Josh just got his phone fixed, but unfortunately that’s not the only thing broken at home. A short film about trust.
Starring Anna Walker and Derek Henning.
Media from a biblical worldview
Josh just got his phone fixed, but unfortunately that’s not the only thing broken at home. A short film about trust.
Starring Anna Walker and Derek Henning.
They are ubiquitous. (Fancy word score! Had to look it up to make sure I was using it right.) Everywhere you look, everyone has one. They have replaced home phones and land lines. Cell phones are all over the place.
Since we have recently moved we need to change up the numbers and it’s time to upgrade two of the 3 lines we have. This may also be a good time to change carriers. I’ve been with AT&T since 2007, and always had a smart phone with them. When the iPhone 3G came out, I got one and have held onto the unlimited data plan ever since. I’ve written about how I have previously used a the 2 year contract pricing to upgrade to new iPhones every year. But the landscape of smartphones has changed.
Enter the every-year-upgrade-plans.
Next, Edge, whatever your carrier calls it, you pay little or nothing initially to get your phone, and then pay a fee every month until it’s paid off. No contracts, but if you drop service, the balance of the phone comes due. No more subsidized phones.
Previously, by agreeing to stay on for another 2 years, they cut the cost of a new phone by about half (or more). We all understood that nothing is free, so paying a bit more for the service was worth it if we could save a bit on the device.
Shopping AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, the cost of the service is about the same, but now I get to pay for the entire cost of my phone(s) over 24 months. They sell the new plan like it’s a benefit. Pay less now, a bit more every month and get a new phone every year.
My complaint is that new phones without subsidies in the service contracts should have lower priced service contracts. Only T-Mobile seems to have this. They still charge for the phones over 2 years, but their service prices are a bit cheaper. Of course, T-Mobile doesn’t have service everywhere. So your mileage may vary.
I bit the bullet, and ordered a new iPhone 6 64GB on T Mobile. When it’s all said and done, we will spend less per month with T Mobile for 2 phones with unlimited talk, text, and data, plus 5 GBs of wifi hotspot every month.
Be aware, the plans change all the time, but generally you can probably do something similar. We needed 3 lines. 2 with data, and 1 as an “emergency” line for the kids. Something they can carry if they are at a friends house, or whatever. We didn’t need data for that line, or really much talk time either.
The current plan T Mobile is advertising is 2 lines with unlimited everything for $100. Plus taxes and the cost of any phones. Unfortunately, they do not allow you to add a basic phone as a 3rd line. They require every phone on the account to have the unlimited status. That means our 3rd line would cost $40 per month, instead of the $10-20 we were expecting. That’s not worth it. They sometimes have the option of adding a basic line for $10 per month, but not in this case. Doesn’t make good business sense to me, but we found a solution.
We got a Trac Fone. $10 for the phone, $20 for the minutes on the card. The service is good for 150 days or 140 minutes. We just add more when we run out of days or minutes. That’s a lot less than $10 per month, considering we will barely use this line.
Another way we saved some cash was to have my AT&T iPhone 5S unlocked. It was easy to do. Eligible phones can be unlocked by filling out a form online. Then you click a link in and email, and restore your iPhone through iTunes. Then it’s unlocked. Moving it to T Mobile was a simple sim card swap. That’s much less than buying a new phone.
If you do need a basic line, on most carriers, you can snag a cheap pay-as-you-go handset from a Walmart or Target, and just have the carrier put a new sim card in.
Of course, if you can swing the cash to just buy your phones outright, you will save money in the long run.
There may be other ways to get less expensive service from the other carriers, but T Mobile, if you have service in the areas you need, was straight forward and seems to be the cheapest.
This year for the first time ever the Superbowl was officially streamed by the network broadcasting it. You could watch the stream from any computer, iPad, or Verizon iPhone. The stream showcased multiple camera angles and it’s own set of advertisements.
This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it sort of is.
A major sporting event was available online, complete with ad revenue and bonus content at the same time as the live broadcast of the event. I’m interested to know how many people streamed it, and how it was received. If this was successful, we will continue to see broader streaming offerings from the networks. It’s easy to start with a game the this, since the audience is so large. You could do the same thing with the Oscars. This was just one broadcast, but more will follow.
We recently got a Nook Tablet.
I had wanted to pick up either the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire. I looked at a lot of previews and reviews, and two things drove me toward the Nook tablet. One was the poor/mixed reviews of the Fire. The other was the paper specs on the Nook Tablet. It has twice the processing power, RAM, and storage with an expansion slot. Even after it became known that the internal storage of the Nook limited user content to just 1GB, the expansion slot more than made up for it.
So we got it and have been playing with it for a few weeks.
I find myself wondering if we made a mistake. I know I can always root the thing and turn it into a basic android tablet, but I’d like to keep it as a Nook device. My concerns isn’t about the performance, really, but about something else.
Yes, it needs more apps. Like a lot more. And it needs more free apps. I know the selection will grow, but man. Still, I was able to load Evernote on there so, it’s not all bad. And Hulu Plus and Netflix have been getting a work out. I like the crossword app as well. All the apps work great. Just need more of them.
Text input is a lot different. It’s mostly a QWERTY keyboard, but some of the non-letter keys are located in odd spots. I’m still not used to it,,and I make typos all the time.
Video playback is great. Really great. Netflix and Hulu Plus look amazing, and both have decent interfaces. Watching your own video is more complicated. It takes a bit of navigating to get to them. I’ve tested a few file types, and was able to get a 720p .mp4 to play without trouble.
Of course, reading a book is great. The 7 inch size is really the right size for an e-reader. Lighter than my iPad and bigger than my iPod Touch or iPhone. Some people have said that trying to read magazines and comics leaves a bit to be desired on the smaller screen, but I haven’t tried that yet.
But those are not the things that make me think I may have made a mistake. No, I may have made a mistake because I think Amazon is going to win the low end tablet competition. When shopping for the tablets, most employees did not know anything about the Nook Tablet, and while they may have been mistaken about the Fire, at leas they knew something about it. In store displays are very telling. target and Walmart still does not have a Nook Tablet on display. One store still have the Nook Color listed at $250, instead of the new $200 price. Best Buy did have the Tablet, but had two Kindle Fires o display in very prominent floor space.
Barnes and Noble just isn’t getting the play that the Fire is. Amazon was first to announce and first to market with their device. If attention is any indication of success the Nook Tablet is barely a spark compared to the Kindle Fire. I don’t know how much Amazon spent on promotion, but Barnes and Noble obviously hasn’t spent enough. They are not getting the push the Fire is getting.
I hope the Nook Tablet stays around. I think I’m keeping the one we have. Every time I think of returning it, I see another poor review of the Fire. I’m not saying the Fire is a bad device, just that it’s no better than the Nook Tablet unless you are heavily invested in the Amazon media world (Prime, music store, etc…) If by some chance I end up with a discontinued tablet, I’ll root it and run regular Android software on it. The faster processor and larger memory will be better for that. I’m hoping an update frees up some of the internal memory and we start seeing more apps become available.
[Update: The new iOS 5.0 version of the Flixster app allows downloading to your device, so you can view movies offline. Flixster listens. Now for 3G streaming… and Airplay.]
A few weeks ago I bought Green Lantern on Blu Ray. It’s packaging claimed it came with a digital copy, and on further inspection it was a new sort of digital copy that uses a couple of companies to deliver streaming movies.
I really like digital copies. I use my Apple TV to stream movies from my iOS devices to my TV, and even use an iPod Touch to watch movies on a small TV in the car on long trips. My iPad is almost always filled with video. If a movie comes with a digital copy, I download it. If not, I try to handbrake it. Digital copies are generally a little smaller, look great, and even have nice cover art. Now, they are DRM’d to iTunes, which isn’t great, but since most of my device can handle that it’s normally not an issue.
When I saw this new Ultraviolet/Flixster digital copies I was intrigued. There are iOS apps for the service, and you can stream the video instead of having to load it onto your device. You can download the files as well.
So I started the process of getting my copy. First I had to sign up for Flixster, then in the registration process I was taken to a portal to sign up for Ultrviolet. I spent about 20 minutes trying to complete the registration. I was stuck at the password creation portal. Something was wrong. I finally left the registration. turns out that ultraviolet has a different criteria for passwords than Flixster. The one I was trying to use wasn’t setting off any warnings in the Flixster portal registration, but Ultraviolet wouldn’t let it complete. I signed up on the Ultraviolet site, and went back with that login info to complete my Flixster set up.
I could stream my movie. I went ahead and downloaded the apps and even downloaded the file of the movie itself onto my computer. I logged into the app on my iOS devices and I could view my movies. So far so good.
I soon discovered that there ae a couple of issues with the service, though. I can stream the movies on my devices, but only in a wifi signal. I cannot watch the movie on my iPhone over 3G. well, that was annoying since the main selling point was that i could stream the video instead of having to load it onto my device.
I thought, OK, I’ll just load it. Then I discovered you cannot load the movie file onto your iOS device. It can only be played on the computer. Now I’m annoyed.
I won’t be able to use my movie outside of a wifi network on any portable device. Want to watch the movie on a plane? Nope. Let your kids watch one while diving down the road? No way.
With the iTunes digital copy, I may have to load the file onto my device, but I can watch it anywhere. So, I took the DVD and handbraked the movie. I am not a fan of the Flixster/Ultraviolet digital copy.
The one redeeming thing? Their social media team is very responsive. They have an active twitter, and they pointed me toward their developer feature email. I sent an email asking for what I would consider basic functions. If you want to be a replacement for iTunes, you have to be able to do at least why they do. If you want to be considered a streaming solution, you must be able to stream over 3G.
In the meantime, I will stream the video when i want at home, but will load my ripped copy when I want to take it out. Maybe they will add these features and make the service better.
A little before 8:00 PM tonight I got a text message saying that there were reports that Steve Jobs had died. After battling pancreatic cancer, Steve Jobs passed away.
I don’t think we fully realize how big of an impact he had on how we interact with technology. Here is a short list:
The GUI. The MacOS changed how we used computers.
iTunes. Arguably, Apple saved the music industry.
First iMac. No more beige boxes and no more floppy disk.
Final Cut Pro. Helped make video production affordable.
iPod. The walkman of our times.
iPhone. Still seeing the ripples of this device in the market.
App store. Changed how we buy software
iPad. Singlehandedly created a new market.
And maybe Siri? Who knows how this will change things.
I’m sure I’ve overlooked a lot. Job’s influence will be seen for years to come.
He will be missed.
Update: New Upgrade-Every-Year plans make this less likely to work. At&T is really pressing customers toward those plans, and away from the 2 year contracts.
Warning: This only works if you have two phones on your account and don’t care what kind of phone you have on the other number. It’s not truly free, because you are locked into a contract, but you can upgrade every year without spending extra money.
This is a pretty simple plan, which I have used and will use again, but some people may not realize it’s possible so I thought I would post it up. We are with AT&T, but this may work with Verizon as well. With the announcement of the iPhone 5S and 5C the other day, many people locked in a 2 year contract may be thinking of trying to upgrade early.
It’s nice to have the latest hardware from Apple. I like the iPhone and my apps. I want to take advantage of every new advance in capability. But I don’t want to pay $600 for an iPhone with no contract. What if I am only one year into my contract but I still want a new phone? I don’t even want to pay the early upgrade fee.
Here’s how I do it. My wife and I are on my AT&T account. AT&T allows people on the same account to switch phones for an $18 charge. So I could give her mine, and get hers for a whopping $36. Not something you want to do every day, but it’s a lot cheaper than $600.
She does not care what phone she has. That is a crucial part of this working out. If the person who uses the second phone on your account wants more than a basic handset, this will be more expensive.
Your goal is to get one of your numbers’s contracts ending one year, and then the next one ending the next year. So that every year you have one number up for a new contract. Once that happens the rest is easy.
To get this going you have to either pay full retail for a basic handset, or elect to keep the phone on your second number after the contract runs out. So, next time your second account is up for renewal, don’t do the contract. Either keep your phone or get a cheap one. Purchase a pay-as-you-go phone for your carrier. In the case of AT&T, that’s a Go Phone. The cheapest Go Phone costs about $15 at most stores. Nicer ones go up in price as you add features. You can easily get a phone for under $50.
For instance, this year my wife’s account is up for renewal. I will get the new iPhone on her account, and then swap it to my account. She will be in a new contract, but I won’t. I will be using the new hardware with only one year left on my contract. This will cost an additional $36.
Now, if it’s time for her to get a new phone as well I need to spend about $15 on to replace her cheap one. As long as the used market for iPhones remains high, this won’t cost me anything.
Using eBay (or something similar), you can fund this entire process where the end result is very little out of pocket. Currently a used 32GB iPhone 5 is selling for $400+ all day long.
So, after you have your account set to go, visit your local AT&T store. Purchase the new iPhone on your second number (the one up for renewal) with a contract and then have them switch the new iPhone to your primary number. This removes the old iPhone off your primary account and leaves the other basic handset on your second account. You could upgrade that phone if you wish during this process. With AT&T Go Phones, it’s as easy as swapping Sim Cards.
At this point you have paid $335 plus taxes and such if you get the 32GB 5S model. You now have the new iPhone on your phone number with about one year left on your contract and your second phone has a basic handset with two years left. Next year you can buy the new iPhone on your primary account. Add about $15 to the $335 of you replaced the base handset.
Then, wipe everything off your old iPhone. Make sure you go into the settings and use “Erase all Content and Settings” to make sure all of your personal information is gone. Then list your old iPhone on your favorite auction site. After your fees you will likely clear about $330-350. (Selling fees are ridiculous! 10% to eBay and then you pay Paypal another 3%. Then shipping and insurance.) If you decided to buy the new base phone, you probably broke even for a new iPhone. Not bad. If you didn’t replace the basic handset this time, you may end up with enough to buy a new case.
So that’s it. If you need help, the folks at the store can help you through it. The trick is to get your contract terms up for renewal on alternating years. And be OK with staying in a contract with your carrier.
A word about selling your iPhone: Be careful. I’ve used eBay to sell a lot of stuff. Nothing brings out the scammers like selling an iPhone. Follow eBay rules. Only ship to confirmed addresses, with tracking and insurance.
In just a few hours Tim Cook will take the stage and announce something about the iPhone. And iCloud. And iOS5.
There are still tons of rumors floating around. I think we will see an iPhone 4S announced. I still have my doubts about any iPhone 5 this year.
It’s almost certain that the new model will have a faster processor and an 8 megapixel camera.
There have been reports of voice control, 1080p video capability and other features.
We will probably see the end of the 3GS, and introduction of an 8GB iPhone 4 at $100 as the base model.
And of course we will get a release date for iOS5 and iCloud and iTunes Match.
I’m looking forward to it.
I jumped in. A friend of a friend is a developer for iOS, and he had a couple extra device spots for a beta tester, so I signed up. I upgraded my iPhone 4 and iPad (original) to the iOS5 beta. It took me all of half a second to decide to do it.
Now, a few days in, I can tell you I will never be so fast to jump in again. At least with my iPad. I just need to know the apps on there work. I lost several apps that are key to my work flow. I don’t have to have most of them on my iPhone, but I use them on the iPad daily. I don’t blame the app developers (And I for sure don’t go post negative reviews on the app store about it!), they should not have to support a beta software. That’s why it’s a beta. I should have updated one and not the other. But I wanted to play with iMessage and sync docs back and forth through iCloud.
But my iPad isn’t a toy. I use it for work. Suddenly key apps did not work. I know that they will work again, but for now I’m out of luck. I am waiting eagerly for the next version of the beta, hoping it magically fixes these important-to-me apps. Take it from me, rushing headlong into beta testing is not smart.
Now running it on my iPhone, that is another story.
The Cool Factor:
There is something narciisiticlly nice about being the center of attention. People gather around as you demonstrate the features they have been hearing about in the newest version of iOS. They cannot get this new thing for months, but they want it and you have it. There are enough parts of the new beta working that you can show it off, but just be sure not to expect glitch free bragging. Invariably, something will drop. That’s OK, this is a beta. It’s not supposed to be perfect. And it is cool.
One of the reasons I wanted to do this is to use the features mentioned in the keynote. iOS5 is going to be amazing. I would go on about how cool it is, but I don’t want to say too much.
The Non Disclosure Agreement is pretty intense. I don’t blame Apple. Beta software isn’t perfect, and no company wants people complaining about what may or may not be working. So, I won’t be talking much about it, even though some blogs feel free to say plenty.
In the meantime I eagerly await the next version of the beta, in hopes that my summer won’t be completely jacked up by my impetuousness. I’d roll my iPad back, if I could. But, in the meantime I wait, and use alternative apps to get my work done. Oh, and enjoy a great new iOS from Apple.