Superfluous Matter

I wrote recently about how awesome our new Internet from Teksavvy is. Unfortunately that is about to change. The CRTC recently approved an application put forth by Bell and supported by Rogers to allow those companies to force third party ISPs which rent network capacity from Bell or Rogers to implement bandwidth caps and to charge high amounts of money for bandwidth overages. This is known as Usage-Based Billing (UBB).

This means that Teksavvy will be reducing my monthly bandwidth cap from 200GB to probably 25GB. Also, they are being forced to charge $2/GB for overage. This will essentially kill the advantage Teksavvy has over Bell or Rogers. At face-value, this is sorta fair, since Bell/Rogers are responsible for installing and maintaining the network infrastructure (infrastructure that was in part funded through taxpayer-funded subsidies, but that's a separate issue).

The real problem is the artificially low bandwidth caps and the ridiculous prices the major telecoms charge for overage. These caps are fairly recent changes to Internet plans provided by Bell/Rogers, changes that started appearing just as Internet-based content distribution companies like Netflix started becoming popular. Bell/Rogers claim the caps are needed to help manage network congestion due to the much higher load from all the video streaming people are doing. Perhaps this is the case, although it doesn't seem to be that big of a problem in places like the US, much of Europe or Japan and South Korea.

The real concerning thing about all of this is the fact that Bell/Rogers are not just providers of network capacity, they are also content distributors (Rogers Cable and Bell Satellite). Plus their method of content distribution is fast becoming obsolete. The future is clearly on-demand streaming of content over the Internet, in a manner independent of your Internet provider. Obviously this is bad for Bell/Rogers since it would mean their long standing monopoly on content distribution is about to end. And like many large companies, instead of innovating they are lobbying the government to change the rules to artificially prolong their dated business models.

Many European countries solved this massive conflict of interest long ago. They split the telecom companies into network providers and content distributors. The network providers are responsible for the care and growth of the network and they sell bandwidth to anyone at rates that approximate free market conditions (ie. based on supply/demand with buffer for profit). The distributors rent capacity and pass along those cost to their customers. This seems like a pretty reasonable set up to me. If the costs of providing network capacity go up due to congestion or whatever then the network providers can raise prices accordingly and the reason for price increases is not muddied by monopolistic, anti-competitive practices.

The sad thing about all this is that there are going to be many new and interesting opportunities related to content distribution for enterprising companies. Such opportunities will pass by Canada without stopping due to the restrictive nature of our Internet infrastructure. And customers will miss out on cool new things, and the government will miss out on new tax revenue from companies that will avoid servicing Canada. Netflix in HD is basically unusable with most Canadian Internet plans.

Finally, it's the job of the CRTC to prevent conflicts of interest like this. Seems like they failed. So what good are they?

If you've read this far, perhaps you'd be interested in signing the online petition against UBB and maybe even writing to your MP to protest this decision.

Progress Report

Over the past two weeks Kim has received a couple tests (chest CT scan and a Gallium test) to help determine the progress of her treatment. Fun facts about the tests, the radiation dosage of a chest CT is equivalent to about 400 normal chest x-rays or three years of standard background radiation and the Gallium that is used is stored in a thick lead tube until the moment before it is injected. Eeek?

Kim has been going extra stir-crazy being in the house on her own all day so we decided to send her to her parent's house for a week so she could spend some time there and maybe see some of her family who also live in the area. She left on Wednesday afternoon and was planning to stay until next Wednesday. But on Thursday we got a call from the doctor asking Kim to come in on Friday because they wanted to discuss the results of the tests. This was a bit disconcerting because we had expected to get the results of the tests at her next regular appointment.

Anyway, Kim's mom drove her back to Toronto Thursday night and we all went to the appointment today in a fairly apprehensive mood. However, everything is OK. The CT scan showed signs of an infection (the reason for the early appointment), but Kim has no symptoms and the doctor's manual exam of Kim showed no problem either. Since there are no problems the doctor suggested that it was probably just a minor infection that Kim's body is successfully dealing with. It was a little crappy that Kim had to come back so soon after leaving, but we're grateful to have a doctor that is so concerned with Kim's well-being.

As for the progress of Kim's treatment, there has been a significant reduction in the size of the largest of Kim's tumours and the others are also breaking down as well. The scans revealed that there are no new tumours, so it seems like the treatment is working. However the doctor also said there is still a long way to go and Kim will most likely need the full eight treatments.

Tomorrow Kim's going back to her parent's house to finish her visit.

Christmas and Third Treatment

Hey Everyone. Sorry for the lack of updates, nothing bad happened I was just tired and lazy.

Christmas was much better than expected. Christmas Eve I decided to make a roast chicken dinner for Kim, her mom and myself. So I went to the butcher at the end of our new street and got a fresh chicken! They were very nice there, but they didn't have any small chickens so I ended up with a full roaster. This turned out for the best because Kim's dad and siblings decided to all come up and join us for supper and to stay overnight. They brought all their presents so that everyone could open presents on Christmas morning here together! It was lots of fun and it was cool that we had so much space for everyone to stay overnight. Also, the chicken and potatoes turned out amazing!

On Christmas day everyone went home, and Kim and I shopped online for a new TV, our Christmas present to each other. We found a good one at a good price (Samsung LED) and ordered it!

I had the whole week after Christmas off work, so I spent the time unpacking and setting up the house. I made tons of trips to Canadian Tire, Home Depot and other stores and did things like change the locks, install a medicine cabinet and run Ethernet cable from the basement to the office on the 2nd floor. By the time I went back to work the house was in great shape.

New Year's Eve we spent at Chris and John's house. Chris received a pasta maker for Christmas and so they made fresh pasta for us! It was delicious and we had lots of fun playing Wii and watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

On the Sunday after New Year's my mom and brother came to visit for the day to bring us presents from my side of the family. It was a second Christmas! We had good food and my mom also took me to Ikea to buy a couple things for the house, including a nice TV stand for our new TV.

Last weekend Mike came up to stay for a couple nights to round out his holidays here in Canada and his parents came up on the Saturday to visit our house, bring us some awesome cheesecake and to go out for lunch at the Stockyards which is this awesome smoked meat place on St. Clair. It was a really great weekend for sure.

Finally, this week, our TV was delivered! It's great to finally join the high-definition world. I haven't got it totally configured yet, but it seems like it will be pretty awesome.

Today was Kim's third chemo treatment, and it went about the same as the second (ie. really well). The doctor is still pleased with her progress and her general health and she told us that Kim will undergo "re-staging" before the fourth treatment (meaning they redo the CT and Gallium scans in order to get a more exact measurement of the progress of the treatment so far).

This weekend I intend to do a bit of cleaning, get more acquainted with the fancy TV features and hopefully finally get back to rock climbing (it's been at least two months since the last time I was out).

2010-12 | 2011-02