Author Topic: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1  (Read 158988 times)

With This Herring

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1090
  • Location: New York STATE, not city
  • TANSTAAFL!
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #500 on: October 19, 2016, 11:48:39 AM »
Yahoo: T-Mobile fined $48M over slowing 'unlimited' data plans

I.P. is proven right once more.  Unlimited plans are not the deal one would think they are.
Because your toaster got hacked because you tried to watch porn on your blender.

6-year CPA currently on hiatus.  Botched this.  Working again. 
Go soak your beans.  You know you keep forgetting.

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #501 on: October 19, 2016, 11:55:10 AM »
Oh boy! I'm proven right again on how terrible the mobile industry actually is.

*sigh* Why can't I ever be proven right about a positive? :/
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.

Joel

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 691
  • Location: California
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #502 on: October 20, 2016, 10:35:53 AM »
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.

Should you list Cricket as a brand to ignore then?

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #503 on: October 20, 2016, 11:37:28 AM »
Should you list Cricket as a brand to ignore then?

I probably should at this point. Too bad I can no longer edit locked threads on the forum here without bugging Rebs, Swick or Toque, even if I locked it to begin with.
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.

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1602
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #504 on: October 21, 2016, 03:49:00 AM »
Maybe there needs to be a 'Wikistashia' or something like that :)

But yeah I'm surprised that T-Mobile were allowed to advertise a plan as unlimited when it's shaped after a certain amount of usage.

I'll need to eventually organise to get my mum a new phone, her Nexus S isn't cutting it anymore (especially when it was originally partitioned so that 1GB was for apps and the remainder of the internal storage was partitioned as an SD card, hence, apps no longer update due to lack of space). I guess I'll have to work out whether to get her a $100 Huawei/ZTE/Alcatel or something like a Samsung S5 on a low-end plan.

The $100 prepaid units look surprisingly good nowadays. A bit short on RAM (mostly 1GB) but otherwise OK. I think once my current LG is in need of replacement, I'll just buy a cheaper phone next. I don't need a $1000 flagship, really.

I spilt coffee on my old (late 2008 model) MacBook Pro's keyboard two months ago, I originally was going to buy a new machine, but I've got another top case (thanks eBay) sitting on top of my fridge. I'll put it in once my exams are finished next week. I also need to fix the screen on it.

I guess it's a bit more badass spending $50 on a new top case than spending hundreds on another laptop (or over $1000 in the case of another Mac).
« Last Edit: October 21, 2016, 04:14:21 AM by alsoknownasDean »

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1602
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #505 on: October 28, 2016, 05:13:41 AM »
I think once my current LG is in need of replacement, I'll just buy a cheaper phone next. I don't need a $1000 flagship, really.

Just my luck, said LG phone died a couple of days ago. Since I had it repaired at a shopping mall phone repair booth earlier this year to replace a screen, I'm not confident that it'll be covered under warranty.

The phone no longer boots nor charges.

I guess I'm going to be looking for another phone sooner rather than later. Sigh. I only sold my old iPhone a month or so ago too.

geekette

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1594
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #506 on: November 06, 2016, 06:50:41 PM »
Jumping to the top of my angst queue...  AT&T is shutting down their 2G network at the end of the year, and my 81 year old mother has (barely) used her basic LG CE110 for years on Airvoice.

I see a lot of these ZTE Z222 phones on eBay.  Or the LG B470 also looks similar. 

Other options? 
« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 07:06:37 PM by geekette »

fiveoh

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 364
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #507 on: November 17, 2016, 07:14:41 AM »
Has anyone tried Mintsim?

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #508 on: November 17, 2016, 09:08:47 AM »
Has anyone tried Mintsim?

Mint SIM is a sub-brand of Ultra Mobile. This means T-Mobile native network, no roaming. Been a while since I've read their TOS, but as with every provider, you should do that yourself before plopping down money. As for Ultra as a carrier specifically, I'd been hesitant to put them on the official list in the past, partly due to age and marginally due to terms of service. The terms have backed off a bit on the troubling language, IIRC, and they've now been in place for a few years... so when P'tel folded earlier this year and they offered deals for escapees, I didn't balk. They're now the only T-Mobile provider currently offering the plans they are at the prices they are, the other had been P'tel.

I used to make a big deal about business longevity in my recommendations as it demonstrated a solid business model in a cutthroat industry with thin margins and no (IMHO, necessary) government regulation to protect and preserve the wholesale wireless telecom market. Then the carriers started exploiting that lack of regulation when the wholesale MVNOs eroded away their high priced cash cow user base, and now over the past year and change, we've seen a lot of shift, consolidation, shutdowns and buyouts in the industry because of it. P'tel, one of the oldest MVNOs in the nation had to close its doors. Walmart even got out of the game. WALMART. They literally sold off their Family Mobile customers to Carlos Slim/America Movil/Tracfone Wireless this last summer. Even America Movil, the 800lb gorilla of the industry owned and run by a man who knows how to work a monopoly position, is starting to lose customers. Crap is definitely going down in the MVNO industry. The risks of using any MVNO has increased some, even the "blue chip" ones. The only "safe" long-term brands for the risk adverse are the ones owned by the actual carriers. Unfortunately, without regulation, what happens to those prices once they kill off all the competition?

I feel a bit quixotic these days. We're starting to lose the battle, but so long as we're willing to chose real competition over the carriers directly, these cheaper, alternative plans should persist in some form or fashion.

Which brings us back around to Mint SIM specifically. Their gimmick, their differentiation as a sub-brand from Ultra is their price structure. Pay for X months in advance, get a bulk rate discount on service with biggest savings for those who pay a year in advance.

Given what I've told you of the current state and health of the MVNO industry... does this sound like a safe bet for saving money?

My advice? Find a monthly plan that that gives you what you need at a price that saves you money, stick with it and fight the urge to perpetually chase after the cheapest deal available by jumping from provider to provider thus causing churn and volatility with the providers, and simply appreciate the savings you can get for as long as you can still get it.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 09:15:29 AM 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.

fiveoh

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 364
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #509 on: November 17, 2016, 09:24:47 AM »
Has anyone tried Mintsim?

Mint SIM is a sub-brand of Ultra Mobile. This means T-Mobile native network, no roaming. Been a while since I've read their TOS, but as with every provider, you should do that yourself before plopping down money. As for Ultra as a carrier specifically, I'd been hesitant to put them on the official list in the past, partly due to age and marginally due to terms of service. The terms have backed off a bit on the troubling language, IIRC, and they've now been in place for a few years... so when P'tel folded earlier this year and they offered deals for escapees, I didn't balk. They're now the only T-Mobile provider currently offering the plans they are at the prices they are, the other had been P'tel.

I used to make a big deal about business longevity in my recommendations as it demonstrated a solid business model in a cutthroat industry with thin margins and no (IMHO, necessary) government regulation to protect and preserve the wholesale wireless telecom market. Then the carriers started exploiting that lack of regulation when the wholesale MVNOs eroded away their high priced cash cow user base, and now over the past year and change, we've seen a lot of shift, consolidation, shutdowns and buyouts in the industry because of it. P'tel, one of the oldest MVNOs in the nation had to close its doors. Walmart even got out of the game. WALMART. They literally sold off their Family Mobile customers to Carlos Slim/America Movil/Tracfone Wireless this last summer. Even America Movil, the 800lb gorilla of the industry owned and run by a man who knows how to work a monopoly position, is starting to lose customers. Crap is definitely going down in the MVNO industry. The risks of using any MVNO has increased some, even the "blue chip" ones. The only "safe" long-term brands for the risk adverse are the ones owned by the actual carriers. Unfortunately, without regulation, what happens to those prices once they kill off all the competition?

I feel a bit quixotic these days. We're starting to lose the battle, but so long as we're willing to chose real competition over the carriers directly, these cheaper, alternative plans should persist in some form or fashion.

Which brings us back around to Mint SIM specifically. Their gimmick, their differentiation as a sub-brand from Ultra is their price structure. Pay for X months in advance, get a bulk rate discount on service with biggest savings for those who pay a year in advance.

Given what I've told you of the current state and health of the MVNO industry... does this sound like a safe bet for saving money?

My advice? Find a monthly plan that that gives you what you need at a price that saves you money, stick with it and fight the urge to perpetually chase after the cheapest deal available by jumping from provider to provider thus causing churn and volatility with the providers, and simply appreciate the savings you can get for as long as you can still get it.

Good info and advice.  We've had my wife on Airvoice $10 a month plan and its been rock solid for over a year now.  She has been complaining lately about wanting more data and MintSim is having a sale on their 3 months plan for $35(11.67 a month).  It offers unlimited talk/txt and 2gb of 4g data.  I went ahead and ordered the SIM and am going to give it a try.  If it doesn't work out, we will probably go back to Airvoice and I'll tell her to suck it up.  :)   I was thinking of doing the year plan after the 3 months is up(16.58 a month) but in light of what you just told me, I'll have to reevaluate that. 

Oh, and THANKS!
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 09:26:57 AM by fiveoh »

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #510 on: November 17, 2016, 09:39:52 AM »
Good info and advice.  We've had my wife on Airvoice $10 a month plan and its been rock solid for over a year now.  She has been complaining lately about wanting more data and MintSim is having a sale on their 3 months plan for $35(11.67 a month).  It offers unlimited talk/txt and 2gb of 4g data.  I went ahead and ordered the SIM and am going to give it a try.  If it doesn't work out, we will probably go back to Airvoice and I'll tell her to suck it up.  :)   I was thinking of doing the year plan after the 3 months is up(16.58 a month) but in light of what you just told me, I'll have to reevaluate that. 

Oh, and THANKS!

Given what you know, unless you already paid for the service time with Mint SIM, it might be better to just eat the cost of the SIM card. Otherwise, hedonic adaptation is going to set in and you'll find yourself wedded to "needing" a $35+/month plan with 2GB of data.

If you're going to cause churn and switch carriers, do so smartly, deliberately, with an eye on staying put. If T-Mobile service provides you solid coverage, and your wife wants a little extra data but the $10/month Airvoice plan has otherwise served her well, consider US Mobile instead.

Like I said, churn is bad. Churn means financial instability for the MVNO. They need steady customers to survive. I want to encourage you to be one of those steady customers. If Airvoice doesn't fit you as well currently, make a switch that still gives the providers stability instead of jockeying too much. :)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 09:42:52 AM 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.

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1602
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #511 on: November 18, 2016, 04:42:15 PM »
The $100 prepaid units look surprisingly good nowadays. A bit short on RAM (mostly 1GB) but otherwise OK. I think once my current LG is in need of replacement, I'll just buy a cheaper phone next. I don't need a $1000 flagship, really.

I spilt coffee on my old (late 2008 model) MacBook Pro's keyboard two months ago, I originally was going to buy a new machine, but I've got another top case (thanks eBay) sitting on top of my fridge. I'll put it in once my exams are finished next week. I also need to fix the screen on it.

I guess it's a bit more badass spending $50 on a new top case than spending hundreds on another laptop (or over $1000 in the case of another Mac).

Said MacBook is all fixed (not perfectly but it works OK), hooray. Now, Apple have decided that it isn't going to get Sierra, so I'm stuck on El Capitan. All OK for the time being as Apple will probably continue to support it for a couple of years, although it's got me thinking about alternatives, even giving Linux a whirl.

I'm not a complete newbie to Linux (I used it as my only OS for a while a number of years back), but I've been long out of the loop. I wonder how well Mint or one of the Ubuntu versions works on old Macs? Even Debian, but I don't want to spend a lot of time stuffing around with configuring or maintaining the machine, I've been spoiled by the relative 'set and forget' of OSX. That and I'm open to using proprietary drivers/codecs/software.

I like the idea of the lightweight Chromebook style model, lots of Linux distros still seem to load up with software.

Oh, I picked up a $99 Huawei Y6 Elite from the supermarket the other week. I'm pretty impressed for the price. I had to change carriers as it's a locked prepaid handset, but I'll just use it for a while on Vodafone (they subsidized the handset, it's only fair) and then unlock it down the track (and go back to Amaysim or Optus probably).

I know people who spend more than $99 per month on their phone plans. :)
« Last Edit: November 18, 2016, 04:45:47 PM by alsoknownasDean »

dlawson

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #512 on: November 22, 2016, 11:20:24 AM »
So I just moved and am looking to set up an internet connection. From what I can tell, Charter Spectrum and Earthlink are the only options in my area.

The Spectrum website currently only advertises a single package for internet-only offerings: 60/5Mbps with unlimited data, no data caps, and a free modem at $39.99/mo for 12 months ($59.99 thereafter), plus a $35 installation fee. I called in a couple times and couldn't get any agent to admit to a lower-speed, lower-cost package, even after specifically asking for "Basic 3", "Basic 6", "Everyday Low Price", etc. It seems that they've deprecated the entire range of former-TWC internet-only offerings.

Earthlink is, of course, a Spectrum reseller and are offering nearly the exact same thing. The only differences are that they're advertising 100Mbps vs. 60 and have no installation fee. Same story: after multiple attempts I cannot get them to admit to a lower-speed, lower-cost package.

Is anyone familiar with this situation? This move by Spectrum seems fairly recent and I haven't found a lot of discussion about it. I'd love to hear if anyone managed to worm into a more reasonable plan.

I'd rather not have to bite the bullet on this and pay the $40. If I do, it'll almost certainly be Earthlink as 1) they're marginally cheaper with no installation fee and 2) are much more likely than Charter to extend my promotional rate in a year.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2016, 11:27:06 AM by dlawson »

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #513 on: November 22, 2016, 11:47:13 AM »
So I just moved and am looking to set up an internet connection. From what I can tell, Charter Spectrum and Earthlink are the only options in my area.

Charter Spectrum, eh? Raw deal, man. They only officially offer two speeds: Plus (60Mbps) and Ultra (100Mbps), unless you're a poor person or gone gray and wrinkly - then they have a $15/month 30Mbps deal mandated as part of the merger requirements, but it's almost as difficult to qualify and sign up for as it is to find.

If the Earthlink deal is better, go Earthlink and ride it while it lasts. There's talk of a Windstream merger (read buyout), so there's no telling what the future's gonna hold, especially with a new president and cabinet bent on further market deregulation. Save money where you can while you still can.

Guessing there's zero xDSL options in your area?
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.

dlawson

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #514 on: November 22, 2016, 12:24:52 PM »
Guessing there's zero xDSL options in your area?

Absolutely nothing. No alternatives either... Verizon, Google Fiber, etc. are all not in the area. As far as I can tell, literally the only internet option is Spectrum.

So much for a free market, eh?

Travis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1697
  • Location: Tempe, AZ
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #515 on: December 18, 2016, 05:42:21 PM »
My Samsung Galaxy S3 may have just bricked.  I've been using cyanogenmod since August, and I downloaded an update last night that cause nonstop crashing. I wiped the phone to start over, but no matter which version I reloaded I got errors while in recovery mode.  I don't know what I did, but now I've reached a point where hitting factory reset produces an error that won't let me wipe the phone anymore to even start over.  It angers me to no end, but I may have to just go down to the T-Mobile store and buy whatever they're offering to stick my Ting SIM into to get working again.  I'm traveling right now for the holidays, so patiently waiting for another E-Bay phone isn't really an option.
My Journal: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/will-i-or-won't-i-a-home-run-or-a-base-hit/

Unlike some other tech companies or skilled-labor industries, we're always hiring.

www.goarmy.com

With This Herring

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1090
  • Location: New York STATE, not city
  • TANSTAAFL!
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #516 on: December 18, 2016, 07:06:17 PM »
My Samsung Galaxy S3 may have just bricked.  I've been using cyanogenmod since August, and I downloaded an update last night that cause nonstop crashing. I wiped the phone to start over, but no matter which version I reloaded I got errors while in recovery mode.  I don't know what I did, but now I've reached a point where hitting factory reset produces an error that won't let me wipe the phone anymore to even start over.  It angers me to no end, but I may have to just go down to the T-Mobile store and buy whatever they're offering to stick my Ting SIM into to get working again.  I'm traveling right now for the holidays, so patiently waiting for another E-Bay phone isn't really an option.

Where are you traveling?  Check the local version of Craigslist for something cheap to get you through or the local gas stations/convenience stores for a cheap prepaid phone.  When you are back, keep whatever phone from traveling as a backup or donate it to a shelter for 911 calls.
Because your toaster got hacked because you tried to watch porn on your blender.

6-year CPA currently on hiatus.  Botched this.  Working again. 
Go soak your beans.  You know you keep forgetting.

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #517 on: December 18, 2016, 09:23:36 PM »
My Samsung Galaxy S3 may have just bricked.  I've been using cyanogenmod since August, and I downloaded an update last night that cause nonstop crashing. I wiped the phone to start over, but no matter which version I reloaded I got errors while in recovery mode.  I don't know what I did, but now I've reached a point where hitting factory reset produces an error that won't let me wipe the phone anymore to even start over.  It angers me to no end, but I may have to just go down to the T-Mobile store and buy whatever they're offering to stick my Ting SIM into to get working again.  I'm traveling right now for the holidays, so patiently waiting for another E-Bay phone isn't really an option.

If we're dealing with a Ting GSM SIM card (and not a Ting CDMA LTE SIM card), any cheap prepaid T-Mobile phone from down at Walmart/Best Buy/gas station/Craigslist/etc. should work. Doesn't matter if it's unlocked or not, the Ting GSM SIM card has a T-Mobile ICCID, so it won't get locked out as an unsupported SIM.

As for what happened to your S3? Are you riding stable, snapshot, or nightly with CM? I'm assuming you're talking about a CM update here and not a general app update from Google. (Either outcome, you probably need to talk with someone active in the CM community directly for support.) This said, I'm assuming you're talking about a CM nightly update given the mention of other CM builds, and will address the issue as such. Dalvik cache might need to be manually wiped, but this is me stabbing in the dark.

You're rather sparse on details, however I found someone else riding the bleeding edge nightly who's now dealing with bootloop issues earlier today who's running the latest nightly on an AT&T S3. If the problem you're experiencing is at all related to running nightly builds and perpetually updating it instead of riding the stable releases? Well, it's typically a bad idea to ride the bleeding edge on your daily driver as they call it the bleeding edge for a reason... you use it long enough, you're gonna get cut. It's a development channel for a reason, and they aren't joking around when they say, "Development channel - a.k.a. Nightlies, usually generated every 24 hours, experimental, newest features, unstable!"

In your position, I personally wouldn't run anything but the CM 12.1 (Android 5.1) snapshot from November of last year on my S3 if I used one as it's still considerably more current than the old Android 4.x builds from Samsung until another snapshot is released. Leave the CM 13/14 (Android 6.x and 7.x builds) for when it goes stable as the CM 14.1 nightly builds have been notoriously unstable, worse than their usual nightlies.

I don't mention this to be unsympathetic or to rub salt in the wound of what you're dealing with. What you're dealing with stinks, and I genuinely hope you can unbrick the sucker and keep using it. However, I am mentioning it anyway to hopefully help coach you toward pulling away the proper lessons from a point of failure of this nature - namely that people shouldn't use nightly software builds on devices they use regularly and expect stability on, and not to get upset at either yourself or the developers, or develop a bad taste in one's mouth over the CM project itself if a nightly release breaks the phone. Failure is okay, it gives us an opportunity to learn and grow in a world that is fundamentally imperfect and comes with no guarantee but the existence of HaShem Himself and the need for the covering of Yeshua to live. Nobody of the purely meatsack persuasion is perfect (I know I'm not), so give others the same slack and benefit of the doubt as you desire for yourself. Crap happens. :)

And if you can't save it and do have to right it off? Just remember, you got another six months out of a phone that you originally thought you'd have to trash last summer.

Anyway, contact the dev team and try not to monkey with it more than you have at this point until you've got a game plan. Try contacting Team Hacksung for some support on the issue directly either through IRC or the proper sub-forum for your model S3.

Hopefully, with a little time, patience and wisdom, you'll be able to unpooch the thing. I'll be rooting for you and that outcome.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 09:29:31 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.

Travis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1697
  • Location: Tempe, AZ
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #518 on: December 19, 2016, 09:31:18 AM »
I found a used phone store here in town and picked up an S4.  The owner even replaced the cracked casing before selling it to me.  I opened a dialog with someone on the CM forums to see if it's still possible to wipe and rebuild my S3.  I'll keep at it, if for no other reason than to make the phone sellable.  As you noted, the last couple nightlies were found to be unstable and I wasn't the only one who crashed.  Normally I put off doing updates for a couple weeks, but for some reason as I was sitting there in the airport the update notification popped up on the phone and I went for it.  It wasn't too expensive of a lesson, and I'd like to keep using CM at some point.  At this point the biggest upset is I have a phone loaded with bloatware again.  I'll deal with that later when I'm more comfortable messing with CM software again.
My Journal: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/will-i-or-won't-i-a-home-run-or-a-base-hit/

Unlike some other tech companies or skilled-labor industries, we're always hiring.

www.goarmy.com

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #519 on: December 19, 2016, 10:20:31 AM »
I found a used phone store here in town and picked up an S4.  The owner even replaced the cracked casing before selling it to me.  I opened a dialog with someone on the CM forums to see if it's still possible to wipe and rebuild my S3.  I'll keep at it, if for no other reason than to make the phone sellable.  As you noted, the last couple nightlies were found to be unstable and I wasn't the only one who crashed.  Normally I put off doing updates for a couple weeks, but for some reason as I was sitting there in the airport the update notification popped up on the phone and I went for it.  It wasn't too expensive of a lesson, and I'd like to keep using CM at some point.  At this point the biggest upset is I have a phone loaded with bloatware again.  I'll deal with that later when I'm more comfortable messing with CM software again.

Good to hear. It's a little late to inform you at this point, and I hate being the bearer of bad news, but be prepared for poor reception and dropped calls with your "new" handset in comparison your old one. The S4 has a history of notoriously bad reception issues. Bad antenna design. I try not to recommend any of the S4 models to folks if I can help it, the thing was a turkey.

As for when you get going again with CM, again, let me reiterate my advice - stick with the stable releases instead of the nightlies on the handset you use every day. Be willing to run a year or so behind current Android.
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.

dilinger

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 441
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #520 on: December 21, 2016, 12:56:06 AM »
I got tired of the stupid nightly thing around CM 11 and switched to AOSP.  Much more stable, and I don't really miss the CM customizations.  For S4 Sprint, I use this and it's wonderfully stable w/ a long battery life:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/galaxy-s4/i9505-orig-develop/jdcteam-android-source-project-mra58v-t3251663

I'm still on the stable-8 release; people reported volume bugs with stable-9, so I never bothered to try it out.  And that's key - with a moving nightly target, you never know what you're getting.  With stable releases, everyone's trying the same code and bugs will get reported, so you know whether to upgrade or not.

gimp

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2355
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #521 on: December 21, 2016, 03:11:12 PM »
Interesting data point:

It has now been just over a year (some 13.5 months) since I got my iphone, with an effectively unlimited (and later "unlimited") plan on T-Mobile. I mention brand, and the 5.5" size, because it's relevant to how easy it is to spend a lot of time using it for computer-y purposes and how quickly you can burn through data - my older, shitty, smaller motorola defy was barely capable.

I have averaged just ~650 MB per month of cellular data usage. Wifi at home, wifi at work.

Total roaming has been 66 MB over the entire period, which I'm fairly certain has been from trying to (and occasionally succeeding) browse the web or load maps in national parks and deep boonies.

This is several times less than I assumed I'd use...

Also, built-in adblockers are an amazing feature. Use them if you have them. Iphones, newer androids, I think have them. It saves battery life and data.

And if you plan to be driving in areas with shit reception, absolutely get a phone that's capable of all the bands that you can reasonably use, and a plan that allows you to freely use other networks when yours is absent. It's so worth it.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2016, 03:12:46 PM by gimp »

tj

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1113
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Phoenix
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #522 on: December 26, 2016, 01:07:54 PM »
Guessing there's zero xDSL options in your area?

Absolutely nothing. No alternatives either... Verizon, Google Fiber, etc. are all not in the area. As far as I can tell, literally the only internet option is Spectrum.

So much for a free market, eh?


I had that in Dana Point. Cox only (and at the time they were so much worse than Time Warner). No AT&T or Verizon. You might as well take the Earthlink discount while you can.

flower

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #523 on: January 28, 2017, 10:34:49 AM »
I'm not sure this is the right place to ask my question. If not, please tell me where to ask it.

Here goes.

I have a US cell phone number as I am part of my sister's cell phone contract. I have had that number since about 2001.

I live outside the US and have a different cell phone number for where I live.

Sometimes I need to make calls to the US. Usually that is not a problem as my Skype account is set up with my US cell phone number. That was done when I lived in the US.

However, recently it seems that some calls will not go through because they are blocked. This happens especially with calls to Home Depot (I have a dropshipping business so I need to call them sometimes). It does happen with calls to other sites sometimes too.

Is there a different way to set up Skype (or some equivalent) so that I can get through? I think it must have something to do with the fact that they detect that the call originates outside the US. I tried using a VPN showing an IP in the US but that did not help.

Any help would be appreciated.
Get rebates for purchases from many online retailers at eBates. My referral code: http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=rIsJ5Y70UAG7KGavP9NlGQ%3D%3D&eeid=28187

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #524 on: January 28, 2017, 09:19:51 PM »
I'm not sure this is the right place to ask my question. If not, please tell me where to ask it.

The problem you're having likely has to do specifically with the quality of network call routing. In VoIP, there are trunk routing terms such as "black", "gray", "white" and "premium". Most of those terms are technically rooted to the potential legality of those trunks used in various countries (such as black being illegal, or gray being legal in one jurisdiction but illegal in another, white being legal on both ends), but it's not quite as cut and dry as that. A lot of VoIP calls can technically be routed through perfectly legal trunks in both locations and every place inbetween (thus qualifying as "white" calls), yet still be considered "gray" line routing. This is where pricing and routing quality start to pop up. Most "gray" lines are the cheapest lines, and the cheapest lines sometimes have quality or termination issues. Quite a number of VoIP providers don't give you the option of how you want to terminate your calls, and they try to route over the absolute cheapest trunk available, but sometimes those trunks won't work... especially with the other end potentially running VoIP on their end as well and restricting the trunks that can connect.

Follow so far? Hope so, 'cause I'm gonna keep going.

Enter Skype. Microsoft is still using standard VoIP trunking providers to get you to other phone numbers, and it's likely a gray line trunking issue at play here. It has nothing to do with where you're calling from or what IP address you're connecting to the VoIP gateway with. It has everything to do with a trunk that won't connect with the trunking and routing that Home Depot is using for their stores. This is also one of the downsides of proprietary VoIP providers, you're kind of locked in and lose some flexibility. You could perhaps try and contact Skype customer support with the issue, and they might have a solution... but it's possible it'll only be a scab fix if they can fix it at all.

Regarding your cell phone number, there's a couple other VoIP providers that might be worth trying out, but unless you have current and immediate access to the phone to get the number whitelisted for CID spoofing and approved as a number you actually own, that could prove difficult. You could look into Localphone, VOIP.ms and CallCentric as the three providers I can think of that will let you do Caller ID spoofing (which is what we're talking about here) if as I said you can verify that you own the phone number... but verification requires access, and access is not something you've detailed in your current setup. Localphone is the only provider that defaults to offering sample minutes of the three providers but their support isn't great. The support departments of the other two providers are excellent, and you could probably explain the situation to them, give them the numbers you're having difficulty contacting via Skype, and ask if they can either give you a trial credit or confirm if they can properly terminate calls to the numbers in question. Of course, of the three Localphone has the cheapest termination rates, but it's possible given cheap termination might be at play in the first place, you'll need the premium trunking options of either CallCentric or VOIP.ms.

Now, this said... of CallCentric or VOIP.ms, I'm more inclined to recommend VOIP.ms, not because CC isn't a great provider... it's that I don't know what part of the world you're in right now, and CC only runs their SIP servers on the East Coast of the United States. As such, there could be some latency issues. Localphone and VOIP.ms both have several global SIP servers, which will cut down on latency and connectivity issues that you may otherwise have with CallCentric. Localphone will be easier to use on a smartphone. VOIP.ms is a bit more complicated to set up, but not that difficult (they have excellent documentation). Give both a try, see what happens.

Hope this helps! Any other questions or clarification needed, don't hesitate to ask.
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.

flower

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #525 on: January 28, 2017, 11:52:25 PM »
Whoa Daley, that was a fantastic explanation of the situation. Thank you so much for taking the time to go into all that.

It looks like it is going to be a project to get it to work.

I didn't think of it, but I have also tried calling from my iphone using my own wifi here (Portugal). My calls to Home Depot did not go through with it either. I have my own wifi but I don't know if that makes a difference either.

Thanks again for your help.
Get rebates for purchases from many online retailers at eBates. My referral code: http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=rIsJ5Y70UAG7KGavP9NlGQ%3D%3D&eeid=28187

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #526 on: January 29, 2017, 07:53:31 AM »
Thanks again for your help.

No problem, hope it did help.

Like I suggested, though... start with Skype support. You've paid them money, you know it works and had worked but works no more. See what they can do about it. If that fails, try Localphone next for giggles, if only for the simplicity factor for setup and testing.

As for the using your iPhone to make WiFi calls, it doesn't matter who's WiFi you're using technically. What matters is how the WiFi call is being placed. Are we still talking Skype or your US-based mobile carrier's built-in UMA/WiFi calling support? If it's Skype, I've already covered the issue. If it's your carrier's UMA/WiFi calling, we're still potentially getting into SIP trunking issues with your carrier, but those issues might be better illuminating what is going on. I won't rule out theoretical regional trunking issues for Portugal/Europe specifically, but it also raises an interesting question. Have you tried calling with a potentially different US based VoIP phone number just to see what happens or with outbound Caller ID disabled?

Please keep me posted on what you find out as your situation intrigues me, and I'm curious to hear what the solution turns out to be.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 07:56:57 AM 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.

flower

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #527 on: January 30, 2017, 02:52:31 AM »
I'll let you know what happens Daley but it might be a while before I do it. When I feel I have enough patience and free attention to not get riled up.

It is sort of interesting, isn't it?
Get rebates for purchases from many online retailers at eBates. My referral code: http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=rIsJ5Y70UAG7KGavP9NlGQ%3D%3D&eeid=28187

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #528 on: January 30, 2017, 06:56:52 AM »
Understandable. When you get to it.

It is sort of interesting, isn't it?

Quite. :)
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.

CptCool

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 139
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #529 on: February 04, 2017, 07:54:08 AM »
I've been a RingPlus user for a few years now and it looks like they're finally closing shop on Feb 11th, so I'll have to transfer out both my wife & my phone number before then. It's been a long time since I've paid for service and had to shop around & am not sure how or where to look. I'm not overly concerned if a company is datamining, for the most part.

My wife has a Sprint LG G4 and I have a Boost Mobile Moto E (2nd gen) & we would prefer to keep our current phones.

What are the best options assuming both of us each use approx. 250-500MB, 50-100min, 100 SMS/MMS per month? I'm guessing a pay-as-you-go option like Ting would work, but I'm not sure? Also, I'd want to make sure Sprint service works well with the MVNO since it looks like Ting is now a T-Mobile/Sprint MVNO & I'm not sure how that affects the Sprint service (or if it makes no difference at all)

Additionally, my brother who is NOT mustachian at all and struggles with money is also getting kicked off RingPlus. I think he uses like 3k+ SMS/MMS each month and under 1gb data & not much in minutes. I've tried to get him to switch to a messaging app, but he won't switch & keeps using regular SMS & MMS instead. I'd like to help guide him to a new plan so he doesn't go back to paying a huge amount for a postpaid each month. Any MVNOs (any carrier) that have unlimited texting included for a reasonable price? He is in the Richmond, VA area which I'm not super familiar with so I think any carrier that has decent service in that surrounding area would work.

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #530 on: February 05, 2017, 08:23:49 AM »
I'm not overly concerned if a company is datamining, for the most part.

Then I would recommend not asking me. I try to factor business ethics into my suggestions, and typically make a point to wholly steer clear of businesses that utilize that in my recommendations. I have found over the years that wireless providers who disrespect their users privacy for the sake of reduced rates or higher profit margins tend to treat their customers worse than those who simply charge a fair price, and in such a cutthroat industry with no regulation and thin profit margins, I don't like to reward companies who go out of their way to devalue their service and their customers. Long term, no consumer wins with that setup... though I suspect the days of the MVNO industry as we've known it in this country has already been numbered at this point.

Just something to consider.

If all you care about is cheapest bottom line, damn the legal contract and the quality of the customer care, all you need is fifteen minutes, first grade math and a link to the Wikipedia United States MVNO list sorted by carrier.

The problem is, after the Softbank takeover, it looked like Sprint was getting really friendly to the MVNO market and they had opened up the back-end of their wireless service considerably for SIP tie-in which made their wholesale rates cheaper for the dataminers and hybrid network operators, but their wholesale prices never went down... it's left Sprint MVNOs with very few (or cost effective) providers who don't datamine their customers to reduce rates to keep competitive with the other networks, and some of them have been sketchy as all get out with their terms of service. The third party SIP trunking and termination options opened up also impacted overall call quality with some of them as well.

Ting is still on the approved list and is cheapest with multi-line accounts (and they support Sprint or T-Mobile handset activation and can have devices on both networks with the same account billing), I've mentioned EcoMobile and ChitChat in the past. There's not too much left there on the Sprint end that doesn't get into less consumer friendly business practices, and I'm increasingly getting less charitable towards the more ethically fluid and cutrate companies as the industry changes.

No matter what, though, prepare to pay more. RingPlus set some unrealistic expectations with a lot of customers with mobile pricing.

Good luck to you.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2017, 08:29:54 AM 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.

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #531 on: February 08, 2017, 05:38:07 PM »
Any MVNOs (any carrier) that have unlimited texting included for a reasonable price?

Got an update for you (and other RingPlus users), CptCool. This one might be a good option for your brother. (By the way, my apologies for the last post, I should have made Ting being your only reasonably-priced option that I was aware of for you a bit more obvious.) Anyway, I posted the following in another RingPlus thread here as well:

A newer Sprint MVNO crossed my radar earlier today, might be worth mentioning as a Ting alternative for the rats fleeing the SS RingPlus.

Twigby

Still kind of new and launched around May 2016. Parent company is SI Wireless, who owns MobileNation - a regional Kentucky/Tennessee network operator going back to 2010 with about 30k users. Their terms of service are reasonably benign for a Sprint MVNO. Their plan pricing structure is similar to Consumer Cellular, they're running postpaid model pricing (so there's undisclosed additional fees), and they offer free voice roaming on Verizon/USCC/regionals (like Ting). Plans start at $9/month+tax for 200 minutes and "unlimited" SMS messages, with data plans extra (starts at $3 for 150MB), and plan overages either bump you up to the next bucket or you can restrict data speeds to 2G after the high speed allotment. Haven't talked with anyone at customer support, nor have I found any reliable reviews for Twigby or MobileNation, but there are a couple employee reviews of MobileNation over at Glassdoor which is a bit of a mixed bag and a bit dated. There aren't any red flags, but I am a bit reserved none the less, mostly due to the lack of reviews and age of the MVNO itself. They also blow many trumpets about "care and respect" of customers, which could potentially be a good thing if they follow through, and easy to detect if they don't over time.

They're also offering the first month of service for free with RingPlus ports.

I don't normally mention newer providers, but the parent company is reasonably established and the Sprint MVNO landscape is slim pickens and a bit of a privacy trainwreck these days, especially with more affordable, low-end, single line plans. Worth investigating at the very least, along with ChitChat and EcoMobile.
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.

Rewdoalb

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 74
  • Age: 28
  • Location: US
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #532 on: February 17, 2017, 10:06:09 AM »
Here's a scenario question that I haven't seen discussed here, at least in the last couple pages:

DW currently has a smartphone with Republic Wireless.  She'd like to stop using this and start using a "dumb phone".  Primarily to scale back the time she spends looking at the phone and using apps.  We'd like to find a phone that will meet her needs, with a few of the following considerations:

- Cheap phone, and cheap cost per minute and ideally per text (lots of friends and family out of town).
- Should have decent cell service wherever she might be driving.
- Nothing too complicated.  Simple to buy, set up, use.
- Lasts a long time so we aren't wasteful of resources

The smartphone will still be around the house so that she can use apps occasionally, but she doesn't want it glued to herself just for the sake of being ready for a phone call.  Phone calls will come to a dumb phone only.

Any other considerations regarding this lifestyle choice?  Any specific recommendations for a phone plan?

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #533 on: February 17, 2017, 10:56:04 AM »
Any other considerations regarding this lifestyle choice?  Any specific recommendations for a phone plan?

A carrier unlocked ZTE 222/223 should be fine, simple and cheap feature phone. Not many of those are getting made anymore. If you want something a bit more future proof and rugged, and don't mind spending the extra for it, the Kyocera E4710 (carrier unlocked as well) would be a good alternative. Both phones are GSM handsets (targeted for use with AT&T or T-Mobile).

You'll probably want an AT&T MVNO. Best split between coverage without roaming and cost. The nice thing about GSM providers is that your service is tied to a SIM card. Just stuff it in the phone you want to use, configure your data and MMS APN settings, and you're off to the races.

You may have problems porting your number out of Republic Wireless due to their classification of your phone number as a "landline" number and not a "mobile" after porting it in.

As for specific plans, it depends on the volume of calling and texting we're talking about here. The PAYGO threshold is around $10, given average industry PAYGO rates from the approved provider list. At the $10 level with AT&T MVNOs, you currently have Puretalk USA (300 minutes or 900 texts plus 50MB of data), Airvoice Wireless (250 minutes or 500 texts or 151.5MB of data), and Red Pocket (GSMA - 500 minutes, 500 texts, 50MB of data). If you find yourself exceeding the $10 usage options, you'll want to step up to enchantment with an "unlimited" plan. Airvoice Wireless still has the cheapest "unlimited" talk and text with 100MB data plan for $20/month. Data, even on a feature phone, can be an important thing to have access to - if for no other reason than for MMS messaging (frequently, smartphones these days will send 100% text messages exceeding 155 characters as MMS, despite the lack of multimedia).
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.

Rewdoalb

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 74
  • Age: 28
  • Location: US
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #534 on: February 20, 2017, 04:09:50 AM »
This is super helpful, don't even have follow up questions for you. Plenty to look into. Thanks.

tj

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1113
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Phoenix
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #535 on: February 20, 2017, 03:01:22 PM »
Any thoughts on BOOM! Mobile? People at the Howard forum seem to like it.

https://www.boom.us/

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #536 on: February 20, 2017, 03:54:13 PM »
Any thoughts on BOOM! Mobile? People at the Howard forum seem to like it.

https://www.boom.us/

Been aware of them the past few months, but hadn't kept too close an eye. The pricing at launch about a year ago didn't wow me too much at the time, and hadn't followed up too close since. They seem inoffensive enough at this point. Should probably spend the time to dig a bit deeper at this point. Thank you for reminding me.
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.

tj

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1113
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Phoenix
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #537 on: March 04, 2017, 10:45:00 AM »
Question for Daley:

If one is going to be using a lot of public wifi while traveling, does it make sense to invest in a VPN to encrypt your data, such as:

https://www.purevpn.com/vpn-service/noscript-special.php


Roots&Wings

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 847
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #538 on: March 05, 2017, 06:01:38 PM »
^ I'm also curious about this. Do you recommend any free VPNs? I've always just used public wifi when traveling (and hope for the best if I have to access a financial account), but a colleague mentioned using either VPN or setting up a secure wifi hotspot off the public network (?). CyberGhost is apparently a free VPN, http://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_us

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #539 on: March 06, 2017, 07:54:06 AM »
Question for Daley:

If one is going to be using a lot of public wifi while traveling, does it make sense to invest in a VPN to encrypt your data[...]

It depends a lot on what you're going to be doing online with these public WiFi hotspots, and who owns them.

If you're wanting to access banking information, or any important, secure accounts on public WiFi... the advice would be yes to a VPN, but with one massive caveat: It has to be a VPN you can trust. Truly, the only VPN you can truly trust is the VPN you competently and confidently set up yourself on your home internet connection. Encrypting encrypted traffic but passing that encrypted traffic through third party hands can be a mixed bag, and no guarantee of true security as a VPN's primary purpose under this scenario is to keep people with packet sniffers on a local or remote network from specifically knowing what you're doing and where you're going, thus reducing the working surface area of a more brute-force or exploit natured attack. (Though, heuristic analysis of encrypted traffic can still betray your VPN activity from a privacy standpoint to an extent - but that's another topic entirely.) Fact of the matter is, the biggest threat to encrypted traffic on public WiFi networks is a man in the middle (MITM) attack, and VPNs are just as vulnerable to this style of attack as any other encrypted traffic and just as easy to miss if you don't know what you're doing in the first place.

Your best first line of protection is to know what the official, safe, public keys are of the websites/services you're dealing with and confirming that they're accurate before you log in. (This is one of my huge beefs with Google's Chrome browser as of build 56.x and later, they've gone out of their way to make it nearly impossible for the average Joe to quickly and easily find an HTTPS certificate fingerprint for a website anymore. Given Google's willingness to do this, I would be unsurprised if Mozilla adopts this madness as well given how the dumbest ideas applied to Chrome frequently get applied to Firefox a few months later. This isn't to say that you can't find the certificate anymore, you just have to dig several layers for it and know where to look now. Working to make the internet more secure, indeed!)

Anyway, have some useful information to read on this subject:
https://www.grc.com/fingerprints.htm

I wouldn't go so far as to call it security theater, but adding a VPN can be pretty worthless against your biggest threat to security connecting through public network access points (the MITM attack) if you don't know how encryption works in the first place and do due diligence on your network connections to begin with. From that perspective, adding a trustworthy VPN can certainly simplify the "security chain" as you only have one encrypted connection to confirm as secure and trustworthy and without any funny business going on with any new public WiFi access point, and it does cut down on the exploit surface area with your data, but its simply no magic bullet of protection if you don't know how this crap works in the first place.

As for PureVPN specifically, there are reports of slow and sluggish performance at times and less than stellar support... but again, I'm not really the target audience of third party provided VPN services, as most people who use it do so to circumvent regional content access filters (such as watching streaming video from another country) and other traffic of that nature. Hong Kong has decent enough privacy laws on the corporate end (which is where GZ Systems Limited, d.b.a. PureVPN is located), but let us not ignore the fact that the government still technically has its thumb in internet traffic. As with any service, read their terms of service and privacy policies to make sure you agree with them before signing up.

Do you recommend any free VPNs?

No. You get what you pay for.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 07:59:28 AM 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.

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1602
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #540 on: March 24, 2017, 08:42:03 PM »
I've got a little conundrum here.

After my stupid LG phone died back in October, I decided to buy a $99 prepaid Huawei. It's been able to meet most of my uses, but I'm finding the 8GB of internal storage a pretty significant limitation.

It's made worse because the phone is partitioned such that only 4GB is available for use. After installing my apps, I'll usually have about 500-700MB left. The annoying thing is that the free space vanishes quickly with caches built up by each app. I'll regularly get messages to free space (fortunately Huawei include a cleaner app that works OK) or struggle to update apps due to storage space issues.

I've tried moving as many apps as possible to the SD card (although I suspect when the app is updated it's installed back on internal storage), setting everything to use the SD card where possible, and replacing some particularly heavy apps with lighter alternatives (I use a third-party Facebook client which uses a fraction of the space of Facebook proper).

It probably doesn't help that I'm using a third-party lock screen and launcher because Huawei's stock ones are lacking in some ways (Spotify buttons don't appear on the lock screen). The joys of EMUI, I guess.

Unfortunately I still keep on having issues with the phone running out of space, to the point where I've considered admitting defeat and buying a phone with more storage space. I'd really rather not do that when I've had the Huawei only five months. Apps aren't getting any smaller though.

It doesn't help that there's heaps of great midrange phones for $150-300 (Oppo F1S, Sony Xperia XA, Moto G4 Plus, ZTE Axon Mini and Optus X Sleek (Alcatel Shine Lite) are just some examples, before looking into grey-import Xiaomi phones and similar). I probably should have spent the extra at the start.

UPDATE: I decided to get a bit more aggressive with deleting apps on the device, going back to the stock lockscreen and launcher, and deleting almost anything I'm not regularly using. It's currently at about 1GB free.

I've also been toying with putting Linux on my old MacBook Pro. It's stuck on El Capitan and Apple will eventually kill support for it. Is Ubuntu and it's derivatives still the one to go for? (I used Ubuntu from 2005-08)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 05:04:19 AM by alsoknownasDean »

dilinger

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 441
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #541 on: March 31, 2017, 12:03:09 PM »
I've also been toying with putting Linux on my old MacBook Pro. It's stuck on El Capitan and Apple will eventually kill support for it. Is Ubuntu and it's derivatives still the one to go for? (I used Ubuntu from 2005-08)

Mint is the new Ubuntu. My wife's been a happy Mint user for the past few years, though I still prefer Debian.

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1602
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #542 on: April 04, 2017, 04:18:41 AM »
It seems cleaning up the phone and going nuts with uninstalling things has done the trick, it's sitting at 0.91GB free. I've actually realised that the one thing I really appreciate about this cheap phone is that the battery life is excellent. I unplugged it 12 hours ago, used it for a while on my lunch break and after work, and it's still at 68% battery. The LG would have maybe been at 40-50%, and the iPhone lower still.

I've also been toying with putting Linux on my old MacBook Pro. It's stuck on El Capitan and Apple will eventually kill support for it. Is Ubuntu and it's derivatives still the one to go for? (I used Ubuntu from 2005-08)

Mint is the new Ubuntu. My wife's been a happy Mint user for the past few years, though I still prefer Debian.

Thanks for that, yeah I've used VirtualBox trialling a few distros. I've been considering Mint and some of the Ubuntu derivatives (Xubuntu or Ubuntu MATE mainly). The Unity desktop doesn't appeal to me much.

I tried SUSE a while ago, and kept having problems with missing dependencies when trying to install stuff through YaST. Reminds me of when I was using Mandrake back in 2003. I thought RPM-based distros had fixed all that nonsense? :)

I've been using OSX as my main desktop OS for the last eight or so years, but I don't really care for the current generation of Macs (that and I'm not prepared to pay $2000 for one). It's probably more Mustachian if I keep this old Mac going using Linux than to go and buy another laptop anyway.

ENT Doc

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #543 on: May 14, 2017, 09:43:01 AM »
IP, thank you for thorough review.  I didn't have time to look through all 11 pages of discussion so I was hoping you (or anyone) could help clarify something.  On your original post you recommended P'Tel as a cell phone provider.  When going to their website I find what appears to be multiple providers, including TPO, Total Wireless, Ting, LycaMobile, etc.  Would these warrant the same "thumbs up" as you recall original P'Tel recommendation?  Are they not distinct providers even though on the same P'Tel website?  TPO looks like it would fit my needs.  Unfamiliar with this industry so pardon my cluelessness.  Thanks!

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #544 on: May 14, 2017, 10:21:38 AM »
IP, thank you for thorough review.  I didn't have time to look through all 11 pages of discussion so I was hoping you (or anyone) could help clarify something.  On your original post you recommended P'Tel as a cell phone provider.  When going to their website I find what appears to be multiple providers, including TPO, Total Wireless, Ting, LycaMobile, etc.  Would these warrant the same "thumbs up" as you recall original P'Tel recommendation?  Are they not distinct providers even though on the same P'Tel website?  TPO looks like it would fit my needs.  Unfamiliar with this industry so pardon my cluelessness.  Thanks!

There's been some difficulty given to the forums on editing locked threads by people who aren't mods since the second guide was written. I locked the thread, but now I can't unlock it or edit it... so we've got a bit of a time capsule with it specifically. One of the reasons why I linked the unabridged website version of the guide off of it, which can be easily edited and changed.

As for your questions specifically, P'tel finally went under a little over a year ago after being in business for fifteen years. Quality providers in the MVNO marketplace keep shrinking, and average monthly prices keep increasing.... the pinch is on. Since the shuttering, however, the P'tel website got retooled into an MVNO "review" website, and you'll note that there are very few MVNOs even listed (even compared to my own guide), and most of those MVNOs reviewed/linked have some interesting referral programs. Take that for what it's worth. Needless to say, the "new" ptel.com is not the old ptel.com.

The closest pricing you'll get with semi-true PAYGO from a GSM provider off the guide now is Airvoice's $10/month plan or H2O Wireless (though H2O's monthly plan pricing is getting a little loss-leader-y and support isn't improving). The lowest cost, quality T-Mobile MVNO currently is US Mobile, which has a similar pricing structure to Consumer Cellular or Ting, but without the overhead of postpaid roaming agreements and multi-carrier price harmonization. Everyone's trying to commit people to at least $10/month these days and eliminate rollover to increase revenue enough to survive.

Personally, I won't touch or recommend TPO due to ethical reservations over a specific co-chair and his past business dealings. Ironic as it may be expressing ethical reservations over an MVNO that "gives" to charity, it's my position none the less. If my guide is to be informed and shaped by a consistent code of values that tries to set itself apart as something potentially better for readers than just banging out a list of the absolute rock-bottom cheapest calling plans available...
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.

ENT Doc

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #545 on: May 14, 2017, 10:33:04 AM »
Thank you for taking the time to comment and give his helpful update.  The search continues...

ofits

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #546 on: May 18, 2017, 04:55:59 PM »
I have a data point for any lurkers / those interested in this topic:

As per my discussion with Daley on this thread last August (so ~10 months ago), I purchased an unlocked Nokia Lumia 640 and threw in a US Mobile SIM card. The phone has great performance for the price, and phone calls, texting, and mobile data all work fine. The app store is lackluster, especially for Millennial types whose friends are on the cutting edge of social media (Snapchat and Facebook/Messenger apps that have been updated within the last 2 years, mainly), but for $9/month I wasn't complaining.

Then the troubles began. This April, the Messenger app stopped working unexpectedly. After some Googling, I discovered support was dropped for Facebook Messenger on Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft never bothered to tell me. Luckily, my phone's hardware was capable of supporting the Windows Phone 10 OS, so I crossed my fingers and upgraded.

Now, MMS doesn't work. After much back-and-forth with US Mobile customer support, I was informed that phones with multiple Internet APN profiles aren't supported by US Mobile. My phone has two Internet APN profiles; one is the default profile, which I cannot change or delete, and one is the US Mobile profile. So I'm essentially out of luck on that front.

For now I'm just telling people to send media via email instead of through text. For anyone doing research, depending on your needs, I would stay away from the Windows Mobile ecosystem.


Edit: I got my MMS working using a link Daley provided me. For anyone out there in the fairly unique situation of Lumia 640/WP10/US Mobile, the following APN settings should work for mobile data and MMS:

Internet APN
Profile name: US Mobile
APN: pwg
User name:
Password:
Type of sign-in info: None
IP type: IPv4
Use this APN for LTE and replace the one from my mobile operator: box checked
Proxy server:
Proxy port:
Apply this profile: box checked

MMS APN
Profile name: US Mobile
APN: pwg
User name:
Password:
Type of sign-in info: None
IP type: IPv4
Proxy server:
Proxy port:
MMSC (URL): http://pwg.mmsmvno.com/mms/wapenc
MMSC port:
Maximum MMS size (KB): 2048
Apply this profile: box checked
« Last Edit: May 19, 2017, 12:19:20 PM by ofits »

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #547 on: May 19, 2017, 11:02:19 AM »
For anyone doing research, depending on your needs, I would stay away from the Windows Mobile ecosystem.

I suspect I know what the problem is with your situation, please check your private messages.
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.

ofits

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #548 on: May 19, 2017, 12:21:04 PM »
I suspect I know what the problem is with your situation, please check your private messages.

Updated my post to reflect this - thanks!

I.P. Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3570
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Communications & Tech Discussion Thread #1
« Reply #549 on: May 19, 2017, 01:38:50 PM »
Luckily, my phone's hardware was capable of supporting the Windows Phone 10 OS, so I crossed my fingers and upgraded.

Why I recommended the Lumia 640, and typically recommend doing the OS upgrade out of the gate. Not only does it support WP10, it's still receiving OS updates (the latest being just last month).

It's a good phone platform, but it never got the respect or market share it deserved.

I suspect I know what the problem is with your situation, please check your private messages.

Updated my post to reflect this - thanks!

Glad everything is working again!
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.