Tech Fail Upward

In order to move one step forward you have to first go five steps backward. 

It’s true. At the age of (insert number of choice here), I finally got my first contracted cell/smart phone. Of course, I used various cell phones when I worked for the man (corpos), and even used a cheap pre-paid cell phone for a while from Aldi. But it took till the summer of 2012 and a bit of über-enthusiasm toward Apple products that my better half decided to splurge and get us both look-a-like iPhone 4Ss. (And boy were they cheap since the iPhone 5 was in the wings.) I have to admit, Apple has pulled a whammy on the tech market with its iOS devices. I love/hate them! The reason for the hate, IMHO, is the immediate obsoletism of their hardware and the fact that Apple refuses to open them up so that tech geeks can have their tech way with them just like a construction worker in Texas would have his way at a Oklahoma brothel. But that’s neither here nor there. The simple fact is, my better half is constantly commenting that she doesn’t know how we actually lived our lives without these things. And I’m starting to agree (although I would prefer one running Android). So. This is in no way an endorsement for Apple, but instead for technology (which is the love part). To me, smart phones and even tablets are the future. I consider the iPhone as my entry into that future.

First trip abroad with iPhone.

This fall is packed with travel.  I started in the Caribbean, the Dutch Antilles to be exact. Since the islands are a former colony, I can only assume that the great cell coverage there was due to Euro phone companies. Of course, I didn’t bother using the 3G that was available simply because roaming rates are outrageous. Still, the phone worked flawless the whole time and I always had a strong cell signal. Since we had wifi where we were staying it was even better and I didn’t have to interrupt my regular podcast usage or synching to my Mac. This little device is without a doubt a temporary replacement for my computer when it comes to news feeds, email and basic web browsing. The other thing that makes this device über-cool for travel is it’s camera. I’m no photographer but I have to admit ever since phones starting coming with cameras I dig snapping photos. Since I have a 32GB device there is plenty space for pics. Luckily, for me, it’s never about the quality of the picture but about the moment that is captured. Some examples of my phone pics are here.

After Curacao I headed back to Europe only to fly a few days later once again across the Atlantic. It was in the US that I thought I would really give the iPhone a test. The idear was to buy a pre-paid micro-SIM and take advantage of having an unlocked phone. Lo-n-behold, when I got to the Eastern Shore of MD, not one tech store or phone store had a micro-SIM. On top of that, one guy at an AT&T store told me that even if I were to buy a regular SIM and cut it to fit my phone, the carrier would know that I’m using an iPhone and eventually cut me off. Wow. I guess I’m starting to understand first hand why I’ve read so many articles on the Internets complaining about cell phone carriers. What a bunch of greedy pricks–and, if I may add, the best first-hand example out there of how a industry holds us all back. Anywho. All I wanted was a data plan so I could Skype with my better-half while hanging out in rural USA.

Not quite the holy grail, but good enough.

On a quick trip to civilization, I happened across a T-Mobile store in a mall in Annapolis, MD. They laughed when I told them that no one on the Eastern Shore could help me. I bought a monthly pre-paid plan with 2TB data ($50). I eventually upped it to International ($10), allowing me to make landline calls to Europe (my better half) at no extra charge.

The young clerk whipped out a Micro-SIM and as soon as I paid and installed it, I got the most amazing 3G speed on my phone. Whoopie, eh! The problem was that as soon as I left civilization again, all my phone showed was that “E”. But I didn’t give up hope. I called T-Mobile customer service and after some advice on configuring, that “E” turned out to be just fine. I had some pretty decent data speeds, that even enabled Skype. Yeah, baby, the phone worked like a charm.

FYI, “E” on a phone means you get data but you can not call and use data at the same time. For that you need 3G. Here the configurations T-Mobile gave me for my iPhone to properly get data on the Eastern Shore of MD.

1. Turning off wifi when not using it.

2. Add APN codes to cellular data and MMS configurations via settings>cellular>cellular data network (get these from your carrier)

3. Turn on data roaming.

That’s it. So. For a new-bee (to the tech world of smart phones) I highly recommend T-Mobile’s prepaid plans and any decent smart phone. These things rock.

Apple Fail.

Of course, as I’ve said here, I have major issues with Apple. Even though the iPhone is serving me (and my better half) well as our main device of communication, I’m still very skeptical about this company’s monopolistic obsessions. But there is hope. Just the other day Apple had it’s second major product announcement since the MacBook Pro Retina 15″ and the iPhone 5. They now have a new iPad 4 (wow, I bet the suckers that bought the iPad 3 are pissed), new Mac Minis (my favorite macs) and new iMacs (stupid, bloated, overpriced krapp). With this announcement I’m almost sure that Apple has finally gone beyond anything that Steve Jobs may have had his hands on before his death a year ago. That means, perhaps, (a big perhaps), a little humility might be on this diabolical companies horizon. But then again, I suppose they’ll have to burn a bit more of all that cash they have before the ghost of Jobs is finally gone.

Links:

Rant on.

-tgs-

Marry Me Goat

The Goat or Who Is Sylvia by Edward Albee

Wiki about this play.

Reading through ballot Question 6 for MD election 2012. The language of it is strange and obviously appeases religious zealots who shouldn’t be in govt. in the first place. Personally, they should just get rid of the institution of marriage right after they get rid of tax free religion. I mean, the only purpose it all serves anymore is enslaving half the human race. On the other hand, where would universities be w/out issuing matrimony degrees and where would the economy be without divorce?

The Goat was a great play. Saw it during its premier run in San Francisco.

Rant on.

-tgs-

Happening Here

Subtitle: Well, like, it’s Almost Happening Here And Other Thoughts on Sinclair Lewis’s Novel.

What goes around comes around. Or?

That’s sometimes how I feel when it comes to reading. Especially since I’m trying and failing to get back to reading all those old authors that I blew off when I was young because, at the time, I was preoccupied with something more titillating–and, of course, mind numbing. Hence, middle age changes things in a man. For one, titillation these days can be less mind numbing and, well, eye-mind opening.

“In World War 2 the Germans lost but Fascism won.” -George Carlin

We are worst-writing today, dear worst-reader, ’bout Sinclair Lewis and “It Can’t Happen Here”. I’ve traversed the Atlantic twice this month (meaning flown across it 4x) and I’m pleased to say that this book has been my favorite read on the long flights, layovers and hotel stays. I remember years ago reading Elmer Gantry in college, and thereby learned what a “satirical” novel is. Gantry makes fun of America’s obsession with religion mixed with money and greed. Although some, I suppose ,might consider the story more a soap-opera, I found it quite intriguing, especially since I read it at a time when questioning religion was at full force. Of course, at that time (a quarter century ago) employing the trick of satire in a novel–and a novel is a kind of trick in and of itself, or?–was beyond my redneck and jock mindset. But I got through it and through that silly mid-level college English Lit class.

The thing that left an impression on me from Lewis, as opposed to Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald, (other English Lit required reading), was the obvious and sometimes blatant political and social themes embedded in Lewis’ work. With that in mind, next on my Lewis read-list is “Arrowsmith“.  Anywho.

It Can’t Happen Here is a unique, compelling and systematic look at the potential rise of Fascism and a corresponding dictatorship in the US in the 1930’s. The insight and knowledge Lewis has on this subject is, in a way, mind-boggling. As I read the book I couldn’t help being interrupted by that other voice in my head:

Tbone, how the hell did Sinclair come up with this shit at a time when exactly what he was describing was actually taking place in Germany?

Nomatter. The most unique part of this comic-dystopian tale has to be the characters and the familiar wording. The characters are the ones that embody the political ideologies that to this day haven’t changed. That is, one could take this story from the late 1930s and put it in the year 2000 and renew it with the Bush neo-con regime, including the whole talking head right wing propaganda freak show of Faux Newz, Limbaugh, etc. As far as terminology goes, I was shocked how Lewis uses catch-phrases like “main street and wall street”, “terror”, republican and democrat, let them eat cake, etc. Heck, Lewis even refers to the supreme court as a politically bent institution. Of course, in my life-time the rabble-rouser talk of Faux Newz has to be the culmination of the underlying fascism that is forming the American 21st century. Yet Lewis pins it all on an open clipboard for the world to see/read seventy years earlier and yet it happens anyway.

“He … tried to read a new novel about a lady whose husband was indelicate in bed and who was too absorbed by the novels he wrote about lady novelists whose husbands were too absorbed by the novels they wrote about lady novelists to appreciate the fine sensibilities of lady novelists who wrote about gentleman novelists.”

Note. One of the reasons I interjected this book into my reading list was because of a political podcast I was listening to called No Agenda. (Highly recommended, btw, if you’re into a bit of pseudo-libertarian politics and off-the-cuff news deconstruction and entertainment.) The so-called god-father of podcasting, Adam Curry, mentioned this book in his show. In fact, Curry said something about it that kind of startled me. He said that this book was a of forerunner to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The comparison didn’t make much sense at first. But then again, even though Rand seems to be in the pocket of a few republican politicians, I do not believe for a second that she would in any way support the republican party today. But that doesn’t make her left enough on the political spectrum to be compared to Lewis. Perhaps more of a comparison-contrast would be appropriate. Anyway. At least Curry motivated me to read this Sinclair Lewis book and I’m glad he did.

Great read for those interested in understanding America’s political extremism.

Links:

 

Rant on.

-tgs-

PS for those interested this book is available online here.