Author Topic: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1  (Read 127626 times)

I.P. Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #200 on: February 13, 2015, 02:46:05 PM »
Good news and bad news. 

The "error 29" on my old iPhone 4s seemed to indicate a battery problem, so I paid a whopping $7 to get a battery and tools off ebay and installed it (30 minutes, tops).  Good news - it works! 

The bad news is that while I'm still within the 30 day return window for the iPhone 6, I'm quite enamored with the bigger screen, fingerprint thingie, and the SPEED.

I cut down my airvoice SIM to fit the 6, so it can't be swapped back, of course.  I've ordered another SIM which may or may not get here before Tuesday, which is when my 30 days runs out.  I also don't know if my Airvoice account (and credit) can be transferred to a new SIM. 

Hedonic adaptation...

Hooray for the fix. Boo for the adaptation.

You shouldn't have any trouble switching account and balance to the new SIM on activation, IIRC. Just gotta call in and tell 'em you needed to swap SIM cards.
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #201 on: February 14, 2015, 02:20:23 PM »
Hi I.P.,

I asked this in a different forum on MMM, but thought it would be more appropriate for here. I have been an iPhone user for the past 2 years and an Android user previous to that. I currently have about a 4gb/month 4GLTE data habit and am using cricket wireless. I would love to start going on a mobile data diet. I am impressed with your super guide and knowledge. I would prefer to stick with an ATT MVNO as I know the coverage in areas I travel to is great with ATT.

So the carrier side of things I can figure out. However, as an avid iPhone user over the past few years and current iPhone 6 user what would you recommend as a cellphone for a new "data-diet" user. I would love to pare my data usage down to 1gb per month. I use iTunes a lot and also stream music, I use GPS a lot and email and texting. I absolutely need a phone with a good camera, email, texting, gps and music capability (preferably something that would allow me to use my iTunes purchased music). I will try and give up everything else. Any recommendations, advice thoughts? Thanks!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #202 on: February 17, 2015, 05:24:18 AM »
I'm wondering if anyone has an MO for doing all calling over wifi/data but otherwise for free.

I plan to move to Ting, with DW and my kids (three phones total). I love Ting's ethos and the positive pressure to use devices less. (Actual pay for what you use.)

I plan to ditch our $35/mo ATT home internet to save money. (There are no other providers, and I'm eager for the challenge.)

DW and I have wifi at work. The line for the kids is basically for emergencies. (Yes, I know I could get something cheaper, but I think I want to go for it with Ting for all our comms needs.) My employer will cover most of my phone expense.

We plan to not use the Ting numbers for voice or messages. All voice/messages through the data plan when not on wifi.

I hope to have one number (each) for voice and messages. I used to use my ATT number for voice and then TextPlus for messages, but it confused people and annoyed me.

We're on used/old iPhones that we intend to use for the next couple years.

What is the best step from there? I'm open to melding solutions but I would like to have only one number.

1. Talkatone: got a number, free incoming voice, free SMS, and outgoing calls are 1.7 cents/min ($1/hour). I think you can call out for free when on wifi. And you call other Talkatone users for free anytime.

2. Hangouts (with G-Voice): most similar to Talkatone: got a number, free incoming voice, free SMS, and outgoing calls seem to be 2 cents/min (but I'm abroad now, so I'm not sure if that's why it says there's a charge). You get the added benefit of texting and calling from the laptop, but I don't think I'll be using that much. My key question here: can anyone check if you can call out from Hangouts for free on wifi and also on cellular data? If so,

3. Facetime etc: call other iPhones for free. Right?

4. Skype: call other skype usernames for free.

TL;DR: Can you use Hangouts as your only phone for US calling and messaging without paying anything except related data usage when not on wifi? Does any other service do this?

I'm new, so please advise if this should go elsewhere on the forum.

Thanks!

I.P. Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #203 on: February 17, 2015, 08:12:16 AM »
Hi I.P.,

I asked this in a different forum on MMM, but thought it would be more appropriate for here. I have been an iPhone user for the past 2 years and an Android user previous to that. I currently have about a 4gb/month 4GLTE data habit and am using cricket wireless. I would love to start going on a mobile data diet. I am impressed with your super guide and knowledge. I would prefer to stick with an ATT MVNO as I know the coverage in areas I travel to is great with ATT.

So the carrier side of things I can figure out. However, as an avid iPhone user over the past few years and current iPhone 6 user what would you recommend as a cellphone for a new "data-diet" user. I would love to pare my data usage down to 1gb per month. I use iTunes a lot and also stream music, I use GPS a lot and email and texting. I absolutely need a phone with a good camera, email, texting, gps and music capability (preferably something that would allow me to use my iTunes purchased music). I will try and give up everything else. Any recommendations, advice thoughts? Thanks!

Same advice I give everyone looking to go on a data diet. See those two items I bolded in your post? Stop streaming your music, and use an offline GPS like Sygic. Read this, and it'll help put you in the mindspace on how to gut that data habit.



TL;DR: Can you use Hangouts as your only phone for US calling and messaging without paying anything except related data usage when not on wifi? Does any other service do this?

It's the right thread, but you're not going to like the response because I advocate not being a cheapskate and actually paying for the services you need. As such, free VoIP providers aren't really recommended. However, to answer your question specifically, yes, Hangouts can work as you stated... BUT, I do not recommend going the data path, especially for mobile voice service. The quality will be lower, and the cost could be just as high.

PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED! (...and of course, read the guide that this thread belongs to.)

Ignore Ting for this case usage given it sounds like you've got AT&T GSM iPhones and look at either Puretalk USA or H2O Wireless instead. Odds are, if you're already talking about a level of stripped down talk service like you are and you can handle eliminating mobile data, you could probably get away with only dropping about $5-10/month on some sort of PAYGO plan anyway and get way more to use through one of the other approved MVNOs from the list than you'd get for the money spent with Ting just to keep the phone number active.

If you approach it rationally and intelligently with solid numbers on what your real usage needs are, you're going to find that doing it right isn't going to cost significantly much more than doing it cheaply... but the quality difference between those two points will be dramatic. Don't involve crap like Google Voice unless you need to.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #204 on: February 18, 2015, 10:19:26 AM »


Good news and bad news. 

The "error 29" on my old iPhone 4s seemed to indicate a battery problem, so I paid a whopping $7 to get a battery and tools off ebay and installed it (30 minutes, tops).  Good news - it works! 



Do you have any links for what you bought or how to do this. My mom and dad gave us their old iPhone 4S's, but my moms battery depletes rapidly. I'd love to know how to do this!
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #205 on: February 18, 2015, 10:28:30 AM »
Do you have any links for what you bought or how to do this. My mom and dad gave us their old iPhone 4S's, but my moms battery depletes rapidly. I'd love to know how to do this!

http://www.ifixit.com/Device/iPhone_4S

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=iphone+4s+battery+replacement+kit
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #206 on: February 18, 2015, 02:52:14 PM »
What he said.

I bought from this guy, but it looks like the price has gone up $2.  There are a ton of sellers, and it's a crap shoot, really.  The tools are poor, but they worked for me, and the battery has done well. 

I actually had my 6 packed up and ready to go back when I looked at the receipt.  Apple only allows 14 days for a return, not 30 (changed a year ago - oops). 

So now I have a 4S with a new battery and nowhere to go.  It's not worth much!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #207 on: February 23, 2015, 12:48:37 PM »
So what is the cheapest VOIP provider, for mainly emergency use? My wife think we should have some form of landline phone once our child is a little older, in case he needs to call for some emergency, or to call us etc. I think landlines are silly and old fashioned, but I guess I do see some utility in this case. And it will also mean we'll have a reason not to get him a cellphone for longer:) 

Seems like Verizon will charge me at least $5/month for a million min per month for a landline, and many VoIP providers are $5-10 or even $15/month! This is way overkill. Ideally I'd pay $0/month and just pay per minute in an emergency. We both have cellphones with dataplans and therefor unlimited minutes (yeahyeah I know, waste of money, whatever) so don't plan to actually use the VoIP much at all.

The cheapest looks like voip.ms, except they will charge up to $1.50/month for a number. Is there no way to keep a number for $0? Now the $20 per year isn't a big deal, just annoying since it's pretty pointless.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #208 on: February 23, 2015, 01:31:51 PM »
So what is the cheapest VOIP provider, for mainly emergency use? My wife think we should have some form of landline phone once our child is a little older, in case he needs to call for some emergency, or to call us etc. I think landlines are silly and old fashioned, but I guess I do see some utility in this case. And it will also mean we'll have a reason not to get him a cellphone for longer:) 

Seems like Verizon will charge me at least $5/month for a million min per month for a landline, and many VoIP providers are $5-10 or even $15/month! This is way overkill. Ideally I'd pay $0/month and just pay per minute in an emergency. We both have cellphones with dataplans and therefor unlimited minutes (yeahyeah I know, waste of money, whatever) so don't plan to actually use the VoIP much at all.

The cheapest looks like voip.ms, except they will charge up to $1.50/month for a number. Is there no way to keep a number for $0? Now the $20 per year isn't a big deal, just annoying since it's pretty pointless.

Verizon is gonna sock you with a pile of extra taxes and recovery fees that they never mention with their phone service, and whenever you bundle services, long term, it will get more expensive as there's always a promo involved to bait you in.

The thing with VOIP.ms is that you don't need to buy a phone number to use the service, in fact, you can set the outbound caller ID to whatever number you already own, it'll just be outbound only... that said, if you're wanting to have e911 service, it will cost you a $1.50 a month. There are cheap and free DIDs available if you don't care about what area they're in. CallCentric has free NY state numbers, but then you're dealing with configuring and setting up multiple VoIP providers unless you want to pay higher outbound fees. There's also IPKall for Washington state numbers, but there's restrictions needed to keep the number active, and number turnover is worse than the pool of numbers with Tracfone/NET10 burners... using IPKall for your number is like licking the floor of the local YMCA showers, you don't know what you're gonna get exactly, but you're gonna get something. It's the old adage of you get what you pay for.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #209 on: February 23, 2015, 02:04:43 PM »
So what is the cheapest VOIP provider, for mainly emergency use? My wife think we should have some form of landline phone once our child is a little older, in case he needs to call for some emergency, or to call us etc. I think landlines are silly and old fashioned, but I guess I do see some utility in this case. And it will also mean we'll have a reason not to get him a cellphone for longer:) 

Seems like Verizon will charge me at least $5/month for a million min per month for a landline, and many VoIP providers are $5-10 or even $15/month! This is way overkill. Ideally I'd pay $0/month and just pay per minute in an emergency. We both have cellphones with dataplans and therefor unlimited minutes (yeahyeah I know, waste of money, whatever) so don't plan to actually use the VoIP much at all.

The cheapest looks like voip.ms, except they will charge up to $1.50/month for a number. Is there no way to keep a number for $0? Now the $20 per year isn't a big deal, just annoying since it's pretty pointless.

Verizon is gonna sock you with a pile of extra taxes and recovery fees that they never mention with their phone service, and whenever you bundle services, long term, it will get more expensive as there's always a promo involved to bait you in.

The thing with VOIP.ms is that you don't need to buy a phone number to use the service, in fact, you can set the outbound caller ID to whatever number you already own, it'll just be outbound only... that said, if you're wanting to have e911 service, it will cost you a $1.50 a month. There are cheap and free DIDs available if you don't care about what area they're in. CallCentric has free NY state numbers, but then you're dealing with configuring and setting up multiple VoIP providers unless you want to pay higher outbound fees. There's also IPKall for Washington state numbers, but there's restrictions needed to keep the number active, and number turnover is worse than the pool of numbers with Tracfone/NET10 burners... using IPKall for your number is like licking the floor of the local YMCA showers, you don't know what you're gonna get exactly, but you're gonna get something. It's the old adage of you get what you pay for.

Thanks, especially for the YMCA shower mental imagery.. I know Verizon will give me herpes, that's for sure. So VoIP is definitely the way to go. Been thinking about getting a UPS for my server anyway, now I'll have an actual reason.

Sounds like paying the $1.50/month to maintain a number with voip.ms is the simplest, safest way. I can live with that.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #210 on: February 24, 2015, 03:28:47 PM »
This coming month of March will be my final month of promo pricing with the infamous TWC. The amount is supposed to jump from my current $35 (all taxes included) to an amount that I cannot even find in their litterature. Funny how they don't bother reminding customers of impeding rate hikes, all the while sending daily snail mail offers for TV packages.

Any tips on how to handle "the talk"? My current game plan is the following:

1) ask lightly that I remember something about a promo pricing, when is the hike happening and how much will it be
2) sound annoyed about the hike, possibly even make up a story about how I'm not sure I can swing that every month. Student loans, maaaan.
3) either ask or be offered a coupon of some sorts. If not, get transferred to retention.

At retention, I haven't decided whether to be flat out honest with the guy on the other end or play dumb. Being flat out honest would be saying something along the lines of "look, you and I both know your company is a disgrace and you can't wait to find a better job where people don't insult you all day, why don't you write in your entry log that I was very disgruntled and you managed to keep me at the current price, that leaves me happy and your numbers don't suffer". Playing dumb would involve repeating how times are hard and it's hard to find $50 a month (it is! buying stocks and bonds every month is an expensive hobby).

If they agree, what should I do to hold them to their word? I'm thinking of having them send me an email/letter confirming the new rate. Or maybe even record the conversation, NC is a one party consent state. Come to think of it, this whole ordeal is just begging for a convenient flowchart!
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 03:31:04 PM by Paul der Krake »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #211 on: February 24, 2015, 05:26:48 PM »
Unfortunately, the monkey dance is getting progressively more difficult to avoid. Even I had to monkey dance with Cox a couple months ago for over 45 minutes just to get them to do contract pricing and take $10/month off their 5Mbps package. It's embarrassing.

Just remember, you might have the Earthlink option to exercise... and recently for those of us in AT&T U-Verse territory, we now have DSL Extreme's trueSTREAM service option... dry loop is back for the AT&T folks, sorta! Unfortunately for us, the savings on the contract end wasn't worth the switch, but it might give you some negotiation room.

Just be honest, and work it the best you can. Apparently, internet service is becoming a barter/bargain service now. *rolls eyes*
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geekette

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #212 on: February 24, 2015, 06:11:01 PM »
Go Google fiber!

At least I haven't heard anything bad about it.  Our town is supposed to get it, but I don't know if it'll be months or <groan> years.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #213 on: February 24, 2015, 06:28:53 PM »
Believe it or not, but we actually have some options here in the Triangle, woohoo!. There's earthlink like you said, but they do promo pricing too and it's unclear if there are fees on top of their advertised rate. There's also Frontier that's slowly gaining ground, I see their trucks over town regularly, but it's DSL and I would rather not invest in another modem. The prospect of Google rolling into town very soon might also make them a little more cooperative. I am fully prepared to walk away from TWC if they don't want to play and will use the other options as negociating tools, but it would be so much easier for everyone if they let me stay on their promo pricing. Their service has actually been very good over the past 11 months: hardly any outages and speeds working as advertised.

Geekette, it will be interesting to see which neighborhoods get it first. I assume there will be the most traction wherever all the RTP folks primarily reside, so maybe the north Raleigh/540 area?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #214 on: February 24, 2015, 06:59:41 PM »
There are a lot of tech folks in Cary, believe me.  My neighborhood is already organizing for google fiber, as much as we can this far out.

We have earthlink (have had it for years).  About 5 months ago I called TWC for my Mom, who also has TWC and earthlink, to attempt to get her (non-mustachian) package of digital/DVR/phone/internet down to around $100.  In my attempts, I asked about lowering the speed, and somehow got put through to earthlink, IIRC.  They had a 6 month intro price of ~$30 (internet only, package independent), and told me to call back in March to get the more permanent rate of $35/month (although I'm seeing $42 on their website - we'll see next month). 


Paul der Krake

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #215 on: February 24, 2015, 07:21:11 PM »
There are a lot of tech folks in Cary, believe me.  My neighborhood is already organizing for google fiber, as much as we can this far out.

We have earthlink (have had it for years).  About 5 months ago I called TWC for my Mom, who also has TWC and earthlink, to attempt to get her (non-mustachian) package of digital/DVR/phone/internet down to around $100.  In my attempts, I asked about lowering the speed, and somehow got put through to earthlink, IIRC.  They had a 6 month intro price of ~$30 (internet only, package independent), and told me to call back in March to get the more permanent rate of $35/month (although I'm seeing $42 on their website - we'll see next month).
That's great info, thanks! I'll make sure to give earthlink a call before going after the dragon. I actually work in Cary (by Crabtree lake), but know next to nothing about its demographics, aside that apparently families like it. I don't see many techies in downtown Durham, so we'll probably be last. :(

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #216 on: February 24, 2015, 09:51:44 PM »
There's a reason 54, 55, and Davis drive are parking lots every weekday morning!

Post back about your results. I'm hoping the info I wrote down 5 months ago isn't incorrect.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #217 on: February 25, 2015, 12:20:28 PM »
There are a lot of tech folks in Cary, believe me.  My neighborhood is already organizing for google fiber, as much as we can this far out.

We have earthlink (have had it for years).  About 5 months ago I called TWC for my Mom, who also has TWC and earthlink, to attempt to get her (non-mustachian) package of digital/DVR/phone/internet down to around $100.  In my attempts, I asked about lowering the speed, and somehow got put through to earthlink, IIRC.  They had a 6 month intro price of ~$30 (internet only, package independent), and told me to call back in March to get the more permanent rate of $35/month (although I'm seeing $42 on their website - we'll see next month).

Thanks for the info, I was wondering what the internet options were in Raleigh. It looks like we'll be out there in April. Google fiber has a website that lists Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Cary, Morrisville, and Garner as the first cities, but any Cary address I plugged into their address search said "not available".
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 12:29:12 PM by Simple Abundant Living »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #218 on: February 25, 2015, 02:55:10 PM »
There are a lot of tech folks in Cary, believe me.  My neighborhood is already organizing for google fiber, as much as we can this far out.

We have earthlink (have had it for years).  About 5 months ago I called TWC for my Mom, who also has TWC and earthlink, to attempt to get her (non-mustachian) package of digital/DVR/phone/internet down to around $100.  In my attempts, I asked about lowering the speed, and somehow got put through to earthlink, IIRC.  They had a 6 month intro price of ~$30 (internet only, package independent), and told me to call back in March to get the more permanent rate of $35/month (although I'm seeing $42 on their website - we'll see next month).

Thanks for the info, I was wondering what the internet options were in Raleigh. It looks like we'll be out there in April. Google fiber has a website that lists Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Cary, Morrisville, and Garner as the first cities, but any Cary address I plugged into their address search said "not available".
Right, there's nothing concrete yet. Don't forget to stop by the NC meetup thread in the meetup forum once you move out here, we manage to get a few people together everynow and then.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #219 on: February 25, 2015, 08:23:12 PM »
Help me please :)

I'm moving back from overseas and need a cell phone and plan. 

Last time I was where I'm moving, I used AT&T, had an iPhone4, and a plan with 250 minutes, ~1000 texts, and unlimited data.  On busy months I might have used 100 minutes and 500 texts.  I used a lot of data, 100's of MB to a GB, but I believe I can cut that down.  I haven't used a cell phone in two years, so I don't feel the need to pull it out and check facebook anymore :)

I would like to be able to check text emails, listen to downloaded music, and play some downloaded games.

How do kik and XMS work?  Can I send messages to other people that come up as text messages to them, and they reply to that so it comes back using data for me? 

My first instinct is to try Airvoice Wireless's "250 Minute Plan" for $10/month and see how that works.  Think I can survive off that?

Any recommendation on a cheap smartphone?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #220 on: February 25, 2015, 08:55:43 PM »
Help me please :)

First, stuff like Kik and XMS have to be installed on both ends to send messages. They're basically just two of many smartphone-based, Balkanized instant messenger apps that happen to use a minimal amount of data. I prefer open-standards across the board, but Kik and XMS are the sorts of apps that I'll take a pass on for the less technical due to their ease of use and terms of service (though I've been considering dropping Kik here recently).

If you're wanting to do data-based real SMS messaging to other phones "for free", your main game in town is Google Voice, though there's also TextNow and Republic Wireless' guineapig service Ring.to. Your best option is probably Google Voice if you want to take that route, but their data usage is pretty heinous just for texting and a lot of people get confused by multiple phone numbers. My advice? Don't.

You could always start off with the Airvoice plan, but it's up to you. If T-Mo coverage will work (and Huntsville is pretty well covered as is the denser parts of 'bama), it might be easier to go P'tel as you could simply adjust accordingly between starting out with their PAYGO and possibly switching to a $20+ unlimited talk and text plan if it makes sense to do so without number porting or switching carriers. Per minute or MB is a couple pennies higher than Airvoice, but at the PAYGO level, it's maybe the difference of $2-3 of airtime credit at that $10/month mark, you still have rollover, refills are more convenient, and P'tel could let you drop down as low as $5/month. For the record, Liberty Wireless also has a 100 minute, unlimited text, no data plan for $10/month. Personally, I spend between about $5-8/month with P'tel currently. It's plenty for my needs, but I also have a "house" phone.

E-mail is a pretty low bar with phones, as anything that can run J2ME binaries (nearly every feature phone from the past five years) can run mujMail if they don't already have a built in mail client. If you wind up on an unlimited text plan or don't need to text that much, you then don't really need to worry about Kik or XMS, which opens things up beyond just smartphones (though XMS can run in the background on a Symbian S40 handset). Cheap texting has gotten significantly easier over the years without dragging in data now, mostly with T-Mo and Sprint MVNOs.

Music is also a pretty low bar with phones, as anything that'll take an SD card usually has an MP3 player. The real hurdle is the games. You leave those out of the mix, you could probably get away with a used $30 Nokia C3 like I have and gain ruggedness and awesome battery life, otherwise you're pushing $75-100 for something potentially without a user replaceable battery that'll have to be plugged in nightly and is way more fragile just so you can run Android and cut fruit when you're bored (something like the Moto E could work, as could literally any used flagship smartphone from the past five years that may or may not - but would ideally - support current builds of Android and/or Cyanogenmod). If you want help finding something specific, use this.

That should get you started.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #221 on: February 26, 2015, 12:17:35 PM »
Thanks :)

Ok, I'll skip the texting "hack" and just pay for what I need. 

Huntsville is funny with it's coverage, there are lots of deadzones.  I'm not sure why, if it's the hills, or the arsenal next door, or what.  My last job was in the middle of the city, but no one used Verizon, because it wouldn't make calls anywhere on the property.  Most of my friends use AT&T, but a couple do use T-Mobile.  I'll talk with them to see where they have issues, and my new boss and see what he uses. 

I won't have a house phone, and I didn't before either.  I just didn't use my phone that much for phone functions.  I'll admit, playing games is a want, not a need, and maybe I don't really need it :)

I started this reply last night, but the more I thought about it, the more research I need to do, so I'm going to go do that and get back with you.  Thanks for your help!!  It really got me thinking.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #222 on: March 05, 2015, 09:48:05 AM »
So the earthlink rep didn't know of anything that would change in March. The offer was $29.95 for 6 months, $41.95 thereafter, plus sales tax.

In the end TWC extended my promo rate for another year after a quick web chat, so I have locked the $34.99 price (all included) until 2016, at which point I will most likely I have left their territory anyway. I have emailed myself the transcript in case they decide to change their minds.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #223 on: March 06, 2015, 08:50:30 AM »
I didn't mean to imply things were changing in March, that's just when my promo period runs out. So they changed the price. Phooey.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #224 on: March 28, 2015, 11:09:00 AM »
I decided to try ptel.  It seems to be working well so far.  I activated last Sunday, so I have about 6 days worth of activity.  I've spent a whole $2, which is $0.33/day, or about $10/month.  But that included the first day and a "ton" of texts with "here's my new number."  And since I just moved, I'm making more phone calls than normal.  I don't have a work phone yet, so I'm using this for work too, although that's only been a handful of calls.  Either way, I'm ok with $10/month if that's what it works out to be, but I think it'll be less.

I went with a Nokia Lumia 521 smartphone for $45.  I was having trouble buying used because of my overseas billing address, so I bought new.  Used would have only saved about $10.  I like it, and it allows games.

I'm only using data for emails, and during the work week, I turn that off, since I have a computer at work.  Then just d/l everything when I get home through wifi.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #225 on: March 28, 2015, 10:58:08 PM »
I decided to try ptel.  It seems to be working well so far.

Rockin'. Good to hear things are working well.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #226 on: April 10, 2015, 06:19:33 PM »
From another thread posted here for reference:

I could use a guide!  I currently have Consumer Cellular - the rub is there is no service outside the US.  I go to Canada to visit family - no service the minute you cross the border.  I travel abroad to other places - again same problem.  What would you recommend?

Roaming to other countries can be handled three ways: by primary carrier permitting international roaming, by local carrier in foreign country, or by VoIP over a borrowed internet connection.

Right now, the only domestic MVNOs that have international roaming are Ting's CDMA service, and international PAYGO SIM providers like Truphone - neither of these are particularly frugal options up in Canada. If you really want to roam into Canada with your phone without swapping SIM cards or using a free WiFi hotspot and a VoIP provider, you're gonna have to spend the shekels with one of the major mobile network operators like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc... and it won't be cheap.

Otherwise, just swing into a 7-11 once you cross the border, pick up a SpeakOut Wireless SIM card to swap out your Consumer Cellular SIM with, toss $35-50 onto the account, and use that every time you head North. Granted, you'll want to check coverage maps, but it covers most of the population dense areas. Otherwise, see what other prepaid option might work for your area. Credit lasts for a full year with SpeakOut, so you can just swap SIM cards as you travel and re-up as needed. Otherwise, you're stuck trying to use some VoIP solution which really doesn't address the need for international mobile phone service.

I also need to upgrade to some kind of smart phone - company is now paying me an allowance and I need to be able to check email.  Current phone is a Nokia C3 - not exactly a flip phone, but not exactly a smart phone.
thanks!

I applaud your taste in phones, my friend. I too own a Nokia C3 and have a handy trick up my sleeve for you regarding the NMS fiasco with Symbian S40/60 phones from last November leaving everyone without email access. So long as you don't need push mail support and manual checking is fine (not critically time-sensitive), you can probably keep rocking that C3 until it dies thanks to mujMail.

If that doesn't work for you, there's no shortage of used, cheap GSM smartphones on the market at this point... especially on the Android end, but most of the phones sacrifice replaceable battery at this price point. Just aim for something that's can run Android 4.x or higher to keep reasonably current with security patches. Alternately, since recently discovering that BBOS10 doesn't actually require BIS support anymore, that really opens up the Blackberry Q5 and Q10 as some excellent options at the $100-150 price point these days for us QWERTY keyboard and long battery life snobs. They're also smartphones that haven't gone painfully dated to the point of loss of support and OS updates.

Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. Hope that helps!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 06:42:56 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #227 on: April 17, 2015, 11:51:46 PM »
First off, thanks for the superguide! It has saved my wife and I about $500 so far, and probably a lot more over the next few years by simply moving away from the large carriers.

However, we gave into some hedonistic adaptation, and now we both have android smartphones...
Airvoice $10/month plan, and we each have a google voice number for people with our old contacts, and free wifi calling/texting. This mostly gets used for tech support and other such phone calls, so the call quality isn't an issue.

Restricting data: Afwall+  is a firewall to restrict applications from accessing the network- with seperate settings for wifi and mobile data. This requires root, but having turned on mobile data (even with just cyanogenmod) for just a few minutes and not doing anything, yet having the phone use up a quarter of a megabyte, convinced me that it was needed. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=dev.ukanth.ufirewall -- Plus it significantly improves security! I haven't seen this mentioned yet for Android phones, and it seems invaluable to me for using a low cost prepaid plan.

Question 1: Texting/IM. We have hangouts working for google voice texts and calls (Which is awesome on wifi!) but I don't like how proprietary it feels, and how much data it uses (miniscule, but more than it should be using) - I also prefer open standards, so I am shying away from Kik and it's bretheren. Is there a good open alternative? Most texts we use would be eliminated if my wife and I could use mostly data/wifi- which we have been doing using google messaging and google voice. Is there a better option that would use less data to allow over the mobile data network, and get notifications? I am considering just using a raspberry pi, setting up my own XMPP server, and using xabber on the phones- but I haven't tried xabber yet. -Oh, being able to do end to end encryption would be nice. No real need for it, but privacy is good in and of itself..

Question 2: Mobile data in France for a week. My wife will be in Paris for work for a few days, and using her phone to email/text and use google maps / translate if needed would be nice, since we would like to keep in contact and she doesn't know French.. are there any favored solutions for this? A quick google search found a 1 GB sim in english for 20 euros. Assuming her hotel has wifi, 1 GB would be very much overkill. (Oh, and we have global GSM quad band phones)

Thanks!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2015, 11:54:22 PM by innkeeper77 »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #228 on: April 18, 2015, 06:47:41 AM »
Question 2: Mobile data in France for a week. My wife will be in Paris for work for a few days, and using her phone to email/text and use google maps / translate if needed would be nice, since we would like to keep in contact and she doesn't know French.. are there any favored solutions for this? A quick google search found a 1 GB sim in english for 20 euros. Assuming her hotel has wifi, 1 GB would be very much overkill. (Oh, and we have global GSM quad band phones)
10 EUR prepaid card, valid for 10 days, 500 MB of data, can be purchased from any Bouygues store.
https://www.bouyguestelecom.fr/carte-prepayee

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #229 on: April 19, 2015, 09:31:30 AM »
First off, thanks for the superguide!

Thanks for reading and giving a little feedback!

Restricting data: Afwall+

Not a bad tip, but Android firewalls are a touchy subject for me. I'm familiar with ukanth's work on it over at XDA Devs, and it's an excellent firewall for rooted devices... but my inner sysadmin has grown increasingly itchy about Android rooting from a purely security-minded standpoint, especially now that the OS has matured and you don't need to root anymore for so many of these functions that you used to need to do it for. That said, this is a case of do as I say, not as I do, as I'm still someone who's more inclined to root. *cough*

...and I also recognize the irony of this statement as someone who frequently advocates Cyanogenmod to users here, as it has root baked in. That said, I typically recommend CM for users who would otherwise not have more current and security patched Android builds on their handsets if not for CM, so it's again a trade-off. Patched OS for greater general security and better app compatibility, but in trade for allowing root. Yet another reason to hate smartphones on general principle - yay planned obsolescence.

Anyway, there's a way of doing a pseudo-firewall without rooting by subverting the VPN function. This method is what Mobiwol and its ilk do, but this method seems to be a bit more battery intense and a bit quirkier. (It also sounds potentially sketchy in theory, as MITM attacks would be trivial to execute with these firewalls if the dev went evil.) Kind of a six-a-one, half dozen the other situation. Firewalls on Android clearly require some sort of calculated security trade-off, and have their own quirks in the process. Fortunately, there's methods to granularly control most Android apps and data usage now without rooting or firewall usage, if you're willing to commit the time to go spelunking for the configuration settings on each and every app... but this too is still not perfect and can miss leaks. Granted, I've not tried very hard, but I've not been able to get my own mother's Moto E down below the 70MB a month mark... but I won't root her phone, don't want the added break-point of a VPNish firewall that could cause random connectivity issues, and she's also on P'tel's $20 package which includes 150MB 250MB of data instead of dealing with the data restrictions of PAYGO, so it's not as critical.

Now you see why I just recommend most people stick with a "smartphone" platform that's just intrinsically lean on data usage by nature.

Question 1: Texting/IM.

If you're wanting to give the finger to the Balkanized mobile texting app landscape and go open standards (which I can sympathize with and deeply respect), you're already on the right track. XMPP and Xabber are probably your best option, just remember that encryption adds additional data weight to the messages. Regarding running your own XMPP server, if you really want to, go for it... but unless you're inclined to keep your conversations as private as possible, I see no advantage to going with this solution over just signing up with an account on jabber.org (or another well cared-for XMPP server).

Question 2: Mobile data in France for a week.

Paul covered this better than I ever could have. Thanks dude!
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #230 on: April 20, 2015, 02:17:41 PM »
First off - I have been a fan of this thread for a long time, so thanks IP.  I actually used Ptel then GivMobile for a while when they were offering 50% for 3 month packages, making my "unlimited" data only $20 a month. Sadly they must have caught on to guys like me who were getting half price service for almost two years and got rid of the promotion when they switched plans.

We made the jump to Cricket mainly because my wife uses a good amount of data for a mix of personal and contracting work (coach/manager of a cheerleading gym and does all their social media) I reluctantly signed on to the data plan to get the "discount" however I don't nearly use the data and find myself looking for ways to use the data.

With that said, T-mo sucks in our area and I don't want to go back to it. I was looking at the different Airvoice Plans and trying to determine what would fit "best" I don't necessarily need a ton of talk minutes and I could probably stay under the texts as I use Imessage a lot too (usually on wifi) My data is pretty minimal (spotify premium allows offline listening, podcasts all downloaded off wifi etc) I do need to check email occasionally when at work/on the road, but I don't need it constantly.  I also noticed with the Airvoice plans that the $10 250/500 didn't seem to include Voicemail, can anyone verify?  That I do need, so would it be better to do a PAYGO option which had it listed?  In terms of rollover, does the $10 plan still roll over or only Paygo? Thanks!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #231 on: April 20, 2015, 03:16:20 PM »
With that said, T-mo sucks in our area and I don't want to go back to it. I was looking at the different Airvoice Plans and trying to determine what would fit "best" I don't necessarily need a ton of talk minutes and I could probably stay under the texts as I use Imessage a lot too (usually on wifi) My data is pretty minimal (spotify premium allows offline listening, podcasts all downloaded off wifi etc) I do need to check email occasionally when at work/on the road, but I don't need it constantly.  I also noticed with the Airvoice plans that the $10 250/500 didn't seem to include Voicemail, can anyone verify?  That I do need, so would it be better to do a PAYGO option which had it listed?  In terms of rollover, does the $10 plan still roll over or only Paygo? Thanks!

Sounds like you need/want to stick with AT&T coverage in your area. Airvoice might be an option, as might PureTalk USA, and possibly even Consumer Cellular if you put both lines on the account. Regarding your specific questions regarding the Airvoice $10/month plan, yes it includes voicemail (though like data and MMS, you might need to activate it on your account - same as Airvoice PAYGO, IIRC), and yes the unused balance rolls over.

As for the whole P'tel/Giv situation, they recently did some plan restructuring. They now have a $20 "unlimited" talk and text plan with 250MB of data, and a $25 "unlimited" talk, text and 2G data plan. Kind of an unnecessary price hack at this point.

Also, I'm not sure if you're familiar or not with my more recent official position on Cricket, GoSmart and Boost Mobile these past few months with the data pricing. A debate on the topic with my reasoning for no longer supporting the likes of Cricket and their subsequent removal from the guide can be read starting here.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 03:19:07 PM by I.P. Daley »
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geekette

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #232 on: April 20, 2015, 06:21:37 PM »
With that said, T-mo sucks in our area and I don't want to go back to it. I was looking at the different Airvoice Plans and trying to determine what would fit "best" I don't necessarily need a ton of talk minutes and I could probably stay under the texts as I use Imessage a lot too (usually on wifi) My data is pretty minimal (spotify premium allows offline listening, podcasts all downloaded off wifi etc) I do need to check email occasionally when at work/on the road, but I don't need it constantly.  I also noticed with the Airvoice plans that the $10 250/500 didn't seem to include Voicemail, can anyone verify?  That I do need, so would it be better to do a PAYGO option which had it listed?  In terms of rollover, does the $10 plan still roll over or only Paygo? Thanks!

Both the $10/month and the $10 PAYG (that lasts 3 months) have voicemail and credit carries over.  I have the former and my DH has the latter, and we both have a lot of credit that can be burned through on vacation or something.

You may have seen a mention that you don't get "visual voicemail" on the iPhone, though.  You have to check to see if any messages have been left.  A small disappointment.

On a completely different subject, I went through the very, very annoying process of canceling our TWC cable TV.  Thus far, we still have our Earthlink internet access (which was a big worry, given TWC's habit of screwing things up).  Amazing the lengths they'll go through to get you to stay... 

We bought a Tablo, hard drive, and a Roku a couple weeks ago.  The antenna that's been languishing in our attic for 20 years has been pressed back into service (funny how it didn't work for analog TV back then, but works great for digital now).  Because we were on such a cheap plan, the payback period is about 2 years, but I think it'll work out better.  We finally have an HD DVR rather than our much loved SD ReplayTVs.  <sniff>

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #233 on: April 21, 2015, 08:00:01 AM »

Sounds like you need/want to stick with AT&T coverage in your area. Airvoice might be an option, as might PureTalk USA, and possibly even Consumer Cellular if you put both lines on the account. Regarding your specific questions regarding the Airvoice $10/month plan, yes it includes voicemail (though like data and MMS, you might need to activate it on your account - same as Airvoice PAYGO, IIRC), and yes the unused balance rolls over.

As for the whole P'tel/Giv situation, they recently did some plan restructuring. They now have a $20 "unlimited" talk and text plan with 250MB of data, and a $25 "unlimited" talk, text and 2G data plan. Kind of an unnecessary price hack at this point.

Also, I'm not sure if you're familiar or not with my more recent official position on Cricket, GoSmart and Boost Mobile these past few months with the data pricing. A debate on the topic with my reasoning for no longer supporting the likes of Cricket and their subsequent removal from the guide can be read starting here.

Thanks, I feel like I overlooked Consumer Cellular based on my previous research and thoughts on it being better for family plans, but they seem to have a decent way to add data on easily if I need it. I'll have to crunch the numbers to see which one would be more cost effective in the long term, especially if I have a rollover with say Airvoice and what that would look like.  And I'm not unaware of the tactics to which you are referring. Most recently they "upgraded" us for free so that each of our lines has 5gb of data before getting throttled, and I didn't come close to using that much before.  Unlike my wife, I still operate as if I have 1gb or less of data, and only use it when I really have to.  I will have to look into the data-less GPS maps, I do enjoy Waze when I have to commute or travel. Not a necessity, but certainly a huge convenience.
 

Both the $10/month and the $10 PAYG (that lasts 3 months) have voicemail and credit carries over.  I have the former and my DH has the latter, and we both have a lot of credit that can be burned through on vacation or something.

You may have seen a mention that you don't get "visual voicemail" on the iPhone, though.  You have to check to see if any messages have been left.  A small disappointment.

Thanks for the info. I was used to no visual Voicemail when I was on Ptel/Giv, it is a nice feature to have again, but I'm not sure it's worth the extra $20 per month.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #234 on: April 21, 2015, 04:33:18 PM »
I've been using P'Tel for a month now, and it's been a whopping $8.60.  Half of the data I've used is background stuff I think I've turned off now.  My girlfriend thinks I'm crazy, so it gets bonus points for that too.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #235 on: April 22, 2015, 11:44:02 AM »
We've had some problems of late with our VoIPo line. Dead air, rolling over to the cell (as if our internet service isn't working) and the odd "ring back". I emailed VoIPo and they had us run a test (looked to be a LOT of pings and trace routes). 

Since that looked fine, they asked if we were using house wiring, which we are (and have been for many years), and said if we were, it was not supported and could degrade the adapter over time.

By that time the calls had settled down to normal, so I just dropped the issue. But really, degrade the adapter over time?  What could cause that? We had one "dead air" call today and DH is about ready to change back to (overpriced) Vonage, since he doesn't remember these problems.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #236 on: April 22, 2015, 12:41:17 PM »
I've been using P'Tel for a month now, and it's been a whopping $8.60.  Half of the data I've used is background stuff I think I've turned off now.  My girlfriend thinks I'm crazy, so it gets bonus points for that too.

Great to hear!



Since that looked fine, they asked if we were using house wiring, which we are (and have been for many years), and said if we were, it was not supported and could degrade the adapter over time.

By that time the calls had settled down to normal, so I just dropped the issue. But really, degrade the adapter over time?  What could cause that? We had one "dead air" call today and DH is about ready to change back to (overpriced) Vonage, since he doesn't remember these problems.

Regarding their statement specifically, it is theoretically possible from a power load issue as house wiring can add additional resistance to the setup, especially with ATAs that are rated at a REN value lower than 5B combined with multiple high REN handsets. It's a good way to shorten the lifespan of the cheap capacitors in most consumer grade ATAs. Best advice is to keep your combined REN value on the handsets as low as possible, and try not to exceed about 80% of the ATA's supported REN value.

That said, the problems you're experiencing and described, I'm not entirely convinced that it's a failing ATA... it could be, but if they're failing, they don't typically get better in the middle of calls or stop misbehaving. Given the sporadic nature of connectivity, it could be an intermittent line noise or network issue with your ISP. A few minutes of diagnostics (especially when it's already working well enough to connect a call) usually won't actually catch the problem.

If the problem happens again, download a copy of PingPlotter Standard (free 30 day trial - Windows only), turn off sleep/hibernate on your computer, and let it run for a couple days on a 10 second test cycle and let it just accumulate hours and hours of logs doing so... if there's a line problem, it will eventually show up. Now, I don't remember if you're an OSX family or not, and I know PingPlotter is Windows only, but there's really no OSX equivalent. The good news is, a Linux guy is making this software recommendation and admits to using it himself, so that means PingPlotter works fine under WINE with a couple minor caveats: you need to install the GDIplus winetricks package and run the app as root (don't worry, that last point makes me uncomfortable as well, but fortunately a single trusted Windows app installed in a dedicated WINE instance isn't a huge risk). If you're not already familiar with WineBottler (great WINE configuration/application front end for OSX, similar to PlayOnLinux which I use), just use that to install and run. Of course, if you already have a Windows virtual machine, just use that instead.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2015, 12:42:56 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #237 on: April 22, 2015, 03:03:50 PM »
Total REN for the house is 1.6 (the one phone that doesn't have line power is 1, and the ringer's always off, if that matters).

So yeah, probably something else. DH is a Windows person, so if it gets bad again, he'll check out ping plotter.

My mom, who also has cable through TWC and lives nearby, had problems with her phone for the same few days. I'll just blame TWC. They're used to it.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #238 on: April 22, 2015, 04:19:10 PM »
My mom, who also has cable through TWC and lives nearby, had problems with her phone for the same few days. I'll just blame TWC. They're used to it.

Probably safe to blame nothing but TWC given common network issues between services for people in the same area. Regarding the REN issue, even if the ringer is off, it's a good rule of thumb on and applies to talk voltages as well. REN is basically just the peak. Depending on your ATA, you're probably either rated for 3 or 5 REN. If it's one of the older Grandstream units, it might be 3 REN. If so, I wouldn't try to load your lines heavier than they are currently.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #239 on: May 01, 2015, 05:23:37 AM »
Does anyone have any recommendation on SIP apps for iOS? I've got a VoIP account that comes free with my Internet plan, and figured I'd give it a whirl. I've tried to use Zoiper, but can't get it working properly (it seems I can hear the other party but they can't hear me). My Android phone has CSipSimple, but that isn't available for iOS :)

The VoIP plan is the following:

http://www.iinet.net.au/internet/broadband/naked-dsl/iitalk/

Another thing, is my parents are heading off to Canada (with a few days in the States on either end), and want to have a SIM with some calls and a decent amount of data (a few gigabytes or so maybe, used for tethering to their laptop) for the six weeks they're away (at least on the Canadian leg of the trip).

Roaming data is bullshit expensive, and my dad's got a dual-SIM smartphone, so it makes sense to get at least one Canadian SIM to channel most of the data through. Would I be right in saying that each of the Bell/Telus/Rogers 3G networks are 850 or 850/1900MHz? That'd be fine for my dad's phone, but my mum's phone is a fairly old Nexus S that does 900MHz/2100MHz 3G only. I guess that phone'll be stuck on 2G (probably easier to just turn data off and pay roaming rates on the Australian SIM for the occasional call).

Any recommendations? From what I've seen, the Canadian mobile plans are terrible value compared to those here in Australia, but I could be wrong.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #240 on: May 01, 2015, 08:29:50 AM »
Does anyone have any recommendation on SIP apps for iOS?

As with anything on iOS, the best SIP clients are pay SIP clients. Acrobits' Softphone and Counterpath's Bria. Zoiper was the only decent, free, open provider, iOS SIP phone that I was aware of... so given its failure? If I could only buy one, I'd personally go with Counterpath's Bria.

Another thing, is my parents are heading off to Canada (with a few days in the States on either end), and want to have a SIM with some calls and a decent amount of data (a few gigabytes or so maybe, used for tethering to their laptop) for the six weeks they're away (at least on the Canadian leg of the trip).
...
Any recommendations?

Their options aren't great, unless they're spending 95+% of their time in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Kingston, Windsor, London, and the GTA (Toronto + 'burbs). Wind Mobile would probably be the best option. The only wrinkle, they are quite fond of their 1700/2100MHz AWS bands for data, but if the data's mostly for the laptop, this might be an option. If a greater coverage map is needed in addition to tethering, it looks like the only other viable option is going to be Chatr, with $25/1GB portions of data.

Mobile service is just stupid expensive up there, so if they're wanting any serious quantity of calling, texting, and data, expect to pay $50+ CAD or more a month while up there for what's being asked for.

Would I be right in saying that each of the Bell/Telus/Rogers 3G networks are 850 or 850/1900MHz?

Correct.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. For what it's worth, look into KnowRoaming as well, if some of the usage might be low enough to do PAYGO. They have the cheapest Canadian PAYGO rates I've seen, but their service requires a smartphone running Android, iOS, or Windows Mobile.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2015, 08:34:02 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #241 on: May 01, 2015, 04:45:46 PM »
IP, Sorry for the OT post, but is there a VOIP provider that handles SMS?   

I'm on Google Hangouts now, but looking to transition to a paid VOIP for privacy/quality.  That's probably the only hitch that keeps me from going whole hog.

Typically I like to keep these sorts of things in the guide discussion thread. VoIP providers from the guide itself that does SMS, however: VOIPo and VOIP.ms. Not in the guide currently, Anveo. There's also a few VoIP-based, proprietary providers that do SMS as well such as NETtalk and Rebtel. There's a few around, but not too many, especially with reasonable SMS rates. The technology term you're looking for specifically is SIP SIMPLE (though it's not the only method).

So continuing the discussion from your savings thread, which do you prefer between VOIPo and VOIP.ms? 

Also, I know Android and Symbian have a native SIP client, are they also able to handle SIP SIMPLE text messages either natively or via paid apps? 

My end goal is to get seamless WIFI calling such that it's transparent when in use, has only one number to give out, and easy enough for my non-techie wife to use. 

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #242 on: May 01, 2015, 05:21:55 PM »
So continuing the discussion from your savings thread, which do you prefer between VOIPo and VOIP.ms? 

Also, I know Android and Symbian have a native SIP client, are they also able to handle SIP SIMPLE text messages either natively or via paid apps? 

My end goal is to get seamless WIFI calling such that it's transparent when in use, has only one number to give out, and easy enough for my non-techie wife to use. 

No, the native clients don't handle SIP SIMPLE. Many of the VoIP providers also provide SIP to email gateway services. Coutherpath Bria for Android and iOS (paid) handles SIMPLE, as does CSipSimple (free) for Android. One of the things on my longer goal list (which needs time and money) is eventually putting Bria through its paces, as technically it has had the capacity to seamlessly transition between WiFi and 3G network calling since about 2011. Rebtel technically has had this capacity as well with the addition of handover to mobile voice network since 2013, IIRC.

Regarding a "favorite", I have none as each provider addresses different needs. They are simply guide-worthy, and each address different usage scenarios. :)

This said, VOIPo doesn't officially support "third party" ATAs and SIP phones, and enabling such on the account cuts the available monthly minutes from 5,000 to 3,000, again IIRC. I know VOIP.ms is working on implementing XMPP and SIMPLE support for their SMS service, but I don't know if they've been successful. VOIPo I believe will only do an email gateway.

TextNow also upgraded their services to do exactly that now, so BYOD Sprint device with their software does all this as well. There's also been talk that FreedomPop and RingPlus have similar coming on tap.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #243 on: May 02, 2015, 01:17:41 PM »
We've used this guide to actively cut down two lines @160 to two lines@40. We can go lower but my husband is a data hog that uses data in subways and trains where there is no WiFi.

I convinced my husband to cut cable and we are saving well over $100/month there. My husband tried OTA and sling TV but says he still can't watch his NFL games. That is the only thing he watches and doesn't need any other content. If i understand right, it comes on a couple of channels like fox, espn, etc. What is the best/cheapest way to get only NFL content?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #244 on: May 03, 2015, 06:37:01 AM »
Does anyone have any recommendation on SIP apps for iOS?

As with anything on iOS, the best SIP clients are pay SIP clients. Acrobits' Softphone and Counterpath's Bria. Zoiper was the only decent, free, open provider, iOS SIP phone that I was aware of... so given its failure? If I could only buy one, I'd personally go with Counterpath's Bria.

Thanks for that Daley. It turns out that I've actually bought Acrobits in the past, so I'll give it another crack. Last time I tried it I think I had to set up my SIP account manually as I couldn't find iiNet's VoIP configuration preloaded in the app. It authed, but there were issues with calls. It was preloaded in CSipSimple. :)

Obviously the problem isn't the device or the app :)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #245 on: May 26, 2015, 12:15:20 PM »
First off, thanks for the superguide!

Thanks for reading and giving a little feedback!

Restricting data: Afwall+

Not a bad tip, but Android firewalls are a touchy subject for me. I'm familiar with ukanth's work on it over at XDA Devs, and it's an excellent firewall for rooted devices... but my inner sysadmin has grown increasingly itchy about Android rooting from a purely security-minded standpoint, especially now that the OS has matured and you don't need to root anymore for so many of these functions that you used to need to do it for. That said, this is a case of do as I say, not as I do, as I'm still someone who's more inclined to root. *cough*

...and I also recognize the irony of this statement as someone who frequently advocates Cyanogenmod to users here, as it has root baked in. That said, I typically recommend CM for users who would otherwise not have more current and security patched Android builds on their handsets if not for CM, so it's again a trade-off. Patched OS for greater general security and better app compatibility, but in trade for allowing root. Yet another reason to hate smartphones on general principle - yay planned obsolescence.

Anyway, there's a way of doing a pseudo-firewall without rooting by subverting the VPN function. This method is what Mobiwol and its ilk do, but this method seems to be a bit more battery intense and a bit quirkier. (It also sounds potentially sketchy in theory, as MITM attacks would be trivial to execute with these firewalls if the dev went evil.) Kind of a six-a-one, half dozen the other situation. Firewalls on Android clearly require some sort of calculated security trade-off, and have their own quirks in the process. Fortunately, there's methods to granularly control most Android apps and data usage now without rooting or firewall usage, if you're willing to commit the time to go spelunking for the configuration settings on each and every app... but this too is still not perfect and can miss leaks. Granted, I've not tried very hard, but I've not been able to get my own mother's Moto E down below the 70MB a month mark... but I won't root her phone, don't want the added break-point of a VPNish firewall that could cause random connectivity issues, and she's also on P'tel's $20 package which includes 150MB 250MB of data instead of dealing with the data restrictions of PAYGO, so it's not as critical.

Now you see why I just recommend most people stick with a "smartphone" platform that's just intrinsically lean on data usage by nature.

Question 1: Texting/IM.

If you're wanting to give the finger to the Balkanized mobile texting app landscape and go open standards (which I can sympathize with and deeply respect), you're already on the right track. XMPP and Xabber are probably your best option, just remember that encryption adds additional data weight to the messages. Regarding running your own XMPP server, if you really want to, go for it... but unless you're inclined to keep your conversations as private as possible, I see no advantage to going with this solution over just signing up with an account on jabber.org (or another well cared-for XMPP server).


Thanks for your input! I confess, I am a user who will ALWAYS root, if for nothing else than to get rid of the unused standard applications many phones come with. I understand the security issue, but android is too locked down without it for me. With the firewall, I actually feel safer, because I can severely limit applications without depending on their own settings. Integrated applications did not seem to even have such settings available, and "limit background data" is disabled on system processes. My phone has only used about 0.25 MB this month (not including web browser usage- I'm actually at 4.7 MB) - that's worth rooting for me! Of course, I wouldn't do it for my parents. My wife's moto E has used even less, but she uses mobile data less often.

I'm mostly replying to ask if you have looked at Cyanogenmod 12 yet. It has really changed root access. It's now completely disabled to start with, and has to be enabled in development settings. Once it's enabled, it is integrated with Privacy Guard- I'm not sure if I am happy with the change from SuperSU but it seems "cleaner" at least. Since the code is reviewed, I feel safe trusting that root access doesn't exist unless I explicitly select "yes" on the popup. I currently have only one application with root permissions, and that is AFwall. As I am just a tinkerer/hoobbyist and you are much more advanced than I, am I missing a big security hole here? (I am assuming the user is intelligent enough to not allow root when it is asked for unless they are 100% certain they wanted to grant root and it is safe for that application)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #246 on: May 28, 2015, 08:13:34 AM »
As I am just a tinkerer/hoobbyist and you are much more advanced than I, am I missing a big security hole here?

I don't believe so, but technically with enough code - no matter how many eyes are on it, anything can potentially be exploited. The new method reminds me a lot of RIM's application permissions management utility in the pre-BBOS10 days. It could be useful, it could be annoying, it might be poorly coded and open a potential channel to exploit elevated permissions, dunno personally.

I'll have to take a closer look when I have the opportunity.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #247 on: June 06, 2015, 11:51:47 AM »
My SO is starting a sales based business and will need a land line as I am not comfortable putting her personal number up for everyone to see. Since we currently have no home phone at all (and haven't held one in our hands in nearly a decade), I am thinking of using this opportunity as an excuse to offload some of our personal chatter to another home line and save on what are currently mobile minutes. On top of that, there is a possibility of my starting some side hustles in the not so distant future, so that could mean yet another line.

Do I need to look for something specific in the hardware for handling potentially more than one line? The ATA devices' descriptions indicate how many lines they support, but it's not clear to me if I need to look for something in the phone itself. Also what happens if someone calls into line 2 when I'm on the phone with someone else on line 2? Which part of the stack handles routing to the correct voicemail?

If it makes any difference, I am thinking of buying service from voip.ms.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #248 on: June 07, 2015, 11:08:55 AM »
Paul, call handling itself with VoIP is independent of the ATA or softphone(s) attached. If more than one person calls into the same line, you can configure VOIP.ms (and most other open standards VoIP providers) on how you want handling of any further inbound callers, and can either be handled as something as simple as call waiting, straight to voicemail, ringing multiple subaccount lines or phone destinations as the call comes in (handy for forwarding to cellphones when out of the house!), or shunted off into any number of IVR labyrinths. It can be as simple or complex as you want to make it, but it's (mostly) handled on the VOIP.ms end. That said, some multi-line ATAs have additional complimentary (and even potentially duplicated at times) call handling settings on how multiple incoming calls between separate accounts can be handled as well, either ringing through as call waiting, forwarded to another line by the ATA itself, or shunted back to VOIP.ms for voicemail or call forwarding by registering the extension as busy or offline, etc.

It's also worth pointing out that VOIP.ms lets you set up as many SIP sub-accounts as you like on the main account (think of it as creating virtual line extensions), and because you can handle multiple DIDs on the account, you can route each of those numbers to ring into any specific or all line extensions... but you can even treat those line extensions as separate SIP sub-accounts. You can even assign any outbound Caller ID information you like (including spoofing other phone numbers you own, say, your cell phone numbers) to those specific lines for outbound calls.

This isn't to say that you can't influence and impact phone behavior and call handling with the equipment. Now hang onto your socks, this one's gonna be information dense.

With an ATA like the OBi202, you have support for two physical phone lines out and up to four SIP accounts. With those two lines out, you could either just terminate each line to a separate POTS telephone (corded or cordless), or you could use a two-line combiner kit (2x RJ11 to 1x RJ14 - never found these on Amazon) in combination with POTS telephones that support two physical call lines, if it's needed and the two line handset doesn't have separate jacks for each line. The only problem is, if you haven't already made the investment in two line handsets or have a source for cheap used on the equipment, the price of new two line handsets (especially if wireless is desired) can be just as costly (if not more so) and not as flexible (in some applications, but less so in others) as some of the entry-level Grandstream IP telephones. The OBi202 also treats multiple SIP accounts configured on the same physical line with a second call in on a separate account as being handled like traditional call waiting on the phone. You can then prefix the number you dial out on any phone connected to the OBi202 with **1, **2, **3, or **4 to select a specific SIP account (or line if you prefer) for outbound calling to either route through a cheaper VoIP termination provider (email me on a couple of those, I've got some newer options that I haven't added to the guide yet that's worth looking into, but not ready for inclusion) or select a different SIP sub-account to change your outbound Caller ID.

Not to say this couldn't also be done using various internal extensions coupled with DISA on a VOIP.ms account, but the dial pattern to switch outbound CID credentials before dialing the number you want to connect to becomes considerably longer than just **x due to the necessity of a four digit security PIN number, but you could also theoretically use a single digit speed dial number on the telephone itself to program in and simplify dialing the extension and PIN, but it has to be a speed dial number that isn't conflicting with your own ATA's speed dial system (if it has it and is configured). That said, you should keep this feature in mind as it can also permit you to return calls from your cell phone to business customers and have them see your business CID number instead.

Getting back to the Grandstream IP telephones and desiring multi-line phones, you have desk phones like the GS-GXP1400 which can handle two SIP accounts as line one and two effectively ($40), or there's cordless handset models like the GS-DP715 (starting at $65 for one handset plus $40 per additional handset all the way to $190 for a kit of five, it's max supported extensions/handsets) where each handset is treated and configured as a specific line extension with its own SIP account credentials, but you'll need to bust out the labelmaker to keep from confusing the phones. Of course, going this route (or any situation where you might have more than two inbound SIP lines at home) and you don't want to run your own Asterisk PBX server, you're going to start running into potential timeout and collision issues on the UDP ports between accounts (especially between the same servers and internal network addresses), but this can be addressed with a little NAT magic and port routing with each extension if you got decent networking chops (enter the brilliance of using a router that runs DD-WRT, for example - but NAT solutions with VoIP can potentially get messy, and tomes have been written on the subject). This said, most VoIP providers can use UDP port 5060 or 5080. This can be handy to remember for configuring, say, two inbound VOIP.ms accounts to your house and phone equipment, thus avoiding any need for a PBX and leverage VOIP.ms's configuration and routing features instead. Just specify a different port for each account. Of course, you lose the ability to call out via different accounts to change outbound Caller ID with these solutions as you're restricted to only two accounts without additional network fiddling.

Like I said, configurations can be as simple to as complex as you want, but what you're after is going to involve a bit of necessary complexity. I do think it might be worth the effort to potentially learn how to NAT at least four to five extensions, but I suspect the easiest hardware solution setup for your needs will probably be the OBi202 paired with something like the VTech DS6151 two line cordless system paired with a multi-extensioned VOIP.ms account. That'll give you two physical lines that can be used at the same time that'll both ring the same multiple cordless handsets throughout the house but differentiate which incoming line is ringing, have the option for a second (or third) incoming number on either line differentiated by ring profile type (say two short instead of one long), and you can call out with up to two more accounts for either the sake of lower cost termination and/or to switch Caller ID credentials (great for either just having and using a home phone number or fooling people into thinking you're calling from your cell phone when you aren't). It'll also probably be the easiest to configure and provision from a physical hardware standpoint. Be mindful though, the Obihai and VOIP.ms have some overlapping call handling features (not to mention the Obihai having some potentially overlapping NAT features with a router), so be sure to choose and remember which side you want certain features to be handled for routing and failover.

Any specifics you want on setup or need clarification on, you know how to reach me. ;)
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 11:45:04 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #249 on: June 11, 2015, 05:27:19 AM »
Does anyone have any recommendation on SIP apps for iOS?

As with anything on iOS, the best SIP clients are pay SIP clients. Acrobits' Softphone and Counterpath's Bria. Zoiper was the only decent, free, open provider, iOS SIP phone that I was aware of... so given its failure? If I could only buy one, I'd personally go with Counterpath's Bria.

Another thing, is my parents are heading off to Canada (with a few days in the States on either end), and want to have a SIM with some calls and a decent amount of data (a few gigabytes or so maybe, used for tethering to their laptop) for the six weeks they're away (at least on the Canadian leg of the trip).
...
Any recommendations?

Their options aren't great, unless they're spending 95+% of their time in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Kingston, Windsor, London, and the GTA (Toronto + 'burbs). Wind Mobile would probably be the best option. The only wrinkle, they are quite fond of their 1700/2100MHz AWS bands for data, but if the data's mostly for the laptop, this might be an option. If a greater coverage map is needed in addition to tethering, it looks like the only other viable option is going to be Chatr, with $25/1GB portions of data.

Mobile service is just stupid expensive up there, so if they're wanting any serious quantity of calling, texting, and data, expect to pay $50+ CAD or more a month while up there for what's being asked for.

Would I be right in saying that each of the Bell/Telus/Rogers 3G networks are 850 or 850/1900MHz?

Correct.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. For what it's worth, look into KnowRoaming as well, if some of the usage might be low enough to do PAYGO. They have the cheapest Canadian PAYGO rates I've seen, but their service requires a smartphone running Android, iOS, or Windows Mobile.

Little update.

I decided not to bother with using the iiNet VoIP, I couldn't get Acrobits working anyway. I've recently changed mobile carriers to one with unlimited calls*, so I guess using the VoIP doesn't bother me as much.

* It's cheap enough that it's worthwhile. I wanted to go back to a major carrier anyway.

By the way, my parents ended up going with Fido (their choice). It seems to work well enough for them, and they've found being able to go to a retail store for support useful.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 05:29:30 AM by alsoknownasDean »