Rogers… Here is a clue

1 07 2012

Rogers. Here is a top clue for you.

When a customer moves overseas, gives you advanced warning and a date to cancel services it is pretty stupid to, in addition to canceling the phone number and service, cancel the ONLINE mechanism for payment.

How exactly do you expect your customer to settle up their bill?

Rogers never ceases to amaze me with their silly policies and decisions not to mention their general level of ineptitude (they could not get the cancellation date right either but that’s another story).

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Time for a change… aka I’ve hit my breaking point…

21 10 2008

I’ve been using computers or some sort or another since I was around 10 or so.  I’ve seen different operating systems and used all types of development environments as well as computer applications.

You would not have thought it would take so long…

I have finally hit my breaking point.  I just snapped at the sheer crappiness of windows.  I’ve had enough. 

It was trivial enough; I was trying to do the extraordinary task of creating a folder using file explorer and when I clicked on the create new folder command I waited… and waited… and waited….

It was only a 20 second or so wait… and it’s not like it’s the first time this has happened to me on a variety of PCs but this time it was enough.  I had just had it.  I just want to create a folder and get on with what I’m doing… why does it take so long to do this?  Why does the application seem to freeze when I want to do such a trival task?  It’s completely unacceptable and I just had enough.  I shut down my computer without finishing whatever it was I was working on and went and did something else as I was just that frustrated.  I am sick and tired of the most trivial tasks being stupidly slow and unreliable on the worlds most dominant desktop operating system.  It’s total rubbish and I’ve had enough.

I can think of numerous frustrating examples of using windows.  Ever opened excel or word and then try to traverse some folders to open a document only to find there is this odd long pause as soon as you go file->open and try to start looking around on your hard drive?  How long do you wait?  20-30 seconds sometimes and in the meantime the application is unresponsive?  Why is there always that waiting when you fire up a new application on your new $2000 PC?  The more applications you install the more messed up the registry gets and the more unreliable and flaky you computer becomes.  Why?  Poor design?  Didn’t think of that?  What’s the reason?  Is it unreasonable to install your favourite software on your computer?  I’m sure there are plenty of other examples people can come up with. 

This was all with XP.  I have not installed Vista personally but from using it on a few friends machines I am really not sold on it.  I don’t like being asked about every little thing I do.  It was irritating.

So, you ask, what’s the alternative?  Well for the number of applications, games and the like available for windows compared to other operating systems there does not really seem to be one.  Regardless I am thinking of buying a Mac notebook computer and giving that a go.  After all the garbage with using windows it must be an improvement right?  It’s alot more expensive but, if it works without all the garbage I have to put up with in the windows world, maybe it will just be worth it.

My die hard Mac friends will no doubt be all video-conferencing each other on their iPhones whilst making a recording to replay on their iPods at a later date as well as being moist with anticipation at the thought of another “convert”.  I’ve used macs a few times and they are not as “perfect” as the iTard community (of which I will be joining shortly) out there would have you believe.  The “it just works” slogan is a bit misleading but I am really ready to find an alternative to windows.  Something had to be done…  If that doesn’t work there is always linux…

Feel free to cast your vote on favourite OS in the poll below.  I did not make a distinction between the various linux distribution packages or versions of Mac OS, etc.

Any other converts out there?





Body Worlds, Airports, Tim Hortons & Good Indian Food

15 06 2008

Well I seem to be making a habit of only posting when I am on the road for some reason.  Probably because it’s a good way to wind down in my hotel room after a day of work and another way to get some use out of the $12.95 per day the Hilton is charging me for Internet usage (after doing work of course!).

My brother and his other half came up on Friday and we shot a round of golf on the Victoria course here in Edmonton.  It was his first full “proper” 18 holes.  He made the observation that it is a frustrating game, lol.  It was all good.  Wish I got a chance to play more then maybe it would not be so frustrating for me!  I still have not worked out the appeal of the game.  I think it’s that one good hole that keeps you going…

We went to the Body Worlds exhibition at the Edmonton Science Centre on Saturday.  I walked out of it with mixed feelings.  OK, the exhibitions are of real bodies (bits and whole) in various poses with all sorts of eductational tidbits about.  There were also posters explaining the historical roots of anatomy and dissection and what the beliefs were over time as well as what was discovered (it was only relatively, historically speaking, recently that public dissections were no longer carried out!).  I was impressed with the drawings of the early pioneers in this field as they were not far off from what I was seeing with my own eyes.  Some of the poses were kind of comical but they were all sad in some way as these were once living breathing people with their own feelings, etc.  It seems odd to see them now as part of a travelling exhibition.  I found it hard to decide whether the display was for educational purposes, art or if he was just having a laugh.  The gift shop at the end of it was certainly strange too.  They had a room with the remains of babies in various stages of development as well as that of a fully (opened up) 8 month pregnant woman and just outside the door they are making a fast buck off of it.  I wasnt’ really sure how to feel about that.  With what they are charging somebody is making a pretty good living off it. 

The creator of the Body Worlds exhibition (and inventor of the process used for preservation) was certainly good at self promotion too.  His name was plastered (no pun intended) everywhere in the exhibition about what a great and clever guy he is.  There were also forms you could fill out if you wanted to donate your body to the exhibition.  I overheard someone say that there was a “waiting list” of over 8,000 people.  I am not sure I would want to participate in something like that.  Still not sure what to make of it.  Anyone else seen this and have any thoughts?

I have a work trip to Boston for the next few days.  Got up stupidly early (3am) and spent the first 3 hours (of the first leg of my flight) debugging code on the plane when I realized there was something screwy going on with my demo app.  Fixed!

Had a short connection time to make my next flight and found myself being thwarted by American customs and the huge queue I found myself on the back of.  I did take some consolation in noting that all of the carts that people had their luggage in had ads for holidays to Cuba.  Oh the irony.

Finally got through customs and found out the flight was delayed as the pilots were delayed.  I sat down in the lounge relieved that I was going to make my flight and started to people watch.  After a few minutes I noticed that there looked like there was a pilot in the queue at Tim Hortons.  I saw him wait for about 20 minutes until he loaded up on coffee and donuts.  And… yep you guessed it… that was out pilot.  Glad to see our flight was a high priority.  Would not want him to miss out on his sugar fix.

Ah well.  At least the night ended up nicely with a brilliant Indian dinner and a bottle of Argentinian red wine.  Great way to round off what was a long day. 





I hate advertising… (FRANK AND GORDON MUST DIE!)

19 03 2008

One of the few things that really irks me is that you cannot get away from is advertising.  It’s everywhere… you see it on everything: buildings, vehicles, road signs, television, radio ads, virtually any print material, riding the bus, train, taxi, you name it!

I don’t think it really struck me as to how ugly it can be until I moved back to Canada from the UK.  Not that the UK does not have advertising but I don’t think they have quite taken it to the extent which North America has embraced it.  Our good neighbours to the south even take it one step further; my first steps off the plane in Vegas had a billboard in my face showing where I could go to shoot guns.  Less than 24 hours later I saw a roadside billboard advertising a legal firm that specialized in suing lawyers (next logical step I suppose). 

Some ads grate on your nerves more than other.  I don’t think there has been an ad campaign that has driven me nuts more than the Bell Mobility Frank & Gordon ads.  God knows why.  The voices in my head tell me that FRANK AND GORDON MUST DIE!  They are so irritating.  If you took any notice of them at all you would have a new mobile phone each week and you would also be stupid enough to watch feature length films on a phone screen (this has to be the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a LONG time).  They are EVERYWHERE.  I don’t watch television and I still can’t avoid them.  I turn on the radio and I hear their whiny little voices telling me how great Bell phones are an I must have this completely useless feature they are bleating on about.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!  I can’t take it anymore MAKE THEM STOP!  Oddly enough these animated characters are apparantly really popular and people love them… I can’t work that one out.  Maybe this explains why Alberta voted conservative again….

I don’t know if other people conscious or unconsciously make a decision like intentionally making a point of not shopping at a place that has adverts that annoy you.  I will certainly never consider a Bell phone because I hate the Frank/Gordon ads so much.  I don’t go to Tony Romas for a meal because I can’t stand the radio sports guy Bryan Hall (who is *WELL* past his sell by date).  I used to try and listen to the sports show he did but it was just too damn irritating and it might as well have been called the Tony Romas show because that’s all he seemed to bang on about.

Advertising is a necessarily evil, I appreciate and acknowledge that.  If you have a product or service you need to tell people about it in order to make sales of it.  That’s fine… but please Bell (and others I’m sure)… enough is enough.





Provincial Elections & Stuff…

4 03 2008

Well I did my civic duty and voted yesterday in the Alberta provincial elections.  The candidate I voted for did not win (yet ANOTHER Conservative majority in Alberta… do people ever learn.. but I digress).

The turnout was absolutely shambolic.  I read today the turnout rate was about 41% of eligible voters in the province, down from the poor 44% of the previous elections.  I left work about 20 minutes early to get there that much earlier and, hopefully, avoid the queues.  When I got to my polling station I was the *ONLY* one in it (bar voting officers).  I’ve never seen that before in any election I’ve voted in.  I guess the virtually empty car park should have tipped me off (here was my worried about having to park on the street somewhere).  A bit worrying… I dont particularly like our current provincial government so I tried to do something about it (and if I did like the government I’d turn up anyway to support them).

Makes you wonder what the reasons for the low turnout is?  Disenfranchised with the system?  Don’t care?  Satisfied with status-quo?  Why?

Very disappointing regardless of the outcome.  You may not like the outcome but at least participate and make your voice heard.

On the plus side I played soccer on Sunday and I had my first clean sheet in I don’t know how long!  Yay!





Mobile Phone Companies…

2 03 2008

What is it about mobile phone service providers that they seem to shine with incompetence.  I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with two such companies.  When I lived in the UK I was a subscriber to Vodafone.  Here in Canada I signed up with Rogers Wireless.

Now I had my issues with Vodafone during my time overseas.  I initially signed up for a 1 year contract and renewed it each year for continued service.  Interestingly the rates generally went down as did my per/minute airtime.  The issue I had was every year I would phone them to renew my contract, select my options and every year (without fail, this is 4 or 5 years in a row) they managed to screw it up and get it wrong.  Every time.  Without exception.  This was always resolved with a few phone-calls and a slightly better deal than before but I was always amazed at how something so simple could be screwed up every time.

Now Rogers is an even more special case.  It’s to do with paying my bill.  You would think that a company that does a service for you and then sends you a bill would make it easy for you to pay it.  It would certainly be in their best interest (one would think). 

I like to pay my bill on their website with a credit card because then

  1. I get my Air Miles
  2. I control when I pay it rather than giving them the keys to my account to withdraw when they want (look at the small print for letting companies help themselves to payments; to cancel such a deal you need THEIR PERMISSION… hello it’s my bank account, I would like to think I’d have the final call on that, but I digress).

Now over the last 12 months or so I seem to have an issue regularly with paying my bill online.  The problems have included:

  1. Log-in doesn’t work
  2. Log-in works but my session is timed out after 10 seconds for no apparent reason (yes, I flushed my cache, temp Internet files, etc).
  3. Log-in works but systems are down for maintenance.
  4. Web site is so incredibly slow it is impossible to get anything done.
  5. Some other part of their on-line “services” is non-functioning for no apparent reason.

Combinations of the above seem to be what I encounter regularly.  Trying to pay my bill last night was especially annoying.  I was able to log in but as soon as I tried to get to the billing section my “session” was timed out and I was no longer logged in.  I went to the feedback session and filled out my usual note to them asking them why they continue to thwart my attempts to send them Canadian currency and await their response.  I just want to pay my bill!  Geez, you’d think I was asking for allot.  ROGERS I AM TRYING TO PAY MY BILL, WHY IS IT SO GO**AMN DIFFICULT!?!?

Another observation about the UK/Canada with respect to the mobile phone industry is how much more of a ripoff it is over here compared to Europe (bear in mind its’ been a few  years so perhaps this has changed).  For some reason in North America with our mobile phone conversations we get billed per minute.  It may only be a 10 second conversation to say you are on your way but if you are paying 30 cents a minute your on the hook for the whole 30 cents instead of the expected 5.  Over a month of phone calls that adds up to a substantial amount.  In Europe I was billed per second…  If Europe is the big rip off many people make it out to be (and it is in many ways; ‘rip off britain’ was one of the many mantras one hears living there and it has to be said there is some truth in it… check out http://www.rip-off.co.uk/ for one point of view) then why is it with our technology today we can’t have billing per second and you pay for what you actually use rather than the mobile phone companies filling their pockets by charging you for services you aren’t using.  

Is that really fair and OK with you?  To me it’s a bit like going to fill your car before a long trip, only putting in half a tank and being told they only sell full tanks and being charged for a full tank.  Very dodgy dealings there.

Anyway, my 2 cents.





Superb article on sub-prime crisis…

7 02 2008

I lifted this Dean Barker article from the website found here:   http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/02/05/6841/.  Not really much to do with Canada (yet) but raises some interesting issues towards the end.

 —-

  We are nearing the end of the subprime crisis, but this is not exactly grounds for celebration. There are still millions of low- and moderate-income homeowners who are facing the loss of their house through foreclosure. Nothing currently on the horizon seems likely to change this fact.

    The reason the subprime crisis is about to fade from the headlines is that the mortgage crisis is moving upmarket. The rate of foreclosures among people with prime loans has been rising rapidly. By the end of the year, the foreclosure rate on prime loans will be where it was with subprime loans just a few years ago. The reason is simple: House prices are plunging.

    The latest data show house prices were falling at a 16 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2007 and were already down by almost 8 percent from their year-ago levels. In several cities, the rate of price decline was considerably more rapid. In San Francisco, prices were dropping at a 22.2 percent annual rate, in Los Angeles at a 24.7 percent rate and a 27.0 percent rate in San Diego.

    This rate of price decline means millions of recent homebuyers, who put little or nothing down on their home, now have houses that are worth less than the value of their mortgage. This is important for two reasons. First, homeowners with no equity in their homes have no margin for error. If they lose their job or get a serious illness, they cannot borrow against equity to pay their mortgages through the bad times.

    This is the situation that has caused many subprime homeowners to lose their homes. While predatory mortgages are a key part of the story in many cases, if the house was worth more than the value of the mortgage, it would always be possible to borrow against the equity to meet a monthly mortgage payment. If house prices were not falling, the subprime crisis would not be happening.

    However, there is another dimension to this story. When the house price is less than the value of a mortgage, there is a strong incentive to give up a home even if the homeowner is able to pay the mortgage. The logic is simple. Suppose a homeowner owes $400,000 on a home that is now worth just $300,000, a situation common in places like Los Angeles, Miami and San Diego. If the homeowner continues to pay their mortgage, they will have eventually paid $400,000 (plus interest) for a home that is worth $300,000. That’s not a very good deal.

    Alternatively, suppose the homeowner decides to buy the comparable home across the street for $300,000, and stops sending the mortgage check to the bank each month. The bank will presumably foreclose on the first house, but the homeowner has effectively pocketed $100,000 on the day he moves across the street. That would be a good payday even for the Wall Street crowd. Of course, the bank will take a big hit, since it will not be able to recover anything close to its original $400,000 loan, but that is not the homeowner’s problem.

    Is it moral to just walk away from a loan and leave the bank holding the bag? That’s an interesting question.

    We live in a country in which CEOs can run a corporation into the ground and then walk away with pay packages worth tens, or even hundreds, of millions of dollars. Equity and hedge fund managers, who rank among the richest people in the country, have successfully lobbied Congress so that they pay a lower tax rate on their earnings than schoolteachers and firefighters. After walking away with this multi-million dollar tax break, at least one prominent member of this crew has been leading the charge to cut Social Security, pointing out he doesn’t need his Social Security check.

    Then, we have the pharmaceutical companies and insurance industry. They designed a Medicare drug benefit that will unnecessarily add hundreds of billions of dollars to federal spending over the next decade, and needlessly complicate the lives of tens of millions of seniors. Of course, this benefit will add hundreds of billions of dollars to their profits over this period. And then, we have Halliburton, Blackwater, and the other defense contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing needs to be said about this one.

    In this world, is it moral to profit by walking away from a mortgage you can actually afford to pay? Perhaps President George “WMD” Bush can address this issue for the country in a fireside chat.