Have bluetooth, will keyboard. Again.

Folks who’ve been following me a while will remember me writing about this device. For those that haven’t and don’t, a short summary. Thinkgeek goes bluetooth keyboard, and I almost buy an iPhone just for that–until I realise I’m flat freakin’ broke. Well, among other reasons but that’s the primary. So I later bought me an iPhone anyway. And a bit later after that, bought me one of those there keyboards. And inside of a month and a half, it became an incredible waste of $60. Fun times, except no not really. So fast forward to July of that year–well, June really, but who’s counting? Jessica came up for what would be one of her last times, and had with her a non-thinkgeek keyboard for my using pleasure. And use it I did–until it went sideways after less than 3 months. Needless to say… I have not so good luck with keyboards for iPhones. So when Steve over there mentioned he was getting his hands on this one for his own battle of the phone, I thought hey, what the hell why not. Then I cringed. Then I clicked. Then I kicked myself in the face. then I hemmed and hawed and tossed the link at May. Then I bought two of the suckers. And now, after over a year of no keyboard tied to this phone, I have to get used to the damn style again. I’ll say this for these keyboard, though. The way Thinkgeek makes them now, I wasn’t as apt to reflexively pitch it across the room on site–the keyboard slides out, as opposed to flips out, from the back of the phone. Which makes it significantly less likely it’ll get jammed and run the risk of breaking–which is what happened way too often with the previous model from Thinkgeek. At first, I thought the keyboard didn’t actually fully come out for some reason–it looked like part of it was still stuck under the phone. But no, that’s just me expecting too much. A random feature neither of my previous keyboards had–and just one more goddamn thing to get used to. But, things of note. I can somewhat type on the phone again now. Yes, touch typing was getting there, but now? Yeah, screw that. Also, in list form, because list form rules.

  • In ways, this keyboard is similar to my last one–no, not to Thinkgeek’s first model, thank christ–so getting used to it is taking less time than I expected.
  • I have WordPress on the phone already, from my last attempt at mobile blogging. Of course, it’s been acting up a bit more recently–so I may actually end up tossing it until it behaves. Paging the wordPress devs…
  • If keyboard and app cooperate, there will be mobile random again. And hey, I think I still have a category for that.
  • Sadly it won’t be by email. I’m still trying to beat that into submission.

It’s way too overdue, but it happened. Have bluetooth, will keyboard. Again. Until my track record proves itself.

Hey Apple? Stop shrinking the SIM already.

Apple has this thing about not playing well with others. It started with the software, then slowly graduated to the hardware. Now, they’ve gone and shrunk the SIM. Again. They invented the micro-SIM. that thing made aranging to make use of phone service, you know, outside of my carrier, a little fun. and now with the iPhone 5–yet another reason not to upgrade to the iPhone 5 just yet, they’ve gone nano-SIM. which means, you guessed it, if you want to even keep the SIM from your old iPhone, you’ll need to do some trimming. And grabbing a SIM from another carrier if you’re, oh we’ll say, hiding out in the states for a few weeks? Yeah, no. Some carriers may not even get the nano-SIM for a few months–especially if they don’t actually sell the iPhone. I get it, Apple–you don’t like to play nice. But really. Enough with the SIM shrinkage. Damn thing’s hard enough not to lose when half awake at half past dark.

Why I’ll be holding off on the iPhone 5. For possibly ever.

For half an age, I held out against the trend of switching to the nearest iThing. And I didn’t suck at it, either. The thing to do as soon as the iPhone 3GS came out was get ye out and buy one. but for me, Nokia worked. Until it didn’t. I switched to an iPhone in April of 2010. And, with a few issues–some of which I’m working on extinguishing, it does, well, what I want it to do. With the appropriate amount of coaxing. I’ve even thought occasionally about trading it in on a 4S. But that’s about where my aspirations to keep up to date with club Apple go their own way.

Because we had a few things to get done anyway, May and I popped in to have a look at the 5 a couple weeks ago. Design-wise, it sort of tries to work. It doesn’t really do much of a good job about it, but it tries. That’s something, at least. But just the act of holding it felt, to both of us anyway, a little bit awkward. Yeah, it’s thinner than the 4 or 4S. But it’s wider, which leaves it less easily actually fitting in your hand. Or, at least, mine. Kind of a requirement, since my phone–whether Apple makes it or not–goes everywhere with me and kind of is my communication, when I either can’t or don’t take the laptop. Because of how they make the case for the 5 now, it’s also a little lighter than the 4 or 4S. And that’s the up side. The down side? Because of how they make the case now, it also scratches a lot easier than the 4 or 4S. Again, not cool when the phone pretty much does what I do with me. It gets some use. I’d rather not have it look like I’ve had the thing for 3 years when it’s been 3 weeks–which has been a quite common complaint. So common, in fact, that some are suggesting mayhaps Apple might aughta think about recalling the device.

We didn’t do much actual playing with the device, mostly because as said, we kind of had things to do, but on top of it being easily scratchable, the iPhone 5–and apparently only the iPhone 5–has an issue with static lines on the keyboard when entering your password into the app store. And, also curiously, only the app store. No idea if it’s a usability problem, but apparently it’s at the very least irritating if you can see it. There’s also an issue, of sorts, with the camera giving photos a purple halo when even close to some light sources, whether or not the light source causing the problem is actually in the frame–surprisingly, and also curiously, Apple says that’s perfectly normal behaviour.

combine that with the, uh, shall we say, issues with wi-fi, again just with the iPhone 5, and you start to see a rather fun picture. So I won’t bother mentioning the light leaking issue as well.

All told, while *probably* not significant enough to cause the iPhone 5 to, uh, rather, cease to be an iPhone 5, they’re significant enough eyebrow raisers to maybe make me wanna somewhat reconsider plunking $150 down on the latest and gratest. So I’ll just be holding off on purchasing that brand spanking new iPhone 5. In the meantime, here’s hoping half the issues are fixed in the 5S. Or the 6, if they decide to fire the letter S. In the meantime, if anyone needs me, my iPhone 4 will be in my pocket and I’ll be around somewhere.

The obligatory post… from the iPhone.

I am about to break my own rule. But before I do that, it has to be said that this week, with no exceptions, was a box of awesome, packed in epic, with a win topping. Jessica came by for the week, as she’s known to do. We had several things planned, and I’m fairly sure we crossed most of them off the list.

A lot of reconnecting was done, and plenty of amusing fun was the result. She came in on Friday, and we went to Pembroke right from the station for my aunt and uncle’s 25th anniversary. We were able to introduce her to more of my extended family who, as I suspected, strongly approved. A ton of fun was had, alcohol–the bar variety–was consumed and dancing was done. Afterwards, it was back to Ottawa and the awesome waiting there.

Monday was getting Jessica used to the place, since she hadm’t been here before. Tuesday was our first official show on Mojo Radio, in preparation for something we’ve been working on for a few months. We test our usual setup for such things in a week or two if all goes well. Wednesday was more relaxing, and getting ready for Thursday.

One of the things Jessica wanted to get done was to meet up with a local friend of ours–you may know him as Blind Bandit. So we did the least recommended thing and mixed that with booze. The result? Posted on Shane’s blog and not fit for public consumption. Friday was more relaxing, and today, we sadly have to return her.

The week wasn’t all party and insanity, though. Sjhe cane up to belatedly wish me a happy birthday. And, in so doing, might have just removed my biggest–or, at least, second biggest–knock against the iPhone. I’ve been saying the thing needed a dedicated, physical keyboard since before I got one, and nearly screaming it after. Because she has that whole listening thing down to an art, she went and picked one up for my birthday. Hence, this post is being finished while on the road. I’ll write a review of this thing when I get home. As for now, I should probably go say goodbye to my girlfriend.

Verizon breaks your phone, charges $20 extra to fix it.

Just when you think “Hey, a feature I can actually find a use for”, your local phone company things “Hey, a feature I can find a price for”. Latest example? Verizon. Certain android phones sold by the company come with the ability to be used as a wireless hotspot, not unlike the iPhone on any company that doesn’t try and milk you out of every spare dime you can find–hi, Telus, nice to see you. Until recently, those phones could be used in that fashion easily, and freely–allowing you to take advantage of your cellular data connection using your laptop, should you have no access to a traditional wi-fi connection and need to make use of your computer for something net-ish. Fast forward to earlier this week. Verizon pushed out an update to those particular phones, effectively disabling that feature. Their reasoning? Now, it costs extra. Google’s apparently helping them with this, having agreed to remove apps from the Android Market that might make it easier to work around the partial bricking. You don’t actually own your phone. It’s a rental–a very expensive, non-returnable rental. You can thank Verizon for the reminder.

I don’t think I’ll fall in love with this iPhone.

I was out doing things that needed doing, that will eventually warrant their own entry if I ever get around to doing something that doesn’t involve news article mockery, and I got to where I needed to do the mobile version of multitasking. Which, for those who don’t do it very often, involves doing something with one hand (in this case, I think, I was putting something away for Trish), and trying to navigate the insane that is Apple’s obsession with the idea that people who can’t see the screen absolutely have to know exactly where everything is on the screen to be able to use it with the other. Now, I like to think I can do a passable job with it in most cases on a good day, particularly since I’ve had the thing now for about a month and for a couple days during the move, I had that plus the laptop as my only means of actual communication. I can at least not take 10 minutes to find what I need to access anymore, anyway. But trying to translate that into being able to use it the way most people who don’t have a lot of time to be sitting/standing in one place for long need to use their mobile devices? That’s just not happening. Navigate the screen one-handed? Try again. Navigate the thing without a headset? Sure, but I’d recommend doing it with the phone flat in front of you or, if that’s not practical, up side down–the speaker is in a very, and I do mean very, crappy place (Apple, are you taking notes, here?).

I’ve never been an overly large fan of the way Apple’s designed their user interface–for the sighted, nevermind the blind. And don’t even get me started on typing with the thing–that’s an entry for after I’ve had sleep. But this evening’s adventure in interface navigation succeeded only in reinforcing the already enforced idea that such a thing would require a third hand. Making or answering calls? Awesome. I can, in a sort of pinch, manage that without putting everything else on pause–done that more than once. But if I wanted a make and receive calls device, it wouldn’t be made by Apple. I wanted a phone I could use. For on-the-fly whatever–email, texting, bouncing random passing thoughts off of my lately rarely used Twitter profile (I did once, when I had 5 minutes to not do anything), or just general reviewing of info while enroute somewhere potentially meaningful. I’m not feelin’ it with this device. Yeah, great, it talks without costing me an additional $100. Thanks for that, Apple–no, I mean it; my wallet thanks you. But where’s the rest of the plus?

I like the iPhone–for a phone. I could get used to it for other things, with enough brain breakage–except that typing thing, but I’m investigating options. But I’m not in love with this iPhone. Nor, I think, will I ever be–not quite. It’s a device with potential. With the right kind of tweaking, there could be some reality to that potential. But for what it does? I’m not in love with it. For a thing that’s supposed to be the future of smartphones everywhere, that’s a small problem.

Guest Post: Welcome to open communication, pizza pizza.

Blog author’s note: the below content is a guest contribution. Any responses will, if nothing goes and breaks, go directly to the post’s author and not to me. If you would like to contribute to the blog, contact me to discuss the possibility.
I love pizza, and hey, so does the owner of this here blog.
So niftily enough
pizza pizza
one of the major pizza places here in canada has an iphone app.
Nifty, I thought, and hey, it’s free. no complaints.
Um, except their was.
The accessibility of this app, leaves their a lot to be desired.
With a lot of patience, you can find, and by trial and error make voice over read things, and you can put together an order, if using specials, but attempt to design your own pizza? not so much.
Buttons don’t read, the process is not explained, in short, pizza pizza didn’t design this app with the voice over user in mind.
So, I sent the following short and simple message to their iphone feedback address.

From: Shane Davidson
Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2011 4:45 AM
To: iphone@pizzapizza.ca
Subject: iphone app feedback.

To Whom this may concern;
I am writing you as a blind iphone user, who uses voice over, the built in screen reader.
The app would be useful to myself, and other blind iphone users if you took the time to make it usable with voice over.
At this time, some of the app is accessible, but it has a long way to go before it can be successfully used to order and manage previous orders with your company.
I am happy to help test this apps accessibility if your company is willing to build accessibility into the app so it works more flawlessly with voice over on the iphone, and other similar IDevices.
This is being posted as open communication on my own personal blog at
http://www.shaneD.net
and on another blog, welcome to knowwhere, that I help manage, at
http://www.the-jdh.com
so any response, or lack their of, will be read by a lot of users, both sighted and blind alike.
Thank you for your time and attention to this issue.
Sincerely;
Shane Davidson

In short, let’s see if pizza pizza cares enough to come up with a response or a reworked app with voice over support, shall we?

I have become an Appleite. Good lord help me.

I’m not one of Apple’s biggest fans. In fact I’m not entirely sure I can be classed as a fan at all–my iPad review of last year should be your first clue. But, you could say, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the supposed future of computing. My relationship with my previous cell carrier, Rogers, went from absolutely amazing to disastrously rocky in the span of 2 months. And didn’t do much improving when we got to the third. Service issues of the cell service and customer service variety, issues with them not actually honouring their handset replacement policy and not actually telling me they wouldn’t be honouring their replacement policy, issues with actually being able to pay their bill–for the record, their automated system fails at creditcard, apparently. Issue. After issue. After freaking issue. I had more run-ins with management in the last 3 months with that company than I ever had with, er, any of the companies I’ve delt with before or after. And I’m talking over the span of 12-13 years here. So after finally getting frustrated/fed up/break-things pissed, I decided to flip them the bird. On Sunday, I tossed them over the edge.

There was only one small tiny little problem with the decision. As much as it had to happen, rogers was the only company in the area that actually had somewhat of a choice of accessible phone. Granted it was either Apple, nokia or suffer, but it was a choice. And say what you will about Nokia–neither of the phones I had by them blew up in my face. The one I retired when I ditched Rogers will probably still have some sort of existence, at least when I’m on the other side of the border, anyway. Until I get around to deciding whether or not to make the AT&T network tap dance with the Apple thinggy. So my switching of carriers meant my choices went from technically 3, to technically 2–Apple, or suffer. Well, I hate inaccessible pieces of crap quite possibly as much as the folks over at the vomit comet, so my choice was escentially limitted to Apple. Well. Fuck me running.
As of Sunday afternoon, Telus became my new cellular home. Hi, saving money. And oh, hey, look at that. Texting the US, if and when I find a way of doing so that doesn’t result in ow my brain, doesn’t kick me in the wallet either. Yayness. The result? New company. Old phone number. And I’ve somehow become an Appleite. Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

I don’t know that I’ll ever truely become the kind of person that believes in Apple or nothing. I’ll probably still be looking for other options–hey, it’s what I do. I still stand by much of what I said in my iPad review re: Apple’s philosophy. I still stand by what I said re: accessibility in that same review. My opinions on that will probably not change. But for now, I’ll live with the title of Appleite. And who knows? Maybe something will clock me upside the head and I’ll become a true fanboy. One can only hope. But until then, this works. At least until I start looking for ways to squeeze a couple extra pennies out of Telus. Hey–I’m on disability. It’s the thing to do.

Verizon gets to end up with the iPhone. I’m sorry.

Verizon’s been building up over the last week to this supposedly major announcement to happen today. Today came and went, and the biggest thing to come out of that announcement? The iPhone. Naturally, there’s a sort of but not really appropriate level of fanpeopleism over it–it’s an Apple product; what’d you expect? Or rather, it’s a kind of dumbed down version of an Apple product–what you get when you cross a supposedly advanced piece of technology with a network that was advanced in 1997. Naturally, you do that, you wind up with half a dozen irritating limitations–things people who actually expect to be able to *use* the iPhone probably aren’t overly happy with.

  • The phone runs on CDMA only, which is escentially older hardware–even Bell up here is moving entirely away from CDMA. Quickly.
  • They’re saying it won’t run on Verizon’s 4g, LTE network. Because, apparently, people want it now now now. Hey, they waited this long.
  • Being CDMA and CDMA only, if you’re on the phone, you can’t be doing anything on the internet–like, for example, looking up an address the person you’re talking to just gave you. Conversely, if you’re checking your email, or looking up that address, you can’t make/receive calls. Nifty. Except no not really.
  • And don’t even get started on reception–of which Verizon has very little in supposedly well-populated areas.

And that’s just the issues we know about after today’s announcement. There will probably be more. All told, Verizon’s major announcement isn’t entirely all that major. Unless you’re an Apple loyalist–but then you’ve probably already got an iPad or something anyway. But, hey, someone might enjoy themselves. Just don’t ask them if they can map something out for you.

Update: If you really really really want an iPhone with one of these carriers, I’m sorry. But if you still do, the folks over at Wired have, as always, put together a pretty good comparison of what you can expect on each carrier’s network. Some of the limitations on that list for Verizon are in this entry, but it’s worth a read anyway. Just in case. Hey, you never know.

Rogers, you and I need to talk. Again.

Yes, I know it’s your mission in life to make dealing with you as overly confusing and all around draining as humanly possible. I get it. I can appreciate that. Hell, I don’t even mind being part of it–especially if it means you pay me and my cell phone bill goes down by roughly half. I like this idea. What I don’t like is the idea that a simple phone replacement ends up becoming way too convoluted for our own goddamn good, and on top of it, takes 9 phone calls and just about exactly a month to actually resolve. And that includes running over at least two managers to get it done. You sent us a phone we can’t use. We asked you to replace the phone. We told you what phone to replace it with. We were even more than willing to pay the $10 to buy the thing–even though that made me kind of cringe a little inside. So why’d it have to go and be all manner of difficult after that point?

You had to provision us a third line in order to send out the phone. Okay, we get that. You were more than willing to cancel one of the lines when we received the phone and let us return the old one. We get that, too–thanks for that, by the way. That was almost too easy. Which, I suppose, should have given me reason to start developing that nervous twitch I get right about the time things start going to shit. It didn’t. My mistake.

We sent back the phone, as agreed. We sent back the third line’s sim card as well, simply because you shipped it to Petawawa with an Ottawa number. Yeah, brilliant. Really. We then got the pleasure of playing hell for the month of December trying to get that line cancelled. By the way, do you have any idea how difficult it is to clue someone who doesn’t appear to be overly enthused about actually doing that whole listening thing? Neither did I until now.

Just this morning, after bouncing right over yet another customer service agent’s head and speaking to–and cluing once again–yet another manager, the Ottawa number is *finally*, I hope to hell, deader than dead. But that really didn’t need to take this much arm twisting to accomplish, Rogers. No, not even if the first 7 agents I spoke to were brainless. Work on this. For serious. Because the first time someone else comes out with a phone I don’t have to bastardise to get to actually speak to me, I’m running like hell anywhere else. I pay you guys way too much to have to do this dance.

PS: By the way, thanks for the $56 credit on the account. It’s the least you could do, considering I had to go chasing after my scheduled callback. Let’s not do this dance again.

I don’t get Rogers.

Run this past the logical part of your brain and tell me if I’m out to lunch. The phone company tells you you owe them 158 dollars by end of month. Because you’re not made of money, and they’re not the only ones who’d like you to hand over what you do have of it, you strike up what you think is a vaguely sensible arangement that will both give them their money and not leave your bank account crying on the floor. The arangement is, according to the phone company, going to result in not needing to drop a nuclear warhead on their accounts receiveable department about your service being suspended for non-payment. So, you pay according to that arangement. Then, fast forward a week or so. You’re trying to do something with your phone, and get the lovely privilege of speaking to accounts receiveable about your service being suspended.

That got to be me with Rogers first thing this morning. Now, I have a question. Is it common practice at Rogers to tell the customer one thing and document the opposite? When I called a week ago, I was told I wouldn’t need to deal with service restoration according to the arangement. In the notes, apparently, was a different storry–I was aPparently made aware that such an arangement wouldn’t guarantee I’d avoid a suspension. Naturally, I provided the agent I got to argue with today with an education. 20 minutes later and service ended up being reenabled.

A suggestion for Rogers employees. If indeed you must insist on not getting your info straight, perhaps give not escentially calling your customers liars during acts of not getting your info straight. It really makes you look like idiots. Well, more so than usual. Please to be seasing and desisting. That’d be awesome.

Verizon borrows a play from Rogers’s book. Anyone surprised?

The next time I bitch about my cell phone bill going up while my service takes a giant crap, somebody remind me about this guy. Currently, he’s on a 5 GB data plan with Verizon for $60/month. According to Verizon’s website, there’s nothihg nigher. According to most of Verizon’s available resources–at least, those this poor sucker got his hands on, anyway–there’s nothing higher. Thanks to one generous online sales rep, though, he was able to discover he was being lied to. There is another option–he can either continue to be screwed over by his current data plan and rates, or he can pay over 3 times the price point for twice the service.

This sounds vaguely familiar. Gee, I wonder why that is? Verizon, please to be not finding new and creative ways to improve on Rogers’s suckitude. Seriously. I really don’t want to have to assign you your own category over here–I can’t even be a customer of yours. And now, I’m not entirely sure I’d want to.

An open letter to Wind Mobile.

I haven’t had much in the way of dealings with Wind Mobile, mostly because they’re not my provider. I’ve thought about switching, though, off and on. Particularly after my well-documented complaints about my current carrier, Rogers. However, this weekend has kind of made me reconsider Wind Mobile as an option for the day when I finally do get fed up enough to switch. Apparently, Wind has a policy in place wherein calls longer than 2 hours are rather abruptly dropped. Now, I’m not exactly one for spending multiple hours on the phone on a regular basis, but there’s times when that’s kind of required. Particularly in situations wherein the first hour is spent on hold and/or being transferred from one department to another–hello, CRA. Jess and I were on the phone with a Wind customer last night, and the night before. Both calls, rather abruptly, got hung up on thanks to Wind Mobile. It’s apparently written into their policies that they have that authority. Just what everyone likes to here, yeah? So after the appropriate amount of WTF, we got it in our heads to actually say something about it.

During the offending conversation in which we were introduced for the second time to the 2-hour cutoff, we pulled wind Mobile into the conversation and the one with the valid account filed a formal complaint. They also received warning there would be an open letter to follow.

In digging up info for a basis for that open letter, we found ourselves another, slightly more irritating, piece of information. Their terms of service, and their offending fair usage policy that was the original spawn for the letter to Wind, are in PDF files. I don’t know how much good or bad luck anyone’s had with PDF files, but depending on the day and which machine I’m sitting behind–hey, some of them aren’t entirely mine–the very act of trying to get into the offending files becomes the source of a whole new brand of headache. So now, Wind Mobile’s Ken Campbell, also known as its CEO, gets a dual-purpose email from me. That email, complete with the newest piece of irritation, finds itself below. Welcome to open communication, wind.

From: James Homuth [mailto:james@the-jdh.com] Sent: October 10, 2010 5:19 PM To: ‘kcampbell@windmobile.ca’ Subject: Re: Wind Mobile’s fair usage policy, and accessibility concerns.

Mr. Campbell,

I’d like to draw your attention to a policy of a somewhat questionable nature. That policy, being your “fair usage” policy, grants Wind Mobile the authority to intentionally drop calls without warning after approximately the 2 hour mark. As a potential customer who has at one time considered switching to Wind Mobile, this policy has served only to confirm that, in the event I am in need of a change of carrier, Wind Mobile will not be on my list of potential alternatives.

In the first, at present you are the only company who currently disconnects customers, with or without warning, for perceived reasons of fair usage. Given how little network resources are actually consumed by a typical call over a typical cellular network, the reasoning behind this policy fails to be anything more than a perception–and, at the moment, not one that has been viewed favourably. In the second, as this restriction also affects users on your unlimitted packages, I believe advertising those unlimitted packages in light of such a restriction is misleading at best, and extremely dishonest at worst. And in the third, you are aware of customers’ genuine disapproval re: the dropping of calls by the major networks, who claim those calls are being dropped accidentally. To then announce in a “fair usage” policy that you will be intentionally dropping those calls indicates to me, as a potential customer of wind Mobile, that you are either ignorant of that fact, or simply unconcerned. In either event, this policy flies in the face of what I believe to be Wind Mobile’s intentions are re: differing themselves from the major carriers. We don’t need a carrier intentionally doing precisely what the major carriers regularly receive criticism for. We particularly don’t need it from a carrier who spent most of its pre-launch marketting time advertising itself as not like the major carriers. I would strongly encourage you to reconsider and correct what I see as a policy malfunction, as I am aware of a growing number of your current customers who, in light of this, are presently reconsidering their decision to remain with Wind Mobile.

My second concern is re: accessibility of information available on your website. Currently, both your terms and conditions and your “fair usage” policy are available only as PDF’s from Wind Mobile’s website. From an accessibility viewpoint, that is simply unacceptable. It is no guarantee that those without disabilities will be able to open and view PDF files, thus rendering them unable to access the afore mentioned documents. It is even less likely that, in the event the system in use is able to open and display the PDF files, a disabled person will even be able to read them. Which, again, virtually guarantees they will not be able to access the documents in question. You are encouraged, strongly, to consider converting the PDF documents to a more readable format, such as HTML, or have an HTML document available–and easily obtainable–in the alternative. Failure to provide this accomodation may leave you in violation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, among other regulations.

Wind Mobile’s available offerings, these limitations notwithstanding, stand head and shoulders above Rogers, Bell and Telus–all of whom I have previously had dealings with. The removal of the restrictions outlined in this communication will, in effect, also remove the last of the major concerns I have re: possibly switching from my current carrier to Wind Mobile. I sincerely hope you will take this under advisement, and I will be available for further questions/comments on the issues addressed in this letter. Please also be advised that, due to the significance of the issues raised, this will be an open communication, viewable publicly at http://www.the-jdh.com. I will continue to address these issues on this website until such time as they are resolved. I look forward to further conversation with you on how best to resolve the issues in question.

Sincerely, James Homuth (Contact info removed–I hate spam)

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.

Just the kind of subliminal messaging I don’t need. Damn you, ThinkGeek.

I’ve always maintained one of my chief reasons for not buying an iPhone, aside from the walled garden that is Apple, is its lack of a physical keyboard. I’m not a fan of carrying any more than I absolutely have to–this includes such things as an extra keyboard for the sole purpose of not wanting to throw my phone across the room in frustration. So I’ve been staying as far away from anything potentially iPhone related as I possibly can to avoid such episodes of frustration. I’ve been doing pretty good at it too, dammit. Then along comes ThinkGeek, with an iPhone case that includes a bluetooth keyboard. No more carrying around extra pieces of hardware. No more major excuses for not buying an iPhone–well, except the whole walled garden thing but I can possibly be convinced to overlook that. And no actual money for iPhone or case. Damn you, ThinkGeek. This is exactly not the kind of subliminal messaging I need.

Volunteering my life away. Or, rather, trying to.

Last year, I had an opportunity to take a shot at participating in a survey for the general accessibility of certain features of then current cell phone models. If I’m not mistaken, it focused almost entirely on the ability to make payments for certain things via your cell phone, among other things. My name was on the list for that, though for one reason or another I never actually got in to participate fully–too bad, as they were offering to pay me for my time.

Flash forward to yesterday. I get an email while I’m going through finding political morons to mock, inviting me to another focus group with the option of also or instead doing a survey by mail. Like the last one, the focus group will be held in Ottawa by the Neil Squire Society. Like the last one, it’s focus is on the ability for the visually or otherwise disabled to make use of certain aspects of cell phones–in this case, the ability and ease of use when it comes to obtaining emergency services via cell phone.

The only difference between this one and last year’s is I’m not currently actually living in Ottawa–not yet, anyway. So getting to the actual focus group could require some creative effort. Still, much like the last one if it comes up, I fully intend to be there. Blame my interest in most if not all things accessible. And, hey, they offered me money last time. I’m not stupid.

Unexpected Victoria day cellebrations, and fun with .wav files.

Sometimes, my apartment has the weirdest benefits. I blame living in a small town. I was treated to a rather unplanned–at least, I didn’t plan it–fireworks show for the May two-four weekend. Or, as we call it up here, the Victoria day weekend. It didn’t last entirely too long, but it was vaguely entertaining. Kinda makes me wonder what unplanned goodness I’ll be privy to for Canada day. Or if I’ll still be here to see it.

In randomly unrelated and still amusing news, I’ve gone all 24th century on my cell. My text message, instead of one of the default Nokia sounds the thing ships with, is now one of the com badge sound effects from Star Trek: Voyager. Because, well, I had it on the computer and didn’t have any other use for it. I was moderately amused. Still kind of am, a little. Or rather, I was–now I’m just lazy.

Sorry, no earth-shattering content here. Perhaps I should have saved my PAC-MAN rant for today? Oh well. I’d of still posted this anyway.

In which James discovers, not for the first time, that Rogers is broken.

For a little over a week, I’ve been at my parents’ place keeping an eye on things while they go do the skipping the country thing. A couple days ago, I temporarily expanded my house sitting operation to include my aunt’s place, while they took care of something about 1.5 hours away–someone still had to be there when repair people showed up. I knew I’d be bored to tears sitting there, since they don’t have a computer I can use, or a wireless network I can attach a computer I can use to, assuming I brought one. Fortunately or otherwise, the place still had cell coverage. So, packing as little as possible, plus the phone I finally got my hands on back in November after its logistical issues, I went and spent the morning doing not a whole lot.

I did manage to get a bit of job searching done, not that I found anything worthy of applying for. And thanks to the fact they charge me way too much for a data plan I absolutely have to have with this phone, I was still able to go through a lot of the things I had to go through. When getting around to posting a couple of the things that got posted on here yesterday, though, I discovered the brokenness.

I don’t use any third party applications for maintaining the blog. Mostly because, especially the past month or so, I never know from where I’m going to be writing. It could be from my place, from this machine, over at Jessica’s place in the event I end up there, or wherever. And I very rarely, meaning all of twice, actually wrote and posted something from my phone so installing an application on there didn’t cross my mind. It probably should have.

Trying to log into the site via the Rogers Wireless cellular network proved to be next to impossible. Of course, it being me and my phone being something of a questionable internet usage tool, I suspected it might have been a thing to be tweaked a little in order to get it to work. So I spent the better part of 45 minutes doing that. And googling for things to try that I hadn’t already thought of. After banging my head against that for a bit, I eventually just said screw it and went back to my email. I’d beat the hell out of it when I got back home and didn’t need it in top working condition.

When I did get back to my parents’ place and their sort of half stuck together, but working, wireless network–hey, I can only do so much with a wireless modem from Bell–I figured I’d try to log in via the wifi connection. And, wouldn’t you know, first try it let me in. I tried from the cell network again, and of course it laughed at me.

What’s interesting about it, though, is it doesn’t throw any kind of error at me. Or rather, it doesn’t throw anything at me–it just returns me to the login screen as though I hadn’t given it any information. The logs don’t show my attempts either, which makes me wonder exactly what funky and messed up thing Rogers is doing to me between phone and blog. Of course, googling further for other people having that issue with websites that aren’t this one didn’t answer my question either. Although, I did find several more examples of severe Rogers and Rogers Wireless related brokenness–their website, which I think has only gotten worse, for one. Not a good thing to be reading about when trying to fix an existing problem, Rogers. You might want to look in to that.

I did manage to learn two very valuable pieces of information, though, when doing this. Pieces of information that may have been helpful 2 days ago.

  • The phone isn’t quite as questionable an internet usage tool as I originally thought. The network, however, makes up for that improvement in questionability status.
  • And, the most important lesson to take away from this bit of unexpected geekery. From now on, posts while mobile will be emailed. Starting whenever I get around to configuring such things.

My ringtone is now an overplayed song.

I’ve been known to keep a very random, very scattered, and very eclectic collection of music around, both on my local machine and/or various attached hard drives, as well as within my Jango playlist. I like to think my selection of ringtones reflects that. I go from the commonly played to the rarely played usually in a quick breath. A rarely played Matchbox 20 song, “How Far We’ve Come”, has been my primary ringtone since pretty much the first week I got this phone. I think I might have heard it played by someone other than me a grand total of… once in that time. This morning, in the span of about an hour and a half, I got to hear it coming out of my phone 4 or 5 times. Granted they were all either not intended for me or telemarketters, but still. This morning, my ringtone has become an overplayed song. In honour of that transition, have a video of the said song. I’d embed it here, but he or she who is behind the original upload of that video has decided to complicate matters to the point where that’s not happening. So, you get to click instead. And while you do that, I’ll go contemplate changing it.

Giving that new phone thing a try again.

One of the things I’ve been working at trying to accomplish before the move (more on that later), and haven’t actually managed to accomplish yet, is the replacement of my old Nokia phone–specificly, the 6682. I tried once before, but the folks over at Rogers’s sales department seem to have a bit of a hearing problem. Or perhaps just a comprehension problem.

I ordered the Nokia E71, but about 5 days after the order was placed the phone I actually received wasn’t it. No big deal, I’ll just return it. Except not quite. I fired it back at UPS the same day I received it, and 2 days later, they knocked on my door with the exact same phone–and no return sticker thinggy. Brilliant. I spent pretty much the next week trying to twist their arm into getting me another one before I packed everything up and scrammed back to the Pembroke area. Suffice it to say, and not really all that surprising to me, it ended up actually rather not happening. Go figure.

Then, the move happened. I packed up my old apartment in Ottawa, came 1.5 hours southwest-ish to Petawawa, and unpacked most of it in the span of a day or two. Actually, a lot of stuff’s still in boxes–but, hey, the majority’s actually useable again. I can live with that. Once I had things up and running here, it was back on the phone to Rogers to try and sort this mess out. I still had the phone, in its original UPS packaging, sitting on the end of my desk–well, once said desk finally got put back together–for the first weekend of my living in the new place. Rogers still wanted to email me a shipping sticker thing to print off and use. Which would have been perfect, except I still had absolutely no way to get access to said email. They tend not to remember you told them that 5 times already.

I eventually gave up on that, as my return window was very quickly closing and I was flirting with a headache. I also finally ended up getting net access that Sunday night, but by then I wasn’t about to reenter that same dance. So instead, I called UPS up myself. And, as luck or something like it should have it, this time I got someone with more than half a clue. I scheduled them to come and pick up the thing. I got the address to one of their receiving yards from Rogers that morning, and when shipping dood showed up, it got handed to him. Along with a request to forget about billing me, and stick Rogers with the price tag–something he seemed a little too eager to do, but I wasn’t about to argue. Meant I could cheap out and well, cheap is good, no?

The phone never did come back to me, and the fact they’re not charging me for it on this month’s bill would seem to indicate they did receive it, and didn’t screw up the processing of it. Either that or someone just committed a rather significant oopsy. Either way, as long as the price for that phone doesn’t end up on a future bill, I’m not about to call them up and say otherwise. So now, with that phone being on its way or already back to Rogers and out of my hair, I can focus on getting the one I was actually after.

Which, last week, is exactly what I ended up doing. Only this time, rather than them simply sticking the wrong phone on my bill, the one I was after for whatever reason wasn’t showing up as one I was eligible to actually purchase. Perfect. So far you’re 3 for 3, Rogers. So I give them what for over the phone, and the rep basicly decides at that point to take responsibility for the whole damn thing. Which, when dealing with me, has been known to be a mistake. She tells me she’s going to keep checking, and call me if and when it actually gets sorted out. And, since everything should have been reset when I returned the phone and I knew I was eligible for it before I tried to buy it the first time, clearly it was a problem internal to them.

I wasn’t holding my breath–remember, I used to sit on the other end of similar conversations. I know most folks who say that do it with the complete intent of blowing you off knowing the chances of them getting you again are pretty well slim to none. Particularly when you’re running an operation with multiple call centers in multiple locations dealing with multiple thousand customers nationally. This morning, though, I did get that call. Whatever went and broke on their end wound up getting fixed. Finally. So, after much nashing of teeth and a whole lot of wanting to curse out the next rep to pick up the phone, I managed, somehow, to at least get the order processed. Now, hopefully they send me the correct phone on this attempt. And, hopefully they do it before Google Voice goes global. Otherwise I see a bitchfest in their, and my, near future.