Friday, January 09, 2009

In conversation about Gaza

In response to my blog about what's behind Israel's attack on Gaza, I received comments from "Civax", an Israeli whose parents live in Ashkalon on the southern borders of Israel. What started as statements of "enemy" camps developed into a conversation. The lengthy exchanges were being relegated to the comments page of the archived blog. I decided in the interest of the dialog to publish my latest reply to Civax as a new posting, so it can be found and followed easier. Here goes:

Dear Civax

Yes I agree with you, that some Arab regimes want Israel to rid them of the Palestinian problem, the problem being a model of how people despite dire circumstances can self-organize and resist oppressor regimes. This tacit cooperation merely demonstrates that the conflict is not an Arab/Jewish conflict but rather a conflict between tolerance and fanaticism, opression and resistance, people who value all human beings regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or political beliefs and people who are homophobic and racist.

In many cities of the world Arab and Jewish people (both from Israel and outside) demonstrated side by side against the Gaza massacres, while both Arab and Israeli politicians played their diplomatic games while civilians were slaughtered. The Jewish women who occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto in support of the Palestinians (not necessarily Hamas) are closer to me than Arab fanatics blowing themselves amongst Israeli civilians.

Regardless of the details of any peace agreement, the first step is to acknowledge the injustice done to the wronged party. Such acknowledgment opens the way to reconciliation and to resolving not just differences but the wounds of the past. This was the way in Germany and Japan after WW II. This was the way in South Africa, where the Truth & Reconciliation Committee hearings were arduous and painful, but way better than killing each other. This is also the way in Canada as we start addressing the injustice and suffering caused to First Nations by colonists and immigrants.

Until we acknowledge the injustice done explicitly, we can't start seeing each other as human beings and we will continue to deal with each other in the context of "enemies".

As for the need of a strong Palestinian leadership, I agree that such leadership would make negotiations and implementing agreements easier. I personally don't believe, however, that Israel is genuinely interested in fostering and supporting such strong leadership. Supporting those leader that are willing to accept unfair conditions against the will of their people, destroying every emerging infrastructure of an independent Palestinian state, driving a spike between elected Hamas and the PA, etc. are all acts that weaken the Palestinian leadership.

There is no need for alarm though. If the surrounding Arab states are any indication, then a Palestinian state (assuming it is allowed to be
reasonably sovereign and independent) would just produce another "strong man" regime, which if friendly to western interest would be called "democratic" and otherwise would join the "axis of evil". Such states never were a real threat to Israel as documented by the historic results on the ground for the past 60 years not by the propaganda's rhetoric.

But back to the fndamentals: An Israeli baby was wounded by one of the rockets launched against Israel. This is traumatic for both the child and the parents. In the last few weeks over TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE CHILDREN DIED in Gaza. Can you really justify such a crime with any political rhetoric? Can you really look the other way?

Well, I can't. It is past 3:00 A.M. and the pictures are haunting me and the emotions are robbing me of sleep. And I sincerely hope you can't too, because if we could, we would have lost a great deal if not all of our humanity.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 05, 2009

Rogers Rocket Mobile Internet Stick - Customer Report

Rogers is offering recently a wireless broadband modem in stick format with a USB interface, which it has branded as the "Rocket Mobile Internet Stick". The stick supports multiple wireless broadband technologies (GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA and HSUPA). The device is being offered free with on one-year activation with an MSF (monthly service fee) of $25. I was looking into a mobile Internet solution for my team's MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops, so I contacted Rogers.

The sales person I was dealing with offered me to evaluate one unit on a 30 days refund basis and promised delivery of the evaluation unit by overnight courier. I received the unit only several days after, as Rogers needed three trade references for my company, despite being their customers for business data products for over 7 years.

Package Contents

The unit arrived in a box and contained the Stick, a SIM card, a CDROM, a USB cable, a hook for attaching the stick to the top of a laptop's screen or LCD monitor, and documentation.

The Stick is an Ovation MC950D mobile broadband modem made by Novatel Wireless Inc. The documentation consisted of a Novatel Quick Start Guide and a Rogers Wireless Services User Guide. Also provided were a single sheet with information on the assigned cellular number (user name, cell number, ESN), a UPS courier bag and labels for return shipment if required.

The SIM is inserted directly into the side of the stick as shown here.

A slot in the stick shows how far the SIM has been inserted. Once in place, the SIM still protrudes a bit at the top and the slot length gives the impression that there is more room for the SIM to slide down. It turned out however, that this is as far as the SIM would go and is sufficient for proper operations.

The Novatel printed guide (glossy, 4-color, 5 languages) turned out to be only relevant for Windows installation. It did provide a table to decode the 6-color LED status display of the stick. The CD provided a Quick Start Guide for installing the modem under Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger as well as 3G driver v2.0.

Mac Installation

The stick can be inserted directly into a USB port or in case of weak signal in that position it can be attached on top of the screen using the plastic hook and USB extension cable provided.

Although I followed the instructions provided, the Stick would not show up in the MacBook's network interfaces at all, and hence I could not configure it as required. From the colors displayed by the status LED, the modem seemed to connect properly to the
cellular network. However, differentiating between the colors blue, cyan and violet could be challenging in normal operating conditions.

I contacted Rogers Technical Support. It took quite a while to get to the proper skill set. Once there the Rogers technician had me remove the drivers I had installed, download new drivers from Novatel's web site and re-install. Several variations of the same approach yielded no progress. The technician then consulted a superior and came back with the following stunning answer: "We only support Mac OS X Leopard". Both the included Novatel documentation as well as Rogers own web site stated clearly that Mac OS Tiger is supported. The only thing I got out of this wasted time is a case number!

Windows Installation

I continued my efforts by installing the Stick on a Windows XP (SP3) laptop following the Novatel instructions. Using address information that was not supplied with the package but obtained during my support session, I was able to install and configure the Rogers stick on this machine and access the internet. Speed tests with various sites ranged between 642 and 1046 Kbps download
and 509 to 1067 Kbps upload with latency ranging between 103 to 167 ms. The maximum throughput recorded was 1243 Kbps. I tried again on the Mac with no success. I did notice that the serial number of the device showing up in the USB section of the Mac System Profiler was slightly different from the one on the modem and in the accompanying documentation.

Speaking about my frustration with the Mac installation to a Rogers reseller while on other business, he suggested trying Nerds Onsite Technology Partners, who were providing paid assistance to Rogers customers over a wide scope of issues: from assessing their communications needs to assisting in complex deployment or installations, to on-site technical support. I contacted the Nerds Onsite and a technician was made available on site on Christmas Eve afternoon. I was impressed with their commitment and hopeful of a solution. Unfortunately, the technician was unable to get the Stick working.

The Verdict

I had invested at that point 200% more time than I had initially planned for this evaluation. Thinking about deploying and supporting this device to multiple users with such lacking vendor support, I decided it was not ready for Mac users. The Stick will be on its way back to Rogers tomorrow. It is unfortunate that such a promising product would fail due to poor customer service. If only Rogers technical support for the Rocket Stick was as good as their billing department! They've already sent me an invoice dated December 17th for $65.77.

Labels: , , , , ,