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Wireless Providers’ Reactions to Number Portability

By Mike Lin

The cell phone market in Canada is going through some interesting times. Number portability has been here for 2 weeks, making it possible to keep your phone number when you change providers. The most visible result of the consumer favourable change has been a shitstorm of advertising. Telus for example, bought the entirety of Toronto’s central St. George subway station. Every billboard, every pillar, and even the floor in some places is covered with Telus branding. Apart from branding the only new message they’ve put out is ‘Take your number and move on up‘, the idea probably being that if you didn’t already know about number portability you wouldn’t get it.

Telus ads

Bell has taken a similar approach, taking large portions of several stations. The picture below is from Osgoode station. The billboards mention that it is now possible to watch Spider Man 2 on a Bell cellphone. Don’t ask who in their right mind would want to watch a movie like Spider Man 2 on their cell phone.

Bell ads

The irony of the situation, of course, is that cell phones don’t even work in the Toronto underground, unlike, I hope, most other subway systems in the world (they work in Taipei’s at least). As for other media, I don’t do TV or radio, but I’d think a similar approach is being applied there.

The larger companies, like Telus and Bell, have the conflicting goals of 1) trying not to inform their customers about number portability, lest they be lured away, and 2) trying to steal away some of the newly freed masses from their competitors, and apparently their marketing departments have decided the optimal solution is to vomit branding everywhere. Nothing to see here with regards to pricing etc.

The interesting stuff is happening at newcomer Virgin Mobile. Previously offering prepaid by-the-minute only service, in anticipation of number portability, they introduced in January a few low minute monthly plans comparable to those offered by other providers. Check out this comparison of 200 minute/month plans. They seem about the same: 200 minutes for $20. But if you look closer, Virgin doesn’t charge a $6.95 ‘system access fee’, nor does it charge $8 for voicemail and caller id. So if you work it out, Virgin’s plan is actually a staggering 44% cheaper.

The small number of cell phone providers in Canada, as well as customer lock-in through lack of number portability, locked phones and long term contracts has resulted in Canada having the most expensive cell phone service in the developed world. Hopefully number portability and Virgin’s refreshing approach are the first steps towards rectifying this dishonour.



Things I liked about 2006

By Mike Lin

I wanted to do some reflecting and make some kind of new years list but I didn’t know what kind of list, so this is just going to be a list of stuff I liked in 2006.

The only thing I’m going to leave out of this list is people, because I don’t think I can express how much I really appreciate the people in my life in just a sentence or two each.

So here they are in no particular order:

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Firefox Smart Keywords

By Mike Lin

Firefox’s smart keywords are amazingly useful.

Using smart keywords as described in the link, you can make it so that if you type ‘d nonplussed’ into Firefox’s address bar to do a lookup in your favourite dictionary site, or ‘th nonplussed’ for a thesaurus lookup, or ‘wp nonplussed’ for a Wikipedia lookup etc. Combine this with the alt-d hotkey to move the cursor to the address bar, and you can lookup an unfamiliar word in literally 2 seconds, which means you’re way more likely to do it. After using it for a while, you’ll be saying more really big words, which among other things is totally sexy.

… although they say it’s not the size of your vocabulary that matters, it’s how you use it.



Shock Game

By Mike Lin

So Pat got this ridiculous and awesome game where, get this, you test your reaction time against others by pushing a button when a light goes off, and if you’re the slowest, and here is it straight up, you get electrocuted! Check it out: Lightning Reactions

Of course we had to get some suckers… I mean friends over to try it out. So we had a party at me and Kerry’s place.

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By Mike Lin

Did you know the longest word in the English language that does not repeat a letter is ‘dermatoglyphics’?

It is also has the most distinct letters at 15, and is defined as:

The patterns of ridges on the inner surface of the hands and feet.

Huh. I’ve been playing with my word database some more.