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“Forget the Wi-Fi, 6 GB is enough for all your needs”

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Rogers Wireless has a launched a new “Super 6G Plan” that is sort of based on the now in-famous 6GB plan that was available when the iPhone launched.  The plan lists the following benefits:

BlackBerry… Its all about the Browser.

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on my first mobile project in a while.  I use an iPhone regularly and have access to an older Android device.  I haven’t used a BlackBerry device in close to 3 years.  In fact, to get one we asked the last person in our office that got an iPhone to dig up his old BlackBerry from his parents house.  The sad part is that the devices really haven’t changed much in the last 3 years…  The track ball is replaced by the touch pad but the operating system is very close to same.  The last device I used was a BlackBerry Curve ( model unknown ) with OS 5.0 beta in 2009, which was only a small improvement over BB OS 4.5.  Virgin Mobile and several other wireless carriers still sell a BlackBerry 5.0 device today.

BlackBerry devices, and specifically their browser experience have become horribly out of date

Fixing Draw Something…

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There’s been a lot of discussion around Draw Something and Zynga’s purchase of the game.  Forbes recently reported that the game saw a 5M drop in Daily Active Users.   This is a problem but Forbes seem to focus mainly on the belief that users are tired of the game.  Gigaom has a more complete review with the acknowledgement that there are some technical issues with the game and the transition to the Zynga hosting.  I think the article down plays the issue and I think the following need to be addressed:

  1. Stability.  I know several people with the game that are completely unable to play or load it.  The game just crashes and they can’t play at all.  They don’t receive notifications and the game is unusable.  A quick search on Twitter shows several people suffering from this problem and it seems to effect the free version more than the paid version. 

How to Travel to the US, with your iPhone…

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I travel to the US 2-3 times a year and I want to use my iPhone while traveling. The first task is to understand is your usage.  My typical usage is:

  • Voice Calls – I receive 2-3 calls daily with a total daily talk time of 20 mins, generally I know 2 of the 3 calls I get daily
  • Text Messages – I receive about 10 a day, and send 5
  • Data Usage – I use about 50 MB a day, more if I’m tethered

Move over Google and enter DuckDuckGo…

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DuckDuckGo Logo
I think it was around 1998 when I first discovered Google on a trip to San Francisco, and I’ve been using it faithfully since. I tried Bing a few years ago but it didn’t really deliver much improvement. When I originally heard about people using DuckDuckGo, I was skeptical I’d see much improvement… I have to say I’ve been proven wrong, the search is great and includes a lot of little tricks that even one-up Google. One of the big considerations for me was the DuckDuckGo privacy policy and commitment not to track me. Its pretty simple, “DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information.”

Roger’s amazing shrinking value plan…

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Since setting up and regretting Rogers One a few months ago my Roger’s value plan has been steadily shrinking.  My original Smartphone Value plan in December 2011 was:

  • Call Display with Name Display
  • Enhanced Voicemail
  • Voicemail to Text
  • Unlimited Sent Text, Picture & Video Msgs
  • Unlimited Rcvd Text Msgs – Unlimited Sent & Received US/International Text Msgs
  • Mobile Backup

The problem is Robocalls…

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In Canada we’ve been experiencing a fairly large scandal involving Robocalls to Canadians surrounding the 2011 election.  I’ve been frustrated with Robocalls for several years and the lack of regulation by the CRTC.  A few years ago I kept getting Robocalls from a collection agency ( trying to reach someone named Brandi ) and recently I have been getting a barrage of calls from the NDP leadership campaign.  I think Robocall regulations should include:

Rogers One… Just not the one.

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Over the past couple of months I’ve been using the Roger’s One Number service.  I was excited because this seemed to be a lot like the Google Voice service but for Canada.  The service lets you register your Roger’s wireless number and receive communications on your computer.  I’ve only used Roger’s One on my Mac Book Pro and it installs a small applet that launches a Roger’s One icon in your task bar.   This lets you know that the service is running and provides an interface to launch different web based locations to receive calls or text messages.  Roger’s One can also read your email and provide notifications, but I already have this via Gmail/Chrome so I disabled this functionality.

The Great US Paywall

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I was recently in Florida for a Vacation and purchased an Amazon Fire device. The device is very similar to the Barnes and Noble Nook I purchased last year but I thought the Amazon content and store would provide a better experience. The first thing I did was sign up for Amazon Prime Trial, with no problems. I purchased some music, no problems and much better prices than iTunes. I also purchased a magazine subscription to 2600, no problems again.

I love Canada Post

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Over the past few weeks I’ve ordered a number of things online and received shipments for all major shipping companies. My building has conceige that can sign for all packages that don’t require a payment for duty or COD. Its very interesting to see the process each company uses handle deliveries and collect the duty/COD charges:

The problem with Dropbox Teams

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I’ve been a long time user of Dropbox and have had the 100GB personal account for several years now. I’ve been very happy with the way the system works and I’ve setup it up on all my computing devices. My wife now shares the account and we use it to save files we want backed up or accessible across multiple devices.

When Ascentum, my employer decide to use Dropbox too initially it was all good and we just shared files between users. Eventually we started running out of space with different users who only had the free account or small paid accounts. I also noticed that my work files were taking up space in my 100GB personal account quota. So we decide to subscribe to Dropbox Teams, which gives us more storage across all users. The system is priced at $750/year for the first 5 users and $125/year for each user after that and includes 1000GB and 200GB per additional user.

New Site and Domain

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After a long delay I’ve finally updated my blog and website. In the process I’ve also moved to ColinSmillie.com to ensure I have greater reach outside of Canada. The design is based on a WP Timeline theme, which I’ve modified to move away a little from the Facebook Timeline which it copied. Let me know what you think and if it you notice any issues with the new site.

Democamp Toronto 28

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Last night was Democamp 28 at Ryerson University.  It was my first time attending a Democamp there and the venue was a theater format with the crowd very separate from the presenter.  This is great for viewing the presentation but it made for a less interactive Democamp.  As a result there was very little heckling or crowd interaction…

 

The evening opened with a presentation by Mark Ruddock, which seemed to be a bit of a rehash of his StartupWeekend presentation last year.  You can get the idea here if you do a search/replace of “VC” with “Startup” from his presentation here.  The most insightful content was during the QA afterward, that’s really where you got the impression that Mark has a lot of experience developing startups.   I particularly liked hearing how he grew Viigo using co-branded partnerships.

Good Product Management RIM’s Saviour?

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Mike Mace has an excellent analysis of the challenges that RIM is facing.  My favourite quote is:

“The fault lies not in our ties, but in our selves. In my opinion, RIM’s real problems center around two big issues: its market is saturating, and it seems to have lost the ability to create great products. This is a classic problem that eventually faces most successful computer platforms. The danger is not that RIM is about to collapse, but that it’ll drift into in a situation where it can’t afford the investments needed to succeed in the future. It’s very easy for a company to accidentally cross that line, and very hard to get back across it.”

Anyone interested in Product Management should read the whole article here.

I thought the most interesting aspect of the article was the focus on the Product Management as the solution.  Specific Mike’s 2 recommendations:

“To keep a platform viable, you need to focus on two tasks: Keep the customer base loyal, and add adjacent product categories.”

Very simple advice and focus that many Product Managers forget and Mike follows it up with more strategies for each.

Overall one of the best articles I’ve seen on RIM and excellent reminder of the importance of Product Management.

Skype Reliability?

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For over 2 days my skype account was offline and I was unable to login.  I could reset my password with the password recovery system ( and did multiple times ) but every time I kept getting an error that I couldn’t login.  No details were provided or contact for additional assistance.  Eventually I tried contacting Skype and was told my account was suspended pending verification.  The only verification they would accept was digits from my credit card which was on file, which I believe was setup when I created my Skype account 7 years ago.  I had no idea what card was used or even which bank it was from but I sent them a series of number I’ve used over the past few years.  Eventually I received this response today:

Hello Colin,

Thank you for your reply.

We understand your concern regarding your Skype account. We know the importance of getting this resolved the soonest time possible and we are more than willing to help you.

Upon checking our records, your account has been flagged for verification. Please be reminded that we do this verification process to maintain online security for all our customers and protect everyone from fraud which also indicated that you had carried out actions which are not allowed under Skype’s Terms and Conditions. Unfortunately we are unable to explain the specific reason for restricting your account.

However, we have now lifted the restriction, so you should be able to sign in again. Please note that if our systems detect further problems with your account then you will be unable to use your account again.

We hope this has clarified your issue. Should you need any further assistance or have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Best regards,

Jolly
Skype Customer Service

I’m not really sure what triggered this request for verification or if did actually verify successfully. Suddenly after 3 days of suspension my account is now active again.

I use Skype alot for business and now as my 2nd phone line at home. I even pay a Skype subscription with unlimited calling in Canada & the US. With Bell or Rogers in Canada there are terms of service guarantees but its very clear that when using Skype your really are mercy…