Archive for March, 2008

Bell Canada and Net Neutrality

   Recent story in The Globe and Mail regarding the throttling of P2P traffic as well as recent discussions on various forums, have determined that Bell Canada is now throttling all P2P traffic. Not just theirs, that is on Sympatico, but anyone who happens to be a client of Bell including independent 3rd party ISP’s such as TekSavvy.

I’m surprised, but not really. The Achilles heel  of all of these DSL outfits was that the last mile is Bell Canada. And Bell Canada being what they are, have a tendency to do things the way a monopoly feels it should. I am proud to say that for the past two years, not one Bell bill enters my home. I am completely free of them. I’ve been scorned once too often by that company and therefore have sworn them off.

This latest move by them only reinforces this idea.

So the battle by all these 3rd party ISP’s now begins. Bring in the lawyers, the government lobbying and everything that goes with it.

It’s a shame but it’s a perfect example of why we need Net Neutrality in Canada.

Ski Conditions

    Yes, I know. It was Easter weekend. I should be writing about how warm it was and how my second weekend outdoor ride went.

Mont Tremblant is in an alternate universe. At least, I don’t think it’s in Quebec. We ran up Friday (big mistake) to ski Tremblant. First time in close to 20 years. I had seen the changes, just never skied there since. What a zoo.

  1. Wait in line for a bus to take you to the hill.
  2. Wait in line for 40 minutes to buy your lift ticket (70 bucks)
  3. Wait in line for another 40 minutes to get to the top via the gondola.

It wasn’t like that 20 years ago! When I first skied Tremblant as a kid, I remember the single chairlift on the North Side. I even remember taking it..

Chalk full of tourists.. Lots of Americans and British. All the staff speak to you in English with accents. It’s so bizare. It’s Quebec, yet not quite.  Tourists who routinely ask you how you are doing.. Whoa, again, we don’t do that in Quebec!

Winds at the top were insane. If you slid down with your arms out, the wind would stop you from moving. Conditions however were still excellent. Mid winter stuff, yet on Easter Weekend.

Sunday was a quick trip to Sauveur. No one there. No one. Skied all morning without having to wait for a chair. Conditions there too were the best I have seen all year.

Next weekend is the famous Pond Crossing at Morin Heights.  If this weather holds up, they are going to have a hard time keeping that water from freezing.

Emergency evacuation of all schools from the Montreal School Board

I have just learned that the “Commission scolaire de Montreal” has ordered the evacuation of all of its schools.

Évacuation d’urgence, le vendredi 14 mars 2008 – Compte tenu de l’accumulation de neige, à titre de mesure préventive, la CSDM procède actuellement à l’évacuation de tous ses établissements scolaires. Les endroits où les élèves ont été déplacés seront indiqués sur chacune des portes des établissements. Une chaîne téléphonique a été déclenchée pour joindre tous les parents. Tous les établissements scolaires seront donc fermés jusqu’au lundi 17 mars inclusivement.

High school students are being sent home while the evacuation points for younger students are listed on the doors of their respective schools. This decision came as a result of inspections that were ordered after a snow-induced roof collapse killed three workers in Morin Heights.

Schools from the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, which covers most of the West Island, are not considered to be at risk and classes will continue this afternoon.

Wondering what to do tonight?

Studying Life in the Universe

Maman, fais attention à moi!

I get out of the house and head for the metro station. I pass the (how do you say tourniquet in English?) and I see two girls (women? They looked like teenagers) with a trolley and there was a real living baby inside.

One of the girls could either be the mother or the sister, but that’s not important. The two women were lifting the carriage from either extremities and as they were clumsily going down the stairs, the trolley was continuously swinging front and back.

Of course, the only thought in my mind was that the baby was going to fly which is very cool to see in movies.

The worst didn’t happen, so this is just a little story without a bad ending.

What’s wrong with a storm?

Everytime there’s a storm, you know that beautiful days are coming up, like the yesterday and today; beautiful sunny sky, mild wind, not too cold. Of course, anybody who goes to school or to work can’t enjoy any of that.

When I see a storm or live through one, the storm itself doesn’t annoy me. That’s actually the fun part. The sad part is people’s pain and misery. Why can’t people just  smile and enjoy a little difference in life? Without things like storms, life wouldn’t be valuable. Catastrophes are important.

The snow storm occurred Saturday and I was moving around a lot. Snow flying around and low visibility sure made things fun (no sarcasm). Sunday was the aftermath. I spent most of the day outside, shoveling. I noticed everybody helping each other, especially with cars. Add a snow storm and you notice that human beings are actually capable of working together. I’m just wondering why a disaster has to take place for something like that to happen.

I’ve seen an old man who wouldn’t hold the door for a mother holding her baby and carrying bags. I’ve also seen the opposite. For readers in the world who never dealt with snow, holding a door is actually much easier than shoveling white powder falling from the sky.

Today is Tuesday. There are still mountains of snow on many streets. It’s a pain to walk on sidewalks, at least that’s how most people feel. Try this: It’s fun to slide around on sidewalks. Brighten up your day! The sun is already there to help with that.

Flying in during THE storm, our experience with KLM

By now, a lot of the local media has been covering the misadventures of all of those “poor” travelers who were returning from a week (or more) in the sun only to fall victim of The Storm of 2008 (trademarked). I still don’t understand why some companies still consider it normal to keep their passengers prisoners of their metal tubes for 12 hours as the water runs out and the toilets start to overflow. What do you think will happen when next year’s clients start their research by googling “Air Cubana”?On Saturday, we were on our way back from Rome via Amsterdam on a KLM MD11. We’ve known since Wednesday that we would be coming in during a storm but the captain was hoping to get us in just before the worst of it. Unfortunately, the position of the jet-stream forced us on a flight path that was much further north than usual (seeing Greenland was immensely cool) and KLM lost their bet.We were initially diverted to Detroit but, as we flew over Ontario, the captain was told that the weather over Toronto was “barely” acceptable. Since many of his passengers didn’t have a visa to enter the US, he decided to give Pearsons a try. That guy was one great pilot, although the visibility over YYZ was atrocious, this was the smoothest landing I’ve seen in years. Not everyone was so lucky, while we were taxiing to our gate, we could barely see the landing lights of another plane as it came in but then aborted its landing.From that point on, we would spend many hours simply waiting. Waiting to be allowed to disembark (1 hour), waiting for our bags (2 hours), waiting in line at the check-in the next day (4.5 hours), waiting for our departure authorization after boarding (1.5 hours) and waiting for the stupid people movers (1.5 hours) at Trudeau Airport because we were now a “domestic” flight. Total travel time from our Rome appartment to our house in Pierrefonds, 50 hours. Nevertheless, we were always kept informed, the water, booze and juices didn’t run out, the toilets didn’t overflow and, even through they were under no legal obligation to do so, KLM got all of their passengers to spend Saturday night in a nice hotel in downtown Toronto. They even paid for a breakfast buffet on Sunday which did wonders for our mood. Furthermore, we could really tell that they were doing all that they could to get us at our final destination. No bullshit, if they didn’t know about something they told us so. Importantly, if they told us a time estimate they also told us where the info came from and whether we should believe it or not. Sometimes the captain would get so frustrated with ground control that his communications were almost funny but we appreciated being treated like adults for a change. All in all, the crew performed admirably under very difficult conditions.The moral of the story is that sometimes you get what you pay for. Cheap flights are cheap because they can’t afford to plan for anything else than optimal conditions.

Looks like they changed the furniture while I was gone

Unless you are visiting us on a web browser, you might not have noticed that a lot has changed in the Metroblogging world over the past week. “Unfortunately” I was on vacation in Rome so I have been unable to comment about these changes until now. In addition to the new layout, you will now have the opportunity to rate our entries. The damage to our egos is expected to be fairly severe but I have been promised ample stocks of Prozac and Single Malt Scotch. Another significant change is that commenting will require signing up for an account. While this may seem to be an unneeded addition for Metroblogging Montreal, the situation in other cities has made this requirement necessary. This will also make it much easier to magically transform prolific/clever commentors into official authors. Yes, I now have that kind of awesome power (I think, I haven’t tried my new magic wand yet). The most significant change, by far, is under the hood. The Metroblogging sites are now powered by a homemade variant of WordPress. Those of you who posted comments in the old MT-“un”powered version have probably noticed how slow it was. Trust me, it was even worse when posting stories and this was not helping with our productivity. Some of our old authors have already expressed interest in contributing again.

Oh look, a snowstorm

Dave Phillips of Environment Canada says Montreal, as of the morning of the 8th of March, is but a measly 60cm from breaking that 70-71 snowfall record. You’ve heard of that record right? It’s the one your parents (if you’re my age) go on and on and on about.. “Ya, Justin but this is nothing like 1971”. Well, we are 60 cm from being able to say, BAH! ’71 was a joke compared to ’08. Or worse yet, to be able to nag our kids with “nothing like ’08 son.. I remember ’08”

It has snowed 80% of the time this winter. Which is to say, 8 out 10 days this year, there’s been some snow falling. And take it from a guy who rides his bike into work, I can believe it. One thing I plan on doing next fall is getting another frame that actually makes for proper mudguard clearance. I am fed up with having my feet and shins coated with salty water. Luckily I invested well enough in decent cycling boots and shoe covers but still.

So what’s gonna fall today into tomorrow? 30cm? That leaves us another 30cm to break the record. Ha! We’ll do that in a few days with the way it’s going.

So listen Montreal, hang tight, stock up on scotch, wine, and cook up something great for dinner and then sit back, look out the window while watching the Habs sit atop first place.. Spring will arrive. I swear.

St-Patrick’s parade is next week BTW. Just thinking about it cracks me up.

Oh, and don’t forget to move your clocks forwards tonight.

The Price of Chaise Longue

Not much work got done Tuesday. Glued to our laptop screens, hitting the refresh buttons to the point of absurdity, chat windows opened up all over, including our Blackberries, us Hab fans sat, waiting.

As time ticked on, despair began to set in.

“That’s it?!?” One coworker who had tickets to Tuesday’s game said he didn’t feel like going.

Another who had tickets to Saturday’s game said he too felt like staying home. When I queried them for their tickets, their tune quickly changed..

Listening to CKAC and the radio show hosts predicting complete disaster. “Stop treating us like idiots when you say the Habs are a better team now, then before the trade deadline” I believe is how one put it.

Huge dissapointment from so many calling in.

Fast forward several days later and the Habs sit atop first place. All alone. Carey Price played spectacularly. Higgins is scoring goals again. Lapierre is back in excellent form. The team looks absolutely fantastic.

I tuned in again to CKAC. One thing is for sure, people who call, call-in shows after a win tend to be rather drunk. It was as if the Habs had won the Cup. Who would have thought the habs would be sitting atop alone in first place with how many weeks left in the season ?

What was that guy’s name again that the Penguins got and we didn’t ?

Les Chaise Longues at Crappy Tire are no longer reduced in price.

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