On May 4th, 2013 I got a new phone and I love it. Strangely enough, I didn’t set out to buy this phone although it was on my short list of desirable phones. Our contract expired on April 29th and so my wife and I pre-ordered the new Samsung Galaxy S4 and received it on April 27th. We really liked those phones and my wife still has hers. Mine had a problem immediately in that my Yahoo Mail and AT&T Mail would not work. All of my other email accounts worked but these would not. Then after a few days, I noticed another problem. My GPS was very flaky and would work intermittently. The only way I could get it to work would be to disable it and then re-enable it. It was getting very irritating. For the record, my wife’s phone did and still does work fine. My wife called AT&T to inquire about it and they told her that it was still within the window to exchange it. They initially said they would send another one but then told us to take it to the local store and exchange it and they would credit us with the exchange. Both phones were the same price so there was no refund or additional charge expected.
I was working on laying some sod in the front yard so I could not go but my wife took it by the store and exchanged it. The store did not have a phone available in stock to replace mine so she exchanged it for the HTC One. She had remembered that I had spoken highly of it. On May 4th, my phone was exchanged for this one. I have to tell you that I am very satisfied with it. One thing that is really awesome is the camera’s 1080p video and the 16:9 aspect ration on pictures taken. The phone is very sturdy and has an aluminum case. Even so, I bought this white Spec case for protection. I really love this phone and would definitely recommend it. The call quality seems to be very clear so far and that says a lot considering how my hearing is not that great. I usually hate making phone calls via the cell phone because they are always garbled and choppy. For that reason, I will never get rid of my house phone. This phone does a good job in call clarity so far. I am very critical of call quality and I will certainly let you know if I run into problems.
I am happy and can give you much more information about this phone if you care to know. Just let me know and I will try to answer any questions.
As most of you know, I use Gmail as my main email client. I think what convinced me to go with them initially was the ability to archive messages so that I can come back to them at a later date if I choose. It also archives chat conversations through Google Talk. It seems like the last few months Gmail has transformed from an email tool to a full blown communications portal. A few months ago Google added the “Google Buzz” feature as you can see on the left. Google Buzz is similar to Friendfeed having the ability to post stories, pictures, articles or just plain status updates. Google Buzz has real time updates where people can post comments on your articles. They can “Like” or comment on your postings giving a truly interactive conversation. It does have a mute feature as well as the ability to block users.
In the last week Google has added the ability to call regular telephones from within Gmail. You can see on the left there is a “Call phones” link. When a user clicks on this link, it brings up a touch tone pad on the screen where the person can either click on the numbers with their mouse, or enter them with the keyboard. If you use Gmail the way I do, I use the Contacts list as my main address book whether my contacts have email or not. I fill it up with everyone I know with their emails, home page, phone numbers, birthdays or whatever else I can think of. The Call phones feature will allow you to start typing a person’s name and it will bring up any contact in the contacts list as the user types. For example, if I type “J” it shows all contacts that begin with the letter “J”. If I type Jo, it brings up all contacts beginning in Jo. With each character you type, it narrows the search more. If you have more than one phone number listed under a user, it will bring all of them up and you can use your mouse or arrow keys to select the desired number to call. I love it and the call quality is amazing. If you have a free Google Voice account then you will have a local number that will show up on the other’s caller ID so they can call you back. You will be amazed if you have not tried it.
Also as you can see on the left side of the photo there are names with a green or orange dot next to them. The green dot represents people that or signed into Google Talk or into their Gmail. The orange dot means they too are signed in but are idle, meaning they have not been active on the computer. Most likely they are signed in but not actually sitting at the computer. You can click on their names and either chat with them or call them with voice directly computer to computer. If you have the free video plugin installed, then you can call the person with video. I have tested both the video and the audio and I must admit that both are as good as Skype. I love these tools so much that I always leave my Gmail signed in on one window of my browser at all times. Another thing that I find really amazing is that Google Talk allows me to be logged in to my desktop AND laptop AND cell phone AND Gmail all at the same time. I can initiate or receive text chat from any of them or all of them all while being signed into all of them at the same time. Now that is very cool. In the last week, Gmail has introduced a priority inbox. This allows you to set emails from certain people as higher priority and put them at the top of your inbox. At first it was not very useful because on the left side it showed the link to your regular inbox and then under that was the link to the priority inbox. Well if I had been use to clicking the inbox on top, I would never think to use the priority inbox. I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see that Gmail has put the priority inbox on top over the regular inbox making it the default setting. I like it better that way.
One other thing that I just love about this is that I use Google sync on my cell phone that synchronizes my Gmail, contacts, and calendar with my cell phone. If I add a contact or appointment in my calendar on my phone OR on my computer, it automatically updates the other. I use my Google calendar to schedule my events at work and on my own time and my phone reminds me by text message, instant messenger pop up, and by email. I have truly become a Google worshipper that I have spent so much time denouncing. I have to admit that Gmail, Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts have made me into a convert. I cannot in good conscience ignore the coolness of all these toys. If you are a hold out like I have been, I would suggest you give them a try and experience how awesome these tools are. I am sure if you give them a week, you will be convinced. Simply going into Gmail for five minutes will not do it because if you are already happy with your current interface you will likely not be swayed with just five minutes. I am very convinced that if Google keeps these tools free like they are, people will be signing up in droves. Give them a try.
I have made it clear over time of my love for storms. Maybe I am weird but I just find the storms enjoyable. On Thursday July 16, 2009 we had a surprise storm that I found to be a dream come true. This storm was sudden and small in size thought it caused some damage in the area it covered. The storm covered most of the Eastern half of the Oklahoma City metro area while the Western half of the city remained sunny and hot. Although this storm was very exciting and wild, I too was a victim of the damage from this storm. Most of my damage was an after effect of the storm. In the photo above you can see the main entrance to Heritage Park Mall in Midwest City, Oklahoma. As you can see the roof was blown off onto the front wall. This was just one example of the many buildings that lost roofs as a result of the + or – 80 MPH wind that resulted from this storm. In the photo below you can see some of the 2 inch hail that we received at our home.
In this picture below you can see one of our repeaters (145.25) antennas bent over from the high winds. This antenna is a very expensive $900 antenna that is 20 feet long and the pole is more than two inches in diameter. This antenna still works but is very unattractive to look at.
Just as the antenna above is bent, you can see our other repeater (443.3) antenna that is on our WIN System repeater. This antenna is just as expensive as the one above. The wind was very powerful to be able to do this on both towers more than a half mile apart.
There were other damages that were not pictured here such as our car. One of our cars took many dents because of the hail. In addition to these there were after the fact damages done because of the power surges after the storm. This storm knocked down many power poles in my area leaving thousands of people without electricity. We were one of the fortunate ones that did not lose power long term but rather lost power intermittently over a two day period. At least I thought we were fortunate. As the local power company repaired many of the power lines that were destroyed, it resulted in a drain of the rest of the electrical system. With each pole that was restored, we received a one or two second blink of our lights. This went on for two days resulting in damage to several of our household appliances. In the picture below you can see my $200.00 Internet radio that was ruined. This radio will not even light up now. In addition to this we lost a computer, a Nintendo Wii that was less than one week old.
The brand new computer that replaced the bad one has now developed an intermittent outage that I cannot duplicate. The appliance damage is exacerbated by the fact that I live in an old home where there is not an adequate grounding system in the electrical wiring. The typical surge protector that most people use to protect their appliances are rendered useless in these cases. They cannot protect from surges because they need an adequate ground to shunt the excessive voltages to. Without giving the surge protector a good ground to send the excessive voltage to, it leaves those appliances vulnerable. In fact I have every one of these appliances plugged into these surge protectors. There may be other problems that I have not found yet. There were many trees that were split in half all over my neighborhood leaving the streets filled with leaves and tree branches.
This damage leaves me a little conflicted on the storm that was so enjoyable at the time. This was a wakeup call that shows that we can be a victim during and after the storm. Although the storm was over two days ago, I continue to get blinking lights due to the power company reinserting those downed lines back into the system. If you live in an older home that does not have adequate grounding, you will be vulnerable to power surges even if you have surge protectors installed. It looks as though I have a lot of work to do to get this place up to standards. Surprisingly it was not the lightning that caused these damages. It was after the storm when all these surges happened that has resulted in the damages to my appliances. This makes it even worse because even if you were responsible and unplugged your appliances when you saw the storm coming, you would have plugged them back in after the storm. There would ordinarily be no reason to unplug my appliances with the current sunny skies yet these ongoing power surges allow continue to damage my equipment on this sunny day.
If you are like me and have a lot of electronic equipment, you may want to do some research and find out what constitutes true surge protection. You may find out that you have no protection at all like myself. I hope this post helps to alert you to the risks that are inherent with electronic equipment. If you have this equipment, you may want to take some action to protect yourself.
This morning I woke up to go to work and was still itching pretty bad though you could barely see it. This evening when I came home from work I noticed something was different. No itching at all! After four and a half weeks it is finally on its way out and all I can say is thank God! This has been a rough month with the never ending itching and even worse the allergic reaction to the medicine.
During this time I had two very big events my life and that was graduating OU and the other was seeing my family in New Mexico for the first time in 21 years. The enjoyment of both of these events were a bit lost because of having the most severe poison ivy outbreak known to the human race. For those of you that saw it, you know what I am talking about. For the rest of you, I will spare you the pictures but I do have some. 🙂
While we were gone on our trip my oldest son Kevin was a hero. He did not get to go with us on our vacation because he forgot to tell his boss about it until it was too late to let him off. I was upset for a while but that was changed when some bad guys broke into our house while we were gone. My son captured two of the three and the police caught the other one. Everyone of them were over 18 years old so we are pressing charges. He walked in on them inside the house. Just yesterday he was at work and helped to capture a thief at his work. I told him that being a police officer may be his calling. The bad guys come right to him. I am so proud of him and the way he handled the situation.
Now that I am feeling better this weekend I have to work tomorrow. That is okay because it will be a short day. I am working a straight eight hours from 6:30 am to 2:20 pm. That should go fast and I will be able to squeak by with a decent weekend after all. Our WIN System repeater was blocked this week because of a stray signal that was mistaken for intermod. This happened once before in 2007 when a local ham was transmitting amateur television (ATV) on 439.25 MHz. This local ham is very close to the repeater antenna and has a very high gain antenna. I am not sure if that is what happened this time or not. Another possibility is that another new ham was trying to get into the repeater with a handy talkie (HT) and was not getting into the system very well. I am hoping that was the scenario because that is an easy one to fix. We have since been unblocked but we are reluctant to connect back up until we confirm the source of the signal.
Just the other day I posted about the new Microsoft search engine Bing.com and how cool it was. A story came out today that shows that in just three days, it has taken the number two search engine spot world wide over taking Yahoo. I have mixed feelings about this because I have always loved Yahoo and still think they are very relevant. At the same time I am really pulling for Bing to succeed. I really do like the way it operates. Well I have rambled long enough so I will get this posted.
This weekend I replaced my phone with this Blackberry Curve 8900 from T-Mobile. This phone while lacking 3G capability is very nice. I have been torn for sometime about whether I was going to change providers or stay with T-Mobile when my contract ran out. I think it was my son coming home to live with us that made up my mind because with four phones, the price can be very steep, especially if you have Internet capability. We have the 1800 minute family myFavs plan with each person being able to select five numbers where they can make or receive unlimited calling. Also we have unlimited mobile to mobile calling, and unlimited nights and weekends. We also have unlimited text messaging because after all, I do have teenagers. I cannot blame them because since I have Twitter, I get just as many texts as they do.
I considered switching to a new carrier but the cost of buying four new phones and the new, more expensive rate plans would have been just too expensive. Since we have been with T-Mobile since 2000, we have a good history to go on so we decided to stay. I have had flawless service in the last nine years with them so we decided to stay with them. When we signed up originally they were not even called T-Mobile but rather Voicestream.
It was going to be a toss up between this phone and the G1 but I finally decided on this one for one reason. I kept reading about how the G1’s battery life was very short. Secondly T-Mobile’s 3G rollout for Oklahoma City would not be until August. The 3G speeds were sure to make the battery run down even faster.
The phone that I settled on is this Blackberry and I love it. They may say that it has no 3G but the Internet is every bit as fast as my dad’s Iphone and my brother’s Blackberry through Alltel/Verizon. This phone also has Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) through wifi. The speeds are almost as fast on the mobile EDGE as it is on my home wifi making it very usable. The one thing that I love about this phone the most is the fact that I can be connected to Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, AOL Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, and Blackberry Messenger all at the same time. I have three different email accounts including my University of Oklahoma account. I have Twitterberry, and the Facebook for Blackberry installed and I can have all these programs running at the same time.
Of course yesterday was my first full day with this phone and with all the heavy usage on social networking sites and phone calls, the phone is still not dead. I charged the phone all day Friday and it is now Sunday. I am very pleased with its performance. I just love the message notification section where I can check any of those systems and respond to any of them from one spot. This is pretty amazing how smooth it works. It is almost as addicting as the computer itself. I just wanted to share how pleased I am with this new phone. Do not let the lack of 3G discourage you from this phone because it is quick enough to make it useful. I would definitely recommend this phone.
This weekend the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) sent out an upgrade that would vastly improve the audio from node to node. This update changed out two files, the imike, and ispeaker. This allows nodes to connect to each other with uncompressed audio making an incredible audio quality. This increase in audio quality also increased the bandwidth required to stream the audio by 100%. Now the stream requires 80 Kbps to carry the audio virtually solidifying the requirement for broadband Internet.
To date, there are only five reflector channels that are capable of handling the uncompressed audio. These are 9200, 9003, 9739, and 9755. Nothing has changed on the reflectors except that the owners of these listed have set up those channels to select UNCOMP as the default codec. It is likely that not all reflector owners will opt to use this uncompressed audio because of the incredible demand for bandwidth. Since most of these reflectors are operating on donated bandwidth, they may be reluctant to double the bandwidth required if there are many users like the WIN System which typically has 50+ nodes connected 24 hours a day.
Any individual node that calls another node will be able to experience the improved quality of audio. Both of our repeaters have been updated to the new audio though our 443.3 repeater may not be noticeable because it is connected to the WIN Sytem 24 hours and they have not upgraded their channel yet on the 9453. I have been amazed at the improved quality as it is virtually perfect.
Another improvement that came with this, most users will not notice because it happens behind the scene. Before, when a node would connect to a node for the first time, it would automatically download two .wav files. These were the announcement files that you hear when connecting or disconnecting from the other node. After you visit many nodes, the node hard drive begins to fill up with many audio files making it difficult to do a backup. Also since many of the nodes are using older computers, they sometimes have smaller hard drives. With this upgrade, the nodes now stream these connect and disconnect announcements from the IRLP servers so nodes owners are no longer concerned with filling up a hard drive.
Dave Cameron, VE7LTD, the creater of IRLP put out a beta test version of this upgrade last Wednesday and more than 250 nodes participated with zero errors. On Thursday night, he decided to push the upgrade out on the nightly updates. On Friday morning, all nodes should have received this upgrade. We are thrilled with the performance on both of our repeaters. Since both of them are on broadband Internet connections, this higher bandwidth requirement was not an issue with us.
Thank you for those of you that use our nodes/repeaters.
You may remember last week I posted a message about Microsoft making an unsolicited bid to take over Yahoo for $44.6 Billion last week. The buzz going around on the Internet today is that the Yahoo board has met secretly and decided they would not even consider an offer of less than $40.00 per share. Last week at the time of the bid, they offered $31.00 per share because Yahoo had lost value in their shares in recent days. Since that offer last week, Yahoo’s shares have gone up considerably and Microsoft’s shares have decreased. This should be interesting to watch because Yahoo wants to stay independent. I have always had a soft spot for Yahoo because they were one of the original pioneers of the Internet back in 1995. I would hate to see that history destroyed. I am sure there will be more information come from this in the coming days so keep an eye open for this.