Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wrapping it up with FreedomPop

A while back, I was researching cell phone service for a lady from the church. When I last mentioned it, she still hadn't made up her mind. I figured she'd go with Xfinity Mobile, but she instead upgraded her AT&T flip phone to an inexpensive Samsung smartphone.

During that research, I became much more aware of what options there were for Android devices. I even decided to get an Android device, which I mentioned some time back.

I still have my iPhone with stuff for my day job on it. But I have my Android phone for stuff like ... well, whatever it is I do when I'm not doing my day job. I have been using FreedomPop service with it. That was one of the services I checked into for the church lady. Commenter Slapout was also using FreedomPop, and I need to see how things are going with him. For me? Well, I'm ready to wrap it up with them.

Their free service has minimal data. If you don't use much data, that's not a problem. But, I'm one that uses data. So, I went with one of their special deals, and tried a 2 GB data plan. That was more than I would use, so some rolled over every month. I've got lots available. Well, relatively speaking. Several months. I don't often pull out the phone and use data when I'm away from a reliable WiFi source, so I don't really use all that much. Just more than the free plan.

Anyway, the price is going up. For the next six months, it works out to a little over $20/month. That's not bad, to be sure. But, the price is more in line with traditional cell phone services. And with traditional cell service you don't have to use a special phone or text app like you do with FreedomPop.

I could drop to a 1 GB plan for less than half that, so I might go that route. But if not, I'll be writing about Google Fi in a future post. But, I'm planning on dropping my paid FreedomPop service. Funny enough, I still have a free FreedomPop service. I ended up ordering two FreedomPop SIMs a while back, so I put one in my Moto e4 -- the one that's now a paid service -- and another -- the still free service -- in an old Samsung Galaxy S-something.

The downside of the free service is that if you don't use your phone every so often, they'll suspend service. No charge to restart it, but it is a pain. And you lose your number. So, there's that. I'm not faulting them for it. I mean, it's free, right? And if I kept the number and never used it, they'd be carrying it on the books and I'd just be tying up an otherwise useful number. So, that's not a complaint on my part, just a recognition of the facts.

So, after a year of FreedomPop, my thoughts? It's ... okay.

It runs on AT&T if you bring your own unlocked GSM phone (I did). If you use one of theirs, it's a Sprint CDMA phone. And Sprint doesn't have good service where I live. Neither does T-Mobile, for that matter. But I get good Verizon and AT&T service. So, the BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) option works for me. Oh, and they are all refurbished CDMA Sprint phones. There are some Samsung Galaxy S7 phones, and some Motorola Moto X phones, so there are some good phones, just no new phones.

If you have a good quality phone, there's never any reason to call customer service. I've never had to deal with customer service, but I've read some stories. But, from my experience, I have no experience. I chalk that up to having a good phone. Which is why I chose the BYOP option. I knew the quality of the phone going in. It was a good phone and everything worked. So, no customer service calls were necessary.

Let's see. What else? Oh, yeah. The apps. Using their VOIP service, you go through their own phone and text apps. You can't use the default apps on your Android (or iPhone; I tried that, too). Which is a pain to get used to. But, the stuff works most of the time. Yeah, I had a couple of times where I couldn't place a call or get a text. But, I've run into that with Verizon on an iPhone X. So, this is no worse than that. Not a deal-breaker.

So, bottom line. Would I recommend one? Maybe. If you want a cheap service and can put up with ads (the free one is ad-supported), and don't use much data, this is actually not a bad way to go. If you want all the bells and whistles, this ain't for you.

Whether or not I'll keep the paid service, I don't really know. I'm keeping the free just to have a backup. I've set an alert on my phone to remind me to place a call every so often, so I don't lose the number (again) with the free service.

But, if I do go drop the paid service and go elsewhere, it'll be something around the same price, and that works more like a standard cell phone service, with the default phone and text apps and everything.

I know you can hardly wait to find out what I'm gonna do.

And we'll close on that cliffhanger.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Washington's Birthday 2019

George Washington

Every year, I do this. Or something like this. I'm doing it again this year, because it matter. You know what today is, right?

If you said "Presidents Day," you need to be beat with a stick. With knots in it so it hurts really bad. And, if the stick breaks, another stick needs to be used. Until we're all out of sticks. Because you should know by now that it's not "Presidents Day."

Today is Washington's Birthday.

Now, I know, you know, we all know that George Washington's birthday is actually February 22nd. That's this coming Friday. But, there is a federal holiday called Washington's Birthday, and it's to honor George Washington. And the name of that holiday is ... Washington's Birthday.

So, why does everybody call it Presidents Day? Well, not everybody does. I don't. And, I hope, you don't either. But there are a lot of folks running around loose that call it Presidents Day. But that doesn't make it Presidents Day. It's still Washington's Birthday. And they're idiots.

This day is set aside to honor the first President of the United States, George Washington. He was instrumental in the founding of this nation, and if anyone deserves a holiday, it's him.

Washington's Birthday was the fifth national holiday established, after New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. It was one of the holidays picked for a Monday observance in 1971 when they started screwing around with federal holidays, and making some fall on a Monday. Along with Washington's Birthday, the holidays Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day were also moved to Mondays. The first four holidays and Veterans Day kept their regular days. And, the newest holiday, Birthday of Martin Luther King (that's the real name of that holiday by the way) is one of those Monday holidays.

If you want to be one of "those people" that are always correcting others for things ... you know, like I'm doing right now ... and you want a link to throw at people, use this link to United States Code 5 U.S.C. 6103.

Why am I like this about Washington's Birthday? That's the wrong question. The right question is: why aren't you?

George Washington has his own day. He shouldn't have to share it with Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, Millard Fillmore, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, or any of the others. And Americans need to recognize that. It's not often the government gets stuff right. This is one of those rare times. Don't let regular folks screw that up.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Artificially inflating my movie library

I've added 34 movies to my movie library without spending a dime. Only, I'm not sure if I should count those movies or not.

You see, I've been slowly but steadily building my movie library over time. When iTunes puts movies on sale, I'll buy them. iTunes is my main movie library. But, since I also have iTunes linked to MoviesAnywhere, that means movies from participating studios that I buy from Amazon, Fandango Now, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft Movies & TV, or VUDU will get added to all of those libraries. I have 566 movies (as of today) that are in my MoviesAnywhere library.

I have movies in the various services that are not shared via MoviesAnywhere, but I have purchases in multiple libraries. That's because I used to buy standard definition movies, but when HD versions of those movies are put on sale, I'll upgrade in iTunes, and have better versions at a cheap cost.

I have 18 Amazon movies that aren't in iTunes, along with four VUDU-only movies. But, when it comes to Google Play movies, it gets really complicated.

With Google Play, you can have family members share your library. Those shared movies are only available via Google Play or YouTube -- not via MoviesAnywhere -- for the other family members. Oh, and they can share back. And that's where it gets complicated.

Family members have together shared 34 movies via Google Play. Actually more, but I own copies of some of what they've shared. But there are 34 total movies shared that I don't otherwise have. But, they are available to me via Google Play, and I'm going to count them in my movie library. For now.

I'll watch them. Some I've already seen, such as Big Business, Straight Talk, and The Apple Dumpling Gang (don't judge me), but most I haven't. If I like them, I'll buy them, and officially own them. But, for now, I'm counting them in my library, since I can turn on the TV, launch my Roku (for Google Play or YouTube) or Apple TV (for YouTube) and watch those movies.

On the other hand, if a movie is on Hulu or HBO, should I count them? No. So, why am I counting these movies I don't own? Because I can. So, that's now 1,291 movies in my library, counting those 34.

Maybe I shouldn't count them. I need to think about that. But not right now. I think I'll just watch a movie instead. If I can find anything to watch.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What a stupid driver

I don't like stupid drivers. You don't either. You're there in traffic and somebody is doing something stupid -- or not doing anything when they should be doing something -- and you're thinking "What a stupid driver." Well, I ran into that the other day. And, it wasn't quite like anything I had ever encountered before.

I was in traffic. Not heavy traffic, but traffic nonetheless. There was a line of cars, and we were stopped at a red light. To my left was a lane of traffic going the same way.

I looked over to my left and noticed the driver was looking down towards her steering wheel. No, not to the steering wheel, but a little below the steering wheel. Not to her lap though. Bottom of the steering wheel. I couldn't see the phone in her hand, but you could tell. You could tell.

About that time, the brake lights on the car ahead of her went off, and the car ahead of her started to move. I watched her and she was still looking down. After a second or two, enough time for the car ahead of her to have moved a couple of car lengths, she glanced up and realized she was just sitting still in traffic with no one ahead of her. Only then did she move her car forward.

"What a stupid driver," I thought. I watched her for a second and just shook my head. I turned my head toward my passenger and was about to share my thoughts, when I saw I was receiving the most curious look. That's when I noticed traffic ahead out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head to look forward to confirm what I was seeing.

That's when I discovered that the car in front of my had moved several car lengths by now and I was now the one sitting still, holding up traffic.

That look from my passenger? It was quietly saying "What a stupid driver."