Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pedestrian Friendly Streets

There was some sort of ridiculous discussion about making streets "more pedestrian friendly". Alright, I can see how aspiring to an objective such as this could be a good thing if it is approached from the perspective of having more streets that are like Sparks street (or Times Square which is basically the same thing).

However, in Ottawa the motivation for this is driven by a new phenomenon of pedestrians and cyclists being involved in collisions with motor vehicles. Now, yes, of course this is tragic for those involved, however one thing I would like to point out is pedestrians and cyclists (as far as I observe in Ottawa since this is where I am living currently) hardly ever look where they are going. It is common to see someone J-walking a "don't walk hand" with headphones in and eyes on the mobile phone and completely not paying attention to what is going on around them.

I see cyclists biking on the road taking up a lane like they are a car (and I do think many of these avid cyclists like to claim equal road rights as cars) and then run through a red light like it doesn't matter.

Not to mention, cars are bigger and a lot faster than anyone on a bike is. This is something that cyclists should really think about. Cars are heavier, bigger, more durable, less destructable and A LOT bigger than you. Think about that why you are claiming your lane on heavy traffic road ways. It is not safe. There are plenty of alternate routes. This isn't about getting your share of rights and making cars drive slower. This is about keeping the world moving and not getting yourself killed.

This video sums up the basis of what I'm talking about:



Except maybe instead of lions, there could be an element where you get FUCKING RUN OVER!

Ottawa Wine and Food Show


I went to the Ottawa Food and Wine shoe on Friday. Overall it was fun.

When I first got there it felt very crowded and it was hard to move around. I quickly found that after a few "samples" of wine it was easy to move through the crowd and move through the people to get more food and more wine.

There were a lot of interesting wines. I stayed in the reds for the night. I am not much of a wine taster so I cannot very much about the wines themselves, other than how much I owe for making the night great.

The food was also delicious. Various restaurants from around town were setup. Some of them had music, some of them seemed to be solo chefs who were just showcases various dishes. There was nothing I ate that was not tasty.

So if you are ever invited to the wine and food show and are weighing the option between a lame house party and the wine and food show, I would suggest (especially if you haven't been) the latter. It is fantastic.

Staying Connected with Mobilicity in Ottawa

A number (unknown to me now) of months ago I had some problems with my Sony Ericsson x10 phone and wanted to get a new one. Around the same time I observed the growing trend of new "indie" mobile providers such as Wind and Mobilicity. They touted unlimited talk text and data for 35$. My Rogers bill was around 85$ a month and there was obvious need to investigate.

I did some research and eventually concluded it was time to eat the cancellation fee and switch providers.

The switch was made seem less by Mobilicity. I went into the shop, bought the HTC Panache and was set up with the same phone number within three hours.

Now that I've been on this provider for some time I want to detail the quality of the service and help give some direction for anyone else interested in saving a lot of money by switching away from the monolithic phone providers.

My Usage Habits

I live and work downtown and as a result spend most of my time in the downtown area. Members of my family live in various other parts of the city (namely Kanata/Stittsville, Walkley and Heron and South of Barhaven).

Service downtown is by far the best. It works as well as being on the Rogers network. I text message regularly, use the phone as often and stream music and surf the web a lot. This would indicate to me that they have a good amount of infrastructure to handle a reasonably large user base.

Cost
As mentioned before my monthly plan is around $39 dollars a month (some cents included here that I don't really notice). Recently I received an offer to sign up for automatic billing and in exchange received $2 off my monthly bill for a period of time described by the offer as "life time". I signed up for this and now my bill is around 37$.

Mobilicity is constantly offering sign up deals and promotions (obviously in effort to gain members) but it's very much worth it. I received a 100$ credit when I signed up and now there is a promotion on offering a 200$ credit for signups.

There is also a new plan that offers unlimited long distance in Canada and the US. This plan runs for 45$ / month and is a pretty good deal if you ask me. They also offer BlackBerry compatible plans that are essentially all of their plan features which is 55$ a month, however BlackBerry is on its way out (if you ask me) and you are better off with an Android or iPhone. If you are worried about loosing BBM, don't worry. Android and iPhone has Google talk and Android (I imagine iphone has it to but I don't know) has Google Huddles which are like group chats. I've used them a bit and they work great and is way better than what I've seen from BBM.

These prices are also way less than anything I've heard anyone from Telus / Bell / Rogers brag about.

Network Stability
For the time I have been on the Mobilicity network, it has been rock solid. Nothing is perfect however and I have noticed some periods in which the network was down. However these periods were often on weekends early in the morning or late at night. I have never used the phone during the day and had it not work or not be able to find a signal.

A Plus!

Downsides
Now here are the downsides: because Mobilicity is a growing network, they have a coverage map. This means that they only serve certain areas, for example Ottawa has a certain range in which you can get Mobilicity coverage. Outside of that area you are considered roaming. That said roaming charges are not very expensive and I do roam on an occasional basis and have never noticed any scary numbers on my phone bill.

The coverage area has also grown significantly since I joined. When I first signed on, there was coverage in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and I believe various parts of Alberta. Now it is a large portion of the West and the populated areas of Ontario and has grown into Quebec (Montreal and Quebec city). http://mobilicity.ca/coverage/north-american-coverage/ check it out yourself.

So all this said, the further away from the city center you live, the less of a good idea it is for you to join Mobilicity. However if you are often in the city working or going to school where ever (in Ottawa) it is a great choice to save a lot of money and not be continually cornered into contract renewals and price hiking. Mobilicity's plans are straight forward and generous when compared to those of the bigger providers.

I wish I could say the same for other indie providers but unfortunately I do not have any experience with them. The differences I read while researching options seemed to be primarily within policies on roaming and things, so I would guess that the quality of the service is similar. I chose Mobilicity because they seem to be the most hip and have lots of Ads everywhere which make me believe they are dedicated to building their network.

One other note is that I have been into the states a few times with the phone on Mobilicity and I did use it a little bit to use maps and find my way somewhere. Roaming charges did apply but for what I was doing was very cheap.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will do my best to find a good answer.

Filming is not allowed on OCTranspo property

Just try and stop us. Do they really think that just because "filming is not allowed on OCTranspo property" that we aren't going to use social media to showcase idiocy? There are myriad methods to do so anonymously and I think that a "fine" or whatever they serve you really doesn't out weigh the opportunity to bring incidents into the public eye.

OCTranspo drivers are expected to be professional when on the job. More so because they are "public workers". Anyone in a work place environment who erupts with that kind of behavior is most certainly going to be dealt with - the fact that this is a public serving incident, well forget it.

Now there are videos of bus drivers shown using cellphones illegally (putting passengers in driver), complaints being made against drivers who sing while driving and I believe there was another story recently of a passenger who went off the deep end at a driver.

When I was on a bus in Toronto, some low life started to harass the driver and the bus we were on was equipped with a window / door type of mechanism which allowed the driver to deal with the harassing passenger. We should have these in Ottawa. And we should make examples of people who offend and push rules. We are going to wind up in a stalemate against ourselves if we continue to be so sensitive towards issues.

We should always be aware of where we are and what we are doing when we are out and about. You never know what is happening. It shouldn't be a question of "be careful there are cameras on you". Being watched isn't something new. People have had eyes for quite some time now, and wherever you go outside your home, there are eyes on you.

Having the ability to film and take pictures is nothing more than an extension to our ability to recount events. So yes, OC Transpo, we have cameras and we are using them. We aren't paying attention to whether we are on your property or not and it doesn't matter. We have eyes, ears and memories and we can recall what happened whether or not we have cameras.