Author Topic: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1  (Read 159232 times)

Beardog

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #450 on: August 04, 2016, 08:36:04 AM »
Hello, I.P.

I finally feel forced to get a cell phone for emergency purposes and to provide an alternate communication method if my VOIP goes down (since pay phones have gone the way of the dinosaurs). 

For a reliable phone that would be used for talk only, on an infrequent basis, what kind of phone would you recommend and where is the best place to buy one?  Your website recommends 'the humble and end of life Nokia Symbian S60 platform' and '[any] modern Java MIDP 2.x feature phone operating system (or even Symbian S40) combined with a WiFi chipset is fine for personal communications usage with such solid offerings as the Samsung Ch@t line, the LG C series, some Alcatel OT handsets, and of course Nokia’s Asha line of phones.'  Could you translate this into a couple of concrete phone suggestions?

For my area, it looks like TMobile and AT&T are the dominant providers.  Would the Puretalk's $10 Senior AddVantage plan be a good phone plan option?  (I'm over 55.)  Do I have to do something to disable incoming texts, since I don't want to send/receive and pay for these?

Is there some kind of battery back up one can keep on continuous charge to have available in the event of a long-term power outtage?

Thank you for any guidance you can provide. 

~ Beardog










I.P. Daley

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #451 on: August 04, 2016, 08:23:06 PM »
For a reliable phone that would be used for talk only, on an infrequent basis, what kind of phone would you recommend and where is the best place to buy one?  Your website recommends 'the humble and end of life Nokia Symbian S60 platform' and '[any] modern Java MIDP 2.x feature phone operating system (or even Symbian S40) combined with a WiFi chipset is fine for personal communications usage with such solid offerings as the Samsung Ch@t line, the LG C series, some Alcatel OT handsets, and of course Nokia’s Asha line of phones.'  Could you translate this into a couple of concrete phone suggestions?

I've not had quite the spare time to update and keep the site current as much as I'd like lately, so apologies for that, but I'll answer your question with a couple posts I made in this thread just a couple days ago on this very topic:

Most of the old Nokias with physical keyboards at this point have been left broken network-wise with any useful mobile data services due to the SSL POODLE vulnerability, there's maybe the e72/e73 at this point, and it's just not worth the price premium.

In a thread from September of last year you suggested these phones; from the URL I assume they meet the 3G GSM 850/1900MHz parameters you gave me above. Are they underpowered/obsolete/not ideal for my situation?

Those are getting harder to find, the prices aren't tracking lower, most of them are feature phones with many of them old enough to suffer from the same POODLE SSL issues that have bricked the older Nokias...

Of course, if you're just looking for a phone (which you are), and don't care about email, SMS text messaging, web browsing, and other networked creature comforts, and just want a straight up mobile phone that just makes phone calls, none of those quoted phones and their features would be worth anything to you and any old 3G capable clamshell or candybar feature phone will be plenty for your needs. A carrier unlocked ZTE Z222 can be really cheap, but the UI can be a little confusing and labyrinthine. There's also the factory unlocked Jethro SC628, GOSO Big Button, and Snapfon ezTWO. Before you think I'm recommending those three latter candybar feature phones because they're senior phones and you're over 55, it's not so much that as there's not too many decent feature phones being made anymore at all... but the senior phones are getting the most love (which isn't much love at all) on 3G band support and simple user interfaces for feature phones.

For my area, it looks like TMobile and AT&T are the dominant providers.  Would the Puretalk's $10 Senior AddVantage plan be a good phone plan option?  (I'm over 55.)  Do I have to do something to disable incoming texts, since I don't want to send/receive and pay for these?

Depends on how much you plan on actually using the phone. The Senior AddVantage plan is certainly one of the best bangs for the buck, and sub-$10/month PAYGO plans are getting rarer. However, if you don't plan on using more than 100 minutes a month (at screaming most), you might be better served with an H2O Wireless PAYGO plan at 5˘/minute with their refills adding a minimum of 90 days airtime and unused balance rollover. That would still give you AT&T coverage that way, which would be the better network coverage wise if you're wanting non-911 "emergency" phone use. Alternately, there's also Truphone SIM which would charge you 9˘/minute outbound, but give you free inbound calls, they're less rigid about airtime expiry (so long as you use the phone at least once every 45 days), and provides both AT&T and T-Mobile coverage.

Any of these providers should be able to disable SMS/MMS messaging on your account as well as mobile data, but you'll have to call in and talk to a support person to get that done.

Is there some kind of battery back up one can keep on continuous charge to have available in the event of a long-term power outtage?

All the linked phones should have the now standardized Micro-USB B connector for power charging (same as smartphones), and as they're not smartphones, battery life should be at least around a week for all of them. However, because they have a common power connector shared with smartphones, and smartphones are notorious for having short battery lives - and now more frequently non-user-replaceable batteries, a rich aftermarket of rechargeable portable battery phone chargers exist now. This one is one of many on Amazon, just for example, and there are plenty of cheaper and more expensive options if you look depending on what all you want it to do (solar, hand crank, flashlight, radio, etc.). This used to be my favorite go-to before they discontinued it. Beyond that, you can get 12V USB car chargers down at Dollar Tree for a buck as a third tier emergency charging method using your car battery.

Hope that helps! Any other questions, just ask.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2016, 08:27:39 PM by I.P. Daley »
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.

Beardog

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #452 on: August 05, 2016, 11:39:31 AM »
This is incredibly helpful!  I truely appreciate your expertise.   Thank you for responding to my very basic questions.


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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #453 on: August 05, 2016, 01:30:57 PM »
To start:  I have read the Guide a few times and have been Googling.  My question is a little different, so I hope that will be a nice change.

I am currently on my family's AT&T plan and my cell phone is broken, so I am looking to replace both plan and phone.  My average monthly usage is 100 - 200 minutes of calls and 600 - 1000 texts and around 1 MB of data (not a typo, I don't do data more than the occasional MMS).  However, the majority of those texts (minimum 400 - 600 per month) is due to a GroupMe conversation that my friends use to keep in touch.  (GroupMe is a service that gives your group a unique phone number for group text messages.  Members of the group text must be added to be able to send/receive messages.)  These are almost never time-sensitive, so I would prefer to see them on my computer.  Removing those texts takes my average to around 200 to 400 per month.

I'm hoping to stay on an AT&T MVNO, as I already know it provides coverage in all the areas I commonly visit.

Looking at my usage, I'm thinking that Puretalk's SIMPLE $15 for 600 minutes plan will cover me (as each text is 1/3 of a minute) as-is.  However, if I can get the GroupMe conversation onto my computer, I would probably be covered most months with the SIMPLE $10 for 300 minutes plan.

I am currently eying used, unlocked with clean ESN Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G phones because of their QWERTY physical keyboards, threaded texts, good camera, and support by Cyanogenmod (never used it, but you recommend it, soo...).  They are for T-Mobile, but should work with AT&T MVNOs, right?

In theory, I could use the GroupMe app, but I don't like the permissions list or that it is yet another Microsoft product.
Quote
Version 5.5.3 can access:
In-app purchases

Identity
    find accounts on the device
    add or remove accounts

Contacts
    find accounts on the device
    read your contacts

Location
    precise location (GPS and network-based)

SMS
    send SMS messages
    receive text messages (SMS)

Phone
    read phone status and identity

Photos/Media/Files
    modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
    read the contents of your USB storage

Storage
    modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
    read the contents of your USB storage

Device ID & call information
    read phone status and identity

Other
    modify app ops statistics
    receive data from Internet
    manage document storage
    full network access
    view network connections
    create accounts and set passwords
    read sync settings
    toggle sync on and off
    use accounts on the device
    prevent device from sleeping
    control vibration
    install shortcuts

So what I would love is a way to be able to get the GroupMe conversation into Pidgin.  I've figured out how to send texts via the AIM account I have set up in Pidgin, but I don't know what number to use to set up to receive texts in this GroupMe conversation.  I know the short code that appears on my phone as the source of IM->text replies, but I couldn't add that to the GroupMe conversation.

So, my questions are:
1) Phone - yes or no?
2) How can I unload GroupMe conversation to computer without downloading MS junk or granting MS permission to do everything to my phone/computer?  I think need some phone number that can just be added to the GroupMe conversation and then have the messages go straight into Pidgin.  I'm sure someone else has figured out this one, but I can't find it.  Maybe a VOIP phone number?  I just don't understand enough about them to know if that would work.

Any advice is welcome when you return!  (And have a good Sabbath.)
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #454 on: August 05, 2016, 05:46:05 PM »
I am currently eying used, unlocked with clean ESN Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G phones because of their QWERTY physical keyboards, threaded texts, good camera, and support by Cyanogenmod (never used it, but you recommend it, soo...).  They are for T-Mobile, but should work with AT&T MVNOs, right?

Yeah, for the most part. As for Cyanogenmod and this phone, two things:

1) The phone is only supported through CM11, which is equivalent to Android 5.0, which is starting to get dated itself at this point.
2) Cyanogen Inc. recently fired most of their OS staff, which doesn't entirely bode well for the future.

In theory, I could use the GroupMe app, but I don't like the permissions list or that it is yet another Microsoft product.

-snip-

So what I would love is a way to be able to get the GroupMe conversation into Pidgin.  I've figured out how to send texts via the AIM account I have set up in Pidgin, but I don't know what number to use to set up to receive texts in this GroupMe conversation.  I know the short code that appears on my phone as the source of IM->text replies, but I couldn't add that to the GroupMe conversation.

There's no easy path for what you're wanting, honestly. Everyone wants to wed you to their proprietary apps. If GroupMe works for you and you already have a Skype account and/or are running Windows 10 (which, if you're using Windows, you might as well - the invasive stuff was backported to Win 7/8, but it's easier to disable most of it in Win10), just lean into it and use the app on your phone/desktop. The permissions aren't great, but they're not terrible, either.

So, my questions are:
1) Phone - yes or no?
2) How can I unload GroupMe conversation to computer without downloading MS junk or granting MS permission to do everything to my phone/computer?  I think need some phone number that can just be added to the GroupMe conversation and then have the messages go straight into Pidgin.  I'm sure someone else has figured out this one, but I can't find it.  Maybe a VOIP phone number?  I just don't understand enough about them to know if that would work.

1) Phone? Ehh, especially for the price and the alternatives. Truthfully, the industry has pretty much abandoned us physical keyboard users. I gave up myself and just bought a Lumia. The Word Flow touchscreen keyboard is no physical QWERTY, but it's tolerable. Amazingly, Microsoft has better privacy control settings on their phones than Google does on Android. Go figure.

2) Not easily, especially not without, say, handing over similar invasion levels to Google. Just lean into it.

(And have a good Sabbath.)

Thanks! May you be blessed with peace this Shabbat, as well. :)
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 #455 on: August 06, 2016, 11:50:33 AM »
Well shoot!

I am actually the same person from this thread who just switched to Linux a month ago, so no Windows 10 here!  I do have a Skype account, but it uses a junk email, fake name, and fake info.  Making a GroupMe or MS overall account would require giving a real phone number.  I may just stick with paying for these extra texts.

The only reason I have an interest in a smartphone as opposed to another dumbphone (feature phone?) is the ability to download text conversations to my computer.  That <=1MB data usage is solely MMS picture texts.  I don't use phones to browse the internet, performs GPS functions, or answer emails.  If I bought the phone, installed CM, and then switched off almost all internet/data access to it, would it matter if the OS was never updated?  I do not know much about the security side of software, especially not on phones.

I really don't want to give up the physical keyboard.  I find the touchscreen keyboards very difficult to use.  I have narrow fingers, so maybe the tips are just too tacky.

I'm of one of the standard Christian branches, so I won't be peaceful until 4 this evening, but thank you!
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #456 on: August 07, 2016, 01:44:08 PM »
just switched to Linux a month ago, so no Windows 10 here! 
Lovely!
Quote
The only reason I have an interest in a smartphone as opposed to another dumbphone (feature phone?) is the ability to download text conversations to my computer.  That <=1MB data usage is solely MMS picture texts.  I don't use phones to browse the internet, performs GPS functions, or answer emails.  If I bought the phone, installed CM, and then switched off almost all internet/data access to it, would it matter if the OS was never updated?  I do not know much about the security side of software, especially not on phones.
I once thought I couldn't imagine myself without a smartphone and mobile data anymore, but then it stopped recognizing my SIM card about half a year ago and I was forced to switch over to my dumb phone (which I keep for things like 2-week hikes). I've been using it ever since and don't really miss all the advanced connectivity stuff. The only problem, I guess, is the severely limited memory on my model, which forces me to delete most of the messages every week or so (punching the debit-card logs into gnucash first).

I do kinda miss the useful apps and stuff, where I used to keep notes and log my habits and expenses, but a smartphone is a kinda crappy thing for that, really, due to severely limited I/O.

As for the security side of things, Android is pretty good in terms of that, and since you've eliminated the greatest source of infestations (browsing the internets through your phone and/or clicking on questionable links and/or downloading questionable apps), I'd say you're quite secure on that count. By the way, the tor project had a great article on bulletproofing the system, I think it was called "mission impossible: a secure android" or something.

Quote
I really don't want to give up the physical keyboard.  I find the touchscreen keyboards very difficult to use.  I have narrow fingers, so maybe the tips are just too tacky.

I'm of one of the standard Christian branches, so I won't be peaceful until 4 this evening, but thank you!
I strongly recommend getting something with a physical keyboard. They don't make any such devices anymore, unfortunately, but the old ones are still great, check out the HTC Desire Z or Sony Xperia [ray or something, I don't remember exactly]. Those are mostly limited to old android versions though; the Z did run 4.x CM but with a serious audio problem where the device would convert hideous amounts of power into heat when playing music. It might've been just that one ROM, though; they do sometimes get bugs like that. Anyway, those two should be dirt cheap now and are great devices. And if you're hardcore, you could get a Nokia N900, a physical-keyboard-enabled smartphone with none other than Debian (slightly modified) on board. (do note that they have a nasty habit of μUSB ports getting torn off the board by regular usage; that's what killed mine. So be sure to glue the port to the board with epoxy or something if you do get one of these beauties).

A different approach entirely would be to get a portable external input device, like a chorded keyboard. the Twiddler is one; Unfortunately they're hard to find used, except for the first COM&PS/2 version, which is unfortunately mostly useless today (presumably because the people who are geeky enough to buy one are also fond of the thing and use it for years). I haven't succeeded in getting one myself yet, and I'm starting to think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and buy a brand-new one. There's also the smartphone-oriented Octodon keyboard, which unfortunately is still in development (and, due to its smartphone-orientedness, not fitting my purpose of disposing with them entirely).

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #457 on: August 07, 2016, 04:11:16 PM »
*snip*
I really don't want to give up the physical keyboard.  I find the touchscreen keyboards very difficult to use.  I have narrow fingers, so maybe the tips are just too tacky.

I'm of one of the standard Christian branches, so I won't be peaceful until 4 this evening, but thank you!
I strongly recommend getting something with a physical keyboard. They don't make any such devices anymore, unfortunately, but the old ones are still great, check out the HTC Desire Z or Sony Xperia [ray or something, I don't remember exactly]. Those are mostly limited to old android versions though; the Z did run 4.x CM but with a serious audio problem where the device would convert hideous amounts of power into heat when playing music. It might've been just that one ROM, though; they do sometimes get bugs like that. Anyway, those two should be dirt cheap now and are great devices. And if you're hardcore, you could get a Nokia N900, a physical-keyboard-enabled smartphone with none other than Debian (slightly modified) on board. (do note that they have a nasty habit of μUSB ports getting torn off the board by regular usage; that's what killed mine. So be sure to glue the port to the board with epoxy or something if you do get one of these beauties).

A different approach entirely would be to get a portable external input device, like a chorded keyboard. the Twiddler is one; Unfortunately they're hard to find used, except for the first COM&PS/2 version, which is unfortunately mostly useless today (presumably because the people who are geeky enough to buy one are also fond of the thing and use it for years). I haven't succeeded in getting one myself yet, and I'm starting to think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and buy a brand-new one. There's also the smartphone-oriented Octodon keyboard, which unfortunately is still in development (and, due to its smartphone-orientedness, not fitting my purpose of disposing with them entirely).

Thank you for the phone suggestions.  As for the chorded keyboard, the idea is interesting, but I can't picture carrying yet another item with me when out.  Any time I am home and would be doing texting of the scale to merit it, I would probably just use something like Wammu/Gammu via my laptop anyway.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #458 on: August 07, 2016, 04:54:15 PM »
I am actually the same person from this thread who just switched to Linux a month ago, so no Windows 10 here!  I do have a Skype account, but it uses a junk email, fake name, and fake info.  Making a GroupMe or MS overall account would require giving a real phone number.  I may just stick with paying for these extra texts.

Sorry about that, everything just kind of blurs together after a while.

Regarding "giving a real phone number"? If you're using GroupMe already, actual app or not, they already have your phone number. *shrugs*

I also fiddled around a bit with GroupMe and more fully researched the fool thing (because I've been needing to anyway), and it looks like you can log into and use the account from the website, and can create a stand-alone account without tying an MS account into the mix.

The only reason I have an interest in a smartphone as opposed to another dumbphone (feature phone?) is the ability to download text conversations to my computer.  That <=1MB data usage is solely MMS picture texts.  I don't use phones to browse the internet, performs GPS functions, or answer emails.  If I bought the phone, installed CM, and then switched off almost all internet/data access to it, would it matter if the OS was never updated?  I do not know much about the security side of software, especially not on phones.

Going smartphone would simplify SMS backup a fair bit. If you're looking to run a dated system but have no intent of taking it online, excuse MMS, that would be reasonably safe for the most part. Just be sure to "permanently" disable WiFi (you'll need root access temporarily - easy enough if you've switched to CM), uninstall whatever networked apps and browsers you can just to get 'em out of the way, and when you enter the APN settings for your carrier, enter the MMS properly, but misconfigure (break) the mobile data APN. This will ensure that you can still receive MMS messages (disabling mobile data cuts everything off), but nothing else should work.

You could still theoretically get a targeted exploit via MMS, but it still wouldn't get very far without actual internet access.

Knowing exactly what you're after, however, really opens things up and brings the older S40/60 handsets back into the mix. I might not only have a simpler solution for you - but the perfect device... I'll send you a PM.

I really don't want to give up the physical keyboard.  I find the touchscreen keyboards very difficult to use.  I have narrow fingers, so maybe the tips are just too tacky.

I don't blame you one bit. Even after the switch, I still miss my keyboard.

I'm of one of the standard Christian branches, so I won't be peaceful until 4 this evening, but thank you!

Whether we embrace the physical Shabbat or the metaphoric one by celebrating throughout the week as a shadow of the glory to come, I hope it was peaceful and restoring. :)
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 #459 on: August 07, 2016, 07:53:41 PM »
I am actually the same person from this thread who just switched to Linux a month ago, so no Windows 10 here!  I do have a Skype account, but it uses a junk email, fake name, and fake info.  Making a GroupMe or MS overall account would require giving a real phone number.  I may just stick with paying for these extra texts.

Sorry about that, everything just kind of blurs together after a while.

No worries!  You've written hundreds of pages of advice, and I don't even have a little picture yet to make myself more memorable.


Regarding "giving a real phone number"? If you're using GroupMe already, actual app or not, they already have your phone number. *shrugs*

I also fiddled around a bit with GroupMe and more fully researched the fool thing (because I've been needing to anyway), and it looks like you can log into and use the account from the website, and can create a stand-alone account without tying an MS account into the mix.

True, but I'd rather not reinforce it, if that makes any sense.  The friend who started it just told us, "Hey, I'm going to get a group chat going!" but didn't give details.  I didn't learn about GroupMe until it was already too late.  (Someday certain friends will learn to disclose important things, but that day is not today.)

GroupMe is still an MS property, and its TOS and privacy policy are all on MS's page, so I can't see that there would be much difference between setting up an MS account or setting up a GroupMe account.  The webapp would help get the texts on the computer and off of metered SMS, but it also means I couldn't get it integrated into Pidgin.  (There was a plugin, but it was abandoned by the creators back in 2013 I think.)

So, I spent way too many hours on this yesterday and I actually did find a way that should get some texting to work through Pidgin.  If one gets an SMS-enabled DID and VOIP service through Vitelity (which is the supplier of services to voip.ms, according to posters on dslreviews, but according to its FAQs is fine with tiny accounts), they actually have a tutorial on getting it set up in Pidgin!  As far as I can find, it works because Vitelity converts the messages between SMS and XMPP.  It's designed for businesses, but it looks like it works for individuals.  I would be paying $1.49/month for Vitelity's service, but that's not bad for unmetered texting that would fit all my criteria.

I will be replying to your PM shortly.  Thank you!
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #460 on: August 07, 2016, 09:17:11 PM »
So, I spent way too many hours on this yesterday and I actually did find a way that should get some texting to work through Pidgin.  If one gets an SMS-enabled DID and VOIP service through Vitelity (which is the supplier of services to voip.ms, according to posters on dslreviews, but according to its FAQs is fine with tiny accounts), they actually have a tutorial on getting it set up in Pidgin!  As far as I can find, it works because Vitelity converts the messages between SMS and XMPP.  It's designed for businesses, but it looks like it works for individuals.  I would be paying $1.49/month for Vitelity's service, but that's not bad for unmetered texting that would fit all my criteria.

You'll have to tell me how well this works out, especially given GroupMe's frequent SMS short-code usage and handling, and most VoIP SMS gateways not really being able to handle short codes. (This is something to be aware of as well with many MVNOs. They don't do SMS short codes, either. Most MVNOs don't, in fact.)
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #461 on: August 13, 2016, 11:56:40 PM »
My LG G3 has been playing up (a new battery should solve the issues, but it's taken it's time to arrive from eBay). Hence, I've been using my spare Moto G (first generation).

Using the Moto for a couple of weeks has made me realise that I can get by fine with a cheap smartphone for most of what I do, instead of a fancypants higher end one. The small screen isn't a big deal. The camera on the Moto is pretty crappy, and having no SD card (it's the dual-sim model) is a nuisance (especially with 8GB of storage), but there's other cheap smartphones around that can solve those ones.

A temporary downgrade hasn't been such a bad thing really. Due to the camera and SD card, I'll go back to the LG once I've fixed it, but maybe when it's time for a new phone, I'll be looking at the sub $200 prepaid units instead of higher end models.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #462 on: August 15, 2016, 10:46:56 PM »
Are there any MVNOs that work on US Cellular network? I'm from a tiny rural town in SE Oklahoma and the only people that have towers there are US Cellular and a small local carrier called Pine Cellular. AT&T is partnered with Pine, so people with an AT&T contract can use Pine's towers, but my AT&T Go Phone doesn't work there at all. I don't currently live there, but I visit often enough that I want to make sure I have coverage. If I'm going to break down, it would most likely be on an 8 hour road trip to visit my family. My husband wants to get contracts with either AT&T or Verizon for this purpose. (Verizon is partnered with US Cellular in my hometown.) His family also lives in a very rural area that has AT&T coverage, but not much else. (Verizon has 1x coverage, whatever that is...)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #463 on: August 16, 2016, 09:32:40 AM »
Are there any MVNOs that work on US Cellular network?

(Howdy, fellow Okie!)

Ehh... ish?

Selectel (Verizon) and Ting CDMA (Sprint) both have roaming agreements that include each other's networks as well as USCC, but it's roaming, which means you're restricted to voice and SMS only. Ting CDMA would be a poor choice indeed, given all coverage in and around your area would be roaming due to Sprint's complete and total lack of coverage in the Texarkoma region outside of the I-30 corridor. Selectel might be a better option on the CDMA end, at least through 2019, until Verizon shuts down their 1xRTT network.

For the region, and you hint at this yourself, AT&T with roaming might be the better choice overall given GSM coverage is a bit more thorough for the area than CDMA, but AT&T only coverage (which is what GoPhone is) leaves holes. That leaves Consumer Cellular with their AT&T SIM, which should give you better possible coverage, but similar roaming restrictions while on Pine.

Given your restrictions and your region with everyone involved, as well as the potential price point you may be dealing with for service (you didn't go into detail on what sort of usage you'll be averaging), Pine's own Redwood plan (it and Hackberry are the only two good deals) with three-four lines is approaching sane pricing for an "unlimited" talk and text plan with 2GB of data (and actually cheaper than the equivalent on most AT&T MVNOs without roaming)... which means pooling resources with family would help everyone (provided you yourself live within Pine's native network). It's probably overkill for most people (yourselves included), but $33.33-31.25 per line with data access in your region due to spotty coverage for what you'd be paying for isn't terrible. Of course, you'd get nearly the same coverage (excuse data) with Consumer Cellular at possibly cheaper per line, but you will lose mobile data access while roaming on Pine's network if that matters. The best part is? It would still be a bit cheaper than an AT&T, Verizon or USCC contract with a similar plan allotment, no potential contracts or additional handset costs, and you should be able to bring most any carrier unlocked GSM phone you want... which are cheap and plentiful depending on what you're after.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 09:40:07 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #464 on: August 18, 2016, 05:14:06 PM »
Thank you. The first two you mentioned, Selectel and Ting, don't work in the three places that I want to make sure I have phone service. (Broken Bow, OK, Franklin, MO, and Bismarck, MO) My husband actually has the $40 Pine plan now, but since we moved to Missouri, his bill has been over $80/month. We talk and text a lot, but we use less than 1GB of data. In looking around, I found out that Google fi is partnered with US Cellular. Is there any reason not to go with google fi? I think that our consumer cellular bill would be about the same ($30 for talk, $20 for text and data, $10 for us to both have a line.) , but we would get money back for the data we don't use with google fi.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #465 on: August 19, 2016, 09:17:16 AM »
Thank you. The first two you mentioned, Selectel and Ting, don't work in the three places that I want to make sure I have phone service. (Broken Bow, OK, Franklin, MO, and Bismarck, MO) My husband actually has the $40 Pine plan now, but since we moved to Missouri, his bill has been over $80/month. We talk and text a lot, but we use less than 1GB of data. In looking around, I found out that Google fi is partnered with US Cellular. Is there any reason not to go with google fi? I think that our consumer cellular bill would be about the same ($30 for talk, $20 for text and data, $10 for us to both have a line.) , but we would get money back for the data we don't use with google fi.

I'd go Consumer Cellular, then, as it looks like the best option. Just be sure they send you an AT&T SIM card, and not a T-Mobile one.

As for Google Fi, the handsets are expensive and you can't just use any phone, which means you'll be generating more electronic waste. It's also... a bit schitzophrenic (constantly trying to switch networks which causes service interruptions) and the voice quality isn't that reliable. The thing to remember with Google Fi is that its primary network is T-Mobile, and it's using UMA for voice calling. Once you leave T-Mobile coverage, all calls are routed over LTE using a form of VoIP (including USCC), and that VoIP service can be uneven and painfully unreliable - especially since it's constantly trying to find the fastest connection, not the most solid, and it doesn't try to stay on the same network an existing call is running on. All these additional domestic roaming partners Google has added to their service is technically LTE service only, which is considerably smaller than the carrier network's full coverage map. It basically works better in some locations than others. It's a clever idea, but it's not robust enough to be reliable, especially not out where you're going to be. Broken Bow barely has 2G coverage with Fi, and both Franklin and Bismarck has absolutely no coverage at all. If reliability matters, go with Consumer Cellular.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #466 on: August 20, 2016, 05:12:34 PM »
I'm concerned that I've reached some kind of cut-off with my OS that apps will start dropping off.  If that's the case and I need to look at another phone, how "new" should I go?

Sounds like you're in a good place with nothing to lose here. As much as there might be hardware issues, it might just be software issues with the phone needing a little love and a bit of an OS refresh.

If you're even remotely technically inclined (or know someone who is), it might be worth looking into CyanogenMod. Depending on your specific model of S3, there are several pre-built versions of CM12 and 13 available (equivalent to Android 5.x Lollipop and 6.x Marshmallow) that'll help fight off the planned obsolescence issue a bit longer, especially if it fixes your WiFi issue at the same time. The price is right (free), and it might help squeeze a bit more life out of that phone yet... heck, it might even run better than you're used to.

How new should I go and be secure in that my phone will stay supported for a few years?

The problem is as you're discovering is forced planned obsolescence from the manufacturers. The best way around this if you want to continue to sup from Google is to buy/use mainstream Android handsets that're supported by CyanogenMod and take the effort to do the firmware swap or spend the premium on a Nexus device and still have the forced obsolescence happen not quite as quickly and still be left resorting to CyanogenMod to squeak out a bit more time. This isn't to say that there aren't quite a number of great independently spun firmware replacements floating around places like XDA for various model Android handsets both mainstream and offbeat, but for every good one out there, there's some serious crap and compromised options as well. It's just easier and you're guaranteed a cleaner, safer and better timely update supported Android build going mainstream CM. It's kinda hard to escape, and Apple is just as bad about it.

That said? If the banking apps you're after are available on Windows Phone (and honestly they're usually just an HTML5 webpage/app wrapper for the most part), and you really want to do all your banking from an insecure wireless device like a smartphone (I refuse to trade security for convenience, myself, YMMV), consider a used unlocked Lumia like the 640 (running between $50-70)... Microsoft is actively continuing to update the platform and develop WP10 despite the ballyhooed cries from the tech media about Windows Phone being dead, they're dirt cheap (partly because they sold for cheap and everyone thinks the platform is dead now), they're pretty robust, the OS is light and responsive, the UI is consistent and very usable, it's simple to migrate your user data from other phones to the thing, the "app gap" is nearly non-existent at this point, battery life is good, batteries are end-user replaceable, mobile data usage is low, and it's easy to purge the carrier bloatware from 'em.

I've been very slow and curmudgeonly about abandoning my older QWERTY handsets and less "advanced" phones like the Nokia C3 and the Blackberry 9900... I've been very vocal about my dislike of both iOS and Android, and I even mourned the Nokia buyout and death of Symbian OS at the hands of Microsoft. Now, I'm not saying Windows Phone is perfect (hardly), but from my broad experiences it delivers on what Nadella has been promising, which is a platform that stands out from the competition in a good way. It's the least terrible smartphone platform out there, IMHO, and I now carry a Lumia 435. I spent $20 on the thing, and outside of build quality (the plastic case and camera photo quality give away the fact that it's an entry level phone - but it still feels pretty solid and well built), it's literally been the nicest, fastest, and easiest smartphone I've had the misfortune of using or owning. Everything just works....

...and this endorsement comes from someone who has had a standing and public 15 year grudge against Microsoft as a *nix admin. I still won't run Windows 10 on my desktop, but I will use their phones. They're no nonsense, they play nice with everyone else's cloud services, I don't have to store my contacts on Microsoft's servers, and I can even sync my Lumia with Evolution on my Ubuntu desktop. It's a bit surreal both experiencing and sharing this, but it's true. Take that however you will.

It's hard to dodge the whole planned obsolescence, you are the product due to privacy concerns and big data, and pending SaaS financial milking that everyone is driving towards with these devices... but for the time, you could do much worse for a $50 smartphone.

I wiped my phone and installed CM; however, I'm having trouble reinstalling my old apps. I can log in to my Google Play account, but it says my apps are still installed on my device and doesn't give me the option to reinstall.  I'd be willing to forgo using my Google account to manage my apps, but I'm not familiar with any alternatives.

Edit: It turns out you need to download the ROM for Google Play and flash it at the same time you do the OS.  Cyanogen seems to be working out okay so far. It's quite different from the factory OS so it'll take some getting used to.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2016, 09:35:08 PM by Travis »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #467 on: August 21, 2016, 08:07:19 AM »
I wiped my phone and installed CM; however, I'm having trouble reinstalling my old apps. I can log in to my Google Play account, but it says my apps are still installed on my device and doesn't give me the option to reinstall.  I'd be willing to forgo using my Google account to manage my apps, but I'm not familiar with any alternatives.

Edit: It turns out you need to download the ROM for Google Play and flash it at the same time you do the OS.  Cyanogen seems to be working out okay so far. It's quite different from the factory OS so it'll take some getting used to.

Yeah, that part you edited in on how you fixed the store issue is kind of an important step during the upgrade process. Glad to see you got it working and that the upgrade seems to have cured all the previous woes thus far. As for the "quite different", there's two things going on: 1) it shows exactly how much Samsung messes with stock Android on their phones, and 2) it shows just how much Google messes with their own UI from version to version in stock Android.

Pfft! Consistency... who needs consistency?
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #468 on: August 31, 2016, 02:41:31 PM »
OK, confession, my eyes and brain totally glazed over reading the guide, but it did inspire me to call Verizon (after hacking my way through the voicemail and "all our customer service representatives are busy" jungle), say "My kids keep telling me to get Roku or Firestick. I'm not sure how they work, but it looks like I could really reduce my costs. Gosh, should I just close my Verizon bundle account? What do you advise?" I had to get a new land line phone number (Yes I are a dinosaur), and I got rid of some features I didn't need anyway, but I was able to score some additional discounts on a new 2 year contract. Tip: Select "sales" when they give you a menu choice. I also kept up a steady stream of telling my sales rep how awesome and wonderful she was to help me out, and she in turn kept "finding" new free channel offers and fee waivers. Could I have done better with other providers? Of course. But will I have more money to throw in my stache every month from one rather lengthy phone call? Yes indeed.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #469 on: September 01, 2016, 04:37:00 PM »
I.P., do you have any recommendations on VoIP apps?  Half the time I use Hangouts, the sound cuts out on both ends throughout the call.  Most of my calls I'm standing within spitting distance of my router so it's not a signal strength issue.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #470 on: September 01, 2016, 06:01:49 PM »
I.P., do you have any recommendations on VoIP apps?

For Android? Csipsimple, but you'll need a VoIP provider that offers a phone number (DID) to receive calls to your Google Voice number.

You might need to check quality of service settings on your router, though.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #471 on: September 07, 2016, 07:19:30 PM »
Hi Daley,

I've been using Ting for about a year now.  It made more sense when my wife and I shared a plan, but now it's just me and I'm paying around $17 ($21 after taxes) for a very basic 100 mins/1000 SMS/100 MB.  That's the tier I'm in; the actual usage is much lower, thanks to your recommendation of voip.ms (actual usage last month was 23 minutes/400 SMS, and I'm trying to transition to even lighter SMS*).  Point is - Ting ends up being way overpriced for my current usage.

I was looking at pay-as-you-go plans and discovered Tello.  It's a Sprint MNVO with similar tiers as well as prepaid stuff.  I realized with my current usage that I would be paying $7-$8/mo with their prepaid stuff, or $9-$10 for their tiered plans.  Plus the voip.ms fees, which were a whole $0.74 for 74 minutes last month.

Have you (or anyone else) tried them?  Any horror stories that I should be aware of?   Any other concerns?

 * Except everything SMS/IM sucks.  I don't want to install gapps on my phone or use non-free software, so Kik/Whatsapp/etc are out.  Signal looks great but requires Google Play.  Telegram is the most promising option (there's an IOS app so my wife can use it), but it's weird that it's non-encrypted by default..

I.P., do you have any recommendations on VoIP apps?

For Android? Csipsimple, but you'll need a VoIP provider that offers a phone number (DID) to receive calls to your Google Voice number.

You might need to check quality of service settings on your router, though.

I'll second that.  I was using Android's stock dialer for SIP, but it had no distinction between wifi and data, so it would be registered and accepting calls over  3g data when I didn't want it to be.  CSipSimple knows the difference and only does SIP when I'm wifi.  It also supports SMS (over SIMPLE), although voip.ms doesn't support that protocol so I have no idea how well it actually works.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #472 on: September 07, 2016, 08:32:03 PM »
Point is - Ting ends up being way overpriced for my current usage.

I was looking at pay-as-you-go plans and discovered Tello.  It's a Sprint MNVO with similar tiers as well as prepaid stuff.  I realized with my current usage that I would be paying $7-$8/mo with their prepaid stuff, or $9-$10 for their tiered plans.  Plus the voip.ms fees, which were a whole $0.74 for 74 minutes last month.

Have you (or anyone else) tried them?  Any horror stories that I should be aware of?   Any other concerns?

Yup, Ting can be quite the racket if you're only running a single line. It's why I only recommend them and Consumer Cellular for multi-line billing situations, and honestly Consumer Cellular's starting to become a bit of a better deal due to their pricing structure... especially for data and texting.

Anyway... Tello. I'm guessing you're considering Tello due to currently being a Ting CDMA customer, and not a Ting GSM customer? If you're on Ting GSM or your CDMA/LTE phone has sufficient T-Mobile GSM band support and is carrier unlocked, it might be worth mentioning US Mobile. If we're firmly still in the Sprint CDMA only camp, I'd be more inclined to mention/reiterate Eco Mobile. Their PAYGO prices aren't as cheap as Tello, but there's a reason for that.

A few points to be aware of regarding Tello:

They've been around for a bit over in the UK, but their US service has only been running since the tail end of last year and they won't hit the one year mark until mid-December.

Their terms of service and privacy policy also outline advertising and datamining of their customer base. This has become a real problem with a lot of newer Sprint MVNOs, unfortunately. I should also mention that without steady datamining and advertising revenue, their pricing structure isn't wholly sustainable on the cheaper end... which Lycamobile customers can attest to after the major price hikes a while back.

Lastly, their data billing policy is a bit... loaded in favor of the house. Minimum data usage billed per session is 100KB, which means just checking your email ten times over mobile data can potentially be billed as a full 1MB of data use. Most other MVNOs bill per actual KB used no matter the session length, and I frankly haven't seen such blatantly grabby data billing practices as theirs outside of AT&T's GoPhone.

As for horror stories or knowing anyone who's tried them, they've not made a huge splash so I can't talk much, and the very small handful of users who do use them over at HoFo report customer service is decent. They mostly seem to be getting traction as a "cheap" bailout point for people sick of FreedomPop and RingPlus' quality and support issues.

That work?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 08:34:14 PM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #473 on: September 08, 2016, 12:30:30 AM »

Anyway... Tello. I'm guessing you're considering Tello due to currently being a Ting CDMA customer, and not a Ting GSM customer? If you're on Ting GSM or your CDMA/LTE phone has sufficient T-Mobile GSM band support and is carrier unlocked, it might be worth mentioning US Mobile. If we're firmly still in the Sprint CDMA only camp, I'd be more inclined to mention/reiterate Eco Mobile. Their PAYGO prices aren't as cheap as Tello, but there's a reason for that.

Yes, currently a Ting CDMA customer.  Switching to GSM means either downgrading to an older phone or getting a new phone.  My current phone (s4) still works fine and has pretty good AOSP support.

At my current usage rate (~100 MB and ~400 SMS), EcoMobile ends up being more expensive than Ting.  As I said I'm working on lowering my SMS usage, but I'm not there yet.

Lastly, their data billing policy is a bit... loaded in favor of the house. Minimum data usage billed per session is 100KB, which means just checking your email ten times over mobile data can potentially be billed as a full 1MB of data use. Most other MVNOs bill per actual KB used no matter the session length, and I frankly haven't seen such blatantly grabby data billing practices as theirs outside of AT&T's GoPhone.

Yikes, I wasn't aware of that.  That seems.. really bad.

EDIT: actually, at least for my usage the difference is about 1 MB per month for the past few months.  Most of my connection seem to be in the 150KB - 300KB range anyways, so this doesn't affect me like I thought it would.

That work?

Yes, thanks very much, very helpful!  I'll give it some more thought..
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 12:50:18 AM by dilinger »

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #474 on: September 08, 2016, 09:03:49 AM »
At my current usage rate (~100 MB and ~400 SMS), EcoMobile ends up being more expensive than Ting.  As I said I'm working on lowering my SMS usage, but I'm not there yet.

I know, but there's really no reasonably priced Sprint MVNOs anymore that don't datamine. Yet another reason I really don't recommend sticking or switching to Sprint MVNOs anymore.

Yes, currently a Ting CDMA customer.  Switching to GSM means either downgrading to an older phone or getting a new phone.  My current phone (s4) still works fine and has pretty good AOSP support.

Depending on how technical you're inclined to be (and I'm guessing you're reasonably so given the AOSP namecheck), even though Sprint can't/won't do DSU unlocking on the SPH-L720, it's not impossible to get domestic GSM/UMTS operational for AT&T/T-Mobile use on this handset given the thing has hardware support for GSM/UMTS 850/1900. Depending on the specific model of S4, I've even heard report of LTE 850/1900 band support. There's a few guides over at XDA worth rifling through, though I haven't tried any of them personally so I can't vouch for linked file integrity or guide accuracy with any of the myriad instructions.

The instructions look long and complicated, but there's actually only maybe 5-10 minutes worth of actual work once you understand most of these guys are posting guides down to every last button press instead of outlining what's actually being done in the three step process of reset, modem firmware flash, network settings (ish). Once unlocked, it should stick for any ROM you choose to run from that point outside of stock Sprint. If you want to revert to Sprint coverage with the phone, you just have to flash the stock ROM back and carry on from that point.

I only mention this to let you know you might have more options than you realize with your current handset. Do this at your own risk, of course, but I thought I'd share the knowledge and let you make the call. If T-Mo without roaming coverage works for you, that opens up US Mobile, which puts you at around $11/month without needing to work your usage lower. It also potentially opens up Puretalk USA's $10 Simple 300 plan for AT&T coverage depending on how much further down you can trim background data usage.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 09:08:53 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #475 on: September 08, 2016, 10:54:31 AM »
Depending on how technical you're inclined to be (and I'm guessing you're reasonably so given the AOSP namecheck), even though Sprint can't/won't do DSU unlocking on the SPH-L720, it's not impossible to get domestic GSM/UMTS operational for AT&T/T-Mobile use on this handset given the thing has hardware support for GSM/UMTS 850/1900. Depending on the specific model of S4, I've even heard report of LTE 850/1900 band support. There's a few guides over at XDA worth rifling through, though I haven't tried any of them personally so I can't vouch for linked file integrity or guide accuracy with any of the myriad instructions.

Oh nice, I had no idea!  It looks like it's just a simple (hidden) menu option, too.  This seems like a great way to go, and I can time it for a nougat upgrade so going back to the stock rom won't be a big deal.  Thanks again!

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #476 on: September 08, 2016, 11:50:32 AM »
Thanks again!

No problem, glad to help.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #477 on: September 10, 2016, 08:11:19 PM »
I'm currently spending $29.90 (for 28 days) on my mobile (3GB quota), and $59.95 a month for my ADSL (250GB quota).

There are mobile plans coming with more and more data, even from the majors (Optus currently has a $50 per month SIM-only plan with 15GB data, and so does Vodafone).

I'm thinking that it's almost worth cancelling my ADSL, bumping up my mobile plan and tethering for my Internet. On a typical month I only use about 30-40GB, and I could cut that a bit.

Has anyone else done this? :)

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #478 on: September 11, 2016, 04:12:32 AM »
I'm currently spending $29.90 (for 28 days) on my mobile (3GB quota), and $59.95 a month for my ADSL (250GB quota).

There are mobile plans coming with more and more data, even from the majors (Optus currently has a $50 per month SIM-only plan with 15GB data, and so does Vodafone).

I'm thinking that it's almost worth cancelling my ADSL, bumping up my mobile plan and tethering for my Internet. On a typical month I only use about 30-40GB, and I could cut that a bit.

Has anyone else done this? :)
I know a guy who does that. His connectivity is horrendous, but YMMV. Try tethering for a day or two before cancelling your ADSL.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #479 on: September 11, 2016, 04:38:20 PM »
Update after almost a year -

T-Mobile family plan with a bunch of friends. 10 gigs data each (double checked this), $32-33 each per month. For some reason they decided to upgrade us to unlimited data for the next year and a half. 10 gigs per person is already effectively unlimited data... but no complaints, in any case. (Yes, "unlimited" is never truly unlimited. They state that they may throttle after 26 gigs.)

Anyways, no complaints. Good speeds. Occasional spotty service, but on the other hand, shockingly decent service out in the deep boonies.

My previous concerns about needing two separate lines (GSM and CDMA) for emergencies during my travels proved completely unfounded.

The iphone 6s+ is still no different than when it was brand new, except for a few software updates. The screen protector has a small chip, so I may replace that eventually - my friends tell me that a screen protector every year or so seems to be normal.

Can't believe I'm paying just a few bucks more for effectively unlimited LTE on a real phone as I was paying for 3G on that shitty old android phone courtesy of republic wireless. In retrospect, it was not the best deal ever. IP, you especially might find me saying this rather cathartic.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #480 on: September 11, 2016, 09:52:29 PM »
Can't believe I'm paying just a few bucks more for effectively unlimited LTE on a real phone as I was paying for 3G on that shitty old android phone courtesy of republic wireless. In retrospect, it was not the best deal ever. IP, you especially might find me saying this rather cathartic.

Glad to hear, Gimp... but more than anything? I'm just glad that you found something that actually works for you reliably, at a fair price, with reasonable terms of service.

Happy trails to you with it, good sir.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #481 on: September 12, 2016, 03:13:07 PM »
Thanks, man. Really.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #482 on: September 18, 2016, 07:39:00 PM »
Hello, just a quick update after a few months with Ting - one word: happy!  The switch over from Verizon happened seamlessly.  New service is good and the price is right.

New dilemma: what to do about my phone as Apple decided to stop supporting the 4s.  Do I need to upgrade or can I just ignore the lack of support and keep on using the phone?  If upgrade, do I get a 6s or an older model? Would like stay in the iPhone family since it makes communicating with my daughter who is abroad much easier.  Any suggestions?



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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #483 on: September 20, 2016, 09:20:19 AM »
New dilemma: what to do about my phone as Apple decided to stop supporting the 4s.  Do I need to upgrade or can I just ignore the lack of support and keep on using the phone?  If upgrade, do I get a 6s or an older model? Would like stay in the iPhone family since it makes communicating with my daughter who is abroad much easier.  Any suggestions?

If you're leaving it offline most of the time and you're not using it for anything sensitive or encrypted (such as banking), and web surfing is at a minimum, you're probably fine staying put. As for staying with Apple long term, it's a walled garden, and the garden is designed to bleed as much money from you as possible. Consider switching platforms to something like Windows Phone, which has support for syncing with iCloud, among other things, and isn't a money pit from either the data dependence end or handset cost end. Windows 10 Mobile is a serious workhorse utility device platform and a solid tool.

As for exiting the ecosystem and family communication concerns, there's plenty of cross-platform messengers. You don't have to use iMessage and FaceTime to talk with your daughter.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 09:26:24 AM by I.P. Daley »
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #484 on: September 20, 2016, 09:39:19 AM »
Thanks much IP Daley for the practical advice. I do use my phone to do some basic banking so I think I should probably upgrade. 

Is there any specific Windows phone that you would recommend?  If I go with an iPhone, I am looking at 6s which currently runs $550.  Ideally I would like to spend much less than this and still get the functionality I am used to.  Thank you.



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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #485 on: September 20, 2016, 10:11:27 AM »
Is there any specific Windows phone that you would recommend?  If I go with an iPhone, I am looking at 6s which currently runs $550.  Ideally I would like to spend much less than this and still get the functionality I am used to.

If you're doing banking (honestly, there's not enough money in the world to get me to put sensitive banking information on a smartphone), it might be best to check to ensure your bank has an app, first. (Check for all apps you use, and for the record, Snapchat isn't supported.) As for model? The Lumia 640 LTE is an amazing handset for the money (used, carrier unlocked for under $75), but if you're wanting something more fancypants that does touch payments and the like, the Lumia 950 is a solid choice at under $300 refurbished/used.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #486 on: September 20, 2016, 10:21:11 AM »
Is there any specific Windows phone that you would recommend?  If I go with an iPhone, I am looking at 6s which currently runs $550.  Ideally I would like to spend much less than this and still get the functionality I am used to.

If you're doing banking (honestly, there's not enough money in the world to get me to put sensitive banking information on a smartphone), it might be best to check to ensure your bank has an app, first. (Check for all apps you use, and for the record, Snapchat isn't supported.) As for model? The Lumia 640 LTE is an amazing handset for the money (used, carrier unlocked for under $75), but if you're wanting something more fancypants that does touch payments and the like, the Lumia 950 is a solid choice at under $300 refurbished/used.

The banking I do on the phone is limited to my checking account that doesn't have that much in it at any given point in time - I'm willing to live with the risk.  But it looks like my current bank only has an Apple and Android app and same goes for Schwab where I have another account that I access from time to time :-(
So it seems that the main problem with a Windows phone is lack of apps...



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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #487 on: September 20, 2016, 02:08:43 PM »
The banking I do on the phone is limited to my checking account that doesn't have that much in it at any given point in time - I'm willing to live with the risk.  But it looks like my current bank only has an Apple and Android app and same goes for Schwab where I have another account that I access from time to time :-(
So it seems that the main problem with a Windows phone is lack of apps...

So long as you're not doing anything like check deposits by phone, most all the features you need for management is probably just as doable anymore from a web browser as it is a dedicated app.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #488 on: September 20, 2016, 04:50:32 PM »
The banking I do on the phone is limited to my checking account that doesn't have that much in it at any given point in time - I'm willing to live with the risk.  But it looks like my current bank only has an Apple and Android app and same goes for Schwab where I have another account that I access from time to time :-(
So it seems that the main problem with a Windows phone is lack of apps...

So long as you're not doing anything like check deposits by phone, most all the features you need for management is probably just as doable anymore from a web browser as it is a dedicated app.
Haha, check deposits are mostly what I do through the phone app... Saves me a trip to the bank.  I'll have a look ar the windows phone over the weekend. Microsoft has a store at our local mall.



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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #489 on: September 28, 2016, 04:49:08 PM »
Is there a reason Cricket is not discussed as an alternative cell phone service provider?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #490 on: September 28, 2016, 04:59:08 PM »
Is there a reason Cricket is not discussed as an alternative cell phone service provider?

Here's a good synopsys and subsequent discussion.

Long short, though, terms of service and support quality matters. Cricket fails both by the measure of standards I utilize with unreasonable terms of services, poor taxes no actual MVNOs charge, and shoddy customer support. Additionally, AT&T is playing dirty pool with their brand and their wholesale customers and data pricing. I don't like to reward bad behavior. As such, I don't feel comfortable recommending them not only for the sake of the people I help, but for the sake of the future health and market diversity of the MVNO industry.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #491 on: September 28, 2016, 05:29:50 PM »
Is there a reason Cricket is not discussed as an alternative cell phone service provider?

Here's a good synopsys and subsequent discussion.

Long short, though, terms of service and support quality matters. Cricket fails both by the measure of standards I utilize with unreasonable terms of services, poor taxes no actual MVNOs charge, and shoddy customer support. Additionally, AT&T is playing dirty pool with their brand and their wholesale customers and data pricing. I don't like to reward bad behavior. As such, I don't feel comfortable recommending them not only for the sake of the people I help, but for the sake of the future health and market diversity of the MVNO industry.

Good thought.

For someone who wants 2 iPhones and combined uses about 3gb of data, < 1,000 text messages, and < 500 minutes... I'm thinking Ting may be the best option for us at this time. And it appears they have your blessing. Any specific concerns about Ting without having to read the whole thread?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #492 on: September 28, 2016, 05:57:21 PM »
For someone who wants 2 iPhones and combined uses about 3gb of data, < 1,000 text messages, and < 500 minutes... I'm thinking Ting may be the best option for us at this time. And it appears they have your blessing. Any specific concerns about Ting without having to read the whole thread?

No real concerns with Ting as a provider, and the wife and I are actually with them currently after P'tel went under (one of the casualties of the wholesale market undercutting practices that brands like Cricket have caused).

However, at the usage levels you speak of, Consumer Cellular would be the better choice between the two for the money. Your usage level pegs at $56+tax with Ting to provide the service tiers necessary to cover your needs, but for $60+tax with Consumer Cellular, your tier usage thresholds will be 1000 minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB of data, and you have the option of AT&T with roaming coverage instead of just T-Mobile with roaming coverage.

That said? You could probably easily gut a lot of that data dependence resulting in considerably more savings with either provider, because 3GB even between two phones is a LOT of data. Try going on a data diet and restrict your background data services and restrict a lot of background data usage (such as application and security updates) to WiFi only.
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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #493 on: September 28, 2016, 06:00:51 PM »
For someone who wants 2 iPhones and combined uses about 3gb of data, < 1,000 text messages, and < 500 minutes... I'm thinking Ting may be the best option for us at this time. And it appears they have your blessing. Any specific concerns about Ting without having to read the whole thread?

No real concerns with Ting as a provider, and the wife and I are actually with them currently after P'tel went under (one of the casualties of the wholesale market undercutting practices that brands like Cricket have caused).

However, at the usage levels you speak of, Consumer Cellular would be the better choice between the two for the money. Your usage level pegs at $56+tax with Ting to provide the service tiers necessary to cover your needs, but for $60+tax with Consumer Cellular, your tier usage thresholds will be 1000 minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB of data, and you have the option of AT&T with roaming coverage instead of just T-Mobile with roaming coverage.

That said? You could probably easily gut a lot of that data dependence resulting in considerably more savings with either provider, because 3GB even between two phones is a LOT of data. Try going on a data diet and restrict your background data services and restrict a lot of background data usage (such as application and security updates) to WiFi only.

Exactly. those are the absolute maximums we hit over the last 2 years for usage. Our normal use was much lower, and I think using Ting in the pay-as-you-go model will actually be a good way to cut down on usage! Thanks for your help

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #494 on: September 29, 2016, 02:49:10 PM »
I will soon be receiving an employer phone subsidy, to the tune of $50/month. My current smartphone is now 3 years old and has a couple of issues, so I am looking to take advantage of the whole $50 to not only purchase service but also finance (!!!) a new device.

My research so far has shown that no MVNOs worth being a customer of let you purchase phones from them. I have identified two options.

- Google's project FI. Their terms of use look fine to me, and I could get a 5X or even a 6P and $30 worth of service. Their phones come unlocked, and I can take it abroad and have service.
- Consumer Cellular. The only phone worth getting is the iPhone SE, and after taxes and fees it would come to about $49. Bonus: the phone payoff is only 16 months instead of 24 for Google. I cannot figure out whether their phones come unlocked, or with a Consumer Cellular logo on the back, branded like cattle.

Are there other options that I should consider?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #495 on: September 30, 2016, 01:41:21 PM »
Is there a reason Cricket is not discussed as an alternative cell phone service provider?

Here's a good synopsys and subsequent discussion.

Long short, though, terms of service and support quality matters. Cricket fails both by the measure of standards I utilize with unreasonable terms of services, poor taxes no actual MVNOs charge, and shoddy customer support. Additionally, AT&T is playing dirty pool with their brand and their wholesale customers and data pricing. I don't like to reward bad behavior. As such, I don't feel comfortable recommending them not only for the sake of the people I help, but for the sake of the future health and market diversity of the MVNO industry.

The upsides to Cricket's horrible customer support:  Back when they switched networks (screwing a lot of their customers), I was able to pick up a Cricket Galaxy S4 in great shape for super cheap off of ebay.  I combined it with a broken Sprint S4 (cracked screen) to make a franken-S4 for less than $100, back when S4s cost around $300.  It looks a little weird (the back cover says Cricket, and it's 2 different colors), but with a phone case you don't even see any of that.

After reading about what they did, I'd never use Cricket.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #496 on: October 12, 2016, 10:57:03 AM »
For someone who wants 2 iPhones and combined uses about 3gb of data, < 1,000 text messages, and < 500 minutes... I'm thinking Ting may be the best option for us at this time. And it appears they have your blessing. Any specific concerns about Ting without having to read the whole thread?

No real concerns with Ting as a provider, and the wife and I are actually with them currently after P'tel went under (one of the casualties of the wholesale market undercutting practices that brands like Cricket have caused).

However, at the usage levels you speak of, Consumer Cellular would be the better choice between the two for the money. Your usage level pegs at $56+tax with Ting to provide the service tiers necessary to cover your needs, but for $60+tax with Consumer Cellular, your tier usage thresholds will be 1000 minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB of data, and you have the option of AT&T with roaming coverage instead of just T-Mobile with roaming coverage.

That said? You could probably easily gut a lot of that data dependence resulting in considerably more savings with either provider, because 3GB even between two phones is a LOT of data. Try going on a data diet and restrict your background data services and restrict a lot of background data usage (such as application and security updates) to WiFi only.

Hey I.P. Daley - Are you aware of any iOS apps that can be used to track the source of data usage? We've noticed my wife's phone battery and data usage spiking a lot lately, and while I've tried to turn off as many unused apps as possible, it would be great to identify which specific apps are using the majority of her data (and battery).

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #497 on: October 12, 2016, 01:13:25 PM »
It's probably Pokémon Go ;-).

No need for an app, just go to Settings -> Cellular. Scroll down and you can toggle cellular data for apps. All the way at the bottom you can reset to zero.   Then check over the next week or so to see what the data hog is.

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #498 on: October 12, 2016, 02:27:15 PM »
It's probably Pokémon Go ;-).

No need for an app, just go to Settings -> Cellular. Scroll down and you can toggle cellular data for apps. All the way at the bottom you can reset to zero.   Then check over the next week or so to see what the data hog is.

Good call. I didn't realize that you could do that.

I found an app called Onavo Extend that seems to track usage by app, in addition to some form of data usage reduction process. Has anyone investigated this app and have any thoughts?

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Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #499 on: October 13, 2016, 08:05:25 AM »
Onavo Extend

I've suggested Onavo's apps in passing in the past before Google and Apple pulled their collective heads out of their exit holes and built in better data usage tracking and control apps into the core OSes themselves, but now that the OS can do pretty much everything Onavo's apps can do, it's not worth the additional thumb in the datamining pie just to get redundant features from a third party.
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