Monday, June 30, 2008

The iPhone in Canada

Since Rogers announced their rate plans for the iPhone, there has been almost universal condemnation.

From bloggers such as Fred Brunnel to mainstream media such as the CBC has announced and condemned the price plans.

The complaints: forcing all subscribers into three year plans, most nations offer less and the greatest sin, no unlimited data plan.

This chart lists the various plans and the cost:

So tonight I went to a local Rogers store and discussed such things as the new Blackberry Bold and the iPhone rates. It seems Customer Services representatives have been getting hammered by people calling and complaining. All these complaints have reached the ears of the Board of Directors at Rogers, they are now telling people in the company that those plans may not be the only plans "offered" by Rogers. The question is when will these other new plans be announced? Good question, the right thing would be before the new phone is released. Or would it be better to think it will occur after the initial release, especially if the anger towards the price plan is demonstrated in less then stellar sales of the iPhone on July 11th. I'm thinking the latter. After all, if sales are at levels expected then why release a second plan, but if sales are below those expectations then watch the new rate planes come out.

Also, the date of the Bold will be around July 25th. Perhaps the strategy is to wait until then and watch what Rogers' does.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Linux Based Blog

It's been a time since I've said anything about Linux or Ubuntu.

I'm still using Ubuntu, having downloaded the latest version a couple of months ago. It's working very well, although my Dell laptop is showing its age. After all, it's almost 4 years old. Just three more payments and I can start looking for a new one. At least that's the plan.

Recently, Linux Magazine had as its cover article: Spawn of Ubuntu. Not only is Ubuntu growing and expanding with each passing new version, and its various manifestation such as kubuntu or edubuntu.

What has been happening is Ubuntu is now the basis of other distros. Three are highlighted in the article. The three are: freespire, gOS and Linux Mint. Each has its merits, in fact the article gives a good review of all three.
Personally I've been trying Linux Mint on the laptop. I must say that it is a very nice flavour of Linux. One thing that is noticed, and this is coming from a Ubuntu person is the colour green. Since it is a Mint the colour green predominates. While a person could ask is the colour important, it does add and enhance to distro.

I've tried 4.0 Daryna. It has a number of things going for it and it is worth the time to download and burn onto a disc.

If there is something I would want in Mint it would be support for the 64bit AMD based computers. I like the idea it has stayed with Intel based computers, but I think it would grow to add this to its repertoire.

I'm going to say more about Mint, but it's time to call it a day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

iPhone comes to Canada

Finally, Canada will join the 21st century when it comes to wireless technology. After a year of only looking on and salivating as nations such as the USA, UK, Germany and a few others received the right to possess the marvel that is the cellphone, Canada will join 21 other nations on July 11th.

By now every Canadian blogger has written about this wonderful news. No doubt Apple Fanboy has been especially articulate, or perhaps not with their comments expression love towards the godlike figure that is Steve Jobs.

There is a pent up demand and Apple knows it, their homepage features this:

Okay, so what about the iPhone. Consider, 3G system which means fast Internet browsing. GPS including maps so you will never get lost. Third party apps. There is a camera and because of the GPS a person can geotap the photographs. Plus it's thin, has a very good battery life, it's Apple and be honest it is amazing to look at, no matter what you think. Couple all this with a price tag of $199.00 it will be the killer devise of the year.

It will be sold by Rogers and Fido. It will be interesting to go to the nearest Rogers or Fido on the 11th. I don't know if we will see the line ups like they had in the States on the launch date of the first iPhone.

The Globe and Mail had an article comparing the Blackberry and the iPhone, since people who may have thought Blackberry before may think iPhone, although I understand that the iPhone isn't great for business. Still, never underestimate mass sex appeal. At the same time the Blackberry has been reaching out to the consumer market.

Now the question is, how much to operate the iPhone? Rogers has a moneymaker and will they decide to ease up and give the $7.00 a month data plan as was rumoured a few months ago or screw the consumer. If history is the gauge, it will be the latter. So what will it be?

Also, how will the other carriers react? I went into a Bell World store because they had Blackberry's for $0.00. Oh yes the phone was nothing, but when the salesperson started quoting what plans I would need, zero quickly became $80.00 a month, not including all the other things, like system access ($6.95), 911 ($0.95) and all the other magical fees.

Although I now wonder, walk into the same store and tell them, Blackberry -free, plans, twenty dollars a month, inclusive including GPS navigation or I wait for the iPhone. What would they say? Yes? or call security.

The fun now starts.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Wired's Inconvenient Truths

I still read and subscribe to Wired Magazine. Even though it was a shock when they changed the size and made it more like any other magazine, still it is something I look forward to each month.

This month's lead article and it was in the 15th Anniversary issue, congratulations Wired, dealt with the environment. The authors write in the opening couple of paragraphs:
The environmental movement has never been short on noble goals. Preserving wild spaces, cleaning up the oceans, protecting watersheds, neutralizing acid rain, saving endangered species — all laudable. But today, one ecological problem outweighs all others: global warming. Restoring the Everglades, protecting the Headwaters redwoods, or saving the Illinois mud turtle won't matter if climate change plunges the planet into chaos. It's high time for greens to unite around the urgent need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Just one problem. Winning the war on global warming requires slaughtering some of environmentalism's sacred cows. We can afford to ignore neither the carbon-free electricity supplied by nuclear energy nor the transformational potential of genetic engineering. We need to take advantage of the energy efficiencies offered by urban density. We must accept that the world's fastest-growing economies won't forgo a higher standard of living in the name of climate science — and that, on the way up, countries like India and China might actually help devise the solutions the planet so desperately needs.

The point is, there are a couple of sacred cows out there which have turned out to be very bad for the environment. To the authors the key is to lower the amount of carbon dioxide and other green house gases that are being pumped into the atmosphere. I should give the caveat, to make their points they do gloss over a number of problems inherit with their positions, but then again, no one accused the writers of being fair and balanced.

So what are some I agree, the first, in my order not the magazines is Nuclear Power.If you have been around environmentalists just suggest nuclear power to them and watch what happens. Now certainly alternative energy generating sources are good, but have drawback, wind power means huge windmills which are wonderful, unless you are a bird that flies into one of those big things, plus I understand the noise can be something. Solar power? Okay but still relatively expensive.

That does leave nuclear. It is clean. It produces very cheap electricity, perhaps not as cheap as hydro, but it is second. It emits no greenhouse gases. Again, if the key is to lower greenhouse gases, this is the key. As with all technology, things are improving and it is getting cheaper. OF course there are the downsides, such as what do you do with the spent uranium, how do you dispose or handle them safely. I suppose what one can do is simply sell them to any one of a number of rogue states to help them with their nuclear weapon programs. With some spent fuel rods and a couple of minutes on the Internet, you too can join the Axis of Evil. As an aside, I want to welcome all those readers from CSIS who are now reading this blog. Hi Andrew I know disposal is still a major problem but unless we deal with global warning, it is a moot point. Nuclear energy is today, it is economical, in the long run and it is clean.

The second point I want to discuss and this one gets me going every time, is Carbon Credits. The idea of carbon credits is:
What a cool idea: Instead of reducing our own carbon emissions, we'll pay other people to reduce theirs. Win-win!

It's saying to the third world, you continue to mire in substandard subsistence living, which while causes a shortened life span, doesn't produce greenhouse gases, and we will continue to live as we always have. So it intents to shut the third world off from development that could better their lives. The last thing we want is for them to be as wasteful as us, speaking as the first world. So they keep a tree, we keep living high on the hog. It is interesting that one of the best suggestions is the now being attacked by Conservatives, the carbon tax. Do I favour such a thing? Do I like paying even more for gas? No, but consider what is happening, this increase in gasoline is not driven by shortages caused by natural or human made disasters, it's caused by greed. The last paragraph of the Wired article states:
A carbon tax would eliminate three classes of parasites that have evolved to fill niches created by the global climate protocol: cynical marketers intent on greenwashing, blinkered bureaucrats shoveling indulgences to powerful incumbents, and deal-happy Wall Streeters looking for a shiny new billion-dollar trading toy. Back to the drawing board, please.

The third issue brought forward is urban living. Cities compact a lot of people into a relatively small area. With more people in a smaller area, things begin to become cheaper, such things as public transportation. Plus walking is now possible because everything is relatively close by. The problem of cities is not the core, its the suburbs. People spread out, when things spread out it loses the mass of affordability. Public transit has difficulty paying for itself because of distance. Suburbia becomes based upon the automobile only. Also, suburbs have meant the decrease in farmlands, as more of it become cookie cutter housing. Another problem was pointed out this way by the article:
Even worse are the 40 million lawn mowers used to tame the suburban backcountry: Each spews 11 cars' worth of pollutants per hour.
I was fortunate, the lawnmower I have decided to "blow up", at least parts started to shoot out. I bought an electric mower. No pollution and a lot quieter.

There are problems with cities, two in particular- one is the fact they become heat islands, all that asphalt tends to heat up the area. Another problem is the lack of green, with all the above, there are very few trees. For example, Brantford has nly 15% tree shade throughout the city, which is very bad. To counteract the problems of heat, the urban forest needs to expand. But that is possible.

I do have a few disagreements, one is the issue of cars. One writer suggests not buying a hybrid but buy used. Personally I think we should get more electric cars, and this goes back to my comment about cities, with closer distances a person does not need the conventional gas powered car to get around. Smaller, electric cars are far better.

So that's just a few points I want to raise about the article. It is articles like that which remind me why I continue to read Wired.