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.


Rant on.