Sunday, September 20, 2015

magicJack : Our little secret

In February 2010, after many discussions and searches on the web, we decided to ditch our traditional home phone provider in favour of one of the VoiP devices on the market, MagicJack.  The difference in annual price was astronomical and we were ready to take a chance just for that reason.  We thought, well, if the quality of calls is not perfect we could live with that.  One of the other reasons we decided to go with MagicJack was that they offered a Canadian phone number, although we could not transfer our number at that time.   The free and unlimited long distance calls to Canada and the USA appealed to us, as we have family all over North America and traditional long distance charges were prohibitive for us
Well, here we are more than 5 years later, and we would not turn back, although it has not always been easy.  We experienced internet speed problems and thought it was MJ, our recorded message disappeared and we stopped receiving notifications that we had messages, just to find out MJ had done a system update which required us to reset our recorded message and preferences after MJ customer service reset our specific device, etc.  Yes, customer service is only online, and yes, you have to be very patient, and ask for a more experienced agent to really get a solution to your problem instead of having to do the same old troubleshooting that you have done over and over.  We would appreciate it if a general message would be sent out when they do general upgrades so we would know what to expect and what to do, without being unpleasantly surprised.  However, the call quality has improved and has become more stable over these past 5 years, and we now feel very comfortable at dealing with the various quirks and the online help. 

On top of all that, we now use the MagicJack App on our phones and that way, almost, never miss a call.  So excellent to also use the app and not have to drag a laptop and MJ device around when we go on a trip anywhere in the world.  We can keep in contact with family for free in North America no matter if were the countries are located as long as there is decent WiFi. 

Being in Canada and using an Android based phone, we do not have access to the texting functionality recently introduced for iOS devices, but we look forward to hopping on board as soon as it becomes available. 

We just really appreciate MagicJack and the evolution of their devices, software and functionality.  They have made it easy for us to stay in touch without having to spend too much of our retirement funding.

MagicJack and other VoiP providers are assessed on The Voip Hub.  Make your informed choice! Why pay through the roof!

Keep up the good work and keep surprising us, we love it!!!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Parc du Mont Royal, Labour Day weekend

This Labor Day weekend Marie and I headed off to Montreal to visit with the kids and take a much needed break from the house construction.  As well on the Domaine this weekend the annual VTT rally was being held. In excess of over 300 crazy 4-wheeler owners from all over the area descend on our dirt roads and roar about for two days. We try to plan our escape from this noisefest and head either to Maine or Montreal. It was hot and humid in the city and many of the locals had taken refuge in the countryside and surrounding lakes to enjoy the last long weekend of the summer. We met up with Lara, Jesse and Joshua at their condo then drove up in their Nissan Xplorer to Parc du Mont Royal, one of their favourite getaways in the city. Mount Royal is definitely the jewel of Montreal's city parks, 200 hectares of walking trails and great views of the city. This spot, the highest on Montreal island, was designated a park back in 1876. The lookout that faces downtown was first built in 1906 and is now called the Belvedere Kondiaronk, named for the Huron chief who signed a peace accord in 1701 with the then French regime. We walked up to Beaver Lake, a man made artificial "pond" used as a skating rink since 1938 and the pavilion opposite that functions as a changing room in the winter for the skaters and tobogganers. There were quite a few people around - mostly tourists -  while we were there, enjoying the view and eating over priced ice creams. From there we continued up to the illuminated cross. The first Mount Royal Cross was put up in 1643 by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of the city, in fulfillment of a vow he made to the Virgin Mary when praying to her to stop a disastrous flood. Today the mountain is crowned by this 103 ft-high illuminated cross, installed in 1924 by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and now owned by the city. In the picture below you can see it's size by comparing it to Lara and Marie to the left. We got away from the busy walk and found a cool, shady trail through the woods. This lush forest was badly damaged both by mayor Drapeau’s morality cuts (to remove any opportunity for people to have sex in the bushes) in the mid-1950s and by the Ice Storm of 1998, but has since largely recovered. It was cool and quiet with little signs of human activity, sexual or otherwise, while we wandered through it. Not to say I wasn't looking...


me and Joshua, walking up Avenue des Pins toward the park

Lara and Joshua, Beaver Lake

view of Montreal from Belvedere Kondiaronk lookout

Lara, me and Marie catching our breath at Belvedere Kondiaronk lookout

Marie and flowers by the pavilion

a couple dancing inside the pavilion

Joshua stretching his legs

walking one of the many trails

me and Joshua playing ball
taking a break in the shade

We followed the 7  1/2 kilometre circuit back to where we started, the heat (35 C) and humidity starting to get to all of us, returning to the condo on Nuns Island to soak in the hot tub and then cool off in the swimming pool for another hour or so before going to see Phil and Fernanda and the children. We had promised them we would babysit Amy and William and give them a chance to get away for an evening. Christina and Alex were also coming down for lunch. They were anxious to soon move into their new house in Embrum! The next day we had an appointment with a designer in St Laurent as we were now finally ready to start working on our kitchen. Our two burner camp stove has done us well for three years and cooking on a real stove will be a treat. Next step is to finish the wiring, driwall the ceiling and walls and lay the tiles, then install cabinets and countertops. Our plan is to have this all done by Christmas. But you know what Robbie Burns said : the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley!   gws


Lara and our spaceman Garneau, Liberal candidate for NDG-Westmount
"And among these fields is situated and seated the said town of Hochelaga, near to and adjoining a mountain ... We named this mountain, Mount Royal" -  Jacques Cartier

and later that same weekend....

Amy, parc St. Pierre

William and Christina, Boston Pizza