Tonight I’m introducing a new concept of time/distance measurement, MT2DBU. This is short for “Mean Time To Drunken Break-up” and it describes precisely the time it takes to walk (stagger) from bars south of Grafton St. and west of Prince St. to exactly in front of our house.

South and west of us, you see, is a collection of bars and pubs: The Merchantman, Rum Runners, Peakes Quay, The Olde Dublin, Gahans, where couples go to drink and make merry, especially on these wonderful summer evenings.

While alcohol sometimes brings couples closer together and introduces uncommon amounts of amouressness into a situation, in other situations, and perhaps with greater amounts of alcohol applied, it has the reverse effect, symptoms of which are much screaming, yelling, crying, use of extremely foul language and so on, all culminating in the at least temporary break-up of the relationship.

In front of our house.

You see the nature of the MT2DBU is such that the time between leaving the bar and said alcohol-induced frazzle reaching maximum intensity places said couple right along our stretch of Prince St., while they’re making their way through the downtown to their home to the north and east.

We have witnessed (and more often just heard) all manner and style of these sort of break-ups, and two summers of research has taught us a lot about the human condition. If nothing else, our ribald vocabulary has almost doubled as a result.

So if you and yours happen to find yourselves overindulged and ornery in the downtown heart of Charlottetown, you may wish to take my advice, nip any troubles in the bud, and take separate cabs home. You’ll thank me in the morning, and I’ll thank you.

I spoke too soon...

Although I stand by my earlier comments about Island Tel Mobility, shortly after I posted them came a fly in the ointment.

I pay $4.50 a month for Mobility’s InforMe text messaging service. This lets me receive short text messages on my digital cell phone, and I use it with server and network monitoring tools as an alerting mechanism (“Pete, Pete, the network’s down, we need you…” cries the server).

Earlier in the week I was upgrading this monitoring system, and this involved some testing of the email to cell phone system. It was working well and then, suddenly, it wasn’t. Nothing had changed on my end, but the messages I was sending myself as a test weren’t getting through to my phone.

This went on for several hours before I gave up and went to bed, but not before I wrote an email to Island Tel’s customer service folks to inquire about the outage and, further, to seek their advice on whether I could excpect this sort of outage to occur in future.

Today I received the following response:

Thank you very much for your recent inquiry.

We were having isolated problems with our Text Messaging service starting last Friday. The problem occurred in the Bell network which our SMS system is linked to.

The system should now be restored.

This service, along with all of our wireless services, are not guaranteed, and can on occasion develop problems whether they be system problems, or simply coverage problems.

So sorry for this inconvenience.

While I certainly appreciate the note back, it appears that what they’re saying is, in essence, “the system’s sometimes broken, so don’t rely on it.” This, for all intents and purposes, takes what might be a useful service and makes it completely useless. Would you hire a babysitter who told you “occasionally I’ll develop system problems and will let your child wander into the street?”

Their website says: “Text Messaging gives digital cellular and alphanumeric paging customers the capability to receive and view text messages on the display screens of their phone and pagers.”

I think they should add “sometimes” to the sentence. Sigh.

Mobile Friendliness

One of the consistent bright spots on the Island Tel (err, Aliant) front is the company at least formerly known as Island Tel Mobility.

I have consistently found the staff at Island Tel Mobility to be friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, whether in person at the Phone Centre or on the telephone. They know their products and services, they know their internal systems, and I’ve never asked a question that they haven’t answered fully and quickly.

Interestingly, and perhaps contrary to what you might assume, Island Tel Mobility’s services are priced competitively with the rest of North America, and most times their service plans are cheaper and require less commitement than comparable plans on carriers like Verizon and Sprint in the U.S. (especially when you factor in the U.S. exchange).

The latest development is their unveiling on an online billing system that lets you view, download, report on, and pay for your cell phone service. In traditional Island Tel style the interface is clunky, and entirely unrelated to any of their other systems. But it works, and the ability to download call detail records as an ASCII comma-delimited file is wonderful.

Green Power Update

A note from Angus Orford at Maritime Electric:

The current number of customers that have signed up for ‘Green Power’ is 445. The total number of 50 kWh blocks being purchased per month is 1141. The average number of blocks a customer is purchasing is 1141/445 = 2.56 or 128 kWh.
Not an overwhelming number of green power subscribers, but at least it’s a start.

Meeko's: The Reinvented Instant Review

Sitting outside on Victoria Row on a blustery but otherwise very pleasant summer day. The Cameron Block provides sufficient shade so as to make on-street laptop use possible.

Today I finally decided that it was time to recover from the loss of The Black Forest Cafe and visit its replacement, Meeko’s Mediterranean Cafe and Grill.

Experience was as follows: falafel was presented unusually in a 1/2 moon pita; it was overloaded with filling, and thus something of a challenge to eat without spilling all over myself. It was, nonetheless, quite tasty. My heart was truly won over when my request for unsweetened herbal iced tea was greeted by my server without the usual scorn that such a request brings; the resulting peppermint iced tea was fantastic.

To finish, the dessert, which had the words chocolate, hazelnut, orange and torte in some order in its name, was very good — a nice balance of the components and not too sweet; the only downside was a backend crust that was too solid to easily fork.

Server was quick and professional.