New iOS: Should I upgrade?

After going through the horror of upgrading an iPhone 4s from 6 to 7 to 8 to 9, which became painfully slower, and slower…, and slower…with each release, I became way more picky about upgrading to the latest iOS. It’s a pretty simple decision process I go through. You’ll always find Youtube comparison videos. Here’s what I look out for…

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How to Track Your Workout at the Gym as an Absolute Beginner

I started working out this spring for the first time at my local Good Life and one of the first things I knew I wanted to do was to know when I could ramp up my sets and reps. I’m a big user of the Apple iPhone Reminders app so I figured I’d put it to good use recording my workout:

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But why track your workout like this? Because working out is a long-term activity. Tracking your stats in a simple, easy way like this will help remind you where you’ve been, where you’ve gotten to, and provide a clear path of improvement so you’ll be on an upward workout trend and not plateaued or even going down (how would you know without tracking)? You’ll feel good about continuous improvement and more confident because you know where you’ve come from and where you’re going.  I think most people would find tracking their workout tedious on paper or they just don’t know what workout app to use, etc. So I figured I show how it can be done with an app that most people have already.

So, what you have above is a Gym tab in the Reminders app and I simply list all my exercises in the order that I do them. I also record any pertinent settings for the machine (like Level 12 and target heart rate 150 for the bicycle). Then I record the sets and reps (“10,10,10,10” – ie. 4 sets of 10 reps each). I record the workout count (“x4”) meaning how many times I’ve done it (usually indicates once per workout). I also record the weight.

See how compact and easy it is to review your current workout when you record it like that? And it’s in the Reminders app that I use for everything else so it’s easy and convenient to use.

For the record: I’m not a licensed gym trainer, physiotherapist or doctor. The ideas in this post are from my personal experience and I hope they can help some beginners as well.

Following I’ve included some personal thoughts, recommendations and anecdotes about my experience at the gym since I’ve started. I hope it helps someone out there get started as well!

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How to buy music on iTunes or at your favourite shop

Update 2011-03-12: Added “Don’t buy samplers” rule.
Update 2011-04-24: No longer against iTunes deluxe albums.

A few of my rules for buying music. Some apply to iTunes, some to all music media.

  • Buy full albums. Get to know your artists. Stop listening to what the Man tells you to listen to by only buying singles. The hidden gems sometimes make it all worth it.
  • Start by buying the “best seller” album. Then, buy your way down the list. You’ll likely be pleased up front and then find hidden treasures as you dig deeper. This works best when you don’t really know if you like the artist yet.
  • Don’t buy greatest hits compilations. They never quite include all the real hits which, if you’d done yourself the favour by listening to all their music, you as a real fan would know.
  • Don’t buy deluxe albums. There’s something scammy about iTunes deluxe albums. We complained about the high cost of albums and they finally came down. Now they go back up to get two extra songs?
    • I’m no longer against iTunes deluxe albums completely. I’ve come across a number of deluxe albums recently that are priced well ($9.99). Having said that, I don’t support buying deluxe albums on release as the price is often too high to justify. It’s just another way to bilk you of your money.
  • Don’t buy “iTunes Sessions” albums. iTunes branding is lame. Let’s have artists producing real albums.
  • Don’t buy samplers or “various artists” albums. Inevitably, most of the songs are horrible. I’ve had a few, rare samplers in my day that contained a lot of good stuff, and a whole lot of samplers that were mostly useless. Do yourself a favour: Preview real albums and if you like the sound of it buy it.

Free Plug for Griffin Technology

I’ve been using Griffin iPod FM Transmitters in my car for a few years now and, I have to say, they have kept improving their product version after version and they have slowly but surely been dealing with all of the shortcomings I notice in the product. So here’s to Griffin, keep up the good work!

I’ve been using Griffin iPod FM Transmitters in my car for a few years now and, I have to say, they have kept improving their product version after version and they have slowly but surely been dealing with all of the shortcomings I notice in the product. So here’s to Griffin, keep up the good work!

Artificial Limitations will be the Downfall of Clueless Companies

Listen up, big media: Your downfall will come at your hands because of artificial limitations like this. People want your content and are willing to pay for it. You just have to get out of their way.

So, I happened across an artist I heard and looked them up. They’re on iTunes. Great! I go to buy the album and bam! “That artist is not available in the Canadian store.” Listen up, big media: Your downfall will come at your own hands because of artificial limitations like this. People want your content and are willing to pay for it. You just have to get out of their way.

These kinds of artificial limitations on media drive me up the wall. Geographic restrictions, DRM, etc. All they serve to do is annoy real, valuable, paying customers. Where do you think these paying customers are going to go after getting stymied by the source? You betcha. They’re going to go after it all the while avoiding you.  That’s right. No cut for you. You don’t deserve it.

I have no sympathy for you guys when you complain about piracy while preventing legitimate customers from buying your offerings.

Dealing with Rogers Sales Department?

Dealing with Rogers Sales? Leverage. Maintain some form of leverage when dealing with Rogers. This is a brief history of my recent dealings with the Rogers Sales Department.

Update 2012-06-09: A friend referred me to RedFlagDeals.com and their forum thread about getting the best deal with rogers. Check it out for info on what deals are available and how to go about getting them.

Leverage. Maintain some form of leverage when dealing with Rogers. This is a brief history of my recent dealings with the Rogers Sales Department.

Up until a week or so ago, I had been using a ghetto Motorola V551 flip-phone. In late May, my interest was piqued on the iPhone 3Gs. I called into Rogers Sales and agreed to go into contract for the iPhone 3GS 8GB at $99. I got evenings starting at 6pm for free, $12 Value Pack for free, and the 6GB data plan for $25 ($5 credit) all perks because I was going under contract. A week passed and my phone had not arrived. I phoned back in and apparently they were out of stock. So I had them cancel my plan they happily put me on without having a phone to back it up.

In late August, after hearing interesting things about Android phones from my brother in law, my interest was again piqued. So I phoned into Rogers sales department again and came to the same agreement about perks. I picked up the $29.99 value (for going under contract) Acer Liquid E. Great phone, in and of itself, by the way. I recommend it.

Now, the thing with carriers is that contracts are leverage one way or another. You can get good deals if you’re not under contract. If you are on contract, you’re not going to get deals. If you have other non-contract services, however, like internet, cable or home phone, well now you have some other leverage to work with. Remember this when dealing with the sales department.

So, late August I phone in and come to an agreement with a deal that satisfies me. You know how sometimes you buy something or enter a contract and it gives you a bad feeling? Well I had a good feeling about this. I got what I wanted at a price I was willing to pay. Evenings from 6pm, 6GB data plan $5 off, $12 value pack.

So, I eventually get my phone and really enjoy it. I like the perks I have. I keep an eye on the My Rogers service, too, which tells you about your plan and your usage. I noticed a few things were off. Well, today, I phone in and find out that I do not have the $12 value pack thrown in for free, I do not have 15% discount for having three services (I also find out the actual 10% discount for 3 services only applies to your voice plan amount. Aggravating!), and the first person I talk to does not understand the 6GB data plan $5 credit.

Unbelievable.

So I tell the billing department person I need action on this because the contract agreement has changed. Fortunately, although I asked for Sales, she redirected me to Retention. The Retention department is where you want to be when you need to talk serious with Rogers. But, remember, you must have leverage.

My leverage came in the knowledge that I know what I agreed to the first time, I verbally confirmed it repeatedly, I told this to the Retention person, I have two other non-contract services in case I need to use them as leverage, and I have a long history with Rogers – I’ve had a phone with them since 1998. Clearly, I’m probably not out to screw them over.

In Retention, I’m told I actually do have evenings from 6pm. Good. The 6GB data plan $5 credit wasn’t done but is doable. Fine. The $12 Value Pack is impossible, has never been an offer (*cough* *splutter* *vein pop*). Dear me. I was silent on the phone for a minute. I was seriously thinking of bringing out the other two non-contract services as leverage. Instead, I asked could he apply a credit to any other charge on my account to bring my total cost to the same price that I agreed to when I initially went under contract. Silence. “Oh yeah, here’s what I can do! …” Turns out Rogers has some non-dollar amount Value Pack equivalent that gives you more than the $12 Value Pack and they can credit it right back to your account, making it free.

Unbelievable.

So, here’s the deal, when Rogers says they’re giving you something for free on the phone, they’re not, and people you talk to at Rogers won’t acknowledge the “terms” that you’re using. What they do understand is “credit”. What they can do is charge you the original price and credit you back on your bill – accomplishing the same goal. They just play dumb for reasons unknown to me.

Here’s the thing. I agreed to a contract with specific terms. Rogers changed those terms on me without notice. What is up with this practice? Isn’t this illegal? Shouldn’t it be?

The kicker is they had no solid details on my account about my previous phone call in which I agreed to go under contract. How is that possible!

So, to everyone who has to deal with Rogers:

  • Leverage. Make sure you have it. Either be free of contract when talking to their sales department or have other non-contract services to bargain with if things are really bad. A long history of good customer relationship is a bonus, too.
  • Contract Perks: To get you under contract, when you’re not currently under one, Rogers has a few perks, of which I know of these:
    • Evenings from 6pm. This is an add-on you can pay for. You can get it for free going under contract. Remember, ask for an “offset credit”, not “throw it in for free”, which is how I worded it and they wouldn’t acknowledge that.
    • 6GB data plan for the price of the 500MB data. A $5 credit (remember, “offset credit”). You may be able to work a better deal than $5. The price for that kind of data is very high to begin with.
    • (Rogers Internal) Value Pack. This is the not the public value packs you can see on their website. If you go under contract, ask about whatever value pack they can give you that is the equivalent or better of the $12 Value Pack and ask for an offset credit.

What other perks do you know about? Would love to know.

Remember, Canadians pay some of the highest phone rates in the world. You are getting taken for a ride. The only thing you can do is try to get the best deal possible in a bad situation. So, don’t worry about asking for these perks. If they’re going to lock you in to a multi-year contract, they owe you and they should be happy to retain your business.

When all was said and done, I ended up with a 3 year contract $10 higher than the one I actually agreed to the first time. I’m still a little ticked off at that but at least it’s only $10 higher. This is all not to mention that my account, summing all service prices, is in the hundreds of dollars a month.

Shame on you Rogers for treating your customers like this.