In which I sincerely hope I never move again.

I’m no fan of moving. Haven’t been a fan of moving since, well, the first time I did it. More often than not, it ends up turning into a headache which then leads to stress and confusion, which then leads to more headache, and the circle goes round. This move wasn’t quite as migraine inducing as some others (I’m looking squarely in your general direction, Bell), which is a thing that works in its favour. But yeah, if it’s all the same to you, I think the next time the possibility of moving comes up I’ll just, er, not.

The move itself went quicker than anything I’ve seen in approximately ever. May and I had a ton of help (thanks by the way, guys, times a million), so the actual moving process didn’t take nearly as long as I was figuring–everything was loaded at one end, transported, and offloaded at the other in a little over 2 hours. Coordinating the administrative end of it all, though, was a large part of the exercise in patience, tolerance and general–well–restraint. Did you know, for instance, that if you’ve got your phone through someone like Bell Canada and your internet through someone like TekSavvy, to get both services switched over requires a remarkable skill in fancy dancing? Yeah, neither did I.

Either TekSavvy or Bell (my money’s on Bell, personally) requires your phone service to be on at the new place for at least 5 days before they’ll let anyone touch your internets. I suspect this is a Bell idea largely because I’m pretty sure if we’d gone back to their Sympatico service there’d be no such foolery, but you’ll have that. May and I are both in school, so 5 days with no internets during approximately now is kind of a big deal–more so for me, given the nature of the program I’m involved in. Several phone calls and some numbers fudging later, it was still mildly annoying–but fixed, and with a minimal amount of bloodshed, but the time between mildly annoyed and fixed was just enough to remind me why if it were entirely up to me and US long distance requirements weren’t a consideration, there would be no Bell in relatively short order.

The place itself is kind of awesome. Three bedrooms, two of which are currently playing partial temporary storage for the long list of crap we’ve yet to unpack, sort through and optionally get rid of, plus an overall not crappy living space. The living room area, for example, is large enough that I can sort of turn part of it into a defacto office–this will become useful if/when I end up needing to decide between homework and hockey, but y’know, priorities and all. We lose our back yard, but the currently half-snow-covered balcony will make up for that–just as soon as I get around to acquiring things that belong out there. And then, well, find the energy to clear the thing off so they can belong out there. They lock the laundry room here at night–oh, yeah, and relatedly we actually need to leave the place to do laundry again–so there goes our waiting ’til half past dark on the day we need to leave for somewhere useful before we decide it might be in our best interest to actually, you know, leave with clean clothes. But we’re back to a secure building, which is always a plus–particularly when family decides they feel up to dropping in and you’re not even close to awake, nevermind dressed yet (yes, this has happened before).

This apartment’s laid out similar to another I used to live in–and, actually, is owned by the same company, so moving in here I kind of knew what to expect already. Still, the level of awesome was just a tiny bit surprising–I’ve met and had actual conversations with more folks in this building than at most others, for one, which could potentially be positivity material. And they seem quick to react to issues as they crop up, which–yeah, some other places could probably stand to learn from (note: intentionally not naming names, but the info’s out there), so there’s at least that. And holy crap on toast the amount of stuff we’re actually able to walk or bus to without needing to aquire a degree in creativity. It’s almost like the place I lived in when I first moved to Ottawa in that respect–all kinds of places a minimum of a few minutes’ walking and a maximum of 1 bus away. Or two, if you need to stretch it because there’s just no other way. Unfortunately it’s like where I lived when I first moved to Ottawa in that I also don’t right now have a whole lot of time for actually, you know, figuring out the best way of getting me from here to most of those places–back then it was working, now it’s school. Go figure. But when I’ve got the time for it, this place is going to turn around and probably be completely perfect–or, you know, as close to perfect as you can probably have for what they expect from us in rent per month.

I can’t stand the idea of moving to save my life. But since I’ve kind of, well, done it, I suppose I could have picked a far worse place to move to. And hey, if the trend of apartment living continues, I might actually have to start taking notes again–my last few places provided nearly as much blog material as I could come up with on my own. Because, you know, other people and other people’s problematic problems, but you’ll have that.

Two things I’ll just kind of drop here that I picked up on in, say, the first week of us being here. Thing the first: we are not the only blind folks in this building–I literally ran into one on my way to class this past Monday. And thing the second: Apartment-level blogging more than likely won’t include the third rendition of the weed basement. And for that I say, freaking thank you. Now, I suppose I ought go unpack something…

The first honest cable company. Or, hey–this sounds familiar.

I’m a bit of a sucker for snark. Okay, more than a bit. I’m especially a sucker for snark in the form of a Youtube video that just comes right out and, well, says what the folks I deal with on a somewhat regular basis don’t say (I’m looking at you, Rogers–and, to an extent, Bell). Hell, it’d probably be vaguely easier to stomach if these folks’d just come up and be honest with it. But, well, since there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of that happening in about half a forever, I’ll content myself with replaying this video. If you’re going to do the same, you might want to make sure you’re at home and out of earshot of the little ones–there’s a bit of language. Readers of the RSS or email variety, you’ll have to flip on over to the site unfortunately. It’s Youtube, which means flash, which hates email/RSS. Sorry.

Now tell me. Doesn’t this just wanna make you pick up the phone and have a friendly chat with your local internet/TV tech support? Yeah, me either.

In which Bell Canada and a crappy modem team up to break my brain. Twice.

I have caffeine. And I have a bit of free time. That means geek entry. If technical things make your brain do melty things, there’s other stuff coming. Or, you can flip through some of what’s already posted. On the other hand, if brain damage is your thing, keep reading (Warning: long post is long). I don’t disappoint.


Folks who’ve been reading me for a while know this already. But for the new ones, or the ones who haven’t yet found the time to go wandering back through really wicked old entries, a background. I used to work for Dell, back when Dell used to be cool and actually wanna pay me. Naturally, that meant insane amounts of exposure to large doses of the kind of stupid that would be lethal without the proper equipment. Or an international border. whichever was more convenient. The kinds of breakage I had a front row seat to, and the wicked nifty cool shapes my brain had to fold itself into just to figure out 1: how in the 7 levels of hell $person actually ended up breaking their thinggy what I’m being paid to fix, and 2: how in the 7 levels of hell I was going to fix it without a small miracle, copious amounts of caffeine and an IV drip of vodka–only one of which was actually practical while sitting in a call center in the middle of freaking Kanata, made origami look like something your 2-year-old pulled off in his sleep last night–appologies to anyone who’s 2-year-old may or may not have just been mildly offended. I’ve even seen software–and some hardware–who’s manufacturers make an honest attempt to break things by default (see: standards, Microsoft’s lack of). Usually, that kind of is an out-of-the-box flop, though. And usually, I’m the shmuck that gets to appologise to the customer because there really is no way to fix that broken, short of replacing the defective–not something you want to tell someone after they’ve just plunked down $400 for that self same defective. Now, I’m that customer. And Bell Canada gets to play the part of Microsoft.

I do all manner of geeky–and sometimes freaky–things from behind this network. Including helping May with setting up and administering an FTP server. Sometimes, it involves extreme amounts of stress testing. And sometimes, it just involves a simple hey, can someone from outside this network access $service on $port, or do I need to smack me a modem? Up until a few days ago, that was a simple process if you were me. Or, hell, if you were May, who’d tell you herself she’s not quite as technical-minded as I am but she’s kind of busy catching up on posting to her site at the moment. All either May or Myself had to do was pull up a chair and connect. Well, more or less. From behind the network, we could still pull up the external hostname, bounce to it from inside the network, and have it route the connection back to the network on the appropriate port. So basicly, it’s like picking up the landline and dialing your own phone number rather than *98 (or whatever your US equivalent is), and seeing if your voicemail picks up. At some point last week, though, Bell decided to turn off that ability.

I have no idea what the hell they changed, but they apparently pushed an update to the modem we’re using–we’re using Bell’s “Connection Hub”, if you’re curious–that pretty much broke standard networking. Now, if I’m sitting at the machine I’m using right now, behind an otherwise fully functional network, and I try to pull up a service I know is working as expected, I get nowhere. Or, rather, I get somewhere–it still tries to connect to the external hostname. It just times out, as opposed to connecting. Going back to the comparison from earlier, it’s like calling your own phone number, knowing you should be hearing your voicemail, and instead the phone just keeps ringing.

Thinking the modem just developed amnesia–they do that sometimes, I go in and have a look. Sure enough, it ate the settings I’d whipped up to actually allow the public to access things from outside this network. I’d seen this once or twice so was actually kind of expecting a whole other set of issues–amnesia of that variety is usually asign you’ll be soon replacing your modem. So while reimplementing the settings that let things be visible to the greater internet, I was internally preparing to have that conversation with both my ISP and my girlfriend. And only really not looking forward to one of those conversations. so I reminded the modem that yes, in fact, this is a friendly thing, and please to be letting John Q User play with it thanks much. And then I hoped like hell the damn thing wouldn’t forget me 10 minutes after I left the room. I tried connecting externally again, same result. Then we lost internet briefly. Well hell. Here comes 2008 all over again, it looked like. Still, when we came up, I smacked the reboot option–just to cover my ass. And because, hey, if it was 2008 all over again, we’d already lost our settings so what was I hurting? Another reconnection later, and I figure okay, let’s play find the server. Again, dialing my own phone number, expecting to hear my own voicemail, and instead hearing ring ring. Not cool, network. And not the standard performance, either.

Still suspecting the modem might be on its way out, I check again. Nope, all of our settings are there. The modem’s just being a Microsoft product (*). What the blue? So fine. I have access to a server that’s well beyond this network–hint: WTN’s sitting on it. So let’s go see if the service is even visible. Connect to the server, fire up two different FTP clients. Connect from the server, back to the network, to May’s FTP server–the thing I couldn’t reach by the external hostname from the local machine. Doesn’t it work like there’s nothing wrong in the slightest. I can connect, do what I do, then bail. No problem. Alright, next test. C’mere, CanYouSeeMe. Do we exist, at this IP address, and on this port? We do? And you say that more than once? Awesome. So John Q User can play with the thing after all. We just can’t bounce off the hostname anymore. Cute. So why the hell not, and can we fix it?

As it turns out, I don’t actually have an answer for that first question–I’m guessing Bell pushed out an update, but as locked down as that modem is (hint: Google doesn’t turn up any super nifty administrative access levels, a la the modem we had at the old apartment through Rogers), that’s just a guess over here–though that would be the only reason for the modem’s temporary bout of amnesia, assuming it’s not trying to warn us it’s going to fail tomorrow. As to the second question? After about 15 minutes poking around in the thing, it looks as though that has potentially no written all over it. Actually, poking around inside this modem tells me you can’t actually fix, or turn off, much over here–enter breakage the second.

The modem they gave us when we signed up for internets is one of those router combos. Because of the speeds we’re getting and the fact it’s fiber, this is kind of the only modem we can get from Bell–and I’ve not found an equivalent outside of Bell that I can be reasonably confident won’t crap itself in 6 months just on account of the connection expecting too much from the hardware. But so far as router combos go, even the ones provided by the ISP, the thing’s crippled. Problem the first: no bridge mode. As in, at all. At least, not in the sense that you can tell the modem to just be a dumb modem and hook up your own damn router. You can turn off DHCP and wireless access, but that’s about as far as it goes. Why? Part of it’s because, stupidly in my honest, Bell uses this exact same modem for its TV service–not much use to us at the moment, but a trivia type thing I found while poking. So, truely bridge mode would break that in several interesting and not so fun ways. That also means I can’t bypass Bell’s breakage and go buy me a new router–too bad, too, as there are several that’d do the trick quite nicely. But the modem would still be handling the trafick from the router, and playing cop where necessary–or rather, where Bell thinks it necessary, thus defeating the entire purpose of a second, better, more stable router. And problem the second: What access Bell gives you to this modem is, well, basic at best. You can configure wireless network settings, open whatever ports you need (see above for situations wherein that might not be practical), and set up management for dynamic DNS in the event you don’t want to have to fight with a client for doing exactly that (I don’t, personally). And that, right there, is about the extent of your access. Add an exception to the firewall so the router doesn’t block your mystery packet transfer? Not happening. Set it up so specific services aren’t available during certain times of day, or days of week? Not happening.

Rather than having the option of becoming a dumb modem, Bell handed us a dumb router. Then they broke it with an update. Awesome, yeah? And between the two of them, my brain suffered two very significant meltdowns. And I still don’t get to just say screw it and run my own damn router.

(*): The comparison may or may not have had a small something to do with the fact I just got done fighting with Outlook. Maybe. Or was that this morning? Oh well.


I’m not crazy! This caught someone else too, or at least one other someone else, pushing me just a little bit further towards the theory an update broke it. Awesome job, Microbell. Now when do ya get to fix me?

Bell Canada gets a reminder in spades. No, you’re not above the law.

For a few years now, Ontario has had a law in place that banned the use of expiration dates on things like gift cards and the like. That law applies to those prepaid cards you can get your hands on for cell service. Except, apparently, in Fantasyland–also known as Bell’s corporate offices. They kept the expiration dates on their prepaid cards. The result? Lawsuit. the suit aims to snag 100 million dollars from Bell, though I have absolutely no idea what their chances are–probably not good, considering how close the CRTC is with these folks. Still, it helps to remind companies like that that no, in fact, the law isn’t just something you can sort of sneak around. Now, if only someone could actually convince Bell, Rogers, Telus etc to quit with the charging $millions for bandwidth overages that don’t actually apply. I know, and yes, I’ll keep dreaming.

I vacate Ottawa. Which means: welcome back, TekSavvy.

A long long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I gave Bell Canada (at the time called Sympatico) the middle finger. Their service sucked royally, every second or third month was a new conversation with the folks what lost my payments, and they just couldn’t seem to convince me not to drink. I still won’t touch Bell, but that’s largely now because the service I can get here–which I’d *love* to get here, by the way–is in fact not available where I’m running to. So it’s off to TekSavvy for a second go round, and the same service I can get through Bell–minus the supremely ridiculous bandwidth caps. TekSavvy said the magic word–for those keeping score, it’s “unlimited”, and Bell still can’t quite figure out where exactly Pembroke/Petawawa is on the map. So when I get myself settled, somebody goes back to DSL. Hey, it’s a downgrade, but it’s interwebs. And it’s unlimited. Even Rogers could learn a thing or three about that.

Related: Are DSL routers still insanely cheap? Just in case the one I retired a year ago did, in fact, retire…

Bell tries screw the consumer 2.0, Netflix points it out–again.

It’s no secret the CRTC has spent most of this year failing at this whole keeping the big 3 ISP’s in Canada at something vaguely resembling in line. They decided nearly two months ago that unlimitted internet didn’t actually exist, and kind of stuck to that until escentially told not to be–Shane’s take on how that ended up playing out is over here. Then, they decided it might be in their best interest to put the idea up for a review and get back to it in 60 days. I thought they might take advantage of the election to change their mind again, but before they could, Bell Canada–one of the big 3 who’re sitting comfortable behind usage-based billing (UBB) decided to get crafty.

Bell, in a submission to the CRTC yesterday, dropped its usage-based billing demands of the third-party ISP’s, one of which I’m currently a customer. Well, they sort of did. They replaced it with agrigated volume pricing (AVP), also known as UBB 2.0. Rather than charging ISP’s for what they’ve used after they’ve already used it, Bell is now looking at the possibility of having them purchase a certain amount of bandwidth from them, and god help them if they underestimate how much they’ll need. Yep, download cap 2.0, kids. Officially screwed? You betcha. And Netflix knows it. In direct response to the fact their Canadian branch is among those being targetted by these measures, Netflix Canada has officially lowered the quality of its video streaming service. Oh, yeah, and they kind of pointed out what I’ve been saying for at least the last month–the only ones benefitting from it are the big 3. Oh and, guess what? Here’s the kicker–Bell’s customers still get the pleasure of dealing with UBB while they slap us in the face with AVP. Forget officially screwed. We’re heading straight down the road to officially ripped the hell off.

The CRTC snaps its fingers, and unlimitted internet no longer exists.

I’m not one for capped internet connections. Never have been. Not even if I’m only checking email. I took full advantage of one ISP on my way out for reasons of capped bandwidth/traffick shaping policies–that they’re still continuing with, last I’d heard. I ripped into another for offering its own customers an on-demand streaming service a la Netflix and deciding hey, our internet customers don’t actually need a reason to use our service over torrents, so we’ll just count it against their bandwidth cap. I went at them again, this time for lowering their already ridiculously low caps in response to the launch of the offending Netflix in Canada. At the time, while none of the big 3 ISP’s (Rogers, Bell and Telus) were offering unlimitted internet services, the smaller ISP’s TekSavvy, Primus) were. And life was great. I ditched Bell for TekSavvy, who I ended up leaving for other reasons over 2 and a half years later–but that’s been beaten to death over here already, and avoided both issues. Bell decided not long after that that they didn’t much like us playing that game. So they wined to the CRTC. As did Rogers, as did Telus. Because, you know, competitive advantage in Canada just shouldn’t be allowed to exist. This past week, the CRTC agreed. Now, as of February first, even the smaller ISP’s are mandated to piss off their customers by charging them for any and all usage that takes you beyond 25 GB. After 25 GB, your options are to pay $x for every gig over that amount, or pay another price–usually only slightly less–for blocks of bandwidth, some companies (hello, TekSavvy) are calling it insurance, that you may or may not actually end up using for a month–more than likely, you’ll end up using.

As a general guide, let me let you in on a little hint as to just how ridiculously tiny 25 GB is. If you’re into the whole online gaming thing, even if it’s just one of those games you find on Facebook to kill half an hour on your coffee break, you can blow through 25 gigs easily in a month. If you’re doing anything more demanding than that, for example playing World of Warcraft, even if it’s not for very long at a stretch, 25 gigs goes by pretty quick. Get a lot of email? Use a fair bit of Twitter? Decide you want to install your favourite OS on a spare computer? Or virtually? Do pretty much anything that isn’t your typical half-hour of internet usage a day for checking email/paying bills? Your 25 gig cap waves goodbye in an aweful goddamn hurry. Yep, you guessed it. Youtube, streaming music, random TWAudio or Q-audio things, they hurt too. And don’t even get me started on what any even moderate amount of file sharing of any kind, legal or otherwise, does to the bandwidth cap–which would be the entire reason for the cap in the first place.

The major players in the Canadian market have been calling the shots pretty much since the advent of the CRTC and the granting of regulatory authority to the CRTC over our portion of the internet. Bell, Rogers, Telus all started throttling traffick, manipulating things in such a way that traffick that fell into specific categories was slowed or otherwise given headaches–we call that throttling, or traffick shaping. The big push from the smaller ISP’s at that time was “we’d never do that to you!”. And, ironically, they were right–they usually never did. So shortly before I officially was to switch ISP’s from Bell to Teksavvy, Bell thought they’d extend a favour to the smaller ISP’s, and do the traffick shaping for them. Nice, no? Naturally, the CRTC was perfectly fine with it–prompting at least two complaints and a petition that didn’t actually end up getting a whole lot of anywhere. And voila, one third-party throttle, served monopolistically. It’s been that way escentially since. Same with the newest issue of usage-based billing.

Bell and Rogers began instituting, and later lowering–hence those first few links at the top of the entry–bandwidth caps. They started out mildly reasonable and didn’t hang around there long. Instead, prices went up, bandwidth went down, and–at least on DSL–speeds escentially stayed the same. Suddenly, we weren’t getting what we’d call our money’s worth. Once again, up comes the smaller ISP, this time with an unlimitted bandwidth offering and a promise of “We wouldn’t do that to you!”. And, once again, they’re usually right–they, specifically, wouldn’t do that to their customers. And once again, Bell, Rogers and Telus, who the smaller ISP’s have little to no choice but deal with if they want to be able to offer internet service, volunteered to do them the favour of instituting bandwidth caps for them. And once again, they did it with the complete backing of the CRTC–poof, usage-based billing is born, the unlimitted internet is dead. As before, there’s a mass amount of appeals underway to try and convince the CRTC to see reason, but so far, it hasn’t done much but take up space in the news. And once again, the CRTC is stuck in 1995 or 2000, in the land of the barely above 56k. And just like that, like the land of barely above 56k, the CRTC snaps its fingers and unlimitted internet no longer exists. Now if we could just see *improvements* to our internet services come through as quickly as hinderences. Well, can’t have everything. At least someone’s seeing some quick progress.

I despise Bell Canada. Again.

I came back to the parents’ place for the week, and to a computer who’s video card is still pretty well toast. They lack the financial room to get a new one, so in place of that, dad’s leaving his laptop here for the week. That meant setting it up so mom could check her email. Not too difficult for someone like me, you’d think, but Bell has decided to break email.

To start, they use Hotmail to manage customers’ mail, which kind of presents it’s own crazy fun times. When they set it up, though, they took fail to a new level. I’m not exactly technically challenged, and I still had to work my head around the brokenness. If they were setting it up themselves, the booze supply would be a whole crap ton lower. Short and simple: I despise Bell. I despise Hotmail. And right now, I wouldn’t mind taking a clue to both. Now where’s that booze?

Attention Bell Canada. I paid you. Why for you kick me?

I should probably stop being surprised by stuff like this. And I probably will, just not today. I was getting ready to leave yesterday morning, and take Jessica back to Ottawa so she could get back home to that job she loves so much, and also formulating in my head the content of that update I actually have yet to put on paper–or, at least, online. We were due to leave at about 11:30 yesterday morning. At about 20 after 11, I get a phone call from Bell Canada, who I sadly have yet to fully ditch after losing their internet service over two years ago. It’s from their accounts receiveable department. Strange, I think, since the bill isn’t actually due for another few days–and besides, didn’t they already suck out their alotted portion of my soul for this month? Still, we’re already kind of getting into a time crunch, what with making sure Jess has everything ready so we can just grab her stuff and fly. So, knowing we have to leave, knowing they’re closed today, knowing they’ll be closed by the time I get back from Ottawa–turns out, they closed about 2 hours before I got back from Ottawa, I perhaps slightly less diplomatically than I should, tell them I’ll deal with it on Monday. I’d just add it to the list of about a dozen other phone calls I have to make then. Closed ’til Monday, right? Well, er, not really.

We do the Ottawa run, drop in to see folks before ducking out, get back here at 7. Jess is due into Toronto any time now, so I hang out for a bit then decide to call her, make sure the drop kicking of personnel isn’t required so soon into her trip. Pick up the landline, no dial tone. Weird again, I think–it worked well enough that morning for Bell to call me, and our ride to Ottawa to call me after that to say they’re here. Figure it’s just a temporary glitch type thing–the lines here sometimes will do that, for no apparent reason other than somebody thinks it’s fun to not fix things like that. So a few minutes later, I try again, same result. Well, okay, screw this. Grab the cell phone, dial my home number. Number’s not in service. Okay, now this is getting slightly irritating. So I call up Bell’s tech support via my cell phone, which routes me to accounts receiveable–who just so happens to be closed, call back on Monday. So now, as it stands, before I make any of the multiple calls that need to be made tomorrow, I first need to line up and jump down Bell Canada’s throat. Again. This is almost getting to be routine.

Bell. I paid you. Probably more than I should, considering the current state of my bank account. Kindly give me back my phone service so I may make significantly more progress in being gainfully employed, so I can come up with more money with which to pay you until such time as I can work ditching you completely into my plans. And then promptly shove your overeager bill collectors through the nearest doorway to hell. That’d be all kinds of appreciated.

Wo. Rogers and Bell are actually trying something useful.

And they’ve announced it without biting one another’s heads off. have I stepped into an alternate universe? Apparently, they’re both in the starter stages of trying out LTE on their cell networks. For serious. LTE, also known as Long Term Evolution, in Canada? Potentially 100 mbit/sec download speeds–on your freaking cell phone? And just when I actually sort of almost got caught up with current tech trends. Oh, and hey look, we’re actually playing around with something the US hasn’t already had for 5-10 years–Verizon’s only just now rolling theirs out. Yeah, this must be one of those alternate universe things. Now let’s see if in a year I can actually use any of the phones that are supposed to run on this network. But hey, the prospect is kind of halfway to nifty. I think I’ll hang onto that.

Officially screwed… by an ISP I’m not actually with.

I promise, there’s an actual update about, well, me coming eventually. But in the meantime, have a techy rant.

I’ve never really been an overly huge fan of Bell Canada. Usually, I’d default to them only because the alternative–which, at the time, was Rogers–isn’t exactly a whole lot better. I’d heard halfway good things about some of the smaller ISP’s, but couldn’t be bothered to switch–most noteably because they still escentially sold their services over Bell’s equipment. Then they started throttling their customers for doing anything they didn’t agree with–like, for example, downloading a season of a TV show via torrent. Then, because the kicker for the smaller ISP’s was they could start advertising they didn’t do that, Bell decided shortly thereafter to start throttling the smaller ISP’s in much the same way. Meanwhile while this was going on, they were inventing new and creative ways to try and screw me over entirely.

In May of 2008, shortly after word came out about Bell’s throttling of third party ISP’s, I switched my internet service to TekSavvy. While yeah, they’re still borrowing Bell’s services for their own uses, at least my money wasn’t going directly into their pockets this time. And I ended up paying less of it overall. Apparently, Bell’s decided users from third party ISP’s should be paying through the nose for their services, much like they would be through Bell directly. So they’ve opted to introduce a rather ridiculous overage fee on a per-byte basis to the third party ISP’s. It amounts to, according to the linked article, roughly $1.13/gigabyte. And naturally, it has CRTC approval, so prices will probably start going up even while the appeals by the affected ISP’s are being drafted. Way to go, Bell. If we had a third option, you’d get none of my money entirely. Sadly, I’m still not entirely enthusiastic about the alternatives.

And, of course, while I was writing this post, a friendly neighbourhood nag agent from Bell itself thought it might be fun to call me up on a Saturday afternoon and inform me my apparent new phone bill is now approximately $11 higher than it should be for same service. Once again, Bell’s got the wrong idea here. Here’s a random thought. You already lost me on your internet service–largely because your internet service, and the folks who support it, fail–contrary to the regular junkmail I’m still seeing in my mailbox encouraging me to reconsider. Are you trying to lose me on your phone service, too? You’re succeeding, if you are.

Update: And now I read Bell’s doing exactly the same thing to its direct customers. So much for unlimitted plans.

The CRTC noted almost all the individuals who voiced their opinions were “unanimously opposed” to Bell’s application.

And yet, the application was approved anyway. Officially screwed, again.

Ottawa gets a new area code. Does this mean they don’t recycle?

By this time next month, new phone service will be asigned to numbers in a new, much talked about area code–that being 343. It’s supposed to go into effect as of the 17th of next month. In slightly unrelated news, my old 613 number still has up a recording telling folks I’ve moved, and my number has accordingly been changed. Keep in mind I moved in October of 2009. Does this mean phone companies aren’t reusing old numbers, but are rather kind of letting them hang out in limbo for the sake of it? I wonder if this means I can request my old number when I move back to Ottawa, assuming I’m not too poor to aford a telephone by then. That’d make my life about a hundred times easier, what with most of the services I’ve long since stopped using on account of having moved still having that old number. Which, more than likely, is precisely why it probably wouldn’t happen that way. Ah well. People call enough of my formerly current phone numbers they’ll eventually get the new current one. Maybe. You’d think that’d cost the phone company more, though. No wonder my bill seems to have gone up a bit…

Rogers wants to say they have the fastest network? Let me test it. Bell, you too.

Every second or third day, now that I’m watching more on TV lately–hey, the olympics are on–I’ve been seeing ads from both Bell and Rogers, both saying their internet’s the fastest for doing blah blah blah because of blah blah blah. I’ve used Bell’s Sympatico high-speed service. Have not, admittedly, used Rogers’s offering–but if it’s as broken as their other network, that might be a good thing. Still, at least one of those advertisements is lying. Most likely both.

I have a solution. Let me test, at their best, both network technologies–Bell’s, and Rogers’s. Provide me 30 days of each to switch back and forth between, and we’ll figure out which is actually faster, if any. If neither is, then you can both shut up about it. That has the added benefit of getting Rogers service into Pembroke, where it currently has no cable coverage–in spite of the fact we see plenty of advertising from them. If that offer doesn’t work, then neither company has the right to defend their claims in any kind of battle, court or otherwise. I dunno, I think that’s pretty damn fair.

And hey, if DreamHost will let me, maybe I can see about taking care of their issues while I’m at it. Couldn’t hurt to suggest it, anyway.

Yayness and such.

Mister Bell technician finally showed up. Took him all of half an hour to 40 minutes to do his thing. And 2/3 of that was him trying to find where my phone line connects downstairs. I swear this guy’d been doing his job for maybe a week. And now, the phone line works, and I have net access again (I was without it while he was tinkering). Now I just have to make a certain phone call to a certain someone at a certain time so she’s not thinking I’m abandoning/ignoring her. Or something. Or just because we didn’t get to talk much yesterday. And now, I go do that.

I can has working phone line plz?

Is this going to be a quarterly affair now? For the third (fourth, maybe?) time this year, I’m landline-less. I didn’t even bother with Bell’s tech support this time; they’d just make me do the same damn thing I did 6 times before calling in. Instead, I decided to pull my hair out trying to navigate their automated system. Eh, it’s still so much easier than speaking to some dood from India. So after jumping through the requisit computerized hoops (you’d think, having worked for a computer company, I’d be used to that), a technician will be out here tomorrow. between… the hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Well damn. Good thing I’m unemployed. They sure aren’t being all that work schedule friendly. And of all the reasons I can think of where I’d love to just call in sick, waiting for a Bell Canada technician to show up is so not one of them.

And that’s done.

Phone service should be restored eventually. Hopefully tonight. Can someone with my home number call me if they’re home before 5:30 and lemme know if it goes to voicemail? … Or, at least, doesn’t say I’ve been disconnected?

Edit: Thanks to people who called me. It does indeed work. Now I just need to complete the task of utterly owning Bell.

Friday? Friday!

Well, technically. See last Friday’s post about it not actually *being* friday until 5:30, when I walk outa this place for 2 days of absolutely awesome relax me time. I have no fucking clue what it is I’m doing this weekend, but I do know it’s going to involve way cool people, and probably at least one phone call. I say at least one because, well, I can.

Speaking of phone calls, Bell’s apparently not done screwing with me yet. I get home last night to find that everyone’s favourite phone company has murderized my phone service. Why? Because apparently, even though I paid ’em on Tuesday, they decided they weren’t paid yet. So part of my lunch hour will involve giving them my third? … fourth? earful this year so far. Fun fun. Thankfully I do still have cell service (if anyone who needs to get a hold of me doesn’t have my number and should, let me know; I tend to be ridiculously bad at keeping track of who has what sometimes.), so at least I’m not all manner of cut off. And I’ve still got intarwebz, so I can still catch up with people. I’d just like my landline back plz, kthx. Ah well, can’t win ’em all. There will be nuclear bullshit a-flying. somebody at the phone company of dooom will accidentally end up in its path. And I will watch with innocent amusement. Or something.

A real quick update, in list format.

Because I’ve got a grand total of 10 minutes.

  • It may just be me, and the fact my tolerence for pain of various types being insanely high, but the suicide wings from Local Heroes didn’t really have a whole lot to them. Not that the people from work I went with would agree with me.
  • I’ve discovered why it is my two microphones don’t like this computer. There’s an issue somewhere between sound card and OS. I suspect strongly the sound card is to blame. Dell will be receiving a phone call.
  • Dell *did* receive a phone call earlier, but now Bell Canada has graduated from randomly kicking me off the internets to apparently randomly disconnecting me during phone calls, and not allowing me to call out for extended periods. And since I only had half an hour to twist a technician’s arm into replacing my sound card, I shall have to take another crack at it tonight. Technology sucks.
  • It’s the middle of freaking May. And we’re getting a potential frost warning. I see a problem here. Do you?

And now, I go to work. This batch of randomness brought to you by too goddamn early.

Why thank you, Bell.

In order to address my issues with not being able to keep a stable connection to Bell’s ever so craptastical intarwebz, they have graciously lowered my maximum connection speed in an attempt to stabilize things. Roughly translated: Don’t ask me to download anything for you until I switch ISPs. Now it’s officially at a crawl. How that does for the connection’s anyone’s guess. But gee, at least Bell’s looking out for its customers. Oh, and, did I mention I’m cancelling my service with them for a flakey connection among other things? Yes, I do believe I did, once or twice. It’s 12:30. I should probably consider sleeping. Instead, I’m gonna go play knock the Indian tech support around for an hour or so. Anyone wanna watch?

Edit: Didn’t even take half that, and I managed to blow right by a tech support moron and a supervisor. Now tomorrow I’ll call someone who can actually afford to buy a clue.

So I’ve decided…

Shortly after cancelling my Sympatico account, I considered how best to take full advantage of the fact Bell will, as of the 27th of this month, no longer be able to directly screw me over. And I’ve decided, I can only do so by beating them to the punch, and promptly screwing them over. So, this morning (that would be on the 5th, naturally, as I’ve not yet learned to start that whole sleeping thing before midnight), I promptly deleted every TV show, movie, trailer, whatnot I have ever downloaded on this connection; approximately a year’s worth of material. And kept the torrents around. You can probably see where this is going. I’m now going to see exactly how long it takes me to download every single one of them again. Because I’m just that awesome. I figure, I have exactly 3 weeks from today/tomorrow, depending on your perspective, to waste 60 GB of bandwidth before they officially cancel me and I can switch over to TekSavvy. I think I can download most of it by then. And for the record, I’ve got a 500 GB hard drive. It was more than 3/4 full. You do the math. I’m too busy being highly amused.

PS: Fuck you, Bell.

Selling out to the Americans again.

The biggest monopoly on Canadian telephone and DSL service is apparently set to become the biggest US owned Canadian monopoly. Thanks largely to a ruling courtesy a Quebec judge. There are no words for this. Except, that is, a thank you. You see, I didn’t think the government could sell us out to the US all on its own. Thanks for the help, moron.

The… squirrels… did… it…?

It redefines ridiculous, and actually makes me resent mother nature more than any of my top 3 favourite entities to hate on, but according to Bell technician dood who’s name I never got, squirrels broke my phone service, the ratbastards. Which… I suppose explains why even a replaced phone line didn’t last more than 24 hours. What I wouldn’t mind knowing though, is why it took 2 technicians coming out here to figure that out. Apparently, according to the smarter one of the 2, they were nesting on one of the telephone poles outside the building. Which… kinda makes me contemplate agreeing with those of the persuasion that they should be shot. But, now, I have working phone service again. I’m no less irritated with Bell, mind you, but now it’s for a whole different reason–that I had to take a day off work to actually have it looked at a second time, since the first one was apparently an idiot. Ah well, if the world didn’t have it’s fair share of stupid people, I’d have nothing to talk about. I just wish I didn’t have to deal with them.