Archive for September, 2006

Shaw Cable’s “migration” to Digital

September 24, 2006

It’s the little things in life that are the most annoying. It’s not the first time, but right now I am really annoyed with Shaw Cable. This time it is over the “migration” of cable channels to their digital operation.

Shaw is my cable television supplier and when they added The Golf Channel to their lineup I purchased the package that included it. I did not watch it to the exclusion of everything else, but I certainly watched it for a large percentage of my television time. I got to watch tournaments that weren’t picked up anywhere else as well as commentary, instruction and interviews. I even had it on when I wasn’t watching because it is a “quiet and green” channel. (Not environmentalist green, but golf course green).

Then when I wasn’t looking Shaw took it away. They moved it over to their digital programming just as they had done with CNBC (which ticked off another group of TV watchers). So they took away a channel that I wanted and was paying for and replaced with another channel that gave me a bunch of old movies.  And they never even asked.

Then they had to nerve to tell me that I could get The Golf Channel back if I bought a digital box for $300 and paid an additional monthly fee to maintain their digital feed. I had the distinct feeling that they were holding The Golf Channel hostage and they were looking for ransom money.

Now I might have purchased their bloody digital box until I discovered that it only works on one TV set. If you have more than one TV you would have to buy a box for each individual unit. That left me in the position of paying $300 and a monthly fee and getting reduced service in the process. Which pretty much led me to the conclusion that Shaw really doesn’t give much of a damn for their customers’ needs but are simply looking for a way to push people into their digital programing packages.

It seems obvious to me that they are trying to do this by “migrating” the channels that have dedicated viewers. They started with CNBC and then “migrated” The Golf Channel as well. It will be interesting to see if any other specialized channels go the same route.

What to do? Well, not much I can do. They have a monopoly in the area. I could go to satellite but there is the same problem as with digital. You need a receiver for each TV. Fine for the one TV family but not really an option for some of us. 

It was suggested to me that I make a complaint to the CRTC. That sounded interesting and I did just that. I received back a nice email along with a bunch of information about hearings between the cable companies and the CRTC (Which is where the “migration” term came from). But there was little talk about the customer anywhere in those discussions and the CRTC said they didn’t have any input into how the cable companies allocated their programming anyway. It was educational but, of course, futile.

No happy ending. No Golf Channel. No digital. Just frustration and a lot annoyance. I may have to start watching hockey.


Gun control debate – again

September 22, 2006

The tragedy of the shooting at Dawson College is that there is no protection against a madman. No law can prevent a person who is bent on self-destruction from destroying other people in the process.


Unfortunately too many people feel that they should be guaranteed complete protection from all of the bad things in life and politicians don’t seem to have integrity to tell them the plain truth: Bad things happen and all of the laws in the books can’t protect you from the crazies.


But that doesn’t stop governments from writing and passing laws based on the most recent crisis. Our current firearm laws got passed after the Ecole Polytechnique killings in Montreal. Then because of a series of shootings in the Jane-Finch area of Toronto the previous Liberal government began to talk about banning all handguns in Canada – at least those owned by law-abiding citizens. Now with the new tragedy at Dawson College it all starts again. Although Prime Minister Steven Harper has so far resisted the temptation to jump on the “more gun law” bandwagon comments reportedly made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter MaKay postulating about the ban of all semi-auto firearms has a ring of déjà vu.


What is frustrating is that writers for the MSM, after all this time, have no concept of what the federal firearms act entails. Almost to a man/woman they are unable to differentiate between licensing and registration. Which turns most of their commentary into pure garbage.


The pro-registry commentary that one reads in the newspapers lambastes the government for continuing to talk about abolishing the firearms registry with the obvious inference that somehow the registry has some value in “stopping crime”. But the registry is only an inventory list. Once an individual has jumped through all of the hoops to get licensed to own firearms does it really make any difference what type or how many firearms he has? Not by my reckoning.


In fact, from a logical standpoint, the handgun registry should be scrapped along with the long gun registry. It has been in place since the mid 1930s and has not shown to have any value other than providing jobs within the bureaucracy. Again, if you are licensed to own a handgun why should the government care which one you choose to own?


But one cannot assume that logic, let alone intelligent thought, will save the day. Consider that in Britain some doctors called for a ban on ‘pointy’ knives. Baseball bats and golf clubs could be next.


If you really wanted to reduce violence in society you would get rid of drugs and alcohol. Let’s pass a law! Whoops – we’ve already done that.