Sunday, September 26, 2010

Unlimited Prepaid Iphone in Canada - trials an errors to get it for cheap

Those who know me know I hate cellphone contracts and swore not to ever get one. I actually never had a cellphone until last April, when I purchased a brand new iphone 3Gs from craigslist and disconnected my home phone. I love the iPhone, but I hate the rip-off plans that comes with it. I do not need a data-plan, I can use wi-fi at home/work, and I surf the web enough already!

Plan A: Prepaid by the minute
My idea was to purchase the Rogers-locked iphone and use a prepaid plan, like here I bought a 30$ crappy cellphone from Petro-Canada, removed the SIM card and put it in my iPhone. I followed the activation process and it went smoothly. Petro-Canada is piggy-backing on Rogers network so there was no problem with my locked phone. I now had a prepaid service, 25 cents/min, 10 cents per outgoing SMS. Call answering, caller ID included. You can top up from your online account, it's well done.

Soon, it costed me more than a freakin plan, (60-70$ the first month I think) Even if I tried calling back my friends with my bf's phone or keep the conversations short, I still needed to talk to clients during the day.

Plan B: SKYPE + Prepaid by the minute
I installed SKYPE on my computer and on my iphone, discovering I still had 10$ worth of credits I must have had purchased 7 years ago. My plan was to use SKYPE OUT (allows you to call people that are not on SKYPE, its 3 cents a minute) to call, and when people would call me I would call them back from SKYPE.

It worked pretty good but did not reduce much of my bill... I think I was at around 40-50$/month, and if somebody important contacted me, I could not say that I would called them back on SKYPE or sometimes I would just forget.

Plan C: Forwarding number to SKYPE + Prepaid by the minute
I was disappointed to learn that SKYPE IN does not exist yet in Canada. In short, it gives you a phone number for your SKYPE, so people without SKYPE can call you anyways. There is a workaround that. I got a phone number from that automatically forwards my call to SKYPE. It's only 5$/month. So if someone called that number, it would make both my computer and cellphone SKYPE ring (iphone skype would only ring if I was on a wi-fi spot of course). Moreover, I setup SKYPE so it would forward the call to my iphone Petro-Canada number if I did not answer SKYPE. So it was just like having a home phone (SKYPE) and a cellphone.

This could have been great, but SKYPE's line quality was not always good. Often, I would call someone and they could not hear me, or they would but the line would skip. I would often have to call back from my 25 cents/min number. So in the end, it cost me around 30$/month, but it was a lot of trouble, and my friends complained about how complicated it was (2 numbers, one that you can text and the other not). At that point I was ready to go get Fido City Prepaid for 45$/month, but I learned that even if Rogers and Fido are the same company, you can't use a fido SIM card in a Rogers-locked phone. Crap, I was starting to look on craigslist to sell my 3Gs (which I love) and maybe get a used Fido-locked 3Gs. I also considered purchasing a iPhone 4 at the apple store, because they come unlocked. But it's expensive!!!

Plan D: Chat-r

While shopping at Future shop with my bf, he spotted a new cellphone company kiosk. Knowing how I was struggling for a good deal, he asked me to go talk to the rep. I was excited! Turned out that Chat-r was using Rogers network, and they offered an unlimited talk + unlimited in text + 50 out text + call id, voice mail, call waiting for 35$/month, no contract! The first time my phone would not take the chat-r SIM, but I think the guy forgot to turn off/on my phone.

Chat-r is a ROGERS company that launched 2 weeks ago. Basically they offer the deal their clients are craving, an unlimited prepaid plan for a good price. Their customers probably won't switch, or if they do they'll have to break their contract with Rogers and pay astronomical fees. So it allows for Rogers to snatch customers looking for a good deal. In a way, it's very similar to Fido City. You can call anywhere in Quebec unlimited, but if you get out of Montreal you can't even get the connection (you could if you bought a prepaid card, its just not included in the unlimited and at that point it's 15 cents/min).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FULL OF WINES : wine journals

The FULL OF notebooks were my graduate project. Recently, I was approached by Aire Libre to get them produced. You will soon be able to buy them from their online store, but until then you can simply contact Simon

The FULL OF WINE journal is 132 pages. French and english. 29,95$ each.
This journal lets you rate the wines you try, so your impressions will always last. Numerous lists allow you to record wine recommendations and top pairings with different meals or types of cheese. Also: wine gift lists, a world map for your favorite wine regions, colorful note pages and wine and cheese planners.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Expense Visualizer by FFunction

It took us almost two years to get there: following a Canadian federal directive, departments had to publish their travel and hospitality expenses. Scattered amongst more than a hundred websites, (a Canadian non-profit organization promoting online tools for government transparency) scraped this data and put it into a database. The result: a 22MB SQL database, which just waited for an online tool to unlock its potential.

Publishing data is a necessary step for a more transparent democracy, but this data also has to be accessible enough so that any citizen can use to better understand what is going on in the government. With other governments publishing financial and budget data, we felt it was time to create a tool that would give better, easier access to the information hidden in big spreadsheets and databases.

The ExpenseVisualizer is an online tool that takes advantage of modern web technologies to provide a visual, interactive window on the Canadian Hospitality & Travel Expenses dataset. Our goal was to create a simple tool that would give citizens the opportunity to look at the numbers, discover interesting facts, trends and patterns... and more importantly, to easily share their findings!