Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Switch From Shaw to Telus

If you looked at my contact history with Shaw over the last week they would think I was suffering from memory loss. I called to ask about cancellation policies, removed basic cable from my package, upgraded to Shaw High Speed Extreme and then called to schedule a service cancellation for my remaining products…all in the span of 72 hours.

When our cable was terminated on Monday I was surprised by what was left. I thought there would be a few channels like CBC or CTV that would come in, but they were fuzzy. Some channels I thought to be static came in clear like E! or MTV. I wasn’t able to pick up anything using Over The Air and I wondered if I made a huge mistake. We don’t need cable but it’s nice to have something to turn on for news or some other programming, which I thought would be the case with farmer’s vision.

I didn’t expect there to be nothing on the other side of a silent coax cable so I began researching. I went from looking at big and unnatractive OTA antenna’s, wondering if this would be too extreme for me and then wound up looking at Telus’ Optik TV option.

I was still confident on switching from Shaw to Telus but when I discovered the $15-$15-$15 for the first year deal for Internet, Phone and TV from Telus I contemplated signing up for TV…something I disconnected and thought I could live without only a few days before. I wrote down a lot of numbers and different scenarios and when the $15-$15-$15 promo ended after 12 months I would still be saving over $20 for all the services I had with Shaw. Those savings still covers Netflix and a Usenet subscription so I end up with more for less.

Optik TV is a relatively new service offered by Telus so I had a lot of questions about how it works, how it affects bandwidth, limitations of it and everything a Customer Service Rep told me (which was backed up by my online research) made me more sure of my switch to Telus than ever before.

I contacted Shaw and told them all the reasons why I was leaving and scheduled the Telus install for the second week in February. There is no guarantee that Telus won’t change their bandwidth policy and when that time comes I will be where I am now but at least I was able to tell Shaw how I felt with my wallet.

I have been with Shaw since 2006 and never had a problem with their services and was sad to go, but I hope I made the right decision and that I have a good run with Telus. After I have been using Telus’ services for a week I will write again and see if the move was worth it and if the future really is friendlier on the other side.

My Photobook Canada Review

In August 2010 I registered for Groupon. There were a few interesting deals that showed up in the weeks following my registration but in September a deal appeared for Photobook Canada. Incidentally that deal remains as my only purchase on Groupon since I registered six months ago.

The coupon was for $35 purchase that got me a $110 credit to be used on any photo book order from Photobook Canada. With our England/France trip coming up in a month I thought this would be a good way to create a scrapbook from our trip without having the hassle of printing photos, buying extra sheets and plastic covers and, most importantly, finding a photo album that we liked and could expand in size.

In December we got serious about creating the album and put a few days of effort into putting it together, here are my thoughts on the Photobook Canada process.

Software
I was intimidated by the software at first but after a bit of time experimenting with the features I became quite comfortable and still never utilized all of the capabilities of the program. Once you have added your images to the album you can select different page templates for each page, alter the background color, apply borders to items, manipulate images, add text and shapes.

We didn’t know where to begin and we feared our inexperience with the software would produce a poor quality album but we took it slow, started by adding images we wanted onto a page (no layout or theme, just the straight images) and worked our way through the trip.

The page templates are incredibly useful and I feel the pages we used a template on were the strongest of the book, but they only serve as a guide and could be modified and adjusted. I never felt restricted with the software or that it was holding me back from doing something I wanted to do. We were able to lay images on top of each other, scan brochures and other mementos we picked up on our trip and still give it a hand made scrapbook feel without the glue or double sided tape.

On my 15″ MacBook Pro running a 1440×900 resolution I never found the interface to be too cluttered or crowded. I was able to see both pages I was working on and still access all the tools. I was able to “Preview” the photo book and flip through the pages, but if I wanted more control I could export the album as a “Proof” and look at the pages as images. This gave me a good feeling for what the final product would be and it didn’t disappoint.

Ordering
Through the Photobook Canada software I was able to upload my order to their website. I had a few connection issues with their server so I had to try uploading a few times but on the third attempt it completed. This created some confusion on Photobook Canada’s side as I had someone from the company email me a few days after I uploaded my order (I uploaded it on December 23 so a few days to catch the issue and write me is expected) saying they couldn’t find my images and I would need to upload them again. However, a few minutes after that message I received another one saying they located my order and would begin the printing process.

From the time of placing my order to receiving the product (photo link) was 23 days. This was longer than I expected but the Photobook Canada website talked about delays around the holiday season so I expect if you don’t order during a busy time the turn around time would be faster.

One thing that stood out is that once my order was put into “In Production” the status never changed. Even a week after delivery it hasn’t been updated. I’m compulsive about order tracking, but for others it may not be important.

Final Product
The book was packed extremely well. It was covered in plastic, bubble wrap and a tight cardboard box. The box would need to be cut in half in order for any damage to come to the book and the final product looked flawless.

I ordered a “15×11 Large Landscape Imagewrap Cover – ImageWrap Matte Lamination” with 46 pages. Including shipping and paying for the additional pages I paid $22.05 over and above the original $35 Groupon order. For $57 we got an incredible product and an even better deal. If I had to pay full price for the album I probably would because the cost of materials to create a photo album on your own would come close to $100 (or more), plus the time to create it would be far greater than the hours we spent on this.

For value and final product I would highly recommend Photobook Canada. We will keep their name in mind the next time we have to create a photo album.

My Unplugged Cable

The recent news of Shaw enforcing their bandwidth caps have a lot of people upset, including me. I have been contemplating a life without cable television and relying solely on Netflix, streaming from the websites of the network and downloading shows for a few months now.

This all meant that I would be consuming more bandwidth, and with Shaw’s decreased bandwidth caps and charges for exceeding those caps I had very few options.

For the last half of December and all of January I have been struggling with the question of what to do. On January 16 I decided to take my scraps of paper with costs, caps and act on it by calling Telus and Shaw. There were no surprises with the call to Telus. The numbers they provided me matched my calculations and my call to Shaw was of little help.

I was told that other companies will charge, regardless of what they say. This video says that Telus won’t enforce bandwidth caps and I really want to believe them, but there is some underlying emotion that makes me dread returning to Telus.

It’s a numbers game, and be it bandwidth or cost, the future is friendlier and cheaper with Telus. I will save $9 a month if I bundle my Internet and home phone services with Telus, but with Shaw’s 30 day notice to cancel services I can’t make the switch overnight and will continue to hum and haw over this while I figure out if it’s best for me.

If I stay I am subject to bandwidth caps and paying more per month, but with Telus their situation could change and they could decrease limits and start enforcing, leaving me with no where to go and being inconvenienced for nothing.

In the mean time, I cancelled television to pay for the cost of Netflix and Usenet memberships. We will still have OTA channels and whatever else is on farmer’s vision but soon the coax will be cold and then I will really see how much bandwidth I consume when it’s my sole provider of entertainment.