Entries Tagged as 'Communications'

Sprint 4G Surcharge

So I was looking at Sprint devices, plans and coverage — they have the Samsung Galaxy S 4G handset, and their model includes a slider qwerty keyboard (I really like keyboards on smart phones)… of course we’re talking about Sprint’s network, which has marginal service in this area and no 4G within about 300 miles (and likely no 4G for a very long time any where around here) but the interesting thing is they still insist on charging a $10 4G surcharge for plans on 4G phones even when the phone is used in 3G service areas…

Personally I feel that if a cellular company is going to charge me a surcharge for enhanced speed (and features) that I should be getting those features…

I don’t think I’d be too keen on Sprint for anyone of a number of reasons…

Let’s see, first and foremost would be a horrible experience with Sprint and Sprint’s billing practices when they first started.  And their CEO can keep apologizing about it, but the bottom line is I wouldn’t tend to try Sprint unless they offered me a deal that was just incredible (and charging me for a service I’m likely never to get isn’t a way to make me feel like it’s a deal I can’t refuse).

Then there would be the fact that their service and coverage here is abysmal — even worse than AT&T!!!  In fact, their service is so spotty they actually caution you about it on their web site when you go to browse phones and plans.

Then, they choose WiMax rather than LTE (like the rest of the world).  Though since they’re depending on Clearwire for WiMax services and Clearwire has been showing more and more interest in LTE (and ditching WiMax — which probably doesn’t make Intel happy) who know if Sprint will actually really keep rolling out WiMax or shift to LTE.

Anyway; I like the Galaxy S… but I’m holding out for HTC to make a high end Android phone with a slider and I’d prefer it to be a CDMA/GSM/LTE handset.

Originally posted 2010-10-15 02:00:34.

1000+

Woo-woo…

Over one thousand posts — over two thousands hits per day — a ranking just over two million…

I would have never dreamed my BLOG would have reach such heights in under two years.

Honestly, though, it’s not the stats that make me do it — it’s the fact that I enjoy sharing my interests and views on what ever crosses my mind (I know — there are those of you who think I lost my mind… but trust me, I have it on a tight leash).

Originally posted 2010-11-30 02:00:33.

HTC Touch Pro – Update

Just a quick update on my HTC Touch Pro.

I’ve updated to the latest version of MightyROM, mainly because it includes Windows Mobile 6.5 and a few fixes that seemed like it might be significant.

Works great; and Windows Mobile 6.5 is probably worth upgrading to if you can get it for your phone at no cost, but I certainly wouldn’t be willing to pay for it.

Originally posted 2009-07-07 01:00:33.

Grip of Death

The proverbial feces has hit the proverbial fan in iPhone 4 “antenna-gate”…

Personally I think it’s sad the way Apple CEO Steve Jobs treats his customer’s (and the world) with so little respect.

Jobs is now telling the world that all phones suffer from the same problems that plague the iPhone 4, and he’s showing numbers to prove it.  Now, Job’s hasn’t commissioned a large study performed by an independent testing firm; he’s not using numbers published by each phone’s manufacturer; he’s not basing his claims on customer complaints; he’s not performing tests of large statistically sound sample sets of handsets… he’s just (as usual) running off at the mouth and trying to tell his customers what they should be thinking and what they should be buying.

Well, I certainly don’t see any appreciable difference in my signal strength dependent on how I hold my HTC smart phone… in fact, I didn’t see any problem with the previous two HTC handsets I had either — so maybe Mr Jobs needs to consider the possibility that designing a phone based on aesthetics rather than performance might be the root of his problem; and that maybe some of his customers want more than just a fashion accessory or a “me-to” statement.  It’s funny that I really couldn’t find any Apple marketing material that was centric on signal performance of the iPhone 4 — of course, since Apple still only offers the iPhone on AT&T it might just be an assumption that anyone who buys an iPhone really doesn’t consider reception or network performance to be a real concern (remember, AT&T’s network has been plagued with over subscription, and their solution was to stop offering unlimited data plans).

The other absolutely ridiculous thing about Job’s is he can’t seem to get his story consistent.  I mean, is it a hardware design flaw correctable by a rubber phone bumper (which will increase the size of the iPhone), is it a software glitch that your programs will resolve (by what — removing the call to “if (grip-of-death) then drop-call” — or just changing the signal display so it’s less of a indication of reality than it is now), or is it just something that any and all smart phone users have to live with (why aren’t there lots of complaints from owners of other models, brands — and why didn’t previous iPhones suffer from this problem).

The really interesting thing is that “antenna-gate” has grown from a bit of grumbling by tech-savvy users online, to getting the notice of online tech magazines, to crossing over into mainline media, to now causing a stir by at least one elected official.

HTC, Samsung, and Research In Motion (RIM) have all categorically stated that the problems that the iPhone 4 are displaying are not an endemic problem with other smart phones in the market place.  And Consumer Reports stated that it couldn’t recommend consumers purchase the iPhone 4 (but their reports did indicate that a rubber bumper, or even a piece of tape placed over the “gap” between antenna sections would greatly resolve the issues).

And while Job’s might be trying to put any spin he can on this to make other smart phone vendors look bad — in the UK, Samsung is providing disgruntled iPhone 4 users with free Galaxy S Android based handsets (all they need to is post their displeasure with the iPhone, contact Samsung, and the next day they’ll have a Galaxy S handset).

My personal belief on this is that Apple is running scared.

They know that they’ve shipped over three million handsets that have a manufacturing defect; and that they realize that forcing individuals to accept a material different product than they purchased is going to end up backfiring.  I mean, let’s face it — iPhone 4 users purchases an iPhone 4, not an iPhone 4 with a rubber bumper around it (changing the size and aesthetics).

Apple’s based in Cupertino California — California is one of the states with a lemon law which clearly states that if the manufacturer is unable to fix the problem in three tries, they have to provide a full refund for the item.  And materially changing the size and appearance is probably not something they can choose to do… so I’m really surprised that the legal beagles aren’t initiating litigation against Apple for recovery of actual, consequential, and punitive damages.

But this isn’t a concern to me — since I’d never purchase a phone without a keyboard; so I’ll never have an iPhone — and I don’t think anyone who’s serious about a communications device would ever purchase one either.


Senator Schumer’s letter to Steve Jobs (at Apple):

July 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Jobs,

I write to express concern regarding the reception problem with the Apple iPhone 4. While I commend Apple’s innovative approach to mobile technology and appreciate its service to millions of iPhone users nationwide, I believe it is incumbent upon Apple to address this flaw in a transparent manner. According to Consumer Reports’ review, released Monday on its Web site, the iPhone 4’s signal-strength problem is a hardwire glitch triggered by gripping the device in a particular manner. This finding, according to Consumer Reports, “call[s] into question” Apple’s recent claim that the problem is “largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software.” Consumer Reports declined to recommend the iPhone 4 because of this hardware design flaw.

Given the discrepancy between Consumer Reports’ explanation of the reception problem and the explanation provided by Apple in its July 2 letter to customers, I am concerned that the nearly 2 million purchasers of the iPhone 4 may not have complete information about the quality of the product they have purchased. The burden for consumers caused by this glitch, combined with the confusion over its cause and how it will be fixed, has the potential to undermine the many benefits of this innovative device. To address this concern, I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4 customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it free-of-charge. The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called “death grip” malfunction–such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it–seem to be insufficient. These proposed solutions would unfairly place the burden on consumers for resolving a problem they were not aware of when they purchased their phones.

I also encourage Apple to keep its promise to provide free software updates so that bars displayed accurately reflect signal strength; I further urge Apple to issue a written explanation of the formula it uses to calculate bar strength, so that consumers can once again trust the product that they have invested in.

I look forward to Apple’s swift action on this matter, and once again laud Apple for its innovative efforts and service to millions of Americans.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

Originally posted 2010-07-31 02:00:45.

Maybe…

 Maybe, just maybe I’ve found a clue why BitTorrent can’t make any money — and here’s a good example from a web page on their site.

http://www.bittorrent.com/company/

Company Overview
BitTorrent is the global standard for delivering high-quality files over the Internet. With an installed base of over 160 million clients worldwide, BitTorrent technology has turned conventional distribution economics on its head. The more popular a large video, audio or software file, the faster and cheaper it can be transferred with BitTorrent. The result is a better digital entertainment experience for everyone.

With tens of thousands of new users every day, BitTorrent has three lines of business:

BitTorrent DNA
BitTorrent DNA is a disruptively effective content delivery technology. It significantly reduces bandwidth costs for popular files while dramatically improving the performance and scalability of websites. BitTorrent DNA enables websites to seamlessly add the speed and efficiency of patented BitTorrent technology to their current content delivery infrastructure, requiring no changes to their current Content Delivery Network (CDN) or hardware in the origin infrastructure. Businesses can benefit from the efficiencies of peer-assisted content delivery while improving the end-user experience.

BitTorrent Device Partners
The BitTorrent Device Partners is a program designed to meet the various needs and depth of technology that hardware and software companies require to create next-generation Internet-enabled consumer devices. The BitTorrent Device Partners includes a Software Development Kit (SDK) for consumer electronics manufacturers who are creating new devices for the home, office or on the move. The BitTorrent Certified program is another offering which ensures compatibility between CE products and the BitTorrent ecosystem of services, products and content. Compatible devices are also eligible for the BitTorrent Certified logo endorsement, which allows hardware manufacturers to leverage the BitTorrent brand for packaging and promotional materials.

For more information about BitTorrent products and services, please contact us. 

They indicate BitTorrent has three lines of business, yet they only list two.  Is the third line kept super secret?  Are they so clueless they can’t count?  Do they not know how to proof read?  Do they not know how to revise their web page?  Do they expect everyone to contact them to get the third business line?  Are they still “thinking” about what the third (profitable) business line might be?

Common guys, just admit that you don’t have a head for business — it doesn’t matter what technology you buy (since you obviously can’t seem to continue to innovate on your own), you’re just never going to make any real money, you’re just going to burn venture capital as you slowly go out of business.

Originally posted 2008-12-09 12:00:02.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away

Today Verizon ships the latest edition in the Motorola Droid empire — the R2-D2; a skinned Droid 2 in a box that had to pay it’s share of licensing to George Lucas.

The only “hardware” differences between the R2-D2 and the 2 are purely cosmetic — there’s a jumble of software on the R2-D2 to appeal to the techno-geek (all of which will likely be available one way or another for virtually any Android phone fairly soon after the R2-D2 ships).

There’s a $50 premium for the R2-D2 over the Droid 2; and rumors are that the Droid 2 will be discontinued in favor of a newer model with a faster processor and GSM/Worldphone support.

If you’ve got the extra cash, and just can’t satisfy your need for gadgets any other way — go on, splurge — after all, it’s the two year contract that will end up being the gift that keeps on giving.

Droid R2-D2

Originally posted 2010-09-30 01:30:37.

Free EMail…

Right LOL

Most of you probably think that the free email provider you’re using makes money by showing you those annoying advertisements when you access you email via their web-mail interface.

Have you ever stopped to think about how they could possibly make money when they allow you to use a POP3 or IMAP4 client to read your email?

Well, the bottom line is sure they make some money by showing you those advertisements; but in this day and age almost every single email provider actually uses the content of your inbox to target you and sell demographic information.

While they might not be “reading” your email line-by-line; they are certainly indexing your email’s content — and they’re selling information about what you (aggregated of course) are talking about to anyone who will pay for it… and of course it’s long be rumored that some of them might have agreements with “men in black” to provide them more details about email (and searches) that might be consider a threat to national security.

Read the Terms of Service (TOS) for your “free” email provider very carefully — you’re going to be surprised what you’ve authorized them to do, and how little privacy you really have (remember some of the cable companies and DSL providers actually have you using one of those “big name” email providers as well — so your “for-pay” email account might be suspect as well).

My advice…

If you care about your privacy, pay a little money with an email provider that doesn’t harvest your personal (and confidential) information and sell it off to everyone with a little pocket change.

Originally posted 2009-08-19 01:00:36.

Linux – Desktop Search

A while ago I published a post on Desktop Search on Linux (specifically Ubuntu).  I was far from happy with my conclusions and I felt I needed to re-evaluate all the options to see which would really perform the most accurate search against my information.

Primarily my information consists of Microsoft Office documents, Open Office documents, pictures (JPEG, as well as Canon RAW and Nikon RAW), web pages, archives, and email (stored as RFC822/RFC2822 compliant files with an eml extension).

My test metrics would be to take a handful of search terms which I new existed in various types of documents, and check the results (I actually used Microsoft Windows Search 4.0 to prepare a complete list of documents that matched the query — since I knew it worked as expected).

The search engines I tested were:

I was able to install, configure, and launch each of the applications.  Actually none of them were really that difficult to install and configure; but all of them required searching through documentation and third party sites — I’d say poor documentation is just something you have to get used to.

Beagle, Google, Tracker, Pinot, and Recoll all failed to find all the documents of interest… none of them properly indexed the email files — most of the failed to handle plain text files; that didn’t leave a very high bar to pick a winner.

Queries on Strigi actually provided every hit that the same query provided on Windows Search… though I have to say Windows Search was easier to setup and use.

I tried the Neopomuk (KDE) interface for Strigi — though it just didn’t seem to work as well as strigiclient did… and certainly strigiclient was pretty much at the top of the list for butt-ugly, user-hostile, un-intuitive applications I’d ever seen.

After all of the time I’ve spent on desktop search for Linux I’ve decided all of the search solutions are jokes.  None of them are well thought out, none of them are well executed, and most of them out right don’t work.

Like most Linux projects, more energy needs to be focused on working out a framework for search than everyone going off half-cocked and creating a new search paradigm.

The right model is…

A single multi-threaded indexer running in the background indexing files according to a system wide policy aggregated with user policies (settable by each user on directories they own) along with the access privileges.

A search API that takes the user/group and query to provide results for items that the user has (read) access to.

The indexer should be designed to use plug-in modules to handle particular file types (mapped both by file extension, and by file content).

The index should also be designed to use plug-in modules for walking a file system and receiving file system change events (that allows the framework to adapt as the Linux kernel changes — and would support remote indexing as well).

Additionally, the index/search should be designed with distributed queries in mind (often you want to search many servers, desktops, and web locations simultaneously).

Then it becomes a simple matter for developers to write new/better indexer plug-ins; and better search interfaces.

I’ve pointed out in a number of recent posts that you can effective use Linux as a server platform in your business; however, it seems that if search is a requirement you might want to consider ponying up the money for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and enjoy seamless search (that works) between your Windows Vista / Windows 7 Desktops and Windows Server.

REFERENCES:

Ubuntu – Desktop Search

Originally posted 2010-07-16 02:00:19.

Cricket Wireless

The continuing saga of trying to locate the best value cellular wireless plan for me has a new chapter…

About two months ago I started to make the switch to Cricket Wireless (you can use the link on the sidebar to get information directly from their site).

While I didn’t think Straight Talk (via AT&T) was expensive, it seemed like lowering my cost a little (the plan rates include taxes on Cricket) and going with a “MVNO” that was actually owned by AT&T would in the end be a better idea… and since my $50 promo card arrived today I figured it was time to share what I’ve found.

If you take advantage of the BYOD program, Cricket (like AT&T) will push out APN settings to your handset, making the transition fairly seamless (NOTE: if you move an activated SIM card to another device there is no way to have Cricket re-push the APN settings, so you’re going to end up entering them by hand… it would be nice if they at least stored the APN on the SIM).

If you’re used to AT&T (particularly pre-paid or an MVNO — remember, there’s no roaming), then your service will be just the same… and your LTE speeds will likely be extremely good (they’ll be the same as they were before).

Also, one of the huge advantages of Cricket over Straight Talk – they have real customer service, who can actually provide service.

Now, a few hints about switching.

First, definitely use my link (I get a referral bonus for you); but if you’re doing two lines, then use yourself to refer your second line.

Second, setup each line on a separate account initially and choose the $50/month or better plan with auto-pay… that will give you $5 off the second month, and it will give you your third month free (promos might change).

Third, order the SIM or handset online and avoid the $25.00 activation fee a local Cricket reseller is going to charge you.

Fourth, once you have your free month, then you might be able to combine lines together for more savings.  NOTE: the first two lines with auto-pay or multi-line discount are the same — so little reason to combine them unless you have at least three lines (the auto-pay and multi-line discounts don’t stack).


If you’re porting your number, go ahead and order your new SIM and turn off your automatic payment with Straight Talk; your number port is “pre-positioned”, so when you pop your SIM in and activate your new Cricket service online the number will port instantly, and your APN will push out within half an hour.

Originally posted 2015-05-02 12:00:21.

AT&T U-Verse – Internet

AT&T offers three separate services through their U-Verse branded advance communications offering.  This post will deal with high speed internet.

Essentially AT&T U-Verse internet is DSL broadband — though at much higher rates that you’re likely used to… the particulars of the speed offering depends on the package you pay for.

  • Max Turbo – Up to 24 Mbps downstream Starting at $65/month
  • Max Plus – Up to 18.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $55/month
  • Max – Up to 12.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $45/month
  • Elite – Up to 6.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $43/month
  • Pro – Up to 3.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $38/month

Upstream bandwidth increases with downstream, and is generally much more generous than AT&T’s older ADSL plans; though the pricing of the lower bandwidth U-Verse services aren’t as attractive as the older AT&T ADSL plans (particularly with the promotions you can probably still get for the older ADSL combined with voice or even “naked” DSL plans)..

Not shown on their ordering information is a 30 Mbps downstream plan to be offered later this Summer that will ahve a 5 Mbps upstream.

Remember from my earlier post — you must use the AT&T residential gateway.  The gateway is a descent piece of consumer technology, though I’m not sure it’s a very high performance internet router.

My tests of it show that it’s definitely capable of sustaining the advertised bandwidth of your connection (and you really get the bandwidth your order); however, my tests also show that the router isn’t capable of sustaining a large number of simultaneous connections without rather dramatic performance degradation.

Which mean in plan old English — if you’re going to do Peer-To-Peer file sharing, the AT&T residential gateway will not be your friend… you’re probably going to end up having to reset it every day or two to keep it running well (I’ve noted that simply shutting down the connections doesn’t seem to help — but that could be that other P2P nodes are continuing to bombard your IP address).

For most people P2P isn’t a requirement, and certainly most people won’t be doing P2P much — and if they do, they certainly understand how to discontinue P2P services and reset the connection (remember it affects voice and video when you reset) when they need high speed connectivity for something else.

My gut tells me that the equipment is operating as designed — and intended to enforce a “fair use” policy by penalizing individuals who try and do P2P (after all — unlimited really doesn’t mean as much as you want, it means as much as your provider is willing to let you have).

And my gut feeling about the router operating as designed is further re-enforced by the fact that a great deal of though has been put into the design of the software and interface for the router… it will do pretty much anything any use will need for it to do (don’t think along the lines of a Cisco router with IOS, think along the lines of a prosumer / SOHO router).

Overall, my feelings are that the AT&T U-Verse Internet is a good deal, that it performs well, and at the high speed levels (well, not at the highest — I think there you’re getting gouged) it’s a reasonably fair price, and a very solid technology.

U-Verse Internet is really all I wanted from AT&T; and it’s the one service I will keep.

Originally posted 2010-05-17 02:00:38.