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July 06, 2006

Drivers

There are many things people do badly while driving, one of them that has constantly irked me is improper passing on 4 lane highways. I seem to be one of the few people who will drive in the left lane for any period of time. Other drivers pull right up on my rear bumper, then dart over to the left lane almost taking my bumper with them, pull by, then nearly take off my front bumper, with no signaling used for any of the maneuvering. One other driver wanted to travel much faster than me, but would not use the second lane to pass, instead he waited many kilometers for a passing zone (3 lanes all traveling the same direction). Other drivers speed up and slow down, constantly hovering in the lane beside you. These behaviours are completely unnecessary and very unsafe. If you see that you are approaching a slower car ahead, signal and switch lanes before you catch up to the vehicle. Pull by the car at a reasonable over-take speed and keep going till you are safely passed the car, then signal and switch lanes. Where a reasonable distance means a minimum of the safe following distance, often given as 3 seconds and preferably much more, and where a reasonable over-take speed is that which will get you passed the vehicle without hovering next to them for any length of time, this doesn't mean you need to accelerate dramatically though. Also be aware of upcoming obstacles in front of you and avoid them early and watch for people approaching from behind and try to allow them to pass you easily. The second odd thing I noticed this weekend, two people driving with brights on unnecessarily. Both were using them before it was dark enough for headlights to have any illuminating effect and one of them was driving in slow speed zones in a small rural town.

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July 01, 2006

Rogers Wireless and the Email Dilemma

In late 2004, Rogers Wireless modified their Email to Text system to incorporate Pagemail Wireless's Doorman system. It sounded good at first. It lets you get the whole message instead of the first 160 characters, allows alias email addresses to be created and has built in spam protection. But this change wasn't announced and most people were introduced to the system when they used the Email to Text feature and found that instead of their message being delivered, a proxy message was delivered asking them to reply to get the message. A storm of discussion popped up and after exploring all the options and documentation it was determined that there was no way to get around this new system. You had to reply to each and every message to get the first chunk and every subsequent chunk, as well as configure the doorman system. Each message you sent was counted as a regular text message and charged at the normal $0.15 a message rate. Along with myself, numerous people were irate at this change. This feature was included in contracts and listed as allowing free unlimited incoming email. Further to that, the phone I had at the time was not capable of sending text messages and therefore I could not use this system at all. Customer service responses talked up this change as an enhancement, valuable spam protection, when I told them I couldn't receive email at all because of this change, they offered to remove the feature from my account. What? I'm paying for this service, it's in my contract and they are unilaterally removing it. The outrage of many customers eventually turns up a work around. The web based interface to send messages is still free, but the changes to the Email to Text feature were also applied here and a captcha was added. Someone later noticed that the old web interface was still active and you could use that without the captcha. Scripts were written to send messages via this interface. This worked until mid 2006 when it appears the old server was finally retired. The outrage boiled to the top again, especially since Rogers Wireless now offers a "Direct Delivery" feature for a $5/month fee. Hmm, it costs $5 to opt out of a valuable service, and oddly this feature can't be ordered alongside other features and it's only mentioned in one small location on the website. There is no current resolution.

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