Category Archives: Technology

How Canadian Cell Carriers Still Get Their Pound of Flesh Even With Two Year Contracts

When Telus Mobility called me this week to see how everything is going, which is quite well by the way… I told them I was happy with the actual cell service but still enraged about how their new two year plans are punitive and insulting. I just cannot believe that more people don’t realize this or have not taken to the streets in a Montreal Canadians Stanley Cup win riot in rage.

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The Good Old Days

Lets put this in context. When I got my iPhone 4 I got for $55 1GB of data, weeknights and weekends free and 10 numbers on a special call list that would not go against my minutes. Three years later and a month or two before the iPhone 5S was released I noticed they were offering a $60 for 3GB of data and unlimited calling nation wide. The nice representative gave me the new plan without adding time onto my almost expired 3 year contact as I told them I would be getting the new iPhone ASAP when it was released. That was until I saw the new plans.

Yeah, It’s a Change

The new plans are a) not only worse than what was offered not just a month before but three years before and b) more expensive.

So what happened? Cell phone company greed. It’s not just Telus, all of the carriers in Canada have lowered the bar to to similarly awful plans across the board. They are punishing the consumer because the Canadian government told them to ditch three year contracts. Do not sheed tears for them, they will still get their pound of flesh.

Get Your Fresh Data

A subsidized iPhone now requires a minimum plan of $70 versus the $55 from 2010 or $60 a month earlier in 2013. Also for $70 now you get 500mb. 2010 it was 1GB and my current plan is 3GB. That’s 6 times less data!

Data still cost the same for the carriers before and after the iPhone’s release. Data is 1’s and 0’s, electrical signals, a virtual commodity. They are not grown, harvested and shipped to market. There is no shortage or crop failure that causes market scarcity and prices to rise.

No Money For You

I have told Telus that when whatever the next iPhone is I will but it from Apple unlocked. The very nice representative said I could buy the phone from Telus unlocked. I told her that I would rather give Apple the money than Telus on principal. It would cheaper from me to but the phone unlocked than pay more and get less just to receive the subsidy on the phone. Finally I can use a SIM card in the USA on my phone!

You See Them Too, Right?

Over on iPhone in Canada go read their story on what I knew was true What’s Cheaper? Buying an Unlocked iPhone vs Subsidized 2-Year Term Compared. Nice to see someone actually did the math so I have some actual facts to back-up my anger.

Oh and PS, if you want to new iPhone please for god’s sake wait till the fall for the new one. At the very least you could get the iPhone 5S as the free one.

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Google+ & Picasa = Free Photo & Video Backup

If you have ever talked to me about digital photography I will have told you that you need to have a back-up plan. I use the 3 – 2 – 1 back-up strategy. 3 copies, 2 different media, 1 off site. You can Google it, it’s a thing. It’s on Lifehacker! Auto Backup from Google and Picasa is a free and simple tool that will help you protect those irreplaceable photos and videos.

This recent update to Picasa, Google’s PC / Mac photo organizer (which I have been using for years and so should you) has added Google+’s Auto Backup to Picasa. So what’s the big deal? Google Auto Backup gives you 15GB (part of your Google Drive total) of storage for photos larger than 2048px on the longest edge, smaller than 50MB and videos longer than 15 minutes at 1080p resolution or higher. Now that pretty much covers almost everyone I know.

If you’re like me with over 110,000 photos and videos that’s just short of 900GB  the 15GB will be insufficient. So if you’re willing to have the photos downgraded to a 3MP image (2048px along the longest edge) Google+ Auto Backup will give you unlimited storage. I think that is a fair trade off to have an automatic incremental backup solution.

You need a Google account, so if you use Youtube, gmail or Google+ you already have one (as Google has unified their services under one log in). An Auto Backup application is installed running in the background and backs up your photos and videos. Keep in mind your monthly cap before starting the backup process, we don’t want those nasty overage charges.

Auto Backup Uploader

It will find the default places on your hard drive but if like me you a few internal drives you have the ability to chose and pick folders across multiple drives. All your photos and videos are stored in your Google+ account and are private until till you share them. If you have a modern mobile device Auto Backup will also backup your photos in iOS and Andriod devices using the Google+ app.

Auto Backup will also does Auto Awesomes. These include animated gifs, panoramas, HDR and a host of other automatically processed features and you can still revert to the original photo. Some basic photo editing tools and filters are included for good measure.

So try out Auto Backup, it’s free!

Apple Store to Open in Brossard’s Dix30

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Tables sans product are set up and ready for the new Apple store opening April 27th in Brossard’s Dix30 mega shopping area.

Located in the new Square Dix30 subdivision, the Apple store is a 450 meter walk from the Micro Boutique store that solely carries Apple products.

Micro Boutique must be worried with Apple opening a store in the same area when people can go to the real Apple store.

While there is both a Future Shop and Best Buy located near by, neither of these big box stores rely on Apple products for their bottom line.

Either way this is a good thing for south shore Apple users as we no longer have to travel downtown to see an Apple genius.

Netflix Canada Offers Video Quailty Management

You might have heard stories of people with low internet data caps incurring overages due to the 1 to 2 GB of data used by Netflix per hour. It is unlikely that Bell and other internet providers will increase their caps, Netflix now offers the ability to manage streaming quality to reduce the amount of data consumed.
This might make the difference to some Canadians who are looking at Netflix Canada as a valid way to consume content online in HD. But if you have a 2GB a month cap, forget it and keep renting the DVDs.

Since I refuse to give up my unlimited (that’s real unlimited with no data cap) Bell DSL account this doesn’t affect me personally but it’s nice to know they are thinking of us clients. Or at the very least trying to build out their market share in a country that has limited data caps in place.

During the past 5 months using Netflix I have doubled my internet usage from 30 GB a month to between 60GB and 90 GB. My first month of Netflix I used a wopping 140 GB which I haven’t reached since my bittorrenting days. If Netflix keeps adding a-list content I can only see my usage increasing.

Now if only Zip (who I use their DVD rental service extensively) will hurry up and enter the streaming game in Canada we would have some competition.

iPhone 4 Hunt

Unicorns discuss elusive iPhone4

First off let me preface this with, yes I know it’s just a phone. It doesn’t cure the sick, end world hunger or walk on water (but I’m sure it would skip really well across a lake before it sunk).

My iPhone 4 hunt began on launch day (July 30th here in Canada). I was at my local Rogers branch an hour and a half before they opened and 4th in line, it’s not like I slept out overnight or something crazy. Once the store opened, I discovered that they only had the 16GB model I left. Sorry I’m picky. Little did I know that my Rogers store only had three in stock and the first guy in line bought two of them.

I then went on vacation for a week and a half with the family and told myself I’ll just get one when I get back. Not the best plan.

Upon my return I discovered that Rogers had no stock and had not received any since launch. Also Rogers affiliates now had waiting lists of well over 100 people. The Rogers owned and operated stores were on a first come first serve basis.

Currently I am on ten waiting list from one end of the South Shore of Montreal to the other and call the other nine locations without waiting lists on a regular basis. Still no luck.

I have come close twice. The first time was two weeks ago when a Rogers Plus store had one in stock but couldn’t hold it for me till I finish work. By quitting time it was long gone. The second was much more annoying.

What follows is the post that was not approved on Rogers Redboard post regarding the iPhone4 launch.

Your comment is awaiting moderation. Our goal is to review all comments within 1 business day.


Ok here’s my horror story of the day.
I find a place with a 32gb iphone 4 in stock (actually they had a few in stock) waited in line for 45mins and then am told that they can’t do upgrades, just new account?!?!?! Even though I am out of contract.
So with the 17 combined years of service with Rogers between my cell and my wife’s you have to be a NEW client to get a phone!?!?!

So I called Rogers to complain about it. They said that they were sorry and understood & apologized for my emotional torment. They were sold out but would you like a Rocket stick? No thank you. So that rep transferred me to another rep in another department and he again said that they were sorry and understood & apologized for my emotional torment, but they could give me a 3gs 8gb. If I wanted a 3gs I could have picked one up in the last 6 months with no lines. I wanted the iphone 4 model.
He told me that the affiliate store was unable to do hardware upgrades.

So my problem is which affiliate stores can do upgrades and how many of the stores I am no a waiting list are going to be allowed to actually sell me one when my name does come up?
The only reason that store even had any left was that they only do new clients. They suggested that I cancel my account and get a new one.
This totally ruins my friday, thanks Rogers 😦
Worst. launch. ever. 😦

Now just so you don’t think I’m completely a whiny baby, I can understand that it really wasn’t pertinent to the thread and they might not want some bitchy post spreading FUD on their official site. On the other hand there are lots of posts about people talking about canceling their service and saying a lot worse stuff then I did. Of course I went on and did a bunch of pissy (and I thought hilarious) twitter updates expressing my frustration here, here and here.

A common point of frustration for Rogers clients comes from the fact that we can not buy it online from Rogers and wait for a delivery (like you can from Bell). Rogers has said on their RedBoard that “We hoped to avoid a situation where we took orders without being able to guarantee when we’d deliver devices.” That’s a fair point but either way Rogers is going to have people calling them about stock in stores or when their iPhone is going to ship. Not excepting online orders places the task of dealing with their clients on the stores and not Rogers customer service and undoubtedly is a cost saving measure. For example Planète Mobile head office told me the reason that their stores were not answering the phone for two weeks was because they were simply swamped with calls about the iPhone 4.

My main fear about missing out on the iPhone4 is the limited time offer (till September 30th) of a 6GB data plan for $30. While still expensive for me, it’s better than their usual $25 for 500mb plan. If I wasn’t on this deadline, I would be happy to wait till December to find one. With the limited stock Rogers is receiving it might actually take that long. I have not personally heard of a location getting more than 8 iPhones a week.

If I pass the deadline and still no iPhone 4, the next iPod Touch if having similar features to current iPhone will probably replace my gen one iPod Touch (who’s wifi has failed) and save me $30 a month for at least two years. Hello iPhone 6! At which point I’ll have been out of contract with Rogers for two and a half years.

So until I get one I’m just going to let it go and stop calling stores about stock. I have enough stress in my life already without worrying about getting a new expensive phone made out of glass with an also expensive monthly plan.

Get Your Tablet On (Sale)

Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch Tablet

I tweeted quickly about a deal on a Wacom tablet but I wanted to drill down on the subject.

FutureShop has the Wacom Bamboo 5.8″ x 3.6″ Pen & Touch Tablet for $89.99, that’s $40 dollars off the regular price. This model can use the pen as per usual but it’s also a touch pad and will accept multiple finger inputs much like an iPhone does. You can zoom, scroll and pan without losing time moving over to the mouse. Sale ends July 10th 2010.

If you’re a bit more budget conscious or touch is not a deal maker / breaker for you, Staples / Bureau En Gros has the pen only model for $20 dollars less@ $69.99. Sale ends June 15th 2010.

Both these tablets would more than adequate for the amateur graphic artist or even the pro who has monetary constraints.

Personally I’m very torn on the more features versus less money graph. Of course something has to replace my 10 years plus Wacom Pen Partner (that doesn’t work). It’s so old it connects via a serial and printer / com port. Then again maybe I’ll just wait a few more years for a clearance sale and get one really cheap.

boo 5.8″ x 3.6″ Pen & Touch Tablet

What a Difference a Few Years Can Make: The Steve Jobs Edition

Steve Jobs @ the D1 Conference 2003

All Things Digital has posted interviews with Steve Jobs dating back to 2003, including this years D8 interview.

Interesting in hindsight to hear Steve talk about what was going on for Apple at the time and future interests they have.

The computer industry moves so fast that Steve Jobs 7 years ago talking about the PC sounds like common knowledge today.

I picked out some of my favorite parts:

  • Steve says you couldn’t do a music store on an iPod and sees it as a satellite device. He goes on to say that a PC has a big hard drive, a big screen, a big keyboard, a fat pipe to the internet and able to run applications and unless there are breakthroughs in fold-able screens in the coming years a music store would need a bigger screen.
  • Even back then people were wondering when Apple was going to make a tablet. At the time they had no plans and Steve says that it’s great that Microsoft is trying. “We look at the tablet and think it will fail”.
  • When Steve said If you do any volume of email you need a keyboard. I guess he was referring to a virtual one. Of course if you keep the word count down you can respond to a lot more people.
  • Classic Steve Jobs telling us what we want when we want it “Watching video on a small screen is clearly not fun”.

Cheap Geek: iPhone vs. iPod & True Love

iPhone 4?

When Gizmodo (found/stole/ bought/who knows?) the possible new iPhone in April, I knew who I was taking to the proverbial phone prom. I’d get an iPhone.

The fourth generation iPhone blew my first generation iPod Touch out of the water. With it’s A4 processor, front & rear cameras, higher resolution screen and (presumed) longer battery life I was in love. It could do no wrong and I was counting the days till WWDC when it would be official and I could be united with my true love.

Then reality hit, and hit hard it did. Like all relationships that start off so well we started fighting about where the money was going. I’ve got a great family plan with Rogers or another way of putting is that it’s not as shitty as when they offer now. So skip to the end, It would cost a minimum of $25 a month extra for the 500mb data plan. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot of money but for 500mb it’s insane and over a 3 year contract (before taxes) it would be $900. That kind of money could buy me an HDTV.

It was over. My fleeting hopes of having a relationship with the prettiest phone in the cheer-leading squad were over like a 1980’s teen film.

Then came a leak of another Apple prototype… an iPod Touch with a 2 megapixel camera. 1980’s teen film tip: If you can’t get the girl of your dreams who let’s face it was way too high maintenance, go for her nerdy quite sister with the heart of gold who’s been your shoulder to cry on for the first two acts and is secretly in love with you.

Possible 4th Gen iPod Touch?

A new iPod Touch (fall 2010?) will probably be specked with the same internals as the 4th gen iPhone. An A4 chip, bluetooth, speakers (both of which the 1st gen Touch didn’t have) and a camera would be a dream device for me. I would totally get the 32GB model as my current 16GB is always full. It would be expensive but still cheaper than getting a new desktop that I would never use as I’m always on my Touch.

EXT. HIGH SCHOOL FRONT STEPS – SUNSET LAST DAY OF CLASS

CAMERA SLOW TRUCK OUT ON BOOM

Grant and iPod Touch 4th generation lean in to kiss each other.

INSERT – Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds.

FADE OUT