Network Update for Nov

While fretting about the ever increasing connectivity bill, I discovered that I could get faster internet for about $8 more per month from Telus, my current provider.

We don’t have fiber in our area, so all I can get is an upgrade from 25mb/s to 75mb/s download speed. Still, for $8 that’s a no-brainer. I called and an installation was arranged.

In order to get this speed, the modem needs a bonded pair of wires, so a second jack was added and the new modem connected.

Unlike past modems, this new one is full-featured and ultimately configurable. However, before I started playing I first simply plugged the old system into the new modem for a test. Just to summarize, old system was ADSL modem -> Linksys RVS4000 firewall -> house network. The initial test system was New modem -> Linksys RVS4000 -> house network. So all should be good, correct?

Before they came I did a Telus speed test. It showed 22.5 down, 1 up, which is pretty good for the 25 plan. The new plan (75) should be 75down, 10up. Once they were done, I ran another Telus speed test: 10up, but 4 down!!! What could be wrong?

On a hunch, based on a bad streaming experience some years ago as well as issues with the RVS4000 a decade ago in a co-locate, I pulled the RVS4000 and re-ran the test: 75down, 10up!

So here’s a warning to anyone using 10-year old technology with faster internet: DON’T. The old crap just can’t keep up. The RVS4000 may have been an expensive device 10 years ago, but it’s brain was an atom processor, which is about 1/100 of a modern smart phone (just guessing!).

At any rate, the little atom processor simply cannot keep up with modern high speed internet. This also confirms the RVS4000 was the problem with streaming some years ago, though I could not pull it at the time to test.

However, the new modem  is awesome. It has wifi that is incredible. My old wifi was a good 10 year old device with big antennae, but devices only ever got 2 bars max anywhere in the upstairs. Now you get 5 bars everywhere, and coupled with the high speed, downloads are amazingly fast.

So all-in-all a great upgrade for $8 more per month.

So… I guess I’m NOT done with Apple

My iPhone 4 is so old now that it’s really getting flakey – freezing up at the most inconvenient times requiring a hard reboot and all that.

So I checked my Virgin mobile plan, and I have some money in the (discontinued) supertab plan. In fact, enough to get a new phone. Now I know there are new phones for $0 on a two-year plan, but I was looking at what I could get for the supertab balance I had.

This is nice as there’s no other way to use up the supertab, so why not spend it on a new phone?

Anyway, it quickly became apparent that Android was out. The phones were either way too cheap, or way too expensive. Besides, I’m not all that thrilled with Samsung phones either as they give you a Samsung mangled Android, not the pure deal.

So what did come up in my search within my (no cost) budget? An iPhone 7. Yep. Apple stuff.

So I went out last week and got it, and it’s actually a very nice phone. More cool, I was able to move all my stuff off the old phone to the new phone in two painless steps as I still have the Macbook available. All I had to do was turn it on, update whatever was out-of-date (including iTunes) and then backup the old phone and restore the new one (data and apps only).

The new phone is, as I said, pretty cool. It’s nice to have something that will last for a few years before getting orphaned again. If the iphone 4 is any indication, that was not really a bad deal for me.

The only thing I had to do was sign up for my same plan for 2 years, which I was using anyway.

So I’m an apple dude again. Kind of. 😉

Age, experience and fame

(originally posted nov 7, 2007)

Today I received another request from some publishing outfit to participate in one of their IT surveys. I deleted the email, but then pondered for a moment on the question of “why did I delete that?”, or more specifically “why did I delete that now?”.

When I was younger, I did these things all the time. I was flattered that they wanted my input. After all, when I started I was a kid, and had no “street cred”, I was thrilled that anyone would ask for my participation. Somehow, I thought it showed that I knew something, or was somehow “famous”.

Well, not anymore. As I’ve matured in this industry, I’ve come to realize a couple of things. The first is that everyone wants your input. Of course, once it’s been filtered and blended and homogenized and extruded, your input is not worth the time you spent answering the questions.

Not only that, but I’ve also come to realize that, after 30+ years, I actually know quite a bit. That knowledge was often hard-won. The cost in terms of grey hairs and such makes this information all the more valuable.

I worked at a consulting company many years ago, and they had a very interesting pricing system. Simply doing the job was one cost. But if the client wanted the job done, PLUS training for their staff, then the job was priced as two items, the basic cost plus something they called “technology transfer”. Often, the technology transfer cost was significantly more than the basic job cost. When I inquired about this (I was pretty new at the time), I was told “work is cheap. Knowledge is expensive”.

That stuck with me, and has been borne out in all the rest of my career. I’ve spent a couple of decades as a consultant. One thing I’ve learned is that what I know is far more valuable than the jobs I do for clients. After all, if I can do a job faster and better than the competition, it’s probably because I have some tools and techniques (or experience and knowledge) that they don’t have. That is worth something.

So now, when someone asks me for advice or to fill in a survey, my first (internal) response is “what’s in it for me?”. Not in a mean way, but simply asking how my expertise is going to be valued, evaluated and compensated. Back then, I was flattered to be surveyed. I thought they were doing me a favor by seeking me out. Now, I know that it is the other way around. I am giving them knowledge based on my expertise and experience. If they want it, they will have to compensate me for the “technology transfer”.

Do the best you can

(originally posted nov 20, 2008)

I got one of those “Life’s Little Instruction Calender” dealies a couple of Christmases ago. They are now on volume XIII (or whatever), and the lack of decent material really shows. There have been one or two good ones, but most were totally unmemorable. A few have caused me to write “B.S.” in pencil over the day’s trite saying.

However, the one for November 18 was just too much. It must be commented upon:

If you are doing a job you despise, do it as well as you can. Miraculously, you’ll discover it’s not as disagreeable as you thought.

This is not only B.S., it’s really, really BAD advice. If you were to follow this advice, you will discover, much to your horror, you have now become the “go-to” person for that job, FOREVER. Doing a good job at a horrible task labels you as the person to whom should be given all the horrible tasks that no-one else wants.

j.r. crofter’s advice would be:

If you are doing a job you despise, do the absolutely worst possible job you can. This will ensure that the next time this job is handed out, you will NOT be on the list of candidates for the task.

Unless, for some reason, you enjoy being a doormat for your boss and co-workers.