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    Canada's Wireless Code of Conduct aka Protect the Sheep from Themselves

    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.


    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.


    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. 



    Seen Anything Pinteresting Lately?

    There’s so much back and forth regarding Pinterest. You love it, you hate it, you don’t understand it, you think it’s going to get you thrown in jail, you hate the copywrite confusion….. Aie!

    So much Pinterest Drama!!!

    I love it. I *do* do a few things differently from some folks though. I make sure that things i *pin* actually lead somewhere good. Generally back to magazines or stores. A Pinterest pin of something from Tumblr is a waste of time. A Pinterest pin with no history is like a dead weblink. Not much good for anything.

    Worried about copywrite laws? Well, I expect that technology is going to drive some signinficant copywrite changes. ‘Nuff Said. If you want to read more, and photographers could theoretically be the most impacted by Pinterest, check out Trey Ratcliff’s take.

    STILL worried about copywrite? Tumblr will succumb WAY before Pinterest in that arena…..

    To me, my Pinterest boards are a scrapbook of things I like, and a method for keeping torack of where things are. I’ve been coveting a beadspread from Anthropoligie… so I’m keeping track of it with Pinterest. :-D

    Still, Pin responsibly. 



    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!



    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?

    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. 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


    Smartphones, CRTC and Foreign Ownership

    This weekend there was an interesting article in the Globe and Mail about smartphones driving Canadian wireless data usage. The article then dove into the black hole of spectrum auctions in 2012.

    The article was speculative, but laid out various tidbits related to the 700 Mhz auction planned in the coming months to increase wireless data capabilitities. 

    As innocuous as the article was, there were two pages of comments from the great unwashed masses complaining about the Canadian wireless industry and urging the government action a handfull of idiotic activities to *support the Canadian public*. It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed and short sighted the general public is. (I can’t even read comments on the CBC site any more)

    Foreign Ownership: Yes, a little foreign ownership is good, and the CRTC has made some innovative recommendations regarding the opening up of ownership regulations. The expectation is that if a Canadian company has less than 10% marketshare, they may be capable of obtaining foreign ownership greater than 50% . This would apply to all the new wireless startups, Allstream, (mostly) regionalized players like Cogeco, Distributel, Primus Canada, and Xplorenet to name a few….

    Foreign ownership of the Big 3 is a BAD thing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Canadian Telecom industry now employs over half a million Canadians. 

    Canada’s telecommunications industry makes up 3.3 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, generating $40-billion of revenue annually.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize all that great Canadian goodness will disappear in a heartbeat if the Canadian government opens the flood gates for foreign ownership, with no terms and conditions. 

    People want unlimited voice and data plans for less than $40/month. My question to that: is it worth that much to you, that the end result is 2-3 friends and family members being laid off because their job is now redundant to someone working for (insert US/Global Carrier Name here) in a call centre around the world? 

    Of the two pages of commentary, there were 2 intelligent posts: 


    • Discussion of reasonable and worthwhile changes to the current offers (per second billing is a smart suggestion)
    • The idea of a nationalized network backbone is creative (but I don’t know if Canada is smart enough to organize an initiative of that magnitude, we can’t even really figure out how to reasonably use the Deferral Account)


    The rest of the garbage made my head hurt thinking that these people somehow survived their adolescence and are now pro-creating.

    I’m looking forward to the next few years and the evolution of the Canadian Wireless/Communications Industry:


    • deeper national penetration of services and providers
    • new handsets that allow for more ubiquitous applications
    • Canadian innovations


    What do you want for the future of Canadian telecommunications?


    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.



    Foursquare: My *Most Used* iPhone App

    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...

    … 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.



    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:

    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…