Entries Tagged as 'Cellular'

SyncMate – Expert Edition

Several weeks ago I took a look at the free edition of SyncMate, and I had some fairly good things to say about it.  In fact, I was so impressed with it that I started using the free edition to synchronize my Windows Mobile device.

Eltima Software contacted me and offered me a license for the expert edition to enable to me more fully explore the capabilities of it (and to write a more in depth post about it).

I agreed, and here’s what I found…

I decided that this would be a fairly comprehensive test; it would involve a number of different operating systems, and synchronization environments.

The operating systems I tested were:

OS-X 10.6.1 (32 & 64 bit)

Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit)

Windows Vista (32 & 64 bit)

Windows 2003

Windows XP

Windows Mobile 6.5 (HTC Touch Pro 2 – XV6875)

Windows Mobile 5.1 (MotoQ)

Outlook Look 2003, 2007, 2010 on the PC

Entourage 2008 on the Mac

Windows Contact / Windows Calendar (on Vista and Windows 7)

Live Contacts / Live Calendar (on Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows Vista, and Windows 7)

FireFox (Windows)

Safari (Windows and OS-X)

Additionally I took a quick look at iTunes and iPhoto (even though I don’t use either of those normally); and I took a quick look at Google synchronization (including synchronizing to an Android handset).

It’s a long list, and I assure you that the coverage of the tests were not exhaustive — but rather concentrated on suites of versions that would be most commonly found together (though I have a reasonably good feeling that unless there were some real flukes, the sample of tests I performed are probably indicative of all combinations).

My first test was to synchronize my Mac Book Pro with my Mac Pro… I’ve never really put any effort into making sure that the contacts and such agreed between the two, so I install unlocked the free version of SyncMate I’d installed on both and proceeded to enable all the plug-ins.  After fighting with both iPhoto and iTune (you wouldn’t need to worry about that if you actually used them they would have already been setup and ready to sync). the little spinners started and in just a few minutes I had everything on both machines (which also included all the calendar and contact information I’d gotten from my smart phone to start with) in sync.

I went ahead and disabled iPhoto and iTune for the rest of my tests — I’d seen it work, and certainly synchronizing those would easily be covered with the folder synchronization (which was a more generic test — but of course it was nice that the iTunes/iPhoto sync could be enabled with a simple click).

I decided next to see what the various versions of Windows and Office Suites would do… so I brought up virtual machines using various OS images and installed versions of Office in them.  I setup the Windows component of SyncMate and then decide to just do everything at once — so I added all the machines to SyncMate on the Mac Pro and hit the sync button.

It took a few minutes, but then on every machine in either (or both) the Windows Contacts and the Outlook Contacts there was a full copy of my contacts; as well as files I’d put in a test folder.

Things were going very well, so now I turned to a couple Windows Mobile devices.

Both were easy to setup via USB, and both synchronized perfectly (frankly I was a little surprised when the MotoQ running Mobile 5.1 worked as well as it did).  So then I tried WiFi sync on the XV6875 — worked just fine (there’s a nice feature of the SyncMate driver on the WinMo device that will tell you the IP and name of the device if you need).  Next was Bluetooth synchronization… and unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that on either device — during setting up the connection I kept getting “Uncompatible Device” (a newer version of SyncMate has corrected the awkward english construction; but unfortunately I still cannot use Bluetooth synchronization with either my XV6875 or Q), so I’m not exactly sure what the problem is, but I would consider Bluetooth synchronization more convenient than WIFi — though I generally use USB since I can charge the device as well.

Then I decided to try a few more scenarios from the SyncMate feature list.

Folder synchronization with a USB flash drive worked perfectly.  And from that I’d be fairly confident that iTunes/iPhoto/folders could be synchronized to any USB (disk) device.

Google synchronization worked just as documented; and synchronizing an Android handset with Google just happens (all you have to do is enter you account information into the handset and enable synchronization).

Here a few comments on individual features…

Call history and the SMS manager are both very nice features of the expert edition… I’m not sure it’s sufficient motivation to pay for an upgrade, but it certainly is a sweet feature.

Mounting a Window mobile phone as a USB disk is a feature that didn’t make much sense to me; my XV6875 has the ability to select whether or not it makes an ActiveSync style or USB drive connection when you connect it; though on an older device like my MotoQ it does let you see the file system on the Mac much as you would on a Windows desktop.

Time synchronization is another feature that just doesn’t make sense; all devices get synchronized to the network (and thus to atomic clocks) so I see little value (and a number of reasons not to) synchronize them to each other and defeat the mechanisms already in place (if this were a camera, not a cellular phone I’d consider this a plus — but I’m going to say this feature should be removed; and certainly not used).

As noted before, synchronization to Windows Live isn’t support (and since this is a Mac centric product I don’t think that should come as a surprise — but, of course, some people who have Windows Mobile phones may use some of the Live services).

One thing I haven’t really covered to this point is how you setup a sync partner in SyncMate; and I guess I haven’t focused on it because it’s fairly easy, and definitely straight forward.  It isn’t “automatic” (and I actually consider that a plus — I absolutely hate ActiveSync trying take ownership of a device I just want to attach once).  A nice touch to the way you add a partner is that you can both name it, and include an image for it (though it might be a little nicer if Eltima included more stock images with SyncMate, or created a web interface to find images of handsets — but I just downloaded one of each of my phones and then used that).

The number one quality of SyncMate is that it works — and by far and large it works as advertised.  In this round of tests I didn’t have any instability in the version of the Windows sync driver I installed (unlike in the previous tests where I did have some issues with the Windows sync driver crashing).

One feature I felt might be interesting for Eltima to add would be a “mesh” type synchronization — really all they’d need to do is have an ability to synchronize the partnerships between Mac hosts (ie — all the synchronization partnerships I entered on my Mac Pro could instantly appear on my Mac Book Pro the next time the two machines sync’d — and then conflicts would just be handled throughout the mesh on a peer-by-peer basis just as they are now).

As I’ve stated previously I find the price a little steep — but you and your wallet will have to decide for yourself…  If you like the free version, and have needs for some of the additional plug-ins; I suspect you’ll be favorably impressed by what you get once you purchase a license.

Eltima Software
SyncMate

Originally posted 2010-07-26 18:04:01.

MeeGo

Nokia has announced a launch of the MeeGo (N8) smart phone by the end of Q3 2010… and they stated that it will not be using Android, nor will they be shipping a tablet any time soon.

Nokia, once a dominant force in the cellular handset market, has seen it’s profits eaten away by Apple, HTC, and Motorola…

Here’s a bullet list summary…

  • On the N8: The N8 is more of a high to mid-range smartphone. It will be launched before the end of Q3. It will be available in the US, and carrier partnerships will be announced at a later date.
  • On MeeGo: The first MeeGo phone will be announced before the end of the year and will be a “milestone product” for the company. Nokia’s done a lot of work on the interface and done away with a lot of the “legacy” of Symbian.
  • On Android: Nokia has no plans to use Android on its smartphones. End of story.
  • On tablets / larger phones: The company’s made “no decisions” on entering the market. Savander seems to think larger screened smartphones are awkward.
  • On netbooks: The Booklet 3G was priced a bit high, but they are still in the market.
  • On 4G: Nokia has no plans to produce WiMax devices, but LTE will be a big focus.

One thing is certain, if Nokia doesn’t re-capture a larger part of the smart phone market soon, they may see the window of opportunity closing; and one has to ask the question why not capitalize off the Android hype?

Originally posted 2010-08-14 02:00:05.

Mint Mobile

If you’re looking for a new cellular provider, you might want to check out Mint Mobile. As long at T-Mobile service is good in your area, you might find that the pricing plans of Mint Mobile are extremely attractive.

Also, if you pay for multiple months at a time, you’ll save even more. The $20/month, buy three months, get three months free is a great deal — unlimited talk & text, 8GB of 4G LTE data (per month), and the plan includes tethering.

Use the link on the side bar of my BLOG, or the one below and we’ll both get a little bit extra from Mint.

MintMobile.com

AT&T Cell Phone Rates

I was looking at AT&T cellular rates; primarily because I was thinking about getting a SIM card to play with, and it struck me that the pre-pay rates seemed like they were less than the regular contract rates (yeah — you get a discount phone with a contract, but unlocked GSM phones are fairly easy to find).

So, AT&T wants $69.99 for an unlimited talk/text plan per month; plus an activation fee — and for that 2 year contract you get a discounted handset.

AT&T also offers and unlimited talk/text plan for $60 per month (pre-pay) and there doesn’t seem to be any activation fee and of course no contract (you don’t get a discounted handset; but often you can buy GoPhones for “free” when you consider some of them have SIMs loaded with airtime).

AT&T also offers the unlimited talk/text plan for $2 per day (only days you use)… so if you weren’t a heavy user you might find this works out great for you.

Now there is a catch with pre-pay; you can roll over you minutes from period to period as long as you keep add money to your account; and if you add less than $25 you’ll have to add more in 30 days, if you add $25 or over then you have 90 days, and $100 (or more) you have a year… so it probably makes sense to add either $25 when you need it (or every 90 days) or you could do the $100, but that’s a fair amount of money to have sitting in an account not being of any real use to you.

There is also a $75 plan that provides unlimited talk and text for the month, plus 200MB of data (that’s a little over $20 worth of data for $15, which only makes sense if you’re going to peg you data usage right at 200MB — if you go substantially under you may well be better off just paying the $0.01/KB).

You can still get a much better deal for cellular with other companies; and their are unlimited flat-rate resellers of AT&T GSM service ($40/month) in many areas; plus there’s MetroPCS (which offers 4G service in metro areas they serve) and Cricket (which has fairly good roaming coverage) that offer very aggressive pricing in markets they serve.

Bottom line, figure out how you’re going to use your cell phone, and find a plan to will work the best for you.

FYI – if you need/want an AT&T SIM card, look on eBay, you can get a 64KB new SIM card for $3.49 delivered (AT&T would charge you $24.95 plus tax).

Originally posted 2010-10-28 02:00:15.

Smart Phones

Early last month Sprint shipped a 4G Android based smart phone made by HTC — it sold out; they receive more from HTC — they sold out; they can’t keep them on the self.

Late last month Apple shipped the iPhone 4 (not a 4G phone), and AT&T sold out the first day in many metropolitan areas.

The day before Apple shipped the iPhone 4, Motorola shipped a new Android based smart phone — sales were brisk.

I’ve had a smart phone for many, many years — and frankly I’ve been amazed at how many people have been buying them in the last few years, so I did a little research.

I figured a good place to start would be to see what kind of applications people where downloading for the iPhone — well I was totally shocked.  On almost every list I could find the top applications were games (and people were paying for them).

I’m not even going to waste my time writing what I think this says about Americans (and we probably shouldn’t limit it to just Americans)… obviously the economy must be doing fine if people have several hundred dollars to throw away on a cellular handset to just enable them to play games — and have a fashion accessory (which must be meant to indicate that they have money to throw away).

I always considered my smart phone a tool; but I guess in the age of PSP and Wii it’s just another electronic toy to keep mindless people entranced so they don’t need to think or pay attention to their surroundings.

Almost enough to make me toss my smart phone in a trash can and get rid of my unlimited data plan.

Originally posted 2010-07-01 02:00:46.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.