I'm a frugal guy.  Kijiji and eBay are my best friends when it come to spending money.  So, when I say I see a good cell phone plan, it's a good cell phone plan!  Let me give you some background.  Since around 2012, I've been with, first, Mobilicity, and then Wind Mobile.  I really couldn't justify spending $60+/month on a cell phone plan x 2.  With both of these carriers, you essentially have unlimited calling and data, but with 2 big caveats: poor signal quality and coverage.

I've lived with them because there really was no alternative when it comes to the Big 3 (Rogers, Bell, and Telus, and their subsidiaries like Fido, Koodo, etc.).  Let me cover the 2 caveats.  First, signal quality was extremely poor with Mobilicity, and pretty poor with Wind.  You will have dropped calls and slow/no data connection fairly frequently.  Outdoors, you'll probably be ok, but once you go into a building, you've got a 50/50 chance of getting little to no signal at all.  Second, coverage sucked big time!  Once you're out of (sub)urban areas, you'll go into roaming.  Side note: Wind has a fairly good local roaming plan and a great US roaming (no sarcasm there).  For the US roaming add-on, you pay $15/month and you'll get 1 GB data and essentially unlimited text/calling.  I digress.  Anyway, if you travel outside of urban areas a lot, Mobilicity and Wind are likely not for you.

Then, one day, I found Public Mobile (PM).  PM is a not a household name by any means, but they provide a pretty competitive service.  They were bought by Telus in 2013 and eventually began operating on the Telus network.  So, the 2 caveats of Mobilicity and Wind are non-issues.  Signal quality and coverage are both up to par with Bell and Rogers.  What's great is their prices.  Currently, I have one of my lines on its 90-day pre-paid plans.  I get unlimited province wide calling/global text, voicemail, and 6GB data to use in this 90-day period (2 GB/month) for $38 a month ($40 - $2 discount for signing up for auto-credit card payment).  They are able to keep their costs low because they don't have a real call centre.  Support is provided by fellow users and a few moderators on their forums.  So, if you participate in the forums and are helpful, you can get up to $6 off per month.  So, the plan is really going to cost me about $35/month.

It's a pretty good plan, but I've been used to using way more than 2 GB/month.  So, I've put off putting myself on the plan, until one day, they started a promotion of doubling the data at no extra cost.  So, I can get essentially 4 GB data/month at $35/month, on the Telus network with no contract (well...90-day contract)!  I don't think that can be beat.  The only minor caveat is if you're out of province, you need to buy a fairly reasonably priced add-on for data and minutes.  I don't travel a lot and when I do, I'm traveling for work, so I would use my work phone...so not a big impact for me.

This promo ends November 20th.  If you don't believe me, at least believe Red Flag Deals.  The thread there has more than 450 likes.  See the details there.

One more thing, if you're signing up and would like to thank me for this information, use me as a referral so I get $1/month discount...muahahahaha!  Ask me for my number (it's not my cell #).


Falling a sleep at the wheel... Both my nightmare and dream come true. In the past 5 years, I had gotten into 2 minor accidents when I dozed off at the wheel. Both accidents happened during rush hour in stop-and-go traffic on my way home from work. So, yeah, stay away from me on the roads!

As some of you know, I have a long commute: 100 km round-trip each day on the best highways (not!) in Canada, the DVP and the 401! I'm on the road at least 2 hours a day. And before my current job, I drove 130 km round-trip to work in Cambridge. I estimate myself to have driven half a million kilometers since 2004 or about 1.3 times the distance from the Earth to the moon!! A bit of bragging, sorry, but this will set the context for the rest of this post.

Don't get me wrong, I love driving. I've driven from Ontario to Victoria on one trip and to New Orleans and back on another, but getting stuck in traffic is really not my idea of fun. To make the time more productive, I started listening to audio books. Between 2014 and now, I've listened to more than 70 audio books while commuting to work. It's not a bad way to spend this time.

Can't Wait
In about 2 years time, that's all about to change.  Ever since Google had started doing R&D in self-driving cars, I've been eagerly looking forward to the day when I can get into my car and be chauffeured to my destination.  Looks like Elon Musk will make that a reality, sooner rather than later!  Last week, he announced that all cars that rolls off a Tesla assembly line will now have the hardware required for Level 5 autonomy (essentially, driver requires zero input).  He then went on to post a demo video on the Tesla website.  I've saved you time and posted it below.  You have to watch it!  It's amazing!  The software won't quite be ready yet, but I don't think it would take very long.


Skepticism vs. Optimisim
Many people are skeptical of the technology and I do share their concerns.  However, it's all about how the AI is trained.  There's certainly some computer programmers write code for the system, but the self-driving software uses neural networks to learn how to interpret the incoming data and make decisions.  I can say I'm probably in the top 10 percentile in terms of drivers with the most mileage, but I only really have about 500,000 km of experience, most of which is in Toronto traffic.  However, what Tesla plans to do is collect data from its entire fleet and use it to train its AI.  Assuming Tesla sells half a million cars between now and the end of 2018, it would have that many cars on the road providing it data.  If each car is driven 10000 km in a year, Tesla would have 5 billion km of data after just one year!  That would include data from all parts of the world in all kinds of climate.  Even if 1% of that data is in snowy weather, it would have 50 million km worth of data with which to train its AI.  I think that would trump my 500,000 km experience any day.

Will there be fatalities and accidents with Autopilot?  Sure.  Will there be a lot less?  Absolutely!  How can I be so sure?  I recently read (listened to, actually, during my commute) the book The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley...a great book by the way.  He talks about how throughout the ages, humans have had many challenges and we have learned to overcome these challenges through ingenuity and creativity.  I have no doubt that the problem of self-driving will be solved within the next 10 years.

I recall about 15-20 years ago, when the Internet was still a new thing, many warnings came with the technology: don't give your email address to somebody you don't know, don't give your credit card number to anyone online, don't post pictures of yourself online and God forbid, especially not your children's...well, the rest is history...It is understandable to be cautious of the unknown, but I'd like to be more optimistic and look forward to the day when I can sleep soundly in the comfort of the driver's seat of my car, while cruising (or crawling) down the 401!

God's Greatest Blessing to Me

Lately, I've been listening to Laura Story's song Blessings like crazy...you know how when you loop one song over and over again?  It's such a great song!  Why is it great?  Keeping reading!

Laura Story has a very good voice, and the song just has a great melody.  Just listen to it!  More importantly, it's the message of the song that really makes it so great.  It tries to answer the age old question of why bad things happen to good people.  "If God loved us, why does he allow sickness, evil, and death to be part of our lives?"

I think what this song is saying is that when we ask this question, we've missed the point.  It is precisely because God loves us that he allows sickness, evil, and death to be part of our lives!  The song asks, "What if Your blessings come through raindrops?  What if Your healing comes through tears?  What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?"  The best line in the song, however, is the following, "What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?"

And of course, isn't that what we Christians are taught, that we would not go through life without pain, tribulations, and even persecution?  And perhaps the next time we're in great suffering, instead of questioning God why, why not give thanks to Him for letting us suffer, just like how our Lord suffered for us on the cross?  Because humanity's greatest blessing also came from His suffering and death!



Blessings

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
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