Category Archives: wireless

It is Possible to Win against Rogers

logo_CCTSI recently had the opportunity of accepting an international position. As I was moving out of the country I contacted Rogers (Canadian cable TV and Internet Service Provider), to let them know I would be cancelling my wireless accounts. We had a total of 3 wireless accounts in our family. My wife and I had our accounts for years along with our phones. Out daughter had only recently upgraded her cell phone. Well needless to say I was a little shocked when Rogers told me there would be $1400 in cancellation charges. I said, I could see how there would be a charge for my daughters phone, as wireless companies amortize the cost of the hardware over the length of the service plan, so I expected to pay the $400 cancellation charge. However, for the other 2 phones, which were never even purchased from Rogers I did not understand why I was being charged $500 each.

Rogers explained that because of the data and voice plan that we had there was a $400 cancellation charge for the voice plan and an additional $100 for the data plan. I said that this was ridiculous as there was no hardware amortization involved, and it was simply at service plan. I also pointed out the extra charges we had paid on a number of months for going over on our voice minutes. They said yes, we see that, but the cancellation charges still stand.

Then I came across an interesting web site. Called the Commissioner of Complaints for Telecommunication Services. I simply went on their site and filled out the form explaining my situation and that I was willing to pay the $400 cancellation, but that the other $1000 was robbery.

…and what do you know. About 6 weeks later I get a call from “The Office of the President” at Rogers. I spoke with a woman there who explained she had received my complaint and agreed to waive the $1000 fee and only charge the $400. She said she would put a note on my account, so when it came time to cancel, simply refer the agent to the notes and all would be good. In addition I received a letter summarizing what they agreed to do.

Only in Canada eh!

CES 2009 Las Vegas

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, attendance at this year’s CES 2009 was down 10%. Feedback from people visiting the show and manning the booths was that it was down more than that. In previous years you could barely walk down the aisles. This year they were wide open. The following is a quick summary of the week.

Biggest Let Down: MacWorld. In previous years, ironically, the buzz at CES was MacWorld and new product announcements. With Steve Jobs a no show and barely any new announcements, it was almost a non-event.

Biggest Surprise: Palm Pre phone. Most people had written Palm off as a phone supplier since the introduction of the iPod. When Palm announced the Pre, their stock went up 35% in one day. Some comments in the blogosphere are that this could actually be competitor to the iPhone. We will have to wait and see.

Everyone has a Netbook. If you make hardware, you probably launched a Netbook at CES. The most talked about was probably the Sony Vaio P. But there were many others. There were new introductions from the market leader, ASUS and Dell, but even Viewsonic, a monitor maker, launched a Netbook.

Most over used phrase Normal People. This phrase refers to all the non-techies out there who have a tough time getting their photos on their TV, or configuring a home network, or connecting their media to all of the above. I must have heard this definition at almost every demo. It is a great focus because we all know how hard it is to do all the above, but they have been trying to get there for a long time.

Home Theatre. In previous years it was who had the biggest flat panel. Given the economic times, it seemed appropriate that this was not the focus of HDTV launches this year. It was more about the thinnest, or the technology such as LCD screens moving to 120 and 240 kHz. Also there was more focus on connecting HDTVs to the internet. The other development in this space is Sound Bars. These are replacing the 5 speaker surround sound Home Theatre In a Box (HTIB) with one bar that can be mounted below the TV. It still gives you surround sound, but without the hassle of running cables around the room.

Connected Media. All the network vendors launched storage and media streaming devices for normal people. Cisco (Linksys), Netgear, Seagate and others all have some kind of devise for home network storage and media sharing. The device that caught my eye and follows the KISS principle was PogoPlug. You simply take a hard drive, put it in the enclosure, plug it into an outlet then plug it into your router. It configures itself and makes the hard drive available to anyone on the network. With the price of hard drivers now below $100 for 1 terabyte of storage this is a great way to increase network storage.

Economy. Lastly, everyone was talking about the economy. Forecasts were showing declines in the single digits for 2009. This doesn’t really fit with the fact that Circuit City will be liquidating 500+ stores and Best Buy had a 70% decline in earnings for the last quarter.

Finally, Free Instant Messenger for the Blackberry

OK, I know it has been awhile, but I moved across the country; so I was a little tied up 😉
Webmessenger

I have blogged about a couple of other instant messengers for Blackberries before, and have had various amounts of success with them. There is a new player out there. WebMessenger has been around for awhile, but they recently announced that they were offering their personal instant messenger for FREE!

I tried it out and it was a breeze to set up. One of the biggest issues with Instant Messengers has been to get MSN Messenger, or Live Messenger on a Blackberry. WebMessenger does this without a hitch. RIM has been saying for some time that they would have a version for MSN, but so far only Yahoo and Google Talk.

Before you try to get it working on your Blackberry, you need to set up an account on the WebMessenger site. You simply tell them your logins for each of the IM’s out there and then when you login on the blackberry, all your contacts will be there.

…now if I could just get Rogers to offer a cheap data plan.

How to Add a ring tone to your Blackberry

How often have you been in a restaurant or a movie, and someone’s cell phone blares out the latest rendition of the owners favorite hip hop track, or the blaring sound of a ring from a phone of the 60’s? I have heard that some places are considering jamming cell phones because of this.

It is annoying and many consider this to be rude.

I have found a solution. I found an MP3 file where someone recorded a sneeze. I then found the site www.coolservice.dk. It allows you to upload any MP3 file, then download it onto your Blackberry, or any phone that has internet access. You simply upload the file, and it gives you a code number. You go to the download site on your Blackberry browser, enter the code and it will be downloaded. You then save the file and it will be listed in your ring tones. Select Profiles on your Blackberry and then change the tone.

Now when your phone rings, it will actually sneeze. I have found this much less obtrusive while in public places.

You can listen and download the mp3 file below.

The Future of computing

Recently there has been a few companies that have come out with UMPC’s. Ultra Mobile PC’s. Everyone has complained about how expensive they are and how impractical the small format is. What is important to realize is that these are the "betas" of the UMPC. Like everything else, the first version is expensive. Look at HD-DVD players. They first came out over $1,000. Now pricing is down to $799. This past weekend I received a flyer for an external HD-DVD player for the Xbox 360 for $149 Canadian. (which apparently you can install in a PC.)

To really understand where the UMPC is going, simply watch the Intel video below. The only thing I could say after watching this is "I want one of each!"

Maybe the perfect remote control for the ipod.

I recently had the opportunity to test out the Keyspan Tuneview remote control. The biggest feature with this remote control, that makes it different from all others, is the LCD display on the remote mimics the screen on your iPod. All of your Albums, Artists, Genres and Playlists are displayed on the remote, just as if you were using your iPod. If you have a newer iPod with video, you can also connect the dock to your TV to watch the videos.

The installation took 3 minutes. You plug the supplied cable into the back of the dock. You attach the 2 RCA type jacks to your stereo system. You insert the iPod into the dock, turn on the remote and within 5 seconds you have your menu on the remote.

The other benefit of this remote is that it is RF (radio frequency) as opposed to IR (infra-red). This means you do not have to have line of sight to the dock. You can be anywhere in your house and access your iPod. More importantly, you can see what you are playing and what you are accessing.

Watch the video below to see this unit in action.

Wireless Keyboard for Windows Media Center

I recently had the opportunity to test new wireless keyboard from Adesso. This could be the closest to a perfect wireless keyboard for Windows Media Center. There are lots of wireless keyboards out there that use their own methods to connect. Most are good to about 6-8 feet before the signal gets to the point where the keyboard is no longer usable. Adesso uses 2.4 Ghz radio frequency. This is the same signal that wireless phones and wireless networks use. You should be good up to 50 ft. or more with this. (the keyboard supports up to 100 ft. but you may requre binoculars to see the screen at that distance 🙂

The keyboard also has an integrated trackball. The mouse buttons are located on the top, as well as another set under your trigger fingers .Scroll wheel on the left and left click on the right. The group of buttons on the top left are all related to media controls. Stop, Play, FF, REW etc.

Setup was the easiest process I have ever seen. There is a USB ‘dongle’ that you plug into any available USB slot. You push the button on the dongle, and an LED starts flashing. You push the ID button on the upper left of the keyboard and you are ready to go.

Playing music via WiFi

I recently had an opportunity to test a new WiFi music bridge that allows you to play DRM music from either Apple iTunes or Windows Media Player. The product is called the Sirocco from Sondigo.

Feature List

You don’t need any hardware on your computer. Other than your existing wireless router. The system allows you to play DRM protected music on your stereo system by making your stereo an extension of your computer. Just as if you were plugging speakers into your computer.

And best of all… it lists for $139.99 US.