There’s a game you have to play if you want to want to pay a reasonable price for internet. Every 2 years you need to shop around for promotions and switch service providers (or at least threaten to). We’ve been lucky to avoid the game for the past 8 years with Novus, which offers affordable fibre connections but only serves dense condo developments. When we moved I got ready to play the Telus vs Shaw game.
Back in November, I started looking for Black Friday promotions and found Telus offering Internet 75 on sale for $50 (normally $70). I signed up and scheduled the installation for December 9. But that failed when the installer couldn’t get access to the telephone room in our building. After a game of broken telephone between Telus, myself, and the property manager, a second technician was sent out 10 days later. He ran into the same problems because the first tech hadn’t recorded the updated lock box instructions. Our installation date was pushed back until December 29. Upset about not having internet for Christmas and worried this frustrating cycle would never end, I searched for alternatives.
I found Freedom Home Internet, a repackaged Shaw offering with a simple router that could be self-installed. It was offering 150 Mbps speeds for $55 a month without any contract or price jumps after a year or two. It sounded too good to be true, especially right before Christmas. I was skeptical it would just work, but the woman at the Freedom store said I could bring it back within 2 weeks for a full refund. I took a chance knowing I could always go with Telus if it didn’t work out.
Turns out it was really easy to install. I just plugged the coax cable into the wall and powered it up. For 10 minutes a little yellow light blinked at me while it configured itself. I wasn’t sure it was working, but the the LED turned solid white and it was done. I had a fast internet connection without needing a technician to visit.
The wifi antennas on the router aren’t quite powerful enough to send signals to all the corners of our 3 story townhouse, so I spent a day tweaking settings and adding my old router as a 2nd access point upstairs. Now I’m really happy with the setup.
After 10 days on Freedom (via Shaw), I was sufficiently satisfied and convinced the download speeds were good. I cancelled the Telus appointment and closed the account. Telus was offering me a pretty sweet deal with $250 in account credits (details below), but it wasn’t worth the installation stress or frustration in 2 years when the price jumped.
Note: While the vegan episode shows that the science is firmly behind the diet, the same can’t be said for the other episodes above (sorry keto, detoxes, supplements, and even organic food). You might find your beliefs and lifestyle choices refuted by the science. That’s ok. Listen with an open mind, and challenge your own preconceived notions. Committing yourself to constantly learning and improving is probably the healthiest diet.
Emily has been complaining about our slow internet for a while now. We’re not big bandwidth users but we’ve noticed laggy video calling. I’ve always shrugged it off as a problem on the other end. We were on the cheapest Novus internet plan, but 35 Mbps should be plenty fast enough for Skype or Google Hangouts.
So, we upgraded to Internet 75 but that didn’t make much of a difference. And then I did a speed test on our router, comparing the wireless speeds we were getting to speeds when connected with an ethernet cable. And our router sucks. Apparently wireless technology has advanced a lot in the past 20 years.
So we bought a new D-Link AC1900 DIR-878 router, and our wireless internet speeds are now 15x faster. Now when Baba and Gigi Skype they might be able to see Astrid and not just a pixilated avatar.
It’s time to unveil Project ASTRID – Analytic System Tracking Rapid Infant Development.
I’ve been working on it for the past two months in my spare time. It’s a webapp hosted on Github Pages that visualizes some of the baby data we’ve been tracking. Originally, I just wanted to analyze Astrid’s sleeping patterns, but the website has morphed into a digital baby book with milestones and growth charts. I’m still adding features to it, but it’s polished enough that I’m happy to share it.
The chart below is probably the most interesting one I’ve created so far because it quantifies the quality of Astrid’s sleep. It shows her night sleeps, with the longest stretch in blue, the second longest in red, and the remainder in orange. Like all parents, our goal has been to get Astrid to sleep through the night. So that means getting as much blue as possible.
On October 7, after weeks of crappy sleeping, we started sleep training with Astrid. We didn’t realize it at the time, but there was a steady improvement over the next month. Then we hit sleep bliss. Astrid slept for 12 hour stretches every night for 3 weeks. We were living every parent’s dream. But last month, we hit the dreaded sleep regression. Luckily it only lasted 2 weeks (although it felt like it would never end at the time) and things have been better lately. We’re still waiting for those consistent 12-hour nights again, but she’s only waking up once a night right now, which seems very manageable.
Project ASTRID is open-source and adaptable for anyone else who might want to use it for their own child. Although realistically I know I’m probably the only one who likes having this much data about their baby. I just hope that one day our daughter appreciates the nerdy, data-heavy view of her early life, or at least isn’t completely embarrassed by it.
Hearthstone is a curious game. It’s an online card game that has attracted a huge following of casual and competitive players. There are over 40 million world-wide players and the World Championships this weekend had a $1 million prize pool. The game is kind of like poker and chess combined, with a lot of strategy around trading pieces and a bit of luck with card draws and other random effects. I like it because the games only lasts 5-15 minutes and there is a lot of strategy and thinking involved. Most online games require fast reaction times, but Hearthstone is turn-based and you get 75 seconds each turn to plot your moves.
There are a few game modes, but the most popular is the ranked ladder. You start the game at Rank 25 and play against other players with the same rank. As you win games, your rank improves, lose games and your rank gets worse. The ultimate goal is to progress beyond Rank 1 to Legendary status. Every month the ranks reset. I’ve never gotten beyond Rank 5 and I had to play a lot of games to get that high.
Getting to Legend status is about consistently playing well (above 50% win rate) and grinding out a lot of games. How many? That depends on the deck win rate. I wrote a script (below) to simulate how many games it would take to reach Legendary depending on your win rate.
If you’re only winning 50% of your games you play, you can make it to Legendary but be prepared to play around 1440 games. With a 55% win rate, a pretty good result in competitive Hearthstone, it would take on average 483 games to reach Legendary status (at least 15 games a day). Even if you could consistently win 60% of the games you played, an impressive feat, it would take 287 games a month to reach Legendary. I thought I played a lot of Hearthstone, but I don’t have that kind of time.
Downtown Vancouver is home to 100,000 people and some of the most expensive real estate in Canada. And yet pretty soon there will only be a single gas station serving the entire area (the Chevron on Georgia is being sold to developers).
As Anne McMullin points out in the article linked above, “land in the city is too valuable to be saved for a single use”. Because gasoline is volatile, you can’t just slap a condo on top of a gas station.
However, you can put an electric vehicle charging station just about anywhere. Which is why there are over 50 charging stations in downtown Vancouver.
The Roomba I bought 2 years ago is one of the best luxury purchases I’ve ever made. It does such a great job keeping our floors clean and picking up cat hair. But I was concerned with how much power it uses, so I plugged it into a power meter for a week.
Turns out, it uses hardly any energy. After a week of daily cleaning, it only used 0.65 kWh (which works out to less than $3/year). I plugged in our old Hoover and did some vacuuming for comparison, and it uses a lot more power. One hour of vacuuming with the Hoover used more energy than the Roomba did in a week. Although there’s no way I would be vacuuming for an hour a week, especially since we only have carpet in the bedrooms. I guess sweeping is still the most energy efficient option, but I’m more than happy to pay a few dollars a year in energy bills for the robot to do the sweeping and vacuuming for me.
0.65 kWh per week
0.78 kwh per hour
28 W max demand
857 W max demand
1. Using BC Hydro’s residential rate of 8.3 cents / kWh (which is very cheap)
2. Assuming 30 minutes of vacuuming a week.