Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
As we come upon another new year, I thought I should dust off the cobwebs on this blog. While I’m at it, why not a new blog design as well? I’ve been in the mood for something a little more open, a little more minimalistic.
Though I celebrate neither Christmas or the New Year, this season has always had an air of change about it. Of course, part of it has to do with the carpet-bombing of Christmas shopping advertisement, but beyond that, there are a number of birthdays in the month of December of close family members.
Historically, I’ve been horrible about birthdays close family and friends. I never remember the birthdays and when I do, I haven’t made much of an effort to get a really thoughtful gift. This year though, I’ve got to change that.
A good friend of mine had his birthday in October, so for his birthday I organized a golf outing with a few mutual friends of ours. We all really had a tremendous blast.
Now, my sister’s birthday is coming up in early December, so I’m thinking, I have to do something really special for her. What speaks of brotherly love better than a brand new laptop?
I’ve always hated laptops for a number of reasons. As someone who has always built his own machines from scratch and relies on the interchangeability of standardized parts, laptops really annoy me. They’re expensive, costly to maintain, come with Windows Vista, and can’t run games at 1920 x 1200. That said, I know my sister would really like one to browse the Internet in any room of the house and get her office work done remotely.
The fact that I was able to find a Toshiba with decent specs and a decent price tag as well went a ways toward making me feel better. I have an impression that Toshiba laptops are built more solidly than other brands.
As well, I have to admit that my hate quickly fades with new technology, laptop or not.
Except when the experience of using it is awful. As was the case with the Toshiba L300.
For starters, from the moment I turned on the laptop to the moment I could actually use Windows, 1 hour and 45 minutes had elapsed. The laptop rebooted approximately 5 times during this process, 2 of which happened at points where Windows had become momentarily usable, making you think it was ready for use. Uber Fail #1. What was the laptop doing in all that time? Completing the Vista installation, and ensuring I’d be encumbered by software offers that I didn’t want. Fail #2. What would it take to get a clean Vista installation on the laptop? An act of God given that laptop manufacturers no longer include the O/S on disc. Fail #3. Forget Vista, what about XP? Not supported (no drivers). Fail #4. Fine, the hell with XP. What about Vista drivers so I can re-install in case I get a copy of Vista at a later date? No dice. The laptop is a model built exclusively for Future Shop, so there are no drivers available online at all, let alone any other support materials for the model on the Toshiba website. Fail #5!
By the end of Fail #1 I had already had enough, let alone the other 4 points of frustration. Imagine I had given the laptop to my sister without having opened it. She would’ve been furious at having to wait so long for the system to become usable.
The other point of extreme frustration that deserves mention is the fact that laptop manufacturers do not include a clean Vista disc with laptops anymore. They’ve instead gotten into the habit of including a recovery partition on the hard drive. This is to ensure that: 1) You have to spend your own time and money to burn a recovery disc that has an O/S on it, and 2) You’ll never, ever be rid of their annoying software offers since they’ve been backed up onto the recovery disc as well.
Needless to say, the whole experience was an epic failure, and the laptop was promptly returned today. If there’s one thing to be said about Future Shop, it’s that they took back the laptop without any hassles. I was slightly taken aback by that!
I have a decent amount of respect for Microsoft as a company, and Windows XP as an operating system. Even XP took time to mature, but it was never as horrible as Vista. None of the problems I’ve described here are Vista problems per se (not to say Vista itself didn’t annoy me), but they have to be judged as part of the Microsoft/Vista experience. This experience is so horrific that one has no choice but to conclude that OS X, Ubuntu, and even Windows XP are an excellent respite. I’m just sad to say I had to give up on Vista.
By comparison, the simplicity of OS X is a thing to marvel, and the malleability of Linux is empowering. Neither can be said about Vista or the Microsoft experience. Instead, I was held powerless and left to marvel at the absurdity of it all.
Based on this experience I’ve decied that if I’m to get my sister a new laptop, it will almost certainly be a sparkling MacBook. It comes at a premium, but the hassle-free experience is worth it.
I’m not sure whether the same is true for others, but my Gmail account just surpassed the 7GB mark in available mailbox space.
Of course, Yahoo offers unlimited space, but 7GB is plenty for me! I still maintain that Gmail has the best interface of any mail client (desktop clients included).
When it comes to Internet access, is there such a thing as too fast? That’s a question U.S. Internet providers are grappling with as they place strategic bets on whether or not to upgrade their networks to offer high-priced, superhigh-speed Web connections.
There have been plenty of comparisons between Internet access speeds and money. Can one ever have enough money? I’m sure none of us is at a loss when it comes to thinking of ways to spend money.
But more important than the money analogy is the importance of faster Internet access to media and technological innovation.
Since the advent of broadband connections we’ve seen the rise to ubiquity of YouTube, the advent of Internet applications that rival their desktop counterparts in functionality, and even the feasibility of cloud computing. More than this, we’ve seen unprecedented democratization of information and the absolute ease of its dissemination.
This progress has all be thanks to the rise in Internet speeds.
Now imagine what we can do with 100Mbps or 400Mbps connections. Just think of the possibilities.
Superhigh-speed broadband connections has the potential to make ubiquitous high-resolution videos, real-time video broadcast, and much, much more. Most exciting is the prospect of engaging, entertaining, useful and indispensible applications of these superhigh-speed connections that we haven’t even thought of yet.
We don’t normally think of money as enabling us to contribute to society on the grand scale, and so comparisons of bandwidth-wealth to monetary-wealth fall short. Bandwidth-wealth will usher in the next generation of rich media and communications access.
The important questions to ask no longer pertain to the need for faster internet access, but rather to the issues around time to deployment and ease of access.
I’d like my superhigh-speed access now, please, and I’ll take it in the 400Mbps variety, thank you very much!
It looks like the net neutrality debate is finally picking up in Canada. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve been way overdue for such a debate. Rogers Canada’s traffic shaping practice, and now Bell’s, has gone on long enough. South of the border, Comcast has buckled to consumer outrage and Congressional pressure. Canadians need to let Rogers and Bell know how disappointed we are as well.
In the fight against big media, I believe we need the government to support the Canadian people against the unfair advantage these telecoms have. They own all the infrastructure and obviously have an interest in ensuring the Internet cannot threaten their significant investments into competing distribution channels (digital cable or satellite service).
To this end, I’ve written to Jim Prentice, the Minister of Industry.
Dear Mr. Prentice:
As a very concerned Canadian citizen, I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with your ministry’s policy of remaining uninvolved in the case of The Canadian People vs. Bell & Rogers in the issue of net neutrality.
In response to Charlie Angus’ question about your ministry’s involvement in this fight, the Globe and Mail quotes you as saying:
“At this point in time we will continue to leave the matter between consumers on the one hand and Internet service providers on the other”
I was extremely disappointed to read that you are leaving the Canadian people to fight an unfair battle, one in which the opponent holds the upper hand and all the bargaining power.
What power do I as a consumer have? If today Rogers and Bell are suppressing technologies like BitTorrent, which help to enable media distribution over the Internet, what alternatives do I have? BitTorrent and other Internet distribution technologies are the future of content distribution. These technologies are also a direct threat to Rogers’ digital cable and Bell’s satellite service offerings. Is it any surprise that we now find Bell is also traffic shaping and reducing the quality of the service offered by the wholesale service providers (an act that is also plainly anti-competitive)?
I would love for you to tell me what options I have, and what I can do to encourage Rogers or Bell to change their policy and keep the Internet open and fair. Tell me which provider I can switch to, or how I can vote with my dollar. Either that or tell me why I should trust such a critical public resource as the Internet to the likes of Bell or Rogers.
While you’re at it, also tell me how you’re securing the future of net neutrality and net innovation in Canada, and ensuring that we don’t end up becoming the laughing stock of the developed world.
Bell & Rogers have no will to concede to the Canadian people, and we have nowhere else to take our dollars without going back to stone-age Internet access.
Do you call this a fair fight, sir?
I urge you and our other representatives to take some action to ensure fair, responsible access to the Internet, such that innovation and choice — the lifeblood of the Internet — will be preserved.
Thank you for your time.
If you’d like to contribute to the discussion, then be sure to share your opinion with Jim Prentice at prentice.j AT parl.gc.ca (please be civil), or get in touch with your local MP. Oh, and do get involved with the Campaign for Democratic Media. It’s about time a consumer-rights organization got involved in the fight.
Throttling and other anti-P2P practises appear to gaining prevelance amongst the Canadian ISPs for some reason. Meanwhile, south of the border, the American public is in an uproar over the anti-P2P practices of Rogers‘ counterpart, Comcast. All the while, Rogers has been engaging in anti-P2P practices — in fact, anti-net neutrality practices — far worse than what Comcast has been charged with; while Comcast may be resetting P2P connections at certain times of the day or in certain areas, Rogers throttles ALL encrypted traffic wholesale.
My question is, why aren’t Canadians as concerned about Net censorship and the impaired quality of broadband offerings here? American ISPs can hardly get away with anything without Congressional hearings being arranged, and up here Rogers is making a complete mockery of the concept of net neutrality.
Canadians, it’s time to wake up and hold the telecom giants’ feet to the fire.
Someone please tell me where I can sign up to express my anger, and hopefully in a manner that might drive legislative change barring what Rogers, and now Bell, are up to. I’m angry, dangnabbit!