Posts Tagged ‘internet’

IMG_0376Well, we knew it was coming, although not for long due to Bell’s incompetence and the shitty way they are handling this “discontinuation of service”.  I was going to title this post “Bell, you suck“, but that title has been used way too often. (even in some variations by me, see here, and here.)

We’ve had the Portable internet or Unplugged service for quite some time now.  They’ve renamed it a few times over the years since Rogers bought up the Inukshuk internet service as part of the Microcell buy out, which ended up becoming a joint venture with Bell back in 2005.  It has never been great as far as speeds go, but at least it was available.  That is, up until now.  About a month back I found out purely by accident that the service was being discontinued at the end of March.  The story behind the shutting down seems different depending who you talk to, but in the end, it wasn’t making enough money is probably the real reason despite all the talk of the CRTC wanting that particular bandwidth back, or that the equipment was dated and in need of replacement, major repair, etc.

It seems this particular internet service has been in the process of being discontinued for some time now, depending upon your area.  I think the intention was to cancel the service once a reasonable replacement was in place.  Sadly, for those like me, that still hasn’t happened.  We are one of the lucky few not included in the government promises to bring high-speed to rural communities, seems we are too close to the city, and yet not far enough away to get coverage from the rural providers.

The worst part of the whole ordeal is the fact Bell really dropped the ball repeatedly in letting its customers know.  I found out while talking to a Bell tech about my slow internet, that the service was actually being discontinued.  I immediately got in touch with Bell internet customer service, and was informed that letters had been sent out to let people know, but strangely many people did not receive them.  WTF?  I was informed again later during another phone call that yes, in fact letters had been sent out a couple of times because there was an issue the first time.  But still, again, many people never got informed.  In this day and age how is it possible to screw up sending a letter to customers?  They would never miss making sure you get your bill, so why not just add it in there.

I got in touch with all the major players, Bell and Rogers, and long list of ISPs that I had never heard of or had little knowledge of.  Xplornet, Execulink, ISP Canada, Teksavvy, Canada Online, Falcon Internet, Allcore, and Terago to name just a few.  None of which could get a signal to my house, with the exception of Terago and they are just way too expensive to be considered a residential provider.  Wind mobile is available, but at a data cap of 10 gig per month, after which they throttle the speed down to 256kbs it is not a viable solution for a household internet service.  Especially one with teenagers that enjoy instagram, youtube, Facebook and netflix way too much.  10 gig would last about a weekend.

As it stands, we are awaiting our new turbo hub modem from Bell to start up our overpriced and data limited mobile internet service, since it is the only service anyone is offering that can reach my house.  I can physically see the city limits from my property, close enough I can read the population sign, but not close enough that any landline services have been upgraded in my area.  So for now, we are struggling by with our cell phones, trying to limit our data usage, and will be sitting in coffee shops and burger joints to do our updating of apps and OSes until such time that the powers that be finally bring real high-speed internet to ALL of the rural customers, and not just some.

barkerp

We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.”
― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

This quote and the meaning behind it rings all too true in today’s connected world.  Everything you put out there, stays out there.  The internet does not forget, people might, but then they can always find it again on the internet later to remind themselves.

Taste your words before you spit them out.” Its funny, I saw that piece of wisdom on a service station sign as I was driving past.  Made me think, and does really hit home the same message as the Anthony Burgess quote.  Think before you speak, or more precisely nowadays, think before you send/post.  There are no do-overs when it comes to what you put out there, and its easier to not say something than to try to fix it afterward or retract it.  Ask pretty much any politician.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a seemingly innocent tweet, an email, or a blog post, or comment on a website.  It can be retrieved and potentially used against you.

You never know, you may end up running for public office someday and all those shoe-fetish photos you “liked” could come back to bite you in the ass… so to speak.

I’m barkerp and I approve this message.

wiresWith more and more laptops and tablets becoming the mode we stay connected, the Ethernet cable is slowly becoming a thing of the past, especially with a recently reported 7 percent of north american consumers already dependent solely on smartphones for Internet access.  It easy to see the writing is on the wall for wired connectivity.  Add to that the slow shift from land-line telephones to cellphones, and you can see the winds of change blowing.

Those same winds are also helping to encourage workers to use their own devices at work.  The whole Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is gaining momentum in the workplace and companies for the most part are encouraging it, seeing it as a free way to get new tech in the hands of the workers for no cost to themselves, or at least, very little cost.  That however, may be more dangerous than the corporate bean-counters are aware of.  IT needs to be aware of the situation and figure out how to best provide fast, secure, reliable wireless network access while remaining cost-effective.

Some interesting stats:  Wireless usage in the corporate environment is around 25%, and expected to be near 35% within 18 months.  Roughly half of all employees are using their own devices for business purposes, and the vast majority of those employees are using more than one device.

What this means is that right now about half of the people using their own devices are also footing the bill for their data consumption while at work, rather than connecting to the office network, but this is bound to change.  Employees will want the ability to use the corporate network, but IT will want to control the info and access to ensure security.  And rightly so.  On both parts.

Encouraging employees to work from outside the office can mean that employees are more readily accessible even during non-working hours which is a win-win for management when done with BYOD.  Wireless LAN can be a great way to encourage employees to work from anywhere within the office, and even from outside the office if a secure connection to the corporate network can be established, but it needs to be secure and monitored and limited.

The change is coming, make sure you and your company network is ready for it.  Wireless connectivity is soon to be a must have in any office, and VPN is not far behind.  Security is the most important part of the puzzle but hot on its heels so to speak is the need for a fast connection without bandwidth limits, and IT needs to spend the money now to prepare and get it in place ahead of the need rather than trying to retroactively address the situation.

It seems fitting to end with a quote from the man who pioneered electronic communication as we know it today, Alexander Graham Bell,… “before anything else, preparation is the key to success“.

-barkerp

lockMarch is Fraud prevention month, and the recent problem with web services being hacked has made me a little more cautious about my online habits.  One that stands out is the hacking of Evernote.  While they were quick to make adjustments to their programs to force users to pick a new password, the fact of the matter is, many people use the same usernames and passwords on numerous services or devices and having them “out there” for the hackers is a scary thing when it comes to personal information.

I’m sure most people do it, they have 3 or 4 common passwords and cycle thru them. As a matter of fact, I’m sure of it.  I’ve seen people in my office do it when trying to remember a specific site’s password.  If one of those is out there in the wild and you are using the same username in a bunch of places, odds are any hacker worth their salt will be able to find the commonalities and abuse them.  If you don’t want to use a different username on everything you sign up for, then at least use a different password for everywhere/everything you use that common username on. If you are worried about forgetting your passwords, or at least forgetting which one is used where, there are plenty of apps out there to help you with that.  My app of choice for the past few years is 1Password and I know I’d be lost without it, thankfully it is installed on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air so it is always with me.

Don’t be too quick to reset info or provide more info.  If you get a request, be it email or a pop up on a website to verify your information, don’t just take it at face value.  Wherever possible, call your bank or whoever is requesting the info.  It is still difficult to hack a telephone call.  Many sites have two-step verification in an attempt to eliminate the hacking of passwords, since you have to match a phrase or image as well as input your password.  That’s not to say they are unhackable, just more difficult.  The old adage “an ounce of prevention…” still holds true when it comes to your personal info.  Think before you share too much.  The more info you put out there, the easier it is for you to be spoofed or hacked.  Especially when most people’s passwords are either a child’s name or a pet’s name.

Facebook, Twitter and all the social networking sites make it so easy for us to share our lives (and info) with the world, just be careful you are not sharing too much and opening yourself up to personal identity disaster.  Check those security settings and use them.  If you don’t understand them, find out what they mean.  It only takes a few minutes to be safe and can potentially save you tons of time, money and headaches later on.

barkerp

According to Stats Canada 80% of Canadians aged 16 and older use the Internet. (the stats didn’t deal with the portion of the population under 16) So what’s stopping the other 20% of people over 16? One Word. Fear. It’s a very big part of it.

People hear about the problems and potential risks and get scared. Having their identity or personal info stolen,Viruses, adware, malware, etc., and they steer clear of the entire online world. I know i’ve helped drag a few dinosaurs into the silicon age who had so many preconceptions about the dangers that it would have been easier to convince them to saw off their own arm than sign up with an ISP.

Which brings us to another reason not to be on the internet: Money.  Some people don’t have the money to buy a computer.  It’s sad but true that there are still people in Canada (dealing with Canada only since thats the stats I was perusing at the time) who can’t afford to buy a computer of their own let alone pay the monthly fees for an ISP, even dialup.  Did you know Canadians pay more on average than most of the developed countries and even at that, we have some of the slowest internet speeds?

As of May 2010, 93% of people using the internet use it for email and nearly 14% are using it for making telephone calls. The highest other uses are still searching for medical information (we like to self-diagnose it seems), weather information, and new & sports.

What about kids? For those under 16 the percentage is much higher, but the stats from Stats Canada did not include those numbers. Other regional stats indicated the number to be 93% for children aged 12-17, with most of those having internet available in their bedrooms. Kids are fearless but fortunately they are being taught in school about the dangers lurking behind every virtual corner so most are at least aware of the issues and armed against them.  But don’t rely on your kids learning about internet safety entirely in school, make sure you take a vested interest in what they are doing and who they are talking to.  Kids are quick to accept and adopt new technologies – even ones they may not fully understand, but they quickly learn about them.  Just make sure they are getting ALL the info they need.

We need the same kind of teaching to be available for the older generation too. Some of them hear about the horror stories about so-and-so getting duped by an internet scam and run away from the keyboard before ever logging on.  There are some continuing learning courses available but there is no push to get the older generations onto the web and involved, even though it could be helpful to their minds and allow them to stay in touch better and maybe even stay self-sufficient longer.  I’ve often times tried to convince my father-in-law that he needs to start writing down his stories and memories so they can be passed on and remembered, and what better way to do that than to type them out and email them.

Sure the internet can be a big scary place, but it can also be a great place to reconnect and stay current and stay informed.  Do what you can to encourage your kids, but don’t forget to encourage your parents to get involved and get connected as well.

One last thing I noticed in the Stats Canada report is that it seems the higher education level you have the more you use the internet. So, smart people like to forward bad jokes and surf for porn too?  Huh, who knew.

tcg