Collecting the Internet So You Don't Have To

We work on the Internet. As such, we are constantly consuming information. Believe me, there is a lot of it out there. Sometimes we even forget things unless we write them down. Our blog covers everything from web standards to the muppets, php to comic books, music and everything else that we find interesting. Leave us a note when you drop by.

Configuring Mail in OS X for Use With Shaw

Technology
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Recently, Mail stopped sending through my outgoing mail sever on my MacBook. In the office, we have SHAW and send through shawmail.wp.shawcable.net as our outbound mail servers. Shaw has a tool if you need to find your local mail server and they also have a complete step-by-step walkthrough there as well. However, this one issue is not documented there as of this writing.

Apparently during a recent upgrade, Shaw's mail servers no longer allow the default setup in Mail.app to work. The default setup polls the mail server on potential mail ports at 25, 465, 587 until it finds the correct one, then uses that port to send through. This now fails. 

In order to fix this, you need to choose the second option and specify that you want to use port 25 exclusively. That should do it.

Shaw's New Internet Packages Might Be OK

Technology
Dwayne Kristjanson
Dwayne Kristjanson Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:154
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Dwayne Kristjanson Indifference Engine

Since I'd attended one of the Customer Consulation Sessions Shaw set up after attempting to implement Usage Based Billing this winter, I was invited to another one to comment on the new internet packages that resulted. The information on the plans themselves is already online, but it was good to get a detailed explanation of how things will work. Not knowing what the plans were prior to the consultation session, I went in prepared for the worst. I would not have been surprised if the new plans looked a lot like the proposed UBB plans from earlier in the year. Luckily, that was not the case. Shaw's new plans are very forward looking and do address all of my main concerns with UBB.

The new plans:

In a nutshell, the proposal is to reclaim a lot of the bandwidth currently used for analog TV and use that for IP traffic. According to Shaw this action, while costly, would triple the bandwidth available for internet traffic. That would give them a lot more breathing room before having to worry about congestion. To go along with the new bandwidth there would be new, significantly faster packages. Shaw's existing internet packages are to be kept more-or-less the same as they are (i.e. without UBB charges), but the faster plans will have increases in their download speeds and data caps. The new plans will be bundled with TV service, and will roll out in two phases. The first will start in June with a second phase of higher speed packages rolling out in selected areas starting in August. The expectation is that the second phase plans will be fully available in all areas by August of next year.

What's to like:

  • The new broadband packages have much higher speeds than anything else currently available in most areas. (50, 100, and 250 Mbps).
  • The new broadband packages have much higher data caps.
  • There is a low-end option with unlimited data for users who don't need high speeds and don't want to worry about ever going over their limit.
  • There are two high-end options with unlimited data for heavy internet users.
  • Customers who opt-in one to the new broadband packages that has a limit will automatically be bumped up to the next higher plan if they go over in a given month. The next month their plan will return to normal. So the only reason to choose one of the more expensive plans as your default is if you know you want higher download speeds. This also limits the total charges for bandwidth to that of the high-end unlimited plan.
  • The new plans are far beyond what Shaw's competitors offer either in terms of download speed, data usage, or both. This should shake up the Canadian market, which is something that's long overdue.

Downsides:

  • Rolling up to the next higher plan will be more expensive for users who frequently go over their base bandwidth by only a small amount. I still prefer this option to UBB. Especially since there is an unlimited option to eventually stop the cost increase.
  • As proposed, the new broadband packages must be bundled with Shaw TV service. Either one of their legacy TV packages, or the newer Personalized TV. Those who currently don't have TV or who are considering moving in this direction will either need to use a legacy internet package or pay for TV anyway.
  • The low-end unlimited option is the same cost as the next higher plan, which has a 400GB cap, but if you download at 1Mbps constantly for 31 days you can only download 335 GB. I still see the point of the plan, but it should probably be a bit cheaper.

Overall, I'm cautiously optimistic about Shaw's new direction. With bundled TV, it's likely that the cost to me personally for internet access will go up ... at least if I decide I really want the higher download speeds. So far I rarely use over 70GB of data per month, and I'm not really suffering from downloading things too slowly. So I may stick with the legacy plan for a while. 

Kung Fu Panda 2

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

The first Kung Fu Panda was actually a solid, fun movie. I'm glad they are making a second, with Jack Black and the rest of the super-talented voice cast returning. In this sequel, Po's new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu.

May Long Weekend Wishes You Well Winnipeg

Business
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

As we get older and wiser, we have come to the realization that long weekends are AWESOME! The May long weekend has always had a special place in the hearts of Canadians, as it is the unofficial kick off into summer. If you are spending the weekend in Winnipeg, here are some fun things to do:

If you are heading out town to go camping, or visit the cottage, remember sun screen, bug spray, reading material, snacks, as well as warm, wet, and cold weather clothes. As we all know, the May long weekend weather can be unpredictable.

As for Visual Lizard, we are happily closed on Monday, May 23 to recharge our batteries. We will return to business as usually on Tuesday, May 24. Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

 

Cheers from,
Julian, Doug, Ross, Wil, Dwayne and Max

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Johnny Depp returns as the always entertaining  Captain Jack Sparrow in the fourth Pirates Of The Caribbean movie. This time he's joined by Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz as they try to track down the legendary Fountain Of Youth. This entire series has been good fun, and I'm looking forward to catching this instalment!

Shaw's DNS Redirect Service

Technology
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

For those of you who are using Shaw as your internet provider, you may have noticed that when you type in an invalid URL your browser no longer does what it used to. Starting April 5th, Shaw unrolled a DNS redirection service. According to their support page...

If you are a Shaw Internet customer and type an invalid URL, you would have normally received either a generic browser error, or likely a Google / Bing search results page with a list of recommended sites that closely match what you typed. You will now see a Shaw-guided search results page in its place.

This came as a surprise to me. Apparently Shaw sent out an opt-out email sometime in the recent past, which just means I haven't been getting Shaw's emails either... does Shaw assign accounts an email addresses and, if so, how do I find mine? Because Shaw certainly hasn't gone out of the way to get this informative email to me.

This affair reminds me of Verisign in 2003, when it introduced a wildcard DNS record for all unregistered .com and .net domain names. Called "Site Finder", it allowed Verisign to redirect massive amounts of invalid URLs to an advertising web portal. No one bought the claims that it was to improve the web browsing experience for the naive user; we all recognized monetized domain parking when we saw it. Verisign also got in hot water for effectively "breaking" the internet, as web services that relied on detecting the validity of domain names (like email spam filters) all failed.

If you want to opt-out of this new "service" from Shaw, you can use this link. Note that this reset is tied to your modem, so it'll only be effective for your physical location. Also, Shaw does not block third-party DNS providers, so now might be a good time to look into some alternatives, like Google Public DNS and OpenDNS.

Thor

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Based on the Marvel comics character, Thor is directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Rene Russo, and Anthony Hopkins. Being a big comic book geek, I am having a blast seeing all my four-color heroes on the big screen. As you can see in the Youtube trailer I attached below, Asgard and the Norse gods all look fantastic! With Marvel pushing their franchises in a lead up to the full fledged Avengers movie, this looks to be another big summer hit.