Saturday
Aug272011

Turn that old Smart phone into a decent MP3 player

Recently I lost my Ipod Touch (4th Gen). Rather than buy a new one, I decided to wait and see what apple announces in September/October.  I did however still want to listen to tunes and podcasts. So I opted to use an old Palm Pre, that was no longer in use and was collecting dust in the bottom of a drawer. And it occurred to me that a lot of old smart phones could easily be turned into fairly decent MP3 players if not fair PMPs. Most Smart Phones of the last 2 years use standard 1/8” headphones  (unlike some of the weird standards of the past), and have a fair amount of storage, or could be easily expandable via memory cards, which have come severely down in cost.

 

How to turn that old smart phone into a really nice MP3 player.

 

1)      The assumption is that you are using an old phone that no longer has service. So turn off any services that may run in the background that aren’t needed for this device to be a media player:

 

  1. Email accounts
  2. Calendars
  3. Notification applications that require web services (ebay, twitter, etc…)
  4. Contacts

 

2)      Download any additional applications: like Podcast apps, or Video players. Or even alternative music players.

 

3)      Disable Radios you don’t need as they are just a drain on the battery.  Bluetooth is a given unless you are using a BT stereo headphones. But most importantly is the Cellular Radio. One Method is air plane mode, but that will turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well. 

 

On the Palm Pre, I found a code you can use in the phone dialer that disables only the phone radio (##633#) Different phone have different methods of doing this, so Google search it.

 

Also, I found that I still use Wi-Fi on occasion for the Podcast app, so I have a shortcut in the launcher so I can quickly turn on/off the Wi-Fi when I need it, so that way I’m not just draining the battery.

 

4)      Setup your launcher/Desktop for media centric controls. Remember this isn’t a phone anymore so Shortcuts to email, phone and messaging really don’t need to be at the forefront. I personally setup my launcher with Music And Video front and center (and the previously mentioned Wi-Fi control.

 

5)      Set setting to turn off the display.

 

Unless you are flipping through the music, or choosing a video to watch, you really don’t need the screen on for a prolonged amount of time, so setting the display to shut off after 10-30 seconds of nonuse is probably a good move and will also help to conserve battery power.

 

I can easily go a week without needing to recharge the battery (I listen to tunes for about an hour a day in my car). So far I’ve been impressed. My only real disappointment has been the lack of Podcast apps for WebOS. Android has a ton including Google’s own “Listen” app. I personally use Acast myself on my Evo.

Tuesday
Jul262011

Why I had to return my “4G” Mifi

 

As many of you know, I was grandfathered into a unlimited 3G Data plan on my Sprint Air Card Plan. And that I would fight them tooth and nail before I gave it up. Including once when they switched me off of it, I proved I blew past the 5GB cap in the prior months and had them find my old account code to put it back.

I like many others have been less than impressed with Sprint’s 4G Wimax roll out. I typically find that I can’t use 4G anywhere, because I am inside a building, and the 4G signal is too weak to go through a wall or in some cases even the window  I am sitting by. But that hasn’t stopped Sprint from Marketing the hell out of it, and pretty much including it any device you buy these days.  Like the Evo 4G I use as cell phone (of which I almost always have 4G turned off to prevent my battery from dying even faster).

 

Well, like any good consumer, I still don’t mind jumping on the bandwagon if it means I pretty much get 4G if I just upgrade my device to it. So I called Sprint customer care, asked if I upgraded to their new Novatel Mifi 4G if I would be able to keep my awesome unlimited plan, and get 4G. Customer care said sure, “No problem, and would you like a $50 bill credit for renewing two years as well?” I of course said okay. And about a week later I purchased the 4g Mifi.

Now it’s about 2 months later, and I’m in a class in Edina, a city which I know has the best 4G coverage I’ve seen to date.  So I switch my Mifi to use 4G preferred instead of 3G only. I had it set to 3G, because 4G signal was too weak elsewhere to use. And as soon as I try to surf some where I am redirected to a Sprint landing page that tells me my plan doesn’t include 4G…

My first response is “WTF?!?!?”

I switch back to 3G only  and am able to surf fine. Weird!

I call Sprint, customer care is clueless and redirects to me Technical Support. Tech support tries to switch a few check marks on my account without changing my plan, but is unable to do so. Then I’m forwarded back to Customer care. I’m a little pissed at this point, because I feel like I’ve been lied to, since I asked customer care about this before I upgraded and agreed to a 2 year renewal of my contract. Customer care agrees that it sucks I’ve been lied to, and says they are willing to break the contract if I send back the 4G Mifi. I agreed, since it’s essentially the equivalent of my 3G Mifi I was using before, just with a bigger battery and a Micro SD Network store (both of which aren’t features I would renew for 2 years over).

 

Wrap Up

This whole situation has left me just angry. I don’t blame Sprint customer care for basically lying to 2 months ago. My situation is rather unique with my older plan. Plus Sprint has always been good to me with bill credits, and letting me keep the older data plan. But it’s frustrating having gone through the motions of the upgrade only to have to flip everything back to how it was. Also, now I have to consider my options for the future. While I can just keep trucking with Unlmited 3G, I know it isn’t the fastest thing out there, and I would love to take advantage of current speeds, but without sacrificing the unlimited 3G, or paying any more.

 

Here’s a chart of current Mifi Devices offerings vs. my existing plan:

 

My existing Sprint Plan

No Contract

Comcast (Using Sprint as Backend) 2yr

Sprint’s 3GB plan

2 yr

Sprint’s 5GB plan

2yr

Verizon 5G Plan

 

2yr

Virgin Mobile 3G Only

*

3G only, No Data Cap

5GB cap on 3G/ Unlimited 4G

3GB cap on 3G / Unlimited 4G

5GB cap on 3G / Unlimited 4G

5GB cap. 3G/4G

5GB Soft cap, start packing Shaping after

$60 / Month

$40 / Month

$45 / Month

($35 / Month if you have a Sprint phone)

$60 / Month

($50 / Month if you have a Sprint phone)

$50 / Month

$10 per GB overage

$50/ Month

 

*No Contract

 

 

~ Graham

Saturday
Jul162011

Episode 44 - We're Back Baby!

Randy, Tom, and Graham discuss the Netflix price Hikes, virgin mobile price increases, Keyboards, Tablets, phones and a bunch more! Also Randy's quest for a 5 inch Tablet.

 

Download the MP3 Here!

Subscribe to the Podcast (MP3) RSS

Subscribe in iTunes

Hosts: Graham & Randy w/ Tatch Gilgore (Check out his Blog here!)

Edited By Graham w/ Garage Band

 

 

No show notes this time, the guys were lazy and didn't make a doc.

Wednesday
Jun222011

The Hackinstosh Mac Pro look a like.

As some listeners know, some of use Hackintosh PCs we built ourselves. All of these clone PCs are users in regular PC cases. My personal Hackintosh is in a Coolermaster Elite 360 A Great little Desktop Case.

 

But for a long time, I and others have long coveted the Mac Pro case. with it's sleek design and convenient carrying handles. 

 

 

While there are several Mods out there for making PC components fit inside this case, or it's G5 predecessor, I am not so inclined to test my metal manipulation skills. There are some options for those  less inclined and I thought I would share them:

 

1. Linkworld 431-06

 

The easiest one to come by as you can still buy it on NewEgg in Black. There is a silver version, but it's a little harder to come by these days.

 

2.  Codegen Briza 6099

 

 

 

 

Little Harder to find, but still do able. It doesn't quite capture the look in my mind. But it's still a valid option.

 

3.  ATADC CotyTec XP01M (XP02M) 

 

 

 

This one is a personal Favorite of mine, and if I could find it, I'd buy one. Sure there is no Silver, and there really isn't a cheese gradder style front, but I just like it. Also I think it looks a little more solid then the Linkworld. But they sold in 2005. And I can't find them at all. Both Newegg and Buy.com did at one point sell them. And I can't find anything on the company. And believe me, I've looked.

 

 

 

Friday
Jun102011

Motorola Triumph Coming to Virgin Mobile (Why am I on a contract again?)

 

Virgin/Sprint + Moto announced the new Triumph coming to Virgin later this summer. The phone sports a lot of unusually high-end features for a Virgin Android Phone. Those features include a 1 GHz processor, large 4.1-inch display, 5-megapixel auto-focus camera, front-facing camera, HDMI TV output, and EVDO Rev. A 3G data. Comes with Android 2.2 Froyo, No word on Motoblur, but there will be some virgin mobile skinning and apps.

 

Pair this with one of Virgin's Beyond Talk plans like the $30 for Unlimited Txt, and Data plans with 300 Mintues or the $40 version with 1200 minutes. You have a very serious contender to most Contract providers plans.

 

Source: http://www.phonescoop.com/news/item.php?n=8299

 

 

 

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