During Christmas celebrations at my sister’s house this past weekend, someone brought up the issue of cremation. I could instantly tell that my mother thought the practice to be something akin to suicide, and that anyone who chose that route would be committing a mortal sin. After I argued for a few moments, I asked my mother if she would honor my wishes if I specified that I wanted to be cremated (I don’t, but that’s not the point). She emphatically said no.
While recounting the conversation to my father yesterday, he laughed at the absurdity of it all… before informing me that he also would have a problem with cremating my body.
Honestly, I don’t like the idea of it either, but I would put my personal feelings aside if I knew a loved one wanted to be cremated.
We only have a couple of options for internet access where we live. It is basically a “dead” zone. We are at the outer limits of several providers, but because of our location, most of them cannot or will not provide access to our home.
We actually started out using dial-up access when we first moved here, but I was fortunate enough to stumble across a provider named Millenicom who provide high speed internet access via a USB modem. I am not sure how they do it, but they are basically reselling data access through Verizon Wireless. We get 20 gigabytes a month for $60. That is much more expensive than DSL through AT&T and other local providers, but we are more than happy to pay it to avoid waiting several minutes for a web page to load.
Recently, I noticed the images on this website are appearing grainy and pixelated. A speed test also confirmed that we are receiving approximately half the speed we were getting before. I initially thought it was connected to the new theme I activated, but after contacting the theme creator and being reassured it had nothing to do with it, I looked elsewhere. Since I don’t have grainy images at work (via AT&T), I narrowed it down to our home. After I eliminated our wireless router as the culprit, I contacted Millenicom. They also assured me they were doing nothing that would affect image quality while using the internet.
While googling the issue, I discovered this February announcement from Verizon Wireless:
Verizon Wireless strives to provide customers the best experience when using our network, a shared resource among tens of millions of customers. To help achieve this, if you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top 5% of Verizon Wireless data users we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycle to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand.
These techniques include caching less data, using less capacity, and sizing the video more appropriately for the device. The optimization process is agnostic to the content itself and to the website that provides it. While we invest much effort to avoid changing text, image, and video files in the compression process and while any change to the file is likely to be indiscernible, the optimization process may minimally impact the appearance of the file as displayed on your device.
I also discovered that they actually implemented the practice in September. Apparently, Verizon doesn’t like the fact that we used almost 18 gigabytes of data last month – mainly due to my uploading music to Google and watching a couple of television episodes online last month.
What irritates me about this is we are promised 20gb/month on our plan. We shouldn’t be throttled or have our connection degraded if we use less than that amount. Imagine if your cell phone plans allows you 1,200 minutes each month, but you find that after using 900 minutes, you have problems placing calls or the voice quality is degraded. Doesn’t seem fair to me.
Verizon Wireless has proven time and time again that they don’t really care about their customers. This is just another example of them limiting their quality of service while charging the same amount.
What I wouldn’t give for other options.
UPDATE: I sent another email to Millenicom explaining what I think is happening. They contacted Verizon and were told my account is not being throttled. I have done tests by comparing uploaded images with the ones on my hard drive and there is significant degradation in quality. I also found this post that explains exactly what I am seeing, and it is definitely a result of Verizon’s image compression.
The images below demonstrate how images are being compressed. The first image is via AT&T. The second is via Verizon. Click to enlarge.
UPDATE: Thanks to the kind folks over on DSLReports, I discovered a work around for the image compression. To view an image without compression in IE, press Ctrl+Shift+Refresh. In Chrome, Ctrl+F5 twice.
I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but I have been feeling very anxious and nervous over the past few days. If I had to venture a guess, I would say it is because of the upcoming holidays and all of the time and money that must be spent in order to satisfy the Christmas gods.
Each year after Christmas, I tell myself that I am going to scale things way back next time around. Unfortunately, the next year comes and I fall back into the same routine of running around from store to store trying to find the best price on whatever it is I am looking for.
What I really despise about exchanging Christmas presents is that it is basically just trading money. If you spend $50 on me, then I feel obligated to spend $50 on you. And don’t even consider the fact that I might get you something you have absolutely no desire for, or vice versa. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just set aside $50 to spend on myself? Or better yet, what if instead of exchanging presents with everyone, we just went out for a nice meal and conversation?
I have always said Christmas is for kids. I still believe that. And it would certainly be a lot less stressful.