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Category Archives: Technology

Kevin Deakon Baird

Kevin Deakon Baird

My son was recently born on March 31, 11.50pm. Thus the lack of time for serious blogging. Twitter has seemed a healthy alternative for me and I make less speeling and grammar mistakes in 140 characters. So, FOLLOW ME if you want to get Post Production & Film Tweets.

So, time is valuable and before my son was born, we bought a car after many years of using public transit and man powered vehicles (ie. my bikes)
I soon realized that my reading time was substantially cut since I was doing the commuting driving and keeping my eye on the road. This coupled with the fact that off air Radio (with the exception of the CBC) is pretty lame. I had this idea after I got tired of making playlist and listening to podcasts: audiobooks!

I know this is not a great appifanny but I like many people that I would share my “new discovery” with; I raised my nose at the “lazy-Read-me-A-Story” people that listened to audiobooks instead of using their reading skills. However, when I went to the itunes store and saw that the book that I was going to purchase was 10$ and read in 2.5 hours. It hit me. Me the slow reader who reads a book a month on a good month could crank out a book in 2-3 car rides or 3-4 house cleaning activities. Wow great deal and I am a little cheap with certain things, books being one of them. So, I bought “Tribes” and 2 days later I was done. Hummm. In another few days I could eclipse my book reading record. I am a slow reader. This was a good deal.

Like I said when I shared this with others I got either the disapproving look or “nose in the air” comments about the joys of curling up to a book on a bear skin rug and a log fire. But in reality, my reading time has been on crammed city bus, standing in a packed subway or sitting on a cold porcelain seat. Hummm or should I say Brrrrr.

I am not saying don’t read but listening to a book is better than not reading it at all. I still have a book that I read, slowly but since I have listened to 4 books now in 2 months, I am adding audiobooks to my life.

Note that I don’t really read Novels, I am more of a Non-Fiction fan which I find is better suited for the audiobook format.
Here is a list of what I have listened to:

babywhisperer

(crazy convienient got all the information in a few hours, time was a factor)

madetostickpurplecowtribes

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twitter_logo_headerI have been hearing about Twitter for months now and I finally opened and account. After a week of Tweeting, I see that this application is a scaled back version of Facebook’s status update line. So, what is the big deal. Well, If Facebook was a personal computer, it would be a PC and Twitter would be the MAC. It is just more efficient than Facebook.

I would not say that it is better than Facebook but I am not one to explore everyone’s personal pictures, office YouTube clips and wacky add-on applications that they seem to always want me to add to my already cluttered Facebook account. Facebook has its place, I found it very useful to announce to all my friends and acquaintances that we were having a baby and to spread some pictures around to my family. But overall and similar to a PC, sometimes it is a little much.
twitterrific_bigger
What Twitter brings to the social network scene from my perspective is a slick paired down version of some of your friends, acquaintances, corporations, website and even famous people’s daily discoveries and an occasional funny comment on a life experience. You can follow someone or be followed; my tendency is to follow my technologist friends since they are all early adopters and usually have interesting things that I would like to explore and/or similar interests. I also like to spread my techno-geeky links and daily discoveries from my office or the road via iphone apps like Tweeterific.

I am probably the last of the “early adopters” and it will probably grow as big or bigger than Facebook.I can definitely see the business and networking possibilities and I think that is why it is growing so fast.(recent podcast on TED, CBC Sparks, TWIT… all the tech-heads are on the “bus”) Similar to Google rise to power, I can see why Twitters simplicity will carve themselves a spot in the social network scene.

I even added the Widget to my site!

cornerlogo4_05

Gorilla Productions Tweets

Just to follow up on one of my most read posts “Rogers High Speed Internet best of the worst and proud of it!“:

worlds_greatest_loser_mug-p168384220137488772qzje_400I did get a call from the Head Office of Rogers Cable in late August 2008.

The person who called and left a message about “returning the call if you had any more concerns” like she was checking me off her to call back list.
Now, i could not let them off the hook like that… I outlined all my concerns in my letter and that call back wasn’t satisfying. So, I called back (twice) leaving a message to call me back, so I can discuss further my “situation”.
When we spoke, the tone of the conversation was not like the monitored calls when you call tech support, not as guarded and Rogers Politically Correct. I explained to her why I wrote the letter and there was a small conversation where she told me that “the situation was now resolved in my area”. (I guess I would have to get there service again to confirm that claim) I don’t think that I believe her after my extended experience. I told her my new situation with YAK, one of there competitors, and she surprisingly said that she “was glad that I was happy with my service and that all had ended well.” I guess Rogers does want the best for me.

tricorderOh yeah, I finally got an iphone. So, I decided to go with Fido. I know they are the same company but I thought I would not give Rogers my money directly this time and do it through a sister company; since they have the Canadian Monopoly on the Apple “Tricorder”. Let’s just say that the Dog is a good analogy for the company. They claim to offer similar services than Bell but in reality there packages fall short of Bell, they are extremely convoluted and they have the weirdest Long Distance Plans/network restrictions. Needless to say Fido looks a lot like its Master.

promo-searchengine-smMake sure you know your getting the maxim out of your bandwith, TorrentFreak Blog posted up a link to Googles new pet project “Mlab” to monitor your bandwith providers and let the consumer know regain some control. I first heard about this through the CBC’s Search Engine which you should download everyweek to stay ontop of the latest Tech/Political/Copywright issues. It is one of the few major Podcast that tackle and monitor the issues of Copywrigth, Throddling and Cell phone propaganda…. Download a few and you get what this all means.

I sorta enjoy watching keynotes or presentations but taking time out of my busy day to go to a conference hall to listen to 10 different presentations and eat a continental breakfast is not always my idea of a productive time spent.
All that, to get to one 20 min featured product… a healthy alternative from the comfort of your computer.

macvideo-logo

MacVideo.tv delivers tons of info and presentations on all aspects of Editing, Authoring, Motion Graphics and cameras. Lots of nice demos and previews.

I was driving on the QEW, coincidentally in a some traffic on a highway, and I saw the new ad campaign billboard for Rogers High Speed Internet “The Fastest and Most Reliable. Period.”

So, I reminisced about my year long struggle with Rogers about their High Speed internet Cable.
In August 2007, I decided to make the leap or some might call it run away, escape from the poor tech support service from Bell Sympatico. (3 tips: When calling Bell Sympatico help line. Always call 2 times in a row to cross reference there story, get a Mac so they can’t blame you for a virus and call repeatedly, follow up and don’t wait to escalate the problem to a level 1 tech)

Being mildly technologically savvy, I notices a slow down at night so being a long time Bell Sympatico customer (aka Proactive) I called Rogers Tech line, they were surprisingly pleasant and attempted to help me for the next month or so. They were also very candid in the fact that the problem was in my area and their responsibility and they proved it by refunding me the price that I was paying for the internet.

I diligently, kept tabs and speed checked to see when the problem would be fixed. I would call monthly and explain the scenario after a 20 minute conversation they would realize that it was their issue and return or credit my account for the lack of proper internet. After, 9 months I decided to pay for internet service and got a DSL line with YAK, I got tired of my 56k modem speed at nighttime. At that point I realized something amazing… I don’t need 8meg download the 4-5meg from Yak was just fine. The internet is pretty streamlined and Flash based and I would rather have a slightly slower but consistent service than a bi-polar one.

Finally, I gave up on Rogers “High Speed Cable” they never did resolve the issue in my area and understood why I was canceling, I returned the Modem to them and wrote them this snail mail letter in hopes that they would realize the lack of vigilance and response to a known issue.


Dear Rogers Cable,

Last year, August 1st, I decided to switch from my Bell Sympatico High-speed internet account (########) that I had since the inception of DSL in 1999 to Rogers Cable High Speed internet. I have been a long time customer of Rogers Cable, for many years enjoying quality programming like Rogers HD and The NFL ticket package.

Unfortunately, my experience with Rogers High speed Internet was not one that I would recommend to any of my friends, family or peers.

I work from home as a freelance Film & Video Editor and my ability to communicate on the internet is essential to the success of my work. When I initially received the service it seemed faster than Bell but I soon realized that it was an unstable, inconsistent and delivering less than the minimum required speed that I purchased. My 7-8 meg package was most of the time dipping down to 725 kbps which is a little faster than a 56k modem.

I proceeded to contact Rogers Tech Support /Customer Support for the next 9 months here is a log of the calls.

4 August Natalie (wsr02028431)
22 August Daniel (713 kbps dfr00053341) Known Server Problem in the area
24 August Peter (wsr02031728) 24-48 hours the problem should be fixed
28 August Susan-Supervisor (noted problem)
29 August Thash – Supervisor (ongoing problem noted)
29 August E-Chat Rogers.com (B226 George *rude via chat and less than helpfull)
30 August Marc (issue in area congestion, Known issue, technician are aware)
4 September Arvin (wsr02045040) credit for 2 weeks
12 September Cody (Dfr00052241 & wsr 02055296
19 September Natalie (update on status of repair)
26 September Abdul (refund for lack of proper service)
12 October Sasha (Refunded internet charge)
14 October Paul (ongoing issue in the area)
7 November Peter (credit refund for lack of proper service)
12 November (dfr00053341 & wsr02055296)
13 January David/Terra(billing) (tier 2 office, unresolved tech issue in area)
18 February Dudley (refund lack of proper service)
1 April Sarik,Ramon, Jeff (wsr 02239690)
4 April David (dfr00053341)
23 May Jason (refund 2 billing cycles)
31 May Amy/Greg (Cancelled my Service)

I must say that I was impressed with quality of the Customer Support Line.
However, despite the Customer/tech supports general concerns and efforts to keep me as a customer in April I subscribed to a DSL service in hopes that Rogers would soon finally fix the “unresolved issue in the area” in the interim. Unfortunately, I finally had to cancel my cable Internet service and enjoy a more stable constant and reliable connection from your competitors.

I believe it is important to note this experience has made me doubt on the reliability of Rogers Cable in rectifying a major problem in their system in a reasonable time span. Moreover, since I am involved in the media industry and many of my clients come to me for recommendation on a variety of technical issues. I could not professionally recommend any of Rogers’ services because of the lack of back end technical responsiveness to a major technical issue.

Finally, I have lost any loyalty to Rogers and I am currently reviewing my Cable package options with your competitors since they now also provide HD programming and the NFL Ticket. I was also going to transition my business cell phone Package to Rogers when my contract was up with Bell Mobility in anticipation for an iphone. However, I am more than willing to wait on healthy alternatives to your iphone package from your competitors.

Sincerely,
Anthony K Baird
gorillaproductions.ca

I never did here back from them, I guess they don’t need my business. Unfortunately, I have to endure their Cable service for one more season of football. However, as soon as we move, in the very near future, I will be canceling my cable service and discouraging my friends and peers from purchasing anything Rogers because if your unlucky enough to have a problem they don’t fix it.

Anyways, Back to the QEW Billboard. “The Fastest and Most Reliable. Period.
Well, I went to their site to see how they can claim this with a straight “face” and they put a link to a CBC marketplace news report on internet speed where they were put in a head-to-head speed battle with the big boys of high speed (Telus, Bell Sympatico & Shaw).

Rogers…You should not be proud of beating those “competitors”. In the report, they are the lesser of the evil High speed internet providers not a badge that should be worn proudly (I am the best of the Bad Companies).
CBC should have thrown in a smaller company like TekSavvy or Yak to see how a real David versus Goliath Battle ends.

All this to say Rogers Cable High Speed service was inconsistent and slow, not reliable, period.

Don’t Just Read this Post, Check your internet speed regularly, Post a Comment with your Rogers speed. I am sure that someone at the “Big House” monitors the web reviews of there service. Let Big Bro know that your checking up on him too.

ALSO CHECK OUT FOLLOW UP BLOG POST

So, I have a buddy of mine who has a PSP and is going on a long trip to Afganistan. I wanted to let him borow  his favorite movies and some other great films to enjoy in the hot sun of the Middle East on his portable device.

I naturally went to the Sony site/Playstation/PSP… first mistake. They practically had “good luck on converting a movie for the PSP but you buy this piece of software that will do it automatically, thanks for shopping Sony!”

I “researched” the internet to find examples of good PSP movie compression. Second mistake, a lot of people compress stuff poorly, not deinterlacing, not 2-pass encoding because it increases encode times and not caring if their movies look like we are watching a Western in the 80’s on an Magnavox.

Then, I searched on the World Wide Web for an answer and kinda figured it out the maximum settings but I wasn’t 100% that Handbrake 0.7.1 the Free Software that I was using to go straight from the Original DVD to PSP format was not going to be displayed with a warped aspect ratio. I have used this program in the past to convert my DVDs straight to ipod format, quick easy and intuitive.

Searched some more and realized that I was using on old version of the magic Pinaple program.
HandBrake 0.9.2 (yeah not even a 1.0 version) is the Pimp of all DVD to portable media player programs converters.
It downloads with all sorts of presets ipod, iphone, Xbox360, AppleTV and even the illusive PSP.

Guide to Anamorphic Encoding in HandBrake

Gold Star to Handbrake and get it will its free. Handbrake

Rediscovered the Diggnation show… I originally watch them when they were on the Democracy Player now the Miro player but the show was in it’s infancy and hard to watch.

But they have polished there web show and are quite entertaining in a geeky way. It is still 2 guys on a couch a la Wayne’s World with laptops drinking beverages and cracking jokes. Like a Kramer it is hard to look away. If you don’t have time to surf around the net and check out the less standard techy news, this show is good “cheat sheet” to the web-happenings.

In there last podcast they mentioned this interesting new rival to Google.

Former Google employees started this new search engine. I sorta like the simplicity it is “Mac-Like” but I think I am so use to Google that there column view is odd, but it might grow on me eventually.