All posts tagged “mobile”

An Open and Honest Letter To Verizon Wireless

Dave and Verizon

This isn’t what you think.

It seems like a lot of bloggers use their blogging voice to call out companies for their wrong-doings. There’s some sort of hope that pointing a finger publicly will allow us to hold our readers as hostages in an attempt to keep them away from the brand we are calling out until things have been made right.

I’ve resolved to stay away from doing that unless absolutely necessary. In fact, I’d like to do the opposite.

So, Verizon Wireless, thank you for doing something right.

Last month, my current smart-phone of choice, the Palm Pre Plus (here’s one reason why it’s worked well for me), started to go wonky. It worked when I used it on speakerphone or with the hands-free earbuds, but it wouldn’t work in the normal phone mode. People couldn’t hear me nor could I hear them.

I gave Verizon custom service a call and within minutes they resolved to send me a new phone (well, a refurb unit which was fine with me – it actually works better than mine did when it was new!). This was a Friday and by Monday I had the new phone. I was able to simply log onto the new phone with my Palm profile information and it automatically restored my apps, contacts, and accounts.

I just want to say that every time I call Verizon’s customer service, it’s a pleasant experience. I almost feel sad that I will probably never talk to the person on the other end of the line ever again. They are always nice and helpful. I always hang up the phone knowing that things are taken care of.

As a piece of advice to the rest of you, don’t go through a Verizon store to set up your service. Purchase your phones online. Use Verizon’s phone-based customer service. They are both fantastic.

To be honest, the only negativity I’ve felt towards Verizon has been from in-store experiences.  Prices are higher. Staff don’t have near the device and service knowledge of the phone-based reps. In fact, my brother went into one last summer specifically to purchase two Palm Pre Plus units (for $15 each – heck-of-a-deal!) and the staff-person kept trying to talk him into a Droid device. My brother ended up leaving empty-handed and went to a different Verizon store.

I’ve heard that Verizon is closing some of their stores. If that’s true, I think it’s a good move. The stores are unnecessary in my opinion. The phone-based and online experience that Verizon offers are all that are required and they do an excellent job of it.

Keep up the good work, Verizon. And thank you for taking care of my issue quickly.

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The Internet In Your Pocket: Is That A Good Thing?

Take a walk with me through the woods while I debate whether having a smartphone and data plan are worth it for me. While trying to simplify, cut down distractions, and lessen the noise in my daily life, I am unsure if having a web-enabled device in my pocket at all times is necessarily a good thing.

For some, it’s a requirement. But I work from home or wifi-enabled public locations. If I’m neither of those places, I don’t want to be working or tempted to work. I want to be catching fish, focusing on my family, or just enjoying whatever moment is presented to me.

There are three main areas where I question whether having the web available at all times is good for me:

  1. I want to spend less time on the internet, not more. By subscribing to a monthly data plan, I’d feel like I was wasting my money if I wasn’t using it.
  2. I’m trying to reduce the number of “in-boxes” in my life and the number of times I check my email daily. Mobile web/email would add at least one more.
  3. When I’m not working, I want to focus on not working. If I’m in my canoe, going for a hike, or out on a date with my wife, I want to enjoy those things for what they are at that moment, not how they’ll sound in a Twitter update.

What do you think? If you use a web-enabled smartphone, does it simplify your life?

We’re all different and what works for one person might not work for another. I’m just debating what makes sense for my lifestyle today. Smartphones are everywhere and I even had one for a short while a few years ago. I realized it didn’t make sense for me then and I’m still not sure if I really need one. I’m the AnywhereMan, not the EverywhereMan. ;-)

And yes, I will probably change my mind on all of this next week.

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Get There With Google Maps Navigation

This isn’t really relevant to freelancing or teleworking, but as AnywhereMan I love to move around a little bit. I also like to know how to get there.

In a stellar move to further expand the functionality of Google Maps, Google has now released an Android version of Maps that directly works with mobile GPS to give you step by step real-time directions. On top of that, it ties in with Google Search on a voice-activated level.  Essentially, you can say something like “Public library” into your phone and ultimately it will find the nearest public library based on your GPS coordinates, and then give you step by step commands to get there as you drive.  If you are in a Google Street View area, it will even show you exactly what you will see as you are driving.

Is it just me, or is this awesome?!  Motorola Droid is looking better and better every day.

Here’s a video from Google about the Google Maps Navigation app:

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These are a few of my favorite iPhone apps

Today I share a few of my favorite iPhone apps that I use as part of my freelancing business.  I use the iPod touch and can use most of the iPhone apps that are released since I have a set of earbuds with built-in microphone. Someday Apple and Verizon will be friends and I’ll have the actual iPhone, but I can’t bring myself to switch to AT&T.  

And yes, it is Monday and I do feel as tired as I look in today’s video. I got wayyyyyy too much fresh air this past weekend (which is AWESOME). 

If you are an iPhone/iPod Touch user, what apps are your favorites?


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The phone search continued…

In a recent post I talked about my dilemma while trying to figure out which mobile phone device and provider to go with as my current contract with Verizon is in limbo.  As I learn more and more, it looks like I’ll be sticking with Verizon.  Still, I feel like all the big wireless providers are limiting the functionality of their service and devices on purpose. (duh) 

The thing that sticks out to me is the wifi coverage. If you have a device, such as a smartphone, that has wifi capabilities, you are REQUIRED to have a data plan in order to use it on most networks. You can’t just have a basic mobile plan and use wifi for all of your web needs.  Sick. In this day and age of enablers like Google and their currently FREE Google Voice, you still experience the other end  of that spectrum with mobile phone providers.

A fellow Anywhere Person, Jeremy Lattimore, talks about a similar dilemma in one of his recent posts.

Also, check out today’s TechCrunch article by Michael Arrington on why he is quitting the iPhone as a result of Apple and AT&T’s response to Google Voice.

Food for thought!

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The only thing that stays the same is change

cameraphone I don’t know if I’ll make a habit of posting "think out loud" articles, but I think my decision-making process for the following scenario may be beneficial for those of you in the same boat regarding your mobile phone service. Please share any advice or additional questions in the comments. I would love to hear what you have to say.

A few posts back I discussed the setup for my "office" phone. It’s a great setup and I have no complaints. However, in addition to the office phone line I also have a mobile phone (as I assume all of you do as well). Here’s the scoop…

I originally signed up for the plan I’m on in November 2007. The original carrier was Unicel, and they have since been purchased by Verizon so I am now officially a Verizon customer. The plan I use gives me 600 anytime minutes, free incoming calls, free incoming texts, and all the usual night/weekend stuff. Plus my wife has a 2nd phone on the contract. This deal costs us $59.99/month. It works out great because I rarely call out but get a lot of incoming calls.

However, now that Verizon is our provider, our original Unicel phones lose their charge much quicker because we are both on "roam" at all times. Verizon has offered us the chance to upgrade our phones with a new 2-year agreement but there’s a catch with that too: We can’t keep the plan we’re on. So instead of our current plan, we’d have to go to a $69.99/month plan for 700 minutes, incoming calls are NOT free, incoming texts NOT free ($5/month/phone for 250 texts each), and all that fun stuff.   Also, neither one of us are "texters". I simply use text alerts from Google Calendar to remind me about meetings, birthdays, etc.

I really don’t mind Verizon at all. In fact, I think they’ve got the best network out there. And normally I’d just find a decent phone I like and just take the hit and go with the plan that will cost us an extra $20/month for essentially the same service we already have.

One problem is that I’m also in the market for a decent pocket HD video camera. I’d like to have something such as a Flip or Sony Webbie that I could have with me at all times in case something came up that could be useful on AnywhereMan or any of my other sites. If I can find a phone that offers HD or near-HD video recording with 16:9 ratio, I’d totally go with that.

The other problem is that I’d like a Wi-fi enabled phone so I can access web and email. I do NOT want to pay an extra $30/month for web access on my phone since I am around Wi-fi networks 99.9% of the time. Verizon DOES offer Wi-fi enabled phones such as the Samsung Omnia, but the catch is you have to have the $30/month web access feature in order to use this phone.

I’ve looked into AT&T as a possible option for an alternate carrier, and the iPhone itself is Wi-fi enabled. But, again, they lock you into a $30/month web access charge in addition to the fees you’ll already be paying for your minutes. You cannot get out of this as long as you use the iPhone on their netword. Not an affordable option for me right now, plus I haven’t heard consistent reviews on AT&T’s actual service. Like I said, Verizon has been great both in customer service and network performance.

The other options in my region are Sprint and T-Mobile. Both seem to have similar rate plans. T-Mobile’s actual phone plans are cheaper, but they tack on an extra fee just for Wi-fi (not mobile web) access. And since I had T-Mobile at one point when we lived in St. Paul and had issues, I have doubts over how well their service could perform here in the north woods of Minnesota.

So essentially I’m looking for a decent plan and a phone that has Wi-fi and HD video recording. I don’t know if this even exists, but if I just go with a basic plan and basic phone, I’ll essentially need to carry my phone, my newly purchased Flip or Webbie, and my iPod Touch for Wi-fi at all times. This doesn’t make sense: carry three devices to do something that a single device should be able to do? There should be a device that offers all three of these things, and I should be paying for the DEVICE and not locked into some ridiculous and over-inflated plan where I pay an extra $30/month for a feature like mobile web which I’ll never use.

I feel like the iPhone 3GS is close, but being locked into that extra rate and paying $200 for the phone doesn’t work for me. I’d be paying an extra $560 in the first year to make that happen.  This is money that could be spent on much more useful things, like groceries or taking my kids to the zoo. :-)

So, what advice would you have for me? What are you using for your mobile phone these days? Should I just resolve to carry THREE devices at once?

Also, doesn’t it seem backwards that I was able to get a great rate plan from the "little guy" (Unicel), but when they get bought out by a much larger corporation (Verizon), the deals get worse?

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