dal niente

Month: April, 2011

Do You Want to Take My Pictures (redux)

I was looking at stuff to sell before I move to Australia. A lot of stuff that acumulates over the years when you think about it… and going through it all has it’s ups and downs. I’m reminded of when [CM] left Montreal.  Because she didn’t have time to clear out her apartment completely before she had to leave, I took care of it. [Paladin] and [Rda] helped me out quite a bit– but it wasn’t just the manual labour that they helped me with. It’s all those memories. I talk about getting my parents to move away from Montreal for their retirement. I love Montreal– don’t get me wrong– but after a while, you get a bit tired of the weather, that’s all. The ease of moving, though, is inversely proportional to how rooted you are in a place. You never notice how deep and how far around they’ve grown either, until you really start digging out the roots in an effort to evaluate how deeply you want to live somewhere else, and how deeply you want to move your home. 

One thing I did the other day– which I think was a good move, and an important one– was back  up all my digital photos.  It took 7 DVD data discs to backup all the photos that I’ve taken since 2005. 

 

Two things that changed.  The cameras are the first.  The earliest pictures I have in digital format are flatbed scanner digitizations of pictures I took with my Nikon F50, an oldschool non-digital (analog?) single lens reflex with a 50mm lens.  These pictures have been on several occasions been identified as “Golden Years Martial Arts Club.”  Then we move on to other cameras– eventually going digital with a Logitech webcam my Sony Ericsson K750 cellphone.  The very art of archival photography changed drastically at that point– once you put a digital camera on my phone, what changed was accessibility. I could snap a picture at any time.  I didn’t have to think consciously about bringing a camera out with me every day– it was already there.

 

The camera alters the kind of photos I tend to take, and it seems obvious in retrospect.  With the cellphone cameras I’ve had over the years, the pictures have a distinctly more urban feel to them.  We find pictures of graffiti, funny signs, car accidents, ugly window displays at stores.  Lots of street food.  If it’s my point and shoot Lumix, the pictures are definately more touristy or festive– lots of pictures of landscape, food in fancy restaurants, and family portraits from reunions.

Which brings me to the second thing that’s changed over the years– the subjects of the pictures.  Despite the correlations I’ve already described between the type of camera and the picture content, aside from the type, there’s also me.  I’ve changed, and what I’m looking to record has changed as well.

In skimming the photos from 2005, we see a definate progression.  The early pictures from college were all about audacity and friendship– it was about looking cool, and having experiences that we wanted to show off.  Nowadays? The pictures to me tend to be more subtle.  They’re not trying to depict weekend warriors or heroes–  they’re trying to capture the essence of homestyle cooking; the genius of a cogset; the billboards on those stores on that street, before, ten years from now, you don’t recognize anything.

 

The actual places these pictures are taking place hasn’t changed, but the eye that they’re presenting for has, in slight, but fundamental way.  It’s as if what the pictures used to say was “look at this!” wheras now, they say: “You might want to remember this.”

Xanga vs Chromium

Why does the editor for Xanga hate my browser so much?

Travaillons Ensemble

So, lately, I’ve been mostly unemployed, puttering around the house.  The hospital doesn’t have that many shifts for me, and because I’ll be going on a family vacation in about a week, and leaving for Australia in another month, trying to get a more stable workload isn’t going to work because it isn’t worth it to train me for a new department.

I don’t exactly like not working. It’s not so much because I feel bored (I always find things to do) but more because I need money.  But well, since I can’t do much given my splotchy schedule for the next month, I’ve been trying to make the most of it.

I’ve always been a pretty critical person.  Even if I don’t always voice my criticisms out loud, the thoughts are there– I always wonder how this or that can become better.  I’ve come to realize that, in [Zanshin]’s lingo, I’m a hacker and not so much of a forger, and I like that.  Both are important I think, but I like finding the kinks in the world and working on those things.  It’s my hobby.
All this time off has given me a lot of time to think, and rebalance my life.
I’ve been doing something slightly different lately though– which is that, rather than just thinking, I’ve been acting on my ideas. This isn’t a black and white topic exactly– it’s not as if I never acted on my ideas in the past.  But this has partly to do with the fact that I’ll be leaving Montreal– again– and that I won’t be back for 3 years.
I guess, more specifically, I’m trying to make more of a difference at home, which is something I never really cared about doing in the past.  Not that I was useless at home when I lived her before– but, I always talk about innovation and efficiency, and applying theory into practice: but when have I ever applied to my home?
The truth is, there are a lot of things that I can change about the way my household runs, but, simply, home is close to home.  It’s a lot easier to yell and scream or be diplomatic  or be clever at the workplace.  At least, it is for me.  As a family man, I’m a completely different person– I don’t try to make authority for myself at home, I usually just go with the flow.   I don’t often try to ‘innovate’ at home.  Why is that?  That’s a complex issue in itself.
But suffice it to say that I’ve been putting into efforts into changing myself, and changing all that.
When I think about it– what am I good at?  What are my experiences, and how can I make a difference?  A lot of what I was made of came in really handy when I was teaching kids.  That was, frankly, one of the best experiences of my life, because it changed the way I viewed skills.  Substance, the stuff that a person is made of, is a consolidation of all things.  Some situations only require a few skills out of a person– but others require many, and those situations are the ones that make us feel we have a place.  These situations, these scenarios or environments, they require of us who we are, and that is why when we do those things that require more of us, we feel more complete.  It has sometihng to do with the recognition of who we are because of all the trials we’ve faced to become the a person who is requested.
These sorts of situations though, they seldom find us.  We have to find them.  Indeed, it’s very rare that we’ll be ‘discovered.’  If it does happen, more power to you.  For most though, life is all about discovering ourselves– and where we’re supposed to be; perhaps, where we ought to go.
The funny thing is that, for me, with all the stigma of growing up in my home… well, things haven’t always gone smooth.  So it’s hard, sometimes, to interact with family with the freedom that I do with strangers, ironically enough.
Anyway… all this is to say, my point is, over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to change all that.
What am I good at?  And why haven’t I shared any of this with my family sooner?  My family has always tried to teach me what they know.  Why haven’t I ever reciprocated as much as  I could?
It was probably just pride.
Well, like I said… I’m working on that, in the time I have left.
 

Burn my Dread

I just beat Persona 3 Portable (P3P).  Wasn’t dissapointed at all with this game.

This is one of those games that really just gets you thinking… unfortunately I can’t say much about it without spoiling things.  It’s hard to really talk about the characters without the story– because the characters are built around their experiences.

 

It reflects a lot about real life though– it came at a good time in my life, I think.

 

 

So a question I ask every now and then: why are we here?

Yes, it’s difficult to be specific.  And maybe it’s a limitation of language or our ability to communicate– but don’t you know it when you feel it?  I mean, don’t you know when you know it?

 

And if you don’t– what are you waiting for? When will you start looking?

I’ll sue you, motherf!@#*(ers

I was just thinking that one day, when I become a lawyer, it might be fun to start trying to sue companies for the misleading information that telephone representatives give you.  It’ll be hella hard, mind you, because these big companies probably have army-sized legal teams.  But consumer protection ought to be a bigger issue, especially considering increased consumerism, don’t you think?

Bell Canada

Lets take a look at a comparison of small/medium sized business versus a large business.

For this comparison, I’ll be relating my experiences with Acanac (www.acanac.com) and Bell Canada (www.bell.ca).  Bell Canada, as you may or may not have heard, ‘owns the copper,’ which is to say, owns the physical wires which are used for the majority of Quebec phone lines, and in turn, high speed DSL internet access.  I’m not sure what’s the case outside of Quebec, but my understanding from the amount of weight they have on CRTC board meetings is that they probably have a lot of copper out there in the rest of the country as well.

Bell’s essentially been around as long as telecommunications have been around.  Which is to say, since before telecommunications was telecommunications, and it was you picking up a handset and cranking up a dynamo to get get an initial connection with an operator who would plug all the lines for you.

Acanac is much younger, coming into fruitition during my generation.  They started off as a DSL reseller.  Since Bell owns the lines, they actually buy connections and bandwidth from Bell in bulk, and thus resell it for cheaper.  Their entire business model depends on being able to outmaneuver Bell in terms of price and customer satisfaction– and I’d argue that they do a great job of it.

There’s a love hate relationship going– Acanac is one of the companies that is most vocally against the UBB (Usage Based Billing).  So, while Bell is for UBB, Acanac, as a company and community is against it, even though it’s forced to essentially buy internet access from Bell.

Let’s look at the customer experience I’ve had with the two companies.

Services Offered:
The two companies don’t offer the same thing.  Bell offers the traditional landline telephone, mobile phone, satelite television and DSL internet services.  Acanac is mostly internet related– it offers DSL internet (resold Bell services), cable internet (resold Videotron services) and VOIP telephony (internet powered telephone service).  Which services you need are up to you.

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t watch much television– but when i do want to see something, I’ll go to a station’s website and just stream it.  I’m not someone who needs 500 channels, so satelite television isn’t for me. I mostly need the internet, but I’ll also compare based on telephony service.

Effectiveness of Service:
I used to use DSL with both Bell and with Acanac.  I wouldn’t say that downtimes with either one were any better or worse, since Acanac DSL is essentially resold Bell DSL.  Can’t say much about the effectiveness issue in terms of actual services rendered.  I have recently switched to Acanac Cable Internet though, and that product works over 10x more effecitvely than DSL in my area.

Customer Service:
Here’s the big one.

Bell customer service is terrible, simply put.  Every time you have a problem with your internet service, you have to spend several minutes just navigating their phone menus.  Not only do you have to say “Francais” or “English” (you have to yell it because the voice recognition almost never works for me for some reason), but you also have to yell in why you’re calling.  Then you have to go through more menus.  At the end of that, they put you on hold.

Acanac generally just has a few menu options.  You call, there’s English or French menus, and then you select a department. They put you on hold.  They tell you how many callers are ahead of you and how long you’ll probably have to wait.

When I call Bell or Acanac is generally at the same time of day, beacuse I generally like to do that kinda work around the same time of day.  I don’t necessarily call them just to complain– oftentimes I’ll just want information about something, like a new product they’re offering and a question I have that isn’t covered on their website.

In general, Acanac has me speaking to a human within five minutes. That person generally knows their shit– and if I have secondary concerns that aren’t related to the department of the initial operator I speak to, they forward me to a colleague in another department, and that generally goes through almost instantly.  Bell does okay sometimes, but when they’re bad, I’ve put my phone on speakerphone for as long as 20 minutes– no indication of how much longer I’ll wait either.  In this aspect, the fact that Acanac takes the simple courtesy of estiamating how long you’ve got to go and how many people are ahead of you goes a long way.  I think my lessened frustration with Acanac is in part because if they tell me that the waiting time is 20 minutes and that there are 30 people ahead of me, at least <i>I know</i> that I would be better off calling some other time.  Bell, on the other hand, just leaves me there with my penis hanging out.

I’ve also noticed, no joke, that Bell has a 25% chance of ‘accidentally’ disconnecting me.  That’s never happened with Acanac.

Bell also tends not to respond to my question– instead, they answer the question that they think I ought to have asked.  And that infuriates me.  Tech support questions to Bell generall have them following the same script over and over, even though it might be my 3rd callback– they’ll tell me to reboot my computer, turn of my modem, wait 30 seconds… all that bullshit.  Even though I’ll tell them this is my 3rd call and I tried all that.

If the internet is down it’s down, okay.  But at least Acanac has a human at the other line who listens when I say “I tried all that,” and then we’ll move on to something else.

Aside from telephone customer service, there’s online customer service.  Bell does have a support area, but Acanac’s is 10x better.  It’s actually got user forums of people from the Acanac community, which gives you a nice warm feeling (about as nice as Linux community forums) where people are gnerally there because they’re curious about how to make the most of their service, or ask obscure questions.  Bell tends to have only ‘official releases’– there’s no transparency to it because they write their own FAQs.  From my experience, the Bell forums also seem to be heavily censored– you’ll never find someone saying anything bad about Bell on the bell forums, wheras on the Acanac forums it’s all a free for all.

I can’t argue that Acanac’s method is better, because the problem with no moderation is that you get a crapload of… well, crap.  But, where Acanac really outdoes Bell is in terms of email customer support.

If I email Acanac a question, I generally have a response within the next 24 hours. The response is usually on the ball.  If I write back to that individual support guy (billing or tech), I might even get a follow up within the next few hours.

Annoying shit:
Acanac doesn’t really do much annoying extra stuff.  But Bell does.  They periodically call our house even though we’ve told them to be removed from their calling list.  If we call them about an issue, next day they’ll give us a ‘customer satisfaction call’ by a machine to ask us to rate how well we were treated.  Even when I was calling yesterday to cancel my Bell phone service– they called back *twice*, once to confirm that I was really reallllly cancelling, and once again for customer satisfaction. I mean, seriously guys: fuck off.

What’s worse is that whenever I try to do anything at Bell– and I mean anything– they always try to sell you some stupid shit.  Yesterday, I called to cancel my phone service– what should be a simple procedure was me basically saying “thanks, it’s okay, I’ve looked it over, I’m not interested”  because they were trying to offer me 2$ off my monthly bill.  Or, they were saying that if my landline was too expensive, I could save *more* by bundling with satelite tv and/or a Bell cellphone.

SURE… so I call because I want to cancel.  You asked me WHY.  I said it was too expensive, and you’re teling me that the solution is for me to spend more money on MORE Bell products.

I’m generally really civil with phone people– not because I feel intimidated by them or anything like that, but because my whole family started off doing crappy odd jobs.  Those are real people on the ends of those lines, and they have feelings, and they too need to put dinner on the table.  But if you piss me off enough– I’m going to make you want more for yourself.  I will probably try to make you hate your job so hopefully you wisen up and do something more with your life.

Am I looking down on customer service reps?  No.  If you’re happy with it, fine.  But take responsibility– and be aware that if you chose to work for a company that is retarded, I will treat you, it’s avatar, as a retard.

Acanac tends to do what I tell it, whether it’s cancel something, transfer an account, or whatever.  It doesn’t require 4 levels of personal identification like the last amount I paid on a bill, a voiceprint signature (yes, Bell does that).

General Feelings:
My general feeling is that while Bell owns all the copper– they’re not doing anything good with it.  And I don’t see why they can’t do things more like Acanac.

In fact, I rather suspect that they know that they can’t– which is why they resell their internet in the first place.  There’s so many people out there who hate bell; the only way that they can make a dime off of this otherwise unreachable demographic is if someone else repackages their product’s terrible customer service model.

Small companies versus Large:
A company like Bell has a much larger money pool to drawn on than a medium sized company like Acanac.  Where does all that money go?  One thing seems pretty obvious– it doesn’t go into maintaining customer relationships.  The attitude I get from Bell whenever I speak to them is as if they’re doing my a favour by letting me use their phone services.

I consider myself to be moderately tech-savy when it comes to these sorts of things– which is why whenever I call Bell, I feel the sleaziness of their telephone operators’ scripts because I see what they’re trying to do.

A lot of it is FUD.  When I called them to cancel my landline service, here was their response.  At first, they offered me a 2$ per month discount on my existing services.  I politely declined.  After that, they asked why I wanted to cancel, which sure, okay, the guy is just doing his job– even if it’s none of his business, I told him that VOIP suited my needs and price range much better.  If he could chargfe me 10$ per month for service instead of 25$, and offer Caller ID, forwarding and voicemail, sure, I’d stick with bell.  He couldn’t.  But he didn’t stop there– this is when we moved on to the FUD tactics.

He went through a whole spiel about how VOIP “can be dangerous.”  First, he asked, “Did you know that…” many government offices try to conact you by phone?  If you cancel your landline, you’ll no longer have a valid landline– which means you might default when it comes to issues the government wants to contact you about.  Surrrrrrrrre, okay.  Not only that, he explained, but god forbid if there was ever an emergency, 911 services don’t work over VOIP– you might be putting your family in danger.

That kinda shit, frankly, *offends me*.  I know a lot of you will think that they’re just being nice by pointing out some of the flaws with VOIP, but let me tell you why I’m offended.

First of all, it isn’t that 911 services don’t work when you call from a VOIP line.  It does.  Hoewver, it goes to a national calling center instead of a local one– that just means that when you call 911, it’s like when you call from a cellphone with caller ID– they don’t know where you are, so they will ask you.  Which, I might add, they ask anways, even if you call from a landline.  I’ve called 911 on at least 2 separate occasions from my cellphone, and they ask your location– it takes a few seconds more, but it’s not significantly longer than what it takes when you call from a landline.

What offends me is the spin they’re putting on it.  They know that the average person doesn’t understand the differences involved in calling from a landline versus VOIP/mobile phones, but they do know that 911 is one of those staple bits of security that we have access to with a landline.  So, they prey on that sense of conservativism by using buzzwords like “danger” and “safety of your family.”  Take the average 40+ year old person like my parents, and that might be enough righ there to stop the cancellation.  If you threw those words at my grandparents, who don’t understand technology and are extra protective, the idea of switching to VOIP would’ve been halted right there.

He then went on to say that if internet service fails, you’ll lose phone service, which could be bad.  Which is true, I’ll admit.  However, knock on wood, wheras my service with Bell would flake out on a bi-weekly basis, and with Acanac DSL (running bell lines) it flaked out at least once a month, Acanac Cable (running on Videotron’s network) hasn’t had a total shutdown since i started using it about two months ago.  Knock on wood, sure.  But it’s an ironic spin on things that they’re denouncing VOIP based on the uncertainty of internet connection stability when frankly, I’ve never used internet as unstable as Bell’s.  Of course, they won’t mention that part.

Calling someone up and telling them “I want to cancel this service” should be as simple as that– like when I ended my Bixi subscription, or my Acanac DSL service.  Your product no longer suits me– stop being such a clingy bitch.  I don’t owe you anything.  Make your counter offer– if it’s not appealing enough, that’s it: we’re done.  Don’t try to use scare tactics to make me stay, that insults my intelligence.

I should also point out that when I called them about two weeks ago, they gave me this incredible runaround about finding information on cancellation procedures.  When I finally managed to speek to a representative, it went a bit like this:

Me: “Hi, I’d like information on how to cancel my home landline with Bell.”
Bell: “Can I get the phone number please?”
Me: “Sure, it’s YYY-YYY-YYYY.”
Bell: “It seems that your voice identification failed.  Are you the primary account holder?”
Me: “No, it’s my parents.  But I’m not calling to cancel right now.  I just want some information about what I have to do when the time comes and i want to cancel.”
Bell: “I’m sorry sir, I need to speak to the primary account holder.”
Me: “You mean to say to me that I can’t ask a general question about procedures? Nothing I’m doing here today is going to affect the account.”
Bell: “I understand that sir, but for security reasons, I need to speek to the primary account holder.”

Simply, my mom wasn’t home, and my dad hates talking to Bell.  Everything I hate about bell that I’ve blogged about so far?  Subtract all the technical knowledge, and multiply aggravation by about 10 times, and also, throw in that he doesn’t pick up well on phone conversations where the other person speaks too fast or with a heavy accent.  That’s my dad.

Me: “Listen buddy, there’s no security involved here. I could be calling for my neighbor, I could be calling for myself– what I’m asking you is a general question about cancellation.”

The fucker wouldn’t budge, probably because of his script.  And it’s not that I hate immigrants– my family is a family of immigrants– but for fuck’s sake, get someone who speaks English, okay?  I had to pass the phone to my dad. Who, basically, identified himself, had to scrounge up an old bill, give his address, birthdate and the last amount on his bill.  Then he passed the phone to me.

Me: “So?”

Bell: “You can discontinue your Bell service at any time.”

Me: “What about like some sorta advance warning?  Say I tell you right now that I want to terminate my landline– it’ll be done, just like that?”

Bell: “Well, when you terminate, the person will tell you when it will be terminated.”

Me: “How long does it take?”

Bell: “They’ll tell  you.”

Me: “They’ll tell me?”

Silence.

Me: “What does that mean?  You guys don’t have a standard amount of time for a cancelation request to when it’s actually executed?”

Bell: “Well, usually within 48 hours.”

Me: “Usually?”

Bell: “Yes, sir.”

Me:  “So you mean to say, if I cancel right now, within two days, that’s it?  I won’t be paying anymore?”

Turns out the fucker lied.  When I called to terminate a couple of days ago, yes– they can cancel the service within 48 hours.  BUT, you still have to pay for 30 more days because that’s how much advance notice they require.

And they had the nerve to call me two more times after the cancellation, the next day.  Once, with an automated machine, to confirm my choice– that’s right, not even a goddamned human.  And secondly, to ask what I thought of my experience with bell: can you please give us your feedback for customer satisfaction purposes?

When [Zanshin] came to visit Canada for the first time in years (he’s been living in South Korea since a month before I first went there) he asked me: what did I think about being back in Canada?

And one of the major things is this.  It’s this lack of people and companies, Bell being a paragon example,  giving a fuck.  While it’s true that SK Companies don’t have the greatest track records when it comes to human rights and fair salaries, at least the individual workers live in a country with a culture of customer service and politeness.  You can have a any man who hates his job in SK, I guarantee that the percentage of these men who still are good at their jobs in terms of dealing with customers is tenfold what it is here.  They might not take pride in their work, but they have enough self respect to realize that they are human, you are human, and that as a whole, a culture of “do your best” is better than “do what you have to.”

Concluding notes:
Fuck you, Bell Canada, for being one of the biggest companies in the country, and setting such a poor example of Canadian consumer relations culture.  It’s no wonder Canada’s falling behind.

Masters of Business Administration

[Yel] laughed out loud, so I asked her what was so funny.  Apparently, two of the operating room attendants (orderlies), were scheduled suddenly for two full weeks of work.  But that’s so out of the blue, and she was sure they weren’t informed, so there’d be problems– since they’d most likely have prior commitments to another unit.  The two ORAs have been working here longer than I have. but like me, they don’t hold permanent positions.  Because of this, they both recently joined another unit that could offer them more stability– people have to eat, you know.
 
“Je les ai dit,” Yel explained with disgust, “don’t give priority to here– because here, dey are users.  Quand ils t’ont besoin, ils t’appellent, mais si ils don’t need you, that’s it– you’re out, garbage, who are you!”
 
It’s true, and it is disgusting that a company like this makes it into the Montreal Gazette as one of the Top Employers in Montreal.  If you read this artcile, there’s a lot of important people from the MUHC smiling and stuff.  The McGill University Health Centre provides some incredible benefits for it’s employees.
 
But waitaminit.  You mean to say that all the good things that I have going for me as part of my work contract were just handed to me by the MUHC?
 
Aren’t all these things– like maternity leave, a pale yearly salary increase, educational leave, disability leave, pension and health coverage– aren’t these all things that our unions had to fight tooth and nail to wrest out of the MUHC’s labour-busting despotism?  The MUHC didn’t give us these things… they’re just taking credit.
Turns out also that they’re not going to give me time off to study law.  I mean, chances are, I wouldn’t end up working there again, ever– but it’s not like I was asking them to pay me during my leave.  As it stands, I’m already only scheduled whenever someone is sick– that means the random call at 7AM once a week or two.  I don’t have a scheduled work week.  And even when I’m making almost no money at the hospital at this point, they won’t allow me to take an unpaid leave of absence, and are telling me that if I’m going to school for three years– I have to resign?  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  The last time I went to school after working years at the Montreal Chest Institute (also part of the MUHC network) I was also forced to resign when I decided to take a year off to work in Korea, years ago.  And, as a matter of fact, they rehired me with open arms upon my return– but, they tried to erase my years of seniority.
Frankly, it’s their loss.  To be honest, after years of service at the MUHC… how many is that total? 6 years? I grew up working with the MUHC while I was in school, and I always gave them my best.  But after years of it, I can simply say fuck them.  I believe that the work done there is important– but just because they’re a hospital and they have, prima facie, noble goals doesn’t stop me from saying that the administrative structure and the exploitation built into it is absolutely disgusting.
Not everyone is bad, of course.  But the whole of the MUHC’s organizational structure is plagued with intermittent patches of bad attitude that trickles right from the top– there’s a territorialism, a sinistry about how there is no transparency for the important decisions, and that those who are favoured for managerial positions have more business sense (and personal ambition) than caring.
Elections are coming up in Canada, and traditionally, though I have leanings towards the NDP, I can make almost as good a case for not voting– because no matter who is in charge of this country, their fundamental response to problems is to allocate or restrict funding.  That doesn’t work.  To approach the management of a country simply in terms of fiscal considerations doesn’t make it to the layman.  Different party leaders, both at the provincial and federal level, have come and gone– when is the last time one of those transitions had a direct impact on what goes on in the hospital?
Some parties have said they’d spend more on public health care, some were saying they wanted to go the route of public– either way, the people in charge of hospitals haven’t changed, and the way that we run things on the front lines have changed according to the visions of individuals on boards of directors– not in the government.
So what do we need government to do?
 
We need it to step off the deffensive.  We don’t need a government who takes our tax money, and just decides how to use it.  We need a government that envisions a sense of nationalism, and works to build it by influencing culture.
The whole reason why money is so imoprtant is because of it’s solvency.  That’s exactly the problem.  A new government comes in– but whatever their goals, the executors of them are able to use the money in ways not intended, because there is no underlying direction to that.  The government is all about budgets– and their budgets are scalar quantities, not vector ones.
On the other hand– I think that people need to stop bitching abotu wanting more money– instead, how about asking for respect?  How about asking for culture, or pride?  How about asking for a sense of community?
The modern world separates most into two categories: the mercenaries, who go where the money is good, and try to convince themselves that this is what life is about– and the dogs, who kill eachother over table scraps.  Why not work to be a family?

Limited Models

In Montreal, any decent unlimited bandwidth internet service provider elludes me.  There are some that offer unlimited plans, but, from my experience, the actual Mbits per second is too slow to actually be useful for what I need it to do.

 

One of the arguments made against the CRTC was that abolishing of unlimited bandwidth was going to have a severe effect on the ability of Canadians to develop in an increasingly internet-dependant world scene.  I already see this as true.

Over the past few months, I’ve been making efforts to get my parents to be more tech-savy, or at least more internet-comfortable.  Since I’ll be leaving for Australia for 3 years, I won’t be able to answer their questions about  a lot of things any more.  I’ve made leaps and bounds just by being encouraging and patient– in the past year, I’ve managed to get my parents comfrotable with watching Youtube videos, copying and deleting files, checking their email, watching downloaded video files, using USB drives–  but it hasn’t been easy.

 

One reason why my parents never cared for things like downloadable media or streaming video is because the internet in my area is terrible.  You could get an unlimited internet plan– but the cheapest of them was about 30$, and the download rate was limited to about 0.4Mbps.  Actually, my cellphone downloads at about 3-4Mbps (10 times faster).  So that’s pretty embarassing for DSL all over my hometown.  And it’s sad: because it’s not like I live in the boonies.

I recently scrapped the DSL plan and went for a cable internet connection instead, which thankfully brings me up to between 2-3Mbps– however, there’s a cap: I’m only allowed to download 40 gigs per month.

 

Meanwhile, my international experiene in SK and HK had considerably faster internet, it was cheaper, and it was unilimited.  [CM] reports that though prices are similar in Australia, at least there it’s unlimited.

 

 

 

I suppose that a lot of people figure that they only use the internet for email or something– but there’s more to it than that.  There’s a lot of functionality that gets added to a computer when you’ve got reliable, fast internet with no caps.  When you consider that 10  minutes of a youtube video takes over 100MB of data on the lowest resolutions, that stuff adds up.  When you consider that windows updates, even if you only do them once a month, take around 200 megs for a basic software loadout?  I just did a software update of my Linux OS– that would have cost me 150 megs right there, if i wasn’t at the library to save on bandwidth.

 

For me, it’s skype calls.  I use Skype extensively to chat with [CM] almost daily.  Skype, thankfully, is pretty smart.  If you’ve got a slow internet connection, it switches gears to a lower audo/video resolution, while still trying to be functional.  But on faster connection, skype can take over  2 megs per minute to operate with video.  To give you an example– I can spend over an entire gig just to have a skype conversation that’s just a few hours long.

 

I’m not blaming skype– but I must say that if I’m paying about 40$ per month for internet, I shouldn’t have to worry about rationing my bandwidth, and making choices between watching youtube videos, downloading some video, or chatting with my girlfriend. I should be able to do it all.

I’m not just being a whiny consumer who thinks that he should get more for his dollar.  I firmly believe that internet is no longer an option in society– it’s a necessary tool, and as such, companies who attempt to monopolize access to it ought to be scrutinized very strongly.

 

What I’m saying is that the digital revolution has come– and it’s gone.  It’s left Montreal behind, in fact– because while other people are sharing videos, pritvate citizens who are trying to be productive at home are spending as much time downsampling their photos as they are taking better ones.  All this talk about an age of digital collaboration and conferencing? It pisses me off that you can pay over 50 bucks per month here– and still not have unilimited internet.

Where do you want to go today

Currently Listening to:
Gym Class Heroes
 
There’s an episode of Seinfeld where they talk about how some people seem to enter a room as if they have a themesong attached to them.
 
Lately, I find I have a lot of difficulty listening anything on the top 50 of pop music.  I just find that most modern pop music as a whole doesn’t relate to me, not in the way that it did 10 years ago.
 
If I enjoy a song, it’s because I can relate the emotions or ideas of the song.
 
I find, for example, that a random song I’ll hear on the radio has the chance of being about twice as good if I can see the music video, and about five times better if I watch it on Glee.  There’s something about the energy of performance, or the placement of the lyrics in a story, that has the potential to make a song better.
 
 
My tastes in music have changed in some ways, but I think that’s also because my life has changed, putting me in a different state of mind that makes me relate to some contexts more than others.  I find, for example, that I’m outgrowing Dave Matthes Band music (everything up to before he released “Some Devil”).  Some of the old pop stuff like Semisonic, Third Eye Blind– I’m not relating to it nearly as much as I did when I was still looking for love and going through all the angst of intermittent dating.
 
I think one of the big differences between my situation now, and myself 5 and 10 years ago, is simply that I have an idea of where I’m going.  Which is funny– because actually, there are more unknowns in my life than there were 5 years ago. 
 
Five years ago I had no idea what I was going to do for a career or if I’d be alone for the rest of my life.  I was bouncing from hobby to hobby to keep my lifespark going, but there was no sense of permanence to what I was doing, or to what goals I wanted to pursue with all of my weight.
 
Now, I’m heading off to Australia to pursue a law and be with the girl I love, and I’ve even got one of those plans for 5 years from now and ten years from now– but I don’t know what will happen while I’m down under.  I don’t know if I’ll have a job 5 years from now, or be one of those tens of thousands of American and Canadian law graduates without a job.  But I do know one thing: I know what I want to do, and I know who I try and do it all with by my side.
 
Actually trying to do it?  Compared to deciding what to do– that’s a piece of cake.
Just some exerpts from the Student Visa Application.  I find official forms are so much fun because they all sound dreadfully serious--- yet I always have difficulty regarding anything seriously that I fill out on an online form.

If you wish to study in Australia, you must be of good character. The following questions ask details of your character. If your circumstances change before you travel you should inform the Australian Government office overseas. If you are receiving assistance in completing this form, you must ensure you personally answer these questions, and that the answers are faithfully transcribed to this form. For your reference, a copy of the questions can also be found in form 157A Application for a student (temporary) visa
Have you, or any person included in this application to apply for this visa, ever:
been convicted of a crime or offence in any country (including any conviction which is now removed from official records)?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

been charged with any offence that is currently awaiting legal action?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

been acquitted of any criminal offence or other offence on the grounds of mental illness, insanity or unsoundness of mind?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

been removed or deported from any country (including Australia)?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

left any country to avoid being removed or deported?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

been excluded from or asked to leave any country (including Australia)?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

committed, or been involved in the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity or human rights?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

been involved in any activities that would represent a risk to Australian national security?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

had any outstanding debts to the Australian Government or any public authority in Australia?
No Yes
If Yes, please give details

been involved in any activity, or been convicted of any offence, relating to the illegal movement of people to any country (including Australia)?