Monthly Archives: February 2011

My Shaw Consumption

As far as Shaw and I are concerned, we’re done. I returned my phone modem, received my final invoice and will have a cheque coming to me for the extra amount I paid.

However, before all of my access was taken away I had a chance to log into the new MyShaw portal and take a look at the fancy bandwidth usage meter. I love data, especially historical data of anything I do, from Google Reader to the music I listen to. If there is a graph about my usage on anything I love it. It was a given that the new Shaw bandwidth meter would appeal to me but I found the results interesting.

The bandwidth meter on DD-WRT was useful but the one on Shaw is just so pretty. I also found that there were some days the DD-WRT wouldn’t track data, and after a few resets I lost historical data so the Shaw bandwidth meter was my first time seeing my Internet usage for the last few months.

Prior to Shaw reducing the download limits on their High Speed package I would have been fine on most months, but when it was dropped to 60GB my usage was consistently above that. In January I increased my package to High Speed Extreme (100GB usage limit), signed up for Netflix and Usenet and my overall consumption actually decreased. If I stayed with Shaw I would have been fine with a buffer of 40GB but I stand by my choice to switch.

What stands out to me is how heavy my bandwidth usage was in the summer months. We were busy painting, doing house work and being outside, I wouldn’t have thought we were online that much but those months were higher than ones in the tv season. It’s no surprise that my upload was on par with download. When it came to torrents I preferred a 1:1 ratio, but I never considered how much that would be on a month to month basis.

Maybe it’s because I’m only a few weeks into my Telus usage and they haven’t processed my first month yet, or that they never intend to meter customers usage, but the Telus bandwidth meter is showing zeroes. For my personal benefit I will keep an eye on my Telus usage and see how it compares to Shaw’s and see what long term affects Netflix, Usenet and having a PVR have on my consumption.

My Experience With Telus and Optik TV

February 9th was my first day with Telus and here is a recap of my experience with Optik TV, Optik TV High Speed and Home Phone so far.

Installation
Two technicians arrived for the install within the scheduled window and spent 90 minutes running cables and setting everything up. The two TV’s I had hooked up were in rooms with a pre-existing coaxial and telephone drop but they still replaced a few lines. They were able to pull a phone line to my entertainment unit downstairs so the modem would sit where the previous one did. The technicians were friendly and helpful for any questions I had.

After everything was up and running I was given a quick run through the PVR functions, the Actiontec router interface and a few other tips on the service. They left me feeling confident in the tools and I didn’t feel that they rushed anything.

Television
I am sure this is a feature with Shaw, but having never used their PVR services (I used digital cable for several years) having the name and telephone number of an incoming call appear on your TV is incredible. I called the house several times just to see “SEAN GURSKY” appear in the top left corner (photo link). We have to cover the length of the house to reach the nearest phone and if we were able to see who was calling we could determine if it was worth getting up or not.

The second biggest wow is being able to pause live TV. By no means is this feature exclusive to Telus, but I never really had the chance to play with this ability and it’s incredible. I never thought I would benefit from having a PVR but now I wonder how I lived so long without one. We will still continue to download shows but now we can fill up the PVR with shows that aren’t widely available or things we don’t follow episode to episode and enjoying watching when we have the time.

Telus has an iPhone app to browse the program grid, view your recordings and schedule a recording. The app is convenient and I could see myself using it frequently.

I did have two problems with the HD PVR but they were both solved by doing a system reboot.

The first was being unable to create a new account for Remote Recording. I was given an “Error 500: Service Unavailable” and every time I tried I got the same message. The next issue was not having any audio on HD channels over my HDMI connection. The video would come in fine, and audio on SD channels worked but just not on HD. I restarted the system and both went away and my question list for Telus support went from two to zero.

Telephone
With the move from Shaw to Telus we downgraded phone features. With Shaw we had caller ID, voice mail, call waiting and probably a few other ones that added to our monthly bill. A part of why the Telus bundle is so cheap is that the telephone is bare bones with one feature. We opted to have caller ID, as our phones have a built in answering machine and call waiting is not something we used that often.

Although, there is a semi-solution for call waiting with Optik TV. If our land line is occupied and someone is calling us they would receive a busy signal but on the television we would see who attempted to call us (the same way we do now in the top left corner of the screen). It’s not an exact solution for call waiting but it’s a nice alternative for the rare times we have two people wanting to speak to us at once.

Internet
I have similar download and upload speeds to when I was on Shaw High Speed Extreme. According to speedtest.net my download speed is nearly 15MB and upload is 0.8MB. If anything my upload speed is lower than with Shaw, but as I am no longer relying on torrents this is not a concern.

I have been using DD-WRT custom firmware on my Linksys router for over a year and I got accustomed to the features it gave me. Now with the modem/router combination of the Actiontec V1000H I’m finding myself a little restricted. There are plenty of administration features on the Actiontec, but it’s not what I was used to or I don’t fully understand how to recreate what I had on the Actiontec.

I had a hurdle trying to figure out how I could administer my SABnzbd install remotely. This wasn’t a problem before so it was a frustrating issue. Previously I set the proper “Port from” and “Port to” for port forwarding on the Linksys DD-WRT and it worked fine. With the Actiontec I wasn’t sure if I have the port forwarding information correct, if Telus was restricting a web server from running or something else. As simple as the Actiontec interface is I wasn’t sure what the optional part of the port forwarding information I had to set up. Ultimately I changed my SAbnzbd install https:// listening port to match the one I would connect to from http://my.ip:port and it worked.

The current issue I am having is signal strength from the downstairs Actiontec to the upstairs Playstation 3. With the Linksys I increased the strength of the wireless signal (TX power) and added Windsurfer parabolas on the antennas. This allowed me to stream SD content without an issue and even 720p across the house.

Currently the Playstation 3 has a 50% signal but it occasionally buffers on SD content. I transferred the Windsurfer parabolas on to the Actiontec but I’m not able to increase the wireless rate to anything above 100% (photo link) so I’m at a loss for what to do. I have a few things in mind to resolve the problem but they involve time and money. Currently I’m thinking of:

  • Putting the DD-WRT powered Linksys in between the Actiontec and my home server ethernet connection and use the Linksys to boost the signal to upstairs
  • Upgrade the network card in my server from the current D-Link 530TX to Gigabit Ethernet card
  • Piggy back on the coax cable running upstairs to either transfer the signal from coax to Cat5 or use the coax cable as a lead to run Cat5 up to the living room

With that said, this is my problem and not one that was caused by the Telus service or installation. I need to upgrade my network and I just have to determine the best way to do that. My PS3 Media Server will send 93MB/s to the wired PS3 and 8MB/s to the wireless one (photo link), thus filling a 100MB connection and could account for why it sometimes has issues and sometimes doesn’t.

At the end of the day the Internet connection is reliable, I have solid speeds and while watching Optik TV I never noticed my Internet speed to decrease.

So far my experience with the Telus package has been great. With Usage Based Billing taking a back seat my move may have been premature but I am enjoying life where grass is greener. I may still be in the honeymoon phase of everything so I will write another post in a few weeks to see how I am finding the services then and if there are any issues that have appeared.

My Stripes Split

To say I loved The White Stripes would be an understatement. I have travelled several thousand kilometers to see them play, followed them for three days on their 2007 tour and they have dominated my last.fm charts since I joined.

Jack White was my inspiration on guitar. The music of The White Stripes is simple, but how he executed it is what made him unlike any other. He would play a plastic guitar, run it through a Sears brand amp and use every defect and imperfection to make something beautiful.

They were my favorite live act, where on any night the audience could get something new. Nothing was prepared. Nothing was written down. It all happened based on the mood and crowd interactions. Their free flying, anything was possible attitude made them stand out amongst other successful commercial acts. Over the years the music industry would change how they were perceived but they remained true to giving it their all, never making it easy on themselves and always being creative.

Perhaps that is why it makes it so hard to come to terms of their break up. They could have carried on making records and going through the motions, instead they took the road less travelled and ended the journey before it ruined what they had.

It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve What is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.

I often think back to the road trips with friends in 2005 and 2007, or how Astro will always raise my spirits, regardless of how tired or what mood I am in. The memories I have associated with The White Stripes really will last a life time and I’m grateful for what I have, and with anything good, I just wanted a little more.

I will remember The White Stripes for a lot of antics with the media, a self perpetuated mystery, and interesting music videos. When all that is taken away it is easy to forget how much emotion a simple song can carry and I think the performance of White Moon in the last scene from the 2009 documentary (The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights) is a fitting scene to have your career fade to black on.

Farewell Jack and Meg and thank you for allowing us to join you on this trip.