Canadian Tech News

Canadian Tech Roundup – Episode 9 – Netflix, CRTC, Shaw

Canadian Tech News

Canadian Tech News, September 1st – CRTC, Telco Refunds, WiFi is Bad, Google Games

This week – in a bid to stay relevant to consumers – CRTC made a couple of good decisions; the cell phone industry still sucks; wifi wackos and Google acquisitions.

Canada avoids broadband duopolies, keeps line-sharing alive
In a decision that’s most relevant to Eastern Canadians – where telecom competitions actually exists – the CRTC ruled in favour of the little guy. After 4 years of flip-flopping the CRTC ruled that large cable and DSL ISPs such as Bell and Rogers must share their lines with smaller competitors at the same bandwidth speeds offered to their own customers. Unfortunately the ruling isn’t 100% good, the CRTC said it’s still ok to filter traffic and throttle things like p2p. (CBC coverage)

MTS, Bell, Telus forced to rebate customers and service rural communities
Get a load of this convoluted government logic:

In 2002, the CRTC allowed phone companies to charge above their normally regulated price caps so that new competitors entering the market for home phones — primarily cable companies such as Rogers and Vidéotron — could undercut them.

The extra charges went into deferral accounts, which over the years amounted to $1.6 billion. Phone companies were allowed to draw on these accounts to lower the wholesale rates they charged competitors…

The rest of it was supposed to be spent on rural broadband. Turns out, 8 years later the telco’s haven’t spent a whole lot of that money “the total remaining amount has risen to $770 million…” Yesterday the CRTC ruled that $421 million of the cache has to be spent expanding rural service, $310 million goes back to urban customers in the form of $25 – $90 rebates. Don’t ask about the other $39million, they’re probably sending it on internet filters or something.

The WiFi Debate is not over
So a drama professor named Fancy and a Cold War era microwave expert named Tower walk into a bar…
The head of the drama department at Brock University “…took the unusual step of issuing a news release to warn staff about Wi-Fi dangers.” I guess he’s trying to upstage Health Canada. I really don’t know what else to say about this ridiculous FUD.

Canadians still paying the highest cell phone bills in the world
Long story short: cellcos take in the highest average revenue per user at $55; we have the 5th lowest mobile penetration at around 75%; not only is mobile service expensive, it’s not affordable when compared against GDP per capita. Take a look at the post for all the fancy graphs and real analysis.

Google buys Toronto-based  game developer
In “me too” news, Google Canada has acquired a Toronto-based cross platform game developer SocialDeck.

Review Tips & How To's

Boingo: The Best $10 I’ve Ever Spent

Last week I was stuck at O’hare overnight. I noticed a bunch of large signs proclaiming “free wi-fi terminal wide.” Upon trying to connect to the internet, I discovered that these hotspots were run by boingo and only “free” for customers of certain telcos. While I feel that wifi is an amenity that should always be free, like public restrooms, Boingo was only $10/month. I had some calls to make and figured I’d probably save money by using Skype instead of my $1.95/min roaming cell phone.

After signing up for boingo, I realized that had a 3 month free promo running. So I actually only paid $2.50/month. Even better!

It was not until I came back home that I realized the genius of boingo. Turns out, boingo is actually a partner on all the major wifi networks in North America. Meaning that I can use my boingo account to log in to any Bell hotspot at Starbucks and various other random places around the city.
In case you’re not aware, Bell normally charges $8 PER HOUR!

From The Archives Web Development


I am presently writing this post from Mozilla Thunderbird. The latest behind the scenes addition to my awesome website. Inspired by my recent adventures in moblogging, I wrote a script to check a specific (supersecret) email box for new mail. The mail is then parsed for relevant data (thanks to Ian for pointing pointing out php’s imap functionality). This little script should hypothetically allow me to post from my phone via text message to email, and obviously any other email enabled device. I am teh r0x0r. Additionally, I have not had the time or energy to create a proper administration panel for my content management system, allowing me to compose posts in an email client is a lot less tedious than manually updating the database.

Next up. While at work today something dawned on me. The windows bug discussed in this post, might actually be a feature of 802.11. When setting up a large wireless network – over say a university campus, or a metropolitan area – this feature allows clients to seamlessly move from one physical AP to another. Since wifi (evidentially) connects entirely based on SSID the client will never loss it’s connection. I totally knew this.

I’ve also added NotIan’s litebrite, right below my digg’s where people can ignore if it’s offensive. Speaking of digg, it’s not to late to digg the litebrite, come onnnn.

Time for bed.

From The Archives

Windows XP Super Poop Too

I came across an interesting bug with the windows xp sp2 “wireless zero configuration” (WZC) client interface while working on a clients network earlier this evening. This client was experiencing a rather odd problem (my favorite kind): she had two computers connected to the same wireless network, both were able to surf just fine, but they were completely unable to see each other locally. Initially my associate and I suspected a firewall, that lead didn’t pan out. So i decided to load up netstumbler and er…stumbled accross something quite peculiar. Keep reading, I’ve recreated the situation for your education.

Fig. 1-1

[missing in archive]

Fig. 1-2

Figure 1-2, shows the ACTUAL wireless access points in range as discovered by netstumbler. You’ll notice 5 APs here, exonet and ivans we saw above. A third labeled “gf” windows decided not to list (upon further observation this signal was not very strong, which may explain the discrepancy). Fine and good, but what’s this, TWO “linksys” SSIDs?! That’s right.

What we have here folks is a classic example of a Microsoft “feature.” The WZC client is either unable to differentiate between the two signals – even though they are on completely different channels and frequencies – or Microsoft has decided to group them as one listing for your convenience or something. At this point I’m cannot determine how WZC decides which router to use. I attempted to connect numerous time, on every attempt I was connected to my own router.

Now, if you haven’t already connected the dots, I’ll break it down for you. The problem with our client’s network was occuring because WZC saw two APs as one and decided to have each of their computer connect at random. We gave the AP a unique SSID, VOILA problem solved, like magic (internet magic).

A concession. After writting this I realized that the bug may not be a problem specific to Windows, it may actually be an inherent flaw in the way 802.11 connects to access points. I was not able to find anything at all about this sort issue after doing some quick googling and a search of the ms support kb. Although, I did stumble across an interesting article entitled Your computer connects to an access point that broadcasts its SSID instead of an access point that does not broadcast its SSID. Apparently this is also a feature, as “Disabling SSID broadcasts on an access point is not considered a valid method for securing a wireless network. Microsoft does not reccomend this practice for any wireless network.” Right… It is a valid state for an access point to be in, isn’t it?