Entries Tagged as 'Communications'

Windows 7 – Device Stage

Microsoft® Windows 7 has a really cool feature called Device Stage.

It presents all your hardware devices together in one place and allows you to organize information.  You know like synchronize information between your computer and the devices.

If you look on Microsoft’s web site you’ll see a great article detailing how you can fully synchronize your smart phone without knowing any details of hardware or software — just plug in the cable and tell it what program to use on the PC to synchronize with (and unlike in previous versions you don’t need Outlook).

Well, call me tickeled pink…

I plugged in my Microsoft Mobile 6.5 Smart Phone… and I just can’t tell you how disappointed I was.  Mobile Device Center (the abomination from Vista that replaced ActiveSync) downloaded, installed, and opened and told me I didn’t have any source of contacts or calendar information…

So Windows 7, the new flag ship of Microsoft’s desktop strategy ships without a connector for Windows Mobile 6.5, the new flag ship of Microsoft’s phone strategy… how sad.

I’d say Microsoft has convinced me I should buy an iPhone and use a Mac — Apple products actually work together.

Well, call me disappointed…

The slogan for Windows 7 should be something like

Maybe Windows 8, 9, 10, or 11…

Originally posted 2009-11-08 01:00:16.

Straight Talk

Four people I know have now switched their cellular phone service over to Straight Talk “pre-paid” service (largely because I’ve pointed it out to them).  Two used AT&T, one used T-Mobile, and one used Cellular South.

All of them basically switched for the similar reasons — they were being charged too much for too little.

I’ve considered switching a number of times; but I’m one of the few people with a Smart Phone who actually use the features (I just don’t know if I could get along without data services and GPS — Garmin GPS).

Straight talk offers two plans — UNLIMITED for 30 days $45; or 1000 minutes, 1000 SMS/MMS, 30GB for up to 30 days $30.  Most people probably don’t need the unlimited plan, and if you only expect you’re going to go over once in a great occasion you can buy the $30 plan and just pay again in less than 30 days (as long as it takes you at least 20 days you still ahead), and you can switch back and forth between the two plans at will (if you can predict your usage) — or even lay out for a month.  And of course, there’s no contract.

Straight Talk is a service of Trac Fone; but a model that’s much more like MetroPCS and Cricket; though since Straight Talk is a MVNO using Verizon Wireless as the carrier you can use the service any where in the continential United States where Verizon Wireless has digital service (which is just about any where there’s a paved road).

If you’re looking for a fancy phone, or data features you’re not looking for Straight Talk; in fact, only MetroPCS really offers you full data features (you can take your own smart phone to their network and have them flash it — it does need to have the SPL released; or you can buy one from them — but MetroPCS uses their own network and fills in coverage using some Sprint services as well; but you’re restricted to your MetroPCS service area, which doesn’t work well if you travel).

If what you’re looking for is a cellular phone, or a replacement for your land line even, Straight Talk might be a great deal for you.

You can order the phones online; you can pay for service online; you can even have your service auto-renewed online… or you can purchase phones and/or service cards at Wal-Mart.  You can even port you existing wireless or wire line number to Straight Talk (you can thank the FCC for that).

Just keep in mind that the hand sets are “low end” — they won’t tether to your computer, and to do any type of synchronization (that’s a bad word to use, since you’re probably going to have to move contacts, etc one-by-one or at least manually) you may well have to use Bluetooth (though the Samsung SCH-R451C $99.99 will work with a USB cable to give you access to the phone as a USB data device — and it supports up to a 2GB uSD card).

There is one higher end hand set offered by Straight Talk; the Samsung SCH-R810C $328.99; it’s higher price get’s you a touch screen (only — no keyboard), but really nothing substantially more than the Samsung SCH-R451C, and it’s not available in most areas.

Straight Talk offers a 30-day money back guarantee on handsets; but no refund on airtime…

Visit the Straight Talk website, or your local Wal-Mart for more information (or to purchase one)… it’s your money, get some value for it.

http://www.straighttalk.com/

Originally posted 2010-04-10 02:00:30.

Straight Talk AT&T APN (Android)

Once you get your new Android phone and pop in your Straight Talk AT&T micro SIM card you’ll need to change the APN in order to make MMS work properly…

The first APN below should have been populated from the SIM (you’re just going to remove MMS from the profile); the second APN will actually provide the MMS capability.

 

First APN for talk, text (SMS), and data (default):


Name: Straight Talk (or whatever you want)
APN: att.mvno
Proxy: Not set
Port: Not set
Username: Not set
Password: Not set
Server: Not set
MMSC: http://mmsc. cingular. com
MMSC proxy: 66.209.11.33
MMS port: 80
MCC: 310
MNC: 410
Authentication Type: Not set
APN type: default,supl,mms   ***remove mms***
APN protocol: IPv4
Bearer: Not specified


 

Second APN for MMS Service:


Name: Straight Talk MMS

APN: att.mvno

skip down to MMSC: http://mmsc.cingular.com

MMS proxy: proxy.mvno.tracfone.com

MMS port: 80

MCC: 310

MNC: 410

Authentication Type: Not set

skip to APN type and enter: mms


THEN SAVE AND ENJOY!

Originally posted 2013-03-04 15:00:19.

Verizon Wireless

Like most cellular communication companies, Verizon Wireless leaves it up to the consumer to find their billing errors.

Last month I called Verizon Wireless right after the AllTel/Verizon merge was complete; and I told the representative that at the end of the call I would have ONE Verizon account; and that that would be achieved either by combining my two numbers (one previously Verizon, one previously AllTel) into a single account without making any changes to the plans OR terminating the old Verizon account.

Originally Verizon had required all AllTel customer to convert to a Verizon account to make ANY changes to their account, but they softened that policy when they found it was just as easy (and cheaper) for many AllTel customers to switch to another cellular provider than switch their plans to a current Verizon offering (I for instance would have to pay more for what I have and would lose six of my eleven “My Circle” number [that’s the numbers I can call airtime free regardless of the network they’re on] and would have to pay for text messaging and data dongle use [Internet access for my laptop]).

The customer service representative was certain he could combine the accounts, because they’d been told they could; however, after several tries (and munging the information on both accounts) he was unable to combine the accounts and “terminated” the service on my old Verizon phone.

Well, I just received the bill for the service — and interestingly enough I was billed an entire month… not just a few days.  Why?  Well simple, they didn’t terminate the account, they suspended it in order to let it age out to the end of the billing period — of course I had no service from Verizon… well, unless you consider billing a service.

How horrible unethical (and illegal)…

Needless to say I just got off the phone with a Verizon representative and gave him two options — put through a bill adjustment, or I’d file a charge back with my credit card company (don’t think there would have been much of a problem with that).  I’m not sure how he arrived at the “adjustment” figure — but then again, I don’t have an advanced degree in cellular telephone billing mathematics… I seem to be getting about half my billed amount back rather than three quarters — but when they generate another bill I’ll review what they’ve done.

The thing I really hate about having to put so much time and energy into “fixing” problems that companies like this cause (and I believe it’s intentional since they know most people won’t put any effort into fixing these fraudulent charges) is that it costs time (which is money).  So the question is, why isn’t there a law that requires companies to PAY consumers for their time when a consumer invests their time to resolve an issue that a company has caused through no fault of the consumer at say two times what the consumer normally is paid (or at least two times minimum wage).  And, of course, these companies should have to pay 21% interest on any excess charges they’ve made.

Originally posted 2009-08-08 01:00:16.

Desktop Search

Let me start by saying that Windows Desktop Search is a great addition to Windows; and while it might have taken four major releases to get it right, for the most part it works and it works well.

With Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 Desktop Search is installed and enabled by default; and it works in a federated mode (meaning that you can search from a client against a server via the network).

Desktop Search, however, seems to have some issues with junction points (specifically in the case I’ve seen — directory reparse, or directory links).

The search index service seems to do the right thing and not create duplicates enteries when both the parent of the link and the target are to be indexed (though I don’t know how you would control whether or not the indexer follows links in the case where the target wouldn’t normally be indexed).

The search client, though, does not seem to properly provide results when junction points are involved.

Let me illustrate by example.

Say we have directory tree D1 and directory tree D2 and both of those are set to be indexed.  If we do a search on D1 it produces the expected results.  If we do a search on D2 it produces the expected results.

Now say we create a junction point (link) to D2 from inside D1 called L1.  If we do a search on L1 we do not get the same results as if we’d searched in D2.

My expectation would be that the search was “smart” enough to do the search against D2 (taking the link into consideration) and then present the results with the path altered to reflect the link L1.

I consider this a deficiency; in fact it appears to me to be a major failing since the user of information shouldn’t be responsible for understanding all the underlying technology involved in organizing the information — he should just be able to obtain the results he expects.

It’s likely the client and the search server need some changes in order to accommodate this; and I would say that the indexer also needs a setting that would force it to follow links (though it shouldn’t store the same document information twice).

If this were a third party search solution running on Windows my expectation would be that file system constructs might not be handled properly; but last time I checked the same company wrote the search solution, the operating system, and the file system — again, perhaps more effort should be put into making things work right, rather than making things [needlessly] different.

Originally posted 2010-01-22 01:00:57.

Joomla Review

Joomla is one of the most popular open source Content Management Systems (CMSs) around.

The core of Joomla is open source and free to use; however, there are many add-ons and themes for Joomla that are commercial.  In fact, what I found is particularly with themes, almost none of the free themes are what I would consider “professional”.

Joomla has an extraordinarily steep learning curve.  You can do almost nothing with the CMS right after installing it without reading a fairly significant amount of documentation.

Even after reading the documentation, it is fairly involved to differentiate a Joomla site from every other Joomla site (which is why generally it’s so easy to identify a site that uses Joomla).  Don’t get me wrong, you can build a very customized site using Joomla — however, mere mortals might have to hire a consultant.

Joomla to me is unnecessarily complex technology looking for problems to solve in a way that creates job security.  Did I say that? LOL

If Joomla does what you want, and Joomla will create the look-and-feel that you like, and you can understand (and are comfortable with) the paradigm — then have at it.  It certainly works, and it’s very solid.  However, you should consider the total cost of Joomla before you dive head on into it (and while the core system is free, you may find that themes, modules, and consulting adds up quickly).

http://joomla.org/

Originally posted 2010-04-04 02:00:27.

AT&T + T-Mobile = Just Say NO

On 20 March 2011 AT&T made a public offer of $39 billion to Deutsche Telekom for the purchase of their cellular operations in the United States — better known by their brand name T-Mobile.

It’s anyone’s guess is they can get this acquisition through the regulators; but one thing is for sure with AT&T taking the low-cost national competitor out of the running we’re probably not going to see cellular prices come down — and we’re very likely to see them go up.

T-Mobile and AT&T both operate GSM 3G and plan to offer LTE 4G services; they chose different enhanced 3G data services and they own different spectrum (the frequency they operate on).

Why AT&T wants T-Mobile is simple — larger customer base, more spectrum; the translates into lower cost per customer, and the ability to grow.

And, this acquisition will make AT&T the largest cellular provider in the United States… close to 130 million subscribers, leaving Verizon Wireless a distant second — and Sprint so far back they can’t even see the race.

There will still be a number of regional carriers that operate GSM networks; but once AT&T can set roaming rates they won’t have much trouble killing off the competition.

AT&T has tried to sweeten this deal with it’s pledge to cover 95% of the population of the United States with it’s LTE 4G network… of course I have to point out that that will leave huge rural areas of the country with no 4G service (pretty much the same ares that currently have no 3G service).

My advice — just say NO — and let your elected representatives hear that from you over and over starting now.

Originally posted 2011-03-26 02:00:54.

My Droid 1 Does Gingerbread

I decided that the state of the Android 2.3.2 (Gingerbread) development for the Droid 1 had reached a point that I was happy enough with the stability to put it on the Droid 1 I use day-to-day; so I flashed in Peter Alfonso’s GPA12 build last night along with this overclocked kernel modification.

Without the overclocked kernel modification Gingerbread seems just a little sluggish on the Droid 1… usable, but far from snappy.  With the overclocked kernel modification it’s fine.

There are a lot of small feature improvements in Gingerbread; and I believe still the only official release of it is for the Nexus S (the Samsung Galaxy S class phone that’s Google branded and unlocked — I have one of those as well, but it’s a GSM phone, so I use it to travel abroad since my US carrier is Verizon Wireless — CDMA).

Keep in mind to use any custom ROM on your Android phone you do have to root the device… that’s generally pretty easy on most devices (particularly on the Droid 1).  There’s little to worry about, and you’re not likely to brick your phone as long as you follow the instructions (you might want to read over them a few times before trying, and if you’re not clear on something find another set of instructions).

Let me end by saying the Droid 1 is an incredible device — it’s well built, and a great value… while it may not have all the whizzy new features you find on the front line phones, until we get to second generation Android LTE handsets, I think I’ll be happy.

http://www.peteralfonso.com/

Originally posted 2011-02-22 02:00:45.

WordPress Trademark

The WordPress trademarked name and logo now (as of 9-Sep-2010)  officially belong to the non-profit WordPress Foundation.

Wordpress

http://wordpress.org/

http://wordpressfoundation.org/

Originally posted 2010-09-13 02:00:13.

Fair Use

The fact that the US Copyright Laws are in a major need of an overhaul isn’t something that only the masses of ordinary users understand; but to some extent John McCain is also painfully aware.

A little back ground.

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, John McCain launched a number of political advertisements on YouTube, many of those advertisements used copyrighted material (for which he had not obtained a use license for).  Those advertisements were pulled from YouTube to comply with US Copyright Law (not the McCain had much choice — YouTube was required to pull the advertisements under the DMCA — an act which McCain supported).

In mid October 2008 McCain suggested to YouTube in a letter that “VIPs” shouldn’t be bound by the same fair use rules as others.

What can you expect from an elitist… he only sees the problem for himself, not for the general public.  A man with eleven homes and thirteen cars and uncounted wealth simply doesn’t feel he can afford to pay for the use of copyrighted material when the use of that material has obvious and substantial personal gains for himself, but it’s fine that a minimum wage mother should have to pay for the use of an old tune in the background of her child’s birthday video.

When put like that it’s easy to understand why member of Congress have one of the best health care plans in the world (for life) but they don’t feel the average American should have much choice.

Or perhaps we should consider TSA treatment of the average American who is subjected to searches and harassment and humiliation while members of Congress bypass the entire process.

Wait I digress.

Maybe, though, on copyright, we’ll have a little more luck holding politicians to the exact same standards that you and I must be accountable to.

Something more akin to one of the results of the confirmation hearing for Judge Robert Bork.  It resulted in the passage of the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (because our member of Congress were afraid their video rental records might be revealed to the public — not because they were worried about you and me).

There are permitted uses of copyright material which do not require any license payments; it may not be required to completely scrape the existing laws; all we may well need is the statement added that when an individual is not likely to substantially profit through the use of the material, it is covered under fair use.

US Copyright Office – Fair Use

Originally posted 2010-01-20 01:00:37.