Monday, February 14, 2011

How To Track your Internet Usage

In my last blog post I talked about a 24 hour test that I ran to track my internet bandwidth usage.  The program I used is called NetStat Live, it is a free program and will keep track of your daily usage of incoming and outgoing traffic.  Now if you have multiple computers at home, you will need to install this program on each of them and then add up the results from each PC to get your total usage.

Here is what the company has to say about their product:

Have you ever wondered just how fast your network connection is? Not just how fast the modem is connected at, but how much data you can actually get? Does your internet connection sometimes seem slower than normal? Forget hacking the registry or using counter-intuitive tools to get the information you want - enter the world of AnalogX NetStat Live (NSL)! NSL is a small, easy to use TCP/IP protocol monitor which can be used to see your exact throughput on both incoming and outgoing data - whether you're using a modem, cable modem, DSL, or even local network! NSL doesn't just stop there, it lets you see how quickly your data goes from your computer to another computer on the internet; it even will tell you how many other computers your data must go through to get there! But wait - there's more! NSL also graphs your CPU usage of your system! This can be especially useful in identifying if your computer is what's slowing things down, or if it's your internet connection.

NetStat Live works on all versions of Windows, from Window 95 to Windows 7 and everything inbetween (including XP, Vista, Win2k, etc).
If you are interested, you can download NetStat Live from AnalogX's website

This is yet another free app, that is pretty useful!

CRTC Internet Usage Based Billing - The Saga Continues

The peoples voices have been heard! As I mentioned in my last blog on this topic the CRTC is now reviewing their decision. I am sure they there will be some sort of UBB in the end, but how it works out is going to be interesting.

Some the Larger ISP's have already had UBB in place for some time now, having a CAP on your internet connection was something never heard of before here in Newfoundland before Rogers communications came to town, and they implemented  monthly caps on their residential users.  This is why I always stuck with Bell Aliant for my ISP, they never once, and have yet to implement UBB, but Bell Canada does have UBB it just hasn't worked its way down into our neck of the woods yet.

I have had many people ask me how will this affect them if it does get implemented. Well it comes down to how much you use your internet service, and it will work out to be the same as getting a monthly electric bill.  It may curb some of the "network congestion" they are talking about, but I doubt it.

I have a small problem with implementing CAPS on internet services, as from what I am able to tell this new act would only apply to residential customers, and not commercial accounts. Which hardly seems fair, since it will be the residential customer who is going to be accessing commercial services via the web.

With websites delivering more and more rich content with both audio and video streaming content, your monthly allotment won't be long disappearing, and the monthly internet bill will be getting that much higher.  I can see people who use the internet, using less services and demanding more low band content.  When netflix advertises only $8 a month for unlimited movies and TV shows, I think you will think twice about watching a movie or two a day from this service.

I did  24 hour test last week, to see how much bandwidth I myself would use during this time.  I downloaded a small program called NetStat Live, which tracked my incoming out and outgoing traffic.  Now during that 24 hours, I spent 8 hours sleeping, and 8 hours sleeping, so my computer never got that much use, but between a some emails, time on facebook, surfing, and a some quick downloads, I managed to rack-up a surprising 954 Mega Bytes of data.  That is almost 1GB in less that 24 hours with maybe 4-5 hours of use during that time.  Now this did not include the time I spent playing online with my xbox, nor did it include the episode of top gear that I had watched that evening on Netflix.

So Keeping that the average person does about 1.5GB (allotment for the xbox and netflix) of data each day, and the CRTC would like to see a starting CAP of 25GB on a residential account, that is guaranteeing the ISP's extra income each and every month, considering February  only has 28 days, you can expect to be over your monthly limit each and every month, by a substantial amount.

I hope for the all residential users, and all the promotion into doing things online, that this CRTC act stays right where its too now, under review for the trash.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tax Season is Approaching

Well it's that time of year again! We will all soon be rushing out to get the latest version of tax software to  make our tax filing that much easier, and hopefully get that nice tax refund.   Well what would you say, if I could save you  $29-$39 this year!   I think most people would really like this nice tip.

No I am not an accountant, and I am not a tax expert, and this is suppose to be a blog about computer technology, and little tips and tricks to help you along the way in your computing world.  Well today's blog should help you on your way with your daily computing, and save you a little extra money during tax time.  How will I save you that $29-$39 this tax season?

I will save you this extra money by you not going out and buying the popular tax software that you can get at most any store these days.  I am going to tell you about a Canadian Income Tax software package that is just as good, if not better, that the more popular tax packages you pay for.

The software package I am talking about is called Studio Tax. It was developed by a group of programmers working in the IT field in the Ottawa area, and took about 5 years to develop with consultation from many people, and tax experts.

How good can it be if its free? Well I can tell you this, there is very little difference in the interface that the popular Turbo Tax, and Quick Tax packages. Studio Tax includes the same styled tax wizard that the other packages do, it supports Net Filling, and if you continue to use it each year, you can import your previous years information the same as the package that you would have normally paid for.

 The software is certified each year by the CRA to make sure that it complies to the Canadian Tax laws, the same as the big name packages that you pay for.

Here are a few screen shots of Studio Tax 2010, which I have just finished Installing the uncertified version. The Certified version should be available in a few weeks.

This is the start up screen

The Start of the Wizard for a First time User

Selecting T and RL Slips that apply to you

Selecting RRSP, Tuition, Donations, Dependants, Political Contributions and Medical Expenses

If you are unsure of using something different, because you have trusted the same software package over the years to complete your taxes. I have a challenge for you!  Download Studio Tax, and complete your taxes, then use your preferred software to complete your taxes.  I bet you the end result will be the same, except that doing your taxes your preferred way just cost you $29-$39 once again this year.  

Add up what you spend on tax software each year, over the past 10 years or so, and think what you could have used that money for!  Studio Tax is worth a try.

You can download Studio Tax from 

Monday, February 7, 2011

CRTC's Internet usage Billing Over Ruled by the Federal Government

Well it's been a few days since i have been able to write to my blog.  As I promised, I got some more information on the CRTC's Internet usage Billing decision, and it looks like the decision is on its way the big trash can in the sky.

Last week the Federal Government came out and  said that the CRTC has to reverse  their ruling, and If they don't, the government will.

Here is the article about Harper speaking out on the issue.   The source of the article is
OTTAWA—A controversial CRTC decision that effectively imposed usage-based Internet billing on small service providers will be reversed, the Toronto Star has learned.
“The CRTC should be under no illusion — the Prime Minister and minister of Industry will reverse this decision unless the CRTC does it itself,” a senior Conservative government official said Wednesday.
“If they don’t reconsider we will reverse their decision.”
The promise to reverse the ruling comes as CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein is scheduled to explain the decision Thursday before the House of Commons industry committee.
While the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is an independent agency, its decision can be overturned by cabinet. The Star was told that could happen as early as next week.
The CRTC decision has sparked outrage across the country with Canadians rushing to sign petitions asking the Conservative government to reverse it. Industry Minister Tony Clement has received tens of thousands of emails requesting that it be struck down.
“Frankly, a decision like this is clearly not in the best interest of consumers,” the senior official said.
“This is a bread-and-butter issue.”
The CRTC’s ruling affects the wholesale business of the major Internet service providers, who sell capacity to smaller resellers. To encourage competition, major telecom operators that have spent heavily on infrastructure are required to lease bandwidth on their networks to small providers.
Major providers charge customers extra if they download more than the monthly limits they set, typically between 20 and 60 gigabytes. Small providers, however, offer plans with 200 gigabyte ceilings and even unlimited use.
The issue came to a head last week, when the CRTC denied independent service providers the right to continue offering unlimited Internet plans.
Although critics say the CRTC ruling will lead to lower download limits and higher rates, major Internet service providers say usage-based billing based is fair because it means heavy users pay more than those who just surf the web and use email.
As it invests billions in new broadband capacity, Bell says old pricing structures need to be brought in line with the huge amount of growth in Internet usage. Businesses and consumers are increasingly relying on the Internet to download videos, documents and even software. Rogers says its customers are using about 40 per cent more data each year.
Consumers’ Association of Canada president Bruce Cran said the CRTC decision is nothing but corporate gouging by Canada’s monopolistic communications companies.
John Reid, president of CATA Alliance, a group that advocates for innovation in Canada, said, “This has to be a decision that Canada makes — that it wants to be the best in the world in the provision of high-speed Internet.”
He added, however, that usage-based billing is not the answer.
“You don’t want to stifle the sort of richness that comes from using high-speed Internet,” says Reid.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Space Camp

** Originally Posted January 29, 2011 **

Well this one isn't going to be about anything computer related.   What this talk is about, is a once in a life time experince for a bunch of elementry school students, who will get to go to Space Camp! My daughter and 29 other students were selected to attend a week long space camp at the US Space Center, in Huntsville Alabama.  The students all had to write an essay detailing why they should go to the camp.   Here is a link to the space camp.  They are going on March 19, 2011

The school (J.J. Curling, Corner Brook, NL) received a large grant of 20K for the students to make the trip. However the grant does not cover all the costs of the trip and they need to raise about 15K more. They are currently selling tickets on a $1000.00 Canadian Dollar Bill. There are 10,000 tickets printed and are selling for $1.00 each.  The Draw date is March 10, 2011.

If you  are interested in some tickets, please contact me  by email @
 I will have 60 tickets on Next Monday February 7, 2011.

Or if you wish to make some sort of donation, you can do so through the paypal donation button I have on the top right of my blog. No donation is too small for this cause.

a big thank you to all.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Xmarks - The Browser Plugin Everyone should have

If you are like myself, you use a computer at work, home, and you might even have a laptop for your mobile computing needs. We all like to stay organized in some fashion, and having bookmarks all over the place is just crazy in this day and age.

I found my solution to this day old problem of wanting to have my bookmarks all in one place a few years ago. I stumbled across Xmarks a small browser add on that allowed you to synchronize your bookmarks from one computer to another with out any user intervention. It just did it, and it worked great.  At that time it was only available for the firefox browser.

Now xmarks is available for all major browsers IE, Fire Fox,Chrome, Safari) and operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux). So there is no real excuse for you to not have this wonderful addon.

Even if you don't have a 2nd computer that you want to sync your bookmarks to, this is still a must have addon. You can use it to backup your bookmarks, or login to your account via the web to access your bookmarks from anywhere on the web.

xmarks has been recently rolled into the lastpass company and they are now offering a premium service to include mobile devices. But the free version still works for me. I just want all my bookmarks to be accessible when I need them.

you can check out xmarks @