Archive for July, 2011

ATT and the iPhone

Monday, July 25th, 2011

It is amazing how businesses stay in business these days.
Take AT&T for example. Now I am sure that there are many that will take an opposing position to what I have to say here, but that is to be expected. But since it is my blog, I get to say what is on my mind…
Having just moved from the City of Tracy to the City of Pleasanton, I have run into a number of difficulties. I could write pages on the trials and tribulations of a moving a small family to a new town and a home that is one half the size of the previous home, (one that has no garage or storage)…but I will not.
I will talk about AT&T, in particular AT&T cellular service. You see, in my new (old) home I am lucky to get one bar on my iPhone 3GS. My 2 year contract expires in 6 months, and you can pretty much bet that I am switching providers. I have never really liked the locked down nature of the iPhone and certainly have no use for bloatware that is iTunes. But not being able to take or make calls at my house is just too much. But, ATT has a solution. (I am paying for unlimited data and calling, I have a rather large bill every month –but that is to be expected when you need the phone for work.) The solution is what is called a microcell. This is available to subscribers who have AT&T internet at their home, along with an AT&T phone if the coverage at their home renders their phones unusable. The problem is that AT&T used to provide these microcells free of charge –or so I have read, and now they want me to pay $200 for one. Now, here is where I see the logic…they figure if you are committed enough to buy the unit, you will stay with AT&T when your contract expires. What they have not counted on is how pissed off folks will be when they stop to consider what they are being asked…For the record, I have been with AT&T for better than 10 years –all unlimited data and calling plans. So now that I have moved, in order to actually receive what I am already paying for, I am being asked to buy another piece of equipment. I do not know if this is because they do not believe me when I say that I have a paperweight when I am at my home or not, because according to their map I should be in a “good” reception zone.
Regardless of their reasoning, here is what has turned me off of AT&T.
-Their attitude that I can just piss off…for one…in other words, that they do not really care about “me” as a customer. (Maybe because I have been w them for 10 years, they figure that I will not leave?)
-Their attitude towards their supposedly “unlimited” data plan. You see, to me, unlimited data means just that…unlimited. They no longer offer an unlimited data plan for new subscribers, but since I have been paying for unlimited data since the day I got the iPhone, I supposedly get to keep it. But here is the rub…you cannot use your phone as a tethering device. So unlimited data is limited to the iPhone ONLY. Even if tethering means that your laptop or tablet must go through your iPhone, it is not considered valid under their plan. I realize that other providers offer data plans for their cell phones, and that you must purchase a data plan for this, but they do not call their plans unlimited data plans unless they are truly unlimited. If you jailbreak your iPhone, you can get access to using your phone as a tethering device, and even newer iPhones have tethering in the settings menu, but again, a different plan must be purchased to “legally” tether under their plan.
-Poor signals and dropped calls: Everyone who has AT&T and an iPhone knows exactly what I am talking about. If you have an iPhone through AT&T, it is expected that many calls will simply be terminated for no apparent reason. The poor signal issue discussed here is just me at my home, and is so bad that I went and installed Skype, and I even got a Skype phone number so that I can send and receive calls at my house…I was and am not interested in forking over another $20-$30 month for a dedicated line that will rarely be used. –Or “should” rarely be used since we live on our cell phones.
-Poor support: I have not received a voice message indication on my phone in over a month. Now if I miss a call, I have to dial and hold down the “1” button in order to see if I have messages. To further compound the issue, none of these messages have a time stamp with them, so I have no idea when a message may have been left if I haven’t checked messages in a while…Phone support failed to turn up any help, as the problem persists. I have been told that I should stop by an AT&T store to get a new sim card, but just need to find the time.
-In typical iPhone fashion, I cannot upgrade the phone. I cannot install apps because they say that I need a certain version of firmware on my phone, but like I stated, I cannot upgrade my phone, so therefore I must forgo some frequently used applications. Sort of a quandary.

If only the next 6 months fly by quickly. I can live with this for the time being I suppose. I just need to remember to press and hold the #1 in order to see if I have voicemessages…
The new Droid phones are looking really nice. I like the idea of the Bionic, but it is made by Motorola –who have apparently pissed off many Droid fans by locking down their phones, which means that Motorola is off the table for me…not that I plan to root the phone or anything, but if a company is going to mimic Apple, then I will not consider them.
There is the Samsung galaxy S2 that is rumored to be coming stateside –and is likely the one that I will go with. Of course, I will change carriers, so I am hopeful that Verizon is able to pick up this phone as well. If not, there is always the HTC, which I have liked since the EVO…

Which brings up early cancellation fees. I understand that as of today, I would have to pay a $90 fee, and since the phone that I most want is not yet available, there is no need to break my contract just yet. Just my desire to stick it to AT&T in my own small way by switching carriers. Which I guess will have to wait for now.

Anyway, that is all for now. No actual resolution just yet, just venting.

Big Government

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Today’s topic: DEBT
Before starting, I would like to offer apologies to anyone that does not like my writing style, or viewpoint. I certainly wish that I knew how to express myself through writing, but that is simply not the case as I was not blessed as a good creative writer…
Politically speaking, we are in for a world of hurt.
We have an administration that is trying to vilify anyone who stands for fiscal responsibility (and succeeding). Now I do not profess to be an economic wonderboy. Far from it. However, what is happening in Washington right now is the equivalent of maxing out your credit card, and then saying that the ONLY way out is to raise the card’s credit limit in exchange for a promise that you will eat out one less night a week and not take a vacation. Of course, this does not mean that you will not continue to spend beyond your means, it just means that you will back off on the specifically mentioned niceties. (But that big screen is still a MUST have…)
The logic is mind blowing to me. It seems to me that politicians ONLY make decisions that will satisfy their constituents –but the good of the country be damned. Now that the majority of the voters out there are voting for their own best interests, and not that of the country that they live in, I do not see how things can possibly turn around. When more and more people vote for entitlements, you will see work quality and output continue to degrade, and even more jobs leave the US (but for different reasons than now). Regardless of what you think the reasons for businesses fleeing the US for overseas manufacturing are, (selfishness, self interest, greed, etc) you have to ask yourselves why would those reasons drive someone away? It used to be said that US wages are too high, but that is only part of the equation in my mind. I work in the high tech industry, which used to be a cash cow. That made these businesses prime targets for government agencies to grab money. They grab them through regulations, standards, fees, etc. In order to build a building these days, you need to have multiples of dozens of agencies sign off…and do not think for a minute that each agency does not have their hands out. Anyway, when any business is making lots of money, they are not looking to move away…quite the opposite, they are naturally going to look at how to continue to make more money. That always involves expanding production, which leads to more jobs. Now if the government sees that a company is doing really well, the government starts to see a source for additional revenue –money that can be used to grow bigger government. Of course, the very nature of government can be best described as inefficiency at work (I use the word “work” loosely). THIS is what drives companies to manufacture elsewhere. If said company wants to expand, you have government officials looking at an opportunity to tax every aspect of an expansion in the interest of increasing revenues…fees are added everywhere. Road fees, even if roads servicing the proposed site already exist, there are always “other roads” in need of repair (that “should have” been repaired using fees previously collected but redirected towards other “pet projects” of the city managers, etcs…Fees for new parks on the other side of town, fees to help complete the rejuvenation the downtown (that should have already been completed if not for “feature creep”), etc. The list goes on. School impact fees, water runoff impact fees, permits for building, electrical, water treatment, police, fire, and a whole host of which did not even exist when the business first started. Ever see buildings sitting that were never even completed? Makes you wonder how many were dropped because new fees were being “invented” that were not considered during the design phase, because they did not exist at that time. You know the fees must be out of control when it is easier to just leave the building partially built, then pick up and move to another state, or country, build and start producing product before the original construction project would have even completed being built.

It is time to stop electing officials that WANT to be elected, and start looking for all new traits in elected officials. How about somebody that wants what is best for AMERICA? Not what is best for their neighborhood. How about someone who has an understanding of fiscal responsibility?