Fuck Canadian Internet Service Providers; 6.3 hours of use per month.

Chris Brooker
March 15, 2011


<rant id=”This may be hard to follow as it’s a rant”>

I’ve been a kid of the internet for what is now 16 years. Yes, half of my entire life! Yet, I’ve been fighting a losing battle with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for most of that time.

This should seem like a simple service, I pay you money for a connection to the internet, you hook is up and leave me alone. If I want that connection to be faster, I pay a little more money, simple.

I think the fundamental question that needs to be answered is; What are they selling? Are they selling speed or are the selling data?
This  concept seems to be changing over the years that I’ve been on the internet.
– On dial-up you’re paying for time connected on a phone line. (Speed was limited by the hardware, up to 56Kbps, and data was limited by time and speed.)
–  Then we had the original pilot cable modem programs, 1Mpbs unlimited.
– It seems the current genius paradigm is to sell access to a certain amount of data.

There are MANY things that enrage me when it comes to the way in which ISPs operate in Canada. I’m going to make a list.

Advertised Speed

– I enter into a contract with an ISP based on a speed metric (7Mbps, 15Mbps, 25Mbps, etc). To me this should be the average download transmission speed I get in a month. But it’s not, it’s the peek speed I might get if the stars align, there is no static or interference on the line, and no one else using it. Even then it will only come close. But be sure it will NEVER exceed that number. Meaning the average will most definitely be substantially lower. I should pay a proportional amount of money back per month if the average is under that number.

Bell, here’s an example of what I will pay you on my next bill;

25Mbps/down – 7Mpbs/up – Cost: $74.90 (with taxes and modem rental)
For simplicity say I average  17Mbps for a month download speed. I’m paying for what I think is 25Mpbs.
Therefore, my bill should be  $50.93. I should only pay for what I get.

I know everyone knows the speed numbers are BS but it shouldn’t be this way. It’s fraudulent advertising*.
* it’s not cuz we add an astrix to all numbers that states;  it’s just something we made up, hehe.

Internet Traffic Throttling

This is something Canadian ISPs LOVE doing. For those of you that don’t know this is were an ISP like Rogers looks at all the data you’re sending to and from the internet and saying, oh we don’t like that, let’s make it really slow. Then we’ll make the things we like, like Rogers Home Phone or some bullshit and make it really fast on the same lines. I don’t understand why the government has such a hard time seeing that this is wrong and anti-competitive. We need net neutrality. Everyone knows this is evil, stop.

Data Caps

This is the new fun way to screw customers. This used to be unlimited at almost all ISPs. We will sell you a 25Mpbs* connection, but you can only use 70GB of bandwidth per month. If you go over, we start charging out the ass. (At Bell $1 per GB up to $60, so double your bill).

For comparison, I use an average of 370GB per month. 300GB over the 70GB cap, costing me $60 additional dollars. I talk to customer service to see if there is anything I can do or plan I can switch to and they simply say. You’re SOL, we have no plans or packages for you.

Perhaps, I’m a power user, but I’ve been on the internet HALF MY LIFE! It’s important to me and I use it. 370GB (upload and download) a month is not a large amount!!!!!

Let’s do some math

I buy a 25Mpbs connection, if I get a full 25Mpbs and download at max speed 24/7 for 31 days it would download 4.78TB/Month. So 4.78TB a month should be my cap.

370GB is a pathetic 7.5%. How is that a power user?
70GB is an even more pathetic 1.4%

Let’s look at it another way;

I have a data cap of 70GB per month. Doing a little math, that’s effectively a download speed 0.2Mbps.

You’re thinking but Chris, you have 25Mpbs. Yes, that’s true, but I am only supposed to download 70GB. If I download 24/7 for 31 days up to 70GB, it’s an effective transfer rate of 0.2Mbps. BLAZING! Only a tad faster than Dial-up (56Kbps = 0.06Mbps).

Let’s look at how we’re getting screwed one last way

This is how the ISPs would like you to use your internet.

25Mpbs with a 70GB cap; go as fast as you want for 6.3hours then go offline for the rest of the month, you’ve used up all your internetz.


These examples are using Bell’s Fibe 25.
Everyone says I should switch to Tek Savvy. Sure, but they max out at 15Mpbs and 1Mpbs up. Useless! The cloud will never, ever, ever, ever work with these restrictions. Sorry everyone. Blame Rogers and Bell but most of all blame the CRTC, they are supposed to watching out the for the consumer.

It’s 2011 Speed and Usage caps should be going up, not getting smaller and slower.


The loss of science hackers?

Chris Brooker
April 3, 2010

(Image from xkcd)

Some of you may or may not know but I have a deep passion for science. So deep in fact that my pleasure reading is almost entirely science related books, journals, paper and studies. With my favourite subjects being;

1) The brain (human mostly) architecturally, chemically, wiring, basically the hardware level.
2) How the mind works, the psychology, human behavior and perception.
3) Quantum Mechanics
4) Theoretical Particle Physics
5) Genetics and Epigenetics

It’s pretty diverse set of subjects that most people probably don’t think much about. The only problem? I’m a Software Engineer, not a “Scientist”. I don’t a have degree in Physics nor do I have a PHD. So basically I’m not permitted to make any contributions to modern science.

Let me explain;

In the past as humans have evolved, science has been something that’s been in reach of pretty much anyone who has had the interest. You could easily scrounge together some simple supplies, test theories through experimentation and have breakthroughs that greatly impact scientific innovation. The barrier to entry was low and anyone could participate. Where would we be without the garage inventers and tinkers?

Modern science it seems, at least as an outsider looking in, is vastly different. It’s something only the few are allowed to participate in and is, at this point, almost run as a corporation. Doing everything you can to get and keep the most grants. A place where only safe science is rewarded.

Now we get to the fundamental problem. The barrier to entry to modern science is too high. The equipment necessary to come to any scientific breakthroughs in the modern world is prohibitally expensive. Only large companies and universities can afford it. Let’s say for example in my spare time, I wanted to work on the mysteries of the brain or recreate the results of an experiment I read in a paper. I can’t, not because I’m incapable, but because I don’t have access to say an fMRI machine nor could I ever afford one. I can’t afford a genetic sequencer, a mass spectrometer, a scanning electron microscope, a particle accelerator, etc, etc. There is just too much ridiculously expensive equipment that’s required to contribute anything groundbreaking to modern science.

With the cost so high the only option we have available is to go to university get a degree in a single field, then a PHD, but now you’ve made a whole career out of it and you’re stuck, essentially in the same subject. But you will be granted magical access to the machines. Now you can start working on hard problems. Oh wait, not really, you need to get a grant, and to get it you’ll probably be stuck doing trials for a pharmaceutical company looking to increase profit margins. (Just an example). In this kind of word safe science is rewarded and innovation is a distant second. There’s no predictable profit in that. Not to mention the quotas on papers, etc. It becomes a career and not a passion!

Now I’m not saying all scientists are like this. Some are doing amazing work that blows my mind. You guys are incredible! And there are a few garage tinkers and science hackers out there working on hard problems like nuclear fusion but the vast majority could do so much more with access to the right equipment.

I had the idea a while ago where I wanted to create a fully stocked lab, equipment, supplies, machines (mass spec, fMRIs, EEGs, etc) and rent lab time by the hour. Each new member would have to go through a short orientation on each machine to ensure they knew how to use it correctly. But at least the general public could have access to the equipment and supplies that today is only available to the select few. Kind of the way people can rent time at a garage to work on their cars with all the tools available. We need to lower the cost of entry, real ground breaking science is now out of reach for most people. It’s sad.

Scientists, hackers, people with a passion for science and a desire to contribute who didn’t follow the academic channel, what do you think? Do you see what I’m saying? Let’s chat.

And if you have access to equipment and lab space and are looking for something to do, I have ideas and questions that could use some experimentation.

OrbLive for the iPhone is a fucking $10 piece of shit!

Chris Brooker
March 22, 2010

Hey, I know, strong title, well that’s how frustrated I am. Get it Orb? You clearly don’t.

OrbLive Website

For everyone else, let me explain.

Orb has been an application that’s been around for a while, I’m talking 3 years or so, that’s a long time in the computer world. That installs a piece of software on your computer and allows you to stream your media collection where ever you have internet. Which is great for people like me who have a shit ton of music and no portable device big enough hold it all.

OrbLive is $10 app in the iPhone app store that extends this functionality to the iPhone. You can stream your music and video to your iPhone on 3g or Wifi, which is awesome. If it WORKED!

Here are the problems;’

The dealbreaker: When listening to music on 3g or Wifi when you get about 2 mins into a song it stops, pauses for a second, and goes to the next track. You might think, oh I lost my connection or oh, my home computer must not have enough bandwidth. You’d be wrong. I have ass tons of bandwidth and solid connections. Every 2 mins song skips.

I’m not the only one with this problem. Here is the thread on Orb’s website with tons of people with the same problem for MONTHS! How can a $10 app that’s sole purpose is to stream music NOT do that 1 thing?


Other lesser complaints, but they all add up;

1) When you exit the application to answer a call, send a txt, etc. It doesn’t resume from where you left off. You have to start from scratch finding the files, playlists to start playing music again. Waste of god damn time.

2) It doesn’t gracefully adjust to your connection type or speed. I use the SiriusXM iPhone app all the time to stream music on 3g and Wifi it works great! Never drops the sounds. Go from wifi to 3g you’d never know. Phone drops to edge you notice a sound quality drop but the music still plays. OrbLive, you go from Wifi to 3g and the app stops! brings up a popup telling you it lost connection and makes you click “Ok” to resume on 3g. Or if it loses the signal, it start beeping like crazy in your ears over and over again for every song in your playlist.

There is a slider in the settings that let’s you “Optimize the Stream” for certain connection types but it doesn’t really do anything. And why do I have to set it? This should be handled automatically. HANDLE THIS FUCKING SHIT! IF I HAVE A SIGNAL PLAY MUSIC EVEN IF IT’S MONO AND SOUNDS LIKE ASS.

I’d probably have more but I can’t really use the app right now as it skips songs every 2 mins. Which is more frustrating than you can imagine.

<rant />

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