanted to cancel and said “what if I offer you 300mb/month for $10 less than you’re paying right now?” I was surprised but asked “ok, at what speed?” He said I would drop from the 35mbit download I was at now to 25mbit but stay at 3mbit upload.

I was reluctant, because I really wanted to cancel Rogers, but keeping 3mbit up was too compelling for me. So I said ok.

Fast forward a few months. We’ve been noticing our VOIP phone cutting off sometimes and network speeds just generally slow. I called Rogers tech support to find out what’s going on and they said I’m on a plan that’s 300gb/month, 12mbit down and 0.5mbit up. WTF?????

I was obviously furious. There is no way in hell I ever would have agreed to something like that, so their retention person clearly lied to me. On top of that, they tried to tell my I was locked into a year contract and would have to pay a cancellation fee to get out of it. I told them I would pay absolutely nothing to get out of a plan that I never agreed to and was lied to about. They seemed to accept that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they still try to slip it on my next bill.

It does feel good to get another service off Rogers, hopefully things go well with Teksavvy. I wish we could get our cell phones off Rogers but there don’t seem to be any reasonable alternatives. Bell won’t be any better than Rogers. So, that leaves Wind but friends say their network speeds are crap, so…

BB10 is finally here

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This post at Engadget was interesting because it gave a snapshot of several editors opinions.

I think things can be summed up like this, from my own look at the devices:

  • If you’re a current BlackBerry user, this is a huge win.  Welcome to the smartphone era.  A modern phone that looks mostly on-par with the others.
  • If you’re not a current BB user, I’m not sure there’s anything compelling here compared to the other platforms.  Maybe for a first-time smartphone buyer there’s a reason to consider BB10, but I’m not sure there’s anything that’d force people to give up their investment in apps on another platform.

One huge win, in my opinion, is that they also announced that Skype will be on BB10.  It hadn’t seemed like it’d happen a while ago, which would have been a big negative; at least it’s a negative for my Playbook.

The difficulty, that I think we need to keep in perspective, is that this is the very first version of a brand new mobile OS (we won’t count the Playbook).  I think it’s pretty impressive how good the first version looks.  Only time will tell how good the platform becomes.  How quickly do they fix the bugs and refine the experience?  How much top-tier developer support comes along?

These days, a mobile platform is so much more than just the OS.  I’d argue it’s much more about the apps.  Of the time I’m actively using my iPhone, I’m sure I spend way more time in 3rd party apps than anything written by Apple.

Look how long Google has been working on Android.  I think they’ve hit parity with iOS in many ways, but I don’t see anything they have that’s clearly better than iOS.

You win, Ubuntu, take my money now

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In my last post, Ubuntu Phone, I talked about the concept for Ubuntu Phone that’s been floating around.  Now, it seems the concept may be closer to reality.  Take a look at this video: Ubuntu Phone OS Demonstration by Mark Shuttleworth at CES 2013.  Looks very nice.  The really compelling thing for me is that the phone can dock to a monitor/keyboard/mouse and turn into the full Ubuntu desktop experience.  All the same code, just different views based on the screen you’re using.  That is awesome.

In that post I also said “If you could also dock the phone into a 10-inch tablet-esque screen, I’m done, just take my money now.”  Well, he does say that in this video.  So, I’m sold.

Ubuntu Phone


Saw this today: Announcing Ubuntu For Phones.

I’m a very happy iPhone user, but there’s one nugget in that article that I want really, really badly:

“Ubuntu for phones is not just limited to just the Operating System on the phone screen itself. Ubuntu also has the technology, as demonstrated with Ubuntu For Android, to boot a full Ubuntu desktop from the phone when it is docked with a screen. This provides a complete Ubuntu experience in your pocket, for both your phone and your desktop, with a clean consistent look across both screens, and with all your content available on your phone and desktop using Ubuntu One. This is revolutionary.”

I want.  Smartphones now have enough power to run a desktop computer.  Sure, not a crazy rig for hardcore gaming, but definitely enough for what most of us do most of the time.  Plus, it really annoys me to have to figure out ways to sync all my data between all the devices I use (desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone).  This idea above solves all of that by making those all the same machine.  No syncing required.

This was half-heartedly tried recently with the Android Atrix phone.  It was a phone that could dock into a laptop-like thing.  I think it flopped because the “desktop experience” was limited to a special build of Firefox.

If this idea does go anywhere, I assume it’ll be years before it’s really good and looks like my vision, but this is still great news.  A great experience like this would be one thing I can think of that’d get me off iOS.  If you could also dock the phone into a 10-inch tablet-esque screen, I’m done, just take my money now.


The war on freedom from religion

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Ran across this article today: Saskatoon could face human rights complaint after refusing to yank ‘Merry Christmas’ message from buses.  I think people like the complainant in this article are getting more airtime than they deserve thanks to the nature of media these days, but either way, it’s still an interesting conversation.

Honestly, I’m not religious, at all.  But, I think complaints like this are unreasonable.  First, let’s look at what this person said:

“On Monday, local activist Ashu Solo vowed to take the matter to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, claiming the Christmas greetings violate his right to be free from religion.”

I’ve never heard of a right to be “free from religion” before.  Maybe the author of the article was paraphrasing badly, but just in case not, that’d be ludicrous.  That would mean people have to hide their own religion, so as to let others be “free from religion.”  I think the actual right is to not have a religion imposed on you, which is great.

The question then becomes, does saying “Merry Christmas” impose religion on someone?  I don’t think so.  There’s a difference between recognizing an event in someone’s life versus indoctrination.  I’d feel entirely differently if the bus was quoting scripture in some way that was intended to indoctrinate.

I also wouldn’t feel differently if the sign read “Happy Hanukkah” or recognized any other religious holiday.  Does it matter that the bus is effectively a government property, referencing religion?  Again, there’s a difference between recognizing and indoctrination.  Even though I’m not religious, I understand that I live in a society where the majority of people identify with one set of religions, therefore it doesn’t seem unreasonable to celebrate it to some degree.  I would think it’d be wrong for the bus company to reject a request to celebrate another religious holiday, in light of celebrating another.  That would get into the territory of favouring one religion over another.

I think people just need to chill out and stop being offended so easily.

I had forgotten just how much cable TV sucks

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I was away for work last week and at some point each night, while trying to relax before sleep, I’d turn on the TV in my hotel room.  I’d spend a good 15 to 30 minutes surfing around trying to find anything that was remotely interesting to me, and I’d maybe end up with something that seemed better than staring at the wall.  And then, the commercials.  Holy crap.  I know it isn’t quite this bad, but it sure felt like there were more commercials than content.

I realize that many people have a PVR and can skip the commercials, but still, what a pain.

It’s been maybe 4 or 5 years since I last had cable TV, and I forgot just how bad it was.  I’m spoiled with services like Netflix, iTunes, etc.  I cannot see myself ever again being willing to pay $100+/month for the privilege of watching all those commercials.  It sucks, is inconvenient, and feels like a very old concept.

There is no debate

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A good pie chart over at DeSmogBlog, in article Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility – In One Pie Chart.

Here’s the chart:


The media does seem to be slowly realizing this, but it’s still frustrating how they often think there is still a real scientific debate going on.  There are people in the world who think the Earth is flat, but we don’t feel the need to include them when discussing the planet.

When is the next Palestinian election?

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I was asking myself when they should be holding their next election as part of contemplating the current conflict.  Turns out there was supposed to be an election in 2010, but it’s been postponed by both sides and now it’s supposed to be 2013.

Every time one of these conflicts arises I end up back to thinking that it’s a waste of time to try to come up with a “solution” to the situation.  Nothing aside from a temporary band-aid will solve this conflict.  What possible short-term solution could address decades of violence (especially towards civilians), mistreatment, oppression and mistrust by both sides?

I think it shows how complex the situation is that while I think both sides are very clearly in the wrong and making bad decisions, when examined individually I can’t claim either side is doing the wrong thing for themselves given the circumstances and history.  Clearly they’re both making the wrong decisions in the big picture, but cultures that are so consumed by violence and hatred rarely look at the big picture.

Cutting down oak trees to save the children

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This has seemed to evoke universally negative opinions: Mom wants city oaks torn down to protect kids with nut allergies.  If this has anything greater than a zero chance of happening, I’d be concerned.

The first good news for RIM in a while

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I’m sure you’ve all seen the news: RIM has set a release date for BlackBerry 10.

Some people may complain that it’s 2.5 months away, but I think this is good news.  It’s a hard deadline, and I hope it means RIM is truly confident in declaring that publicly, because a further delay would be disastrous.

I’m excited to see how BB10 evolves.  Now that I’m using an iPad regularly, I feel a lot less dependent on my phone, which has made me wonder if I want to try out another platform.  I don’t feel compelled to try Android.  It’s come a long way in the last year, and I think I could be happy using an Android phone, but I just don’t see anything it truly does better than the iPhone that would compel me to switch.  On the flip side, there are some things that iPhone does better than Android, at least for me.

But, maybe BB10 will have some killer features?  Making sure it gets Skype would at least remove a serious flaw.

I’m curious what the next major evolution of smartphones will be.  Really, once you’ve got a powerful, beautiful, device that works well, isn’t the rest mostly software?  That’s why I get so fascinated by the hype that precedes each new iPhone launch each year, and people are inevitably disappointed when it’s “just” a more powerful, more stylish, iPhone.  What else do they want?  I’m not really interested in any of the “innovations” coming on the Android side; I don’t want a 5.5-inch screen with a stylus.  NFC?  Ok, but what would I actually use it for right now?

Actually, I am interested in the experiments with docking smartphones to tablet screens or notebooks.  Smartphones are powerful enough that they could power a modest laptop, so why not?  And really, why couldn’t an iPad just be a larger screen you dock an iPhone into?  Probably only because that means Apple couldn’t charge as much for it.

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