Monday, February 23, 2009

Phone Switcher Should Call Old Providers: Bell Canada

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Bell Canada and their regional subsidiary Bell Aliant have made an application to the CRTC that if accepted would force anybody switching to another provider of telephone service to call their soon to be former telephone provider in order authorize the porting of their phone numbers to the new provider.

How it works now, when somebody wants to switch to a new telephone service provider they just call the new provider, give them the account number from the telephone company they current subscribe to, the address including the postal code on the account with the existing provider and the new provider arranges for the phone number to be ported.

Bell Canada's proposal would allow incumbent telco's to bombard any potential switchers with sales pitches to stay no matter how poor the service may be. Bell Canada claims that this would "level the playing ground in the competive marketplace" Which is a lot of baloney, since when deciding to shop at a different store or eat a different restraunt you don't have to the old store or restraunt that you are going to a different store or restaunt. The rules that govern how people switch telephone providers is the way it needs to be.

With first hand experience switching to a new phone provider, I know that having to call my former telephone provider (SaskTel) just to have them make their sales pitch would have been an ordeal because their very poor customer service, and restricted telephone account, I was fed up with them and wanted a different provider to switch to as soon as I could.

Incumbent telcos need to lower prices for local telephone service while improving customer service to keep customers, not the preferencial treatment from regulatory agencies.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why No Kindle in Canada

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The Tivo revolutionized watching television just like some say now that the Kindle e-book reader is revolutionizing how people read books. Just like how the Tivo gave people the ability to watch what they want when they want, the Kindle allow people to read what they want when they want. The commonalities don't stop there. The Tivo took years getting into the market in Canada, and it looks like the same thing is happening again with the Kindle.

Tivo gave a lame excuse for not coming to the Great White North (Canada isn't our business plans). Amazon is giving just as a lame an excuse for not bringing the Kindle to Canada. Amazon claims that the wireless technology used to distribute e-books isn't available in Canada. This is factually wrong because EV-DO is available in Canada although the coverage is spotty.

In the States, Amazon uses the Sprint EV-DO network to distribute content to the Kindle. The coverage issue in Canada is that there are many EV-DO carriers in Canada but none of them are truly national. It would be at the very least counterproductive for Amazon to have to make agreements with Telus, Bell, and the other regional carriers. This maybe an issue but not a barrier since Telus has roaming agreements with the other CDMA, EV-DO carriers and sells service across Canada.

The bigger reason for the delay for getting the Kindle in Canada is probably because of resistance from the publishing industry. Resistance from Canadian television rights holders is what held up Tivo's entrance to Canada. The Canadian publishing industry is completely independent and unlike the Canadian television industry isn't dependent on American content.

It took nothing less than Canadians hacking imported Tivo boxes to jumpstart an agreement with the Canadian television broadcasters that allowed Tivo to enter the Canadian market. Would Canadians have to hack the Kindle to get Amazon to talk to Canadian publishers? Does this mean another 5-7 years of waiting before Canadians can read using a Kindle?

Politicians Gone Wild: Requirement To Log All Internet Activity For Two Years

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Politicians have always been known for sometimes passing ridiculous laws at times, now there's a new one that goes to show how much that politicians still don't get the Internet. There is a new bill in congress that would require all TCP/IP network operators to keep logs of all Internet activity for two years. This doesn't just cover ISP's and public WiFi hotspots, it covers anybody who has a home network.

It may be understandable to require companies who sell Internet access to log any suspected illegal activity for law enforcement agencies, but requiring all routers to keep a log for two years is rediculous not to mention virtually impossible because most home office routers don't even have the ability to record two years of Internet activity.

The bill is titled "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act" Reality is that this bill has nothing to do with protecting children, but more to do with shutting down anybody who downloads Peer to Peer downloading software or throttling anybody who buys a Magic Jack if Verizon or AT&T asks for it to be done. There have been a lot of stupid laws passed in the past but this one beats them all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Universal Cell Phone Charger, Who Knew?

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A common frustration of the instrument of modern communications, the cell phone without is replacing the plug in chargers for home AC outlets or car cigarette lighter plugs. There is nothing more annoying than finding yourself with a dead cell phone battery and unable to find the charger. More often than not the cost of replacing a charger for a cell phone costs more than what people often pay for their cell phone.

At the GSMA conference currently taking place in Barcelona, Spain the world's cell phone manufacturers have committed to making micro USB the standard connector between cell phones and chargers. This of course means that the chargers for cell phones will be available at the local dollarama. This is one example of the cell phone industry is actually going stop gouguing consumers. That is news!

CRTC Revists Net Regluation

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The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, the regulator for broadcasting and telecom, has flipped-flopped on the issue of regulating the Internet. Way back in 1999 the CRTC said the Internet is too broad and that it would be futile to even try to regulate. While this approach was generally good to allow Canadians to enjoy the same Internet that the rest of the world uses, it has also allowed broadband providers to cap and throttle bandwidth those users who use a lot of bandwidth.

The Internet regulation that CRTC is being asked to consider comes from arts and culture groups. Looking for some way that Canadian Internet subscribers to get steered to Canadian created online content. The Canadian Recording Industry Association is back looking for their ISP tax even after online peer to peer file shaing was made illegal in the copyright bill.

Use of the Internet without restriction will not come without some kind of net neutrality regulation to, the kind of regulation unlikely to come from the CRTC after dismissing a complaint against Bell Canada from subscribers and third party DSL providers because Bell's caps and throttling.

The arts and culture groups will just have to go home because can-con regulation is just a futile now as it was a decade ago, and the recording industry needs to go and do a better job of selling music online, just like American record lables are just starting do do now. The CRTC should do another flip-flop but this time of net neutraliy because that's the only way the Internet should be regulated in Canada.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Microsoft Stores, Sounds Like a Joke That's Six Weeks Early

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Once again Microsoft is following Apple once again. Apple has operated their chain of high end retail stores for close to a decade. Now Microsoft is following suit but a one word question remains, why? It's not like Microsoft needs to promote sales of Windows based PC's like Apple needed to operate their own stores so that Macintosh computers needed to retail space.

While Apple sells their own computers at their stores, Microsoft doesn't make the computers that run their operating systems. Apple is the only computer manufacturer that has been successful operating their own retail stores. All other PC manufacturers that have tried have failed, Gateway Country stores is the most widely known flop.

When iPods were first launched the only place they could be bought was at an Apple store, if Microsoft thinks that people will go to a Microsoft store just to buy a Zune, it sounds like a joke that just isn't funny.

Microsoft doesn't need a specialty boutique type store to sell Xbox 360's, they are already the market leader. Six weeks from the posting of this blog entry will be April the First, and unlike Windows Millennium Edition and Windows Vista, this joke from Microsoft came early.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Utah Bill to Mature Rated Games Away From Underage Buyers

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The state legislators in the state of Utah have introduced a bill that when enacted will ban the sale of video games that get the M or Mature rating from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board to those under the age of 17. Other states have introduced previous bills to ban sales of M rated games to minors in the past but were killed due to concerns that such potential laws could be ruled to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

All pornography and movies that are rated R or NC-17 are not sold to minors without any concern about the First Amendment so why should Mature rated video games be any different? Are the state legislators just afraid of incurring the wrath of the retailers that sell video games or the ACLU.

Living in a province in Canada where the sale of Mature rated video games to minors is banned there is absolutely no freedom of speech issues. Anybody who claims such are going to be game developers who just using putting more and more violence and sexual content just to sell video games instead of creating better games.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

DTV Delay Passes, Keeps Analog OTA on Life Support for Another Four Months

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The revised bill to delay shut off of analog over the air television until June 12th has passed the house of representatives and is going to get signed by President Barack Obama within a couple of days. The bill that is on it's way to becoming law is differs from the bill that was killed in the house last week because the delay until June 12th isn't mandated, TV stations can keep broadcasting analog until June 12th but can shut off analog on Febuary 17th.

Instead of just putting off the confusion about transisition to DTV and the shortage of converter boxes like the original bill would have done giving TV stations a window from Febuary 17th to June June 12th allows Americans to get pushed into electronics stores when they start seeing TV stations starting to disappear.

Will TV stations forgo ratings by shutting off analog, very possibily will be that way since most TV stations' cost projections for the year are based on shutting off analog transmitters on Febuary 17th. Things will happen sooner rather than later

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Windows 7, Different Versions The Confusion Continues

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One of the things that made Windows Vista such a fiasco even before it hit store shelves was all the various editions that made it so hard to choose what to buy. Instead of simplifying like Microsoft should have done, Microsoft is going to put out half a dozen different editions of the upcoming Windows 7. In an attempt to clarify the mess that Microsoft is making, here's the editions of Windows 7

Windows 7 starter: This is just like the starter edition of Windows XP that is sold in emerging markets in Asia. A very bare bones version of Windows that can only run three programs at a time. Will be found on some Netbooks just to keep people from getting Linux on such machines and so that Microsoft doesn't have to keep selling licenses for Windows XP.

Windows 7 Home Basic: Just like Windows Vista Home Basic that came on entry level PC's but with Windows 7 the Home Basic will only be available in emerging markets. Likely to be sold at a bargain basement price as an alternative to running a pirated version.

Windows 7 Home Premium: The name and features that are found in Windows Vista Home Premium. The home premium name retained to help those with Vista Home Premium buy Windows 7 Home Premium.

Windows 7 Professional: All the features from Windows 7 Home Premium plus file encryption and online backup. Named to make those running Windows XP Professional think that this is the version of Windows 7 they need.

Windows 7 Enterprise: Everything in Windows 7 Professional with a few add ons only useful to those in corporate IT, will not be available to home users.

Windows 7 Ultimate: Has most everything that Windows 7 Enterprise has but also has some features useful to home users such as Media Centre.

Those are the different versions of Windows 7: made clear as mud.

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