Entries Tagged as 'Cellular'

nexus one

Today Google starts selling the nexus one Android smart phone (manufactured by HTC) direct.  The current model supports AT&T and T-Mobile GSM networks, but there will be a model for Verizon and vodafone this Spring as well.

The unlocked phone will set you back $529.00; the T-Mobile version costs only $179.00 (with contract).

Like most all HTC phones, this is a nice phone.  Well designed, and packed with all the latest features (including an OLED display).  You can check out the specs online as well as get additional information and order one if you like.

With Google selling an Android phone direct (it doesn’t appear on the HTC site) one can see that they are preparing to compete head-to-head with Apple (and Apple must be getting ready to compete head-to-head with Google since they just purchased an advertising network).

nexus one

google nexus one

Originally posted 2010-01-05 02:00:48.

Hello… hello…… hello………

I just received my RMA replacements for three H700 Bluetooth headsets I purchased around the time California’s head set law went into effect (I used headsets before that point in time, but I wanted to make sure I always had a head set with me after that point even to answer a call and say that you’d need to get back to them could get you a ticket if a law enforcement agent felt like writing it).

The H700 was a great head set; but it wasn’t without problems.  And notably one of the major problems was that Motorola purchase a large lot of batteries all made around the same time.  In fact, the same time three years ago, and Lithium Ion only lasts about three years. 

Once the last of the three headsets died, I called up Motorola, provided them the information, gave them a credit card number since they wanted to do a pre-replacement on one (they would send out one replacement guaranteed by my credit card — which in fact they never authorized a charge against) and then I would return it and the other two and receive two more.

I recieved an H710 as a replacement model; some of the features of it was nicer, but one of the major downsides was that it used a micro-USB power connector, which mean it couldn’t share my the CLA I used for my phone, any of the phone charges I already had; and I wasn’t about to spend $20 on another CLA.

The first hitch… I never got an RMA number for the pre-replacement.  No information by email, no information in the package.

The next hitch… they sent the same RMA email and number to three different people (yep, three addressees on the email).

The next hitch… they still hadn’t sent me the RMA for the other two head sets (and I wasn’t about to pay multiple shipping charges).

The next hitch… I never received my two additional head sets.

The next hitch… I was advised they were sending out ONE more headset.

Finally… I was advised they were sending out the THIRD and final headset.

This took me almost two months to get the replacement; and sixteen phone calls, three supervisors, and one executive complaint.

Oh yeah, and it’s all over… including losing almost TWO MONTHS of warranty time.

Thanks Motorola — you’ve certainly convinced me that I need to look else where for cell phones and cell phone accessories.  Of course during these two months I’ve developed problems with my T815 navigation system — another nightmare I’m sure to get that fixed.

It’s easy to see why Motorola isnt’ making money with their cell phone and cell phone accessories even though they have some of the most popular phones and head sets made.  I mean think about their costs in manpower and shipping to resolve what should have been a simple RMA.

NOTE:  One solution for charging the micro-USB head set is to buy a mini to micro-USB adapter; or better yet, a micro-micro-USB Y cable and a mini to micro-USB adapter.

  • Motorola SKN6252A – mini-usb to micro-usb
  • Motorola SKN6222A  – mini-usb to mini-usb Y (one full usb one power only)

NOTE: Technically Motorola still hasn’t fulfilled my RMA(s).  The original headset they sent was a full retail package; but when I opened the two boxes arrived last Friday I found that they had sent me one more retail packaged H710 and the other box contained just a H710 in a bubble envelope (no charger or instruction manual).  Since the H710 uses micro-USB rather than mini-USB I’m technically short one charger; but after sixteen calls to Motorola I’m convinced that this will never be made right, and another forty minutes of my time is worth more than the charger.

Originally posted 2009-02-14 01:00:22.

Air Time Free

If you have a flat rate cellular voice plan, you may not be interested in this article; but for most of us who simply don’t have cost effective options for flat rate plans this might help cut down on cellular bills.

Most cellular telephone companies off the ability to add one or more telephone numbers to your cell plan that will not be charged air time for inbound or outbound calls.  It goes by various names, A-List, Friends & Family, My Favs, My Circle, etc.

Unfortunately, all of them limit the number of telephone numbers you can designate as air time free to a fairly modest number.

But… by using Google Voice, you might find that one air time free number is really all you need to greatly reduce your monthly cellular expenses.

You can go to Google and read a fair amount about Google Voice, they’re adding new features all the time so I won’t even try and cover all of them; just a few that might be of help to you (by the way, the “Call Me” widget on my web site uses Google Voice, and it’s no cost to the caller or me).

So how exactly can you use Google Voice — or really what will be covered in this post is how I use Google Voice.

First, I setup a Google Voice account a few months ago, mainly to be able to give out a telephone number that I wouldn’t be bothered answering when I didn’t want to, and still be able to get voice mail (at my convenience).  Mainly I wanted to do this because I’m going to disconnect my home phone (AT&T offers “naked” DSL here, and since all my home phone does is provide telemarketers with a number to call I really don’t see a reason to ever answer it).

The Google Voice line worked great for receiving messages; I got them in my email inbox, and more times than not the voice to text transcription wasn’t very useful, but I could just click the link and listen to the message as well.

Second, I added my Google Voice number to my Verizon “Friend’s & Family” (what AllTel used to call “My Circle”) so that it would be air time free.  Partially because there would be times when I wanted to actually route my Google Voice number to a phone so I could answer it (say when I was expecting a call), but mostly so that I could use Google Voice for outbound calls to people who were not going to be air time free.

So to use Google Voice for air time free outbound calling you need to log onto the Google Voice web site (there’s a mobile version of it as well, so if you have an unlimited data plan you don’t even need to be near a computer to make use of it) and simply instruct it to make a call.  What happens is Google Voice calls you, then calls the number you instruct it to call and conferences you together.

To make all this air time free, you need to setup Google Voice to present you Google Voice call on inbound calls (that’s the number you specified as air time free with your cellular provider).  This, unfortunately, means that you don’t know who’s calling, but there are some Google Voice features that help there too (I’ll let you go through all the features yourself).

For outbound calls you could setup Google Voice to present your actual telephone number, but it makes more sense to have your Google Voice number presented (especially for toll free calls, remember that they always get your telephone number).

Now you might not care whether or not you get charged air time for a quick call to your doctor’s office to confirm an appointment, but when you’re going to be on the line with customer service for half an hour (or more) you might want to think about the extra step of using Google Voice.

Now let me make it perfectly clear.  I don’t trust Google with my personal and confidential information, so I would never have any sensitive data go through a Google Voice call; but hey, when it’s something like a customer service call people I don’t really trust with my information already have it.

You can request an invite to Google Voice, it’ll probably take ten days to two weeks before you get it.  I’d recommend setting up a Google Mail account as well (you can forward the message from the Google Mail account or you can directly access the Google Mail account with POP3/IMAP4) to go along with Google Voice.  In fact, even if you don’t expect to use Google Voice much, I’d say go ahead and setup an account now.

Also, Google Voice will be adding VoIP (SIP) service (they purchased Gizmo5) soon.

Originally posted 2010-02-10 01:00:49.

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular is a “discount” cellular provider (apparently a Verizon Wireless MVNO) that offers no-nonsense plans with no contract and low rates for users who only occasionally use their cell phones and the ability to change your plan at will.

Let me underscore that I don’t have any personal experience with Consumer Cellular, so I can’t vouch for their service — so my recommendation is keep a copy of the information from their web page in a PDF and pay with a credit card; that way if you find they don’t live up to their end of the “bargain” just work with your credit card company.

http://www.consumercellular.com/

Originally posted 2010-04-28 02:00:11.

Removing Pre-Installed Android Applications

First, you need to be really careful about removing pre-installed applications on your Android phone, some are necessary for it to function properly, but many of them are just bloatware and may not serve any useful purpose (also many of the pre-installed apps can be re-installed via the marketplace, and then managed as any other application).

Why do cell phone carriers / manufacturers put this bloatware on the phone — simply, MONEY — the software manufactures pay them to do so, or they will get a service fee if you use it.

If you haven’t rooted your phone; forget it… you can’t remove these applications.  Rooting some phone is very easy, but you’ll need to read up on how to do it and download the tools you need.

There are two primary simple methods for removing an application (I believe there’s also an application to do this, but I recall it not being free).

The first method is to install the Android development kit (which requires the Java development kit, not just the Java runtime).  This allows you to execute the commands from your PC (which gives you a better keyboard and display).

The second method is to install busy-box and terminal emulator on your phone from the market place.  This is pretty easy to use if you have a real keyboard, if you are forced to use a virtual keyboard on your phone, this might not be the best approach.  One hint here is use the settings on terminal to increase the font size, 14pt works best on my phone — you might also try a different color scheme to make the display more readable (you definitely want to be able to clearly read what you type).

Regardless of which of the above you do — you open a “terminal” to the phone and use the following commands (in bold):

  • su (elevate privileges to root)
  • mount -0 rw,remount -t rfw /dev/stl5 /system (remounts the rom as read-write)
  • cd /system/app (changes directory to the app directory)
  • rm -r / [AppName].apk (you need to type the name exactly as it appears)
  • ls [Pattern with wild cards] (you can use ls to view the app names installed)
  • mount -o ro,remount -t rfw /dev/stl5 /system (remounts the rom as read-only, though rebooting the phone is a good idea)

You might need to do an internet search to figure out the name of the directory (that’s what an apk is) that contains a particular application, and you can use mv rather than rm initially to move the application to a temporary location (much easier to recover if you make a mistake).

A little familiarity with *nix shell commands definitely is a plus; but as long as you’re careful it shouldn’t be a problem.

Originally posted 2011-01-03 02:00:08.

CyanogenMod 7.1.0

While loading customer firmware on a smartphone isn’t something new (I did that with my HTC Touch Pro and HTC Touch Pro 2 Windows mobile devices years ago) it is something that is very easy to do with Android handsets.

My Droid A855 (that’s the original Verizon Droid — and I actually have two) with it’s slow 600 MHz ARM processor has been running Gingerbread (2.3) for almost a year; and as of last night the handset I carry has been updated to the third build of Gingerbread.

Why?

Well, Android is far from a finished and polished product; and Froyo (2.2) which is officially supported on the phone lacks a number of features.

To take advantage of a custom ROM you first need to root your phone (which has other advantages besides just allowing you to install a custom ROM, but if you’re going to root — you definitely want a custom ROM).

Once you’ve rooted your device, you can choose between a number of different custom ROMs — I try and go for stability; and I’ve tried a number of different ROMs, CyanogenMod is the one I’ve settled on.

Also, if you purchased an HP Touchpad — CyanogenMod has an Alpha release of Android for you… that may make your tablet a great deal more usable.

CyanogenMod.com

Originally posted 2011-10-20 02:00:15.

iJoke

I’ve never owned an iPhone; and since the only network they work on (in the US) is AT&T I’ve never considered one… but given the large number of people who swear by them, I naturally just assumed that it must be a modern smart phone.

Well, perhaps Apple should call the iPhone the iJoke — because that’s what it is.

No multi-tasking in any currently shipping iPhone… wow — what a basic (and necessary) feature to be omitted from the iPhone.

No wonder the iPhone purports to be more stable than Windows Mobile devices — they simply aren’t anywhere near the same caliber devices.

Windows Mobile has had multi-tasking for a very very very long time — in fact, since well before Windows CE was badged as Windows Mobile multi-tasking was part of the operating system.

I just can’t image a “computer” device made in the last decade that doesn’t do multi-tasking… how simply archaic… how simply useless for a pda / smart phone.

For instance; on all iPhones sold to date when you make a telephone call while trying to use your phone for navigation — navigation becomes useless, and may well miss your turn unless you know where you’re going (and why would you be using navigation if you knew where you are going).

I just don’t get it — and apparently most people who own iPhones don’t either — you paid good money for a joke… you wasted money for something that does one thing at a time, and only one thing at a time.

I’ve had Windows smart phones for much longer than the iPhone has been in existence — I paid less for them than the iPhone cost and they do way more than the iPhone did when it was released and still does.

Get a real smart phone — buy a Windows Mobile device or an Android based device, or just admit to the world you carry a fashion accessory and need to feel like the world likes you because you waste money on gadgets that simply aren’t anything more than a shinny bobble.

Originally posted 2010-06-12 02:00:05.

Kit Kat – Android 4.4 / 4.4.2

My Nexus 4 and my two Nexus 7s updated to Kit Kat about a month ago and other than Google+ becoming far more pervasive I can’t say I’ve really seen any improvements that matter much to me (yes, I’m aware that “under the hood” there are some substantial changes)…

Some things I have noticed (that I’m not happy with) are:

  • Bluetooth shuts off and cannot be turned back on until you reboot the device.
  • Bluetooth will disconnect and reconnect (by itself) from devices that worked perfectly under Jelly Bean.
  • Devices reboot periodically by themselves (without asking for confirmation — probably more often than you realize since you’re not using them continuously).
  • Devices freeze; sometimes they respond after a couple minutes — sometimes you have to power cycle them (I haven’t had a case where I had to force a reboot yet).

I’m hopeful I won’t see this on my Nexus 5 (when I start using it after the first of the year), but from what I’ve read in the forums I’m not the only one seeing stability issues with Kit Kat, and it appears to be on all devices that have received updates — including the Nexus 5.

I’m afraid this is another case of people who work on Android not really using (or testing) the product well before it hits the street — and while I don’t feel that Google employees working on Android should be forced to trade out their iPhones, I do feel that a substantial number of the engineers working on Android should have to use the latest release (maybe replace their desk phones with cellular handsets that run the latest Android version to help debug the hardware and software).

Bottom line — you might want to hold off on your move from Jelly Bean to Kit Kat until Google releases a few more updates.


 

Android: Kit Kat

Originally posted 2013-12-30 08:00:58.

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.

iPhone 4

Yesterday (Monday) Apple CEO Steve Job unveiled the iPhone 4 — you know, the phone that his arrogance and ego caused a reporters home to be raided and computer and media to be confiscated (enough reason in itself that I would never buy one).

The iPhone 4 itself is thinner, lighter, able to multi-task, shoot reasonably high quality video and stills, has a font and rear facing camera — and tons and tons of limitations.

To coincide with the release of the new iPhone 4 AT&T eliminated their $30 flat rate data plan; but of course Apple is sticking with AT&T as the exclusive American provider for the iPhone 4 (which probably has a great deal to do with the fact that it didn’t get the name iPhone 4G since AT&T doesn’t have a 4G network).

I personally just don’t get it — if what AT&T says about how little most of their customers use data is true, then why do they sell so many iPhones?  Do people really doubt their self worth so much that they feel they need to carry around a shinny gadget to try and make others think better or them (the joke would be on them — watching someone fumble with an iPhone and barely able to make or receive a phone call with it certainly doesn’t improve their images).

And remember, AT&T maintains that iPhones cannot be unlocked (though iPhones purchased through other providers get unlocked directly by Apple once customers have satisfied their contractual commitments all the time).

It’ll be interesting to see how the Apple -HTC lawsuits play out — I think it would be all too sweet if the big bully in Cupertino got bitch slapped a few times.  And I wouldn’t lose any sleep when AT&T finds themselves in hot water over the issue of “unlocking”.

Most people don’t have a clue what to do with a smart phone, so I’d suggest you purchase something practical that meets your needs, and not treat your phone like a fashion accessory.

You’ll have to wait until 24 June for the launch — like most every Apple announcement, they’re just baiting the trap at the moment.

Originally posted 2010-06-08 02:00:07.