Dale Dietrich
friedman: always supply your comparative advantage
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Free Mobile Hotspot Tethering on Rogers with Nexus S

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imageBefore I purchased my Nexus S, I was sure that I had heard/read somewhere that it can natively (ie: without rooting the device) provide mobile hotspot tethering to other devices – ie: set it up so that other devices, like my laptop, iPod Touch or iPad, can connect to it as a hotspot, to share my Rogers 3G data account with all my non-3G, Wi-Fi enable devices.

When I purchased the Nexus S at the local Rogers store a couple weeks ago the sales people assured me that this was not possible –that I’d have to pay Rogers a separate, extra $5 fee each month to turn tethering on. Turns out the  Rogers guys were wrong – at least in the case of the Nexus S. No doubt this is true for all other non-Nexus branded Android devices. I bought the Nexus S primarily because it is a stock Google Android phone with no carrier-futzing limiting what it can do.

imageDespite being told it wouldn’t work, I got around to testing it out today. I set up a portable hotspot on my Nexus S called ‘Dale’s Android Hotspot’ – see instructions below. I turned on my iPad, opened the Wi-Fi settings and, voila,  it saw the ‘Dale’s Android Hotspot’ (see image on the right). I typed in the password, fired up mobile Safari, and had full Internet access through my Nexus S hot-spot. Email worked too. Wonderful!


This means that when I’m out and about with my laptop or iPad, I can access the Internet from anywhere I can get 3G access (subject, of course, to Rogers wireless data caps and overage fees). Heck, I can even use this hotspot to connect my now SIM-less iPhone 3GS to the Internet.

I’m very happy about this.  I’m love’n my Nexus S more and more every day!!

How to Setup the Nexus S as a Portable hotspot:

  • Go to the Android’s Settings screen
  • Select ‘Wireless & networks’
  • Select ‘Tethering & Portable hotspot’
  • Click the checkbox beside the ‘Portable Wi-fi hotspot’
  • Click on the ‘Portable Wi-Fi hotspot settings’ item
  • Click on the ‘Configure Wi-Fi hotspot’ item
  • Name the hotspot in the ‘Network SSID field’ – I named mine ‘Dale’s Android Hotspot’
  • On the security pull-down menu select ‘WPA2 PSK’
  • Type in your desired hotspot password
  • Click ‘Save’

That’s it. Now turn on your iPad, iPod touch, laptop, whatever, search for the named hotspot, type in the password and you are off to the tethered races.

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Bell’s Internet Usage Meter is Off by Up-to 60 Hours

Categories: canadacloud computinginternetutilities
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Bell Internet Max 16 logo Last March, I switched ISPs from Rogers to Bell’s fiber-to-the-building Internet Max 16 service. I made the switch at the same time I ‘cut the chord’ – dumping Rogers cable in favor of HD, over-the-air only, TV recorded on my Series 3 TiVo.

Bell offered me a one year promotional deal for their Internet Max 16 service where I would receive (in theory*) download speeds of up to 16 Mbps and 1 Mbps upload for $41.90 a month. At the time, my theoretical 10 Mbps down service from Rogers (with a 95 GB cap) was costing me $59.95 a month.

As with Rogers, all of Bell’s plans have data caps – much smaller than comparable U.S. ISPs I might add. The data cap for the service under the Internet Max 16 promotional offer is 100 GB. 

Periodically during each month, I check my Bell Internet usage meter** (shown below, after the jump) to make sure I’m staying within the 100 GB cap. This becomes particularly important towards the end of the month where I am always running up against the cap.

As you can see in the picture below (circled in red after the jump), Bell’s ‘My Internet usage’ meter contains fine print which reads:

Note: Current total Internet usage activity shown may be delayed by up to 60 hours.

CONTINUE READING →

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New iPhone 3G S Announced – Available June 19

Categories: gadgetsinteractive mediaiPhone
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image

  • $199 for 16 GB in U.S. – $299 for 32GB version (on contract of course)
    • pricing only available to new AT&T customers
    • $700 Upgrade fee for current AT&T iPhone users
    • [June 10 Update: Rogers has announced that Canadian pricing will be the same as U.S. pricing – in Cdn $. So, $199 and $299 Cdn for the 16 and 32 GB units respectively. Only available on 3 year contracts again. No pricing for un-subbed units announced – un-subbed 3G iPhones still cannot be purchased in Canada. 8-GB, 3G Units will be decreased to $99. No word on 16GB units]
  • Available June 19 (U.S. & Canada)
  • $99 for prior 16 GB iPhone
  • “up to” two times Faster
  • Voice Control:
    • voice dialing
    • ask iPhone what song is playing and it will tell you
    • tell iPhone to play a song, or songs by an artist or a playlist and it will play it
    • developers can integrate into any app

image

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Why I moved to Media Temples’ Grid Service from Self-Hosting with DynDNS

Categories: bloggingsmall office
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media temple grid servers 

dyndns logo Self-hosting using DynDNS.com was working out well until recently. However, there are several reasons why I moved to Media Temple’s Grid-Service:

Cost: Not including the original home-server cost (I had been using a $600 Dell desktop), it was cheaper to use DynDNS.com for my initial 3 or 4 domains. As I add new domains, the cost of DynDNS was about to become more expensive than Media Temple which allows me to host up to 100 domains for $200 a year.

Future Sites Planned: I have several websites planned for the future. I’m hoping one of those will take-off or get Dugg – where I’ll need the surge capacity that media temple can support.

Bandwidth Caps: As of August 2008 Rogers imposed a 95 Gig per month bandwidth cap. Unlike in the U.S. where a typical user accounts have 200+ Gig caps, the 95 Gig Rogers cap was attached to their highest price consumer account. I have bumped up against and surpassed that cap over the last few months (Rogers charges $2.95 per Gig above the cap). Note: Bell’s highest end consumer account cap is 100 Gigs.

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Bell & Telus Announce Canada-wide HSPA/GSM Network Starting 2010

Categories: canadaiPhonepolicytelecom
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bell logo  telus logo

Bell and Telus have announced the joint development of a long-rumoured, fast, nation-wide, HSPA wireless network to begin service as early as 2010.

In the near term, the network will support both existing CDMA mobile handsets used by current Bell and Telus customers, plus GSM–based handsets.  GSM is the global standard currently used by Rogers in support of the iPhone, among other mobile devices.

Over the longer term, this 4G network could ramp Canadian wireless download speeds to as fast as 100 Mbps. Current Canadian 3G networks have 7 Mbps maximum download speeds.

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iPhone’s iPod Touch Features NOT Bricked with SIM Removed

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removing sim from iphone Back when I was doing my Rogers iPhone research, see here, I asked numerous representatives from Rogers (both on the phone and at the Rogers store) whether I would be able to use my iPhone as an iPod Touch-like device if/when I cancelled my iPhone service. The uniform answer was no! – that the iPhone would be bricked (wouldn’t even turn on beyond a warning screen) if I removed the SIM card.

Two months after purchasing my iPhone I set out to finally transfer all of my remaining contacts from my old Nokia phone to the iPhone. This required me to remove the SIM from my iPhone and put it back into my Nokia phone (the Nokia would not turn on without the SIM). In doing so, I tested Rogers’ theory that the iPhone would be completely bricked with the SIM removed. I discovered this was untrue.

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I Purchased the 16 Gig Rogers 3G iPhone

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Dale Dietrich Poses With his New 3G Rogers iPhone On Wednesday August 13, I purchased a 16 Gig 3G Rogers iPhone.

Please see my “Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans – The Fine Print” post for the details on: (i) the actual (vs. advertised) hardware pricing; (ii) Rogers’ 30 day Buyers Remorse option; (iii) the applicable $125 to $500 Early Cancellation Fees (ECF); (iv) bricking on cancellation; (v) the jailbreak option/issue; (vi) the option to transfer the iPhone to a third party (and avoid the ECF); (vii) Canadian iPhone shortages; (viii) upgrading to future models; (ix) data roaming in Canada; (x) the 365 day warranty; and (xi) moving your SIM between phones.

Below I describe: (i) how I resolved my purchase impediments; (ii) the Rogers Buyer’s Remorse Option; (iii) my first impressions (I’m loving it); and (iv) the all-in Rogers iPhone and data plan cost.

Overcoming Obstacles to Purchase

In light of my strong aversion to cell phone contracts (let alone Rogers’ infamous 3 year iPhone contract) and early cancellation fees, there were several major obstacles I had to resolve before I felt comfortable enough to ‘purchase’ the subsidized 3G iPhone.

  • 16 Gig iPhone is Too Small – Upgrade Dilemma: I carry around about 25 GB of music, 50 or so podcasts at any given time, workout and a few other videos/movies on my current video iPod (most of the storage is used for music). I’ll need storage space for the App Store applications I download. Plus, I’ll need space for email, contacts, pictures and visual voicemail. To manage with a 16 Gig iPhone, I’ll have to give up carrying most of my music around. So, I will inevitably want to upgrade to a 32 GB iPhone when it comes out. Resolution: As you can read in my ‘fine print’ post, the Rogers rep assured me that future models will be released for purchase at retail (as opposed to subsidized under contracts as is the case now). So, if he is right,  at that time I’d be able to purchase and use the newer (larger capacity) unit under my current contract (and sell my 16 Gig iPhone). I rarely listen to music on my iPod anyway. Instead I use it mostly to listen to and watch podcasts. For now, I’ll use my current iPod for the rare times I want music while travelling.
  • Rogers Dataplan Issue: The initially announced Rogers data plans were ridiculous (see here). Resolution: I took advantage of the $30/month 6 GB limited time offer. Home WiFi data usage is not counted against 3G dataplan limits. The free Rogers/Fido WiFi hotspot usage is also not counted against 3G dataplan limits. I expect most of my data usage will be through WiFi so I’m hoping/expecting that the 6 GB limit should be enough for my needs – but I’ll only know for sure after a few months of use.

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Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans – The Fine Print [Rewritten & Updated]

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Rogers iPhone

[This post is a rewritten version of an earlier July 28, 2008 post. I 'purchased' a 3G iPhone on August 13. In the mean time I spoke at length with two Rogers representatives on the telephone and spent a couple hours of quality time with "Jay" at the Rogers Store at Bay & King in Toronto. Click here for my prior summary of the Rogers 3G iPhone Rate Plan Offerings]

$199 and $299 Price ONLY on New Activations

I was  unpleasantly surprised when I ‘purchased’ my 16 GB 3G iPhone, that they charged me $324.99 instead of the $299 advertised price. The Rogers rep (Jay) told me that the $199 and $299 prices are available only to new Rogers customers. I had been a month to month Rogers subscriber since November 2001. The representative explained that I was getting a special deal given that I’m a high-value customer. I was told that ‘lesser value Rogers customers’ face up-to a $50 premium over the advertised $199/$299 prices.  I didn’t feel special!

30 Day Buyer’s Remorse Returns

Summary: iPhone purchasers can return an iPhone for a full refund and without having to pay the Early Cancellation Fees discussed below provided all of the following conditions are met:

  1. the iPhone is returned within 30 days of activation to the store where it was purchased;
  2. you have used less than 30 minutes of airtime (no more than 29 minutes);
  3. you provide your proof of purchase (receipt – contract); and
  4. the iPhone is undamaged and returned ‘like new’ with all pieces and original packaging.

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Rogers Announces Expensive 3G iPhone Rate Plans – No Unlimited Access

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Rogers iPhone

Reference: Rogers iPhone Facts | RuinedPhone.com
[August 15, 2008 Update: Many of the questions and concerns discussed below are addressed in my newer post: Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans - The Fine Print]

[October 6, 2008 Update: As of October 3, 2008 Rogers has changed their iPhone plans again. Details are available here.]

Rogers has announced its (and its subsidiary Fido’s) long awaited Canadian 3G iPhone (details here) data plan pricing. The iPhone will become available in Canada, and around the world, on July 11.

Unlike AT&T and other international carriers, Rogers is not offering an unlimited data plan option. Rather it is bundling rather meagre data tiers to tiered voice plans at considerably higher prices than charged in Europe and the United States (see here). Here’s the details:

  • Minimum 3 Year Contract (AT&T offers U.S. customers the option: (i) of a 2 year contract; or (ii) to purchase of iPhone outright with no contract- see below)
  • $199 for 8GB 3G iPhone; $299 for 16GB (same as U.S. – announced by Steve Jobs but not yet officially confirmed by Rogers)
  • No Unlimited Data Plan. Rogers offers the following mixed monthly voice/data plans:
    • $60400 MB Data - 75 outgoing SMS - 150 minutes*;
    • $75750 MB Data - 100 outgoing SMS - 300 minutes;
    • $1001 GB Data - 200 outgoing SMS - 600 minutes;
    • $1152 GB Data - 300 outgoing SMS - 800 minutes;

*Minutes are weekday minutes. Rates do note include $15 or $20 a month for an options such as Caller ID, more text messages and call forwarding.

[July 9, 2008 Update: Rogers announced a limited time $30, 6GB iPhone data plan that can be added on to any Rogers voice plan. This offer expires on August 31, 2008]

By way of comparison the cheapest US AT&T data plan costs $30 for unlimited data and $39.99 for voice which includes 450 minutes, no SMS messages, and unlimited U.S. long distance (for a combined $69.99 total) (See U.S. Plan details)
[See also U.K./U.S./Cdn Price Plan Comparisons]

  • $6.95 monthly system access charge is charged by Rogers/Fido on top of data plans. (AT&T does not charge a monthly access plan but does charge a one time $36 activation fee for newbies, $18 for upgrades for existing iPhone customers)
  • 3G iPhoneAll Rogers plans include unlimited:
  • ‘Subsidized Only’ There is no option to purchase the phone at full price to avoid the 3 year minimum contract and cancellation fees (a practice prohibited in some European countries and under review by the U.S. FCC). U.S. users will be able to purchase their iPhone’s without a contract for  $599/$699.

CONTINUE READING →

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$35 Rogers iPhone Unlimited Rate Plan Leaked – Rumoured

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Rogers iPhone

[June 28, 2008 Update: Rogers announced its actual rate plans on June 27. Click here for the details. I'm leaving this rumour post as it was for posterity.]

This post on the ehMac.ca forum purports to have the details on Rogers/Fido rate plans for the 3G iPhone set for release on July 11. This was picked up by the Financial Post here, giving it enough credibility for me to blog about.

[July 20, 2008 Update: According to this article in the Toronto Star, the pricing plan set out below is wrong.  Here’s what the Star.com says:

Under the new model, smartphone users can choose between "flex" and "non-flex" plans with buckets of data that range in price from $60 for 1 gigabyte to $100 for 6 gigabytes. The plans are purchased in addition to a voice plan.]

[July 19, 5:28 pm Update: AppleInsider is questioning the veracity of this ‘leak’ here. They point out the purported leaked Rogers memo looks identical to an earlier AT&T memo. This could be a completely bogus cut and paste fake.]

Summary of the Salient Points

  • $35 Unlimited Data Plan: Rogers (and its subsidiary  Fido) will offer an unlimited data plan for $35 ($45 for enterprise customers), on top of your regular cell phone bill.
  • 3 Year Contract Commitment: Rogers will require you to commit to three years of service. No word on what the early termination penalties are.
  • “No ‘No Commitment’ Option: There will be no option to purchase a non-subsidized phone without a commitment.
  • $199 (8GB) and $299 (16GB) Device Costs: This is the same as in the U.S.
  • 30 Day Return Policy: If you don’t like the device you can return it within 30 days without breaking the long-term contract.
  • Mandatory In-Store Activation: Just like in the U.S.
  • No Word on SMS: Since SMS is nothing but data it should be included in an unlimited data plan. But, AT&T is charging extra for SMS messaging. Sadly, I’d expect Rogers to follow suit. This just means I won’t use SMS

This Would be Terrific

If this is true, it would be generally terrific news and a huge departure from the exorbitant data plan rates of the past. I concluded in this post that I would be willing to pay up to $50 a month for a decent data plan.

Long Term Contracts – Ugh

I do not like long-term contracts. I have always purchased my cell phones at full retail price to leave my exit options open.

There should be a law in Canada, as there is in France, mandating that carriers provide an option to purchase the device without a contract. This tried-and true carrier lock-in-by-contract technique is anti-competitive. It will keep Rogers/Fido users from switching to Bell/Telus when they start selling IPhones on their GSM overlay systems – due to be completed in a year or so.

But, if the penalty for breaking the contract is around $200 or less, I’ll take it. I’ll just consider it a cost of the phone.

Cross Border SIM Card Question

One big question I have is, can I take the SIM card out of the iPhone and use a U.S. AT&T SIM if/when I move back to the U.S. Yes, I know I’d have to pay the penalty to break my contract but I’d like to know if I purchase the 3G iPhone (especially if I pay the penalty) that I can take it with me if/when I move South. It angered me greatly when I returned from the U.S. years ago only to discover that I couldn’t use my the AT&T Motorola GSM phone that I payed full-retail price for on Rogers GSM network.

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3G iPhone, Yes But…

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3G iPhoneIn episode 147 of This Week in Tech, Leo highlights a few of the ‘yes, but… ‘ shortcomings of the latest 3G iPhone offering.

  • Limited 3G Availability: AT&T’s 3G HSDPA is only available in limited U.S. geographical areas (I don’t know how widespread Rogers 3G Network is)>
  • Higher Dataplan Rates: The unlimited data plan price for U.S. consumers has gone up from $25 a month to $30 a month (a price point Canadians still salivate over) .
  • 3G iPhone's New AppsSMS Not Included: AT&T will charge 10 cents per 140 bytes (characters). This is ‘odd’ because SMS is only data. But carrier’s excel at squeezing every last penny out of their users. This is clearly a cash cow they intend to milk as long as they can (Android, please come to our rescue).
  • Turn by Turn GPS Prohibited: Not only doesn’t the 3G iPhone not provide turn by turn GPS,  but Apple’s SDK prohibits developers from writing turn by turn GPS programs. My guess is Apple intends to launch a for-pay turn by turn service in the future. One wonders whether the SDK prohibition violates anti-trust laws.

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3G iPhone Coming to Canada July 11 – $199 – $299

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3G iPhone 
June 9, 2008 WWDC 2008 Keynote Announcing 3G iPhone

  • New 3G iPhone: “Twice the speed, half the price” – Details on U.S. Apple Website here (Canadian details here)
  • Launching on July 11: in Canada (on Rogers and Fido networks) and 23 other new countries  
  • 3G Speeds Approaching wifi Speeds: U.S. details here (Canadian details here)
  • Lower Pricing  (U.S. pricing – hardware price identical in Canada)
    • $199 for 8MB iPhone (to put this in context the 8MB iPhone launched at $599 just last year and was $399 up to today )
    • $299 for 16GB
    • $30/ month for U.S. Consumers AT&T unlimited data plan (on top of voice contract).
    • $45/month for U.S. Business Users.
    • [June 28 Update: Disappointing Canadian tiered data plan announced – see details)
  • Built in GPS: Satellite GPS supplemented by data from cell towers. U.S. details here (Canadian details here)
  • Increased Battery Life:
    • 300 hours (6 weeks) standby
    • 24 hours audio (music/podcasts)
    • 7 hours video
    • 5-6 hours 3G surfing
    • 5 hours 3G talk (10 hours 2G talk)
    • no GPS battery details yet

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