Entries Tagged as 'Cellular'

Smart Phones

If you’re looking for a smart phone, you’ve got lots of great choices now.

Whether you’re interested in an Android based phone, a Windows Mobile 6.5 based phone, or holding out for a Windows Mobile 7 based phone you really want to take a look at HTC.

I believe HTC phones are available on all the major US carries, and most all the smaller regional carriers (your selection might vary).  Internationally you can purchase an unlocked GSM version — and several of the HTC handsets are multi-band, multi-format.

HTC innovated the smart phone interface; and the worlds most popular smart phone (the Apple iPhone) appears to have “leveraged” off the work HTC did years before.  What, you thought Apple created that gesture based user interface all by themselves?

HTC built the first Android based phone; HTC released the first Windows Mobile 6.5 phone (and supplied upgrades for a number of Windows Mobile 6.0 phones); and it looks like HTC will release the first Windows 7 phone (there are already rumors).

Other than the Motorola Droid (which HTC already had shipped a similar phone) HTC phones are the “hot ticket”.

I have an older HTC phone — the 6850, aka Touch Pro — and I love it.  It’s been upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.5 and works well.

A smart phone provides me with the ability to keep my contacts synchronized (without having to attach my phone to my computer), get quick answers on to questions on the Internet, be alerted to email (or read and send email for that matter), use mapping software (or act as a full blown GPS since I have Garmin loaded as well), check fuel prices, check the weather, and tether my laptop when I can’t get a free WiFi signal.  I guess I could use my phone for a multimedia player (video and audio); but that’s not a requirement for me (but you could — and I’ve played with streaming audio and video to my phone, so I wouldn’t be limited by the 8GB flash card I added to it).

Today smart phones are a viable solution for people who want more than just voice communications in their pocket, and don’t want to carry multiple devices.  Over a decade ago my friends and I “dreamed” of a convergence device that would give us PDA, data, and cellular all in one — today that dream is a reality.

Originally posted 2010-01-14 01:00:20.


Tomorrow Apple releases it’s newest iPhone (it’s a 4G model, so it won’t be on AT&T — and is rumored to be on Verizon) and AT&T discontinues offering an unlimited data plan.

Yep — no more $30 unlimited smart phone data plan from AT&T…

While AT&T says they will decrease pricing for light users what’s likely to happen is that many users will exceed their data plan allowances and end up paying more than they used to.  Heavy users will probably be switching carriers.

Currently AT&T says that 98% of it’s customers use less than 2GB per month of data; I find that a little hard to believe, but I guess if they attract predominately “showcase” customers who don’t really have any reason to have a smart phone other than status — sure… but if that’s true, why would they have all the massive problems with over-subscription that they have and feel compelled to make a change?

And if iPhone users jump from AT&T they’re likely to jump to the 4G carrier that offers the newest iPhone — of course, they’ll probably need to do it soon, Verizon is also considering getting rid of their unlimited data plans — of the big three only Sprint has announced that they are not considering moving away from their unlimited offerings.

Seems fundamentally wrong to me when it appears that more and more companies offer unlimited voice services that companies would start pay-as-you-go data services (when they have traditionally been unlimited).

Oh well, yet another reason to hate your cellular carrier…

Originally posted 2010-06-06 02:00:53.

I’m a valuable Verizon Wireless customer…

Or so says an email an email I got from them last week asking me to take a survey on why I hadn’t taken advantage of my ability to upgrade my phone.

When the email came in I was on the phone talking to one of my friends; and besides, email is intended to be dealt with when it’s convenient…

About two hours after the email came in, things settled down and I had some time while I was waiting on the computer to finish a backup — so I clicked the survey link.

To which I got a web browser window (that adjusted down the size of my preferred browsing window) to tell me that the survey had been closed.

WOW — I’m glad I’m a “valuable” customer, I would hate to think how “un-valuable” customers would be treated.

Let’s see…

First, I never authorized Verizon to send me any type of email other than email specifically dealing with my account (a survey in no way deals with my account — and is clearly a marketing effort), so this email would be classified as SPAM (that’s UCE – Unsolicited Commercial Email).

Second, any legitimate survey sent out would certainly have more than a two hour response time; after all, it’s not like they would know I was anywhere near the computer.

Third, I’ve already told Verizon I’m not interested in a “free” phone since I’m not interested in a new two year contract.  And frankly there should be laws against calling something free when it’s got all kinds of strings attached.

Fourth, Verizon certainly doesn’t need to send me a survey to know how I feel about them — I consider them a crappy company like all cellular providers.  And obviously, Verizon know it’s a crappy company that is afraid it couldn’t keep customers without resorting to tricking and coercing them into long contracts by selling them equipment which is locked and crippled.

I say it’s time for an open wireless system with open handsets — where like the wire line market, wireless providers cannot force you to purchase a device from them, and they have to compete without all these tricks and fine print.

Certainly Verizon (like other cellular companies) have worked very hard to make sure that I as a customer will look out for my interests, and jump to any provider that offers me reasonable service at a reasonable price.

Customer loyalty?  Well, that’s about as rare as customer service in the cellular industry!

Verizon Wireless

NOTE: Verizon Wireless sent out a new survey email the next evening (even after I explicitly “unsubscribed” from the email list used to send the original one) with “CORRECTED LINK” added to the subject. Once again I got the message:

This survey link is no longer valid. Thank you for your time and consideration in trying to complete this survey.

Originally posted 2010-07-25 02:00:31.

Smart Phones

I have a great deal of respect for what Apple’s ability to re-invent itself and market form (over function) to the masses… and I’ve underscored many times that *nix based operating systems will likely never gain critical mass until they have a cohesive environment for the user (as Apple has done with it’s Unix based OS-X).

But respect doesn’t mean I’m going to “drink the Kool-Aid” and believe everything Steve Jobs tells me.

Clearly Jobs does an exceptional job creating devices with glitter and glitch and making the gullible believe that Apple pioneered the technology and that consumers simply cannot get along without purchasing it (and purchasing a new upgrade every time a new bell or whistle is added).

The bottom line is Apple creates nothing… Apple puts a shinny new coat of paint on existing technology, brands it, markets it, and calls it their own.

Apple isn’t driven by innovation, Apple is driven by greed — almost makes you wonder what inadequacies Steve Jobs is trying to compensate for.

And certainly (as I’ve posted) the iPhone is one of Apple’s greatest charades!

Serious smart phone users wouldn’t consider an iPhone as anything more than eye candy; both Windows Mobile and Android devices are far better choices for a serious user.

The next time you walk down the street and see someone sporting an iPhone don’t laugh too loud you might give them a complex — I fear most iPhone users are like Steve Jobs, and feel a little inadequate.

Originally posted 2010-06-14 02:00:25.

Verizon Wireless Features

# Features

#MIN (#646) – Check current month’s unbilled airtime usage.

#BAL (#225) – Check your current account balance.

#DATA (#3282) – Check your current monthly usage of TXT, PIX and FLIX Messaging

#PMT (#768) – Make a payment


* Features

*228 – Over-the-air Program / PRL (roaming) update

*611 – Customer service

*70 – Cancel Call Waiting (during call) – *71-123-345-6789

*71 – No Answer/Busy Forward – *71-123-345-6789

*72 – Always Forward – *72-123-345-6789

*73 – Cancel Forward


I’ll try to update this list as I find more.

Originally posted 2011-08-11 11:00:34.

Google Voice(mail)

I’ve already made a few posts that tell you how you can use Google Voice to make and receive unlimited free calls (provided your carrier allows you to specify at least one telephone number that’s air-time free), but here’s a way you can use an unlimited data plan to reduce your air-time fees for retrieving voice mail and totally eliminate any carrier charges for “visual voice mail”.

Verizon charges nothing for “Basic Voice Mail” per month; but they will charge you air time each and every time you call your own voice mail (evening and weekends are air time free on some plans, but you cannot put your own number in the air-time free call list [current called “Friends & Family”, it used to be called “My Circle” before the AllTel acquisition).

Verizon charges $1.99 for “Premium Voice Mail” .  You can read up on the features they’ll rape you for.

Verizon charges $2.99 for “Visual Voice Mail”.  Again you can read up on the features they’ll rape you for.

Or… you can just setup your Google Voice account to be your voice mail — and then you’ll essentially get all the feature Verizon would love to charge you extra for; plus be able to call your voice mail for free (assuming you have put your Google Voice number in your “Friend & Famly” list) or just read the SMS and/or email message that contains the voice mail transcription or play the voice mail over your unlimited data connection.

There are actually instructions on Google Voice for setting up Google Voice mail as your primary voice mail on your carrier (they will tell you for most any carrier), so this doesn’t only work for Verizon, this will work for pretty much any carrier…

Why throw money away?

While I might have reservations about letting Google have access to more and more of my information, I sort of lump them in the category that the people you don’t want to have access to your information had it before you did…

Anyway, Google Voice mail (and Google Voice) will work with any cellular phone (and actually you can use this strategy with landlines as well).

Originally posted 2010-10-17 02:00:07.

Galaxy Nexus

I got a new handset today… a Google (Samsung) Galaxy Nexus.

My Motorola Droid (A855 — the original one) was getting a little dated and running way too slow for me.

I was originally thinking about the Motorola Droid 4, and held out until that was released to make up my mind (I really liked the idea of a physical keyboard); but when I found that Motorola pulled GSM support (added in the Droid 2 Global, and kept in the Droid 3) as well as used a crappy display (compared to the Droid Razr — which the Droid 4 is basically a Droid Razr with a keyboard) I decide it just wouldn’t satisfy me.

I considered switching from Verizon to a pre-paid GSM plan and getting the Galaxy Nexus GSM model, but one of my Google friends had gotten the Verizon CDMA model from Google and offered to give it to me (I guess I can consider it a birthday present — and again, THANK YOU very much), so I decide to go ahead and try it.

I’d already confirmed with Verizon that my plan (unlimited data) wouldn’t require any changes to support an LTE handset (woot)… so when the phone arrived today I called up and activated the handset and SIM.

The handset has a stunning display… there’s just no way to describe it without seeing it, the 3.65″ Super AMOLED curved display is wonderful.  And of course with a 1.2 GHz dual core processor and Ice Cream Sandwitch (ICS – Android 4.0) it’s about as “new” a handset as you can get.

Technically (by the map) Verizon doesn’t have LTE at my home, but outside I do get a weak LTE signal (and let me tell you, a weak LTE/4G signal is way faster than a good CMDA/3G signal)… it’s not really an issue that I don’t get LTE at home, just slightly West of here there’s stable LTE coverage, and hopefully Verizon will continue their 4G build out in this area.

Next task will be to root the phone so that I have unfettered access the power of Android 4.0.

Google Galaxy Nexus

Originally posted 2012-04-13 02:00:35.

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.


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:
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


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