Why I turned down a free upgrade to the Nokia Lumia 925 from T-Mobile.

If you’ve followed me on social media, you’ve probably seen how upset myself and others have gotten that T-Mobile has been rather… silent in terms of the reasons behind the abandonment of the Lumia 810. Unlike most people though, I’ve spent more time than I probably should have trying to pry an answer out of T-Mobile.

I finally got one.

Their current response, from their executive support response team (From the Office of the President, of all places…) was that there’s an incompatibility somewhere that causes it to have issues with the T-Mobile network, OR that Microsoft requested the software to not be sent out to the device. One of the two (The first one makes sense, but I haven’t gotten an answer yet about Lumia Cyan, only Lumia Black)

Their resolution: They send me a Lumia 925, I send them my Lumia 810. I declined. Here’s why:

First, on the surface, the Lumia 925 sounds like an amazing device. And for someone who’s only had a cheap Android smartphone, or who has had the Lumia 521, it’s a huge step up. For someone like me who’s had the Lumia 810, it’s actually a step down. I’ll break down what you miss out on switching from the 810 to the 925 (and what you gain)

Processor: Both sport the same 1.5ghz MSM8960 from Qualcomm, so no improvement there.
Camera: Both sport the same 8MP Camera, but the Lumia 925 has OIS advertised (Lumia 810 has it when using the Nokia Pro Cam app)
Network connectivity: Both sport the same set of junk to connect to T-Mobile network (No surprise there.) Both support WiFi a/b/g/n, BT4.0LE, etc.
Storage: Lumia 810: 8GB Internal, SDHC (Possibly SDXC) slot. Lumia 925: 16GB\32GB fixed. With WP8.1, Lumia 810 can actually out-perform the Lumia 925 in the storage department.
Battery: Lumia 810: 1800mAh Removable battery. Lumia 925: 2000mAh internal battery. While it seems like the 925 is better, after a year or so of heavy use, you’ll be wanting to replace that battery. Ones for the 810 are ~$5 for an official Nokia one, or $15 for a 2800mAh replacement battery that doesn’t require an extended case.

Now for the ONLY spec that is actually (marginally) better on the Lumia 925: Display. Lumia 810 has a 800×480 4.3″ display. Lumia 925 has a 1280×768 4.5″ display.

Oh, Wireless Charging? Lumia 810 has an internal pogo connector, and a replaceable back to add wireless charging (Able to put the guts of the wireless charging onto a standard back so that you’ve got a slim wireless charger). Lumia 925: You’re stuck with external pogo connectors and a shell that clamps on it. It’s either case OR wireless charging.

So what’s the reason I declined a free Lumia 925? There’s no real upgrade for me. Yeah, I could get a slightly larger display, but at what cost? I’d lose internal wireless charging, SD support (Which I use a TON, especially since a 64GB SDXC card is now ~$30) and I’d lose the replaceable battery. My current one is nearing the end of it’s lifecycle, and I have a new 2800mAh pack on it’s way (Shipping takes a long time from overseas, but the brand is trusted, and the extended battery they make for the Samsung Galaxy S4\S5 has tons of good reviews on Amazon, so I trust them). I love that I can pop the phone open without voiding my warranty, and that the backs are available in Black, Red, Cyan, and Grey, just in case I get bored with Black, or want a second back for some reason. What would I gain? Official software from Nokia (Not much use right now thanks to Developer Preview) and a larger display. Not worth it.

Still waiting to hear back from T-Mobile about the Lumia Cyan update and what their plans are for it. Might be good news in the future.

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Dealing with a digital legacy

A digital legacy is a strange thing. My generation, the group of people who were born in the 80’s and 90’s, the ones who grew up while the internet was growing up, will be the first generation who will seriously have to deal with the idea of a “Digital Legacy”. Sure, we weren’t the first ones on the internet, but we are the first kids on the internet. And kids on the internet do stupid things.

Picture this: The year is 2004. My 12 year old self sits down with my parent as we fire up the family computer, and dial in to a Juno ISP server. It’s my birthday, which in my family means I can finally get an e-mail address. This is _big_ news. We had discussed the different email providers at length prior to sitting down at the computer. We had a Juno email account, but that wasn’t really that great, as you had to use their proprietary email client which hadn’t been updated for Windows XP yet, so it didn’t work quite right on the family PC. However, my dad had started using Yahoo, and it just made sense to get the same. I sat down, and was faced with the most important task that I could ever be faced with: Picking my email address. I tried my initials, but that was too short. I tried something longer, like CNWacker, which was taken. Being 12, my creativity stopped there in terms of emails using my name, and I jumped right into the next best thing: stupid nicknames from school. So I typed in “pizzaboy” and it was taken. So was Pizzaboy2. Pizzaboy192 however, was available, so we proceeded to sign me up, and my first ever email address was pizzaboy192@yahoo.com. The joy was shortlived, however, because Yahoo’s sign-in page broke while I was creating my account. I never got to use that email for anything. I gave up waiting, went to Hotmail, did the same process, and thus Pizzaboy192 was born.

That was almost 10 years ago. Ten years of me making the bad decision to use the same username on everything I could ever think of. Back when I was 12, I thought I was awesome with that username. I started claiming it everywhere. Turns out that someone already had that username on Runescape, and AOL Instant Messenger, but I haven’t found any other sites so far where I haven’t been able to use it.

A lot happens in ten years, too. I went from a stupid 7th grade student, to a high school student, to a consumer of higher education, and am now roughly a month away from graduation and a job as a teacher. And I still use pizzaboy192. But why?

At first, the decision was a simple one. If my email was pizzaboy192, why shouldn’t my username on a forum or another website be the same? Between getting that email address and signing up for MySpace, only two and a half years had passed. Social networking wasn’t something for a workplace, it was for recreation. My employer wouldn’t ever need to see my MySpace Profile, so why should I care what I name it. Then Facebook came up, and I signed up with my same email address. Each time a new social media site, forum, or website asked for a username, I freely and foolishly tossed in pizzaboy192, and hit enter. 9th grade me wasn’t very smart. Or 10th grade me, or 11th, or 12th. In 2009 I signed up for twitter, and in went the username. Facebook added custom profile URLs, and in went the username. I really hate to admit to it, but I had no shame hiding behind that username, right up until I started doing semi-professional development.

But by then, it was too late. I had built up a web presence. My Facebook profile had my friends, it was all set up. I didn’t want to ditch it. My Twitter profile had somewhere around 4,000 tweets. I didn’t want to start over. I had accounts on all the major websites, I was still using my Hotmail email address regularly (I still do) and I had become invested. My digital footprint was turning into a legacy. Heck, if you peck that username into your favorite search engine, the first result is my website, pizzaboy192.com, followed by the downloads page which made my username somewhat useful, my twitter account, my Reddit account, etc. What happened?

I made a simple software patch, posted it to a few websites dedicated to said software, and then used my email and social accounts as a simple way for tech support. By the time I had realized how stupid I was for investing in a single username, it was too late. Heck, the Google Analytics shows that the top 10 referrals are nearly all based from that patch.See, All but 1 are patch based. It was too late to abandon ship. I used my username, and now it used me.

I still will stick with it. It has become my digital legacy. I have a domain, I have a blog, I use the username everywhere, because I can. What I once felt some shame in, sharing it with a whole group of teachers, I now embrace. I use it as a teaching opportunity, telling students that I have in my classroom that what they do online will follow them forever. (Heck, I have emails going back to 2007 in my Outlook profile, and I know there are older ones hiding somewhere). It may have started out as a stupid nickname from eating too much pizza at a grade school dance, but it has become something strangely useful. I’m scared what the next 10 years of my digital legacy will hold, but I can predict a few things:

Wedding pictures, pictures of my kids, pictures of my classroom, probably lots of pictures. Some more blog posts here, there, and everywhere. As social networks pop up, I’ll still use the pizzaboy192 username, because why not. I have a professional email address or four, I have a professional twitter account (With TWO tweets! Yay!) and I’m slowly trying to be a little more professional in how I act, but I can’t hide from the fact that my username is everywhere, so I might as well embrace it.

T-Mobile to Lumia 810 Owners: “Buy A New Phone”

Yeah. That’s what T-Mobile is currently pushing.

I apologize to anyone who follows me on twitter for seeing me constantly complain at them about this, but it is complete BS. I emailed Stephen Elop, the (ex) CEO of Nokia’s Devices and Services about this, who put me on the fast track with their customer support. I talked to an amazing rep at Nokia named Macy, and got all sorts of information. I wish I had been smart and recorded the call with Google Voice, but I forgot. Macy was kind enough to provide me with information like “Nokia has the update available” and upon asking further, I was told “We have been trying to work with T-Mobile on this issue, and are actively trying to have the update released for the [Lumia 810] but T-Mobile is the one currently blocking the update. Our hands are tied.”

The furthest I’ve gotten with T-Mobile on the issue? “Buy a new device”. This is Verizon level BS at it’s finest. I honestly regret suggesting T-Mobile to my parents as a carrier now. The only difference between Verizon and T-Mobile at this point is the cell service quality at my parent’s house, and the fact that they’re not the ones that deal with customer support. This isn’t the first time they screwed us over either. The week we switched, T-Mobile actively lied to us about how to get our family moved over, and tried to charge us an extra $170 because of it. We got it sorted after a month of back and forth, a few very long phone calls, and a call to the bank to tell them to hold all payments to T-Mobile until it was resolved because money kept flowing their way.

I’m giving T-Mobile one last chance though. WP8.1 is on it’s way. If T-Mobile blocks this update too, then it’ll just be proof at how pathetic T-Mobile is to try and get people’s money. We switched because they seemed like the were a carrier that actually cared. They save our family a substantial amount of money per month, but if that means they feel they’re justified in screwing their customers over because they sell OTHER devices that they still support, that’s wrong. At least Verizon was up front about how much they were screwing you over.

[Editorial] Reset the Xbox One’s policies? yes please!

I know this sound weird. Normally I don’t give two crackers and a bottle of Coke about console gaming. I may own a few consoles, including an Xbox 360, but I’m hardly an avid gamer. But that doesn’t keep me from wanting to see some new ideas in console gaming.
Let’s start with what we have now: We are using the same structured system of: Buy physical copy of game > Use game > Game can be loaned to friend for a few weeks and returned\Game can be damaged > Bored of game? Resell.
As much as I like this idea, and as much as I can see the fears of people my age who grew up on the NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, etc where you can still dig it out, plug it in, and it’ll work, I can see how the new Xbox One’s launch policies on games can both fit into the “playable for generations” idea along with the “works a helluvalot better than a stupid disc” idea. Hear me out.
First: With the “old way of doing things”, you’re basically on your own when it comes to games. You buy it, you play it by physically inserting it into your console, and when you’re done, you take it out of the machine and either store it, trade it, or sell it. Make sense, right? At the same time, how many years have we been NOT doing this with PC games? When was the last time you ran to the store to buy yourself a copy of HalfLife 2 or The Orange Box to gift to a friend? When was the last time you had to wash or resurface a PC game disk because it wasn’t reading right?
I’ll give you a few minutes to try and come back to me on that. I know that my current laptop doesn’t even have a CD\DVD drive, and when I come across games that require a disk, I just rip a .iso file and save it on a flash drive. (and in all fairness, I’ve been looking into doing the same with my Xbox 360, as it’s possible, and makes sense from the standpoint of “I own two consoles in two different physical locations separated by a large distance further than a 10 minute walk, much closer to a 4 hour drive, why should I have to buy the game twice) Which brings me to point two:
2. Why should I have to buy a game twice just so that I don’t have to decide which games my fiancee gets for the summer, and which ones I get. I don’t have to do this on Steam. I don’t have to do this with direct-download games on the Xbox, why should I have to do this with physical discs? That’s where the Xbox One shines.

What features do I think make sense with the “new way of doing things” as Microsoft proposed for the Xbox One before a bunch of console haters and PS3\4 players made a mockery of it and convinced MS to do otherwise?
let’s start with the obvious: game sharing.
The way I understand it working is simple. You buy a game. It’s either on a physical disk, or a downloadable code. If it’s a disc, I can slap it into my console, and it’ll rip it to the HDD. This makes sense for 2 reasons. 1 being that the BluRay discs are HORRIBLE for holding games. Ask any PS3 developer and you find out that the 25 or 50GB of space on the disk is basically wasted due to horrible seek times, and having to put the texture files and other game data across the whole disc multiple times in order for it to load properly. I doubt that the Xbox One will be much different mostly because of the way that file structures work, but I could also see developers putting all the required files and pointers into a single bit of info that the Xbox One OS reads, and can rip your copy of the game while you play. Point 2 being that you don’t have to worry about damaged discs. It’s no longer like the Xbox 360 in terms of having to put the disc in, and then it’ll play off the HDD. It’s entirely discless after install. Like modern PC games are. (And most modern Discless PC games phone home every now and then, yet you don’t really hear legitimate gamers complaining as long as it’s non intrusive and doesn’t kill the experience *cough SimCity Cough*)

So now let’s say you’ve ripped your new copy of “Halo 7 N00bx Among us” (or whatever it’ll be called) to your HDD and you want to take it over to your friend’s house to show him it. He doesn’t own the game, but he’s friends with you on Xbox Live since you met him a few months back. According to how I understand the new MS policy, you’ll be able to drop that game into his console (but not install it unless required by the game, and even then it’s just the required game files, and not a whole rip) and play at his place because he’s your friend. No loss there.

What about selling the game? If I understand correctly, you can release rights to the game. That gives you either a code that you attache with the game that the new owner gets when they receive the game, as a way of proving that it’s their copy, or if you don’t produce that code, you’ll be able to pay a reduced price for the game to get the code yourself. How does this help used game stores you ask? It’s simple. If you’ve got a knowledgeable customer who knows how this works, they’ll bring in the disc with the code and you’ll be all good. The store can check the code’s validity with MS through an online tool or something of the sort and you’re all good. People who bring in just the game with no code will have go deactivate the game in-store by knowing the login information for their gamertag and releasing it via the web. Otherwise the store can go through the process themselves of buying a fresh code, and passing that cost onto the customer who buys the used copy.

What about rental stores? I assume MS is smart enough to know that companies like GameFly generate a huge amount of business for them. What better way to get more people buying games than having a game rental company who doesn’t even need to ship games. GameFly could provide you with a “Trial Code” that MS can give them. That code is only good for 7 days from it’s entering into the console. If you want to extend the trial, GameFly (or any other company) can provide another code in however many day increments you want. Lets say you want to buy the game? Hit the “buy it now” button when your trial is over and it’s yours. Kinda like the “Try” button on the Windows Phone marketplace, but with console games.

Now why do I like these policies better than the physical discs idea that we’re going to keep being stuck with? Because it’s new, and it sounds better. But it needs to be opt-in. If I want to go with the “new” way of doing things, I want to tell my Xbox One on startup that I want to try this new experience. If I don’t want to and want to live in the past, I should be able to tell it that too. But I’d much rather have a console that’s built for the future and has ideas that will be awesome in years to come, than end up looking like Bill Gates did when he suggested the original Xbox have a Modem instead of broadband. If that had happened, we wouldn’t have having this discussion, as the Xbox would have gone the way of the Dreamcast (Dead upon arrival to the person I sold it to thanks to USPS being rough with the box… or something like that)

Goodbye Verizon. Hello T-Mobile.

I know that I normally don’t rant on here, but I feel it’s important this time.
I have finally decided to ditch Verizon. And by I, I mean We. And by We, I mean my family.
My mother is the account holder on Verizon, and is currently wanting to save money. We are also fed up with the horrible service in my area.
When we contacted Verizon earlier in the year about something that could be done to fix the service, they said that we could pay them between $200 and $300 for an extender that would use our home internet connection to provide basic phone and texting support, and possible 3G internet to our devices. We said no thanks and went on our way grumbling and complaining about no 3G service at home, limited calling, periods of time when a text may not send for over an hour. It was a mess.
Then a few months ago, my fiancee needed to switch her phone on T-mobile to her own name instead of her brother’s, as he was closing down the contract they were on. The rep at the T-mobile store got them in early on the “No contracts ever again” plan, and her and her mother were able to keep their phones on a simplephone plan for $60 a month. 2 lines, $60 a month, plenty of minutes, unlimited texting, etc. Good deal.
I start talking this over with my family, and we start researching.
A little background on our current contract with Verizon:
2x Lines with the old grandfathered “Unlimited 3G data” plan @$30 a month
1x line with the REALLY old 150MB\$15 plan.
2x lines that are simplephones.
Unlimited texting to all lines. 1400 minutes.
Total bill after my mom’s business discount: $240 a month.

We then went to T-mobile’s site after they went “No contract ever” and did the math:
5 lines of 500mb “4G” and then unlimited speed-rated internet, unlimited texting, and 1000 minutes (plus unlimited nights, weekends, holidays, etc) $100\month.
Yeah. you read that right. $20 a line for unlimited nearly everything.
Granted, we have to buy our own phones, but if each family member either buys outright, or gets a $10 or less per month phone, we’re still looking at $80+ a month savings over Verizon.
Here’s where it gets awesome though. Two lines on our Verizon account are still under contract. One has roughly 7 months left, but is a smart phone. One has 12 months left, but is a simplephone. Verizon’s Early Termination Fees for these two lines would add up to just around $300. That’s kinda steep… but doing the math shows that paying the ETF this summer and then being on T-Mobile until the smartphone plan would have ended in December would still save us over $800.
What’s the other good news: We get good service at home. Verizon gets us about 1-2 bars of 1x EVDO\RTT data. If we’re lucky. We have to take calls on the home phone if we don’t want to risk them disconnecting. It’s a nightmare. That $300 Verizon wanted to charge us to fix their problem? It’s going to the ETF instead.

If someone from Verizon ever reads this: We wouldn’t be leaving if you had actually provided an answer to our issues. Telling us to buy another product that may help our issue isn’t what we’re looking for. We would be okay paying what we do currently if it actually worked. Your customer support has done nothing but give the runaround with us when it comes to getting any issue solved. You’re losing a rather loyal customer who always hoped that when you told us that you were “planning on putting a new tower in the area” that you’d actually do it. You haven’t. You won’t. You’ve lost us.

To anyone from T-mobile who is reading this: Expect 5 new happy customers who will be enjoying 4G data and shiny new phones. I’m personally looking at the Lumia 521 or the Lumia 810 right now to replace my Trophy. I may even buy a second to gift to someone special I know on T-mobile as well. The fact that you can offer such awesome service, and an awesome price on data plans is amazing. I’m eagerly looking forward to getting a decent carrier who actually cares. Your customer support on Twitter and online is bomb-tastical. You answer questions that Verizon won’t. You support phones that are unlocked. You help customers get the best out of what they have. I look forward to a few good years of service at the least, and possibly many good years once I’m married.

Goodbye Verizon. Hello T-Mobile.

Now accepting bitcoin!

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I’m just learning how to use it. Feel free to donate via bitcoin if you’d rather that than paypal.

Report: DigiTimes is full of crap.

Source: http://twitter.com/edbott/status/321406932600619010

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