Telus vs. Shaw

For several years, my main internet connection at home has been via ADSL service from our incumbent telecommunications carrier Telus. These people aren’t exactly known for their customer service, and I’ve had many, many run-ins with them over the years (both with my residential services, as well as my company’s business Internet services, voice, and cellular services). For the last six months or so, they have been sending me threatening emails explaining to me that my excessive bandwaidth usage violates their terms of service. Now please understand that I’m not talking about your everyday $20 residential service. I pay $85 per month for 2.5Mbps business service with two fixed IP addresses.

I thought that I had better do something to help with the bandwidth consumption before I lost my internet connection. My first attempts (which were quite successful) were to set up a wifi card on my main linux router machine to ‘acquire’ a connection from one of several neighbour’s wifi connections.

This worked fine for several months, but started to become more unreliable (such as some neighbours enabling WEP, and others moving their access points, possibly to move them away from me??) Then a stroke of luck – Telus told me that I could ‘upgrade’ my service to 2.5Mbps for only $40 per month. As I mentioned before, I already have 2.5Mbps, as well as fixed IP addresses, which cost me $85 per month. I pounced on the offer to upgrade my service and drop my monthly fee. The sales person on the other end assured me that I would be able to keep my fixed IP addresses and drop my monthly fee to $40 per month. This sounded great, so I signed up. Everything was fine for the first month, so I decided I would take my monthly savings, and splash out on a residential cable Internet connection from Shaw. For $30 plus $40, I now had a dual homed network in my basement. Everything was beautiful for several months.
Then I checked my credit card statement. It appears that Telus was billing me $85 again. I immediately telephoned them and asked them waht was going on. They explained that their system had discovered a configuration error with my account, and fixed up the billing. After explaining the entire story, they proceeded to tell me that the employee was in error, and if I wanted to keep my fixed IP addresses (which I wanted to do), I would have to continue to pay $85 per month.

I thought ‘f*ck this’, and thought I’d look into fixed IP address services from Shaw, and drop Telus completely. I called their sales office, and discovered that I could get their SOHO business class service, with two fixed IP addresses for $85 per month (sounds familiar…). I decided to go for it, with every intention of phoning up Telus and cancelling my service.

I upgraded the home Shaw service to SOHO. And then the problems began. I unplugged the Telus connection, and did some speed tests using only the Shaw connection. Quite frankly, it sucked. I couldn’t get anything more than 1.5Mbps, and most of the time, it was worse. I felt like an idiot. I checked the Saw website again. There it was – ‘Up to 5Mbps’. I sure wasn’t getting that! A call to tech support confirmed that I wasn’t getting that, and after some troubleshooting, it was recommended that I replace my modem. Instead of waiting for a service call, I went to the local Shaw office, and picked up a replacement modem. I plugged it in, and discovered that the speed was exactly the same. This time, the tech told me that I was getting a perfectly acceptable rate, and I should be happy. Well, I asked for a supervisor, and explained the whole sorry story. Unbelievably, this guy was very understanding, and conceded that the current network design wouldn’t get me the consistent speeds I was looking for. He was very helpful in crediting my account and closing it.

Now, I’m back to my Telus service. I’m glad I didn’t get around to disconnecting! At least I have my 2.5Mbps back. But I still have the problem of not enough traffic allowance per month…

Distributing Video Inside Your House

As I recently blogged, I’ve set up a Bell ExpressVu receiver to receive NASA TV. Soon after installing the system, I ran in to a TV ‘scheduling’ issue with the rest of the family (who aren’t nearly as interested in watching images of astronauts brushing their teeth in zero-g). Instead of moving the entire setup to a second television set, I decided to move the receiver to my server room, and build a distribution system to distribute the channel to all of the televisions in the house.
I don’t use any antenna inputs on any of my televisions, because all of the devices I use (satellite receivers, XBOX consoles, etc) have composite, component, or S-video outputs. This means that every set has an unused antenna input that would be an ideal input to view the NASA TV. Unfortunately, I would have to run a second coax cable to each set just for this. Instead of that, I discovered a way to ‘multiplex’ the Bell ExpressVu LNB signal and the channel 3 signal from the NASA TV receiver.
The trick is to use some satellite/UHF/VHF combiners (a fuzzy picture here). I put one of these in the server room on the output of the NASA TV receiver to multiplex the channel 3 signal on the LNB feed back upstairs to the TV. On the TV end, I put another one of these to de-multiplex the LNB signal and the channel 3 signal, which goes straight to the antenna input of the TV. This worked beautifully, so I then split the channel 3 signal into 3, ran this in to 3 separate combiners, and multiplexed the signal on 3 separate LNB feeds to separate TVs around the house.
This now gives me the ability to watch NASA TV at three separate locations in the house.

Bob the Builder’s Voice Change

Can We Fix It? I’m not sure. I’ve known for a long time that the voice characters for Bob The Builder are very much different in the US/Canadian version than the original UK version. I can’t tell you the look on Matthew’s face when he watched a UK import of Bob the Builder and heard all of the different voices. Because of my family’s British history (and my tendancy to BitTorrent newer Bob episodes from the UK) Matthew is more than comfortable with the two versions of the voices.

Recently, a whole new story arc started in the UK version, called “Project Fix-It”. This is a sequence of stories with Bob basically building a whole new town in Sunflower Valley. The UK version has the original voices (such as Neil Morrissey as Bob. I woke up this morning to see that Sunflower Valley had finally arrived on Treehouse in Canada (More info here). However, both Matthew and I were shocked to hear yet another Bob voice!

I did some Internet searching, but I can’t find anything on the voice changes.


After viewing the PVR recording, I see that Bob’s voice is now done by Greg Proops (you’ll recognize him from the American version of ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’). It’s funny that I couldn’t find any reference to this on the web. It’s not (yet) in the IMDB entry, and I can’t find it on The Official Greg Proops Website.