Videotron announces 53% increase in monthly fees

Last time I looked at the way things usually went in the tech industry, internet included, companies would offer more services for a lower price over time. You can imagine my surprise when Videotron cable (Quebec) sent a letter informing me that starting October 1st 2007, I will have less services unless I wish to pay a 50% increase in my monthly bill.

When I signed up with Videotron’s Extreme High-speed internet services they told me 10Mpbs download and 900Kbps uploads with unlimited bandwidth is mine for just $64.95CAD a month. Starting October 1st 2007, I will need to pay $99.95CAD per month to have those same services. Granted that I will now have a static IP, as my account will be a business account. This is just a feature that I do not need, but apparently will be forced to take.

A friend of mine in the US now has FIOS. He pays $46 a month for unlimited bandwidth and a speed of 15Mpbs down and 2Mbps up. Significantly faster than cable. Yes, I realize that FIOS is a different cat all-together, and we don’t have access to FIOS here… yet. Perhaps now is the time.

In Canada, when compared to the US, bandwidth seems to be an pricy issue. We poor northerners appear to be charged a fortune for any bandwidth on any device. If you own a cell phone that lets you surf the net, then you know what I am talking about. Bell charges $25 for 4MB of bandwidth a month on a cell phone, or $12/MB. In the US, there are unlimited bandwidth plans available on cell phones usually for about the same as we pay for 4MB a month here.

If we are to be competive in the Internet age with the US, then we Canadians need to start demanding much lower pricing on bandwidth, or unlimited bandwidth on our web enabled devices. Call your provider and tell them today you are not happy. Write a complaint letter by postal mail to your provider and tell them you are not happy. Send a letter to the CRTC so they are aware that you are not happy anymore with the extravagant pricing for bandwidth in Canada. We as users need to stop this ludicrous gouging for bandwidth usage.

If you are in agreement that bandwidth prices must be eased, then please post a comment in support here and digg this story too.

A little humour

Okay, a break from the usual to laugh a little. I had never heard of Jeff Dunham before, so I found this clip pretty funny. Enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Best customer service ever. Bar none.

In our bathroom we have a shower with one of those sophisticated temperature balancing Moen tap units. After all, we wouldn’t want to scald the kids while they were bathing if someone else in the house turned on the cold water.

Four years ago the contractor who replaced all of our galvanized piping for copper, put the Moen unit it. Three years and 6 months ago it started to drip. Not much at first, but gradually over time it started to drip quite a bit. Finally, after much drip persistence, I dug out the warranty card and instructions for the tap. Now the instructions are not how to use the tap, but how to care for it, including instructions on how to flush the system in case it dripped. Ah, right, that should solve my problem I figured. It took me ten minutes to gather the required tools, Philips screw driver, needle nose pliers, and a broad flat screw driver. It took another ten minutes to dismantle the necessary parts, flush the system and put it back together again. Unfortunately, the drip persisted some more.

Next step was to call the 1-800 number on the Moen warranty card. Here is roughly how the conversation went:

Moen: Hello, welcome to Moen, how may I help you today?
Me: Well, I have a temperature balancing tap in my shower and it started to drip. I followed the enclosed instructions to flush the pipes out, but it still drips.
Moen: Okay sir, do you turn or pull to turn the water on?
Me: I pull it to turn the water on.
Moen: Is it a knob or a lever?
Me: It is a knob.
Moen: May I have your full address please?
Me: My address is .... blah blah blah ....
Moen: And your telephone number where you can be reached during the day?
Me: My daytime number is ......
Moen: Alright sir, the new part will arrive by mail within two weeks. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Me: Oh, no, that’s all, thank you.
Moen: Okay then, have a good day, and thank you for calling Moen. Goodbye.


Seriously, that was it. By far the best and easiest support phone call I have ever had the privilege to make. Less than two weeks later the part arrived. Within 15 minutes the part was easily installed and the tap hasn’t dripped since. Moen should be given an award for performing so well, and then they should run over to Best Buy and give the Geek Squad some lessons.


Kill A Watt part III

Well, a week has passed and I have my consumption usage for my computer set up. With normal usage, my entire computer set up, not counting my large Tektronix color laser printer, uses a whopping 63KWh each week. Or 3276KWh per year. Now, lucky for me, I live in Quebec and our electricity only costs about 5.2 cents per KWh. So my yearly consumption is roughly $170 per year. Considering me entire electricity bill last year totaled about $900, that works out to almost 19% of my electricity goes to just my computer system.

Starting this past Saturday night at 8pm, I have been tracking my consumption in conservation mode. So far, after 68 hours my usage totals 12KWh. Not bad considering last week at this time, I had used roughly 25KWh at this point.

Once I reach the end of the week, I will once again post my usage consumption and give you a little feedback on what I like and dislike about the Kill-A-Watt device.

Kill a Watt - Part II

Well, it’s been a little longer than a couple of days, but as promised here is the second installment of my Kill-A-Watt story. Those of you just tuning in, I bought a Kill-A-Watt meter. Basically you plug it into an outlet, and plug your electric device into the Kill-A-Watt, and presto, it will tell you how many Amps and Watts that device uses. The Kill-A-Watt meter also has a timer built in, and a Kilowatt per hour energy reading on it.

My goal is to determine how much energy my Apple G5 Computer uses in various modes. Here are the preliminary results of my two computers:

Computer A - Apple G5 Dual 2.7 GHz / 2GB of RAM / 2 x 250GB drives / 20” Cinema Display / 15” Viewsonic display and an Epson V350 scanner.

Computer B - Dell 2.4 GHz basic computer with a 40GB or something drive in it. Not used much except for accounting and checkout out my Website designs in IE.

I plugged my main power bar into the Kill-A-Watt device. Into the power bar is everything listed above and an IO Gear KVM.

As a baseline, with everything turned off, except the scanner, which has no power switch, the Kill-A-Watt showed me 8 watts usage.

Nothing turned On - 8W
Apple starting up - 330W
Apple right after startup - 260W
Apple in sleep mode - 14W
Windows starting up - 400W
Windows right after startup - 60W
Mac Sleeping/Windows running - 73W
Mac running/Windows running - 400W

My plan now is to run all my computers as I would normally for a period of 1 week. Which means hardly ever putting the Mac to Sleep, and never putting the Windows machine to sleep. At the end of 1 week, I will then go into energy saving mode and turn off the windows machine when it is not being used and put the Apple to sleep when ever I walk away from it.

My usage on the Apple is pretty heavy, starting at 7:30am and usually finishing around 8:30pm, with some breaks through out the day and a little over an hour for supper with the family. The windows machine is used very rarely, and then only lightly.

To get the ball rolling, I have had the Kill-A-Watt measuring my usage for the past 48 hours and it tells me that I have used 14.8KWh, or $0.7725.

Check back next Monday to see how much energy I have used over the course of a week and a bit.

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