Bell To Bring 1.5 Gigabit Speeds To Ontario This Month…. Sucks To Be Rogers

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 7, 2018 by itnerd

As I have previously mentioned, Bell has a distinct advantage over Rogers when it comes to their Internet offering. Now they are really starting to make life miserable for the guys in red. If you scan Bell’s quarterly earnings report, you’ll see this:

Bell today announced that Bell Fibe Internet speeds of 1.5 Gigabit per second (Gbps), the fastest available to the home in Canada, will launch this month in Ontario, followed by Québec, Atlantic Canada and Manitoba. Bell has already taken the top spot in PCMag’s The Fastest ISPs of 2018: Canada, delivering the highest overall Internet speed index ever recorded in Canada by the magazine and scoring more than 30% higher than our nearest competitor. Atlantic Canada’s Bell Aliant took second place while Manitoba’s Bell MTS moved into the top 10 for the first time. Bell’s fibre to the premises (FTTP) network is now available to more than 4.2 million homes and businesses in 7 provinces and continues to expand with the announcement of new all-fibre deployments in the communities of OshawaClaringtonOrilliaChatham-Kent and Winkler.

Well, that’s going to freak VPs and C level execs over at Rogers as they have absolutely nothing that can compete against that, and from where I sit they have no real path forward to catch up. And keep in mind that Bell promises 5 Gbps speeds by next year, and 40 Gbps speeds in the future. Which means that if you’re Rogers, you should prepare your retentions department for an influx of calls as people ditch them for Bell and their faster speeds.

It sucks to be Rogers right now.

 

Android Pie Is Now Shipping….. Though You May Never Actually Get It On Your Device

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 7, 2018 by itnerd

Google’s latest Android operating system update, Android 9 Pie, has been officially released to customers. Here’s a video that shows you what this new version of Android brings to the table:

Here’s a quick list of notable features:

  • A new gesture-based system interface that’s similar to the interface of the iPhone X
  • There’s a new Android Dashboard, designed to tell you how much time you’re spending on your device. Which sounds like Apple’s Screen Time feature that’s coming in iOS 12.
  • A new Do Not Disturb option called “Shush” which silences Android devices when placed facedown
  • A Wind Down option lets Android users select a specific bedtime to turn the interface gray to discourage smartphone usage at night.
  • An Adaptive Battery feature that maximizes battery power by prioritizing the apps you’re most likely to use next,
  • App Actions for predicting what you’ll want to do next. Which to me sounds a lot like Siri Suggestions,
  • There’s a future feature Slices which is a feature that brings up information from your favorite apps right in search.

Android Pie is available to Pixel phones today. For everyone else, you may get an update if your device is recent enough. But as typical for Android devices, your ability to get a major update to Android largely depends on who makes your phone, what carrier it is on, and how old it is as many devices use customized versions of the Android OS. Which means that both device manufacturers and/or carriers have the ultimate say as to what updates users get. Thus it is entirely possible that you may never get this update on your phone, and you may need to get a new phone to get Android Pie.

Urban Armor Gear Announces New Cases For The Surface Go

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 6, 2018 by itnerd

Urban Armor Gear has announced two new releases of their rugged MIL-SPEC cases for Microsoft’s new Surface Go.

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The Metropolis and Plasma Series cases are designed to protect and compliment the features of the all new Microsoft Surface Go. The cases are lightweight, edgy, and MIL-SPEC drop-tested to ensure the tablet can withstand rigorous activity and usage.

The Metropolis Series 

MSRP: $69.95

Made of feather-light composite construction with an impact resistant soft core, the metropolis case is prepared for the toughest of drops. The series features oversized tactile buttons, air vents, water resistant grip, and easy access to touchscreen and ports. The case meets military drop test standards (MIL-STD 810G-516.6).

Available in Black, Magma, and Cobalt

Plasma Series Handstrap

MSRP: $99.95

The Plasma series features impact resistant rubber bumpers along with a 360-degree rotating hand-strap. The case is equipped with a built-in kickstand, surface pen storage, and an optional shoulder strap. The case meets military drop test standards (MIL-STD 810G 516.6).

Review: SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0

Posted in Products with tags on August 6, 2018 by itnerd

Last year we traveled to Newfoundland and back and along the way, we found lots of areas that had little to no cell phone signal while we were driving. That became an issue when we came across a car that had bounced off a guard rail and went into a ditch. We wanted to help and after making sure the occupants were okay, we had to drive about 10 KM to find a location with a good enough cell signal to phone the RCMP to assist the occupants of the car. Thus when I came across the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0, I understood the use case immediately:

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The whole idea behind this product is that it will take a weak cell signal that would normally keep you from making calls or posting status updates to Facebook, and boost it within the confines of a car so that you can do those things. It is comprised of a number of parts:

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An outside antenna that is magnetically affixed to the roof.

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A signal booster that goes inside the car and takes the signal that is collected by the antenna and amplifies it.

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An interior antenna that you ideally place in the center of the vehicle so that all devices inside the car can receive the boosted signal, as well as use it to transmit back to the cell tower.

Assembly of this is hilariously simple. You connect both antennas to the signal booster using the supplied cables. Where they go is labeled so there’s basically no way to screw this up. Then you plug the signal booster into the 12V outlet and flip the switch to power it on. It took me less than five minutes to do all of that. And this use case is great if you’re moving this from car to car. However if you want to have it permanently installed, no problem. SureCall has authorized installers who can help you with that.

To test this out I drove out to a location near Caledon Ontario that has poor signal strength,  and did some tests with and without the Fusion2Go 3.0 using an unlocked iPhone 7 Plus that had a Rogers SIM card that I borrowed from a client of mine. The reason why I went with a Rogers SIM card is that I knew from personal experience that Rogers signal strength in the area was not that good. The next thing that I did is that I put the iPhone 7 Plus into field test mode. What’s field test mode you ask? Every phone has a feature called field test mode which allows someone like those who work for cell phone carriers as well as companies to make cell phones to test the signal strength of a cellular signal in very precise ways. Now this feature is usually hidden, but if you’re interested in how to enable this on iOS 11, here’s an article that speaks to that. But I before I get ahead of myself, here’s a screenshot of what a good signal in my area of Toronto looks like:

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The number you’re interested in is the RSRP0 number which is – 78 dB. RSRP stands for Reference Signal Received Power which is a way of measuring cell phone signal quality. This is a decent number based on the fact that signal quality can range from -40 dB to -130 dB, with -40 being the best possible signal and -130 being the worst. In general, any result that is into the triple digits is going to cause issues with voice calls being garbled or dropped, or you will find it difficult to send or receive email or post status updates to Facebook.

Once I reached the location of the test, this is what I got in terms of RSRP:

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That was pretty bad and it was backed up by the fact that it took me three tries to make a call to my home voice mail and hear my voice on it. So I flipped the Fusion2Go 3.0 on and things changed dramatically:

fullsizeoutput_b5b.jpegAt -95 dB, I was able to make phone calls and surf the Internet without a problem. My wife was able to replicate my findings on both ends with her iPhone 6 which is also on Rogers. So clearly this product works. Now there are two things that I should note, First is that the Fusion2Go 3.0 works with Bell, Rogers, Telus, MTS, and SaskTel. Thus I suspect it will also work with Rogers flanker brand Fido and the Telus flanker brand Koodo as well. Sorry Freedom Mobile customers, you’re out of luck at this point in time. Second, you have to have some sort of minimal signal for the Fusion2Go to work as it cannot work in an area that is a cellular dead zone.

So, what is this going to cost you? If you visit The Source in Canada via this link, you can expect to pay $549 CDN for one. Amazon.ca and SignalBoost Central has it for $599 CDN. For the Americans that are reading this, I found it on Amazon for $319.94 USD. Regardless of where you purchase it the SureCall Fusion2Go is easy to install, works well, and deserves a place in your vehicle if you tend to drive into areas that have spotty cell phone coverage.

 

 

Our 2018 Vacation – Part 7: Heading Home

Posted in Commentary on August 5, 2018 by itnerd

Today we head home from our vacation in Ottawa and Gananoque. The Seaway Manor was a great place to stay. The hosts were very attentive and great to my wife and I. They served us great food for breakfast and the rates per night were great. The only area to improve was the WiFi. It was slow and while that is a first world problem, people want fast access to the Internet these days. We’d highly recommend it. We’d also recommend Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata as well as that was a very upscale hotel. It was a very relaxing week long vacation and we’ll be looking forward to what next year brings.

In terms of the return trip from Gananoque, it was pretty uneventful. The Hyundai Tucson performed well. It’s a solid highway cruiser, and we tested its ability to go off road as well. No complaints from us on that front.

From a tech perspective, we did use a number of apps. Besides Apple Maps to get us around, we used Strava to keep track of our bike rides, and AllTrails to keep track of that hike where we got eaten alive by bugs.

Canada is a great place to tour and if you’re Canadian, there is really little reason to visit our friends to the south. If you’re from elsewhere, Canada has a huge variety of choice in terms of what you can do. I highly recommend touring this country to see what it has to offer.

How Oakley, Lens Crafters, & Luxottica Managed To Lose Two Customers & Few Thousand Dollars Of Business Due To A Poor Customer Experience

Posted in Commentary on August 4, 2018 by itnerd

I’ve used Oakey sunglasses for years for cross country skiing and cycling. Why? Because they’ve been proven to work in places like the Tour De France by the worlds top athletes for example. But a poor customer experience with them along with Lens Crafters and Luxottica has resulted in both my wife and I not only dumping their products, but also telling the world about it.

My wife does CrossFit and she needs eyeglasses that will survive the rigors of doing CrossFit. So just under a year ago I recommend a pair of Oakley eyeglasses. They’ve worked well for her until three weeks ago when this happened:

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If you look at the right arm of the eyeglasses, there’s a plastic piece that not only holds the eyeglasses on your head, but makes them comfortable. You’ll also notice on the left side that said piece is missing. It pretty much fell apart likely due to sweat. The right side is going to do the same thing sooner or later as it’s only in marginally better shape. Thus they both need to be replaced. This is where the pain begins. My wife took them back to the Lens Crafters store that she bought them from. At first they thought they had the pats that she needed in stock. But when they discovered that didn’t they suggested that we drive to different Lens Crafters stores and see if they could help her.

#Fail number 1: A customer should never, ever have to do their own legwork to find something. The retailer should do the legwork.

So my wife pushed back and asked if she could phone other Lens Crafters stores and see if they had them in stock. The person that she was dealing with had to get permission from her manager to do so.

#Fail number 2: Lens Crafters clearly doesn’t give their staff the autonomy and authority to do the right thing for customers. When customers see that, it really leaves a negative taste in their mouth. A store that wants to provide quality customer service should let their people do what’s right for customers to a point without having to seek permission from a manager.

So the person that she was dealing with made a few phone calls once she got permission from her manager and came up empty. That’s when she suggested that we go to Oakley. So on the spot we phoned Oakley. I live tweeted what happened next:

So after waiting 35 minutes she was told the part was on backorder. But it was on her to call back to see if it was in stock. That my friends is shambolic customer service as ties into #Fail number one. I think I know the reason why for that and its the fact that both Oakley and Lens Crafters are owned by Luxottica. And clearly they have the same customer service playbook. Which is to make the customer do their own legwork.

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But it gets worse. Oakley also told her to try filling out the online warranty form from Luxottica and submit the photos that they are looking for and see if they can help. So seeing as I had my MacBook Pro with me along with my iPhone 7 Plus, we did that on the spot. That was three weeks ago and we have heard nothing at all despite the fact that the form says that she should hear from someone in 7 to 10 business days and she got an email saying the same thing.

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Back to Lens Crafters, we continued to push them to do something as we bought the glasses there and my wife had a warranty with them which means they have to stand behind what they sell. Only then did they say that they would try and order the parts from Oakley and it may take a month. Note that they did not say that they will order the parts. Only that they would try and order the parts. That my friends is pathetic as it illustrates that Lens Crafters only wants your money and doesn’t care about after sales service. Also, I’m really not holding my breath that they will come through on this front but Lens Crafters is free to prove us wrong.

On top of that, I have tried tweeting to Oakley, Luxottica and Lens Crafters to see if I could get them to assist. Not one of these companies responded to me. I checked their respective timelines and they seem to be selectively responding to people. Which in the age of social media is a #EpicFail because once people figures out that’s this is what a company does, they will take a customer who is frustrated and make them even more frustrated. That is currently us. But my wife and I have taken a different path in terms of dealing with this rather than just be frustrated.

First, my wife needs a new pair of glasses as her Oakely eyeglasses are very uncomfortable to wear. So in the next day or two we will be shopping for a replacement pair of glasses. But they will not come from Oakley, nor will we buy them from Lens Crafters. And we will ensure that they don’t come from a brand that is owned by Luxottica as not one of these companies deserve our money. Second, I am in the market for new sunglasses that I can use for cross country skiing and cycling. Prior to this incident I had been considering a few Oakley models. But instead, I will consider models from Rudy Project who aren’t owned by Luxottica and are used by top cyclists and cross country skiers. Thus I know that they will work for the sorts of things that I do. Between the two of us, we estimate that this will cost Luxottica about $3000 as we spend what we need to get quality eyewear. Now that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what they make, but it does send a message that poor customer service has a cost.

Besides those actions, I am writing about this incident because this blog is viewed by several thousand people a day. So if I put it out there that people who want eye wear from companies that care should avoid dealing with Oakley, Lens Crafters and Luxottica as a whole, it’s going to get quite a few eyeballs and some may think twice and take their money elsewhere. After all, nothing hurts a company more than bad press. Now I don’t seriously expect a response to this from any of the companies. But if they do choose to respond, I would love to know why your customer service is this shambolic and why people should give you their money knowing that. Because right now, I am of the opinion that nobody should give any of these three companies and associated brands their hard earned money.

 

Our 2018 Vacation – Part 6: Day 5 In Gananoque

Posted in Commentary on August 4, 2018 by itnerd

Today is our last full day in Gananoque before we return home tomorrow. And because of the weather, this is the day that we have targeted for cycling. The plan was to take the Waterfront Trail which starts at the eastern city limits of Gananoque and goes east for almost 160KM until you hit Cornwall. We were not going go that far. Instead we were going to go from Seaway Manor and cycle 40 KM east and then turn around and come back. The goal was to get 80 KM into my wife’s legs and then train around that in advance of the PWC Epic Tour 80 KM event so that she knows what 80 KM feels like. There was no time that I had in mind to complete this ride. But if she completed it in 4 hours or less, that would be impressive to me given that she’s only seriously been cycling   for a year.

So just after breakfast, I prepared our bikes for the ride:

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So you likely recognize my high tech road bike on the left. but you’ve never seen my wife’s Cannondale Synapse road bike which has the same Garmin Edge 520 computer and all the sensors that I have to measure speed, cadence and heart rate. Now we have lights for safety purposes and those along with the computer need to be charged and ready to go. Thus I brought along my six port USB charger and USB cables to ensure that they were ready to go. Once everything was prepared, we headed out just after 10AM. The 40KM outbound was easy as we had a tailwind working for us. It took a total of 90 minutes But the return trip was grueling as that tailwind became either a headwind or a head/cross wind. That took over two hours. Here’s what fitness app Strava recorded.

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The goal was to get the distance in my wife’s legs. But this wiped her out so after I put the bikes away and served up some water to her. Not long after she took a nap. I took that opportunity to back up my MacBook Pro which I brought with me. I was using a external SSD built with a Samsung 840 EVO to ensure speedy backups. Because if you’re not backing up your computer, even on vacation, you risk losing your data because of theft, software, or  hardware failure. And that would suck.

At about 4PM we headed to this place:

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The Gananoque Brewing Company is an interesting place based on these pictures:

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My wife and I shared a flight of four beers before I settled on their IPA. My wife bought a beer glass and three cans of their Pilsner. From there we went next door to a place called Laverne’s which had great food and an interesting decor with faux newspaper on the walls:

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I had another local beer:

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While my wife had some soda made in Picton ON:

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According to her, these were great. So much so that the next day she bought some. From there we headed across the street to a farmers market that was set up next to the town hall:

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My wife picked up a scone and wandered through the different tents to see what was available as there was a wide variety of food for sale.

Then we walked back to the bed and breakfast and I got some shots of King St. which is the main drag:

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Seeing a this was our last night in Gananoque, we were trying to soak the place in as it was a nice place to visit. We’d come back here for sure.

Tomorrow we head back to Toronto. Tune in to see our final thoughts.