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?

Is it bad that I’m using phone surveys to badmouth Bell?

I just got off the phone with one of those internet usage survey things. They had questions about Bell/Sympatico. My answers were, quite understandably, less than glowing. I’m a very bad person to be taking a survey for statistics purposes, methinks.

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.

Officially ridding myself of Bell Sympatico.

I keep saying I should, I’ve even threatened to a time or 3. But today I actually did so without thinking about it. Well, okay, I actually *did* think about it. After apparently 3 more times in the span of an hour last night I got the royal boot off teh intarwebz. So I call up ma Bell, and they do their usual song and dance about let us see what we can do to help you first, please. I figure, okay, I’m probably gonna wind up leaving anyway so I might as well give them one more chance to strike out. So they do their thing, and apparently do some tweeking with my phone line (I dunno what the hell they did, the tech made me hang up while he did it). So now my connection issues are supposedly all fixed up. Well, they may very well be, but considering he said he didn’t touch my download capabilities in any way, shape or form and they now come in at under 1MB/S where they used to be 1.5 or thereabouts, I’m still not a happy camper in the slightest. So I call them back, and the guy I get a hold of is decidedly against doing, well, anything to address the problem. Apparently since his line test says I’m at 6 MB/S, it can’t be their problem. Well, uh, it’s not mine, so yes it can. I promptly told him at that point where he could stick his DSL service, and cancelled it. Effective April 27th, Sympatico gets the hell out of my house and is replaced by TekSavvy, who so far has the only drawback of still having to be on part of Bell’s network; Canadian monopolies are so much fun. We’ll see what kind of improvement if any we get out of it at that particular time, but in the meantime, I’m going to very much enjoy wiggling out from under Bell. Who knows, if they’re any good I might switch my phone service over too. They’re cheaper and provide more than Bell does.

PS: “It gets to you the exact same way as it does with us, and besides we have more servers than they do” is not exactly a very decent way of trying to convince a customer not to give the big fuck you to your company, just for the record. Or maybe I just expect people to be able to form an actual argument on a technical level.

Sympatico pisses me off again.

For the second time in just over a month, my internets decided they would go south on me. Not pretty. It happened sometime between when I woke up at 5, rolled over, checked the time, cursed, and went back to sleep, and when I finally dragged my ass out of bed at about 7:20 or somewhere thereabouts. I have no idea what the hell caused it this morning–probably another attempt to prevent me from continuing to rebuild my video library (a month or so and counting!). At any rate, it’s irritating as hell. And making me contemplate the possibility of canning Sympatico as my DSL provider. It’s also making me consider the possibility of creating a ‘Sympatico’ category on here. Hey, I did it for moronic cellebrities. Would this be any different? I didn’t think so. In the meantime, Sympatico, fix your crap service.


I have decided, I’ll lose nothing anyway. Category created.

My interwebs were one huge clusterfuck.

It, apparently, started last night at some point, and didn’t get straightened out until about 6:00 this morning. Not sure if anything I did to correct it actually helped or not, but at least in doing so I could tell it wasn’t anything within my control that was screwed. Translation: Sympatico sucks. Loads. But it’s still better than Rogers. I’d switch to Primus for DSL–they already have my long distance service, but they still use Bell’s phone lines, so that’d just be shooting myself in the foot in the long run. Damn, we need more choices for internet service up here. That aren’t dialup.

Even Dell technicians hate Dell technicians. And Sympatico, and Microsoft, and…

Welp, as some of you know and others of you guessed I’m sure by now, the formerly Vista and now XP computer is up and running. Well, partially. No wireless network support and there’s still a rather lengthy list of devices Windows doesn’t have drivers for. But I’m slowly piecing that together. Now, here’s why every time I have to call tech support, I cringe. And not because I am one. So I call up Del on Monday, because their support site doesn’t have a driver for my built-in wireless card. Not for XP, at least–which, okay, no big deal; it came with Vista, after all. So I check the Vista drivers list, like I’ve been doing with a few other things, and there’s none listed there. So I just flat out asked the technician I spoke to on Monday, “does this machine even come with a driver for the wireless card?” Honest question, and a simple enough yes or no question to be sure–if I were sitting on the *other* end of that conversation, I could have probably told myself one way or another in about a minute and a half. But, not with this guy, who first wanted to spend 5 minutes making *sure* I wasn’t a moron calling up with the misguided belief that, because I got this new fangled desktop thing sitting in my living room, it automaticly comes with a wireless card. Did I mention I pointed out to him at least once I’m employed with Dell, doing things like network troubleshooting on a daily basis? So I know when a computer’s supposed to come with a wireless card–like, say, when in your order information, it says that one was specificly requested. So, we get by that round about, and he finally decides he actually wants to varify whether or not it does. So he tells me to go to their support site–I guess he wasn’t listening when I said I’ve already been there and they don’t have it. He finally just decides to put me on hold and do some “research”–for the record, when a hardware tech says they’re doing some research, you know they’re asking one of their l2’s if this is a good enough reason to transfer them to the Dell on Call department. About 20 minutes go by, and he comes back, saying he can’t find the wireless card on my system. Insert long, exasperated, frustrated sigh, and me telling him, yet again, that it doesn’t give a brand name in the order details, but, and this is where I think I drive the point home that I work for the same company, I tell him the training material *should* say what brand the wireless card option includes for my particular model of computer. Silence. Then he asks to put me on hold again. Another few minutes go by. Presumeably, more “research”. Then he comes back, says he thinks he found the brand and model of the wireless card, the exact details I honestly don’t remember–for the record, when a technician says “I think”, it’s never pretty–and tells me that it looks like the support for that particular model is built directly into Vista. And there are no drivers for XP. So, not wanting to argue the point, I hang up, and plug that particular model into the almighty goog. And sure enough, inside of 10 minutes, I could have called that particular technician a liar. But… rather than openly and blatantly advertising the obvious, I just dinked around a bit, installed a few things I needed to install, and called it a night–I had to work the next night, and it was 5:00 or later in the morning before I finally decided to fall into bed. So it got to sit there until tonight, when I ended up not going to work–thank you, public transportation, for showing up early and thus making me miss the only bus that’d actually get me there before I was well into my shift. So I go back to that computer, figuring if the support is built into one version of Windows, the other version should have *something*. So I do a little fiddling, and sure enough, one wireless driver, for windows XP, located and installed. What was that you were saying about it was only designed to work with Vista? Now, the problem comes up that it’s telling me to make sure the actual card’s turned on. Now, they have a funky little keyboard command where you can do that for laptops, but I wasn’t sure about this particular desktop. Cringing again, I called tech support. Shoulda figured it out myself. First guy first of all had the same hearing problem as the last technician I spoke to, in that it took me 3 tries before he accepted that yes, Dell technician who troubleshoots networking problems on a daily basis does have a wireless router, does have it turned on, and does have it in the next room, well in range of the card that is trying to look for it. All I wanted to know was the one thing he either didn’t know how or didn’t want to tell me–was there a switch or something on the back of the bloody machine to turn the card on manually, or is there a similar command via the keyboard to do so as there is in laptops? He finally at least gets me over to the wireless department, and the girl on the other end actually has a brain. And is using it. If it wasn’t against the rules, I’d of done my own troubleshooting at work when I went in tomorrow… there, I’d at least have access to the same things these people do, and could have found the answer in probably 45 seconds, instead of 45 minutes and 2 technicians. Move on, now, to what I have to get done so I can actually get the antivirus software I’m using set up on my other computer. First requires actually getting the password from Sympatico for my current email address, so I can resurrect a really, really old one I haven’t used since I moved out of Pembroke nearly a year ago. Now, Sympatico uses Microsoft’s hotmail interface–so yes, a uber craptastic service to be sure–to manage their web interface for all things email. So in order to change, create or delete email addresses, I have to log into that craptastic interface. Not an altogether too thrilling experience, to say the least. But, I do it anyway, because for reasons beyond my control, I have to. So I enter my email address, and move onto the next screen to enter my password. And it sits there, loading… and loading… and loading… then shows me the logout screen… then sits there loading… and loading… and loading… eventually, I just said screw it, and closed the window. I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do on an unplanned but certainly not unwelcome night off. One of those is not deal with the idiocy of people I have no choice but to trust to keep methods of accessing services I pay for from going tits up. So instead, I shall go drop in on an RPG I haven’t played in forever. I’ll curse at the evil that is Hotmail, and the stupidity that is Sympatico’s decision to join forces with Microsoft, later. For the next hour or so, I’m planning to have fun. Or something.

A smattering of update.

Because I only have a couple minutes before my shift starts.

  • My late birthday present, one hell of a computer, should be shipping today. It’s about time.
  • Apparently, the storm we got yesterday took out my internet service, and Sympatico decided to conveniently state there were no service outages in the area. Disproven. That didn’t take long.
  • For the record, when dealing with internet issues, it so should not take over 24 hours to solve. Of course, the only reason it did was because I only bothered to sit down and fight with it just before I had to go to work yesterday–also shitty, but it’s a paycheck.
  • Completely and totally not related in any way, shape or form to… um, anything else in this post. Not that this post has any actual point to it as it is, but oh well. Oh my. Identical twins is kinda funky enough. But 4? Freakin’ 4? Well, could be more unusual I guess.

And I have managed to make writing this entry last past my having taken my first call. Suhweet. I think.

An open letter to Sympatico…

Dear Sympatico,
Kindly stop blowing sunshine up my ass and lower the bloody prices for a change, rather than continuing to increase them. I’ve noticed no significant improvement in my service since I signed up, and therefore left scratching my head as to what, exactly, this price hike is supposed to go towards–besides some CEO’s pocketbook, I mean. So, please, either start dropping prices, give me something to justify paying the higher prices, or kindly fuck off.
PS. I despise form letters, in any way, shape or form. Just for future reference.

Dear Valued Customer,
We would like to inform you that as of August 8, 2007, the regular monthly rate of your
Sympatico High Speed Internet service from Bell will increase from $46.95 to $47.95, plus applicable taxes. 
As always, your Internet access is never shared, even during peak periods of usage.1 Plus, you’ll continue to enjoy:
• Automatically updated and fully supported security solutions, including Parental Controls, Email Anti-Virus, Junk Email Filter and Pop-Up Blocker 
• Round-the-clock technical support
• Multiple email addresses and access to Sympatico Webmail
If you have any questions about your continuing service, would like more information about this rate change or wish to respond to this notice, please visit
. Otherwise, the new monthly rate will be reflected on the corresponding invoice.
Ellen Malcolmson
Senior Vice President, Customer Experience

My opinion of relying on other people remains uncontested.

And this time, the no contest nod goes to my ISP for taking for freaking ever to escentially flip a switch. I’d originally got told before I moved up here that I’d have everything activated by the 6th of this month. Okay, so that’s not bad. I can live with that. Except not really. Because when I got up here, it turns out I was handed a fair amount of wrong information. The phone number I was originally given when I signed up for phone service earlier last month was wrong. And I’d been handing that out to people getting other things set up. So I spent about a week or so fixing all *that* up. Then, apparently, because the phone number I got was wrong, certain activation of other things (see: long distance service, and quite probably internet) needed to be considerably pushed back a fair bit. And then, they decided to be incredibly nonspecific about when exactly I could expect certain things to be turned on. So, I ended up spending most of yesterday at home, waiting for people to figure out what they were trying to do, only to be told at about 6:00 last night that I didn’t actually have to stay home. Gee, that would have been nice to know before my day was pretty well shot in the ass. So, to be rather blunt, people suck royally. At least, the people I was forced to deal with suck royally. If I ever end up that bad at my job, someone please do me a favour and shoot me. Repeatedly.

Due to sympatico’s complete and utter stupidity…

I’ve begun the process of phasing out that email address. Also, due to the fact I’ll hopefully be moving at some not too distant point, pending job prospects. For those of you curious to contact me, my MSN is the most recent thing to get a changing. The old address is done, in favour of msn$the%jdh#com (munged purposely). Alternatively, email and comments still work. No longer shall I be given headaches by my ISP. Yay.

Urge to pull someone’s hair out… rising…

Okay, so I decide to finally make an email address on this server serve as my primary one, because well, I’m insanely tired of sympatico. Logical choice, you’d think. And you’d be right… usually. But, the day I decide to do it is the day they break their servers. So, while I can send email from my primary address, I can’t receive email on my primary address. Kind of makes the whole idea of a primary address useless, don’t it though? They eventually got it
fixed… a whole 36 hours after they were supposed to. It’s a real good thing I’m not in business… that might verry well just piss me off. Oh, wait… it did.