Thursday, 27 January 2011

Sigh of relief

When I learned about Shaw's limit on bandwidth, and the usage charges, I got worried. I could not find anything on their web page, so I wrote to them - and tweeted about it. This is the reply I got to-day

Good morning Stephen,

Thank you for your email dated January 20, 2011.

After reviewing your account I can confirm that you have not exceeded the limit within the last 6 months (that is as far back as we can see). With our High Speed Internet connection you have a limit of 60 GB/month. You were between 6 GB and 11 GB over the last 6 months and nowhere near the limits. The majority of our customers will never exceed their bandwidth limits. If you continue to use the internet as you have been, you will never have to worry about being billed extra for your internet service.

There is a process in place for customers who exceed their limits. The second consecutive month they go over, they will be notified in your monthly invoice and a monitoring tool will be enabled within our Online Customer Care website The invoice will include a graph that shows the usage over the last few months too. At this point there are no charges for the overage, we will simply work with our customers to reduce the amount of data or adjust the services on the account for more bandwidth to suit their needs. If the usage limits are broken after this point, the account will be billed.

I understand that we may enable the monitoring tool on our website for all customers rather than only for those who exceed after they exceed. I’m hoping this is the case and it will be available shortly.

Please let us know if you have any additional concerns, or feel free to contact us through our Live Chat . Simply go to When sending a reply, please remember to include all previous correspondence. Thank you.

Juanita - 3719
eCare Team

Shaw Cablesystems GP
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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Oh Canada

The following post is inspired by a tweet - I just could not find a way of getting this down to 140 characters

"Budweiser will be the Official Beer of both Vancouver @WhitecapsFC and the @BCLions #BCPlace"
from miss604 (Rebecca Bollwit)

Frankly I care little about sports - soccer or football mean little to me. I perceive them to be part of a process by which the populace are distracted. The coverage and analysis of sports is part of "news" - and arguably more thorough and certainly more keenly followed.

I grew up near the Boleyn. The home of West Ham FC. And many people I have met have assumed that in some way that must mean I am a "supporter". Actually no. The behaviour of soccer fans in Britain in the sixties and seventies was horrific. Slicing up the competition was taken literally: razors were taken to away games by the InterCity crew.

Local loyalty actually means less and less. Even in places like Green Bay - where (NFL) football is practically a religion.

Budweiser is weak American beer. It resembles only the authentic article - lager brewed in Budvar, in the Czech Republic - only in name. The US brewer has even taken the brewers of Budvar to court to "protect" their brand name - derived from that town but traduced by a drink that could not be sold as beer under the German "Rheinheitsgebot".

"Budweiser has placed an even greater emphasis on its American heritage since early 2009, describing itself as "The Great American Lager". " source

But BC Place, the BC Lions and the Whitecaps are Canadians in a Canadian city. Where we are a bit particular about our beer. In fact I know many Americans who used to come to Canada for the beer. They themselves are increasingly turning to craft beers -which is very good indeed.

Many of our own brewers have been absorbed by international conglomerates. Business only recognizes national boundaries when it suits their marketing purposes.

It is all about money. Anheuser-Busch has plenty of that - and they bought up Labatt.

The one thing that all Canadians have in common when it comes to defining our identity is that we are NOT AMERICANS. Of course, our present government in Ottawa has been very happy to be seen as America's little brother for the last five years. I doubt many Canadians are actually very happy about that. Even the ones who measure our success in terms of the value of our dollar against the greenback because it gives them more buying power when they go cross border shopping.

I won't be attending any Whitecaps or Lions games. I will be surprised if there is anything to attract me back to BC Place, despite its new roof. Been there. Didn't like it. Their choice of beer means that I would not even be able to take solace in something nice to drink while I am being bored. I would like to think that some other Canadians will agree with me.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Book Review "Unbroken"

I have just finished reading a new book. New in the sense of recently published and excerpted in the Observer. I liked the excerpt so much I went in search of the book and was really pleased that not only does the Richmond Public Library have a copy but I could put a hold on it. Which reminds me, I had better take that hold off now, because I have read it. Skimming down the search results, I saw that the library offers ebooks. I suppose I had known that but I hadn't gone there for a new ebook - I usually get old books from Project Gutenberg, and put them on my Palm. Yes, I know, I am a technological dinosaur, but it is more portable than either of my laptops and easier to use than my smart phone - and without any of those data fees. The last two I downloaded were "Howard's End" - because I had at last caught up with the movie (it came out when my children were babies and we didn't get out much then) - and before that "Don Quixote". I had seen the Arts Club dramatisation, and wondered what else might be in such a huge book. Ebooks on a Palm are much more portable than any print edition - and can be read in bed without disturbing anyone since you don't need any additional illumination. Reading at night is one of my preferred methods of dealing with insomnia and books like "Tristram Shandy" seem guaranteed to have me nodding off again quite quickly.

So - back to the topic - "Unbroken" is a remarkable nonfiction book. Hildenbrand's first book "Seabiscuit" was based on the same formula. Extensive research. lots of detail but a writing style more like a novel than a treatise. She is highly readable - not to say addictive. The version available from the library did not appear to be available for Palm - but I could be wrong about that. I downloaded the software (Adobe Digital Editions) to my MacBook and read it on that, seated at my desk. I suppose I could have carried it to an arm chair - but I was hooked, and didn't even think about it. Louis Zamperini grew up as a bit of a tearaway - but became a distance runner. He might have beaten the 4 minute mile long before Bannister, had not the war intervened. He did run at the '36 Berlin Olympics. He served as a bombardier in the US Army Air Force - bailed out over the Pacific - survived a record time in a life raft (it was that bit that I read as the excerpt) but was captured by the Japanese. They did not treat prisoners of war well. That bit was very difficult to read. It was psychologically and physically very damaging to Louie - and he had a very hard time. He was also very famous - so his life story was common knowledge in the US in the post war period. I must admit I had never heard of him - any more than I had heard of Seabiscuit, who was even more famous in his time.

I like reading text and up until now I have preferred paper to electronic editions. I did take advantage of a so called "free offer" on facebook which give me a copy of an audio book. But not only could I not make it work on the Palm - though other "samples" did work - I also found that I could NOT listen to a book and do something else at the same time. I suppose if I copied it to a CD I could play it in the car. After all, I found that the offer was not really free at all and since I did not do something - probably returning to the web page I got it from - my credit card was charged for what I thought was free a month after I got it. So I think I can justifiably make a copy. Audible keep emailing me to try more, but I really don't think they can expect me to fall for the same gag twice.

Downloading a library book presumably means that it has a limited life on my hard drive. I suppose it must auto delete or something. I will update this post if anything interesting happens. But for now not only do I recommend you check out Unbroken, I suggest you try it as a free download.