TIME to go back to my inbox and answer a few questions from readers and provide another Netflix recommendation.
Question: Your column on tablets vs. eReaders was of particular interest because I have both a Nexus 7 and the original Kindle. I use the Kindle whenever I'm going somewhere that I know I'll have to wait, such as a doctor's office, or taking my wife shopping, etc., as I have a selection of e-books on it, and it fits nicely into my inside jacket pocket. My Nexus 7 is the same size, so it fits into my jacket pocket as well, but is much heavier than the Kindle. The output from the Nexus is prettier, and no doubt I could transfer all my Kindle stuff onto it, but why bother. Both have Wi-Fi capability, but few places I try to use it provide Wi-Fi access, so that feature is only useful at home where I have a Wi-Fi router. But when I'm at home there's my desktop and laptop for Internet access on bigger screens, so my tablet and eReader are rarely used here.
Thought this might interest some of your older readers (I'm 89) who are wondering what to get.
Keep up your good work.
-Don, via email
Answer: Thanks, Don. I like your letter because it illustrates a few things. First, no one is too old for technology. The fact that you have a Nexus 7 tablet, which is as hipster as it gets among geeks, is very cool, and owning an original Kindle makes you an early adopter.
Secondly, you describe well how it's still hard for one device to meet all our computing and consumption needs. Tablets are great, but they yet don't replace laptops for getting real work done on a sustained basis. We're getting closer to that goal of the one all-purpose device with attempts like Windows 8 (and likely Apple in the near future). The sooner the better for both our wallets and landfills, but for now we remain multi-device creatures, with more gadgets (next up: smart watches) on the way.
Question: I pay my ISP $50/ month for my Internet. Since I started using Netflix I've received several automated voice messages from my ISP telling me that I'm using too much bandwidth, the implication being that my ISP wants me to buy more bandwidth.
Bandwidth is free and does not cost my ISP anything. Furthermore bandwidth cannot be filled up completely. It can become saturated and slow down but it can never be "full."
CRTC recently penalized my ISP for overcharging. Is this a new scheme from Canadian ISPs to work around the CRTC decision?
-Graham, via email
Answer: Graham has raised a bunch of issues which are too technical for me to delve into, but what he does underscore is that using services like Netflix eats into the monthly bandwidth caps imposed by your Internet service provider, or ISP. Theoretically, providers like Shaw and Telus have policies to charge overage fees for exceeding your monthly limit, just as cellphone providers will charge you for exceeding your monthly minutes for talk or data plan. In practice, I've never heard of anyone being charged for going over their Internet limits. (If you have been charged, had your service discontinued because of bandwidth use or simply been hassled, I'd like to hear about it.)
Of course, most of us aren't even aware we have bandwidth caps or understand what that means, and as Graham suggests, bandwidth is not a straightforward concept like water running through a pipe. A final point is that in the past couple of years providers like Telus and Shaw have upped their caps significantly, even doubling some plans. Unless you're watching online video for hours a day, you're probably safe.
Netflix pick: House of Cards (U.K. version). If you enjoyed Netflix's original series House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey, you'll have a great time with the BBC original that inspired it. Set in the 1990s and in a very different political culture than Washington, D.C., it's tweedier, sharper and darker than its American descendant.
Barry Link is editor of the Vancouver Courier newspaper and a geek enthusiast. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @trueblinkit.
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